Vaclav Klaus says We are living in strange times. One exceptionally warm winter is enough – irrespective of the fact that in the course of the 20th century the global temperature increased only by 0.6 per cent – for the environmentalists and their followers to suggest radical measures to do something about the weather, and to do it right now. and for good measure goes on to quote the egregious Crichton. He’s said it before, of course.

[Thanks (?) to Lubos for pointing this post out]

He goes on As someone who lived under communism for most of his life, I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not in communism. I think he is utterly wrong – environmentalism simply isn’t that powerful. Most likely, now he doesn’t have communism to ar oppose, he needs another convenient enemy.

But leaving the knockabout stuff aside, what exactly does VK think about Climate change? Assuming that “0.6 per cent” is his – or a copyeditors – error for “0.6 oC” he has the T change about right, so he isn’t in the “GW isn’t happening camp”. Alas, reading the rest I can’t tell whether he is a “GW is happening but its tiny/not our fault” or “it won’t get worse in the future” or a “it will get worse but we’ll cope”.

If he wants to be taken seriously over this he should be able to put forward a coherent scientific viewpoint (or get his people to do it for him). Does he have a forecast for the next 50 years? He really has very little scientific content at all, the closest seems to be Does it make any sense to speak about warming of the Earth when we see it in the context of the evolution of our planet over hundreds of millions of years? Every child is taught at school about temperature variations, about the ice ages, about the much warmer climate in the Middle Ages which is just std.silliness (would you use that to argue that a return to ice-age temperatures would be no trouble?).

He sez: Due to advances in technology, increases in disposable wealth, the rationality of institutions and the ability of countries to organise themselves, the adaptability of human society has been radically increased. It will continue to increase and will solve any potential consequences of mild climate changes. which is all very well, but what exactly is a “mild” change; are we expecting that or something worse?

VK ends with some suggestions:

Small climate changes do not demand far-reaching restrictive measures – OK, I have no problem with that. But since he has wimped out of saying what changes he expects in the future, and if (for example) 3 oC is small or not, this statement may well be meaningless

Any suppression of freedom and democracy should be avoided – sounds great, but of course he doesn’t believe it, or he wouldn’t run a police force or pass laws. He needs a basic intro to politics, and I recommend Leviathan, a wonderful book, if not taken too literally.

Instead of organising people from above, let us allow everyone to live as he wants – see above.

Let us resist the politicisation of science and oppose the term “scientific consensus”, which is always achieved only by a loud minority, never by a silent majority – I’m all against politicisation of science. But we should accept that some areas of science are indeed agreed on.

Instead of speaking about “the environment”, let us be attentive to it in our personal behaviour – “think global, act local” perhaps?

Let us be humble but confident in the spontaneous evolution of human society. Let us trust its rationality and not try to slow it down or divert it in any direction – history suggests that trusting in human rationality is not a good idea. OTOH I’m all for free markets.

Let us not scare ourselves with catastrophic forecasts, or use them to defend and promote irrational interventions in human lives. – Irrational interventions are obviously not a good idea. leaving that aside, suppose I was to go back in time to just before Czech got rolled over by the Russians and say to him “Hey, its going to be really grim for the next few decades – arguably, catastrophically so”. Should he reply as above? Whether you are scared be the forecast has to depend on whether its likely or not. He has presented no arguments at all on the *science*.

All in all, I’m still waiting for (I think he promised this at some point) his version of expected climate change (which can have a range, of course). I think it would be nice if he could say which bits of the IPCC WGI report (or just the SPM, he’s a busy man) he disagrees with.


  1. #1 Luboš Motl

    You are welcome (?). And congratulations (?) to a big victory of the Green Party in the Middle East:

  2. #2 Luboš Motl

    Let me respond to some comments of yours.

    Klaus doesn’t have a precise prediction for next 50 year climate but he knows that whatever it is, the optimal evolution of mankind is to allow the individuals and their communities to react spontaneously, using all available information and relying on the invisible hand of the free markets.

    [Your "precise" is a strawman - no-one has a precise prediction and I was careful not to ask for one. Does he have any prediction at all? That it would be less than 3 oC, for example? It would seem not. What I think you are suggesting - and what I think is probably true - is that VK doesn't really have a postiion on the science at all. He has no idea how much climate might change over the century, but is simply confident that we can live with it. This is a semi-coherent position, which he should state clearly if its what he means; this would then free him from his rather confused babble about science -W]

    Concerning passing laws – indeed, Klaus is trying to reduce the number of laws, not to increase them which would make the jungle even worse. That’s why he has vetoed so many of them. ;-) He doesn’t want to increse the power of police either. A few days ago, it was found that secret police was moniroting everything about him for two years, 84-86. He wouldn’t be hysterical about it – he just ignored it and it was kind of wise to do.

    [Read what he wrote: he is proposing *no* restrictions on freedom. That is not a coherent position; one may argue for as few as possible, but no-one (not even the most wild-eyed libertarians) argue for none -W]

    I think that your Russian example wouldn’t impress Klaus too much either. Most of Czechoslovakia has spontaneously decided – made an error – to introduce communism. You can’t really blame it on Russians, but even if you could, the Soviet power would be analogous to your green global power, not to global warming, which is the main point of Klaus’s, after all. Yes, there is a danger here but it is freedom, not climate, that is at risk.

    [It doesn't matter who introduced communism. All that matters is that it was a disaster. The point that you are doing your best to miss is that VK appears to dismiss all predictions, no matter how valid -W]

  3. #3 Bishop Hill

    “Any suppression of freedom and democracy should be avoided – sounds great, but of course he doesn’t believe it, or he wouldn’t run a police force or pass laws.”

    Huh? How does passing laws or running a police force suppress freedom or democracy? Unless you equate freedom with anarchy, which would be a little silly IMHO.

    [What do you mean by freedom? Are you proposing to suppress my freedom to walk into your house and steal your goods? Of course you are, and so is VK, and so do I. We all accept limits on our freedom for the greater good - the only argument is about where the limits should be -W]

  4. #4 Lubos Motl

    Now even agrees that Vaclav Klaus is right:

    [Only if you think that "While it is true that action need be taken about global warming..." is what VK is saying -W]

    Most of U.S. citizens want him for U.S. president,

    and hundreds of millions of others.

    [They were dumb enough to elect Bush, so their judgement is somewhat questionnable -W]

  5. #5 Alexander Ac

    There is a bias, I think.

    VK is fighting against *green devils* as he says… he is not fighting against serious climatologists… one chapter in his new book was doubting that global warming is real… :-) First, hoe should decide, against *whom* is he actually fighting…

  6. #6 Steve Bloom

    I think what Peerless Leader is really saying is that he doesn’t expect the consequences of climate change to be severe enough soon enough for him to want to do anything about it in his lifetime, certainly his political lifetime. That’s a very common decision-making mode for politicians. The fact that it works pretty well most of the time tricks them into assuming that it will always work.

  7. #7 Nathan Rive

    Climate change is a threat to freedom and democracy? So who’s being the alarmist now?

    Ah, Czech will listen to the EU on climate change, not to worry. ;)

  8. #8 Theo Richel

    It is good to read that according to you a denialist is someone who denies the temperature increase of 0.6 degrees in the last century. Can you please mention a name of a scientist who thinks so? I know a lot of skeptics, but as far as I know the 0.6 degrees is something that everyone agrees on. So please names!

    [There aren't many, but there are plenty more who will quibble ab out the temperature records and mutter darkly about the urban heat island and buckets and so on. But lists Tim Ball, with a quote -W]

  9. #9 Tony

    “Most of U.S. citizens want him for U.S. president”?

    Wha-? I doubt even 1% of US citizens have ever heard of him (let alone could point to the Czech Republic on a map), but on the other hand there are four US bloggers who really dig the dude his awesomeness, so that seals it I guess.

    And where are those “hundreds of millions” of people apparently eager to be led by Vaclav Klaus? Last time I looked, the population of the Czech Republic was only 10 million, and the leader is the prime minister, not the president.

    A bit off-topic: but I’ve come to this debate a little late (by a few years, really) and I’m wondering why RealClimate and Stoat and other climate scientist bloggers don’t regularly engage with ClimateAudit’s arguments? People like Klaus and E.G. Beck are low hanging fruit. Wouldn’t it pack more punch to provide the lay readers among us with cogent arguments debunking McIntyre and McKitrick? After all, among the sceptics, they have a lot of mana.

    [The CA stuff has been done to death: see Do you want more? -W]

  10. #10 Steve Bloom

    Check the archives at RC and Deltoid in particular, Tony, for a whole lot refuting the various M’s. There hasn’t been much lately because the whole Hockey Stick controversy is dying on the vine in the wake of the AR4 and the Republican loss of Congress. There’s not much worth refuting in McIntyre’s more recent stuff on the surface record and the models.

  11. #11 Lubos Motl

    Dear Alexander, I agree with you that they’re green devils. ;-)

    Nathan Rive: I assure you that Klaus or Czechia won’t listen to anyone in the EU more than he or she deserves. Most of the contemporary politicians are ludicrous puppets anyway. For example, the Czech Republic has just sued the European Commission for its attempts to impose reduced CO2 quotas over the country.

    Tony: there are at least 30 bloggers listed here

    who want pretty much the same thing, plus a TV with Brit Hume. ;-) There are 10 million of us which doesn’t mean that we can’t control the world. ;-)

    Saying that the leader is the prime minister is a somewhat person-dependent statement. The prime minister officially leads the executive branch but the president is the key representative figure with a lot of additional roles, rights, and duties that become more visible whenever there is a more powerful person sitting at the Prague Castle. :-)

  12. #12 Tony

    Lubos Motl originally said:
    Most of U.S. citizens want [Vaclav Klaus] for U.S. president.

    Then he said:
    there are at least 30 bloggers listed here

    So he gets a lot of right-wing adulation. Since when does this add up to “most US citizens”? Lubos, we’ve all exaggerated at one time or other; all you need to do is gracefully admit you were a little … er … intemperate. But a wellspring of support for Klaus to become the US president? Sheesh.

  13. #13 Tony

    Steve — Thanks for those links. Guess I’ve been using the wrong search terms.

  14. #14 Adam

    The italicisation failed a little early. It took me a few seconds to work out that you were still quoting him. You want to be careful, it might take others longer. ;)

  15. #15 Nathan Rive

    Lubos -
    I assure you that Klaus or Czechia won’t listen to anyone in the EU more than he or she deserves.

    You mean, only to the extent that it involves subsidies? (I kid, I kid…)

    For example, the Czech Republic has just sued the European Commission for its attempts to impose reduced CO2 quotas over the country.

    This was news to me, thanks for mentioning it. Seems like Poland, Czech, Hungary, and Slovakia are all suing the EC for their 2008-2012 permit allocation. It seems to be an argument about the allocation – rather than a cap at all. The trouble is, the EU want to avoid a collapse of the permit price like they saw in the first round, so they’re being strict. Although, to be fair, none of these countries had any real reduction requirements under the Kyoto Protocol anyway (IIRC).

  16. #16 chrisl

    Tony: I’ve often wondered about the question you posed re Climate Audit. It gets over 11,000 hits per day,doesn’t censor comments(unlike Real Climate) but there is hardly an opposing argument.And with the AR4 finished there must be 2500 experts at a loose end.

  17. #17 Luboš Motl

    Dear Tony, of course that I am exaggerating concerning the U.S. presidency and every sane person knows it.

    Nathan: carbon cuts are simply not hot in Central Europe and no one really fights for them. The countries will accept whatever is good for them. If there is a sign that the caps won’t restrict the economies and if we gain more smooth sailing, there’s no reason not to accept it.

    This activity by Klaus goes beyond some simple numerical interests of the Czech Republic, it’s about the future of the civilized world.

  18. #18 Luboš Motl

    Dear William,

    [This comment trimmed to avoid repetition -W]

    [He has no idea how much climate might change over the century, but is simply confident that we can live with it. This is a semi-coherent position, which he should state clearly if its what he means; this would then free him from his rather confused babble about science -W]

    I think that this is precisely what he’s doing. This is not a question about science and it has never been. No one has every found a value of the temperature trends that would be “too high”. Science is only a hostage of a political debate. The debate is about freedom. Whatever small value someone predicts, people like you and your readers will always view it as a justification of a new kind of global communism because global communism is what is primary for you.

    [Aha - at last the core. So we can throw away all your comments above about how much change he expects [I've done that -W] – he has no idea. But you are wrong about the dangers – just because we can’t quantify them doesn’t mean they aren’t there – its an obvious fallacy. But, what (if anything) to you mean by “small”? Is 3 oC by 2100 small? Is 6 oC? -W]

  19. #19 Luboš Motl

    I want to say that the 0.6 C increase in the 20th century had no discernible effects on the society at all. If we didn’t have thermometers and careful scientists who calculate the averages, no one would have really noticed.

    It follows that it is reasonable to expect that another 0.6 C or 1 C or 2 C in another century will have no discernible effect on the society either. And even if it were discernible, there is no meaningful sense in which this change is uniformly bad or in which it should be prevented. [cuts -W]

    [I don't have any expert knowledge on whether + 2 oC would be a bad thing, though having read a bit I think it likely (certainly in the long term, as Greenland will melt). But your assertion that it *won't* be a problem is based on nothing but wishful thinking -W]

    The situation with the global warming theorists is just like with Christians and Islamists. Many of them can learn how to drive cars etc. and they are thinking people in many respects but when it comes to God (or basic pillars of the warming orthodoxy), a big hole appears in their brain.

    [It seems to be fashionable to throw this kind of talk around, but it has no value. Compare "its the same with you right-wing capitalists: you assume there is no problem and select your science to fit that view" -W]


  20. #20 guthrie

    Lubos, you are aware that you just failed basic logic?

    Just because you can see no effect of a 0.6 degree rise upon society does not mean that further rises will have no effect. Predictions are that many areas in the USA will end up with summer temperatures of or above 37C, which will require changes to deal with. I don’t expect everyone to start living underground, and technology permits us to ignore changes in local conditions for a very long time. But to make the blanket statement that you do betrays complete ignorance of reality.

  21. #21 Carl Christensen

    Lubos — nobody in the US (other than illegal Czech immigrants ;-) knows who the hell Vaclav Klaus. I’m afraid you’re confusing the right-wing blogosphere with reality.

    re: the climateaudit gang, who amazingly everyday find a “smoking gun” against AGW (and it fizzles out) — it’s like the US “Creationist” crowd — if anybody that really knew what they’re talking about gave them much attendance, it would lend credance to their asinine views. case in point — today they’re screeching that a freak snowstorm (weather event) in Sweden means there’s no global warming, the glaciers are fine etc. If they had anything serious to say they would stop their daily circle jerk and get published in something other than “Oil Executive Quarterly.”

  22. #22 Luna_the_cat

    Not to mention the fact that “unlike RealClimate, they don’t censor comments” might be accurate now, for all I know, but it didn’t used to be. Not quite three years ago I posted two posts with unambiguous information from a couple of studies in Geophysical Research Letters which refuted a claim they were making at the time (I honestly can’t remember the details now, sorry), and within 24 hours both posts had disappeared without a trace, as if they had never been. After that I simply didn’t bother.

  23. #23 Luna_the_cat

    Lubos, have you ever seen a mapping of a chaotic system, with Lorenz attractors? See, for instance — the first picture on the right.

    Climate is a chaotic system with multiple attractors, or points of stability (note: this does NOT mean that it is not either deterministic or predictable, because “chaos” as a mathematical descriptor doesn’t mean what “chaos” means in everyday language). As with any such system, the behavior of a system orbits a point of stability until it hits a boundary condition — a “tipping point”, if you will. Then it goes into a period of wild fluctuation until it finds another point of stability to orbit.

    Climate has also followed that pattern, in the deep past.

    We’ve been very lucky for the last 8,000 years; the behavior of the system has been both relatively quiet and quite stable compared to the variation that it can show. It has orbited one of its points of stability quite nicely. And in that period of time, all of human civilisation has developed, we’ve colonised almost every inch of arable land, and the global population has increased by multiple orders of magnitude. In other words, while the climate change that happened 120,000 years ago was far more severe than today in terms of absolute values, the human population was small and uncrowded, with plenty of room left over for all the other ecosystems. We certainly didn’t have a population of 2 billion or so people living on the coasts. Thus, not *quite* the situation we have today, where even minor variations in rainfall patterns and sea level can threaten the homes and food crops of millions of people.

    Now, what I’m getting at — we don’t exactly know what the boundary conditions are for this point of stability where the climate rests at the moment. 0.6 degrees of warming wasn’t it, quite, although you can realistically argue that it has had an effect on global rainfall patterns. 1.2 degrees just might be, though. Effect is not smoothly linear; if we hit a boundary condition, everything changes radically, and evidence is that it can do so very fast — not 100 years, I mean less than a decade. (For example, the onset of the Younger Dryas glaciation is thought to have taken less than five years; at the end of that glaciation, the global average temperature jumped 10 degrees in less than 50 years).

    We seem to be trying to find our boundary conditions the hard way. The problem is, if we do manage to kick it off, there is no going back, no “undo”.

    So some of us, at least, see value in reining in our uncontrolled experimentation with the only environment we have to live in. And this is very likely to have far less economic and social impact than a “business as usual”; it’s on par with regulating the discharge of industrial effluent, rather than trying to fund communities to clean it up afterwards.

  24. #24 Michael Tobis

    I believe my landsmann (“hoodie”) Motl *is* Klaus’s scientific source on these matters. It’s a shame, since Motl in turn has been influenced by the very pleasant and possibly even well-intentioned charlatans Baliunas and Soon.

    [Is he? Its certainly possible. Lubos, are you? If so, then you *can* tell us what he thinks: that would be very useful -W]

    Our poor little tribe has suffered quite a bit from totalitarian lunacy in the last century, so we do tend to be more suspicious of such madness than do many others. Alas, Lubos and Klaus have aimed their concerns in the wrong direction, pretty much away from the larger threat and toward the smaller one.

  25. #25 Eli Rabett

    I think Lubos and Klaus long for the old days, when black clouds hung over their heads and dust filled their lungs. The air in 1989 Warsaw Pact Europe tasted about like Pittsburgh or Gary Indiana in the 50s. They remember their childhoods fondly.

    If you want to see what it was like, go look at one of Monet’s paintings of London, where the air shimmers. You can’t do that without a lot of bad combustion.

  26. #26 Munin

    I once asked Lubos on his blog what it would take to convince him that CO2 emissions should be controlled. He responded:

    … Whether or not CO2 helps to increase temperature by a detectable amount or not may be true or not, but this by itself doesn’t mean and cannot mean that it should be regulated. … I really need to see the first people dying of the CO2 warming or something else, and you know very well that it is a complete science-fiction. This regulation has nothing to do with any legitimate environmentalist threats – it is a fraudulent ideological justification for leftists’ plans to take over the world.

    The rest is also worth reading for students of Motlology, but I think this is the core of his argument.

    When I pointed out that the standard of evidence he demands is unlikely to be available until it’s too late to do anything about it (it’s curious for a string theorist to be so demanding of evidence before action – I’m surprised he gets any work done), he responed:

    If we suddenly were in a “crisis” with high temperatures, we would still have a great deal to do about it. Explode a lot of bombs at many places and create aerosols that would cool us down again.

    Sorry Lubos, I stopped arguing with you at this point because I couldn’t tell whether you were joking or mental (or both).

  27. #27 Dean Morrison

    “relying on the invisible hand of the free markets.”

    Ah! Gaia for capitalists.

  28. #28 Rod Campbell-Ross

    If there are people reading this blog who have not checked out the GRACE program, you should. GRACE, being run jointly by NASA and a German institution, measures small changes in Gravity. It is particularly adept at measuring ice sheets.

    The ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic are melting at a furious pace. In Greenland some glaciers are “sprinting” down to the sea 12 times faster than normal and a net 250 cubic kilometers of ice melted last year. Worse, the rate of melt is speeding up. That 0.6 deg C is not uniform – much of the tropics haven’t warmed at all while the poles are 6-10 deg C warmer. Relatively the poles are quite a small area in comparison with the area bounded by the tropics, so the mismatch makes sense

    [The poles most certainly are *not* 6-10 oC warmer. I'm not sure how many of your other numbers are badly wrong, too. But we certainly don't know if some of the recent speed up is permanent or just a blip -W]

    The Greenland ice cap contains 3m cubic km of ice. 3m divided by 250 is 1000 years. But, as I have noted the relationship is not linear. The rate of melt is speeding up and contains several positive feedbacks. In fact the science governing ice sheets is only being researched now and there are plenty of people who are plenty alarmed. There is also Antarctica and plenty of grounded ice in Alaska and elsewhere that is also melting.

    Schoolboy math works out to a 6.5m rise in sea levels if Greenland on its own melts. Quite a few capital cities around the world and New York will be devastated if that happens.

  29. #29 Luboš Motl

    Dear Michael Tobis & William, yes, to some extent, the answer to your question is Yes – but Prof Klaus has other sources, too, including Lindzen, Crichton, and others. But it seems correct to say that much revolt to Klaus’ book is directed to the scientific chapter 6 which is why I sometimes end up in a similar position like here, e-talking to dozens of feral beasts (who hunt in packs) at the same moment.

    [Does this book exist? Is the "scientific" chapter available? -W]

    [cut -W]

    LunaCat: censorship at RC is uncomparably higher than CA has ever seen. For example, any comment with any trace of my name is immediately deleted. If you care, The Reference Frame has about 2% deletion rate right now.

    LunaCat: you don’t understand the term “boundary conditions”. Let me also mention something shocking for you – namely that the predictions of global warming are based on the assumption that the climate responses are essentially linear, i.e. non-chaotic, as William will happily confirm. You simultaneously rely on chaotic behavior which is another reason why your reasoning is profoundly irrational and inconsistent. Moreover, your comments that we should exactly be near a tipping point now is analogous to Jehovah’s Wittnesses’ predictions of judgment day next year (that they had to move a few times).

    Dean Morrison: the invisible hand is not another Gaia because its point is that different subjects in the real world act individually while Gaia and other totalitarian memes is about the whole world being put into a single box and acting as one entity.

    Eli: As a kid, I lived in the most industrial city of communist Czechoslovakia per capita, Pilsen (where I am returning now but it is much cleaner these days), and I know what real polution is. It was often unplesant – up to 4 times allowed limits for SO2, SO3, N2O, ozone, and many other gases and aerosols – but I also know that it was no civilization killer but just another sign of inefficiency of communism. What we’re talking about today is a complete non-pollution – CO2 – pretended to be pollution. CO2 is the second most important compound for life.

    Rod: ice melts and freezes. Its dynamics is very fast, like one of pulsating heart, see e.g. this video.

    Your reasoning is similar to predictions that a human chest will explode soon because liters of blood are pumped around every minute. I won’t honor your 6.5 meter sea level rise with another response.

  30. #30 Luboš Motl

    Dear William,

    Klaus’ book has been the #1 topselling book in Czechia, with Gore as the opposition having no chance. Now,

    it is #5, after a Tolkien, Czech book for children about an easy going village guy who visited his girlfriend, after The Book about the Pussy, and after Harry Potter #7 original.

    [cut. Lubos, I've had to trim just about all of your recent comments, and its getting dull. Please be polite, or I'll just stat deleting the whole thing.

    OK, so is it available only in Czech? Sadly I don't speak the language. Perhaps, if the science section is valuable, you could do us all a favour by translating the more important points into english? -W]


  31. #31 Nathan Rive

    CO2 is the second most important compound for life.

    You sceptics need a new non-sequitur to throw around – this one’s getting boring. Water is the most important compound to life, but that doesn’t mean flooding isn’t dangerous.

    it is #5, after a Tolkien, Czech book for children about an easy going village guy who visited his girlfriend, after The Book about the Pussy

    Frankly, from that list, I know which book I’d buy.

    Also, I’m somewhat new to all this – and I ask this genuinely – what is your actual position on the science, Lubos? Are you coming from the ‘there has been no warming’ angle, the ‘warming is from the Sun’ angle, or the ‘climate sensitivity is negligible’ angle, etc.?

  32. #32 Luboš Motl

    Dear William, how can you do climate science if you don’t speak Czech? :-)

    Of course, a translation to other languages such as German and English is getting ready, too.

    I was polite. It’s not my fault that the 4th most bestselling book in the Czech Republic is The Book about the Pussy. And I am not surprised, after all. ;-)

    Nathan Rive: I am not coming from any angles. I say things how they are according to the most careful and cool scientific analysis. You must be really new – if I have to be very polite once again – to the debate if you don’t know what I say about global warming.


  33. #33 SomeBeans

    Lubos, so when you wrote here, a few days ago that 20% of global warming was due to “dirty snow” and:

    Within a few days, 20% of the warming is attributed to a previously unknown effect

    You hadn’t, during your cool and careful scientific analysis, spotted on page 184 of the AR4 IPCC report here
    that they discuss dirty snow and reference Hansen’s work in 2000 and that Hansen’s estimate of the radiative forcing for dirty snow is not a million miles away from 20%?

    Are you sure you haven’t got your politics mixed up with your science? ;-)

  34. #34 Lubos Motl

    You know very well what I meant. I meant that the importance of the effect was not known to most of the mainstream climate community, people like RealClimate or their readers.

    Of course that someone somewhere has talked about the influence of dirty snow on XY, whether it was LaRouche or Hansen. People have talked about almost everything. It’s completely irrelevant.

    If you called every statement of Mr Hansen as a “known effect”, then the scientific reticence driving a 20-meter rise of the sea level would be a known effect, too.

    Yes, I am absolutely sure that I carefully distinguish science and politics. And Mr Hansen is doing the latter.

  35. #35 Nathan Rive

    Of course that someone somewhere has talked about the influence of dirty snow

    Then why would you say, “I can’t check the numbers but you can see how “settled” this science is. Within a few days, 20% of the warming is attributed to a previously unknown effect … Be sure that dirty snow is not the last contribution that is going to be found.“? To your lay readership, this suggests (a) it is completely new to the science, (b) there are more unknown unknowns ready to jump out at us, and (c) therefore we shouldn’t trust the science.

    Anyway, regarding my question: the genesis was that looking at your posts on your own blog (and looking at comments here), there’s not really of much substance to give me a sense of where you’re coming from on the science. It’s mostly just politics and the odd cold weather report.

    You discuss a tropospheric warming article here and then conclude “The opinion that there’s no warming in the troposphere at all seems alive while the opinion that the warming in the troposphere is dominated by the greenhouse effect doesn’t seem to be alive.” Wha..?

    All you’ve done is highlight the extreme end of the range of tropics tropospheric warming and disregarded the tropospheric warming from the rest of the Earth. Have you perhaps read the US CCSP report, co-authored by Christy? Regardless of what explanation you give to the tropospheric-surface warming discrepancy, your comment has no foundation in anything, and to be honest smacks of spinning a story to suit your politics. Not really a cool analysis.

    Perhaps I should keep my question more concise. How about this one: What range of a climate sensitivity estimate seems reasonable to you?

  36. #36 Chris O'Neill

    “what is your actual position on the science, Lubos? Are you coming from the ‘there has been no warming’ angle, the ‘warming is from the Sun’ angle, or the ‘climate sensitivity is negligible’ angle, etc.?”

    Judging from the fact that he has come from the ‘there has been no warming since 1998 angle’, I’d say he is capable of coming from any angle.

  37. #37 Luboš Motl

    I forgot to answer Munin. It is completely irrational nonsense to say that “when first people start to die because of an effect XY, it is too late”.

    In reality, it has always been the case – at least whenever people remained sane enough – that some people first died and then the effect was regulated. For example, nuclear weapons started to be regulated long after hundreds of thousands of people died because of them.

    When a few people die, it certainly doesn’t mean that it is “too late”. Millions of people are dying for diverse reasons every year – mostly hunger. It would only be too late when an importantly large group of people would die, something that exceeds e.g. the death due to hunger. You know very well that this whole debate is completely academic because there’s not a single person in the world whose death could be attributed to global warming.

    The fight against a global warming is a “protection” against a threat that obviously doesn’t exist. Chris, indeed, I unify all angles. That’s the hard task that polyhistors had to do… ;-)

  38. #38 Nathan Rive

    not a single person in the world whose death could be attributed to global warming.

    If you think the European heat wave of 2003 was part of the global warming trend, you could argue global warming has killed a lot of people in Europe already:

    You could of course say the net effect of industrialisation (and burning fossil fuels) has still saved more people than were killed in 2003. But you couldn’t deny that some have died.

    You still haven’t responded to any of the above comments, Lubos. As a “unifier”, do you simply adopt any possible angle, result, or paper that could somehow could lead us to doubt the IPCC WGI position? Is that really satisfying, intellectually?

    You’re obviously a smart dude. Wouldn’t it be more fun to, say, have a debate about Lassen and Friis-Christensen’s solar activity + temperature correlation methods and results? Or have a debate about whether empirical evidence backs up Lindzen’s iris theory? Or about how we could include black carbon emissions into a climate agreement? Or about geoengineering options? Or how warming will be a good or a bad thing to different people?

  39. #39 SomeBeans

    Lubos, I’m fairly new to this climate science thing, but I have to say you’re not convincing me that you’re not mixing up your politics and your science: Indeed your blog subtitle says “..from a conservative physicist’s viewpoint…”, and as often as not you seem to be citing the views of economists, politicians and newspaper columnists on climate science.

    Now, I worked as an academic in the physical sciences for nearly fifteen years and I’m really struggling to find a circumstance where I’d want to consult an economist, politician or newspaper columnist on a scientific question. Furthermore, you seem to be insisting on referring to Hansen’s 2000 and 2004 papers as something he might have mentioned in a bar, rather than the publications in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they are.

    But don’t let me stop you answering Nathan’s questions…

  40. #40 Munin

    Lubos, you appear to be saying that large numbers of of people would have to die as a direct result of climate change before any sane person would do anything about it. In fact, you suggest that sane people wait for someone to die before they consider regulating anything.

    This is obviously some strange meaning of the word “sane” that I wasn’t previously aware of.

  41. #41 Lubos Motl

    I am talking about…

    [Well Lubos, you had your warning. Be polite or post elsewhere. Have another go, but don't bother repost the same thing 3 times -W]

  42. #42 SCM

    Good Grief, why are you all arguing with Motl? Definitely up there with pig-wrestling as a pointless activity.

  43. #43 Luna_the_cat

    Lubos — I am curious, can you give some reason why you feel I don’t understand boundary conditions? Evidence, other than just the bals assertion? Example?

    As for climate response being modelled on linear response…uh…I can’t actually think of any modern model which relies purely on linear responses. SOME parts of the model, such as SST, may be linear, but that is not the whole of the model; to my knowledge, every single model in use at the very least also encompasses a few of the non-linear feedbacks. If you have evidence to the contrary, please do provide it.

    And tarring me with an analogy to fundamentalists, simply because I say (a) we don’t know where the tipping point is, (b) that at the point we figure this out it may well be too late to do anything, and (c) advising caution when we play with things like this….? Sorry, your response is just obnoxiously stupid. Don’t pull that again. If you disagree with the basis of my assertions, please address that with logic and evidence rather than calling names.

  44. #44 Luna_the_cat

    Uh, bald assertion….

    [wanders off in search of coffee]

  45. #45 Lu-boš Mo-tl

    I am talking about..

    [Aha! Cunning trick, oh Lu-Bos Mo-tl, but you've been spotted nonetheless. Instead of wasting your time playing silly games with your names, why not just make your points without rudeness? Or if you prefer, post it to your own blog and be as rude as you like, and just put a link here -W]

  46. #46 Nathan Rive

    Come on, Lubos, how difficult is it to say something without getting edited by William? We all no he’s no prude.

    Go pick up your toys, come back to the table, and say something sensible.

  47. #47 Nathan Rive

    er, “know”.

  48. #48 Lubos Motl

    It is as impossible to say the truth here as it was in Germany of the 1930s or Russia of the 1950s.

    [Interesting comment. If its impossible to say the truth here, that means you comment itself must be false. In that case it *is* possible to say the truth and your comment *might* be true... in which case its false. Oh dear, your comment must be meaningless. In which case I win by Godwins law -W]

  49. #49 Luna_the_cat

    Lubos, try for actually making relevant responses and answering questions, rather than just repeating what you’ve already said, virtually unchanged, and name-calling. If you try for actual substance, I’m willing to bet your posts will stand….

  50. #50 Chris O'Neill

    “Chris, indeed, I unify all angles. That’s the hard task that polyhistors had to do.”

    Hard? Unifying is pretty easy once you have the most ridiculous.

  51. #51 Eli Rabett

    Via Crooked Timber. Klaus will be taking questions
    Thursday 1PM at a Financial Times blog. Lubos will have to wake early.

    [I know, I already submitted a question, which amounts to asking him to clarify his scientific position, specifically with regards to the climate sensitivity. Since it appears that his position is "whatever Lubos tells me", we will indeed have to hope that Lubos is up! -W]