The thesis of this post is stark: there’s no point debating climate further until Fact 13 has been established.
What is Fact 13? The $1.5 trillion a year the ‘climate change industry’ was reported to have become by August 2015. Was that number even remotely right? What’s the correct one going to be in August 2020? And in August 2025? And how can we be sure, allowing a suitable lag, that we have a decent idea of the answer?
The *Big* Climate Audit
Here’s an email from the second Climategate tranche, written by a mysterious character called Alan Kendall to Phil Jones in March 2007:
Phil, I can assure you that Dave Palmer did not know about the particular threadline that I drew his attention to because, during my telephone conversation with him, his voice expressed surprise (and perhaps resignation?) as he opened up the website and because he thanked me for drawing the information to his attention.
I repeat, I am not primarily interested in the dispute between yourself and ClimateAudit and will keep my opinions to myself. However when I read that people are suggested methods of legal redress against the University for not supplying research data, I felt that I needed to act. I could not contact you by telephone, so resorted to informing Dave Palmer. I would do exactly the same if similar circumstances arose again.
Jones had emailed Kendall three days before, including these damning words about Steve McIntyre and his merry band of bloggers, two and half years into Climate Audit’s existence: “Also, these people are self-appointed auditors.” Well, not any more, if I get my way. I’m hereby proposing an official, comprehensive, global audit of everything that can be considered the “climate change business”. Including fossil fuel subsidies, by the way. Though that would I assume come under a different heading.
(May I take this opportunity to wish Alan, one of Cliscep’s most appreciated commenters, the very best for a full recovery of his health. I’m sure we’ll hear more on that soon.)
Does an audit, even a very good one, give rise to facts? The official phrase is that having reviewed a company’s accounts the auditors must be able to declare them to be a “true and fair view” of the situation. That will do me but I expect, indeed welcome, criticism from John Ridgway and others on this point.
Why ‘Fact 13’?
A year ago today I posted a response to the flagship BBC documentary called Climate Change – The Facts which had first been shown on 18th April 2019. Mine was called Climate Change – the Missing Facts and claimed to state twelve facts that the presenter David Attenborough and his band of experts had chosen not to mention. And nobody has in the last year debunked even one of the facts so stated.
But, in drafting that article, I had been careful, some would even say crafty. I didn’t claim that the $1.5 trillion a year was a fact. Instead the first fact began like this:
There was no mention of trade-offs in the programme, by Attenborough or anyone else, but it is a fact that they abound in the science, engineering and economics of energy, as we seek to make sense of, and respond to, what we are learning about climate change.
Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science who trained as a geologist, was quoted as follows:
There are many reasons we haven’t acted on climate change. Science is definitely part of the story. The science is complicated.
We agree that the science is complicated. We strongly disagree that “we haven’t acted”. $1.5 trillion a year is a lot of money. The issue is whether the actions taken since man-made global warming came to prominence as an idea, in 1988, have made sense. That depends on whether we’ve been smart enough to make the right trade-offs, based on all the available facts. The following sections give some food for thought on that.
I wasn’t willing to be challenged on this number as a fact, not least because of questions about its provenance. I felt sure such knockdown point-scoring would only detract from the overall message.
But a year later I’ve found myself wondering “Why isn’t this a known fact? It has to be foundational for all other climate debate by now. Surely policy wonks fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, at such extreme expense, would now agree, as would Michael Moore and the millions of viewers of his very detailed film on the many current abuses within the enormously well-funded ‘green energy’ movement.”
Why the embryo?
The embryo is 13 weeks old, just as the BBC show that began this train of thought is now in its 13th month. But the embryo is also me. I’m very aware that I’m inadequate, a nobody, to propose such a thing. But I am now at least able to suck my thumb, showing both that I’m thinking about it and that I need to comfort myself. Please be gentle with me but, more importantly, allow the idea itself to grow.
I do not think you can easily calculate how much money is spent fighting climate change. If one takes just one of the big ticket items like renewable energy, do you assign all the capital costs including transmission lines? Do you include all the GTs that has given the large drop in US emissions? Do you include the fraccing and pipelines that supply the GTs with cheap gas? What about the GTs built to back up the unreliables?
Even the ongoing operating subsidies for the unreliables can be hard to establish. Look at the problems Paul Homewood has just for the UK. Many of the additional grid and distribution network operating costs can’t be separated out. Making arbitrary decisions about what is in or out can just give detractors a stick to beat you with. Windfarms can be economic in some circumstances. So can solar. Yet they aren’t for most mainstream installations and wouldn’t have been built but for fighting climbing change subsidies..
It is a really good idea to identify the costs, but very hard to implement. Easiest way could be just to total up the obvious ones, then use the words like “much more”, or “way over” and leave it for the other side to prove you wrong. There is a karma in doing that. It is what the alarmists have been doing for years.
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Chris is right, the spread of expenditures justified by global warming/climate change is so large that one struggles to grasp the full scope. A few years ago, there was a report on the climate crisis industry that indicated the range of private sector activities was quite extensive, even without including climate law or climate medicine initiatives. The 1.5 trillion US$ number appeared in the Industry 2015 Update from Climate Change Business Journal.
The details are in the post https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2016/07/16/climate-crisis-inc-update/
The $1.5 trillion global “climate change industry” grew at between 17 and 24 percent annually from 2005-2008, slowing to between 4 and 6 percent following the recession with the exception of 2011’s inexplicable 15 percent growth, according to Climate Change Business Journal.
The San Diego, Calif.-based publication includes within that industry nine segments and 38 sub-segments. This encompasses sectors like renewables, green building and hybrid vehicles.
That also includes the climate change consulting market, which a recent report by the journal estimates at $1.9 billion worldwide and $890 million in the U.S.
The $1.5-trillion price tag appears to exclude most of the Big Green environmentalism industry, a $13.4-billion-per-year business in the USA alone. The MacArthur Foundation just gave another $50 million to global warming alarmist groups. Ex-NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chesapeake Energy gave the Sierra Club $105 million to wage war on coal (shortly before the Club began waging war on natural gas and Chesapeake Energy, in what some see as poetic justice). Warren Buffett, numerous “progressive” foundations, Vladimir Putin cronies and countless companies also give endless millions to Big Green.
Our hard-earned tax dollars are likewise only partially included in the CCBJ tally. As professor, author and columnist Larry Bell notes in his new book, Scared Witless: Prophets and profits of climate doom, the U.S. government spent over $185 billion between 2003 and 2010 on climate change items – and this wild spending spree has gotten even worse in the ensuing Obama years. We are paying for questionable to fraudulent global warming studies, climate-related technology research, loans and tax breaks for Solyndra and other companies that go bankrupt, and “climate adaptation” foreign aid to poor countries.
Also not included: the salaries and pensions of thousands of EPA, NOAA, Interior, Energy and other federal bureaucrats who devote endless hours to devising and imposing regulations for Clean Power Plans, drilling and mining bans, renewable energy installations, and countless Climate Crisis, Inc. handouts. A significant part of the $1.9 trillion per year that American businesses and families pay to comply with mountains of federal regulations is also based on climate chaos claims.
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The fact that there’s such a thing as a Climate Change Business Journal tells us a lot. This is big – very big – business.
I applaud the sentiment behind this thread, but am overwhelmed by the thought of how one would begin to audit the cost of the climate change industry. One would also need, IMO, to include the damage caused by the climate change industry. As a simple, but I think relevant, example, one would need not just to assess the direct cost of, say, installing a giant industrial-scale wind turbine complex in the remote Scottish hills, but also somehow put a figure on the environmental damage caused by the process, and also the financial cost caused to things like the local tourist industry along the way.
This is an enormous job, and we don’t have the resources of the Green Blob to carry it out. There’s no US-billionaire funded foundation going to bankroll it, and no university grant funds would be made available for this either. It’s too dangerous, running counter to the prevailing narrative. The sad thing is that it’s also extremely important, since it’s an essential part of the debate that is lacking.
Arguing about climate change shouldn’t be the simple dichotomy that climate hysterics want to pretend it is. There is a real debate to be had about whether the climate mitigation programme is doing more harm than good (look at the real damage it often causes to the environment), since it isn’t doing anything of any use to combat climate change, and all that money is being diverted from here and now poverty reduction, climate change risk adaptation, etc, etc.
Thanks sincerely for the comments but I’ll only need the first sentence of Chris Morris:
Me neither. One detail I chose to leave out of the head post was this: I’d been thinking that the ‘Big Climate Audit’ we need to establish Fact 13 would cost around $1bn. That’s 0.067% of the estimate Climate Change Business Journal came up with for the annual spend in 2015 so hardly disproportionate. For this to become reality we need governments to make it a priority, just like the UK government has given the National Audit Office a key role in its medical accounting during the Covid crisis. Michael Moore giving his wholehearted backing could only help with that global push. Geoff Chambers has watched more of Moore’s previous work than I have so I nominate Geoff to write the first email!
As all three commenters so far have said it makes sense logically but it’s also very hard. I’d love to have the thoughts of UK sceptics like Tony Newberry and Kevin Marshall – as well as people at Climate Change Business Journal itself – on the practical challenges. In accounting there are rules about depreciation and the ‘going concern’ assumption that allow one to calculate effective spend in a year for an international company. Contra Mark I don’t think the damage being caused by green measures should be included in the total. That would be included in cost-benefit analysis that would come after a Fact 13 initiative (with open data produced throughout) was complete. But come back to me on all of that.
I’m hearing the words of John Lennon as I write this: “You may say I’m a dreamer …” But I’m not. I’m an activist with demands that I believe you also share. One is that we establish Fact 13 within a “true and fair view” framework. A second is that the UN IPCC should reinstate cost-benefit analysis in its big report, that it dropped in 1995 after AR2.
This bombshell – about how the IPCC dropped cost-benefit analysis – I would call Fact 14. It’s dead easy to state but I’d either never heard about it or I’d forgotten I had. I only did take it in *after* completing my missing facts piece a year ago. Through the video I’d recommended under my own Fact 2 – of Bjorn Lomborg being interviewed by Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution earlier last year!
This idea is embryonic and, as the last paragraph indicates, so is my own expertise. But the overall idea cannot not make sense. Fact 13 has to come first. Now is the time. That is our demand.
“…there’s no point debating climate further until Fact 13 has been established.”
I think this is completely wrong. It’s equivalent to saying there’s no point debating whether Christianity (or indeed any religion) is right or wrong (or likewise any of its particular characteristics / behaviours and whether these are, individually or net, beneficial or not), until we establish the exact wealth of Christianity. Why does that even matter to the principles? The fact that CAGW is also a global belief system, with the equivalent of the vast lands and cathedrals / churches / investments and faithfuls and administrations and even ritual all encompassed, is obvious without any need to know the precise figure. Which figure is anyhow somewhat arbitrary depending on how calculated, and is probably unknowable to boot. Not all of the expenditure may be bad and some may have occurred via different routes anyhow; Christianity also does good works as well as tying up lands and capital and causing wars. But most CAGW spend could better be spent without cultural misdirection, as you noted for better pandemic preparedness among many other things, and disentangling amounts does not change that principle. ‘Vast’ is sufficient. If CAGW was much smaller, the amounts would matter more, the net impact may not be worth worrying about, for instance. But for a civilisational level cultural misdirect, what matters is that it’s a civilisational level misdirection, and much of the fall-out of this has invisible costs anyhow. Also, all of the above in the public domain is, in theory, separate to the physical science (after all, notwithstanding bias in science the catastrophe narrative does contradict both mainstream as well as skeptical science). Hence (genuine – difficult I know) discussion of the principles in physical climate science are valid too, without detailed knowledge of policy / social expenditures, however the outside culture distorts same to promote said expenditures. This is not to say it wouldn’t be handy knowledge. But it’s in any case a spectra of different sums for subjectively lesser or greater justified purposes, and much is invisible – how do you cost the negative impact on society of many millions ardently believing a narrative of imminent apocalypse, even minus the minor bits that are calculable such as economic damage from XR actions – you can’t.
– how do you cost the negative impact on society of many millions ardently believing a narrative of imminent apocalypse, even minus the minor bits that are calculable such as economic damage from XR actions – you can’t. And there is absolutely no need to, in order to have perfectly valid discussions about the validity of that narrative.
Andy: You left out the word thesis. Did you not realise I was looking to provoke an Andithesis? 🙂
I’ll say more later. There is quite a lot to add in comments, to make sense of any of this. If such a thing is possible.
Richard, I presumed you’d realise that this was indeed a (very firm) anti-thesis, so your aim is achieved 🙂
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Two points: Firstly, Another flow of expenditure consists of UNIPCC climate finance flows between nations. A discussion of this is here: https://www.carbonbrief.org/interactive-how-climate-finance-flows-around-the-world?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+carbonbrief+%28The+Carbon+Brief%29
My synopsis is https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2018/12/06/follow-the-climate-money/
“The UNFCCC biennial report gives an estimate that includes all of these flows and puts overall global climate finance at $680bn in 2015 and $681bn in 2016, a 17% increase on 2013-2014 levels. The growth was largely driven by high levels of new private investment in renewable energy, the report says.”
Secondly, more to Andy’s point, efforts and expenditures on the fake climate crisis is money not spent preparing for real threats, like pandemics. Terence Corcoran wrote in Financial Post Global policy-makers shoved pandemic risk aside and spread climate alarm instead
“In 2008, the No. 1 risk cited by insurance executives was a pandemic, described as “a new highly infectious and fatal disease spreads through the human population.” In 2019, the top risk was identified as “global temperature change.” Pandemic was not even one of the top-10 insurance risks.”
Corcoran’s article is https://business.financialpost.com/opinion/terence-corcoran-why-all-the-macroprudes-failed-on-covid-19
My synopsis is https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2020/04/20/financiers-failed-us-focused-on-fake-crisis/
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Ron: I can’t tell you how grateful I am for these two comments and the links therein.
Andy: I’m thinking of changing my plea. Not being much of a Hegelian, I never had much hope for the synthesis. Instead, to understand my first sentence there are two options. Consider my love of hyperbole. “You strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” It runs in the worldview. Or consider that I was writing in response to Geoff Chambers and Michael Moore (and possibly, but less so, Jason Bordoff). Not just anything from Geoff Chambers (heaven forbid) but his comment last year. And that brings in Michael Gove, George Eustice and their colleagues. Make sense now?
I’ll need to flesh it out more I expect, and the same for Ron, Mark and Chris. It may not be speedy. The mention of 2025 anticipated that possibility.
Richard – you have set yourself a very hard task, even if just doing it for the UK Good luck. However, a 2025 deadline may be OK. I see the latest modelling says the Arctic won’t be ice free until 2050 (they have learnt not to make their predictions too alarmist, otherwise they get caught out when that date elapses (come in, Prof Wadhams)).so you have plenty of time.
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Richard, thanks for tackling this issue. As the flow diagram suggests, the audit problem is complicated by the various entities through which climate funds pass. Disbursements of public monies go from government coffers at all levels and private monies from foundations and donors. These go to a large array of NGOs who spend it on public “education” . as well as various projects to inhibit access to carbon fuels. Research institutes get grants to produce studies on any and all possible negatives from a bit of global warming. Then there are the green energy companies who spend investors’ capital on things like wind and solar farms. Not sure how to account for carbon offset markets who skim consumers’ payments for goods to divert into various green projects like reforestation, etc. And of course each entity has its own overhead that consumes part of the flowthrough. So the total expenditure is not just the projects on the ground, but all of the institutional cost of the infrastructiure.
I did look at just a little piece of this action: the emerging field of climate medicine. In addition to numerous agencies set up within WHO and the UN, and governmental entities (such as the Met Office), there are many NGOs, such as:
Health Care Without Harm
Health and Environment Alliance
Health and Climate Foundation
Climate and Health Council
United States National Association of County and City Health Officials
Global Gender and Climate Alliance / Women’s Environment and Development Organization
International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations
Climate Change and Human Health Programme, Columbia U.
Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard
National Center for Epidemiology and Population Health, ANC Canberra
Centre for Sustainability and the Global Environment, U of Wisconsin
Environmental Change Institute, Oxford
London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, London, UK
International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change, US National Academies of Science
US Climate and Health Alliance
Etc, etc., etc.
All of these entities are largely, or to some degree, spending time and money justified by the claimed climate crisis.
Richard: “Make sense now?”
Kind of. But you did explicitly say that your thesis was ‘stark’, which is leeway enough for the anti-thesis to likewise be stark.
I’m all for finding this out and it’s useful information both in itself and for holding rampant policy-making in the name of the catastrophic, to account. I’m not at all alright with the notion that all climate debate is invalid or pointless until this figure is established, or indeed that it would remain invalid or pointless if the error margins on that figure remained indefinitely very large (which means essentially, we’ll never ‘know’ the figure, as such).
Ron: I wouldn’t say I’ve tackled the issue but at least I’ve broached it.
I just wrote on another thread about the apparent futility of demanding that the governments of the world team together to set in motion this $1 billion audit of the whole jolly shebang. There is of course going to be massive resistance to even a fraction of that kind of sum being spent.
But I have a bit of the Heisenberg and the Schrodinger on it. Any serious attempt to measure how big the ‘climate change business’ has become will I believe have a dramatic and immediate effect on how big it’s going to be next time. This is how Ben Pile’s house of cards will fall. (Where did Ben write about the house of cards? But it was recent and I’m sure it wasn’t the first time.)
This is Shrodinger’s embryo, either certain to be snuffed out or about to grow into something unbelievably strong. (The embryo was a late addition to a post I’ve been thinking about for around six months. I googled for the number 13 late on Saturday night, got all the Friday the Thirteenth images, thought that wasn’t what I wanted, then happened on a page for pregnant women from Bayer. There are ironies aplenty in all that.)
On my first sentence, adjusting the hyperbole downwards and making the context explicit I might arrive at:
That’s more UK-centric than I wanted as well as less punchy. But we no doubt have to start with national governments post the Covid-19 financial disaster. As well as the masses disgusted by the revelations from Moore and Gibbs. As Chris implies, we may just have an earthly.
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I meant of course the ONS, the Office of National Statistics. And on that:
And on the encouraging David Spiegelhalter here’s Bishop Hill in March 2015:
And Andrew even got a reply from the likeable Cambridge professor.
Here I have to make a confession: I actually trust these guys in the context of Covid. Turning the statistical supertanker of climate baloney around would be something else of course.
‘I do not think you can easily calculate how much money is spent fighting climate change.’
Surely the answer is: nothing. But plenty has been spent on pretending to be doing something, which invariably has zero effect.
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Oldbrew: Some of it has negative effect, even on reducing CO2 emissions. Michael Moore is far from entirely wrong about that.
But I separate here the audit stage, which doesn’t make such judgments (only looking at the ostensible reason), and the cost-benefit one, which the IPCC dropped in 1995 and must be restored.
We need a full accounting of what was spent preparing for the ‘climate crisis’ versus COVID is the latest from Paul Driessen, republished on WUWT. Charles Rotter has given it the headline “Prioritizing climate over pandemics”. Quite. This for me is sceptics thinking straight. The only subject that really counts in the ‘new normal’.
Again catching up. Reading through this post and the comments, I totally agree that establishing Fact 13 is a near-impossible task and one that itself would be costly. Yet reading the various components of the total cost suggests to me that a final costing is unnecessary and is probably impossible to determine in any case. Produce such a figure and immediately it will be contested. Just as happened in this discussion, components of the total would be contested as to whether they truly should be counted as climate change costs. All media attention would be focused on these lesser matters, obscuring the main rationale for the work and the significance of the total.
Also apparent to me is that much work has already been done or is underway upon estimating components of the overall total. I would suggest that a search for an incontestable Fact 13 is unnecessary – what is required is to total those components that can be estimated/determined. I suspect this partial Fact 13 would itself be mind boggling. When coupled with comments that the figure quoted could well be considered a minimum because all sorts of other costs should be included, the partial estimate would suit the purposes you wish to use it.
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Thanks Alan. Actually very encouraging. I knew I was trying to take a leaf out of Mr Cummings’ book here and his £350 million a week on the famous Vote Leave bus. The conversation the opposition doesn’t want to have. That’s why it must become our obsession.
Thanks to the GWPF for this excerpt from the FT
Saying one thing and doing another? Who would have thought it, of politicians?
“This feels like a lost battle.”
Yep, I think so. Especially when we know how much your policies have already cost us.
Hmm, I missed this later the same day from the GWPF. Here’s the chart I think is most important:
Here’s the tweet with the link to the article and polling:
Followed by some numbers that don’t seem so encouraging:
But this poll was carried out in the middle of May. The economic problems due to lockdown (and people’s fear) hadn’t begun to work themselves through the system. I think the priorities of all voters will look a lot more like those of Tory voters pretty soon: