Shorter Lavoisier workshop

The Lavoisier group has published the presentations from their ‘Rehabilitating Carbon Dioxide’ workshop. Allow me to shorten them for you.

David Archibald: I predict imminent global cooling based on the record from five US weather stations.

Tim Curtin: Nicholas Stern is in league with the Prophet Mohammed.

David Evans: In 1999, we didn’t know that the world had cooled from 1940 to 1975. The recent discovery of this fact has changed my mind about AGW.

Michael Hammer: According to my calculations, the IPCC has got the climate sensitivity too high by a factor of 20.

Bob Carter: E-G Beck shows that CO2 values were higher when less accurate measurements were being made.

Alexander et al: NASA scientists don’t know about the inverse square law.

Credits: “Shorter” concept was invented by Daniel Davies. Eli Rabett and Ken Brook for the link.

Comments

  1. #1 Obdulantist
    July 8, 2007

    “NASA scientists don’t know about the inverse square law.”

    Makes you wonder how they made it to the moon so many times… Or did they?

  2. #2 Gareth
    July 8, 2007

    Archibald’s effort is a fine example of the Beck school at work. If you can bear to waste the bandwidth to download his “paper”, take a look at Fig 20 – Projected Temperature Profile to 2030. Archibald chooses a single temperature record from the USA as his “global” record up to 1979, stitches it onto the satellite record, and then extrapolates a line pointing downwards based on his solar prognostications. The word risible doesn’t do it justice…

  3. #3 Tony
    July 8, 2007

    I’m disappointed no one talked about “Ponder the Maunder”, the extra credit assignment of a 15-year-old student that rips one in the global warming scam. It just goes without saying that a school project is far more trustworthy than anything coming out of the IPCC. James Hansen is paid lots of money!

  4. #4 Zeke Hausfather
    July 9, 2007

    I had an interesting correspondence with David Evans awhile back on this subject. I wrote him:

    “One paragraph in your recent article puzzled me. You stated:

    “Better data shows that from 1940 to 1975 the earth cooled while atmospheric carbon increased. That 35 year non-correlation might eventually be explained by global dimming, only discovered in about 2003.”

    Now, the cooling period from 1940 to 1975 was well documented prior to 2000, so I’m not sure which “new data” you are referring to. What really puzzles me, though, is the assertion that “global dimming” was discovered in 2003. The cooling effects of aerosols has been known for quite some time (see, for example, the chart on radiative forcings in the 2001 IPCC TAR: http://www.ipcc.ch/present/graphics/2001syr/large/06.01.jpg ). The 1996 IPCC SAR also included a section on negative radiative forcing from aerosols (see http://www.ipcc.ch/pub/sarsum1.htm#two for an overview).”

    He replied:

    “Initially (early 90′s?) the temperature record from the last century was pretty fuzzy and disputed (eg heat islands), and the cooling 1940-75 wasn’t obvious or well known. Might have just been a measurement artifact or something. The big picture for the last century was just “atmos carbon increasing, temp increasing”. When the data firmed up, the cooling period presented a bit of a problem.

    This is a popular article, and the dates are more for knowledge at the New Scientist level. And I got the global dimming date a bit late, sorry. But whether it should have been 1996 or 2000 or 2003 makes little difference to the main point — after we were mainly convinced that carbon emissions caused GW, we discovered a huge new phenomenon we hadn’t even known about! Hmm, makes you wonder what else we don’t know, and how good the models were before finding out about global dimming.

    Another possibility to bear in mind with aerosols and upper atmospheric chemistry is that there may be other significant interactions going on that we don’t know about yet.”

    To which I responded:

    “David,

    I think you are underestimating the awareness of the 1940-1975 cooling. After all, it did lead to the sophism often trotted out by Senator Inhofe that there was a “scientific consensus” of an imminent ice age in the 1970s. William Connolley has a rather comprehensive collection of articles from the period noting a cooling trend: http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/iceage/

    Rasool and Schneider, Science, July 1971, p 138, “Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Aerosols: Effects of Large Increases on Global Climate” has a good discussion of the importance of aerosols in climate forcings, though it actually overstates the magnitude of their effects in retrospect.

    Clearly we didn’t “discover a huge new phenomenon we hadn’t even known about” in the 1990s; research on the cooling effect of aerosols has a much longer history. You are correct in pointing out that considerable uncertainty remains in the radiative forcing aerosols, at least compared to GHGs (see http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/stratplan2003/final/graphics/images/SciStratFig2-3.jpg for example, or the more recent figure in the AR4 WG1).”

    And the conversation pretty much ended after that, though I guess he wasn’t convinced enough not to spout out these sophisms again…

  5. #5 Steve Murphy
    July 9, 2007

    Thanks a lot Tony (#3 above). I looked at the Ponder site and the explosion of my BS detector melted my eyeballs – which were already being seared by the burning stupid anyway.

    Love the fact she’s soliciting funds for scholarships to post-secondary education (with an essay like this, maybe Liberty U would accept her – and I mean that in the sense of the uncritical use of evidence not the position on climate change itself)

  6. #6 Brian
    July 9, 2007

    In all fairness, I like the title of the workshop:’Rehabilitating Carbon Dioxide’. I think that the next one should take the concept a bit further and call itself: ‘Carbon dioxide wuz framed! Free the C.O. Two!’

  7. #7 Richard Tol
    July 9, 2007

    Stern indeed ascribes to the anti-usury rules of the Aristotle, St Augustine, and Mohammed. Summarising this as “Stern is an islamist” is unfair. How much else was lost in summary?

  8. #8 Richard Tol
    July 9, 2007

    #3, #5

    It is funny indeed how easy it is to poke holes in “An Inconvenient Truth”.

  9. #9 dhogaza
    July 9, 2007

    It is funny indeed how easy it is to poke holes in “An Inconvenient Truth”.

    Huh, well, I found two blatant errors in “Ponder the Maunder” in the first 15 seconds of skimming the first couple of paragraphs.

    If you can’t, you’re not trying.

  10. #10 Chris O'Neill
    July 9, 2007

    “Huh, well, I found two blatant errors in “Ponder the Maunder” in the first 15 seconds of skimming the first couple of paragraphs.

    If you can’t, you’re not trying.”

    Don’t forget that one of the characteristics of credulists is that they give up very easily when it suits them.

  11. #11 Steve Murphy
    July 9, 2007

    (this is a tip of the hat, per comments 9 and 10 dhogaza and Chris)

    Indeed not trying and giving up when it suits are bang on. Especially since articles here on Tim’s blog are collected into an easy climate change dealing with (a) support from climate scientists for the basic premises of Gore’s movie and (b) shredding of similar (to Ponder) poor critiques of the movie. I suppose in fairness, both commenter Tony and I (3 and 5) should reiterate these but they’ve been covered elsewhere.

  12. #12 Richard Tol
    July 9, 2007

    Kristen Byrnes is, or claims to be 15 years old. She has a better understanding of the science of climate change than many people many years her senior — although she did copy some errors from others. She is clearly not at university level, but so are many others. For instance, a senior member of the Stern Review does not know the difference between ice melt and ice displacement — after 18 months of working full-time on climate change.

    The point is, however, that a novice can poke holes in what purports to be well-founded documentary by someone who used to be admired as a policy wonk.

  13. #13 Coin
    July 9, 2007

    It just goes without saying that a school project is far more trustworthy than anything coming out of the IPCC.

    This seems to say more about your standards of trust than it does about anything else.

  14. #14 Dano
    July 9, 2007

    The point is, however, that a novice can poke holes in what purports to be well-founded documentary by someone who used to be admired as a policy wonk.

    And the tiny holes, barely enough for gas exchange, are invariably inflated to gargantuan dimensions by quibblers and denialists, and trumpeted as “AlGore is fat”.

    Or fill in your own favorite inflated-importance talking points promulgated by wingnut welfare-supported media organs.

    Best,

    D

  15. #15 Chris O'Neill
    July 9, 2007

    “Alexander et al: NASA scientists don’t know about the inverse square law.”

    e.g. from Alexander et al:

    “These variations were determined from satellite and
    other observations. What the IPCC scientists failed to appreciate is that changes in the level of solar radiation received on earth are amenable to precise calculation. The variations are well in excess of the IPCC value of
    +0,3 Wm-2 quoted earlier.”

    Sure. Solar scientists have never heard of the inverse square law.

  16. #16 Chris O'Neill
    July 9, 2007

    “The point is, however, that a novice can poke holes in what purports to be well-founded documentary by someone who used to be admired as a policy wonk.”

    More like, a novice can easily trawl the internet to collect a range of credulist arguments.

  17. #17 guthrie
    July 9, 2007

    My advice is just ignore Richard until he actually quotes something. So far he’s given us his opinion, which has no weight.

  18. #18 Richard Tol
    July 9, 2007

    #14

    Dano: If a 15-yr-old can punch tiny holes, then all credibility is gone. Anyone who does not want to believe Al Gore’s message, just has to point to Kristen Byrnes and say “ha ha, he cannot even hold his own against a school kid”. Debate over.

    Unfortunately, this is the logical consequence of the hyperbole of An Inconvenient Truth. The movie is not rock solid, although very wrong in only a few places, but the result is that the entire movie is untrustworth.

  19. #19 Dano
    July 9, 2007

    Thank you Richard.

    My phrase for such stances is “ants making a picnic out of crumbs.” But such stances are instructive.

    Because they have nothing, denialists must pleasure themselves in pretending tiny holes discredit entire arguments.

    If denialists applied such exacting standards of perfection to everything imperfect humans do in our lives, nothing would get done (and your pub list, Richard, wouldn’t be credible because of the tiny holes. )

    Best,

    D

  20. #20 Dano
    July 9, 2007

    BTW, Guthrie: your hotmail addy isn’t working for me.

    Best,

    D

  21. #21 jre
    July 9, 2007

    Anyone who does not want to believe Al Gore’s message, just has to point to Kristen Byrnes and say “ha ha, he cannot even hold his own against a school kid”.

    More to the point, anyone who does not want to believe Al Gore’s message, just … well, doesn’t believe it.
    Although it must be admitted that there is something hugely entertaining about the whole concept of an intellectual cage match with a small child.

  22. #22 frankis
    July 9, 2007

    Dano beat me to it but I’ll chip in this comment anyway – Richard you ought to realise that you’re setting yourself up for a fall, effectually inviting anybody with the interest to begin dissecting your own publications with a view to magnifying and trumpeting the flaws they will find therein. You agree that your own work is not flawless, right, and that Gore doesn’t ever claim to be a scientist? What goes around comes around and you’re encouraging people with a nitpicking, mean attitude and a different point of view to your own to take an interest in you, because of what you’ve done yourself to Gore and John Quiggin to name two. You could afford to be more generous I think.

  23. #23 cce
    July 9, 2007

    A google search for:
    stern “ice melt” “ice displacement”
    retrieves 7 hits, none of which have anything to do with the Stern report. If someone is complaining about such a thing, they are keeping it a secret.

    FWIW, there are a total of 39 google hits with both phrases “ice melt” and “ice displacement.”

    In contrast, there are 404 hits for the phrase “dynamic ice flow,” which is a notoriously hard phrase for “skeptics” to remember.

  24. #24 Eli Rabett
    July 9, 2007

    Sadly, Ms. Byrnes also suffers from severe abscissa disease, an illness that characterized The Great Global Warming Swindle

  25. #25 Davidp
    July 10, 2007

    Saldy the Australian published a piece from Martin Durkin on Staurday and a piece from Bob Carter today, both propoting The Great Global Warming Swindle in advance of its airing on Thursday.

  26. #26 Ken Miles
    July 10, 2007

    Saldy the Australian published a piece from Martin Durkin on Staurday and a piece from Bob Carter today, both propoting The Great Global Warming Swindle in advance of its airing on Thursday.

    Leigh Dayton, who is one of the best science journalists in Australia, gives the program a serve here.

    She also attacked it in a tv review in the Weekend Australian.

  27. #27 Zeke
    July 10, 2007

    Will wonders never cease: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,22047040-30417,00.html

    Of all the newspapers I’d expect to run a story titled “Sun not behind global warming”, the Australian would be close to the bottom of the list. Looks like the folks working for the science section of the newspaper are fed up with the editorial board’s blatant disregard for the science.

    A classic quote from the article: “Israeli scientist Nir Shaviv, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, continued to support the solar theory. He told Nature the new findings may not reflect a “lag” between solar activity and warming.”

    Since solar data hasn’t been tortured enough already, apparently you need to add a lag to get the trends to align. I guess Nir believes that temperatures will decrease soon to reflect decreasing solar activity; I wonder if he would be willing to take James’ bet to back up this belief?

  28. #28 Ken Miles
    July 10, 2007

    I really hope that Nir Shaviv has been misquoted. If your arguing that variations in cosmic rays effect clouds, then there should be next to no lag.

  29. #29 guthrie
    July 10, 2007

    OK Dano. Maybe somethings wrong somewhere.
    Should be
    guthrie_stewart
    at
    yahoo.co.uk

  30. #30 Jeff Harvey
    July 10, 2007

    Dano,

    As usual you are spot on. Well done, sir.

    Several points in response to Richards posts. First of all, the denial lobby doesn’t give a hoot about ‘science’ or the ‘scientific method’. They are distorting, mangling, twisting and otherwise mutilating science to promote a pre-determined view of the world through the bolstering of a political (i.e. corporate) agenda. No matter how rigid the empirical evidence is, this lot will find a way to stick to their guns. As David Viner, a scientist at the University of East Anglia said a few years ago, in the late 1980′s and through much of the 1990′s the idea of AGW was labeled as a ‘doomsday myth’ by the septics, and was treated accordingly by them. As the empirical evidence of a human fingerprint grew, many began to abandon this and they suddenly began to admit that the climate was changing rapidly, but that it was due to solar forcing or cosmic rays. This is the basis of much of their rhetoric these days, although as Viner says, in 5-10 years expect many of them to finally admit that human forcing is primarily responsible, but that its too late to do anything except adapt (assuming of course, that the ecological systems that permit human existence via a suite of provisioning services can adapt as well without a serious reduction in their efficiency).

    But this is the crux of their strategy. I really and honestly don’t believe that the agenda of most of the septics is anything other than one which is based on promoting the status quo, as far as western economic policy is concerned e.g. via free market absolutism, unlimited corporate profiteering etc. The denialists know that they’ll never win the scientific argument, but they know that they don’t need to. All they need to do is to sow enough doubt over the scientific processes underpinning climate change as to render mute any chance of mitigation. They have taken the undertaintly over the outcome of climate change and applied it to the actual processes responsible for climate change. Its a sordid strategy that has so far worked very well.

  31. #31 Richard Tol
    July 10, 2007

    Everyone is invited to pick at my papers. Many people have, and a number of my papers still stand — including, by the way, a few papers that argue for greenhouse gas emission reduction today.

    If you want to give it a try: http://www.fnu.zmaw.de/Publications.5755.0.html

    Anyway, my point was not picked up, so here it is again: Hyperbole a la Gore and Stern is no basis for serious climate policy, because some 15-year-old will come and prick your balloon.

  32. #32 Zeke
    July 10, 2007

    Richard,
    While Gore has his moments of hyperbole, and Stern uses some very debatable assumptions in crafting his estimates of the economic cost of climate change, I think you are giving a bit too much credence to the 15-year-old in question. If you glance through her site, its not hard to realize that its virtually all cherry-picking with a smattering of more substantive arguments and a bit downright fraud (e.g. the graph shown on Eli’s site). Hardly “balloon-pricking”.

  33. #33 Hans Erren
    July 10, 2007

    LOL search/replace denial with alamist:

    First of all, the alarmist lobby doesn’t give a hoot about ‘science’ or the ‘scientific method’. They are distorting, mangling, twisting and otherwise mutilating science to promote a pre-determined view of the world through the bolstering of a political (i.e. corporate) agenda. No matter how rigid the empirical evidence is, this lot will find a way to stick to their guns.

  34. #34 dhogaza
    July 10, 2007

    LOL search/replace denial with alamist:

    First of all, the alarmist lobby doesn’t give a hoot about ‘science’ or the ‘scientific method’

    Which is why alarmists, of course, publish hundreds if not thousands of scientific papers on the subject in the peer-reviewed literature each and every year.

    Now, do your search/replace on my sentence above, replacing “alarmist” with “denialist”. What do you get? A provably false statement.

    So much for the invariance of the search and replace operator on the semantic meaning of strings in the English language.

    Thanks, Hans. I really *did* LOL when reading your post.

  35. #35 Dano
    July 10, 2007

    If we didn’t have Hans, we’d have to make up a hapless Hans character. Therefore, Hans is efficient because we don’t have to do the work (in an economic sense, right Richard?).

    but that its too late to do anything except adapt (assuming of course, that the ecological systems that permit human existence via a suite of provisioning services can adapt as well without a serious reduction in their efficiency).

    Bah. We’ll have some denialist economist with no education in natural sciences tell us that it’ll only cost us 15-25% of our GDP to replace these trifling ecosystem services anyway, and press on! Adapt! Carpe diem, carpe carbonis!!

    An issue in my mind is the difficulty in quantifying ecosystem services to the degree necessary to do decent projections into the future. We need this to have a conversation with society, stating that if we keep going, these ecosystems will be poorly functioning and it will cost you one month of salary in the future to replace them. Do we continue on this path, or do we ask you to spend two weeks of salary today to avoid one month of salary wasted in the future?

    Trouble here is that we don’t do well in sacrificing today for future benefits or avoided costs for our children. In our country, we had an entire generation that didn’t mind avoiding profligate spending today in order for their kids to have a better life – all of us who had parents/grandparents who lived thru the Great Depression, and all of you in Europe who had parents/grandparents who survived the World Wars. Do we have societies who value this sort of behavior today? No?

    On top of that, we have the FUD lobby telling us to carpe carbonis and that the dirty hippies telling us to carpe viridis are [a bad name/standard wingnut marginalization phrase/Coulter hate word]. Gonna take a while to turn this boat while the FUD lobby muddies the waters. Right, Richard?

    Best,

    D

  36. #36 Eli Rabett
    July 10, 2007

    Richard, Nicholas Stern did and I read with interest the temperate and learned way in which you respond to criticism.

    Of course, as you yourself admit you don’t have a clue how to value many important things and thus your estimates of cost are, shall we say, elastic.

  37. #37 Thom
    July 10, 2007

    Hans: “They are distorting, mangling, twisting and otherwise mutilating science to promote a pre-determined view of the world through the bolstering of a political (i.e. corporate) agenda.”

    Good point, Hans. We have to consider if the scientists publishing articles and speaking to the press about the potential problems from climate change might be a front for some hidden “corporate agenda.”

    Now what that agenda might be, I don’t know. And you don’t say either. You just hint, make assertions and drop innuendo to get us thinking. Just like Pielke Jr. used to do all the time.

    I think the first thing to do is to figure out who the corporations are that are propping up people like Michael Oppenheimer, Michael Mann, and James Hansen. Then we might finally begin to peel this onion.

    So thanks for the heads up.

  38. #38 Jeff Harvey
    July 10, 2007

    Dano,

    You’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head, so to speak. Since our understanding of the myriad of intricate and complex ways in which ecosystems function is still in its relative infancy, we have no idea how much we can continue to nickel and dime them before they are unable to sustain themselves, and with that, us. Of course, to the likes of Hans, and the ranks of the contrarians out there, this is irrelevant since they they don’t think that nature is of much utility in lieu of consumptive value.

    I’ve noted this refrain from the sceptics time and time again. Because they don’t understand even the basics of ecology and environmental biology, they dispense with it. Since Costanza et al. published their seminal study in 1997, it should have been obvious that the value of GDP is a tiny fraction of the value of services emerging over variable spatial and temporal scales from natural systems. Richard, please let me know what your 15 year old whiz-kid has to say about this.

    Finally, as far as science is concerned, Hans, you are speaking out of your you-know-what. The empirical evidence underpinning AGW is massive. And it is published in the most rigid, peer-reviewed journals. Not in the crappy places you and your ilk generally publish your tripe. Why has industry invested billions of dollars in debunking the science it hates? What is the agenda of the corporate-funded think tanks ands lobbying groups? How much is their agenda driven by a true concern for humanity, for nature, and for our collective future? Or, Hans, do you really think for a milli-second that they and their paymasters are searching for the ‘truth’, as elusive as that is in any scientific endeavor?

  39. #39 Jeff Harvey
    July 10, 2007

    Richard, this is a follow on from my last post. I note that you are quoted in an article published in several right wing papers and anti-environemtal web sites. It was an article typical of the corporate-state media, whose aim is to ‘Inculcate and defend the social, political and economic agenda of the priviliged groups that dominate society and the state’ (Herman and Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent, 1989). In it you claim that global warming will benefit Canada in terms of ‘tourist visas’. As a senior scientist (population ecology), I was wondering if you’d factored fraying and unraveling food webs, greatly increased rates of local (and global) extinction, and the decreased viability of ecosystems into your tidy little econometric models. If not, why not?

    Moreover, I was wondering if any of the others who were quoted in the article had. The idea – completely idiotic and crazy I may add – was that a warming climate will turn Canada into a bread basket and a paradise for tourists seeking the sun. Again, ignore the fact that acid soils characteristic of the Candian shield won’t sustain much agricultural output, or that the wealth of boreal species living in northern temperate ecosystems will vanish. Quite frankly, such utter and preposterous garbage is dangerous, but its hardly surprising that the corporate media espouses it. Adaptation and denial. That’s their matra.

  40. #40 jre
    July 10, 2007

    I agree with Eli that Prof. Tol’s manner stands in welcome contrast to the spluttering that too often substitutes for reasoned response in these discussions. I believe I understand his point as he states it, viz.:

    Hyperbole a la Gore and Stern is no basis for serious climate policy, because some 15-year-old will come and prick your balloon.

    But I am starting to wonder if he has actually read the balloon-pricking review in question. Here’s a sample:

    [Gore's] graphic suggests that some of the outgoing radiation is reflected from the top of the atmosphere and back to Earth. This idea is the basis of anthropogenic (man made) global warming theory. He fails to mention that this effect has never been measured, only calculated, and by scientists on one side of the debate. This is one of the most hotly debated issues in the global warming debate. Not only does this issue involve complicated theoretical quantum physics, but water vapor absorbs infrared radiation. As is often the case in global warming presentations, he forgets that water vapor is by far the most abundant greenhouse gas; 3 to 4 percent of the atmosphere. And this is important because at most, man-made greenhouse gases are 1/ 10,000 of Earth’s atmosphere.

    So — Prof. Tol, do you agree with the above, and do you consider it a good job of pricking holes in An Inconvenient Truth? And, if not, what in the world are you talking about?

  41. #41 JB
    July 10, 2007

    Richard Tol noted “Hyperbole a la Gore and Stern is no basis for serious climate policy, because some 15-year-old will come and prick your balloon.”

    I wonder what Freud would make of this talk of pricks and balloons and 15-year old girls.

    Gore and Stern should feel very relieved, I suppose. Consider the Freudian alternative: “some prick will come and balloon your 15-year-old.”

  42. #42 Chris O'Neill
    July 10, 2007

    Erren: “They are distorting, mangling, twisting and otherwise mutilating science”

    I wonder who it was who suggested that coral bleaching in early (January, February or March) 2002 was caused by the 2002-2003 El Nino that didn’t begin in any form until about August 2002? Obviously, that person wasn’t doing any distorting, mangling, twisting and otherwise mutilating science. Otherwise that person would be a hypocrite.

  43. #43 Gareth
    July 10, 2007

    Jeff and Dano are picking away at the nub of a very important problem: very few people appreciate the vulnerability of ecosystems to rapid climate change. The temptation is to assume that the systems are either not very important, or simple enough that we can play with them to keep them working. This undervaluation is not confined to economists: it can be seen in climate scientists too. The irreducible complexity of these systems makes them hard to understand, and even harder to appreciate.

  44. #44 Hans Erren
    July 10, 2007

    re 33:
    I was talking about Al Gore, not about real scientists who share their data, of course, there are some good scientists about, but then they are not alarmists, as they don’t have an agenda.

  45. #45 JB
    July 10, 2007

    I wonder, what does it mean when you reply to your own posts? (as Hans just did?)

  46. #46 Carl
    July 10, 2007

    these discussions re: Kristen are pretty fun. I assume since Exxon has already paid off enough “scientists” they can now recruit kids to prop up strawman arguments? It’s not very surprising since this is the same crowd that touts “Creationism” as real science and similarly “pokes holes” in the fossil record etc.

    If Kristen is a real honest-to-goodness precocious 15-year old girl who happens to be in the “septic” camp, I’m sure she’s well on her way to a full-paid scholarship at Bob Jones University. But with some bona-fide scientific mentoring, she could instead have a shot to be a real science student at MIT (well Lindzen could help her I guess ;-)

  47. #47 Carl
    July 10, 2007

    wow, it sure pays off on the “dark side”, even if you’re 15! :-)

    >There have been many generous offers to contribute to >Kristen’s future.
    >
    >Individuals who wish to make a contribution may do so by >issuing and addressing contributions to:
    >
    >”Kristen Byrnes”
    >C/O Bangor Savings Bank
    >280 Fore Street, Suite 200
    >Portland, Maine, 04101
    >
    >Funds will be distributed in the following ways:
    >
    >No less than 75% of all contributions will be deposited in >an irrevocable college trust specifically for Kristen >Byrnes. The expenditure of these funds will be limited to >those expenses that are necessary and reasonable for higher >education. This includes such expenses as tuition, books, >housing, food, and transportation while attending an >accredited college while achieving Associates, Bachelors, >Masters and Doctorate Degrees.
    >
    >The Kristen Byrnes Science Foundation may use no more than >25% of contributed funds. The purpose of this foundation is >to allow Kristen to continue studying and promoting quality >climate science. She may also use these funds to issue >grants to scientists and institutes that are involved in >climate studies.

    now that she’s making a lot of dough, we can apply for grants, I’d like to finally try a distributed Ensemble Kalman Filter of climate models myself. I am pretty jealous, I was sort of a precocious brat but as a teen was solely occupied in various rock bands making a few scant bucks for college and bogarting joints when I could. I never knew I could milk the right-wing back then.

  48. #48 Boris
    July 10, 2007

    #18:

    If a 15-yr-old can punch tiny holes, then all credibility is gone.

    Which is exactly why her Republican daddy helped her on her website. When you have already lost the debate, bring out an adorable proxy. Plus there’s college money. College money? Hmmmmmm….

    I’ll have a website by the end of the week. Just have to teach the two yea old to say “gwobl wahming is a wibwul scam.”

  49. #49 Chris O'Neill
    July 10, 2007

    Tol: “my point was not picked up,”

    Tol needs to arrange an appointment with his optometrist because he seems to have not noticed Eli’s diagnosis of Ms. Byrne’s severe abscissa disease or my comment above. Severe abscissa disease is a common complaint of global warming and CO2 credulists, e.g. Beck and Durkin. I’ll spell out a few points and see if Tol notices. According to “Ponder the Maunder”:

    “(Gore’s) graphic suggests that some of the outgoing radiation is reflected from the top of the atmosphere and back to Earth. This idea is the basis of anthropogenic (man made) global warming theory. He fails to mention that this effect has never been measured,”

    This is just plain wrong and it would have been wrong to assert it a hundred years ago, even though Herr Koch didn’t make a very good set of measurements in 1900.

    “As is often the case in global warming presentations, he forgets that water vapor is by far the most abundant greenhouse gas; 3 to 4 percent of the atmosphere. And this is important because at most, man-made greenhouse gases are 1/ 10,000 of Earth’s atmosphere.”

    This is actually plain wrong (just) and blatantly misleading. Wrong because anthropogenic CO2 is now just over 1/10,000 of Earth’s atmosphere. Blatantly misleading because CO2 is a much stronger GHG than H2O and just because there is already a large greenhouse effect doesn’t mean that additional AG effect is insignificant.

    “they do not include solar activity, which is at an 11,000 year high”

    Solar activity might be at an 11,000 year high but its 11 year average hasn’t changed much at all in 40 years but the earth’s surface has become substantially warmer in that time.

    “Al Gore never puts into consideration El Nino’s or solar variation as a part of global warming which is one of his most crucial mistakes.”

    Probably because there has been no significant solar variation in the past 40 years.

    “higher resolution studies of the same ice cores revealed that the temperature changes came first then were followed by changes in CO2″

    It is not true to say THE temperature changes came first. The true thing to say is that some of the temperature changes came first.

    “There were no trends that show increasing numbers of hurricanes, tropical storms or strength (for the Atlantic)”

    unlike nearly everywhere else in the world, where these are increasing. Also, the energy of hurricanes in the Atlantic is increasing even though the numbers are controlled by the level of El Nino and not increasing.

    “On the same point Al uses records from nuclear submarines that measured ice thickness, once again the ice begins to thin at the same time that the ENSO phase shift began.” “The graph below is temperatures in Alaska for the since 1950″

    Believe it not, Alaska is not the same thing as the Arctic Ocean. Arctic ice is not just correlated with ENSO (if it is at all), it is in long term decline.

    “125,000 years ago the Earth was 3-5 degrees warmer that it is today (IPCC 2007) but ice cores from Greenland date several hundreds of thousands of years farther back”

    The oldest ice in the NGRIP ice core is between 250,000 and 300,000 years old, not “several hundreds of thousands of years farther back” than 125,000 years ago. This ice is useless for paleoclimatic purposes because of movement in the ice older than about 125,000 years. The Greenland ice cap, although it did exist more than 125,000 years ago, was geologically unstable at least shortly before then.

    I could go on and on but all of the arguments are standard denialist points or maybe a few new ones that are disposed of without much trouble. I think Gore gets into trouble by going through a long list of observations and arguing that each one is evidence for global warming when there is a lot of natural noise affecting some of them.

    BTW:

    “The only way to reduce atmospheric CO2 would be to have solar panels on the roof of every house and building, windmills in every yard and electric cars in every driveway.” “People will be more than happy to convert because it will save them the ridiculous amounts of money that people spend on home utilities and gasoline.”

    So what’s the problem?

  50. #50 Dano
    July 10, 2007

    Jeff Harvey wrote (39):

    The idea -was that a warming climate will turn Canada into a bread basket and a paradise for tourists seeking the sun. Again, ignore the fact that acid soils characteristic of the Candian shield won’t sustain much agricultural output, or that the wealth of boreal species living in northern temperate ecosystems will vanish.

    Not to mention the environmental refugees who will migrate there if Canada doesn’t adopt Murrica’s policies, which likely will further limit arable land and likely stress socioeconomic systems (à la Katrina) and limit R&D into ag development.

    Best,

    D

  51. #51 Dano
    July 10, 2007

    My better half tells me that the accent over the a in à la is backwards and furthermore I forgot my i tag denoting a furrin phrase.

    Therefore, this is a hole poked in my argument (right, Richard?), thus negating the entirety of my comment posting here. 15 year olds RULE, man.

    I’ve been assimilated by the force of Tolish argumentation. Resistance is futile.

    Best,

    D

  52. #52 Chris C
    July 11, 2007

    This one lit up like a Christmas tree when I saw it.

    “Also, the only person I am aware of who predicted ENSO events several years in advance used a model of solar changes with a hit rate of almost 90%. Al Gore never puts into consideration El Nino’s or solar variation as a part of global warming which is one of his most crucial mistakes.”

    Now, I wish she has included a reference for this model with 90% hit rate, because I would dearly love to get my hands on it, as it would make my job a hell of a lot easier. For example, our current state of the art dynamic model used to predict the state of ENSO (http://www.bom.gov.au/bmrc/ocean/JAFOOS/POAMA/intro/index.htm#operational)
    only goes out 8 months. And while it’s reasonably accurate and does include diabatic effects, such as incident solar radiation and re-absorbed long wave radiation, it also uses coupled ocean-atmosphere models, as well as convective cloud parameterisation, ocean mixing and inflows from various sources.

    We could have saved a lot of time and effort had we just used a model of solar changes.

  53. #53 John Sully
    July 11, 2007

    I think that she was referring to Landscheidt (see http://www.johndaly.com) except he, as most of the solar weinies need to introduce “phase shifts”, etc into his “predictions”. In reality he leaves a very large window (sometimes in the realm of a couple of years) to make his forecast. Not really that impressive.

  54. #54 Richard Tol
    July 11, 2007

    There is a difference between credibility (in the public eye), and correctness. If a 15-yr-old (real or not) can protest and hold her ground for a while, something is wrong.

    Stern is better than Gore on this scale. One needs a PhD to demolish Stern, but then it is easy.

    My point is not the climate change is nonsense, or climate policy not necessary. The fact that I am pushed into that corner is a symptom of the feebleness of the arguments of the “climate action now” camp. A critical voice is simply not tolerated.

    I have consistently argued for climate policy for over 15 years.

    My point is that serious climate policy should be based on serious science, and not on the sort of nonsense that Gore and Stern sprout. I reject the notion that the message should be simplified, exaggerated and sweetened to convince the public. That works in the short term, but not in the long term.

    As to Canada, I guess the burden of proof is on those who think that this country will suffer from climate change. Homo Sapiens is a subtropical species, and it is bloody cold up there. Besides such basic intuition, most studies have shown net benefits (that is, some losses, but greater gains; net benefits does not mean no losses). Again, it is a symptom of the unhealthy state of debate that a trivial conclusion like “climate change will bring more tourists to Canada” is picked up by the newspapers. (And indeed, that was not the main conclusion of the paper.)

  55. #55 Chris C
    July 11, 2007

    Thanks John Sully, although I think the correct link is
    http://www.john-daly.com/
    as yours put me on the “links” (couldn’t help myself).

    As one who cut my research teeth in solar physics (determination of coronal magnetic fields and predictions of flares / CMEs) before moving onto other fields, I often find exasperated expressions of “solar, solar, solar” from the likes of Landscheidt, Archibald and Corbyn very annoying. Primary due to the scant regard that published literature in the field is regarded by these people, preferring to rely on their own theories and publish not in journals but through books and the popular press, rather than follow the rules like the rest of us.

  56. #56 dhogaza
    July 11, 2007

    There is a difference between credibility (in the public eye), and correctness. If a 15-yr-old (real or not) can protest and hold her ground for a while, something is wrong.

    Anyone, including you, can publish garbage on the web (as you prove with every post).

    The mere fact that this 15-yr-old has published crap on the web does not mean it is not crap.

  57. #57 Richard Tol
    July 11, 2007

    Dhogaza: Kristen Byrnes’ paper would indeed fail as a term paper at any self-respecting university. But so would Gore’s book and the Stern Review.

    If Gore had done a proper job, we had never heard of Byrnes.

  58. #58 Jeff Harvey
    July 11, 2007

    Richard writes, re: Canada: “Homo Sapiens is a subtropical species, and it is bloody cold up there”. Canada is a pretty big country you know (its my land of birth), and the climate varies dramatically over the many diverse biomes that make it up. The extremes would be comparing biological processes in the Arctic tundra versus the broad-leaved forests of southern Ontario to the damp coastal temperate rainforests of British Columbia. You are generalising here, Richard. Furthermore, as I would expect from an economist (though not all: see work by Gowdy, Daly, etc), your take is 100% anthropocentric. It assumes that humans are exempt from natural laws and constraints.

    Have you bothered to factor in what a rapidly changing climate would have on ecological systems, communities and the species and genetically distinct populations that make them up? These systems have long evolved under the abiotic conditions in which they exist. We know from the previous ‘big five’ extinctions that they were caused by extremely rapid shifts in conditions, such as climate, that cascaded through food chains, bearing in mind that the destruction of primary producers would reverberate through the system. Its without question that these extinctions also resulted in a massive reduction in the stability of the systems and of the services that emerged from them. Of course, in time, nature rebounded, but in some cases this took 5-10 million years or more. Fast forward to the present. No species depends more on, or utlilzes more of nature, than Homo sapiens. As you type away on your keyboard in your sheletered office you may be unaware of it, but its been demonstrated many times over that natural systems and the services they generate ‘permit’ humans to exist and persist (reviewed by Daily, 1997, and Levin, 1999). These systems do not exist in order to support the needs of Homo sapiens; rather, we exist because these systems permit it. Your discussion of the regional effects of warming totally expunge the effects on natural systems. Because your econometric models presumably dispense with nature, you thus assume that all of the conditions necessary for viable functioning will continue, irrespective of how fast and high the local temperature regimes go. You haven’t considered the fact that there will be many losers, as the more thermophobic species disappear. Sure, there will be some winners too (thermophiles from the south, for instance, which will move northwards), but the rate of change is so rapid now that entire functioning systems cannot and will not adjust concurrently. There will be a great unraveling of food webs, and with that a spike in local (and global) rates of extinction of populations and species. Because species diversity and functional redundancy reinforce the stability of food webs, we will see a lot more entropy: systemic breakdowns, and with them wild fluctuations in conditions and services that were once quite reliable. All of these things certainly coincided with previous mass extinction events, so there is every reason to believe they will happen again (in fact, they already are).

    You should get in touch with me and we could discuss this. I do believe that your intentions in predicting climate change effects are honorable, and that you are putting forth your ideas as you see them. But do you collaborate with any ecologists or environmental scientists? Geoffrey Heal (whom I expect you know) is an economist who spent a year at Stanford University learning from the excellent team of researchers there how vital natural systems are in sustaining civilization. He then wrote a book titled “Nature and the Marketplace” in which he argues that ecological services should be factored into cost-benefit analyses of economic planners. You should check this out, as well as Brian Czech’s equally excellent book, “Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train”, which examines the fallacies inherent in neoclassical economic theory.

    As far a Kristen goes, I read her two page critique of Al Gore’s film. She started out quite in a civil tone but I wasn’t surprised that by the end she sounded like a spokesman from one of the libertarian think tanks (her tone became decidedly bitter and shrill). Perhaps this is a good way of encouraging private funders to cough up the bucks to send her to college (I feel that, based on the sheer economics of it, where the big money is in the denial lobby, she’d find it a lot harder if her views were the other way around). I am a population ecologist and not a climate scientist, but I noted that her proof usually came in the form of one or two references. Admittedly they were peer-reviewed studies, but what about the 20 or more that she didn’t cite (e.g. on the history and temporal rate of glacial retreat) that provide an opposite interpretation? The tobacco lobby used this ploy for years. Cite a dozen studies which show no link between smoking and cancer, and ignore 1,500 that do. Her take on the effects of climate change on wild nature was pitifully weak. Her simple (and flawed) response was that Gore didn’t mention ‘evolution’. She doesn’t mention a reduction in genetic variability caused by a range of other anthropogenic stresses on natural systems, and concomitant rates of extinction, which exceed the background rate by an estimated 100-1,000 times. This reveals that many species are not genetically predisposed to be able to adapt to the kinds of changes that humans are inflicting across the biosphere, as we nickel and dime the planet to death. The result is the current extinction spasm which will accelerate in the coming decades. And of course the results of this will be those I described earlier in this posting.

  59. #59 Richard Tol
    July 11, 2007

    Sorry: Canada’s climate ranges from decidedly chilly to bloody cold.

    Canadians have by and large isolated their economy from nature, just like other rich people. Geoff Heal is a central figure in the movement that says that nature is important for the economy. The fact that that needs to be said makes it clear that it is not obvious, and nature is indeed in the 2% mark — more than nothing, but peanuts in the large scheme of things.

  60. #60 guthrie
    July 11, 2007

    Does Richard tol have anything useful or interesting to say? All I see is standard hand waving, with no intellectual content whatsoever.

    Take his comment about nature being peanuts in the laarge scheme of things. I suggest he considers what happens when large scale droughts destroy crops. Suddenly nature is not peanuts, nature is the cause of death and destruction. Anyone who minimises our complete dependency on “nature” for our food and material resources has little worth saying.

  61. #61 Jeff Harvey
    July 11, 2007

    Richard, if you seriously believe that the value of nature represents 2% of the value of the material economy, then I pity the students you teach this drivel to. I was giving you the benefit of the doubt with respect to some of the stuff you’d written earlier in this thread, but your latest post brazenly reveals that the nonsense you’d written earlier was no accident. You honestly believe that the importance of nature on the material economy is trivial, ‘peanuts’ as you put it.

    Costanza et al. demolished the ’2%’ argument ten years ago in their Nature paper. I thought we’d moved on from the dinosaurian neoclassical view. Richard has proved me wrong. The fact is, that the material economy could not exist without the natural economy. The 2% figure is correct, but the other way around. Natural subsidies and services underpin the human economy. Heck, human civilization wouldn’t exist without them.

    What is also clear is that Richard does not want to hear alternative persepctives that shred his worldview. I could provide volumes of empirical evidence countering Richard’s last post. But the best place to start is with Costanza’s paper, then work through literature by the likes of Gretchen Daly and many others.

  62. #62 Jeff Harvey
    July 11, 2007

    Last points, because I have better things to do with respect to my research than to answer economists with one-dimensional views. I could write at length how the ecological footprints of ‘rich people’ (meaning those in the developed world) are based on policies of occupation, looting, and murder (the basis of our ‘civilization’ as writer and philosopher Derrick Jensen aptly puts it). In other words, every developed nation finances massive ecological deficits at home and can only maintain levels of consumption as currently defined by reaching beyond their own borders and effectively plundering the resources of less developed countries. Hence why the ‘quad’ actively promote neoliberal policies and their attendant free market absolutism and nakedly predatory capitalism aka the ‘Washington Consensus’. The environmental consequences of this are likely to be grave for everyone.

    All this adds up to is that we in the ‘rich world’ import our ecological carrying capacity, either through ‘structural economic violence’ or at the end of a gun. In no way does it dispense with the fact that our material economies utterly depend on nature; its just that, since we cannot support our bloated, overconsumptive bubble economies on resources contained in our own land bases, we exploit (e.g. loot) the land bases of others. Richard seems to have ignored this salient fact.

    As for Canada being ‘chilly to bloody cold’, in Richard’s words, I suggest he visit it in summer. Temperatures in the southern half regularly exceed 32 C (90 F) in July and August, which, in my view, is ‘bloody hot’. I should know; I spent 26 years of my life there.

  63. #63 Richard Tol
    July 11, 2007

    Jeff & Guthrie: You follow Costanza in confusing marginals and totals. Costanza should have read Marshall.

    True, GDP would be zero and our lifes non-existent without planet earth, and indeed without food. That does not mean that the value of a small change to nature, or even only food production is infinite. All measurement of that value put it at a smallish number, 2% or less.

    I still believe that Canada is at high latitude, but I’ll double check with an atlas later.

  64. #64 Tim Curtin
    July 11, 2007

    Jeff Harvey: yet again you show your sublime ignorance of even the basic tenets of your own religion. Go back to catechism and say 1000 equivalents of the “hail Mary”: namely “there is no survival of the fittest”, and “evolution ended where it began, in the Garden of Eden”. Better, please do not respond until you have written these out in your best hand at least 1,000 times – and sent them to me, otherwise I shall have to speak to your pre-school about more frequent nappy changing. I’m sorry to be harsh, but everything you write implies there are no such things as survival of.. or the evolution/adaptation of which you and I are exemplars.

    On the other hand if you are a grown up, all evidence to the contrary, what is your policy platform for the next elections in Holland? Let me know how many votes you garner.

    BTW did you ever hear of Malthus? Evidently not: but here are some interesting data: Egypt tripled the growth rate of its wheat yields between 1980 and 2005 (25 years of which 12 are allegedly the warmest ever) as compared with 1961-1980 (a period which plausibly saw the end of the Little Ice Age, at any rate “global” temperatuares were undeniably higher from 1980 than over the 19 years before). It also more than doubled the annual average growth of yields of its rice and sorghum, sugar cane, tomatoes and potatoes. Source – FAO). Ah those scaribs, waking from a 3,000 year sleep when at last it began to warm up and there was again some CO2 to feed on. But South Africa similarly doubled the annual average growth rate of its wheat yield from 1980-2005 over 1961-1980, and Australia and New Zealand even better, from less than 1% p.a. to 3% p.a. Unknown to Jeff, CO2 in combination with heat has a powerful impact in agriculture so long as there is also enough water, and as Will Alexander documented in his Lavoisier paper (cited above) from records going back to the ancient Egyptians, there has been NO serial decline in rainfall in Africa, rather the reverse, and the Australian, NZ, and South African wheat yield trends suggest similar happy conjunctions of heat, CO2, and rain.

  65. #65 dhogaza
    July 11, 2007

    Unknown to Jeff, CO2 in combination with heat has a powerful impact in agriculture so long as there is also enough water

    Shhh, don’t tell this to farmers, you’re going to cause the fertilizer companies to go bankrupt!

  66. #66 dhogaza
    July 11, 2007

    Dhogaza: Kristen Byrnes’ paper would indeed fail as a term paper at any self-respecting university. But so would Gore’s book and the Stern Review.

    If Gore had done a proper job, we had never heard of Byrnes.

    If Gore had never spoken, written, or made a film about global warming, Brynes’ lies would’ve still be lies.

    Not surprising, since all she’s done is to regurgitate a mishmash of standard denialist lies about climate science.

    Now, as it turns out, climate scientists have said that overall, Gore has done a good job. Not a flunking grade at all, except in the eyes of a myoptic economist who clearly knows nothing about science.

  67. #67 Boris
    July 11, 2007

    If Gore had done a proper job, we had never heard of Byrnes.

    What? Are you even vaguely familiar with the denialism industry? Please note that Byrnes takes shots at Hansen and the IPCC. She (her daddy?) is quite the little denialist.

    To say that it’s Gore’s fault that dens of genius like Newsbusters hold her up as some paragon of scinetific truth is to misunderstand the complacent ignorance of the anti-science right. Give them some credit, man.

  68. #68 Dano
    July 11, 2007

    Last fall I backpacked in SErn BC where the plains interdigitate with the spruce-lodgepole-fir forests that are hit hard by bark beetles. Bloody hot there.

    Anyway, bark beetles are instructive because it is drought exacerbated by man-made climate change that is the cause. Furthermore, in Eastern BC there is a lot of single-spp. second growth and this second growth is hit hard, but you can see the beetle everywhere, millions of hectares are either already cut or brown. Millions. Canada is addressing the plague by cutting down all the affected spruce trees. What do you do with these billions of stems? Why, you try to make some money off them, naturally. So they put them on the market.

    All we heard down here was ‘trade war trade war trade war’, we never heard why there was so much Canadian softwood lumber on the market. Rather than trying to help out a neighbor in need, Plum Creek and Wayerhauser bribed lobbied our Congress to keep raking it in restrict supply.

    Well, this is only one commodity. Imagine 25-30 on the market – dryland wheat, corn, maple syrup, apples, soya. We have no mechanisms for cooperation on this scale (indeed, we have denialists stating its not a problem). We have no conversation about climate refugees and climate adaptation and climate mitigation.

    Canadian softwood was our first lesson, and we did poorly. The Katrina response was worse, so our social learning system is nonexistent (OK, OK, BushCo clown show screwed that up too, but we let them continue).

    On the ecological side, man-made climate change is affecting Canada’s economy and is impairing it’s resilience and its ability to adapt; Canada’s ecosystem services are weakening, and wealth-building to resist impacts will be weakened as well.

    So when folk say that there will be benefits and it’s rosy and ponies and cute puppies for the children, I don’t see how its going to happen as we are at least a generation away from having institutional mechanisms in place to start, when we should have had these mechanisms in place already. As for Richard, I think he may be honestly trying, but IMHO the POV is akin to seeing the world thru a mailing tube. We need to do better.

    Best,

    D

  69. #69 Boris
    July 11, 2007

    I’d also like to point out that Climate Audit links to Byrnes. Says it all, I think.

  70. #70 Hans Erren
    July 11, 2007

    re 45
    Tell me.

  71. #71 Jeff Harvey
    July 11, 2007

    Tim Curtin,

    Isn’t it time that you retired? You know diddly squat about biology and ecology, and yet wade in here like a sage of wisdom on the subject. Debating you on the subject is like debating a kindergarten child. You clearly illustrate Darwin’s phrase, that “Ignorance begets confidence more often than knowledge”.

    I demolished your adaptation argument a few posts back. But to reiterate: Adaptation requires genetic variability in populations of species that are exposed to differing kinds of stresses. Allele one is adaptive under conditions A and allele two under conditions B. This is fine as long as the changes – constraints – fall within the genetic constitution of the species in question (ignoring for a moment the effects on species with which it interacts and may be dependent). Thus, the more alleles there are in a population, the better. But many of these populations have been in freefall for years thanks to a suite of human actions. This has resulted in reduced genetic variability, hence a reduced ability to adapt to further changes. Furthermore, the 5 previous mass extinction events occurred when species and populations were unable to adapt to rapid changes mediated by some natural catastrophe – in the case of the Permian/Mesozoic boundry extinction event, this wiped away as much as 90% of biodiversity. This must have included species with quite some genetic variation, and yet they perished too.

    Humans are exposing – in a much shorter time frame I may add – nature to stresses that in all liklihood will mirror the effects of those that occurred leading up to and including the 5 previous mass extinction events. The fact that extinction rates are currently some 100 to 1,000 (or perhaps more) times higher than natural background rates should be a major concern (perhaps not to TC and his ilk), because ‘we’ (Homo sapiens) are the culprit. Not only are we challenging nature to respond to rapid climate change, but to a myriad of other stresses, including paving, ploughing, damming, mining, dredging, dousing in synthetic chemicals, slashing and burning, biolgically homogenising via the introduction of exotic species, hypereutophicating et al ad nauseum. The consequence of all of these accelerating processes on the health and viability of nature, and, more importantly, on its ability to sustain civilization, is grim. We are talking about non-linear systems here whose function we barely understand, while the likes of TC and Co. are arguing that we can manage them effectively while hammering away at them while at the same time hardly understanding the myriad of complex and intricate ways in which they work. This is the sprint of folly and ignorance.

    Moreover, the ‘fertilizing effect’ of enhanced atmosphereic CO 2 concentrations TC alludes to is pure and utter fiction that has been dealt with many times before. Carbon is often not limiting for plants and for insects; nitrogen is. If plants take up more carbopn at the expense of nitrogen, insects will compensate their rates of feeding to ensure they obtain sufficient levels of nitrogen. Different species of plants also respond differently to enhanced CO 2 regimes; some benefit, whereas others do not.

    Lastly, TC is living in a fools paradise if he has to invoke Malthus in this debate. Malthus was only concerned of limitations affecting consumption amongst the rich, something TC clearly can relate to. But there is evidence all around that humans are living off of capital rather than income. The point is that this can only continue so long before systems break down, or become so erratic in the way that they function that they will be unable to support nature or humanity. They are non-linear, a word that I want to drive into TCs head until he understands. TCs refrain is like the canoe analogy I have oft-repeated: a person stands up and rocks a canoe back and forth, increasing the tilt with each rocking motion, and says “Hey! I am still in the canoe! What’s the problem?” Seconds later, he pitches into the water. This is an appropriate anaoloogy for the human assault on non-linearly functioning natural systems. Humans are metaphorically rocking a canoe back and forth, and at some point we will be thrown into the water, with all kinds of nasty and unpredictable surprises.

    As for Richard, his take on nature is based solely on consumptive value, that is all. He does not appear to be able to understand the value of supporting ecosystem services that permit humans to exist: climate control, water purification, the maintenance of fertile soils, pollination, seed dispersal, pest control etc. Forget his argument of marginals: because we don’t understand in many instances how nature generates and maintains these services nor how far we can simplify natural systems before they break down, is not an argument that they are worth 2% of the material economy. Without them we don not exist. Period. Richard’s point is nothing more than anthropocentrism run amoc.

  72. #72 bigcitylib
    July 11, 2007

    As a Toronto, Canada, resident I’d like to point out that portions of the 401 were closed down yesterday after they buckled in the heat. I don’t know how much that little incident cost the local economy, but I imagine it was substantial. However, Mr. Tol’s theory seems to be that in future this kind of thing will get balanced off by the flooded out Texans who come up here to eat hotdogs at the baseball game.

  73. #73 guthrie
    July 11, 2007

    Well, excuse my amateur knowledge of economics, but I’m afraid your answer didn’t answer anything that I am concerned about. You still seem to be acting as if other things are substitutable for food, which they are not.

  74. #74 Dano
    July 11, 2007

    I note that temps in the high desert in southeastern BC have been in the (F) upper 80s-mid 90s this week (~max heating yesterday), about what you’d expect in July-Sept.

    Best,

    D

  75. #75 JB
    July 11, 2007

    Richard Tol said: “There is a difference between credibility (in the public eye), and correctness. If a 15-yr-old (real or not) can protest and hold her ground for a while, something is wrong.”

    Indeed, something is seriously wrong, but not with climate science. With the idiotic people who hold up Kristen Byrnes as exemplary (of anything).

    Tol contuinues:
    “My point is that serious climate policy should be based on serious science, and not on the sort of nonsense that Gore and Stern sprout.”

    Which, of course, is the whole reason for the IPCC.

    Tol is not even arguing with a straw man in this case. He’s arguing with a stack of straw.

  76. #76 Richard Tol
    July 11, 2007

    #66 Dhogoza: Most climate scientists said something like “it was not as bad as I feared” or “by and large correct”, which is not the same as “a good job” — besides, this is a judgement of the quality of the climate science only. Gore’s movie is also about impacts (I can’t think of anything that Gore got right), politics (he’s an expert there), philosophy (Gore fell into the naturalist fallacy) and economics (oh no, he forgot that).

  77. #77 JB
    July 11, 2007

    According to Tol: “nature is indeed in the 2% mark — more than nothing, but peanuts in the large scheme of things.”

    Tell that to the people who live in Sumatra (unfortunately, we can’t tell the 300,000 who died in the recent Tsunami), New Orleans (once again, can’t tell the 1,400+ people who died), or Ethiopia (can’t tell it to the over 1 million who died in the famine of 1984-85 though).

    And that’s just natural disasters and says nothing about the value of ecosystem services — clean air, clean water, nitrogen fixation, photosynthesis, pollination, and on and on and on — which some economists have valued at 33 trillion dollars per year, or roughly double global GNP.

    I don’t wish to debate the $33 trillion estimate for ecosystem services, particularly when the authors give a range between $16-54 trillion, with the average being 33 trillion per year, but whatever the actual value, it is clearly not peanuts as Tol claimed.

  78. #78 Dano
    July 11, 2007

    How well does the film handle the science? Admirably, I thought. It is remarkably up to date, with reference to some of the very latest research. Discussion of recent changes in Antarctica and Greenland are expertly laid out. He also does a very good job in talking about the relationship between sea surface temperature and hurricane intensity. As one might expect, he uses the Katrina disaster to underscore the point that climate change may have serious impacts on society, but he doesn’t highlight the connection any more than is appropriate…

    For the most part, I think Gore gets the science right, just as he did in Earth in the Balance. The small errors don’t detract from Gore’s main point, which is that we in the United States have the technological and institutional ability to have a significant impact on the future trajectory of climate change. This is not entirely a scientific issue — indeed, Gore repeatedly makes the point that it is a moral issue — but Gore draws heavily on Pacala and Socolow’s recent work to show that the technology is there (see Science 305, p. 968 Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years

    This pokes tiny little holes in Richard’s argument, which, according to Richard, negates the entire body of his work.

    Best,

    D

  79. #79 richard
    July 11, 2007

    “This pokes tiny little holes in Richard’s argument, which, according to Richard, negates the entire body of his work. ”

    Oh dear, perhaps now he will have to cut his hair:
    http://bigcitylib.blogspot.com/

  80. #80 JB
    July 11, 2007

    Well, looky here.

    Tol actually co-authored a paper that references the paper I referred to above that valued ecosystem services at $33 trillion per year.

    Apparently, Tol does not think the authors (Costanza et al) are too far of the mark if he is referencing their paper.

    Besides, Tol would basically have to be off by a factor of 50 or better (I’m being generous) for his “nature is indeed in the 2% mark” to be in the right ballpark (or even right country), since the authors of that paper ( “The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital”) put ecosystem services at the same order of magnitude as global GNP.

  81. #81 Richard Tol
    July 11, 2007

    JB: Yes, I occassionally cite Costanza, but never to say anything nice. They estimate the total value of the world’s ecosystems. That is a pointless exercise, unless we want to sell the planet to the Martians.

    Again, pls read Marshall.

  82. #82 Dano
    July 11, 2007

    [Estimating global ecosystem services] is a pointless exercise, unless we want to sell the planet to the Martians.

    Sure its pointless, if you want to exploit resources and keep folks in the dark about what they’re losing. Or if people are looking for compensation about what you screwed up. Or if you’re muddying the waters about what will be lost by continued human population increases and attendant pollution and global change.

    Anyway, the tiny holes in Richard’s review of the movie has…hmmm…how did Richard describe it…Ah, yes: then all credibility is gawn.

    Best,

    D

  83. #83 JB
    July 11, 2007

    Richard Tol said: “Yes, I occassionally cite Costanza, but never to say anything nice.”

    So, let me see if I have this straight.

    You and your colleagues cited the findings of the Costanza paper (“The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital”) as support for an argument you were making in this paper, but you actually believe those findings (of Costanza et al) to be “pointless” and of value only to Martians?

    Why would you do that? Cite pointless results in support of your own (pointless?) argument?

    That, in a word, is absurd.

    You know, if I did not know that Germans took English for years in school, I would think there was some problem of miscommunication here, because you are making no sense whatsoever.

  84. #84 Tim Curtin
    July 12, 2007

    Hi Jeff: How’s this for species extinction? “The London diarist John Evelyn records that in 1683-84 the Thames River froze from late December to early February. He notes, Conditions were terrible with men and cattle perishing and the seas locked with ice such that no vessels could stir out or come in. The fowls fish and birds and exotic plants and greens were universally perishing. Food and fuel were exceptionally dear and coal smoke hung so thickly that ‘one could scarcely see across the street and one could scarcely breathe’.” (thanks to Bill Kininmonth). Is that what you want? as it happens you may well achieve it. It is a fact that oceans and vegetation take up (net) at least half of CO2 from human fossil fuel emissions (i.e 12.5 billion of the current emissions of around 25 billion tonnes). With targets of rapid reductions of as much as 60% of emissions, to 10 billion tonnes, atmospheric CO2 will begin to dwindle ushering in another Little Ice Age all too soon for my comfort or even yours.

  85. #85 Richard Tol
    July 12, 2007

    Dano & JB: You are still confusing marginals and totals. Marginals are small changes to the status quo, that is, the sort of thing we do. What matters is not the value of the total ecosystem, nor the value of the part of the ecosystem that we destroy, but only the value of the part of the ecosystem that we can avoid destroying.

    JB: Knowing the value of what you own matters to you, not to the prospective buyer. The prospective buyer cares about what it matters to her, and whether the market price is above or below that.

  86. #86 dhogaza
    July 12, 2007

    Tim Curtin

    With targets of rapid reductions of as much as 60% of emissions, to 10 billion tonnes, atmospheric CO2 will begin to dwindle ushering in another Little Ice Age all too soon for my comfort or even yours.

    Wow. Climate scientists can’t accurately model climatology (according to you), yet you, with a handwave, confidently predict another little ice age if we mitigate against AGW by reducing CO2 emissions.

    Stunning. Absolutely stunning.

    Richard Trol sez:

    What matters is not the value of the total ecosystem, nor the value of the part of the ecosystem that we destroy, but only the value of the part of the ecosystem that we can avoid destroying.

    And of course “the part we can avoid destroying” can be arbitrarily declared to be as small a value as one wants.

    Since we are an avaricious species, might as well set that value to 0.

    Now it’s clear how you manage to devalue environmental services to such a large degree. A handwave.

  87. #87 Lurker
    July 12, 2007

    Fancy that some – such as Dick – have actually been reduced to cowering behind the skirt of a teenage girl. However, I rather doubt that Tim Ball will sing this young lady’s praises. Tim, after all, has based his arguements on his pretend-expertise and embellished credentials. What a kick in the groin to see that pretend-science can be presented on the Internet without having been a professor of climatology of 12, 28, 30, 32, or however many years.

  88. #88 Dano
    July 12, 2007

    You are still confusing marginals and totals. Marginals are small changes to the status quo, that is, the sort of thing we do. What matters is not the value of the total ecosystem, nor the value of the part of the ecosystem that we destroy, but only the value of the part of the ecosystem that we can avoid destroying.

    Suuuure Richard. I can see you’ve either never had a natural science class, or have forgotten all the lessons from the one class you did take.

    It doesn’t matter, as your argumentation is so simplistic and facile we needn’t expend any additional energy pointing out its flaws.

    Best,

    D

  89. #89 Richard Tol
    July 12, 2007

    Dano: I admit that a concept like “marginal value” is hard. After all, Aristotle, St Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Adam Smith, and Karl Marx did not get it either – to name five of the smartest people to have worked on this problem. But then there was Marshall (1881). You really should read that.

    By the way, I did not only take a good few of natural science classes, I also published in natural science journals, and even taught natural scientists. I was a professor of geoscience for six years. I recognise your way of thinking, and it is just wrong. Your argumentation is typical for a classical economist, and you’re 126 years out of date.

  90. #90 Eli Rabett
    July 12, 2007

    Hey Lurker, even fuzzy Rabett’s can post. Seriously, Eli is as great a fan as any of power series, but sooner or later you have to include quadratic terms and higher in any expansion, something that Dr. Tol avoids. Tim C also, as he fails to differentiate between killing individuals and wiping out a species.

    You might think they both belonged to the I’m all right Jack crowd.

  91. #91 Richard Tol
    July 12, 2007

    Eli, my friend, we’re not doing Taylor expansions, we’re doing first-order conditions.

  92. #92 Dano
    July 12, 2007

    I recognise your way of thinking, and it is just wrong. Your argumentation is typical for a classical economist, and you’re 126 years out of date.

    If you perused my bookshelves, you’d never call me a classical economist. You’re reaching, Richard, and it’s not for an ecology text; likely you’re reaching for something to hold up that small-diameter mailing tube through which you’re viewing the world.

    Best,

    D

  93. #93 Ian Gould
    July 12, 2007

    “With targets of rapid reductions of as much as 60% of emissions, to 10 billion tonnes, atmospheric CO2 will begin to dwindle ushering in another Little Ice Age all too soon for my comfort or even yours.”

    Tim C., for someone who has on occasion accused others of alarmism, I’d say this is pretty rich.

  94. #94 Richard Tol
    July 12, 2007

    Dano: I said your thinking is typical for a classical economist. I did not say you are a classical economist. (A lucky escape: You would have been stuck in a museum if you were, as the last specimen died in the 1920s.)

  95. #95 Dano
    July 12, 2007

    Tim C., for someone who has on occasion accused others of alarmism, I’d say this is pretty rich.

    Ian, you are apparently unaware that TimC will live to be 467 years old. So in that fraction of TimC’s lifetime that CO2 dwindles in the atmosphere, it indeed will be relatively “all too soon”.

    Seriously folks, this twaddle is the best they can do to drum up emotion to try to galvanize action.

    When we think of who is positively receiving this cr*p, how well do you think this crowd is received by decision-makers? Do you think decision-makers are impressed and moved to preserve this unimpressive voting bloc? Most of the world’s societies have left this group of unimpressives at the dock. The ship has sailed.

    Whether we all agree on a direction is another matter, but these clowns are jumping up and down on the dock, yelling twaddle while the people they are yelling at are receding into the horizon.

    Best,

    D

  96. #96 John Quiggin
    July 12, 2007

    The blog commenter Richard Tol and the academic of the same name hold very different views, not only on Costanza, but on discounting – the centre of the dispute over the Stern Review. Here’s the latter with co-authors in a 2006 paper in Environmental Science and Policy

    >The PRTP is the ‘utility discount rate’,which reflects our time preference for utility. Estimates of utility discount rates for individuals are almost always positive – an estimate of 1.5% is considered plausible for the UK for instance (HMTreasury, 2003) – for the simple reason that humans prefer good things to come earlier rather than later. Given the inevitability of death for individuals, a preference for benefits to accrue earlier rather than later is entirely sensible. At the social level, however, the arguments are more nuanced, and indeed whether or not the PRTP should be equal zero has been debated by philosophers and economists for decades. Cline (2004), for example, proposes to use a zero PRTP in evaluating climate change policies. Reasonable ethical considerations suggest using a zero PRTP–a positive PRTP involves placing a lower weight on the welfare of future generations, which is impartial and contrary to intergenerational equity. However, there are also persuasive arguments for employing a very small positive PRTP. (emphasis added)

    Not surprisingly, the academic Tol got quite a few cites in the Stern Review, which was then attacked with some vigour by the blogospheric Tol.

  97. #97 Richard Tol
    July 12, 2007

    John: As I explained to you before, the Guo et al. paper in ESP studiously avoids taking a position on the correct discount rate, essentially because the four authors disagree on this matter. You cannot read my opinion in there. You are free to keep trying, but it will be in vain.

    On Costanza, I thought it was a dumb paper when it appeared, and I think it is a dumb paper now. Of course, it may have happened that a co-author put in a neutral reference to Costanza.

  98. #98 Richard Tol
    July 12, 2007

    Stern abused my work, which explains why he cited me, and then was attacked by me — in blogs and journals alike.

  99. #99 JB
    July 12, 2007

    Richard Tol said: “Knowing the value of what you own matters to you, not to the prospective buyer”

    That may be the most ridiculous thing I have ever read from an economist (and, over the years, I have read ridiculous comments too numerous to fit in this little box — and probably too large, datawise, to fit on all of scienceblogs’ servers)

    The value clearly matters to both the seller and the buyer.

    This is all related to a thing called “shopping”. Ever heard of it?

    When I’m looking for a good buy on a car, knowing the value of one particular car relative to others has just a wee bit of influence on whether I buy that car.

    Also, if am making an investment — a house, for example — I like to know how much it is worth (ie, its value). (In the case of the Martians, they might be interested in buying earth as an investment, thinking they can resell it to the Klingons down the road).

    With regard to your “marginal” comments (or is it comments on “marginal”), you know well that Costanza et al estimated the value of individual parts of the ecosystem — which of course, is why you referenced them in your paper (specifically, on the valuation of coastal resources).

    You still have not answered my question about that, by the way. Why you would reference the Costanza paper if you thought its findings were “pointless”.

  100. #100 Richard Tol
    July 12, 2007

    JB: If you own a house, you compare its value to you (A) to the price you can get on the market (B). If A < B, you should sell. If you want to buy a house, you compare the value that it would give you (C) to the price you'd pay on the market (D). If C > D, you should buy.

    In both comparisons, there are two things that matter: the market price, and your own valuation.

    The values of prospective buyers and sellers are irrelevant.

    That is, you do not care how much I value my house; you only care about how much I ask for it. And I don’t care how much you value my house, I’m only interested in how much you pay.

    I do have a house for sale by the way. It’s lovely and not dear.

    On Costanza: See #98.