What do you know about Bjorn Lomborg? More than me I’m guessing. I know he wrote a book that is very popular with climate sceptics and is universally derided by those who are not. I know that debunking Lomborg is now big business, with a turnover likely in excess of the GDP of most South American countries. And I know he is famous for pushing the following graph depicting the fall in climate-related deaths since 1920:

The graph has been referenced more than once here on Cliscep, so it should be of considerable interest and concern to learn that there is also a ‘fact-checking’ video doing the rounds that, according to those who have no time for Lomborg, does a pretty good job of debunking him. As I say, I am no student of Lomborg and so I am in no position to offer a sweeping judgment regarding his position within the climate change debate; I’ll leave that sort of grandstanding to the likes of Wikipedia and DeSmog. But, given the importance and notoriety of his analysis on climate-related deaths, I thought I would at least take the time to view the debunking video and report on just how good a job it does in adding to the legend of the debunked ‘denier’. In so doing I think I learned a thing or two about just how easy it seems for self-satisfaction to overcome the average fact-checker and, more to the point, just how breathtakingly hypocritical they can be.

If you take a stand then you have to stick to it

The first theme of the debunking is based upon the old chestnut of cherry-picking. The problem is that Lomborg conveniently chooses to start his graph at 1920, which happens to be the high point of the EM-DAT dataset upon which the graph is based. Had he commenced from the start of that dataset the graph would have shown a lower climate-related death rate leading up to the 1920 maximum. Indeed, the earliest version of the Lomborg graph did just that. Whilst it still conveyed the message of a significant drop in climate-related deaths up to the present day, it also invited people to ask the rather awkward question, ‘but what is that at the start?’ It seems a bit sly of Lomborg to subsequently drop this inconvenient section of the data, but does pointing this out debunk Lomborg? Certainly not in my book. With or without the pre-1920 data, there is nothing in the graph to suggest an increase in climate-related deaths in recent years. The opposite is still clearly the case, and that has to remain the point. At worst this is an awkward detail for Lomborg and at best it is an irrelevance.

But he’s cherry-picking, the video screams, and that’s exactly the sort of dirty trick that deniers are supposed to pull. Besides which, the video continues, had you not noticed that the fall in deaths only shows up when one looks at global data? If one focusses in on the USA the data definitely shows an increase. So take that Lomborg! In fact, all you have to do is ignore the data from China and the Indian subcontinent and you get a completely different graph showing a marked recent increase.

It turns out that the real sleight of hand pulled by Lomborg wasn’t to cherry-pick from post 1920 data but to then fail to cherry-pick his countries. Sneakily, he insisted on using global statistics to analyse a global phenomenon. He somehow felt that including the most populace and traditionally most vulnerable countries of the world was perfectly okay. The swine!

I just wonder whether the maker of this debunking video has the slightest understanding that you can’t accuse someone of cherry-picking only then to make cherry-picking a central pillar of one’s own debunking argument. It just beggars belief. Can the hypocrisy get any worse? Well let’s look at the second theme of the debunking to see if it can.

And if you take another stand then you have to stick to it also

As if using global statistics to analyse a global issue wasn’t bad enough, Lomborg also chose to define deaths caused by floods, droughts, storms, wildfires and extreme temperatures as climate-related. But, according to the debunking video, this was highly misleading since the events that were driving the data were not purely climate events. The video goes through them all and, in every case, is able to point to other factors (usually caused by human conflict or failed policy) that contributed to the death toll. Maybe it would have been more appropriate for Lomborg to point out that deaths resulting from conflict had dropped dramatically since 1920.

As with the accusation of cherry-picking, this is actually a valid point, but it is again overplayed and is groaning with hypocrisy. The reality is that very few supposedly natural disasters can be placed purely in such a category since there are nearly always human-related causations that have to be taken into account. Even the non-climate related disasters that Lomborg references will have been affected in that way. For example, just how many deaths have been caused by an earthquake will be a function of both its strength and just how earthquake-resistant the buildings will have been. And yet we still refer to the deaths as earthquake-related rather than construction-related. And we don’t whine when someone does so but fails to point out the human negligence involved. So saying that Lomborg is misleading his audience is a bit rich, particularly when you take into account that no matter how many human-related causations were behind the death tolls of recent climate events, all the deaths were counted as climate-related. The rule seems to be that when the statistics are dropping it is due to trends in the human-related causations, but when they are rising, it is entirely due to the trends in climate.

So it is fine to pick up Lomborg on this point, but if you do so then you are going to have to stop objecting to those who point out the major role of deforestation in Pakistani flooding, or the role that an epidemic of arson has had on Australian wildfires. Either you take a sophisticated view regarding causation or you don’t. You can’t just switch sophistication on and off just to suit your ‘debunking’ arguments.

And try not to get desperate

The only other supposedly debunking argument I can discern in the video is one taking issue with Lomborg’s claim that the drop in climate-related deaths is entirely positive. Yes, asserts the video, but at what cost? All these protections that have come with greater economic wealth have also resulted in greater financial loss when disaster strikes – just ask the insurance companies. And we all know that money is fungible – every pound spent on sea defences or to rebuild houses is a pound less for cancer research.

‘Specious’ is the word that comes to mind here. ‘Naïve’ is another. You just can’t do that. You can’t play the cancer card unless you can directly relate the two revenue streams and provide statistics that unequivocally show that death rates due to cancer are a lot higher because of the redirection of funding. Sure, cancer deaths are on the increase, but this trend is easily explained in terms of a growing and aging population that is not dying as much from other things that would have traditionally got you before cancer had the chance. The attempt to allude in this way to a hidden climate-related death toll is just downright desperate. The less said about this one, the better.

A call to arms

The only reason I have brought up this debunking video now is because it indirectly relates to the recent evaluation of IPCC’s AR6 published by the Clintel group. In fact, I had not even heard of this video until Dr Ken Rice referenced it in the latest post on his ATTP blog. The article dismisses the Clintel report as a litany of the same old heavily debunked arguments offered by climate ‘deniers’ and, in passing, Dr Rice adds a comment citing the Lomborg graph as another example of the sort of stuff that has already been thoroughly debunked (he actually says of the debunking video, ‘I thought this was a pretty good debunking of Lomborg’s graph’). I know that there are differences of opinion here on Cliscep regarding whether there is still much to be gained by arguing against the science used to justify Net Zero. I say that there is, and I will continue to say this whilst there are still people such as Dr Ken Rice who feel that the video I have just reviewed does a pretty good job of anything.


  1. Thanks John – well argued. But the important thing from my perspective is that it’s yet another example of how, as soon as someone comes up with an argument that challenges the science orthodoxy (e.g. Clintel, Lomborg … or Lindzen) someone else quickly pops up to ‘debunk’ it. And that’s why I’m sure the best way to tackle for example the absurd and dangerous Net Zero policy is to avoid the science and stick to practical argument. See recent exchanges HERE


  2. Robin,

    My concern would be that if one just lets the ‘debunking’ stand without challenge, it just gives nonsense a free pass. I think it is in that sense that I side with Jaime. By debunking a ‘debunker’ I don’t hold out much hope of making an impression and so on a pragmatic level I should be agreeing with you. But I can’t do so. I just can’t bring myself to overlook rubbish. Call it a personal failing, but fail I must.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. John, thanks for enduring that video so we don’t have to. I took a very quick look at ATTP and came away quickly before my brain caught something nasty.

    Rice: “My debunking is much better than your debunking . . . . . because it’s got ‘climate myths’ and ‘denier talking points’. Climate myths and denier talking points are what good debunkings crave.”

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The reason I disagree with you (and Jaime) is that, satisfactory though debunking a ‘debunker’ may be, it doesn’t solve the problem – e.g. how to persuade our ‘leaders’ to abandon Net Zero. In contrast, a well argued case showing that the policy is – as well as unachievable and potentially disastrous – is pointless is not ‘debunkable’. For example, how do you debunk a facts-based argument that non-Western countries are the source of 75% of global and are continuing to increase those emissions?

    Sometimes a greater priority means we have to overlook rubbish.


  5. Jaime,

    It wasn’t one of Dr Rice’s best articles I have to say. Just a lot of unsubstantiated claims really, presumably because he feels comfortable in no longer having to substantiate his position (it has already been done, so why do it again?) It is this complacency that I suspect Robin is referring to. How can one have a debate on the science when those who should be addressing the points raised are no longer interested in listening. At least if we keep the line open they can’t accuse us of conceding defeat and moving on like the slippery Big Oil lobbyists that we are. Hey, but they will anyway!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Robin,

    Do we not have a universal problem here? Why do you think the obviousness of the flaws in the Net Zero plan will be an easier target than the obvious flaws in the science were (and still are)? We can debunk whatever we want and it is likely to have little pragmatic impact. I’m sure Andy would be able to explain why that should be.

    Another point I should be making is that I’ve never really thought this has been a scientific debate but rather a debate regarding decision-making under uncertainty. Seen that way, I don’t think the distinction between our two positions is that well-defined anyway.


  7. Why do you think the obviousness of the flaws in the Net Zero plan will be an easier target than the obvious flaws in the science were (and still are)?

    Because our opponents are pleased when their version of the science is attacked: they can cry ‘denier’ and, if necessary, ‘debunk’ your position, knowing they’ll get plenty of support – including support from ‘authoritative’ sources. In complete contrast, they dislike practical argument as they don’t know how to deal with it. Point out for example that the Net Zero project doesn’t include a fully costed (or indeed any) engineering plan for the provision of comprehensive grid-scale back-up when there’s little or no wind or sun and they can only waffle – because it’s obviously true. And, far from supporting them, their colleagues will be careful to steer clear – or to change the subject by trying to show that you’re an evil science denier.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Robin,

    “…they can cry ‘denier’…”

    As opposed to crying ‘delayer’. They’ve got a d-word for every challenge.

    “…they can only waffle…”

    Which is all that is necessary when you have the moral high ground. Do you really want to destroy our children’s future with your ‘what about China’ and your ‘but renewables are too costly and unreliable’? We all know you’re just a denier who is trying a different tack. 🙂

    Look, don’t get me wrong, Robin. I say all power to your efforts. The real difference between you and me is that you are a practical man with a serious intent, and I am just someone who likes to argue even when it is a lost cause.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. John: “Do we not have a universal problem here? Why do you think the obviousness of the flaws in the Net Zero plan will be an easier target than the obvious flaws in the science were (and still are)? We can debunk whatever we want and it is likely to have little pragmatic impact. I’m sure Andy would be able to explain why that should be.”

    Its a very uphill battle against the emotively convinced in both cases. It’s very hard to win against people who think they’re on the right side of history, who think they’re saving the planet, who get peer kudos from attacking delayers or deniers alike, and largely, whose (secular religious) passion for the battle is honest. However, Robin has a point; there is an equation that will work very much in his favour, though it’s a bit of a journey to see why…

    The global measurements of attitudes to climate change over many years, clearly show that the stronger the reality-constraints upon publics, the less is their belief (cultures always yield proportionately to hard reality, which means they yield no more than they absolutely have to). Because all policy represents at least some reality-constraint – it must be paid for or must take precedence over other (non-climate related) policies – then commitments to renewables or EVs across the globe indeed reflect these moderated belief trends.

    However, there’s a major problem, in that the reality-constraints associated with Net-Zero policies are nowhere near as strong as they should be, because the true constraints (the many and heavy downsides of renewables and EVs etc) are essentially obscured from the public by the cultural machine. Hence the limits on policy are very light. In targeting the lack of practicality of NZ policies (both regarding naff-all climate benefits, and the many heavy negatives such as grid problems or environmental damage from bio-fuels or lithium extraction or whatever), this should have the effect, whether specific arguments with luminaries on the orthodox side are directly won or lost, of gradually and iteratively exposing the true downsides of NZ to publics. This is the beauty, you don’t even have to win, you just need enough of a platform to expose realities that ordinary people will eventually grasp, whoever ‘wins’ on any particular day. This tightens the constraints, so public belief will drop, and support for policy will eventually drop with it. Once realities essentially become known to all, the culture can’t hide them again; it is forced back on that front.

    However, when arguing the science, which is completely obscure to publics compared with stuff like do they get to keep their gas boiler, then even with some modest wins (which would be very hard to envisage at the moment), this won’t actually impact the reality constraints at all, because the policy parted company with the science decades ago anyhow. And indeed public attitudes have almost no connection to the science either, they depend mostly on cultural factors related to catastrophism.

    So at the moment policy implementation is measurably about how far belief has penetrated in each nation, and has naff all to do with the science, or even technology, or the climate or climate exposure of nations, or indeed anything rational, EXCEPT in that, should reality-constraints be truly reflected, the support would drop like a stone, probably to the point where Net Zero policies would collapse altogether. As a bonus, long before the the point of that collapse, should it be achieved, the exposure of realities will cause some very awkward questions for the culture, that will eventually leak back into the science, such that the free pass orthodoxy currently wields to diss everyone and ignore proper scientific process, could actually get revoked.

    Sorry, all a bit off topic regarding Lomborg and debunking, but you did invite me 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Why don’t we do both? – attack the science and, at the same time emphasise the major problems of trying to achieve net-zero incrementally. Surely any success with one will aid the other? Each to their own.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Alan,

    I think that is precisely what Jaime and I have been saying. Ultimately, societies are making a decision under uncertainty, which means that evaluations of the scale and impact of the uncertainty matter. Unfortunately for the individual, such calculations have been made on our behalf by the instruments of governance. That’s not a conspiracy theory but it does mean that our personal decision-making is constrained by ‘nudging’ and ‘choice architectures’ (it’s all in AR5, WG2, Chapter 2). As reality and the perception of it converges, we will be in a better position to do the necessary cost benefits analyses but we will remain constrained by an authority that is both moral and legal. I fully appreciate Robin’s argument for emphasising the impracticality and futility of Net Zero in the UK, but I don’t see how conceding ground on the scientific debate regarding the uncertainties helps. I fear that, no matter how bad it gets, there will always be someone in authority saying, ‘but it has to be that way so you have to get used to it’. I think any means of challenging that statement could form part of a useful strategy.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. That seems logical doesn’t it Alan. I have argued for the same. But Robin is concerned that challenging climate change and climate action advocates on the basis of the science will simply ‘provide them with an excuse to ignore’ challenges to their mad policies, therefore perhaps interfere with attempts to challenge policy, which Robin considers should be prioritised. I remain confused as to how or why this might be the case.

    But it’s important to note that challenges to the science take two forms: challenges to the basic theories of the science by proposing alternative scientific theories, plus presentation of empirical data which tends to cast doubt upon the prevailing consensus scientific narrative. Lomborg’s analysis falls into the latter category and John has exposed the poor attempt at ‘debunking’ Lomborg’s analysis, which is based on actual, real world data. Climate change doomsters are even more vulnerable when it comes to inconvenient data because, though it might be relatively easy to dismiss those proposing alternative scientific theories to account for global warming and/or severe weather events, by appeal to ‘consensus’, it is very hard to dismiss actual data which doesn’t fit the preferred narrative. We absolutely should NOT stop doing this.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. “That seems logical doesn’t it Alan.”

    Notwithstanding the equation at my post of 15 MAY 23 AT 11:01 PM above, I failed to add that I don’t think a separate fight about the science will impede any efforts to expose Net Zero realities. Although if conducted in some highly orthodox climate-science orientated forums, which tend to be more controlled than general forums where policy gets discussed, I still think it’s rather like playing to Queensbury when your opponent brings a knife (appeals to authority, ‘denier’ label, maybe smear, censoring reasonable posts etc). But it occurs to me that it’s a big improvement to even have a choice of tactics, and more than two as well; the (essentially millenarian) anti-nuclear expression within climate catastrophism is a weakness that exposes its true nature, and pro-nuclear efforts are sucking in more believers, to the extent that a heresy is starting to form, which may eventually split the culture. Michael Shellenberger is hot on this angle. I think this contributed to the greens getting a pasting in the recent German elections (for closing nuclear down).


  14. Jaime:

    But Robin is concerned that challenging climate change and climate action advocates on the basis of the science will simply ‘provide them with an excuse to ignore’ challenges to their mad policies, therefore perhaps interfere with attempts to challenge policy, which Robin considers should be prioritised. I remain confused as to how or why this might be the case.

    You misunderstand my position. By all means challenge the science – but please don’t do so at the same time as challenging the policy. Why? Because, if you do, action advocates who find it difficult to respond to a policy challenge (where the ‘denier’ label, ‘debunking’ and appeals to authority don’t apply) will focus their attention on the science (where they do) and ignore the policy challenge. In other words, I agree with Andy when he says ‘I don’t think a separate fight about the science will impede any efforts to expose Net Zero realities’.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Robin, Andy,

    Thank you for the clarification. It is indeed difficult when a group that offers various challenges based upon different issues is treated as an amorphous, self-contradicting blob of conspirators. They believe we speak as one, and when we don’t, rather than recognising their false assumption, they take it as a sign that we are all incapable of coherent thought. A Monday denier and a Friday delayer are treated as some sort of slippery unity. This makes concepts such as ‘at the same time’ rather ill-defined. To these people, everything is at the same time, hence their accusations of ‘kettle logic’.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. OK Robin, I kind of see where you are coming from now. Like the Covid vaccines, I view climate change mitigation policies in terms of ‘whether they are safe, effective and necessary’. They can be challenged on any or all of those three points. In my opinion, they are not safe; they risk economic devastation, widespread poverty and environmental harm. They are certainly not effective when most of the major alleged ‘carbon polluters’ are ramping up global emissions, thus rendering our own modest efforts completely pointless. The last depends upon the science itself being challenged – whether indeed the policies being put in place are necessary. If, for example, all of the warming post 1950 is not, as claimed by the IPCC, attributable to GHG forcing, and natural climate change is responsible for at least 50% or more, this drives a coach and horses through the ‘necessary’ argument. So what you are saying is that we should compartmentalise our objections to the climate industrial complex; rather than arguing, all at once, whether they are safe, effective and necessary, we should just focus our efforts on one at a time. I don’t have a particular problem with that but I think we should bear in mind that a demonstration that climate action is not safe, effective or necessary is probably a more powerful argument than a demonstration of any one of those in isolation.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. The small change in the global average temperature in the past 172 years could not possibly be a major factor in the trend of climate related deaths. There must be five other factors that are more important, such as better medical care, more access to medical care, central heat, A/C, and fewer people living with undiagnosed heart conditions. These data should never be used to demonize global warming, which has primarily been warming at night in the coldest six months of the year — remember that cold weather is heart attack and flu weather.


  18. I have always thought the global warming/climate change proposition is a three-legged stool

    As the stool above shows, the climate change package sits on three premises. The first is the science bit, consisting of an unproven claim that observed warming is caused by humans burning fossil fuels. The second part rests on impact studies from billions of research dollars spent uncovering any and all possible negatives from warming. And the third leg is climate initiatives (policies) showing how governments can “fight climate change.”

    As discussed above, the science is dubious and should not be ceded to the alarmists, as Big Oil lawayers have frequently done in order to argue about legal technicalities (standing, jurisdiction and the like). And the policies are not ineffectual, but downright dangerous. And as Richard Greene suggests above, the benefits of a warming world with a higher CO2 concentration are typically ignored in the doomsday narratives. There are three fronts to attack, and a breathrough on any one brings down the proposition.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Richard,

    Of course, climate-related deaths are not just about those related to heat stress or the cold in winter. But since you have raised the issue, it is perhaps worth pointing out that this is another area of controversy in which Lomborg debunking is more than a cottage industry. For example, his article “An Overheated Climate Alarm”, published in The Wall Street Journal, on 6 Apr. 2016, has attracted the following criticism:


    On the whole, the criticism seems pretty authoritive to me, although there is one glaring error. It says that the evaluation was conducted by 10 scientists when it should, of course, have said nine scientists and Stephan Lewandowsky.


  20. Ron: re your three-legged stool, you may not have seen that my post HERE. It opened as follows:

    To justify the claim that Western countries must cut their CO2 emissions, the following statements must all be true:

    1. The world is warming
    2. Humanity is the cause
    3. It’s dangerous
    4. We can fix it

    Therefore, to destroy the claim, you only have to falsify one of them.

    I concluded with the advice that sceptics should ignore items 1, 2 and 3 and focus on 4. That led to a remarkable debate – still proceeding today. Especially with Jaime. And it’s spilled over into this thread.


  21. Ron,

    Thanks for the Spectator link. I must admit that this net benefit/harm debate is not something I have looked into in any great detail. Perhaps it’s time I did. It’s just that it has always looked to me to be a highly problematic calculation and the day would ultimately be won by who could cite the greater number of experts. That’s the sort of argument I tend to keep out of.


  22. John, I suppose the most prolific writer on net benefit/harm has been Indur Goklany with his GWPF publications. I was aware of his earlier paper CARBON DIOXIDE The good news

    Click to access benefits1.pdf

    More recently he wrote a compilation entitled IMPAC TS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

    That was provocative of an attack from climatefeedback, followed by a rebuttal from GWPF, here:


    Liked by 1 person

  23. Ron,

    Thanks for the links. I have a very open mind on this particular issue. Whilst I suspect the risks associated with climate change are not understood as well as many maintain, and therefore current commitments to net zero are unjustified, I am less certain that they are actually outweighed by benefits. That’s a claim that I would have to look into in some depth, taking into account everyone’s arguments.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. John, do look into it. Ben Pile shows us the dichotomy we are up against, and how central is the rhetoric about climate impacts from using carbon fuels.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Really…

    The UK has identified hard coal resources of 3,910 million tonnes, although total resources could be as large as 187 billion tonnes.

    We didn’t stop burning it because we have run out.

    Further, estimates for coal accessible in the UK using steerable drilling technology and in situ gasification amount to some trillions of tons.

    Do try to keep up.

    Oh, and by the way, did you notice the Germans have just chopped down a windfarm to get at the coal underneath it?

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Paul,

    Thank you. At least that’s something I can respond to.

    Firstly, I think the facts show that coal reserves are not actually depleted (though they are a finite resource) and so I would refute that we are being clownish by contributing to a depletion that we now complain about. However, the effects of burning fossil fuels are a more contentious issue and I presume that it is your assertion that we have contributed to a global warming crisis requiring something like Net Zero in the UK, and yet we complain about that. Of course, the difficulty here is that we would not accept your premise. So, in your view, is the real reason for our clownishness that we do not accept the premise, despite so much scientific evidence? Without a more precise accusation from you it is difficult to respond in any greater detail.

    Also, I have found from bitter experience that it is never a good idea to open a debate by expressing your disdain for your opponent. It rarely results in a constructive discussion (presuming that is what you wanted when you posted here).

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Is PP here to debunk John’s debunking of Lomborg’s analysis of weather related deaths by a Youtuber who ‘debunks Human Induced Climate Change impact deniers for fun’, or what? Claiming (wrongly) that we’ve burned through all our coal and are now crying about our alleged ‘predicament’ doesn’t seem a very sensible way to challenge the issues raised in this post. Maybe he’s just an emissary from ATTP sent here to stir the hornet’s nest or maybe he’s a lone clown who just wants to pick an argument with ‘deniers and delayers’ but hasn’t got the foggiest clue how to go about it? Either way, it’s probably time for a bout of critical ignoring.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Jaime,

    I’m sure you are right about Paul. My article has appeared on the ATTP radar and has received the predictable response. From Willard we have the simple refrain “Oh JR”. From Joshua we have “It’s all so banal”.

    Gone are the days when they felt that rebuttal required an effort.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Like moths they are drawn to the flame of ‘denialism’. Unlike moths, they have the good sense to keep from going too near because they know they’ll get burned.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. No Jaime. I think they genuinely believe we are stupid and we have nothing they want to hear. Also, we are the biggest hypocrites on Earth and that is another good reason for them being so dismissive. When Willard says “Oh JR” you should read the subtext “This is Willard speaking and it is JR who I am talking about. Enough said.”

    That said, I’d love Willard to actually engage in a serious debate on the subject of uncertainty, but I fear that he would take that as the ambition of an ‘entitled twat’.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. “ he would take that as the ambition of an ‘entitled twat’.”

    Is that a prime example of “mirroring” perhaps.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. catweazle666 says:

    “The UK has identified hard coal resources of 3,910 million tonnes, although total resources could be as large as 187 billion tonnes.”

    That’s resources, ie stuff which is known to be there. Nor reserves, stuff that can be extracted economically.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Most deep mine closures were not the result of running out of useable coal. Much deep coal lost its value because it couldn’t compete for price with open cast coal or because coal couldn’t compete with other fuels, especially natural gas. This has meant that much of our former coal reserves are now resources. Only recently has environmental concerns become important. If the need for this coal resumed the present day resources could easily be upgraded to reserves and mined. Long after oil resources are exhausted, coal will be used as a feedstock for the former petrochemical industry, as it was before being surpassed by North Sea gas. Don’t right-off U.K. coal.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Mark,

    I am going to take Jaime’s advice and ignore Paul until such a time as he decides to comment on the article.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Alan,

    Nothing will be established through name-calling. What matters are the substantive comments made and the extent to which they bear scrutiny. Take, for example, the following statement made by Willard on ATTP back in July 25, 2022 whilst lecturing on gambler’s ruin:

    “That means you need to protect yourself against black swan events like on 1913-08-18 in Monte Carlo where the roulette ball fell on black 26 times in a row.”

    So let me get this straight. Willard thinks that a quintessentially aleatory event can be used as a good example of a black swan, i.e. a quintessentially epistemic phenomenon. This is entry-level stuff. On the very first page of his book, Nassim Taleb explains how a black swan is an outlier, not because of its unlikeliness, but because ‘nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility’. The example Willard gives does not fall into this category because the probabilities are easily calculated. What he alluded to is known as a grey swan:


    So by lurking on ATTP I learnt that Willard lectures sceptics on their collective failure to understand how uncertainty works, and yet he does not grasp the basics himself. And if he is lurking here on Cliscep now, he will have just learnt that about himself.

    But will he thank me for that insight?

    Liked by 3 people

  36. Willard,

    Okay. I’ll remove ‘quintessentially’ and replace it with ‘absolutely and categorically’.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Of course they can. You can insure against aleatory uncertainty, epistemic uncertainty or any admixture, but that says nothing about whether a dichotomy exists between the two forms of uncertainty. And a Black Swan is an epistemic phenomenon whether you like it or not. That’s why ‘nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility’. By no stretch of the imagination does a run on a roulette wheel fall into that category. Not only was it always a known possibility, one could calculate the probabilities with exact precision.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Indeed, Bill.
    Curiously enough, I know what resources are, that’s why my post used the word – twice.
    So what is your point?


  39. Whether a black swan is aleatory or epistemic or whatever is quite immaterial, dearest JR. Even the fact that it should stand outside sig sigmas. Nassim made his fortune on the Black Monday. He might not have been able to foresee it or to forecast it. But he indeed called it a black swan. If the guy who invented the term calls that kind of event a black swan, that’s good enough for me.

    But more importantly – Nassim placed a bet on a black swan. Just in case it would happen. Little risk. Big upside. VERY big upside. So the opposite risk profile than most everyone else. Which is why the majority of traders lose. Flip that reasoning and you should get why Nassim would laugh at Bjorn’s overall stance regarding fat tail events.

    Speaking of whom, I got to ask – would you say that Bjorn is a scientist?


  40. I’m afraid you are still not getting it. Black Monday was not akin to a run on a roullete wheel and that is why Taleb referred to it as a Black Swan. The stock market uncertainties are not purely aleatory. What you have to explain is how a phenomenon that is purely aleatory can qualify as a Black Swan. Until you do, no amount of dearest JRs is going to cut any mustard.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Wrong thread PP. Jit’s recent article might be more appropriate.


    Also, Renewables does not equal ‘Renewal’. ‘Depletion’ is not the justification for ‘renewal’, mathematically framed or otherwise, bad science is the FALSE justification – and wind power, though theoretically infinitely renewable and limitless, is not currently an economically extractable resource, whereas most fossil fuel reserves are.


  42. Willard,

    The relevant issue here is whether or not a person who thinks a run on a roulette wheel is a Black Swan can then claim to understand uncertainty. The problem you have is that it isn’t a Black Swan event and you have signally failed to provide any reason why anyone should think it is. All this talk of the stock market and its crashes is just so much irrelevant waffle. And why do you keep asking me whether I think Lomborg is a scientist or not? How is answering that question relevant to the point I had raised regarding the nature of Black Swans?

    Once you have provided a satisfactory answer to my question we can move onto other issues. For your benefit, I will repeat the question asked of you:

    How can you believe that a run on a roulette wheel (a purely aleatory event) can qualify as a Black Swan event (an epistemic phenomenon)?

    Liked by 1 person

  43. This is a punk-ass site when it comes to discussing the inevitability of an energy transition, driven by climate change concerns or by the reality of FF depletion (deny one or the other, but not both!). My co-author runs the PeakOilBarrel site, where you can interact with energy investor-types, oil patch hands, and analysts doing projections. Have to laugh at people like Lonborg and Epstein.


  44. Discussing?

    Paul, we’re up for a discussion, but it takes two to tango. So far you have done no more than post abuse and unintelligible comments.

    Liked by 2 people

  45. Mark, I think we’ve got the measure of Pukite now. He’s a believer in an ‘inevitable’ ideological energy transition driven by the myth of imminent peak oil, peak gas, peak coal, who is quite happy to hop aboard the ‘climate crisis’ bandwagon in order to expedite that transition, by dishonestly equating FF depletion with a deliberate political agenda of curtailing FF investment, exploration and exploitation . He’s also nursing a humungous superiority complex. Lost cause I’m afraid. Time to critically ignore.

    Liked by 3 people

  46. The debunking video author’s “About” says:

    I debunk Human Induced Climate Change impact deniers for fun.

    The first rule of debunking is, if you debunk, you had better be damn sure of your ground.


    This is a punk-ass site when it comes to discussing the inevitability of an energy transition, driven by climate change concerns or by the reality of FF depletion

    The two drivers have considerably different timeframes, and one is voluntary. The world doesn’t face an imminent energy transition (except in the decadent West), but an eventual energy famine.

    Liked by 2 people

  47. Silly little Paul, read and learn:

    Using modern prospecting and extraction techniques there are hundreds – perhaps thousands of years’ worth of available petroleum resources left as yet unexplored and untouched.

    Then, using the steerable drilling techniques used for shale extraction and in situ gasification which produces synthesis gas, feedstock for the Fischer-Tropsch coal to oil process, there are billions – perhaps trillions – of tons of coal accessible in the UK alone.

    And then there is the vast amount of methane available as hydrate on the ocean bed and in the arctic permafrost which is even now being investigated with a view to commercial exploitation, see here: “At the same time, new technologies are being developed in Germany that may be useful for exploring and extracting the hydrates.

    The basic idea is very simple: the methane (CH4) is harvested from the hydrates by replacing it with CO2. Laboratory studies show that this is possible in theory because liquid carbon dioxide reacts spontaneously with methane hydrate. If this concept could become economically viable, it would be a win-win situation, because the gas exchange in the hydrates would be attractive both from a financial and a climate perspective.”

    So don’t worry, we won’t have to worry about energy for centuries – perhaps millennia, by which time we’ll have much more efficient energy technology, for example someone will get fusion going sooner or later.

    You really haven’t the first clue child, call yourself a scientist, our cat is more of one than you are.

    But hey, keep on flogging your dead AGW hoax horse and causing us “deniers” even greater fun and merriment and making an ever bigger fool of yourself!

    You know it makes sense!

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Bjorn Lomborg, in addition to countering global warming hype about extreme weather, also thinks we can address the climate change ‘problem’ by developing new Green technologies. Perhaps he has in mind UCG?

    “This paper has provided an overview of UCG coupled with the CCS/CCUS technology process. These technologies emerge as excellent green technology which will keep global warming in check along with securing energy demands. From the above study, the following conclusions can be drawn;

    •Although the knowledge of UCG is not current and can be traced back about 100 years ago, most global coal-producing regions have recently renewed interest in UCG technology. UCG is an integrative process because it involves different engineering phases(chemical, drilling, geotechnical) and connected disciplines (hydrogeology, hydrology).”


    Liked by 1 person

  49. It’s all gone a bit quiet here. It looks like the debate has transferred back to ATTP – although not so much on the nature of uncertainty. It seems that name calling and labelling is of more concern. So, for the record, I will say this:

    By saying “nine scientists and Stephan Lewandowsky” I was being flippant, which I believe one is allowed to be every now and again on a blog. Of course he is a scientist. He just produces too much work of low quality for my liking, much of which only masquerades as scientific. Take, for example, his concept of ‘critical ignoring’. If you want to know what I really think about his work, I have written plenty of articles about it here on Cliscep.

    As for saying that name calling never achieves anything, yes I know it is a banality, but sometimes it has to be said. We are all guilty of it from time to time, which means that whoever says it can be accused of hypocrisy. But that is no reason not to say it.

    But I have to say that the most disappointing thing to have appeared on the ATTP blog in response to my article was the following from Dr Rice:

    “I was tempted to leave a comment, but it’s not clear that JR was watching the same video that I did, so I can’t see much point.”

    Disappointing, but not entirely surprising. It wasn’t a Black Swan, for example.

    Liked by 2 people

  50. The Clintel report showed that IPCC AR6 chose to cherry pick just one study out of 53 which found that normalized severe weather losses could be attributed to man-made climate change. The rest found no evidence of this. Well, it’s now just 1 out of 62:

    “Over the past few weeks, I have gone through the literature published since my paper came out in 2020, and I have identified 9 additional normalization studies, which I summarize in the table below. A bibliography with links to each paper can be found at the bottom of this post.

    These studies add to the overwhelming conclusions already in the literature — Specifically, there is little evidence to support claims that changes in climate resulting from the emissions of greenhouse gases (or other causes) have resulted in detectable or attributable trends in disaster losses. There are now 62 relevant studies of various phenomena in regions around the world and 61 of them make no claims of attribution.”


    But I guess if you are going to ignore 52 out of 53 studies which don’t endorse your preferred narrative, then it’s no problem to ignore 61 out of 62 – which Ken Rice does effectively by failing to include specific mention of this particular “climate myth” in the Clintel report.

    Liked by 2 people

  51. Paul,

    The destruction of landscapes to get at coal, especially the appalling way they do it in parts of the USA, is something that distresses me greatly. I am also distressed at the environmental damage associated with many “green” energy projects.

    Can we establish common ground and agree that both are causes for great concern?

    Liked by 1 person

  52. Well it doesn’t look like Willard is in a hurry to make any further efforts at explaining how a purely aleatoric event (a run on a roulette wheel) can be given as an example of a Black Swan event (a phenomenon for which some degree of epistemic uncertainty is essential). To be fair, he has thrown the kitchen sink at it, introducing irrelevancies such as insurance, stock market crashes, market randomness, acts of God and even Lomborg’s credentials as a scientist. But none of this matters in the face of a clear definition, provided by Nassim Taleb, that unequivocally rules out Willard’s example. The offer remains open for Willard to have a further go but, in the meantime, my comments regarding his credibility stand.

    But as an aside I also need to deal with Willard’s accusations on ATTP that I am ‘fooled by randomness’ (i.e. I fail to properly appreciate and take into account randomness when evaluating uncertainty). I don’t know where he gets that idea from, since recognising the role of randomness is at the heart of empirical scepticism. As I have previously explained:

    “Conservative belief revision and slothful induction can indeed lead to false conclusions but, more importantly, the error most commonly encountered when making decisions under uncertainty (and the one with the greatest potential for damage) is to downplay unknown and possibly random factors and instead construct a narrative that overstates and prejudges causation. This tendency is central to the human condition and it lies at the heart of our failure to foresee the unexpected – this is the truly important cognitive bias that the sceptic seeks to avoid… The empirical sceptic is cognisant of evidence and allows the formulation of theories but treats them with considerable caution due to the many ways in which such theories often entail unwarranted presupposition. The drivers behind this problem are the propensity of the human mind to seek patterns, to construct narratives that hide complexities, to over-emphasise the causative role played by human agents and to under-emphasise the role played by external and possibly random factors.”

    Deconstructing Scepticism: The True FLICC

    Liked by 2 people

  53. Paul Pukite – thanks for the “Peak Oil Barrel” ref above.
    I notice under the “climate” section you have this post –

    good & interesting read until –
    “POSTSCRIPT 3/11/2023
    Unfortunately, yesterday I learned that the editor of the journal intervened and essentially demanded that the Chinese authors retract any mention of my suggestions in favor of a consensus viewpoint. ”

    and you end with – “In fact, climate scientists have no idea of the mechanisms behind natural climate activity such as ENSO and QBO winds, and so this active suppression of potentially valuable mathematical ideas seems counter-productive for advancing the research. The editor’s suggestion of considering instead “future collaboration” with me is a thinly veiled suggestion for me to “run along” or “go away“. Collaborate is shade codeword for “not gonna happen” in Chinese.
    It may be that geoscience has failed as an open scientific discipline. They actively dissuade contributions from people outside their inner circle, perhaps they are wary of climate science deniers (which I’m definitely not!). Likely they are frightened by the fact that they can’t control ideas and suppressing information is their only option.”

    sounds like your “punk-ass” comment agrees with what this site is about, educated lay people sifting thru dross.

    Liked by 3 people

  54. Again, debunking Lomborg amounts to trusting the No Regrets Strategy — one should have no regrets weaning off of FF because even if climate change and atmospheric pollution doesn’t turn out to be an existential crisis, depletion pressures will never relent as demand exceeds supply.

    Right on your site:
    “He says peak world demand is matching peak world supply for the first time in history.”

    “Affan is right about the North Sea – production peaked about 20 years ago and since then the UK has gone from producing more oil and gas than it needs, to importing it from other countries.”


  55. Paul,

    Thank you – some observations that can form the basis for a meaningful discussion.

    Speaking only for myself (but I suspect also for at least some others at this site) I don’t deny the need – over time – to seek alternatives to reliance on fossil fuels, which are indeed finite. I don’t see a short-term problem, though, since the UK does have reserves of fossil fuels that it could draw on for many years yet, and one of the reasons why fossil fuel supplies in the UK have diminished is the relentless campaign against fossil fuels by the climate concerned, not because the reserves aren’t there. Just look at the years that dragged out regarding attempts to open a single coal mine in Cumbria.

    As you said, and as Jit said in his response to you, above:

    This is a punk-ass site when it comes to discussing the inevitability of an energy transition, driven by climate change concerns or by the reality of FF depletion

    The two drivers have considerably different timeframes, and one is voluntary. The world doesn’t face an imminent energy transition (except in the decadent West), but an eventual energy famine.

    It’s the rush to net zero in the UK that I have problems with, for reasons that I (and others) have regularly highlighted here. Just for starters:

    1. The UK’s infrastructure isn’t ready, and won’t be for decades.

    2. It’s expensive – by my calculation (on the back of a fag packet, admittedly) it will cost every UK household at least £100,000.

    3. Renewable energy is intermittent, unpredictable, unreliable. It destabilises the National Grid.

    4. We don’t have large-scale energy storage (and won’t have for many a long year yet) sufficient to meet even a day’s shortfall in electricity supply, let alone shortfalls for weeks on end.

    5. That situation will only be exacerbated as we are forced to electrify all of our energy needs, a task that will quintuple or more our demands for electricity.

    6. Renewable energy is environmentally destructive. Whole swathes of the UK, especially Scotland, have been blighted by wind farms and the infrastructure associated with them. Birds and bats are being killed in large numbers, and increasing numbers of dolphins and whales are being washed up on shores in many locations where there are offshore turbines, or where work has commenced associated with offshore turbines. The link hasn’t yet been established (not even to my satisfaction) but it’s starting to look very suspicious. The mining of the necessary raw minerals and rare earths is causing massive environmental damage, they are every bit as finite as fossil fuels, and China is establishing massive dominance in this area. Becoming dependent on such factors is hardly a route to energy security.

    And so on. I don’t call that a “no regrets” strategy.

    Liked by 2 people

  56. dfhunter, apologies. WordPress struck again, and put your comment in spam. I have only just found it, and set it free.

    Liked by 1 person

  57. “Again, debunking Lomborg amounts to trusting the No Regrets Strategy — one should have no regrets weaning off of FF because even if climate change and atmospheric pollution doesn’t turn out to be an existential crisis, depletion pressures will never relent as demand exceeds supply.”

    This statement tortures logic and common sense. It pulls its teeth out with pliers and leaves it screaming for mercy in the dentist’s chair.

    / Debunking Lomborg is a FRAUDULENT activity, which involves denying data in order to promote an ideological/political narrative which claims that normalized severe weather losses are detectable and attributable to a secular rise in temperature which is attributed in turn to emissions of GHGs.
    / As Mark has pointed out, this is used to justify the abandonment of the exploitation and use of economically viable and potentially economically viable fossil fuel reserves in favour of a ‘transition’ to ‘clean’ renewables, which are NOT clean, NOT effective and NOT economically viable at scale and which come with a whole list of existential harms, to both humans, wildlife and the environment.
    / This is not a ‘weaning off’; this is a RAPID and damaging transition to an existentially threatening alternative, justified by the wholly FRAUDULENT claim that we face the certainty of an existential climate crisis by failing to do so.

    Your No Regrets Strategy might involve no regrets for a small minority of ideologically convinced climate cultists, politically motivated eco-Marxists and Green energy executives and investors who stand to benefit handsomely in the short term from this rapid transition, but for the rest of us hapless proles, it involves mountains of extreme regret.

    Liked by 3 people

  58. Correction: Lomborg’s death figures are not normalized, and thus do not take into account the effect of non-climate related effects. ‘Debunking Lomborg’ is however used as the excuse to claim that bad weather due to climate change IS having an increasing impact upon humans, contrary to what Lomborg’s graph might suggest, albeit not in a very rigorous manner. Pielke disproves this claim, comprehensively.

    Liked by 1 person

  59. Science and climate @TheDisproof, who ‘debunks climate change impact deniers for fun’ has only 11 videos on his Youtube site and has yet to have fun debunking Pielke’s 2020 literature review demonstrating no detectable or attributable increase of normalized weather losses, or his latest addition of another 9 papers demonstrating the same. Perhaps when and if he attempts to do so, we can all join in the fun, even us ‘climate change impact deniers’.

    Liked by 1 person

  60. Forget Peak Oil, the Telegraphs thinks we might be on the scarp side now of Peak Green [aka Peak Insanity]. We can but hope. I’m still somewhat pessimistic I must admit:

    “Now, the bill is beginning to land – and reality beginning to bite. Dutch farmers recently drove tractors into The Hague to protest against its green diktats. In Germany, where the war in Ukraine has brought a new energy realpolitik, wind turbines are being dismantled to make way for an expanded coal mine. Sweden’s 27-year-old environment minister has been quietly diluting the green laws she inherited. Emmanuel Macron – famously chastened by the gilets jaunes – last week called on the EU to stop its barrage of green legislation, saying that enough is enough. We might just have passed Peak Green.”


    Shouldn’t that be ‘the profits of climate alarmism’?

    Liked by 1 person

  61. A 47-second YouTube summary of the No Regrets Strategy narrated by Frank Luntz, who is a conservative Republican consultant (and the one that coined the term “climate change” during the Bush admin so as to sound less ominous than “global warming”)

    The reality that Luntz skirts around (because he realizes how ominous it is) is that the USA only extracts 12 million barrels of crude oil per day from its territory, while consuming 20 million barrels per day. This is despite the gov’t claim that the USA is “oil independent”. All sorts of book-keeping tricks have kept this out of the public eye — ask if you want to know.

    We must realize that “the powers that be” are highlighting climate change as an existential concern, rather than oil depletion because they realize that citizens feel that they can do something about climate change. In fact, fuel scarcity is the real existential crisis, as the citizens will revolt if they can’t get their petrol — see the yellow jacket riots in France and elsewhere.


  62. Paul,

    Who knows? A quick search online produces this (dated 1st February 2023):

    “U.S. proved reserves of crude oil increased significantly in 2021”


    [It’s the US Energy Information Administration]

    In 2021, U.S. proved reserves of crude oil and lease condensate increased 16% from 2020, totaling 44.4 billion barrels, according to our recently released Proved Reserves of Crude Oil and Natural Gas in the United States, Year-End 2021 report. Proved reserves decreased 19% in 2020 because of pandemic-related constraints on crude oil demand and production. In 2021, however, demand for petroleum and natural gas returned, prices rose, and proved reserves increased.

    In 2021, proved reserves of crude oil and lease condensate increased in each of the five states with the most U.S. oil reserves. Two of these states, New Mexico and Alaska, set new state records for proved reserves.

    Proved reserves are operator estimates of the volumes of oil and natural gas that geological and engineering data demonstrate, with reasonable certainty, to be recoverable in future years from known reservoirs under existing economic and operating conditions.

    It looks as though the US has traditionally been a net importer of oil, though recently that changed (but may change again):

    “EIA expects U.S. petroleum trade to shift toward net imports during 2022”


    Following its historic shift to being a net exporter of petroleum in 2020, the United States continued to export more petroleum (which includes crude oil, refined petroleum products, and other liquids) than it imported in 2021. According to our February 2022 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), we expect net crude oil imports to increase, making the United States a net importer of petroleum in 2022…

    …Historically, the United States has been a net importer of petroleum. During 2020, COVID-19 mitigation efforts caused a drop in oil demand within the United States and internationally. International petroleum prices decreased in response to less consumption, which diminished incentives for key petroleum-exporting countries to increase production. This shift allowed the United States to export more petroleum in 2020 than it had in the past.

    Also in 2020, the difference between U.S. crude oil imports and exports fell to its lowest point since at least 1985. Net crude oil imports subsequently rose by 19% in 2021 to an average of 3.2 million barrels per day (b/d) as crude oil consumption increased in response to rising economic activity. We forecast that the United States will continue to import more crude oil than it exports in 2022, reaching an estimated annual average of 3.9 million b/d. However, we expect net imports to fall to 3.4 million b/d in 2023 as domestic crude oil production increases to an all-time high of 12.6 million b/d.

    Since 2010, the United States has exported more refined petroleum products, including distillate fuel oil, hydrocarbon gas liquids, and motor gasoline, among others, than it has imported. Net exports of refined petroleum products grew to 3.3 million b/d in 2020 and remained about the same in 2021. We expect petroleum product net exports will reach new highs of 3.6 million b/d in 2022 and 3.8 million b/d in 2023.

    What is the point you are seeking to make, please? Is it that fossil fuel shortages are an imminent problem? If so, what’s your solution? You haven’t responded directly to any of the points made by some of us here to your last point (that you would do so, I should have thought, was implied by your earlier use of the word “discussion”).

    Liked by 1 person

  63. Mark, did anyone ever tell you it is unfair to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed man?


  64. JR love,

    Ze main issue is rather that you’re still tap dancing around the question if you consider Bjorn a scientist.

    That you still misinterpret the concept of black swan is of little import in the grand scheme of Climateball things. Uncertainty is far less relevant to guide our action regarding the event under consideration than skewness – it does not matter how frequently something succeeds if failure is too costly to bear. The last phrase is a quote. I hope you know how said it, and where.

    A casino that does not protect itself against such happenstance is bound to lose in the long run. The risk of ruin is a mathematical certainty: in the long run, players are bound to lose. While Mr. T, to borrow Judy’s nickname for your pet concept, is nobody’s friend, it actually is the contrarians’ worst enemy. Hence why we should expect your misunderstanding to persist.

    Enjoy your weekend!


  65. “We must realize that “the powers that be” are highlighting climate change as an existential concern, rather than oil depletion because they realize that citizens feel that they can do something about climate change. In fact, fuel scarcity is the real existential crisis, as the citizens will revolt if they can’t get their petrol — see the yellow jacket riots in France and elsewhere.”

    So what you’re saying Paul is that TPTB have invented the climate crisis and the necessity of a ‘planet saving’ transition to clean energy in order to cover up the fact that we are about to run out of fossil fuels?

    Sounds like a conspiracy theory to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  66. Paul, as I explained in my post above, there are certainly hundreds – probably thousands – of years’ worth of various fossil fuel resources available, and at no point did I say that it would be necessary to blow the tops off mountains to get at them, in fact I specifically observed that the coal reserves were available via in situ gasification (Google it), that’s just you making stuff up, an unfortunate trait you seem to suffer from.


  67. catweazle666 said:

    “at no point did I say that it would be necessary to blow the tops off mountains to get at them”

    Yet large coal corporations do it, and it leads to political gridlock in the USA unless senators such as Manchin from West Virginia are appeased with regulations that allow it.

    I’ve had a science blog since 2004 and know how to evaluate commenters. Well, catweazle666 is the equivalent of a teenybopper fangirl, as he/she is the first LIKE of 99% of the skeptic blog post I have scanned over the years. I notice it cuz it’s kind of creepy seeing that devil avatar or whatever it is. I always wondered if this was automated — I also look for shortcuts and simplifications as I spend effort doing earth science research, using my blog as an ongoing notebook, and reading other blogs for insight. When I gather enough interesting findings together, I eventually consolidate posts and publish them or present them at an AGU or EGU meeting. You really ought to try doing this as you certainly have some energy to do all those LIKES.


  68. “Is it that fossil fuel shortages are an imminent problem? If so, what’s your solution?”

    Yes, the solution is to face up to it and deal with it by diversifying in energy sources and using batteries more often. Isn’t it weird when you realize that a barrel of crude oil shipped from Saudi Arabia to the USA and then transported to a gas station is like a modern battery of the same size, but that can ONLY BE DISCHARGED ONCE? If that barrel was used to transport itself it would already use more than 10% of the fuel consumed in it’s trip to New Orleans from the Persian Gulf. Aliens visiting the planet would consider us insane.


  69. Woke up this morning to find Willard’s latest effort languishing in spam. Have just released it but I ‘m about to go on the road so I might not be able to respond promptly.


  70. Willard,

    Actually I’ve just got time for a quick response before I set off.

    What is beginning to concern me is your inability to recognise the simplest of arguments. What started out as a case of ignorance on your part has now become less important than your seeming irrationality. I have pointed out your confusion between black swans and grey swans and provided the Investopedia article explaining it. That ought to have been the end of the matter but rather than address the point raised it is you who have tap danced around it by introducing a number of irrelevant points. This is not about Lomborg, it is about you and your failure to grasp the basics. Yes, I’d love to move on to discuss the impact of ergodicity in the climate debate but I cannot be expected to do so with someone who commits the ludic fallacy and then doubles down with increasingly desperate attempts to deflect from the error.

    You have to earn your right to debate and you have to start by acknowledging the fundamental error that I have pointed out.

    Liked by 1 person

  71. Paul, thank you for your last comment, which attempts to engage with the points that I (and others) have raised. Thank you for explaining what you think the problem is and what we should do about it. You have answered that point, but none of the points I made in an earlier detailed comment.

    Suffice it to say that I disagree. Fossil fuel use is far more efficient than the alternative. And although fossil fuels are a finite reserve, so are the materials needed to facilitate the use of renewables (the only alternative on offer, other than nuclear – do you advocate the use of nuclear power?). Batteries store energy, they don’t create it, and we don’t yet have the battery technology (or resources) to cover the shortfalls in electricity supply that would regularly (but unpredictably) result from total reliance on renewables. And you have supplied no evidence that fossil fuels are imminently about to run out.

    Please feel free to continue the debate and to explain why you think I’m wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  72. John,

    I have also released an earlier Willard comment from spam. Perhaps WordPress isn’t so daft as we often think (apologies to others whose comments also sometimes end up there).


  73. “I’ve had a science blog since 2004 …” says PP.
    May I suggest that in future you put science in inverted commas thus: “science”, Paul?
    Otherwise people might believe you actually know something about it, admittedly unlikely but you never know!
    I would also point out there is a big difference between science and invective, but I doubt you’re bright enough to understand that.


  74. The list of economically valuable non-renewable (on human time-scale) resources is short:
    1. Fossil-fuels
    2. Helium
    3. Phosphorus from bird guano
    4. If specific species go extinct

    The last is debatable given future DNA technology (and were passenger pigeons considered economically important?). Many high-grade fossil fuel resources have already run out, so imminently doesn’t even apply to those.

    I would be interested if somebody like Lomborg would add to the list or even acknowledge the fact. Does everyone realize that Alex Epstein, a more recent Lomborg, has written three books on fossil fuels (Fossil Fuels Improve the Planet, Fossil Future, and The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels) and does not even mention peak oil once? All of the arguments of Lomborg and Epstein are whataboutery in this larger scheme of things.

    I invoked ChatGPT on the question and it could add ancient aquifer groundwater reservoirs and fertile top-soil as cases to consider, but acknowledges that mineral resources can be recycled. It also points out that fossil-fuels used to create plastics can be recycled to some extent but not when it gets combusted for energy.

    Again, aliens visiting the planet would consider this behavior insane.


  75. Isn’t dfhunter another one of those Judith Curry denizen commenters from long ago — am recalling the pseudonymous “hunter”? That version of Hunter commented many a time on me being an Ehrlich type. I like the way he weeds through my blog posts to find one time where I bellyache about an earth sciences peer-review encounter. It’s easy to bemoan the slow process of science in geophysics, because there’s no way to do controlled experiments and therefore the gatekeepers and peer-reviewers are extremely conservative. So the stuff they do get right, such as CO2 as a GHG, is solid science. Yet, there is much else that is challenging to figure out. I suggest you all comment on the open science being done at the Copernicus journals — I’ve contributed many comments.


  76. Paul Pukite:

    “So the stuff they do get right, such as CO2 as a GHG, is solid science.”

    So tell me, Why is there no correlation, whatsoever, between the fraction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the earth’s mean temperature?

    Liked by 1 person

  77. “Why is there no correlation, whatsoever, between the fraction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the earth’s mean temperature?”

    That correlation is well known, on track for 3C increase per doubling of the CO2 fraction. The CO2 has much to go before it doubles, so the partial rise is the expected amount. The argument is also framed as a causation instead of correlation. For the causation argument you need to say that natural temperature variation is the cause. For the correlation argument , you need to say that NOAA or NASA or MET office is manipulating the temperature data.


  78. Paul – no I’m not the “hunter” you think I am, I use dfhunter to try not to confuse readers (never heard from hunter on blog sites for ages, now you mention him/her)

    as for your comment – “I like the way he weeds through my blog posts”
    I went to website https://peakoilbarrel.com/ you mentioned in above comment & scrolled down to “Category: Climate” section – which had as top post “Predicting Stratospheric Winds” & the postscript I partially quote.

    so reading your latest post = I like the way he weeds through my blog posts.
    get a grip man!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  79. Willard,

    Before you jump in with your next bout of sqirreling, I just want to say that I thought you’d have done better than this. I thought you might say:

    “Okay, so it was a grey swan and not a black one, but for the point I was making, a grey one would do.”

    Then I could have said:

    “I appreciate that but you did call it a black one and you should have known the difference.”

    Then you could have said:

    “But it’s not that important a difference.”

    And I could have finished with:

    “Oh Willard!”

    And then I’d wake up.

    Liked by 2 people

  80. I write this in a state of total incomprehension. The debate about varying colours of swans, casinos etc is leaving me baffled.

    The first thing is that I never knew that casinos could get extreme payout insurance as Willard appears to assert. Who would want to take the other side of that bet? I think casinos police themselves by setting betting limits and escorting serial winners off the premises for example. But I am no expert.

    As for the 2008 crash, if that is what is being alluded to – the last Black Mondays I know occurred in 1987 and 2011. The last of them happened during discussion about the US debt ceiling, which might be interesting in the next few weeks.

    But in the build up to the 2008 crash, a lot of people knew that disaster was imminent. It was just not clear when it would happen or what would precipitate it. Some participants in the property debt markets even sold insurance against such a crash, not realising what risks they were themselves taking on. No one guessed in advance that Lehmanns would or could collapse. No one expected Northern Rock would have any market wide influence. So yes, some people bought the other side of the bet, with various derivatives on mortgage backed securities and market volatility indices but nobody knew how or when it would happen. In the UK, a journalist – either public-spirited or spectacularly indiscreet – made hints about the liquidity of Northern Rock, which led to a bank run. The trouble was that NR had sufficient liquidity for normal purposes but its asset backing was too heavily in long term debt instruments such as mortgages, so it became a solvency crisis which spread to other banks,such as HBOS.

    The thing is that nobody in advance could predict what the course of events would be but you knew there was a high probability of things blowing up. The people who benefitted tended not to have been shorting HBOS or Kehnanns, or Northern Rock. They betted against indices or instruments that aimed at spreading risk.

    This seems to me what the climate game is about.

    In a casino, provided you know the rules, risks can be contained

    Liked by 1 person

  81. A quote from the famous investor, Warren Buffett, that I have just come across

    ” Warren Buffett once wrote an article titled “The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville” in which he mocked the idea that stock market results were random. He said you could compare the investments world’s results to the outcome of 225 million Americans having a coin-flipping contest.

    At the end of 20 winning flips, there would be only 215 Americans still standing. If stock markets were random, how statistically likely would it be that 40 of them came from the same geographical origin? “

    Liked by 2 people

  82. This might be boring and tangential but, on rereading my post yesterday, I thought my point didn’t really come through. Please feel free not to read attempt number 2.

    So one of the big winners in 2008 was a guy who started looking at how mortgage banks were packaging multiple mortgages of different risk levels and selling them to other institutions for liquidity – Collateralized Debt Obligations. But by examining various tranches of CDOs, he could see that some of them were much riskier than others and wildly over-valued.

    He persuaded issuers of these CDOs to sell him what they thought was insurance. This was the CDS – credit default swap. As wiki says “A credit default swap (CDS) is a financial swap agreement that the seller of the CDS will compensate the buyer in the event of a debt default (by the debtor) or other credit event. That is, the seller of the CDS insures the buyer against some reference asset defaulting. The buyer of the CDS makes a series of payments (the CDS “fee” or “spread”) to the seller and, in exchange, may expect to receive a payoff if the asset defaults.

    The sellers sold him way too many CDSs because they thought their risk assessments were better. Michael Burry had no clue which specific CDOs would go bad, but he knew there was a looming problem from which he could benefit as long as he could afford the premiums. History tells us who won. This strikes me as something totally unlike the casino analogy. Some people believe in a climate crisis with devastating costs. Some people don’t. Others believe that costly events will happen but have no idea when.

    One way of betting on the good side would be to invest in a fund that buys EU carbon allowances – CO2P. If the theory is correct, the market value of these allowances should rise steadily as the extent of the crisis is revealed. If you investigate, the prices move quite oddly, because buyers and sellers are speculating on whether the EU will back off – and carbon policies were surprisingly flexible once unofficial war was declared on USSR and people started to wonder if the EU were serious. Would they start to subsidise carbon offsets simply to enable their citizens to heat their homes.

    Anyway, apologies for introducing rather abstruse financial thoughts to the forum

    Liked by 1 person

  83. MIAB,

    I’m no expert on stock market uncertainty but I had always assumed that it was bascially Knightian in nature, i.e. a deep uncertainty that cannot be analysed using probability distributions because the unpredictability has both an aleatory and epistemic source. That’s why crashes are black swan events; they expose our epistemic limitations. But that’s the thing about epistemic uncertainty — it is subjective and some suffer less than others. That explains the super-investor phenomenon.

    Click to access Economics-2015.pdf

    Liked by 2 people

  84. JR that leaves you well ahead of most financial theory as taught at undergrad level, where people are still debating random walks versus efficient markets and it is hard to find anyone to talk to about any other viewpoints. Taleb has tried and obviously failed but it looks as if his ego gets in the way

    Liked by 1 person

  85. John,

    They’re going for it. Extreme weather is to be the ‘nudge’ factor needed to communicate the immediacy of the ‘climate crisis’ which they hope will get people to alter their behaviour using tried and tested fear tactics. They’ve just got to clear up the ‘misinformation’ spread by the Lomborg’s and Pielke’s of this world:

    “Lower death tolls have nothing to do with such events becoming less frequent or severe. The number of weather-related disasters has increased five-fold over the same period, according to the WMO.”


    They’re going to be bitterly disappointed though when the public don’t accept climate lockdowns because of some nasty weather in Africa or Asia or a few hot days in summer right here at home, or reports that world temperatures have ‘smashed through the 1.5C limit’ – because of an El Nino.

    Liked by 2 people

  86. Jaime,

    Yes, they seem to be going with the ‘look how extreme weather is hitting you in the pocket’ argument.

    Good luck with that one. Those that have been affected will be responsive. The rest of us (that is the vast majority) will not be.

    Liked by 2 people

  87. John and Jaime,

    I note the claim towards the end of that BBC article that “Extreme temperatures were the leading cause of reported deaths…”. No mention is made of the fact that extreme cold still kills many times more people than extreme heat. It looks as though when all else fails, “extreme weather” is to be the new “global warming”.

    Liked by 2 people

  88. might be wrong, but sure I heard a BBC weather Bot say something like –
    “world will break the 1.5% in next 5yrs because El Nino kicks in, but may cool again when La Niña takes over”

    Liked by 1 person

  89. Dearest JR,

    What you call your argument is the usual bunch of ready-made slides for corporate drones to make them believe they understand quintessences. But there’s nothing very deep about black swans. They’re just very rare events. However, let’s talk discuss your pet concept – uncertainty.

    According to Nassim, the rare event *equals* uncertainty. An event is not “quintessentially” epistemic. A real roulette is built out of real material. The example of a roulette in a probability class is usually not.

    Uncertainty is a lack of knowledge. Your *lack* of knowledge is not “quintessentially” epistemic, only your knowledge is. This follows from what Nassim said an event was. You could try to bypass that definition. For instance, you could claim that holding information implies knowledge. That’d be a big price to pay, and you’d be on your own. Nassim does not go there. Perhaps he should.

    In any event, pun intended, you got the whole idea upside down.

    A black swan is the main element of the story Nassim tries to sell. It is for the most part a mythical entity, like the unconscious, the unspeakable or the unknown unknown. It contains a (I dare say quintessential) conflict: you must know it yet knowing it means you don’t really know it. Nassim acknowledges that point, which he owes to Edna Ullmann-Margalit.

    The main idea behind that myth is that our world is dominated by the extreme, the unknown, and the very improbable. This has implications regarding AGW, implications that may explain why contrarians insist in misunderstanding black swans. Everything else is formalism, biographical digressions, and trading tips.

    That you won’t tell me if Bjorn is a scientist or not is all readers need to know about your fortitude.

    Enjoy your retirement,



  90. Oh no, not another ‘dearest JR’ letter! I could say it was worth waiting for but that would be to lie.

    Rather than waste my time picking through the morasse of pseudo-wisdom you have offered me, I will just concentrate on this gem:

    ‘But there is nothing very deep about black swans. They’re just very rare events.’

    If you think that someone who can come out with something as profoundly ignorant as that is someone to be taken seriously then you are just deluded. Not for the first time, but certainly the last, I must point out that, in Taleb’s own words, a black swan qualifies as such because ‘nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility’. If you can’t see why this disqualifies your roulette wheel example, then there is no helping you.

    I cannot say any more because an accurate description of your ignorance and an honest appraisal of the nonsense you have just come out with would sound like name calling, and I promised not to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

  91. as usual I had to google “corporate drones” from Willard’s comment above –

    What is Corporate Drone?
    1. A mindless robot for the corporation. Someone who has “sold out”. Goes along with all management initiatives and enjoys repeating corporate “jokes” like “is it Friday yet”, and “didn’t you get the memo about the red shirt”,
    Aaron used to be cool. Ever since he sold out he’s nothing but a corporate drone.”

    or does he mean – https://bigthink.com/articles/what-is-a-drone-corporation/#:~:text=Monks%20calls%20these%20ownerless%20entities%20corporate%20drones%3A%20They,while%20casting%20vast%20externalities%20and%20costs%20onto%20society.

    “Monks calls these ownerless entities corporate drones:
    They are analogous to the military vehicles that have enormous power and capacity for good and ill. They insulate operators from risk while casting vast externalities and costs onto society.
    So, Monks asks, who has enough clout and enough status to lead the charge and change this?
    To answer that question, Monks has created the slideshow below, in which you can follow his argument in a simplified format.”

    Willard sure knows how to put people in boxes, smart guy.

    ps – since he mentions “slides” I guess the latter.

    Liked by 1 person

  92. Dfhunter,

    Don’t try too hard to decipher Willard’s rambling. It may sound scholarly in parts but the problem is that in the few places where he was coherent he was flat wrong. The ATTP folk like to talk about Brandolini’s law, but they are not good at recognising how it applies to themselves sometimes.

    All Willard had to do was answer the question he has studiously ignored. The ploy of asking me to discuss Lomborg’s credentials, despite my article making it clear that I do not have a view, is just an attempt to switch the tables and portray me as the one refusing to address a key question.

    Hold on because I’m sure we haven’t heard the last from him yet.

    Liked by 2 people

  93. I have been persuaded to pick through Willard’s last offering again to see if I can salvage something of value. The best I have come up with is this:

    “The main idea behind that myth is that our world is dominated by the extreme, the unknown, and the very improbable.”

    This is actually true. But the reason it is true is because most risk profiles of interest do not obey the law of the roulette wheel, they obey a power law. This is explained in Taleb’s “The Black Swan”, chapter 15, “The Bell Curve, That Great Intellectual Fraud”. This is what I am trying to get Willard to understand. As an illustration of a Black Swan, Willard has chosen an example that Taleb was actually at pains to use in order to contrast with Black Swans. Until Willard takes this basic on board there is no point in trying to engage on any deeper issues. What I will do, however, because I’m in a good mood today, is point towards where these issues have already been discussed here on Cliscep.

    Regarding Lewandowsky’s ‘uncertainty is not the sceptics friend’ argument, I wrote:

    No-one Does Wrong Quite Like Lewandowsky

    Regarding the precautionary principle and its limitations, I wrote:

    Tales of the Unexpected

    See, in particular, the comment at the end of the above thread where I analyse Taleb’s cardinal take on the issue and contrast with Lewandowsky’s ordinal approach.

    And regarding the importance of non-ergodicity, I wrote:

    The Simple Ergodicities

    Liked by 3 people

  94. “ our world is dominated by the extreme, the unknown, and the very improbable.” I would dispute this with respect to weather, even in those parts of the world where it is very variable like that of the British Isles. (Here it is the variability that is constant.) In other climates the different seasons are near constant such as Mediterranean climates with consistently dry summers and wet winters.

    Some types of weather include extreme events, like typhoons, but these do not dominate.

    Liked by 1 person

  95. Alan,

    You make a very good point. It reminds me of my very first run-in with the ATTP folk when I took Dr Rice to task over him claiming that risk managers ‘typically’ focus upon the extreme end of the impact scale. This may be true when non-ergodicity is very important, as in catastrophe scenarios, but that doesn’t mean that risk-based decision-making is ‘typically’ dominated by such concerns. In this country, for example, we don’t invest in contingencies to deal with severe snow because it isn’t typical. This is despite the fact that every time it does snow the country grinds to a halt. The problem is that we are increasingly letting our risk management strategies focus upon the extremes and, as a consequence, we may very well be bankrupted by our fears.

    Taleb makes a lot of sense but we shouldn’t throw out all traditional cost/benefit risk management in favour of the precautionary principle, unless we are very sure of the science behind the existential narrative, and the implications of the proposed solutions. Taleb worries about the non-ergodicity that lurks in the problem domain but he should also worry about non-ergodicity lurking in the solution domain.

    Liked by 1 person

  96. Was thinking more on this topic and my mind switched to driving, particularly on snow which I had to learn each winter when I lived in Canada. Driving on packed snow in vehicles equipped with snow tires is a very different experience. Indeed one was always driving on the extreme, anticipating the unknown and sometimes the very improbable.
    Sometime earlier I have described what happened to me in Regina where the authorities shovel snow from road surfaces onto the roadsides forming high snow walls. This means that you commonly cannot escape road accidents ahead of you. An accident ahead was neatly and spectacularly avoided by a whole string of cars by each of them turning in sequence and burying their noses in the piled snowbank thus avoiding the car ahead. This event involved about 10-12 cars. This type of skill had to be learned each and every winter, because it was not needed in the hot summers and was not practiced. So each fall we jacked up our cars and changed our tires and gingerly relearned our winter driving habits which involved re-anticipating different driving hazards. These involved extreme conditions where sometimes the very improbable had to be anticipated.


  97. Alan,

    I am guessing that black swans would still not feature in your list of anticipated driving hazards, but at least they would be easy to see coming in the snow.

    Liked by 2 people

  98. John
    Hate to ruin an otherwise well-crafted witty but piles of road snow in Regina were no longer white. Addition of motor oil might well form black swan-like shapes. But then several months ago one would have watched all swans, of whatever hue, fly south in great Roman five shapes, leaving us inhabitants of the Canadian prairies anticipating their return as harbingers of summer warmth.


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