The Economist on climate change

The Economist has a special survey on climate change (you get to read the intro for free. The rest is sub-only :-(). Its headlined “The heat is on” and storylined “Global warming, it now seems, is for real.”.

[Oh wonderful. I read the special supplement on the assumption that it has most of the content, and then I get to the leader column which is far more interesting. I need to add an addendum to this post…]

Their conclusion is:

This survey will argue that although the science remains uncertain, the chances of serious consequences are high enough to make it worth spending the (not exorbitant) sums needed to try to mitigate climate change. It will suggest that, even though America, the world’s biggest CO2 emitter, turned its back on the Kyoto protocol on global warming, the chances are that it will eventually take steps to control its emissions. And if America does, there is a reasonable prospect that the other big producers of CO2 will do the same.

This is something of a change for them; previously and again I’ve criticised them for their GW reporting.

So… whats changed? Not all that much. Katrina, of course (yes I know; but its attitudes we’re talking about; and anyway they cite the Emanuel and Curry papers). Perhaps the emerging carbon trading (which of course the Economist rather likes) and the chance to do cost-benefit analyses that show the costs are not as high as some people claim (there is even a bit about costing in worst-case scenarios, just for mt). They cite the Bryden paper (and get a pile of stuff about the Gulf Stream wrong; you’re better off with Real Climate of course). Otherwise its not obvious why they’ve changed. Too embarassed to be in Bushs company any longer?

[Addendum: OK, reading the leader column makes their thinking clearer: they put up the TAR 1.4.-5.8 range; anything higher would be catastrophic for sea level; there is uncertainty; should we spend to avert uncertain distant risk?; yes, it looks big enough; costs may be 1% or less; real problem is political. But they could have said most of this years ago]


  1. #1 Quasar9

    Thought as a Climate Scientists you might care to comment on embracing climate change @ Coktail Party Physics

    [Its not very good. I’ve commetned there -W]

  2. #2 Quasar9

    Hi William, your comment over there, a bit blunt. lol!
    But if they are going to seriously talk about serious issues, I guess someone had to put them straight.
    I just thought you were the better man for the job on climate sciences, and you have not disappointed. lol!

  3. #3 Quasar9

    William, here’s an interesting link you’ve probably read already, but might be of interest to your readers:
    Greenland ice loss accelerating

  4. #4 Ron Chusid

    More extensive quotes from the article are at Liberal Values:

  5. #5 TokyoTom

    William, unfortunately you’ve only seen the survey, and seem to have missed the Economist’s lead article in the issue – the full content of which is available for free online here:

    This deserves wide distribution. Their advocacy of subsidies on sequestration projects and other technologies, while a distraction from regulatory measures than would force users of fossil fuel users to pay part of the costs for dumping in the global atmospheric commons, may be just what industry and politicians in the US need to back GHG cap & trade or carbon tax proposals.

    After all, the blockage of moving towards rational economic policy relating to climate change in the US has always been in large part about the federal gravy train implied by inaction. The Economist is right that what politicians and industry alike both need is simply to move the pork from one trough to another.



  6. #6 Q

    Hi Syoat, and here’s the latest
    on ocean warming and storms

  7. #8 John Carter

    William, where is the paleontological data showing the correspondence between CO2 levels and ice age events?

  8. #9 Stephen Berg

    Re: “William, where is the paleontological data showing the correspondence between CO2 levels and ice age events?”

    See this, for one:

    “Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000 years from the Vostok ice core, Antarctica

    J. R. Petit*, J. Jouzel†, D. Raynaud*, N. I. Barkov‡, J.-M. Barnola*, I. Basile*,M. Bender§, J. Chappellaz*,M. Davisk,
    G. Delaygue†, M. Delmotte*, V. M. Kotlyakov¶, M. Legrand*, V. Y. Lipenkov‡, C. Lorius*, L. Pe´ pin*, C. Ritz*,
    E. Saltzmank & M. Stievenard†”

    NATURE |VOL 399 | 3 JUNE 1999″

  9. #10 Peter K. Anderson

    Supposed ‘remediations’ based on ‘greenhouse suppositions’ with regard to supposed ‘unnatural’ climate change will have NO beneficial effect, there is NOT possible any ‘CO2 based’ effect to begin with, and can only then be seen as potentially DETRIMENTAL to the NATURAL course of events and the persistence of NATURAL alterations to Climate being observed. Notice still that the IPCC is only ‘the committee’ that was formed by a POLITICAL lobby, and ONLY is interested in promotion of that LOBBY OPINION and that here is NOT possible with any notice of the ACTUAL properties of those involved materials a ‘greenhouse effect’, whilst these real MATERIALS (as involved by the ‘greenhouse platform’) will not present behavior as outlined in ‘greenhouse rhetoric’ simply to accommodate a’ committee opinion’. The ‘arrangement’ organised in Kyoto was ONLY ever involving of ‘fiscal trade’ concepts, not at all was ‘environmental issues’ directly of import, the materials constituting the environment even went unnoticed, replaced by ‘opinioned existent substances’.

    There are NOT infact then any ‘greenhouse gases’ within the Atmosphere as the ‘greenhouse theory’ would try to describe, and thus there CANNOT be a ‘greenhouse effect’ even existent. Thus attempted ‘Proxy concepts’ regarding measure of CO2 do NOT then ‘offer temperature proxy’ for ‘estimates of potential temperature’, such measure of CO2 cannot offer a replacement for the Kinetic Energy needed to BE available to create that ‘temperature’ when it is also notice the production of Turbulence linked to that production of Kinetic Energy. Temperature is NOT even a valid indicator of supposed UNNATURAL ‘Climate Change’ in any VALID manner of SCIENCE.

    The measured Temperature of a System is that measure of Kinetic Energy residual within the Materials constituting that System that is NOT directly involved in the production of the Processes of Turbulence within that System. In a System where-in the Mass of the most involved materials contained is proportioned in kilogramsx10^24, then alterations to Turbulence within those materials WILL release (or uptake) vast amounts of Kinetic Energy, and that this will then be observed as a RISE (or DECLINE) in the measured ‘temperature’ of the System with NO NEED for alteration of the RATE of overall ‘new’ Kinetic Energy production. Interaction of Oceanic (slower) and Atmospheric (faster) process will see the style of variation of TEMPERATURE seen so far. Realise the ‘temperature rise’ oft mentioned is of the planetary surface, it is the planetary surface that is being rematerialed and it is the REMATERIALING that is altering Energy interactions in style and Spectrum of Energy that is producing the observed rise in median temperature. It is NOT possible for a ‘greenhouse warming process’ to even have been existent; the ‘greenhouse effect’ is inconsistent with the materials it involves as these materials present their ACTUAL behaviours, this is inclusive of those materials presented on the surface as well as with those ‘bio-forms’ of surface life as they exist NOW. It is NOT possible for the ‘greenhouse theory’ to produce in reality a ‘warming effect’ as it is supposed, with manipulation of Energy within the ‘Infrared Region’ with regard to the real materials present (including those materials involved/contained in ‘life forms’.

    So supposed remediations based on CO2 with regard to ‘unnatural climate change’ will have NO beneficial effect, there is NOT possible any ‘CO2 based’ effect to begin with. If there had been ever a ‘greenhouse effect’ that maintained ‘temperature’ by manipulation of Infrared Region Energy’ then Life as it is seen, with its saline water basis, would now be substantially different even to the style of chemistry used to produce ‘life’, or a different structure to protect ‘cellular water’ from the supposedly present energy with ‘greenhouse’ Infrared Radiation. Realise also that to create measured ‘heat’, that Energy in the Infrared region needs to interact with the materials actually present, on the surface as well as in the atmosphere, to induct that Kinetic Energy measured then as ‘heat’ as well as begin the powering the processes of Turbulence. That there is still not measured such energy IN sufficient levels becoming surface incident to actually produce the observed effects with interactions with those materials actually present is also realised readily and NOTICED in its absence.

    ..and in case there is ANY ‘confusion’ as to which ‘material’ is the most involved in the ENERGY interaction concerns of the surface Bio-forms, it is their content of SALINE WATER which makes ANY fluctuation in Energy within the Infrared Region UNABLE to present any sufficiency of ENERGY to ‘control’ a ‘warming process’ as is made within the ‘greenhouse theory’. That the HUMAN Bio-form is NOW ‘traceable’ to ~7 Millions years into the Past and is NOT in that time showing ANY consistent traits TO the persistent presence of a supposed ‘greenhouse effect’ within that ‘period’. This renders moot the relevance of supposition regarding ‘greenhouse warming opinion’, highlights the disjunction of ‘greenhouse science’ and the “Kyoto Treaty” from the REAL world and presents only the danger of ‘blind tinkering’ if ANY attitude beyond POLLUTION regulation if made regarding ‘manmade’ CO2/CH4, there NOT being any real ‘greenhouse capable gases’ otherwise present, EVER nor UNNATURAL ‘climate change’.

    Again, if you notice the reality of the warmer ocean surface (slides in link * below), you will see that this trend follows the present Land Surface rise in ‘shape’ even, lagging by 15 years due to the productions of Conduction and Convection transporting that Kinetic Energy TO the Ocean Surface whilst the muting of that displayed trend is due to internal production of Turbulence in the Ocean surface as reaction to those inputs of Kinetic Energy (this trend is seen in plots at the link * below). There is nothing UNNATURAL seen as yet in the production of the overall Climate Oscillation, and ONLY the cumulative effect from the production of Human Habitat Sprawl upon the land surface (related to Human Population growth in its rapid rise from 500 Million to over 6 Billion in ~400 years) can be seen (again with slides in *).

    Peter K. Anderson a.k.a. Hartlod(tm)

  10. #11 Stephen Berg

    Re: “There are NOT infact then any ‘greenhouse gases’ within the Atmosphere as the ‘greenhouse theory’ would try to describe, and thus there CANNOT be a ‘greenhouse effect’ even existent.”

    You did not just say this. This throws everything you say, Peter, out of whack.

  11. #12 Dano

    Stephen, what Peter is saying is that there is a big cozy around the earth holding all the heat in, that’s why we don’t need GHGs. The heat source is cow flatulence, of course.



  12. #14 N. Joseph Potts

    Global-warming remediation is being enforced (per Kyoto) by government(s).

    Now, this, in turn, is being pursued ostensibly because of a risk that man may end up cooking his environment through GHG emissions. No mention of the risk that the remediation may be ineffectual, or even countereffectual (it’s happened before).

    But the BIG risk is that outfit that brought you what some call the Post Office (or the Royal Mail). Admitting that outlays for remediation will be less without government involvement, has anyone thought of the risk that government, one way or another (corruption, incompetence, inefficiency) may NOT bring about the remediation steps it’s now imposing costs to bring about? Or that its efforts might ape its other effects on the economy and utterly wreck our ability to feed, clothe and shelter each other?

    If there’s risk in inaction (not enlisting the government in cap-and-trade schemes, etc.), there is certainly risk in action.

  13. #15 Peter K. Anderson

    You see Stephen (and others), there are NOT in the Environment any materials that possess the BEHAVIOR that the ‘greenhouse opinion’ demands exists…

    [Sorry about that folks. I’ve left jsut a stub in case anyone replied -W]

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