It’s over. The whole climate deinalism thing, that is. We can now get to the business of addressing climate change with well informed scientifically sound policy.

My friend Ronald Bailey reports:

Stress – this is a rumor. However, the rumor says that next week Richard Muller will release the latest Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature analysis of surface temperature data going back as far as the 18th century. Muller, once skeptical of the temperature records that showed considerable global warming in recent decades, set up BEST to reanalyze that data….

This has been cooking beneath the surface for a while, and as Bailey stresses, this is rumor. But, I’m pretty sure the report is going to say there’s been a 1.5 C increase in global temperature (which is a lot) mostly as the result of the release of previously sequestered Carbon through the burning of fossil fuels since the beginning of the Industrial Age.

Comments

  1. #1 Physicalist
    July 27, 2012

    This sounds familiar. Was there another report put out by this grou a year or two ago? (Which report, of course, turned heroes of the denislist movement into villains.)

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    July 27, 2012

    The earlier report was on the effects of urban heat islands on the data. They concluded the data were just fine. This report is much more significant, probably (still haven’t seen it yet).

  3. #3 Doug Alder
    July 27, 2012

    If true, the irony of course is just too sweet :)

  4. #4 Joel
    http://blog.motheyes.com
    July 28, 2012

    Indeed, it seems to have already made an improvement in the commentary over at WUWT (unfortunately, it does appear that Watts is only suspending WUWT temporarily).

  5. #5 daedalus2u
    http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/
    July 28, 2012

    The AGW denialists are not going to let a little thing like data get in the way of their world view. They will marginalize this guy and his report just as they have marginalized and denied everything else.

    Their world view isn’t about facts and data, it is about money. To accept that AGW is real is to accept that the book value of fossil fuel deposits is a fake bubble and all that coal, oil and natural gas in the ground is not worth what they want to pretend it is.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719

    Saying “it is over” brings back memories of someone else saying “it is over”, answered with the rhetorical question: “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    July 28, 2012

    Well, its a rhetorical device to enrage the denialists. I’ve been running low on hate-fulled spam and I’ve got a new perpetual motion machine that runs on it!

    This is, however, different (and BTW I agree with what you are saying). Here’s the short version: The denialist community, deluded, convinced those with interest in there not being real AGW to fund their own study that would, based on the delusion, disprove AGW. Those powers did so. The exact dynamic of belief and intent here is unknown but one can imagine a lot of scenarios including that the denialsts were convincing, or that The Powers (Koch, etc) figure that if it was real they’d eventually have to admit it and find a way to make money off of it, but if AGW isn’t real it would be good to know, or something in between (probably a shifting complex dynamic of intentionality and understanding). So they funded BEST. And BEST has come home to roost in the particular way it did because it turns out that the scientific process despite its flaws mainly works especially when dealing with something that is actually fairly obvious and at the theoretical level only moderately complex.

  7. #7 daedalus2u
    http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/
    July 28, 2012

    I am pretty sure the Kochs are not so stupid as to actually believe the AGW denialism stuff.

    It is just like the tobacco companies. They knew that tobacco caused cancer. They knew that nicotine was addictive. They just lied about it to make money.

    Why being able to tie AGW denialism to money is important is because if the profit in AGW denialism goes away, so will the AGW denialism. All it would take for that to happen is for financial managers with a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to not accept the value of fossil fuel deposits based on the assumption that they can all be burned. Once it is appreciated that that value is pretend, then the market can value it appropriately.

    Eventually it will happen that people with more money than sense will lose that money, provided that financial fraud doesn’t skew the markets too much (as is happening now).

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    July 28, 2012

    If I was Koch or any large energy company, I’d be gearing up for putting geothermal heating and cooling in every single building in the US and then managing that equipment forever.

  9. #9 Drivebyposter
    July 28, 2012

    Yeah. You’d think big companies would see the profits in sustainable energies, i.e. ones that can go more or less forever at a cost.

  10. #10 daedalus2u
    http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/
    July 28, 2012

    The problem the Kochs have is that they are caught up in a financial bubble.

    They have (pick a number), $100 billion in fossil fuel reserves that they can borrow money on, but those reserves only have value if they are burned (or used as collateral) before the world realizes that they cannot be burned.

    This is why there is no incentive to slow the pace of oil extraction. The value of a deposit depends on the time over which it can be extracted. A billion barrels of oil extracted tomorrow has tomorrow’s value. A billion barrels extracted over the next hundred years has to be discounted by the discount rate which depends on interest rates and what else can be done with assets, and increases over time.

    Add to the discount rate the likelihood that a carbon tax will at some date make in-ground fossil fuels drop in value by what ever the carbon tax is. To be effective, a carbon tax has to be enough to make 80% (or more) of fossil fuel deposits not worth extracting. If the Koch fossil fuel deposits are representative of all fossil fuel deposits, then they drop in value by 80%. Instead of being worth $100 billion they are only worth $20. If the Kochs have any debt using those deposits as collateral, then who ever is holding that debt is going to ask for more collateral.

    What happened to home owners who had a $200k house with a $150k mortgage when the house dropped in value to $40k? The smart ones walked away and defaulted. The Kochs have probably set up their assets in such a way that they can do the same thing, walk away and default when the fossil fuel economic bubble bursts.

  11. #11 SplatterPatterns
    July 28, 2012

    Personally, liked this one from Lucia’s comment string.

    srp (Comment #100202)

    “He’s [Watts] discovered the satellite records of the ancient astronauts. Complete global coverage of temperature starting from the time of the pyramids. Next step is for Mosher to push von Daniken to archive his data properly.”

  12. #12 SplatterPatterns
    July 28, 2012

    I’m also a fanboy, seriously, of geothermal, as it basically solves the intermittency problem. Fissile fuels have utility considerations that go well beyond daedalus2u excellent comments on how they factor in the use of the money “commodity”. FFs are handy as well as cheap; being portable and available when wanted (unless you forgot to check the gauge). Any renewable, lacking portability, is only a niche occupant with a additional hit to utility from intermittent response to demand.

    But it’s very unclear if geo will actually work well enough to have large scale viability.

  13. #13 Greg Laden
    July 28, 2012

    I assume everyone has read this: http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2012/04/02/an-excellent-book-on-energy-be/

    If no, go do so now! (the book, not the post … or listen to the podcast, I suppose)

    Electricity is kinda portable, and with electric cars in widespread use that there are suddenly 50 million or so batteries to hook up to the Smart Grid. They way I rekon it, if 80% of cars were electric, five times more people took (energy efficent) mass transit than currently take mass transit, 30% of the population moved to within 10% of the distance they now commute to work, the Smart Grid were implemented, geothermal was maxed out and we committed to growing 40% of our food by calories in energy efficient low-chemical use green houses and built a large number of highly efficient solar plants and a shitload of windmills, we could actually start pumping carbon INTO rather than OUT OF the ground.

    If 90% of the materials by bulk to do this were made in the US by union labor we’d have a kick-ass economy, a clean society, effectively no unemployment.

    But every one of those proposals would be opposed by about 55% of the people because they are idiots, er, I mean, Republicans or Teabaggers.

    The above numbers are approximate.

  14. #14 yogi-one
    July 28, 2012

    Good comments here. I see it like this; the Koch bros inherited their fortune, and along with it the ties to the fossil fuel industry. At the time their dad made the investments in oil tech, it seems like they were on the right side of the equation (i.e.- on the front side of the technology, prepared to catch the wave of expansion made possible by inexpensive and plentiful fossil fuel.) In the intervening decades, the wave has crested (as all waves eventually do). They Koch bros aren’t stupid; they know this. There’s still plenty of profits to be derived however, because the wave is still big (you can ride it for a long time AFTER it has crested, if you are well-positioned). So it served them to feed the denialist movement as long as there are still good profits to be made. At some point, they will bail out. They are savvy businessmen, and from a purely profit-oriented standpoint, what they are doing is right and makes perfect sense.
    Where they fail is in the moral dimension. Those big profit margins can only be made at the expense of biodiversity decimation, and environmental degradation that will lower the standard of life for all of the earth’s current human civilization.
    That’s wrong, and, not being stupid, they must know that too.
    but the moral dimension is not accounted for in the economic model, and there’s no option to maintain the highest profits while simultaneously addressing the moral dimension.
    An additional factor is infrastructure investment. People ask, why don’t they just switch over to financing an alternative energy source? Well, for the same reason you don’t just quit using the road system in the USA even though you know you are contributing to the problem by driving your car; there is no alternative infrastructure for you to invest in, and you still need to make money everyday.
    My point is that this discussion about the global warming and the Koch bros always dumbs down to a very simplistic white-hats/black-hats thing. The hippies are the good guys and the Kochs and others with big interest in fossil fuels are the bad guys. It makes great drama and will even feed Greg’s need for the more vitriolic comments he’s been missing.
    But to solve the problem, we need to think more realistically about it.

  15. #15 daedalus2u
    http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/
    July 28, 2012

    yogi-one, the problem is that the externality of putting CO2 into the atmosphere is “free”, that is no one has to pay anything to put CO2 into the atmosphere…yet.

    Even though putting CO2 into the atmosphere is “free”, it does result in costs. The drought and heat wave that has destroyed this years corn crop is due in part to AGW. The effects of that extreme weather event are going to ripple down to corn farmers, corn purchasers, corn consumers and eventually to every kind of food that has a corn-based ingredient in it, Then there will be follow-on effects on every type of food that can be substituted for a corn-derived product. That is everything.

    Everyone is going to have to pay for higher food prices as a result of this extreme weather event. Are the Kochs going to have to pay for higher food prices too? Yes, but the profits they made because the externality of putting CO2 in the atmosphere is way more than what they will have to pay for food.

    As bad as the AGW denialism that the Kochs are pushing is, I think the faux-Libertarian political posturing is more dangerous. The only reason there is AGW is because the externality of putting CO2 in the atmosphere is not accounted for in the cost of fossil fuel consumption. Real and intellectually honest Libertarians are willing to pay their way and not cheat and steal from everyone else by having externalities that are not fairly priced. The Kochs are not real Libertarians, they are fascists, looting the commons along with the other Republicans.

    The Kochs have pledged to spend $400 million to get Romney elected. Romney’s plan is to cut taxes for the wealthy, cut spending on social programs, and increase defense spending by $2 trillion.

    They don’t care about trivialities like “morality”. They follow the golden rule, they have the gold, so they make the rules. They don’t care how many people die because of extreme weather, because of flooding, because of starvation. It is exactly the same as the coal mine operators not caring about the miners getting black lung, or the weapons manufacturers caring about the civilians their wars of convenience cause.

    Republicans are shorting US Treasuries and then blocking the raising of the US debt limit to drive the value of US Treasuries down. Why? Because they can, and to them, government is just another way to get money.

  16. #17 Greg Laden
    July 28, 2012

    Not yet. We are still just seeing little leaks.

  17. #18 Juice
    July 30, 2012

    Saying something is “Koch funded” as if it means something just makes you look stupid. You know what else is Koch funded?

    Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
    M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston
    New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center
    Johns Hopkins University
    Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT
    Kansas State University
    Kansas-based artists and musicians
    PBS
    Deerfield Academy
    American Ballet Theater
    New York City Ballet
    Lincoln Center
    Metropolitan Museum of Art
    American Museum of Natural History
    Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
    and the list goes on.

    Would you have an article called “Koch funded museum supports the theory of human evolution” or “Koch funded university actually does cancer research” and expect to be taken seriously?

  18. #19 Juice
    July 30, 2012

    Wait, people here actually believe that the practice of burning carbon based fuel will reduced soon? Some are even talking as if it will be eliminated in the near future? My god, how deluded can you get?

  19. #20 Greg Laden
    July 30, 2012

    Juice, you apparently don’t understand the nature of the BEST study. Your comment seriously misrepresents it. We’ve discussed this here before on this blog.

    Yes, this is to be taken seriously. You, however, are a climate change and science denialist. Not allowed on this site. Don’t come back.