Lilley and Tol on Stern


The GWPF has just published “The Stern Review Ten Years On”
by Peter Lilley M.P. and Professor Richard Tol (though for some reason Tol is not credited on the cover.)

Commenting on the details of the economic arguments is beyond my competence, and I suspect beyond the competence of most of the rest of us at Cliscep. Given the likely deafening silence and/or deafening barrage of insults to be expected in the media, it seems important to have some outlet where it can be discussed rationally.

Despite the technical nature of much of the argument, it’s very clearly written. As an example of the kind of reasoning that is at the core of the critique, but which doesn’t require detailed economic expertise, here’s Peter Lilley:

Most people who would be willing to make sacrifices to ‘save humanity’ would not want to sacrifice a bean to make future generations even richer. Unfortunately, the basic equation used by the Stern Review assumes that we should treat those richer and poorer than ourselves symmetrically. This makes the algebra simple. However, arguably, an asymmetric approach makes more ethical sense; in other words, we have a positive obligation to compensate those poorer than ourselves for the impact of global warming but no obligation to compensate those richer than ourselves. This is difficult to capture in a convenient mathematical formula. But our ethics should not be driven by algebraic convenience. There are other ethical systems that do not involve maximising utility across time and generations. A well-established alternative puts an obligation on each generation to pass on to its successors at least as much ‘societal capital’ as it inherited – above all, the accumulated learning coupled with the institutions of democracy and the market that will give our successors the opportunity to advance as we have done, at least materially.

There’s much more in this vein, some of it rather technical. I do recommend everyone to read it carefully before commenting.

87 thoughts on “Lilley and Tol on Stern

  1. My half can be summarised in three sentences:
    a) Stern has received over £31 million in research funding since 2007.
    b) The field of climate change economics has changed beyond recognition since 2007.
    c) b) is unrelated to a).

    Liked by 7 people

  2. Stern made at least two fundamental errors. 1. Ignored opportunity costs. Money spent on climate mitigation today is moneynthatnwas not spent on R&D, or infrastructure, or any other worthy activity.
    2. Misstated the time value of money by using excessively low discount rates. Money today is worth more than money in the future because it can be invested and compounded. All pension funds know this well. The report was a political document, not an economic document.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. @Richard Tol – Subtle!

    Congratulations to Peter Lilley and Richard Tol

    A little history from the time, most links still work:

    OCT 2006 – Blair and Brown hire Al Gore:

    “Unchecked global warming will devastate the global economy on the scale of the world wars and the Great Depression, according to a major British report released Monday that seeks to quantify the costs and benefits of action as well as inaction.

    British Treasury chief Gordon Brown, who commissioned the report and who could very well become Britain’s next prime minister when Tony Blair steps down next year, said former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who has dedicated himself to warning about global warming, would advise the British government on climate change.”

    15th March 2007 – “Al Gore in London” Al Gore Blog

    “I had some really interesting and productive meetings in London this week — discussing the climate crisis with the Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, who is widely expected to be the next Prime Minister when Tony Blair retires.

    Chancellor Brown has introduced a package of binding CO2 reductions in the United Kingdom that represent real leadership. The same day I met with the leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, and 80 of his fellow Tory Members of Parliament.

    They were unanimous in their determination to propose meaningful solutions to the climate crisis. There has been a revolution in British politics, with the two largest parties now wholeheartedly committed to CO2 reductions and international leadership to solve the climate crisis.”

    26 March, 2007 – “Al Gore in Cambridge this weekend”

    “Al Gore is giving a public lecture (sold out) in the Corn Exchange on Monday 26 March. Gore’s book and Oscar-award winning film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ are based on his lecture, which he is now delivering around the world.

    Gore’s presentation will offer a passionate and inspirational view of the urgent need for action in order to prevent the dire and irrevocable changes to the planet that global warming threatens.”

    5 July 2007 – International climate change expert is Defra’s new Chief Scientific Adviser

    “Prior to joining the World Bank, Dr. Watson was Associate Director for Environment in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President in the White House. Prior to joining the Clinton/Gore White House, Dr. Watson was Director of the Science Division and Chief Scientist for the Office of Mission to Planet Earth at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).”

    July 13, 2007
    Watson’s World Bank leaving party:

    Jack Gibbons, Watson’s former boss at the White House, read aloud a letter written to Watson by Al Gore. In this letter, Gore calls Watson his “hero of the planet,” commends him on his incredible career and contributions, and congratulates him on his new jobs.

    Gibbons also spoke about the challenges facing scientists whose scientific evidence is often viewed not as strict science but as efforts to steer policy.

    13th October 2007

    “We need an advocate such as Al Gore to help present the work of scientists across the world,” said Bob Watson, former chairman of the IPCC and a top federal climate science adviser to the Clinton-Gore Administration”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You quoted Lilley saying:

    Most people who would be willing to make sacrifices to ‘save humanity’ would not want to sacrifice a bean to make future generations even richer.

    That is an ignorant thing to say. Every parent surely wants to maximise the prosperity of their children.

    Also, there’s an interesting article on the Stern Report here:

    A few quotes:

    “Skeptics of climate change and critics of climate policy have seized on the weakness of these estimates to—in the spirit of an “if you cannot convince them, confuse them” strategy—mislead the general public and policymaking communities around the world.

    After all, it is [skeptics’] deliberate manipulation of public opinion that is the source of concern—the reason the Stern Review is labeled above as a risk to the climate—so quieting them is a significant contribution. How is this accomplished? It is clear that Figure 1 (…) displays climate risks. As soon as it is established that one of those risks is possible (and even most skeptics must acknowledge that the Stern Review has accomplished this task), then clearly it can be said that there is an established need for climate policy. To argue to the contrary, skeptics and critics have to guarantee that none of the impacts highlighted in Figure 1 can ever occur. They have to make the case that there is no chance that the climate is changing. Because they know that they cannot support such a claim, they know that they will win the hearts and minds of the public at large and the policymakers that represent them over the short-run only if they focus debate about the Stern Review on damage and cost estimates that are extremely suspect in their best light and completely indefensible in the worst case scenario. We cannot let that happen.

    Guess who co-write that.


  5. Geoff: Thank you for something so timely and for the excellent quote from Lilley. (How another poster cannot understand the ethical difference is beyond me. I’ve no interest in engaging in a conversation with an unknown nym given this pretended lack of understanding, as I assume, in my charitable way, it to be. Time-wasters one and all.)

    Richard: All the summary I needed of the second part at this juncture, thank you.

    Dennis: Thank you for the work that went into that. I’ve done nothing else on CliScep in the last few days but I did approve your comment, which felt good.


  6. NINO
    You need to read the quote in context, which is the uncontroversial assertion that future generations (and we’re talking about one or two centuries hence – not about our children) will be far richer than current generations. This is especially true of developing countries, which have huge problems of poverty and access to basic services now, but will, on all estimates, see huge gains in wealth this century.


  7. Maybe so, Geoff, although I don’t know how sure we can be that future generations will be far richer than now if climate change turns out to be bad.

    The strange thing to me is that Prof Tol, although critical of the Stern Review in 2006 was nevertheless against the approach of skeptics who “mislead the general public” (and the “if you cannot convince them, confuse them” strategy) is now so supportive of those same skeptics.


  8. NINO
    “I don’t know how sure we can be that future generations will be far richer than now if climate change turns out to be bad.”

    Stern says so. (Well, he admits so.) But you’re right, we can be sure of nothing in the future until it happens. All we can do is project from the present, and at present the developing world is developing and we’re not, or not so much. They’re catching us up, even though the Arctic is melting. Isn’t that awful?


  9. Nino:

    “The strange thing to me is that Prof Tol, although critical of the Stern Review in 2006 was nevertheless against the approach of skeptics who “mislead the general public” (and the “if you cannot convince them, confuse them” strategy) is now so supportive of those same skeptics.”

    I can’t speak for Prof Tol, but is it so strange that someone could alter their viewpoint and reassess their opinions over a period of a decade? In fact, it seems to me that if somebody still clings to the same opinions and exactly the same world view that they had a decade ago, then that in itself would be strange, given the momentous changes we have witnessed during that decade.


  10. Richard Drake:

    Thanks Richard.

    The Stern Review was an important part of a concerted effort by the Blair government to elevate AGW to crisis level in the public perception.

    Gore acolyte Bob Watson, as well as becoming Chief Scientific Advisor at Defra, effectively replaced Mike Hulme at the Tyndall Centre, because Hulme had gone off message. Those two posts were the “jobs” referred to by Gore.

    In a piece for the BBC in November 2006, entitled “Chaotic World of Climate Truth”,, Hulme attacked the climate doomsayers, having rowed back from the doom-saying stance that had been a feature of the Tyndall Centre since he founded it in 2000. He was also not without blemish in the Climategate e-mails.

    He directly criticised Tony Blair, saying,

    “Some recent examples of the catastrophists include Tony Blair, who a few weeks back warned in an open letter to EU head of states: “We have a window of only 10-15 years to take the steps we need to avoid crossing a catastrophic tipping point.”

    Imagine a government scientist saying that now. He continued,

    “Why is it not just campaigners, but politicians and scientists too, who are openly confusing the language of fear, terror and disaster with the observable physical reality of climate change, actively ignoring the careful hedging which surrounds science’s predictions?

    What has pushed the debate between climate change scientists and climate sceptics to now being between climate change scientists and climate alarmists?

    First, the discourse of catastrophe is a campaigning device being mobilised in the context of failing UK and Kyoto Protocol targets to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.

    The signatories to this UN protocol will not deliver on their obligations. This bursting of the campaigning bubble requires a determined reaction to raise the stakes – the language of climate catastrophe nicely fits the bill.

    Hence we now have the militancy of the Stop Climate Chaos activists and the megaphone journalism of the Independent newspaper, with supporting rhetoric from the prime minister and senior government scientists. ”

    Bad mistake Professor Hulme…….

    “Second, the discourse of catastrophe is a political and rhetorical device to change the frame of reference for the emerging negotiations around what happens when the Kyoto Protocol runs out after 2012.

    The Exeter conference of February 2005 on “Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change” served the government’s purposes of softening-up the G8 Gleneagles summit through a frenzied week of “climate change is worse than we thought” news reporting and group-think.”

    “By stage-managing the new language of catastrophe, the conference itself became a tipping point in the way that climate change is discussed in public.”

    The Exeter Conference was Blair’s baby, an attempt to revive the flagging AGW paradigm. It worked.

    Hulme again: “Third, the discourse of catastrophe allows some space for the retrenchment of science budgets.

    The careless (or conspiratorial?) translation of concern about Saddam Hussein’s putative military threat into the case for WMD has had major geopolitical repercussions.

    We need to make sure the agents and agencies in our society which would seek to amplify climate change risks do not lead us down a similar counter-productive pathway.”

    This was nothing less than Hara Kiri for Hulme. He not only attacked the Prime Minister, the government and Sir David King, government Chief Scientific Advisor at the time, but also the National Environmental Research Council, core funders of the Tyndall Centre.

    He compounded this four months later with a seemingly harmless book review in the Guardian of “Singer and Avery, Global Warming – every 1500 years”.

    It was picked up and given prominence by journalist Melanie Philips, who scathingly attacked him.

    “From the horse’s mouth — climate change theory has nothing to do with the truth. In a remarkable column in today’s Guardian Mike Hulme, ……………a key figure in the promulgation of climate change theory who but a short while ago warned that exaggerated forecasts of global apocalypse were in danger of destroying the case altogether — writes that scientific truth is the wrong tool to establish the, er, truth of global warming. Instead, we need a perspective of what he calls ‘post-normal’ science:

    “Self-evidently, dangerous climate change will not emerge from a normal scientific process of truth seeking, although science will gain some insights into the question if it recognises the socially contingent dimensions of a post-normal science. But to proffer such insights, scientists – and politicians – must trade (normal) truth for influence.

    To have the Director of Tyndall ridiculed in this way was embarrassing for the government campaign. Four months later he was on “sabbatical”.

    In stepped Bob Watson and in 2008 he brought the scares back, dangerous climate change re-emerged:

    “The UK should take active steps to prepare for dangerous climate change of perhaps 4C according to one of the government’s chief scientific advisers. In policy areas such as flood protection, agriculture and coastal erosion Professor Bob Watson said the country should plan for the effects of a 4C global average rise on pre-industrial levels. The EU is committed to limiting emissions globally so that temperatures do not rise more than 2C.”

    The Agenda was back on track.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Every parent surely wants to maximise the prosperity of their children.

    Maximise? Hell no!

    I give my children some of my money so that they will prosper. I do not give them the maximum that I could.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. @jaime, nino
    We live and learn.

    My basic position on climate has not changed much: Climate change is a problem, but it is not the end of the world. The best solution is a carbon tax that starts modestly and gradually increases over time.

    I also did not change my opinion on the Stern Review: A political pamphlet. I was glad to discover that it has left almost no trace in academia — apart from the £31 million wasted and young careers derailed.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. This is where I have to depart from Richard Tol. My basic position is that there has been no global warming, simply a natural recovery from the vicissitudes of the Little Ice Age. CO2 is not driving climate and therefore any controls on CO2 will have no effect on climate.

    If we look at the last few years where global (satellite) temperatures have refused to rise significantly since 1998 and also look at annual CO2 change, rather than the magic “400 ppm” alarm, we find that there is no acceleration in annual increases in Mauna Loa data.

    There was a spike in 1998, the last El Nino and since then a level trend. In 2005, there were massive storms in the Amazon basin and it was estimated that HALF A BILLION trees were lost:

    Nothing has happened to the annual rate of CO2 increase. Why? Planting trees is the basis of many of the carbon offset schemes, yet this massive loss of trees did not produce any abnormal increase in CO2. 14,000 – 18,000 years ago, there was considerably less rainforest than there is now and much more savannah.

    “A second cold, arid maximum began around 22,000 years ago and lasted until about 14,000 14C y.a., after which rainfall and temperatures increased and the forests returned over several thousand years.”

    How did that happen without anthropogenic CO2?

    Global emissions reported by CDIAC increased by 33% from 1998 to 2013, but there was no acceleration in atmospheric CO2. Why?

    In 1991, Mt. Pinatubo erupted and over the next two years global temperatures fell by 0.5 C. Global emissions at that time were recorded as fairly static then increasing slowly until they surged forward in 2003. Atmospheric CO2 rate of increase declined by half over the next couple of years after Pinatubo. Why, if anthropogenic emissions are the reason for increasing CO2 and they did not decline?

    There is no evidence of cause and effect, just computer models and “scientists say”.

    Following my earlier theme, in 2008, when catastrophism re-emerged, we had the Climate Change Act and the establishment of the two Grantham Institutes, (with direct input into government policy via memberships of the Climate Change Committee), one headed by Lord Stern, the other by Sir Brian Hoskins, a major contributor of the science basis for the review.

    At the same time, Obama entered the White House with a vow to kill the US coal industry and a mission to realise the UN agenda of control of energy.

    Stern went on his travels around the world, disseminating the idea of global doom unless we succumbed to a global tax on “carbon”. He also went into the carbon trading consultancy business along with CCC member Sam Fankhauser and Christiana Figueres, before she got the UNFCCC job

    Copenhagen was the first attempt at a global carbon tax, but was scuppered by the Climategate e-mails. A “Son of Kyoto” was vital to continue the push for a global carbon tax after 2012 and here we are now with the 2015 Paris agreement, not quite a global tax yet, but it is still the Holy Grail. Billions have already been spent on the AGW paradigm but the climate seems oblivious.

    Is it warmer than 1850? I believe it is and I am grateful for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Prof Tol, what changed for you in the period since 2006 to make you embrace skeptics whose approach it to “mislead the general public” and whose strategy is “if you cannot convince them, confuse them” ? They are still doing the same things with the same apparent strategy.

    Geoff, we are still developing, contrary to your suggestion. 1% growth in a huge economy like ours is still greater in total than several percent growth in tiny economies. Mature economies just don’t grow so fast. But there’s been a whole smartphone revolution in the time since 2006; if that is not continued deveolpment then what is?


  15. Lilley says of the Stern review page 4.

    Its principal conclusion – that the World should act to prevent the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeding 550 parts per million – happened to be the target to which the UK government was already signed up.

    Strictly Stern talks about stabilisation of total greenhouse gases at between 500 and 550ppm CO2 equivalents. To put into context, in 2006 the Stern Review Summary of Conclusions stated

    The current level is 430ppm CO2e today, and it is rising at more than 2ppm each year.

    Taking the central estimate of warming from a doubling of CO2 as 3K, I have a couple of questions.

    1. Is this 550ppm about twice the pre-industrial CO2 level of 280ppm and therefore implies 3K of warming as the target, not the 2K talked about today?
    2. Should we not be at 450ppm CO2e today which implies 2K of warming, not the 1K so far observed?


  16. @mbc
    Stern concluded that previous estimates by the UK gov’t of the impacts of climate change were too low, that previous estimates by the UK gov’t of the costs of climate policy were too high, but that the previous cost-benefit analysis by the UK gov’t got the answer just right!

    At the time, the UK gov’t target was more lenient than the EU’s.

    Strangely, the EU was also hugely complimentary about the Stern Review, although it argued that the EU should weaken its target.

    Needless to say, the UK quietly replaced its target with the EU one.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Prof. Tol,

    You may want to go back to climategate emails and look for my name.

    I searched, but found barely anything. Do you mind giving me a clue?


    2. Should we not be at 450ppm CO2e today which implies 2K of warming, not the 1K so far observed?

    Do you have a reason to believe the planet’s thermal inertia to be zero?


  18. @nino
    That’s not really how it works. You pose an hypothesis. You collect the evidence. Don’t expect others to do your homework for you. I gave you a hint. That should be enough. You refer to yourself as a child, but this is grown-up stuff. So start behaving like one.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Prof. Tol, I pose no hypothesis, I merely ask a question: what changed for you in the period since 2006 to make you embrace skeptics whose approach was and still is to “mislead the general public” and whose strategy was and still is “if you cannot convince them, confuse them” ?

    I’m sorry that you cannot justify your conversion intelectually and instead have to resort to insults (“You refer to yourself as a child, but this is grown-up stuff. So start behaving like one.”). I expect more from professors, perhaps unrealistically.


  20. Prof. Tol, I suggested you changed *since* 2006 not in that year. You were critical of those who “mislead the general public” and whose strategy was “if you cannot convince them, confuse them”. You subsequently joined the advisory committee of GWPF (a selective embrace, unless you are also on similar committes for groups that don’t reject climate science or policy) whose main purpose often seems to be to mislead and confuse the general public, even down to its choice of its two names. So something changed.


  21. Richard and Nino, The GWPF is still on the consensus enforcement fatwah list. This explains the minute search for inconsistencies and possible impure motives. It is a political activity and not a policy of scientific one.

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  22. I think Nino is right to ask Richard for clarity on what he wrote ten years ago. Just weeks before Yohe and Tol, a BBC R4 article quotes him as follows:

    “If a student of mine were to hand in this report as a Masters thesis, perhaps if I were in a good mood I would give him a ‘D’ for diligence; but more likely I would give him an ‘F’ for fail.

    “There is a whole range of very basic economics mistakes that somebody who claims to be a Professor of Economics simply should not make,” he told The Investigation on BBC Radio 4.

    At the core of the Stern Review is an economic comparison between the damage caused by climate change with the costs of cutting our greenhouse gases.

    Professor Tol believes the figures for damage are exaggerated.

    “Stern consistently picks the most pessimistic for every choice that one can make. He overestimates through cherry-picking, he double counts particularly the risks and he underestimates what development and adaptation will do to impacts,” he said.

    However, Nino’s confusion might be a case of the polarisation of climate debate preceding it. A few months prior to the Yohe and Tol article cited by Nino, the pair published a criticism of Stern:

    First, the Stern Review does not present new estimates of either the impacts of climate change or the costs of greenhouse gas emission reduction. Rather, the Stern Review reviews existing material. It is therefore surprising that the Stern Review produced numbers that are so far outside the range of the previous published literature.

    Second, the high valuation of climate change impacts reported in the Review can be explained by a very low discount rate, risk that is double counted, and vulnerability that is assumed to be constant over very long periods of time (two or more centuries, to be exact). The latter two sources of exaggeration are products of substandard analysis. The use of a very low discount rate is, of course, debatable

    Third, the low estimates for the cost of climate change policy can be explained by the Review’s truncating time horizon over which they are calculated, omitting the economic repercussions of dearer energy, and ignoring the capital invested in the energy sector. The first assumption is simply wrong, especially since the very low discount rates puts enormous weight on the other side of the calculus on impacts that might be felt after the year 2050. The latter two are misleading.

    Fourth, the cost and benefit estimates reported in the Stern Review do not match its policy conclusions. If the impacts of climate change are as dramatic as the Stern Review suggests, and if the costs of emission reduction are as small as reported, then a concentration target that is far more stringent than the one recommended in the Review should have been proposed. The Review, in fact, does not conduct a proper optimization exercise.

    Fifth, a strong case for emission reduction even in the near term can nonetheless be made without relying on suspect valuations and inappropriate summing across the multiple sources of climate risk. A corollary of this observation is that doing nothing in the short term is not advisable even on economic grounds.

    Sixth, alarmism supported by dubious economics born of the Stern Review may further polarize the climate policy debate. It will certainly allow opponents of near-term climate policy to focus the world’s attention on the estimation errors and away from its more important messages: that climate risks are approaching more quickly that previously anticipated, that some sort of policy response will be required to diminish the likelihoods of the most serious of those risks, and that beginning now can be justified by economic arguments anchored on more reliable analysis.

    To further confuse poor Nino, the acknowledgements of Yohe and Tol 2006 thank both Stern himself, and David Henderson, Chair of the GWPF’s Academic Advisory Council until recently, for their contribution to the development of the article.

    Frans Berkhout, David Henderson, David Holland, Chris Hope, David Roberts, Sue Scott, Joel Smith and Nick Stern had useful comments on earlier versions of this commentary

    Moreover, Yohe and Tol participated in Lomborg’s attempts to locate the rightful priority of climate change on the political agenda, with Yohe and Lomborg seemingly falling out, and then reconciling their differences.

    To the untrained eye — or perhaps the eye trained only by the polarised understanding of the climate debate — Tol takes and switches sides. That is to say that what strikes Nino as contradiction may well be nuance, in fact. What Nino sees is not irreconcilable and fundamental differences of perspective between researchers, but the artefact caused by political strategy poisoning the atmosphere that might otherwise yield insight.

    It’s hard to avoid the possibility that is precisely the point of such ‘wedging’; that while not ever determining that, ‘climate change is not happening’, the consequence of ‘climate change is happening’ might turn out to not be quite the imperative it is imagined to be, if discussion between perspectives was to be permitted. That is in turn to say that so much is invested in the climate issue, research produced by cooperation across seemingly opposite perspectives may well create a political risk. It was, after all, Stern as a civil servant, authoring the report for the government that wanted to champion the issue… not to mention his role at the World Bank, where the same ambition existed, Bretton Woods institutions being so disoriented in the post-Cold War world. Stern is an opportunist.

    Curiously, the research to support his claims only came online after Stern had been given tens of £millions of public money and billionaire’s vanity funds. And even then, and a decade later, Stern admits that there’s not enough research — surprise surprise — amid claims that he underestimated the costs of climate change, while observational evidence shows precisely the opposite. i.e, far fewer people experiencing the putative ‘impact’ of a changing climate, and much less change than was anticipated. Ditto, it is only once Stern realises his report has created a system of imperatives that were bound to fail the test of political reality, he — and the other Apollo Lords — begins to wonder out loud about R&D in the way that Lomborg had suggested.

    The fatwa issued against the GWPF — and for that matter, Lomborg, Pielke, Tol, etc — that David brings up is the consequence of political strategists’ with-us-or-against-us rubric, nuance counting in the Consensus Enforcement vernacular as ‘mislead[ing] and [confusing] the general public’ — the vast majority of which in fact doesn’t care for the squabble, nor any kind of debate the concentration of atmospheric gasses. Climate policy is advanced in spite of public opinion, it coming only as an afterthought to politicians who have constructed climate institutions well above democratic oversight.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. I’m aware that Yohe and Tol were very critical of Stern. But they also appeared to consider action on climate change to be important, that the issues they identified in the Stern Review were damaging to the prospects of such action and that unidentified skeptics mislead and confuse the general public. So it seems strange that he identifies with skeptics who still behave just as they did back then by associating himself so closely with GWPF. I don’t understand whether this reflects a change of opinion of the behaviour of skeptics or a change in attitude to action on climate change, or both.

    David, the thing about the GWPF is that it is not necessary to do a “minute search for inconsistencies and possible impure motives”. Such characteristics seem core to its existence.


  24. Nino, you are still playing the “everyone must be in this box or that box” game.

    I suggest you read the GWPF intro. In particular,
    “On climate science, our members and supporters cover a broad range of different views, from the IPCC position through agnosticism to outright scepticism.”

    Also, note that
    “Our main focus is to analyse global warming policies and their economic and other implications”.
    This area is precisely Richard’s area of expertise.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Nino — I don’t understand whether this reflects a change of opinion of the behaviour of skeptics or a change in attitude to action on climate change, or both.

    It is your own misapprehension of the climate debate and its ‘structure’ that explains your confusion, not the actors’ vacillation.

    Once you get your head around your own misunderstanding, Consensus Enforcers will call you a denier.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Thanks Ben.

    I reserve embraces for the wife and children.

    At work, I prefer let the chips fall where they may. I think I’ve been reasonably consistent in arguing for sensible climate policy and calling out bad practice. Ditto for calling out bad research, be it Lomborg’s or Stern’s.


  27. Paul, I realise that people have a diversity of opinion but are there really people in GWPF (either) who accept the IPCC position without qualification? My experience is that skeptics will formulate acceptance with a get-out so that they can also claim sensitivity is low. It wouldn’t surprise me if Ridley notionally ‘accepts’ the IPCC position.

    As for their focus matching Prof. Tol’s area of expertise, one might expect them to campaign for or at least support a uniform carbon tax – the professor’s prescription, which he surely delivers to them. Do they? There’s nothing wrong with Prof. Tol advising GWPF nd more than there is with economist Simon Wren Lewis advising the Labour Party on macroeconomic policy; both seem like a good thing. But the GWPF is an organisation whose methods (misleading the public and ecouraging confusion) Tol has criticized in the past. I’d think it would not be a comfortable arrangement.

    Ben, nobody is likely to call me a denier.


  28. NINO
    We all agree that climate and climate policy are complex subjects. You’ve been asked a dozen times in different ways to please stop demanding that everyone takes the same binary Manichean view as yourself. If you tried it in a normal political discussion (demanding that socialists “accept the position of the Labour Party without qualification” or whatever) you’d be ridiculed. We’ve been patient.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Nino — are there really people in GWPF (either) who accept the IPCC position without qualification

    Faith. Deference. What is this?

    Not even climate warriors accept the IPCC position, which they say tends to be conservative. And then there are the ‘pro-climate’ people who believe that the IPCC process has failed for other reasons. Meanwhile, sceptics who state their estimate of climate change is consistent with the IPCC’s get a bashing from Consensus Enforcers. And then there’s the likes of Pielke, who point out how at odds with the IPCC certain statements (from scientists, campaigners and politicians) have been. People who don’t disagree with the putative consensus get called deniers, and people who are further from the consensus than deniers get included within it.

    Your understanding of the debate is worse than useless.

    Ben, nobody is likely to call me a denier.

    I’ll call you a denier — you resist explanation. And that’s the very definition of denial. But that doesn’t really get us anywhere or explain anything. You’re a Consensus Enforcer, the primary conceit of which is to suspend judgement, i.e. to ‘accept’ a position you don’t understand without qualification.


  30. Geoff, sorry if I have been trying. Disagreement with the policies of (your example) the Labour Party is not really equivalent. There’s no scientific backing for such policies, whereas IPCC positions on the science (as opposed to other aspects) are not really open to lay dispute. Ben is right that many people on the ‘consensus’ side are as guilty of cherry picking or presenting a view inconsistent with IPCC reports as those on the skeptic side. This seems unjustified whoever does it, except in the case of scientists debating their own domain. The *only* reasonable position for a lay, inexpert, observer, what Ben calls the primary conceit of my sort, is to accept the IPCC position without qualification. To do otherwise is to assume ones knowledge exceeds that of the IPCC authors (which by definition is true only of observers who are not lay, inexpert people).

    Ben, do I resist explanation? Maybe I do, although I don’t know of what. Explanations that are unconvincing are best resisted, I’m sure you’d agree.


  31. Nino —e *only* reasonable position for a lay, inexpert, observer, what Ben calls the primary conceit of my sort, is to accept the IPCC position without qualification. To do otherwise is to assume ones knowledge exceeds that of the IPCC authors (which by definition is true only of observers who are not lay, inexpert people).

    So we move from a conversation about the structure of the climate debate, and far from the arguments that constitute those positions, to the ethical imperative incumbent on ‘lay’ folk, to observe the scientific commandments in obedient silence.

    What knowledge does one need to understand and to scrutinise the IPCC and its output?

    I think I was one the first to count the expertise of contributors to the IPCC working groups and chapters, focusing on contributors from the Anglosphere.


    31 of the UK contributors work at the Hadley Centre, 43 of the US contributors work at the NOAA. Where we have been unable to locate these people properly (nearly always), we’ve given them the benefit of the doubt, and included them in the same category as scientists in climatology, meteorology, and oceanography. There were 215 scientists in this category. So there is certainly a higher proportion of people who could reasonably be called climate scientists in WGI compared with II and III. But it’s worth pointing out that this figure is also boosted by a whole bunch of people who work in climatology but who are modellers by training. That’s not to knock modelling – well, maybe a bit – but it does raise questions about what a climate scientist actually is, when you get to call yourself one even if you’ve spent most of your career modelling traffic flows or whatever. We’ll try to come up with some numbers for that at some point.

    As for the other 88, 24 are atmospheric physicists, 27 are geophysicists or geologists. Arguably, these could also be lumped in with the so-called climate scientists. Ach, what the hell, let’s call it 266 climate scientists out of 303. Of the rest, we have four statisticians, eight mathematicians/physicists, eight engineers, two biologists/ecologists, and one each from history of science, computer science, and a lonely economist. There were also solos from an NGO, an agronomist, and a lawyer (who curiously seemed to double up as an oceanographer). Which leaves another eight whose expertise we can’t establish.


    Of the 51 UK contributors to the report, there were 5 economists, 3 epidemiologists, 5 who were either zoologists, entomologists, or biologists. 5 worked in civil engineering or risk management / insurance. 7 had specialisms in physical geography (we gave the benefit of the doubt to some academics whose profiles weren’t clear about whether they are physical or human geographers). And just 10 have specialisms in geophysics, climate science or modelling, or hydrology. But there were 15 who could only be described as social scientists. If we take the view that economics is a social science, that makes 20 social scientists. This gives the lie to Dessler’s claim that IPCC contributors are analogous to medical doctors. There are economists working on saving that dying child!!! That’s got to be wrong, by Dessler’s own standards.

    Of the 70 US contributors, there were 7 economists, 13 social scientists, 3 epidemiologists, 10 biologists/ecologists, 5 engineers, 2 modellers/statisticians, 1 full-time activist (and 1 part time), 5 were in public health and policy, and 4 were unknowns. 17 worked in earth/atmospheric sciences. Again, we gave the benefit of the doubt to geographers where it wasn’t clear whether their specialism was physical, or human geography.

    WGIII — Of 270 contributors, 66 were from the USA and UK. We haven’t been able to establish the expertise and discipline of 12 of those – yet. 14 contributors had expertise in physics, chemistry or engineering. 4 from other engineering disciplines. 2 were bio/geochemists. 5 were from forestry ecology, or soil science. 2 had expertise in law. There were 7 social scientists, and a whopping 20 economists.

    And in summary:

    So, across WGI, II and III, we have a very generous 314 contributors among the 510 we sampled who can reasonably be described as scientific experts. Which scales up to 1539 out of the putative 2500. Some of our critics have argued that it was dishonest to look at WGII and III, and that the climate scientists are all in WGI. Of course WGII/III are not all climate scientists. This criticism misses the point that the IPCC is neither, as is frequently claimed, 2500 of the worlds best climate scientists, nor indeed climate scientists at all.

    Donna Laframboise has since done a deeper study of the expertise of IPCC authors, and found no less a massive disparity between the idea of ‘thousands of the world’s top scientists’ and the reality, which includes a number of very poorly-qualified ‘experts’, and no small number of campaigners from NGOs.

    So I would have to reiterate the point, Nino. You don’t know what you’re talking about:

    * You don’t know what the IPCC is.
    * You don’t know who the IPCC are.
    * You don’t know what the IPCC does.
    * You don’t know what the IPCC claims.
    * You don’t know how the IPCC’s work is used.
    * You don’t know what the objections to the IPCC’s claims are.
    * You don’t know who the people objecting to the IPCC’s claims are.

    And yet you say our criticism of the IPCC — which as far as I can tell, has not been identified here, and so may also be a figment of your imagination — is *our* moral failure.

    In summary, you give us very good reasons not to trust institutions like the IPCC. Never mind the IPCC’s output, it’s your ignorance that is terrifying.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. NINO
    “IPCC positions on the science (as opposed to other aspects) are not really open to lay dispute.”

    Oh yes they are. Because their “positions” on the science are not science. They’re just what you say: positions. I can draw a trend line on a graph as well as the President of the Royal Society and take a position on what I see. And I can change my position if if new information comes in to suggest that my first position was wrong. It’s a striking fact that it never does, given the effort being put in to discover new information.

    ”The *only* reasonable position for a lay, inexpert, observer … is to accept the IPCC position without qualification.”

    Why? The IPCC doesn’t. Everything they say is hedged about with qualifications. And of course they change their position continually, otherwise they wouldn’t be scientists. And they change the data they base their position on, which they wouldn’t do if they were scientists.

    We sceptics are not trying to put ourselves in the place of the scientists. If anything, we’re putting ourselves in the position of the politicians, journalists and civil society in general who should be having a frank debate with the scientists, saying something like:

    “So how sure are you that this man-made climate change is a big problem? 95% sure? Right, why that figure? Oh, you just made it up, OK, so how sure are you that hurricanes are going to get worse? That Southern Europe is going to be a desert? That temperature rise and sea level rise are going to accelerate to give the kind of results I read every day on the environment pages of my newspaper? Oh, not sure at all.. Thank you.”

    Why is it only sceptics who do this boring necessary work? First answer: it’s not true. This impression is an illusion caused by the fact that any sensible well-informed person who does ask the right questions (Professor Tol, Peter Lilley M.P.) is immediately branded a sceptic/denier against all the rules of normal logic.

    You need not only talent and expert knowledge to do what Lilley and Tol have done, but academic tenure or a very solid parliamentary majority. Can’t you see how wrong this is?

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Ben, you can attack the authors all you like, but they, individually and collectively still know far more about the subject than you. It is not a matter of whether they are the absolute experts but only whether they are more (much more) expert than the lay observer. And morals don’t come into your failure. Arrogance, conceit, hubris, Dunning-Krugerism perhaps, but not morals.

    Geoff, sorry, but your mechanical ability to “draw a trend line” has no bearing on whether you know how to collect and select the relevant data, adjust for biases, account for errors or interpret what it all means in context.

    Why? The IPCC doesn’t. Everything they say is hedged about with qualifications.

    Duh! That sort of thing is second only to walking around with a big arrow pointing to your head reading “skeptic” (with the quotes).

    And they change the data they base their position on, which they wouldn’t do if they were scientists.

    You mean they adjust for biases? No true scientist would ever do that now, would they!

    …any sensible well-informed person who does ask the right questions (Professor Tol, Peter Lilley M.P.) is immediately branded a sceptic/denier against all the rules of normal logic.

    No, to be “branded a sceptic/denier” requires more than just to ask relevant questions. You should perhaps listen to or read the criticisms of prominent skeptics to see why they are not taken seriously. It is not because they question things, that is what any true skeptic does.


  34. Nino — you can attack the authors all you like, but they, individually and collectively still know far more about the subject than you.

    I don’t ‘attack the authors‘. The notion that understanding what the IPCC is, scrutinising it, and, in some cases, challenging its output and authority is an ‘attack’ is more of the moralising that you claim you’re not doing.

    You are in no position to know what the disparities are between what the IPCC ‘knows’ and what I know about any subject. You have suspended judgement, deferred to the institution, given up on thinking. It’s remarkable — a form of intellectual suicide. What’s worse is that you attempt to enrol others in your pact.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Thinking about Nino’s deference to the IPCC further… I’d estimate that fewer than 1% of the articles, blog posts or comments I’ve ever written challenge the IPCC. A much greater part of them are about how what is claimed the IPCC say doesn’t correspond to what the IPCC actually says. The average Consensus Enforcer is in fact further from the consensus, and more ignorant of its substance than the average ‘denier’.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Nino, given your quasi-religious certitude of the utter sanctity of the IPCC and all its works, you may find this informative, where it is admitted that a key piece of the IPCC’s alarmist propaganda in fact originated in a pamphlet published by the propaganda organisation World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), which by no stretch of imagination can be described as a scientific, impartial organisation.

    You might wish to consider this quote, where no less an authority than Stephen Schneider is forced to admit that a proportion of the IPCC’s report does not originate from scientific sources at all:

    Grey literature
    One of the IPCC authors, Stephen Schneider of Stanford University, California, this week defended the use of so-called “grey” literature in IPCC reports. He told New Scientist that it was not possible to include only peer-reviewed research because, particularly in the chapters discussing the regional impacts of climate change, “most of the literature is not up to that gold standard”.

    Perhaps you may not be aware that railway engineer and pornographer Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the IPCC, was recently removed from that position due to allegations that he sexually harassed female members of staff.

    Perhaps you would also be interested to inspect this quote from the Guardian, in which he desperately defends the quote that the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035:

    The affair raises serious questions about the rigour of the IPCC’s process of sifting and assessing the thousands of research findings it includes in its reports. It also raises questions about the competence of Pachauri, who angrily defended the report’s conclusions about Himalayan glaciers after they were called “alarmist” last autumn by India’s environment minister, Jairam Ramesh.

    Pachauri accused Ramesh of relying on “voodoo science”, called the minister “extremely arrogant” and said Ramesh’s claims were “not peer reviewed”. It is now clear that it was the panel’s claims that were not reviewed. The author of the part of the panel’s report, another Indian glaciologist, Murari Lal, last week defended inclusion of 2035, saying “the error if any lies with Dr Hasnain’s assertion”.

    Taking all that into consideration – and that is but one example of questionable assertions – do you still consider that lay, inexpert people are disqualified from questioning the assertions of the IPCC?

    Liked by 1 person

  37. One error changes nothing. The lay reader has no better option than to accept the assessment reports. I doubt any of the climate-obsessive cliscep authors has any expertise that makes their opinion of physical climate science more likely to be correct than AR5. And even if they have, how is the lay person to choose between opinions here and AR5?


  38. — the climate-obsessive cliscep authors —

    Persistent authors of anonymised invective, who have admitted to surrendering their critical faculties to a panel of putative experts and who proselytise that same credulity, and who resist explanation are in no position to speak about others’ ‘climate obsession’.


  39. ” I doubt any of the climate-obsessive cliscep authors has any expertise that makes their opinion of physical climate science more likely to be correct than AR5″

    I can assure you, you couldn’t be more mistaken if you tried.


  40. Ben, maybe you are the exception and have the scientific background and analysis skills necessary to form your own opinions, but in my experience most skeptics just rely on secondhand ‘analyses’ on WUWT or fringe sites. They are not using any “critical faculties” of the sort you say I surrender. Instead they are merely cherry-picking alternatives, the validity of which they cannot judge, that fit their preferred narrative and wrapping it up as ‘skepticism’.


  41. So Nino, as you set so much store by the reputed expertise of the IPCC, let’s take a look at perhaps the single most important aspect of the IPCC’s reports, shall we?

    By the way, I assume you have at least read the IPCC’s ‘Summary for Policymakers’, which, as it is a synopsis of the much more detailed contributions by the invited contributors written for the enlightenment of a thoroughly non-technical audience of ‘policymakers’ ie politicians, public servants and the like, should be accessible to a ‘lay person’ such as yourself.

    Er, presumably you have actually read – and comprehended – at least some of the IPCC’s ‘Summaries’, right?

    Simply put, I believe it is incontrovertible that the whole AGW debate revolves around the increase in the Earth’s surface temperature caused by a doubling in the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide – commonly referred to as climate sensitivity, and that over the past three decades many billions of dollars have been expended researching this extremely important value. A low value – less than say 2°C – indicates that we have little or nothing to fear from a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a high value – in excess of say 3.5°C – likely indicates that we may have a serious problem.

    I doubt anyone on either side of the debate can disagree that this is a – in fact THE very important issue.

    So let us see how much progress has been made over the last couple of decades pinning down this extremely critical value.

    The IPCC is commonly regarded as the most reputable authority on such matters, so let us see how estimates of the climate sensitivity have changed over the five IPCC Assessment Reports from 1990 to the present day, a period of some two and a half decades.

    Here are the ranges of values given by the five IPCC Assessment Reports that have been published to date.

    IPCC First assessment report 1.9°C to 5.2°C, but states “…hence the models results do not justify altering the previously accepted range of 1.5°C to 4.5°C

    IPCC Second Assessment Report 2°C to 4.5 °C

    IPCC Third Assessment Report 1.5°C to 4.5 °C

    IPCC Fourth Assessment Report 2°C to 4.5 °C

    IPCC Fifth Assessment Report 1.5°C to 4.5°C

    Clearly, despite the expenditure of many billions of dollars on research, climate modelling and analysis of vast quantities of empirical and proxy data covering many tens of thousands of years, estimates of the low and high limits of this essential parameter have not changed in 25 years.

    The original 1.5°C to 4.5°C estimate came from the 1979 Charney report.

    So it is in fact 35 years.


    Liked by 3 people

  42. All that work from so many scientists and they are still unable to narrow down the range. That seems like good evidence that a lay observer cannot just pick whichever value suits him or her best, but should instead accept the IPCC range. Lay-people like Matt Ridley, for example, of course think they know better.


  43. “but should instead accept the IPCC range”

    But Nino, as the range varies from totally harmless – remarkably beneficial even, according to NASA/NOAA’s recently published findings on Global greening – to possibly quite dangerous, from the point of view of making policy decisions regarding our consumption of fossil fuels, the range tells us absolutely nothing useful whatsoever, does it?

    Don’t you consider that there may be a problem with the fact that thirty-five years of massive expenditure – even a fraction of which could have provided clean drinking water for every child in the Third World or even yielded a truly innovative new form of non-fossil-fuelled energy, for example – has apparently been entirely fruitless and yielded no valuable information whatsoever?

    Can you suggest any other scientific endeavour in recorded history that has absorbed such an astronomical amount of wealth and proved so entirely lacking in worthwhile results? Any at all?

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Imagine your are the chairman of a bank and you know that business as usual will result in profits ranging from mildly positive to highly negative with equal probability across that range. With the benefit of current hindsight you’d change your business model, but a pre-crisis Viscount without that knowledge or with “supposedly raitional” optimism might chance it. We know where that ends up (google Northern Rock, if you are not from the UK). But you tell me that knowing the range of possible outcomes has no value.

    Your drinking water rhetoric could be applied equally to any expenditure summed over 30 years and is meaningless. The rich world doesn’t want to provide clean drinking water for poor countries. We prefer to steal their resources and leave them poor. It is dirty, but true. Investment in climate research has yielded pleny of knowledge of the planet and its systems. You may think research that doesn’t lead to a payoff is worthless, but most thinking people would disagree.

    If you want other projects that have no ‘worthwhile’ results, look to the Apollo program or the ISS or fusion research or most astronomy. These are all valuable activities from what we learn but they don’t give a cheque you can cash. To me they are worthwhile but to some, perhaps you, they are a waste.


  45. The *only* reasonable position for a lay, inexpert, observer, what Ben calls the primary conceit of my sort, is to accept the IPCC position without qualification.

    The *only* reasonable position for a lay, inexpert, observer is to accept the decisions of the Foreign Office without qualification.

    After all, they know the subject matter a lot better than us.

    The essence of democracy is that the people decide, not the “experts”. Because the “experts” are just as biased as the rest of us, prone to group think, and have goals that are not shared by the majority. It’s out duty to consider issues, taking expert opinion into account, and then make decisions based on those. It is a farce if we just take their word for it.

    But then Greens really don’t get democracy.

    Liked by 2 people

  46. “But you tell me that knowing the range of possible outcomes has no value.”

    When the sole purpose of the whole endeavour is to produce information for Global government to form major policy decisions, it hasn’t.

    The Apollo program, the ISS and fusion research were not purely designed to produce information for the purposes of making policy, and all have paid off handsomely, miniaturisation of electronic circuits and research into refractory materials in the case of Apollo, many experiments into processes at zero gravity in the case of the ISS and fusion research has already been proven to work at CERN labs, now as a result of those findings ITER is under construction in France, a similar project is under construction in Japan, Lawrence Livermore Labs have built the Shiva laser to utilise a different approach, and Lockheed predict they will have a modular system sufficiently compact to replace conventional boiler units in under a decade.

    Astronomy is indeed a primarily theoretical science, but the insights gained from it have given us relativity theory, hence nuclear fission and a much clearer understanding of our place in the Universe. Within the next decade or so, we will be on the way to Mars, and if you believe that to be irrelevant, I imagine you would have opposed the activities of the great navigators of the fourteenth century too.

    So, unlike the machinations of the IPCC, your examples simply demonstrated your abysmal ignorance and lack of imagination of all things scientific and technological.

    As to your example of Northern Rock, presumably a reference to the crash of 2008, it is worth noting that the whole of the economic theory that underpinned the economic theory that led to belief in its sustainability was based on computer models of non-linear systems – precisely the same technology that underpins the predictions of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.


  47. Nino — in my experience most skeptics just rely on secondhand ‘analyses’ on WUWT or fringe sites…

    It is not unlike someone developing a misanthropic outlook after having spent their life on CiF.

    I can’t speak to your personal experience. I don’t agree that WUWT is quite the hellish pit of science denial you believe it to be. However, if it is, for every WUWT clone, there are surely a dozen more whose received wisdom comes from SKS, George Monbiot via the Graun, Greenpeace, or some kind of ECF outfit like Carbon Brief.

    You seem to have come here to vent this anger about other people’s received wisdom, to claim that the authors here aren’t qualified, and to mount a defence of received wisdom — from authorised vendors only — nonetheless.

    My essay on received wisdom and expertise, and the problem it creates is at

    As to challenging the IPCC. I’ve done it, successfully, twice, in one case contributing to the IPCC’s decision to change its treatment on ‘grey literature’. Because, you see, the IPCC isn’t quite the work of ‘thousands of the world’s top climate scientists’ as is claimed.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Catweazle, I imagine 30 years ago, faced with a range of 1.5-4.5C, people might have said that the range is speculative. 30 years on after much research we still cannot say with certainty that a 3-4C rise won’t happen. We still only have a range of possibilities, but we can see land temperatures rising at 3C per century after only a 40% change in CO2, and yet you tell us that knowing the range is still useless.

    As for borrowing short and lending long, which is behind all bank failures, being a theory “based on computer models of non-linear systems”, can you substantiate that?

    Ben, your essay relates to an interview between Neil, a journalist who knows nothing about climate science but has an agenda (he even brought along a temperature graph), and Davey, a pol. who knows nothing about climate science but has an agenda. Somehow you conclude that the interview promoted an ‘active’ understanding of climate science. That seems an odd conclusion. Along the way you suggest that Cook and co, authors of SKS whose existence is all about debunking skeptical arguments, “have no expertise in climate science, much less any interest in taking the sceptics’ arguments on”. A strange perspective. Still you took your fan club along and they liked it.


  49. Nino can either not think, or not read. Or perhaps both at the same time.

    Still you took your fan club along and they liked it.

    Including a notable climate scientist — a qualification the abovementioned authors of the 97% survey don’t possess.

    Liked by 1 person

  50. Nino: “we can see land temperatures rising at 3C per century after only a 40% change in CO2”

    Utter drivel, we can see nothing of the sort. You really haven’t a clue, have you?


  51. Catweazle, try here:

    But you are right, Tamino finds just 2.9C per century. My mistake.

    Ben, it is you who lacks in the thinking department if you suppose that a discussion between a journalist and a pol., neither of whom knows anything about climate science, promotes an ‘active’ understanding. And it beggars belief that you could think Cook’s extensive debunking of skeptical arguments amounts to having no interest in taking on “sceptical” arguments. As for your fan club, do you mail them a heads up, or tweet or what? Or do they just happen to be following the Nottingham University climate blog?


  52. it is you who lacks in the thinking department if you suppose that a discussion between a journalist and a pol., neither of whom knows anything about climate science, promotes an ‘active’ understanding.

    I don’t suppose it, you epic moron. I make the argument in the article you haven’t read properly — as is so transparently the case, you leaping from the beginning to the end, and making up the bit in the middle. (And yet you lecture the authors here about over-confidence in their positions — of which you demonstrate no greater understanding, either!)

    it beggars belief that you could think Cook’s extensive debunking of skeptical arguments amounts to having no interest in taking on “sceptical” arguments.

    It beggars belief that you would make such a hash of defending Cook. A hollower argument for the SKS PR project as an engagement with sceptics could not be offered. The point of Consensus Enforcement is to prevent dialogue, as the article explains, and which you epitomise in your demand that we disobedient writers defer uncritically to the IPCC (which you also demonstrate almost zero understanding of).

    Don’t take my word for it. Ask a climate scientist.

    Mike Hulme July 25, 2013 at 6:39 am
    Ben Pile is spot on. The “97% consensus” article is poorly conceived, poorly designed and poorly executed. It obscures the complexities of the climate issue and it is a sign of the desperately poor level of public and policy debate in this country that the energy minister should cite it. It offers a similar depiction of the world into categories of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ to that adopted in Anderegg et al.’s 2010 equally poor study in PNAS: dividing publishing climate scientists into ‘believers’ and ‘non-believers’. It seems to me that these people are still living (or wishing to live) in the pre-2009 world of climate change discourse. Haven’t they noticed that public understanding of the climate issue has moved on?

    As for your fan club, do you mail them a heads up, or tweet or what? Or do they just happen to be following the Nottingham University climate blog?

    That’s exactly the kind of bullshit we have come to expect from Consensus Enforcers. It gives us a glimpse into what passes for a green mind. Fan clubs? Vs. what? You’ve contempt for anyone who thinks differently, and more deeply than you, and you can’t imagine why they do, or why should be allowed to. Defending the consensus is comfort from your own narcissism and mediocrity — symptoms of environmentalism in fact — perhaps.

    Liked by 1 person

  53. Oh dear…Tamino…Grant Foster’s crackpot alarmist anti-scientific drivel…Sorry kid, you’ll need to do better than that if you want to be taken seriously! You’ll be quoting Cook the Cartoonist (failed) and Loopy Lew Lewandowsky next.

    Here’s hint – the moment you spot one of these nutters cherry-picking a section of a clearly cyclic phenomenon, linearly regressing it to Armageddon, and running round hooting and screeching about how we’re all doomed, you’ve got a live one.

    As a matter of interest Nino, just how old are you, and how many decades have you been utilising your scientific credentials?

    In my case, I’ve used my training and experience utilising the laws of thermodynamics and gas physics, not to mention a healthy dose of statistical analysis all my adult life and made a comfortable living out of them, leading to a reasonably provided-for retirement. Oh, and latterly, I’ve been paid good money to write computer models attempting to make sense of non-linear systems. So tell me, would you recognise Navier-Stokes equations if they scuttled under your noisome, slimy bridge, jumped up, and sank their fangs into your snout? No? I didn’t think so!

    Anyway, now I’m bored of playing silly buggers with you, so – SHOO!

    Liked by 1 person

  54. Ben, Nino would certainly call Mike Hulme** a “denier”!

    He/she/it truly believes that anyone who contradicts his/her/its quasi-religious intransigent belief in CAGW and the 97% “consensus” is a scientifically illiterate cretin, so the fact that Professor Hulme aggrees with anything you said makes him one too.

    **Academic career
    In 1988, after four years lecturing in geography at the University of Salford, he became for 12 years a senior researcher in the Climatic Research Unit, part of the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia. In October 2000 he founded the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, a distributed virtual network organisation headquartered at UEA, which he directed until July 2007. Hulme served on the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) from 1995 to 2001. He also contributed to the reports of the IPCC, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

    Liked by 1 person

  55. Now that we’ve convinced Ken that experts can in fact be stupid, I feel this blog has made significant progress explaining our position.

    Coincidentally, Stern has issued another edict in today’s Observer, via Robin McKie:

    Nicholas Stern: cost of global warming ‘is worse than I feared’
    Ten years ago the leading economist warned about climate change in a landmark report – he says while there is cause for optimism, the picture is still grim

    A lot has happened since Nicholas Stern, then a permanent secretary at the Treasury, produced his landmark review of the impact of climate change 10 years ago. His work was quickly recognised as the definitive account of the economic dangers posed to the planet by global warming.

    It’s not clear how the costs of global warming is worse than Stern feared — Stern is saying all the things he has said every year for the last ten. IPCC AR4 and AR5 were somewhat less panicked than AR3, in fact. And we discovered midway through that there was a pause. And even more curiously, all those millions of poor people that were due to be put in harms way in fact showed not just resilience to global warming — climate resistance — but in fact seemed to prosper. Far fewer infant deaths, much less poverty, better living standards, and improved longevity statistics — the greatest change of indicators of progress, for the greatest number of people in human history. On a global perspective, even inequality has narrowed. All of which confound expectations… Or is it just experts?

    Meanwhile… The Guardian circulation figures plummeted, but not quite as rapidly as its bank balance. It spent 100s of £millions establishing itself as the website (and corporate brand) of record for the global pseudo social democratic left. But the world wasn’t playing ball either. At home, the voting public rejected the bland, consensual, top-down politics that had characterised British and European ‘policymaking’ since the end of the cold war. The same politics, that is, that gave oxygen to climate alarmism. And in America, the same tendency in the form of Obama and now Clinton looks like it may be facing its last days — and if not that, then the end, nonetheless of its complacency. The political world, with new tensions opened up between the hemispheres, and different domestic political priorities being established, has made a less welcome atmosphere for the ambitious carbon bureaucrat. It’s not quite suffocating him yet, but his dancing on the Paris agreement looks distinctly sluggish, involuntary, hypoxic, and his words look like an attempt to describe a hallucination.

    Liked by 3 people

  56. Ooh, insults! Ben, what you said really was so silly, I’ll just say why again. It is not in the slightest bit sensible to write that a discussion between two ignoramuses promotes ‘active’ understanding. It doesn’t matter whether you write it in a 10 words sentence or a 1000 word essay on the Nottingham University climate blog, it doesn’t matter if you call up your friends to have them priase your essay or even if a scientists likes it; arguing ignoramuses just confuse people who know no better. And even your fan club can’t possibly think that John Cook has no interest in taking on supposedly skeptical arguments. More insults will follow, I expect, since these things are self evident.

    Catweazle, in attacking Tamino, you are no better than Ben and his childish insults against me. Instead of ad-homs try showing that the rate is not about 3C/century. Plot the land only temperatures yourself and draw a proper trend line. If you have trouble, Geoff Chambers says he knows how to draw trend lines, so ask him for help.


  57. Nino — I’ll just say why again.

    You didn’t say why before, and you didn’t say why again.

    It is not in the slightest bit sensible to write that a discussion between two ignoramuses promotes ‘active’ understanding.

    Here’s some bits you skipped:

    But there are very good reasons why an energy and climate change minister might make a better guest on a politics show than a climate scientist. Whereas climate scientists might well be able to explain to the viewing audience what the current state of science is, only a politician — a policymaker — can explain how advice has been taken from scientists. In the wake of a shift in climate science, it is reasonable to ask a politician how that change is to be reflected in policy.


    The emphasis on expertise is either hopelessly naive or it is an attempt to delimit permissible areas of debate for strategic ends. Heaven forefend that politicians should be interrogated, lest it turn out that far-reaching and expensive policies turn out to have been, if not drafted by people who do not have a grasp of their subject, executed by them. One might be forgiven for thinking that people who emphasise the importance of scientific advice would welcome the opportunity to interrogate policy-makers’ knowledge. But instead, the attention turned to the interviewer — Neil — who now stood accused of having an agenda.


    The consequence of excluding non-expert opinion (other than expert opinion’s cheerleaders) from the climate debate is, paradoxically, the undermining of the value of expertise. Rather than engagements on matters of substance, a hollow debate emerges about whose evidence weighs the most, whose arguments are supported by the most experts, and which experts are the most qualified. The question ‘who should be allowed to speak’ dominates the discussion at the expense of hearing what they actually have to say.


    Can we imagine this in any other discussion about public life? Should Andrew Neil be allowed to challenge ministers on unemployment figures or other economic metrics? After all, he’s just a journalist. And such hypothetical interviewees would be mere politicians, rather than ‘experts’.

    Some might still sense no problem with such an expertisation of politics, and may even prefer it to what appears to be the arbitrary landscape of politics and ideology. But what the squabble over the Sunday Politics interview reveals is that political debates descend to science; they are often not improved by science and evidence as much as they degraded by undue expectations of them. Being an advocate of science seems to mean nothing more than shouting as loudly as possible ‘what science says…’, second hand.

    And those who shout most loudly about science turn out to be advancing an idea of science which, rather than emphasising the scientific method, puts much more store — let’s call it ‘faith’ — in scientific institutions. Hence, the emphasis on the weight, number and height of scientific evidence articles, and expertise, rather than on the process of testing competing theories.

    And you will notice that, in fact, the conclusion of the article is *not* even directed at the putative climate expert. It is instead directed at the self-styled communicators, who are categorically not experts in the facts of the debate:

    In spite of all the criticism levelled against him, then, Andrew Neil, in just one show, has done more to promote an active understanding of climate science and its controversies than has been done by the Carbon Brief blog, academics at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and elsewhere, Bad Science warriors, and a legion of Tweeters who claim to speak for science have done in their entire existences.

    Moreover, and far from the article seeking to flatter my ‘fan club’ at the University of Nottingham’s ‘climate blog’; the blog is not about climate, the proprietors are most certainly not fans of mine (though I like to think they think I have occasionally stumbled across something interesting to say), and the article is a challenge to their outlook much more than it flatters it. Unlike the various Climate Science Protection Squad however, that field of study does seem to be home to at least some academics who don’t seem to believe that they need their honour defended so robustly, and that challenges to its ground are essential to its development. Again, your misapprehension precedes and precludes your understanding of the debate, and the contributions made to it. You complain about insults, but the facts of the matter are in plain sight. It turns out that what you object to is not anything written here, or by anyone that contributes to this blog, but what your ‘experience’ of people who read WUWT is.

    You can make no distinction between what you have read below the line at WUWT and what is claimed here because you believe the debate divides into two irreconcilable counterpositions. This conceit makes you actively, willfully stupid, which is compounded by your demand that everybody else suspends their intellectual faculties to the IPCC’s authority — though you apparently seem to be ignorant of what the IPCC is, does, and says. I make no apology for insulting you — for calling you a moron… You have come here to demand something, and have not accepted the explanation. You have resisted it with no obvious development of your argument.

    So what do you want? Simply to reiterate your demand that we submit to climate science, even though we can find fault with the seemingly unimpeachable scientific panel, and can even persuade that panel to make changes to its process? To submit to expertise, even though we can find expert agreement with us, not merely vice-versa? To submit to the ‘science’, even though the ‘science’ we’re being asked to submit to is categorically not science? Perhaps you just want us to be as stupid as you. We’re left with this question of your motivation because it’s the only unanswered question in this debate, it having been rehearsed so many, many times, by people of exactly your degree of vacuity and transparency — waving science around without so much as a clue about what your talisman actually confers. It’s weird, this army of ciphers you belong to.

    Liked by 3 people

  58. It’s like trying to learn spanish grammar by listening to two schoolboys talking pidgin spanish. In no way can it promote an understanding of spanish, active or passive.


  59. This is so off-topic. The subject is Lilley and Tol on Stern. No-one has even mentioned Lilley. Unlike Tol, he is not an expert, yet he has expertise. He understands the science, one of maybe 2 out of 650 MPs who does. Did he do well?


  60. Yes, sorry, off topic (although I’m sure Catweazle would appreciate your help plotting temperature trends).

    Lilley suggests of an alternative ethical system:

    “A well-established alternative puts an obligation on each generation to pass on to its successors at least as much ‘societal capital’ as it inherited …”

    But strangely he doesn’t mention any obligation to pass on undamaged ‘natural capital’, as in not passing on degraded ecosystems. Doesn’t that strike you as an odd omission, especially as we are indeed passing on changes to natural systems that will be impossible to reverse quickly.


  61. Geoff asked whether Lilley did well. I’d say he didn’t in that his ideology gets in the way of logic. He can’t say we should conserve ‘natural capital’ because that obviously conflicts with his ideology of there being no constraint on our depleting natural resources and systems to the detriment of future generations. So he makes up some nonsense about there being a “well-established alternative” ethical system that we should conserve some undefined ‘societal capital’ – it clearly can’t be a well established system if it is undefined. What is well established morally is that we should conserve natural capital.

    And the idea that future generations will be richer is questionable, if those riches come from denuding irreplacable natural capital. Moving wealth between current and capital accounts isn’t neccessarily benefical.


  62. Nino claims that what Lilley didn’t say he didn’t say because ‘ideology’. Which is like saying 2+2=4 is ‘ideology’ because ‘what about 5’?

    What Nino means… what he confuses for ‘logic’ in his own perspective.. is, literally, that anyone who disagrees with Nino has their ‘ideology’ in front of their ‘logic’. It is is perfectly reasonable for Nino to disagree, of course. However, the test of ‘logic’ is internal consistency, not whatever Nino decides has been omitted.

    “Natural Capital” has not been “well established” morally, much less empirically, objectively, scientifically, or even in terms of ‘capital’, qua its fungibility. (Even George Monbiot takes issue with the concept.)

    For instance, if I am an orange farmer, I of course depend on natural processes. But more so if I am an ‘organic’ orange farmer than if I were a G-M organge farmer, and less so if I grew oranges in hydroponic environment — artificial soil, lights, and mechanically recycled water, isolated from the outside world. Of course, right now, the hydroponic orange farmer would struggle to find a price for his oranges that would make continued production possible. (But not strawberries, in some Asian markets.) But that was true of most industrial agricultural techniques at the outset: it costs to produce the method. That is the wealth, not the soil, the rain, or the nitrogen and carbon in the air, the putative value of which necessarily falls as surely as the rate of profit.

    Nino’s green ideology is at best a self-fulfilling prophecy because it would preclude such isolation that could conceivably abolish the scarcity concomitant with dependence on natural processes, and thereby reducing the net ‘value’ of ‘nature’ to zero or below. Rather be a slave to market capital than ‘natural’ capital. Go ask a serf.

    Conversely, Lilley’s formulation of ‘societal capital’ and its growth is robust: “ above all, the accumulated learning coupled with the institutions of democracy and the market that will give our successors the opportunity to advance as we have done, at least materially”.

    No doubt there are ideological dimensions to what Lilley describes, though he describes what anyone between Marx and Smith (and their coherent descendants) would recognise in relatively politically- or ideologically-neutral terms. That Nino doesn’t recognise the significance of ‘societal capital’ speaks to the presuppositions of political ecology — ideology — he is a victim of. Namely: on the environmentalist’s perspective, wealth comes from Nature, not produced through social organisation, or as the deeper ecologist has it, wealth is taken from nature. As Nino says himself, he believes that creating wealth is nothing but “Moving wealth between current and capital accounts”.

    One doesn’t need to commit to memory every volume of Capital or the Wealth of Nations to understand the point. We only need to look back at every attempt to valorise ‘nature’: they have each been failures. And the more they have tended towards an urgent, catastrophic narrative, the bigger the failure. And the more they have tended towards normative discourse, the more they have produced their own catastrophes, as anyone familiar with the is-ought problem will understand.

    It is no wonder that somebody who believes value is inherent in nature and that wealth is taken from it turns out to have a very diminished understanding of the production of wealth. That same view is consistent with misanthropy, after all. Nino simply confuses his strength of feeling for depth of understanding. Like most environmentalists, however, this is merely disoriented narcissism, not even a commitment to some idealised understanding of ‘nature’.

    None of which is to rule out the subjective experience of ‘nature’ as valueless. Amenity is important, and we would turn ourselves into robots if we denied it, or any other subjective preference. Some people find nature extremely rewarding. And more power to them if they want to absorb themselves in it, and to live in it and study it — and to make an argument for conservation, ad hoc, not as a good in itself. But when it is an ideology that is used to organise society, on such a flimsy basis… It soon becomes as toxic as any other ideology that claimed to be ‘nothing more than applied biology’. It ain’t so. It’s just politics and ideology, hidden behind “science”.

    Liked by 2 people

  63. Have just been reading through some of the major references in Richard Tol’s article that exemplify the new research on mitigation policy justification. One example.

    77. Harstad, B., ‘Buy coal! A case for supply-side environmental policy.’ Journal of
    Political Economy, 2012. 120(1): 77–115.
    Instead of demand side policies (Harstad mentions Cap ‘n’ Trade, but there is also the carbon tax) Harstad recommends that policy countries go and buy up the less productive coal deposits in non-policy countries. When the market becomes tight, the price will shoot up, so usage will fall
    There are three small issues with this.
    First is that proven coal reserves are vast. China is easily the world’s biggest coal producer. It has just 45 years of proven reserves. India is a smaller producer, and has 195 years of reserves at present, but output is no doubt rising fast. Russia could start exporting some as it has 500 years of reserves.
    Second is a political one. Do you think that China, India or Russia will let the policy countries like the UK, EU, US and Australia come in and buy up their coal reserves, only to close them down with the intention of driving up prices?
    Third is that tightening of supply leads to more reserves being found, more reserves being economic, and new methods of extraction. In both oil and gas horizontal drilling and fracking has transformed the industry in the US, where oil production has nearly doubled in the last decade.


  64. NINO
    After Ben’s masterly demolition, my reply may seem rather trivial. I think it’s worth pointing out however that Nino not only breaks all the rules of rational argument by attributing opinions (“ideologies”) without any evidence, but he gets them backwards. Telling a conservative MP for a rural constituency that: “He can’t say we should conserve ‘natural capital’ because that obviously conflicts with his ideology” is a bit silly. Conserving is what conservatives do best.

    I’m afraid Ben’s analysis may miss the mark though. “Anyone between Marx and Smith” would have been a reasonable description of the range of political opinion a century or so ago, but today’s tiddlers of left or right can’t be caught in such a net. They wouldn’t know Capital or the Wealth of Nations even if it hit them in the face in the form of a custard pie chart.

    It may be to Nino’s credit that he seems to want to place himself in orthogonal opposition to the current political gamut (don’t we all?) but “conserving natural capital” won’t do. It comes down to holding on to the earth’s treasures in the face of a rapacious capitalist right on the one hand, and on the other a developing world eager to impose a bit of socialist egalitarianism. It’s the politics of Gollum. And Bilbo is at the gates.

    the idea that future generations will be richer is questionable..

    Nino’s problem here is that those who have questioned the one successful prediction of the dismal science (Ehrlich et al) have been proved wrong over and over again.

    ..if those riches come from denuding irreplacable natural capital.

    But natural capital is not capital until it’s exploited (denuded) and it’s only irreplacable when can’t be replaced. This works for dodos and trees on Easter Island, but on a larger scale…?

    Liked by 3 people

  65. ManicBeanCounter: “There are three small issues with this.
    First is that proven coal reserves are vast.”

    You are making the same mistake that the ‘Peak Oilers’ made, and failing to take into account the impact of ongoing new technological breakthroughs on the recoverable quantities of natural resources. In the same way that advances in drilling technology gave the ability to access previously untappable reserves and increased our oil and gas reserves by an order of magnitude or better, thus driving the prices down to sensible levels, similar advances in technology are being researched to give access to previously inaccessible coal reserves by the technique of in situ coal gasification.

    By using steerable drill technology as used in shale reserves and then injecting superheated steam and oxygen, partial combustion of the coal produces a mixture of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and volatiles, very similar to the good old town gas that used to be produced by carbonising plant. Carbon monoxide and hydrogen. CO and H2 are of course synthesis gas AKA Syngas, feedstock for the good old Fischer-Tropsch process so beloved of superannuated chemical engineers the world over.

    There are currently at least two pilot schemes under way in GB researching this, one in the North-East, and one in South Wales, and the reserves under the North Sea alone are estimated in the trillions of tons.

    A billion-pound plan to reach untapped coal reserves under the North Sea will be under way by the end of the year, as the vast scale of the energy source beneath the North Sea is made clear.

    Scientific data of the true extent of the coal deposits on the sea bed reveals that even a tiny percentage of them would be enough to power Britain for centuries to come, says a local expert.

    Naturally, the ‘Usual Suspects’ are totally hysterical at the possibility of huge, affordable increases in the available reserves of accessible fossil fuels.

    And, as if that isn’t enough to drastically upset the bedwetters, there are also the unimaginable reserves of methane hydrates – sufficient for millennia of fossil fuel supplies at today’s usage rates – to be found at the bottom of the World’s oceans. The Japanese completed a successful pilot extraction scheme a couple of years ago, and are now working on technology to extract it in industrial quantities, as are also South Korea and other nations that lack serious reserves of other fossil fuels.

    So all in all, there is more than enough available fossil fuel to keep us going for the foreseeable future certainly enough to last until we perfect a truly cleaner, cheaper and more efficient source of energy – not based on foolish stochastic fantasies such as wind, solar and wave/tidal buffoonery.

    It is strange how the poor silly Watermelons (Green on the outside, Red on the inside) totally ignore mankind’s unbounded imagination and ingenuity. Leave it to us engineers, we’ll sort it out.

    Liked by 3 people

  66. Geoff, you missed the point, which was more a question of what wealth is than an accounting exercise. I’m surprised to find a Marxist who need that pointing out, but since you also confuse the meanings of conservative politics and nature conservation, perhaps it is not so surprising.

    Ben, your utopian wet dream, in which scarcity has been abolished along with our dependence on natural processes, sits uneasily with the proportion of the population dependent upon farming and fisheries, a growing world population and land temperatures rising at 3C per century, the effect of which we cannot know. The fact that you or some sci-fi writer can imagine some soylent green paradise or some hyroponic idyll doesn’t mean that such a future is inevitable or even likely to come about with “business as usual”. And such an outcome is far away, a richer future where, people like Lilley like to say, they can look after themselves and are not of our concern. In the here and now and for the forseeable future, humanity is dependent upon nature, like it or not.

    Your idea that we can ignore conserving our natural heitage in the hope that the degradation of nature is compensated for blow for blow by technological advance, the downward slope of one balanced by the upward slope of the other, is just a wild gamble.


  67. Interesting:

    your utopian wet dream, in which scarcity has been abolished along with our dependence on natural processes, sits uneasily with the proportion of the population dependent upon farming and fisheries, a growing world population and land temperatures rising at 3C per century, the effect of which we cannot know.

    And yet Stern claims to know, and puts a value on it. In fact, Stern’s vision is the Utopia, strictly speaking: he imagines the institutional apparatus necessary to find optimal balance against the apparent contradictions in society, and the seemingly rightful distribution of natural goods implied.

    If we cannot know what the effect of + 3 degrees is, we should not aim to increase our dependence on natural processes. What we know is that such dependence, even in a condition of 0 degrees change, is characterised as poverty. For example, the robustness of societies characterised by their interdependence is demonstrated by their imperviousness to climatic extremes, whereas societies which are characterised by proximity to ‘nature’ are so vulnerable that an event of the same magnitude that might claim a small number of lives in a wealthy economy can claim tens, or even hundreds of thousands of lives.

    This creates a paradox. On the economic measure, the storm that claims thousands of lives causes a few tens of $millions in damage, yet the storm that claims fewer than a dozen causes billions. Here’s to more expensive storms! The difference between the outcomes is the one Lilley identifies. And the poorer counterpart is the one that comprises lifestyles celebrated by environmentalists.

    Sneering at the possibility of abolishing scarcity as ‘Utopian’ might draw ire from ‘the proportion of the population dependent upon farming and fisheries’ that Nino claims to speak for — especially those who are reminded that ‘this would be so much easier with a tractor/motor boat’. Is it ‘Utopian’ to imagine that every producer of primary goods has a tractor if he needs one? Is it Utopian to imagine fish farms, rather than trawling for wild populations? If it is, Nino should be able to explain to the subsistence farmer why he can’t expect better, and to the farmer in the West why he should expect less.

    In the here and now and for the forseeable future, humanity is dependent upon nature, like it or not.

    Some are. But are we? I think Nino presupposes a dependence on nature, as is described in my previous comment. He hasn’t demonstrated that he hasn’t presupposed it. He instead sneers at technology, which isn’t quite the same thing, and more over, suffers from the facts that i) dependence on nature looks like poverty, and ii) the development of agricultural techniques has saved billions of lives, and begun to make the abolition of poverty possible.

    Three hypothetical cases of farming were offered: organic, GM and hydroponic. Curiously, the hydroponic hypothetical was dismissed as mere ‘science fiction’, whereas the organic hypothetical wasn’t. However, market-scale hydroponic production is not science fiction, it is a fact. Not for all crops, of course — yet — but for a number of high-value items it is economic. More economic even than ‘organic’ production.

    The hydroponic hypothetical wasn’t offered as advocacy. Neither the GM. They were simply illustrative. What they demonstrate is the departure from dependence on natural processes, towards self-dependence, or inter-dependence. On the environmentalist’s view, these are inherently ‘risky’… Partly because of the ‘unknowns’ lurking in the technology, but also because of the mystical preoccupation with the natural order that haunts green ideology. Dependence on natural processes is a ‘Good Thing’ on the green view… It enforces ‘balance’. This, of course, being concomitant with the view of wealth being produced by nature, and merely taken by man; industry takes ‘too much’, whereas subsistence agriculture and the peasant lifestyle takes just the ‘right amount’. Hence the green’s objection to the GM hypothetical, and his contempt for technology. It upsets his design for society.

    Technology is a ‘wild gamble’ says Nino. Yet, just as we only need to look at the failure of green attempts to valorise ‘nature’ to see the actual consequences of eco-centric ‘thinking’, we only need to look at where there is no technology to see what kind of risk Nino really wants to mitigate. He really is asking to trade a future of abundance for the certainty that only promises subsistence. This is *deeply* ideological. Geoff rightly notes the outmoded coordinates of the Marx-Smith debate, and the green axis lying orthogonal to that axis; but this is the point: Nino demands that we suspend normal politics in favour of forever mitigating risk, the fundamental of which is that we surrender our own understanding of our interests (and risks) to expert panels who will make decisions on our behalf. Never mind their history of unmitigated and transparently self-serving bullshit — failed prognostications — this time it’s real. And if you don’t agree, you’re a denier!.


  68. Nino: “land temperatures rising at 3C per century”

    Utter bollocks.

    Current estimates for a doubling of CO2 are around 1.2°C – 1.5°C – possibly lower, which, given the current rate of emissions, gives less than 1°C per century, decreasing all the time due to the thermal influence effect of CO2 being logarithmic, hence the effect is asymptotic.

    Stop spouting catastrophist drivel from crackpot alarmist websites, you silly, scientifically illiterate little pre-adolescent bedwetter. Really, don’t you ever get fed up of having to sleep on a rubber sheet?



  69. Nino: “land temperatures rising at 3C per century”

    Utter bollocks.

    It’s not utter bollocks.

    Stop spouting Panglossian drivel from crackpot denialist websites, you silly, scientifically illiterate little pre-adolescent bedwetter. Really, don’t you ever get fed up of having to sleep on a rubber sheet?

    (See how that works? You effing numpty.)


  70. Catweazle, as I suggested before, plot the data on a graph and show us. Ask Geoff to help if you cannot. Then tell me land temps are not rising at nearly 3C per century.

    Ben, you confuse closeness to nature and dependence upon nature. Translate your lifestyle to Mars, supposing that it had an atmosphere, and start figuring out how independence from nature really feels. And your essay attacks someone else, not me.

    I guess you are all giddy with excitement at the Trump victory, so I’ll leave you to it.


  71. You want trends, Nino?

    OK, have three, from data sources NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Met Office Hadley Centre Hadcrut4 and Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project.

    #Data processed by
    #Please check original source for first-hand data and information:
    #Data from NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
    #File: GLB.Ts+dSST.txt
    #Time series (gistemp) from 1880 to 2016.75
    #Least squares trend line; slope = 0.00715716 per year, 0.715716°C per century.
    1880 -0.466495
    2016.75 0.512247
    #Data ends
    #Number of samples: 2
    #Mean: 0.0228759
    #Data processed by
    #Please check original source for first-hand data and information:
    #Data from Hadley Centre
    #For terms and conditions of use, please see
    #File: hadcrut4_monthly_ns_avg.txt
    #Time series (hadcrut4) from 1850 to 2016.58
    #Least squares trend line; slope = 0.00497561 per year, giving 0.497561°C per century.
    1850 -0.51672
    2016.58 0.312134
    #Data ends
    #Number of samples: 2
    #Mean: -0.102293
    #Data processed by
    #Please check original source for first-hand data and information:
    #Data from Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project
    #File: Full_Database_Average_complete.txt
    #Time series (best) from 1800 to 2010.42
    #Least squares trend line; slope = 0.00588639 per year, giving 0.588639°C per century.
    1800 -0.764734
    2010.42 0.473859
    #Data ends
    #Number of samples: 2
    #Mean: -0.145438

    Note that the data sources are shown in bold, so you can go and check them for yourself.

    Nothing even close to 3°C per century.

    That’s real scientific data, not alarmist claptrap.

    Not as that will make the slightest difference to your crackpot bedwetter quasi-religious beliefs, of course.


  72. Catweazle, if you want to see the recent *land* temperature trend, you have to plot the *land* temperature trend, not the global trend, and be a bit more sophisticated with your trend line. There’s a lot of the globe that isn’t land. Of course, if you don’t want to see it, what you are doing is fine.


  73. Oh dear, you really haven’t a clue, have you?

    What gives you the weird idea that the land only surface temperature anomaly data will differ substantially from the global data?

    But here you go, land only from Hadley Centre / UEA CRU V3 & V4 and Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project.

    #Data processed by
    #Please check original source for first-hand data and information:
    #Data from Hadley Centre / UEA CRU
    #For terms and conditions of use, please see
    #File: CRUTEM3v-gl.dat
    #Time series (hadcrut3) from 1850 to 2014.42
    #Least squares trend line; slope = 0.00549566 per year, 0.549566°C per century.
    1850 -0.559797
    2014.42 0.343781
    #Data ends
    #Number of samples: 2
    #Mean: -0.108008
    #Data processed by
    #Please check original source for first-hand data and information:
    #Data from Hadley Centre / UEA CRU
    #For terms and conditions of use, please see
    #File: CRUTEM4v-gl.dat
    #Time series (hadcrut3) from 1850 to 2016.75
    #Least squares trend line; slope = 0.00732696 per year, 0.732696°C per century.
    1850 -0.717134
    2016.75 0.504636
    #Data ends
    #Number of samples: 2
    #Mean: -0.106249
    #Data processed by
    #Please check original source for first-hand data and information:
    #Data from Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project
    #File: Full_Database_Average_complete.txt
    #Time series (best) from 1800 to 2010.42
    #Least squares trend line; slope = 0.00588639 per year, 0.588639°C per century.
    1800 -0.764734
    2010.42 0.473859
    #Data ends
    #Number of samples: 2
    #Mean: -0.145438

    Once again, nothing close to 3°C per century – in fact not even close to 1°C per century – from the mainstream databases that supply land only surface temperature data sets.

    As to “and be a bit more sophisticated with your trend line”, those are industry standard least squares linear regression trends, you can’t get more sophisticated than that.

    Although I’m fully aware I’m wasting my time, it’s not as if real, hard data from the established climate data centres like UEA CRU and BEST will make any difference whatsoever to your ardent quasi-religious belief in catastrophic anthropogenic global warming peddled by crackpot alarmist climate blogs…

    But hey, I realise you’re just trying to take the piss – and not very successfully, so I’m quite happy to supply enough information so that anyone who has some real understanding of climate science can see what a fool you’re making of yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  74. Well done, you now have an appropriate data set. Now all you need to do is work out how to plot an appropriate trend, unless you actually have evidence that the trend has been the same since 1880.


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