Economic Implications of Anthropogenic Climate Change and Extreme Weather

In my ten years living in Madison, this has been the coldest Winter thus far. Keeping in mind everything is probabilistic, it’s likely that I have anthropogenic climate change to thank for experiencing this event. [1] [2] [3] (Just like one can’t say Hurricane Sandy was directly a result of global climate change, the likelihood of such events rises with global climate change.)

Tabulating Climate Change

From NASA via RealClimate comes this graph of annual temperatures taking into account El Nino and La Nina phenomena:


Figure 1: The GISS data, with El Niño and La Niña conditions highlighted. Neutral years like 2013 are gray. Source: NASA.

This figure illustrates that while temperatures vary with the El Nino and La Nina phenomena, allowing for a mean shift, one sees a clear pattern toward overall warming temperatures (notice no hiatus once looking at the data in this fashion). Now, while the annual averages are rising, global climate change models imply greater climate variation as well. (I’ve discussed the greater dispersion in temperatures in summer months here, that is spread as well as mean change.) NOAA has generated indices to measure climate extremes; components are reported here.


Figure 2: U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI). Source: NOAA, accessed February 16, 2014.

The data indicates that extreme high/low temperatures and extreme precipitation are rising in frequency.

Economic Implications, Again

I was thinking (again) about the economic impact these extremes as I was contemplating Representative Marsha Blackburn’s twofold (and seemingly internally inconsistent) assertion today that there was no consensus on anthropogenic climate change, and even if there were, we should think about all the positives that would come about from an upward shift in the mean and increase in support of the distribution of temperatures in the United States (maybe there’s an upside to West Nile fever! [4]).

Here are the immediate impacts (Informal poll: How many people had trips cancelled because of the weather this Winter? I’m the first vote yes).


Figure 3: Flight cancellations in the United States. Source: NY Times.

I wonder if any of those who argue better to adjust than to try to price carbon and were caught in those flight cancellations reconsidered there positions. That’s only partly facetious; I think climate change is going to impose substantial costs going forward, a lot more than just damage to sewer pipes and salt bills. [4]

These costs include power outages, estimated by CEA/DoE.


Figure from Economic Benefits of Increasing Electric Grid Resilience to Weather Outages (August 2013).

The Consensus on Anthropogenic Climate Change

As I mentioned earlier, Representative Blackburn argued that there was no consensus on the sources of climate change. I beg to differ — as do scientists themselves.

Here are the key graphs from “Expert credibility in climate change,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2010). Note that UE denotes unconvinced; CE denotes convinced (by the thesis of anthropogenic climate change).


In other words, the climate scientists that are better published tend to be convinced of anthropogenic climate change; moreover, the ones that are better cited also tend to be more convinced of ACC. More in this post.


Another study, with similar results, from Eos (The Transactions of the American Geophysical Union) is here. The climatologists publishing on climate change tend to be the most convinced of anthropogenic climate change (97.4%, which in my book is pretty overwhelming).

A Time Series Analysis

Since Econbrowser has a large audience of people interested in economics, I thought it useful to post estimates of the human-activity-related component of global climate change (on average, warming), from a well-known econometrician. From Kaufmann, Kauppi, and Stock, “Emissions, Concentrations, and Temperature: A Time Series Analysis,” Climatic Change (2006):


Figure from Kaufmann, Kauppi, and Stock, “Emissions, Concentrations, and Temperature: A Time Series Analysis,” Climatic Change (2006).

The graph can be read as follows: Solid gray line is actual, gray dot-dash-dot line (the one plunging) is the component of temperatures due to natural factors, gray dash line is fitted values, and the black dotted line is the component due to human activity. The predicted values are generated from a fairly simple four equation simultaneous equations model, so economists can understand the approach.

See also Reconciling anthropogenic climate change with
observed temperature 1998–2008, PNAS (2011)
(added 2/21, 3:30PM)

For those who might not be aware, James Stock is well known econometrician, who has contributed to the unit root testing, cointegration and macroeconometrics literature. (He’s ranked 32 at IDEAS, if you were doubting his credentials.)

Returning to Representative Blackburn who plea for a cost-benefit analysis, I turn to a real expert on the subject, William Nordhaus. I am not sure what she means by cost-benefit is what Professor Nordhaus means.


130 thoughts on “Economic Implications of Anthropogenic Climate Change and Extreme Weather

  1. BC

    One cannot assert human-induced climate change without also conceding the proximate first cause: rapid population growth during the past 50-100 to 250 years, resulting in overshoot of the planet’s carrying capacity for humans.

    But the topic of population growth and its necessary control, including restricting immigration, is the last taboo.

    There are simply too many of us on a finite spherical planet experiencing the conditions resulting from Peak Oil; a mega-drought emerging in the Southwest and CA; water shortages becoming acute in parts of the world; deforestation; depletion of fisheries; loss of arable land from industrialization, suburbanization, and desertification; increasing mass migration and resulting social/racial/ethnic conflict and violence, famine, and failed states; and the risk of regional and/or world war between the West and the rest in a last-man-standing contest for the planet’s remaining resources.

    Perpetual growth of population and resource extraction and consumption for growth’s sake on a finite planet is the first cause of most problems we face, and more growth will not resolve the problems caused by unsustainable growth in the first place.

    That growth of real GDP per capita is no longer possible, and capitalism requires perpetual growth of profits and capital accumulation to continue, capitalism is no longer viable. That socialism relies upon a perpetual surplus generated by capitalism to fund social-welfare programs, socialism is not a solution to the end of growth and of capitalism.

    Thus, an entirely new system of values, expectations, social contract, social, economic, and political organization, and means of ownership of the distribution of goods and services, and creation of purchasing power is required to address the limits to growth on a finite planet.

    But few, if any, establishment economists, CEOs, politicians, nor financial media influentials will concede the forgoing publicly because, frankly, they are not paid to do so, nor can they retain their institutional legitimacy and positions by saying so.

    Thus, we cannot expect that establishment principals will take the lead in advancing a global systems analysis and public dialogue in order to propose comprehensive recommendations before it is too late to do so.

    It is never too late . . . until it is.

  2. CoRev

    This is another of those poorly defined articles based upon even more poorly defined terms.

    Yup! It costs to recover from the personal property damage caused by extreme weather events. The real question is: (Are extreme weather events increasing in either number or intensity?) The answer to that question is still unresolved with any certainty, especially when discussing specific types of extremes.

    Yup! Climate is weather. Climatology is the study of changes in weather over a period(s) of time and region(s). So climate change is actually weather change. So claiming that weather is effected by climate is either bad science or bad logic.

    To say there are anthropogenic influences in climate is acceptance of an obvious fact. LAND USE impact(s) is one of the major adjustments in the temperature calculations. Almost no one questions whether man has an influence on local climate conditions. Framing arguments around this issue is clearly a strawman.

    Basing an article about science based upon evidence in news articles while ignoring the science or using such ill-defined terms is the thinnest of arguments. But, that is where the issue stands, the data fails to support nearly all of the long standing predictions, and the science as demonstrated by the climate models.

    1. CoRev

      Menzie, when any and all extreme (and other) weather events are blamed upon Climate Change then any and all costs can and will be assigned to maximize the economic implications.

    1. Joe Clarkson

      Anonymous says, “Ocean levels have been rising steadily, with no spike anywhere, for thousands of years”

      The graph Anonymous linked to wouldn’t show anything less than several meters change in sea level. The y-axis is scaled such that the thickness of the data trend line is about a meter and the x-axis is 24,000 years . Try looking at this one …… It shows a little more detail.

  3. Bruce Hall

    Two points:
    1. If climate change = global warming, then one should ask if humans benefit from an environment of less cold and more plant growth or not.
    2. Although no one denies a warming trend from a cold period of the 1880s, one must ask if the models that predict the future course of climate have shown to be accurate.

    To the first point, deaths associated from cold are far greater than deaths associated from heat. Now talk about extremes is just that, talk. When one looks at the U.S., for example, local records are rife with measurement problems from changes in equipment to changes in site environment [grass to asphalt]. But even if one overlooks the obvious, the record for statewide extremes shows the opposite of this article: the recent decade was comparatively bereft of new statewide cold or hot extremes. Yes, it’s a “sampling” of the world, but one must understand that “global” temperature metrics have hardly been reliable until 3D atmospheric satellite measurements.

    Climate is not weather. Too many people apparently suffer a form of Alzheimer’s when it comes to extreme weather conditions.

    This is not an argument against conservation, deploying new technologies as they provide economic advantages, seeking alternative sources of energy that are reliable and distributable. Rather this is to caution against reading too much into the tea leaves.

    To the second point:

    To the second point

  4. Steven Kopits

    Not warmer in Princeton!

    So what exactly is the falsifiable thesis which tells us whether we have some sort of catastrophic climate change?

  5. baffling

    for those who continue to deny and challenge the climate model predictions, can you provide a model which does not suggest global warming but still accurately predicts the data shown the first graph menzie presented?

    if the private sector were to embrace climate change into their forecasting and economic models, would that make it easier for some of you to accept global warming as a real concern?

    1. anon and lazy

      Why should anyone take the predictions of climate models seriously when they systematically over-predict global temperatures. There was a time when Keynesians, like today’s global warming alarmists, bought into a crappy model (a stable Phillips curve tradeoff) even though the model systematically under-predicted inflation. It was a costly mistake for society….a decade plus of excessively high inflation with no reduction in unemployment……

      If the left claimed the world was flat –the ‘consensus’ of science at one time–Menzie would be putting up posts claiming a flat earth, and you would be lapping it up……one junk-science spoon full at a time.

      Bottom line, “If 50 million people believe a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.”

    2. CoRev

      Baffling asks: “can you provide a model which does not suggest global warming but still accurately predicts the data shown the first graph menzie presented?”
      No! They all show warming. Too much warming! Even the handful of conservative models are too high. Your key failure in the statement was to ask for accurately predicting, therefore the answer is NO! Pic is from here: “95% of Climate Models Agree: The Observations Must be Wrong” I would go with an actual Climatologist over some news articles.

      He also has this pertinent article:

      1. baffling

        the data, as seen in figure 1 by menzie, indicates rising temperatures. so again i will ask you if you can create a climate model that is accurate to the data at hand-rising temperatures-but can illustrate these are not long term trends that will reverse?

        you don’t like the current models, but you have none to illustrate better results. show me a viable climate model that defends your position. you have mistaken your “belief” with reality.

        most scientists are more than willing to change their view if presented with valid data and models. right now, the data and strongest models align with the global warming scenario. if you can develop a realistic model otherwise, people will listen. the problem is those realistic models do not exist. they tend to be based on assumptions which are not considered legitimate-hence they are not accepted by the scientific community.

        1. CoRev

          Baffling keeps asking a strange question: ” if you can create a climate model that is accurate to the data at hand-rising temperatures-but can illustrate these are not long term trends that will reverse? ” My answer: why model the data? Or are you asking me to create my own mode? My answer: No. Why would I? My modeling ability is not the issue, the validity of the existing models and their divergence from temp data is one of the issue.

          Do you actually disbelieve this long term data? Do I believe that the warming trend will reverse? Absolutely! Another glaciation is nearly due. Let’s just hope this is not the start of it. I do not believe it is quite time, but looking at the chat I provided above, there have been extended periods of both warming and cooling. Most of the peaks have been higher than today during the Holocene.

          Baffled, most believers are deceived by thinking 64 years, Menzie’s Fig 1, is actually long term. The shorter ocean cycles, PDO and AMO, etc are ~60 years in length, and Menzies’s graph covers the equivalent of just one of those cycles. (Note: Menzie’s 64 year time frame does not represent either the PDO nor AMO in the data.) Even the ~135 year measured temperature record can not be considered long term, as there is also a ~1,000 year cycle

          There is much still to be defined in climatology, and man’s influence is foremost in the list of ill-defined areas.

          1. baffling

            “I do not believe it is quite time”
            instead of running on faith, just create a model that captures the data. we do have models that have been capturing the trend of rising temp. you keep harping on this 17 year holding pattern, but as menzie so elegantly captures in his description of figure 1, once you account for el nino and la nina temperature cycles, the temperature trend is still rising per year. this is the advantage of models, they provide you with insight into what is happening.

    1. anon and lazy

      Patrick–the optimal climate is that climate which maximizes government grant money for the global warming alarmists crowd.

  6. baffling

    anonymous and xo poa,
    what makes you think we have reached the point where sea water rise is accelerating? right now the warming is melting ice already in the sea-this does nothing to raise the sea level. this is why you glass of iced tea does not overflow when the ice melts. only when warming is great enough to melt the land locked ice sheets will we have a rising sea level problem. the idea is to stop the warming before that happens. your “lack of evidence” argument indicates a lack of understanding on how sea level will be affected by global warming events-or are you being intentionally deceitful?

  7. Walt French

    The science behind anthropogenic climate change is just irrefutable: we’re pumping lots of CO2 into the air that was previously sequestered; that creates a greenhouse effect that is not terribly hard to quantify.

    The distributional effects — what areas will get wetter or drier, for example — are very much more complicated problems. I’m not surprised that the uncertainty gets short or long shrift on opposite sides of the political fence. Weather events may have become LESS of an economic impact to world GDP over the past 15 years, for example, which may be a side effect of many other human behaviors, but is hard to disagree with if we look at hurricane landfalls.

    But where there is an unquestionable economic issue is that we have badly incomplete markets for weather: a coal-burning steel mill in China increases CO2 without compensating me for doing so. Yes, my next auto transmission (or Bay Area bridge) might result from that mill, but the Bangladeshi who’s likely to have his property inundated enjoys only being evicted, but approximately zero percent of the profits — it’s a forced transfer of well-being.

    A global carbon exchange and global exchange price would give actual cash incentives to keep or bolster rain forests instead of cutting them for cash crops, and would drive the least economically-efficient uses of carbon out of circulation. It would incent new technologies and prevent/forestall more drastic limits.

    I’m not claiming that my own lifestyle doesn’t generate a fair amount of CO2, I’m asking to pay the same amount that all other CO2 generators do, to those whose nations or individual efforts soak up the CO2, so that individual preferences realistically reflect what the world’s citizenry wants. All that I’m asking for is a truly free and fair market in pollution, versus robber barons who take my fresh air without compensation.

    1. CoRev

      Walt French asserts: “The science behind anthropogenic climate change is just irrefutable: we’re pumping lots of CO2 into the air that was previously sequestered; that creates a greenhouse effect that is not terribly hard to quantify.” In fact that is where much of the current science is concentrating. Latest studies are trying to explain where the warming has gone in the Average Surface Temperature Measurement data. The longest hiatus is shown in the RSS satellite data at ~17 years 6 months. The science is represented in the climate models and none of them anticipated this hiatus.

      So not only difficult to quantify and to date the warming estimates are wrong.

  8. anon2


    I’m am always amazed by the climate denial crowd.

    But every time I research one argument or another against anthropomorphic climate change it evaporates before my eyes like dew in the morning. When Richard Muller, a climate change denier and Koch funded researcher, declared that anthropomorphic climate change was real that was it for me.

    Steven Kopits should actually support creating the new energy sources needed to keep this grand civilization going. He knows that we are currently supply constrained in oil. Even if he thinks anthropomorphic climate change is wrong, finding new energy sources is still critical to the future of our economies.

    Well, maybe Julian Simon will save us all.

    Oh, wait, he’s dead.

    1. CoRev

      Anon2, who has denied climate? You do realize Richard Muller, only studied the the land data with BEST.

  9. 2slugbaits

    CoRev Are extreme weather events increasing in either number or intensity?

    What part of the NOAA link showing an increase in extreme events did you not understand?

    Anonymous Ocean levels have been rising steadily, with no spike anywhere, for thousands of years.

    Quick, what’s the high school formula for the volume of a sphere? If your chart shows a linear relationship of sea levels over time, then this means the volume of sea water is increasing at an increasing rate. If the volume of sea water were growing constantly, then sea levels growth would appear as a logarithmic curve, not a straight line. So thanks for posting that chart…it goes a long way towards undercutting your own argument.

    BTW, the answer is (4/3)*(pi)*r^3

    Bruce Hall Most people are not alarmed about the temperature increase from 1880 up until now. You could make a case that if you’re an American living in the early 21st century, then on balance a warmer climate has been a plus. I wouldn’t make that case if I lived in Africa or Bangladesh, but for us lucky Americans global warming so far has been a good news story for many. But the warmer climate we’re enjoying today is a result of the CO2 that was released into the atmosphere back when Henry Ford started rolling his first Model T’s off the assembly line. CO2 hangs in the atmosphere for at least 100 years. It’s effects build up over time. The concern that climate scientists have is how our CO2 emissions today will affect our grandchildren’s grandchildren. Given current CO2 trends there is roughly a 5% chance that average global temperatures increases 18 degrees Fahrenheit in 200 years. That does not mean a 60 degree day will be an even more pleasant 78 degree day. It means the global average will increase by 18 degrees. In other words, there is a 5% chance that generations living in North America 200 years from now will experience daytime temperatures in excess of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. We cannot imagine civilization with those kinds of temperatures. That’s the real problem, not today’s minor inconvenience of having to turn the air conditioner up to 11 on a few July days.

    Steven Kopits Remember the old saying that you cannot get a man to believe something if his paycheck depends on him not believing it? I’m afraid you may be a case in point. First, the very cold temperatures in the eastern half of the country are almost certainly due to climate change. Not all cold winter are, but this one actually does have a very real climate change explanation. The very warm Arctic waters have created very unstable winds around the Arctic circle, and this has caused very strong cold air masses over Canada to move down into the US. At the same time, those winds have also blocked moist air from reaching the western half of the country. So the fact that it’s cold in Princeton is not evidence against global warming. There’s also flooding in England. Second, you linked to a Dr. Roy Spencer graph. Now I know Roy Spencer. He knows a lot about rockets and weather in the troposphere. He’ll talk your ear off about why it’s better to launch satellites from the equator than south Florida. And for those of us who travel to Huntsville on a paltry government TDY per diem, his dinner tastes can be a bit rich for our tastes. But Dr Spencer doesn’t know a damn thing about time series analysis. If he did I wouldn’t have to occasionally come down and teach some of his grad students. You should also be very skeptical about which climate models he selected. For example, were they models from the 1970s? Note the start dates on the graph. Be very suspicious. Most climate scientists point to models that under-predicted temperature increases. That’s certain the case with the NOAA models and with Jim Hanson.

    Menzie On the economic side, there are those who disagree with Nordhaus’ cost/benefit analysis approach. For example, Marty Weitzman argues in “On Modeling and Interpreting the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change,” The Review of Economics and Statistics, Feb 2009, that a Nordhaus style cost/benefit analysis is usually based on a thin-tailed probability distribution in which you can safely ignore the tails. Weitzman shows that uncertain structural parameters about climate change lead to fat-tail distributions, and that these have very different consequences for cost/benefit studies. Basically, you can’t do a cost/benefit analysis that includes the extreme tail events. I’ve always found Weitzman’s arguments very convincing.

    1. CoRev

      2slugs, i know you try, but asking which part of the NOAA CEI data showing an increase in extreme events did you not understand is just again arrogant. NOAA says this: “The U.S. CEI is the arithmetic average of the following five or six# indicators of the percentage of the conterminous U.S. area:… and then goes on to define … The sum of (a) percentage of the United States…” You can infer an increase in extreme events if you wish, but since this is actually an index and not an analysis of events, be a little careful.

      BTW, maybe you can explain why Menzie showed a NOAA chart with % Contiguous US WITHOUT Tropical Cyclone Indicator?

  10. Anonymous


    have you measured the increase in photosynthetic activity when additional carbon dioxide is in the air? Or do you think that plants are immune to increasing their numbers when additional amounts of their key foods are available?

    You’ll never get the entire globe to agree on limiting CO2.

  11. Anonymous


    ” only when warming is great enough to melt the land locked ice sheets will we have a rising sea level problem.”

    you seem dumb. Water expands when it is warmed and this accounts for at least 50% of the rising sea level. Please don’t bother commenting on things you have absolutely no clue about.

    1. baffling

      of course water expands when heated. and that has produced the small increases in sea level we have seen over the past hundred years. but the potential exists for multiple meter rise in sea level in the coming decades or centuries. this increase is not dominated by water expansion. it is dominated by multiple mile thick ice sheets in greenland and antarctica which melt and add significant volume to the existing sea water. so before you call somebody dumb, maybe you ought to get your facts straight. at this point, you have shown yourself to be completely ignorant on the topic of the effects of global warming. you really should take some time off and educate yourself before returning to troll on this blog.

  12. binky bear
    the old plants love co2 story:

    If it matters it is a common cognitive failure, like global warming should just make everything warmer, right? and If global warming is a thing then why is it cold in Buffalo today?

    1. CoRev

      Baffling, instead of being called dumb maybe ignorant is better. You comment: ” …but the potential exists for multiple meter rise in sea level in the coming decades or centuries” Decades and centuries? Please show us in the records where this has EVER happened.

      You also want us to believe that Menzies’s elegant Figure 1: ” once you account for el nino and la nina temperature cycles, the temperature trend is still rising per year.” Accounts for? The best it did was highlight the years in the very short period covered by the graph. That’s a long way from account for.

      You should have read the RC article where it indicates that much of the warming is from ENSO events. “NASA shows the following graphic, where you can see that the warmer years tend to be those with an El Niño in the tropical Pacific (red years), while the particularly cool years are those with La Niña (blue years).” Where’s/what’s the anthropogenic influence in ENSO? Where’s the other natural influences highlighted on the NOAA graph.

      Once those other natural impacts on warming are actually identified and estimated, then they can be accounted for. Until then we will see repeated demonstrations of how poor the models which do represent the current climate science are performing, and the 17+ year hiatus will be demonstrated as the tell tale for the ineptitude of their predictions.

      Blind belief ignoring the data turns the AGW dominates the warming theory from science to cult religious belief.

      1. baffling

        out of curiosity do you have any idea how much the sea level changed during the end of the last glacial ice age?

        this was caused by land locked glacial melt into the ocean. you want sea levels to rise at a rapid pace, then continue to contribute to the warming process. you want to slow it down, then cut back on your emissions to the process. you may not be able to influence natural contributions to the melt rate, but you sure as heck can influence man made contributions. its equivalent to pouring gasoline on a fire.

        “Once those other natural impacts on warming are actually identified and estimated, then they can be accounted for. ”
        you don’t believe a bullet to the head is deadly. it must be proven conclusively before you will consider it. that is your view on climate change!

        1. CoRev

          Baffled, you seem unable to argue the specific point so bring up some absurd example. Absurd, because you claimed the sea could have a multiple meter rise in decades to centuries. What do you provide as history, the sea rise as the planet came out of the last glaciation, which took not decades but MANY centuries to millenia. That’s far from the temporal low end decades and centuries. Show us how that same temperature and sea rise is evident in this picture or this from Vostok I want you to notice the interglacial trend pattern in the Vostok data.

          You seem to believe without question that 100% of the warming in the Average Surface Temperature Measurement Records is from CO2 (Your bullet in the head?) How much warming do you calculate is from the ~3% of that total ACO2 (or is this your bullet in the head?) making up the atmospheric CO2? Equating a bullet in the head to a slight rise in ACO2, when reality is: That bullet seems to have misfired or is it just over rated.

          1. baffling

            it seems you have a difficult time with numbers. an average slope on the graph during the last glacial melt is around 1.5 meters per century. and since this occurred over many centuries, the result was over 100 meter change in sea level during that glacial melt. so during a glacial melt you can easily have a multiple meter rise in centuries (note plural-must i define this for you?) and what do you call the continental ice sheets sitting on greenland and antarctica?

            “you seem to believe without question that 100% of the warming in the Average Surface Temperature Measurement Records is from CO2″
            i have made no such statement-this is your straw man argument when you back yourself into a corner with stupid statements.

            corev, it is very tiring to constantly correct you on the facts and discussions. same with anonymous. you let your ideology blind you to the facts.

          2. CoRev

            Baffled, you must be kidding. here’s NOAA’s chart. Here’s the numbers;1) length 20,000 years, 2) total rise 120M. Do the math and report back.

            Even your earlier Wiki reference: shows the same sea rise with a slightly short time frame, (by eyeball ~16-17,000 years). So without reference you make outlandish claims. From your own reference and mine I conclude you either do not read, use logic or do reasonable math.

            You seem more interested in gratuitous disputation than open discussion. Before I called you ignorant, now I must add deliberately disingenuous. Here’s a hint re: my math question above, depending on which time frame used in the above references, the century totals average ~.6 to .7M. Appearing math challenged, I shall help you, an actual calculation makes it a fraction of your estimated ~1.5M/century.

          3. baffling

            it appears i am dealing with somebody who has never taken a calculus class, and also does not know how to read data. you don’t take an average of an entire time period when you have multiple slopes indicating differing behavior. you take averages over common phenomena. as i stated, the average during the last glacial melt, which occurred from about 15,000 years ago to about 8000 years ago, resulting in about a 100 m change in sea level. this produces about 1.42 meter per century change in water level, nearly constant over 7000 years. it is foolish to include data before and after those time periods as it is obvious other factors play a part. so i just demonstrated a 7000 year nearly constant rate of change-a constant derivative over that time period. you questioned whether this rate was possible-and i demonstrated it clearly is possible.

            you wanting to use 20,000 years and 120 m as the date points for a slope is simply stupid when you look at the data. nobody in their right mind would calculate an average slope over that time domain. again it is becoming tiring to respond to such stupid drivel.

          4. CoRev

            Baffled, at least you defined how you got your numbers, As usual it was a Baffled-unique approach requiring intuition to decipher. The data actually available in your Wiki reference was: “The lowest point of sea level during the last glaciation is not well constrained by observations (shown here as a dashed curve), but is generally argued to be approximately 130 +/- 10 m below present sea level and to have occurred at approximately 22 +/- 3 thousand years ago.”

            Remembering your original assertion: “do you have any idea how much the sea level changed during the end of the last glacial ice age?” End of last glacial age from your reference – approximately 22 +/- 3 thousand years ago” and your time frame assertion: “multiple meter rise in sea level in the coming decades or centuries”.

            So far you have ignored the decades time frame. Why is clear. To support your centuries time frame you had to torture the data to make it fit.

          5. baffling

            10 decades makes a single century. 15 decades at 1.42 meters/century produces over 2 meter rise in sea level-that is well within the meaning of my statements for any rational person. the major point, which you tried to ignore, is significant changes can even occur within the lifespan of a person-change does not require thousands or even tens of thousands of years. 1-2 meter rise is significant in and of itself.

            face it, you became long winded and wound up, all while being wrong in your statements. you are soooo caught up in your ideology that logic seems to escape you.

  13. Rick Stryker

    Is this the scientifically challenged blog? I thought Nordhaus’s piece was particularly uninformed. I’ll try to keep it simple and go slowly.

    What is the scientific consensus on global warming? Nothing more than…

    1. The earth has warmed about 0.8 C since about the late 19th century
    2. The concentration of greenhouse gases has increased in the atmosphere
    3. Other things equal, greenhouse gasses produce a rising temperature through the greenhouse effect
    4. Some of the release of greenhouse gases was produced by man
    5. Therefore, some global warming is man made

    OK. Stop. End of consensus. Now we get to the contentious part. How much do those 5 statements matter?

    Unfortunately, things can be more complicated than the simple greenhouse effect. There can also be positive and negative feedback that can exacerbate or ameliorate the temperature gain. The typical example of a positive feedback is a situation in which a rising temperature produces water vapor that increases the cloud cover, trapping the radiation bouncing off the earth. All the alarmism is about the positive feedback effects being large enough to produce serious temperature increases. How do they alarmists make this leap from the scientific consensus?

    Here’s how. The climate scientists build these very ambitious, complex models that describe the changes in the atmosphere from the physical environment. When these models are fitted to the temperature data that we have, these models must introduce positive feedback effects to match the temperature record that has been observed over the past 100 years or so.

    Now, these scientists take these models and then project them forward with the same positive feedback built in and voila—they get alarming global warming.

    That’s where the alarmism comes from in a nutshell.

    To understand what the skeptics are saying, you just have to understand what’s wrong with the alarmist argument. Here it comes. I’m going to make it very clear for the alarmists so they can understand:


    You see, in science, you don’t prove the theory by showing that it describes the existing observations. You prove the theory by showing that it predicts data that haven’t been observed.

    And that’s the problem that the scientists in the WSJ were pointing to and that Nordhaus failed to understand. Have these global climate models demonstrated their accuracy by predicting something out of sample? On the contrary. Over the last 10 years, we’ve had no rise in temperature despite CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere and despite the alleged positive feedback effects. The global climate models would be a lot more credible if any of them had managed to predict the recent lull in temperature.

    So, yes, there is a scientific consensus. The science is settled on some basic facts. But the science is not settled on whether the global climate models are correct. And therefore the science is not settled on whether global warming is really a problem. Right now, global warming alarmism is just speculation. We don’t need to do anything.

    1. baffling

      scientists have been producing some very fundamental models with a variety of fidelity to capture the multiscale time and length effects related to global warming. every day they are improving the capability of those models. and the models trend toward man made warming effects. the models do not trend the other way. now perhaps you do not like the models-that is your opinion-but they do exist and are the best tools we have available today to anticipate the future effects. you view is the models are not extremely accurate so therefore the premise they could even capture trends is impossible. therefore the opposite of those model predictions must be the correct answer! as i have asked before, provide some legitimate models that indicate we are not affecting global climate. lets see what they predict and evaluate their performance as well. but these models are few and far between.

      you can be critical of global warming all you want, but then you need to provide an alternative model on the influence of carbon et al on global climate change.

      1. Hans

        The climate scientests have been changing their expert models so much, that their molding
        machine has broken down…

        There has been no temperature increase since 1999…Our climate and environment is so
        complex, only one man knows the answers.

      2. CoRev

        Baffling, maybe you missed my earlier link: This is what he starts his article with: “I’m seeing a lot of wrangling over the recent (15+ year) pause in global average warming…when did it start, is it a full pause, shouldn’t we be taking the longer view, etc.

        These are all interesting exercises, but they miss the most important point: the climate models that governments base policy decisions on have failed miserably. (My bolds) What you just said was the models trump the data! Nope! Not in science, but only in a AGW zealot’s mind.

        BTW, this same story has been true for the whole life of the models, because they did not account for a warming hiatus caused by natural factors. Accordingly their predictive capability is as Dr Spencer says have failed miserably. They are weighted too heavily towards AGW forcings and not enough on natural global warming and cooling. Your blind faith in the models is misplaced, because of their many failures.

        Asking others to model is misdirections. Since the current science represented in the models is wrong, what would you have us model? Saying that, i would use a models with higher natural forcings leaning towards ENSO, AMO, PDO etc sea cycles over an underlying anthropogenic forcings in the low double digit percentages.

        1. baffling

          “Since the current science represented in the models is wrong”
          this is an incorrect statement. the basic science is correct. the relative contributions from each source may need to be modified-that is how scientific theory progresses. as we obtain more knowledge, we improve our models. you state as much when you said you would use models with higher natural forcing functions. so let’s create such models and see if they work. they could be even lousier than the models you simply detest!

          it is completely unfair to say because a particular model is imperfect, none of its inputs are valid parameters. you really do need to spend a little less time on politics and more time understanding how scientific research is conducted.

          you say the models have “failed miserably”. show me the proof. i think you have a poor metric for defining “failed miserably”.

          1. CoRev

            Baffling, you really do need to read the references. You claim i said: “you say the models have “failed miserably”. show me the proof. i think you have a poor metric for defining “failed miserably”.” Dr Roy Spence, a climatologist with high credentials, and one to the key analysts providing the UAH satellite temperature measurement says it. And its not one model but 90 of the 95 models used in CMIP5, the standardized model set used for the current about to be released IPCC AR5.

            Look at the references before you continue misstating.

          2. baffling

            the reference states the models overestimate the measured data-although as i said there is a question on what exactly is being measured and reported in the models. however, there is no context given on the magnitude of the error-hence it is rather difficult to assess the magnitude of the “failed miserably” statement. furthermore, don’t you think a reference who is marketing his own controversial climate book for sale may not provide the most unbiased statement on the topic? kind of like the faux news people when they offer up books for sale on the state of the nation-think they aren’t drumming up sales support?

    2. Jonathan Goldberg

      It’s true that models are less reliable out of the range of the sample data. However, I’d like to point out two things. 1) Our confidence in our models is based not only on the data but also on our understanding of the basic physics involved. 2) Just because a model fits in sample does not mean it will NOT predict out of sample.

      And since the consequences of failure to act if the predictions are accurate are horrendous many of us don’t want to take the chance. For myself, I’d need a great deal of confidence that the models are wrong out of sample to countenance not acting. The is a decision problem, not an exercise in hypothesis testing. As between the two contexts the rules are different. Waiting for certainty to act runs risks I consider unacceptable.

      1. CoRev

        Jonah, belief in models that get the physic right, but predicts out of sample is crazy for making policy. Your follow on comment re: “the consequences of failure to act if the predictions are accurate are horrendous” is almost totally unsupported. When it is supported, it is by those self same dubious models.

        1. Anonymous

          The consequences are exactly what models get wrong.

          The feedbacks simply don’t exist on the levels on which catastrophes are dependent and can’t happen at the rates where they are a problem since the economics aren’t meaningful on the huge time scales over which global temperatures will change.

  14. John Williams

    If you want to find out whether there is a scientific consensus (which does not mean unanimity) on anthropogenic climate change, go to a scientific meetings and listen. You will hear a lot of talks about the effects of anthropogenic warming, but piddling few if any about whether it is happening.

    1. anon and lazy

      Would prefer some real evidence in support of anthropogenic global warming, something that is in short supply at most climate (snicker, snicker) ‘science’ meetings. Going to climate science meetings is like going to the White House for an objective discussion of AGW.

    2. JL

      That’s the best comment, so far.
      Exactly, as I have experienced.

      The GW guys live in their world of models and are afraid that reality is stopping by (so their grants might be cancelled).

  15. Bruce Hall

    2slug: “Given current CO2 trends there is roughly a 5% chance that average global temperatures increases 18 degrees Fahrenheit in 200 years. That does not mean a 60 degree day will be an even more pleasant 78 degree day. It means the global average will increase by 18 degrees. In other words, there is a 5% chance that generations living in North America 200 years from now will experience daytime temperatures in excess of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. We cannot imagine civilization with those kinds of temperatures. That’s the real problem, not today’s minor inconvenience of having to turn the air conditioner up to 11 on a few July days.”

    I’d have to predict that there will be a 97% consensus that your extrapolation is the greatest climate BS written to date.

      1. Bruce Hall

        From my initial post on this thread: To the second point:

        When your model output is this bad relative to observation, you don’t blame the observations… and you certainly don’t attempt anything close to a 200-year projection and hope there is anything meaningful in that projection. Furthermore, you certainly don’t create economic policy based on such tripe… unless, of course, you really don’t care whether your policy is scientifically sound as long as it meets your political agenda.

        1. baffling

          you should note the trends are captured fairly well. now i have to ask you, how exact do you expect the results to be? what is the measurement of the models-surface or troposhere values? or something else? how big is the error compared to the predicted temperature itself? i think you should really reassess what is defined as a significant error.

          there is no blaming observation. but you certainly must reconcile what measurement is being compared to what model output. and trend similarity supports these models have captured some of the trend. you cannot look for perfection and define failure as anything less-science does not work that way.

  16. baffling

    “So, it appears no one wants to venture even a guess as to what the optimal climate is.”
    we are not looking for that answer. we want to know the economic cost of changing from the existing climate, about which our entire human infrastructure has been built. and if there is a significant cost to that change, and we are accelerating that cost, who pays for it?

    1. Patrick R. Sullivan

      ‘… we want to know the economic cost of changing from the existing climate, about which our entire human infrastructure has been built….’

      Remind me again what the consensus is among economists, about sunk costs?

      Then tell me why you aren’t trying to find out what the benefits from climate change would be.

      1. aaron

        And more over, identify the changes to take advantage of them.

        The idea that subtle change over generations is certain to be bad is ridiculous. What we assume to be costs can easily be turned into benefits.

        1. CoRev

          Aaron and finally someone has hit on the foundational pillar of the AGW alarmism, warming is bad. We have a long history disputing that, while a just as long history supporting cooling is bad. Worse they then take a good gas, CO2, and make it bad. Can someone help with the logic and scientific evidence supporting that logic?


          1. baffling

            corev, too much of a good thing can be bad. i would imagine you believe oxygen is a great molecule. ask the crew of apollo 1 if too much oxygen is a good thing. hint-too much oxygen burned up the capsule and killed them. and if that capsule had been full of co2? their outcome would have been the same, although much less dramatic.

            these are simple examples of 2 good gases gone bad. its really not hard to believe that on a worldwide scale, too much of a gas could have harmful effects as well.

            just like your question on why “warming is bad.” warming itself is not bad. too much warming (or even cooling) will be bad. until we know how much is too much, perhaps we should not continue to warm the pot?

          2. CoRev

            Baffled, where do you get: “too much of a good thing can be bad.” there will be too much warming? There’s no historical evidence, no paleo record. The only place it exist is in the minds of men reliant on flawed models.

  17. Braden

    I always think it’s particularly funny when economists start talking about climate models and predictability. Here’s a cliff-notes version of an undergraduate atmospheric science class on the greenhouse effect:

    1) Light is absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere primarily in the visible light spectrum.
    2) Because the Earth must maintain radiative balance, the Earth emits, at a lower temperature, energy into space, primarily in the infrared spectrum.
    3) Certain triatomic particles, such as CO2 and H2O, more easily absorb infrared energy.
    4) CO2 and H2O are concentrated in the atmosphere in a small area less than 5 km above the Earth’s surface.
    5) When the concentration of CO2 rises in the Earth’s atmosphere, the Earth’s surface temperatures begin to rise.

    This isn’t science that requires a climate model. You could demonstrate this result with your four-year-old, a heat lamp, and a half-filled basin of water. Now, maybe you all are aware of a global conspiracy to falsify CO2 and temperature readings of the Earth’s atmosphere, but last time I checked both were rising rapidly. For awhile, some scientists were puzzled about why THE RATE of surface temperature increase over the past ten years appeared to slow. It turns out, there’s two very compelling, empirically verifiable reasons. First, the oceans were absorbing more of the atmosphere’s energy. Ocean temperature increases appear small, but they’re actually massive when you consider the scale of the object being heated. And, comparisons with the historic record show that this is true. The rate of ocean warming currently taking place is faster than at any time since about 10,000 years ago (and perhaps even further back).

    Second, the global measurement of surface temperature used in most climate models depends on observations from weather stations placed throughout the Earth. Unfortunately, there’s fewer stations in the Arctic. The Arctic has been experiencing abnormally high temperatures over the past decade. When you compensate for the lack of weather stations in the region by substituting satellite data, the apparent “hiatus” disappears, and, in fact, surface temperatures have been rising even faster than climate models would predict.

    There’s some vigorous disagreement between climate scientists about whether the Earth will become inhabitable for human life sometime around 6 or 7 degrees Celsius or 9 or 8 degrees, or about whether we’ll reach such temperatures by 2050, 2100, or 2150, but there’s no doubt that temperatures will rise with the concentration of CO2. To suggest otherwise is to be ignorant, obtuse, or a liar.

    1. CoRev

      Braden’s simple explanation of global warming misses one significant factor, the Seas actually receive and STORE upwards of 97% of the solar energy received. Braden also, without reference, makes claims that the: ” The rate of ocean warming currently taking place is faster than at any time since about 10,000 years ago (and perhaps even further back).” Really? Show us the study(s) so that they can be evaluated.

      Even though he gives lip service to the Oceans’ heat storage capability, he forgets the time frames for that storage. Oceans store their heat energy for decades, centuries, and even millenia. The oceans give up the bulk of their heat in forming ice. When and where does that happen ??? Anyone???

      What Braden has demonstrated how over simplifying a complex and chaotic environment gets us into these exaggerated predictions. “There’s some vigorous disagreement between climate scientists about whether the Earth will become inhabitable for human life sometime around 6 or 7 degrees Celsius or 9 or 8 degrees, or about whether we’ll reach such temperatures by 2050, 2100, or 2150, but there’s no doubt that temperatures will rise with the concentration of CO2.”

      To suggest that the planet’s AVERAGE TEMPERATURE is warmed only by the GHE and not by oceans relies on his too simple explanation. “To suggest otherwise is to be ignorant, obtuse, or a liar.”

      1. Braden

        Ask and ye shall receive:

        Research on how natural variability, including the impact of El Nino/La Nina, is almost entirely responsible for the so-called “hiatus”:

        Research on how the oceans are heating at a faster rate than anytime in the past 10,000 years:

        Research on the measurement problems created by missing Arctic weather stations:

        The observed hiatus registers as a pause in the 5-year mean of global temperature increases. There have been similar pauses in the five-year running average. ( Natural variability in the Earth’s climate, such as releases of aerosols into the atmosphere, changes in wind patterns, or the effects of La Nina/El Nino often cause global temperatures to fall.

        I make my arguments simple because the underlying mechanism producing the greenhouse gas effect is that simple. More CO2 in the atmosphere will, all things being equal, produce greater warming of the Earth’s atmosphere. That statement is about as definitive as science gets. It’s similar to saying that water will freeze when the temperature falls below 32 degrees F. It’s capable of being demonstrated experimentally, as well as through evidence of real-world rises in CO2 in Earth’s geologic history.

        We’re not being hyperbolic. A rise in global temperature is guaranteed to take place if CO2 emissions continue at their current pace.

        1. CoRev

          Braden, don’cha just love the F&R analysis? SkS does to the point that they use it in their tool. What does the tool show us? Trend: -0.001 ±0.193 °C/decade (2σ)
          β=-0.00013903 σw=0.0023394 ν=17.075 σc=σw√ν=0.0096671

          Don’t play the cherry picking game of cherry picking the dataset. You just cherry picked the GISTEMP data set AND the 5 year running average time frame by cutting off the last 5 years from a 1-1.5+ decade trend. And, even your paraphrase from the Hansen paper reference admits two things 1) existence of the hiatus, and 2) that natural forces are significant in determining average surface temperature change. The SkS data above show us that they dominate GFE during the referenced period.

          Your 2nd reference does not support your contention of: “Research on how the oceans are heating at a faster rate than anytime in the past 10,000 years:” but does support that a relatively small portion of the Pacific might have heating at a faster rate. That’s a far stretch form you claim.

          Your 3rd reference cites the C&W approach for calculating average surface temperatures using statistical/mathematical approaches that are still to be accepted and proven appropriate. There are numerous claims against the C&W approach, so we must see if it stands the test of time and science.

          Instead of supporting your contention of the importance of the GHE in the models you have diminished its importance. The models trends are diverging from observed trends. What does that tell us re: the quality of the model trend? Its not good. Moreover, you have shown us that the AGW portion of the models is overstated.

          But, with this science we have questions, like Menzie’s, re: the costs associated with GW impacted weather events? My asnwser is still the same, with the science so unsettled, we can only say any and all cost CAN BE ASSIGNED to GW. The amount assigned to AGW not well defined at all.

          1. CoRev

            I forgot to include the factors used in the SkS tool example. They were for RSS from 1996.7. That’s a whole month later than the WFT tool, the hiatus starts in 1996.6.

    2. aaron

      “When you compensate for the lack of weather stations in the region by substituting satellite data, the apparent “hiatus” disappears, and, in fact, surface temperatures have been rising even faster than climate models would predict.”

      You are thinking of a study that did a reanalysis. They used overlap of satellite and station data to develop a model and used the model to guess what the temperature was where there is no station or satellite data.

      Basically, they assumed that heat was in the surface in places which were unobserved and developed a plausible scenario where this could be true.

      1. aaron

        Not to say I they are wrong, just that they have developed a reasonable hypothesis and not actually shown what is happening.

        What I do think they get wrong is how and why the arctic has warmed. There isn’t a good reason to think that the heat of GHGs, plus positive feedbacks, would primarily be channeled into the arctic. On top of that, there is good evidence that arctic warming/ice melt is cyclical (ice is melting from the bottom up rather than top down and correlates with PDO and AMO indexes).

        The basics of thermodynamics tell us that the GHE dumping into the arctic should not happen. The GHE is diffuse over the surface of the earth and much of the height of the atmosphere. It will raise temps more at night and in cool spots, but not to the extent of arctic ice melt and warming. Because the ice is melting and the heat is coming from the sea (and we are quite confident that this happens often and naturally), it suggests that feedbacks from the arctic are BS. Otherwise we’d see warming outside of the arctic due to arctic warming.

        1. aaron

          “The basics of thermodynamics tell us that the GHE dumping into the arctic should not happen.”

          Sorry, this one statement is simply not true. Heat moves to cold, and convection allows heat to move more quickly to the arctic. But yeah, the points remain: there is no spike in methane emission from the arctic, no heat from albedo change melting glaciers at phenomenal rates, no huge increase of water vapor in the high troposphere…

      2. aaron

        Here is a discussion of the implications of the analysis:

        Basically, if they are right, the feedbacks high sensitivity models depend on are wrong.

        Here’s another interesting reanalysis which suggests the earth has been losing heat for a good part of the last decade.

  18. Braden

    Oh, and as for the optimal climate crazies. Here’s a good metric. If daytime and nighttime wet-bulb temperatures exceed 95 degrees F for a prolonged period (wet bulb temperature being the temperature a parcel of air would have if it were cooled to saturation by the evaporation of water), humans will begin to die of hypothermia. With a 7 degree C increase, wet bulb temperatures of 95 degrees F will become common in certain areas of Earth making life unsustainable. With a 10 to 12 degree rise, almost all of Australia, all of the American southeast, all of India, and most of South America would become uninhabitable for humans, and by uninhabitable, I don’t mean uncomfortable, but deadly. And that’s just an average temperature. Many other parts of the Earth’s surface would be uninhabitable for humans on a seasonal basis. Even Siberia would have wet bulb temperatures close to current tropical temperatures.

    So here’s an optimal climate. At least below 7 degrees Celsius. I might set the bar a little lower so that, you know, billions don’t die from starvation and coastal flooding, but I’m a humanist I guess.

  19. 2slugbaits

    Bruce Hall I’d have to predict that there will be a 97% consensus that your extrapolation is the greatest climate BS written to date.

    Is that your Bayesian prior? BTW, the 5% chance of an 18F degree rise wasn’t something I made up. It comes from climate models where the mean keeps sliding to the right and adding weight to the prior normal.

    CoRev NOAA does not claim that global warming increases the number of North Atlantic hurricanes, which account for most of the world’s cyclonic events. NOAA’s preferred model says that the number of these events is likely to fall, but the number of extreme category 4 and 5 hurricanes will increase. The NOAA site explains why.

    anon and lazy First, I must compliment you on your justly earned moniker. I’ll assume for the moment that you really believe the nonsense you post and that you’re not just saying outrageously stupid stuff for the strategic purpose of trying to make global warming deniers look especially dumb. On to your question. There is plenty of evidence that CO2 will warm the atmosphere. The reasons go back to quantum mechanics and the way CO2 molecules “vibrate” when excited by the light spectrum at specific wavelengths due to the angles separating the two hydrogen and one oxygen atoms. You can measure the response in the lab. That is not in dispute unless your name is CoRev. The tricky part has to do with the earth’s climate response. That’s where the climate modeling comes in. The earth can absorb a lot of heat, but once warming inertia gets going it is very hard to stop. And for reasons having to do with astronomy and very gradual changes in the distance between the sun and the earth, one of the very powerful but finely balanced natural forces that tended to unwind warming cycles tens of millions of years ago is no longer in play. And that’s important because while various climate models all predict different levels of warming, all of them predict that within a century we will blow past the warmest temperatures experienced over the last 100 million years. So there’s no “reset” button available if we allow warming inertia to get rolling. The problem is that by the time we know with certainty that global warming inertia has already happened, it will be 100 years too late. At that point the earth is quite literally doomed and there is no off ramp. There is plenty of uncertainty about the earth’s climate response to CO2. And I am using “uncertainty” in the Knightian sense meaning uncertainty about the mean parameters in the structural model rather than using uncertainty in the sense of variability around a well estimated mean. It’s because of Knightian uncertainty about earth’s climate response that we have to approach things very gingerly. And we should because the risks are highly asymmetric. Suppose we erroneously overestimate the effects of CO2 and things aren’t as bad as some of us think, but policy makers go ahead and enact an aggressive “green” program. The cost will be a couple of percentage points of GDP over the next “x” number of years at the most. That’s not trivial, but it’s something we could live with. But suppose we decide that global warming is a hoax, so we’re going to party like there’s no tomorrow. Then we find out (too late) that we guessed wrong and those “alarmists” were right all along. The cost of being wrong on that side of the bet is inconceivably awful. In the end it all comes down to whether or not you give a fig about future generations. Deep down in the ugly recesses of their id, most global warming deniers don’t really care what happens 200 years from now if it means doing something about it would inconvenience them in the slightest. That’s probably why so many older voters refuse to believe in global warming…they’ve already got one foot in the grave and don’t care about the future because they don’t have a future.

    1. anon and lazy

      Sluggo–and what a windbag you are….posting long, obtuse bull, and truly believing you are the THE expert on everything. You are good for an Obama laugh….
      That climate science models ‘predict’ we will “blow past the warmest temperatures experience in the last 100 million years” is laughable, is pure drivel …….just more scaremongering from the folks who “denied” the medieval warming period and the little ice age with their shtick ……

      Why should anyone rely on models that systematically over predict global temperatures, models that conveniently choose to ignore negative feedback from CO2 l(I would explain negative feedback but need not bother since you are the expert on everything..) to bolster their predictions of higher temperatures. Climate models provide NO evidence whatsoever that man is the primary cause global warming, not in the past, not now, not in the future. That you lefties are willing to tax energy and do great economic harm to the middle class on the basis of zero empirical evidence that man causes global warming is shameful.

    2. CoRev

      2slugs, to what is this in reference? “CoRev NOAA does not claim that global warming increases the number of North Atlantic hurricanes, which account for most of the world’s cyclonic events. NOAA’s preferred model says that the number of these events is likely to fall, but the number of extreme category 4 and 5 hurricanes will increase. The NOAA site explains why.”

      A reference URL is appropriate, as your understanding of the subject to often relies too much on your own opinion.

  20. AS

    I assume that you have a graduate degree in a science related to climate and ask a few questions to you and other experts. Are humans materially responsible for the global warming? Will the GDP of the world decrease due to the shift from petroleum to wind and solar? If so, how many people will starve due to the decreased GDP compared to how many will die due to global warming? Should we have a world “Manhattan” project to develop fusion power (the WSJ recently reported some successes), since so many fear nuclear fission power?

    1. Braden

      Humans are almost solely responsible for the long-term trend in rising global temperatures shown in this graph:

      I assume you believe my answer will be “don’t worry about it, we’ll convert to solar and wind and everything will be fine.” Unfortunately, the emerging consensus is that 2 degrees of warming is guaranteed given the amount of CO2 released already. I have no idea how much global GDP will fall, and frankly, I could care less. Placing a dollar value on massive global extinctions, millions of displaced refugees from coastal flooding, or millions starving from global food shortages seems like a pointless exercise in futility. Who’s really going to care about such projections? Do you think people living in Southern California are just going to collectively say, well, the GDP trade-off clearly shows that we’ll have to relocate rather than reduce emissions to a level that will prevent widespread, persistent water shortages? When they’re forced to move, they’ll be angry. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cameron government learns very soon the political danger of climate denial when confronted by an angry mob from Somerset.

      Will such dislocation be worth it? I guess we could have asked that question in 1980, when there was a plausible chance to avoid a 2 degree rise in temperature. The question we should be asking is how much do we need to do to avoid a 6 or 7 degree rise? That’s the type of increase that no one on Earth would argue is worth the cost. We have to mitigate our emissions and adapt our infrastructure immediately, as fast as possible. Give me nuclear fusion and I’d take it at this point. Ask me in 10 years after we’ve still done nothing and I maybe I’ll say we should try geo-engineering. The more that CO2 concentrations rise, the more willing I am to contemplate the existence of miraculous intervention. Because that’s what it will take…

    2. Nick G

      The world economy will be far better off with less fossil fuel consumption. Properly priced, fossil fuels are very expensive.

      Will that be accounted for properly by GDP reporting? Good question. One tiny example: fewer oil wars would mean less spending on rehab for disabled veterans. If that reduced GDP, would anyone object ?

  21. Nick G


    Thanks for this post. It takes some courage to wade into this debate, given how much misinformation has been disseminated, and how successfully the oil & gas industry has fooled people into being foot soldiers for their “cause” (of course, I don’t blame those who work in the industry – they have no choice…).

    We are seeing a generational change, and a serious conflict between old and new economies, kind’ve like the shift from agriculture to manufacturing, or abolition. It’s a big deal, and it’s affecting our politics in a fundamental way: government is the vehicle for creating change, so those who want to protect themselves from change are attacking government.

    Among the major myths that are being spread: fossil fuels are necessary to civilization (aka Peak Oil is “The End of The World As We Know It”); alternatives to fossil fuels are more expensive; and alternatives will take a long time to develop – in fact, they’re here right now.

  22. Patrick R. Sullivan

    If alternatives to fossil fuels are already here, and they’re not more expensive, why aren’t consumers buying them?

    1. Nick G


      They are buying them.

      Hybrids and electrics are selling well (e-bikes outsell ICE vehicles in China, hybrids are the top sellers in Japan, and Teslas are back ordered); and wind and solar are growing pretty nicely. Heck, solar’s growth is starting to terrify utilities.

      Why aren’t they growing even faster? Because anything new has to educate consumers; has to develop economies of scale; and has to overcome bitter resistance from legacy industries (did you notice how Fox News tried to label the Volt as a Obamamobile?).

      One important factor: fossil fuels aren’t priced properly. If the cost of pollution and security were priced in, free markets could work properly. Alternatives would be dramatically cheaper, and there would be a “rush for the exits”.

        1. Nick G

          What part wasn’t clear? Are there other “alternative fuels” that you have in mind?

          Keep in mind that alternatives don’t have to be liquid – in fact, the best ones aren’t.

          1. CoRev

            NickG, you mentioned alternative to fossil fuels. When challenged for what those alternative fuels were you changed your subject to hybrid vehicles. Stay on topic.

        2. Nick G

          Again, I’m not clear what you mean. Electric transportation *is* an alternative to gas vehicles. Electric transportation replaces oil.

          Now, the electricity can come from multiple sources: wind, solar and nuclear are the best, of course, and wind and solar are lower cost than coal or oil and growing fast.

          1. Nick G

            Perhaps you’re not remembering that “hybrid” is a shortened version of “hybrid-electric”. Hybrids are a transitional form of electric vehicle.

      1. Patrick R. Sullivan

        Hybrids and electric cars wouldn’t sell at all if it wasn’t for the tax subsidies that come with them. People switched away from Pontiacs and Mercuries pretty quickly in the 1970s when the Japanese offered high quality, fuel efficient Toyotas and Hondas that didn’t get subsidized.

        1. Nick G

          I’m not familiar with subsidies for hybrids.

          EVs get a tax credit in the US (which Tesla doesn’t really need), which helps them achieve economies of scale. In any case, those subsidies are smaller than those received by gas cars, in the form of freedom to pollute, and the military cost of “stable” oil export markets.

          Oh, and don’t kid yourself about Japanese car exports: they were heavily subsidized by Japanese consumers who were forced to provide low-cost capital and buy expensive domestic products (imports were discouraged) and by the US, which provided a military umbrella.

  23. Bruce Hall

    2slug: “Is that your Bayesian prior? BTW, the 5% chance of an 18F degree rise wasn’t something I made up. It comes from climate models where the mean keeps sliding to the right and adding weight to the prior normal.”

    If the models are insufficient to predict short-term output [short-term being applicable to both the input periods and output periods], the statistical outliers are not meaningful as predictors either.

  24. Rick Stryker

    There’s a good guest editorial in the WSJ today by two professors of atmospheric science, one of whom was on the IPCC that won the Nobel Prize in 2007. The editorial echos the argument that many of us have made in the comments.

    The article makes clear that no one is denying basic physics like the greenhouse effect or that increases in CO2, other things equal, will raise the temperature. The controversy is all about the global climate models, upon which the alarmist predictions are based. The article emphasizes the consistent failure of climate model predictions.

    Baffles keeps asking for an alternative model and commenters have correctly pointed out that you don’t need to solve a problem to understand that someone else’s solution is wrong. But his question reminds of a study that Meese and Rogoff (yes, that Rogoff) did in exchange rate economics. In the 1970s, there were a number of theories that claimed to explain the exchange rate. Meese and Rogoff asked if a random walk model could forecast at least as well as these models, and as Gomer Pyle would say, SURPRISE, SURPRISE, the random walk did as well as any of the models at 1 to 12 month horizons.

    So Baffles, here is the alternative model to the global climate models: a random walk with a slight drift of 0.5C per century. I’m confident that I will be able to out predict the climate models using this simple model, where the forecast error is measured using mean squared error and mean absolute error at 1, 2, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 year horizons.

    1. anon2

      “The article makes clear that no one is denying basic physics like the greenhouse effect or that increases in CO2, other things equal, will raise the temperature. ”

      A very valuable step in the right direction. At least now we are arguing about the intensity of the effects rather than whether there is any effect at all.

      I think the sticking point in all this arguing over global warming is whether people can admit that human activities do indeed impact the larger world in significant ways. Once you realize that, then the next step, unfortunately, is how to regulate human actions to keep the planet livable, a step “conservatives” do not want to take.

    2. 2slugbaits

      Rick Stryker here is the alternative model to the global climate models: a random walk with a slight drift of 0.5C per century. I’m confident that I will be able to out predict the climate models using this simple model, where the forecast error is measured using mean squared error and mean absolute error at 1, 2, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 year horizons.

      This is very bad for several reasons. First, no one cares about your short or mid-range forecast. The discussion is about temperature forecasts 100-200 years out. And by then you won’t be around to pay off when your bet goes south. And with that long horizon you’re random walk with drift model effectively reduces to a simple trend because the drift term dominates when you look out over long time horizons. So you better be pretty damn sure about that drift term. And you better hope that it’s stationary. Second, using either MSE or MAE as a metric here is ridiculous on its face. Again, no one cares if your model gives accurate results the first 90 years and then blows up the last 10 years. MSE and MAE both give equal weight to early errors and late errors. It’s just an inappropriate metric. Global warming is like Russian roulette…the only prediction that matters is the last one. Finally, no one is interested in the accuracy of a model per se because this is not a model that will be reused in another bet. It’s basically a one-and-done deal. So from a policy maker’s perspective the only thing of interest is a risk adjusted forecast, not a specific model. And if you’re interested in a risk adjusted forecast, then the model really only has to be a little bit right with some not completely implausible probability of extreme temperature increases in 200 years time. You have absolutely no way of a priori determining which forecast model is better than some other. All you have are models with lots of uncertain structural parameters and some disturbing trends in the data. That and the fact that most of the real climate models (as opposed to the straw man models selected by Dr. Spencer) have tended to under forecast actual temperature increases. So a little Kentucky windage is probably in order. And unlike Russian roulette, with global warming you don’t get to choose not to play. An alarmist that guesses wrong is only out a few percentage points of GDP, but otherwise fine. A global warming denier that guesses wrong dooms civilization…quite literally.

      BTW, NOAA just reported that January was the 4th warmest on record globally, and the warmest ever in the southern hemisphere. And what about the three warmer Januarys? They were all within the last 14 years. So much for CoRev’s much ballyhooed “hiatus.”


    As for the central scientific issue here — that the most prominent climate scientists’ computerized models may be neither as robust nor as predictive as many people think — that is something we write about in some detail in SuperFreakonomics. Passages like the following have won us a few detractors in certain quadrants of the climate-research community:

    The current generation of climate-prediction models are, as Lowell Wood puts it, “enormously crude.” … “The climate models are crude in space and they’re crude in time,” he continues. “So there’s an enormous amount of natural phenomena they can’t model. They can’t do even giant storms like hurricanes.”

    There are several reasons for this, [Nathan] Myhrvold explains. Today’s models use a grid of cells to map the earth, and those grids are too large to allow for the modeling of actual weather. Smaller and more accurate grids would require better modeling software, which would require more computing power. “We’re trying to predict climate change 20 to 30 years from now,” he says, “but it will take us almost the same amount of time for the computer industry to give us fast enough computers to do the job.”

    That said, most current climate models tend to produce similar predictions. This might lead one to reasonably conclude that climate scientists have a pretty good handle on the future.

    Not so, says Wood.

    “Everybody turns their knobs” — that is, adjusts the control parameters and coefficients of their models — “so they aren’t the outlier, because the outlying model is going to have difficulty getting funded.” In other words, the economic reality of research funding, rather than a disinterested and uncoordinated scientific consensus, leads the models to approximately match one another. It isn’t that current climate models should be ignored, Wood says — but, when considering the fate of the planet, one should properly appreciate their limited nature.

  26. Anonymous

    Let’s say you have a pile of data, fit a model to it and decide that it is a good fit. Under what circumstances is extrapolation outside of the data set warranted?

    1. baffling

      is your model a physics based first principle model or an empirical model? i think some of you fail to understand the difference between the 2 approaches. a properly developed physics based model can operate very well outside of the data used to verify its performance. this is what the modern climate models try to achieve by using multiscale fidelity approaches. completely different from the statistical approaches more commonly used in fields such as economics. a prime example is the theory of quantum mechanics-a first principles model calibrated to data with expansive predictive capabilities.

    2. suyts

      Anon, it’s always okay to extrapolate outside the data. That’s what models are for. The problem lays with the notion they’re somehow equivalent to the truth.

      And, as Baffling points out, the errant models of global warming are based upon assumptions in physics, rather than the data. When they fail, however, is what the problem is. What it means is that our grasp of the physics involved in our climate is inadequate for our models to have any predictive skill. The worse part is, this is easily known before the release of the models ….

      You see, if you don’t use up most of the data set for calibration, you can backcast, using your models and see if they can model the past. Of course, this leads us to a problem in climate considerations, because much of our historical data is simply modeled and not based on any real observations. For instance, both Hadley and GISS data sets go back into the 1800s ….. the distribution of our thermometers were entirely inadequate to come to any conclusions about our global temps….. indeed, they were inadequate until about the 1950s or so. So, they infilled the missing data. We have absolutely no idea what our global temps were back then. We have no clue as to what is and isn’t “normal”. Nor do we have a notion as to what our idealized atmospheric CO2 levels should be. But, I will say this, those who idealize our climate to a time when the CO2 levels were below 350 ppm or what ever are demonstrating an abject ignorance and rejection of history.

      And even still, with the modeled infillings, the alarmists can’t get it right. Their models don’t backcast any better than they forecast. They’d be dangerous if they knew anything about statistics or math.


    Almost never, when the system is complex. If you disagree, feel free to invest in my hedge fund that models the stock market.

  28. Menzie Chinn Post author

    Rick Stryker: I laud your citation of Meese and Rogoff (1982). I refer you to Meese and Chinn (1995), Mark (1995), and particularly other studies documenting the outperformance of a random walk by other statistical metrics and as well as by profit criteria, when exploiting cross-currency information; see Chinn (2012).

  29. suyts

    Oh please!!! You posted the vapid NOAA “extreme” graph? Do you even know or understand what components go into that graph? And, what doesn’t? Tornadoes don’t. Mild winter temps do, as do cool summer temps. It’s entirely meaningless in the context your offering.

    Costs of weather related outages? Let me ask you, without so called global warming, and the erstwhile missing increases in actual extreme weather events, assuming all weather remained the same, would you expect those numbers to increase, decrease, or remain the same? Human progress, because we do more, mandates that we have more. More utility lines, more power stations, more everything related to energy delivery. Costs of weather related outages, even if the weather remained exactly the same would always trend upward, anyway.

    The notion of global temps minus ENSO is facile. Even if one could, (they can’t) then the use of it is logically impaired. It was the El Nino events which quickened this madness. Indeed, it was the super El Nino of 1997-1998 which caused much of the alarm. It was an exceptional event and we haven’t seen one like it since. But, now the alarmists are saying if we still had the El Ninos of the late 90s and early 2000s then we’d be getting hotter…. in other words, if the exception were the rule, then things wold be different. Proof positive of continuing global warming, I tell you!!!

    And, yes, there is a consensus. All ideologically similar academic scientists concerned about the climate agree. Well, nearly all of them. If you bothered to actually look at the Anderegg paper with a discerning eye, you’d see that there is no consensus, they actually demonstrate it. The fact is, in the SI material of the paper, they found 472 published authors unconvinced of the global warming phobia. Again, it’s a similar logic fail …… they “googled” the word “climate” to get their publication count. Let’s see……. who writes more about climate, people who demonstrate an inordinate fear of a molecule, or the scientists who don’t believe there’s anything to worry about? Care to venture a guess? Would anyone dedicate much of their time to an issue they don’t believe is worth worrying or bothering about? It’s a consensus of ideologically similar scientists and nothing more.

    Towards the climate change meme, and especially because this is an economic minded blog, let’s look at the dire effects of climate change and how it’s interrupted our most important resource, food production, and then consider the implications …. infrastructure, advancement of the 3rd world nations, etc ….
    Yeh, production per capita is exceeding even the rate of increase of atmospheric CO2. If climate change is so devastating, how is this possible? The storms, the power outages, the infrastructure damage!!!! …… oh, wait, they’re not really increasing at all. Hurricanes, globally, are less than, in frequency and intensity, than they were in the 90s. You can check with Dr. Maue at the weatherbell. The only paper I’ve ever read quantifying flooding shows a slight decrease. Strong tornadoes (not counted in your “extreme” graph are down. While, data is sparse for droughts, a quick look at the US history, and noted by NOAA shows no increase in frequency or severity.

    We’ve had over 30 years of this nonsense, and nothing has come to fruition. It’s so bad now that the alarmists have to invent new metrics to convince people about how bad things really are. And “extreme” graph which would include mild winters and summers, but, exclude tornadoes. A temperature reckoning while supposing they can quantify the temperature effects of ENSO. saying if we have the extreme El Ninos of the past then we’d be hotter. But, I thought extremes were increasing!?!?!? Well, they are!!! Except for the ones that aren’t.

    All assertions made in this comment are verifiable and I can provide the links to the various places which demonstrate these things, all using peer-reviewed accepted papers and data sets. Indeed, NOAA is the source for the drought sameness in the US, NOAA is the source for the “extreme” graph, you actually have to read what goes into those things. For the hurricanes, Dr. Maue,, accredited and accepted, for both hurricane frequency and ACE values. Read the Anderegg SI for the consensus craziness. Use your head for the power outages. Food production comes from FAOstat (a UN group that tracks food production) Floods, I can provide the link to the paper … Strong tornadoes being down … again NOAA is the source. Some other things to note …. GLOBAL sea ice hasn’t diminished in over ten years. Northern Hemisphere snow cover hasn’t changed in toto in over 30 years. (they don’t give us the info for the SH) Neither satellites nor tidal gauges show an increase in the rate of sea level rise. And, the wild fires of the US and Canada are down over the last 30 years or so. (not that they’re entirely climate or even weather related). Oh, and the polar bear population is doing just fine.

    Again, all of this is verifiable, and incontrovertible. Numbers and data win over anecdotes. You just have to be willing to go look for yourself. And, I encourage all to do so. Don’t take my word for this. Go look! Again, all links, I can provide, if anyone wishes. I’ll pop back by, or you can go to the site I referenced above and ask.

      1. suyts

        I think the link to the post is meant for you to read it yourself and determine if it’s true or not. And, it is.

  30. Nick G

    This is a fascinating debate – it’s like watching warring tribes in Papua New Guinea.

    Climatology is relatively new – not like astronomy or biology – but it seems to provide an intellectual litmus test. In the past, one could identify someone who was unable to think scientifically by asking them if they thought the earth was round, or if evolution was valid. Now, one can identify them by their inability to agree that Climate Change is a serious problem.

    In the future, if I read a comment by someone who appears to be guided by ideology, I can confirm my suspicion by referring back to these comments and seeing where they stood.

    1. CoRev

      NickG, your arrogance is showing. You can not answer a question when challenged re: alternative fuels. Now you insist that you are correct by insisting that: “… that Climate Change is a serious problem.” Without evidence and after over 100 comments most of which dispute that very issue with evidence.</b And in your arrogance you can say: " I read a comment by someone who appears to be guided by ideology…" after using nothing but ideology in your comments.
      Dr Spencer is fed up with the name calling and attacks and has issued a challenge to start calling the extreme climate community as "Climate Nazis". Nick, in your case we have an example of the environmental equivalent: "Environment Nazi". Although it is hard to set a clear demarcation as there is so much overlap.

      1. Nick G

        Actually, I wasn’t talking to you. You’re not listening to objective evidence, you’re being guided by your tribal thought leaders, and following their attempts to reverse reality and bully people by calling them Nazis.

      2. Nick G

        In fact, this Nazi reference is a perfect example: if you weren’t immersed in a narrow group-think, you’d realize that it just sounds (and is) ridiculous – it discredits you and your arguments. It’s counterproductive to your goals.

        1. CoRev

          Nyah, nyah does’nt get it as an answer. Answer the questions when challenged. Name calling, is childish isn’t it? I’ll use your name time someone does ti again, OK? Oh wait, tribal group think, and bully people are perfectly valid and not name calling?

          1. Nick G

            Well, I have to admit I couldn’t quite find your question in your comments. Still, I think it’s implied, so I’ll try to answer it. Perhaps it’s “why do you think that anti-Climate Change arguments are just part of group/follower thinking?”.

            Well, first, because Climate Change really is the scientific consensus. 2nd, it’s the international consensus: even oil exporters like Russia and Saudi Arabia concede that it’s valid. China concedes it too, and they’re working harder on it than the US.

            2nd, there’s a really obvious difference between political parties in the US: the Democrats follow the scientific and world consensus, and Republican’s don’t.

            3rd, the republican rank and file generally agree with their leadership. Now, you can’t really argue that those republican followers have all read all of the Climate Science and come to an independent opinion – it’s quite obvious that most of those who hold anti-Climate Change opinions are doing so because of they identify as part of a group that holds that idea. There’s a striking correlation with other anti-science ideas as well: most republicans don’t believe in evolution.

            So, ask yourself, “Do I hold this idea because I identify with a group that believes it?”

            “Do *any* of my friends disagree with me?”

    1. Nick G

      Ask Warren Buffet: he’s very worried that his insurance companies will go broke paying for extreme weather events.

  31. Duracomm

    Arguments over the existence of AGW are entertaining, but not useful for problem solving.

    The crucial questions to be answered are can carbon emissions be lowered, what technology or policy would best facilitate this, and do the environmental benefits of deploying new technology / policy outweigh the costs.

    These difficult questions get lost in the ongoing arguments over the validity of AGW and this is unfortunate.

    The problem is policies and technologies deployed to decrease carbon emissions have done nothing to appreciably reduce carbon emissions.

    Worse, unintended consequences from policies enacted to reduce carbon emissions have actually increased carbon emissions and caused horrific environmental destruction.

    It is likely that better environmental preservation and reduction in carbon emissions would have been obtained if governments had done nothing to try and lower carbon emissions.

    Palm oil: the biofuel of the future driving an ecological disaster now

    But the European Union’s aim of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020, partly by demanding that 10% of vehicles be fuelled by biofuels, will see a fresh surge in palm oil demand that could doom the rainforests.

    That is likely to kill off the “flagship species” of wildlife such as the Asian elephant, the Sumatran tiger and the orang-utan of Borneo which are already under enormous pressure from habitat loss. Plantation owners regard the orang-utan as pests because it eats the young palm oil plants and hunt them down ruthlessly.

    Researchers from the Dutch pressure group Wetlands International found that as much as half the space created for new palm oil plantations was cleared by draining and burning peat-land, sending huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

    1. Nick G

      policies and technologies deployed to decrease carbon emissions have done nothing to appreciably reduce carbon emissions

      That’s highly unrealistic. I’m afraid you’ve been fooled by misinformation: pointing to the problems of biofuels is an enormous red herring.

      There’s no question that biofuels are at best a very small niche replacement for oil. It’s helpful to keep in mind that biofuels in the US were never intended as a solution to environmental problems: they were a subsidy for agriculture, pure and simple. How biofuels got promoted in Europe I have no idea.

      Electrification of transportation is the primary solution to the expense, pollution and security risks of oil. Wind, solar and nuclear are the replacements for coal. These are both very effective: scalable, cost effective, etc.

  32. Duracomm

    Nick G,

    You do not get to pick and choose the results caused by policies designed to reduce carbon emissions. The skids to the ecological disaster of biofuels were well greased by the AGW driven desire to cut back on carbon emissions.

    Electrification of transport as a carbon reduction scheme is vaporware on a scale large enough to have any impact on carbon reductions. Especially on a time scale (prompt carbon reductions) that advocates for reductions carbon emissions claim is needed to head off climate change.

    A more effective carbon emission reduction policy would be to divert the money used to subsidize renewables and apply it to fast track development of natural gas distribution infrastructure and natural gas production increases. I do not support such a set of policies but if a person is serious about reducing carbon emissions increasing natural gas usage is the fastest and most effective way to do it.

    1. Nick G

      the ecological disaster of biofuels were well greased by the AGW driven desire to cut back on carbon emissions.

      That’s just not true for the US. Biofuels were and are farm (and ADM) subsidies. If you want to provide evidence for Europe (1st that Climate Change policies were a historically necessary cause of biofuel policies, but more importantly that the problems of Palm oil are similar in scale to those of Climate Change), I’d be curious.

      Electrification of transport as a carbon reduction scheme is vaporware

      Not true. Hybrids could reduce US emissions by 50%. Extended-range EVs like the Volt achieve 90%. These require very little new infrastructure and can be ramped up very quickly.

      I agree that natural gas has a large niche in the effort to kick the oil habit for freight, but for personal transportation it’s a massive red herring: there’s a reason NG cars haven’t caught on, and they don’t reduce GHGs all that much anyway.

    2. Nick G

      On 2nd thought, you probably shouldn’t spend much time on Palm oil, as it’s just a red herring, a distraction. The factual premises to that argument are probably false, but the central logical premise is the real problem.

      That argument is that after failing at a goal, you should give up. Try telling that to the companies that develop new things, like GE and Google.

  33. baffling

    nick, duracomm has been trying to use the palm oil example to discredit alternative energy sources. it is his only argument, and he wants to extend it to represent all response to alternative sources. its his example of a straw man argument.

  34. Nick G


    Isn’t is striking how people (in this case, people “on the right”) will believe anything their leaders (Koch brothers, “libertarian think tanks”, Fox News, Republican fund raisers, etc) tell them?

    It’s discouraging: how will we make progress when leaders are so self-interested, and so many people follow them so thoughtlessly?

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