Saturday, June 4, 2011

Increasing confidence: the so-called progressives are wrong

1. The warming record of the twentieth century has probably never passed elementary tests of statistical significance. It remains possible that the progressives have fastened on one of the few centuries since the last Ice Age when there was no significant warming. Douglas Keenan, a longer version of a piece that appeared in the WSJ. h/t Bishop Hill here and here.

2. Decision-makers are not acting as though they actually believe in the global warming orthodoxy--despite all the moralistic speeches from many of the same people. If they decide it is a problem, they will probably build some nukes, which have been rejected by some environmentalists. The real future of energy is methane--a fact which progressives are trying to either ignore or attack with bogus logic and science. Michael Lind in Salon; h/t Instapundit.

3. Paul K from good old Lucia's site: where does the official estimate of "forcing" caused by man-made CO2 come from, and how good are the models? I believe the lay person's description of this phenomenon is: garbage in, garbage out.

4. Let's not forget Judy Curry. Apparently she still believes warming is a problem (you don't have to be a cynic to say it would be difficult to keep the grants flowing if you didn't say that), but she is refreshing in her insights into the problems with the orthodoxy.
- there is probably no convincing evidence of a link between extreme weather events and man-made climate change;
- Lord Turnbull makes a very intelligent case for lukewarmers--including this passage:

We should concentrate on those measures which are no regret, which improve resource productivity, improve security of supply and with it our commercial bargaining position, and which do not depress living standards. In my book these are stopping deforestation, raising the energy efficiency of our buildings and our vehicle fleet (though the effect of greater energy efficiency on CO2 reduction may be limited if consumption is sustained by lowering the effective price of energy), investment in nuclear power, an expansion of energy from waste and, if we are going to adopt CCS, and the economics has yet to be established, it would be better to attach it to new gas-fired stations rather retrofitting old coal-fired stations. It also means much less wind and solar energy, and an end to current encouragement of biofuels.

- She may be careful of the feelings of climate scientists--she still attends conferences with them--but she is hilarious when other Ph.Ds make fools of themselves:

So there it is, from Nobel laureate Paul Krugman. Joe Romm has “translated” all this for us in several posts. Here is a quote from Krugman on this, in response to the book “Superfreakonomics” (note I haven’t read the book). As Krugman explains:

Yikes. I read Weitzman’s paper, and have corresponded with him on the subject — and it’s making exactly the opposite of the point they’re implying it makes. Weitzman’s argument is that uncertainty about the extent of global warming makes the case for drastic action stronger, not weaker.

Ok, so Krugman is apparently accurately representing what Weitzman meant. I guess my poor little brain had a difficult time letting that Nobel-level economics pass through its filter when I read Weitzman’s paper.

So, lets think about some of the perhaps unintended implications of this statement. Two implications that jump immediately into my mind are:

1. The accusations made against the “merchants of doubt” is that they are talking about uncertainty so as to delay action. So, now are we to infer that that the merchants of doubt are now climate policy action’s “best friends”?

2. Consider a potential asteroid strike: far greater economic impact and also far greater uncertainty than climate change. So the implication of this is that we should be focusing more on the potential asteroid strike than the potential catastrophic climate change?

- lots of nice specific points, including:

JC comment: if it warms and there are no confounding factors like coastal subsidence and isostatic causes and sedimentation in deltas, then yes sea level will rise. However in many locations geological factors swamp eustatic sea level rise, and sea level is actually decreasing. The scientific and socioeconomic impacts of sea level rise are fundamentally local, and emphasizing the global rather than local sea rise issues isn’t very useful IMO.

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