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Yet more nonsense on global warming

January 24th, 2006

There’s no longer any serious debate among climate scientists about either the reality of global warming or about the fact that its substantially caused by human activity, but, as 500+ comments on my previous post on this topic show, neither the judgement of the overwhelming majority of climate scientists, nor the evidence that led them to that judgement, has had much effect on the denialists[1].

And the Australian media are doing a terrible job in covering the issue. I’ve seen at least half a dozen pieces this year claiming that the whole issue is a fraud cooked up by left-wing greenies, and January isn’t over yet.

The latest is from Peter Walsh in the Oz. Walsh is still banging on about the satellite data, and the Medieval Warm Period, suggesting that his reading, if any, in the last few years has been confined to publications emanating from the right-wing parallel universe. But that hasn’t stopped the Australian from running him, and a string of others.

If an issue like genetically modified food, or the dangers of mobile phones was treated in this way, with alarmist cranks being given hectares of column space, most of those who sympathise with Walsh would be outraged and rightly so.

Walsh does make one valid point however, saying. “If your case is immaculate, why feed lies into it?” To which, I can only respond, “If the cap fits …”

fn1. At this point, the term “sceptic” is no longer remotely applicable. Only dogmatic commitment to a long-held position (or an ideological or financial motive for distorting the evidence) can explain continued rejection of the evidence.

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  1. Dogz
    January 24th, 2006 at 08:28 | #1

    fn1. At this point, the term “sceptic� is no longer remotely applicable. Only dogmatic commitment to a long-held position (or an ideological or financial motive for distorting the evidence) can explain continued rejection of the evidence.

    Oh blow it out your arse JQ. I don’t think much of Walsh’s piece either, but that doesn’t make all sceptics retarded ideologues as you suggest. Many valid objections have been raised on that 500+ comment thread which have not been adequately addressed, either by yourself or anyone else. If you can counter them then do so, otherwise, insults like the above are more applicable to you than those you seek to denigrate.

    You can start by addressing the issue of potential overfitting of the models. Once you’ve done that, please explain how Mann’s analysis is not hurt by non-monotonicity of tree-ring growth. I’m all ears.

  2. January 24th, 2006 at 08:44 | #2

    some scientific open ends:

    Reiter on Malaria
    Castles on SRES
    Landsea on hurricanes
    Michaels on toad extinctions
    observed vs modeled climate sensitivity
    The missing carbon sink
    The role of clouds
    The role of aerosols
    The cause of enso

  3. Paul Norton
    January 24th, 2006 at 08:59 | #3

    Walsh has, however, done us the service of blessing Martin Ferguson’s recent column supporting the Asia-Pacific Climate Pact from an overt standpoint of greenhouse denialism and opposition to Labor’s current policy of support for the Kyoto Protocol. Such frankness and clarity is greatly preferable to Ferguson’s mealy-mouthed pretence that his position is somehow consistent with Labor policy and with a serious response to the greenhouse problem.

  4. jquiggin
    January 24th, 2006 at 09:09 | #4

    Dogz, you aren’t much of a counterexample. You follow the rightwing party line on just about every issue, and the same is true for a large proportion of denialists.

    I put out a challenge a while ago to find “sceptics” who didn’t have an obvious ideological axe to grind or a financial incentive and came up just about empty. Since then, even among those with an axe to grind, the smarter types (like Ron Bailey and earlier Bjorn Lomborg) have abandoned denialism in favour of economic arguments for doing nothing.

    Hans, it’s fair enough to say there are open ends on some of the issues you mention, but there are always open ends in science. Most of the issues you mention are secondary to the main points of (former) dispute covered in the post, namely the reality and human causation of global warming.

    Most obviously, this is true with respect to Reiter (dispute over whether GW will increase malaria risks), Castles (dispute over modelling of future emissions), and Michaels (dispute over a particular case of extinctions).

    The other issues contribute to the range of uncertainty in projections of future warming projected by the IPCC and others, but this range does not include zero, a point which is agreed by most or all of those working on these topics as I’ve noted.

  5. Dogz
    January 24th, 2006 at 10:17 | #5

    Dogz, you aren’t much of a counterexample. You follow the rightwing party line on just about every issue, and the same is true for a large proportion of denialists.

    Now you’re really pissing me off, you arrogant SOB. I’d knock your block off if you repeated that to my face.

    Show me where I follow some supposed “rightwing party line” on global warming or any other issue? I am, in fact, careful to do exactly the opposite; I don’t take any claim of either side on face value[1]. Being a former scientist myself (and a damn good one at that), I know how easily science is distorted by those with an agenda.

    It is offensive in the extreme to accuse someone who thinks deeply about issues of merely toeing a “party line”.

    It is telling that yet again you refuse to address specific questions concerning climate science methodology and simply resort to ad hominem attacks. You’re a disgrace.

    fn1. For example, I have never argued that the satellite record somehow refutes global warming claims, nor supported the “urban heat island” arguments, nor any of a number of other dubious claims from the sceptics. My positions on social issues are hardly toeing the “rightwing party line” either – for example I have spoken out on this blog in favour of of strong public healthcare and education.

  6. jquiggin
    January 24th, 2006 at 10:28 | #6

    Fair enough, Dogz, I haven’t followed your comments closely and maybe I’ve mistaken your position. So I withdraw my comment, and will try to respond more civilly. OTOH, I request that you moderate your language. Lots of commenters here have attributed my views on all sorts of issues to my position as an academic, or my general leftiness and I haven’t taken violent offence.

    If you don’t buy the satellite data and urban heat islands stuff, you presumably accept the standard interpretation of the surface data record for the last 100+ years, which shows sharp warming over the past 25 years or so. And despite all the quibbles in the early part of the last thread, there’s no dispute about the basic physics of the greenhouse effect.

    So, can you sum up your objection and your reasons for thinking that thousands of climate scientists have got it all wrong.

  7. January 24th, 2006 at 10:55 | #7

    Consider the sheer magnitude of the destruction that global warming will inflict on our planet in the coming decades, unless we act now. Then compare that with two other threats – terrorism and bird flu. Which is the greatest threat?

    And why the government and media hypocrisy on these three threats? Two are treated as imminent dangers, and there is no hesitancy in spending public monies on them. Indeed they have generated whole new industries and government departments, compelled us into pre-emptive war and inflicted serious damage on our civil liberties. The potential dangers are splashed across our newspapers and TV screens every day. The other issue is pooh-poohed as a fantasy, despite the very real signals that have been increasingly visible on the streets to even the most ordinary citizen.

    The reason for the hypocrisy? Two of these potential threats generate massive amounts of money for Big Business. The other threatens its profits.

    Our governments are in the hands of corporate lobbyists. These people are the real terrorists.

    For example, how many people know that Donald Rumsfeld is a top stock-holder in the company that makes Tamiflu, the anti-viral drug that is being stock-piled by governments around the world as the best-available protection for bird flu? It’s not even a cure, and the side-effects have driven several people to suicide, but that doesn’t stop our governments from spending our taxpayer money on it.

    The evidence is there for anyone who has the time, patience and inclination to swim against the public tide of government-sponsored apathy. Man-made global warming is real.

    For those who still argue against the facts, I would simply ask you to consider this: What if you are wrong? And, if you are prepared to acknowledge that you MIGHT be wrong, why NOT take precautionary measures just in case? What have we got to lose, except obscene profits for companies bent on global domination?

  8. Simonjm
    January 24th, 2006 at 10:56 | #8

    The interesting point for me is that when the leading scientific institutions and other experts that give the G8 governments their scientific recommendations where asked to give advice they all came out supporting AGW and that measures have to be taken to curb it.

    Now one would think that if Bush and co could realistically run with the line that AGW is a myth and had some science that still cast some reasonable doubt that it isn’t a concern one would think they would still be running that line. They don’t give a hoot what anyone else thinks and they haven’t scored any PR points for this Asian Pacific charade.

    (I can respect a country like Japan signing up to this group they are one of the most efficient countries in the world in regard to using resources, even China is looking to implement policies to increase resource efficiency and sustainability, but countries like the US and Australia with their lack of an energy and resource efficiency policies lack any credibility in this area. )

    Sceptics may wish to think a they can Google debate as if that means anything highlighting individual papers in isolation or giving unqualified opinions on matters that others spend their lives studying and have the up to date info in that field.

    Dogz you think a Google debate can adequately address these complex issues and this is a better way to judge AGW than going by the majority of the worlds climate scientists?

    I’m waiting for Willis to get a reply on his frogs scoop and given the past history of enviro sceptics the overwhelming majority of thier points wind up as false leads. ( I’m tracking down that polar bear story)

    Having committed environmentalists like Wills and Jennifer Marohasy, thinking they can dismiss the work of mainstream scientists- reveling in point scoring on out of context or misrepresented studies-from outside those fields is fine but it means very little. The real debate is within a discipline by those qualified or by those institutions with the resources to get an overview of all the studies.

    So we can trust the advice from these institutions on other matters but not AGW?

    Why don’t Willis and dogz while they are at it write to the PM and tell him he’s wasting our tax payer $$ on carbon sequestration as there is no need?

  9. Dogz
    January 24th, 2006 at 11:00 | #9

    I don’t think “thousands of climate scientists have got it all wrong”, and I don’t dispute the surface data record either.

    I personally believe that AGW is likely, but nowhere near as certain or as well-understood as is implied by headlines such as “The End of the Global Warming Debate”. I suspect that at least a “thousand” out of your “thousands of climate scientists” would probably agree with me.

    The problem is the General Circulation Models: they are highly parameterized and poorly understood. New phenomenon regularly come to light that have profound influence on the models . So in order to predict AGW accurately, the models need to be validated, and so far, with the exception of climateprediction.net, most validation studies I have read have failed to take into account the sensistivity of the models to parameter tuning. And the climateprediction.net results reinforce the argument: they show the models are more susceptible to parameter tuning than the climate scientists had previously suspected.

    Add to that the fact that some of the most widely cited validation studies (eg Mann) appear to have question marks over their methodology, and I believe it is only rational to remain sceptical, at least as regards the extent of AGW. [BTW, I am entirely willing to be convinced that Mann is fine - I just haven't seen anyone adequately address the non-monotonic tree-ring growth issue].

    To sum up: climate science isn’t rocket science, it is actually much much more difficult than that. Before we strap ourselves in for the climate equivalent of a moon-shot, I want our understanding of the science to be at least a little closer to the state of 1969 rocket science.

  10. January 24th, 2006 at 11:04 | #10

    No it isn’t zero. Climate sensitivity is _the_ key uncertainty. We are driving a car of which we don’t know if it’s a Porsche or a 2CV, yet we are warned that driving 200 km/h is lethal, and we should step on the breaks now because we could be accellerating, although we are only driving 30.

    Yes, small warming is beneficial and at present we are still in limbo how much warming is antropogenic. Oh yes, I know, there are correlations just like the frog fungus and climate. Let’s extrapolate the trend.

    I must say I prefer mild winters over harsh ones like presently in Moscow. (And don’t bring me the “aw its extreme so it must be antropogenic”).

    IPCC should spend all their time on a realistic ensemble forecast, this prevents the alarmism connected to absurd extreme scenarios. Did you know the SRES A2 fairytale assumes a doubling of population and a fourfold CO2 concentration (1200 ppm) by 2100? Yet not a single SRES scenario assumes a sustained economic recession. Now that’s what I call biased research.

    Future emissions are entirely in the hands of the developing countries, which are not part of Kyoto, and don’t plan to do so.

    It’s time for some real economists.

    more on climate sensitivity here:
    http://www.ukweatherworld.co.uk/forum/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=25003&start=1

  11. jquiggin
    January 24th, 2006 at 11:06 | #11

    To respond to the substantive points you make above Dogz, the question of whether or not Mann got his analysis right is a side issue. The “hockey stick” may be a cause celebre among denialists, but it’s only a secondary part of the mainstream case for global warming, which is based on the physics of the greenhouse effect and the observed warming of recent decades.

    As regards overfitting and similar arguments, the obvious test of these things is out-of-sample prediction. The models have been consistently predicting future warming, and have been right. By contrast, sceptics like John Daly predicted cooling, based on cycles in ENSO and sunspots. If anyone on the sceptic side dissented from Daly’s prediction I didn’t see it. I said at the time that I’d be willing to change my mind about AGW if Daly’s prediction of a cooling trend in 2005 was borne out.

    As regards dogmatic adherence, and refusal to consider new evidence, Willis Eschenback ran hard on the satellite data as long as it seemed to suit his case, but hasn’t changed his mind now that it turns out he was relying on erroneous data.

  12. jquiggin
    January 24th, 2006 at 11:13 | #12

    “not a single SRES scenario assumes a sustained economic recession. Now that’s what I call biased research.”

    Well, if we had a sustained (decades-long) economic recession, but still managed to deliver a steady flow of carbon saving technological innovations, it’s pretty obvious that Kyoto and subsequent targets would be met without any policy action. And of course, we’d have more to worry about than global warming. So it doesn’t seem as if this is a case that needs detailed modelling.

  13. Andrew Reynolds
    January 24th, 2006 at 11:46 | #13

    PrQ,
    Perhaps this comment should be under “metablogging”, but is 603 a new record for number of comments on a thread?
    You sure know which buttons to press to get a good argument going. I just hope that no-one is printing these out…

  14. Dogz
    January 24th, 2006 at 11:57 | #14

    The “hockey stick� may be a cause celebre among denialists, but it’s only a secondary part of the mainstream case for global warming, which is based on the physics of the greenhouse effect and the observed warming of recent decades.

    I don’t believe that claim is supported by the evidence. For example, the IPCC report accords the hockey stick a pretty central role. Just as the sceptics ran hard on the satellite data, so too have the advocates run hard on the hockey stick. And just as most of the sceptics have not changed their minds with new information, neither have the advocates.

    As regards overfitting and similar arguments, the obvious test of these things is out-of-sample prediction. The models have been consistently predicting future warming, and have been right.

    The models have a 50/50 chance of being correct if all they are asked to do is predict future warming versus cooling. If that’s all you’re claiming when you say the debate is over, then I have little argument with you.

    Of course, if you want to go further and talk about mitigation, then just predicting warming versus cooling is clearly insufficient: you have to know the extent of the warming. And the models are far less reliable when asked to predict “how much” warming, not just “warming vs cooling”..

  15. January 24th, 2006 at 11:58 | #15

    Dogz,

    Of course there can never be absolute certainty on the question of global warming until the remnants of humankind, 50 years from now, are huddled together near the North and South Poles as the rest of our planet cooks.

    However, only a complete idiot or, else, someone blinded by their own short-term greed could possibly advocate that we wait until we obtain such proof of the near unanimous opinion, which is held by today’s climate scientists, before we begin to act against that threat.

    Two hundred years ago, we had a near perfectly good planetery life support systm, which, as Ronald Wright in “A Short History of Progress” has pointed out, has enjoyed a relatively rare 10,000 years period of climatic stabiity.

    If our species, as a whole, had been truly intelligent and had applied the scientific knowledge that we had gained since then, we would have understood that to ‘fix’ something that was working so well (in comparison with anything else in any nearby stellar system) by putting back into the atmosphere roughly half of all the carbon that had been sequestered into the ground by natural and geological processes, lasting many tens of millions of years, was just asking for trouble.

    Until we gain a much much better understanding of how our biosphere works, the only intelligent course of action would be to :

    1. Reduce massively our consumption of fossil fuels in order to stop adding further to the changes already made, and

    2. Take action to restore our biosphere to a state as near as feasibly possible to what it was around 200 years ago.

    If this causes problems for wealthy vested interests, then too bad. If our current economic system can’t cope with such changes, then I think it is well past the time it was jettisoned, anyway. It certainly won’t be around for long, if we continue with ‘business as usual’.

  16. jquiggin
    January 24th, 2006 at 12:28 | #16

    Dogz, the Mann and related studies are discussed mainly in Chapter 2 of the TAR report here . As you can see the primary attention is given to the recent historical record in 2.2. Mann et al are discussed in Section 2.3.

    And in saying that this was a side issue, I didn’t intend to suggest that the sceptics have made any sort of convincing case. I followed the McKitrick-McIntyre stuff closely and it’s clear that while their conclusion was determined in advance [McKitrick was publishing bogus denialist arguments long before his work on MBH even started], their arguments have changed radically over time. They started by talking about corrections to the data set, lost on that one, and then shifted to arguments about the number of principal components. Talk about a degenerating research paradigm!

    The only other published criticism I’m aware of is that of Soon and Baliunas, the one that caused half the editorial board of the journal concerned to resign in protest.

    As a scientist, do you really want to give credence to this kind of work?

    Coming to points of agreement between us, I certainly agree that the models need a lot more work before we can say much about the likely impact of mitigation. Hence my support for a limited first step like Kyoto rather than a radical program of emissions reduction in the short term.

  17. jquiggin
    January 24th, 2006 at 12:30 | #17

    On the meta point, 600+ smashes all previous records, and it’s still on-topic. I’d have thought the stuff on the Roman Warm Period would have produced a diversion into the crimes of Caligula, but no …

  18. Paul Williams
    January 24th, 2006 at 13:07 | #18

    Why I’m a “climate sceptic”.

    -The environmental movement has a long history of failed predictions of catastrophe. It seems prudent (not idiotic) to want some tangible proof that humans are having an adverse effect on the climate before embracing changes that will devastate our way of life.

    -The failure of the warmers to acknowledge past climate changes such as the Medieaval Warm Period, especially the Mann hockeystick episode, which I feel has seriously damaged their credibility.

    -The apparent reliance on computer models, which raises the possibility of curve fitting and lack of complete information and knowledge distorting the result.

    -The difficulty of obtaining meaningful global temperature data, due to land use changes, equipment changes, location changes, gaps in records, varying station numbers and gaps in geographic coverage.

    -There are many stations, remote from urban centres, which do not show warming trends.

    -Non-linear changes in global temperature which cannot be predicted by CO2 forcings.

    The silly name calling, noticeable on your other “end of the debate” thread, as well as this one, makes me a little reluctant to post here, but on the assumption that you may be genuinely interested in why a person with only a basic understanding of science, but a degree of common sense, would be sceptical of the global warming article, I will do so.

  19. Ken Miles
    January 24th, 2006 at 13:22 | #19

    The failure of the warmers to acknowledge past climate changes such as the Medieaval Warm Period, especially the Mann hockeystick episode, which I feel has seriously damaged their credibility.

    I know that global warming “sceptics” are allowed to make broad statements without any supporting evidence, but this one is particularly ironic.

    In the second hockeystick paper, the MWP was discussed, and the authors suggested that they might have found evidence for the MWP being at least hemispheric in scale.

    Next time, it may pay to read up a little before making stuff up.

  20. Dogz
    January 24th, 2006 at 13:29 | #20

    I’ve read the IPCC report. On my reading they take Mann’s analysis very seriously, but since it is a matter of interpretation there is not much point arguing about it.

    I wasn’t referring to PCA analysis when discussing the methodological problems with Mann, I was referring to the non-monotonic tree ring growth problem introduced in the other thread and discussed here:

    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=397

  21. January 24th, 2006 at 13:49 | #21

    Something Hans said “No it isn’t zero. Climate sensitivity is _the_ key uncertainty. We are driving a car of which we don’t know if it’s a Porsche or a 2CV, yet we are warned that driving 200 km/h is lethal, and we should step on the breaks now because we could be accellerating, although we are only driving 30.”

    You are correct here we do not know whether it is a Porsche or a 2CV however why are we driving as if we are in a 2CV? It is a bit late when you have driven over the cliff to find out you were actually travelling at 200km/hr when you assumed it was 30.

    Most of the measures that global warming advocates suggest doing such as energy conservation and greater reliance on renewable energy are sensible in themselves. The Earths resources are limited no matter how much we like to try to deny it and sooner or later we will come up against these limits. Early action on this will result in a secure future for the human race.

    However what has happened is that short sighted policies and a successful campaign of doubt has worked. There is no effective program to either counter global warming or address the very real propect of running short of the main energy source that power this technogical society that we have created. Basically Hans et al are saying we are driving a 2CV, lots of people are making money keeping this 2CV going and if we stop we will all lose out. Anyone who says that we are driving a Porche well they are just using wrong science and want to destroy the free market economy that will turn the Porsche(if it really is one) by free market magic into a 2CV anyway.

    The die is cast. Even an effective program started now would take 20 or more years to start biting into greenhouse emissions. In 20 years or so we will find out who is right. Ususally when sensible people are confronted with a situation that they are not sure of the outcome they apply the military doctrine of “Prepare for the Worst – Hope for the Best”. This leads smart bushwalkers to take emergency food and shelter with them on the shortest of walks just in case conditions change rapidly. Such smart bushwalkers survive- stupid ones perish.

    So here were are riding the car approaching a cliff. Some people are denying the cliff exists – fair enough, maybe it doesn’t exist, we are not sure. However these deniers are equally ignorant about the existence of the cliff. Some peole say we are driving a Porsche at 200km/hr some say a 2CV at 30km/hr however both these sets of people are also equally ignorant of the true nature of the car we are driving.

    So what is the collective principle that humanity is applying here – “Prepare for the Best – Hope for the Best” My only question to the deniers is what is Plan B? What happens to us if we are driving a Porsche and there is a cliff?

  22. wilful
    January 24th, 2006 at 13:49 | #22

    a person with only a basic understanding of science, but a degree of common sense,

    So it’s common sense to disagree with the overall conclusions of virtually every single reputable government and independent study into this issue?

  23. jquiggin
    January 24th, 2006 at 14:32 | #23

    “the non-monotonic tree ring growth problem ”

    But this game can go on forever. MM have apparently abandoned their initial claims about errors in the data sets (though they still snark about data a lot) and haven’t convinced anyone much with their arguments about principal components, so they come up with yet another objection.

    The most that they can hope to establish at this point is that we can’t tell one way or another, on the basis of existing data, what the climate was like 1000 years ago. In which case, we can only rely on the last 200 years of data, which strongly support AGW.

  24. derrida derider
    January 24th, 2006 at 14:32 | #24

    Quiggin, your last comment clearly shows you’ve bought the Chomskyist line on Caligula. You should learn to think for yourself like we libertarian brownshirts.

    Just what have you got against emperors exercising their freedom to pursue happiness? His discrediting of Big Government by making his horse a senator was a stroke of brilliance that has been greviously distorted by a Marxist-Islamofascist-postmodern conspiracy of PC historians; dissenting voices have been squashed by vested bleeding heart interests with the connivance of the librul media.

  25. jquiggin
    January 24th, 2006 at 14:34 | #25

    “The environmental movement has a long history of failed predictions of catastrophe”

    On atmospheric science issues, its the sceptics who look far worse. Baliunas, Singer, Simon and others all debunked the ozone hole theory, using arguments very similar to those they employ now on global warming.

  26. Simonjm
    January 24th, 2006 at 14:56 | #26

    “The environmental movement has a long history of failed predictions of catastropheâ€?

    Is that the myth that scientists were saying there was an imminent threat of an ice age, or are we going back to the Club of Rome?

    Or the other problems of depleted fishers, shortages and contamination of water, loss of top soil, deforestation and associated flooding, biodiversity loss, ate they myths also?

    They are so wrong on that are’t they, hey I can look outside my window and everythings fine.

    Which while the timing was off a bit could be right on the money after all.

    Revisiting The Limits to Growth: Could The Club of Rome Have Been Correct, After All?
    http://www.greatchange.org/ov-simmons,club_of_rome_revisted.html

  27. Ken Miles
    January 24th, 2006 at 14:59 | #27

    Of course there can never be absolute certainty on the question of global warming until the remnants of humankind, 50 years from now, are huddled together near the North and South Poles as the rest of our planet cooks.

    That’s not going to happen James. Unless you believe that the models are seriously wrong.

  28. Seeker
    January 24th, 2006 at 15:22 | #28

    While I have my own area of technical knowledge, including some basic physics and biology, it does not extend to the core science of AGW, and so I make no direct comment on it, other than to say it has been one of the most intensely studied and debated scientific issues in history and I find it difficult to believe that the vast majority of climate scientists have got it completely wrong.

    However, I would argue strongly that if ever there was a case for the precautionary prinicipal to apply, it is with the very real possibility of AGW. It seems to me that we have a choice between (a) business as usual, letting the AGW experiment run unfettered, and taking our chances with the outcome, or (b) going down the path of vastly increased energy efficiency, and long-term sustainability of energy generation. The first choice would be easy in the short-term, but could be a massive long-term disaster. The second would be difficult in the short-term, but ultimately would bring major long-term payoffs for economies, science and the environment.

    Either way, and barring a major technical breakthrough in safe and sustainable energy generation AND storage, the (brief) era of cheap and plentiful energy is nearly over, and the sooner we accept that and start preparing for the transition to low energy consumption lifestyles, the better off we will all be.

  29. Dogz
    January 24th, 2006 at 15:44 | #29

    “But this game can go on forever.”

    It can only go on forever if there are genuine questions to be answered. As in the rest of science, if the evidence is clearcut and non-controversial, the game stops.

    The whole point of the Mann effort was to show that the late 20th century temperature increase is unprecedented in the last millenium, thus neutering one of the objections to AGW which is that the current warming trend may simply be the result of natural variability.

    We’ve got a single sample of reliable data showing rapid warming: late 20th century. It really matters whether that is unusual or not. Hence it really matters if the proxy reconstructions are questionable

  30. January 24th, 2006 at 15:49 | #30

    Dogz – We can argue the science of this and that forever but what are the consequences of our actions? Have you thought what happens if you are wrong?

  31. Dogz
    January 24th, 2006 at 16:13 | #31

    “Have you thought what happens if you are wrong?”

    Well, yeah. It will get warmer. I like warmer.

  32. Andrew Reynolds
    January 24th, 2006 at 16:20 | #32

    Ender,
    Have you thought about what happpens if you are wrong? If we take the more extreme AGW ‘solutions’ proposed we would end up with planet-wide mass starvation, huge economic contractions etc.
    I am not saying that those are your proposed solutions, but the possibility of error, in at least degree of response, runs both ways.

  33. January 24th, 2006 at 16:36 | #33

    John, You make reference to GM foods in your post and suggest the media has been more responsible in its reporting on this issue. As I see it The Australian media has not encouraged debate on this issue. Greenpeace has comprehensively ‘won’ here with moratoriums in all states except Queensland on the introduction of new GM food crops. As far as I can tell global warming is one of the few ‘environmental issues’ where there is some real debate – some of it perhaps misguided.

  34. Ken Miles
    January 24th, 2006 at 16:45 | #34

    We’ve got a single sample of reliable data showing rapid warming: late 20th century. It really matters whether that is unusual or not.

    Our data set is considerably bigger than what you’ve described. Excluding paloclimate reconstructions, we have significant instrumental data which reaches back until the mid-19th century. Subsequent to that period, the proportion of the global for which data has been collected has steadily increased.

    Luckily, we also have good information on how climate forcings have changed during this period. When the observed temperature changes are compared with the climate forcing, it becomes obvious that greenhouse gases have played an important role.

    A good reference to check out is “External Control of 20th Century Temperature by Natural and Anthropogenic Forcings” by P Stott, S. Tett, G. Jones, M Allen, J. Mitchell and G. Jenkins (Science 290 15 DECEMBER 2000 pg. 2133)

  35. Dogz
    January 24th, 2006 at 16:48 | #35

    Our data set is considerably bigger than what you’ve described. Excluding paloclimate reconstructions, we have significant instrumental data which reaches back until the mid-19th century.

    That’s what I meant: a time series of 150 years or so showing a blip at the end.

  36. Ken Miles
    January 24th, 2006 at 17:00 | #36

    It still shows considerably more than “a blip at the end”.

    We’ve got positive, negative and zero (approximately) temperature trends over this period. All of which fits nicely with measured climate forcings.

  37. Hans Erren
    January 24th, 2006 at 17:33 | #37

    Ender to continue the Porsche 2CV analogy:
    They (the developing countries) are buying a new car, and we are watching them drive. We are telling them not to cut down their forests, yet we have done so ourselves.

    Yes I am conserving energy, I cycle to work.

    I simply don’t like alarmism. Google TEOTWAWKI

  38. January 24th, 2006 at 18:42 | #38

    Ken Miles wrote :

    James Sinnamon said : Of course there can never be absolute certainty on the question of global warming until the remnants of humankind, 50 years from now, are huddled together near the North and South Poles as the rest of our planet cooks.

    That’s not going to happen James. Unless you believe that the models are seriously wrong.

    What climate models can predict with certainty that this won’t happen?

    The only thing that can be predicted with virtual certainty, is that when a complex system such as our biosphere has been tampered with on such an unprecedented scale as it has been in the last 200 years, there is a near certainty serious and detrimental changes will occur.

    Of course, it also possible there may be still be other serious climatic changes in store for us, independent of human activity, as Ronald Wright has correctly pointed out, but for our species to have caused, by our hand, the near certainty that drastic changes will occur demonstrates monumetal recklessness and stupidity.

    James Lovelock happens to believe that only the polar regions may be habitable by “the end of the century” (not in fifty years, as I wrote). He also believes that we are past the point of no return and nothing that we can do can prevent global catastrophe.

    Of course, I desperately hope that James Loveleock is proven wrong and that Tim Flannery, who thinks that we may have another twenty years to get out act together, may come to have been to shown to have been a little closer to the mark (although he is almost certainly erring on the side of optimism, IMO).

    If Flannery is right, and we have a chance, we certainly can’t afford the luxury of allowing global warming deniers, in the pay of selfish short-sighted corporations, to delay, any longer, our taking action to prevent the this threat.

  39. Steve Munn
    January 24th, 2006 at 18:47 | #39

    Paul Williams, what are your thoughts on Mann and Jones (2004) in respect of the Medieval Warm Period?

  40. Michael H
    January 24th, 2006 at 19:09 | #40

    Given that a firm majority of people whose business it is to know something of this, think that the available information shows AGW is real, it seems reasonable to act on that. Clearly there is still much to debate over the exact dimensions, mechanisms etc.

    I’m quite economicaly illiterate, so please point out the faults in what I’m about to say.
    Some of the objections of those who deny, or harbour significant doubts about, AGW are the potential economic costs, like this – ‘planet-wide mass starvation, huge economic contractions etc.’

    But, if non-renewables are a limited commodity, moves to use them more efficiently must be a good thing even if there were no negative consequences to their use.

    Can a more efficient energy sector really be such an economic disaster? If it is, does this simply mean that current systems are partially based on the premise that wasteful practices are more profitable (or that profits trump all) and that some opposition is more about resistence to change than ‘huge economic contractions’?

  41. Michael H
    January 24th, 2006 at 19:17 | #41

    James Sinnamon wrote;

    ‘What climate models can predict with certainty that this won’t happen?
    The only thing that can be predicted with virtual certainty, is that when a complex system such as our biosphere has been tampered with on such an unprecedented scale as it has been in the last 200 years, there is a near certainty serious and detrimental changes will occur.’

    There is always the serendipitous approach – if you have a complex machine and you randomly remove some parts, then add some news ones, you can’t rule out the possibility that it might work better afterwards.

    I suspect that it’s this approach that might lead someone to say – warmer? so what, I like it warmer.

  42. Steve Munn
    January 24th, 2006 at 19:24 | #42

    Another grumpy old Methuselah who has recently embarrassed himself on the climate change issue is Bob Carter, a member of the denialist Lavoisier Society.

    Realclimate.org contains a withering demolition of his witch-doctoring at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=220.

    The nonsense espoused by Bob Foster, Bob Carter, Ian Castles, Fred Singer, William Kininmonth , Willis Eschenbach and various other living dinosaurs has got me thinking. I reckon it should be legally mandated that all males over the age of 70 must have some type of filter software installed on their PCs. The filter would prevent them accessing all internet chat forums other than those for which they may have a legimate interest, including forums on prostate problems, erectile dysfunction and incontinence.

    Can’t you fellas find a more constructive way of spending your Golden Years?

  43. Ian Gould
    January 24th, 2006 at 19:42 | #43

    “It can only go on forever if there are genuine questions to be answered. As in the rest of science, if the evidence is clearcut and non-controversial, the game stops.”

    So presumably you believe the evidence for Darwinian evolution and an age for the Earth in excess of 10,000 years isn’t as yet “clearcut and non-controversial”.

  44. Ian Gould
    January 24th, 2006 at 19:45 | #44

    Steve,

    I knwo your post is tongue-in-cheek but I don’t think we should be mocking these gentlemen for their age – especially since in most cases they’ve provided us with numerous other more pertinent bases on which to mock them.

  45. January 24th, 2006 at 20:08 | #45

    Dogz – “Well, yeah. It will get warmer. I like warmer.”

    Can you prove that this is all that will happen?

    Andrew – “If we take the more extreme AGW ’solutions’ proposed we would end up with planet-wide mass starvation, huge economic contractions etc.”

    Can you prove that AGW solutions will cause what you say?

    Hans – “They (the developing countries) are buying a new car, and we are watching them drive. We are telling them not to cut down their forests, yet we have done so ourselves.”

    So the develpoing countries are buying themselves a new planet? In your analogy the car is the planet. Developing and developed countries are in the same car. Buying a new one is not an option.

  46. January 24th, 2006 at 20:09 | #46

    Michael H wrote :There is always the serendipitous approach – if you have a complex machine and you randomly remove some parts, then add some news ones, you can’t rule out the possibility that it might work better afterwards.

    But, of course, you do realise that the likelihood of a complex machine working at all, after a random change of its parts is not great, and that the likelihood of it working better after such a change is very remote indeed.

  47. SJ
    January 24th, 2006 at 20:23 | #47

    Dogz says:

    Oh blow it out your arse JQ.

    Now you’re really pissing me off, you arrogant SOB. I’d knock your block off if you repeated that to my face.

    Show me where I follow some supposed “rightwing party line� on global warming or any other issue? I am, in fact, careful to do exactly the opposite; I don’t take any claim of either side on face value[1]. Being a former scientist myself (and a damn good one at that), I know how easily science is distorted by those with an agenda.

    Quick poll:

    a) Successful businessman, PhD in mathematics, damn good scientist and impartial critic, or

    b) Pathetic, self aggrandising w**ker?

  48. Hans Erren
    January 24th, 2006 at 20:26 | #48

    sorry wrong analogy, the developing countries stepped in the car (Porsche or 2CV, we don’t know) and are sitting in the drivers seat pressing the accelerator, the developed countries are mere passengers.

  49. Michael H
    January 24th, 2006 at 20:35 | #49

    James wrote,

    ‘But, of course, you do realise that the likelihood of a complex machine working at all, after a random change of its parts is not great, and that the likelihood of it working better after such a change is very remote indeed.’

    Yes I do, but apparantly some people think that waiting to see if it will, is a good option.

  50. Simonjm
    January 24th, 2006 at 20:43 | #50

    Hey Dogz bet you will have an air conditioner, still have a place to live and supplies of fresh drinking water when other places go under and are suffering extreme heat wave conditions and drought.

    Easy to ignore the risks when it isn’t your ass on the line.

    To show what a great guys you lot are, you will back an open door refugee to any climate refugees. Hey since it aint going to happen you have nothing to lose. Being a rational ethical individuals I’m sure you won’t have a problem.

  51. Simonjm
    January 24th, 2006 at 20:48 | #51

    # pls excuse my bad editing I’m a bit preoccupied .

  52. Dogz
    January 24th, 2006 at 21:40 | #52

    To show what a great guys you lot are, you will back an open door refugee to any climate refugees. Hey since it aint going to happen you have nothing to lose. Being a rational ethical individuals I’m sure you won’t have a problem.

    I’m all for letting in more immigrants – adding a new “climate asylum seeker” category is fine by me.

    SJ: b)

  53. January 24th, 2006 at 21:46 | #53

    Hans – “the developing countries stepped in the car (Porsche or 2CV, we don’t know) and are sitting in the drivers seat pressing the accelerator, the developed countries are mere passengers.”

    So why are we pressing the accelerator?

  54. January 24th, 2006 at 22:03 | #54

    Simonjm,

    I see that the argument challengeing global warming deniers to be in favour of the acceptance of climate change refugees can easily backfire.

    Many of those, such as dogz who oppose action to curb global warming, also have no apparent grasp of the limits of this country’s carrying capacity.

    People in the population growth lobby may well see the overwhelming of this country by millions of climate refugees as yet another business opportunity, particularly if they have investments in real estate, and not give a toss about the long term sustanability of this country.

    Let’s try to do whatever we can now to avoid einvironmental catastrophe, so that we don’t, in future, find it necessary to stretch too much further our already overstretched natural resources.

  55. Hans Erren
    January 24th, 2006 at 22:23 | #55

    Not we Ender, they. Or are you perhaps living in a developing country?

  56. Simonjm
    January 24th, 2006 at 22:45 | #56

    Yes James S I appreciate your point, if they had any idea about the numbers -note the gov refuses even to consider it- they woundn’t be so blasé about saying yes.

    In my opinion no amount of science or warning will shift the diehard sceptics and to a certain degree the public and through them the governments.

    It is only when the climate starts to have a serious impact costing lives and jobs will countries like the US and Australia -through a shift in public attitudes- start to pick up their game. By then there is a good chance we will have passed the tipping point and will have to adjust to the rise and try to avoid making it worse.

    Many will die, economies will suffer, wars may even result; and the sceptics will change their line to yes it happened but there wasn’t enough information to warrant action even though mainstream science said there was.

    It will certainly be interesting if this all happens while there is a crisis from peak oil, bird flu hits and the Atlantic conveyor shuts down. At least Europe won’t have to worry about refugees while they frezze their butts off during their winters.

  57. Hans Erren
    January 24th, 2006 at 22:50 | #57

    Bird flu in Turkey is peaking because chickens are kept indoors because of the cold.

    Corrolary: global warming will lead to less flu pandemics.

  58. d
    January 24th, 2006 at 23:01 | #58

    These reasoning by analogy of the earth as a complex machine that is tampered by human activity with betrays some unproven and untrue assumptions:

    “Machine” implies some design for purposeful functional interaction of parts, “tampering” implies some interference with designed functions,

    so Prof Q:

    Where is is your list of earthly design features, functions that selected for the planet, and who did the designing? What about all the extinction events in the past- why did the assumed design features of well oiled planetary machine fail then, when humans were not there to tamper?

  59. d
    January 24th, 2006 at 23:14 | #59

    Last question was to James Sinnamen, sorry Q

  60. January 24th, 2006 at 23:52 | #60

    d,

    Obviously the analogy of the biosphere being like a complex machine is not wholly precise.

    Nevertheless, the point remains, the biosphere remains an extremely complex system, which we are unlikely to ever be able to fully comprehend.

    To have been so certain, with our limited knowledge of our biosphere, that we could have caused changes, on the huge scale as we have, particularly in regards to carbon dioxide emissions, as I have discussed above, and not seriously risk enormous and extremely damaging outcomes up to, and including, the outright extinction of the human species, is a degree of stupidity which still defies my capacity to comprehend.

  61. January 25th, 2006 at 00:13 | #61

    SimonJM,

    I am glad we see eye to eye on much of this question.

    I tend to have left wing views on most issues, but I have never been comfortable with the orthodoxy (which most of the Socialist movement shares with extreme right wing neo-liberals) that open borders and population growth are inherently good things.

    Any living organism has to have boundaries between its different parts, right down to its individual cells in order to function properly. The same applies to nation states, particularly on this planet with its huge imbalances in the distribution of both wealth and population. (Have borrowed this analogy from Geoff Davies’ “Economia”).

    This is not to say that these imbalances can, or should, be maintained indiefntely, but simply breaking down those borders is a recipe for social, economic and environmetal calamity.

  62. Hans Erren
    January 25th, 2006 at 00:44 | #62

    production of CO2 is a side effect of pricipal human activities for survival:

    breathing, heating, manufacturing and transport.
    now breathing doesn’t count as it is sustained, for the rest, do you have affordable alternatives that don’t wreck the economy immediately?

    If not be patient: when solar power is cheaper than oil, people will switch over massively. (Have you bought any grammophone records lately?)

    BTW A recession is very beneficial for CO2 reduction.
    http://home.casema.nl/errenwijlens/co2/co2sres.gif

  63. Steve Munn
    January 25th, 2006 at 01:59 | #63

    Ian Gould says:

    “Steve,

    I know your post is tongue-in-cheek but I don’t think we should be mocking these gentlemen for their age – especially since in most cases they’ve provided us with numerous other more pertinent bases on which to mock them.”

    You are correct Ian. I must admit my emotions too often overwhelm reason. (I blame it on my French ancestry!). May I say that your relentless honesty, integrity and decency earns my utmost respect, even when I disagree with you. Please keep up the good work. :)

  64. January 25th, 2006 at 08:04 | #64

    Hans – you have not answered my question – What is your ‘sides’ Plan B? What if you are all wrong and climate change happens? Are you going to take responsibility for inaction on climate change?

    BTW the USA is the worlds largest emitter of CO2 and is not making ANY real attempts to curb this.

    We can argue the points of climate change science for 400 posts but what about morality and responsibility – are they words in the skeptics vocabulary?

  65. Dogz
    January 25th, 2006 at 08:51 | #65

    I see that the argument challengeing global warming deniers to be in favour of the acceptance of climate change refugees can easily backfire.

    Many of those, such as dogz who oppose action to curb global warming, also have no apparent grasp of the limits of this country’s carrying capacity.

    I don’t oppose action to curb global warming – I just think the jury is still out on how much humans are causing and how warm it is going to get. If you have conclusive answers to those questions or at least well-established probabilities for different scenarios then I am happy to talk seriously about the costs and benefits of mitigation.

    As for Australia’s carrying capacity: Australia is enormous, largely unpopulated, currently exports a huge portion of its agricultural output (eg 80%-90% of our wheat) and is floating on uranium. We have vast areas of geologically stable desert into which we can dump nuclear waste. We could build lots of nuclear reactors and use them to power desalination plants to solve the one resource shortage we do have: water. Lets do it and throw open the doors to a couple of hundred million of the best and brightest from Asia before they catch up and no longer see us as an attractive destination.

  66. January 25th, 2006 at 10:07 | #66

    Dogz,

    As profesoor Quiggin has pointed out repeatedly, the ‘jury’ of international scientific opinion has long since returned a near-unamnimous verdict that global warming is happening and that it is almost certainly the result of changes made to the biospehere by human activity.

    If you can’t see that now you never will.

    Only a small minority of extreme cranks, or people who are in the pay of those who stand to benefit from continued pollution of our atmosphere with greenhouse gases, stand opposed to that view.

    Arguing that we wait until your alternative imaginary ‘jury’ finishes its imaginary deliberations, is practically the same as arguing for no action.

    As I have already written in my earlier post, that global climate changes may happen anyway, independant of human activity, is completely beside the point. We should have done our utmost to prolong the Earth’s largely unprecedented 10,000 years of climatic stability by not having rapidly changed our atmosphere’s chemical composition and by not having made other drastic changes to the surface of our planet.

    Intead have, by our own hand, made higly detrimental changes to our global environment a practical certainlty.

    We must act now to stop our species further compounding the changes already made to our biosphere. This must include ending Australia’s economic dependence upon the export of coal as a necessary first step.

    As for your fantastic vision of Australia with a population of hundreds of millions drinking water desalinated with nuclear power, I suggest you read one of my posts in regard to nuclear power on the Peak Oil forum, and the articles linked to from it.

    Other than that my only other comment is that you have further confirmed what I had written, that is that you have no grasp of the physical limits of this country, or for that matter, the planet.

  67. Simonjm
    January 25th, 2006 at 10:33 | #67

    Hans Erren did you watch any of those news reports on poor villages in Turkey where even after the initial outbreak that you still had chickens roaming about outside and in close proximity with children. Obviously not.

    The richer countries in Europe were already moving their chicken indoors but that was not because of the cold & BTW the cull has nothing to do with the drop?

    Have another go.

    Dogz nice that you raised our agricultural surplus, from reports from the CSIRO we could lose a lot of that. BTW they also just published a report of an accelerated rate of sea level rise

    Sea-level rise is quickening pace
    Data crunch confirms model predictions of flooding coastlines.
    http://www.nature.com/news/2006/060116/full/060116-11.html

    “Lets do it and throw open the doors to a couple of hundred million of the best and brightest from Asia before they catch up and no longer see us as an attractive destination.�

    With due respect you really don’t have any idea do you, a couple of hundred million you say. You honestly think we have the financial let alone natural resources to take that number in a short period of time? & your side talk about the loony left!

  68. Ernestine Gross
    January 25th, 2006 at 10:36 | #68

    Dogz,

    Are you saying you are certain that the probability of a positive relationship between the external effects of human activity and climate change is zero?

  69. January 25th, 2006 at 10:45 | #69

    Quick poll:

    a) Successful businessman, PhD in mathematics, damn good scientist and impartial critic, or

    b) Pathetic, self aggrandising w**ker?

    Good to see that Pr. Quiggin’s anti-bad language and uncivilised discussion policies still only apply to right-leaning commentators. Left-leaning commentors attacking the right are still free to type whatever insults they like.

    Some things never change.

  70. Bob Foster
    January 25th, 2006 at 10:55 | #70

    In electromagnetic and inertial terms, Earth is but a small cog in a very big wheel. Anyone who believes in a self-contained climate, can believe anything. At all human-relevant time-scales, the Sun is the dominant driver of our ever-changing climate. But what about the “consensus”? The advancement of scientific understanding is not a matter of voting.

  71. jquiggin
    January 25th, 2006 at 11:00 | #71

    Yobbo, I’m feeling lazy at the moment. I didn’t edit Dogz description of me as an SOB or the response. But given that you’re still feeling aggrieved about this, can I remind everyone of the policy and ask them to adhere to it.

  72. Dogz
    January 25th, 2006 at 11:01 | #72

    With due respect you really don’t have any idea do you, a couple of hundred million you say. You honestly think we have the financial let alone natural resources to take that number in a short period of time? & your side talk about the loony left!

    Provided we are selective and only take those who are likely to be net contributors to the economy we can do it. Increase the population by 10% pa and we’d be over 100 million in 17 years time.

    JS:

    the ‘jury’ of international scientific opinion has long since returned a near-unamnimous verdict that global warming is happening and that it is almost certainly the result of changes made to the biospehere by human activity.

    So what? That’s not inconsistent with my previous remarks. If you want to talk about mitigation then the extent to which we’re contributing and by how much the earth will warm is what matters. Not just whether we are having some effect or not.

    EG:

    Are you saying you are certain that the probability of a positive relationship between the external effects of human activity and climate change is zero?

    No, in fact I say the opposite: the probability of a positive relationship between the external effects of human activity and climate change is almost certainly one. But that statement just says that humans affect the climate, which is trivially true (if I fart it has some miniscule effect on the climate). As above, what matters is the extent of the effect, not just the sign.

  73. January 25th, 2006 at 11:02 | #73

    Dogz – “We have vast areas of geologically stable desert into which we can dump nuclear waste. We could build lots of nuclear reactors and use them to power desalination plants to solve the one resource shortage we do have: water.”

    Do you have references for this? Most of our ‘stable’ areas have groundwater problems. Our sea of uranium will last about 70 years withour reprocessing. Who is going to pay for the nuclear reactors at 2 billion each plus desalination plants? Who is comfortable with nuclear fuel travelling through populated suburbs.

  74. Simonjm
    January 25th, 2006 at 11:20 | #74

    For crying out loud enough with this science isn’t a matter of voting crap try something original.

    A ‘working consenus’ isn’t about voting or a popularity contest. Studies are published checked if possible repeated it then becomes the working knowledge and science and the scientists move on.

    So what instead a scientist has to check/repeat every study ever published in a discipline and go back to first principles or that in fact he rings round to see how many of his colleges think before he accepts the validity of a study and its implications?

    So give it a break no one is saying its a matter of voting.

    “At all human-relevant time-scales, the Sun is the dominant driver of our ever-changing climate. ”

    Oh and there are no other factors that can influence climate in our time scales?

    Volcaneos, mass fresh water flooding events that have effected the Atlanic conveyor in the past were on the scale of decades.

  75. Simonjm
    January 25th, 2006 at 11:29 | #75

    Dogz anything is possible if you have deep enough pockets, apart from the cost of the nuclear reactors and desalination plants, factor in the rest of the infastructure and it is a pipe dream. It would seem from teh advice even one desalination plant isn’t viable.

    Even the current neo-liberal champions haven’t got this on the radar screen because of the costs.

  76. Dogz
    January 25th, 2006 at 13:43 | #76

    Seawater desalination plants cost around $1 for each litre per day capacity, and about $1 for each kilolitre of desalinated water they produce.

    Irrigation for agriculture consumes about 75% of Australia’s water, while individuals consume about 300 litres of water per day, although even then half of that goes on gardens.

    If you include all water-use (industry, agricaulture, domestic), current per-capita water consumption is around 1M litres per year. That would likely fall dramatically with a larger population, as we would consume domestically a larger portion of the irrigated agricultural produce that is currently exported, rather than increase the amount of irrigated agriculture.

    So best-case we can assume new immigrants will add 150 litres per person per day to our water bill assuming they don’t have gardens and agricultural and industrial use of water does not increase, worst case they’ll add around 3,000 litres per person per day assuming agricultural and industrial water use grows proportionally with the population (which, as above, it won’t).

    So to add 1 million people to the Australian population we need to produce between 150M litres and 3,000M litres of extra water per day, so we need to spend between $150M and $3B building desalination plants.

    The Australian government takes about $200B from the Australian economy each year in taxes, or around $10,000 per person. Now, most of that goes back out in “services”, but assuming a selective intake to favour more economically productive immigrants (ie ones that generate more in taxes than they consume in services), we could probably generate an additional $5,000 in government revenue from each new immigrant, or $5B for every 1 million.

    So even assuming 100% govt funding of desalination infrastructure, in the worst case the government would have $2B per year left over to spend on nuclear subsidies for each 1 million skilled new arrivals.

    Sounds like a plan to me.

  77. Ken Miles
    January 25th, 2006 at 14:21 | #77

    James, the IPCC projections for 2050 suggest that the temperature rise will be between 1.2 and 1.9 degrees. By 2100, the temperature rise will be between 2.0 and 4.5 degrees.

    I don’t know how hot it will need to be before only the poles are habitable, but it will be much much higher than 4.5 degrees.

    As for Lovelock, while he is smart guy, there aren’t any published scientific papers which support his views.

  78. Simonjm
    January 25th, 2006 at 14:38 | #78

    Yes back of the envelope often look good without the fine detail, factor in the number of plants-your cost estimates seem cheap i thought it was about 1 bill per plant- extra power generation, the rest of the infastructure, land etc and your numbers wouldn’t add up.

    BTW don’t you think that if it was this easy the pro-business lobby and the gov wouldn’t have already tried this, just add water and immigration and hey presto you grow your tax income and economy?

    hmm I hope they are rich and healthy just imagine what our health system would react to these sort of increases.

  79. Paul Norton
    January 25th, 2006 at 14:53 | #79

    Since NASA’s name is so often taken in vain by the denialists, the following links make interesting reading.

    http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/34662/story.htm
    http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/2005_warmest.html
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2005/

  80. Dogz
    January 25th, 2006 at 15:16 | #80

    BTW don’t you think that if it was this easy the pro-business lobby and the gov wouldn’t have already tried this, just add water and immigration and hey presto you grow your tax income and economy?

    Politics of racism my friend. Any party that opened the door to 2M asians in a year would be ejected from office in an instant. Besides the voter backlash, both sides of politics are pretty against it. Labour hates large immigration because it tends to suppress wages. And I’m not sure Labour can even contemplate the notion of a large selective skilled and educated intake without causing a Political Correctness implosion. Howard hates large immigration from Asia because they’re the wrong colour and culture. Ten-pound British migrants are more his scene.

    The US comes closest to an experiment like this with their enormous influx of illegals from Mexico. But in the US business holds greater sway over government than here. And they don’t need to be so selective about it because those on the bottom consume less government resources due to the much lower social welfare and minimum wage. The middle-class actually like it because it supplies a cheap source of labour to serve them in the stores and to clean their houses.

  81. January 25th, 2006 at 16:23 | #81

    Dogz,

    Why is it racist to be opposed to large numbers of people migrating to your country?

    Dogz wrote : The middle-class actually like it because it supplies a cheap source of labour to serve them in the stores and to clean their houses.

    Precisely!

    … and that is precisely what I believe middle class advocates of IR ‘reforms’, ‘welfare to work’ and high immigration hope to achieve for themselves in this country.

  82. Dogz
    January 25th, 2006 at 16:46 | #82

    “Why is it racist to be opposed to large numbers of people migrating to your country?”

    Such opposition is usually motivated by xenophobia.

    … and that is precisely what I believe middle class advocates of IR ‘reforms’, ‘welfare to work’ and high immigration hope to achieve for themselves in this country.

    Impressive – do you have the whole comment archive cross-referenced?

    Much better to get people off the dole into productive work, even if you spend their dole-money on tax credits in doing so. And there’s nothing wrong with cleaning houses for a living. I advocate high immigration for the economic benefits, so I’m not looking to import 100 million carpet cleaners.

  83. Simonjm
    January 25th, 2006 at 17:11 | #83

    Dogz sorry cannot source this as I don’t remember where it came-proabbly a news report or the 7.30 report- from but I heard that some source found that they found that by in large Australians understand the need for immigration but you are partly right i don’t think there would be any country who would take that sort of numbers and have the populace comfortable even if they were skilled or rich.

    BTW wasn’t there a statment by the gov recently on a study that showed you don’t get as much economic benefit from immigration as others hope?

    I also think you you back of the envelope still doesn’t take into consideration what the real cost or the factors that are taken into consideration for a nations carrying capacity.

  84. January 25th, 2006 at 17:12 | #84

    Dogz wrote :

    “Why is it racist to be opposed to large numbers of people migrating to your country?�

    Such opposition is usually motivated by xenophobia.

    Oh, that explains it perfectly, thanks.

    People are just incapable of appreciating know how much good an influx, within a year, of two million migrants will do for them, because of their irrational xenophobic fears.

    … but you know better, and even our pollies know better, but they lack the moral fibre to bring this about in the face of voter oppostion.

    Dogz wrote :

    Much better to get people off the dole into productive work.

    Like getting single mothers to work as live in nannies in middle class households, as in the US, whilst their own children are neglected.

  85. Andrew Reynolds
    January 25th, 2006 at 17:38 | #85

    James,
    I’m sure that I could extend several of your positions into absurdity too. Why did you not say 10 million immigrant within a few weeks? It makes an even stronger point.
    Answer the substantive point rather than attempting to extend into absurdity and then saying “look it’s absurd!!!”.

  86. January 25th, 2006 at 18:12 | #86

    Andrew,

    I didn’t intoduce the absurdity of 2 million immigrants in the space of a year. I suggest you check out Dogz‘s posts :

    Lets do it and throw open the doors to a couple of hundred million of the best and brightest from Asia before they catch up and no longer see us as an attractive destination.

    and :

    BTW don’t you think that if it was this easy the pro-business lobby and the gov wouldn’t have already tried this, just add water and immigration and hey presto you grow your tax income and economy?

    Politics of racism my friend. Any party that opened the door to 2M asians in a year would be ejected from office in an instant.

    The trouble is that when such stratospheric levels of population increase are discussed, apparently, in all seriousness, it can have the effect of having other population boosting schemes, such as Queensland Premier Beattie’s plan to increase South East Queensland’s population by ‘only’ 1.1 million by 2026, when we don’t now have adequate water and power generation capacity for SEQ’s existing population, seem rational, by comparison.

  87. Dogz
    January 25th, 2006 at 18:32 | #87

    Be interesting to look at how fast Australia’s population grew during the rapid growth periods, eg after WWII.

    I agree that there are all sorts of factors to consider when considering large immigration, and I don’t know what the largest sustainable percentage growth per annum is, but I certainly don’t buy that resource shortages are the fundamental limitation in a country with the natural wealth of Australia.

    Take a look around you: Australia is fast becoming an Asian country anyway. Might as well accelerate the inevitable and grab the best and brightest while we have the opportunity. In 2050 it’s going to be much harder to attract the talented Chinese etc here because they’ll have far greater opportunities at home.

  88. Hans Erren
    January 25th, 2006 at 19:01 | #88

    looks like we finally got off topic

  89. Louis Hissink
    January 25th, 2006 at 21:42 | #89

    John,

    Science and consensus are mutually exclusive positions.

    There is no consensus that that the sun shines, for example. It just does. The blindingly obvious is not in need of a consensus. Only doubt has a need for consensus.

    Climate consensus is not science. Never was.

    So please stop advertising climate science as science, it isn’t.

  90. Ken Miles
    January 25th, 2006 at 22:05 | #90

    Hi Louis,

    It’s not surprising to see you on a thread with the terms “nonsense” and “global warming” in its title.

    Of course there is a consensus that the sun shines. That it is obvious only strengthens the consensus.

  91. Ken Miles
    January 25th, 2006 at 22:15 | #91

    In electromagnetic and inertial terms, Earth is but a small cog in a very big wheel. Anyone who believes in a self-contained climate, can believe anything. At all human-relevant time-scales, the Sun is the dominant driver of our ever-changing climate. But what about the “consensus�? The advancement of scientific understanding is not a matter of voting.

    Hi Bob, how’s it going over at the Lavoisier Group?

    Unfortunally, like pretty much everything else at the Lavoisier Group, your totally wrong. At “human-relevant time-scales” the sun is not the dominant driver of climate change. It is a significant driver, but it is far from being dominant.

    I even posted a citation which shows this, on this very thread. In case you forgot to read it before making a factually incorrect comment, I’ll give you the details again: “External Control of 20th Century Temperature by Natural and Anthropogenic Forcingsâ€? by P Stott, S. Tett, G. Jones, M Allen, J. Mitchell and G. Jenkins (Science 290 15 DECEMBER 2000 pg. 2133)

    Of course, if you have a peer reviewed scientific publication which suggests otherwise, now would be a very good time to give some details.

    But I won’t hold my breath.

  92. avaroo
    January 26th, 2006 at 05:18 | #92

    Perhaps the timing of declaring the global warming debate settled could be a bit better….

    Bone-chilling Arctic weather claimed dozens more lives in Europe Monday after an already deadly weekend, with 24 freezing deaths in as many hours in Ukraine alone, and rising tolls in Turkey, Poland, Russia and Germany … glacial temperatures swept the Baltics to the Balkans, brought rare snowfalls to Istanbul and sparked a scramble for heating fuel …

    “You’d have to go back at least 10 years, sometimes 20 years, to find such sharp colds,â€? said Patrick Galois, a meteorologist with Meteo-France …

    The last time the [Czech Republic ] saw such cold weather was 66 years ago, in 1940, when the temperature dropped to a record 31.5 below zero, the meteorological office told the Czech News Agency.

    This terrifying era of global warming is too cold for penguins.

    At the zoo in Dresden, Germany, 21 Humboldt penguins were moved from their minus 6 outdoor environment into a building where the temperature was a more comfortable 32 degrees to ensure their feet didn’t freeze, zoo director Karl Ukena said.

  93. Dogz
    January 26th, 2006 at 05:54 | #93

    avaroo, you just don’t get it, do you? The extreme cold snap in Europe is some of the best evidence yet that AGW is real, just ask greenpeace:

    At the 2005 UN Climate Change Conference in Montreal, Greenpeace’s Steven Guilbeault stated: “Global warming can mean colder, it can mean drier, it can mean wetter, that’s what we’re dealing with.”

    We hear an overwhelming chorus of protest from the pro-AGW scientific community whenever a sceptic gets something wrong, but deafening silence whenever greenpeace speaks, no matter how stupid or irresponsible their statements.

  94. avaroo
    January 26th, 2006 at 05:56 | #94

    greenpeace……lol

  95. Dogz
    January 26th, 2006 at 06:49 | #95

    I was disappointed when the harpoon missed that idiot from greenpeace.

    1 million Minke whales. The Japanese take 500 a year. And greenpeace act like they’re saving the planet by getting in between the whalers and the whales. Morons.

  96. avaroo
    January 26th, 2006 at 07:09 | #96

    “Greepeace Discovers Weather Changes From Year to Year….”

    Some Years Wetter……Some Years Drier….Some Years Colder…..Some Years Warmer……

    Keep those donations rolling in……

  97. January 26th, 2006 at 08:08 | #97

    Avaroo, Dogz, I suggest you read the following from an article “Cold Snap Heating Up Global Warming Debate” in the UK :

    Despite the uncertainty that is inevitable from such work, people prefer more black and white answers. Thus every weather trend needs to be explained as though it is to be a definite sign of things to come. Experience should tell us otherwise; a cold snap does not disprove global warming any more than a few storms or droughts prove that global warming is the cause. Global warming does appear to be a phenomenon that is here to stay, but there will continue to be a few twists and turns in our climate.

    From the NASA web site (thanks, Peter Norton) the top five warmest years since 1890 are:

    1. 2005
    2. 1998
    3. 2002
    4. 2003
    5. 2004

    Against this, global warming deniers such as yourselves have, predictably, seized upon the recent cold snap in Europe, which is said to be the coldest in 10 or 20 years (or in the case of the Czech Republic, since 1940), to convince the rest of us that all is well, after all. We need no longer entertain any fear that having dug up and burnt, so far, nearly half of all the carbon sequestered into the ground over many tens of millions of years may have dire consequences for the world’s climate patterns.

    Whilst a few simpletons may be swayed by your argument, I predict that this latest example of extreme variablity in our weather patterns, even predicted by some scientists as a consequence of global warming, will not shift the near unanimous body of opinion of the world’s scientists that global warming is real and that it is here now.

  98. Ernestine Gross
    January 26th, 2006 at 08:08 | #98

    Dogz,

    Re your reply to my post:
    Good. At least one uncertainty as to who says what is resolved.

    Are you saying that the aggregate and cumulative external effects of human activities on climate change are negligible for the relevant time horizon (ie until life on earth stops for reasons not under the control of humans) or are you saying you disagree with all or some of the quantifications methods available at present?

    Incidentally, cost-benefit analysis, as applied in economics, works only if there is only one externality and it is globally negligible but locally significant (ie it does not work if all prices are measurably affected).

  99. January 26th, 2006 at 08:30 | #99

    Ken Miles,

    Even if James Lovelock’s dire prediction is not realised then you would still agree that we still have a good deal to be extremely concerned about : receding polar ice caps, the melting of the Greenland ice shelf, both contributing to runaway global warming as heat will no longer be reflected to such an extent back into space, rising sea levels inundating some of the most populous regions of our planet, the threat to Australia’s capacity to grow food, according to Tim Flannery, etc, etc?

  100. jquiggin
    January 26th, 2006 at 08:58 | #100

    “We hear an overwhelming chorus of protest from the pro-AGW scientific community whenever a sceptic gets something wrong, but deafening silence whenever greenpeace speaks, no matter how stupid or irresponsible their statements.’

    Maybe this is because everyone knows Greenpeace is an advocacy group, pushing a case to support predetermined policy positions. By contrast, lots of people seem to be under the impression that “sceptics” are independent researchers with some sort of credibility.

    As you appear to be aware, anyone who relies on either Greenpeace or the “sceptics” for their information on scientific issues, is likely to be led astray on a regular basis. When they agree with the mainstream scientific community (Greenpeace on AGW and the “sceptics” on the dangers of GM) they’re redundant (as sources of scientific information) and when they disagree they’re of negative value.

    That’s not to say that advocacy groups don’t have an important and valuable place. Just that when they disagree with mainstream science, it’s wise to back mainstream science.

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