Climate change is real

Six Australian business leader reckon that the debate is over and climate change is real:

Six business leaders yesterday stepped into the greenhouse debate, and blew the whistle. Game over, they said: climate change is real, it’s going to hurt, and unless we act now, it’s going to hurt us a lot.

These guys know how to play the game. Westpac’s CEO David Morgan is a former Treasury official, married to former Labor minister Ros Kelly. They weren’t going to criticise John Howard over his handling of climate change; he doesn’t like criticism. They just urged him to shift ground, and fast.

Their message is that Australia, and the world, needs to deeply cut greenhouse emissions, not just slow their growth. We cannot get there on the soft path the Government has taken. We need to switch paths, get tough, introduce a carbon charge, set targets and meet them.

The hard path is not expensive. Modelling from the Allen Consulting Group estimates that, by acting now, we could cut greenhouse gases by 60 per cent by 2050, and still grow the economy almost as much as under business as usual.

Tim Blair seems to believe that it doesn’t mean anything

Sixty scientists have called on Canada’s Prime Minister to cool it on global warming:

“Climate change is real” is a meaningless phrase used repeatedly by activists to convince the public that a climate catastrophe is looming and humanity is the cause. Neither of these fears is justified.

Is it meaningless? Let’s see what Google thinks. Search for “Climate change is real” and click on the “I’m feeling lucky” button, and you get this joint statement from the national science academies of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the USA:

Climate change is real

There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system
as complex as the world’s climate. However there is now
strong evidence that significant global warming is
occurring. The evidence comes from direct measurements
of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean
temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in
average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes
to many physical and biological systems. It is likely that
most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed
to human activities (IPCC 2001). This warming has already
led to changes in the Earth’s climate.

Dear “Sixty scientists”, Google can often help you find out what stuff means.

But wait, there’s more from them:

Observational evidence does not support today’s computer climate models, so there is little reason to trust model predictions of the future. … Nevertheless, significant advances have been made since the protocol was created, many of which are taking us away from a concern about increasing greenhouse gases. If, back in the mid-1990s, we knew what we know today about climate, Kyoto would almost certainly not exist, because we would have concluded it was not necessary.

Because in the mid-1990s those computer climate models predicted that it would get warmer and now we know that those predictions were correct. So we shouldn’t trust them and Kyoto is unnecessary. Are these guys even trying to be credible?

So who are the sixty scientist? Most of them aren’t climate scientists, and seventeen of them have got mentioned on this blog, typically for making serious errors of fact and interpretation:
Ross McKitrick, Christopher Essex, Benny Peiser, Richard Lindzen, David E. Wojick, Chris de Freitas, Ian Plimer, Bob Carter, William Kininmonth, Pat Michaels, Nils-Axel Mörner, Tim Ball, Roy Spencer, Zbigniew Jaworowski, Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, S Fred Singer and Sally Baliunas.

Comments

  1. #1 Glenn
    April 8, 2006

    To what extent would Kyoto reduce co2 by 2050? Assuming a best case scenario, what is the projected impact of Kyoto.

  2. #2 John Rennie
    April 8, 2006

    Glenn,

    Kyoto by itself would not reduce CO2 enough by 2050 to avert the worst of global warming (I think the usual projection is that it would, in effect, delay global warming effects by only about four years). Dealing with global warming more comprehensively will ultimately depend on enlisting China, India and the rest of the developing world far more than Kyoto specifies. But Kyoto has never been represented as a complete solution. It’s a first step in a political process. It helps to establish a framework in which negotiations for further cuts in CO2 emissions would be possible. Basically, the industrialized world needs to make a good faith effort to cut CO2 first to convince the developing world to make sacrifices, too.

  3. #3 Glenn
    April 8, 2006

    Thanks John. Four years delay seems de minimis in the scope of global climate change. I imagine there could have a reasonable and intense debate on what to DO about global warming among people who otherwise agree completely with the generally accepted models. For example, I strongly favor carbon taxes, nuclear power and assistance to the developing world aimed at reducing pollution generally. And yet I remain uncertain if Kyoto, politically, is a “first step” or a mis-step. Still, I have to acknowledge that Kyoto is the only path seriously proposed at the moment.

  4. #4 Ben
    April 8, 2006

    OK, so what is everyone going to do in the event that greenhouse emmessions are not cut? Ought not there to be a contingency plan? Or is everyone just waiting to point fingers and blather “I told you so” when the armageddon comes?

  5. #5 Dave Empey
    April 8, 2006

    Giant space umbrellas, anyone?

  6. #6 Jack Lacton
    April 8, 2006

    hi all,

    first of all we need to determine that increasing ghg is actually bad. we presume it is and we presume that increasing temperature is bad but there seems to be very little research into any positive benefit of increasing temperature. before anyone goes off sideways at the statement and pulls out the old ‘consensus’ view they should search for research on any positives of global warming.

    i see that the canadians reckon it’d be good to have more than 10% of their year warm enough not to wear skivvies. the sahara desert is decreasing in size as increased co2 in the atmosphere drives up soil capacity to host agriculture etc. it’s also interesting to read recent research that shows plants actually are more resilient in high-co2, hotter climates than otherwise.

    a camel is a horse designed by a committee, as the old saying goes. and thus it is with kyoto. designed predominately by the europeans with the clear intention of holding other economies back it is not even a ‘first step’. politics got in the way of any genuine effort to create a positive policy. that’s why 1990 – europe’s most polluted year on record – is used as the benchmark.

    from australia’s point of view, kyoto would kill thousands of jobs and hamstring our industry simply because we are a large exporter of resources. the demand from other nations for those resources means that we are wearing the ‘cost’ of ghgs created on behalf of other countries. kyoto expressly dismisses a lifecycle view of emmissions – again because it would significantly disadvantage europe – which is completely unfair on us. if we were to only dig up the resources we needed for our own use then nobody would notice us.

    there’s lots of water to flow under this bridge. unfortunately, the left takes the ‘moral high ground’ in the argument, which has always led to less rigorous requirement for proof than on other issues (aka the ridiculous precautionary principle). the right uses its old tool of business lobbying that simply means there’ll be nothing but argument for ever.

    i lived in too many socialist countries (including the USSR) when i was growing up to hold anything but contempt for non free market, deregulated models that promote individual capital so i’ll happily declare myself as slightly blue in political persuasion. however, if i was of the left i’d be remarkably cynical about having energy companies joining the bandwagon. especially bp who seem to have a really good scam going in that regard.

    cheers
    jack

  7. #7 Jack Lacton
    April 8, 2006

    tim,

    you’ve posted the ‘joint statement’ without also posting the positions of the usa and russia post-statement or pointed out that russia only signed kyoto because it was a condition of entry to the world trade organisation. nice work.

    you’re also stating that climate models predicted global warming in the mid-90s and here we are without also pointing out that NONE of the cimate models accurately predict past temperature, which is why, especially, statisticians have a problem and any sensible thinking person would, too.

    it’s also disingenuos to state that only climate scientists have a legitimate voice in this debate. steve mcintyre’s ongoing demolition of the hockey stick and, more recently, proof that cherry picking of data has been taking place by dendroclimatologists to support their models shows that, in fact, these ‘scientists’ (what actual science do they actually do?) are living in what must be scientific utopia. huge access to public funds, no peer review process to pin them down and minor celebrity status to boot.

    cheers
    jack

  8. #8 Glenn
    April 8, 2006

    Jack,

    While I’m a free-market radical, there are some things the free-market can’t address. In this case, CO2 is an externality that polluters will only bear if they are forced to do so by the state. Governments could establish pollution contracts to buy and sell, but it would still be a highly contrived market.

  9. #9 rollo
    April 8, 2006

    “the canadians reckon it’d be good to have more than 10% of their year warm enough not to wear skivvies”
    Especially if everything else stayed pretty much the same huh Jack?
    So all it did was get a little warmer – ahhh. Nice.
    There will be a moment up ahead when that attitude, and that kind of attitude will be seen for the evil it is, and was all along.

  10. #10 QrazyQat
    April 8, 2006

    Hey, those Canadians didn’t need all those salmon, anyway.

    Jack, you’re demonstrating a really naive (at best) view of global warming. It’s not just “everything gets a little warmer” and nothing else changes. And this is info that’s widely available, and has been talked about a great deal, so your ignorance is inexcusable.

  11. #11 Chris
    April 8, 2006

    Global warming sceptics must be buggers to be married to. “How was I to know? There was no conclusive proof that the soup wouldn’t be _improved_ by adding the whole packet of salt!” or “”What do you mean I didn’t fix the television? I opened up the back and threw in a monkey wrench – if that doesn’t work it’s not _my_ fault.”

  12. #12 Jack Lacton
    April 9, 2006

    QrazyQat (nice nick)

    i reckon i know more about this debate than you give me credit! in the few responses nobody has bothered to do any research to see whether a bit of co2 and a temperature rise is good for us. typical of the lazy left, along with the ad homs.

    we have had a couple of decades now of the rise of science as the new religion. in that time there has been many a rant about doom and whatnot but the fact is that we’re here and doing very nicely thank you very much. at what point do the doomsayers run out of credibility?

    cheers
    jack

  13. #13 jerry
    April 9, 2006

    “Six Australian business leader reckon that the debate is over”

    hey, that settles it for me…..not

  14. #14 Hans Erren
    April 9, 2006

    Please tell me, how can I reduce my CO2 emissions, my house is insulated, I walk to work.

    What are the alternatives for heating with fossil fuels?
    Here is the present dutch energy stream (SANKEY diagram)
    http://www.energie.nl/stat/images/fig123.jpg
    (blue = gas, yellow = crude oil, orange = oil products, black = coal, pink = nuclear, green = renewables, grey electricity, red= heat, ligh blue =waste)
    (translation: winning = exploitation, diensten = services, landbouw = agriculture

    I assume the future lies in increasing the renewables. This means heating houses electical. In the seventies the incentive for moving from coal to gas was that gas was easier to use than coal, it was cheaper and the gas infrastructure was already in place. Also insulating house reduced the direct energy bill.
    The low hanging fruits have been harvested alredy. Not many people do want to make this big investment voluntary.

  15. #15 Ronnie Horesh
    April 9, 2006

    Give people incentives to stabilise the climate, however they do so. Kyoto may be necessary, but it’s not sufficient. We should not prejudge the most efficient ways of achieving the climate. We need to encourage diverse, adaptive, responses. Kyoto isn’t enough.

  16. #16 Anonymous
    April 9, 2006

    What about Mann et al, should they not be added to the ‘Most of them aren’t climate scientists, and seventeen of them have got mentioned on this blog, typically for making serious errors of fact and interpretation:’
    BTW, I hope the Chinese make good use of the Australian uranium, no worrying about ghg emissions there.
    How is over taxing going to help with climate change, not much.

  17. #17 John Cross
    April 9, 2006

    Jack:

    I have not gone and researched the benefits of global warming as a topic on its own. However after a couple of years of discussing the issue i have been directed to more than 1 article that discusses the supposed benefit of global warming. To date I have not been convinced.

    For example you mentioned the Sahara desert as an example of CO2 causing a benefit yet you neglect to mention an equally important factor – improved agricultural practices.

    I have looked at benefits such as:
    Increased plant growth – Only true if you have sufficient nutrients available and then you can suffer from nutritional density problems.

    Increased land available for agriculture in Canada – Well, if you can wait for 30 years to allow the soil to build up something in the way of nutrients then maybe.

    Reduction in heating costs – perhaps, but the problem is that they are generally offset by increased cooling costs.

    More rainfall – and less rain fall.

    Others???

    The problem is that human civilization has evolved to take advantage of particular areas of the earth. In each area we take advantage of certain circumstances and act to defend ourselves against hostile forces (where I live in Canada we have an abundance of fresh water and take it for granted but are well prepared for snow storms). As we change the climate we change the forces that act on any given area. The positive benefits that changes will bring will result in minimal gains but negative changes will result in the requirement for new infrastructure. In my Canadian example a decrease in snow storms will cause a small savings in snow clearing operations each year – only a small one since we are already pretty good at dealing with snow. However a reduction in precipitation would require the existing city infrastructure be rebuilt (our water distribution system leaks like a sieve right now) at the cost of billions. I believe that it is generally the case that the detriments will turn out to be far more costly than the benefits. And this assumes that there will be equal benefits and detriments.

    There is one area where there will be a benefit from high CO2 and that in plants where moisture is the limiting factor. In these cases if the plants is a C3 type as opposed to a C4, and it can reduce its stomatal density, then they can retain more moisture. However this does not generally describe agricultural uses.

    Regards,
    John

  18. #18 John Cross
    April 9, 2006

    As a Canadian, the politics surrounding Kyoto are somewhat interesting. For the first time in over a decade we have a Conservative government and one that does not seem that committed to Kyoto. But they are a minority government which means that they need support from other parties in order to implement any parts of their agenda. The other parties are quite strongly in favour of Kyoto so it will be interesting to see how much political capital the conservatives are willing to spend in order to implement this portion of their platform. My guess is not much – while they have come out generally against Kyoto it was not part of what they call their BIG FIVE (the five main parts of their agenda).

  19. #19 z
    April 9, 2006

    ‘Global warming sceptics must be buggers to be married to. “How was I to know? There was no conclusive proof that the soup wouldn’t be _improved_ by adding the whole packet of salt”‘

    It has its advantages.

    “Mr. Smith, I surveilled your wife, as you requested. Here is a photo of her, in a revealing nightie, greeting a handsome young man at the front door with passionate kisses, just after you leave for work, as I observed every day. Here is a photo through the bedroom window of them embracing and kissing passionately, again as I observed every day. They then pulled down the shades, but here is a photo of her, still in her nightie but now somewhat dishevelled, saying goodbye to him at the front door with more passionate kisses, just before you return home, every day.”

    “Damn! Well, keep it up until you get some evidence”.

  20. #20 z
    April 9, 2006

    I would imagine that the impact on Canada would be likely to be less negative than on most of the world, and perhaps positive in the end. Changes in lifestyle of the Arctic peoples are politically and economically easily dismissable, unfortunately. Current farmlands that warm up could switch from grain to vegetables, while grain farms move to the now warmer north; flooding of ports would be more than offset by the opening up of a huge new coastline in the Northwest Passage through the Arctic, a much shorter route from Europe to the Pacific than the Panama Canal, as well as the Hudson’s Bay. The center of mass of the population, now clinging to the southern border, could move further north into the vast territories now sparsely uninhabited. The big possible problem might be, in my lay opinion, the changes in water availability if the winter snowmass in the Rockies is eliminated. Water availability is already a limiting factor in the prairie farms. (This is not to be construed as an endorsement of anthropogenic climate change on behalf of Canada by myself, BTW)

  21. #21 QrazyQat
    April 9, 2006

    Well, several problems happen in Canada — among them the loss of important fisheries, which are extremely valuable. The loss of the northern ice, which is already worrying them (the bellwether species is the polar bear in this case) is also a problem. Do you have any idea what happens to northern roads, for instance, when there’s a major thaw? (answer: you sink) And that’s just one of many problems. True, Canada will miss out on most of the increased hurricane action (although Atlantic Canada gets hit with major storms as a result of those hurricanes) but will also pick up on that tornado action.

    The bottom line is that when you hear someone say it’s no big deal cause everything just gets a little warmer and that’s it, then you are listening to someone who knows incredibly little (despite their protestations) about the subject.

  22. #22 Dash
    April 9, 2006

    It is amazing how “science” is the new religion. More than that though is the adaptation (or hijacking) of science to stifle all argument. This tactic in general is a common to both sides to be sure, but I have to say it’s far more common on the left in my experience.

    Examples:

    Right side: My way is correct and if you dont think so you’re against national security or unpatriotic!

    Left side however: My way is correct and if you dont agree you are: 1. A racist! 2. A sexist! 3. A homophobe! 4. a religious radical right fundamentalist so and so! 5…6…7…8

    Adapted now to Global Warming… by the way folks it’s Global CLIMATE CHANGE dont you know? This way you’re covered if it gets warmer or colder in your area.

    Science says: We see warming trends.
    Some scientists say: We think we have evidence that it’s because of human activity in part.

    Somehow that translates to: Corporations are evil, this one is greedy, that one is ignorant and we all need to do as I say or we’re all gonna die!!11!one!

    It staggers the mind.

    I am decidedly to the right generally, and moderate socially. I accept there is a warming trend going on, I’ve seen plenty of evidence of that. What I’m not sold on is the role humans have played in it, but I am willing to listen to reasonable arguments.

    What’s totally absurd though is things like Kyoto. Total waste of time and energy. You want to push hybrid cars though? great! You want to push moving to cleaner burning fuels? Fantastic. Better emissions at the same performance? Market that and offer it to people. But forcing idiotic requirements that cant be met and even if they were would stifle growth AND do exactly squat even if you did hit the benchmarks has got to be the definition of futility.

    On top of which you add the Envirogelicals preaching doom and hawking their books or scaring people into voting for them and it’s no wonder people mock the hard left on this topic. It’s utterly deserved.

    -Dash

  23. #23 QrazyQat
    April 9, 2006

    And BTW, in terms of the far north in Canada, this is a bigger problem than the numbers of people would indicate — there’s an enormous amount of minign wealth up there (largely gold and diamonds) and it’s pumping money into the country like crazy. You make that harder and more expensive to get at and you’ve got problems. And unlike the naive (ie. uninformed and/or foolish) climate change pack’s beliefs, warming the tundra makes things more difficult to deal with, not less.

  24. #24 jerry
    April 9, 2006

    “On top of which you add the Envirogelicals preaching doom and hawking their books or scaring people into voting for them and it’s no wonder people mock the hard left on this topic. It’s utterly deserved.”

    shhhhhhhh, dash. You’re ruining the fun.

    Personally, as an American, I am FOR Canadian adherence to all Kyoto protocols. You signed up for em, now you should deliver. You guys don’t want to be France, do you?

  25. #25 jerry
    April 9, 2006

    “envirogelicals”

    LOL, I missed that the first read through. Thanks, this is quite accurate. For the best example see John Quiggen’s blog, where you can be excommunicated for merely questioning whether the subject of human caused global warming IS in fact, closed. You’ll find that all that is closed are the minds on that blog. Very unscientific, also very envirogelical.

  26. #26 Dano
    April 9, 2006

    It is amazing how “science” is the new religion. More than that though is the adaptation (or hijacking) of science to stifle all argument. This tactic in general is a common to both sides to be sure, but I have to say it’s far more common on the left in my experience.

    It is amazing that, suddenly, commenters of a certain stripe all start using the same argument within a few days of each other.

    Best,

    D

  27. #27 John Cross
    April 9, 2006

    Jerry:

    When you question “whether the subject of human caused global warming IS in fact, closed” do you do so based on science or based on a gut feeling? Science should be questioned but the questions themselves must be based in science as well.

    John

  28. #28 Hans Erren
    April 9, 2006

    The subject of human caused global warming IS in fact, closed

    however, the magnitude of climate sensitivity to CO2 is still heavily debated.

  29. #29 Anonymous
    April 9, 2006

    “When you question “whether the subject of human caused global warming IS in fact, closed” do you do so based on science or based on a gut feeling?”

    gut feeling?

    I find very few scientific qustions are every really closed. Perhaps that’s why science continually corrects itself. How many times have we had “new” science completely change the way we thought about things. People who want to call just about anything “closed” are just being closed-minded IMHO.

  30. #30 Anonymous
    April 9, 2006

    Sorry, the above post was mine.

    Jerry

  31. #31 Mark Bahner
    April 9, 2006

    John Rennie writes, “Basically, the industrialized world needs to make a good faith effort to cut CO2 first to convince the developing world to make sacrifices, too.”

    Why? Why should the “developing world make sacrifices, too?”

    For whose benefit? And what are the nature and magnitude of those benefits?

  32. #32 Mark Bahner
    April 9, 2006

    “What are the alternatives for heating with fossil fuels?”

    Here’s one alternative (or set of alternatives) that seems very promising. (Though I need to do a lot more research.)

    Alternatives to tokamak fusion

  33. #33 Mark Bahner
    April 9, 2006

    Hmmm…click on my name in this comment for the hyperlink.

  34. #34 Jeff Harvey
    April 10, 2006

    As usual, climate change sceptics like Jack parade out nonsense about the supposed anthropocentric benefits of AGW; their thesis completely ignores the effects of warming on our ecological life-support systems and the species that make them up. Its the same old ‘humans are exempt from the laws of nature’ balderdash.

    First of all, the current rate of change is not ‘marginal’ – in many regions of higher latitudes its probably unprecedented, at least in many hundreds of thousands of years. Humans have already nickeled and dimed many of the planet’s natural ecosystems half to death, and AGW is just another stress on these complex adaptive systems. The crux of the matter is this: natural ecosystems generate a range of conditions (‘ecosystem services’) over variable spatial and temporal scales that PERMIT human existence; they do not function solely to support human beings, but we exist becase these conditions permit it. There is a less than subtle distinction here. In fact, based on the fact that humans co-opt more than 40% of net primary production and 50% of freshwater flows, its easily argued that no species is more dependent on nature than we are. However, in the face of the current human assault, we know that these systems are somewhat resilient, although limits in our current knowledge of the relatonship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning hinders our understanding of how far these systems can be simplified before they are unable to support themselves, and, ultimately, us. Most of these services – including pollination, nutrient cycling, partial control of climate, detoxificiation and decomposition of terrestrial wastes, generation and maintenance of soils and renewal of their fertilty, seed dispersal, pest control etc., which work inlittle understood and/or explored ways, have no technological subsitutes and thus their loss will have serious repercussions for society as a whole.

    We already know from many published studies that food webs are unraveling because of rapid regional changes in warming, and that there are likely to be consequential effects on the fucntioning of ecological communities and systems as a result, but humans insist on continuing this non-replicatale experiment irrespective of the mid to longer term costs. Jack is speaking utter nonsense when he talks of a warmer world decreasing the extent of deserts (this is so ridiculous I don’t know where to begin criticizing it). Soil fertility depends on many biotic and abiotic factors, often in synergy, and to suggest that the current warming episode is reducing the extent of deserts shows a coplete lack of understanding of even the most basic ecological principles. In fact, the opposite is true: because most of the world’s prime agricultural lands occur in drier regions of the biosphere, and humans are exhausting soil fertilty in decades (fertilty that can take thousand of years to be produced), its clear that deserts are expanding rapidly in just about every continent. By 2050, up to one-third of the world’s land surface could be desertified, mostly as a result of overuse and abuse of dryland systems.

    To reiterate: to understand the effecs of climate change, as well as other aspects of human-induced global change, on human welfare, we need to take a multi-disciplinary approach that examines the consequences on food webs in communties and natural ecosystems because these constitute our life-support systems. To argue that heating bills will be reduced in countries like Canada by AGW while ignoring the decay of ecological systems is the sprint of folly. Moreover, sigificant warming is likely to devastate less species-rich systems, such as those in the Arctic. If the Nature paper by Chris Thomas and colleagues (2004), which predicts that up to one million species will become extinct by the middle of the century as a result of global warming, is correct, then we can already say with some certainty that the future is going to be very bleak indeed for humanity.

  35. #35 Hans Erren
    April 10, 2006

    Sorry I missed your talk yesterday in amsterdam jeff.
    It was announced in “vroege vogels”.
    A fundamental issue: IMHO it is not possible to stop invasive species, because that is the main engine of darwinism. EG When the landbridge of Panama established this resulted in a big die off of the insulated species in south america. We have to live with survival of the fittest, the impossible alternative is to turn the world into a zoo.

    BTW banana’s are going extinct due to fungus increase, another darwinian challenge.

  36. #36 Jeff Harvey
    April 10, 2006

    Hans,

    Argh!!!!!!! You frustrate me! Invasive species are “The main engine of Darwinism”? NONSENSE! Humans are biologically homogenising the biosphere – often intentionally – bringing together normally allopatric species and populations at a rate that is unprecedented in geological history. The consequences of biological invasions are in many cases enormous, and not just for wild nature but for us. The land bridge connecting South and North America allowed for the gradual filtering of organisms into the domain of each other from the two continents, but the process was gradual and emerged over hundreds of thousands if not millions of years. There was certainly time for many species under this kind of diminished selection to adapt to a gradual increase in competition from organisms from the south or north. There was rarely, if ever, the sudden arrival of an invader into an ecosystem with no prior history of it. We are at NIOO researching the effects of warming on the arrival and colonisation ability of invasive thermophilic plants from central and southern Europe into northern Europe, and on extant plant communities. But as I have said, we should bear in mind that range expansions and contractions are the norm; what is not the norm is the introduction of exotic organisms from distant realms or continents into non-native (novel) ecosystems in another continent or realm. Next to habitat loss, invasive species pose the greatest threat to ecosystem health and vitality. Climate change is now thrown into the mix, with potentially very serious repercussions.

    You also totally misinterpret the definition of fitness.

  37. #37 Hans Erren
    April 10, 2006

    How about the thermophylic species invasion during the eemian, there were mediterranian sea shells in the north sea, how devastating was this?

  38. #38 Jeff Harvey
    April 10, 2006

    Hans,

    Two points.

    First, you ignore the historical context which is critical in understanding how ecological systems evolve, assemble, and ultimately function. There’s no doubt that the planet was once a heck of a lot warmer than it is now. However, species assemblages that occupied various niches then as now were not just dumped there in the blink of a geological eye. Many of these processes took millions of years to emerge. There are assembly rules and these can be whittled down from micro-evolutionary processes to a range of other abiotic and biotic selection pressures. Although change is the norm, as any ecologist will tell you, we aren’t talking about ecosystems generating themselves in the context of human life-spans. This is hard for people to grasp – to us, 80 years is a heck of a long time, whereas in nature its a millisecond. Your example is fatally flawed because it tells us nothing about other components of the north sea community, how long they had co-existed there, and how gradual the system had evolved. Case closed.

    Second point. You keep forgetting Homo sapiens. Its as if we had never existed. Humans are the primary driving force in global change now. We dominate every terrestrial ecosystem, have altered chemical cycles generated over stupendous spatial scales, and have fragmented vast tracts of landscape. Homo sapiens has therefore profoundly altered the physical and chemical environment. On top of that, we are biologically homogenizing the biosphere (i) faster, and (ii) more extensively than at any time in the planet’s biological history. There are not only evolutionary consequences but functional consequences as well – we know that biological invasions impact ecosystem services and can generate extinction cascades. These are services that we depend upon, such as pollination, flood control, coastline stabilization etc. The economic costs of losing these services are likely to be enormous.

  39. #39 Anonymous
    April 10, 2006

    Glenn: “For example, I strongly favor carbon taxes, nuclear power and assistance to the developing world aimed at reducing pollution generally. And yet I remain uncertain if Kyoto, politically, is a “first step” or a mis-step.”

    Glenn, it’s unfortunate that there has been a great deal of misinformation regarding Kyoto and that this misinformation has consistently and falsely protrayed Kyoto as an infleixble government-driven system focussed on mandated reductions in emissions.

    Take the time to read the actual Kyoto Accord and you will find it provides for all the things you want to see.

    Kyoto isn’t prefect but neither is it anywhere near as bad as its usually portrayed.

  40. #40 Anonymous
    April 10, 2006

    Ben: Or is everyone just waiting to point fingers and blather “I told you so” when the armageddon comes?

    when I worked on climate change plannign for the Queensland government several years back the main emphasis was on “adaptation” – i.e. accepting that even in the best case credible scenarios significant global warming would occur.

    That meant, for example, looking at what additional areas would become prone to floooding in the future and developing measures to discourage residential development there.

  41. #41 Anonymous
    April 10, 2006

    Jack Lacton: “from australia’s point of view, kyoto would kill thousands of jobs and hamstring our industry simply because we are a large exporter of resources.”

    This is simply not true.

    The Australian government’s own modelling shows that total employment and employment in the resource industries would continue to grow even if Kyoto was implemented.

    You might want ot note Jack that australia is currently on track to actually reduce its emissions in line with Kyoto and yet, oddly, total employment continues to riseand the unemployment rate is at 30 year lows.

    Funny how that would, apparently, change at the stroke of a pen even if nothing else changed.

    Claims of massive job losses associated with Kyoto are manufactured by constructing unrealistic and widely optimistic “base case” scenarios.

    Then instead of saying: “without Kyoto employment will rise by 1,000,000 jobs over 10 years and with Kyoto it will rise by 950,000″ you say “Kyoto will destroy 50,000 jobs! Why does these boong-loving pro-terrorist eco-nazis hate us so?”

  42. #42 Hans Erren
    April 10, 2006

    Jeff,

    Do you think that Holland is better or worse than 30 years ago?
    Is Holland a good or a bad example for the rest of the world?

  43. #43 Dano
    April 10, 2006

    Han:

    If you contextualize your example with the amount of energy and maintenance required to reclaim a scrap of land, the cost-benefit analysis might be a little wanting.

    Why didn’t you folks just adapt to the changing conditions and move somewhere, like so many denialists insist others do?

    Best,

    D

  44. #44 Dash
    April 10, 2006

    To reiterate: to understand the effecs of climate change, as well as other aspects of human-induced global change, on human welfare, we need to take a multi-disciplinary approach that examines the consequences on food webs in communties and natural ecosystems because these constitute our life-support systems. To argue that heating bills will be reduced in countries like Canada by AGW while ignoring the decay of ecological systems is the sprint of folly. Moreover, sigificant warming is likely to devastate less species-rich systems, such as those in the Arctic. If the Nature paper by Chris Thomas and colleagues (2004), which predicts that up to one million species will become extinct by the middle of the century as a result of global warming, is correct, then we can already say with some certainty that the future is going to be very bleak indeed for humanity.

    – Jeff Harvey”

    You’ve got to be kidding with this stuff.

  45. #45 TallDave
    April 10, 2006

    Dash — you would think so, but sadly no.

    Canada is apparently dropping out of Kyoto too.

    http://www.peaktalk.com/archives/002122.php

  46. #46 jerry
    April 10, 2006

    From TallDave’s link above….

    “These efforts are supported by a letter from 60 leading international climate change experts who once more reiterated the near impossibility to seperate the various causes that are contributing to climate change:

    “‘Climate change is real’ is a meaningless phrase used repeatedly by activists to convince the public that a climate catastrophe is looming and humanity is the cause. Neither of these fears is justified.

    “Global climate changes all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural ‘noise’.”

    60 leading international climate change experts? Does this mean the subject is NOT closed or is this just more heresy?

  47. #47 z
    April 10, 2006

    “Global climate changes all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural ‘noise’.”

    Such a statement is meaningless, unless accompanied by an explanation of how the human impact could be distinguished from the noise, to the satisfaction of the skeptic involved. If he/she/it states that nothing other than a randomly assigned controlled trial will be satisfactory (which seems to be the case with a lot of these folks) then we can safely move on.

  48. #48 jerry
    April 10, 2006

    “Such a statement is meaningless, unless accompanied by an explanation of how the human impact could be distinguished from the noise”

    I believe the scientists are saying that “the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural ‘noise'”

  49. #49 Dano
    April 10, 2006

    60 leading international climate change experts? Does this mean the subject is NOT closed or is this just more heresy?

    The ’60 leading international CC experts’, BTW, have a total of, oh, maybe ten empirical, peer-reviewed people among them.

    The roster is that of ‘the usual suspects’ – contrarians, denialists, shills.

    HTH,

    D

  50. #50 jerry
    April 10, 2006

    as opposed to the shills on the other side of the fence?

  51. #51 Anonymous
    April 10, 2006

    Let’s look at what a great job science does in closing subjects…..

    If you had a baby in the 1970’s in the US, you’d have been warned with serious frowns never to let that baby go to sleep on its back, only on the stomach. SIDS, you know.

    But if you’d had that same baby in the 1980’s, well, then the dire warning was to allow the baby to sleep ONLY on its back, never the stomach. SIDS, you know.

    Now, have that SAME baby, or one decades younger, in the 1990’s and the dire warning was to put it on its side, propped up with a line of blankets. No side sleeping or back sleeping. SIDS, you know.

    Now, of course, in the 2000’s, we’re back to mandatory back sleeping. SIDS, you know.

    So, when scientists can determine which, if any, sleeping position is definitively the best position, and the one least likely to result in a SIDS death, then maybe they can get to work on human-caused global warming. When they can “close” a relatively easy one, maybe they can work their way up from there.

  52. #52 Anonymous
    April 10, 2006

    Sorry, the above post was mine

    Jerry

  53. #53 Dash
    April 10, 2006

    It just seems to me that you do your side no good at all with this extremist nonsense about 1 million species being extinct and how horrible Homo Sapiens are for the planet etc. I have to admit it is amusing watching arguments seemingly over who can offer the more alarmist position…

    Anyway, yes Canada has come to realize what the US and others knew: Kyoto is futile. So have the Brits I believe. At least I know Blair has indicated it’s time to rethink Kyoto. The policy was an utter failure, mostly because it’s true objective seemed to be self gratification for all these folks who want to tell you how horrible you are for polluting and how wonderful they are for being part of the soulution to YOUR problem (you ignorant dolts!)

    The rest of us point and laugh (or snicker under our breath if we feel bad), and listen instead to reasonable people who understand that while we are in a warming trend, no we dont know the cause. If humans are indeed partly responsible we have no idea to what degree, .01% or 20%… who knows. And yes we should all want cleaner air so lets promote cleaner burning fuel solutions, or market hybrid cars with good performance for those who want them, offer incentives for businesses to reduce emmissions. That sort of thing.

  54. #54 Mark [Section 15]
    April 10, 2006

    To be clear:

    Kyoto in Canada is not futile.

    Canada will not be pulling out, but the current concervative government (advised by people from Australia’s liberal party, BTW) is publically saying that they will fail to meet the targets because the previous Liberal government was slow and ineffective in dealing with Kyoto implementation (true).

    The plot seems to be to instead come up with a less ambitious world agreement (as if Kyoto really was).

    Of course, today it was announced that there is a way for Canada to meet its target:

    http://tinyurl.com/p4xr4

    which the Tories here in Canada will likely ignore. Their powerbase is in oil-rich Alberta.

    As for other comments above re: making Canada warmer:

    — our seals are losing their breeding grounds (ice flows)
    — we already produce so much food that we have to give it away
    — My home town of Toronto already has sweltering summers, with some days breaking 40C with the humidex
    — the ice storm that frooze Quebec nearly ten years ago, and the tornados that we now get are extreme weather events we can do without, please
    — Less snow staying in the Rockies is starting to affect water supplies in Alberta, which needs to use several barrels of water per barrel of oil extracted; oh, and people farm with it too!

    That’s just a tiny list, to be sure.

    I’m amused that anyone can think that a rapidly changing environment can be good for anything on this world.

  55. #55 jerry
    April 10, 2006

    When in the history of the earth have we ever not had a rapidly changing environment?

    Sure looks like Canada is pulling out of Kyoto to me.

    Tories will reject budget over Kyoto, Harper says

    http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2005/03/24/budget-kyoto050324.html

  56. #56 Ian Gould
    April 10, 2006

    “So, when scientists can determine which, if any, sleeping position is definitively the best position, and the one least likely to result in a SIDS death, then maybe they can get to work on human-caused global warming. When they can “close” a relatively easy one, maybe they can work their way up from there.”

    Yes just think of the billions we’ve wasted over the years on “vaccinations” just because these “scientists” claim diseases are caused by itty-bitty little invisible critters and not evil spirits.

    Clearly the microbe-alarmists are in the pay of the global drug companies.

  57. #57 jerry
    April 10, 2006

    “Yes just think of the billions we’ve wasted over the years on “vaccinations” just because these “scientists” claim diseases are caused by itty-bitty little invisible critters”

    and some of them, but not all of them, are. We find new information on diseases every day. Nothing in science is ever closed.

  58. #58 John Cross
    April 10, 2006

    Umm, Jerry: I think you need to research a little more about Canada. Your post was from March, 2005!!! We have had a change in government since then and now the Tories are in charge, except they could fall if they don’t adhere to Kyoto or convince others that their plan is good enough to support.

    Dash: you seem convinved that the idea of 1 million species going extinct is not correct. If so can you please point out specifically what is wrong with the paper?

    John

  59. #59 jerry
    April 10, 2006

    “Umm, Jerry: I think you need to research a little more about Canada. Your post was from March, 2005!!! We have had a change in government since then”

    The article mentions Harper, who is still in office.

    “except they could fall if they don’t adhere to Kyoto or convince others that their plan is good enough to support.”

    yes, I can just see canadians kicking Harper out if he doesn’t ruin the Canadian economy enough to meet Kyoto targets.

  60. #60 Jeff Harvey
    April 11, 2006

    Dash,

    Kidding in what way? Just because you don’t understand the dynamics of natural systems and the fact that human survival depends on ecological services emerging from them are you dismissing them? Or is this just another typical response from someone (throw in Tim Curtin and TallDave as well into this category) who thinks that human beings are above and beyond nature? Please specify. Or else tell me what you’ve read about the impacts of climate change on natural systems – an entire volume has just been published (revised from the 1992 first edition) spelling out the ways in which AGW will simply nature and the potential consequences for humanity.

    Speaking as a scientist I have seen the same kinds of strategies embraced to counter those with whose views (out of ignorance) the sceptics don’t understand. One of the most tried and trusted is ridicule – claim that the opponents must be deluded or ‘out of touch’ and this is enough to disarm them, to ‘marginalize’ their views. Dash, TallDave etc., if you want to debate environmental science with me (or if you are able to, but I don’t see any signs that you understand even the basics), then go ahead. But if you can’t come up with anything more than the crap you wrote in response to my posts, then please don’t waste my time. Try reading some scientific literature first.

  61. #61 Hans Erren
    April 11, 2006

    Dan,

    Cost-benefit is very favourable for reclaimed land. The reclaimed land is the most profitable agricultural part of The Netherlands. Densely populated Holland is a net food exporter. We import bulk, like wheat, and we export vegetables.
    http://www.biologischelandbouw.org/uploads/Image/Biologischelandbouw/Rode_groene_sla_en_uien.jpg

  62. #62 John Cross
    April 11, 2006

    Jerry: Now you are not even trying to understand the points. When he made the comments you quoted he was in opposition. As of January 24 he is not PM. The problem Harper faces is that to make changes he needs to get 31 votes from the opposition who are all in favour of Kyoto.

    I have gone back and read through your posts and I am somewhat curious. You have posted no real issues with global warming, just “gut” feelings and a feeling that if science says something now then it is sure to be wrong in the future. Are there any real issues that you are concerned with?

  63. #63 Jeff Harvey
    April 11, 2006

    Hans,

    Holland maintains the world’s largest ecological deficit (along with the US). Both countries have ecological footprints – based on per capita consumption and waste production – that are some 4-5 hectares ‘short’ per person. This shortfall needs to be made up and is by importing carrying capacity. If you think The Netherlands is anywhere close to being sustainable, think again. But, to be fair, all of the world’s developed countries finance massive ecological deficits. Why on Earth do you think that the ‘quad’ (Japan, Australia, Europe, North America) are pushing so heavily for ‘free trade’? Something like 80% of the world’s resources are consumed by 15% of the world’s population in the developed world. All things being equal, if everyone on the planet enjoyed the same lifestyle as the average American, we’d need 5 or more Earth-like planets, and such planets are hard to find these days. In reality, the only way we can maintain such a disparity in consumption is to promote economic policies that push to maintain the status quo.

  64. #64 Hans Erren
    April 11, 2006

    As heating my house with sootless natural gas is part of my ecological footprint, I see how Holland gets a bad mark with it’s big gas reserve. We don’t grow enough forest to absorb the horrible pollutant CO2 that we dutch export.

  65. #65 z
    April 11, 2006

    “I believe the scientists are saying that “the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural ‘noise'””

    Yes, but they could say that forever, unless they commit themselves to exactly what, in their opinion, would distinguish the two, that is not yet being seen. If they admit that their implicit assumption is that they are waiting for it to be written in the sky in words of fire, then their opinion can be dismissed. If they have rational criteria by which to judge signal vs. noise, it can be addressed. Otherwise they are just naysayers.

  66. #66 z
    April 11, 2006

    “So, when scientists can determine which, if any, sleeping position is definitively the best position, and the one least likely to result in a SIDS death, then maybe they can get to work on human-caused global warming. When they can “close” a relatively easy one, maybe they can work their way up from there.”

    Indeed. Scientist used to tell us that atoms were indivisible, then that protons and electrons and neutrons were indivisible now they have quarks. They used to believe that F=MA but now we know that’s not true either. As a result, I am throwing away my cell phone, as it is based on scientific principles, and as we can see that’s notoriously unreliable, and therefore the thing can’t possibly work.

  67. #67 Gar Lipow
    April 11, 2006

    If we talk about the consequences of global warming, I think the skeptics overlook just how serious a problem climate change is for things they care about (assuming that eating is one of them).

    Increases in intensity of hurricanes and other such natural disasters, along with lost of land to sea-level increases are the milder effects. As horrible as they are the means of adapting to these are fairly well known.

    But I don’t think a lot people appreciate how sensitive agriculure is to warming and how much our civilization depends upon agriculture. One point here is that while the world will never run out of water, it can easily run out of clean water; the water cycle makes only so much clean water accessible at any one time. In point of fact humanity has been mining and polluting the water table in any case; even without global warming clean water for agriculture is a serious problem in some areas, and will be more so in time. But global warming tends to produce more intense rain in areas with plenty of water already – producing flooding. It tends result in less rain in dry areas producing drought. And it tends to reduce snow pack, upon which snowmelt depends – reducing major sources for irrigation water. Agriculture is intensely sensitive to flood and drought conditions; excess or shortage of water can reduce production by as much as half in a single year.

    Another problem is the pests tend to migrate in the face of climate
    change – meaning farmers have to deal with pests they are unused to. In addition, insects thrive in warming climates; you will have more
    insects in terms of absolute biomass – which is really bad news for
    farmers. Then there is the fact that two of the worlds primary croops
    produce less in warmer weather – corn and rice. Right now we produce
    ~2,800 calories for every human being on earth *after* crops are fed to animals; hunger is not based on any shortage of food. But if you get an absolute food shortage that is a real danger.

    And the thing is there are ways of growing much more food on an acre of land. The problem is those means are generally extremely labor intensive. One key component of our technical civilization is that we
    don’t have to spend a lot of time growing food, which leaves us plenty for other things. Changing that either kills a whole lot of people, or has serious consequences for our entire technical base – or both.

  68. #68 Hans Erren
    April 11, 2006

    Why is climate change beneficial for bad animals and detrimental for good animals?

  69. #69 brokenlibrarian
    April 11, 2006

    Hans Erren: “Why is climate change beneficial for bad animals and detrimental for good animals?”

    I don’t know, you’re the only one who’s said that, why don’t you tell us?

  70. #70 jerry
    April 11, 2006

    “Yes, but they could say that forever”

    and they probably will

    “unless they commit themselves to exactly what, in their opinion, would distinguish the two, that is not yet being seen.”

    and all them won’t ever do that

    “If they have rational criteria by which to judge signal vs. noise, it can be addressed.”

    addressing it isn’t closing the subject.

    “They used to believe that F=MA but now we know that’s not true either. As a result, I am throwing away my cell phone, as it is based on scientific principles, and as we can see that’s notoriously unreliable, and therefore the thing can’t possibly work.”

    I’m glad to have your word that science won’t continue to change its mind every decade about the best sleeping position for babies to avoid SIDS. They should have just asked you to begin with.

  71. #71 jerry
    April 11, 2006

    “When he made the comments you quoted he was in opposition.”

    Harper has never changed his mind on Kyoto.

    “The problem Harper faces is that to make changes he needs to get 31 votes from the opposition who are all in favour of Kyoto.”

    He doesn’t need to make changes to miss the targets.

    “I have gone back and read through your posts and I am somewhat curious. You have posted no real issues with global warming, just “gut” feelings and a feeling that if science says something now then it is sure to be wrong in the future.”

    I never post gut feelings.

  72. #72 Mark [Section 15]
    April 11, 2006

    Jerry:

    There’s a difference between Canada ‘missing Kyoto targets’ and Canada ‘pulling out/dropping out’ of Kyoto. I was saying specifically that neither the current government nor the previous were on target, however we remain signaturies to Kyoto and will remain so, as per recent comments by both Harper and Environment Minister Rona Ambrose.

    I posted on the matter here: http://tinyurl.com/fqc34

    Canada has no more ‘pulled out’ of Kyoto than America has ‘pulled out’ of, say, the Geneva convention.

    Oops, that was an unfortunate comparison.

    Canada can meet its targets, maybe: http://tinyurl.com/mtjf7

  73. #73 Dano
    April 11, 2006

    brokenlib said:

    I don’t know, you’re the only one who’s said that, why don’t you tell us?

    Prediction: Han will try to dissemble and make this about MBH98.

    Best,

    D

  74. #74 Mark Bahner
    April 11, 2006

    Jeff Harvey writes, “Something like 80% of the world’s resources are consumed by 15% of the world’s population in the developed world. All things being equal, if everyone on the planet enjoyed the same lifestyle as the average American, we’d need 5 or more Earth-like planets,…”

    I’m curious about this claim. The world per-capita GDP is presently approximately $9,300 per year. The U.S. per-capita GDP is approximately $42,000 per year.

    http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/rankorder/2004rank.html

    Does your statement mean that you predict:

    1) That the world economy will soon collapse?

    2) That the world per capita GDP will never get to $42,000 per year?

    In fact, does your statement and the theory of “ecological footprints” have any predictive capacity at all? If so, what are your predictions, based on the theory of “ecological footprints”?

    P.S. I’m curious, because I’ve got a prediction on “Long Bets” that the world per capita GDP, adjusted to year 2000 dollars, will exceed the current U.S. GDP in the early 2040s, and will exceed $10,000,000 by 2100:

    http://www.longbets.org/194

    :-)

    P.S. If I’m correct (or even within a factor of 100 of being correct in 2100, which I think is virtually certain), it’s pretty foolish for the people on earth presently to be sacrificing for those who will be on earth in 2100. That’s why I again would like John Rennie to describe any scientific (rather than religious) reason he has for advocating sacrifice on the altar of CO2 reductions, on the part of developing countries (or even developed countries).

    How about it, Mr. Rennie?

  75. #75 Mark [Section 15]
    April 12, 2006

    GDP size is not a definite measure of resource use. Actually, it’s a rather poor measure overall.

    The point raised by Jeff Harvey is a common claim that if everyone in the world consumed resources at the same rate that North Americans do, we’d need five ‘earths’ or so to meet demand. This is another (dramatic) way of saying that resource extraction and production, agriculture and energy generation would need to be boosted by five times the present level to meet demand.

    I don’t know of the veracity of the claim, just that I once took a test that found that even my small ecological footprint if equalled and not exceeded by everyone in the world would require three earths to match.

    Whatever the actual figures, it’s not rocket science to know that if everyone were to consume like the average North American, we’d have to produce a lot more than we do. And with so much being non-renewables, that’s a bad thing.

  76. #76 Anonymous
    April 12, 2006

    “Why is climate change beneficial for bad animals and detrimental for good animals?”

    what’s a good animal and what’s a bad animal?

    The European rabbit is a “good” animal (presumably) in Europe. In Australia its caused damage worth, literally, tens of billions of dollars.

    Or are enquiring about the state of their souls?

  77. #77 Stephen Berg
    April 12, 2006

    Re: ‘”Why is climate change beneficial for bad animals and detrimental for good animals?”

    what’s a good animal and what’s a bad animal?

    The European rabbit is a “good” animal (presumably) in Europe. In Australia its caused damage worth, literally, tens of billions of dollars.

    Or are enquiring about the state of their souls?’

    There is no such thing as a bad or a good animal. They are simply animals, and all species will be hurt by AGW.

  78. #78 Stephen Berg
    April 12, 2006

    [Sorry for double-posting, but…]

    Re: “I’m curious about this claim. The world per-capita GDP is presently approximately $9,300 per year. The U.S. per-capita GDP is approximately $42,000 per year.”

    Taking this all into account, the GNP of the US is 21.5% of the world’s total GNP, despite having less than 5% of the world’s population.

    As resource extraction plays the most important role in GNP, I’d say Jeff Harvey’s point is completely valid.

  79. #79 brokenlibrarian
    April 12, 2006

    A simpler calculation can be made using the numbers for national GDP. No fiddling with “per capita”.

    The world GDP is listed as $59 trilion,590 billion dollars (est). The GDP of the United States is listed as $12 trillion, 410 billion dollars (est). Therefore, by these numbers, the United States generates about 21% of the world GDP. Same result, more straightforward method.

    But, as Mark said, “GDP size is not a definite measure of resource use. Actually, it’s a rather poor measure overall.” Better results might be found using the numbers for oil consuption (the US uses a full quarter of all the oil used in world ever day), natural gas consumption (almost the same), and electricity production (also almost the same).

    So we’re looking at about the same results: a fifth to a quarter of the world’s enegery usage, a fifth to a quarter of the world’s GDP, and less than five percent of the world’s population. I think that an additional and very important data point would be to find out how much of the world’s food production ends up in the United States. I expect it is significant, once one accounts for crops fed to cattle for the production of meat, eggs, cheese, etc, which Americans eat in greater quantities than anywhere else in the world. I would also expect it to be lower than the actual energy usage numbers.

    One needs to define “resource usage” to make an argument like this. What other “resources” do Americans consume at higher-than-average numbers, other than energy and food?

  80. #80 Simonjm
    April 12, 2006

    Could any of the AGW sceptics say whether they think humans are having a major adverse impact on the global environment?

    Could you also tell me why the G8’s premier scientific institutions -basically the worlds best- the one’s their governments turn to for official scientific advice, have all come out supporting AGW and that is a matter of great concern for their governments?

  81. #81 Mark Bahner
    April 12, 2006

    “The point raised by Jeff Harvey is a common claim that if everyone in the world consumed resources at the same rate that North Americans do, we’d need five ‘earths’ or so to meet demand. This is another (dramatic) way of saying that resource extraction and production, agriculture and energy generation would need to be boosted by five times the present level to meet demand.

    I don’t know of the veracity of the claim, just that I once took a test that found that even my small ecological footprint if equalled and not exceeded by everyone in the world would require three earths to match.”

    So you took a test and were shocked by the result. Take another test…a true/false test:

    1) Your first name start with an “M.” (True or False?)

    2) Your first name ends with a “k.” (True or False?)

    3) You run a blog that ends with the number “15.” (True or False?)

    If your answers to all three questions are “True,” you will die on April 15.

    Shocking, isn’t it? But the question is, does it have any *predictive* capability? That’s what science is all about.

    If “ecological footprint” theory can’t be used by someone to make falsifiable (capable of being proved false) predictions of future events, then it isn’t science.

    For example, take my theory about per-capita economic growth rates accelerating throughout the 21st century:

    1) It’s based on the fact that economic growth is caused by human minds (e.g., you don’t see any wealthy chimpanzees),

    2) and the number of “human brain equivalents” will increase to essentially infinity as the 21st century progresses,

    http://markbahner.typepad.com/random_thoughts/2005/11/why_economic_gr.html

    ergo…

    3) per-capita (at least per “hydrocarbon-based-capita”) economic growth rates will continue to increase throughout the 21st century, reaching mind-boggling levels (of greater than 10% per year) by the end of the century.

    http://markbahner.typepad.com/random_thoughts/2004/10/3rd_thoughts_on.html

    http://www.longbets.org/194

    Note how that theory of economic growth produces a *falsifiable* prediction about the future. That is the key difference between real science and pseudoscience. I’m asking Jeff Harvey if “ecological footprint” theory enables him to make any *falsifiable* predictions of the future.

  82. #82 Hans Erren
    April 12, 2006

    Ok then, beautiful vs harmful.

    Under threat by global warming:
    Tropical frogs

    Thriving by global warming:
    Mosquitos

    More examples anybody?
    Beautiful species that are thriving by global warming?
    Harmful species that are threatened by global warming?

  83. #83 Hans Erren
    April 12, 2006

    Of course humans are having an adverse effect on the local environment. It’s called pollution and deforestation.

    Richer countries have the means to clean up their mess.
    Poor countries are target of corruption.
    I’ve seen some cases of badland erosion in Ethiopia where due to woodcutting for fuel, desertification occurs leading to local temperature increase. A reforestation programme is now under way.

    As world population grew dramatically over the last decades it is a synchronous global problem. The best solution is to educate girls, because educated girls have less children, thus reducing the pressure.

    The influence of sychronous land use change on global average climate is an ongoing topic of research.
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/310/5754/1625

  84. #84 Dano
    April 12, 2006

    bl wrote:

    I think that an additional and very important data point would be to find out how much of the world’s food production ends up in the United States.

    Ecologists (e.g. Jeff Harvey ‘n’ me) use Net Primary Productivity (NPP) as the ultimate measure of resource use. Wackernagel et al. estimate humans appropriate 40% of the planet’s NPP.

    If you wonder why people ululate about fishery issues, or surface water withdrawals, etc. it’s that number.

    Best,

    D

  85. #85 Stephen Berg
    April 12, 2006

    Re: “Richer countries have the means to clean up their mess.”

    Yes, but do they? Hardly.

    The budget for United States Superfund cleanup sites has dropped dramatically in recent years, leaving the environment in shambles.

    Here in Canada, hundreds of patches of clear-cut forests are visible from the air. These sites aren’t being replenished.

    The technology exists for hydrogen fuel cell and hybrid automobiles. However, what percentage of those in the developed world actually own one? 1%? 0.5%? Even less?

    We have the ways and means to clean up our mess. However, we don’t, and it’s a bloody shame, since our grandchildren will have to deal with it decades down the road.

  86. #86 brokenlibrarian
    April 12, 2006

    Dano:

    Ecologists (e.g. Jeff Harvey ‘n’ me) use Net Primary Productivity (NPP) as the ultimate measure of resource use. Wackernagel et al. estimate humans appropriate 40% of the planet’s NPP.

    If you wonder why people ululate about fishery issues, or surface water withdrawals, etc. it’s that number.

    So what’s the NPP numbers for the United States versus the rest of the humans, then? Or is Not That Simple?

  87. #87 Gar Lipow
    April 12, 2006

    Hans Erren:
    >”Why is climate change beneficial for bad animals and detrimental for good animals?”

    I suspect this was in response to my post. The answer is that in agriculture, generally any animal that is “good” i.e. contributes to our food supply is already there and cultivated (along with some animals we don’t want). Thus random importation of additional animals is likely to either have no effect or to threaten food production. The odds of a randomly imported species having a postive effect are vanishingly small, where a high percentage are likely to cause us problems. This is even more true for insects. The odds that a randomly imported inspect species, new to an area, will prove beneficial are infinitesmal. The odds that a randomly imported insect species new to an area will prove harmful is significant. Thus as global warming causes species migration it is close to inevitable that pests will increase, and absurdly small that new beneficial species will be imported. All this is enormously anthropocentric of course. If you are broad-minded enough to hold cockroaches of equal value with yourself then you should not worry about global warming; global warming is beneficial to that species and has little or no down-side for them.

  88. #88 Gar Lipow
    April 12, 2006

    Hans Erren:
    >”Why is climate change beneficial for bad animals and detrimental for good animals?”

    I suspect this was in response to my post. The answer is that in agriculture, generally any animal that is “good” i.e. contributes to our food supply is already there and cultivated (along with some animals we don’t want). Thus random importation of additional animals is likely to either have no effect or to threaten food production. The odds of a randomly imported species having a postive effect are vanishingly small, where a high percentage are likely to cause us problems. This is even more true for insects. The odds that a randomly imported inspect species, new to an area, will prove beneficial are infinitesmal. The odds that a randomly imported insect species new to an area will prove harmful is significant. Thus as global warming causes species migration it is close to inevitable that pests will increase, and absurdly small that new beneficial species will be imported. All this is enormously anthropocentric of course. If you are broad-minded enough to hold cockroaches of equal value with yourself then you should not worry about global warming; global warming is beneficial to that species and has little or no down-side for them.

  89. #89 Gar Lipow
    April 12, 2006

    Hans Erren:
    >”Why is climate change beneficial for bad animals and detrimental for good animals?”

    I suspect this was in response to my post. The answer is that in agriculture, generally any animal that is “good” i.e. contributes to our food supply is already there and cultivated (along with some animals we don’t want). Thus random importation of additional animals is likely to either have no effect or to threaten food production. The odds of a randomly imported species having a postive effect are vanishingly small, where a high percentage are likely to cause us problems. This is even more true for insects. The odds that a randomly imported inspect species, new to an area, will prove beneficial are infinitesmal. The odds that a randomly imported insect species new to an area will prove harmful is significant. Thus as global warming causes species migration it is close to inevitable that pests will increase, and absurdly small that new beneficial species will be imported. All this is enormously anthropocentric of course. If you are broad-minded enough to hold cockroaches of equal value with yourself then you should not worry about global warming; global warming is beneficial to that species and has little or no down-side for them.

  90. #90 Gar Lipow
    April 12, 2006

    Hans Erren:
    >”Why is climate change beneficial for bad animals and detrimental for good animals?”

    I suspect this was in response to my post. The answer is that in agriculture, generally any animal that is “good” i.e. contributes to our food supply is already there and cultivated (along with some animals we don’t want). Thus random importation of additional animals is likely to either have no effect or to threaten food production. The odds of a randomly imported species having a postive effect are vanishingly small, where a high percentage are likely to cause us problems. This is even more true for insects. The odds that a randomly imported inspect species, new to an area, will prove beneficial are infinitesmal. The odds that a randomly imported insect species new to an area will prove harmful is significant. Thus as global warming causes species migration it is close to inevitable that pests will increase, and absurdly small that new beneficial species will be imported. All this is enormously anthropocentric of course. If you are broad-minded enough to hold cockroaches of equal value with yourself then you should not worry about global warming; global warming is beneficial to that species and has little or no down-side for them.

  91. #91 Dano
    April 12, 2006

    bl:

    I’d have to go back and read the paper, but IIRC they didn’t calculate NPP for US. In my distant memory, I recall a paper about embodied energy and the US consumed ~27% of all kcal – energy, food, transport, etc.

    Best,

    D

  92. #92 John Cross
    April 12, 2006

    If you are broad-minded enough to hold cockroaches of equal value with yourself …

    The mind reels with possible comments but I shall remain silent and wish everyone a good night!.

    John

    P.S. Dano, have you calculated the r2 values of your WMI index yet?

  93. #93 brokenlibrarian
    April 12, 2006

    Dano:

    I’d have to go back and read the paper, but IIRC they didn’t calculate NPP for US. In my distant memory, I recall a paper about embodied energy and the US consumed ~27% of all kcal – energy, food, transport, etc.

    That would certainly be in line with the fuel consumption numbers. I would be interested to see what percentage of the world’s crops are used to feed cattle (I expect it’s a lot), and what percentage of cattle products are consumed by what countries. Any idea where I might find such information? I’ve had little luck so far.

  94. #94 Stephen Berg
    April 13, 2006

    Re: “P.S. Dano, have you calculated the r2 values of your WMI index yet?”

    Hmmm. Sounds like either a 1.4 or an 8.3. What do you think, Dano?

  95. #95 Gar Lipow
    April 13, 2006

    >>If you are broad-minded enough to hold cockroaches of equal value with yourself …

    >The mind reels with possible comments but I shall remain silent and wish everyone a good night!.

    Hi, John. You did spot that in context with the rest of the paragraph that quote was *intentional* rather than *unintentional* satire of the skeptic position.

  96. #96 Dano
    April 13, 2006

    1. bl: IIRC, ~70-80% of graminaceous crops in US are for fodder (most corn, not as much wheat).
    1a: FAO should have the crop %s you are looking for. You may want to look at Les Brown’s Plan B or some other of his books on EPI website (downloadable in .pdf), which is a good place to start.

    2. Mr Berg: the r^2 of my WMI is higher than .02 (BTW, rubes, was known in 1998) :o) , but I suspect hovers around .4-.5 with a SD of about one whole unit. I think the index is a good predictor of ideological stripe, but I don’t think the metric is a good predictor of, say, lack of intelligence when quoting SEPP web/CO2Sci/John Daly/etc or using earth examples from 250 MYA to draw conclusions/tout about the rosy future.

    Best,

    D

  97. #97 John Cross
    April 13, 2006

    Hi Gar:

    I thought it might be but I know that humor sometimes doesn’t come across well over the internet. In any case I thought it worth highlighting – sorry about the sledgehammer approach.

  98. #98 Gar Lipow
    April 13, 2006

    Actually, thanks. The fact that you had doubts meant I was not as clear as I thought, so I appreciate it.

  99. #99 Anonymous
    April 13, 2006

    I just realized that in my previous comment, I taunted the rubes about something that I chided them on earlier. I have notified my Editor and she has assured me of more assiduous reading of my comments.

    Apologies.

    Mr Cross:

    have you audited my WMI numbers yet? Never mind that I won’t provide the raw data for non-WMI Team amateurs to stain with Cheeto crumbs, because it may cut my taxpayer funding and thus Noam Chomsky won’t return my phone calls.

    Best,

    D

  100. #100 Mark Bahner
    April 13, 2006

    I’m really hoping John Rennie will come back to explain why developing countries should sacrifice to reduce CO2 emissions (see my post of April 9, 11:08 PM).

    And Jeff Harvey can give some examples of predictions that result from “ecological footprint” theory (see my post of April 11, 8:47 PM).

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