Talkin' Tosh with the IEA

The IEA are the Institute for Economic Affairs. The quote on their mainpage shows what they think of themselves The price of economic freedom is eternal vigilance, and as long as the IEA is around, we may be sure that the forces of regulation and state control will have a formidable obstacle in their path. Long may it flourish.

Almost inevitably, this kind of attitude translates into skepticism on global warming. The illogical argument is, roughly, "we're for economic freedom and low taxes and against government interference. GW, if real, will probably require state intervention to fix it. Therefore, GW must not be real". Its the same syllogism as David Bellamys position: "GW, if real, might require wind turbines to reduce emissions. I hate wind turbines. Therefore...". Not that this attitude is unique to the Dark Side. Greenies are fond of "I'd like to reduce cars, waste, env destruction and noise and...; GW, if real, would make reducing these things more likely; therefore...".

But come, what do they have to say for themselves about GW? Or, what does Russell Lewis have to say on their behalf?

The abstract, commented: "The government claim that global warming is more threatening than terrorism is alarmist and unwarranted. [Since terrorism is not really very dangerous at all, the statement is trivially true] It is also suspect as an excuse for mounting taxes and controls [The syllogism]. It is strikingly similar to the dire predictions of 40 years ago of an imminent ice age [Ah, the obligatory reference to global cooling!] and to other past doom forecasts due to alleged overpopulation, depletion of food and fuel supplies, and chemical pollution. There are serious doubts about the measurements, assumptions and predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), with regard to global CO2 growth, temperature and the role of clouds [Dubious, but we'll read on]. Indeed there is a strong case that the IPCC has overstated the effect of anthropogenic greenhouse gases on the climate and downplayed the influence of natural factors such as variations in solar output, El Niños and volcanic activity [Twaddle, but will be interesting to see your sources]. The empirical evidence used to support the global warming hypothesis has often been misleading, with 'scare stories' promoted in the media that are distortions of scientific reality [I have no problem with the idea that the meeja talk nonsense]. The high salience of the climate change issue reflects the fact that many special interests have much to gain from policies designed to reduce emissions through increased government intervention and world energy planning [Sounds plausible]."

Skipping right over the intro (and the obligatory dig at Silent Spring, but you want Deltoid for that) in search of some Science, the first I alight on is Zbignieuw (u?) Jaworowski and his flying CO2 circus. Oh dear, that sets the seal: this isn't a serious analysis, this is a list of septic talking points for the ill-informed. No one serious believes that the CO2 rise isn't anthropogenic (if you're interested in pix, see SPM-1), only the wackos. However, the trick is to remember where the blog postings are that refute this nonsense. In this case, Some are boojums has the answers. The IEA has even fallen for ZJ's "testifying before congress" which he didn't.

Next up is the change in range of projections for the next century from 1.4 and 5.8 ºC in the TAR to 1.1 and 6.4 ºC in the AR4. But (sigh) you only have to read the SPM p13 to find "Although these projections are broadly consistent with the span quoted in the TAR (1.4 to 5.8°C), they are not directly comparable...".

Next is emissions scenarios, which I'm going to skip: that can be left to the economists. After that, the traditional section about "Poor Correlation" between CO2 and temperature rise. The funny bit here is that he says "Another thing: Carbon dioxide increased exponentially from 1800 to 1973" completely forgetting that he was pushing ZJ at the start!. Did no-one bother reviewing this stuff before publishing it? But if you're interested in this stuff, the wiki page on attribution is OK if not good.

Continuing the sense of fun, the section ironically entitled "Wrong Data" proposes that "In the past fifty years during which most of the greenhouse gases caused by human activities were released, the conventional wisdom is that it has risen by 0.8 ºF (0.4 ºC)". Since the SPM sez 0.13/decade, thats 0.52 0.65 oC in 50 years, but can you expect Economists to do maths? OK, most of them can but not this one. Then "The IPCC says that most of this is due to humankind, namely 0.5 ºF (0.25 ºC)." Now this is naughty because its an obvious falsehood slipped in: in fact the SPM suggests that natural forcings have been negative since 1950, so human factors have caused even more warming than observed, so to speak. Following on is Urban heat island (he's clearly ticking all the boxes!). Then he starts sourcing things to State of Fear! Its wonderful stuff.

Well, thats a feast of twaddle so far, but to top it off is the also obligatory misleading statements about the satellite temperature record (including the wonderful assertion that the satellite record is accurate, sadly this is in reference to the version *before* the major corrections applied to it; naturally RSS isn't mentioned). And even "During the same post-1979 period satellite measurements show that the temperatures in the stratosphere have fallen." Is he not aware that this is a *prediction* of GW? Probably not - he does appear to be hopeless. But he may just be being misleading.

At that point I got bored. If there is anything sensible in the rest of it that you feel like discussing, do post a comment.

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I had got a desire to make my own commerce, nevertheless I did not have got enough of money to do that. Thank heaven my close fellow suggested to take the loan. Thus I took the term loan and realized my dream.

It is amazing how deaths due to terrorism are treated by the media, it seems wildly exaggerated (though a similar argument applies to coalition losses in the so called war on terror).

On the other hand, I do wonder what a nuclear bomb in London or New York would do. I find it quite hard to rationally predict what might happen as a consequence.

"Since the SPM sez 0.13/decade, thats 0.52 oC in 50 years(.)" Oh the humiliation. :)

[Oops, how embarassing, for some reason I did 4 decades. Fortunately Lubos is not with us... -W]

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 21 May 2007 #permalink

I wavered before, but no more: I'm a Hank Roberts fan after that last linky.

I'm a fan and I'm OK/I sleep all night and...uh...erm...




I've run into what might be a new variant of denialist argument. Some radio ham history chap on the Scotsman newspaper comments is claiming that the sun is affecting the climate by means of all the solar particles, eg what causes the aurora borealis. He claims never to have heard of Svensmark. What he is claiming is that over the sunspot cycle the amount of particles and stuff hitting the earth somehow heats it up!

He's not called Thompson by any chance?

Styles himself "Chairman Gordon", so I admit I've started calling him Mao. Lives in Stirling.

Wasnt there a Thompson involved in some of the early physics on EMF and particles?

Had a quick email exchange with somebody within the IEA -

'.. There is an active debate among liberal economists as to whether the best strategy is to question the science or to accept the science and concentrate on promoting ways of reducing emissions at least cost. Hopefully our publication later this year, edited by Colin Robinson, and including papers by a number of respected economists, will be closer to the kind of text you are looking for...'

whether the best strategy is to question the science or to accept the science and concentrate on promoting ways of reducing emissions at least cost.

I laughed at this comment at first, but thinking about it, this may actually be the strategy going forward for sceptic thinktanks. Call a stalemate and move on. It saves face, and I think doors should be kept open to let it happen.

The cynic in me thinks that they'll simply move on to a geo-engineering or bust strategy, but we can burn that bridge once we get to it.

> reducing emissions at least cost

"Reducing emissions" usually means just reducing the rate of increase of emissions.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 23 May 2007 #permalink

Keep attacking the weak opponents William: it drags attention away from the strong ones and from the incompetence and evasiveness of climatologists.

Check out the latest thread on, titled "The Mysterious Taylor Dome Borehole". FTA:

"So what we have here: we have a National Research Council panel chairman making statements at a national press conference which rely on an unpublished borehole analysis from data collected in 1994-1996, which the author refuses to provide on the basis that the "results and data are not available yet"."

What is wrong with these "scientists"? I'd be a heck of a lot more convinced of the AGW hypothesis if there wasn't such widespread refusal to release data. Or maybe I wouldn't. Maybe that's why they're all so secretive.

Mugwump, you need to learn to distinguish between proper scientific practice on the one hand and a lack of interest in wasting a lot of time dealing with nonsense from people like McIntyre on the other. McIntyre's claims of scientific legitimacy are belied by the company he keeps. Recall also that the referenced NRC process only happened because of demands from noted troglodyte Joe Barton.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 25 May 2007 #permalink

Steve Bloom, are you a scientist? I am (mathematician/physicist) and I can assure you McIntyre is anything but illegitimate. All he is asking for is archived data so he can reproduce analysis. Reproducibility is science 101, but it seems climatologists and environmentalists have their own set of rules. It wouldn't matter except for the fact that they are determined to use their "science" to force a global planetary makeover.

As usual, your side prefers to attack the man, not the arguments. Another reason to be very suspicious.

As usual, your side prefers to attack the man, not the arguments. Another reason to be very suspicious.

What arguments? As far as I can see the climate "audit" approach is like going into a forest, finding a tree with a dead branch, and concluding that therefore the forest doesn't exist.

Mug, you - and the climate "auditors" - are now irrelevant. The world has moved on. It's time for solutions, and you have nothing to contribute.

"What arguments?" indeed. Considerably more coherent ones than some tortured, lame, dedrological analogy. But that's ok Gareth, I don't expect any more from you. Luckily some of us have higher standards.

"What arguments?" indeed. Considerably more coherent ones than some tortured, lame, dedrological analogy.

Well, make my day. Make your arguments. Can you do better than "tortured, lame" (and frequently erroneous) nit-picking about proxies and statistics, and maligning climate scientists by describing their actions as suspicious?

Didn't think so...

"Proxies and statistics" are all you have when it comes to reconstructing the Earth's temperature pre-1850, so I'd hardly describe it as "nitpicking".

There is no excuse for withholding the data that allows independent verification of reconstruction analyses. It's not about McIntyre; it's about the scientific process.

It's "nitpicking" because it makes no difference. Even if you accept McIntyre's statistical analysis - and not all do - it makes no difference to our view of past climate. Show me where a "climate audit" has forced a rethink on past climate. Hasn't happened.

The climate auditors are not in this for the purity of science. and - I suspect - neither are you. I may of course be wrong about your motives, but the chorus of commenters at CA make their view obvious.

I presume, if you are in this for the sanctity of science, that you accept the recent work as summarised by the AR4 - that global warming is happening, it's caused by increasing levels of GHGs resulting from human activity, and that the world will warm significantly in the near future.

If you reject that, you brand yourself a crank.

As someone recently pointed out on Deltoid, Wegman himself stressed that the Hockey Stick debate doesn't challenge the consensus on global warming.…

I hadn't seen the following quote before, and it bears repeating. From Wegman's Congressional testimony:…

We do agree with Dr. Mann on one key point: that MBH98/99 were not the only evidence of global warming. As we said in our report, "In a real sense the paleoclimate results of MBH98/99 are essentially irrelevant to the consensus on climate change. The instrumented temperature record since 1850 clearly indicates an increase in temperature." We certainly agree that modern global warming is real. We have never disputed this point. We think it is time to put the 'hockey stick' controversy behind us and move on.

Sounds very sensible to me.

"It's "nitpicking" because it makes no difference... Show me where a "climate audit" has forced a rethink on past climate. Hasn't happened."

Rubbish. The "hockeystick" is now largely discredited as a result of McIntyre's work. Yet it was front and center in AR3. Looks like UHI may be in similar trouble. Of course, the "nitpicking" does not have immediate affect but eventually it will win through.

Given the in-breeding at the IPCC, I don't accept all the findings of AR4. I believe the Earth is probably warming as a result of human CO2 production, but that's about as far as it goes.

I reiterate: there is absolutely no justification for witholding data. The extremely low statistical standards amongst climatologists an environmentalists makes it even more important that they are open.

The "hockeystick" is now largely discredited as a result of McIntyre's work.

The people parroting this "largely discredited" line are living in some strange parallel universe where if you assert something often enough and strongly enough it magically becomes true. Doesn't work for me, I'm afraid, whatever I wish for...

As for "in-breeding": by your words we shall know you. This offhand denigration of a process that brings together all the work done on climate issues around the world is insulting to the broad spectrum of scientists involved, and shows that you come to this process with an agenda of some sort.

The IPCC process provides us with the best information we have about the size of a serious problem. The real debate now is in finding solutions. The CA crowd are playing no part in that. They can whinge about statistics all they like, but as I said before, McIntyre's work hasn't changed anything. I suppose it could be an interesting hobby. Meanwhile, the rest of us will get on with the real work.

It seems important to create myths regarding the secret data and the star chamber of the IPCC. I for one look forward to the CA 'discrediting' of the UHI, of particular interest will be how the UHI is responsible for alpine glacial retreat, Arctic sea decline and warming of the most of the worlds oceans.

By J Hamilton (not verified) on 28 May 2007 #permalink

"of particular interest will be how the UHI is responsible for ...warming of the most of the worlds oceans."


I accidentally deleted tis by Mugwump. Apologies. Mind you I did deliberately delete another one.

"We certainly agree that modern global warming is real. We have never disputed this point.
We think it is time to put the 'hockey stick' controversy behind us and move on."

The presence or absence of a significant medieval warm period has great bearing on the extent to which the current warming is natural or man-made. If it really doesn't matter, why don't the climatologists/environmentalists promulgate a "stick" with a big medieval bump in it instead of the long, flat blade of Mann?

[You seem to be under the impression that people are producing shapes to order. If that were true, all your skepticism would be justified. But it isn't - people are producing what the data shows. None of them show a big MWP, whether it matters or not -W]

"I accidentally deleted tis by Mugwump. Apologies. Mind you I did deliberately delete another one."

This is obvious bias, given that my tone has been more measured than the AGW proponents around here, Enjoy your parrots, William. I won't be back.

[Sorry to see you go. I'll take this opportunity to remind everyone to be civil -W]