Climate realism: Tallbloke style

Posted: December 28, 2011 by tallbloke in atmosphere, Carbon cycle, climate, flames, Geomagnetism, Ice ages, Incompetence, Kindness, media, Ocean dynamics, Philosophy, Politics, solar system dynamics

Most of the heavy lifting regarding the maintenance of the atmospheric balance is done by the tiny aerobic organisms and flora  which collectively outweigh the human population and the fossil fuel it digs up by many orders of magnitude. They have been around several billions of years and are not going away anytime soon.

Various disasters have befallen the atmosphere in the deep past. None of them made the planet uninhabitable. When magnetic reversals occurred, large amounts of the atmosphere were lost to space, ripped away by the solar wind. When a mutant strain of algae proliferated, it starved the rest of the flora of much needed plant food gas (AKA co2), as in the Azolla Event. This lowered the atmospheric humidity and that made things colder.

We are currently in an interglacial during an ice age which has lasted millions of years. looking at the geological timescales of hundreds of millions of years, Earth’s surface spends most of it’s time up around 20C rather then the current ~14C. We may be about to plunge into the next glacial, going on the Milankovitch astronomical cycles and the past couple of millions of years of history. Or we may be at the end of the current ice ages and about to return to 20C. Nobody knows. The natural forces involved make anthropogenic co2 forcing an irrelevance, or even perhaps a minor benefit. Food doesn’t grow on top of a mile of ice.

Ask yourself this: If the cool phase of natural variation has been able to cancel out co2 warming of the atmosphere since the start of the C21st, how much did natural variation during its warm phase  contribute to global warming  at the end of the C20th? Logic tells me: “at least half”. And “at least half” is also a number which describes the natural contribution to the co2 increase. Which means humans are responsible for at most a quarter or  ~0.1C of the late C20th rise in surface temperature globally.

The media loves scare stories, they sell lots of newspapers and gain lots of viewers. Politicians love scare stories too. As H L Mencken put it:

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

From the political point of view, if you can tax the populace for breathing and keeping warm while you regale them with tales of carbon doom, so much the better. Especially if you can contrive a situation where the measures put in place don’t actually reduce co2 emission. That way you get to continue the taxation indefinitely. 287 billion euro of public money wasted propping up the ‘carbon market’. The same money spent on flue management and new boiler systems for generating stations could have reduced European co2 emission by 40%. Where is that money now? Where is the buffer the public purse should be able to provide against economic swings which can wreck the lives of ordinary decent taxpayers?

Hearing stories of pensioners having to burn second hand books from charity shops to prevent hypothermia is getting me angry, because the science doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, and the scientists involved are saying one thing in public, and another in (no longer) private correspondence. The politicians and placemen are willfully whitewashing the malfeasance to try to save their taxation plans in a dodgy economic situation partly brought about by the pouring of public funds down the climate hole. Meanwhile the emergency rooms overflow with broken hipped old folks every time it freezes because your local council believed the hype and didn’t buy the grit. It doesn’t want to spend the money spreading it anyway, so not having it on the pretext of govt scientists like David Viner telling us snow is a thing of the past fits the bill.

In my opinion, it is time for this country to get a grip and stop itself sliding down the slippery slope of Lysenkoism.

  1. tallbloke says:

    Thanks for listening. Now I need a nice cup of tea. 🙂

  2. tallbloke says:

    I notice that even Roger Harrabin of the BBC agrees regarding the Climategate inquiries:

    “I’ve also followed the enquiries into Climategate, and in my view they were all inadequate. So if you were looking on from the outside, from a suspicious viewpoint, you would be continuing to say, ‘There is a scam. They are cheating us. The enquiries haven’t looked into the issue properly’ — because they haven’t.”

    He also says he didn’t find a ‘smoking gun’ in the CG1 emails. I look forward to his CG2 update.

  3. Steve Brown says:

    Spot on matey….

  4. Pete H says:

    Roger, that type of cometary is why I sit in the corner of the pub (on the whole!) nursing my whiskey and keep my mouth shut. Occasionally some fool who has not the slightest scientific idea behind the waste starts off with the CAGW and I slowly unravel and try to gently lead them into the light but education from the Daily Star/Sun, Mail tends to stand in the way of meaningful debate!

    Oh well, 3 foot of snow dumped up on Mt Troodos here in Cyprus in the last two days so I may run the grandson up there tomorrow to see what snow is before he never sees it again! 😉

    Hope your Xmas was nice

  5. tallbloke says:

    Pete, we had a great Christmas as it turns out. Family occasion round at our place for the first time, now we got the house looking good.

    At the moment I’m alone, as the missus has headed north to her family. I’m following on for New Year in a couple of days, leaving a mate house-sitting with his alsation dog. 🙂

    Hence getting ranty. It’s the first chance I’ve had in a week. Lol.

  6. I don’t know if this email has surfaced, at least I have not seen it. Keith Briffa seems to accept that there was a MWP in the Southern Hemisphere and that it was as warm or warmer than now.

    Had a great Xmas down here in Sheffield.

  7. George says:

    I am moving some comments over into this thread at Tallbloke’s suggestion. it has to do with the policy reasons behind the whole AGW scare and was in reply to Tenuc who said “Now we’ve just got to nail the politics behind this scam… :-)”

    What it requires is for various government bureaucracies to “internationalize” their policies, basically putting the policies of the department in “lock step” with UN policy recommendations. In the UK this can be seen with DEFRA “internationalizing” their policies and implementing UNFCCC recommendations as part of their overall policy. The EPA in the US wishes to do this, too and recently made a request to expand their powers in order to implement Agenda 21 of the Rio Declaration — “Sustainable Development”

    What this does is takes the elected representatives of the people in the various countries out of the policy loop. You have unelected bureaucrats at the UN making policy that is immediately adopted by the various agencies of the national governments without any intervening debate by making it the national policy to “internationalize” their policies. So you have the UN, which is not a government and who nobody elected and who are for the most part appointed by third world despots setting the agenda for the people in the rest of the world.

    Now there is a difference between sustainable development and “Sustainable Development”. The former is a concept of leaving future generations a world that can support them and not raping the planet. Fine. The latter is a set of specific policies, many of which are still in the process of being developed, promulgated by the UN.

    The interesting thing about “Sustainable Development” is that it adopts the “Precautionary Principal” which means that scientific uncertainty is not to be a barrier to action and that all that is needed is consensus that there is a plausible risk of something that could have an adverse impact on the environment. That is why words such as “consensus” are important in the language these people use as well as why we see the word “uncertainty” used in the IPCC documents.

    It is basically to have the UN take over the planning commissions, zoning boards, and environmental regulatory agencies of the many nations.

    In other words, the global socialists do an end-run around the national governments using environmental concerns as their mechanism for doing it.

    One of the hallmarks of “Sustainable Development” is the creation of various “corridors” where you build high-density mixed use residential/commercial property and then begin to depopulate more rural or “under-utilized” areas. In the US, this is done by creating zoning requirements that are impossible for the average person to meet so they are eventually pushed off their land. In Los Angeles County, California we have zoning inspection teams that are now canvassing the desert and if they happen across someone living on property that is not connected to the electrical grid or gets their water from a well rather than from a municipal supply, they condemn the housing and tell them they must move. The result of this is depopulating of rural areas and moving people into “habitation zones” except for the very wealthy who can afford a nice home in the countryside. People have been living out there for 100 years and never have we done stuff like this before.

    Interesting, too, that we have this mortgage crisis that has forced many out of their homes just as they are building millions of units of “affordable housing” along these transportation corridors. No need for a car, you won’t be able to afford one anyway (well, the wealthy will, but that’s a different story).

    Some examples:

    Click to access PEK-Pres-broschyr%20eng.pdf

    Sorry to get manic with the links but this is something I have noticed for a while since E.M. Smith posted on it a while back:

    And one just a few minutes ago:

    And there, ladies and gentlemen is your politics behind AGW. It is the enabling mechanism for a global socialist agenda. If you are a socialist, you will have no problem with that. If you are not, you will.

  8. George says:

    Phil Jones is the co-author of a paper that shows the MWP and LIA in the SH:

    Click to access Neukom_et_al_2010.pdf

  9. […] the rest here: Climate realism: Tallbloke style Read […]

  10. George says:

    The key points in my mind are:

    1. As Tisdale has shown, the models have no skill in recreating observed temperatures over time and correlate only in one 30-ish year period where CO2 rate of rise corresponds to rate of temperature rise.

    2. Rate of CO2 increase is linear but rate of increase of human emissions is not linear. Obviously the biosphere (and/or geosphere) is responding with some lag to increase its scrubbing rate of CO2 as emission rates increase. Otherwise the rate of CO2 increase would match the rate of emissions increase.

    3. Rate of CO2 emissions increase is ephemeral. We can not continue this rate of increase. At some point fossil fuels become too valuable a resource for other products to be burned for fuel as they become scarce. We will still need paint, plastic, fabrics and fertilizers and at some point those applications will outweigh the use of fossil fuels for fuel. We just won’t be able to afford to burn it up ( well, we are currently burning up food, so there is room for stupidity in there somewhere).

    4. The moment we stop increasing the rate of fossil fuel emissions, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will start to come down. If we were to simply maintain emissions at today’s rate, the biosphere would catch up and begin to overtake our emitted CO2. Atmospheric CO2 is only rising today because our emissions are increasing faster than the biosphere can increase it scrubbing rate.

    5. At most our CO2 “problem” is one of a century or two then it goes away on its own. Spending hundreds of billions on the issue is simply wasting money. We could probably do just as well by printing 1/100 cent notes in the US and burning them in power plants. Completely “renewable” and probably cheaper. Soot and SO2 issues go away at the same time unless a volcano erupts through an oil/coal field someplace then all bets are off.

  11. Joe's World says:


    It is political suicide to say “we were wrong”.
    Who pays scientists and create these Universities?
    And were do governments get their advice?
    From scientists that they have bought and paid for.

    No one else outside this arena has any brains or expertise to be correct.

  12. George says:

    Joe, its even worse than that. UEA via CRU has great influence on IPCC. IPCC’s assessment is passed to UNFCCC. UNFCCC then issues policy recommendations. Defra then implement these recommendations with the help of UEA via Tyndall Centre in developing the policies themselves. So in that respect UEA creates its own cash stream. There’s real money involved.

  13. Joe's World says:


    Your right.
    It is not about science knowledge being correct or not. It is about how to bleed even more money off of everyone else.
    Many politicians have no clue about science and rely on the IPCC for their information.

  14. Clark says:

    Well I’m here, but I don’t know which comment to repost; I seemed more on topic at Craig’s:

    I suppose I’d do best to answer George, above; yes, it’s a socialist thing. I think that governments should do socialist things. We have markets and business that do capitalist things. It’s best to have both, as they represent the and the acquisitive and the altruistic aspects of human nature. When a resource is abundant, capitalist, growth-orientated behaviours make use of it quickly and efficiently. When a resource is restricted, altruism and sharing help to spread the resource, keeping more of the population productive. So in the present time, with population growing and resources depleting, a general trend towards socialism should be considered healthy for Humanity.

    The above has no bearing on whether those socialist motivations are implemented well or badly, and that matter devolves into thousands of individual arguments of policy and democracy. Democracy is sadly inadequate at present. I think this is partly caused by corruption, but that there is also a problem with scale; government is being forced to expand in the area of global governance, caused by the internationalisation of business and finance. This is new, and democratic mechanisms are as yet lacking.

  15. tchannon says:

    Rog, since I can’t telephone you, that broken landline, the large site header text is unfortunately coming out as part of web search hits hiding the content text. Unless there is a good reason the disclaimer needs moving to somewhere else.
    Oh and sorry about covering this article with a new post but the Talkshop just got first post on a new pdf.

  16. Michael Hart says:

    George, I wouldn’t count on your fourth point coming true:
    “The moment we stop increasing the rate of fossil fuel emissions, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will start to come down.”

    It may continue rising, irrespective, if the oceans are still warming from the last ice age. Some people, however, have suggested that it actually might start coming down if we see a cooling period. For myself, I don’t know. I had trustingly assumed that the carbon-cycle budget calculations were pretty ‘water-tight’. But the more I read, the less I believe even this part of the cAGW argument, especially the atmospheric residence-time of CO2. Here, it seems, you just have to say “isotope ratios” and people believe you.
    What democratic national government would remain in power if they lost 50% of their fiscal budget every year? [I exclude the European Union where the auditors reportedly always refuse to sign-off on the accounts].

  17. orkneylad says:

    Spot-on Tallbloke.

    It is clear that over the last 500 million years the regulatory carbon cycle has operated to balance the relative CO2 levels between the atmosphere, ocean and deposits of carbonate rocks.

    When CO2 reaches a certain level, the carbon cycle will remove excess CO2 by depositing limestones and increased plant growth. After all, the CO2 we are releasing into the atmosphere is not new but recycled. Why should not the carbon cycle react to the increasing levels as it has in the past? I really do not see why it would not.

    Just think of the early Carboniferous when CO2 levels were much higher than today. Huge amounts of Limestone were deposited to remove the excess CO2 and large deposits of coal removed carbon from the atmosphere. Rather than the greenhouse effect taking over, an Ice Age started in the late Carboniferous! In fact compared to other geologic times, the earth’s current atmosphere is CO2 impoverished. Just think of the methane and CO2 levels in the Precambrian. The earth did not heat up and destroy itself, plant activity was stimulated, extracting CO2 and pumping oxygen into the atmosphere.

  18. Don Keiller says:

    Anyone else seen this sickening Government produced AGW propaganda masquerading as teaching material?

    Click to access 3670-2050-schools-toolkit-pdf-version.pdf

    I really do think a legal challenge to this sort of rubbish is long overdue.

    [ post moved from wrong thread — Tim]

  19. tallbloke says:

    Hi Tim,
    Landline is operational again albeit jury rigged pending proper repair by the professionals.
    I’ll sort the text issue out now.

    No probs posting the new thread, well done on the scoop!

  20. tallbloke says:

    Clark: apologies for taking a while to approve your comment. Welcome to the talkshop your posts will be automatically approved now.
    I’ll let George answer for himself. I’ll just say I actually agree with part of what you are saying about checks and balances, and that we haven’t yet come to terms with big scale human self regulation. I’m neither a free marketeer nor a nanny state socialist personally. I believe more in a generally laissez faire sort of system which works because people are sufficiently educated to work out that what’s best for everyone is best for them too.

    Back to education and who gets to set the curriculum I guess…

  21. CanSpeccy says:

    Excellent post. But may I suggest a slight editorial change?

    Re: Ask yourself this: If the cool phase of natural variation has been able to cancel out co2 warming of the atmosphere since the start of the C21st, how much did [it] contribute to global warming during its warm phase at the end of the C20th?

    Change [it] to “natural variation”. Otherwise, the reader may, like me, be thinking “cool phase of natural variation,” which is not what you meant and which is at least momentarily confusing.

    [Reply] Fixed, thanks.= Rog

  22. colliemum says:

    Great rant, tallbloke!

    I find it interesting that our politicians – who, one assumes, would know about political games – have been so overwhelmed by the political games played by the AGW scaremongers and NGOs.
    It is even more interesting that the hard-headed – or so one would assume! – financial experts in business and government have been taken in so completely, for years.
    Nobody is asking about costs, not just in monetary terms but above all in human terms. It would seem that, mentally, this country, from governing elite to pensioners burning books, is not that much different from NK.
    Which would make us here – dissidents.

  23. Aussie says:

    Here in Australia we did our best to not do anything about Kyoto until the population foolishly voted in the ALP to government. This got worse when KRUDD was knifed and we had the situation of a hung parliament after the general election. The %%%%% who is now Prime Minister made a deal with the devil (the watermelons aka the Green Party) so that she had control of the government. It has been a very unholy alliance to say the least.

    We lost in our attempt to prevent the stupidity of introducing a tax on the air that we breathe. Australia is normally hot during summer, but to date the summer has been very cool sprinkled with a couple of hot days where the temperature has not been more than 30C except in West Australia where temperatures have climbed to more than 42C yet still not setting the highest temperature ever record. That belongs to Oodnadatta in January 1960.

    Thanks to the soaring increases in the price of electricity we just went through a horror winter because it was a winter that was very cold, although we did not have snow here in Canberra like we have in some previous years. Canberra is the only place where I have experienced snow in the suburban area. It was bone chilling cold and I was not allowed to run the air conditioner for the whole day. It is a situation that does not help arthritis difficulties.

    The whole thing is an obvious farce. A carbon tax will do nothing to change the climate in Australia. Just like in the UK there have been governments that have believed the hype and failed in their duty of care. The flooding of the Brisbane River because of the overflow from the Wivenhoe Dam is a classical example of people believing the hype and failing to act in a responsible and timely manner to a possible flood scenario. Within the same region, there were lives lost because the council allowed the building over of a spot where two rivers meet. It led to the wall of water or tsunami that cost a lot of lives.

    Unfortunately the warmistas continue with the hype. They have not stopped the gigo at all. The Age newspaper in particular continues with these scaremongering hype. It was obvious a week prior to Durban and it has dropped off again. They keep claiming that events such as bushfires are due to CC when in fact there are other reasons for them – such as people throwing cigarette butts out of car windows or using power tools on a total fire ban day, or simply the work of a firebug. More than 90% of the bushfires that have been started in my lifetime have been deliberately lit, or been the result of carelessness. Yet, we are stuck with a tax on the air that we breathe.

    The push for this tax was about wealth redistribution, except that the redistribution is to countries that have tyrants for leaders.

  24. Clark says:

    My own outlook on global warming: at present what I see looks like a group of scientists endorsed by international political organisations with much backing from mainstream science in general, with a fairly standard looking theory that rising CO2 concentration is a problem that could get very big, versus industrial and commercial lobbyists that try to weaken the new CO2 regulations at every opportunity. Governments proclaim the importance of CO2 restriction for others, but are reluctant to throttle their own economies. Unsurprisingly, pro-CO2 lobbying is most successful where people burn the most hydrocarbons. In the US, for instance, there is the organisation called ALEC:


    On the margins of this there is also a very lively debate on the internet. This debate draws in very diverse arguments whose major uniting features are that the IPCC and action to cut carbon emissions are wrong.

    Personally, I’m prepared to accept the precautionary principle because CO2 production is at the base of the “industrial food chain”; slow that down and the whole thing has to slow. That’d be good, because commerce gained too much power, and they always push for faster and faster; we’re going dangerously fast and need to slow down. If CO2 turns out not to be a problem there will just be something else; at least if we’ve slowed down we might see it coming in time.

  25. Zeke says:

    Clark says, “CO2 production is at the base of the “industrial food chain”; slow that down and the whole thing has to slow. That’d be good, because commerce gained too much power”

    Commerce is what free citizens engage in every day; an attack on commerce is an attack on the citizenry, and the businesses they run.

  26. Zeke says:

    Sorry about using the wrong pronoun.

  27. Doug Proctor says:


    Hope your welcome to the new year is more pleasant than your goodbye to the old! May what you do, think and say continue to (at least) prevent the CAGW foolishness from running free. Common sense may not be a hallmark of human activity, but if good people don’t point out what should be obvious, absurdities, conspiracies and frauds have no bounds. Great work! The energy and dedication are appreciated (and proved by the actions of your/our Punishment Officers in blue).

    As for this blog subject: despite my cynicism of human nature and the nature of politics, I am greatly puzzled by the desire, not just willingness, to throw the money away rather than use it usefully. As you note, the billions spent on foolish subsidizes vis-a-vis the Carbon Market, could more easily and more effectively (politically) be spent on direct-to-voter benefits. If I or many others, had free access to the public purse, I/we would spread it doing Obvious Good Things. But our elected officials don’t. It is very strange.

    And into 2012 (the last 11 months and 21 days of our existence, apparently)!

  28. tallbloke says:

    Clark: “a fairly standard looking theory that rising CO2 concentration is a problem that could get very big”

    Heh. 🙂

    There is no good empirical evidence linking the moderate warming of the late C20th to co2 increase.

    There are gross deficiencies in the climate models acknowledged (in private) by the climatologists themselves.

    There are competing theories which have been suppressed by a stranglehold on journals by the core ‘team’ of scientists conducting the peer review.

    Never mind the politics, lets get the science the whole thing is based on straight!

  29. J Martin says:

    @ colliemum “It is even more interesting that the hard-headed – or so one would assume! – financial experts in business and government have been taken in so completely, for years.”

    They have previous, when it comes to being taken in; Bernie Madoff, and the Sub Prime affair, when the (in the UK at least) banks lost more money than all the profit they had ever made. And both of these despite warnings from a few sources.

    No surprise then that they have been so completely taken in by the co2 lobby, despite the extremely solid evidence against.

    @ clark The precautionary principle is based on an assumption that co2 has a potentially dangerous effect. Increasingly evidence mounts that co2 has very little effect and perhaps no effect. In that case applying the so called precautionary principle could come with a very expensive sting in the tail and result in serious unexpected consequences for mankind.

    The extreme example of this would be carbon capture and burial. It is likely that we are the edge of a decline into the next glaciation (iceage), if the co2 lobby were to be hugely successful at reducing co2, we would enter the iceage with a reduced capacity to grow food, caused both by the cold and the reduction of co2.

    And since atmospheric co2 drops substantially during iceages, (down to 180 ppm during the last one), if the carbon capture people had been too successful, then during the imminent iceage we would run the risk of a reduction to 150 ppm or below, that would be goodbye to pretty well all plant life on planet earth and with it goodbye to all animals including mankind. In other words the near total extinction of all life on planet earth courtesy of the green lobby. The ultimate ironic epitaph.

    I am therefore not a fan of the “precautionary principle”.

  30. tallbloke says:

    Colliemum: “It is even more interesting that the hard-headed – or so one would assume! – financial experts in business and government have been taken in so completely, for years.”

    I’m not so sure they were. They probably just said to the govt policy makers something along the lines of “OK, if you want to go with this stuff, here’s how you need to re-align taxation to make it work. Oh, and we’ll need subsidies for this and that, and some friendly laws to make it possible to erect generating stations which emit low frequency vibrations near peoples homes.”

  31. Clark says:

    Zeke, slowing something down is not the same as attacking it. It’s a matter of balance. One of government’s functions is to control commerce, or unbridled competition can lead to organisations like the mafia.

    Rog Tallbloke, I’m not really going to go into the science of co2 / global warming. I’ve seen enough of these arguments to know that I could get lost forever, following claim and counter-claim. The behaviour of the atmosphere must be exceedingly complicated; I doubt that I could fit a good working picture of it into my mind.

    In the long term, I trust the scientific community to improve their theories; if AGW is all wrong, eventually the scientific consensus will come to reflect that. In the meantime, rationing productive capacity and allocating more to the poorer countries than they could otherwise afford seems like a helpful thing, and we should be ramping back our hydrocarbon production as much as we can because of this graph:

  32. George says:

    I think that governments should do socialist things. We have markets and business that do capitalist things.

    In general, I tend to agree in that we need things such as roads and schools and national defense that benefit all.

    The problem I have is when we have the government regulating the markets and business. Milton Friedman described it as a unholy alliance between the “do-gooders” and the special interests. In this case a special interests lobbies for a regulation that emotionally appeals to people because it is seen as doing some common good when in reality it is benefiting the special interest at the expense of everyone.

    I can give a couple of examples. One is financial regulations. The largest institutions absolutely love greater regulation (which is way you saw huge sums from Goldman Sachs and other large Wall Street banks and legal firms flow into the Obama campaign). These regulations act as a barrier to competition. They prevent new businesses starting up as they add regulatory overhead. Compliance with these regulations also force marginal operators to close or merge with the larger operations. In other words, they prevent new competition from entering a market and reduce the existing competition. By the same token, government likes it because when you reduce a market from a large number of players to an oligopoly it is much easier to regulate/manage. If you have 5 firms that represent 90% of a market’s transactions, that is much easier than having 10,000 smaller firms serving that market. Government reduces the number of cats it must herd.

    The danger in this is that a poor regulatory decision can then walk the entire country over a cliff. If you have hundreds or even thousands of smaller firms with their own notion of how to deliver services, we see innovation and a bad decision by one limits the damage to only the customers of that firm. When we have only a few firms, the failure of any single one of them can result in the collapse of all three. They become “too big to fail”. It is like having an agricultural region that is all planted in one variety of a single species of crop. A disease can wipe out crops for miles around. An approach with different varieties of species and even different species of crops in an area limits the impact of any one disease. It is the same with economies.

    I don’t begrudge government doing social things for society. I do begrudge them attempting to centrally manage an economy. Regulations such as Sarbanes/Oxley in the United States and the Community Reinvestment Act helped accelerate the financial crisis in the US which had repercussions globally. Lenders were forced by regulation to provide too many loans to people who could not repay them through Housing and Urban Development regulations under the CRA. In response to this, “mark to market” requirements under Sarbanes Oxley acted as “positive feedbacK” that sucked the capital out of the financial institutions and that requirement was eliminated too late, after the damage had already been done. What that did was if a property had a mortgage of, say, $300,000 and was foreclosed on and it was sold in foreclosure for $200,000 it reduced the median home price in the local area. According to Sarbanes Oxley regulations, the bank was then required to mark down the value of ALL mortgages in that region. As the spread between the amount owed on the mortgage and the market value dropped (or went negative) the financial institution was required to increase capital reserves to cover that “loss”. This meant that they had to divert capital from lending money to business to building up reserves to cover mortgages that might be perfectly fine with the owners having no trouble making their payments. This reduction in business lending meant that small businesses could not get loans required for regular operations (particularly severe for seasonal operators who require a loan initially that is paid back once their business season gets rolling). The result of this was more business closures, more layoffs, and more people defaulting on mortgages as we see a general decline in business activity. This resulted in yet more foreclosures flooding the market with more homes at distress prices further reducing the median home prices requiring even further marking down of loan inventory requiring even more capital reserve resulting in even greater impact on business activity and so the spiral down continued. By the time they stopped the “mark to market” requirement for mortgages, it was too late and the damage had been done.

    What we see in Sustainable Development is central planning of global economies across national borders by people who were not elected. I didn’t vote for anyone in UNFCCC or for anyone at EPA (in the US) for that matter or anyone at CARB (California Air Resources Board). You have some appointee of some third world despot from Central America deciding housing policy in South Carolina. And a mistake in policy can walk the entire global economy off the cliff.

    I am in favor of decentralization to the greatest extent that it is possible. I am in favor of different areas who have different sets of challenges and different arrays or resources at their disposal choosing the best way to solve their own problems (and deciding what those problems are, to begin with). That way you don’t have so much risk of one policy causing systemic damage across an entire nation or across the entire globe.

    Generally, history has shown us that government intervention in centrally managing economic activity ALWAYS fails. Not in a single case of which I am aware has it ever been successful. And this notion of using the environment as a mechanism for global redistribution of wealth is dishonest at best.

  33. Clark says:

    J Martin, what? Plant life has survived all the previous ice ages, but we have to burn all the fossil fuels as quickly as possible for it to survive the next one? Doesn’t sound likely.

  34. George says:

    Oh, and the whole thing is so Orwellian because in the US it is the center-left Democrats that want greater regulations that result in the large getting larger and the disparity between the rich and the poor growing wider while they claim to be the champions of the poor in order to get their vote. I suppose if you are the champion of the poor, you remain in power by making sure you have the largest number of poor that you can possibly create. The center-left generally creates more poor people and concentrates wealth into the hands of fewer wealthier people. The center-right is generally in favor of reduced regulations that open markets up to more competition and allow smaller businesses to thrive making their own decisions with less onerous government management of their market operations. Center-right policies tend to increase the middle class.

  35. Zeke says:

    Clark says, “[S]lowing something down is not the same as attacking it. It’s a matter of balance.”

    “Slowing” productive energy sources and “balancing” it with unproductive green sources is an outright attack on the living conditions of both those who use the energy, and those who produce it. It always results in loss, waste, and high prices. Where has this ever done anything but devastate a national economy?

    Have a look around the planet sometime when you get a chance, Clark.

  36. Clark says:

    George, regulations can be good, bad or indifferent. I’m glad of the regulations that have made vehicles and roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians, but the commercial producers of cars fought them all the way, same as they tried to keep lead in petrol, same as they fought anti-lock brake legislation. A world where commerce had free reign would not be an improvement. For government intervention that worked, have a look at the 1930s US.

    Yes, big commerce has become quite keen on some sorts of regulation, but then they have a well-connected lobbying team, don’t they? Often, the regulations aid big business at the expense of small business.

  37. Clark says:

    Zeke, I do look at the planet. The population curve is very interesting, very worrying. Sometimes humans seem no wiser than insects. We stumbled upon a way to get plentiful food (hydrocarbons), but we didn’t have the foresight to limit a population explosion. We either slow down on the hydrocarbons now, by our own choice, or we suffer the full effects of scarcity with no choice later.

  38. tallbloke says:


    You don’t need to be expert in the science to validate my points for yourself.

    Third world countries are actively being discouraged from developing, to the detriment of the life expectancy of their inhabitants. Meanwhile it turns out they are emitting more co2 than northern Europe/Russia/US anyway. Probably due to the agricultural policies foisted on them by the world bank, and the need to use charcoal to cook on because they mustn’t have modern gas turbines and a power distribution infrastructure… Otherwise they might just start adding value to raw materials before exporting them, and that would never do…

  39. tallbloke says:

    I don’t buy the politics of scarcity either. History tells us we can rely on mother nature to sort out appropriate population levels. I think that will turn out to be still true, no matter how much coal we dig up.

  40. Clark says:

    “History tells us we can rely on mother nature to sort out appropriate population levels”

    Yes, that’s what I’m afraid of. I doubt you’ve ever lived like a wild animal. I have no desire to.

  41. Zeke says:

    “We either slow down the hydrocarbons now”? “We”? Now you are using the wrong pronoun.

    The quickest way to “suffer the full effects of scarcity” is by ruining the living conditions of good people everywhere through green energy fraud, rising food prices, and scary fraudulent water drought models.

  42. Roger Andrews says:


    “Ask yourself this: If the cool phase of natural variation has been able to cancel out co2 warming of the atmosphere since the start of the C21st, how much did natural variation during its warm phase contribute to global warming at the end of the C20th? Logic tells me: “at least half”. And “at least half” is also a number which describes the natural contribution to the co2 increase.”

    Well, you may be right about the warming, but here are the CO2 numbers since 1900:

    Total anthropogenic emissions – about 400 gigatonnes carbon
    Absorbed by atmosphere based on ppm CO2 increase – about 180 gigatonnes carbon
    Went somewhere else – about 220 gigatonnes carbon

    These numbers make it hard to see how at least half of the 20th century increase in atmospheric CO2 could be natural.

  43. J Martin says:

    Clark. “or we suffer the full effects of scarcity with no choice later.” Correct. Those countries that blindly allow uninhibited population growth allow no room for manoeuvre should some sort of catastrophe occur, be it climate change, or massive volcanic activity, or some other event. The planet will find it’s own balance regardless of mankind. Either countries reduce to sustainable populations or nature will do it for them eventually.

    Re iceages. Since the end of the 41k world, (iceages every 41,000 years caused by the obliquity cycle), iceages have steadily deepened, the colder it gets the more co2 is removed from the atmosphere. If mankind had not added to the co2 in the atmosphere we would have survived the next one nonetheless. A greater number of people will survive if there is more co2 in the atmosphere. I am not aware of any research that has set out to examine how much food we can grow under iceage conditions, and therefore how many people will survive. Future generations face an interesting challenge, since the UK, Canada, much of Northern Europe and Russia will be under an ice sheet. They will need all the atmospheric co2 they can get, thorium, fusion, and technologies to fight clouds.

    My point was that co2 is good, removing it from the atmosphere is not good and potentially dangerous, reduce co2 to pre-industrial levels, then remove a further 40 ppm, after all 3 easily hoodwinked judges in the USA allowed the EPA to declare co2 a poison when it is essential for all life and especially for mankind. So enter the next iceage with pre-industrial levels of co2 minus another 40 ppm and we go extinct. 150 ppm is the accepted minimum for plant survival.

    The above is an extreme case and thankfully impossible for the EPA to achieve (I hope). For me the real issue is when and how fast since it is about due. As for countries with uncontrolled populations, another dollar a day won’t save them from the world wide effects of this coming downturn in temperatures over the next 20 + years. With any luck it won’t happen, and we’ll move into a 34 million year warm phase instead.

    Myself, I plan to lay in an adequate stock of wine and coffee.

  44. tallbloke says:

    Roger Andrews: Not enough information in your figures to confirm, but IPCC says the human contribution to the increase via direct emissions since 1950 is a bit less than half as I recall.

    Interestingly, co2 increase is fairly linear, but human emissions are exponential, so nature must be ‘getting better’ at absorbing the isotopes of carbon released by burning fossil fuel. 😉

  45. Clark says:

    J Martin, thanks for the clarification about ice ages. I don’t think you’ve much to worry about; politics has been apparently totally unsuccessful in reducing co2.

  46. Clark says:

    “Interestingly, co2 increase is fairly linear, but human emissions are exponential”: I thought about this earlier; aren’t we just looking at a very short section of the curve?

  47. George says:

    Clark, there is some evidence that the 280ppm per-industrial number was arrived at via rectal extraction and that CO2 levels were actually higher in the past from surveys of other source such as stomatic response in conifer species (which track CO2 levels fairly rapidly).

  48. George says:

    In other words, we know CO2 is rising but as with temperature records, we have no long-term context into which we can place today’s numbers. It looks like a CO2 hockey stick was created in much the same way as the temperature hockey stick — you get some proxies that produce a long smooth stable past and then tack on an observational instrument record on the end.

  49. lolwot says:

    “The natural forces involved make anthropogenic co2 forcing an irrelevance, or even perhaps a minor benefit. Food doesn’t grow on top of a mile of ice.”

    That’s completely wrong. The forcing from the human increase in CO2 is far greater and faster than known natural forcings responsible for glacial/interglacial transitions (in fact the CO2 forcing is greater than any known natural forcing on century timescales fullstop)

    Furthermore cooling into another glacial period isn’t likely to happen in the next 1000 years, whereas a doubling or more of CO2 level is completely certain and imminent if we continue emitting.

    “Ask yourself this: If the cool phase of natural variation has been able to cancel out co2 warming of the atmosphere since the start of the C21st, how much did natural variation during its warm phase contribute to global warming at the end of the C20th?”

    See the Foster paper for an example of this. Removing the ENSO and solar cycle natural variation yields a fairly linear background increase in temperature.

  50. George says:

    lolwot, I would say you have the talking points down pat. Nice job. Some problems with it, though. They have not actually shown any forcing by CO2 to the extent that they claim. Between 1910 and 1940 we see virtually an identical amount of warming at virtually an identical rate as that of the period between 1975 and 2005. There was no CO2 forcing involved in the earlier rise as CO2 emissions were too small. So we have two similar changes in temperature separated by a 30 year hiatus. We are told to believe that the first one was completely natural (but the AR4 models can’t create it) and the second is completely human caused (simply because during that 30 year period the CO2 rate of rise roughly corresponds to rate of temperature rise). In the meantime, the period from 1940 to 1975 cooled even though CO2 forcing said it should have been rising and 2000 to 2011 it has cooled when CO2 forcing says it should have been rising even faster than 1975 to 2005.

    In other words, the notion of CO2 forcing having any substantial impact on global surface temperatures has just about been completely discredited at this point. And as for the Foster paper you mention, would that be Foster and Rahms that was published in Environmental Research Letters? You are aware that is a “pay for publication” journal, aren’t you? And it was pretty thoroughly pulled apart here:

    Pretty shoddy work.

    Actually, you might have a look at:

    Which pretty much drives a stake through the heart of the IPCC model ensemble. IPCC could have substituted NASCAR racing attendance for CO2 and come up with the same result.

  51. Roger Andrews says:


    “IPCC says the human contribution to the increase via direct emissions since 1950 is a bit less than half as I recall.” A “bit less than half” is the fraction of the human contribution that stays in the air, and this by itself is enough to explain all of the 20th century increase in ppm CO2. Had 100% of the human contribution stayed in the air atmospheric CO2 would now be 30-40ppm higher than it is.

  52. George says:

    The basic game here is to make people fear “climate change” and then use that fear to get people to buy into very expensive policies that basically act as a global redistribution of wealth. It works something like this:

    1. Any increase in economic activity requires an increase in energy usage. If I make beer, I can’t double my beer production without increasing my consumption of energy. At the very least I will need to haul twice as much beer to wherever it is going. So for some increase in GDP there must be some increase in BTU’s expended.

    2. Most energy production is still of fossil origin. All fossil fuels generate CO2. If I can hamstring the production of CO2, I can hamstring economic growth provided I also make sure that expanding nuclear power generation is off limits. That reduces a country to only increasing energy production by purchasing very expensive and very fragile wind and solar generating capacity.

    3. So policies are implemented to place limits on CO2 production in the name of “saving the planet” on certain economies while leaving other economies free of such limits. Now when a global company wishes to build a steel mill or petrochemical plant or heavy manufacturing, the choice of where to place it becomes easy.

    So in this way we have managed to institute “redistribution of wealth” by curtailing economic growth in some countries while allowing unbounded growth in other countries.

    COP17 was set to further this idea by basically allowing the developing countries to charge the developed countries rent for atmosphere in the name of “climate justice”. I note that the blueprint for COP17 and Kyoto 2 can be found in Tyndall Working Paper 23

    Click to access wp23.pdf

    And is mentioned in climategate email 4687.txt which reads to me like a mechanism for using “climate justice” as a mechanism for effecting a socialist political agenda (that was in 2003, by the way).

    So you have the “special interests” who will make money hand over fist with these regulations getting the “do-gooders” on board in the name of “saving the planet”. That is how you get them to accept price rises for nearly everything, lower economic growth, increased unemployment, and generally poorer economic conditions. You get them to sacrifice “for the planet” so they don’t complain too much about their newly created economic downturn.

    Anyone pointing out anything that goes against that theme must be immediately devalued or even outright have their career destroyed as we have seen in the US in such cases as the climatologist for the State of Oregon being sacked for not going along with the scheme. In fact, an Oregon university recently shut down a climate conference on their property when they learned that skeptics would be presenting there. Remember the horrible things that have been said should be done to climate “heretics”?

  53. The Ominous Joker says:

    Sigh… People don’t realise that the best way to prevent “climate change”, is to stop believing in it… Tough Luck!

    The Ominous Joker

  54. Lowering humdity does not by itself make things cooler.

    The water content of air moderates temperature fluctuations due to its comparatively high capacity to store heat; buffering a temperature change. Holding all other things constant, the daily temperature fluctuation is far higher in dry, arid places than humid ones. It gets colder at night, but also hotter during the day. A 60^0 daily fluctuation may be observed in some places. (About twice that of what one encounters in most of the temperate, British Isles.)

    The high temperature gradient is sufficient to sustain violent, local, spontaneous macro-convection events (“dust devils”, “willy-willy”, “djin”, “afreet”, etc.) which are not encountered under moderate and high-humidity conditions over land.

    The amount of water that the air can carry depends strongly on temperature; around freezing point, 100% relative humidity means that there are about 4 grams of water per kilogram of dry air; roughly 5 g per cubic metre. The initial heating response of cold air is therefore quite linear; until water is availble and evaporates. Evaporation absorbs a lot of heat without any change in temperature so there’s the first temperature moderating effect of water. At comfortable temperatures, the air can carry up to 20g of water per kg of dry air. The amount of heat that’s in the air (enthalpy) is strongly dependent upon the humidity; which can vary about 3-fold at the same temperature (say 25°C) from 0% to 100% relative humidity.

    Consider now the absolute temperature levels, the same amount of energy put into the same volume of humid air vs dry air; humid air doesn’t warm as much. The difference in mass for that volume is small; at around 40 g/kg when it gets very hot (>35°C) at saturation.

    Such conditions are uncomfortable for people because we nominally cool our bodies by perspiration; the evaporation of water from the skin, which can’t happen (to a significant extent) if the air is already saturated. We look then for convective cooling; stand in front of a fan or find a bit of breeze in the shade.

  55. Brian H says:

    Twofer edit note:
    “most of it’s time up around 20C rather then the current ~14C”
    most of its time up around 20C rather than the current ~14C

  56. George says:

    “Evaporation absorbs a lot of heat without any change in temperature so there’s the first temperature moderating effect of water.”

    And that is the thing that I believe people aren’t focused on properly. I think there was some looking at this about a year or so ago over at the Air Vent.

    One thing I noticed in some reading was that during the LGM we seemed to have had a persistent La Nina condition. There was evidence of strong trades over a long period of time To what extent that condition might be self-reinforcing, I don’t know, but if you have a constant La Nina condition over a period of several years/decades, the net effect might be quite different from the ones that last a few months such as those we tend to have today.

    Today we have a sort of accordion effect where El Nino conditions cause water to heat up in the equatorial Pacific, then the trade winds come up and La Nina pushes that warm water into the Western Pacific Warm Pool, then the trades slacken and it sloshes back and the cycle repeats. If you get a period of sustained La Nina, I’m not sure how the system looks after several years of that. Does the warm pool become depleted? Do the temperature patterns then set up to hold the pressure patterns that cause La Nina in place? Does it become stable in that state for a long period?

  57. tallbloke says:

    Great comment Bernd, thanks for that. It is certainly worth considering what effects the azolla event had on the atmosphere besides the reduction in co2 often cited as the cause of the drop in global temperature from the Eocene maximum. Azolla also fixed huge quantities of Nitrogen. I would think this affected the height of the tropopause.

    Roger A: airborne co2 has increased about 77ppm since 1958 at Mauna Loa, according to the publicly available data. I suspect the ‘fingerprinting’ of the anthropogenic airborne fraction is in question, because of the roughly linear rise of co2 in the atmosphere compared to the exponential rise in rate of emission. The warming of the ocean top layer must have resulted in a drop in solubility. The reduction in phytoplankton will have reduced fixing at the ocean surface too. Woody biomass is thought to have increased 7% however. Plants are obviously thriving on the increase in co2. They must be absorbing more of the isotope associated with fossil fuel carbon too. There is plenty of argument on the net about the anthropogenic airborne fraction. I don’t think the ‘science is settled’ in this area.

    Clark: I’m not sure what you are driving at. “Short section of the curve”?

  58. Otter says:

    Clark~ coming to this a bit late, hope you are still following the thread…

    You mentioned that ‘if AGW is all wrong, eventually the scientific consensus will come to reflect that. ‘

    One of the whole points of Climategates 1.0 and 2.0, is that the media, politicians and the scientists who work for them, have been actively Preventing things from going forward. They have the consensus they want, and they want US to shut up!

    So the Reality we are trying to make clear to all, is being shut out. And that Reality is the ever-increasing pile of SCIENCE that disproves AGW.

  59. Clark says:

    Otter, this looks like a swing of the consensus pendulum to me. As I remember it, global warming theories were first mentioned in the mainstream media around the same time as ozone depletion; many of the public seemed to think that these were the same thing, or one caused the other. Neither of them were widely believed at first.

    Ozone depletion was accepted quite quickly, and acted upon surprisingly promptly. Due to the confusion in public perception between the two effects, many people thought that the action on ozone would also solve the global warming problem. Global warming only made its way back into public concern quite gradually; most people didn’t take it seriously. I remember my dad asking me if we’d be affected by sea level rise, so that must have been 1998 or before.

    Back then, it seemed pretty clear who the sides were. There were some scientists and environmentalists banging on about the dangers of co2. Opposing them were all the countries and organisations that were releasing a lot of co2, so no surprises there. The public weren’t stupid; they realised that they liked emitting co2 and refused to take the argument seriously.

    Please remember, I’m not claiming that the above description is The Truth. This is simply as I remember it, and my perceptions, the direction of my attention, my sources of news and my interest level have been changing throughout. I thought you might find this useful, as the perspective of an “outsider” to the more recent debate.

    From my point of view it seems very odd to see this argument that its all a plot to scare the public, because, all those years ago, it seemed just the opposite; something scary was happening, and no one would take it seriously. Governments repeatedly made statements about co2, but the next line was always “But…”, followed with how it would be nice to do something, but the economy wouldn’t permit it.

    A significant event was the publication of the Stern Report. I remember laughing with a friend. The problem was restated, no longer in lives lost, ruined or displaced, but in billions of dollars lost by industry and commerce, and suddenly media and government considered the problem serious! No event could have more clearly illustrated the cynical motives behind our major institutions of power, finance, industry and media.

    The only group left unconvinced were the general public…

  60. tallbloke says:

    I suspect that ozone levels will eventually be found to naturally fluctuate on multi-decadal timescales just like planetary surface temperatures do.

  61. Clark says:

    Having posted the above, the thing I’m wondering is whether anyone is going to try to convince me that the entire public-perception scenario outlined above was stage-managed, the curtain rising some time in the 1990s. Against such an argument I would point out that if someone is planning to use fake science to push an agenda, they know that they’ve only got a closing window of opportunity before the real science catches up, and beyond that, they’re going to be disassociating themselves from a lot of former “allies” as they become discredited. If someone offered me a cut on such a deal, I’d refuse, and I think that most scientists would, too.

  62. tallbloke says:

    Clark: There is no need for a conspiracy theory to account for the way in which the consensus developed and came to believe its own hype through the process of driving out dissenting views and escalating their claims. The way the process unfolds is well documented by philosophers and historians of science from Kuhn to Feyerabend, and from Polyani to Lakatos.

  63. Clark says:

    Tallbloke, I agree, but your argument also applies to the anti-AGW campaigners. This is the problem. The matter became politicised; given it’s subject matter, it couldn’t help but become political, and now it’s a battleground. As with all battlefields, it’s difficult to make much sense out of the carnage, you’d really have to have recorded the whole battle from the start to know how what got where.

    That’s why I avoid the climate argument and concentrate on the hydrocarbon extraction rate curve. Blindly rushing up that peak looks like a sure route to a hard crash. If we have sense and humanity, we’ll reduce that rate as quickly as possible, choosing current hardship over deferred mass starvation. CO2 would thus stop rising anyway, most likely, and if it didn’t there would be that to investigate instead.

  64. tallbloke says:

    OK Clark, you’re moving on to a different argument from the one we usually discuss, so I want you to do a guest post for it. Please submit a word doc plus any images you want to use both inline in the doc (so I know where they go), and as seperate .jpg or .gif or .png images.

    I’ll email you so you have a return address.

  65. Clark says:

    Rog, thank you for the offer of a guest post; it’s not something I’ve done before, so I’m thinking a bit before committing myself.

    I won’t send a M$ Word .doc, as it is a restricted, proprietary format, and as a Free software advocate I refuse to use such things; they’re unethical. The first link explains about M$ Word (boring), the second is a short story with a moral message (quite a good read):

  66. tallbloke says:

    No probs, open office is fine, I’m on linux here. thanks for taking it on, and don’t be scared, we won’t bite. 😉

  67. A. C. Osborn says:

    Clark says:
    December 29, 2011 at 1:09 pm
    “The matter became politicised; given it’s subject matter, it couldn’t help but become political, and now it’s a battleground. As with all battlefields, it’s difficult to make much sense out of the carnage, you’d really have to have recorded the whole battle from the start to know how what got where.”

    Have you read all the various postings of the Climate 1 & 2 emails yet?
    Along with the IPCC and UN Charters they provide a pretty good “history” of the warmist side.
    The sceptic side has just been a response to that history.

  68. Clark says:

    A. C. Osborn: “The sceptic side has just been a response to that history” [my emph.] – you don’t really think that, do you? There has clearly also been fake, sponsored “skepticism”, and a powerful commercial lobby against the AGW proponents.

  69. Roger Andrews says:

    Hi TB

    What I’m getting at is this. If we want to be scientifically credible we skeptics must confine our criticisms to those aspects of AGW theory that are scientifically questionable and accept those that aren’t. And while the impact of increased CO2 on temperature is questionable there’s little doubt that anthropogenic emissions are what caused most if not all of the 20th century increase in atmospheric CO2. We should accept this and move on. 🙂

  70. A. C. Osborn says:

    You didn’t answer the question, “Have you read all the various postings of the Climate 1 & 2 emails yet?”
    Avcoiding the issue perhaps?
    Please provide the proof of the “fake, sponsored “skepticism”, and a powerful commercial lobby”.

  71. A. C. Osborn says:

    The information in the emails and current research showing how incorrect the original data was are proof of the skeptic position.

  72. Clark says:

    A C Osborn, no, I haven’t read those e-mails. For me, there’s no point; I think it’s right to limit hydrocarbon consumption anyway. As for anti-AGW pressure, I could offer the following starting points:

    And the links in my previous comment:

  73. George says:

    “I suspect the ‘fingerprinting’ of the anthropogenic airborne fraction is in question, because of the roughly linear rise of co2 in the atmosphere compared to the exponential rise in rate of emission. ”

    Exactly how does one tell the difference between CO2 emitted from a natural coal seam fire and CO2 emitted from a coal power plant? Lewis and Clark discovered coal seam fires in their exploration of the American West.

  74. Zeke says:

    “That’s why I avoid the climate argument and concentrate on the hydrocarbon extraction rate curve. Blindly rushing up that peak looks like a sure route to a hard crash.” – Clark

    Without the “climate argument” there is no need for a carbon tax, and without a central “climate argument” there is no need to control and ration water resources.

    There would be no reason to regulate the burning of firewood or coal on private property.

    Without the “climate argument,” there would be no argument for the political and economic attacks on agriculture and husbandry, because there is absolutely no danger of harming the “climate” by the release of methane into the atmosphere.

    So I think that is logical that a handful of former “climate argument” advocates choose to focus solely on stopping the supply of abundant, cheap, reliable electricity. These activists are easily overcome because the future of energy lies in the intelligent, electrical manipulation of atomic energy at low temps or through plasma focus devices.

  75. George says:

    If left alone, as carbon fuel sources become more difficult to extract the cost of them will rise resulting in a natural incentive to conserve and spur innovation. The markets will cause adaptation as the prices vary according to the supply situation. There won’t be any sudden catastrophic crash though there may be some discounting of future situations in the market prices.

    At some point these alternative means of generation become genuinely cost-effect rather than artificially so through manipulations by governments in the market.

  76. Clark says:

    George, I agree that’s a possible outcome; are you the gambling type? The stakes are seven million souls.

  77. Clark says:

    Seven billion, I mean, obviously.

  78. George says:

    Clark, you seem to reflect a mindset that I see fairly often and I don’t mean that as a criticism, simply as an observation. Gambling with what? I see intervention as a gamble at high cost with possibly no payoff For example, what if tomorrow we discover a larger oil field than all of Saudi Arabia? By assuming we would run out in X years, we might have wasted valuable resources in mitigating nothing more than a vision in a crystal ball.

    Imagine the market system as an ecosystem with many different species. As the conditions change, some adapt, some don’t, but overall those that don’t adapt disappear and those that do, thrive. By creating artificial market conditions based on attempts to predict the future, we can nudge markets in the wrong direction.

    This is why reducing regulation in order to allow more players in various market is a better thing than having a few large ones. If you have 1000 operators in the market, that is 1000 different chances to try something new that might work.

    Ok, so imagine we are in a situation where fuels are becoming more difficult to extract or the quantities are in decline. This doesn’t suddenly happen overnight. It happens gradually and prices begin to rise. As those prices rise, previously unprofitable sources become profitable. At some point even those begin to peter out and prices continue to rise. Then alternatives become more cost-effective.

    Some people seem to be uncomfortable with the notion that markets will find their own equilibrium without external management. It seems they are uncomfortable with the unknown or with the ambiguity of not knowing with precision what tomorrow will be like and are attempting to force a known state on the future to mollify that discomfort. But what happens when a huge field is discovered and suddenly prices fall and all of those regulations forcing the use of alternatives becomes a giant waste of money that is literally taking food out of people’s mouths and clothing off their backs? What happens when it is realized that we have wasted hundreds of billions or possibly trillions in attempting to mitigate something we have absolutely no control over.

    The notion that the UN or any nation can legislate the state of the climate of the Earth and if we only throw enough money at the problem we can provide for a known state of affairs in the future is simply insane. That is like saying you are going to eliminate natural ecosystems and carefully manage them so as to maintain today’s state for as long as possible. What you are doing is preventing the ecosystem from adapting naturally to change. Governments do the same to markets. The convert them from a natural ecosystem that finds balance in conditions into a zoo and if they guess wrong, they can destroy the entire thing.

    I find comfort in the ingenuity of people and markets. When something becomes inefficient, something else is developed to take its place. It is through natural market dynamics that we as a society adapt to changing conditions. Governments NEVER get it right. Not once in history is there a government intervention in a market condition that did not produce unintended consequences that were worse than the problem it was trying to solve. In fact, it often makes the problem it was trying to solve worse.

  79. Clark says:

    George: “what if tomorrow we discover a larger oil field than all of Saudi Arabia?”

    OK, I see, yes, you are the gambling type. It’s not a remotely prudent bet:

  80. George says:

    No, I am not a gambling type, I see you as the gambler. By not allowing markets to work their own course you are attempting to create an artificial reality based on some prediction of the future. To my mind that is living in sort of a fantasy world and not the real world.

    As I said, it isn’t like one day we wake up and suddenly overnight all oil wells have gone dry and it is an immediate crisis. That happens slowly over time and as that happens, alternatives become more cost-efficient and begin to replace the more expensive forms of energy production. Conservation becomes a natural consequence of natural price rise but some seem to find comfort in creating an artificial price rise in order to usher in their vision of “the future” in a managed way and such management ALWAYS ends in disaster. History is full of such examples.

  81. Clark says:

    George, you’re writing about this as if there were no governments already involved, as if the IPCC etc. were the only blemish on an otherwise unpoliticised marked environment. Hydrocarbon extraction is already one of the most politicised commercial activities that there is. List: Bush 1&2, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Gazprom, OPEC….

    As for this: “Governments NEVER get it right.”; don’t you think your ideology might be misleading you a bit? Government is a necessary development from commerce; law is required to arbitrate commercial disputes.

  82. J Martin says:

    To Clark.

    The subject of peak oil etc, has been discussed at length and vigorously on WUWT. Post an article on that subject and see the enormous response disagreeing with the view that we are anywhere near peak anything.

    And given the recent shale gas etc. discoveries they perhaps have a point. Eventually we will run out, but then we have thorium and after that they had better have found something else, fusion perhaps.

  83. George says:

    Furthermore, by mandating NOW what we are going to use to replace those sources of energy, we may be forestalling innovative achievements that might come sooner. In other words, we are saying that we will use the technologies we have now and give them an artificial edge in the markets through subsidy and regulation. But that might forestall a completely different innovation that could come through leaving things as they are. We are mandating a solution to the future using today’s technology when we might be better addressing a future problem with technology of the future.

    It’s silly. Makes no sense. A waste of time, money, and effort. It won’t improve a thing, but it will probably make some people feel better. That you consider me a “gambler” tells all. I don’t consider it gambling at all, I find it the most secure possible path.

    You want to take an ecosystem and micromanage it. I want to create fundamental conditions that allow a natural ecosystem to adapt on its own. If you guess wrong, your system finds catastrophic failure. By allowing mine to find its own way out, I ensure sustainability.

    There is nothing more unsustainable in my mind than “Sustainable Development”. I see it as a recipe for possible disaster or at least certain misery.

  84. Clark says:

    To my mind, markets handle abundant resources quite efficiently. They don’t handle contraction nearly so well. In times of war, nations impose rationing. Inequalities of wealth are deliberately reduced, as excess is drawn off for the war effort. People accept rationing in emergencies, too. If someone insisted upon “market forces” in a lifeboat, we’d understand if they were thrown overboard.

  85. Clark says:

    J Martin, yes, but I think we’d better get serious about building it. On a geological timescale, or even just an historical one, that peak looks awful sharp to me. Could be wrong, the evidence is buried under the ground, and we burn it as fast as we dig it up. Wanna bet? I say, start building, and try to conserve the hydrocarbons as best we can. They’re 65 million years old; they’re not going to be any less useful in a century or two.

    George, what about nuclear? That wouldn’t exist at all but for governments, no commercial concern would have undertaken it.

  86. neill says:

    Clark: “rationing productive capacity and allocating more to the poorer countries than they could otherwise afford seems like a helpful thing, and we should be ramping back our hydrocarbon production as much as we can”

    Clark, by “rationing productive capacity”, I take it you mean to shrink the economy, to create less wealth. By “allocating more to the poorer countries”, I take it you mean give national assets away to smaller states (whose corrupt ways virtually assure much of it will end up padding bureaucrats’ nests). By ” ramping back our hydrocarbon production as much as we can”, I take it you mean produce less fuel to power the economy, thereby shrinking it. All this, on top of a global economy barely treading water.

    In sum, I take it you mean that we should ‘de-industrialize’.

    While returning to a simpler, less-consumer oriented time may seem in itself a simple, laudable thing, let’s not delude ourselves. Economies are essentially ‘living things’: if they don’t grow, there’s not a ‘happy medium’, unfortunately — they shrink. And regular people and their families lose livelihoods. And businesses that depended on those people’s patronage, themselves in turn die off. And on and on and on……and the times get darker and darker. (and care for the environment is descarded because soup for hungry bellies takes precedence over cute polar bears)

    I’m not surprised that you haven’t bothered to read any of the recently released emails, because then you would be witness to the craven dishonesty and evasion of key players behind the Warmist movement. Why lie and evade when the science is clearly settled? There’s the rub.

  87. Clark says:

    George, I’m no economist, but it would seem prudent to me to tax hydrocarbons in some way to increase their price to above that of non-hydrocarbons. You could think of it as investing an inheritance or a windfall. Instead of spending it and becoming dependent upon it, we force it to earn, a bit faster than the alternatives we would otherwise be dependent upon. It keeps our energy sources versatile.

  88. neill says:

    As to “peak oil”: Over the last 30 years, the United States has produced 77 billion barrels of oil — that’s two and half times the total domestic reserve experts estimated back in 1980.

    That’s just one one of the interesting ‘facts’ in this piece about current fossil fuel reserves (which, as if by magic, CHANGE) — America, by itself, now dwarfs Saudi Arabia.

    This (perhaps a good title would be — Easterbrook: 1 IPCC: 0) is also enlightening regarding natural trends and future climate change predictions:

    Using the pattern established for the past several hundred years, in 1998 I projected the temperature curve for the past century into the next century and came up with curve ‘A’ in Figure 5 as an approximation of what might be in store for the world if the pattern of past climate changes continued. Ironically, that prediction was made in the warmest year of the past three decades and at the acme of the 1977-1998 warm period. At that time, the projected curved indicated global cooling beginning about 2005 ± 3-5 years until about 2030, then renewed warming from about 2030 to about 2060 (unrelated to CO2—just continuation of the natural cycle), then another cool period from about 2060 to about 2090. This was admittedly an approximation, but it was radically different from the 1° F per decade warming called for by the IPCC. Because the prediction was so different from the IPCC prediction, time would obviously show which projection was ultimately correct.

    Now a decade later, the global climate has not warmed 1° F as forecast by the IPCC but has cooled slightly until 2007-08 when global temperatures turned sharply downward. In 2008, NASA satellite imagery (Figure 6) confirmed that the Pacific Ocean had switched from the warm mode it had been in since 1977 to its cool mode, similar to that of the 1945-1977 global cooling period. The shift strongly suggests that the next several decades will be cooler, not warmer as predicted by the IPCC.

  89. Tenuc says:

    neill says:
    December 29, 2011 at 10:27 pm
    “…As to “peak oil”: Over the last 30 years, the United States has produced 77 billion barrels of oil — that’s two and half times the total domestic reserve experts estimated back in 1980…”

    Totally agree none of the Malthusian alarm bells rung over the last few decades have happened. It seems that these people are useless at predicting the future. They forget that mankind is ever inventing / developing / improving technology to exploit Earth’s resources and that it is economics, not government edicts, which dictate the movement from one commodity or energy source to another.

    History shows that if we leave market forces and human ingenuity alone we won’t have any problems in the future – start meddling and chaos will surely reign. Intelligent, well meaning fools with no common sense are a danger to the human race!

  90. neill says:

    They don’t REALLY care about accurately predicting the future. Writing the law HERE AND NOW is the important thing.

  91. Clark says:

    1980 was after the US peak of production, so were the underestimated reserves really all that significant? 77 billion barrels is less than three years worth at the current world consumption rate. I think the oil industry claim to have saved the future whenever they find another 100 days worth or more.

    Hydrocarbon extraction was subsidised $470 billion in 2010. “start meddling and chaos will surely reign” was that?

  92. neill says:

    The US peak of production?

    ‘An estimated 1.4 trillion of those barrels are buried under American soil. For some perspective: the total proven reserves in Saudi Arabia is just about 260 billion barrels.

    And even that 1.4 trillion figure might be an underestimation. Future technological innovation may well lead to improved detection techniques, helping us locate oil deposits currently uncovered. Or innovation could improve extraction techniques, enabling us to tap into reserves previously thought unreachable.

    Recent history gives us good reason to be optimistic. Over the last 30 years, the United States has produced 77 billion barrels of oil — that’s two and half times the total domestic reserve experts estimated back in 1980.

    The stats on domestic natural gas are also eye-opening. Recoverable natural gas in North America is estimated at 4.2 quadrillion — or 4,244 trillion — cubic feet. At the current rate of consumption, that’s enough natural gas to power North America for the next 175 years. And it means that our continent has more robust gas reserves than Russia, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkmenistan — combined.

    Roughly 272.5 trillion cubic feet of that total are in the United States. And production is going up so rapidly that liquified natural gas (LNG) import terminals are being reversed engineered to export surplus U.S. gas.

    Wake up. dude. .’Terminals are being REVERSE-ENGINEERED for EXPORT’. And this is only the U.S. we’re talking about here…….

  93. p.g.sharrow says:

    Clark says:
    December 30, 2011 at 2:01 am “Hydrocarbon extraction was subsidised $470 billion in 2010”

    please sight the origin of that statement. pg

  94. neill says:

    C’mon Clarke, focus beyond the bar glass, mate.

  95. tallbloke says:

    Roger A:”A “bit less than half” is the fraction of the human contribution that stays in the air, and this by itself is enough to explain all of the 20th century increase in ppm CO2. Had 100% of the human contribution stayed in the air atmospheric CO2 would now be 30-40ppm higher than it is.”

    Right, that’s what I had misremembered. I mostly trust Ferdi on this:

    Thanks for putting me straight. If the d13 d12 ratio argument is correct, then the case is pretty clear. There have been mutterings that the ratio between the types of plants which preferentially absorb the two isotopes may also have been changing, but I haven’t followed that up.

  96. Tenuc says:

    @Clark – Come on mate, stop believing the ‘peak anything’ crap and use a bit of common sense.

    Regarding oil and coal never forget that ~70% of our planet is covered by sea and eventually techniques will be developed to exploit the massive reserves which must exist. Thinking out of the box, there are also vast deposits of methane clathrates for which the Japanese and others are developing extraction systems.

    Time to smell the coffee and stop worrying about the future which, thanks to human enterprise/ intelligence, will lead to a world which is changed beyond imagination. History shows this to be true.

  97. clark says:

    p.g.sharrow – OECD and IEA, reported in the Guardian:

    The various military activities of the US effectively represent a massive subsidy to Western oil interests. This has been going on for decades. I wonder how much the CIA’s Operation Ajax for BP cost?

    Tenuk, I am neither a believer nor a disbeliever. The hydrocarbons are underground. We don’t discover exactly how much we have until we attempt to extract it. Various organisations give figures for the hydrocarbon reserves, but we know that there are powerful monetary pressures to distort those figures, in both directions.

    We have a much higher chance of being right when we say that we don’t know something, than when we claim that we do. You know that there won’t be any serious peak. Given the evidence, I’d call that faith, not knowledge.

    I seem to need quite a lot of faith to get accepted on this blog. I need faith in the markets, faith that the peaks we see at the small scale won’t translate to the large scale, faith that the IPCC is nothing more than a scam, faith that co2 causes precisely no change in the atmosphere… You lot just know that everything will be fine, so long as we give commerce complete freedom and prevent all other organisations from doing anything at all.

    Don’t you ever worry that you might have picked someone else’sl agenda?

  98. clark says:

    Tenuc, would those methane deposits be the same ones as I was told earlier were insignificant, when they were being discussed as a possible global warming feedback mechanism rather than as a fuel? The commenters here seem to suffer from a lot of wishful thinking.

  99. Tenuc says:


    Thanks for the reply, Clark, it is very revealing about you. Life is not for the weak and timorous who live like a mouse and jump at the first sound they hear because it could be the cat. History shows exactly how humanity has progresses from barely intelligent savages to thinking and inventive humans over the years. Yes, we will made mistakes and have to deal with problems in the future, but the ‘precautionary principle’ is total folly, especially when the future cannot be predicted.

    Regarding your comments on faith, I have total faith in mankind’s ability to continue to develop and prosper in the future. We will have challenges to overcome, but that’s bread and butter to our species.

    So chill and enjoy life to the full, it’s the only life you’ve got.

  100. Clark says:

    Tenuc: “History shows exactly how humanity has progresses from barely intelligent savages to thinking and inventive humans over the years”. No. It shows that we have hardly changed physically or mentally in thousands of years, but we’ve managed to change our circumstances and diversify our societies greatly. There are still hunter-gather tribes, and their members are intellectually comparable to those of an industrialised society; what’s different are their circumstances. People regularly migrate between the various types of society.

    I’d also point out to you that fear is a response that evolved because it was useful. Your prejudice notwithstanding, the fear response extends the lifetimes of probably billions of animals (including humans) every day. Mice are very successful species found in diverse habitats; life definitely is for mice, just as it is for humans.

    And of course, the whole point of the precautionary principle is that the future cannot be predicted. Predictions such as “the market always bring the best solution” do not always work.

    At least you know what your faith is. Mine is something like… There is something fundamentally moral about the universe and people do better when they align themselves with it, because it is Good to be a part of something greater than oneself. However, achieving this requires good observation combined with constant self-monitoring for open-mindedness to prevent our prejudices (which are irreversibly mixed into our memories) from obscuring important lessons from reality.

  101. Gray says:

    Hi Clark – I don’t think that the whole point of the precautionary principle is due to the unpredictability of the future. It rather seems that it has been adopted as a means to push forward policy before all the evidence is considered in the climate debate.

    The precautionary principle applied to climate science would engage the alternative answers first and then move to a balanced and pragmatic solution to the problem. That might be to do nothing. We don’t see that, what we see instead is a badly thought out, expensive and ineffective ‘solution’ based on evidence that is neither settled nor accurate.

    An example is the rush to nuclear power…apply the precautionary principle there if you will along with an honest appraisal of the situation and cost of Fukushima. Had the authorities considered the evidence of historic and predicted earthquakes in the region their precautionary principle might have led to the hardening of the Japanese plant against the potential disaster (it was rated to withstand a 7 magnitude earthquake). After the Sumatra quake and tsunami such a move should have been obvious.

    Operation Ajax was initially a very cheap operation for the CIA but in the longer term it might prove to be significantly more expensive. Indeed the nuclear reactor supplied to the Shah of Iran by the Americans most likely seeded the “proliferation’ they now seem so keen to stop while their own intervention forestalled Iran’s democratic development.

    Neither do I think that markets always offer the best solutions, certainly not when their lobbying creates a false market for their operations and financial muscle is employed to convince the public that their solution is best while avoiding mention of the benefits accruing to their shareholders.

    It may be that the climate lobby should consider employing the medical term that doctors abide by rather than playing a rigged game of consequences.

    Primum non nocere is a Latin phrase that means “First, do no harm” it is one of the principal precepts of medical ethics that all medical students are taught in medical school and is a fundamental principle. It is invoked when debating the use of an intervention that carries an obvious risk of harm but a less certain chance of benefit.

  102. Clark says:

    Gray, your attitude seems sensible, though I’d point out that one of the major reasons of using a precautionary principle is to choose a course of action based upon the theory and data to date, before all the data has been collected. Id argue that given the ultimate inevitability of zero-growth energy production, and the future likelihood of energy supply contraction, it would be wise to learn to run our economies and support our populations under those conditions before we are forced to by circumstance.

    I defend nuclear, with many reservations. The risks are comparable with other energy sources, and nuclear has had no less of a troubled childhood than the others. Many of its government playmates developed a nasty plutonium habit, but then they could afford it.

    As to whether the climate lobby are “playing a rigged game of consequences”, this is not something I intend to investigate. For me, time will tell; you are welcome to your part in the investigation, and thank you and the others here for doing it.

  103. Tenuc says:

    Clark says:
    December 30, 2011 at 2:59 pm
    “…No. It (history) shows that we have hardly changed physically or mentally in thousands of years…”

    Sorry Clark, but I must strongly disagree with you there. Here in England, and also in some parts of the rest of Europe, the average intelligence of the population has risen due better nutrition, health care and education. Children today also have a better environment to aid learning and an unprecedented access to knowledge. As our population has grown, there is also a higher number of geniuses – the very people the human race needs innovate and provide solutions to the problems of the day.

    However, not everything in the garden is so rosy, as low average intelligence of population is still a major problem in many countries in the third world, with several millions of children suffering from malnutrition, disease and a lack of opportunity for a good education. This means they cannot develop and achieve their full potential and relegates them to a third-rate life of poverty and hardship. I think the biggest gift the West can give to developing countries isn’t food aid. Rather it is providing them with money to build an environment to help children to learn. This would allow future generations to become independent, rather than being slaves to international bodies like the IMF etc Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.

    I just wish that a small part of the money the West has wasted on CAGW could have been invested in this cause.

  104. Zeke says:

    It is always nice to bring the discussion out of the philosphical and theoretical realms and look at the issue using concrete examples.

    Climate Change Policies put Fuel Poor in Jeopardy

    “At a central London event on Thursday 1 December 2011, the Renewable Energy Foundation[1] launched Energy Policy and Consumer Hardship, a new study of the likely impact of climate change policies on the affordability of energy.[2]

    Amongst its conclusions the study finds that:

    1. Current renewable electricity policies intended to meet the EU Renewables Directive in 2020, will impose extra consumer costs of approximately £15bn per annum, which is roughly equivalent to 1% of current GDP. This annual total is comprised of approximately £8bn in subsidy, £5bn in grid integration, and a further £2bn in VAT charged on these extra costs.[3]

    2. Slightly less than one third of this annual cost (£4.5bn) will be recovered from domestic households through their energy bills, at an average cost of about £170 per household.

    3. This burden will increase the risk of hardship over the entire population, with very significant increases for those on lower incomes.

    4. There is particular concern that the 2.5m households currently using electricity for their primary means of heating will be exposed to a very significant increase in risk of hardship, spending as much as £320 a year extra on space heating alone.

    5. About two thirds (£10bn) of the policy cost would be charged to industrial and commercial consumers, with implications for the cost of the goods and services provided by those businesses, and thus with indirect effects on domestic households via cost of living.

    6. The policy cost burden will also degrade industrial competitiveness, with negative effects on wages and employment rates, thus having an indirect downward pressure on average household income.”

  105. Zeke says:

    Once again, while philosophical differences are engaging and interesting, it is always helpful to use concrete examples of the effects of climate policies on nations who adopt them.

    “Julia Gillard and Bob Brown’s
    great big carbon tax just got bigger. Much bigger.
    ….according to Combet, Durban was a massively historic step. It means, he was quoted as saying, “we are negotiating a legally binding agreement.”

    This means that under the government’s policy when the agreement is signed in 2015, we will then have to commit to cutting our emissions not by 5 per cent but by 25 per cent. And do so, in just five years, by 2020.

    There are two ways of doing that. By having such a massive carbon tax – many times the supposedly benign $23 a tonne starting point – that all our brown coal power stations close pretty much immediately and some of the black coal ones as well.

    Or we cheat, by buying permits from overseas… According to Treasury, the 5 per cent cut target would see us sending nearly $3 billion a year overseas by 2020—to buy bits of paper to give us permission to keep our lights on.

    But if we aimed to cut by 25 per cent, we would be sending more than $7 billion a year overseas. Every year, from 2020. …

    Combet and Gillard can’t have it both ways. Either we have signed on in Durban to a massive increase in our carbon tax and the virtual and very quick elimination of our cheap coal-fired power stations.”

    emph added

  106. Zeke says:

    Somebody else do Spain. I just can’t bear to look.

  107. neill says:

    The precautionary principle should only be applied judiciously when the evidence is irrefutable. Over 30 people in India recently froze to death during what I believe is early summer there — it is irrefutable that those unfortunates froze to death.

    From the link above Dr. Easterbrook correctly predicted the current cooling in 1998, contrarily at the peak of the warming of the last 30 years, based on PDO cycles correlating with temperature changes over hundreds of years. The PDO and AMO have both now gone into their cool phases, which typically last 20-30 years. The sun is now the quietest it’s been since the Maunder Minimum.

    The IPCC’s prediction of 1 degree F warming per decade has so far failed miserably. The past couple of winters in much of the Northern Hemisphere have been brutal. Should we boost power rates per the ‘precautionary principle’ so that even more elderly folk freeze in their homes because they can’t afford to buy heat?

    Try this on for size — Compassionate Precaution: open all the energy exploration floodgates to reduce energy prices as much as possible to minimize freezing deaths. What precautions should we take regarding food production which will take a hit should Dr. Easterbrook continue to be correct? Not many good options I’m afraid. Political disruptions throughout history are associated with cooling climates. What precautions can be taken?

  108. p.g.sharrow says:

    The precautionary principle applies here! Plentiful and inexpensive energy or cold death of civilization. Easy choice to me and I live out in the woods and am mostly self sufficient. pg

  109. What is absolutely certain is that the next LIA will arrive eventually, and based on previous cycles, probably within the next 200 – 300 years. Life won’t be any fun at all then, and anybody in any doubt at all should read Brian Fagan’s book “The Little Ice Age”.

    The review is here.

    If, by then, we have raised temps by a couple of degrees, I think our descendants will be hugely glad.

  110. Clark says:

    neil: “open all the energy exploration floodgates to reduce energy prices as much as possible to minimize freezing deaths”. Well, that would be nice if it worked. But deaths by freezing are caused by institutionalised inequality, caused by over reliance upon the market forces that some here trust so well, not by shortage of energy. “Opening the energy exploration floodgates” could well just defer freezing deaths to the future, to the decline side of the curve.

    Yes, putting energy prices up increases all other prices, it acts as a brake on the economy. That is what should be done to help smooth down the peak. It’s not palatable but it is prudent.

    Look, have you looked at this?:

    At some point in the foreseeable future, within a timespan comparable with the lifetime of an empire, humanity has to level off the energy curve. That is simply indisputable. Peak oil or other events may have the potential to tilt energy availability downwards in the much nearer future, we only really find out if it happens. We have no good experience of running successful economies in steady-state or contracting energy environments. Since when did saving for the future become regarded as dumb? All I’m saying is “we’re not sure what’s around that bend; best slow down and be prepared”. We are going faster than ever before, and a way of life has never spread to the entire globe before. The current situation is unprecedented.

  111. Tenuc says:

    p.g.sharrow says:
    December 30, 2011 at 7:52 pm
    “The precautionary principle applies here! Plentiful and inexpensive energy or cold death of civilization. Easy choice to me and I live out in the woods and am mostly self sufficient. pg”

    Well said PG, it’s a shame our politicians don’t apply this common sense approach. At the moment hey would rather tax this vital commodity, despite the fact that most of the world’s economies are in deep trouble and we need to kick start consumer spending to help our economies grow again.

    I don’t think it will be long before they start taking this action, as several countries are already taking the first hesitant steps along this path. I think that many members of the quasi-socialist green faction will be gnashing their teeth quite soon… 🙂

  112. neill says:

    You’re blithely ignoring the likely catastrophic human cost of shrinking economies. It’s like some academic abstraction to you.

    “Yes, putting energy prices up increases all other prices, it acts as a brake on the economy. That is what should be done to help smooth down the peak. It’s not palatable but it is prudent.”

    If I have it in my power to “just defer freezing deaths”, as you put it, that’s unquestionably what I opt for. You, it seems, would prefer to smooth your peak.

  113. Clark says:

    Neil, no, I’m not ignoring that. I’m pointing out that nature may force that upon us sometime in the not too distant future, that this is new, and we had better have learned how to run a humane, contracting economy by then. We can start by just easing off the gas…

  114. Clark says:

    I’m also suggesting that by slowing growth now, we can avoid or mitigate contraction later, and the tax thereby raised could be used to build up a reserve to help us through.

  115. I’m also suggesting that by slowing growth now, we can avoid or mitigate contraction later, and the tax thereby raised could be used to build up a reserve to help us through.

    Clark, Tax is money and money is not real, not on a global basis anyway. The next generation won’t be able to “spend” this to help them through, if we have wrecked the economy in the meantime.

    In any event slower growth now will result in LESS tax being collected.

  116. adolfogiurfa says:

    As the great George Carlin said “Earth it is a self repairing organism”, so it will make some fixes here, some fixes there…and, we will surely sing (after 2012´s mayan year) after Ruben Blades: “La vida te da sorpresas…sorpresas the da la vida, Ay Dios!” (“Life gives you surprises, surprises life gives you” Oh, God! ..)
    So, buy more popcorn!

  117. Clark says:

    Yes, but seeing as zero growth is inevitable anyway…

    It’s lack of financial regulation and excessive credit that has wrecked the economy. We need a decent economy to build the replacement power sources, and we need strong government to undertake big projects. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re already going backwards in some respects. We can’t get to the Moon any more, and you can’t buy a supersonic transatlantic passenger flight any more. I doubt that nuclear power would have been developed in this financial climate.

  118. scousebilly says:

    adolfogiurza, you have made my day – I never imagined I would see a reference to Pedro Navaja on a climate blog !!

    My favourite version is by Orquestra Plateria though 😉

  119. Clark says:

    If the Earth is a self repairing organism we best make sure we’re a harmonious component or we might get eliminated. We’ve been growing without limit recently; it’d be horrible to get mistaken for cancer.

  120. neill says:

    Clark, I’m not a maths wizard, so maybe you can help me out here. From your linked article, how does one get from:

    “I have always been impressed by the fact that as much solar energy reaches Earth in one hour as we consume in a year.”


    “Let me restate that important point. No matter what the technology, a sustained 2.3% energy growth rate would require us to produce as much energy as the entire sun within 1400 years.”

  121. Aussie says:

    Clark we are not growing without limit. The earth has inbuilt limitations – earthquakes, tsunamis, flood are just some ways in which there is an adjustment to populatin growth.

    One could include childless couples as being a part of the plan that keeps population within limits, except that we have now opted for things such as IVF.

    The world population can exist quite comfortably and even in some of those poorer countries there needs to be a push to crop production that is of value, rather than growing crops for drug use.

  122. tchannon says:

    Pretty solid and extensive documentation shows the Russians are building reactors, lot of strategic moves going on, such as sell gas to the west but use the money for reactors.
    They now have the largest light metal refining, nuclear powered, more on the way, are supplying energy to the far East, perhaps as far as South Korea and Japan in due course. Neither are they shying from nuclear powered shipping or marine based powerstations.
    They are also probably now world leaders in fast breeder reactors, with minimised breeder blanket.

    Contrast with the UK being leaders in reactor technology but now buying in and having no heavy industry, such as rotary machinery.

  123. Aussie says:

    clark says:

    Yes, but seeing as zero growth is inevitable anyway…

    I reply: this is not correct. Zero growth is not inevitable by any stretch of the imagination, unless the useless watermelon policies continue.

    clark says: It’s lack of financial regulation and excessive credit that has wrecked the economy.

    I reply: This is not correct. It is a simplistic understanding of the many factors that are involved in the economy. There is financial regulation in place, but I will add here that during the 1980s and 1990s much of the regulations were removed again. There needs to be a balance with regard to regulation that will allow commerce to flow freely. The problem is not so much excessive credit as it is the fact that government has been taking up most of the savings that have been available for investment purposes, with little in the way of ROI that is the real problem. Billions are being wasted on funding “climate change” as well as putting in place subsidies for things like solar power and wind power where these forms of energy production are utterly useless. At the same time, government is not taking in sufficient income in the form of taxes to pay for its welfare spending.

    Clark says:
    We need a decent economy to build the replacement power sources, and we need strong government to undertake big projects. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re already going backwards in some respects. We can’t get to the Moon any more, and you can’t buy a supersonic transatlantic passenger flight any more. I doubt that nuclear power would have been developed in this financial climate.

    I reply: This is debatable. The subsidies given to these “green” sources of power are wasted. This in turn impacts upon the taxpayer as well as on the elderly, the disabled, etc. etc. through having to pay higher prices for electricity, gas and fuel.

    When coal fired stations are used thousands more in the way of jobs are created, begininning with the miners, the transport workers, and the power generator workers. The alternate sources do not create jobs and instead create unemployment. In this regard Spain is a good example of what happened when they moved to wind power. Unemployment rose substanitally.

    It should not be up to government to create big projects unless of course it is something like space research. Even road building can be done by private industry, but that means having tolls on roads. In that respect, a government funded road can be a better alternative (maybe). There is a qualifier because here in Australia there are new roads such as the M2 and the M7 in Sydney that are sort of government funded but a toll is paid to use the motorway. Here in Australia many of the rail lines are owned by private companies. This is also the case in the USA and Canada where passenger trains owned by Government have to give way for the privately owned freight trains. So no government is not all that necessary.

    The role of government should be confined to things like creating an army, navy and air force so that any given country can defend itself against invasion. There is a lot of room to cut the role of government, not to see government grow any bigger.

    Government has not helped in such things as health, and is really beginning to screw up when it comes to welfare, including determining who is fit to have children, as well as interference with diet etc. etc. The government interferes way to much in the lives of most people.

  124. Aussie says:


    my understanding is that the issuing of those carbon permits has gone a long way in the destruction of heavy industry in the UK. Even new plants have been closed down because of the trade in those permits.

    This carbon permit thing is destructive to the economy in the UK and it will have a disastrous effect here in Australia.

    If the watermelons had been sucessful in Durban then I think that some of those watermelon proposals could have led to a trade war – in fact there is still the possibility of a trade war between China and Europe and it is watermelon policy that is the real cause for this possibility.

  125. All living non plant things eat food produced by plants from the photosynthetic process of converting CO2 and water with the addition of Nitrogen and trace elements to sugars, starches, and cellulose.

    The real limit to the maximum growth of lifeforms in the total biomass is set by the supplies of the a fore mentioned, the amount of sunlight available is not a limiting factor. The optimization of the soil tilth, fertility, and water content on a global scale is what people are good at doing, most of the modern massive agricultural production has only scratched the surface of the naturally fertile ground surface. With concentration on additional soil improvements to marginal land could provide double the fertile land available with out removing native habitat that has a high conversion rate of sunlight to food already.

    Any improvement in the solar energy capture ratio by photosynthesis on a global scale would increase the total biomass.

    Increased CO2 levels would greatly enhance the viability of marginal land productivity, if it does so enough then the carrying capacity of the planet would increase. The CAGW crowd seeks to control others, and it becomes harder to do if they can be self sustaining as a result of the increase of biomass productivity due to the increased CO2 content of the atmosphere.

    If the time, money, technology, and focus were on increasing the total photosynthetic capture ratio, instead of wasting it on the “Climate change scare” process the world would be a better place for all living things.

    There is no peak anything as long as there are large areas of land that are nonproductive.

  126. Aussie says:

    @Richard, I wholeheartedly agree with your comments. It’s photosynthesis, stupid!! (aimed at the watermelons). The fact is that the watermelons never mention photosynthesis. It is always the something that is missing when they rabbit on about carbon-dioxide.

    It is called the life-cycle. Humans breathe out carbon dioxide and plants breathe in carbon dioxide, then breathe out oxygen, and humans breathe in oxygen.

  127. p.g.sharrow says:

    Watermelons are desperately worried about running out of stuff as they consume and do not produce. If they actually produced wealth they would know that people can produce more then they need to consume. Watermelons do not create wealth, They consider wealth creation beneath them, might get their hands dirty or raise a blister. Poor babies, in fear all of their lives that they will run out of stuff that they can not produce or take from others. pg

  128. Aussie says:

    @ p.g. sparrow, I totally agree with regard to the watermelons.

    They follow the discredited ideas of Malthus, David Suzuki and others. They never stop to consider that such theories have never been proved in practice.

    What Malthus claimed never came true, and it is ditto with regards to Suzuki and all of the others who push ZPG.

    The world can look after itself. If necessary, where there is drought they can adapt with the use of greenhouses. This is how the Israelis have produced food in Israel, and especially when they occupied the West Bank. It was the Israelis who built the Greenhouses and it was the Palestinians who destroyed them.

  129. Clark says:

    Neil, quick answer without me checking the numbers:

    Present energy production = Ep
    Total solar energy available = Es
    Yearly increase = 2.3%, ie multiply Ep by 1.023 every year.
    Es = Ep times (1.023 to the power 1400)

    (Actually, we know Ep and Es, and we’re calculating the number of years, but the above is OK for a rough check that 1400 years is about right).

  130. Clark says:

    You’ll have to explain to me what you mean by “watermelons”. I hope people aren’t trying to suggest that I hold the views I do because I’m an unproductive person…

    I point out that yes, human effort creates things, but we can’t create everything we need. Our efforts to harness energy ourselves (rather than just using a reservoir we discovered) has so far covered less than 20% of our energy usage rate.

    Now, if your bank account stood a X, your expenditure at Y, and your income at Y/5 (ie 20%), you should be able to see trouble coming.

  131. Clark says:

    Has Malthus been discredited? I thought that Malthusian cycles could be observed in many animal and plant populations. Certainly if we discount Malthusianism, we will have to explain why foxes, rabbits, and e-coli have all encountered limits to their population growth. Is the claim really that Malthus’ theories do not apply to humanity?

  132. Clark says:

    Aussie, of course the economic situation is far more complicated than my one-line description, but I maintain that I’ve identified the dominant effect. The removed controls are indeed the ones that were dismantled in the ’80s and ’90s. I think you’re attributing too much of our current problems to climate change legislation. If you want to see where most of the wealth has been going, just look at the wealth distribution figures for the last two decades. There have been gains in productivity, but they’ve been more than subsumed in the general shift of wealth towards richest few percent.

  133. Clark says:

    And Aussie; “we are not growing without limit”: even the example I chose, cancer, has limits. It grows until it kills its host, and itself with it. I guess we can’t expect cancer to be smart.

    “The earth has inbuilt limitations” – Yes. The whole point of my argument is to try to prevent an unexpected collision with one of those limitations.

  134. Clark says:

    Aussie, the determinant in whether commercial concerns will undertake development is risk on investment. Projects can be big, but offer income that you can be reasonably sure of, like building a railway. Risk on investment doesn’t come into it much. We know railways work, we know what they cost to build, and we know roughly how much money they make. The main question to be answered before construction is whether the company or consortium can fund that much investment until the returns come in.

    Developing something like nuclear power is different. No one knew before they started whether the project was possible. Nuclear risks were new, could not be assessed thoroughly, and therefore risk vs. investment could not be assessed. Basically, if governments hadn’t wanted plutonium for weapons, nuclear power (a byproduct) wouldn’t have been developed.

    I would expect the progress of government projects to follow the progress of science itself. A hundred years ago it was quite normal for major inventions and development to come from independent or even hobbyist scientists using their own equipment. That low-hanging fruit has been plucked. Now, major advances come mostly from government-funded international projects. Undoubtedly there is an element of big organisations monopolising research, but the major effect is that most of what you can discover with some glass jars and rubber bands has already been done. These days, you need gas chromatographs, particle accelerators and maybe a satellite launch; it’s just one of the downsides to progress. But it means that research moves to those organisations that can afford it. The more ambitious our science, the more it will fall to governments to fund it. I really can’t see any commercial concern taking on nuclear fusion research, for instance.

    Sorry for so many consecutive comments; there were many points to be answered. Judging by the comment times, many contributors on this blog are in Australia, so your replies to me arrive in my night, and you see my replies on your next day.

  135. Clark says:

    Finally, 0% energy growth is eventually inevitable. At the current rate of energy growth, in 1400 years (ie less time than we’ve known that the world is a globe) our planet would have to radiate more energy than the Sun, and its smaller surface would therefore be hotter than the Sun. Indisputable.

    What is less obvious is that 0% energy growth implies 0% economic growth. That’s covered here:

  136. Aussie says:

    @Clark your understanding about the building of railways is flawed. There are risks on investment and the Australian debate regarding the building of a VFT network is a good case.

    I first heard about the proposal in the 1980s. It was studied and was considered to be not viable. In order to be viable the line would have to transport large numbers of people. Another difficulty was the requirement to build a dedicated line. Then there is the issue of the time factor – business people do not want to spend a day travelling between capital cities by train!! That leaves freight.

    Here in Australia up until the 1990s the railways were run by the various state governments. Any investment in rolling stock meant that there were huge losses due to the depreciation of the rolling stock. The trains did not carry sufficient passengers to cover for the write-downs due to depreciation.

    Most freight goes by road, and it takes less time by road than it does by rail to get between Melbourne and Sydney. The ideal would be to get this freight off the roads and back onto the rail system.

    Considering the nature of the Australian climate with its floods etc. rail as an alternative to other forms of transport is simply not viable.

    When it comes to suburban passenger trains there are many problems to be overcome as well. I grew up right next to a railway line. The train from my suburb took an hour when it stopped all stations and about 20-30 minutes when it expressed past most of the stations. It allowed me to travel to a school that was a bit of a distance from home. I caught two trains or I could catch a train and tram (and risk my life) or I could catch a train and bus. However, if there was an electricity strike, or there was a train drivers’ strike then I could not easily get to and from school. It was a fact of life. The real problem with passenger trains though, was not the risk of strikes, but the timetables. Outside of the peak times for workers the trains were running about once an hour. It was not often enough, but there were few passengers who wanted to travel at those times. People prefer getting to work in their cars rather than relying upon an unreliable means of transport.

    I am not addressing all aspects relating to railway investment either since there are lots of things to contemplate. Just as VFT is not economic in Australia, the same could be said about the USA. It is simply not economic to go ahead and build such infrastructure. One of the very real problems in the USA is the fact that railway stations need to be rebuilt which is an additional cost over and above the building of dedicated lines as well as building the rolling stock. At Springfield in Massachusetts for example the timbers on the platforms are absolutely rotten!!

    Here in Australia the railways were sold off by government to private interests. It is now up to the private interests to invest in the new rolling stock. In the USA the lines are owned by a variety of railway companies. This means that freight trains get priority over the passenger trains. On top of that AMTRAK has limited services with some on the west coast for example happening once a day. Example: Seattle to Los Angeles is a two day trip starting at about 10.00 am and ending somewhere between 8.00 – 10.00 pm. Delays are inevitable because of the priority given to freight trains, as well as little things like the lines buckling because of heat when there is a very hot day!!

    Normally, people like to get to their destination in the shortest possible time which is one reason why railways remain not all that viable for the majority of travellers, and translated that means losses for government e.g. AMTRAK.

  137. Aussie says:

    @Clark, once again your notions on wealth and wealth redistribution are incorrect, or at least they are limited.

    The economic downturn that we experienced in 2008 had its genesis back in the 1970s, in the USA due to legislation that insisted that bank lend to people who could not repay a mortgage. That legislation required banks to make those loans under penalty. This is a simplistic reply with regard to the history of what really happened. Australia used to have safeguards in place such that people who could not afford a mortgage were not given the loans, but with banking deregulation new players entered into the market… and when money became tight this led to mortgage defaults. Of course there were other reasons, such as loss of employment that had a role to play. On top of that, in Europe in particular there were some rogue market players who embezzled millions of dollars. Again I am being simplistic. The fact is that those rogue players had an impact upon the viabiltiy of some of the affected banks. There is another player by the name of George Soros who broke the bank of England, and yes I suspect that he had a hand in some of what happened in 2008. Again this is simplistic and it is by no means a complete answer.

    This particular economic downturn had a lot of parallels to the 1970s when we first experienced what is known as stagflation – high inflation, push for higher wages plus high interest rates, and high unemployment. Some of the factors are there, but not all of the indicators are right for saying that we have stagflation. One of the effects of this particular situation is that wage earners, and in particular middle income earners feel that they are going backwards. This is what we are experiencing today.

    One factor in play during the 1970s was the oil shock, but this is not in play at the present time. Instead, we have the push to follow everything that Greenpeace throws at us, including the stupidity of putting billions into so called “sustainable energy”. It is all wasted money and it is having the effect of transferring money away from the middle income and upper working class and into the pockets of the elites. The “1%” and “99%” are in fact myths. The real problem is that we are having to pay higher and higher amounts for our utilities and for our fuel supplies, which in turn means we end up paying higher for our food because of the high costs of production and transport.

    On top of that it is government that is taking a larger share of the money available for investment which means that the private sector continues to be starved of funds. In turn this means that if the private sector is being starved of funds they cannot create new employment opportunities. The cycle goes on from that point… lack of employment means there is added demand for government assistance which means there is a created need for an increase in tax dollars to pay for the welfare.

    What is needed is a more balanced distribution of available savings for investment purposes in order to stimulate the economy. Excess government spending actually throws the balance out of whack!!

    It seems to me that the new factor, which is the push for “green energy” is the one factor which is helping to create the new income inequality. The reason that this seems to be the case is based upon the fact that the creation of the “green energy” is extremely expensive, and that it is causing more and more families to fall behind as they struggle to pay higher utility bills.

    One must look to the laws of supply and demand to explain what has been happening in the economy. We have a situation where the demand for investment income, is outstripping the supply simply because government is soaking up the excess.