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Comments 701 to 750:

  1. Dr. Ben Santer: Climate Denialism Has No Place at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    John Hartz @16 :

    Thank you for the recommendation of the Mark Boslough article at Yale Climate Connections.  It is a fairly short article, and well worth reading.

    On the peripheral (and strawman) meme "The science is settled" ~ Boslough says the President Clinton quote was actually: "The science is clear and compelling: We humans are changing the global climate."

    Also noteworthy is Boslough's final paragraph :-

    'If a pilot isn't sure about having enough fuel to get you to your destination, if an astronomer isn't sure that an incoming asteroid will miss the Earth, if your doctor isn't sure if you have a terminal disease, if you are not sure you turned the stove off: In each of these cases, the uncertainty is unsettling.  Why does Koonin think that unsettled questions in climate science are any kind of comfort when the consequences of doing nothing can be catastrophic?  "Unsettled" should leave serious scientists feeling unsettled.'

  2. Dr. Ben Santer: Climate Denialism Has No Place at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Also See:

    A critical review of Steven Koonin’s ‘Unsettled’ 

    ‘Tilting at strawmen.’ Or ‘red flag.’ There are no finer shorthand descriptions of a controversial new book on climate science.

    by Mark Boslough, Yale Cilimate Connections, May 25, 2021

  3. Stephen Leahy at 01:36 AM on 27 May 2021
    Dr. Ben Santer: Climate Denialism Has No Place at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Interviewed Koonin in 2009 - kind of trollish in person as I recall.

    Here's what he said: 

    "The magnitude of this problem is not widely appreciated (in the US)," says Steven Koonin, Undersecretary for Science at the US Department of Energy.

    "Once carbon dioxide is up in the atmosphere, it is effectively up there forever," Koonin, a physicist and former chief scientist for BP Oil told IPS in Columbus. US per capita emissions are 20 tonnes of carbon per year while the global average is 4 tonnes but in order to stabilize the climate that average must reach 2 tonnes he said.

    "Energy touches everything" he says and that makes change both complicated and difficult. Energy systems are integrated, low-carbon fuels would have to work in all vehicles for example. And, in the US where much of the energy system works well, there is little incentive to make changes.

    Looking back, Joe Romm had some good comments at the end.

    Moderator Response:

    [BL] Link activated.

    The web software here does not automatically create links. You can do this when posting a comment by selecting the "insert" tab, selecting the text you want to use for the link, and clicking on the icon that looks like a chain link. Add the URL in the dialog box.

  4. Dr. Ben Santer: Climate Denialism Has No Place at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Al @4 et al.

    I am of course biased, but I like to think that Prof. Koonin "gets a bit of a kicking" here too:

    Here's an extract from episode 6 of my ongoing review of "Unsettled":

    Steven then rather ungraciously chose to ignore my follow up question:

    "Regarding 'the topic somewhat distant from ordinary folks’ perception', that is largely my point. Is Arctic sea ice decline really any more distant to the average (wo)man in the street than sea level rise?"

    Etc. etc. For 8 days and counting…

    Since Steve is evidently unable and/or unwilling to respond to my enquiry perhaps somebody else might be willing to do so?

    Meanwhile here’s news of a brand new paper documenting the evidently inexorable decline of the sea ice cover across the Arctic Ocean:

  5. Dr. Ben Santer: Climate Denialism Has No Place at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Hameiri @12,

    The enquiring mind should indeed be tinged with a level of skepticism, but only when that skepticism is matched by the ability to understand the subject. And using such a view of the use of skepticism as an excuse to spout nonsense is entirely wrong, or am I being too skeptical for you by saying that?

    As for the twit Koonin who makes such a poor fist of criticsing AGW sceince, we will see tomorrow (27th May) whether he has at last found something worth saying or whether he is simply spouting the same old nonsense he has already presented.

  6. Dr. Ben Santer: Climate Denialism Has No Place at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Censorship has no place at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Science is skepticism.

  7. Dr. Ben Santer: Climate Denialism Has No Place at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Free speech is obviously really important, but the first amendement on free speech does not say a private organisation has to give people a platform for their views. Its does not say a private organisation has to give equal voice to denialists and warmists. It does not say be a naieve, self defeating fool. Its only about governments not censoring free speech. This seems to get forgotten.

  8. One Planet Only Forever at 12:28 PM on 26 May 2021
    Dr. Ben Santer: Climate Denialism Has No Place at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    I admire Ben Santer for being uncompromising when it comes to the pursuit of increased awareness and improved understanding of what is really going on, especially the application of that improving knowledge to help limit harm done.

    It is tragic when a helpful uncompromising person like Ben Santer needs to end their association with an institution because that institution appears to be harmfully compromised.

    More tragically, far worse than Koonin presenting in LLNL has happened far more often in the US Senate and House of Representatives. There have been many more absurd presentations in those institutions regarding climate science. In addition to the silly snowball by Inhofe, I remember reading a transcript of M. Crichton's presentation. Part of Crichton's presentation was that any science with a range of results that varied by 400% should not be taken seriously. He was a little unclear but appeared to be referring to the range of warming of 1.5C to 6.0C for a doubling of CO2. Being clearer about what he was talking about, that the low end value of 1.5C was a concern and that the 6.0C would be a catastrophe, would have exposed the absurdity of the claim made regarding the 400% variation of results.

    And even more tragic is the way that giving absurd or misleading claims and beliefs the appearance of legitimacy because of Free Speech can cause people to compromise better understanding of what is going on and how to limit harm done. Centrists, moderates and pragmatists need to learn to be less compromising when it comes to understanding how to limit harm done. They need to be uncompromisingly willing to be unpopular and even support unprofitable actions that will limit harm done.

    As a professional engineer I had to be unpopular and take positions that were unprofitable on many occasions, thankfully supported every time by the institution (the consultancy business) I worked for, even when my determinations about what was required or acceptable (to limit the potential for harm) seriously disappointed a client.

  9. Dr. Ben Santer: Climate Denialism Has No Place at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    To the moderator.

    My apologies for violating the commenting policies. That was not my intent, but I see your point.

    From what I see (this is only my opinion), it appears that people less credible than Koonin are successful at galvanizing movements. I don't offer references for this observation, but trust that people reading this know what I mean. It therefore stands to reason that people with credentials, like Koonin, will not be easily countered. But we need to keep trying, and to counter him, for the sake of the people who are seeking the truth, and who will be influenced by our efforts to present the results of credible, peer-reviewed research.

  10. Dr. Ben Santer: Climate Denialism Has No Place at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    "I don't think there is any reason to think that Koonin wasn't always an oilman at heart and never properly signed up to AGW mitigation."

    Theres probably something in that. But there are probably other factors as well. Some people are also very stubborn by nature. They will never admit they are wrong so they just continue on with the same views and take them to their grave. This can be caused by personality disorders like Narcissm (NPD), and even just getting older leads to less flexibility of thinking. I'm not saying Koonin fits this category because I have no idea, but it does happen. Climate denialism has a lot to do with allegiances to the oil industry and libertarian ideology, but this gets overlaid with a lot of psychological issues.

  11. Dr. Ben Santer: Climate Denialism Has No Place at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Eclectic @5,

    I don't think there is any reason to think that Koonin wasn't always an oilman at heart and never properly signed up to AGW mitigation. And the declaration of 'Climate Emergency' is what has pushed him into his book-writing.

    As late as 2012 (this LINK downloads a Powerpoint presentation from 2012) we see him saying the requirement is to stay below 550ppm and that this will require emission rates dropping to 50%. "We need to reduce emissions by a factor of two from current levels to remain stable at the 550 ppm level, and this in the face of doubling the demand of energy by the middle of the century, so we need to cut the common intensity of our energy system by a factor of four." That is over 15 years behind the science!! And he also sees a very oily future.

    Back a few years and Koonin is in THIS APS Q&A (with his future boss in the Obama Admin, Steve Chu, who is saying "You’ve got to do something now"). The message from Koonin is ambiguous and if you ignore his advocating CCS, is ambiguous to the point of being a non-message.

  12. Dr. Ben Santer: Climate Denialism Has No Place at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Trump is demonstrably incompetent in most areas where he claims competence, uses paper-thin lies, and has no defensible basis for questioning the recent election, yet he is galvanizing a dangerous movement.

    Koonin has academic credentials, is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, and he is being championed by credible sources (WSJ, LLNL). Whether we like it or not, he will continue to galvanize the contrarians.

    But we need to continue to fight such disinformation for the sake of those whose minds are still open, even a crack, to receiving input from more diciplined, consensus-based scientific sources.

    Moderator Response:

    [PS] That is crossing the line on the comments policy.

  13. Dr. Ben Santer: Climate Denialism Has No Place at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    MA Rodger @4 :

    Yes, it is very strange mental activity by Koonin.  His 2013 (2014?) activities at the APS "review" showed the same strange anti-mainstream attitude.  His attitude then was a sustained aggressive carping attack which went (IMO) well beyond what a reasonable scientist would do.  It was more than skeptical, more than Red Team.   (Red Team attacks on conventional science have occurred - and very properly so - over many years in the scientific literature within reputable journals . . . and that has always been a desirable & necessary part of all fields of science.  So there is no need for the Amateur Hour theatrics & special Red Team debating showmanship . . . which Koonin seems to be advocating.)

    So I am puzzled by Koonin's inner motivation.  If it were from one of the more common late onset dementias, then it would have shown itself more prominently by now [2021 versus similar signs in 2014.  Could it be that rather more subtle condition (semi-humorously called Emeritus Syndrome) ~ a condition which is far from rare, but which is poorly understood?   Or a subtle diminution of Pre-Frontal brain activity, allowing pre-existing political ideological bias to dominate his previously fine intellect?  Or perhaps it is simply the case of a previously prominent man, who is now suffering from LDS [Limelight Deprivation Syndrome].  

    But there is not much point in trying to diagnose/analyse his situation.  We just have to deal with the consequences.

  14. Dr. Ben Santer: Climate Denialism Has No Place at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Eclectic @3,

    The promotion of Koonin to premier-league climate-change dnier does give the opportunity to demolish another of these folk. He certainly gets a bit of a kicking here and here.

    So what is his message?

    This New York Post OP from Koonin appears to be saying that, while the science is sound, the problem is with the interpretation of the science. Yet while the exemplars he gives are probably flat wrong, they are not central to the AGW science so quite irrelevant in the full analysis. The only other thing he presents in this OP about his grand message is:-

    "Humans exert a growing, but physically small, warming influence on the climate. The results from many different climate models disagree with, or even contradict, each other and many kinds of observations. In short, the science is insufficient to make useful predictions about how the climate will change over the coming decades, much less what effect our actions will have on it."

    This he says he learned at the feet of Lindzen, Curry & Christie during the APS RedTeam-BkueTeam exercise Koonin chaired in 2013, an exercise that contains nothing of merit that I can see.

    And as for climate models making useful predictions, they've done a pretty good job up to now.

    So whay actually is Koonin bleeting about? Waht is his message? It would be good to see the actual message because so far all I hear is a blowhard!!

  15. Dr. Ben Santer: Climate Denialism Has No Place at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Maybe, the good Professor Koonin's gig at LLNL will turn out to be a transient aberration of LLNL conduct.  Time will tell, on that.

    Doug, as you are probably thinking yourself, there could be various wheels-within-wheels operating at LLNL.    ??The personality quirk of some high-up in the organization's ranks ; a palliation of some political extremist in the ranks ; opening up a pipeline to Koch money (surely not?) which has been dangled in view ; a misguided attempt at fake "balance".

    Could it be that some of the seniors at LLNL have simply been unable to recognize the flim-flam and logical faults of Koonin's climate presentations of the past 7 years or so?   After all, Koonin has not completely  stepped over the boundary into flat-earth territory.   In that regard, he has some resemblance to Professor Curry ~ a large component of rhetorical vagueness and obfuscation/neglect of rigorous analysis of the total picture.   A design to appear reasonable at first glance, at least in the eyes of the half-attentive public.

    For years, Koonin has seemed to be on a discreditable crusade.  

    (But why?)

  16. Dr. Ben Santer: Climate Denialism Has No Place at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Steven Koonin truth teller apparently. That had me in howls of laugher. From his wikipedia entry:

    "Koonin's views on the status and conclusions of climate science have been authoritatively criticized. In an article in Slate, Raymond Pierrehumbert, the Halley Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, criticized Koonin's 2014 commentary in the Wall Street Journal, "Climate Science Is Not Settled,"[18] as "a litany of discredited arguments":

    The nuggets of truth in Koonin’s essay are buried beneath a rubble of false or misleading claims from the standard climate skeptics’ canon. To pick a few examples:

    He claims that the rate of sea level rise now is no greater than it was early in the 20th century, but this is a conclusion one could draw only through the most shameless cherry-picking...

    He claims that the human imprint on climate is only "comparable" to natural variability, whereas multiple lines of research confirm that the climate signature of human-caused greenhouse gas increases has already risen well above the background noise level...

    A large part of the natural greenhouse effect is due to substances (mainly water vapor, and consequent cloudiness) that are in the atmosphere only because carbon dioxide keeps the Earth warm enough to prevent them from condensing out...

    He states that the effects of carbon dioxide will last "several centuries," whereas "several millennia" would be closer to the truth...

    [He] doesn’t seem to appreciate that oceans cannot be a cause of long-term warming because almost all of the mass of the oceans is colder than the lower atmosphere.[19]"

  17. Doug Bostrom at 17:02 PM on 25 May 2021
    Dr. Ben Santer: Climate Denialism Has No Place at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    In a spirit of fairness, here's LLNL's insipid and non-responsive reply to a request for comment by Gizmodo:

    “Differing technical opinions are part of the scientific process,” a spokesperson for LLNL told Earther in an email. “Throughout its history the Lab has invited guest speakers whose opinions differ from those of the Lab and its workforce. It does not mean the Lab endorses those opinions. The Lab has a long and distinguished history in groundbreaking climate research — the Lab continues to advance and stand by that research.”

    Does LLNL routinely invite speakers practicing outside of their professional domains and making markedly inaccurate scientific claims based on incomplete information and touching numerous other disciplines ? May we have some examples? No, we may not. LLNL doesn't normally invite obvious ringers. LLNL's hasty reply doesn't appear to have been fully considered, similarly to Koonin's invitation. 

    With all the scientific talent in the world more or less at its behest, LLNL specifically chose Koonin why? The parsimonious explanation seems most likely to be "publicist struck lucky on book tour," after which LLNL administration found itself stuck on the horns of a dilemma: cancel Koonin and weather a storm from the usual suspects, or gut it out by comparing Koonin with people of merit one might ordinarily expect to be speaking in that venue. LLNL chose the latter, which is again ill considered as by so doing LLNL inevitably drags down both its own reputation and that of anybody agreeing to speak there. From first rate to second rate, in one easy sentence.  

    Describing Koonin's "difference of opinion" as a legtimate provocation of better thinking is along the lines of inviting in a crank to describe the heliocentric nature of the solar system as unagreed. Yes, that will start a discussion, but it won't be productive.

    LLNL could simply admit making an dumb error but for reasons we cannot know, the path chosen is the hard way. 

  18. Greens: Divided on ‘clean’ energy? Or closer than they appear?

    Lawrie @13, yes nuclear power does produce toxic waste etc, but it is safe. Nuclear power kills far fewer people per megawatt / hour than fossil fuels and about the same as wind and solar power and that is obviously the key thing. Refer here. I tend to agree with your concerns about CCS.

  19. We're heading into cooling


    Your expression of certainty is trivial, and depends entirely on what time period you are talking about. Seconds? Minutes? Hours? Days? Months? Years? Decades?

    For climate we are talking years to decades. And what will happen over the next few decades (depending what humans do in the way of CO2 emissions) is most certainly not an equal likelihood of coolling versus warming. The chances we will enter a cooling period are far smaller than the chances we will see continued warming.

    One way of looking at this is to look at how often we set new record cold temperatures vs. hot temperatures.  Here is a web site that tracks this information for the U.S., displaying results for the past year.

    Spolier alert: it is not a 1:1 ratio.

  20. We're heading into cooling

    I just want to point out the problem with your survey.  It asked if the Earth will enter a cooling period.  I put in yes, then I read the article and the same question popped up.  I again put in yes.  The Earth warms and cools, it doesn't remain constant.  Therefore it is certain that we will enter a cooling period, and equally certain that we will enter a warming period.   

  21. Report: All new cars and trucks in U.S. could be electric by 2035

    The news is good for nature, in my opinion. Everything will change if this turns out to be true.
    Hope for the best

  22. Greens: Divided on ‘clean’ energy? Or closer than they appear?

    Regarding Nigelj’s statement that: “But there is nothing fundamentally wrong with fossil fuel carbon capture and nuclear power. Because they both provide clean, zero carbon energy and can do it safely.” Well, not really. Nuclear power is neither clean nor safe. Uranium is a heavy metal toxic enough without the added hazard of radioactivity. Mining and processing of uranium is hazardous to workers and mining sites are irreversibly contaminated. Uranium and reactor products cannot be chemically neutralised so storage of nuclear waste imposes a burden on future generations for thousands of years.
    Carbon capture and storage imposes even worse hazards than nuclear power. The idea is that CO2 emitted from fossil fuel powered generators can be captured, then compressed and forced underground into naturally occurring storage sites. Unlike nuclear waste CO2 has no half life. This means we are being asked to believe by CCS proponents that it is feasible to capture millions of tonnes of CO2 and sequester it safely FOREVER. Are there geological formations in the forever scenario that are so stable that they will never be threatened by seismic events?
    It's reasonable to suggest that at least 10 million tonnes of CO2 could be sequestered at storage sites. Should such a cache be explosively released it would create a 5 cubic kilometre cloud ground-hugging cloud that would poison or smother everything in its path.
    This is not science fiction. In 1986 at Lake Nyos in Cameroon, Africa, an estimated one cubic kilometre of carbon dioxide gas, naturally sequestered in the deep, cold water of the lake was explosively released to the atmosphere. No one knows what triggered the release but at least 1700 residents died from toxicity or suffocation as the gas flowed over the countryside. Luckily, deaths were limited by the sparse population in this remote area and the relatively small volume of carbon dioxide.
    In the next 20 years with political will the entire world could be run on renewable energy. It is now immoral to use technologies whose waste products will endure to effect future generations thousands of years after everyone has forgotten about their presence.

  23. michael sweet at 07:33 AM on 24 May 2021
    Greens: Divided on ‘clean’ energy? Or closer than they appear?

    Possibly a better example of a controversial biofuel would be corn ethanol, which many environmentalists do not like.  The point is that there is a lot of discussion about the topic of biofuels.  I think the environment will be better off if they pass the current proposal even though it is not perfect.  We can come back next year to try to correct any perceived problems.

    Red Baron: I hope your proposed BCCS program works.  Good luck.

    MARodger: Interesting stats about the total amount of wood products cut and its relationship to total energy.

  24. One Planet Only Forever at 01:28 AM on 24 May 2021
    Greens: Divided on ‘clean’ energy? Or closer than they appear?

    nigelj @9,

    This is getting political. But it is important to understand what may be driving the misleading misinformation campaigns against action to limit climate change harm and how to get ore support for climate change action.

    There is good reason to include actions to address developed injustice and inequity as part of the efforts to address climate change. The actions required to address climate change are significant changes of economic activity, especially the required reduction of energy consumption. Those changes will make significant changes to regional work opportunities and change the type of work opportunities. It is important to ensure that people understand that the less fortunate will not be put at further harmful disadvantage as these changes occur, even if that means that the economic changes "Cost more, require higher taxes on the rich, or are less profitable".

    And making it clear that the collective action that includes climate action will actually make things better for the less fortunate should rob the Trump Republicans of the current pool of angry less fortunate people who have been lured into misunderstanding who to be angry at by the lurid misleading marketing of the Trump Republicans.

    Reading books like Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" helps understand how the USA pursuit of Superior status is the harmful expansionist pursuit of Capitalism and Nationalism for the benefit of undeserving wealthy and powerful people, to the detriment of Others, especially those Others that the powers of capitalism and nationalism targets for penalty.

    People who are less fortunate need help to understand how they ended up being less fortunate, help understanding who among the wealthy and powerful deserve to be wealthier and more powerful.

    Tragically, some wealthy and powerful people do not care to self-govern and help govern others in the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals and related actions like limiting the harm of climate change impacts. And the centrist view, especially in the USA today, can be seen to be a harmful unsustainable compromise on many issues.

  25. Greens: Divided on ‘clean’ energy? Or closer than they appear?

    Regarding wood chips, this 2015 CarbobBrief post may be useful. The global woodchip market has grown since 2015, from 25Mt/yr to 45Mt/yr in 2020 according to Statistica but is still dwarfed by total wood production which measures globally perhaps something like 6,000Mt/yr of extracted biomass. The potential energy from such global timnber extraction is roughly 20% of global Primary Energy if all wood were turned to energy & ignoring energy imputs (Global Primary Energy 600 exajoules, wood 20Gj/t), but burning it all you would have no wood for other purposes or would have to collect it from where it becomes a recycled waste product.

  26. Greens: Divided on ‘clean’ energy? Or closer than they appear?

    I want to clarify some things. I said burning biomass to generate electricity doesn't make sense because of the land use and pollution. I had in mind planting new forests to do this or devoting entire forests to this. I agree burning biomass for electricty generation using waste timber makes sense, if its done away from urban centres or at small scale etc,etc. Its the old problem you can't say everything in one comment, nobody has the time.

    Must say I'm a bit of a political centrist myself and a fan of Scandinavias way of doing things. Unfortunately there doesn't seem much centre remaining in the USA. Its become disturbingly divided. I suppose I'm biased, but I think this all started with Reagon and his rather one sided unhelpful characterisation of government as the enemy. This really alienated the Democrats and polarised things. Not that governmnets can solve every problem either. Sometimes the Democrats have unrealistic expectations. I can see this both ways.

    Its important to reduce things like inequality, injustices, and improve the social good. My concern is the Democats tie all this in with environmental legislation which makes it impossible for the republicans to vote for it. It looks better to keep these things as separate legislation.

  27. Greens: Divided on ‘clean’ energy? Or closer than they appear?

    Having been around since FDR was US President, and having been a Republican, an Independent and a Democrat, I have seen and experienced many ups and downs with how things are going in the US, but the existential threat posed by climate change is by far the greatest threat that we will all face. When I talk to people about climate change, whether they are deniers or not, I ask them if they have noticed changes in the climate, regardless of the cause. The answer is usually yes. Then I ask if they think humans are contributing at all to the problem. Most are now saying yes, and for those who say yes and are on the denier side of the coin, their response is usually followed by saying there is not much they can do regarding climate change anyway. Unfortunately, nearly all Americans do not understand the causes of climate change nor do they understand the pros and cons of alternative actions that could be taken to eliminate the production of greenhouse gases. This, I believe, is due primarily to misinformation from Big Oil and politicians, whose interest in wealth, power and profit undermine attempts of obtaining a sustainable and acceptable future for us all. So, for those who feel there is nothing they can do, I tell them there is a very easy and significant first step they can take now and that is to not vote for ANY Republican politician (Representatives, Senators, Delegates, etc., at both the State and Federal level) who are lawmakers for at least the next decade. Even though their body language or verbal response indicates that there may be some truth to that position, their body language or verbal response indicate that that will never happen.

    So, is there any hope? Yes, I am seeing a glimmer of hope coming from a strange place – the recent announcement that the Ford F150 Lightening pickup truck coming out at the end of the year (the F-150 product line is a multi-billion dollar business for Ford and is popular with many – over 750,000 sold last year). This is not a Ford commercial. Also, the more electric vehicles sold, the more it will help shift the momentum to electric vehicles. And, whether Ford, Tesla, VW, Volvo, etc., more charging stations will be needed and more people will feel comfortable with electric cars. Hopefully, it will help kick off an exponential growth of green vehicles. And, I think that even climate change deniers will buy the new trucks because they can power their table saws at the jobsite, power what they need at campsites, and power key equipment at home when the grid goes down the next time, without saying they are doing it for the climate.

  28. One Planet Only Forever at 06:07 AM on 23 May 2021
    Greens: Divided on ‘clean’ energy? Or closer than they appear?

    Nick Palmer @3,

    I agree that Political Games should not decide what social or economic options Win. And the issue is far more extensive than the Climate Change aspects that sites like SkS focus on addressing.

    This comment goes beyond the scope of SkS and Climate Science. But it is important for more people to be aware that there is more going on that also needs to be addressed.

    Leadership providing a “... free'ish but lightly as possible regulated markets with social and environmental safety nets ...” would have been great if it had continued to be globally pursued and improved since the 1970s when the harmful reality of economic pursuit of More was becoming more clearly understood. The lack of helpful effective global leadership, especially the tragic Reagan-Thatcher “less Government assistance and less restriction so there is more opportunity for the Rich to get Richer because that helps everyone”, has produced the current developed reality where continuing to compromise what is understood to be required to limit harm done, the centrist compromised view, will significantly harm the future of humanity.

    What is needed, and has always been needed, is for All Leadership (social, political and business), and an increasing portion of the population, to uncompromisingly pursue increased awareness and improved understanding of what is really going on and the diversity of ways (conservative and liberal, right and left, socialist and capitalist) to limit harm done, ideally excluding all harmful activity from competitions for popularity and profit. And it would be nice if unsustainable activity like burning up non-renewable resources, was also kept from competing for popularity and profit even if the harm done is not yet understood in detail (that would have meant restrictions on fossil fuel use even before climate science developed better understanding), because everything humans do needs to be Sustainable if perceptions of improvement of civilization are to be sustainable.

    Recommended reading:

    • Human Development Report 2020 which is the latest annual report regarding Human Sustainable Development.
    • Jeffrey D. Sach's "The Age of Sustainable Development" or take the MOOC of the same name. The book (and MOOC) present the evidence-based understanding of the Sustainable Development Goals and are updated by the HDR 2020.
    • Review the Sustainable Development Goals to see that the Green New Deal is aligned with what all Leadership should be pursuing (in spite of the developed popularity and profitability of not limiting the harm done by human competition).
    • Also, look at the 1972 Stockholm Conference that was a clear start to global leadership collectively raising awareness of the harm done by insufficiently restricted competition for superiority.
    • Finally, check out “The Planetary Boundaries” evaluation by the Stockholm University - Stockholm Resilience Centre that is a key part of all of the above.

    The awareness and understanding from that reading and learning makes it undeniable that a lot of what humans have developed is harmful and unsustainable. In particular, systemic pressure for "more to exploit to obtain more benefit – always needing More" is expanding impacts beyond the real limits for humanity on this planet. And expanding beyond this planet’s limits, expanding to the Moon or Mars or mining asteroids, before figuring out how to sustainably live on this planet is not a sustainable solution.

    Based on the planetary boundaries evaluation the expansion pressures have already clearly exceeded the planetary boundaries for Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Genetic Diversity. And pressures for maintaining undeserved unsustainable perceptions of status (expectations based on the developed high consumption, wasteful, harmful impact ways of living) will undeniably result in impacts clearly exceeding the Climate Change boundary of human civilization sustainability. A Moderate centrist compromising response is no longer an option, but will be pushed for by those who have only cared to benefit as much as possible by delaying the reduction of harm done as much as they can get away with for as long as possible – Now they claim to like the Moderates but they still hope to win more extreme delays – more harm done.

    Reducing harm done includes reducing the diversity of injustice and inequity that develops when people compete for popularity and profit in games where results are based on impressions. People freer to believe what they want and do as they please produce more harmful results because getting away with behaving and excusing being more harmful is a competitive advantage.

    Any perceived advancement or improvement that is the result of activity that is unsustainable is understandably unsustainable and a little unfair to have a limited portion of humanity benefit (only the least fortunate should benefit that way, but even that needs to be understood to be unsustainable), and is also understandably undeserved if the activity is harmful (harmful activity is undeniably unsustainable). That applies equally to perceptions of status for those who are more fortunate and perceptions that the less fortunate have been helped develop an improved life.

    The failure of the systems that produced the problems to effectively correct things, and the ways the systems develop resistance to correction, requires corrective systemic change, including Government intervention and action, to limit the harm done. Thirty years ago the climate change impact corrections would have been modest and the total harm done would have been serious and unfair but not tragic. Today the harm done and required corrections are tragic and dramatic. Without significant government intervention to limit the harm done, the required corrective actions in 10 more years is almost certain to be catastrophic corrections to the incorrectly over-developed human activity and perceptions of advancement. And the accumulated harm done by then is very likely to be also be catastrophic. And the current system will make the less fortunate suffer the most. And that is not Hyperbole.

    But I agree that Government action should be limited to blocking the pursuit of unsustainable harmful activity, not choosing winners, just identifying harmful pursuers of benefit, blocking their harmful tactics, and penalizing them to make amends for harm done. Ultimately, to be sustainable, energy systems will have to be 100% renewable. And reducing energy consumption is undeniably a significant part of the solution. Reducing energy demand will reduce the amount of harm done by energy generation while the harmful unsustainable energy generation is sustainably replaced. That means that any new new energy system that gets built, like nuclear or “fossil fuel with CCS”, would be shut down as early as possible by rapidly developing the sustainable renewable systems built to replace them even if the renewable options are more expensive. And reduced per-person energy demand, particularly by the wealthiest, will more rapidly end the need for harmful unsustainable energy generation. Of course, the Be Harmless limit also applies to renewable energy systems – no Green Washing.

    Lack of interest in investigating to discover and stop harmful unsustainable activity is a serious problem. Grandfathering (systemic gender bias is also a problem) harmful activity and protecting any wealth that was obtained from harmful activity is also a problem. Those aspects of the developed systems need to be diligently ended and kept from re-emerging in the competition for superiority which will always be part of human interaction. It would be great for that competition to be striving to be superior by being Less Harmful and More Helpful to Others and the Environment everyone shares.

    A lot of changes of the Global Status Quo are required to develop a robust diversity of humanity in a diversity of sustainable socioeconomic political systems that are constantly adapting to be improved sustainable parts of the robust diverse environmental reality that humanity requires for sustainable survival on this one amazing planet. That required result will not be developed without thoughtful, unselfish, Government Interventions in the “games of competition for superiority”.

    Wealth should be deserved by not being Harmful, and by being Helpful to Others without expecting a return benefit. That is part of the understanding behind the Sustainable Development Goals. Claims that some Help is delivered by the Harmful acquisition of wealth need to be challenged. Harm done is not justified by benefits obtained. A harmful version of Utilitarian beliefs excuses harmful actions because “someone benefits”. It is one of the most harmful beliefs ever developed. It leads to misunderstandings like the claims that the harmful unsustainable economic development that has occurred has reduced poverty. Any perceptions developed by unsustainable harmful activity are not sustainable.

    People perceived as "shooting themselves in the foot" may be far more helpful and less harmful than people who do not see that the socioeconomic political system they have developed a liking for produces harmful unsustainable "impacts on the environment of the only planet that humanity is sure to be able to survive and thrive on” and ruins societies with injustice and inequity.

    Social and environmental harm that is the result of human competition makes developed perceptions unsustainable. Popularity and profitability can be lousy measures of Merit and Worth when harmful unsustainable beliefs and actions are allowed to survive and thrive.

  29. Greens: Divided on ‘clean’ energy? Or closer than they appear?

    Michael Sweet said, "The wholesale felling of forests to ship pellets to coal plants in England is unsustainable."

    That's not how it happens. Even without a biomass industry- clearcutting is the most common form of forestry in the American southeast. They  plant the trees, thin once or twice, then clearcut. MOST of the wood goes to sawmills. Defective trees and slash might go to a pellet plant. Otherwise, they often burn that material on site- to get rid of it- so they can plant more trees. Burning on site releases far more pollution than any biomass power facility So, everyone should stop claiming that entire forests are cut to convert to pellets. Forest managers just aren't that stupid- though you may think so. As for being sustainable- those southeast forests have been managed for a very  long time and will be for much longer- so it  is sustainable. Before they were managed forests they were cotton fields. Though managed forests aren't as ideal as wild forests they are better than cotton fields.

  30. A history of FLICC: the 5 techniques of science denial

    Alvaro @14

    Could you please get in touch via our contact form and selecting "Enquiry about translations" from the dropdown? I'll then send you some hopefully helpful pointers regarding a Spanish translation of FLICC and translations on Skeptical Science in general. Thanks!

  31. Alvaro Estrada BCS Mx at 06:41 AM on 22 May 2021
    A history of FLICC: the 5 techniques of science denial

    I made a translation to Spanish that needs some "cultural translation" since we don't have a straight translation to concepts like Straw Man which I translated as a negative Stereotype. I would like to colaborate to do a badly needed translation to Spanish of the whole page. I hope you don't mind I added the logos of some of my Science and Cultural causes.

  32. Greens: Divided on ‘clean’ energy? Or closer than they appear?


    I have an economical BCCS plan using modular autarky, but I tend to agree that CCS is difficult at best.

  33. michael sweet at 00:15 AM on 22 May 2021
    Greens: Divided on ‘clean’ energy? Or closer than they appear?

    I mostly agree with Nigelj:

    Nuclear and CCS are both uneconomic and will not be built.  We are discussing goals set for 2035.  Both CCS and nuclear take 10 or more years to build and no-one is planning any new builds.  I think nuclear is best left unsubsidized and the plants can shut down as they start to lose money.  Maybe someone in 10 years will come up with an economic CCS plan that helps the climate crisis.  I doubt it.

    Biofuels are a little more complex.  My cousin works in an electrical facility that burns trash and biowaste from yards/  They have a good scrubber.  That seems OK to me.  The wholesale felling of forests to ship pellets to coal plants in England is unsustainable.  I think it would be best to pass this legislation and then come back later to deal with biofuels.

    The most important thing is to encourage the building of wind and solar plants as rapidly as possible.  Then encourage electric cars.  You cannot just shut down all the coal plants tomorrow, you must have generation in place to replace them.  As more renewable energy is built the uneconomic fossil plants will shut down.

    Texas is building a lot of wind and solar this year.  No government mandate.  It will be inteesting to see how that works out.   It is not Greenies who are building those plants.  I saw an article about South Australia that also suggested that renewables are forcing out fossil fuels.  There is not a government mandate, just people installing solar on homes and utilities building renewable farms.

  34. Greens: Divided on ‘clean’ energy? Or closer than they appear?

    I think the '600' Greens have shot themselves in the foot on this one but, more seriously, I think they will alienate the deeper thinking, more knowledgable amongst their large numbers of supporters as the more 'watermelons' of their leaders continue to try to railroad the public towards their politically biased choices for 'solutions'. The last thing the world needs now is politic biases handicapping our options to solve this huge and deep seated climate change problem.

    I find the seemingly growing poltical polarisation of the 'sides' worrying to see. The left seem to be becoming more extreme in their prescriptions for policy - 100% renewables, no nuclear, no CCS whilst simultaneously solving inequality, racial justice, white supremacy etc, etc! That seems to me to be making an already very hard problem much harder to address, possibly impossible.

    The right, while they seem to have retreated from full-on rabid denialism, look to be dragging their feet in the hope that the 'lukewarmers' are right and that technical innovation and carbon capture will save the situation without too much disruption to the status quo.

    I think neither 'side' has all the answers, but their increasingly entrenched positions are starting to build up massive political tensions which cannot be a good thing for generating publicy acceptable policies for the fundamental changes over the long term that will be needed.

    To head off some commenters, my position is that of a centrist - free'ish but lightly as possible regulated markets with social and enviromental safety nets - somewhat like the Scandinavian countries.

    Moderator Response:

    [BL] Random letters deleted...

  35. One Planet Only Forever at 08:37 AM on 21 May 2021
    Greens: Divided on ‘clean’ energy? Or closer than they appear?


    I agree that biomass is not likely to be a sustainable energy supply, mainly because the harmful aspects are likely to be very difficult to keep from being a problem.

    An additional concern about Carbon capture is that it is only acceptable as a short term transition system. It is highly unlikely that the technology will ever capture all of the carbon and permanently lock it away. So it should be restricted to being applied to newer existing fossil fuel facilities to reduce the emissions until they are removed from service by 2060 at the latest. And example is the Boundary Dam CCS added to the existing coal burning facility n Saskatchewan, Canada. However, the economics may make renewable energy generation a more viable action than adding CCS to extend the viability of operation of a fossil fuel plant by reducing its emissions.

    Nuclear faces an additional double challenge. It consumes non-renewable materials, so it needs to be replaced by something else in the future. And it creates long lasting harmful waste products. So the economics of building safe nuclear with proven safe storage of the waste could also make it less viable than other renewable energy generation.

    Carbon Capture applied to burning a refined bio product like bio-diesel has potential. But it also may not be economically competitive compared to other renewable energy options. However, the future need is likely to be a reduction of the over-charging of the atmosphere with CO2. So CCS on bio-diesel electricity generation may be beneficial for that reason. It is unlikely that there be a "natural - not due to Government intervention" marketplace motivation to remove CO2 from the atmosphere (there never was that "natural" marketplace motivation to not produce the current bigger problem or effectively limit the harm done).

    Some questions are:

    • How much will global governments pay to remove carbon after no more CO2 is being forced as additional into the atmosphere by human activity?
    • Will global government just accept whatever level CO2 got pushed up to?
    • What exactly is Global Government anyway and how does it effectively limit harm being done (that may be the root of the problem right there)?
  36. Greens: Divided on ‘clean’ energy? Or closer than they appear?

    "The issue in contention: whether certain technologies like fossil fuels that capture their carbon emissions, nuclear, and biomass power should be considered sufficiently “clean,” or whether they should be eliminated from the American power generation mix for the sake of environmental justice. "

    You have to rule out burning biomass just because of the air pollution problem and the huge challenges finding enough land. But there is nothing fundamentally wrong with fossil fuel carbon capture and nuclear power. Because they both provide clean, zero carbon energy and can do it safely. As does solar and wind power and various other sustainable generating options.

    The decision on what generation to build would be better be left to generating companies with the only requirements being the energy must be clean and zero carbon and provided in a safe manner. Government's tend to micro manage too much.

    Personally I dont think nuclear power and carbon capture have much of a future, or make a lot of sense, especially when you look at costs (eg the Lazard energy analysis available free online) and how long this stuff takes to plan and build, and at public opinion, but I just think leave the decision to generating companies.

    The Democrats shoot themselves in their own feet politically time and time again by over complicating things.

    That said, planting trees and the whole carbon offset issue is a situation where government should manage the situation and at a planning level. Otherwise you will have huge tracts of good farmland taken over planting forests, which is just crazy!

  37. Rob Honeycutt at 13:43 PM on 20 May 2021
    What Does Statistically Significant Actually Mean?

    Ado @ 11...

    Given the fact that we know increasing greenhouse gas concentrations are increasing radiative forcing, it's actually fairly easy to make rational predictions about the coming 10 years.

    I did this 10 years ago, based on the same premise, and won this bet:

    I'm ready to make the same bet again, and would continue to do so until there's a reasonable assumption that we would reduce carbon emissions to net-zero within the coming decade.

  38. One Planet Only Forever at 07:13 AM on 20 May 2021
    What Does Statistically Significant Actually Mean?

    Ado @11,

    In addition to the helpful comments already provided I have a different perspective regarding the answer to the question "... can we predict based on experimental data what the temperature will be in 10 years time?" The answer is that you need to be more specific. Provide all of the conditions that are to be the basis for forecast and provide a definition of what is meant by the Temperature.

    Examples of Conditions:

    • What amount and types of human impacts over the next 10 years are to be the basis for the forecast?
    • What condition pattern of the ENSO is to be the basis?
    • How much of the variable volcanic impacts are to be considered through the coming decade and in what pattern?

    Examples of what is meant by "Temperature 10 years from now":

    • is it the global average land-surface and sea-surface?
    • Is it to include or exclude the polar regions?
    • Is it an absurd request like asking for the average surface temperature for the month of April in 10 years time? Or a less absurd but still fairly absurd average temperature for the Year 2030.
    • Or is it a more reasonable request like asking how much warmer the average through the next decade will be compared to the average of the previous decade and asking for the probability bounds of that estimate based on the conditions that you have presented as being the ones to be presumed to occur through the coming 10 years?
  39. What Does Statistically Significant Actually Mean?

    Well, Ado might have a point if the science of global warming was based on nothing more than extrapolating the current temperature trend, but it isn't.

    Climate scientists know a lot more than what Ado appears to know, so Ado is engaged in an argument from incredulity dressed in sheep's clothing.

    If Ado wishes to learn more about what climate science knows, he can try either of the following:

    HIstory of Climate Science (big button near the top of the Skeptical Science home page)

    Spencer Weart's The Discovery of Global Warming:

  40. Philippe Chantreau at 04:50 AM on 20 May 2021
    What Does Statistically Significant Actually Mean?

    The trend over the length of the record is statistically significant. 10 years may not be enough data to extract significance but that is irrelevant, since there are much more data than is needed to assess a real trend. Such analysis will likely show that, not only there is a significant warming trend, but that it also is accelerating.


    Excerpt from the NOAA page: "the combined land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.13 degrees Fahrenheit ( 0.08 degrees Celsius) per decade since 1880; however, the average rate of increase since 1981 (0.18°C / 0.32°F) has been more than twice that rate."

    Considering the observed increase in decadal trends, and considering the physical reasons for the trend to continue, Ado's remark doesn't have much value.

    Some of SkS contributors made a bet with the No Tricks Zone deniers and of course, they won, because the trend is unmistakeable. I have no doubt the same bet will yield the same result for the next decade. It will most likely be very close to 0.2 degC/decade, Ado's uncertainty notwithstanding.

  41. What Does Statistically Significant Actually Mean?

    Ado @ 11 :

    It is statistically probable that you are quite wrong   ;-)

    Scientists look at the overall context of the climate situation, and are remembering that "significant" statistical data are only a derivative of the physical planet.

    In the case you mention, the statistically insignificant 0 - 0.4 DegreesC is accompanied by significant ice-melt and significant sea level rise (for many decades . . . and the reason for that, is well-known).   Only the most contrarian of scientists would fail to identify the overall warming!

    Ado - using current and historical data plus basic physics, would you predict a higher temperature in 10 years' time?  Or a lower temperature?  (Even without your mysterious unspecified experimental data.)   Probably you need to explain your thinking.

  42. What Does Statistically Significant Actually Mean?

    I absolutely agree that the noise is too much to show with any certainty that the 0.2 Degrees C per decade increase in temperature is statistically significant and therefore indistinguisable from 0 or 0.4 Degrees C per decade, especially since you inply a linear trend (which it most certainly is not). The correct question however is; can we predict based on experimental data what the temperature will be in 10 years time? The answer: NO.

  43. michael sweet at 21:31 PM on 15 May 2021
    China’s 2060 climate pledge is ‘largely consistent’ with 1.5C goal, study finds

    Doug Bostrom:

    Your paper presents an interesting perspective.  The continuation of the rapid decrease in the cost of renewable energy is changing the landscape faster than the peer reviewed literature can keep up.  Carbon Brief describes a new IEA projection which raises the amount of renewable energy projected to be built this year by 25% compared to its last evaluation just 6 months ago.  The IEA report says that in 2020 90% of new capacity built worldwide was renewable.  

    It takes 5-10 years to build a fossil fuel generating plant.  The small amount of fossil generation currently being completed was started before renewable energy was the cheapest.  I think that China will shift to building out renewable energy overseas (and internally) because renewable is cheaper.  And renewable energy continues to decrease in price year to year!!!  The IEA report says that in China developers are building out record amounts of renewable energy even though production subsidies were ended last year.  

    Concerned people should encourage governments to continue renewable feed in tariffs and other subsidies for the renewable industry to encourage developers to build out renewable energy even faster. 

    In order to reduce fossil fuel use alternate energy is needed.  If developers are encouraged by government subsidies and low renewable prices, the shift to all renewable energy will move forward faster.

  44. Doug Bostrom at 03:05 AM on 15 May 2021
    China’s 2060 climate pledge is ‘largely consistent’ with 1.5C goal, study finds

    From a complete systems perspective China's entire coal economy needs to be accounted for. For geopolitical and purely commerical purposes China is actively fostering  and financing the construction of coal-fired generation plants outside its own borders. In a nutshell, coal-fired generation is an export product China is selling in signifcant quantity. This is an integral part of China's economy and so focusing entirely on emissions within the borders of China leaves an incomplete picture.

    Ideally the additional impact of China's exports of coal-fired generation will be factored in with any assessment of China's total, net performance against its goals.

    [We can simultaneously acknowledge that harsh judgement of China's performance w/regard to internal consumption has to be tempered by recognizing the realities of maintaining social stability in a challenging transition environment while also positing that exporting coal generation products for geopolitical  d**k-swinging and profit seeking objectives is plainly inexcusable.]

    A recently published paper responsive to the transnational perspective quantifies the situation, acknowledges the technical superiority of China's coal-fired generation plant exports but reminds us of the net effect being "wrong direction."

    An empirical analysis of the environmental performance of China's overseas coal plants (ERL, open access). 


    China's ongoing commitment to overseas infrastructure investment through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has ignited concern over environmental impacts. The BRI's environmental impacts will be determined by China's decisions not only on what kinds of projects to fund, but also how those projects end up operating relative to projects without Chinese involvement. It is critical to understand current performance and establish a baseline understanding of the environmental impacts of China's overseas projects thus far. We examine the environmental performance of coal-fired power plants in Asia in terms of carbon dioxide emissions intensity. Using generating unit-level data and a regression-based analysis, we estimate the comparative emissions intensity of overseas coal plants owned, designed, or constructed, by Chinese and non-Chinese companies. We find that Chinese coal plants tend to have significantly lower emissions intensity than similar non-Chinese coal plants. Given that total emissions rather than relative emissions intensity primarily drive the global warming impact of a plant, we also estimate total annual emissions and committed lifetime emissions of the plants in our dataset. We find that while Chinese plants may have relatively lower emissions intensity, their total emissions will grow as a proportion of the coal plant emissions in Asia over time.

  45. 'Freedom from Fossil Fuels' - a climate science framework for non-scientists

    Thank you so much Stephen ! I continually try to find words to describe climate change in a way that is easily understandable to people, especially the deniers, so I think you have cracked it ! I appreciate all the hard work it must have taken you to get to this point. Fantastic work. I look forward to your shorter versions ! Thanks again, from a climate activist

  46. Volcanoes emit more CO2 than humans

    The new estimates of volcanic emissions are around 50 million tons per year (Wong et al. 2019), lower than the low estimate in this article. Here is a graph I just made comparing cumulative human emissions to global biomass and cumulative volcanic emissions over the same time period: CO2 comparison.

  47. Overshooting 2C risks rapid and unstoppable sea level rise from Antarctica

    And don't forget Greenland:

    And don't forget that here on SkS you have to manually add the hyperlink using the "Insert" tab!

  48. Overshooting 2C risks rapid and unstoppable sea level rise from Antarctica

    Sidd I think you have the wrong article (similar but not the same). Correct article below:

    Moderator Response:

    [BL] Link activated.

    As Jim mentions, the web software here does not automatically create links. You can do this when posting a comment by selecting the "insert" tab, selecting the text you want to use for the link, and clicking on the icon that looks like a chain link. Add the URL in the dialog box.

  49. How sure are climate scientists?

    Nigelj @5  :

    On balance, I would go with Gws@4 about this video.

    The video is more introductory than definitive, and IMO it has a suitably delicate touch.   It is not talking to the scientifically well-informed, nor is it for the intransigent denialists.   Rather it seems aimed at the middle ground, where many people are hesitant/doubtful about global warming consequences ~ maybe they're slightly irritated by the ongoing bombardment with pro/con messages in the media, or maybe they've been mentally pushing the climate problem into the too-hard-for-now basket.

    Perhaps this video is capable of "softening-up" the mental defenses of those who are un-engaged (but are not in denial).

  50. How sure are climate scientists?

    gws @4, maybe I wasn't clear or something, but I think its the broad middle that are the exact people that may become sceptical after watching the video. For the reasons I stated. Not suggesting uncertainty in science should never be dicussed but it needs great care how its discussed.

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