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105 responses to “The tiring effort of debunking idiots”

  1. Paul Norton

    Since Harry Clarke and I haven’t always had kind words for each other in the past, it’s only fair that I commend his efforts on this occasion.

    The pernicious effects of persistent denialism include the following:

    1. Confusing well-meaning people to the point of rendering them non-committal.

    2. Anchoring the Liberal and National Parties to positions which will render them unelectable, therefore relieving pressure on Labor to perform.

    3. By presenting themselves as one pole in the debate, enabling the advocates of token palliatives, greenwashing, etc. (which includes much of business, some in the trade union movement, a lot of people in the ALP and no small number in the “mainstream” commentariat) to present themselves as the “moderates” who are “getting the balance right”.

  2. Tony of South Yarra

    …but it seems that much of Labor’s political machinery thinks keeping the coal trains running is the most important thing that a government can do, and taking care of the climate is second priority.

    Well, under the current circumstances – GFC, G20 and all – one would have to say they have a fair point.

  3. carbonsink

    TOSY @ 2: Given the collapse in electricity demand in China, and Japan sinking into recession, I doubt we’ll have much trouble keeping up with the demand for our burnable dirt over the next few years.

    My prediction: 2009 will see the first drop in global carbon emissions for decades.

  4. Víðarr

    So Tony the climate stands still whilst there is an economic crisis?

  5. Robert Merkel

    If I may quote the concluding sentence of Ross Garnaut’s report on the consequences of failure to take strong mitigating action to prevent climate change:

    On a balance of probabilities, the failure of our generation would lead to consequences that would haunt humanity until the end of time.

    Compared to that, even a nasty recession is small bikkies; furthermore, every way one models the problem, the costs of fixing climate change are very manageable, and quite consistent with continued improvements in our standard of living.

    So, Tony, they do not have a point.

  6. Kat

    How can there be any real committed action on Climate Change when we are still addicted to economic growth?

    The idea should be to consume less to relieve the demand on all the planets resources, but some believe the ‘problem’ is to reduce emissions sufficiently and continue our excessive ‘lifestyle’.

    Or do we continue to support the idea that the wealth of a few individuals is paramount to the health of the planet?

  7. Tony of South Yarra

    My prediction: 2009 will see the first drop in global carbon emissions for decades.

    OK, so business-as-usual should keep everyone happy for the time being. Problem solved.

  8. DeeCee

    Carbonsink @ 3 Especially if, as rumoured in the USA press, Al Gore get’s the incoming Obama Admin’s Environment & Climate Change portfolio!

    Yes, arguing with idiots is tiring; but since they stick to well-worn tactics, mostly irrational – and the wonderfully lucid Fallacy Files allow for a killer “Irrational & illogical – here’s the appropriate quotation & url” attack – can keep one’s debating skills up to date whilst undermining one’s opponent’s credibility very effectively …

    And fill in “brain fade” days, like a steam-bath weekend followed by a foggy, clammy Monday, with brain-sharpening exercises.

  9. Robert Merkel

    Kat: because most (not all, but most) economic analyses show that energy is a tiny fraction of our economy.

    So even if we have to get our energy from more expensive renewable sources, it won’t make a great deal of difference.

  10. Tony of South Yarra

    Yes, arguing with idiots is tiring; but since they stick to well-worn tactics, mostly irrational

    Irrational? Arguing that the AGW hypothesis is the only possible explanation for any observed warming in the last 100 years; that’s irrational.

  11. Kingsley

    “I imagine Bob Carter is beavering away trying to show that Newtonian physics doesn’t give accurate predictions under macro-scale terrestrial conditions then…”

    So Robert your saying the climate change models are as accurate/exact as Newtons laws?

    This I think is your problem. Constant variation in models, mismatch in predicted outcomes to reality etc. You guys are going to have to get a lot more right for skepticism to die. If the case for AGW was as strong as Newtons laws of Physics the debate would have been over decades ago. It simply isn’t and claiming it is doesn’t help your case or crediblity.

    Insisting people just believe you in the interim just won’t work. Trotting out the Climate Change Skepticism = Flat Earth Society membership doesn’t help your cause either. The average Joe knows there is too much variablity for that analogy to fly. They know it is a theory/hypothesis. They know there are thousands of scientists who are not sure not the half dozen cranks supported by big oil meme that gets constantly trotted out.

    I’m sorry but you are going to prove this supposedly water tight case.

  12. derrida derider

    See, Kat, that’s where I have a problem with deep greens. I think man is the measure of all things, so the reason we should keep the planet habitable is to allow habitation. We shouldn’t shit in our own nest because we want to live in it, not because the nest is more valuable than us.

    If our “excessive ‘lifestyles’” are perfectly compatible with managing global warming – and all the economic modelling says that, done right, they are – then that’s what we should do. Politically, pretending that carbon reduction must ravage our lifestyles plays into the hands of the do-nothings because most people will simply do nothing rather than give up their lifestyle.

    BTW “do nothings” is a useful term, as it distinguishes the Canutian courtiers (ie the know-nothings -”the sea will not rise, sire”) from the true Canutians (“the sea will rise but we can do nothing about it”). Big coal and the like have largely moved on from a (pretend ignorance) know-nothing stance to a do-nothing stance. Only the genuinely ignorant remain in the know-nothing stance, but of course there is a lot of genuine ignorance in the world.

  13. carbonsink

    OK, so business-as-usual should keep everyone happy for the time being. Problem solved.

    Business conditions in 2009 will not be ‘usual’ in any way, shape or form. Having said that, the thumping global recession (that we’re all about to experience) will have a far greater impact on carbon emissions than the previous 20 years of climate negotiations.

  14. Spiros

    ” as Lenin reputedly put it, “a lie told often enough becomes the truth” ”

    I think it was Goebbels who said that, or words to that effect.

  15. cows say moo!

    Robert – I believe that the publishing of these appalling denialist articles is more to do with the new editor Keith Windschuttle who took over from Paddy McGuinness. I remember reading an editorial just before he passed away where McGuinness had acknowledged the reality of anthropogenic warming. This position obviously is not shared by Windschuttle. It is a wonder how Quadrant manages continue to receive Australia Council funding publishing such tosh.

  16. Spiros

    “there are thousands of scientists who are not sure”

    Can you name six of them?

  17. Nick

    Robert, I think my favourite thread title ever :)

    ““The science is settled”, or, there is a “consensus” on the issue.”

    I love how Bob needed to put “consensus” in scare quotes. Was he perhaps a little unfamiliar with that word in a derogatory sense and had to test his brain’s reinterpretive waters? Or, more likely, was it just for the Quadrant readers’ benefit – they so uninformed or juzt plain unfamiliar with the subject as to need soft-soaping into entertaining ‘consensus theories’?

    Kingsley. the word you’re referring to yourself as is ‘denialist’. We’re all skeptics, we all want things proven – that being the point and definition of evidence and all. You have no trust in the weight or balance of evidence and would rather focus on inconsistencies – no matter they’re ‘inconsistent’, not to mention well-acknowledged and factored by the ‘consensus’ – and unfortunately choose to deny the consistencies.

  18. Alister

    Kingsley and ToSY add nothing to the debate, other than the predictable behaviour outlined in the first link of the story. I think that what’s needed is continual rebuttal of the anti-AGW crowd. Simply, the best available information we have from the best, most reliable sources leads to the conclusion that the AGW hypothesis is unable to be proven false. Given this, the only sensible course of action is to treat AGW as true and act accordingly. As has been demonstrated, the worst possible thing that could happen is that growth in GDP is fractionally smaller by the time 2050 rolls around. More likely, we’ll be able to implement plans that will save money as we treat energy efficiency seriously, and we’ll also be able to cut pollution (not just CO2) as we move to renewable sources of energy to provide baseload power.

    There’s no good reason not to act on climate change.

  19. Evan

    It wouldn’t worry too much about whatever those contributing to Quadrant say about anything.

    When the only people who subscribe to and read that publication are the Piers Akermans of the world, it isn’t going to have much of an impact. Sure, they can quote this sort of rubbish in their rantings on climate change, but who’s going to attach any weight to what they say?

    Relying on anything published in Quadrant as a source in the climate change debate is a bit like quoting “facts” from the Stormfront website in a debate on multiculturalism.

  20. carbonsink

    Rob @ 9 wrote:

    Kat: because most (not all, but most) economic analyses show that energy is a tiny fraction of our economy.

    So even if we have to get our energy from more expensive renewable sources, it won’t make a great deal of difference.

    Ahhh … so that must be why when oil spiked to $147/bbl we had runaway inflation in everything, because energy doesn’t matter.

    I’m sorry, I’m not just buying it, it doesn’t matter how many models and analyses you (or ProfQ) wave around.

  21. Oz

    “If our “excessive ‘lifestyles’” are perfectly compatible with managing global warming”

    They are not.

    It’s as simple as that. In ecological resource terms, our lifestyles (Australia and much of the West) would require 4-6 Earths to sustain.

    [and all the economic modelling says that, done right, they are]

    What “economic modelling” are you talking about? The industry standard in measuring sustainability is the Wackernagel and Rees approach which gives the above conclusion, we are living dangerously un-sustainably.

    The good news is that we can reduce our burden on the natural environment by 30% by doing relatively simple things like using less energy intensive appliances, incorporating sustainable designs in buildings and sourcing alternative fuels and energy.

    But that’s not enough. We also have to realise that we can’t continue in our current way of living. That doesn’t mean go backwards and it doesn’t mean making our living standards. It means changing the way we do things, because some of the things we do are very stupid. For example, everyone piling into their individual cars and getting stuck in traffic for hours whilst their highly inefficient personal combustion engine burns happily away. Anyone who says shifting away from private car use reflects a decline in living standards is living a delusion.

    In Australia roughly 85% of our transport is by private car, 10-12% by public transport and the rest by bike. In Copenhagen, for example, a third is by car, another third by public transport and the final third by bicycle. Yes, Copenhagen is famous for its low standards of living.

    As Kat said, the contradiction facing us now is that the media and governments around the world are addicted to economic “growth” which is little more than a measure of how much we consume, but we must consume less to keep the planet in decent shape. One example of an economic metric is new care sales. When they decline, as they have, everyone freaks out and says “Oh crap, the economy is rooted”. However, a decline in new car sales is precisely what we need.

    There are better ways to measure the strength and well-being of a nation than a simple measure of how much we put onto our credit cards.

  22. Oz

    *It doesn’t mean lowering our living standards.

    Sorry.

  23. aidan

    … and vaguely related .. what is up with Brendan Nelson:

    Dr Nelson has vanished from the spotlight, but in his first newspaper interview since being deposed the former minister says the nation is not doing enough to prepare for the “unavoidable consequences” of climate change, and he issues a sharply worded warning to his successor not to dump the promise of a five cents-a-litre petrol tax cut.

    I am struggling to think of a more confused and contradictory position. I one breath he comes over all emo about climate change and still thinks 5c/L petrol tax cut is a good idea. Doofus.

  24. Robert Merkel

    Kingsley: no, I’m not saying that climate science is as precisely predictive as Newtonian physics. What I’m saying is that Bob Carter’s attack on scientific consensus is rubbish. There is such a thing in science, when enough evidence piles up, and once it forms it rarely gets overturned. So when people say, “the science is settled” they are telling the truth; the basic observation that the climate is altered by the balance of gases in the atmosphere, and that human-induced changes in that balance are having substantial impacts on climate and will have stronger ones, is now now very well-established, no matter how much Carter and his friends disagree.

    Oz: the “ecological footprint” model is a simplistic propaganda tool, right up there with food miles or the wonders of organic agriculture.

    Carbonsink: maybe you didn’t notice the massive spike in the price of every other commodity, not to mention the spike in demand from a few hundred million Chinese and Indians getting their taste of the good life, nor, for that matter, the frenzy of condo construction in the USA.

  25. nicki

    I always wonder if climate crisis denialists buy home insurance, or do they insist on waiting on the proof of their house actually being on fire before they decide to organise some coverage?

  26. Paul Norton

    Irrational? Arguing that the AGW hypothesis is the only possible explanation for any observed warming in the last 100 years; that’s irrational.

    It certainly is, and it’s why mainstream climate science as represented by bodies such as the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change doesn’t argue this position. Instead it argues that the observed warming is in excess of what can be explained in terms of natural climate variability, and that on a strong balance of probabilities human GHG emissions account for the warming over and above what would be expected from natural variation.

  27. Steve D

    But really…does anyone actually read Quadrant any more? And of those few that do…what hope is there anyway?

  28. Nick

    “But really…does anyone actually read Quadrant any more? And of those few that do…what hope is there anyway?”

    A problem in this world is it’s a suprisingly few amount of people need to be convinced that the industries they own and manage can happily continue merrily overproducing.

    The crowd at the ruggers on Saturday at Twickenham drove that home.

  29. Tony of South Yarra

    Robert: Yes the AGW hypothesis is widely agreed upon – by those inclined to agree – but it is not “very well established” in the sense that it is unfalsisiable; for example, if the temperature trend became a downward one for an extended period of time, while the CO2 trajectory continued upward – the hypothesis is false.

    If not, it remains one valid hypothesis which might explain such warming – but not the only one.

  30. FDB

    Arguing that the AGW hypothesis is the only possible explanation for any observed warming in the last 100 years Lying about other people’s arguments; that’s irrational irritating.

    Yet typical.

  31. Tony of South Yarra

    *unfalsifiable

  32. Nick

    “by those inclined to agree”

    Do go on Mr Consensus Theory…out with it…and don’t forget to include those ‘inclined to disagree’ in your tale.

  33. Mark

    unfalsifiable

    Is the blogosphere the last redoubt of logical positivism? Hmmm, that may be unfalsifiable. ;)

  34. FDB

    Tony – you do not understand what falsifiability is, nor how to spell it. Have a read!

    As to your other guff:

    “…those inclined to agree” – utterly unsupported assertion. If what you mean is “those who have agreed” then yes. Duh. Otherwise you must show that a significant number of professional scientists have behaved in an utterly unscientific way. This amounts to an accusation of academic fraud, so be careful!

    “if the temperature trend became a downward one for an extended period of time, while the CO2 trajectory continued upward – the hypothesis is false”… and thus it IS falsifiable! (see above) What you’re saying here is that because it has not yet been proven false, it must be false, and it is also not possible to prove it false. Confused much?

    “If not, it remains one valid hypothesis which might explain such warming – but not the only one.” So if the models continue to be borne out by observations, they remain merely one explanation among many. Okay, so give us the other models out there that predict continued warming but which deny the significance of CO2 to that warming. Go on, gimme a link.

    At what point would you be prepared to accept the ever-improving model(s) of global climate variation developed, refined and broadly agreed upon by professionals in the area? Apparently, demonstrably correct predictions won’t be good enough for you.

  35. Tony of South Yarra

    FDB:

    Are you misrepresenting my meaning on purpose? If not, please read that line again (excusing typo): ‘but it is not “very well established” in the sense that it is unfalsisiable‘; that is, it is falsifiable.

  36. Nick

    35 – hah, you picked the petty point and ignored (ALL OF!) the rest…sure sign of weakness/lack of argument.

  37. FDB

    Tony – you didn’t do any reading, did you? Hint: falsifiability is a GOOD thing.

  38. adrian

    Some idiots are so confused that they do a good job of debunking themselves.

  39. carbonsink

    Rob @ 24: Sure, just about every commodity spiked and is now crashing (as poor deluded souls like kingsley are about to discover) but nothing flows into every aspect of the economy like oil (and energy generally). Why is it economists are telling us they expect a much lower PPI because of the crash in oil prices? They don’t make special mention of iron ore, or wheat, or bananas … but they always mention big moves in the price of oil.

    The US Producer Price and the Consumer Price Indices will give us an idea of what inflation is doing: watch it show a very sharp fall in both measures as the plunge in oil and petrol prices has a very dramatic impact.

    The October PPI is due on Tuesday (US time), with October CPI the day after. The price of US crude oil plunged a record 32.62% in October to settle at $US67.81 a barrel (and is now $US10 a barrel cheaper this month).

    Economists polled by Reuters and Bloomberg expect the fall in petrol and oil prices to send the PPI down 1.7% in October, compared with a 0.4% fall for September. Overall CPI is forecast to drop 0.7% in October, compared with September’s flat reading.

    I rest my case.

  40. Nick

    Umm, carbonsink…while I note you’ve rested your case, pray tell WHY oil price dropped dramaticallly or did that just cause itself? Geez, louise.

  41. Peter Wood

    Kingsley,

    Trotting out the Climate Change Skepticism = Flat Earth Society membership doesn’t help your cause either. The average Joe knows there is too much variablity for that analogy to fly. They know it is a theory/hypothesis.

    If AGW is just a theory/hypothesis then the Spherical Earth Hypothesis is also just a theory/hypothesis. After all, the scientific evidence, like those photos from space, could easily be faked. Perhaps when discussing AGW we should stop using the phrase “atmosphere” and start using the more neutral and appropriate “atmolayer”.

    Most forms of the Flat Earth Hypothesis have Antarctica replaced with an ice wall. The Flat Earth Society FAQ has this on how the Flat Earth Hypothesis relates to the AGW hypothesis:

    Q: “How does global warming affect the ice wall?”

    A1: The Ice Wall is really a mountain range. It just happens to be covered in ice and snow.

    A2: Global Warming doesn’t happen. It and its counter-theory (Global Cooling) are effects that cancel each other out. Remember, these “greenhouse gasses” can reflect heat back out into space as well as keep it on Earth. Yes, there are recorded rises in temperature, but the only records we have go back, at most, around 150 years. This is very likely an occurrence that happens every [x>150] years, that’s happened before (perhaps many times), and that the Earth has thus survived before.

    A3: Global Warming is damaging the Ice Wall and will, if unchecked, eventually drain the Earth’s atmolayer and oceans.

  42. Kat

    “Kat: because most (not all, but most) economic analyses show that energy is a tiny fraction of our economy.

    So even if we have to get our energy from more expensive renewable sources, it won’t make a great deal of difference.”

    Robert, that was not my comment.

  43. Adrien

    The science is settled”, or, there is a “consensus” on the issue.” In reality, science is about facts, experiments and testing hypotheses, not consensus; and science is never “settled
    .
    That is actually true. Just sayin’.

  44. Desipis

    Why is it economists are telling us they expect a much lower PPI because of the crash in oil prices?

    The massive shifts in the price of oil have resulted in small, but measurable shifts in PPI and CPI. The reason why small shifts in these measures are important is that they are compound factors, and the small changes build up to quickly become significant. The reason the impact of oil prices is noteworthy is that it is a once off effect, similar to the GST, and not an indication of the long term compounding effect of PPI and CPI or the overall health of the economy. If the cost of oil was continually increasing creating a long term impact on the inflation index, then it would be an issue.

  45. Desipis

    So, Tony, they do not have a point.

    They have a point in so far as the voters fail to realise they don’t have a point, or at least are unprepared to vote those in that do understand that the point that the denialists don’t have a point.

  46. Nick

    carbonsink, either horse and cart problems – or on the other hand, have it your way ;)

    Shell secures 25-year access to Iraq’s oil, gas

    kat @ 42 No, didn’t read as your comment…but a useful answer to your question.

  47. Jenny

    This site does a pretty good job debunking the denialists:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

  48. Robert Merkel

    Adrien: if a hypothesis gets repeatedly tested and comes through with flying colours, it gets to the point where most scientists accept it and move on to other things, and those who have to make decisions based on such science can do so with high confidence.

    Occasionally, such long-held hypotheses are overturned. But not often.

  49. Brian

    d derider @ 12 said:

    Big coal and the like have largely moved on from a (pretend ignorance) know-nothing stance to a do-nothing stance.

    I think they’ve moved beyond that. Their latest thing seems to be NewGenCoal, where they have got with the AGW and CC agenda and are offering solutions.

    As to back-sliding because of the credit crisis a lot of people are worrying about it. Any government or company thinking of the medium term would do well to keep their eye on the ball.

    Medium term is really a bit on the late side.

    The situation according to Hansen and his associates is this. We are currently at 385ppm of CO2. In terms of CO2e we are probably about 455ppm. But if you take the net effect of aerosols on warming this brings the warming effect back to about where CO2 alone is. But we are already in overshoot in terms of the acceptable impacts of climate change. Also there is a delayed effect on warming which has traditionally been calculated as about 0.6C due to the effects of the ocean and Charney-type (short term) feedbacks. But Hansen et al say that if you take into account long-term feedbacks, which are now cutting in, there is 2C in the pipeline.

    No-one knows when we are going to hit unpleasant tipping points the effects of which could be catastrophic. Nor does anyone know how long we can stay in overshoot and still get back to something like the Holocene conditions in which our civilisation developed.

  50. Adrien

    Adrien: if a hypothesis gets repeatedly tested and comes through with flying colours, it gets to the point where most scientists accept it and move on to other things,
    .
    Indeed. And I’m not inclined to think AGW is some barely substantiated notion promoted in order to perpetuate a colossal scam. However our understanding of climatology is limited. The AGW hypothesis might be wrong (in pretty much the same way as a bet on a 90 to 1 horse might be a good investment). I tend to think that policy that promotes sustainability is a good thing regardless. Provided that what it’s doing.
    .
    Just sayin’.
    .
    What frustrates me about ‘science’ debates is that so many people who participate in them are actually participating in a contest of ideological ping-pong. Please see Ann Coulter’s Godless as a great example. Funnilly enough however she gets one thing right. When she says that there’s a ‘cultish’ aspect to the advocacy of evolution she has a point. A lot of people doggedly support the TOE because of ideological alliance not because they know what they’re talking about.
    .
    Ann Coulter is a very special kind of very naughty monkey. She makes money by lying. We call that kind of monkey ‘a lawyer’.

  51. Oz

    [Oz: the “ecological footprint” model is a simplistic propaganda tool, right up there with food miles or the wonders of organic agriculture.]

    Of course you’d know more about environmental accounting than every environmental scientist and engineer worth their money.

    What’s “simplistic” is your denial of the facts.

  52. Robert Merkel

    Oz: what actual envrionmental scientists do is one thing. But the approach of saying “we’re using the resources of 4-6 Earths” is empty rhetoric.

    Not all resources are equally stressed. The world is not going to run out of bauxite or iron ore any time soon. Nor, for that matter (and to pick an example where the environmental movement types have it flat wrong), does nuclear waste represent a big threat to the global environment. By contrast, we are clearly using (for example) ocean fisheries and rainforest timber at unsustainable rates, and our dumping of combustion products in the atmosphere is rapidly sending us up the creek. Furthermore, there is the broken nitrogen cycle, virtually ignored with all the attention to global warming but also needing to be fixed at some point.

    But just trying to lump all that together into one number is so uninformative as to be virtually useless.

  53. carbonsink

    Nick @ 40:

    Umm, carbonsink…while I note you’ve rested your case, pray tell WHY oil price dropped dramaticallly or did that just cause itself?

    Er .. that might have something to do with this global financial crisis thingie, and the effect its having on oil demand.

    Desipis @ 44:

    If the cost of oil was continually increasing creating a long term impact on the inflation index, then it would be an issue.

    Indeed it would, and where do you see the real price of oil heading absent global financial crises?

    Anyway, getting back to the actual point of all this; As Rob points out, energy today is a tiny fraction of the economy … as long as its cheap. While we have an abundance of cheap oil, coal and gas, energy will remain a tiny fraction of the economy. However, if you make that energy fantastically expensive, either through resouce depletion or imposing a carbon price that actually changes behaviour, suddenly energy becomes much more significant.

    We got a taste of that in 2008, and we can expect a return of fantastically expensive energy when we dig ourselves out of this staggering mountain of debt.

  54. Ken Miles

    A lot of people doggedly support the TOE because of ideological alliance not because they know what they’re talking about.

    Adrian, is this a bad thing?

    I doggedly support the theory that HIV causes AIDS, not because I’ve a deep understanding of the science in that area, but rather that, I know that the scientists who have a deep understanding of the area support the theory as the best available.

  55. Kat

    “See, Kat, that’s where I have a problem with deep greens. I think man is the measure of all things, so the reason we should keep the planet habitable is to allow habitation. We shouldn’t shit in our own nest because we want to live in it, not because the nest is more valuable than us.”

    derrida derider one does not have to be ‘deep green’ to understand that humans are a part of the planet, we do not exist separate to it. Therefore the ‘nest’ is more valuable, as it is essential. If we continue to procrastinate we may learn how much more resilient the planet is than we are.

    “If our “excessive ‘lifestyles’” are perfectly compatible with managing global warming – and all the economic modelling says that, done right, they are – then that’s what we should do. Politically, pretending that carbon reduction must ravage our lifestyles plays into the hands of the do-nothings because most people will simply do nothing rather than give up their lifestyle.”

    That is the point our lifestyles are not compatible with managing global warming, however to imply the solution I am suggesting is to ‘ravage our lifestyles’ is pure strawman.

    Some of the changes could in fact improve quality of life. If one became less obsessed with consumerism, one could work less and have more time for family, friends, sport, and community activities.

  56. Razor

    If you want to accept the AGW science as settled, then good for you. (Google Dr Barry Marshall – he didn’t believe the scientific consensus – what a doofus!)

    However, if you think the economic solutions based on models and forecasts are going to be accurate then I have some land to sell you in West Fremantle.

  57. Spiros

    Barry Marshall demonstrated his case using standard scientific methods.

    Climate change denialists do not do this. They shout “conspiracy” and question people’s motives. That is not science.

    “However, if you think the economic solutions based on models and forecasts are going to be accurate then I have some land to sell you in West Fremantle.”

    The case for tariff reductions, financial deregulation and indeed the entire economic rationalist agenda over the past 30 years was made by using models and forecasts; indeed the same models that are now being used for climate change policy. It’s the same economics using the same reasoning.

  58. JohnL

    The reality of climate change is settled – if national academies, the supreme science bodies in a country, are to be heeded. For example, Logical Science at http://www.logicalscience.com/consensus has compiled a list of national academies that have called for action on mitigating climate change.
    These national academies are: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Caribbean, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States.
    There are a lot of vested interests – coal, oil, aluminium to name a few – threatened by any action on mitigating climate change. Just as health warnings about the dangers of cigarette smoking resulted in paid “scientific” denialists, so have vested interests kicked the can to fund groups to challenge any action on climate change. The Exxon-Mobil campaign is detailed in a report “Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air” http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/global_warming/exxon_report.pdf
    Finally, I refer all all those without science degrees or expertise in climatology who contend there is no scientific consensus on climate change to the statement of Dr. James Baker, former Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) and Under-Secretary US Department of Commerce. He said: “There’s a better scientific consensus on this [climate change] than on any issue I know – except maybe Newton’s second law of dynamics”.
    Until they can offer better credentials, I’ll stick with his view, plus the views of 21 national or regional academies.

  59. Desipis

    Indeed it would, and where do you see the real price of oil heading absent global financial crises?

    It would continue to increase until it hits a price on par with the cost of using alternative energy sources. This cost would include the impact of the capital costs of conversion as well. The price peaks we’re seeing now are due to short term factors, not longer term ones. And that excluding the whole issue that part of the reason for the price spikes is the same as the cause behind the crises; i.e. no crises would mean lower more stable oil prices.

  60. danny

    Speaking of CarbonSink-ing, as in literally sending it to the deep ocean floor massively and rapidly: I’ve just been reading about these humble proto-vertebrates, salps, little jelly filterfeeders (tunicates, think sea squirts), which just love gobbling up masses of marine phaytoplankton (algae, think photosynthesis) and the CO2 fixed in them. Our marine gummy bear friends have strange asexual and sexual habits, (they like it three ways), which means thy can proliferate, bloom, massively and rapidly, in reponse to algal blooms, which they clear up like nobody’s business, or clog up trying. The little guts’s shit dense little pellets which rapidly sick to the bottom, taking the algae-fixed atmospheric carbon with it.

    one particular salp species (Salpa aspera) multiplies into dense swarms that last for months. One swarm, in fact, covered 38,600 square miles of sea surface, consuming up to 74% of microscopic carbon-containing plants from surface waters. Their sinking fecal pellets transported up to 4,000 tons of carbon per day to deep water. Salps swim, feed and produce waste continuously,” Dr. Madin says. “They take in small packages of carbon and make them into big packages that sink fast.” (Indeed, salp fecal pellets sink as much as 3,280 feet a day.)

    There’s a bit of a salp bloom in the waters around sydney ATM.
    Go salps.

  61. Adrien

    Ken – Adrian, is this a bad thing?
    .
    Generally speaking – yes.
    .
    I doggedly support the theory that HIV causes AIDS, not because I’ve a deep understanding of the science in that area, but rather that, I know that the scientists who have a deep understanding of the area support the theory as the best available.
    .
    That’s the rub innit? Every now and then I run a 9/11 truther thing around. I’m not a 9/11 truther but it’s interesting to see how many people actually understand the criticisms of the official story and how many people have made informed opinions about it. To LP’s credit when I did it here I got a much higher standard of rebuttal than I did at Catallaxy.
    .
    But LP has its own blind spots to inconvenient facts.
    .
    Anyway one can’t possibly understand every issue well enough to make a completely informed decision about it. The aforementioned truther thing really requires access to data and knowledge of physics most of us don’t possess; ditto AGW.
    .
    Still isn’t interesting that those who’re (at east vaguely) anti-Capitalist are more eager to doggedly support AGW and those who’re enthusiastically pro-market have more trouble doing so, to the point where some of ‘em are in total denial.
    .
    People aren’t aware of the limits of their knowledge. You often find people stubbornly defending notions about subjects on which they know virtually nothing some partisan pundit hasn’t given ‘em.

  62. SJ

    Still isn’t interesting that those who’re (at east vaguely) anti-Capitalist are more eager to doggedly support AGW and those who’re enthusiastically pro-market have more trouble doing so, to the point where some of ‘em are in total denial.

    The trouble is you say this in a post where you also mention Catallaxy. If that’s what you mean by “enthusiastically pro-market”, what you’re really saying is that far-from-the-mainstream borderline nutcases deny AGW. What’s so surprising there?

  63. Oz

    “Nor, for that matter (and to pick an example where the environmental movement types have it flat wrong), does nuclear waste represent a big threat to the global environment.”

    Nuclear waste isn’t even included in environmental accounting, so I dunno what you’re talking about.

  64. jethro

    @17

    Robert, I think my favourite thread title ever :)

    There are more lulz to be had if one views this thread using Mozilla or Internet Exploiter: the title bar / tab name becomes “The tiring effort of debunking idiots at Larvatus Prodeo”.

    Dunno which idiots at LP are being referred to, however: commenters (including moi!) or writers?

  65. carbonsink

    Desipis @ 59:

    It would continue to increase until it hits a price on par with the cost of using alternative energy sources. This cost would include the impact of the capital costs of conversion as well.

    And what pray tell would that alternative be? Biofuels? Hydrogen? Both dead ends IMNSHO. Realistically the only long term alternative is battery electric vehicles supplied with fantastically expensive low-emissions electricity. Mr Merkel was making the point just weeks ago how hopelessly uneconomic EVs are today, yet at the same time he tells us the transition to low-emissions alternatives will cost us 0.0001% of GDP over 50 years. Both statements cannot be true.

  66. Robert Merkel

    Carbonsink: you have to differentiate between “not competitive with fossil fuel vehicles today” with “never ever ever competitive with appropriate regulations brought in and continued incremental technological improvements”.

    If we banned fossil fuel vehicles today, electric vehicles would become ubiquitous tomorrow.

  67. Mercurius

    re: The salps….

    …Oh gaaaaawwwd. Please, nobody tell James Lovelock!! :-D

  68. Brian

    According to Richard Hunwick of Hunwick Consultants in 10 years time plug-in electrics will be everywhere, with batteries big enough to be a source of peak power for electricity providers.

  69. wizofaus

    Robert, your point about many technologies not being economical today simply because existing fossil fuel technology is SO cheap really can’t be emphasized enough. I honestly don’t see we couldn’t still have a very high standards of living if there were no fossil fuels and all energy needs had to be supplied by existing alternative technologies (though I imagine it could take up to 50 years to build the required infrastructure).

  70. carbonsink

    Sure, but how long will these “continued incremental technological improvements” take to get us from hopelessly uncompetitive to a no brainer?

    If it takes 10-15 years to completely turn over the vehicle fleet, and today zero EVs are available and people are still buying SUVs and family thrusters (sales are up BTW since petrol has come off) we can be certain we won’t have completed the transition to low emission vehicles by ~2020. Its more likely that less than 10% of the vehicle fleet will be low-emissions vehicles in the 2020 timeframe.

    Regulatory progress on transport emissions has been glacial since Kyoto with the only progress being made in Europe, where its all diesel, diesel, diesel.

    Technological progress hasn’t been spectacular either with only a few dozen hybrids available and always at a considerable premium.

    So why do you have such optimism that progress in the future will be sufficiently rapid and affordable when all evidence so far suggests otherwise?

  71. Kat

    “I honestly don’t see we couldn’t still have a very high standards of living if there were no fossil fuels and all energy needs had to be supplied by existing alternative technologies (though I imagine it could take up to 50 years to build the required infrastructure).”

    That depends on how one defines ‘standard of living’. This is my point. I think a good starting point could be to redefine what a high standard of living really means.

    I think communities were happier and more cohesive when families had weekends together and played sport, went to the beach or got together with friends.

    People may have (many have not) more money now, but they also seem to have less time, more stress and less compassion.

  72. carbonsink

    Brian @ 68: Robert doesn’t buy the V2G/G2V stuff, “electranet” or micro-generation. I imagine he sees lots of big nukes being built to supply a fleet of EVs.

    Consider that oil currently supplies 40% of the world’s energy and 99% of transportation, that’s an awful lot of nukes and/or renewables, and we don’t even look like starting on building that infrastructure for another 5-10 years.

  73. Robert Merkel

    As we’ve discussed in the past, V2G is not a short-term goer, because the wear and tear on the batteries is much more costly than what the electricity is worth.

    By 2020 or so that may not be the case.

    Microgeneration is the topic of a lot of boosterism. It only works well if you can use the waste heat efficiently; not a problem in Europe most of the time. Australia is likely a different story. If you can’t use that waste heat, you’ve got a very capital-intensive, inefficient gas-fired generator. That’s not to mention what the long-term price of natural gas is going to do to its competitiveness (even ignoring peak oil/gas, the differential in price between here and the northern hemisphere is unsustainable).

    I’m betting that the electricity market of 2050 won’t be radically different to 2010, except that the steam turbines will be spun by one of: geothermal heat, coal with CCS, solar heating, or nuclear.

  74. Brian

    I think I agree with that last paragraph, Robert. Soon the world should pay more attention to the supply and cost of food by 2050, with 50% more population, no fish in the sea, some major grain areas turning to dust bowls, melting ice caps and glaciers affecting water supply for irrigation, sea intrusion into low lying areas, the running down of agricultural research activity around the world and peak phosphorous just for starters.

    Plus alienation of productive land for carbon sink tree planting and biofuel.

  75. carbonsink

    I’m betting that the electricity market of 2050 won’t be radically different to 2010, except that the steam turbines will be spun by one of: geothermal heat, coal with CCS, solar heating, or nuclear.

    I’d largely agree with that except I can’t see CCS working beyond the very small scale, and either the generation capacity will have to be much, much larger to recharge a fleet of EVs –OR– we’ll have to be using 30-40% less electricity for other purposes. That’s quite a challenge considering there will be 40 years of growth, both population and economic, to supply.

  76. wizofaus

    I already posted this, and it disappeared (maybe because it had two links?), but if the difference between the electricity market of 2050 and 2008 is even half that of the difference between that of 1950 and 1908 it will be surely be substantially different.

    (One the links I posted had an interesting point about the year 1900 when gasoline-powered cars made up a small minority of all cars, and were considered vastly inferior to electric and steam-powered cars. Another link with text from 1900 predicted that air-travel would never seriously, ahem, get off the ground, even by the year 2000).

  77. carbonsink

    wizofaus @ 76:

    OTOH, electricty generation in 1966 (42 years ago) was much the same as electricty generation today — burning coal then, burning coal now.

    The first Boeing 747 rolled off the production line in 1968 (40 years ago) and Jumbos are still flying today.

    We flew to the moon in 1969, but might not get there again until 2020.

    To just assume that technological progress over the next 42 years will be spectacular seems a tad optimistic. Sure, it might happen, but can we bank on that?

  78. Robert Merkel

    The first Boeing 747 rolled off the production line in 1968 (40 years ago) and Jumbos are still flying today.

    This, interestingly enough, is somewhere where I have strongly disagreed with one John Quiggin :)

    It is true that the 747 line is 40 years old, but the 747 of today and the 747 of 1968 are very, very different beasts. They are considerably bigger, have more efficient engines, and vastly improved navigation gear. Furthermore, airlines have been much cleverer at ensuring that they fly full.

    The net result is air travel is much, much cheaper today than it was in 1968.

    Just because progress isn’t “spectacular” doesn’t mean it’s not being made.

  79. Ken Miles

    Still isn’t interesting that those who’re (at east vaguely) anti-Capitalist are more eager to doggedly support AGW and those who’re enthusiastically pro-market have more trouble doing so, to the point where some of ‘em are in total denial.
    .
    People aren’t aware of the limits of their knowledge. You often find people stubbornly defending notions about subjects on which they know virtually nothing some partisan pundit hasn’t given ‘em.

    Adrian, I would broadly agree with this, but this seems like more of a reason to rely on experts for information in fields which you know nothing about.

    The correlation between free-marketers and AGW denialism is simply a case of their ideology being on the wrong side of the science wrt this issue. The anti-markets type frequently get it wrong when the issue changes to pesticides and the like.

    But on to my main point, I want to be in an “ideological alliance” with the scientific method and results/interpretations that it produces.

  80. carbonsink

    The net result is air travel is much, much cheaper today than it was in 1968.

    And that in itself is a problem because air travel is growing exponentially.

    Just because progress isn’t “spectacular” doesn’t mean it’s not being made

    Sure, but we need spectacular progress if we are to meet 2050 targets, and spectacular is unlikely to be cheap or easy. Take aviation. To meet an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050, we’d have to make planes 80% more efficient by 2050, and stop all growth in air travel tomorrow. Neither of which is likely, and doing both is completely implausible.

    Anticipating your response: So we cut deeper in other sectors. Well, that means >90% cuts in electricity generation, ground transport etc. Again, very ambitious targets that are unlikely to met by incremental progress, especially when climate scientists are telling us the sooner we cut the better, and we’ve done SFA so far.

    But hey, I just tell it how it is.

  81. wizofaus

    For planes to become 80% more efficient by 2050, they need to improve by less than 4% every year (.96^41 = 0.19).

    If we also allow that air travel will, say, double in that time period, and hence we want them to become 90% more efficient, they need to improve by about a little over 5% a year. And remember a doubling in air-travel will tend to mean much larger and fuller planes.

    Now there’s lots of reasons to think that progress isn’t going to be as smooth as that – certainly if there are any serious oil supply bottlenecks. But it doesn’t seem so unreasonable, although it would be good to get historical data on airplane efficiency improvements over the last 40 years.

  82. wizofaus

    Well according to http://www.iata.org/whatwedo/environment/fuel_efficiency.htm
    “New aircraft are 70% more fuel efficient than 40 years ago”

    Unfortunately that’s not really good enough, because there’s still a lot of 20+ year old planes out there. So the average fuel efficiency of the global aircraft fleet has probably only improved by less than 50% over the last 40 years. Meaning it definitely has its work cut out over the next 40.

    PS Why can I never post to LP twice in succession? Says I must fill in all required fields…a refresh fixes it, but still annoying.

  83. carbonsink

    Ok, lets assume new aircraft in 2050 are 70% more efficient than they are today (unlikely, given than turbofans are a pretty mature technology and most of the easy efficiency gains have already been made, but anyway). Two problems:

    1. As you pointed out above, airliners have a very long lifespan, so a large percentage of the planes flying in 2050 will be 10, 20 or 30 years old, and will relative gas guzzlers.

    2. How do you stop global air traffic growing at the 5-6% p.a. its been growing at for the past 20 years? Around 2.5 billion passengers traveled by air in 2007. If current growth rates continue (at say 5.5%) for the next 42 years, then, lemme see … there will be 26 billion passenger movements in 2050!

    So your 70% efficiency gain means nothing if 10x as many people are traveling.

  84. wizofaus

    Well, I suppose with major technological breakthroughs that make plane travel fast, cheap and convenient enough that the average first world citizen would use a plane 5 or 6 times a year we might see something close to 20 billion passenger movements a year – but we’d be talking about technology so different to that of today, that there’s little point making predictions about the fuel efficiency, or indeed what sort of fuels would be used.

    And yes, many of the easy efficiency gains have probably been made wrt turbofans, but that hardly rules out significant gains in other areas – and who knows whether turbofans will even be still used in 40 years’ time. Further, with fuel having been incredibly cheap for the last 40 years, there just hasn’t been that much pressure to improve fuel efficiency. In the next 40 years, there’s every reason to expect fuel to be a good deal more expensive, and hence the pressure to increase efficiency that much stronger.

    I’m not really making any predictions about what outcome I think is most likely – merely pointing out that predictions like “80% efficiency gains by 2050″ aren’t actually that crazy.

  85. carbonsink

    merely pointing out that predictions like “80% efficiency gains by 2050? aren’t actually that crazy.

    No, not crazy, but not bankable through incremental improvements either. What is crazy is to expect all economic growth to stop.

    The atmosphere doesn’t care if we reduce “emissions intensity” of any particular sector by 70, 80 or 90%, it only cares about absolute numbers.

  86. wizofaus

    Actually I’m 100% confident that all economic growth will stop eventually. But I would be surprised to see it happen in the next 40 years (which I fully intend to stay alive for), even if it stumbles and falters more than a few times.

  87. carbonsink

    wizofaus: I’m with you 100% there. New Scientist had a feature edition on The Folly of Growth last month.

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is, we cannot possibly tackle climate change until we tackle the growth economy, and ultimately human population growth (there, I said it). It doesn’t matter what technological improvements we make over the next 40 years, incremental, spectacular or otherwise, they will all be blown away by growth.

  88. wizofaus

    “It doesn’t matter what technological improvements we make over the next 40 years, incremental, spectacular or otherwise, they will all be blown away by growth.”

    Why assume that? Cars today generate less exhaust pollution (other than CO2) in total than they did 30 years ago, despite there being far more of them on the road. Now that there will be real pressure to reduce CO2, there seems no reason to assume it can’t be subject to similar levels of reducation.

    Further, it seems highly pessimistic to think that not a single useful technology capable of actually extracting CO2 from the atmosphere (or perhaps somehow reducing the incoming insolation, or increasing the albedo), will be deployed.

  89. carbonsink

    Scrubbing toxins, particulates and pollutants from exhaust is orders of magnitude easier than eliminating CO2 emissions. Its like comparing Montreal to Kyoto.

    Unlike Mr Merkel I reckon geoengineering is pure folly and we’ll end up making things worse with unintended consequences. What we need is billions of self-replicating machines that sequester CO2 using just sunlight, water and dirt … but hey, we chopped those down.

    If you want to extract some CO2 from the atmosphere, go seed a forest, and for God’s sake stop chopping them down.

  90. wizofaus

    “Scrubbing toxins, particulates and pollutants from exhaust is orders of magnitude easier than eliminating CO2 emissions”

    Says you – indeed at the time regulations to reduce automobile pollutions were proposed manufactures were screaming that such a thing wasn’t possible without hugely increasing the cost of producing vehicles.

    As it is we already have a huge variation in CO2 produced per km across all vehicles (from 98g/km to 495g/km), averaging somewhere around 182g/km. Governments could, in principle, mandate something like 150g/km as a maximum for all new cars tomorrow, and perhaps simply ban existing vehicles over 300g/km, and we’d see a quite rapid reduction in CO2 emissions from that sector. On that basis, I’d suggest it’s just as much as political issue as a technological one.
    Not that I’m suggesting such a ban is justifiable at this point in time.

  91. carbonsink

    Says you

    Mate, that’s just a fact. If it was as easy as removing the lead from petrol, whacking on a catalytic converter, or replacing CFCs with HCFCs, we would have done it already. All of that was achieved in a decade. We’re emitting much more CO2 today than we were a decade ago when Kyoto was signed.

    mandate something like 150g/km as a maximum for all new cars tomorrow

    Or we could just tax the carbon.

    Not that I’m suggesting such a ban is justifiable at this point in time.

    Oh no we wouldn’t want to, like, do anything about it!

  92. wizofaus

    You said “orders of magnitude more difficult”. I’d accept it might 3 or 4 times more difficult. Not the same thing at all.

    CO2 emissions are still rising because governments in the countries emitting the most haven’t done enough to push for lower emissions.

    Just “taxing carbon”, while a measure I support, isn’t going to be enough on its own to push CO2 levels: if economies keep growing, we’ll easily able to afford those taxes. And people still purchase cars etc. without sufficient thought as to the long term cost of running them. The costs have to be brought forward to purchase time for there to be a truly significant impact.

  93. carbonsink

    Whatever. Would you accept one order of magnitude more difficult?

    Even if its just 4x as difficult, we’re talking several decades, and we’re starting from a much worse position than when Kyoto was signed in 1997.

    Enough of the misplaced sunny optimism please! Next you’ll be telling me the economy is fine.

    if economies keep growing, we’ll easily able to afford those taxes.

    So? You just raise the tax, or you tax fossil fuels on a percentage basis instead of CO2 on a per tonne basis, or have an ETS which (in theory) must result in lower emissions.

    The costs have to be brought forward to purchase time for there to be a truly significant impact.

    I have championed feebates here several times.

  94. Adrien

    But on to my main point, I want to be in an “ideological alliance” with the scientific method and results/interpretations that it produces.
    .
    Sounds good. However many political movements have aspired to same. The results can be catastrophic. Usually the catastrophe comes of the chauvanism that can obtain when one regards one’s self as ”scientific’ even tho’ one is ignoring certain pertinent facts that happen to be inconvenient.
    .
    I do rely on experts Ken. However I’m aware that I’m relying on them and that there limits to what they know. Hence to what I know. There’s also prices for which many can be bought.

  95. wizofaus

    carbonsink, actually I’m not particularly optimistic at this point – certainly I’m as disappointed as you are at the lack of progress since Kyoto. But that’s far more to do with the lack decent political leadership we’ve seen so far than any technical limitations.

  96. Lefty E

    UK legislatively commits to 80% by 2050. Looks like put the big kids in charge over there. Rule Britannia!

  97. carbonsink

    Lefty E @ 96: And of course, short haul flights are growing exponentially in the UK, and they can’t build enough airports fast enough. London has five (!) airports, and AFAIK, all five have expansion plans.

    wizofaus @ 95: We don’t know what the technical limitations are because the politicians have sat on their hands for a decade. Suffice to say, when >80% of the world’s energy is supplied by fossil fuels, and that percentage hasn’t changed for several decades, the transition is unlikely to be cheap or easy.

  98. Lefty E

    Well, they’ll have some work ahead of them then c’sink. I applaud the tough target. There’s really no excuse for any nation failing to match the British goal.

    As for comparative disadvantage in manfucaturing – a. I see buy clean buy green favoured nation import policies and consumer boycotts stepping in to mediate some of that. and b. hi value tertiary industry, and especially alternative energy tech will rule industry one day. Manufacturing – if it aint already – will be for low-wage countries.

  99. Helen

    Robert #78: True, and look at the story of computing, as well; the things we’re typing on don’t resemble the huge dinosaurs that crunched numbers inthe 60s. Remember how someone from IBM predicted that in the 2000s there would only be five or six (I think it was – some very low number) computers in the world? Now we have a fungal mass of distributed servers covering the globe with an exchange of information which the number-crunchers never even dreamed of.

    So, why are you seem to think that distributed energy systems can never, ever work and huge megaliths piping energy hither and yon is the way to go? This seems like Mr IBM’s vision of the computing future. Just a few points I’ve been thinking about: If there is the political will to invest in something, it’ll improve beyond all reckoning – see computers again, also the motor vehicle.

    Secondly, these things are seen as being for the elite but the price comes down and they become ubiquitous as new technologies are developed and tested. Thirdly, rural and remote communities could improve their lives exponentially by becoming self sufficient. Fourth, it would be very easy to throw a country into chaos by attacking one of four or five monster power plants; very difficult to do if almost every rooftop is an energy collection point.

    Fifth, all this sun beating down unused is a bloody waste, when you consider some countries like Germany and Wales are already rolling their sleeves up and getting on with it, while Australians bleat “But what if the sun doesn’t shine all the tiiiiiiiiime?!”

  100. Peterc

    I went to a climate change debate last night in Hawthorn, Melbourne, between Professor David Karoly (Climate Scientist and IPCC Lead Author) and William Kininmonth (former Meteorologist and climate change skeptic). About 30% of the 200-odd audience were vocal skeptics, there to hear their guru take down the brash scientist.

    It seems to me that the skeptics demographic was oldish, often grey and/or balding, mostly male. They were quite affronted by much of what Karoly said. “Don’t insult our intelligence” was one taunt. They were spoiling for a shouting match.

    Kininmonth basically said the earth is a bit warmer, but that it doesn’t matter, and that increasing CO2 won’t have any significant impact on climate change. He thinks were in the midst of a natural cycle, and that humans have no impact.

    In question time I asked Kininmonth what he would say to his children and grand children if he was wrong on climate change, didn’t take action to address it (as he recommeneds) and in 2020 we lost the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu wetlands and snow in Australia.

    There were howls and guffaws from the skeptics in the audience. He didn’t answer the question. He continue to talk about why CO2 doesn’t matter, why there really isn’t a problem, and why we cannot afford to give up our modern energy hungry lifestyles. I said he didn’t answer my question. He said he was “comfortable with talking to his children and grand children.

    A Liberal Councillor present (who may also be a skeptic) later mentioned to a friend that “I had asked a leading question”. Well yes, it was hypothetical. . .

    It seems to me that the skeptics are actually very scared of climate change. They have constructed their own reality where it does not exist. When you challenge that reality they react with fear, loathing and anger.

    While there were clearly rent-a-skeptics in the crowd – word had got around they should be there – I think we will see similar reactions (albiet less extreme) in the wider community too. Our civilisation seems to be entering a time of stress and peril.

    I think we need some real and effective leadership to handle this – and I don’t think the majority of our political leaders from both major parties are up to it.

  101. Robert Merkel

    PeterC: thanks very much for the report; I was going to attend because I was curious about the skeptics, but couldn’t justify the time.

    Was there anything new in the argument put up for the skeptic position? How did Karoly respond?

  102. carbonsink

    Well, they’ll have some work ahead of them then c’sink. I applaud the tough target

    I applaud the target too, but what’s happening in the UK (and Europe generally) is a lot of talk about tough targets, while they proceed to build new coal-fired power stations, dozens of new airports, new motorways etc etc.

    The difference between Europe and Australia is: European politicians say they’re going to do a lot, but in fact do very little. Australian politicians say they’re going to do very little, and do nothing.

  103. Peterc

    Robert, there was nothing new in the skeptic position. Karoly demolished his arguments by pointing out that climate computer models correlate very well with observational data (Kininmonth says the computer models are wrong, and ignores or disputes the observational data).

    You can download Kininmonth’s presentation – he hasn’t changed it recently.

    Karoly had already prepared a presentation for his rebuttal – having himself downloaded Kininmonths’s presentation.

    I am sourcing and will publish of both of Karoly’s presentation – main and rebuttal.

    As an aside, Obama has just committed the US to 80% reductions by 2050.

  104. danny

    PeterC: When you say “Obama has just committed the US to 80% reductions by 2050″, what he says in the video on http://change.gov/newsroom/blog/ site is:

    (strengthening our security and creating millions of new jobs) will start with a federal cap and trade system. We’ll establish strong annual targets that set us on a course to reduce emissions to their 1990 levels by 2020 and reduce them an additional 80% by 2050

  105. Tim Lambert