The Two Faces Of Denial

It is certainly true that there are some skeptics that deny aspects of climate science–we remember folks like Doug Cotton and Oliver Manuel. My rough guess is that they comprise about 1% or less of the contrarian community. Sadly, for climate activists, these outliers serve as poster children for their anti-communication efforts.

But the activist community didn’t need much in the way of ammunition to start the ‘denier’ meme back in 2005. James Hoggan of Desmog Blog whispered in Ellen Goodman’s ear, and all of us were explicitly equated with skinhead Nazis who denied the Holocaust. As other mainstream journalists and more than a few scientists began to bang the drum, those of us who have no problem with science but dispute misguided policy initiatives found ourselves marginalized.

Of course the activists were bound to go a step too far–the term lost most of its sting when two of the climate activists’ useful idiots–James McKibben and Naomi Oreskes–appended the denier label to people like Barack Obama, James Hansen and Andrew Revkin.

But the campaign to tar and feather those of us who don’t fall in line with policy proposals like ending fossil fuel usage in 12 years actually served to obscure another type of denial, practiced mostly by many in the activist community.

This is denial of mainstream science that doesn’t serve their political ends. Primarily it consists of labeling the work of the IPCC as ‘too conservative,’ or saying that there are papers written after the latest Assessment Report of the IPCC that show that things are much worse than we thought–and much worse than what the IPCC has written.

We all know that the IPCC is not perfect. They are beset by governance issues, as was pointed out by the IAC years ago (and before their former head Pachauri was busted as a serial groper). Their selection process for lead authors of their Assessment Reports is questionable, and the behavior of some of those lead authors even more questionable. Their output contains mistakes. Their work on impacts is fraught, often regurgitating unchallenged the publications of activist NGOs.

And yet. They do represent the mainstream of climate science. Anyone wandering in from another universe who was totally ignorant of the issue would be best served by absorbing what they have written, especially if they intend to participate in public discussions.

The activists who deny their work, their authority or their currency in an attempt to portray our climate future as catastrophic (because the IPCC publications surely do not) are engaging in a propaganda exercise that is far, far worse than the bad science or ignorance that is evidenced in theories about the Iron Sun or other misguided skeptical propositions.

These are, after all, the same people that point to every other aspect of the IPCC’s work as gospel. Who quote from IPCC reports, who cite them…

But because the IPCC explicitly outlines the projected impacts of climate change on this planet, and because those projected impacts are not catastrophic (and indeed seem extremely manageable), we get conversations like this (from the comments section of And Then There’s Physics, a venue where I am once again no longer welcome.):

thomaswfuller2 says:
January 12, 2019 at 10:52 pm
“Perhaps to make it easier, here are the ‘key risks’ as identified in the Summary for Policy Makers in the report.

1) Unique and threatened systems: Some unique and threatened systems, including ecosystems and cultures, are already at risk from climate change (high confidence). The number of such systems at risk of severe consequences is higher with additional warming of around 1°C. Many species and systems with limited adaptive capacity are subject to very high risks with additional warming of 2°C, particularly Arctic-sea-ice and coral-reef systems.

2) Extreme weather events: Climate-change-related risks from extreme events, such as heat waves, extreme precipitation, and coastal flooding, are already moderate (high confidence) and high with 1°C additional warming (medium confidence). Risks associated with some types of extreme events (e.g., extreme heat) increase further at higher temperatures (high confidence).

3) Distribution of impacts: Risks are unevenly distributed and are generally greater for disadvantaged people and communities in countries at all levels of development. Risks are already moderate because of regionally differentiated climate-change impacts on crop production in particular (medium to high confidence). Based on projected decreases in regional crop yields and water
availability, risks of unevenly distributed impacts are high for additional warming above 2°C (medium confidence).

4) Global aggregate impacts: Risks of global aggregate impacts are moderate for additional warming between 1–2°C, reflecting impacts to both Earth’s biodiversity and the overall global economy (medium confidence). Extensive biodiversity loss with associated loss of ecosystem goods and services results in high risks around 3°C additional warming (high confidence). Aggregate economic damages accelerate with increasing temperature (limited evidence, high agreement), but few quantitative estimates have been completed for additional warming around 3°C or above.

5) Large-scale singular events:With increasing warming, some physical systems or ecosystems may be at risk of abrupt and irreversible changes. Risks associated with such tipping points become moderate between 0–1°C additional warming, due to early warning signs that both warm-water coral reef and Arctic ecosystems are already experiencing irreversible regime shifts (medium confidence). Risks increase disproportionately as temperature increases between 1–2°C additional warming and become high above 3°C, due to the potential for a large and irreversible sea level rise from ice sheet loss. For sustained warming greater than some threshold, 35 near-complete loss of the Greenland ice sheet would occur over a millennium or more,contributing up to 7 m of global mean sea level rise.”

“izen says:
January 12, 2019 at 11:01 pm
“here are the ‘key risks’ as identified in the Summary for Policy Makers in the report.”

The SPM !!

You are aware that the language in that is carefully constructed to underplay the severity of impacts? Try comparing some of those statements withe the actual passages in the body of the report from which they are derived.”

Those furthest out on the spectrum of opinion on the climate conversation have managed to hijack the issue. Those most convinced that our emissions of greenhouse gases spell doom are not only willing to slander and sabotage scientists working in good faith, but are willing to throw the IPCC under the bus to get what they need. Complete control of the conversation.

Unlike these bomb-throwers, I’m happy to leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine which set of ‘deniers’ is more threatening, more damaging to not only climate science, but science as a whole.


  1. The most striking denial of science that I’ve seen is by those who refuse to believe that higher CO2 levels have benefits.

    Thousands of scientific studies have measured the benefit of elevated CO2 for nearly all important crops. Those studies confirm that nearly all crops benefit from elevated CO2 levels, and most of them benefit quite dramatically, under all but the most contrived of circumstances.

    This isn’t a new discovery. The benefits of anthropogenic CO2 for crops and other plants have been known to science for over a century. Arrhenius mentioned it in his 1908 book, Worlds in the Making, and in support he cited an 1872 paper by a Polish botanist named E. Godlewski.

    Scientific American wrote about it in 1920, and called anthropogenic CO2 “the precious air fertilizer.” From this photo, which accompanied the article, you can see why:

    Today’s elevated CO2 (nearly 410 ppmv, vs. a pre-industrial average of approx. 280 ppmv) is responsible for an average increase in agricultural productivity of about 20%. If we didn’t have that improvement, we could approximately make up the difference by converting all of the world’s rainforests to agriculture.

    Yet most climate activists ignore or dismiss such evidence. They don’t even acknowledge the existence of benefits, let alone consider the possibility that those large proven benefits might exceed the thus-far almost entirely hypothetical harms.

    CO2 is “plant food.” Some readers here are probably old enough to remember when terrible famines were often in the news, in places like Bangladesh. Throughout history, famine was one of the great scourges of humanity, the Third Horseman of the Apocalypse… until now.

    Thankfully, famines are becoming rare, and one of the reasons is rising levels of “the precious air fertilizer.”

    Rising CO2 levels not only make plants healthier and more productive, they also make them more water-efficient and drought-resistant. One of the consequences is that the Earth is “greening,” especially in some arid regions, like the Sahel (southern Sahara), as reported in National Geographic.


    “Images taken between 1982 and 2002 revealed extensive regreening throughout the Sahel, according to a new study in the journal Biogeosciences. / The study suggests huge increases in vegetation in areas including central Chad and western Sudan. …
    “’Before, there was not a single scorpion, not a single blade of grass,’ he said. “’Now you have people grazing their camels in areas which may not have been used for hundreds or even thousands of years. You see birds, ostriches, gazelles coming back, even sorts of amphibians coming back… The trend has continued for more than 20 years. It is indisputable.’”‍‍‍‍‍‍

    We are currently enjoying what has traditionally been called a “climate optimum.” It is generally acknowledged that the Earth has warmed, on average, about 1°C (±0.4°C) since the “pre-industrial” Little Ice Age, and it is also generally acknowledged that the warming has been beneficial. Yet activists claim that warming more than another 0.5 °C would be harmful, rather than beneficial. That claim is not based on scientific evidence, and is not credible.

    The direct impacts of global warming are obviously minor. Except at high northern latitudes, where “Arctic amplification” makes the brutal winters there a bit milder, we’re on track for at most about one degree of additional warming by 2100 (and even that assumes no large-scale transition to nuclear energy). At temperate latitudes, that’s like moving only about 70 miles south, or planting only about one week later.

    So folks promoting solar and wind boondoggles hype other supposed harms, like sea-level rise, or extreme weather, or polar bears’ peril. But those problems aren’t actually happening.

    CO2 has been rising steadily for 2/3 of a century, yet sea-level rise has not detectably accelerated:

    Hurricanes & typhoons are not worsening:

    Strong tornadoes have actually declined:

    And the polar bears are fine:

    Arrhenius had it right, way back in 1908:

    Notice that he even predicted polar amplification!

    [This comment got held up by wordpress because of the large number of links. PM]

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your post Tom shows why Roger Pielke Jr. is so hated by these activists. He insists on the IPCC line on extreme events and has the temerity to actually look at the data and show it. That’s obviously a misuse of free speech. BTW, I am still not convinced by a lot of these supposed extreme event effects. One sees that in fact tornadoes in the US are becoming less common and less extreme. I once dug in a little on the “more extreme” hurricanes and its quite complicated actually and the evidence seemed to me to be weak.


  3. Now I think I have heard everything! A complaint by a climate activist that the Summary for Policy Makers is a watered down version, “carefully constructed to UNDERPLAY the severity of impacts” of what is in the main body of the report. And all these years I have been led to believe the exact opposite. How could I have been so wrong? Not just me, but many of my former undergraduate students who diligently compared the SPM versions with those in the main body of the report.


  4. Tom, I read the discussion thread over at aTTP, and felt your pain in your valiant efforts to bring some reason and understanding over there, but it was never going to happen. I feel your pain particularly, because your expressed views (expressed rather more articulately than I ever seem to be able to manage) mirror my own views pretty closely.

    AK, I recommend you to read the thread, just to see what we’re up against. It’s difficult to remain calm in the face of the smug, sanctimonious opinions expressed over there and the contempt often expressed for those of us who dare to disagree. In fairness, that thread contains rather milder expressions of distaste than I have witnessed there on other occasions. Still, my jaw did drop when I read the comment highlighted by Tom in this piece, and I’m glad he’s brought it to the attention of the readership over here.

    Read it and weep – we are up against some serious weirdness, and the worry is that these extremist views are becoming mainstream.


  5. Tom,

    from the comments section of And Then There’s Physics, a venue where I am once again no longer welcome.

    You had a comment moderated. You weren’t banned. Editor: Sorry, capricious moderation doesn’t encourage return visits. Nor does the normal behavior of some of your regulars. I have no doubt you will get along just fine without my input.

    As was asked in one of the comments on my post, why do you we can’t warm beyond the levels discussed in your list of key risks? For example, it says

    Extensive biodiversity loss with associated loss of ecosystem goods and services results in high risks around 3°C additional warming (high confidence). Aggregate economic damages accelerate with increasing temperature (limited evidence, high agreement), but few quantitative estimates have been completed for additional warming around 3°C or above.

    So, yes, if we keep the additional warming low, the impacts will be less severe than if further warming is substantial. It’s now thought that keeing below 1.5C is probably impossible, staying below 2C is going to be very difficult, and the current INDCs are heading us towards 3.5C. All of this ignores that these are best estimates, so we could warm more even if we do keep emissions below the level that we think we’d need to do to achieve some target.

    Editor: Why are you putting words in my mouth? At no time did I ever write that we can’t warm above the levels mentioned in the IPCC. You do that quite frequently. It’s also what BBD does–I say ‘X’ and you and BBD assert that ‘X leads inexorably to Y,’ although it does not, and then you scream at me for saying I say ‘Y.’ It’s cheap. Both you and BBD do it a lot. Idiotic as BBD is, he’s smart enough not to do it here. Follow his lead.

    I think it very unlikely that temperatures will rise by 3.5C, certainly not this century, probably not next century either. I do not think it is impossible.


  6. aTTP:

    “and the current INDCs are heading us towards 3.5C. All of this ignores that these are best estimates, so we could warm more even if we do keep emissions below the level that we think we’d need to do to achieve some target.”

    I am not saying that you have warmly supported the Paris Climate Agreement, but in view of the fact that most climate alarmists do seem to support it, I wonder if you have any ideas on why they do, given what you wrote above? One criticism sceptics have repeatedly made of the Paris Agreement (and I have been loud in making this criticism) is that it is a failure in its own terms. Is it ignorance on their part? Do they not understand it, do you suppose?


  7. Mark. ” I recommend you to read the thread, just to see what we’re up against. It’s difficult to remain calm in the face of the smug, sanctimonious opinions expressed over there and the contempt often expressed for those of us who dare to disagree”.

    Thank you for your recommendation, but I don’t think I will waste my time. I am willing to accept the opinions of people I trust like your good self.
    If ever I need ammunition I know where to go.
    My current view about climate activism is that: “I have been there, done that, got the t-shirt, worn a hole in it and now use it as a duster.”


  8. There’s a good example of the sort of climate denial you are talking about highlighted at WUWT.

    I just put a comment there:

    The irony is that the authors of this piece are the true deniers. Their article is full of falsehoods and inventions.

    For example, they say that a recent IPCC report said that we can only avoid catastrophe if
    “abandon coal and other fossil fuels in the next decade or two.”
    and they put that in quotes, implying that it is from the report. But it isn’t, it’s a quote from a newspaper article!

    They also claim that ‘What the climate scientists are telling us is that if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels the human race faces extinction.’ No, again, that is a complete invention.

    Sara and Jack seem to be living in their own science-denying bubble.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mark,
    I think people support the idea of us trying to reduce emissions so as to limit warming. The Paris agreement was an attempt to do that. I think staying below 1.5C is going to be virtually impossible, and staying below 2C is going to be difficult, but not impossible. However, given that the severity of the impacts almost certainly increase with increasing warming, if we try to achieve these targets and fail, the outcome will almost certainly be better than giving up and carrying on as we are (i.e., limiting warming to 2.5C will result in less severe impacts than only limiting it to 3C, 3C will be better than 3.5C, etc). I think some are broadly supportive of the Paris agreement because of what it’s trying to achieve, not because they think the Paris agreement is – by itself – going to necessarily lead to us achieving the targets.


  10. Paul, the authors of that article demonstrate blissful, almost superhuman levels of lack of self-awareness of their own complete inability and failure to assess the quality and quantity of available evidence to support their argument.

    “As monumental hurricanes lash out in Houston and Puerto Rico and California forests burn out of control, it would seem that the evidence that climate scientists are right would be clear enough. Almost annually meteorologists tell us we have just experienced the warmest year in recorded history. Yet even people who experience extreme weather events often still refuse to report the experience as a manifestation of climate change.”

    That they then go on to purport to analyse why the public do not “accept the reality of climate change” by invoking reference to something they call “motivated interference,” which, according to them, “occurs when we hold a specific bias to ignore evidence” is way, way beyond ironic.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “The fact is that many people born this year will not survive global warming if it continues at the current pace and exceeds 3.50C by 2050.”

    Facts, facts, facts.

    Fact: according to UAH, the lower troposphere has been warming at a rate of 0.13C per decade since monitoring began in 1979. We’re currently about 1C above pre-industrial. If warming “continues at the current pace”, we’ll be 0.39C warmer in 2050 than now – that’s about 1.4C above pre-industrial. Which unicorn’s backside did they extract the figure of 3.5C from, I wonder?


  12. Oldbrew at 10:17am

    The delusion of climate control is shown in ATTP’s comments at 8:51am and 9:55am. He talks about what “we” should do about controlling emissions. It is global emissions that are the alleged control knob. But as the UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2018 quite clearly demonstrates, in aggregate “we” are not in control. COP 24 Katowize did not change that. All that current climate mitigation policies do is impose costs without the alleged benefits of potential climate catastrophies avoided
    This closely paralleled with how climate alarmists view The Science. It is their vague consensus opinions that is the ultimate authority, whereas for centuries philosophers have grappled with how to relate conjectures / hypotheses / theories to the natural world. A long essay on the Scientific method from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy gives a reasonable overview.


  13. ATTP is still the missionary telling the pagans that without the beliefs he is peddling the non-believers will burn in Hades.
    As to the fact free ignorance of talking about hurricanes and forest fires as if they are caused by “climate change”, I find that to be cynical manipulation at it’s finest. The sort of cheesey bs one expects from televangelsts and 3rd rate academics or political hacks.


  14. Jaime at 10:38 am
    I can provide you with a projection of 3.5C of warming by 2050.
    At Sks Temp trend calculator
    For Gistemp the trend from 2013 to 2018 is .716 per decade. Multiply by 3.2 for time to 2050 and add 1.1C of warming already gives 3.4C. With accelerating emissions problem solved.
    Or take UAH 6.0. the trend from 2013 to 2018 is .775 per decade. Multiply by 3.2 for time to and add 1.1C of warming gives 3.6C. Using UAH and allowing for accelerating emissions the estimate is “conservative”. 🙂


  15. MB,
    COP24 was about setting up an international framework for those developing world kleptocracies and grifters to sue the developed world for “damages” of “climate change”.
    The rest of it failing was not a significant issue.
    Once the funding mechanism is in place to sue the Western nation’s, we see clearly that corrupt governments like France or Australia will set the precedent and payout based on alleged “damages”.
    Then there will be immense pressure for others afflicted with climate consensus obsession to corruptly support the damages narrative.
    If we can see COP as a system designed to close the connection, take our money to “mitigate” the climate, it becomes clear as to why it needs to be ended.
    These conferences have been zombie walking to the point where the climate consensus can make a grab for the power and money to impose their policies on everything and everyone.
    Fear mongering, fib mongering, silencing fact mongers, all that consensus supporters do will lead to this outcome.
    And for the execerable believers who rely on projecting their paranoia, no this is not about “conspiracy”.


  16. It is not just ‘activists’ / NGOs propagating the catastrophe narrative, aka a high certainty of imminent (decades) global catastrophe, but (with the exception of the current US admin), presidents, prime ministers, high ministers, UN elite, religious leaders, economists, businesses, medical authorities and rafts of other influencers and authorities, not to mention millions of grass roots propagators too. This helps to make clear that (the great majority of) these people are propagating in it good faith, i.e. they believe what they are saying, it isn’t some huge conspiracy. But also that there is huge pressure from such cumulative influence on the enterprise of science to underwrite a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe, because the catastrophe narrative itself as propagated by the above list of many (and many high) authorities claims (falsely) itself to be an output of mainstream science. So ultimately, as you note this pressure is colliding with the problem that the IPCC / AR5 simply doesn’t support a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe; hence the only escape valve for such pressure is to claim that the IPCC are wrong, are indeed way too conservative. A minority of scientists do claim exactly this.

    Whether the IPCC is wrong or not (and in either direction), they do represent the mainstream. They are what the world points to as ‘the’ science, the considered opinion of climate scientists world-wide, indeed including with support from ‘consensus messaging’. Now when skeptics suggest (typically via use of the ‘CAGW’ label) that mainstream science is associated with the catastrophic, orthodox folks on climate blogs typically (and correctly) object strongly, which indicates that they *are* well aware that the IPCC doesn’t support a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe (albeit they don’t all speak with one voice), and are certainly prepared to say so. But there’s a major inconsistency in that they (and indeed mainstream science itself) typically does very little to object to the very same issue, i.e. an association of the catastrophic with the mainstream / IPCC, from all the above list of propagators, whose cumulative influence over decades has been massively more than that of a few skeptics. Along the same lines as your reference to gospel, this indicates that an acknowledgement (or not) of the clash between science and the catastrophe narrative, is essentially biased on the basis of whether it supports or challenges their cultural position. I’d use that rather than ‘political goals’, because very many of the orthodox in this position will not likely have specific political goals or indeed didn’t fall into adherence through politics; they are nevertheless emotively convinced by the catastrophe narrative.

    As part of the above contradiction, mentions of (explicitly or implicitly global) catastrophe from skeptics typically produce responses that it is not a scientific term, and hence can’t mean anything real, or maybe a challenge to those skeptics to define it such there can then be evaluation. Tom, I noticed this happened to you over there. Well absolutely it’s not scientific! Indeed it’s very vague and highly emotive too, hence allowing everyone to believe the worst in their own context. But where skeptics are *correctly* referring to the catastrophe narrative or its propagators per above (i.e. not to an association with mainstream science), it is these propagators, so including many of the highest authorities on the planet, who have the responsibility to define what it means. And of course they can’t, because its an emotively emergent term anyway. This reaction of many orthodox folks is a failure to acknowledge the elephant in the public domain that is the catastrophe narrative, plus its major authority investment / influence, and hence impact on policy (the catastrophe narrative is frequently cited as the main reason to act, and it is false).

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I think it’s inadvisable to incorporate the term ‘denial’ in this context, because this only helps to propagate further an incorrect framing of ‘denial’ / ‘denialism’, which implies a psychological problem with one’s opponent. But the academic literature supporting this framing is deeply flawed, and essentially provides
    false legitimacy for anyone to attack any group via the ‘denialist’ concept, thereby further inflating all socially conflicted domains and injecting the stigma associated with this term by its original usage. Insomuch as anything like this effect exists (and which when it does, is typically very far indeed from the extreme per its original use regarding the Holocaust), it is cultural resistance, i.e. based upon one’s accepted values, which means everyone is subject to the effect and it is not a psychological problem in the sense of an illness or deficiency. . Not to mention that a community who complains muchly about the term shouldn’t be deploying it too 0:


  18. Manic,

    But as the UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2018 quite clearly demonstrates, in aggregate “we” are not in control.

    What do you mean? Are you suggesting that whatever we do we will have no impact on emissions?


  19. Paul M,

    Thanks for the link. Just about the shallowest investigation one can imagine, coupled with the merchants of doubt meme. These guys are still saying what was said a decade or two ago by many psychologists who started to wonder what the bulk resistance was all about, but believed that the main climate change message must simply be an output of hard science so must be true (i.e. including the catastrophe narrative). It didn’t hang together then and it doesn’t now because the social data doesn’t match such propositions. Notwithstanding that this bias still dominates, there are folks who have in good faith penetrated much deeper. Sarah and Jack seem to still be at the very naive end of the spectrum, essentially a convenient back-justification what they already ‘know’ must be true.


  20. ATTP, what skeptics have pointed out is that controlling emissions will have a very minor impact on the climate.


  21. Manic,
    I have read that and I realise that there is a large emission gap. I have no idea why this is some kind of refutation of what I said, though. If we want to keep warming below 1.5C, or 2C, we will need to start reducing emissions soon. Even if we don’t, that doesn’t suddenly mean that there is no longer any point in trying to reduce emissions. Keeping warming below 2.5C will still mean that the impacts will be less severe than if we only keep it below 3C, etc.


  22. “before their former head Pachauri was busted as a serial groper”

    Not yet gone to trial some four years on. Latest excuse, judge is on leave. Evidently only one judge in India.

    I miss Oliver Manuel, I hope he’s OK!

    14 Jan 19 at 1:00 pm

    “What do you mean? Are you suggesting that whatever we do we will have no impact on emissions?”

    Answer, Yes, else why are global emissions still rising? It’s a spreadsheet exercise anyway, in many cases several years out of date. In any event temperature has not followed, so CO2 is the worst control knob in history.

    From 1990-2007, global anthropogenic GHG emissions actually rose by over 40 per cent, Mauna Loa CO2 went up by less than 8%, so what were all those emissions doing?

    Of course there are always “Carbon” Offsets:

    Tyndall doomster, Kevin Anderson:
    “Offsetting is worse than doing nothing. It is without scientific legitimacy, is dangerously misleading and almost certainly contributes to a net increase in the absolute rate of global emissions growth.”


  23. ATTP,
    Just because you cannot understand does not mean that your opinions are not at odds with political realities.
    As it is clearly beyond your comprehension I will explain very simply.
    The conjectures are
    1. That Global Emissions of GHG levels are raising GHG levels.
    2. This leads to global average temperature rise.
    3. This will have huge adverse consequences. The gross fear mongering is largely around this part.
    Subject to all three points being true, it follows that if global emissions can be stopped, the worst of the adverse consequences can be averted. There might appear to be one big climate control knob that “we can twiddle with to our hearts content.
    But there are about 170 nations recognized by the UNFCCC as policy-making countries. This does not include the UK, as the EU represents its members. So the “we” you refer to is all 7600 million people in these countries. There is not one great big knob, but lots of smaller knobs of varying sizes. These need to be assembled in to a control panel to operate the climate machine.
    Having read the UNEP emissions Gap report 2018 you will be aware of Table 2.1: Overview of the status and progress of G20 members, including on Cancun pledges and NDC targets. Along with section 2.4.2 you should had realized that these countries, with nearly 80% of global GHG emissions in 2017 are collectively to increase their emissions by 2030. They have not submitted full control of their knobs to the climate control panel. Neither are many of those controls twiddling their climate knobs to the extent they sort of made out they would in their NDC submissions. But naughty USA, with 13% of current emissions, will likely have the biggest emissions decrease even without policy. They are taking back control of their climate knob .
    When you refer to what “we” should be doing it refers to all those countries. Most countries have not given anything like full access for climate knobs and have no intention of doing so. Further, my understanding of section 4.1 of the Paris Agreement is that developing countries have no obligation to decrease their emissions until they see fit. That is their climate control knobs are not going to operated in the desired direction anytime soon. With currently about two-thirds of emissions, about 100% of net emissions growth and over 80% of the global population, the climate control panel had too few knobs – and even those are not functioning properly – to close the global emissions gaps. That is in 12 years global emissions cuts on 2017 levels by 2030 of around 25% & 55% for 2°C and 1.5°C respectively.

    So the “we” that you refer to is a very wee “we“, and not related to the “we” of an efficiently functioning climate control panel with all the climate control knobs in place.


  24. ATTP’s attempt to distract us from what the IPCC actually says is simultaneously heroic and absurd.

    ATTP attempts to anchor the discussion to temperature rises of 3.5C. That does not come from the IPCC, which projects temperature rises of roughly 2C this century. This is the reason that activists changed their desired limit to 1.5C–so they could continue to have a raison d’etre.

    ATTP, are you denying the science or just the IPCC?


  25. Tom,

    That does not come from the IPCC, which projects temperature rises of roughly 2C this century.

    No, it doesn’t. How much we warm this century depends on how much we emit. We could potentially limit emissions so that we only warm another 1C, or we could keep on increasing emissions and warm by more than 3C. On what basis do you claim that the IPCC projects temperature rises of 2C this century?


  26. ATTP, on the basis of what the IPCC projects. As you should know after your lengthy conversation with Lucia last year, ‘How much we warm this century depends on how much we emit’ is a gross misstatement.

    Emissions are one factor. Atmospheric sensitivity is another. You apparently base your pessimistic projection on RCP 8.5, if indeed you base it on anything other than your gut. That has sensitivity of 3C baked into it. If sensitivity is in fact lower (and TCR surely is and TCR will dominate the discussions pertaining to this century), then temperature rises even with skyrocketing emissions will more closely resemble those projected for RCPs 4.5 or 2.6–that is, roughly 2C.

    I understand the political need to usher atmospheric sensitivity behind the curtain and never speak of it again in polite company. The repeated calculations over the past decade showing it to be lower than you want make that inevitable.

    But this isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a political discussion.


  27. We are roughly 20% finished with this century. There is no sign that temperature rises will approach the rate of increase necessary to get to 3.5C. In fact, to my knowledge there is not one ten year period in the historic record of observed temperatures that reaches 2C. I believe 1.9C is the record, although I haven’t examined it that closely.


  28. Tom,
    Yes, I had lengthy conversation with Lucia. I’ve no idea why you think that should have any relevance. The IPCC does not simply project current warming rates to the end of the century. That temperature depends roughly linearly on emissions comes from the IPCC, or is something they present. You’re doing your own analysis and claiming it comes from the IPCC when it clearly does not. The IPCC projections depend on the emission pathway we follow and vary from more than 3C of warming this century (i.e., more than 4C since pre-industrial times) to maybe only 1C this century if we can limit how much we emit. Most relevant scientists do not think that we can limit overall warming to 1.5C, and that limiting it to 2C is going to be very difficult. Our current committments are putting us on something close to a 3.5C pathway.

    Editor: “The Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) describe four different 21st century pathways of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and atmospheric concentrations, air pollutant emissions and land use. The RCPs have been developed using Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) as input to a wide range of climate model simulations to project their consequences for the climate system. These climate projections, in turn, are used for impacts and adaptation assessment. The RCPs are consistent with the wide range of scenarios in the mitigation literature assessed by WGIII1The scenarios are used to assess the costs associated with emission reductions consistent with particular concentration pathways. The RCPs represent the range of GHG emissions in the wider literature well (Box 2.2, Figure 1); they include a stringent mitigation scenario (RCP2.6), two intermediate scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP6.0), and one scenario with very high GHG emissions (RCP8.5). Scenarios without additional efforts to constrain emissions (‘baseline scenarios’) lead to pathways ranging between RCP6.0 and RCP8.5. RCP2.6 is representative of a scenario that aims to keep global warming likely below 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures. The majority of models indicate that scenarios meeting forcing levels similar to RCP2.6 are characterized by substantial net negative emissions2 by 2100, on average around 2 GtCO2/yr. The land use scenarios of RCPs, together, show a wide range of possible futures, ranging from a net reforestation to further deforestation, consistent with projections in the full scenario literature. For air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), the RCP scenarios assume a consistent decrease in emissions as a consequence of assumed air pollution control and GHG mitigation policy”

    ATTP, when you write ” That temperature depends roughly linearly on emissions comes from the IPCC, or is something they present” you are making stuff up.

    Indeed, RCP 8.5 is already invalidated due to population trends, afforestation, existing mitigation efforts and technological change. Emissions are only one factor.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Despite emissions exceeding RCP 8.5 projections, temperatures are not increasing linearly. Which is why RCP8.5 has been invalidated.

    ATTP, You say things that are just not so. Why is that?


  30. It certainly appears that an actual lower sensitivity of the atmosphere is doing the hard work that activists wanted to come from human mitigation efforts.


  31. Tom, ATTP denies he censors his own blog.
    Denying s ience and pretending emissions are *the* control knob is child’s play for him.
    That high sensitivity is invalidated by their own predictions is a case of the prophets breaking the #1 rule of prophets: never make verifiable predictions.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. ATTP, yes. Emissions are growing rapidly. Temperatures are not rising linearly. They are rising in fits and starts with lags and spurts. But most importantly, they are not rising at a rate that would indicate a 3.5C rise this century.


  33. I completely and wholeheartedly DENY the utter nonsene that a mere two degrees temperature rise would wipe out the majority of all corals in the world as is stated by the IPCC. Corals survived the ELEVEN degree temperature spike of the PETM, ABD even the THIRTEEN degree spike of the great permo-triassic extinction.


  34. A “no-policy” baseline (which is RCP8.5) is utter nonsense, because this means freezing all technological development in time. A no-policy is thereoire not the same as a business-as-usual baseline which does include technological improvement and no-regret policy.


  35. ATTP,
    You state at 4:35 pm

    I’ve no idea why you think I don’t get that. I do. I doesn’t refute the point I was making.

    I presume you mean “It doesn’t refute the point I was making.
    There are two aspects to your comment.
    Your statements are normative. As such they are not refutable. My point is that your moralistic arguments are not connected to the real world.
    Also, my arguments are far better than the specious waffle you have at your blog. One standard for the believers and another for the grounded sceptics Ken?

    Climate mitigation policies are recognized as costly. They are promoted as an investment for future generations. But with the current state of affairs, even if
    (a) the policy costs are low
    (b) policy is effective &
    (c) costs of climate catastrophes are as great as projected
    The policy sacrifices will never get back anything like the returns from those promoting policies. The UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2018 and the Paris Climate Agreement confirm this as the case. You recognize that this is the case but still you promote them. If this was any private sector investment the sellers would be prosecuted for fraud. So why are you promoting net-harmful policies that you recognize as useless Ken?


  36. The article in Psychology Today (linked to by Paul at 9:47) is instructive IMHO and well worth a read, to appreciate the mindset at work. There are some quite breathtaking assumptions, including the re-framing of public lack of interest/alarm as “public despair and inaction”.

    This made me smile: “But despite the fact that psychologists know a lot about denial, they have never had to face denial on this scale before. Millions of people share the phenomenon of climate denial. This is clearly not something that is amenable to individual or even group psychotherapy.”

    Akin to the guy with the sandwich board on a street corner protesting “I’m not the crazy one – it’s the others, I tell you – not me, it’s the others!”

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Alex,

    the bulk of psychologists seem to have been whipping up various extremely shallow recipes of this kind for many years. As cottage industries go, it’s a pretty big one. Yet due to bias these all gloss over fundamental problems (as you note). So under the covers, all is not well. See for instance the series at WUWT starting here:

    As this series points out, none of the above recipes actually solve the great ‘riddle’ (as they see it) of bulk resistance to climate change policy, no matter how many behaviours they try to weld together in what combinations to try for an explanation (in some cases up to 30 or more). And many of them know this. Not surprising, because they are starting with what they think they ‘know’ to be true and then working backwards, which generally results in a serious clash with the existing social data. Fortunately, a few are in good faith collecting reasonable data (which due to proper procedure survives most bias), which therefore is extremely helpful in demonstrating a ‘climate culture’, i.e. an emotive belief with the catastrophe narrative as its focal point. While they cannot not yet see what this data is telling them (in general it is still ‘a puzzle’), at some point one would hope that realisation will begin to dawn. The problem is that the social sciences simply believe that the public climate change story (so in most cases including the catastrophe narrative output propagated by world leaders and many other authorities), must be a trusted output of hard science.


  38. bit O/T –
    another Guardian? Extreme views in science post –
    “Strongest opponents of GM foods know the least but think they know the most”

    liked this quote – “The extremists are more poorly calibrated. If you don’t know much, it’s hard to assess how much you know,” Fernbach added. “The feeling of understanding that they have then stops them from learning the truth. Extremism can be perverse in that way.”

    The finding has echoes of the Dunning-Kruger effect, the observation from social psychology that incompetence prevents the incompetent from recognising their incompetence. A case in point is the bank robber who was baffled to be caught after rubbing lemon juice into his face in the belief it would make him invisible to security cameras.”

    wonder how the piece will end?

    “This is often used to explain why many Americans refuse to believe in evolution and why so many Americans feel that vaccination is harmful to children,” O’Dwyer said. “It also figures into the debates on global warming and makes correcting erroneous beliefs highly challenging.”


  39. Tom, ATTP’s favorite chart of cumulative emissions vs. temperature rise has a less scary version by Nic Lewis based on historically constrained estimates.

    Figure 2. Reproduction of Figure 2.a of Froelicher et al. (2015).3 GMST changes simulated (Phase I) and estimated (Phases II and III) by 12 CMIP5 ESMs.[viii] The multimodel mean is shown by the green/red/blue line. Dark coloured bands show ± 1 standard deviation uncertainty; light coloured bands extend to minimum and maximum model values, both estimated. CO2 is emitted during Phase 1 only, in the amount (varying between models, and averaging 1.9 TtC) needed to increase its atmospheric concentration to 2.7x its preindustrial level by year 100. (The black line, estimated after year 1000, is for the GFDL-ESM2M model, which has a TCRE at the bottom of the range.)

    The orange dots are using Nic’s model. Even for emissions sufficient to get to 756 ppm CO2 (2.7 X 280), we barely reach 2 degrees C of warming.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.