A thing called the U.S. Climate Change Technology Program Strategic Plan has been released (thanks to commenters at RC for the link). It seems (of course, I haven’t read the whole thing…) to be a set of options for reducing CO2 emissions. All very splendid. But what is missing is… *why* would you want to reduce CO2? Of course, we all know the answer – climate change, but (presumably for politicial reasons) they can’t say that or give any details.

The document appears to be an exercise in dancing around the point: Although scientific understanding of climate change continues to evolve, the potential ramifications of increasing accumulations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the Earth’s atmosphere have heightened attention on anthropogenic sources of GHG emissions (1) is about as close as we get.

It does say this is because of the UNFCCC and avoiding dangerous levels of CO2, but then goes on to say the Plan makes no judgments as to what constitutes a dangerous level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (2). If this is really true, then why bother to do anything, since you don’t judge BAU levels to be dangerous?

Ch 3, p27 goes as far as reproducing the IPCC’s radiative forcing graph (see, I skimmed that far…) but if there is anything there associating that with temperature change I missed it.

Comments

  1. #1 Alastair McDonald
    2006/09/21

    I skipped to the last chapter headed “Sumary and Next Steps”. It concluded:

    “The United States, in partnership with others, is now embarked on a near- and long-term global challenge, guided by science and facilitated by advanced technology, to address concerns about climate change and increasing concentrations of GHGs. This CCTP Strategic Plan is a first step toward guiding Federal investments in R&D to accelerate technologies that will address these concerns. The Plan will be updated periodically, as needed.”

    There is no reference in that chapter to reducing CO2 emissions. The objective appears to be to address the concerns by using advanced technology. In other words it is no change from the current policy of do nothing and wait for the free market to come up with a new inovation which will solve the problem.

    They seem to think that capitalism won the Cold War because it was right. Therefore capitalism will also win this phoney war against global warming.

  2. #2 Hank Roberts
    2006/09/21

    Look, this is how the government works. They address “concerns” not behavior.
    That’s how the Securities and Exchange Commission works — it’s “investor confidence” that has to be restored and maintained, not accurate bookkeeping and honest dealing.

    See the excerpts I quoted extensively here, on that point:
    http://cunningrealist.blogspot.com/2005/03/some-opening-comments-and-bit-about.html#111034243412911524

    Just one relevant bit:

    ” … framers of securities regulation viewed enactment of legislation as a necessary condition to generate sufficient trust to render the economic system operable. … to create the appearance of a “fair game” so that trust in the economic system would be restored. We note that the accounting provisions of securities legislation need not be implemented for the legislation to be effective.”

  3. #3 Quasar9
    2006/09/23

    There’s really only so many ways one can say this.

    If we didn’t have congestion charges in London
    If we didn’t have improved public services in London
    If we didn’t have more efficient vehicles in London
    If we didn’t have alternative fuel vehicles in London

    Cars and road traffic would come to a standstill.
    More idling, more pollution, more heat, more CO2

    And that CO2 does not mysteriously disappear. It’s just a pity we can’t pipe it straight into skeptics offices in the Whitehouse or that other Cambridge in Ma (USA).
    Furthermore that CO2 by enlarge is being rained into the mountains & land, rivers & seas. I repeat if all ignorant people thought you could piss & sh*t ad infinitum into our rivers, instead of having sewers and sewerage, we would be wallowing in our own poop. The analogy is unless we address the issues we shall be wallowing in car poop or CO2. That’s before we even start to worry about the real effects higher up and/or the ensuing melting icecaps.

    I suppose for those who would argue that this is just some cosmic event, that the earth is just undergoing cyclical change – what they are really saying is why think or use your brain, eat & drink for eventually we all die.
    I guess the line is clearly divided between those who have a social & environmental conscious, and those who are so selfishly blind and lost up their own rear ends, they really are ‘worthy’ of being washed away by a local deluge.

  4. #4 N. Joseph Potts
    2006/09/23

    The challenge isn’t climate science – it’s social science.

    Man’s heroic efforts to save himself by social measures not unlike what the reduction of CO2 emissions will require litter history – mostly with corpses, ruined lives, and memories that would be too horrible to describe even if it were safe and legal to do so.

    Just as the weather will be the weather, man will be man, a great thinker in the individual, a brutal blunderer in the collective. The threats of global warming pale beside what collective man can do to himself once fired with a brilliant idea driven by the power of fear.

    Just in the twentieth century, powered flight was invented, the digital computer was developed, and two world wars were fought. And the sea level rose 15 centimeters.

  5. #5 Hank Roberts
    2006/09/24

    You’re hilighting the point of this topic — the U.S. Climate Change Technology Program Strategic Plan is missing the basic physics, because they can’t believe in the physics without challenging their economic faith that the free market can buy any physics desired.

    This would be you?
    http://www.mises.org/story/1755

  6. #6 Bob
    2006/09/25

    http://www.mises.org/story/1755 Bingo! (Deltoid readers will understand)

  7. #7 BP
    2006/09/27

    I think it helps to view this in the larger context of U.S. government action (or inaction). The scientific underpinnings of the CCTP are housed in a separate (but perhaps too separate) venture called the Climate Change Science Program (http://www.climatescience.gov) which has its own strategic plan. That’s where you’ll find more of the rationale you’re looking for. But then you’ll also find more carefully worded language as well.

  8. #8 Chris O'Neill
    2006/09/29

    The amazing thing about the prime misinformation in http://www.mises.org/story/1755 , i.e.: “the “hockey stick” is shown to be based on a computer program that produces hockey sticks from over 99 percent of ten thousand samples of random noise fed to it” is that it continues to be repeated in supposedly objective evaluations such as the NAS Report. Amazing because it doesn’t take long to start finding defects in this argument which is used to generate Figure 9-2 (the artificial hockey stick) of the NAS Report.

    The first defect is that Figure 9-2 is based on an artificially high correlation coefficient (phi) of 0.9. Real tree-ring proxies have a coefficient of around 0.15 and when you actually feed this value into McIntyre’s program (Appendix B of the NAS Report), the artificial hockey stick almost competely disappears in the noise. Was McIntyre worried that an honest choice of correlation coefficient wouldn’t have made an impact?

    The second defect is that McIntyre’s method supposely duplicates the process by which proxies are incorporated into the reconstruction. His assumption is that proxies whose average value during the calibration period is higher than their average value over the whole period would be positively weighted by the reconstruction and proxies whose average value during the calibration period is lower than their average value over the whole period would be negatively weighted by the reconstruction. This assumption is completely false. The weightings of proxies depend on how they correlate with the instrument record during the calibration period, and that depends on a lot more than the average value of the proxy during the calibration period. A realistic weighting of proxies would give nowhere near the artificial hockeystick obtainable using the most blatantly biassed weighting process.

    I just wonder how much longer McIntyre’s fraudulent arguments will persist.

  9. #9 Chris O'Neill
    2006/10/01

    “Real tree-ring proxies have a coefficient of around 0.15″

    Before maing a point about this statement I should point out that the precise value of this coefficient is not the main defect in McIntyre’s program in Appendix B of the NRC report. The main defect, as I mentioned earlier, is that McIntyre’s program misrepresents the caibration process of MBH98 by using proxy data from before the calibration period (as well as normally from within the calibration period) to perform the calibration. McIntyre should write a paper on this because this is a new and incredible way of calibrating a reconstruction, far more incredible than anything MBH ever did.

    In spite of using a highly innovative calibration algorithm, McIntyre’s program still won’t produce much of a hockey stick without an extraordinarily high correlation coefficient, i.e. 0.9. I haven’t seen a value anywhere near this high claimed for tree-ring proxies. The ownus is on McIntyre to justify this particular value considering the hockeystick generated by his program is very sensitive to the value. But as I said, this is not the main issue.

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