Age of paranoia: exploring the paranoid tradition in times of crisis

Regular readers are well aware I was on a much-needed sabbatical for the last few months of 2013.

Both professional and personal obligations precluded me from writing. I also needed time to recharge and give thought to the direction of this blog. So now that I’m back, what can you expect from WtD?

By the end of 2013 I was exhausted (and disgusted) for what passes as “discussion” about climate change in both media and politics. Sharing a beer with a friend last week they said to me “Well you must be raging about what’s happening now with government policy…”

I could be, but I’m  not. A recent editorial in the Canberra Times sums up the conclusion I reached a several years ago:

“Perhaps it is time to acknowledge publicly that the war is over: apathy and self-interest triumphed over the slim hope that the global community would act collectively to prevent runaway climate change. Australia’s belated and extremely modest efforts – a tiny, ineffective tax and a small renewable energy target – were always insufficient, yet the government wants to dilute even those.”

Without doubt we will see a 2c degree increase in average temperatures by mid-century. By the end of the 21st century we may reach (or surpass, four degrees). All but the most obtuse recognise this fact.

Which is why I feel it is no longer worth the time or energy fighting climate sceptics on a daily basis.

Their victory will result in the suffering of a large section of humanity in the very near future.

There are but two course of action before us:

  • understanding the causes of this looming catastrophe
  • preparing for a hotter, harsher and more uncertain world.

Exploring the question of “How did we come to this”?

Humanity will agonise for millenia over the question of how we failed to address climate change, despite the fact the evidence was so certain and the anticipated impacts well understood decades before being felt.

The campaign of deceit funded by the fossil fuel industry explains some of this, but not all of it. The free-market ideology and libertarian “faith” of conservative politicians and mining billionaires explains some of this failure, but not all of it.

Likewise the difficulty of explaining complex scientific concepts to the general public has contributed to the challenge. However we can’t attribute the present situation to this challenge alone.

I have long argued that the idea that fossil fuel companies have prevented action on climate change is simplistic and only tells part of the story.

It is broader than that: culture, economics, historical forces, politics and vested interest have all played a part to greater or lesser degrees.

Which brings me to the research project I’ve committed myself to this year, “Age of Paranoia.

Age of Paranoia: the focus of 2014

Age of Paranoia (AoP) is a long essay (or short book) I’ve committed to write this year.

It will focus the intersection of science, conspiracy culture, psychology, politics, culture and climate change. WtD will reflect my ongoing research and allow readers to critique and discuss the ideas being put forward.

As a reader you will help me test my ideas and shape the content.

Why this topic you ask?

In examining the claims climate sceptic movement I was stunned to see the same claims made again and again in nearly every decade going back to the French Revolution. At times of financial crisis, war and profound societal change the same identical claims about conspiracies have been made.

Most of the tropes and myths used by conspiracy theorists today were established in the late 18th and early 19th century. It was then that claims about secret banking cabals, progressives working to subvert societies from within and fears of “socialist” plots and “reds under the bed” were formulated.

At first I was bemused such theories so heavily laced with quaint 19th century anachronisms still hdld such sway in the early 21st century.

One could simply dismiss this as a few paranoid types recycling old conspiracy theories.

But the question of why such beliefs remain persistent continued to rattle around in the back of my brain.

The paranoid tradition and climate change: where crisis, paranoia and politics collide

Why is it to this day that people continue to believe Jews, international bankers and socialists are conspiring to destroy Western civilisation?

How could it be these same myths continue to hold power decade after decade despite the lack of “evidence” for such conspiracies?

Musing upon this I was struck by the thought we may be looking at a tradition within our culture that goes back centuries. At moments of crisis in history this tradition can exert a strange and powerful influence.

Indeed, I will be putting forward the following hypothesis: deeply embedded within political traditions and society is a parallel tradition of looking at the world in a very specific way. I call this “the paranoid tradition”.

It has its own rules of evidence and reasoning, its own rich history and litany of writers and thinkers who have shaped the course of conspiracy culture – and by extension “mainstream” culture.

We have ignored the paranoid tradition in politics, dismissing it because it seems so irrational. We dismiss proponents of the paranoid tradition as cranks. We call followers of the paranoid tradition irrational. But in doing so we have ignored its importance and its influence on politics and society.

But how could a world view, considered both fringe and inconsequential, have any impact? Consider the climate change debate.

Ask yourself just how central have claims of conspiracies been to arguments put forward by climate sceptics?

It is this paranoid tradition, and how it intersected with the issue of climate change in the mid 1980s, that I will be exploring.

Stepping away from the hype, buzz and daily news cycle

I want to step back from the news cycle and the buzz of social media. WtD will be for those readers hoping to explore issues in-depth, and comment on them in an intelligent way.

Perhaps this change in style will result in fewer hits”, but at this point what is needed (for me at least) is a more contemplative and considered approach.

I will of course continue to post to articles and research of interest, so they’re will be plenty of content on a daily basis. It is my hope it is the unfolding AoP project people come to appreciate.

Coming shortly, more thoughts on the paranoid tradition and what I mean by that phrase.

Mike @ WtD

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136 thoughts on “Age of paranoia: exploring the paranoid tradition in times of crisis

  1. john byatt says:

    Sam has been invited to discuss but only seems intent on trolling,

    • john byatt says:

      here sam this is your so called “pause”

      http://tamino.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/global-temperature-the-post-1998-surprise/

      you are deluding yourself

      • sam martin says:

        sorry don’t mean to troll but I am rapidly finding I don’t have the stamina to keep replying up, perhaps like Mike except I only managed 2 days. The link from Tamino is a good one thanks. (why are there explanations for the pause if it doesn’t exist? why is the recent diminished rate of warming acknowledged in the AR5?)
        I don’t have much else to add except time will tell whether there is/ was a pause or not. Surely as scientifically thinking people you must be able to acknowledge that it could turn out you are wrong. I know the earth is round and have complex knowledge structure based around that which include day/night, seasons, eclipses, polar midnight sun etc. if, however, someone took me to space and showed me a flat earth after a uncomfortable period of readjustment I would (I think) accept it. At would stage would you acknowledge a pause? 15 yrs 0 trend, 20? 30? At what stage would we question the massive positive feedback in the models?
        Difficult questions I am sure. At what stage would I abandon the pause? I actually don’t know- maybe as little as 5 years of significant uptick to bring us back in line with projections.

        • john byatt says:

          the daily mail david rose started the pause meme by cherry picking his start date

          the pause or hiatus is in the surface air temps but is not a stopping of the surface warming but rather a slowing down of the warming, half the rate of the previous decade, that is what is being explained as the extra heat going into the ocean

          the GISS data linked to shows this slowdown quite clearly ,

          http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata_v3/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt

          you can add the last ten years up and then compare the total to the previous ten years

        • john byatt says:

          “uptick to bring us back in line with projections.”

          we are in line with projections, unless you are reading the median of the 95% confidence range as the projection, no, the projections cover the full range, gavin schmidt will have the model data update out in a few day at realclimate, you will see the 2013 data point getting closer to the median, as this was an ENSO neutral year the next strong el nino will go beyond the median, when it does do we say the models are wrong because the data was not on the median line,?

        • Debunker says:

          ” why are there explanations for the pause if it doesn’t exist?”

          Obviously, to correct the misconceptions of people like you who claim that it does exist. Eg, we could explain to credulous folk that Unicorns don’t exist, but that doesn’t mean that they DO exist. Is that so difficult to get your head around?

          “sorry don’t mean to troll but I am rapidly finding I don’t have the stamina to keep replying”

          In that case, why are you bothering to post here if you can’t defend your position?

          “I realise there are plausible explanations for the pause (bring on heat in the oceans, variability etc.) but they remain theories at present”

          And creationists maintain that Evolution is just a theory. They misunderstand scientific methodology. There is the Fact of Evolution, (supported by overwhelming data), then there is a theory which explains it. Similarly, there is the Fact of Global Warming (again supported by overwhelming data), and there is a theory to explain it.

          Fact – The Oceans are warming
          Fact – World sea level is rising – consistent with the above fact
          Fact – There is heat exchange between the atmosphere and the oceans.. Sometimes ocean heat goes into the atmosphere (El Nino), and sometimes the opposite (La Nina). This is also a fact. There is a theory to explain this fact. Corroborating evidence is that when you subtract the ENSO variations from the atmospheric temperature record, the lower troposphere warming continues unabated. There have been copious links to web pages already offered to you explaining this. It is in your interest (and your childrens) to read them.

          Another fact is that the Oceans account for 90 percent of the AGW heat uptake, while the atmosphere, only 2 percent, so it is a giant “cherry pick” to only concentrate on the atmosphere. (Denialists are very good at cherry picking, it is often their only form of argument).

          So, in summary, if you consider the totality of the evidence, rather than concentrate on one tiny part, then it is clear that there has been no “pause”. Also, you might want to consider what is happening to the excess heat we have accumulated over the past 15 years. The laws of physics have not been repealed. It is not going out into space, therefore it remains on the planet somewhere. The denialists have no answer for this, apart from “Natural variability”. They can’t even propose a physical mechanism for this so called variability. Mainstream science, can and does, and it all hangs together, indicating that it is highly likely to be correct.

          I am assuming that you are genuinely interested in finding out the truth, in which case you have a lot of study to do, regardless of whether you feel you have time for it. But stay away from the junk science web sites like WUWT, as you appear to have been seriously misled by them already. WUWT is the “McDonalds” of the web. You can get far healthier fare elsewhere.

  2. john byatt says:

    are you coming back sam?

    to have a 90% chance of keeping warming below 2DegC what emissions budget do we have left ?

    • sam martin says:

      I suppose that depends on how much of recent warming is due to natural variability. We need to know the answer to that. What caused the warming between 1920 and 1940?

      • john byatt says:

        current natural variability is having a negative impact sam, low solar and more la nina years,
        early warming was due to both enhanced greenhouse effect from humans plus solar warming, the solar effect has had a negative impact since early 1980’s

        a good place to start is at aip org history carbon dioxide greenhouse effect

        plus it is very interesting

        • john byatt says:

          and to answer the question we have no budget left if we were to leave it as it is it would eventually go beyond 2 degc, as it takes a long time and we cannot just stop emitting in one year, we are taking a punt to start bringing emissions down so we do not go over 450ppm and continue to bring emissions down after that

          but to have 90% chance of keeping temperature rise below 2Degc then we would have had to already stop, the above plan will give us about a 66% chance

          which is why most scientists do not hold out much hope

  3. Sam Martin says:

    Regarding “c” agw,
    This is a crucial distinction relating to feedback. The direct effect of doubling atmospheric co2 concentration on global temp is said to be 1-1.2 degrees. This is not controversial and generally agreed to be overall positive in effect or at least neutral. catastrophic warming is predicted by the ipcc as a result of strong positive feedback amplifying or augmenting this 1 degree to 1.5- 4.5 degrees . Surely there is significant uncertainty here. What if clouds cause overall cooling, outweighing the greenhouse effect of atmospheric water vapour? It looks like they might. Thus the distinction

    • john byatt says:

      “What if clouds cause overall cooling, outweighing the greenhouse effect of atmospheric water vapour? It looks like they might.”

      could you provide a link to back up “looks like they might”

      • Bernard J. says:

        catastrophic warming is predicted by the ipcc as a result of strong positive feedback amplifying or augmenting this 1 degree to 1.5- 4.5 degrees . Surely there is significant uncertainty here.

        Um, no.

        What if clouds cause overall cooling, outweighing the greenhouse effect of atmospheric water vapour? It looks like they might.

        Um, no.

      • Sam Martin says:

        The pause which is hard for you to see and have explained away. It might get easier to see and harder to explain away if it persists. Of course temps might skyrocket as predicted at any moment in which case I will be wrong.

        • Bernard J. says:

          You are wrong.

        • john byatt says:

          What pause sam? The warming over the last 15 years (Jan 1999-Dec 2013) on HadCRUT4 is 0.11 C,

          it is not a pause as you keep claiming it is reduced warming only

          now what year did your “pause” begin?

        • J Giddeon says:

          “The warming over the last 15 years (Jan 1999-Dec 2013) on HadCRUT4 is 0.11 C,”

          As per the Sks trend calculator, HadCRUT4 1998.99 – 2013.99 the trend was
          0.073 ±0.130 °C/decade (2σ) ie not statistically different to zero.

          Just for fun 1995.99 – 3013.99 => Trend: 0.088 ±0.110 °C/decade (2σ).

          But you don’t want to know about that, do you.?

        • john byatt says:

          “0.073 ±0.130″

          so how does that refute The warming over the last 15 years (Jan 1999-Dec 2013) on HadCRUT4 is 0.11 C,

          you just do not understand any of this do you

          when did the pause begin http://www.scilogs.de/klimalounge/files/Cowtan2.jpg

        • J Giddeon says:

          There is no statistically significant warming. Do you understand statistical significance in this regard? Or is everything black and white…no M.O.E?

        • john byatt says:

          Do you understand that hadcrut does not use the sks trend calculator and that the warming is as stated

        • J Giddeon says:

          oh-oh looks like we have moved beyond JB’s pay scale. HadCRUT doesn’t use sks but sks does use the HadCRUT4 data. The issue is the level of significance ie

          if the trend is 0.073 ±0.130 °C/decade (2σ) all we can say with 95% confidence is that the temps change in the period was between – 0.057 and + 0.203/ decade.

        • john byatt says:

          if the trend was .057 then the red line would be almost on the blue, it ain’t is it ?

          it is a cherry pick but it was a cherry picked by the deniers

          http://tamino.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/hadcrut4.jpg?w=500&h=270

          and it also confirmed by GISS and also by the cowtan & way 2013 paper.

        • john byatt says:

          Oh look………………. 0.11degc almost spot on,

          and toby just nutted you

        • john byatt says:

          giddeon “if the trend is 0.073 ±0.130 °C/decade (2σ) all we can say with 95% confidence is that the temps change in the period was between – 0.057 and + 0.203/ decade.

          I said “The warming over the last 15 years (Jan 1999-Dec 2013) on HadCRUT4 is 0.11 C”,

          you must have been reading Curry as she also mistakes the 15 year warming with the dec trend,

          i should try to pay more attention to the bog you come up with

        • J Giddeon says:

          yep jb doesn’t understand statistically significance.

        • john byatt says:

          i am going to ignore you on this as when you are found to be not just wrong but effing wrong you just go off on another tangent.

  4. Sam Martin says:

    Err I am not paranoid and I don’t believe in a conspiracy. I just happened to have noticed that
    1. there is a good going pause or gap between models and reality in terms of surface temp.
    2. Catastrophic climate change is based on the assumption of strongly overall posivite feedback
    Which 3, tying back to 1, seems unlikely and also not happening.
    I am totally open to the possibility I am wrong which I will be if Mikes 2 degrees by mid century turns out to be true. (I just think this is looking increasingly unlikely)
    I realise there are plausible explanations for the pause (bring on heat in the oceans, variability etc.) but they remain theories at present. Until the pause ends in a strong uptick things are looking increasingly shaky (what if it doesn’t? Interestingly thre pause is currently increasing in duration more rapidly than time is going by.)
    Probably someone will point out that the last decade was the warmest ever: it was also my tallest ever but I am not growing any more.
    Meanwhile we could spend 1 billion dollars per day doubling the living standards of the poorest billion people on earth.
    I am about as bamboozled as Mike by group thinking about climate change, but from the opposite direction. How can everyone be so sure the science is settled when at least to me it seems unsettled and increasingly so? Sam

    • john byatt says:

      explain pause Sam

      • john byatt says:

        here is the Hadcrut4 data with the Arctic ocean included sam (cowtan & way 2013)

        so we are talking about the same thing point out what year the pause started

        • sam martin says:

          sorry I missed out that also plausible explanation- we aren’t measuring it properly.

        • john byatt says:

          No there is no claim that we are not measuring it properly, we are interested in global trends which HADCRUT4 supplies.

          if you ever actually go to the HADCRUT site you will read there that they do not include the Arctic ocean in their data, that is a simple fact, that we can now add in the Arctic data for Hadcrut means that not only are the trends (HADCRUT & GISS) in agreement but also the annual temperature series ,

          so where is your pause ? what year or will you just keep up the trolling

        • J Giddeon says:

          “No there is no claim that we are not measuring it properly,”

          So we are told. Then again….

          http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00704-013-0894-0

      • john byatt says:

        also explain it with respect to the models

    • Bernard J. says:

      Probably someone will point out that the last decade was the warmest ever: it was also my tallest ever but I am not growing any more.

      The difference is that human-caused climate change is still an infant and it’s still being fed at a maximal rate, whilst you’re (apparently) a fully grown adult – although your use of logical fallacy casts doubt on your actual maturity.

      I realise there are plausible explanations for the pause (bring on heat in the oceans, variability etc.) but they remain theories at present.

      No, at best they are very good explanations based in proven physics, with some refinement possible to improve the minutiæ. At the likely worst they are just good explanations based in proven physics, with room for refinement that will account for some unexplained and/or unidentified significant factors in the science but that will be unlikely to substantively alter the current conclusions.

      You are confusing refinement of knowledge with an absence of knowledge. They are different things and once again you are relying on logical fallacy.

      Meanwhile we could spend 1 billion dollars per day doubling the living standards of the poorest billion people on earth.

      You could, but you don’t. Neither does any government of the world remove any appreciable amount of funding from the alleviation of poverty in order to address the critical issue of our warming of the planet.

      What are those two words again? Oh, that’s right – logical fallacy.

      Get your facts and analogies in order before you start playing.

      I am about as bamboozled as Mike by group thinking about climate change, but from the opposite direction.

      Finally you managed to say something that was correct. Only not in the way that you meant to say it.

      • sam martin says:

        Hi Bernard- I apologise I was a little unclear with the height analogy. The number of recent record warm year comes up frequently in discussion about climate. I merely use the height analogy to show that the fact the last decade was the warmest ever does not prove ongoing warming. I am sure you understand this already but many don’t. It does demonstrate prior warming and it precludes recent cooling. Either ongoing warming or a plateau are consistent with the last decade being the warmest ever. I do not see what my maturity has to do with that. I don’t think there is a logical fallacy here.

        Regarding the very good explanations I would say they are at best (for the proponents of the theory and worst for the planet) correct and will be shown to be so shortly when warming resumes shortly, or at worst (for the proponents of the theory and best for the planet) adjustments or explanations around something fundamentally incorrect or at least far short of actually correct if warming continues much slower than predicted. I would say you are confusing fact and idea.

        Regarding links for proof- the point is there is no link. The link will be in 10 years to the global temperature record which will have either gone up as predicted or not, or in the middle.

        Regarding: You could, but you don’t: If I had any paranoid tendencies they would come out now. do you know my bank manager? have cameras in my house? you seem to know me so well. Oh no wait, you don’t, as it turns out I donate 3 dollars per day to a child and family in Ethiopia.

        Logical fallacy?

        • john byatt says:

          ” I merely use the height analogy to show that the fact the last decade was the warmest ever does not prove ongoing warming.”

          yes it does, here

          http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata_v3/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt

        • Bernard J. says:

          I merely use the height analogy to show that the fact the last decade was the warmest ever does not prove ongoing warming…. I would say you are confusing fact and idea.

          ?!

          Parsimony says that when there is a trend in a direction and there is no physical mechanism to assume that there should be a change in that trajectory, then that directional trend is currently operative.

          The fact is that Ockham’s razor points to the fact that the best evidence shows that there is no pause in overall planetary warming, and that a pause or a plateau in heat accumulation is unlikely. I’ll go with parsimony over stretches of the imagination and ignoring of physics, every time.

          But don’t take my word for it – Tamino’s most recent post amongst other evidence* demonstrates that the recent temperature record is consistent with continued warming and inconsistent with a plateau.

          By your logic we can’t say that the sun will rise tomorrow morning with any more confidence than we can say that it won’t.

          Regarding: You could, but you don’t: If I had any paranoid tendencies they would come out now. do you know my bank manager? have cameras in my house? you seem to know me so well. Oh no wait, you don’t, as it turns out I donate 3 dollars per day to a child and family in Ethiopia.

          Eh?!

          I “seem to know [you] so well” because I said that you don’t “spend 1 billion dollars per day doubling the living standards of the poorest billion people on earth”?!

          Get over yourself petal. Call it a wild guess (yes, I know that you seem to be more inclined to your stalking notion), but the fact that there’s not a billion dollars per day appearing in the bank accounts of the world’s poorest one billion is a small clue that I was correct…

          All you’ve done is prove that my statement was correct, and done so in an attempt to distract from the fact that current funding to mitigate against global is not taking 1 billion dollars per day – or anything remotely like it – from the world’s poorest 1 billion people.

          So, what exactly were you saying about logical fallacy?

          [*Whilst I'm at it I'm happy to bet you the ten ounces of gold that the global number of extreme warm records for 2015 will be greater than the number of cold ones - the ten ounces that for some peculiar reason Eunice at Eli's doesn't seem to want to take from me... You have a week from today to accept, before I move my gold on to someone else's surety of the science. Terms on your expression of interest.]

  5. Gregory T says:

    It should be known by now, that Giddeon is the sole arbiter of what he writes. He alone will judge the truth, accuracy, context, even the comprehension required to understand his version of the language he uses in his world. It’s good to know that someone understands it, however I doubt that it will ever become popular enough to become the language of consensus. It should be remembered though, that anyone who attempts to dispute the World according to Giddeon, will suffer the slings and arrows of his fantasy world, but not to worry, it’s just his petar.

  6. john byatt says:

    J Giddeon says:
    January 29, 2014 at 4:01 am
    Yes I’m panicking :)

    For the better part of 20 yrs I’ve been saying the CAGW scare wouldn’t last and now its come to pass. We have a reasonable govt in place in Aust and the whole world is retreating from whatever silly CO2 promises they had previously made Share=market up, AUD down.
    The only reason I’d panic (if I was that type) would be if I thought it couldn’t last.

    and you will still be saying it in another twenty years time

    • Toby Thaler says:

      “CAGW” is a made up meme by the denialosphere. “The whole world is retreating…” is contrary to reality. “A person who has lost contact with reality” is the definition of a psychotic. That’s you.

        • Toby Thaler says:

          Yes, and sorry, I didn’t mean “you” — confused by nested copy of his comment.

          I always wonder about deniers (and other politicians and public forum participants who express such strong cognitive dissonance on AGW and other subjects): Do they believe the crap they say/post, or are they just being venal? I suspect the latter of politicians, and the former of bloggers.

        • john byatt says:

          did not read it as being to me Toby,

          if he was not here would probably be on some blog arguing against evolution

        • Bernard J. says:

          if he was not here would probably be on some blog arguing against evolution

          Eli has one of those at the moment.

          It’s enough to make one weep for the world.

      • J Giddeon says:

        ““CAGW” is a made up meme by the denialosphere. ”

        No its shorthand for categorising the level of the danger.
        AGW – is happening and we can deal with it. It might even be beneficial. We don’t need to be terribly concerned and don’t need to rend the economy to address it.
        CAGW – is postulated and may justify action to avoid it.

        CAGW/DAGW are a different order of problem to AGW.

        ““The whole world is retreating…” is contrary to reality.”.

        The rest of that sentence was “from whatever silly CO2 promises they had previously made “. Despite what you might hope and wish is happening that remains true.

        • john byatt says:

          CAGW, for “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming,” is a snarl word (or snarl acronym) that global warming denialists use for the established science of climate change. A Google Scholar search indicates that the term is never used in the scientific literature on climate.[1]
          It’s not clear just when or how the denialists adopted CAGW over from the acronym AGW (anthropogenic global warming) used by normal folk. The term was used in blog comments at the New York Times[2] and ScienceBlogs as early as 2008,[3] and is likely to have been used earlier. By around 2011 CAGW had become commonplace in denialist blogs such as those of Anthony Watts or Judith Curry, and over the next year or two essentially replaced AGW in such esteemed venues. Despite the qualifier, denialists apply the term indiscriminately to anything approximating the mainstream scientific view on climate, regardless of whether or not “catastrophic” outcomes are implied.
          As for motivation, it’s an attempt to move the goalposts. Denialists realized they had lost the argument over plain old “anthropogenic global warming” — the basic physics of the problem have been known since the 19th century,[4] so that rejecting AGW outright paints oneself as a loon. Adding “catastrophic” gives plenty of wiggle room for denialism.[5] Sea level rises a foot? Just some Pacific Islanders getting flooded out; no catastrophe. Sea level rises a few more feet? We lose coastal cities but with a few trillion dollars we can move them inland; no catastrophe. And so on

        • Toby Thaler says:

          “AGW – is happening and we can deal with it.” Oh, you accept AGW. Good start. Here’s the follow on questions that should take you a bit of thought and research to answer unless you’re an expert in the field:
          1. When will CO2e in atmosphere be doubled (i.e., c. 560 ppm);
          2. What level of CO2e in atmosphere will we reach before it peaks;
          3. What’s the most likely ECR;
          4. What’s the likely new equilibrium temperature of the earth under whatever quantity of CO2e you think we’ll hit before we stop adding to it (the “A” in AGW);
          5. When would that new equilibrium most likely be reached; and
          6. What impacts will it have on the ecology and economy?

          On number 6, please pay particular attention to the impact on the oceans from all that CO2. You are aware that ocean acidification is already causing great consternation among fisheries scientists as people whose livelihoods depend on healthy seas? You are aware that human over harvest and habitat manipulation has put many fisheries at risk of collapse (some already did)? No? Well, why don’t you look. You can start here: http://apps.seattletimes.com/reports/sea-change/2013/nov/2/can-sea-life-adapt/ (part of a series).

          Good luck with your self education. You need it.

        • john byatt says:

          giddeon ““For the better part of 20 yrs I’ve been saying the CAGW scare wouldn’t last ”

          seems that the only person using CAGW twenty years ago was you, scared yourself stupid and went into deep denial

        • Nick says:

          ‘C’AGW is your baby, Gids…like good little soldiers you spread it in your attempt to misrepresent anything and everything about climate science. It’s an attempt to trivialise by reframing. Your fellow travellers are always at it , declaring the science is intended to ‘scare’, and the ‘scare’ is over, that sea level is barely rising while ignoring how long and high it is expected to rise, that the models are wrong even though their time periods are not up. This stuff is designed for the uninformed, because it is easily recognised as nonsense on examination.

          Likewise Abbott’s war framing echoed by News Ltd…’the ABC of treachery’. Could there be anything more crass and divisive, and destructive? The f**kwit is actually our PM, but he’s talking like Bolt’s paranoic 1%.

        • Bernard J. says:

          The descriptor for human-caused global warming is dependent on coordinates in space and time.

          If we continue with business-as-usual for another generation, without much serious change thereafter, and

          1) If you’re located in the First World and retired, you can probably delude yourself for the rest of your life into believing (possible gnawings in the belly from cognitive dissonance aside) that global warming, human-caused other otherwise, isn’t happening.

          2) If you’re over fifty you could quite possibly follow the path in (1), unless you live longer than average and don’t develop dementia, in which case you will live to see that your previous denial is crumbling around you – even if you still manage to ignore most of the effects.

          3) If you’re halfway through your working life you might manage to get through the rest of it without too much disruption, but you’ll feel very foolish (and hopefully guilty) about your previous denialism and you’re likely to live your old age in a world that is not particularly friendly to your dotage unless you are well-off by First World standards and living away from the tropics and the politically unstable parts of the world.

          4) If you’re a kid you’re quite likely to find that the tail end of your working life at least is seriously affected by the impacts of climate change, and you’ll resent your parent and grandparents for their self-indulgent lives and for not caring about your adulthood. Your retirement will suck unless you are wealthy.

          5) If you’re born after 2020 your adult life will be spent watching the world progressively suffer from the overweening self-indulgent folly of your parents’ and grandparents’ generations, and you wont begrudge the vigilantism that seeks retribution on some of the known worst deniers, contrarians, and inactivists. If you live a long life your retirement is likely to be most unpleasant unless you are wealthy. You will die acknowledging that you have seen catastrophic climate change.

          6) If you’re born in the second half of the 21st century you’ll grow up and live in a world that is very different in most places to the one recorded in the history books, and you’ll be aghast at – and forever despising of – the generations of Westerners who did everything they could to make your world a hell of ecological upheaval and serious political unrest. You’ll very likely live to see the unfolding of easily discernible catastrophic climate change, although you may find it difficult to understand what the world was like before it started.

          7) If you’re born in the 22nd century you will be living with what we today would call catastrophic climate change (even though today’s deniers would say that it had nothing to do with humans and that it was just nature (or God) throwing extraordinarily frequent and extreme events at the planet). You would be agog at the difference if you could be transported back to the year 2000, and you might have great difficulty in understanding that the world was once a relatively much more benign place, filled with many more species that you experience – although back in the 22nd century you may not care about that in a practical sense because your life will likely be very hard by comparison with turn-of-the-millennium standards. You will have a good chance of not having a retirement as we know it today, but you might not care because you may also not experience too much old age.

          8) If you’re born in the 25th century you’ll be lucky in the sense that your lineage made it that far, but unlucky in the sense that the chances are that you’ll be living in the New Dark Age. Given that it will also be 4-8 °C warmer than before the Industrial Revolution, some gallows-humoured wits might call it the Hades Age, although there’s likely to be a rather significant loss of culture so many might just call it unbearably hot for a mammal (or thing with hair…). If you’re really lucky you might live in an enclave of privileged people whose ancestors used their wealth to quarantine their descendants, but for most it’s quite likely that they’ll live and die in the manner of peasants. Some will not be even that lucky.

          9) If you live in the Third World you can probably move forward by one step a lot of the conditions described above.

          10) Similarly, if you work in a (non-mineral) primary industry you could probably move forward your experiences by half a step to perhaps a full step, and there may be some addition from (9) if you are also in the Third World, although it’s not likely to be a complete, direct addition.

        • J Giddeon says:

          wow, you chaps all read from the same song don’t you?

          To cover the main issue. AR5 makes lots of guesses about the future temps based upon differing scenarios. These ranges are anomalies as again 1986-2005 and, for the period 2081-2100 range from 0.3c to 4.8c. Do you in all seriousness believe that there isn’t such a difference between those that there isn’t a need to give them differing designations? Are you so terrified by all the scare stories that you really think that we ought to be equally scared of a 1c rise as a 4c rise?

          That’s what CAGW does. It differentiates between who-cares GW and we’d-better-do-something GW. I understand that some don’t want that differentiation to be made because they want the mitigation irrespective of the problem. But you earnest chaps aren’t like that are you.

          JB- if you’re just gunna regurgitate RationalWiki can you just give the link so that I don’t need to read half of it to work out its not worth reading. I’ll do you the courtesy of reading your own thoughts but not the propaganda of others.

          Bernard – I really don’t know what to say to someone who so lacks imagination and historical perspective as to think that the people of the 24th century will be clueless as to how to fix whatever CO2 issues they may face.

          Toby – it takes a certain type of immaturity to assume that anyone who doesn’t agree with you just doesn’t know as much as you. Its a constant theme here that if only those evil deniers just read a bit more then they’d see the truth. I find it juvenile in the extreme. To answer your questions (1) probably never but if so, around 2075 (2) 550 +/- 20 (3) presume you meant TCR …1.3c (4) 2c (5) never – there won’t be an equilibrium point.(6)minimal to beneficial

        • Bernard J. says:

          Bernard – I really don’t know what to say to someone who so lacks imagination and historical perspective as to think that the people of the 24th century will be clueless as to how to fix whatever CO2 issues they may face.

          I have a very good grounding in both history and the lessons therein, and of scientific progress and the limitations thereof. It’s thermodynamics, she’s a bitch, and as much as I love science fiction I have a pretty good idea where the possible ends and where fantasy begins.

          Reality has asymptotes.

        • john byatt says:

          best estimate warming 2100 is 4DegC without strong mitigation

          we will hit 1DegC very likely before 2020 , possibly 2015 (put your bets on)

          why give you links when you do not read them as proven time and time again

        • J Giddeon says:

          1c by 2015? I’m guessing you’re talking about 1c from 1850 not 1c from 1986-2005.And using GISS. LOL

          If you’re not gunna use links then at least use quotes (” “) rather than pretend they are your words.

        • john byatt says:

          prepare for a 3 to 4 degree warmer world

          http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/09/the-new-ipcc-climate-report/

          What is new is that IPCC has also studied climate mitigation scenarios. The blue RCP2.6 is such a scenario with strong emissions reduction. With this scenario global warming can be stopped below 2 ° C.

          A large part of the warming will be irreversible: from the point where emissions have dropped to zero, global temperature will remain almost constant for centuries at the elevated level reached by that time. (This is why the climate problem in my opinion is a classic case for the precautionary principle.)

          and you want to include the outcomes for strong action to reduce emissions

        • john byatt says:

          I think that giddeon is of the tisdale thinking on this

          Bob Tisdale says ”
          January 26, 2014 at 4:59 am
          markstoval says: “One question. Why is there not some agreed upon method or rule for choosing the base period? I always get the feeling that there is bias in the choice of the baseline period no matter who picks it.”
          You’d have ask the three suppliers.

          But the other question is, why aren’t they using 1981 to 2010 for base years as requested by the WMO? The answer to that is obvious: the anomalies wouldn’t look so high using the most recent 30-year window (ending on a multiple of 10). It’s all a matter of perspective.

          one says bias in the baseline and the other
          “the anomalies would not look so high”, that is about as stupid as two can get

        • Toby Thaler says:

          I don’t know if you’re still trolling JG: You answered my questions: “Toby – it takes a certain type of immaturity to assume that anyone who doesn’t agree with you just doesn’t know as much as you. Its a constant theme here that if only those evil deniers just read a bit more then they’d see the truth. I find it juvenile in the extreme. To answer your questions (1) probably never but if so, around 2075 (2) 550 +/- 20 (3) presume you meant TCR …1.3c (4) 2c (5) never – there won’t be an equilibrium point.(6)minimal to beneficial”

          Wow. It takes a certain type of arrogance to not realize how ignorant you really are. I believe Dunning-Kruger fits. My criticism of your position has nothing to do with lack of “agreement,” it has to do with looking at the best available data and making a cogent argument in support of a particular conclusion or range of answers based on it. I’ll bet you didn’t do a lick of research or read a single thing I suggested since you clearly don’t have a grasp of even the most fundamental data sets.

          I won’t bother with your facile responses 1 to 5 (although your answers to 4 and 5 are mutually contradictory), but the answer to 6 is so far off as to be almost humorous. You should talk to the oyster growers in the Pacific NW U.S. to see how “beneficial” the souring of the sea has been to date.

          You may call me immature all you want, but the fact is you are a flat out idiot. Not evil, just stupid. (Well, a touch or consequence of evil under Arendt’s thesis.)

        • J Giddeon says:

          Well Toby, lots of vitriol there but not a single piece of data to refute what I say. But then you don’t really need to do that do you, since it obvious that if I think differently to you it means I’m either stupid or not as well informed.

          You see, saying that “your answers to 4 and 5 are mutually contradictory” simply suggests to me that you’ve done all the requisite reading (as required by RC or whatever) have absorbed the various memes but haven’t done any of the independent thinking that might allow you to see why there is no contradiction in those answers.
          .

        • Toby Thaler says:

          Hey, you called me immature; I’m calling you an idiot. I don’t take your insult as vitriol and meant to offer none in return. It’s a simple statement of my opinion regarding your mental abilities. I’ve gotten into lengthly “debates” with deniers over the years, and I’ve stopped being polite after about the second stupid post. I cited you to specific factual evidence regarding impacts of GHGs on ocean resources and you did not respond to it. Why should I waste more time on you when you obviously haven’t even read the opening paragraph (or if you have it bounced right off your consciousness because you made no effort to contradict it other than “minimal to beneficial”).

          As I said, I don’t give a rip if you “think differently” but if you can’t put up data and analysis to support your fringe opinions, why should I think you’re anything other than an idiot, a time wasting troll, or both? E.g., if you can put three coherent sentences together with references explaining how “there is no contradiction in those answers [4 and 5],” I’ll consider your argument and evidence. Otherwise, why should I bother dealing with you except for the amusement of eliciting idiotic statements from another dedicated denier?

          BTW, I read far more than RealClimate. I work in the field of climate adaptation as a legal and policy analyst; AGW impacts are clearly evident all over the world. Most stark and obvious perhaps are the changes occurring in the Arctic. I read extensively in the peer reviewed literature and the press as well as the blogs in numerous areas of climate science and natural resource management. Including studies and analyses by many climate scientists, insurance industry analysts, economists, and others. What are your credentials to give an opinion on AGW and its impacts?

        • john byatt says:

          “it takes a certain type of immaturity to assume that anyone who doesn’t agree with you just doesn’t know as much as you”

          lol

        • john byatt says:

          this is standard practice for giddeon toby, he just hopes no one notices.

        • Bernard J. says:

          …if you can’t put up data and analysis to support your fringe opinions, why should I think you’re anything other than an idiot, a time wasting troll, or both?

          Go on J Giddeon, answer Toby’s very to-the-point question.

          And whilst you’re at it perhaps you can explain to him and to us why your credentials (remind us again what they are…) trump his bona fides.

          Or will you continue to be all grunt and no push, making claims but not supporting them with testable, referenced evidence?

          Here’s a challenge for you – what fundamental tenet of the physics of climatology have you successfully upheld on WtD, such that you have refuted the consensus scientific opinion on the fact of and serious implications of human-caused global warming?

          Go on – tell what is your proudest moment.

  7. J Giddeon says:

    Mike,

    You referred to culture several times in the post eg”Musing upon this I was struck by the thought we may be looking at a tradition within our culture that goes back centuries. At moments of crisis in history this tradition can exert a strange and powerful influence.”

    Just wondering if you could elaborate on what you mean “culture” eg Australian culture or Anglo culture or western civilisation or human culture in general.
    I suspect this might be important as you get into your project.

    • john byatt says:

      good grief , the things that pop from the fundamentalist brain

      https://theconversation.com/ipcc-report-will-make-no-difference-in-culture-of-denial-18588

    • Nick says:

      “…within our culture that goes back centuries”…..Sounds like human political culture to me. Does it matter where? Power groups exploit paranoic reaction within the tribe and without, divide and rule is fundamental from the tribal unit. Look at Abbott’s wretched ‘progress’.

      Abbott’s mob are primals. Lord of the Flies kids. There is a war on everything, some social groups are selected for demonisation, others are idolised as exemplars. Everyone’s values are questioned. Tony couldn’t wait to get back for Orstraylya Day from Davos after avoiding the theme of that meeting at every opportunity.

      Sportsmen, soldiers and blue ties are in. ‘Greenies’, unionised labour, latte-sippers and boat people are out. The National Commission of Audit includes no respectful inclusive spread of stakeholders, it’s just aging businessmen and conservative ex-politicians.: so conservative businessmen are in, everybody else can go jump.

      While the ethnic lines that fed social tension have faded in some countries, the wealth /socialisation of wealth divide is played constantly. “The politics of resentment”…”The carbon tax is socialism masquerading as environmentalism”…Abbott’s hypocritical questioning of the motivation of climate change realists, positing that they are really in it for the politics.

      Face it, Abbott’s every move is divisive. His hackles are permanently raised. When he can’t point the finger he has nothing to say. The man is quite ill.

      • J Giddeon says:

        ““…within our culture that goes back centuries”…..Sounds like human political culture to me. ”

        Yes, but then Mike refers to the French Revolution. Which is why I thought he might be talking about western culture. Let him advise.

        As to the rest of your post, I’m getting the impression you don’t like our PM.

        • Nick says:

          Bingo!

        • john byatt says:

          sounded more like the conspiracy theories to me

          but i did not just look at seven words out of context

          “How could it be these same myths continue to hold power decade after decade despite the lack of “evidence” for such conspiracies?
          Musing upon this I was struck by the thought we may be looking at a tradition within our culture that goes back centuries.”

        • Nick says:

          Giddeon is invited to analyse our PM’s tactics. Take off your fan boy hat, and just look at his process, key words, style and venues.

        • J Giddeon says:

          I’m not overly concerned about tactics Nick. Its results I’m concerned with. I know that for many people seeming is more important than doing but that isn’t universal.

          For example, seeming to be compassionate toward illegal immigrants was seen as being very important to the previous government and its adoring fans. But that seeming compassion led to up to 1000 deaths. As SH-Y said, accidents happened and those deaths were just collateral damage in the fight to seem compassionate.

          Now we have a government that isn’t so concerned about how compassionate it seems to others. Despite being told by the ALP/ABC that stopping the boats was just a slogan, they are indeed stopped or at least dramatically slowed. So this government, so lacking in compassion, is saving lives.

          The tactics might look distasteful to those more concerned with seeming. But success is a life-saver.

        • Nick says:

          The previous government started out with a commitment to transparency and honoring its refugee agreements. People were fleeing war zones in Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Labor did not seek to delegitimise refugees, and they had no responsibility for the unsafe practises of refugees and smugglers

          They caved in to pressure as News Ltd and the COALition relentlessly played up xenophobic reaction and shed crocodile tears over deaths at sea. Rudd ‘stopped’ the boats with his decisions of July last, as well it’s monsoon time and the COALition are reaping the ‘benefits’, while playing up their legitimacy and nationalism relentlessly, flag-waving and cosying up to the military….and shamelessly exaggerating the significance of the whole issue to justify their paranoic information control. We are at ‘war’, probably because a sporting analogy is not available in this case…it’s all soldiers and sportsmen nowadays. That’s what Tony thinks you want, and that’s what you get, chump.

  8. Nick says:

    Abbott: the ABC ‘takes everyone’s side but Australia’s’….how obliging of Tones to make your point, Mike.

  9. Eric Hofer in his book The True Believer wrote that the most difficult thing for a true believer was to move to the middle. True Believers find it easier to flip from one end of the continuum to the other (Communist to Fascist, atheist to evangelical) than to the moderate or reasonable. In a perverse way, getting a denier to flip would be a good thing.

    Samuel Scheffler’s Death and the Afterlife, reviewed by Thomas Nagel in the New York Review (9 January, 2014) has useful discussions that might be useful, especially his use of counterfactual thought-experiments. Nagel describes two doomsday scenarios that I’ve used in what passes as discussions with deniers.

  10. Steve says:

    Good luck with your project. I look forward to your posts about it and to eventually reading “Age of Paranoia”.
    I’m sure your long essay (or short book) will be more important to the world than any of the 20 or so ebooks I’ve published.

  11. Bernard J. says:

    I too have been saying for a couple of years now that it’s too late to salvage a benign climate outcome. 2-3 °C is virtually certain (barring imminent pandemic or global nuclear conflagration) and there’s enough coal to take us to 4 °C, and quite possibly to 6+ °C over pre-Industrial – by which time it will be all over Red Rover for humans as the dominant (and possibly as an extant) species.

    I remain unconvinced however that adaptation as a primary strategy will work. Without mitigation, however late, most adaptation strategies will be exercises in painting over rust, or chasing the tail, and will represent ongoing sinks of money/energy to keep up. To have any hope of serious impact adaptation will have to follow mitigation, no matter how late the latter is, otherwise adaptation will simply delay the inevitable for a few years, and likely only for the wealthiest 20% or so.

    I’m all for cataloging, however, the principle perpetrators of the planet’s downfall. I suggested on Hot Whopper that there was a bit of a niche for someone to identify those such as Tony Abbott who have had a profoundly disproportionate effect on the progress – or rather, the lack thereof – of humans to show responsibility for the planet and for the future. Perhaps one day some of them at least might be held to account for their abrogation of duty and of human decency.

    I also think that it’s important to distinguish between paranoia and pure, simple, overweening selfishness. There’s a lot of the latter about, and there’s also a lot of demonstration of Grey’s Law: “Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice”.

    • john byatt says:

      I think that the action will come but it will be action borne of panic rather than an orderly withdrawal

    • J Giddeon says:

      “adaptation..will represent ongoing sinks of money/energy to keep up. ”

      It needs to be remembered that nations and people will be very much wealthier (in real terms) later this century than even the wealthiest nations now and therefore much more able to pay for adaptation.Technology will also have advanced dramatically.

      This isn’t a hard concept since even the fools that bought you Windows 8 can understand it.

      By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world. (I mean by our current definition of poor.)

      • john byatt says:

        obviously you only have 640k of RAM on your computer then?

        http://rt.com/news/wealthy-rich-85-billion-879/

        • john byatt says:

          Bob Hawke ” by 1990 no australian child will be living poverty”

          http://www.acoss.org.au/policy/poverty/

          2,265,000 people (12.8%) were living below the poverty line
          575,000 children or 17.3% were living below the poverty line
          63% of people in unemployed households were below the poverty line
          25% of people in lone parent households were below the 50% poverty line
          37% of people in households whose main income was social security were living below the poverty line.

          you are playing with those two dicks again

        • J Giddeon says:

          JB you’ve so badly missed the point here that I don’t know where to begin …so I won’t.
          But just a clue – I was talking about changes in national wealth of poor nations over time.
          Just on the poverty line, do you know that the real purchasing power of those on the poverty line has increased by over 75% in 1974? So in Australia the rich are getting richer and so are the poor. This is also true internationally.

          http://melbourneinstitute.com/downloads/publications/Poverty%20Lines/Poverty-lines-Australia-Sept-2013.pdf

        • john byatt says:

          we are talking about people living below the poverty line and his link is to those living just on that line not under it

          2,265,000 people (12.8%) were living below the poverty line 2012

          note the word below

        • J Giddeon says:

          1. No you were talking about people and the now. I was talking about countries and trends over time.

          2. Its rather difficult to know how many people are above or below a particular line when you don’t know what the line is. Hence my link. It also shows the change in the line over time which of coarse, you’ll ignore.

          3. I find that the majority of people who use the poverty line don’t understand how its calculated and what it means. By one measure, those on the poverty line in Australia are among the top 25% or all peoples world-wide in purchasing power.

        • john byatt says:

          it is 2013 and 2,265,000 australians live below the poverty line and you claim that poverty will be just about gone globally in just over twenty years,, helps you sleep at night i suspect,

        • john byatt says:

          hint, countries are people

        • J Giddeon says:

          See you just don’t understand. Poverty is a relative thing. People considered poor in Australia would be quite wealthy in most parts of the world. The very method by which we calculate the poverty line means there will always be people below it in australia irrespective of how wealthy we become. Equally there will always be countries that are poor relative to other countries.

          But relative poverty is different to absolute poverty. And that’s what I was saying and what Gatts was saying. Did you even read the Gatts article because its not really controversial except perhaps as to timing. He’s saying that in 20 yrs the nations which we now consider to be poor will be as wealthy then as the nations we now consider to be middle income nations. To be sure those middle income nations will have also increased their wealth and so the difference in income may not change ie the relative poverty might be the same but the absolute poverty will have been reduced.

          eg nation A is poor and has a per capita GDP of ‘y’.
          nation B is middle income and has a per capita GDP of ‘2y’
          In 20 years the per capita GDP for nation A is ‘2y’ and the per capita GDP of nation B is ‘3.3y.’ Nation A is still poor in relation to B but in absolute terms is level of poverty has declined

          I don’t know how else to explain it to you. Its a pretty standard economic maxim. But I suspect that if you don’t want it to be true, then you won’t get it.

        • john byatt says:

          so he jumps from poverty as we know it the

          2,265,000 people (12.8%) were living below the poverty line 2012 in australia

          to No not those people living below the poverty line, they are not really living in poverty possibly now referring to the one billion people suffering malnutrition only because of their poverty, if they are not suffering malnutrition they are not living in poverty it seems

          yet completle ignores the research on what climate change impacts will have on malnutrition

          Bill Gatts (sic) is wrong and if you now want to only talk about malnutrition rather than below the poverty line then the current one billion people suffering malnutrition will triple by 2050 without climate change action/

      • Nick says:

        This is pretty funny. Gids is making projections on behalf of business-as-usual billionaires who are presiding over an ever-greater global community inequity.

        We apparently have to ‘remember’ that an unrealistic Cornucopian ‘model’ of the economic future is a sure thing…..

        Wealthier ‘in real terms’, I doubt. Only incomplete, inadequate accounting concepts allows such a conceit.

        On mitigation v. adaption, isn’t it obvious that mitigation IS part of adaption? I’ve never understood how anyone can ‘reason’ these two actions apart, except for reasons of posturing.

        • J Giddeon says:

          So these people who think that a rising temprature trend line over the last century is vitally important, dismiss a vastly more impressive and significantly better understood rising world GDP (per cap) trend line over the last 2 centuries.

          I explained this a while back and no one demurred so I thought it was understood. But perhaps it was unwanted information and therefore ignored.

          Forecasts for future temps are based on forecasts for future CO2 levels which are based on forecasts for future economic activity. If it turns out that the forecasts for future economic growth fail because there is a flaw in the model( that hasn’t occurred in the past 200yrs) then the feed through will be lower CO2 levels and therefore lower temp increases.

          Double-think may allow you to believe that emissions will increase while economic activity will decrease because of your imagined fundamental flaw in liberal capitalism but the real world doesn’t pay much attention to double-think.

        • john byatt says:

          you are too dumb to even know how dumb you are

          http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/news/2009/greenhousegas_index_2008.html

        • Nick says:

          Indeed ACO2 emission scenarios are dependent on economic activity….to a point. But let’s not be too simplistic,eh? It’s not realistic to say that declining global real economic output must equal lower ACO2 output.

          As FFs get more difficult [energy expensive/ energy intensive] to extract and energy use rises as we apparently insist [more consumers], ACO2 output rises even with efficiency savings. Even if economic activity is static, or declining, and consumers energy use declines, that fuel that is used is more energy expensive per unit. Ya know…things like pumping harder for less, requiring more water/fracking fluids per unit, coal to liquids processes, etc. are examples of declining EROEI. We have picked the low hanging fruit…. More FF spent on getting the remaining FF equals more ACO2, so you better hope for increasing efficiency and more renewables -solar,wind and tidal- power to try and counter the filthiness of every next unit of FF derived energy

          In the cosy accounting of our time what energy is left over from these increasingly desperate scratchings is more valuable, thus apparently we maintain or increase wealth. Even while energy becomes harder to win. Is that wealth going to lift all boats without redistributive reforms, or will it stay in the hands of the energy conglomerates and their shareholders, who we see posting larger and larger profits already…and no wonder they don’t want to give up FFs in these times of apparent abundance but real shortage.

          Gids projection confidence is based on ‘it’s happened so far , so it will keep happening’ regardless of what the fundamentals might say.

          And there is another issue in carbon sinks: will oceanic and terrestrial sinks stay as successful as they are presently? Will we stay lucky? And how’s that methane mobilising?

        • J Giddeon says:

          What you say is historically inaccurate. The fact is that, as we become wealthier, we also become much more efficient at energy use. The critical number here is primary energy intensity.which basically calculates the amount of energy required to produce one unit of GDP. Both across time and across nations energy efficiency has been increasing for as long as its been accurately measured. Its another one of those firm trends that show no sign of changing despite what you hope.

          “In all world regions, except The Middle East, the amount of energy used
          per unit GDP (“primary intensity”) is decreasing steadily since 1990
          (1.4%/year on average at world level), with an acceleration in all regions
          since 2004 due to oil price increase.
          Countries or regions with the highest primary intensity in 1990 experience
          the largest reduction (China, CEI, India)”

          “Almost 70% of the countries in the world (113 countries) have decreased their
          primary energy intensity since 1990:
          •80 countries (around 50%) by more than 1%/year,
          •30 countries (20%) have experienced a rapid decrease above 3%/year”

          http://www.worldenergy.org/documents/wec_indicators_tunisia.pdf

        • john byatt says:

          we hit record CO2 emissions last year, that is the problem not however it compares to GDP

          emissions are tied to population growth,

          do you even understand the BAU scenario ?

        • J Giddeon says:

          “emissions are tied to population growth,”

          Oh, so Ivory Coast’s emissions must be at a similar level to ours and growing faster!

        • Nick says:

          I have acknowledged efficiency as a factor in energy end use trends, Gids. But efficiency gains cannot be presumed to be

          The fact is that, as we become wealthier, we also become much more efficient at energy use.

          Simplistic again. Wealthier people also consume more energy per capita. There are several billion folks to climb the energy ladder from extremely low levels of personal energy use, and no matter the efficiency of their new structures, tools and toys, they are using more than formerly and they are obtaining goods with high embodied energy cost. While this energy is FF sourced, up goes CO2.

          Moreover, what you seem to think is that efficiency in use is sufficient to counteract total FF access and consumptions negatives. In very simple terms, the extraction of FF resources is in places becoming less efficient as we move on to less energy intense reserves in smaller fields in less accessible substrates at greater depths.

          Your link shows that while energy intensity has risen admirably in many countries, primary energy consumption has risen about 25% in the term covered 1990-2008. A lot of current and developing prospects are going to have poor EROEI compared with the prospects fueling that period’s economic activity, but we want to maintain output! So efficiency gains will be subject to yet greater erosion.

        • john byatt says:

          pardon me for even thinking that you might read a link

          NOAA

          “�Atmospheric CO2 growth is best reflected by the world population trend,� said Hofmann. �The two have tracked each other extremely well over the past century. A break in the close relation between population growth and CO2 growth would be a clear sign of progress in the inevitable need to limit atmospheric CO2.�

        • J Giddeon says:

          JB, correlation doesn’t prove causation. Its an absolutely fundamental concept. You ought to learn it.

          Sure population and CO2 have risen together. But then population and world GDP have risen to together. And CO2 has risen with GDP. and it seems that CO2 levels have risen with my age. Maybe it the birthday candles causing it all.

        • J Giddeon says:

          Nick,

          You’re going around in circles. Nowhere have I suggested that CO2 levels won’t continue to rise with rising GDP. (Well at least for the next 20 yrs – after that I have a different view). But you were saying that they would continue to rise even if GDP growth faltered because, in your view, it would be more expensive and energy intensive to get the same level of energy out of current resources. It was that silliness that I was disputing by talking about energy efficiency.

        • Toby Thaler says:

          J Giddeon, whoever you are: I don’t know why Nick wastes time arguing with you. I would suggest that before you pontificate on energy efficiency you read up on i = p * a * t, then study energy issues starting with Odum’s work (put him into scholar.google as author and read the what shows up along with later work citing him), and finishing with recent work on macroecology (search term in scholar). You really don’t know what you’re talking about.

        • Nick says:

          Gids, you don’t get it.

          in your view, it would be more expensive and energy intensive to get the same level of energy out of current resources.

          This is not some view or even my view, it’s a simple reality. As reserves decline, you have to do more work to win the remainder. New prospects are smaller than the old ones, or have a more diffuse nature [shale, oil sands….poorer EROEI. At some point the energy devoted to winning more energy becomes sufficient to be a drag on the real economy. There are limits to growth even for a virtuality like the human economic concept

          Apparently, that’s ‘silliness’

  12. Patrick Hockey says:

    Theorising the role of skepticism is one way to deal with the frustration. In practice, the skeptics are few in number. The apathetic are in the majority. A case in point: Despite an appeal in the national press by the Greens and an underground campaign by others, the senate inquiry into Abbott’s Action Plan attracted less than 100 submissions (to date). One could counter that this is because it is seen to be an ineffective form of protest, but of course this is only the case when so few express an interest (the chicken or the egg). It wasn’t the skeptics that derailed the inquiry’s effectiveness, it was the absent informed types.

  13. J Giddeon says:

    While it doesn’t always pay to be in the vanguard, I think that being an early mover on accepting the victory of the sceptics is wise. I suspect its going to get very ugly for the holdouts in the next half-decade. It seems to me that quite a number of scientists are looking for the exit signs.

    There are but two course of action before us:

    understanding the causes of this looming catastrophe
    preparing for a hotter, harsher and more uncertain world.

    So maybe a crash coarse in Lomborg would be in order since he reached that view (that mitigation was the right course) a decade ago.

    In several places above you mention culture as being part of the reason why the populace failed to heed the warnings of their betters. In context I took it to mean ‘our’ culture (the anglosphere so to speak), but I’m wondering whether you meant something broader such as western civilisation or human culture in general. The reason being that, if you seek to finger culture with part of the blame, then it would need to explain why alarmism failed in all cultures, not just the anglosphere.

    One final point. If you seek to offer a bi-partisan appraisal, it would probably be detrimental to target that subset of the sceptic movement who talk about conspiracies while at the same time alluding to conspiracies by the fossil fuel industry. Just saying…

    • john byatt says:

      Lomborg? well if SLR will only be about 12 inches by 2100 and the temperature rise only about 1.5DegC then he probably has a point,

      he has conned you however but that would be easy

      http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Bj%C3%B8rn_Lomborg

    • Dr No says:

      “…while at the same time alluding to conspiracies by the fossil fuel industry.”

      Yes – it would be good to distinguish between the imagined phantom conspiracies and those that are demonstrably real. Just saying…

      • J Giddeon says:

        Thanks for that , Doc. I made a little bet with myself (the stake was my wife’s virginity :) ) that at least one of the brethren here would attempt to make that false dichotomy.

        • Nick says:

          What ‘false dichotomy’? As usual your need for attention overwhelms your brain. Surely you can’t seriously try to disappear the public spectacle of industry lobbying as just crazy talk?

          The FF industry is in the business of lobbying the legislature for favorable outcomes, and is a documented funder of astroturf efforts.

          It’s no secret, and it is no secret conspiracy. It’s often on the public record. They’re just doing what big money always does. They are more intent than ever on hiding their direct involvement nowadays, using hands-off funding vehicles like Donors Trust , and fake educationals like the GWPF. And the IPA.

          Contrast that with the crazed accusations over the decades from your fellow rejectionists. The ‘research gravy train’ conspiracy meme, the ‘temperature record nefarious adjustment’ conspiracy meme which has played out in many countries, the ‘green lobby meme’, AlGoreIsFat and conspiring, ‘peer-review is rigged’ to conspire against bedroom scientist Galileos everywhere…these are conspiratorial brain-farts on endless repeat amongst you paranoics.

          It seems to me that quite a number of scientists are looking for the exit signs.

          So name the issues, the number and the names. Go on, make a case for once in your life.

        • Gregory T says:

          Nick, you have realise that your probably dealing with a man, who going by the words and phrases he uses, more then likely has reached the end of his productive life and is living in fear that that pension or super he accumulated will not survive the measures necessary to mitigate what Science is telling us is inevitable. He’s so frantic, that he is unable to maintain a constant train of thought and bring a subject to a rational conclusion, instead jumping to something else when cornered and avoiding answering to or linking statements, which he professes to be of scientific merit. Now I can appreciate the fear that he lives in, after probably being told all his life, “you’ll be fine”, “the system works”, to come to the point that the only thing you can say to yourself is “it’s not true, it’s not true, please God say it’s not true”, but if it is true, save me, f**k the rest”. Of course, this IMHO.

        • Nick says:

          You’re right, GT, he’s quite undone by panic.

        • J Giddeon says:

          Yes I’m panicking :)

          For the better part of 20 yrs I’ve been saying the CAGW scare wouldn’t last and now its come to pass. We have a reasonable govt in place in Aust and the whole world is retreating from whatever silly CO2 promises they had previously made Share=market up, AUD down.

          The only reason I’d panic (if I was that type) would be if I thought it couldn’t last.

        • Nick says:

          It seems to me that quite a number of scientists are looking for the exit signs.

          Yep, still waiting for you to flesh that one out. And the ‘false dichotomy’ hilarity…

          We have a reasonable govt in place in Aust

          They are hopeless, except at bullying. They’re very ‘reasonable’ at bullying and starting wars on everything. They’re top notch comedians.

        • john byatt says:

          “For the better part of 20 yrs I’ve been saying the CAGW scare wouldn’t last ”

          you reveal a lot about yourself with that comment

        • Gregory T says:

          “Share=market up, AUD down.”

          This is the latest in Gidd’s arsenal against AGW. Talk about desperate. But, you know, when you’ve got your whole future riding on the promises of the 1%, you got to feel elated when that bastion of world environmental balance does it’s little dance and sucks you in a little bit further, but don’t worry Gidd’s, if it gets to hot, there’ll be a cold refreshing kool-aid, complements of the chosen ones, waiting to help your body adapt. In the meantime, remember, “F**k the rest”

        • J Giddeon says:

          “This is the latest in Gidd’s arsenal against AGW’

          That’s utterly wrong GT revealing either woeful comprehension skills or a total lack of honesty.
          You posited that I was in a panic over my financial position. I was pointing out why the situation is the exact opposite. Nothing to do with AGW. Finding it difficult to follow the conversation or just dishonest?

          And you’re the one who asserted that I can’t “maintain a constant train of thought”

        • Nick says:

          You wouldn’t be fighting science with your feeble rhetoric if you weren’t in a panic.

    • J Giddeon says:

      oops “(that mitigation was the right course)” should be “(that adaptation was the right course)”

      ie Lomborg he reached that view (that adaptation was the right course) a decade ago.

  14. jasonblog says:

    Congratulations on the direction you are heading with WTD.

    I think for a great many people last year was one of dismay that turned to despair due to the sheer disbelief of what was happening politically.

    I have a feeling you are onto something significant and that people are looking for something of depth & something removed from the argy-bargy BS of climate science denial.

    At the end of last year I caught up with some friends & made the comment that I had found 2013 to be extremely angst ridden & I made the resolution that a person can provide as much evidence as possible to support an argument but if people don’t want to listen then they won’t. I decided that it would be best for me to focus on how I’m going to adapt to climate change over the next 40 or so years that remain of my life rather than feel physically ill because of the ignorance of others.

    I look forward to watching how your work this year unfolds.

  15. Toby Thaler says:

    Please add macroecology to your research. I think it explains a lot of the what (not necessarily the why) of our current situation. Resource limits (such as peak oil) may yet put a stop to our cancerous growth and thus moderate AGW impacts later this century. Great paper here: http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.1001345 “The Macroecology of Sustainability” Buger et al. 2012.

    • Toby Thaler says:

      Burger, not Buger…

      • john byatt says:

        it will take a long time to reach earth system sensitivity but paleoclimate evidence is that we have already gone beyond the atmospheric CO2 level that would eventually take us to 3 or 4 degrees C above PI, whatever global temperature we manage to reach this century will remain for thousands of years.

        the very minimum is getting back below 390 as quickly as possible, do people even understand the 450ppm/2DegC link we here about? Not what most believe, it is not explained well enough

        • Toby Thaler says:

          “a long time to reach earth system sensitivity” — Are you referring to “equilibrium climate sensitivity” and how long it takes to arrive at the new state once excess radiative forcings are halted?

        • john byatt says:

          A less commonly used concept, the Earth system sensitivity (ESS), can be defined which includes the effects of slower feedbacks, such as the albedo change from melting the large ice sheets that covered much of the northern hemisphere during the last glacial maximum. These extra feedbacks make the ESS larger than the ECS — possibly twice as large — but also mean that it may well not apply to current conditions

          see hansen and sato 2011

        • john byatt says:

          discussion @ RC

          http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/04/target-co2/

          “So what does this mean for the future? In the short term, not much. Even if this is all correct, these effects are for eventual changes – that might take centuries or millennia to realise. However, even with the (substantial) uncertainties in the calculations and underlying assumptions, the conclusion that the Earth System sensitivity is greater than the Charney sensitivity is probably robust. And that is a concern for any policy based on a stabilization scenario significantly above where we are now.

  16. john byatt says:

    Jared Diamond, “constructive paranoia” is a survival trait. being afraid of a non-existing danger rather than to walk into a trap has served us well as a species.

    paranoia was an asset in the dangerous world of hunters and gatherers

    So exploiting our genetic paranoia is an easy way to to manipulate people’s minds

    Abbott is currently doing this in his “stop the boats” WAR

    The paranoid mindset is probably the main factor that is generating denial in the popular debate on climate change.

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