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A Brief Note on the Latest Release of Draft IPCC Documents

Posted on 9 January 2013 by dana1981

The latest noise coming from the climate contrarian blogosphere deals with another release of the draft Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) draft Fifth Assessment Report.  Once again, a reviewer or author who had agreed not to release the documents while they are still undergoing review and revisions has broken his or her word and sent the documents to Donna Laframboise (who has long been trying to undermine the IPCC), who has compounded this unethical behavior by making the draft documents available for download.  This is another case of deja vu - as Gavin Schmidt notes, the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report drafts were "leaked" as well.

First of all, contrary to contrarian claims, there is nothing secretive about the IPCC process.  Anybody can review the documents, as we saw during the last "leak" by reviewer Alec Rawls, who is clearly a far cry from a climate expert.  If you are so concerned about the IPCC process, then simply become a reviewer, and comment on the draft report to your heart's content.  If you feel problems remain in the final document, air your grievances when it is published.  As the IPCC explained in its response to this document release:

"The recent posting of drafts of the Working Group II contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) starts from the incorrect assumption that the IPCC is interested in restricting reviewer input to its drafts. In fact, the opposite is true. The quality of IPCC reports and the integrity of the IPCC process depend on thoughtful comments from the widest possible range of experts, representing the full spectrum of scientific views. The Working Group II review process is open to anyone interested in submitting comments. All scientific comments submitted through the review process will be considered and addressed by authors, and all comments are made public when the report is completed. Comments in blogs or other communications will not contribute to the review process."

The IPCC asks its reviewers to keep the draft documents confidential because they are incomplete and subject to further revisions.  Making draft documents public is counter-productive (unless your goal is to sow confusion, of course), because they can contain mistakes and unclear language.  They are incomplete.

In her release of the draft IPCC documents, Laframboise's sole complaint was that the IPCC is still referencing "gray literature" (non peer-reviewed documents like technical reports and working papers) written by scientists from groups  like the World Wildlife Fund.  While citing gray literature without first checking it thoroughly did lead to one or two relatively minor mistakes in the last IPCC report, a review of IPCC procedures determined that gray literature contains very useful and important information, and that the IPCC has guidelines in place to ensure that the information is accurate before its inclusion in the IPCC report.

"Although some respondents to the Committee’s questionnaire have recommended that only peer-reviewed literature be used in IPCC assessments, this would require the IPCC to ignore some valuable information...."

"The current IPCC procedure requires authors to critically assess unpublished or non-peer-reviewed sources, reviewing their quality and validity before incorporating them...Although the Committee finds that IPCC’s procedures in this respect are adequate, it is clear that these procedures are not always followed...."

? The IPCC should strengthen and enforce its procedure for the use of unpublished and non-peer-reviewed literature, including providing more specific guidance on how to evaluate such information, adding guidelines on what types of literature are unacceptable, and ensuring that unpublished and non-peer-reviewed literature is appropriately flagged in the report."

So as long as the IPCC lead authors have verified the accuracy of the gray literature they reference, there is no problem with its inclusion, which the IPCC has determined will strengthen the report.

Ultimately these unethical "leaks" are simply desperate efforts to distract, confuse, and undermine public confidence in the IPCC - trolling, as Michael Tobis calls it.  In reality, they contain zero actual valid criticism of the IPCC report, and should simply be ignored.  If there are to be criticisms of the IPCC report, they should be aired once the document has been completed and published, or by reviewers during the review process.  Rather than continually engage in this sort of distracting unethical behavior, we suggest that climate contrarians should try to engage in the discussion of the (published) scientific literature.

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Comments 1 to 32:

  1. Are we allowed to blow a big fat raspberry at madame laframboise?
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  2. LRG @1 - permission granted!
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  3. dana, lrg: Aren't you engaging in a straw[berrywo]man argument? (as long as the comments policy doesn't prevent bad puns...)
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  4. Dana, In your opinion is this more, or less, or not even comparable to Gleick's confessed unethical behavior? FWIW, I agree that if there is a confidentially agreement, it should be adhered to.
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  5. I don't want to get into a comparison of unethical behaviors. The point is that these leaks are in violation of a confidentiality agreement in a transparently desperate effort to generate controversy where none exists. If contrarians are so eager to see the draft IPCC reports they should just sign up to be reviewers.
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  6. Terranova... Well, it would even be nice if those who divulged the AR5 information would confess that it was unethical behavior!
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  7. Laframoise -[snip]-. From her silly little book, chapter 24: ”No matter what they said the problem of the moment was – over-population, ozone depletion, acid rain, global warming – environmentalists have long advocated the same basket of solutions. These solutions amount to humanity forsaking industrialized society and a good measure of individual freedom. Apparently the answer is a return to Eden – to a slower, greener, more, ‘natural’ pace of life that embraces traditional values rather than mindless consumerism.”
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    Moderator Response: mod - no name calling please
  8. Lars, that quotation is a great example of the complete break with reality at the heart of the climate denial movement. Ozone depletion - When scientists called for action on this it was the deniers who said that fixing the problem would require "forsaking industrialized society". The Montreal Protocol was fought tooth and nail because it would 'destroy the global economy' and 'have no impact'. The protocol passed... the ozone layer has begun recovering... the economic impact was so trivial as to be unnoticeable. Acid rain - Once again, it was the denial industry which insisted the problem didn't exist and could not be fixed without economic catastrophe. Once again the reality is that the 1989 revisions to the clean air act have resulted in a 65% reduction in acid rain and the economic impact nonexistent. Indeed, the extra costs to polluters to prevent both acid rain and ozone depletion is more than offset by the economic benefits of preventing that damage. The net economic impact of solving these problems has been positive. Ditto if we ever get around to putting the brakes on global warming. The claim that environmental problems can only be solved by giving up modern technology, individual freedom, et cetera is a lie that deniers have told themselves so often that they take it as inviolate truth even in the face of observed reality to the contrary. That Laframoise could even write that addressing ozone depletion and acid rain would require the end of industrialized society after solutions to both had been implemented without any such consequence shows just how deeply ingrained this delusion is.
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  9. I'm starting to think that these unauthorised releases might be the best thing for scuppering denialism. What better way to find any little niggle in the report than to have people who are desperate to sink it go through it with a fine-tooth comb. The very fact that all they can come up with (and this includes the Spencers and Lindzens as well as the Watts and the Moncktons) are a few minor insignificances is itself a resounding affirmation of the high quality of the consensus science's work. And if the denialists haven't been able to demonstrate anything serious by the time of formal publication, they are implicitly endorsing all of the science contained therein that they haven't challenged prior to release. Basically, the denialists are on notice. They now have the opportunity to do their worst - if they don't they're screwed, and if all they can come up with is smoke and mirrors, they're still screwed. We'd definitely know if they come up with something resembling a real counter to the consensus science, but so far there's only been that familiar sound... A far better strategy would be to release the best they have a week or so before the official release date, and attempt to hype their 'gotchyas' before the sensible world managed to respond. Now all they'll have is the unsatisfied feeling that they arrived to the party prematurely...
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  10. Apologies for the (fruit-themed) namecalling. I suppose I should leave that to experts like Donna Laframboise (namecalling seems to be her only competence).
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  11. It has become increasingly clear to me that pro/semi-pro climate denialists and their pseudoskeptic enablers among the general public have nothing left but grasping at straws and "a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury / Signifying nothing." These leaks of IPCC draft documents are just more straw grasping.
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  12. Actually, Composer, they're more than that. Deniers are demonstrating time and again that they are completely devoid of morals and driven by fanatic ideology. Hacks (CRU). Leaks (IPCC). Impersonations (Monckton). Accusations. Threats. Lies. Personal attacks. Time and again, their actions reek of desperation, but demonstrate a completely amoral approach to the issues. You have to look at people who behave that way, and who demonstrate zero restraint, credibility or civility, and ask yourself, what exactly motivates such barbaric behavior? It's sure not a desire to arrive at the truth, because the only things missing from the denier's list of actions is actual, substantive, defensible research contributing to the understanding of the science.
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  13. Lars & CBDunkerson, #7 & #8 Here is another example. The removal of lead from petrol has had a remarkable spin-off - about 50% of the decrease of violent crime in urban areas since the 1970s can be statistically ascribed to reduction in lead poisoning. Kevin Drum: America's Criminal Element: Lead Just this year, Tulane University researcher Howard Mielke published a paper with demographer Sammy Zahran on the correlation of lead and crime at the city level. They studied six US cities that had both good crime data and good lead data going back to the '50s, and they found a good fit in every single one. In fact, Mielke has even studied lead concentrations at the neighborhood level in New Orleans and shared his maps with the local police. "When they overlay them with crime maps," he told me, "they realize they match up." Can you imagine how this would have gone if the connection had been made BEFORE the lead ban? As it was, the industry fought the EPA regulations that brought about the change, and of course had their own tame scientists to back them up.
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  14. Lars Karlsson @ 7, you quote from the book:
    Apparently the answer is a return to Eden – to a slower, greener, more, ‘natural’ pace of life that embraces traditional values rather than mindless consumerism
    To me, a return to Eden, a slower, greener way of life and no rampant consumerism sounds a great deal more attractive than the 4°C warmer world denialism is heading us to. CBDunkerson @ 8, I see challenges to our ability to build and deploy high technology, in a low-fossil-carbon future. The computer I am typing this message on consists of plastics and related materials that come from oil, as well as numerous metals that are already expensive to produce and distribute using machinery powered by fossil fuels. I imagine many products and services we take for granted in a high-fossil-carbon economy will become, at least, more expensive; at worst, unobtainable, when we turn off the pumps. The IPCC documents shine the light on where we are headed, in terms of temperatures and effects upon the biosphere, but do not map out the kind of society we can expect to develop under such environmental pressures. I have read that a 4°C increase in average surface temperatures is not compatible with organised global society, but have not found much discussion of the kind of society with which such a warmer world would be compatible. I have also not read much that discusses the changes and compromises we should expect, if we choose to move rapidly away from fossil fuels. I don't expect it to be business as usual, but have only a hazy idea of how Mr. and Mrs. Average would conduct their daily lives.
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  15. Doug Hutcheson @14, 1) Edenic agriculture would not be able to sustain even a quarter of the World's current population. However desirable (and I do not think it is) a retreat to eden is simply not a viable policy alternative. But as LaFramoise knows, suggestions that it is what her opposition desires sure makes a handy substitute for thought. Demonize your opposition and your accolytes will swallow any rubbish in justification. 2) Non-biodegradable plastics are an effective means of carbon sequestration, so will still by viable in a low carbon economy (though we may want substitutes for other reasons). Further, at need, plastics can be made from plant material, a process that will actually reduce atmospheric CO2 by small amounts.
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  16. Tom Curtis @ 15, I totally agree that Edenic civilisation would support far fewer people than are alive today. On the other hand, a 4°C-6°C warmer world would also support far fewer people, but in a hostile environment. I was not meaning to suggest that we have the opportunity to return to Eden; I was just expressing the view that the relatively few people who could be supported by a return to Eden at today's temperatures, would have an easy life compared with the lifestyles we could expect our (smaller) population to enjoy(?) in a world transformed by AGW. I see what you mean about non-biodegradable plastics being a form of carbon sequestration, but their manufacture would still require us to be pumping oil out of the ground: wouldn't that rather defeat the purpose? Making plastics from plant materials sounds like a good idea. The few times I have encountered this, it has been expressed as a proof-of-concept technology that has not yet reached commercial scale. This Scientific American article concludes:
    The research could become the basis of a process that turns biomass such as trees, cornstalks and algae into feedstock for chemicals, plastics and fuels at roughly 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit), which is a lot cooler than the 600 degrees C (1,112 degrees F) needed for oil refining or the high temperatures (as well as pressure) such oil must undergo when it is formed naturally. "A number of steps, including process development and optimization, have to take place before full-scale commercialization," Zhang notes. "It may take several years to reach that stage."
    If the hurdles can be overcome and production can be ramped up to industrial scale, to keep the cost reasonable for the production of consumer goods, we will only have the problem of growing biomass quickly enough to feed the beast. At the scale required to feed our addiction to gadgets, plants-to-plastic might have a measurable effect on atmospheric CO2. Ditto plants-to-biofuels. I must admit to being somewhat sceptical that we could produce enough bio-plastic and bio-fuel to give our civilisation a seamless transition away from sucking oil out of the ground. Any way I look at it, I am led to the conclusion that a society free from fossil carbon fuels will consist of fewer members than the 10 billion expected around the middle of the century. Am I being unduly pessimistic?
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  17. Lars @ 7; sorry for leading you into an ad feminem i couldnt resist such a juicy pun. On quote you give us; its also a non seccutur, embracing a 'greener, slower' etc way of life does not mean throwing out all tech at all! The rightest on hippies i know use solar, smartphones etc , even the amish use gm seed i believe. putting the two ideas in opposition is so not fair and so effective.
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  18. It seems very unfortunate that we have to endure so much hypocrisy from climate change sceptics. Many of their attacks have been on the scientists rather than the science, which does not support their denial of the problem. In particular, the CRU emails focused on the probity and ethics of climate scientists. It appears that this is something of a one way street: demands for ethical behaviour are not accompanied by demonstrations of it. One rule for us, another for climate change deniers, apparently...
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  19. Doug Hutcheson @14 wrote: "I imagine many products and services we take for granted in a high-fossil-carbon economy will become, at least, more expensive; at worst, unobtainable, when we turn off the pumps." I do not. Most of our current fossil fuel use comes from precisely two things... electricity generation and automobiles. We now have technology which can generate all of our electricity needs without any fossil fuels and cars that can run from rechargeable batteries. Ergo, we can 'turn off the pumps' just as soon as we build the infrastructure to convert to these new technologies. At that point the CO2 content of the atmosphere is decreasing and we can still use petroleum, coal, natural gas, et cetera for everything else we do currently... and have a lot more of those resources available for these other uses. More supply at fixed demand equals lower costs for other applications after we 'turn off the pumps'. Also: "I don't expect it to be business as usual, but have only a hazy idea of how Mr. and Mrs. Average would conduct their daily lives." I expect it to be business as usual... except that you'd park your car over an induction charger in the driveway each night rather than periodically going to something called a 'gas station'. Long term there'd also be vast health and economic benefits, but there are too many variables in how those would play out to predict changes on everyday life.
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  20. CBDunkerson @ 19, You said
    At that point the CO2 content of the atmosphere is decreasing and we can still use petroleum, coal, natural gas, et cetera for everything else we do currently
    I am not convinced this is a valid assessment of our situation. As Professor Kevin Anderson points out (23 minute video), meeting our goal of no more than 2°C warming, as per the Kyoto Protocol, Annex 1 nations (the wealthy ones) have almost no wriggle room for emissions and the longer we delay action, the steeper our decarbonisation graph has to become, in order to limit net emissions - ie, net carbon in the atmosphere - to a level that might keep AGW below 2°C, which in turn might not be very dangerous. In another presentation (1 hour PowerPoint lecture), he proposes that 2°C warming would actually be very dangerous and we should, instead, be aiming for no more than 1°C. If Prof. Anderson is correct, the Western (developed) nations must all but cease greenhouse gas emissions totally, leaving us in a quandary about how to power our heavy equipment, shipping, interstate trucking etc. I have not seen announcements of batteries suitable for powering mining equipment, farm tractors, heavy trucks etc. I accept that these may be in the offing, in which case my concerns are groundless, but I haven't seen information on them myself. I sincerely hope your more optimistic view is the correct one "8-)
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  21. Dunkerson--Unfortunately, I think Hutcheson is correct and your faith in technology is not well placed. Humans are likely in population overshoot for any reasonable lifestyle sustainable for more than another few decades. It's not just techno-baubles like the internet that rely on continued access to cheap fossil fuels (at least at the scale of billions of users), it's also essential for a significant portion of the global food supply. In addition to the links above, check out human appropriation of net primary productivity as well as energy return on investment (EROI) and peak phosphorus and see if you still think anything other than a major "power down" (see, e.g., Heinberg's book with that title) or collapse is anything short of "highly likely." IMO, the future in c. 2100 looks quite grim. I think the survivors will be better off the sooner the global economy collapses and we can start rebuilding from the local level up, which will be much more "eden-like" for those who make it through. I think abject terror of this likely future is what motivates the AGW deniers, even if they're not very conscious of it.
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  22. louploup @ 21, as you point out, our biggest enemy is the size of our population. Unfortunately, I cannot think of an humane method of reducing our teeming numbers. A decent nuclear war would do it. So would a global pandemic that we had no defence against. Yellowstone exploding as a super volcano would winnow out the huddled masses. A well-aimed asteroid might do the trick. Trouble is, none of these fits my definition of 'humane'. If we don't wipe out a few billion of our fellow beings through civilised means (eg: war) , Nature will solve the problem in her own, remorseless way. I doubt either the losers, or the winners, will enjoy the process.
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  23. Doug, you are 'refuting' my claim that atmospheric CO2 levels would begin decreasing if we stopped using fossil fuels for electricity generation and automobiles with a citation of little wiggle room for some nations in the Kyoto protocol in order to avoid 2C warming... how is it not obvious that the two things are completely different? First, ceasing use of fossil fuels in electricity generation and automobiles worldwide would be a vastly greater reduction in emissions than anything called for by the Kyoto protocol. Second, I made no claim of avoiding 2C warming. Frankly, I believe that ship has sailed. I only said that getting fossil fuels out of electricity generation and cars would be sufficient for the atmospheric CO2 level to stop increasing and (very slowly) start to recover towards the previous natural level. Basically, at this point it seems inevitable that we are going to hit +2C. The only question is how far above that we are going to go and for how long. There is still time to limit the damage using realistic (i.e. not 'we must implement martial law, cease all use of technology, and return to a global agrarian society') solutions.
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  24. CBDunkerson @ 23, I agree that stopping use of FF for electricity generation and transport would see the increase in atmospheric CO2 slowed and, perhaps, it would start to reduce. I am not refuting your claim that CO2 would start decreasing: I just don't have the figures at my fingertips, so I will have to do more research to identify whether turning off the pumps would see CO2 levels go into reverse. According to the EIA
    During the past 20 years, about three-quarters of human-made carbon dioxide emissions were from burning fossil fuels.
    Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, resulting from petroleum and natural gas, represent 82 percent of total U.S. human-made greenhouse gas emissions
    So, 75% of our emissions are from fossil fuels and (taking the US figure as representative of the world as a whole, which may be wildly incorrect) 82% of that 75% is from burning FF for energy. That means 61.5% of our total emissions are from energy use. If we could stop burning FF for energy, worldwide, today, then my inexpert understanding is that atmospheric CO2 concentrations should start a (slow) decline and the total carbon in the atmosphere may remain below the 2°C threshold. As I understand it, the oceans and other vectors of sequestration are absorbing about half our emissions (making the oceans more acidic in the process). If this is correct, it follows that cutting worldwide emissions in half and maintaining that new level constantly, would see atmospheric CO2 levels remaining at their current level. If we cut by the 61.5% I mentioned above and maintain that new level, then I expect CO2 levels would start to decrease. I do not know whether this decrease would be negated by the oceans outgassing CO2 as the partial pressure in the atmosphere changed. My point is that the key metric is the amount of CO2e in the atmosphere. In order to keep this metric within the bounds of a 2°C rise in GST, while continuing to give Annex 2 nations the emissions we have agreed to, Annex 1 nations would have to decarbonise totally (not by just 61.5%), crippling the global economy. All the above is back-of-an-envelope calculation and I am sure I am not accurate with the figures. I certainly do not mean to refute your claim and sincerely hope you are right. Unfortunately, I cannot imagine the 'real world' is ready to decarbonise by the amounts I have suggested and the Annex 2 nations are certainly not going to hold their emissions static at today's levels, so I think we have a snowball in hell's chance of staying below 2°C, which Kevin Anderson is describing as potentially very dangerous. I fully agree with your conclusion that "There is still time to limit the damage using realistic solutions". We have the means to address the problem, but we don't have the political will to do what needs to be done.
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  25. CBDunderkson:
    I expect it to be business as usual... except that you'd park your car over an induction charger in the driveway each night rather than periodically going to something called a 'gas station'. Long term there'd also be vast health and economic benefits, but there are too many variables in how those would play out to predict changes on everyday life.
    That's certainly an appealing vision. But as educated people (I mean the participants in this ongoing discussion), surely we all understand that the environmental disasters we confront -- AGW, biodiversity loss, overuse of fresh water, depauperation of the oceans,and on and on -- are costs of the production of economic goods and services, hitherto held external to the prices we pay for them? If the destruction is to be halted, and human society is to become sustainable, the externalities must be internalized. When that's accomplished, prices for all goods and services will rise, for the luxury and leisure we all (on average, at least) enjoy if not for basic necessities. We've been drawing down the world's natural capital on credit, but now we've got to start paying as we go. I swear I'm not going Lomborg on you all, but I don't believe the world's poor will allow the price of food, clothing and shelter to soar ever farther out of reach. Either we will pay our share and theirs too (willingly or otherwise), or the liquidation of natural capital will continue. In the long term, we can hope that keeping all production costs internal will drive producers to use resources and energy more efficiently; but eventually a limit will be reached, and efficiency imposes costs of its own in any case. Into the foreseeable future, we will consume less, or pay more. I'm sorry, but anyone thinks business as usual can go on is in denial.
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  26. Mal Adapted @ 25, I don't quite agree with your final sentence. I don't think anyone expecting BAU is in denial, necessarily. The problem is more subtle than that: I think people in general are optimists, who don't have the time to think through all the issues. I have a more pessimistic view, based on my understanding that the IPCC chooses to err on the side of caution in its pronouncements, so that reality is likely to be somewhat worse than they care to admit. As for BAU, I predict most nations will continue as they are now, for as long as they can, until various crises overwhelm them. I base that on a combination of two human traits: greed and optimism.
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  27. Mal Adapted:
    I'm sorry, but anyone thinks business as usual can go on is in denial.
    Don't be sorry. It's a thermodynamic truth that many people, even on the side of the consensus, need to hear and understand. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
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  28. Bernard J.:
    It's a thermodynamic truth that many people, even on the side of the consensus, need to hear and understand.
    Since CBDunkerson and I are both on the side of the consensus, I want to be sure I didn't misunderstand his(?) use of "business as usual" (BAU). CBDunkerson:
    The claim that environmental problems can only be solved by giving up modern technology, individual freedom, et cetera is a lie that deniers have told themselves so often that they take it as inviolate truth even in the face of observed reality to the contrary.
    If BAU means "no one has to freeze to death in the dark if fossil fuels are replaced by renewables", then that's defensible. If BAU means "the transition to a sustainable economy won't reduce average buying power (what's usually meant by 'standard of living')", then that's frank denial. The professional AGW deniers don't care if a few 47%-ers freeze to death in the dark, and they don't worry about average buying power either. To them, BAU means "My own buying power will be reduced if fossil fuels are replace by renewables". Changing BAU will make winners and losers, and they'll be losers. Of course it's OK with me if the Koch brothers lose some income, but who really thinks the 1% will be the only losers? You and I might be willing to give up some of our own hard-earned buying power if it reduces the risk of climate catastrophe; we'll leave the hybrid in the garage and take the bus. We may even be willing to pay extra, to keep people now on the edge of poverty from sliding over it. As for the rest of the middle class, not all of them are as sanguine as we are about loss of buying power. Some accept the scientific consensus but refuse to change the way they live, perhaps believing that the impacts of AGW will mostly affect other people far away. Others think arguments from consequences refute arguments from evidence. Some, with no worse than average understanding of science as an institution, are willing to believe that AGW is all a hoax, and that consensus supporters are conspiring to impose world socialism. We roll our eyes, but we should ask ourselves what it will really take to keep the impacts of AGW from getting worse -- never mind establishing a truly sustainable economy. This comment is already too long, so I'll let Naomi Klein answer:
    The deniers did not decide that climate change is a left-wing conspiracy by uncovering some covert socialist plot. They arrived at this analysis by taking a hard look at what it would take to lower global emissions as drastically and as rapidly as climate science demands. They have concluded that this can be done only by radically reordering our economic and political systems in ways antithetical to their “free market” belief system. As British blogger and Heartland regular James Delingpole has pointed out, “Modern environmentalism successfully advances many of the causes dear to the left: redistribution of wealth, higher taxes, greater government intervention, regulation.” Heartland’s Bast puts it even more bluntly: For the left, “Climate change is the perfect thing…. It’s the reason why we should do everything [the left] wanted to do anyway.” Here's my inconvenient truth: they aren't wrong.
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  29. Sorry, but no... they ARE wrong. They were wrong when they said fixing ozone depletion would require "radically reordering our economic and political systems". They were wrong when they said fixing acid rain would require "radically reordering our economic and political systems". And they are wrong when they now say that fixing AGW would require "radically reordering our economic and political systems". It is nonsense. Pure and simple. Fixing AGW requires a change from fossil fuels to renewable energy... which will actually increase overall 'buying power' because renewable energy is vastly less expensive once all the externialities are accounted for. It isn't even close.
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  30. CBDunkerson:
    Fixing AGW requires a change from fossil fuels to renewable energy... which will actually increase overall 'buying power' because renewable energy is vastly less expensive once all the externialities are accounted for. It isn't even close.
    We all know that, but the whole point is that all the externalities are not accounted for under the current production system. If they were, we'd all be paying much more for heat, electricity and transport already, ignoring for the moment the energy cost of producing everything else. But when, as will be required for long-term global sustainability, all costs of production of goods and service are internalized, we will pay more for everything. And at least in the early stages of transition to sustainability, without some kind of assistance the poorest may actually freeze to death in the dark -- at infinite cost to them. Surely you understand that's what "internalizing the externalities" means! Nobody's mentioned it yet so it may not need to be, but simply substituting human for natural capital won't much affect the final result. To be sure, under proposed as well as existing systems there is room for human creativity ("working smarter, not harder") to improve productivity. But there will be costs to that too of course, and why would we keep those external? Too, production systems that are now energy intensive can become more labor-intensive (we can all work smarter and harder), but that cost can no more be kept external than any other. CBDunkerson, this isn't a rhetorical argument, but one founded on thermodynamics as Bernard J. says. It's not just a glibertarian catch-phrase: there really is no such thing as a free lunch. We can't call ourselves realists unless we accept that. BTW -- Moderators: should this thread move elsewhere?
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  31. Mal Adapted - I have replied on the more appropriate economic impacts of carbon pricing thread.
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  32. Given that their own belief sytem is almost entirely based on non-peer-reviewed material, it is ludicrous for climate contrarians to complain about the IPCC reviewing "gray literature".

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