2010 Climate B.S. of the Year Award – PlanetSave

2010 Climate B.S. of the Year Award

Some of the top climate change bloggers and scientists recently put together an article on climate change BS in 2010 and gave out awards. Check out the article and awards below. And let us know, how do you think they did? Any suggestions? (I know, I’m a little  late sharing this — buried it somewhere in cyberspace and just found it again.)

Welcome to the 2010 Climate B.S. of the Year Award.

2010 saw widespread and growing evidence of rapidly warming global climate and strengthening scientific understanding of how humans are contributing to climate change. Yet on the policy front, little happened to stem the growing emissions of greenhouse gases or to help societies prepare for increasingly severe negative climate impacts, including now unavoidable changes in temperature, rainfall patterns, sea-level rise, snowpack, glacial extent, Arctic sea ice, and more. These physical impacts will lead to sharply increased disease, military and economic instabilities, food and water shortages, and extreme weather events, among other things. Without appropriate risk management action, the United States will be hit hard. There is no safe haven. Yet confusion and uncertainty about climate change remain high in the minds of too many members of the public and Congress.

Why? In large part because of a concerted, coordinated, aggressive campaign by a small group of well-funded climate change deniers and contrarians focused on intentionally misleading the public and policymakers with bad science about climate change. Much of this effort is based on intentional falsehoods, misrepresentations, inflated uncertainties, and pure and utter B.S. about climate science. These efforts have been successful in sowing confusion and delaying action – just as the same tactics were successful in delaying efforts to tackle tobacco’s health risks.

To counter this campaign of disinformation, we are issuing the first in what may become a series of awards for the most egregious Climate B.S.* of the Year. In preparing the list of nominees, suggestions were received from around the world and a panel of reviewers – all scientists or climate communicators – waded through them. We present here the top five nominees and the winner of the 2010 Climate B.S.* of the Year Award.

Fifth Place. Climate B.S. and misrepresentations presented by Fox “News.”

There are many examples of bad science, misrepresentations, omissions of facts, and distortions of climate reality coming from Fox “News” (far too many to list here, but we note that Joe Romm just gave Fox his 2010 Citizen Kane Award for “non-excellence in journalism” for their misrepresentations of climate science). It seems that Fox has now made it their policy to deny the reality of climate change and has told its reporters to misreport or cast doubt on the science. This policy of disinformation was implemented by Fox News executive Bill Sammon, whoordered staff to cast doubt on climate data in a memo revealed this month. Fox’s political commentators have long used this tactic in their one-sided and biased discussions on climate change but Sammon’s memo seems to direct News staff to slant reporting in direct contradiction to what the scientific facts and scientists actually say.

Fourth Place. Misleading or false testimony to Congress and policymakers about climate change.

While Congress held more hearings in 2010 on climate change than in other recent years, these hearings elicited some astounding testimonies submitted by climate deniers and skeptics filled with false and misleading statements about climate science and total B.S. Examples?

Long-time climate change skeptic Patrick Michaels testified before the House Science and Technology Committee and misrepresented the scientific understanding of the human role in climate change and the well-understood effects of fundamental climatic factors, such as the effects of visible air pollution. Including these effects (as climate scientists have done for many years) would have completely changed his results. Michaels has misrepresented mainstream climate science for decades, as has been noted  herehere, and elsewhere, yet he remains a darling of the skeptics in Congress who like his message.

A newer darling of Congressional climate change deniers is Christopher Monckton, who claims to be a member of the British House of Lords (a claim rejected by the House of Lords). Monckton testified before a Senate committee in May and presented such outlandish B.S. about climate that experts (such as John Mashey, Tim LambertJohn Abraham, and Barry Bickmore, to name a few) spent uncounted hours and pages and pages refuting just a subset of his errors.

Third PlaceThe false claim that a single weather event, such as a huge snowstorm in Washington, D.C., proves there is no global warming.

In February 2010 a big winter storm dumped record piles of snow on the mid-Atlantic U.S., including Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, prompting climate change deniers to use bad weather to try to discredit the reality of global warming.  Limbaugh said, “It’s one more nail in the coffin for the global warming thing.”  Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe got attentionwith an igloo on the national mall and labeled it “Al Gore’s new home” (combining bad science with a personal attack).  Senator Jim DeMint said, “It’s going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries ‘uncle.’”

Record snowfall is not an indicator of a lack of global warming, as has been pointed out in the scientific literature and many, many rounds of Congressional testimony.  It merely means that there was a storm and temperatures were close to or below freezing.  Indeed global warming can contribute to greater snowfalls by providing extra moisture.  Many scientists testifying before the Senate and House of Representatives have explained the difference between a steadily warming planet and occasional extreme cold events in particular spots. But we can expect to see more examples of this kind of B.S. when it gets cold and snowy somewhere, sometime, this winter.

Second PlaceThe claim that the “Climategate” emails meant that global warming was a hoax, or was criminal, as Senator Inhofe tried to argue. In fact, it was none of these things (though the British police are still investigating the illegal hacking of a British university’s computer system and the theft of the emails).

Global warming deniers used out-of-context texts from the stolen emails to claim that global warming was a hoax or that scientists had manipulated data or were hiding evidence that climate change wasn’t happening. These claims are all B.S. A series of independent scientific and academic investigations in the U.S. and the U.K. unanimously concluded that nothing in the stolen emails made any difference to the remarkable strength of climate science (see, for example, the Penn State vindication, the Independent Muir Russell and Lord Oxburgh reviews, a British Parliamentary Panel review, and other assessments).  Unfortunately, the media gave far more attention to the accusations than to the resounding vindications, and climate deniers continue to spread B.S. about this case.

The bottom line of “Climategate?” As a letter in Science magazine signed by 255 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences said in May 2010: “there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change.”


First Place goes to the following set of B.S.: “There has been no warming since 1998” [or 2000, or…], “the earth is cooling,” “global warming is natural,” and “humans are too insignificant to affect the climate.”  Such statements are all nonsense and important for the general public to understand properly.

The reality is that the Earth’s climate is changing significantly, changing fast, and changing due to human factors. The reality of climatic change can no longer be disputed on scientific grounds – the U.S. National Academy of Sciences calls the human-induced warming of the Earth a “settled fact.” The evidence for a “warming” planet includes not just rising temperatures, but also rising sea levels, melting Arctic sea ice, disappearing glaciers, increasing intense rainfalls, and many other changes that matter to society and the environment. The recent and ongoing warming of the Earth is unprecedented in magnitude, speed, and cause.

This winning set of B.S. appears almost daily in the conservative blogosphere, like hereand here and here,  consistently in the statements of climate change deniers, and far too often in real media outlets. Actual science and observations from around globe have long shown the opposite (for example, here and here are nice rebuttals with real science). The planet continues to warm rapidly largely due to human activities, andaverage global temperatures continue to rise. The most recent decade has been the warmest decade on record and 2010 will likely go down as either the warmest or second warmest year in recorded history.

Associated B.S. argues that the famous “hockey stick” graph has been disproved. This graph shows the extraordinarily rapid warming of the twentieth century compared to the previous 1000 years. The graph and analysis have been upheld by subsequent researchers and numerous scientific assessments, including one from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

To the winners: congratulations, it is long past time your B.S. is recognized for what it is – bad science.

And to the public and the media: be forewarned: all of these and similar bad arguments will certainly be repeated in 2011. It is long past time that this bad science is identified, challenged, and shown to be the B.S. that it is.

The 2010 Climate Bad Science (B.S.) Detection and Correction Team

Peter Gleick, Kevin Trenberth, Tenney Naumer, Michael Ashley, Lou Grinzo, Gareth Renowden, Paul Douglas, Jan W. Dash, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Brian Angliss, Joe Romm, Peter Sinclair, Michael Tobis, Gavin Schmidt, John Cook, plus several anonymous nominators, reviewers, and voters.

[* “B.S.” means “Bad Science” doesn’t it?]

For more information, contact Dr. Peter H. Gleick or Nancy Ross, Pacific Institute, 510 725-2385. nross@pacinst.org.

Photo Credit: a haynes

About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.
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  • Zachary:

    You are, of course, quite right about those “decades of thorough research and findings by scientists who have spent their lives (successfully) trying to better understand this matter”. But what are their findings? Well the basics are quite simple and uncontroversial: (1) so-called greenhouse gases – mostly water vapour, CO2 and methane – (fortunately for us) regulate the loss of the Sun’s heat back into space; (2) burning fossil fuels adds to CO2 concentration; (3) this causes warming in the lower atmosphere; and (4) the degree of such warming is quite small – and, of itself, unthreatening: a doubling of CO2 concentration adds about one degree C to the atmosphere.

    What is controversial is whether this warming will trigger dangerous climate change. And that would happen if it caused “positive feedback” – by, for example, causing more water vapour (by evaporation) leading to even higher temperatures. On the other hand, it might cause “negative feedback” – by, for example, causing greater cloud cover reflecting the Sun’s heat and thereby cooling the Earth. This key issue is unresolved despite those “decades of thorough research”. Although computer models assume positive feedback, it is not supported by real-world empirical evidence – which, if anything, supports negative feedback.

    Finding such evidence is crucial if dangerous man-made global warming is to be regarded as anything more than an interesting hypothesis. Scientific issues are resolved by observation – not by models, consensus or authority. Refusing to accept this, Zachary, is the true bad science. Accepting it is neither denial nor misrepresentation.

    • Robin, the thing you are failing to mention is that 97% of the scientists studying this for decades disagree with you about the results. And, the real-world feedbacks are more positive than negative. Which is one reason why we have seen several times in the past couple years that the rate of warming and expected rate of warming have been underestimated.

      • Zachary: it’s amusing that someone as keen as you to pillory “bad science” should perpetrate it himself. Scientific practice is not based on opinion – be it the opinion of a claimed 97% of relevant scientists or some other figure. Scientific progress is not a matter of majority vote or democracy: no, it’s determined by real-world empirical evidence. But surely you know that?

        But you’re wrong anyway. Insofar as there is a consensus, it goes no further than agreement that a doubling of CO2 atmospheric concentration will cause warming of no more than around 1 deg. C. Whether that will be increased by positive feedback and thus trigger dangerous climate change is unresolved because the evidence is inconclusive – if anything, appearing to support negative feedback and a reduction in temperature. Yet you assert that “feedbacks are more positive than negative”. Very well, you should find it easy to refer me to peer-reviewed, empirical (real-world), testable and reproducible evidence that demonstrates unambiguously that feedbacks are indeed positive and will cause dangerous climate change.

        (It may be helpful to note that what I’m requesting is your reference to robust evidence of the sort that links HIV with Aids and smoking with lung cancer. Or of the sort that Darwin sought and found in the natural world to verify his hypothesis. That, Zachary, is how science is done.)

        I look forward to your answer. Thanks.

        • Why has this been “awaiting moderation” for so long? I suggest that a request for empirical evidence is the epitome of Good Science – something you surely support. My request was courteously phrased and is concerned with a question at the heart of climate science. So I can see no possible objection to it.

          I look forward to an early response. Thanks.

          • Robin, your comment was awaiting moderation along with dozens of others. don’t feel slighted. as soon as i had the opportunity, i got to the comments. with hundreds of comments a week and plenty of other responsibilities, sometimes they do not get approved right away.

        • Robin, scientific consensus is not political consensus at all, the point is that it is based on science and sound scientific findings. and climate science showing clear global warming has become so sound over the past several decades (over half a century) of rigorous scientific study, it is not only climate scientists who say the topic is undebatable, it is also the leading scientific institutions of the world.

          here is more on the scientific consensus regarding global warming. (http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-scientific-consensus.htm):

          “97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming.
          Science achieves a consensus when scientists stop arguing. When a question is first asked – like ‘what would happen if we put a load more CO2 in the atmosphere?’ – there may be many hypotheses about cause and effect. Over a period of time, each idea is tested and retested – the processes of the scientific method – because all scientists know that reputation and kudos go to those who find the right answer (and everyone else becomes an irrelevant footnote in the history of science). Nearly all hypotheses will fall by the wayside during this testing period, because only one is going to answer the question properly, without leaving all kinds of odd dangling bits that don’t quite add up. Bad theories are usually rather untidy.

          “But the testing period must come to an end. Gradually, the focus of investigation narrows down to those avenues that continue to make sense, that still add up, and quite often a good theory will reveal additional answers, or make powerful predictions, that add substance to the theory. When Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleev constructed his periodic table of elements, not only did he fit all known elements successfully, he predicted that elements we didn’t even know about would turn up later on – and they did!

          “So a consensus in science is different from a political one. There is no vote. Scientists just give up arguing because the sheer weight of consistent evidence is too compelling, the tide too strong to swim against any longer. Scientists change their minds on the basis of the evidence, and a consensus emerges over time. Not only do scientists stop arguing, they also start relying on each other’s work. All science depends on that which precedes it, and when one scientist builds on the work of another, he acknowledges the work of others through citations. The work that forms the foundation of climate change science is cited with great frequency by many other scientists, demonstrating that the theory is widely accepted – and relied upon.

          “In the scientific field of climate studies – which is informed by many different disciplines – the consensus is demonstrated by the number of scientists who have stopped arguing about what is causing climate change – and that’s nearly all of them. Several studies confirm that “…the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes”. (Doran 2009). In other words, more than 95% of scientists working in the disciplines contributing to studies of our climate, accept that climate change is almost certainly being caused by human activities.

          “We should also consider official scientific bodies and what they think about climate change. There are no national or major scientific institutions anywhere in the world that dispute the theory of anthropogenic climate change. Not one.

          “In the field of climate science, the consensus is unequivocal: human activities are causing climate change.”

          regarding the claim that “a doubling of CO2 atmospheric concentration will cause warming of no more than around 1 deg. C,” Robin, it is clear we are in for much more warming than that! but i think i can see at this point that you are either purposefully using the Gish gallop (http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/01/forbes-rich-list-of-nonsense/) or just doing so inadvertently based on the misinformed circles you circulate in.

          regarding smoking and lung cancer, do you remember how many decades the tobacco industry kept the public confused about this link based on bad science and deliberate creation and spreading of misinformation? do you think the much more powerful oil and coal industries are doing anything less?

          i’m sorry if you are genuinely concerned that the science is not clear and we may switch to in clean energy that benefits human health, national and international security, the environment, and the economy “for no reason at all,” but the science disagrees with you, which is why there is strong scientific consensus regarding this topic.

          • Zachary:

            Apologies for my impatience, although I suggest the solution is to post non-abusive comments ASAP and to respond when you have time. However, I appreciate your response although, unfortunately, you’ve still failed to respond to my clear request for a reference to empirical evidence supporting the positive feedback hypothesis. If you’re so sure that “it is clear we are in for much more warming than [about 1 deg. C]” and that “the science disagrees with [me]”, one would expect you to find it easy to identify such a reference. So why not do so?

            This (identification of empirical evidence supporting the positive feedback hypothesis) is the key issue in climate science: although empirical evidence supports the view that the world is warming (and has been for about 300 years), that CO2 causes atmospheric warming (simple physics really – a doubling of concentration causes an unthreatening temperature rise of about 1 deg. C) and that Man’s emissions have therefore probably contributed to that warming in recent years, it does not appear to support the view that continued emissions will cause increased temperatures and thus dangerous climate change. Therefore, the crucial and unresolved question is whether or not feedback effects will have this effect: if not, continued emissions would not be a significant problem. This key question is not resolved by the IPCC report. And it’s about the IPCC findings that the consensus referred to your long “cut and paste” is said to be in agreement. So, even if science were done by consensus, this one wouldn’t help you.

            But science is not done by consensus: that “this must be true because lots of important people say so” (i.e. consensus) is BS (and, yes, by that I mean Bad Science). The great achievement of the Enlightenment was to break free of such BS by developing the Scientific Method by which Good Science is done by observation and measurement of the real world – i.e. by empirical evidence. Yet, despite my unambiguous request for a reference to such evidence supporting the positive feedback hypothesis, you have failed to provide one. (And just in case you don’t know what empirical evidence looks like, I suggest (again) that you look at the real-world evidence painstakingly assembled to demonstrate, for example, the smoking/cancer link – evidence the tobacco industry had, yet disgracefully didn’t publish.)

            Your problem I think is that there is no such evidence. Thus it’s significant that when, a few months ago, Ralph Cicerone and Martin Rees, presidents respectively of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, wrote a letter to the Financial Times, they noted this: “Uncertainties in the future rate of this rise [referring to the warming trend I mention above], stemming largely from the ‘feedback’ effects on water vapour and clouds, are topics of current research.” So you see: even these eminent scientists accept this key matter is unresolved.

            And, until it is resolved, there will continue to be uncertainty about whether or not continued emissions would cause dangerous climate change. You’d be wise, I suggest, to acknowledge that.

          • Sorry, Robin, about the delay in positive feedback loops. Here’s a good page on the empirical evidence: http://www.skepticalscience.com/Empirical-evidence-for-positive-feedback.html You will find links there to scientific articles on water vapor, as a positive feedback, the carbon cycle feedback, the ocean’s diminishing ability to absorb carbon (which I have covered a number of times), plankton growing slowly, Arctic sea ice melt and related factors, melting permafrost, melting snow cover extent, and the summary topic, *overall climate sensitivity* hope that is clear to you

            Now that you have a ton of evidence to look at, let’s get to some more matters we have neglected to discuss at length and come back to your concern about scientific consensus:

            “You’d be wise, I suggest, to acknowledge that.” To acknowledge that we may have warming that creates an unlivable climate altogether (http://planetsave.com/2010/05/05/future-temperatures-could-exceed-human-liveability/) or just one that creates more sever natural disasters, more extinctions, sea level rise (but not so much), water and food shortages, and other related problems? I do acknowledge that, but, Robin, it would be wiser to acknowledge the real and likely threats of significant, accelerated climate change and work to address it.

            Let’s look at the scientific consensus issue like this. If you were having some heart problems and went to 100 heart specialists and 97 of them told you one thing and the other 3 gave you other possibilities, who would you trust. yes, you would go with the recommendation of those 97 (i hope). we are in the same boat regarding climate change and if you refuse to acknowledge the value of the thousands of climate scientists who have been studying this for ages, it really is a wonder and unwise.

            Regarding waiting until the last minute (or after it, to be honest) to address this problem, how wise would that be? Especially given that at that point we would probably employ massive geoengineering which we surely wouldn’t have a ton of info about and could possibly be more dangerous than helpful.

            Regarding the actions we would need to take to address global warming at the moment, where is the hesitation?

            Investing more in bicycling is good for the economy, bicycling is very good for our health, makes cities nicer and more livable, and good for the environment in many other ways.

            Investing in high-speed rail and mass transit would result in a more efficient transport network, a more vibrant economy, and, again, a cleaner environment overall (water, air, etc.)

            Investing is solar, wind, and other clean energy technologies is good for the economy (much better than investing in dirty energy), and is, of course, better for the environment and thus our health.

            So, what would be wise to do? Improve our world & make use of the tons of useful information climate scientists have come up with, or argue some of the minute details into our children’s graves?

            I hope the answer is clear by now. It seems you are a rather sensible person..

          • Zachary (this is a reply to your most recent post):

            Thank you (again) for your courteous and thoughtful response. But you’re still missing my point. It’s this: there is (as the presidents of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society acknowledge – see my last post) continuing uncertainty about whether or not feedbacks will cause increases in major temperature and thus the “real and likely threats” you fear. This is not a “minute detail” – it’s fundamental to climate science and it can be resolved only when we have empirical evidence one way or the other. There is nothing in the “ton of evidence” to which you refer that cites such evidence.

            Perhaps you disagree. OK, so please refer me specifically to peer-reviewed research (not via a blog) that, by reference to empirical evidence (not computer models), supports positive feedback. (There is BTW a body of empirical evidence – largely data observed over 50 years of measurement by balloon-mounted radiosondes, sondes dropped from high-flying aircraft, or satellites – that would seem to support negative feedback. The Santer paper (mentioned to in your link), referring to alleged uncertainties in radiosonde data, used complex statistical argument, to suggest that these observed data may have been erroneous. But most radiosondes are remarkably accurate – able to detect temperature differences of 0.1°C when correctly calibrated and operated, as they usually are. In any case, Santer does not provide empirical evidence of positive feedback. My view – like that of the presidents of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society – is that the matter is uncertain. Here, for example, is a quotation from (the same) Santer: “On multi-decadal timescales, tropospheric amplification of surface warming is a robust feature of model simulations, but occurs in only one observational dataset. Other observations show weak or even negative amplification.”

            I mentioned earlier, as an example of how Good Science (as opposed to BS) is done, the painstaking work done to establish the empirical evidence supporting the smoking/cancer hypothesis. Well, here’s another:

            You may have heard of the Higgs boson. It’s a hypothetical subatomic particle, the existence of which would be critical to scientists’ understanding of the nature of matter. But, although theory and computer modelling suggest it should exist, it’s extraordinarily difficult to get empirical data verifying that. Did the researchers say to sceptics: “look, our computer models and indirect evidence show it should exist and the consensus of specialists in the field is that it must, so you’ll just have to take our word for it and move on”? Er, no – at vast expense, they designed and built the Large Hadron Collider at Geneva and set about the extraordinarily difficult task of identifying the particle. (Although they seem to be getting there, they have yet to succeed.)

            There is no reason at all why the same discipline should not apply to climate science: a hypothesis that’s unsupported by empirical evidence continues to be no more than a hypothesis, no matter how many people believe it to be valid.

            A couple of comments on the actions you think “we need to take”:

            1. Yup, bicycling is great. Your problem is that the world isn’t listening: when I first went to China, a car was rare & everyone rode bicycles – today China is a bigger car market than the USA.

            2. So-called “green” energy may be good for your health. But not if you’re a poverty-stricken mother in Africa where CO2 restriction means that clean water, proper sanitation, fresh food and adequate health care are either unavailable or hopelessly expensive and your children die. That’s why the developing economies last year supported a World Bank loan to South Africa for the construction of a vast coal-fired power station – of the sort being built in China and India. I daresay you don’t like this: but where’s the morality in allowing children to die because of an unverified hypothesis?

          • Robin, there were numerous links to scientific papers in the link i included above. It should be easy enough for you to check those out. Waiting for stronger empirical evidence of this experiment we are doing on the planet is unwise to say the least. Undermining the sound scientific findings of world-leading scientists is also unwise to say the least.

            Regarding sitting on our behind until the science is 100% resolves, here’s what 255 leading scientists of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, including 11 Nobel Laureates, have to say:

            “We are deeply disturbed by the recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and on climate scientists in particular. All citizens should understand some basic scientific facts. There is always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions; science never absolutely proves anything. When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the same as saying society should never take action. For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet.

            “Scientific conclusions derive from an understanding of basic laws supported by laboratory experiments, observations of nature, and mathematical and computer modeling. Like all human beings, scientists make mistakes, but the scientific process is designed to find and correct them. This process is inherently adversarial— scientists build reputations and gain recognition not only for supporting conventional wisdom, but even more so for demonstrating that the scientific consensus is wrong and that there is a better explanation. That’s what Galileo, Pasteur, Darwin, and Einstein did. But when some conclusions have been thoroughly and deeply tested, questioned, and examined, they gain the status of “well-established theories” and are often spoken of as “facts.”

            “For instance, there is compelling scientific evidence that our planet is about 4.5bn years old (the theory of the origin of Earth), that our universe was born from a single event about 14bn years ago (the Big Bang theory), and that today’s organisms evolved from ones living in the past (the theory of evolution). Even as these are overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, fame still awaits anyone who could show these theories to be wrong. Climate change now falls into this category: there is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.

            “Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers, are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientific assessments of climate change, which involve thousands of scientists producing massive and comprehensive reports, have, quite expectedly and normally, made some mistakes. When errors are pointed out, they are corrected.

            “But there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change:

            (i) The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact.

            (ii) Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

            (iii) Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth’s climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.

            (iv) Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea-level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic.

            (v) The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more.

            “Much more can be, and has been, said by the world’s scientific societies, national academies, and individuals, but these conclusions should be enough to indicate why scientists are concerned about what future generations will face from business- as-usual practices. We urge our policymakers and the public to move forward immediately to address the causes of climate change, including the unrestrained burning of fossil fuels.”

            From John Pethica, Vice-President of the Royal Society: “Climate change is an important issue affecting everyone.”

            No one is saying we should delay action to address climate change.

            Where are your interests? Why would you prefer to undermine the sound findings regarding this matter? If your interests are purely academic, they probably belong in an academic setting, no? If you have any contention to the article above regarding truly B.S., it seems we have gotten way off course, as their claims are far far far from what you have already said is true.

            Regarding policy matters, China is definitely a hard case, but it is investing tremendously more in a clean energy future and clean tech than the U.S. I am not Chinese, I am American, and my goal is to help get us out of the dark ages. I can dig up the quotes for you if you wish (I’ve written on it), but China is not doubting the climate science or the need to transition to a clean energy economy.

            Regarding Africa, if you pay any attention to international climate negotiations, you will see that African countries are begging and trying to do everything they can to get the U.S. and other leading economies to take climate change more seriously and do more to address it. Why? Because they are likely to be hit much harder by it, at the start at least. Expected problems for Africa if we do not work to address climate change more quickly are worse than what the continent is facing now. And that is why people there care so much about this issue.

          • and Robin, here’s more from the UK Royal Society, in case the quote above wasn’t enough compared to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences quote saying essentially the same thing:

            “Our scientific understanding of climate change is sufficiently sound to make us highly confident that greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming. Science moves forward by challenge and debate and this will continue. However, none of the current criticisms of climate science, nor the alternative explanations of global warming are well enough founded to make not taking any action the wise choice. The science clearly points to the need for nations to take urgent steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, as much and as fast as possible, to reduce the more severe aspects of climate change. We must also prepare for the impacts of climate change, some of which are already inevitable.”

          • Well, Zachary, I’ll say this – you’re good at quoting (at length) the opinions of important people and authorities. But that’s not science: had the opinions of important people and authorities ruled, Galileo, Pasteur, Darwin, Einstein and countless other scientists would have achieved nothing. So please let’s move on from that.

            The question I’ve raised is basic. There’s little doubt that the world has been warming for a long time, since well before Man can have had much to do with it. (BTW my own guess is that that warming will probably continue.) There’s no doubt that increasing CO2 concentrations can increase temperature – so it seems at least likely that Man has contributed to recent warming. The problem (for you) is that, of itself, CO2 can cause only modest and harmless warming (see my posts above), so some other mechanism has to be identified if, as many fear, temperatures are to increase to the extent of causing dangerous climate change. So far as I am aware, the only possibility identified so far is so-called “positive feedback” – again, see above. But, and here’s the problem (for those sounding the alarm), there appears to be no empirical evidence supporting that possibility. It’s not, as you seem to believe, a question “waiting for stronger empirical evidence”: there appears to be no such evidence. And the “sound scientific findings”, insofar as they exist, support negative feedback.

            (This is not “a minor detail” as you seem to think. It’s at the heart of climate science: without dangerously increased temperatures, there’s no real problem.)

            It is, I suggest, significant that, despite my repeated requests, you have failed to identify any such evidence. If it existed, I’m pretty sure it would by now have been widely publicised and you would be able to find it easily. BTW I’ve looked carefully at the links you provided (have you?) and can see nothing there. Likewise, I’ve looked carefully at the IPCC report (have you?) and can see nothing there either.

            It may be that, irrespective of evidence, you simply believe that increased emissions threaten the planet. And, of course, it’s pointless for me to argue with belief (i.e. a secular religion) just as it is to argue with, say, a creationist. But I’ll assume that’s not your position. So, once more, here’s my request:

            Please refer me to specific (not via a blog), peer-reviewed, empirical (real-world), testable and reproducible evidence that demonstrates unambiguously that feedbacks (resulting from CO2 warming) are indeed positive and will cause dangerous climate change.

            I look forward to your response.

            As to interesting matter of China and the attitudes and actions of the developing world (yes, I pay very close attention to international climate negotiations), I’ll try to find time to deal with that later.

          • Robin, i’ve already replied to all of these points above.

          • well, except for this line: “it’s pointless for me to argue with belief (i.e. a secular religion).” Robin, as was the case with the prominent scientists you keep referencing, they were opposed by those who did not want to accept the science as well. They did not receive a warm welcome initially (and some, their whole life) when their scientific breakthroughs countered the status quo. Climate scientists are facing the same thing at the moment. Luckily, as I have pointed out numerous times by now, at least the broader scientific community has vindicated them now.

          • Zachary:

            My apologies for taking so long to continue this interesting (and revealing) correspondence. I’ve been (and still am) extremely busy.

            You say you have “already replied to all” my points. Well, essentially I’m making only one “point” and you have not yet answered it. So here it is (yet) again:

            Please cite specific (not via a blog), peer-reviewed, research that demonstrates unambiguously (by reference to empirical (real-world), testable and reproducible evidence) that feedbacks (resulting from CO2 warming) are indeed positive and will cause dangerous climate change.

            If, as you seem to think, the “broader scientific community” (whatever that means) has “vindicated” the dangerous AGW hypothesis, such evidence must exist. Therefore, you should find it easy to identify it and cite it.

            But it seems you cannot. Hmm …

          • Robin: the link above is to a blog post with several links to scientific articles in it. the discussion provided by the scientist who wrote the blog is also worth a read. there is no point in me copying and pasting the info from that blog in here. it can all be easily accessed and read over there.

            for more on the topic, coincidentally, the journal Science has just published a review and analysis of “real world” paleoclimate data — “Lessons from Earth’s Past.” (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/331/6014/158.full)

            Some of the key conclusions:

            “Earth’s CO2concentration is rapidly rising to a level not seen in ∼30 to 100 million years, and Earth’s climate was extremely warm at these levels of CO2. If the world reaches such concentrations of atmospheric CO2, positive feedback processes can amplify global warming beyond current modeling estimates. The human species and global ecosystems will be placed in a climate state never before experienced in their evolutionary history and at an unprecedented rate. Note that these conclusions arise from observations from Earth’s past and not specifically from climate models. Will we, as a species, listen to these messages from the past in order to avoid repeating history?”

            for more on this topic as a whole, you can also check out these scientific articles:

            Subtropical Arctic Ocean temperatures during the Palaeocene/Eocene thermal maximum

            Positive feedback between global warming and atmospheric CO2 concentration inferred from past climate change

            Global Warming: East-West Connections

            Missing feedbacks, asymmetric uncertainties, and the underestimation of future warming

            For more blog posts on the topic written by another scientist heavily knowledgeable on the topic and good at communicating climate science findings, you can check out:

            Are Scientists Overestimating — or Underestimating — Climate Change, Part I

            Are Scientists Overestimating — or Underestimating — Climate Change, Part II

            Science stunner: On our current emissions path, CO2 levels in 2100 will hit levels last seen when the Earth was 29°F (16°C) hotter

          • Zachary: I said I would get back to you re China and the attitudes and actions of the developing world. This is an extraordinarily important matter and I have a lot of data about it. But I’ll try to keep it simple.

            I suggest you go to http://cdiac.orni.gov (the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center). You’ll note that, in 1970, CO2 emissions by the Western industrialised world were more than half the global total. Since then, total global emissions have more than doubled. Yet today the Western industrialised world accounts for less than a third of the global total. The main reason is that the developing world (led by China and India) has massively increased its CO2 emissions – an increase that is set to continue its acceleration. The result is that, even if the US and Europe were to cut their emissions right back to 1970 levels (which is inconceivable), it would make no significant difference to the global situation: a cut of approximately 0.25 gigatonnes from a total of over 9 gigatonnes (i.e. less than 3%). And that is true, of course, even if the developing world was to halt its increase in emissions now – equally inconceivable.

            So, if you’re right about the dangerous AGW hypothesis, you would be wise to concentrate exclusively on adaptation strategies because mitigation cannot possibly work. Fortunately, I don’t think you are right.

          • Zachary:

            Oh well, it seems I have to repeat my request:

            Please cite specific (not via a blog), peer-reviewed, research that demonstrates unambiguously (by reference to empirical (real-world), testable and reproducible evidence) that feedbacks (resulting from CO2 warming) are indeed positive and will cause dangerous climate change.

            Instead of doing this, you keep referring me to links to items in magazines and blogs that support the dangerous AGW “cause”. I could reply with items from sources that support the sceptic cause. But that would turn this into a pointless ding-dong. No, what I’m seeking is a reference to proper scientific research (you know, peer-reviewed and published in a recognised journal and meeting the criteria I set out above). I agree about cutting and pasting – although it might be useful to quote the abstract.


            More important:

            What’s your view about my observation that the vast and accelerating CO2 emissions of economies outside the Western developed world mean that you would be wise to concentrate exclusively on adaptation strategies because mitigation cannot possibly work?

          • Robin:

            As I also said before, there are numerous scientific articles in the links above that you can easily click on to. If you want me to pull everything out for you and detail it, I’ll go ahead and do so in a full post, not in a long, 1-on-1 unread comment stream. It’s just not worth my time. Chances are, if you have no interest in looking into the links provided more yourself, your not actually that interested in the matter and are more interested in distracting me from my other work.

            Regarding the last question: clearly, at this point, both mitigation and adaptation are both extremely important. we have let things go too far to only focus on mitigation, and to only focus on adaptation would be suicidal and nonsensical.

          • Zachary:

            We have been discussing two quite separate issues: (1) the existence, or not, of empirical evidence supporting the dangerous AGW hypothesis and (2) whether or not there is any point in Western CO2 mitigation. I’ll deal with them in turn.

            Re the first, three points:

            1. This is basic and certainly worth your time. If there is no such evidence, AGW is not a problem.

            2. You keep ignoring my request. Based squarely on the criteria of the Scientific Method, it’s this: that you cite specific (not via a blog), peer-reviewed research that demonstrates unambiguously (by reference to empirical (real-world), testable and reproducible evidence) that feedbacks (resulting from CO2 warming) are indeed positive and will cause dangerous climate change.

            3. Far from ignoring your links, I’ve examined each very carefully and with great interest. So there’s no need for you “to pull everything out … and detail it”. But, frankly, I wonder if you have yourself got beyond the headlines – because, had you done so, you would have seen that none of them meet the criteria set out above. Not one. If you disagree, pick any one of them and show me how it satisfies the criteria.

            But I would advise you not to choose Jeffrey Keil’s recent article in Science. Far from being peer-reviewed research, it’s not even in the “Research” section of the magazine. No, it’s a speculative opinion piece in the “Perspectives” section.

            And, in any case, it’s not even very convincing opinion.

            Keil has carefully selected one episode out of many shown in the long-term paleontological graphs of CO2 and temperature. Those graphs show no causative relationship: there have, for example, been periods of high CO2 and low temperature and of low CO2 and high temperature. If anything, proxy records (i.e. Keil’s “observational evidence”) show that raised CO2 follows increased temperature. He alleges that, during the specific episode he chose, high temperature followed high CO2. But, even then, he offers no evidence that one caused the other; on the contrary, as is shown from your quotation above, he assumes a feedback effect. But, Zachary, that’s the very point for which I am requesting evidence, not assumption. It’s sleight of hand: he must know the basic truth that correlation does not prove causation whereas lack of correlation always disproves causation.

            (Incidentally, it’s interesting that Keil attempts to establish an equivalence between Earth’s climate 35 million years ago and that “projected” for 2100. Thus he says, “The paleogeography of this time was not radically different from present-day geography …” That assertion is absurd. I can expand on that if you are interested.)

            Over to you.

          • So, I’ll cover it. Yes, I’ve gone beyond the headlines. Thank You

          • Zachary:

            Now the second issue: whether or not there is any point in Western CO2 mitigation. You say, “of course we must mitigate”. But why – what’s the point?

            Did you examine the CDIAC data to which I referred you? Had you done so, you would have seen that, whereas 30 odd years ago the Western economies’ CO2 emissions were over 50% of global emissions, today they are less than 30% – and the West’s share is shrinking rapidly. The result (as I have pointed out) is that, even if the US and Europe were to cut their emissions right back to 1970 levels (which is wholly inconceivable – we cannot even get back to 1990 levels as required by Kyoto), it would make no practical difference to the global situation. (It would be a cut of less than 3%)

            But the reality is even worse (if CO2 reduction is deemed essential): the developing world – led by China and India – is accelerating its burning of fossil fuels, mainly coal (since 2000, China for example has increased its use of coal by about 135%). I’ve already mentioned the World Bank loan to South Africa and, if you’re interested, can provide links to data re Chinese and Indian plans. A recent report by the World Energy Outlook is telling. It demonstrates the total failure of Kyoto (exacerbated by failure to reach a binding agreement at either Copenhagen or Cancun): global emissions are set to climb beyond levels that the claimed “scientific consensus” says will lead to disaster.

            Here’s a graph, showing the International Energy Agency’s forecast to 2035 compared with the Copenhagen/Cancun target for the same period: http://financialpostopinion.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/fp1113_copenhagenworl7e7381.jpg
            Look at it carefully: as you see, it is projecting that, far from falling, emissions will rise 6 gigatonnes above today’s levels and 14 gigatonnes above the UN target. And China is leading the way. And who can blame it? Burning fossil fuel has enabled it to massively strengthen its economy and global power – and to lift nearly 400 million people out of poverty. With a CO2 per person still a fraction of that of the USA, it has no intention of slowing down. BTW one consequence has been to ease the effect of the economic recession on Western economies.

            Zachary: there’s nothing we in the West can do to change all this. To deny it is to live in dreamland.

            Therefore, as I have said, Western mitigation cannot possibly work. So what’s the point of it? (In any case, “controlling” our use of energy will simply move usage to China, increasing its economic growth still further and moving more energy usage to coal and away from “greener” fuels.)

            Better by far to work to strengthen our economies so that we are best placed to adapt to whatever change is on its way.

          • Robin, I’m sorry, I completely disagree that there is nothing we can do in the West to address such climate change. To claim that we can’t goes beyond any basic logic. While it is clear other emerging economies need to do a lot to address the issue as well, that doesn’t mean the other half of the world doesn’t need to. While we might not be hitting the targets many of us think we should be hitting, it would be far from logical to stop trying to reduce emissions altogether. ESPECIALLY when the means of doing so also mean greater economic growth and job creation! 😀

          • Zachary, in your last reply to Robin, you write that both mitigation and adaptation are extremely important. However, I think there is an argument to be made that adaptation is far more important. (I’d better say at this point that my position re climate change is probably quite similar to Robin’s – I get called a “climate denier” quite often but consider myself more a “lukewarmer.”)

            Why adaptation?

            1) The long-term effects of more CO2 in the atmosphere are not fully known yet. Atmospheric chemist Susan Solomon stated in 2009: “People have imagined that if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide that the climate would go back to normal in 100 years or 200 years. What we’re showing here is that’s not right. It’s essentially an irreversible change that will last for more than a thousand years.” And Peter Gleick has stated recently that we “are now committed to irreversible long-term and inevitably damaging consequences ranging from rapidly rising sea levels, far greater heat stress and damages, disappearing glaciers and snowpack, more flooding and droughts, and far, far more.”

            If these statements reflect the consensus view, would it not be fair to say that throwing resources into heroic CO2 mitigation efforts will be largely futile? And perhaps more than futile, if money that could have been spent to improve infrastructure was spent instead on projects such as Carbon Capture & Storage, which offer little or no benefits other than CO2 mitigation?

            2) In addition, while the world’s nations might talk the talk on CO2 reduction, I am far from convinced as to whether they will collectively quite do enough to keep global CO2 levels below “safe” levels. The BRICS nations (which is where most future CO2 emissions are likely to come from) want economic growth, and the developed nations might find, despite their promises, that keeping the lights on and meeting strict carbon emissions targets are incompatible goals.

            I consider that adaptation strategies offer the best chance of a win-win situation, whatever one’s stance on AGW.

            1) History shows that many adaptation measures are prudent whatever the climate – sea defences, flood defences, irrigation, more robust infrastructure, better communications; these are measures that can potentially receive support from both AGW proponents and sceptics.

            2) According to many AGW proponents the poorer countries will be hardest hit by climate change. Helping to create the conditions for Third World countries becoming wealthier is another thing that proponents and sceptics can thus agree on. The Dutch have been coping with sea level rises for centuries; if the Bangladeshis were as wealthy as the Dutch, they too could cope (whether or not sea level rises are due to AGW.)

            3) Whatever happens to global average temperatures during the next decades, and whatever changes that climate science will undergo, sensible adaptation measures will be a worthwhile “hedge”. For example, whether increased storminess occurs in warmer or cooler times, better infrastructure and preparedness for stormy conditions (and having the wealth to afford such measures) will reap dividends, generally speaking.

            I will be interested to know your thoughts on this.

          • I think all your statements about the need for adaptation are spot on. However, the clear reason why mitigation is still extremely important is that while we may have set ourselves up for some serious problems, we could set ourselves up for much worse if we don’t change course. It’s like having our boat skim an iceberg and result in some expensive damage or hitting it straight on and having a Titanic-like experience. Mitigation is still critical.

            Economically, as many studies have pointed out, the cost of strongly addressing the causes of climate change right now will save the world a ton of money in the future.

          • Zachary: in this post I’ll deal with the mitigation question. Then, in a separate post I’ll deal with adaptation.


            Like you, I used to think that “we” should be doing “something” about AGW (or, as you put it, “we” should “change course”) – until, that is, someone gently pointed out to me that there is no “we”, just a collection of countries with different agendas. And, unless all these countries agree to take truly radical action, “something” could in effect mean very little.

            But that was three years ago. Since then, my view has been affected by three things: (1) CO2 emissions have continued, and are continuing, to grow, well beyond levels once regarded as a “tipping point”; (2) despite numerous attempts to get international agreement to halt this, culminating in Copenhagen and now Cancun, it’s become plain that agreement is impossible: as George Monbiot (a leading UK “green” campaigner) said recently, “My certainties of what needs to be done have crumbled in the face of the complete ineptitude and uselessness of the world’s governments.” (http://uk.oneworld.net/article/view/166698/1/246; and (3) I had a detailed look at the statistics: as I’ve already pointed out, the Western industrialised economies (essentially the USA and Western Europe) are today responsible for less than one third of emissions, not half as you mistakenly seem to believe. But the key point is that the gap is widening fast: they were responsible for more than half not so long ago. Moreover, the West’s efforts to reduce emissions are going nowhere (except, that is, to China as whole industries migrate). But the reality is that, even if they were cut emissions right back to 1970’s levels (plainly impossible), it would have no practical global effect. No, the growth in emissions (currently running at about 120,000,000 tonnes of carbon per year, about 85% (note that figure) of which arises from outside the US and Western Europe) would be halted only if (A) the developing economies (China, India etc.) and (B) the fossil-fuel extraction economies (Russia, Iran, Saudi etc.) decide to abandon, in the case of (A), their economic growth and political preeminence (consigning, in the process, hundreds of millions of people to continuing poverty) and, in the case of (B), the entire basis of their economic power. Anyone believing that either is going to happen is living in dreamland.

            So for the West to attempt mitigation is pointless – irrespective of the reality of AGW. Of course, the West could do something “to address climate change” but, as Alex Cull has it, it would be futile.

            Zachary: please tell me if, in view of all the above facts, you still think this conclusion “goes beyond basic logic”. And, if you do, please explain precisely why. Thanks.

          • Robin: yes, this does not change my point of view at all. the U.S., where i am a citizen, is the 2nd-biggest contributor to gw pollution. to act as if it is not important what we do with regards to this matter is ignorant. furthermore, our stance and policies are critical to getting other countries on board. again, to ignore this fact would be ignorant. and to conclude that what the U.S. does (alone, not including the UK or other developed countries) goes beyond basic logic.

          • Zachary, this post is a continuation of my earlier (mitigation) post.


            We don’t know what challenges the world will face in the 21st century. But, if the 19th and 20th centuries are any guide, they will take us by surprise. We may be concerned now about dangerous global warming, dangerous global cooling, massive volcanic eruption, asteroid strike, mass starvation, pandemic, nuclear war, terrorism etc. but doubtless there are other ghastly threats lurking. What we do know is that we (individual countries that is) are most likely to be able to cope with (i.e. adapt to) such threats if we have strong, resilient economies. So developing such economies should be our overriding priority.

            I would add that a strong, resilient economy invariably depends on inexpensive, reliable energy and, for the impoverished Third World (i.e. those unfortunate economies not included in either categories (A) or (B) defined in my post above), an inexpensive, reliable, fossil-fuel based energy supply is the key to clean water, proper sanitation, fresh food, good healthcare, better education, etc. (the things we comfortable people in the fortunate West take for granted) and to the reduction of political instability and violence. To be plain: without such an energy supply, millions of babies will die. Moreover, as people become more prosperous, they stabilise population growth, develop sustainable approaches to land management and become increasingly more environmentally aware.

          • Robin: i agree with you regarding the importance of a vibrant economy. however, a livable ecology is critical to a vibrant economy, and to claim that we can’t have any idea of how to make sure we have one is a straight lie. furthermore, clean energy is a key economic driver now. a key way to ensure economic advancement and job growth is to invest in clean energy technology. a key way to ensure energy independence is also through clean energy. and with peak oil here or about to be here, as well as peak coal, greener forms of energy and transport become all the more important economically as well.

          • Zachary:


            It seems that you don’t read my posts: I’ve provided you with links to a wealth of objective data about the facts of CO2 emission – yet your recent comment seems to have been written without regard to any of this. Why?

            In a nutshell, I’ve shown you (a) that the US and Europe today account for less than one third of global emissions, down from more than half not so long ago and (b) that, even if the US and Europe were today to cut back emissions to where they were 30 years ago, it would make no appreciable difference to the global position. I’ll repeat that: even if the US and Europe were today to cut back emissions to where they were 30 years ago, it would make no appreciable difference to the global position.

            Now ask yourself this: is there any possibility that the US and Europe are prepared today to cut back their emissions to where they were 30 years ago? Take an objective view and your answer can only be No. And then remind yourself that, even if that miracle were to happen, it would make no appreciable difference.

            Yet the reality is that there is nothing even remotely approaching an immediate thirty-year cut back on the table in either the US (for example, see this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jan/26/climate-change-obama-bush) or Europe. Yet you harbour the strange conceit that the rest of the world (i.e. that part accounting for more than 70% of emissions) is likely to be willing to follow the West and “get on board”. Hmm … I’d be interested to know how you’d go about persuading, for example, Putin, Ahmadinajad, Chávez and King Fahd to abandon the entire basis of their economies and global power. And then I’d be interested to know how you’d persuade the Chinese and Indian governments, where the average “carbon footprint” is a fraction of that of the US, not only to abandon their economic growth but also to condemn hundreds of millions of people to a continuation of their lives of grinding poverty.

            You may find these realities harsh. Maybe they are – but I suggest you come to terms with them.


            You say I’ve claimed, “that we can’t have any idea of how to make sure we have [a vibrant economy]” and that that claim is “a straight lie”. Well, it’s unfortunate that you’ve descended to abuse. So far, this exchange has been conducted with courtesy. I suggest we continue it that way. Thanks.

            In any case, I made no such claim. On the contrary, I am an optimist. I have no doubt that it is possible for the world’s more disadvantaged people to develop cheap, reliable energy supplies – as in South Africa, initially largely based on coal (of which the world has abundant reserves) but probably in time moving to newer technologies. As I have said, that would, in turn, build growing and successful economies (c.f. China and India) – and a successful economy is the key to clean water, proper sanitation, fresh food, good healthcare, better education, etc. (all things we comfortable people in the West take for granted) and to the reduction of political instability and violence. As I’ve also pointed out, as people become more prosperous, they stabilise population growth (as in India for example), develop sustainable approaches to land management and food production and become increasingly more environmentally aware. Moreover – and this is particularly important – they become better able to cope with whatever challenges (natural or man-made) the world may face in the 21st century.

            That surely is a future worth fighting for – “trying to improve our world” as your slogan puts it?

          • Robin: I have read your posts carefully. And you don’t need to repeat the same arguments, as I clearly do not agree with them. We should focus on adaptation at this point, of course, but we should also focus on mitigation. This is not even an issue hippie treehuggers or climate scientists are alone proposing these days — leaders in banking, insurance, the energy industry, engineering, and various technology industries have spoken up and made strong statements about this. I could link to numerous such statements for you, but you seem pretty set on your opinion regarding this matter, not on the opinion of these world leaders or world-leading climate scientists.

            Now, with regard to “straight lie” I was referring to, it was not a personal attack, it was exactly what I called it. I’m sorry if you were offended..

            This discussion has morphed from its beginnings and I truly have to wonder what your point in it all is. You seem set on the idea that we (East and West) should no longer try to stop accelerated global warming… you are clearly not going to convince me of that (or anything even close to it) and this is basically now a 1-on-1 discussion. Climate change mitigation through the use of clean energy instead of fossil fuels such as coal and oil will save us more money than it will cost and will also benefit the environment, public health, and the quality of life of countless people around the world. I’m sorry if you don’t see eye to eye with me (and numerous other experts on this matter) and think you need to save the world from such progressive ideas.



          • Zach: I think I posted my most recent comment in the wrong slot. It should of course be here. Apologies – R

        • Zach:

          You’re failing to distinguish fact from opinion. My observation that “even if the US and Europe were today to cut back emissions to where they were 30 years ago, it would make no appreciable difference to global emissions” is a statement of fact (based squarely on the CDIAC data to which I referred you) not of opinion. Therefore, there’s nothing to disagree with – unless, that is, you think the figures are wrong.

          Far from arguing here, as you seem to think, whether or not “we” should be cutting emissions, I’m stating the plain fact that, not only are “we” not doing so, “we” are in contrast actively ramping them up. And it’s that part of “we” already responsible for over 70% of emissions that’s doing the ramping. See, for example, this (from the current Economist):


          A quotation:

          “The IEA estimates that China, which generates more than 70% of its electricity with coal, will build 600 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power capacity in the next quarter-century—as much as is currently generated with coal in America, Japan and the European Union put together. Nomura, a Japanese bank, thinks that may be an underestimate.”

          The Economist is not claiming this is a welcome development, indeed its headline says it’s “bad news for the environment”. No, it’s reporting it because it’s a fact. So there’s nothing to disagree with – unless you think it’s got the facts wrong. See the difference now? I’m sure you think this fact is seriously regrettable and that, as all those “numerous experts from around the world” would doubtless agree, China has got its policy hopelessly and dangerously wrong and that “the quality of life of countless people around the world” will suffer as a result. No doubt you regard it as non-progressive. But that doesn’t stop it from being a fact.

          You ask what my point is. It’s this: as (a) that part of the world responsible for over 70% of emissions, far from planning to mitigate, has plans for a vast increase in emissions and (b) there’s no possibility that the rest of us (essentially the US and Europe) can do anything to offset that, it’s now futile for the US and Europe to attempt mitigation. Far better, therefore, for them to focus exclusively on adaptation.

          Perhaps you think that, nonetheless, a futile gesture is worthwhile. I don’t.

          Good luck – Rob

          • Robin, thank you for spending the time to expound, but as I have stated several times, it is still not at all futile for the U.S. and Europe (the EU), which emit the 2nd and 3rd most CO2, to cut their emissions. Both practically and politically. I’m sorry that you disagree with me about this. But, as I’ve said before, it is common sense that we need to cut our emissions as well, especially given that switching to clean energy, more efficient modes of transport, and a less energy-intensive food system would benefit much more than cutting CO2…

          • Well, Zach, we may find some slight measure of agreement here. I am (and have been for some time) a serious environmentalist: currently engaged, for example, in a couple local “green “ projects. I’m particularly interested in more efficient food production. So, yes, I agree that we in the West should be doing more to protect our fragile environment and improve peoples’ quality of life: cleaner waterways, radically cleaned up industrial effluent (e.g. the SO2, NOx, CO, hydrocarbon, mercury, lead, arsenic, uranium, particulate matter etc. still emitted by old coal-fired power stations), etc. Much of this has direct impact on peoples’ health and well being. For example, recent research shows how much damage is done to children in cities by the particulates emitted by motor vehicles.

            But I have two caveats:

            1. It’s very concerning how so-called “clean” technologies involve components that depend on so-called rare earths – and, as I’m sure you know, the mining and processing of rare earths (largely in China) is appallingly unpleasant: polluting the local environment and seriously damaging health. Yet, for example, the batteries etc. used in electric cars (and BTW the magnets in windmills) depend on REs. There’s nothing to be gained by improving well being in the West if it severely damages health and the environment elsewhere. Nothing’s simple in this world.

            2. It’s hopelessly counter-productive to divert vast resources from these (and other) worthwhile aims to a wasteful and futile (as is plainly shown by the facts I have cited above) attempt by the West to mitigate the perceived deleterious effects of CO2 emission.

  • So which is it climate change or global warming?

  • Awesome post. And thanks for taking the time to dispell the myths perpetuated by other commentors.

    • Thank You, Gary. People are much more likely to comment when they disagree.. nice to get positive comments like yours.

      The evidence is overwhelming, which is why it’s so frustrating to still be discussing the ABCs of it & not how to address it more.

      It would be like still discussing whether or not AIDs or brain cancer exists rather than trying to deal with the problems.

      Anyway, i’m sure you understand 😀 Thank you for the support

  • I can agree that ‘climate change’ exists. It could be happening. But until I see some hard, definitive proof like Antarctic ice core samples which have been used to calculate climate and global temperature in the past… I cannot agree to any of this is man made.

    Man accelerated, influenced. Yes, possibly, nay, probably.

    But I have not heard, not seen hide nor hair of definitive, scientific proof this is something we can change. Science is hard fact, and I have seen none of that so far to say this isn’t natural phenomenon or indeed, the wax and wane of a planet we’ve only started to notice in the last, 100ish years? I have seen no physical proof from the earth itself that this is something to scream and worry about… Or that we can even change.

    Compounded by the last thirty something years of very poor estimates of future weather events (Such as snow being a ‘rarity’ within several years back in 2000) I’m still lead to believe this is all a petty farce designed to scare people into spending money on something entirely natural and as unstoppable as the earth’s rotation.

    • Jess,

      If you have not seen the hard proof, you have not looked for it. There is tons of it. Which is why ~97% of climate scientists (no, maybe not heart doctors or dentists, but climate scientists who have spent decades studying this matter) say it is beyond a reasonable doubt now, is essentially proven, and is at least primarily human-induced

        • klem, this coverage of the study is clearly warped (& what else would you expect from the author?)

          yes, the researchers analyzed different groups (more info is more useful, no?).

          the finding that the more informed scientists are with regards to climate science, the more likely they are to say that it is cause by humans should not be a matter of concern. if the trend were the other way, yes it would be. in this case, a higher percentage of *active publishing scientists* believe the above than non-publishing scientists or the general public; a higher % of **active publishing scientists publishing on the topic of climate** believe the above than *active publishing scientists*; and, furthermore, a higher % of ***Climatologists actively publishing on climate change*** believe the above. see the trend?

          another study has also reported that while only 49% of the public believe humans are causing global warming, 84% of all scientists believe this. The clear point: the public have been confused about the cause of global warming by horrible coverage of the matter in the mainstream media (or pure ignorance or lack of information). the same divide holds true for evolution according to this study: in America a mere 32 percent of the public believe that evolution is caused by natural processes, whereas in the scientific community, that number is 87 percent.

  • Mann’s ‘hockey stick’ has, more than any other aspect of the ‘global’ ‘climate’ ‘change’ myth, has been discredited. Stamping your feet and throwing a tantrum doesn’t make it any more credible.

    That the planet is in a warming cycle is undeniable; that this cycle is anthropogenic in nature is unsupported by anything but extensively massaged data (where did the Medieval Warm Period go?) and utterly unreliable computer models (“[W]e usually stop the series in 1960 because of the recent non-temperature signal that is superimposed on the tree-ring data that we use.“).

    In short, you are knowingly attempting to perpetuate a falsehood.

  • so how do we know human produced co2 is causing this whole thing?

  • The only BS is yours. All of your facts are wrong. You obviously have no education in scientific theory (or have been brainwashed; or worse yet you are part of the corrupt educational system). The so-called climate researcher’s ONLY agenda is to secure funding for their pet projects. To you there is no such thing as scientific integrity or scientific truth.

    Climatologists cannot predict the weather a week in advance in a localized area. The suggestion that they can predict the global climate years in advance is laughable. Your ego greatly out-weighs your intelligence.

    Science is no longer the search for truth, it is the search for funding and is therefore corrupt and full of lies.

    • @lies lies lies: well, you gave yourself the right name. yes, you are right, the climate change discussion is being controlled by some folks purely after money, but it is not the climate scientists (perfect field to go into if you want to become rich, eh?).. it’s the oil and coal magnates and their servants… and the massive number of people now confused by their bad science disinformation.

      the leading scientific bodies all around the world have vindicated and supported the work of the ~97% of climate scientists who have found and tried to share with society that humans are causing massive global warming that will change livability and what is “normal” on our planet forever. we have the simply option of switching to clean, renewable energy that would create more jobs and help the environment as well; switching to cleaner modes of transport like EVs, bikes, and mass transport; engaging in more sustainable agriculture; and eating vegetarian or vegan more (which would benefit our health as well).

      sorry this is such a threat to what you think or believe, but better to be realistic

    • @lies lies lies: i forgot to respond to an issue here. climatologists don’t predict the weather, meteorologists do. it is quite a different science (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteorology). predicting the climate is much easier than predicting the weather. weather is much more fickle. which is why, yes, it is hard to predict what the temperature or conditions will be in your town next week, but climatologists rather spot on predicted this year’s average global climate.

      i guess, though, if you don’t realize they are 2 diff disciplines you probably don’t realize that.

  • Considering how many people are offering other theories and how you just viciously lash out at them you are not doing your cause any favors. Being passionate and being a jerk are two different things.

    • Ashley, if you had studied climate science for decades and had people constantly fabricating new “theories” to delay action, theories that really make no sense or are clearly faulty or are straight lies, I think you would lose your patience a lot quicker than these climate scientists or concerned citizens have. oil and coal companies have funded science disinformation, media outlets that are supported by them have spread the disinformation far and wide, and countless people who are afraid to learn what is actually going on have latched onto that and spread the misinformation further. to be quite honest, i run across comments on this site every day regarding nonscientific claims that go against decades of thorough research and findings by scientists who have spent their lives (successfully) trying to better understand this matter. it is frustrating, to say the least..

      • THE DENIERS HAVE WON, What now?
        As a former climate change believer, I personally apologize for condemning billions to death by CO2 for 25 years of needless panic. I meant well but issuing CO2 death threats to my kids just to get them to turn the lights out a little more often, had made me a neocon of CO2 environMENTALism. I apologize for calling cold -warm, warm -hot and for calling all bad weather -Humanity’s fault. I apologize for leading responsible environmentalism down the wrong road and wasting a quarter century on climate control instead of needed population control. Finally, I apologize for the demonizing that was so unprogressive and I’m sorry for exaggerating climate change to include death to the planet yet not admitting unstoppable and runaway and out of control climate warming were death threats to all.
        The neocons have never admitted their Iraq War WMD’s. I admit my ideology’s WMD’s that led us to another Bush-like false war against a false enemy.

        • Al, if this is not all fabricated, I would dig into the science a little deeper (go beyond reading blogs).

  • The 2010 Climate Bad Science (B.S.) Detection and Correction Team

    Peter Gleick, Kevin Trenberth, Tenney Naumer, Michael Ashley, Lou Grinzo, Gareth Renowden, Paul Douglas, Jan W. Dash, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Brian Angliss, Joe Romm, Peter Sinclair, Michael Tobis, Gavin Schmidt, John Cook, plus several anonymous nominators, reviewers, and voters.

    Well no one can deny that knowledge of B.S. greater than that of the group above group, will ever be found.

  • I think the whole ACC theory should be given the BS Award simply because it is not a theory anymore. Predictions of the effects of AGW cover just about every situation imaginable now. All angles and events are covered, from volcanic eruptions to teenage acne are now claimed to be due to climate change. When it rains too much it is climate change, when it is too dry climate change, too warm climate change, too cold climate change, too windy, too calm, too dusty, too clear, everything is due to climate change. As a result every actual climate related event has been predicted and all predictions are therefore found to be correct. So now the theory of ACC is infallible. When a theory becomes infallible it ceases being a theory and becomes a faith.

    • klem, this clearly shows how well you understand the science. yes, one significant change affects another,.. we have known that for centuries.. or more. clearly, some people have a hard time seeing this simple fact, though..

  • Paul Pierett

    Reference bird deaths, fish kill, frozen Mongolia herds, 17,000 dead lambs in Scotland and 300 frozen dead Polish Citizens to be your first opportunity to be a global cooling denier. Is these things by chance or signs of what is coming?

    Do you really know if global warming causes global cooling?

    Do you really know if global warming is still warming?

    By chance, did you know our winter months are 6 degrees colder that 10 years ago?

    By chance did you know our summer temperatures have been in decline for 4 years.

    Did you know that climate changes one season at a time?

    Did you know that sunspot cycle activity adjusts our Earth’s temperatures, numeric number of hurricanes, Accumulated Cyclone Energy, glacier melt and growth, precipitation, and Ozone production?

    Probably not!

    So, get an education at nationalforestlawblog.com
    October 2009 newsletter
    Under my name.

    Global warming is over for 30 years and that which you so worried about and worked against will be greatly missed. The thinning of the herd has begun.

    Hollywood can’t make this up.

    Most Sincerely,

    Paul Pierett

    • @Paul: your information does not match up with the data of 5 leading global temperature sets.. i don’t know where you are getting such completely inaccurate information from, but i would look into that if i were you. as far as sunspots go, we are in the middle of the deepest solar minimum in a long time… if we were not, ye, we would see even more warming than we are already seeing. we are also experiencing global dimming. if we were not, we’d be seeing even more global heating than we are already seeing.

      • Um, why would we see more warming than we are already seeing when the sun supposedly has nothing to do with AGW? It’s Co2 remember, and only Co2. To say otherwise might suggest you suffer from a certain subtle doubt in the ‘CO2 is the devil’ dogma. I now point my crooked finger at thou and bark ‘Holocau…I mean climate denier!’

        • Wow, Klem, find me someone in their right mind who says the world’s climate is only related to co2. no climate scientist would say that in a trillion years, and no one with any knowledge of the matter either. there are many factors that influence climate. the point of climate scientists concerned about the accelerated global warming we are causing is that co2 emissions are a significant part of that, an extremely significant part of it, and the fact that we are coming out of an extremely deep solar minimum even helps that argument…

  • It is apparent that you haven’t looked at all the actual climate data. Even one of the heretofore warming proponents at the Univ.of E.Anglia, Phil Jones, has recently stated that “there has been no statistically significant global warming for the past 15 years”.

    • Etaoin Shrdlu: First of all, your claim regarding Phil Jones’ statement is off. The statement you are referencing does not concern the last 15 years. 2nd of all, that ridiculous cherry-picking of data has been thoroughly covered and explained for what it was: http://climateprogress.org/2010/02/16/bbc-interview-phil-jones-climate-science-when-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife/

      get over it, the sooner you stop trying to keep the world from dealing with this critical topic, the less your children and grandchildren will hate you (even if you are just being paid by fossil fuel industries).

      • Yea, how much are you getting paid by those fossil fuel industries anyway? A recent peer reviewed study by the Univ.of E.Anglia has shown that all climate deniers are paid by the fossil fuel industry.

        I’m sure Zachary can find the reference for you.

  • Global warming possible. I can’t argue that because the one that claim that it is warming are the ones that collecting the data. That would be the same as when a criminal claims to be in a different place and the judge believes it.

    Last month a lot of places in the N.H. have reported record cold for 100+ years. Considering AGW is real, the whole planet should have a milder climate over all and a milder climate should show milder temperatures. I noticed that the last few winters got worse and this one we are in right now is complete out of norm. Six week of freezing temperature here where I live is more than five weeks too long.

    I know your argument is that weather is not climate. However, tree rings and ice core rings where used to identify past climates. An individual ring means the weather of a year in that particular location where this ring was formed. This means that a local location is used to identify past climate. What would the tree ring of last year tell us? It would not show this cold December, because the tree has shut down in autumn.

    I guess, if the tree survives the temperature was not too cold. I noticed that some plants that have survived the last 15 years or so are struggling now. We will see in spring if they have survived. The mild climate here allowed palm trees to grow but last February/March, a lot of them died. This was the first time in at least 15 years or so. I guess this could be an indicator that the climate here is changing but it looks like that it goes negative.

  • Ta people.

    Kevin’s remark {The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t} is still being misused around the web by the wailing banshees.

    That ought to get a mention

  • Is there evidence that ppm of manmade co2 can be separated from Naturally produced co2 . If co2 is 380ppm – what is the manmade co2 ppm in various parts of the world — if you dont know – then you cant attribute a climate event in a location to manmade co2 and human induce climate change is therefore unproven and thus false .. Sam

    • Sam Chan, co2 is co2, but yes, climate scientists look at both,.. this is central to their work… not sure why you would think they don’t

      • Yes, they do know how much CO2 is from humans and how much is natural. But scientists still can’t attribute a climate event in a location to manmade co2 as you say. They can and do speculate like crazy however. Most of the news items you hear are just the speculation part of their work. It scares people and therefore sells stuff.

        • klem, yes, we could have the world heat up several times over and natural disasters increase several times over in both scale and number and never mention climate change — bcs the direct link can never be confirmed. that would be responsible, wouldn’t it.

          or, perhaps, it would be more responsible to explain to the public how the two are most likely related (with proper terms and qualifications and all).

  • JR

    This article would have to be the biggest load of global warming BS ever written. The amount of hot air coming from global warming alarmists like this is the only cause of global warming caused by humans.

    • let me guess, you get your info & true science news from Fox News

      • Zachary, thank you for all of your informative, interesting work and writing. I am constantly battling with online commenters on our local weather blog, http://www.startribune.com/blogs/123483144.html, and with my GOP parents. I’m not a great debater, I prefer action rather than rhetoric, and I get so frustrated on a daily basis from dealing with creeps like many of the above posters. Funny thing is, they all want ‘peer reviewed, empirical 100% proof of blah blah blah,’ yet they all unequivocally believe in Jesus. I want 100% proof that he existed. Peer reviewed data. Also, if these people had that data in front of them and had someone asking them to decipher it, they would have no idea what they were looking at. I’ll leave that to the scientists, thank you very much, and nothing any denier ever says will make me change my mind that the scientists know what they are doing! Thanks again Zachary for all that you do.

        • Thanks a ton for the comment, Erin. As you know, these mean a lot 😀

          I greatly appreciate it & wish you the best. I’m not into the fighting either, like to work together positively to solve the issues,.. but there is so much holding us back right now because of this kind of ridiculousness. As you probably know, 97% of leading climate scientists tell us exactly the same thing: the globe is warming considerably fast, it is due to humans, we need to act now.

          Too much confusion and fossil fuel propaganda in the world, though.

          Cheers & keep up the good work! Shoot me a message if you ever feel like venting 😀