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Competing interest?

There has been quite a degree of interest in the Louise Gray article in the Telegraph the other day - the one in which we were led to believe that a variety of scientists were calling for a halt to economic growth and the introduction of rationing.

Donna Laframboise is one person who has been taking a look at this story. She notes that Louise Gray is not presenting an accurate picture to her readers:

Gray, who appears to have interviewed Anderson, fails to make it clear that the bit about rationing represents Anderson’s personal opinion. It is highly misleading to suggest, as her article does, that this measure enjoys the support of “physicists and chemists from some of world’s most respected scientific institutions.”

As others have observed, Anderson is not only a director of the Tyndall Institute for Climate Change, but, more remarkably, is a non-executive director of Greenstone Carbon Management, a company that works " in partnership with commercial and public sector organisations to enable them to measure, manage and report their carbon emissions".

Now this looks to me like a fairly clear competing interest, one that one would have expected Prof Anderson to declare in his new paper in Phil Trans A. The code of practice for UK researchers published by the UK Research Integrity Office says that:

3.15.6 ... All funders and sponsors of research should be clearly acknowledged and any competing interests listed.

Unfortunately, Prof Anderson appears to have forgotten to mention his interests in the paper in question.

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Reader Comments (64)

Check out JD UPDATE: "I’ve just had an email from Kevin Anderson about his role at Greenstone"

"Professor Anderson, you have just gone from being this column’s hate figure to Hero Of The Week"

Dec 1, 2010 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

"My comment simply refers to my position in Greenstone. I DO NOT take any money other than basic expenses (2nd class train) from Greenstone."

Would a non exec Director be given share options I wonder? Are we absolutely sure there is no other 'conflict of interest' mechanism?

Interesting he worked in Big Oil prior to his academic career.

Dec 1, 2010 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

It's irrelevent whether the Prof is being paid or not, the policy requires listing any 'competing interests' which do not have to be paiod interests. The fact that he's a participant in an organisation that is likely to benefit should be disclosed whether he takers a salary or not. It's INFLUENCE that is the currency here, not necessarily the folding stuff.

Dec 1, 2010 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

WWF supremo David Nussbaum has another job as director of quoted private equity fund Low Carbon Accelerator.

Their website says... "Our mission is to provide the capital to accelerate the growth of businesses with products and services that will deliver immediate reductions in carbon dioxide emissions...."

Dec 1, 2010 at 1:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Louise redefines "Gray" literature as produced by WWF etc and used by IPCC.

This is a collection of words from an article over the weekend trying to explain that pollution was slowing global warming

"Also short term weather patterns such as the tropical storms El Nino and La Nina"

It was a stand alone "paragraph" and says a lot about Louise's comprehension of English and Science

Dec 1, 2010 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

"..She notes that Louise Gray is not presenting an accurate picture to her readers.."

Does she ever? She's not called "Catastrophic" Louise for nothing.
You'll have noticed that she just cuts and runs, never enters into any kind of debate with her readers (and commenters), and for that omission alone is highly unpopular.

Dec 1, 2010 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterNatsman

Why would I ask a physicist about rationing and changing the economy? Surely this is hardly their domain of expertise? Or is it that such people can comment on everything, but when others comment on their field they are ‘ignorant’?

I bet it appears on his CV and is used to enhance his academic profile & there is nothing wrong in that. It is still a conflict of interest even if he is not paid.

Dec 1, 2010 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn

SMBC has covered this well:

Not that this excuses the scientists.

Dec 1, 2010 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy

Delingpole has had an email from Prof Anderson to say that he's not being paid for his work at Greenstone.

But what about "beneficial interest" such as stock or other monetary reward?

Dec 1, 2010 at 2:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

"Does she ever? She's not called "Catastrophic" Louise for nothing.
You'll have noticed that she just cuts and runs, never enters into any kind of debate with her readers (and commenters), and for that omission alone is highly unpopular."
Dec 1, 2010 at 2:16 PM | Natsman

Self-imposed ban still not sticking then? Now Chris. Out of the many, many times I've asked you for evidence for your crackpot theories, one of the only times you've ever ventured anything, was to suggest that I read the Daily Telegraph. Generally poor journalism though it is, was this the kind of thing you meant?

Dec 1, 2010 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

@Cumbrian Lad

I agree with you- if Anderson is on the board of GreenStone Carbon Management, whether he is paid or not, one can only presume that he supports what the firm are doing. It his ability to influence others through his opinions that is relevant to the conflict of interest claim.

Dec 1, 2010 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Clearly Professor Anderson has no idea of the responsibilities of directors, and no common sense, if he is prepared to work for nothing for a commercial organisation. He has an onerous duty to ensure that he is fully informed as to Greenstone's business activities, and to act in the interest of their shareholders at all time. If he is stupid enough not to take any money for these responsibilities, it does not take away his conflict of interest.

Dec 1, 2010 at 2:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

Anderson says he only gets "basic expenses (2nd class train)", poor chap. He goes on to say that "since working in this area my quality of life has suffered as I make some reasonable effort to reduce my emissions. This has had (and is having) serious family, friends and work repercussions".

If true, I'm impressed, but you have to wonder what sacrifices are involved. A new car every 5 years instead of 3, perhaps? Cava instead of Bollinger, 2nd class instead of first? No wonder his family and friends are beginning to find prior engagements... :-)

Dec 1, 2010 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

I take my eye of the ball for a minute and now it's >4C by 2060?

It's worse than I thought.

The decadal trend is going to have to buck its ideas up or we're going to undershoot the target by an embarrassing margin.

Dec 1, 2010 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

I did the same thing Donna did yesterday; I read the article about 'rationing' and then looked through the papers in the Phil Trans Roy Soc and there was no mention of rationing.

Dec 1, 2010 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaulM

Sorry, this is almost o/t, but the figures are from the Gray article linked in the headpost.

Just so there's no confusion, the current average of HADCRUT3, GISTEMP, and the UAH vs RSS take on the satellite data gives a decadal trend of +0.15C (eg here: - see the Notes tab for detail)

Assuming a constant level of warming (which I don't), that gets us to +1.5C by 2100.

But according to the Gray article:

Unless emissions are reduced dramatically in the next ten years the world is set to see temperatures rise by more than 4C (7.2F) by as early as the 2060s, causing floods, droughts and mass migration.

So the trend must increase immediately to 0.8C/decade (in other words more than a five-fold jump) and hold steady for the next 50 years.

Or it can rise at an increasingly steep rate, but unless it gets up close to 0.8C/decade fast it will have to accelerate at fantastic speed over the coming decades.

Or this is just blatant alarmism wearing a straight face.

Dec 1, 2010 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

I hope the Telegraph editors give Louise appropriate thanks for the world wide publicity she is generating

Dec 1, 2010 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Louise Gray is not a journalist, and how any editor allows her to remain employed as such is a mystery to me! Facts and Louise are as 'strangers that pass in the night', but she is no worse than the egregious BOB Ward, who posts on the Grauniad's CiF. I had the privelege of having a post crticising Ward for his ad hom attacks and his straw-man arguments removed within ten minutes , so the editors and mods there are very protective of him - seems as if he is 'their' Ward. :)

Dec 1, 2010 at 4:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

May thanks for those numbers BBD - talk about perspective!

Dec 1, 2010 at 4:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

Anderson is listed as a director of the company here. (Note their eco-friendly Mayfair address). Would it be unusual to be a director, to lead significant revenue generation projects, and have no share in the company whatsoever?

Dec 1, 2010 at 4:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

He's a non-exec

Dec 1, 2010 at 4:57 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill


Would it be unusual to be a director, to lead significant revenue generation projects, and have no share in the company whatsoever?

Hard to believe he uses second class train trips, but perhaps. But not bloody likely.

There are many, many ways to have a "beneficial interest" beyond a pay check.

Dec 1, 2010 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Quote, Prof Anderson, 2009, "Only once our energy system is carbon-free and our meat-eating substantially curtailed can we again consider seriously having a growing economy – provided it can be reconciled with the other demands of sustainability."

There goes the bacon butties.

The guy is a CAGW zealot, and that makes him a eco-nutter on 60k a year.

Dec 1, 2010 at 5:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

More eco-rantings

Prof Anderson in the lead up to Copehagen in 2009, " For humanity it's a matter of life or death. We will not make all human beings extinct as a few people with the right sort of resources may put themselves in the right parts of the world and survive. But I think it's extremely unlikely that we wouldn't have mass death at 4C. If you have got a population of nine billion by 2050 and you hit 4C, 5C or 6C, you might have half a billion people surviving."

Prof Anderson in the lead up to Cancun 2010, "There is now little to no chance of maintaining the rise in global surface temperature at below 2C, despite repeated high-level statements to the contrary. Moreover, the impacts associated with 2C have been revised upwards so that 2C now represents the threshold of extremely dangerous climate change."

So 1 year ago Prof Anderson was stating 4C represented extremely dangerous climate change, This year 2C now represents extremely dangerous climate change. What will be the figure next year?

1. 1C
2, 0C
3. -1C

The most alarming thing about this alarmist rhetoric is that Prof Anderson is getting 60K a year for simply moving the alarmist goalposts.

Dec 1, 2010 at 5:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Rationing Cancun style. How the UN delegates are faring on meagre fare.

Dec 1, 2010 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

LOL! Not paid? Does he own an interest (salaries are not profits).

Dec 1, 2010 at 6:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterAJStrata

@ Mac

It's not that the numbers are going down - they are going up!

We suddenly seem to be facing +4C by 2060. I posted some thoughts on the numbers above at 3:52PM.

Dec 1, 2010 at 6:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Louise Gray doesn't seem to have much of an internet presence, beyond her copious outspillings for the Telegraph. Google reveals someone of that same name who is 'Director and New Energy Researcher' for a company she launched called Tidal Today (which "aims to create a community of people whose sole focus is to unleash the true potential of Tidal Energy").

It's difficult to tell from the photos if it is the same Louise who is now Environment Correspondent for the Telegraph...

...however, it seems that all mention of her on the Tidal Today website ends in 2008... about the same time as Louise's articles began appearing in the Telegraph, and at the same time as the company seems to have merged with the much larger 'FC Business Intelligence' whose clients include the 'Conservative Party under David Cameron'.

Dec 1, 2010 at 6:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter S

Peter S

As you say, inconclusive but still interesting.

Dec 1, 2010 at 7:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Anderson is a Marine Engineer, and I understand is shortly to release a cover version of "Trains and Boats and Planes", with Rajendra Pachauri and Richard Branson.

Tyndall bio:
He is Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and holds a joint chair in Energy and Climate Change at the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester and School of Environmental Sciences at University of East Anglia. Kevin has responsibility for both supervising discrete research projects on nuclear power, transport and energy scenarios, amongst others, and for integrating Tyndall’s Centre’s broad range of expertise to provide a systems-level and interdisciplinary appreciation of climate change.

In addition to Kevin’s academic work, he is regularly called on to give advice to Government and Industry stakeholders, as well as to contribute to wider public and policy fora on climate change.

Kevin is a qualified marine engineer and has 12 years industrial experience, principally in the petrochemical industry. He is currently a non-executive director of Greenstone Carbon Management – a London based company advising leading firms and public bodies on how to manage their carbon emissions and is commissioner on the Welsh Assembly Government’s ‘Climate Change Committee’.

From his personal website,,
"Managing and understanding the linkages between the disparate projects demands a genuinely interdisciplinary approach, synthesising, for example, highly technical electrical power systems research with conceptually demanding interpretations of equity and carbon emissions."

Meanwhile, in a former penal colony, "Norfolk Island to trial world's first personal carbon trading scheme"

"Norfolk Island, a former British penal colony in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, is to become the first place in the world to trial a personal carbon trading program. Residents of the tiny volcanic outcrop, which is inhabited by descendants of the HMS Bounty mutineers, have signed up to a three-year voluntary scheme which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and obesity.

Under the program, which was devised by researchers at Southern Cross University in northern New South Wales, Australia, the island's residents will receive a carbon card, which operates like a credit or debit card, containing a set number of carbon units.

During the trial, residents will use the card when they pay for petrol and power. Those who use fewer units by walking or cycling instead of driving or using less electricity at home will be able to exchange any remaining credit at the end of the year for cash. Over time the number of carbon units handed out on the cards will go down, forcing individuals to work harder to maintain a low-carbon lifestyle."

More on Tyndall here:

Dec 1, 2010 at 7:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterDennisA

"She notes that Louise Gray is not presenting an accurate picture to her readers"

Shock, horror !

Has she ever ?

Dec 1, 2010 at 8:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohndeFrance

I think I would spout a pile of ideological bullshit for 60k a year. Then again, no I feckin wouldn't.

When all the dust settles, we need to remember who all these die hard fear mongers are.

Dec 1, 2010 at 8:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris S

Open season on Kevin Anderson – here’s some free amo’.
Dec 2010

Whatever I say someone will come up with another 'statement' or ‘inference’ about my money-making activities. But in the world I inhabit I am not aware of my making money out of Greenstone - and I do not have any shares in the company and have actively stayed out of any share issues or discussions on such. I have high regard for the Greenstone board but as I am sure they would testify I stand up for my views on climate change (which I gather few folk on this blog share) – I am not a sycophant and really am not concerned whether I’m liked by other than my immediate friends, family and colleagues. Any moneys I’ve received have, as far as I can recall, been put back into the research which I understand most of you think is a waste of time – and I hope you’re right. I have not gone for any internal promotion within the Professor scale – and so remain pretty much at the bottom of the scale (see below); many, but not all, Profs are paid between £70-90k – which I consider too high – with vice chancellors and some high-profile academics getting £150-250k or more – which in my view is completely inappropriate and morally wrong – but they would likely disagree – they may also get additional consultancy, appearance money, prize money and first class travel – all of which I also consider unacceptable – but again they would likely disagree. That said, and to avoid future come back, I am considering applying for promotion so I can then return all of any additional salary (including gift-aided tax) as a donation to the University to cover the cost of some support staff – believe it or not I don’t want extra dosh (though donations for research would be gratefully received). To stop any conjecture I receive ~£60k for 60-80 hrs/week and about 3-6 weeks holiday per year
Below is some further grist to the mill for those who want additional ammunition to fire back at me – though sticking with non-vitriolic disagreements with the science and emissions data would be preferable.
• I live in a two bedroom flat – it’s a nice flat but it is a flat nonetheless, with, in addition to the moderate sized bedrooms, a big lounge, a good size kitchen, shower room and bathroom – and a nice garden shed (8’x7’) in the communal gardens.
• My fuel (elec & gas) bills are about £350 p.a for the flat - and I am with Good energy so the tariff is a little higher than normal (amo for someone there – but don’t send me crap on spinning reserves – just check the wind and demand profiles first and then ally them with real smart meters and a good capacity factor - & remember the grid load factor is somewhere in the 65 -70% mark. Also higher hub height gives better capacity factor and extending electricity demand to transport & heating leaves the spinning reserve arguments spinning).
• I do not have any holiday homes, TV, tumble drier, dish washer etc.
• I did not have a fridge or freezer for 12 years – but due to work circumstances I now have the most efficient fridge I could find in the EU – small and consumes 80kWh/yr on the spec, but I’m hoping to get it lower than that (normal fridge is between 150 and 500kWh)
• I have a 13 year old campervan (43mpg)
• For more ridicule, you’ll be pleased to hear (and subsequently abuse) that I wear my clothes more than one day before their being washed – I reckon 5-8 days for smart shirts, much longer for trousers with undies being my downfall (so to speak) – probably a 2 day mean – woolen sox seem to last longer.
• When I was a kid I bathed once a week whether I needed it or not – but then so did everyone else so we didn’t notice the smell. Now we’re supposed to smell of soap and muskrat glands – so I’ve followed the fashion and generally shower after exercise – or thereabouts (probably 2 to 3x /week).
• I haven’t flown in over 6 years – this has caused considerable family, friend and work problems. I do not have a no-fly policy but make a reasonable effort to avoid it where I can and have succeeded so far (hence I’m not in the holiday resort of Cancun). So you may catch me out in the future and you can revel in it then – but it’s all a matter of scale.
Enough self-ridicule. So most of you think the science is wrong – I disagree, though unfortunately cannot be as absolutely certain of my views as many of you appear to be about yours – perhaps you’re simply much better informed than I am on the science, emissions data, impacts etc.
Building on this, I emailed James Delingpole earlier today with four points that underpin my concerns about climate change – you (and he) may disagree with them all, but if there is some sense their broadly correct, I’m unsure as to how such adamant views as expressed in this and many other blogs can be held. I’m sure the general view amongst those reading this is I’m either too thick to get it or am getting too rich on the back of climate change to care.
If you’ve read all my above ramblings then thanks for listening. Whilst I would like to engage in one to one arguments on the science, emissions etc, believe it or not I don’t have the time. If anyone thinks there is anything resembling reasonableness in my points below, you might find a paper a colleague and I had published by the Royal Society on Monday of interest. We’ve paid £1400+vat from our own consultancy dosh to make it free access (which I would like for all science papers – so you’ll not catch me out there); it can be found at:
The four points …

First, the greenhouse effect exists and is essential for maintaining life as we know it. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere trap energy (heat) radiating back out from the earth into space, and in so doing keep the planet about 33 degrees centigrade (33°C) warmer than it would otherwise be. Without the greenhouse gases the earth’s average temperature would be around 18°C below freezing.

Second, carbon dioxide is the most significant of the greenhouse gases; though it is important to note that water vapour is an essential part of the warming story. However, its presence in the atmosphere is a consequence principally of the temperature rise brought about by the longer-lasting greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide.

Third, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing rapidly and has done so since the start of industrial revolution, but particularly since the middle of the last century. The ‘concentration’ in the atmosphere of this important greenhouse gas is about 38% higher now than it was at the beginning of the industrial revolution.

Fourth, the increase in carbon dioxide is being driven by increased use of coal, oil and gas. This is known because carbon dioxide from fossil fuels has a unique finger print compared with carbon dioxide from more ‘natural’ processes. Without question, therefore, the increase we have witnessed in the past century has been from our combusting of fossil fuels.

Bringing all this together paints a very clear picture. The greenhouse effect exists and keeps the earth’s temperature higher than it would otherwise be; the most important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is carbon dioxide; carbon dioxide emissions are rising rapidly; this rise is due to our burning fuels. Now, if the rise in emissions was small and much slower than we’re experiencing, then there would be little reason for concern. But this is not the case. Emissions of all greenhouse gases are already high and are rising at a rapid rate (trend line of 3-4% p.a. for CO2): so where does this leave us? Although some scientific uncertainties remain, the main message is clear and unambiguous, unless we take urgent action to dramatically reduce emissions there is a high risk global mean surface temperatures will rise by 4C or more during this century. (You’ll have to read the paper referred to above for more on this final sentence).

Kind regards


Ps. LIke it or not I am pleased their are people sceptical of the science - scientists are not scientists without a healthy dose of scepticism. Cynicism, ignorance and rude arrogance - that's another issue - but I'm sure non of you consider you fit into that collective category.

... a final plea, journalists typically remove any caveats in their reporting of conversations - so please read the original papers. Much of the above is based on quotes etc from newspapers - any discerning reader must be aware that the truth of what was said is probably on partially captured in the reporting of it.

Dec 1, 2010 at 8:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Anderson

It says a lot about him that only money is interesting.

Dec 1, 2010 at 8:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

KA says: 'The most important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is carbon dioxide.'

Ah, fella, I see your problem.

Dec 1, 2010 at 8:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

How about this for a statistical hockey stick. By 1960 the UK had but 27 universities. By 1970, 51, and by 1990, 53. In 1992, the Further and Higher Education Act allowed all polytechnics to become universities. Now we have 124 universities. And with them, a deluge of new professorships. And a honeypot of research funding for 'policy-driven' research funding. No surprise them, that we now have more environmental professorships than hot dinners.

Here's a link for Anderson debating with Lawson on Jeremy Vine earlier this year.

Dec 1, 2010 at 8:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

@Kevin Anderson,

I can accept all of your points except the second, which is delusory drivel. It implies that your opinions are ideologically, not scientifically derived.

Dec 1, 2010 at 9:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterCarmen

Hello Kevin

Just a couple of things:

My fuel (elec & gas) bills are about £350 p.a for the flat - and I am with Good energy so the tariff is a little higher than normal (amo for someone there – but don’t send me crap on spinning reserves – just check the wind and demand profiles first and then ally them with real smart meters and a good capacity factor - & remember the grid load factor is somewhere in the 65 -70% mark. Also higher hub height gives better capacity factor and extending electricity demand to transport & heating leaves the spinning reserve arguments spinning).

Forgive my obtuseness, but the above is puzzling. When you refer to load factor as 'somewhere in the 65-70% mark' are you referring to wind turbines in the UK? I only ask as the figures you provide are over double the actual performance on record, even for the best-situated arrays.

Although some scientific uncertainties remain, the main message is clear and unambiguous, unless we take urgent action to dramatically reduce emissions there is a high risk global mean surface temperatures will rise by 4C or more during this century. (You’ll have to read the paper referred to above for more on this final sentence).

The press report may have been inaccurate, as you suggest, in claiming that temperatures would rise by 4C in 2060. But this remains a high-ish estimate for the end of the century given that the decadal trend is still around 0.15C.

While I appreciate that the rate of warming may rise, the required change in trend is very large indeed and does not easily marry to current observations.

Dec 1, 2010 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Well done Kevin for such a detailed and personal response.

I imagine even the sceptics accept that carbon dioxide has a warming effect, all other factors being equal. The problem is being sure that in the real world how all the other factors work in combination. There appears to be plenty of debate on what the factors are and how they all mesh together.

That makes me nervous about the costs that severe reductions in carbon dioxide will involve. Does the uncertainty of the temperature changes justify the certainty of the damage the steps will have on economies and the consequent comparative reductions in living standards, health, life expectancy etc?

Dec 1, 2010 at 9:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterArgusfreak

@Kevin Anderson

Many thanks for the reply - I respect your strong beliefs.

There is - I think - an inconsistency in your comments that might be worth clarifying: You say "Any moneys I've received have, as far as I can recall, been put back into the research ...." and then you say "We’ve paid £1400+vat from our own consultancy dosh to make it [a paper on AGW] free access..."

Or does spreading the word perhaps count as research? It would be useful to clarify this as a great deal of climatological effort is invested in 'outreach', 'education', 'PR', cutting and pasting, etc. and your perspective on this would be very valuable.

Dec 1, 2010 at 9:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

4deg by 2060 looks way high when compared to the trend since the millennium.

Dec 1, 2010 at 9:28 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Three cheers for journalists with an investigative edge and a functioning mind of their own - such as Donna Laframboise. Professors merrily bouncing along on bandwagons would have a far far harder time of it, and rightly so, if only we had more of her like.

Dec 1, 2010 at 10:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Kevin Anderson, thank you for posting on this site, It is rare to see the views and opinions of an AGW supporter, expressed without an alarmst spin.

Would you be prepared to comment on Bishop Hill's point above concerning 4C rise by 2060? It strikes most people as a simple scaremongering tactic in the run up to another "we only have 80 days to save the planet" climate conference.

Can you appreciate that scientists making unfounded claims (which may be exagerated by irresponsible journalists) does not help your cause? From what I have learnt about you, you do not fall into this category

Dec 1, 2010 at 10:59 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Struggling to keep up with all of these - if I was a conspiracy theorist I'd think this was deliberate distraction from my work - but I'm not so here goes ... (please note if I don't respond any further, its just that life and work has got in the way, it's not dismissal of others' comments).
Kim 1 - the point is I and others working on climate change are typically accused of being in it for the money. I point out why that is not always the case and then get accused of only being concerned about the money. - There's no way out of that.
Kim 2 - yes, cos CO2 is a gas water vapour is a vapour, I acknowledge this is a moot point but is not unimportant - CO2 broadly obeys the gas laws whilst water vapour don't until superheated. More significantly, and as I note, water vapour is an essential part of the story (60-70% of the radiative forcing) - but in the absence of the other gases it would drop out the atmosphere relatively quickly. So in that regard CO2 is the most important GHG. I stand by that conclusion but I agree water vapour needs to be considered and is so by every climate scientist I am aware of - if you know otherwise please point towards there papers.
Pharos - I don't think he's commenting on what I wrote. Though I guess Vine and Lawson get 20x or more each than the salary of the professor working on climate change - not sure how that fits into your argument - you seem to be concerned about the £60k prof but not the £1.5M Vine and heaven knows how much for Lawson .... consistency please!
Carmen - please see note to Kim 2 - and then let me know how it is drivel - please refer to the detailed work behind your view as I really do not know of any analysis that disagrees with the basics of my point 2 allied with the further clarification to Kim 2. If you then agree with my comment on CO2 - you agree with all four points - so please explain why it is you consider (if you do) that concerns over climate change are ill-founded? I am genuinely interested in why my comment on CO2 is scientific drivel?
BBD - the 65-70% is the load factor for the whole grid not the capacity factor for turbines - which ranges from low 20 to 50 depending on size and location (well sited on land probably 25-35%, with well sited offshore and bigger (3-5MW) 35 to 50%) - I recall a few years back some 3MW turbines near the Shetlands reached 52% over the year - though the Shetland is a particularly good site.
BBD - I suggest reading Richard Betts et al paper in the latest philosophical transactions - I think his paper is also free access. 4C is the higher end if emissions continue as currently trending - and I think a 3-3.5C sensitivity - its a while since I read a pre-proof version of the Betts paper, so I suggest reading it rather me try and second guess my memory of the detail.
Argusfreak - I'd have agreed with you 10 years back perhaps - but in 2010 no longer, Climate change is about cumulative emissions and we are very high in the curve and appear to be heading back to 3-4% p.a. growth in CO2 and no sign of this abating, In addition non-Annex 1 emissions now exceed Annex 1 but the former still have very low emissions per capita and very low welfare/economic prosperity compared with Annex 1. The cumulative emission ranges I and my colleague used in our 2008 Phil Trans paper were the full 450ppmv stabilisation range from AR4 (~1400-2200GtCO2e for the 21st century - by memory). Our analysis demonstrates that even with very large cumulative emission ranges the policy implications are very similar - and if anything I suggest the ranges are conservative as they do not (and shouldn't as yet) include any discontinuities - most of which tend to point to emissions being higher than lower. So in the end my judgement is that the risks of high temperatures and the associated scale and scope of impacts are such to justify the conclusions I draw - which are about wanting higher living standards, health etc for the 5.5 billion and that this 'demands' temporary reductions in economic consumption for the 1.5 billion - at least until low carbon supply can be installed and represent 90% of the energy we consume (probably 20yrs with a Marshall plan). - And please note I am aware that there are 300M wealthy folk in China and many poor folk in the UK - so this is not just about national boundaries.
ZT - this is an important point and I'm not sure how best to respond. We are often criticised for undertaking publically funded research and then publishing it in costly journals that few can access. I personally think this is not appropriate and do my reasonable best to let as many folk as possible view my papers - but the rules are stacked against this. On this occasion we could make the papers open access but only at considerable cost. As you point out every penny we spend on this is a penny we don't spend on 'direct' research. That said, if making papers open access encourages greater engagement it may be that new ways of thinking will emerge - and this could be defined as 'indirect' research. So I don't think there is a simple answer as to whether the £1400 we spent was research funding or not - at least until we get feedback on the paper. Ultimately, I'd like all our papers etc open access as a matter of course - then much greater scrutiny would result which, overall, must be good for science.

Dec 1, 2010 at 11:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Anderson

Golf Charley asked about the 4C comment. I suggest the first two papers below give a good account of why 4C is relevant - they should both be downloadable for free (related to the ZT comment). - 4C paper - my and a colleagues paper - intro to the journal edition

I also think it is likely that higher temperatures will be discussed in the next few years. This is not, at least for most climate scientists, because we want more money, but that some of the issues we can't yet adequately quantify but know the sign off (i.e. make it warmer or cooler) will become more robustly quantified - and with few exceptions these make it warmer. In addition emissions have not come down as many had hoped they would do. Furthermore, as more aerosols are removed from industrial processes for other reasons (including reduced deforestation) their cooling effect may/will be reduced.

It is important to note that 4C is not a 'new' temperature - it has been there for a long time as a possibility within the conventional climate science - but it was thought unlikely and, to an extent, politically unacceptable. Our failure to mitigate even the rate of growth in emissions mean that it is now more likely and as such scientists are more prepared to stand up and say what is politically unacceptable. I realise this is completely at odds with what many of those engaged in blogs dismissing climate change think is the case. However, I strongly hold to the view that those conducting the science related to climate change are collectively conservative and typically underplay rather than exaggerate their findings. Clearly their are exceptions to this - but not many in my view! Anyway, that's me blown any chance of been invited round for coffee I fear ....

Kind regards again - this is probably my last venture into the blogosphere for a while - it's very time consuming.


Dec 2, 2010 at 12:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Anderson

Kevin - many thanks for the response. I think that scientific publications in this day and age should be freely available and that scientific publishers, Nature, (et al) have been gouging both the public and scientists for far too long. I wouldn't say that spreading the word is research, though. Marketing or PR, but not research.

Anyway - your rapid (do you know Bob Ward?) and forthright responses are much appreciated. Good luck with your research.

Dec 2, 2010 at 12:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Kevin Anderson
You are correct in assuming my comment was not responding to your earlier blog comment, or to criticise remunerations. I was merely pointing out that there has been a dramatic rise in academic institutions and appointments, mainly reliant on public research funding, at a time when such funding is dominated by a political agenda driving the direction of environmental research, especially climate-related. For academic climate alarmists it has thus been a golden age, if possibly a poisoned chalice.

It does not take Inspector Jacques Clouseau to detect that the Royal Society are heavily involved in steering this agenda, and this latest collection of papers, conveniently announced a few days before Cancun, seems timed primarily to provide soundbite science for politicians, more than high end speculations for climatologists.

Many sceptics blogging herein have not reached their conclusions lightly, but have analysed the evidence as best they can and reached their opinions in the round. They are unimpressed by the scientific data, are irritated at propaganda tactics to cast CO2 as a pariah, and suspicious that natural causes have been deliberately diminished.

Personally, I would be far more impressed by a Royal Society Special Publication of the Quaternary Ice Age and its postulated future excursions. In looking for alarm, I believe the paradigm is wrong, the temperature direction is wrong, and climatology has prostituted itself to political agendas.

Dec 2, 2010 at 12:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterPharos


We mainly disagree about the true value of renewables (irrespective of my initial misunderstanding of your comment). Wind doesn’t work as a baseload generator and national economies need a reliable electricity supply or the voters get twitchy.

As you say in your paper, China and India et al. will industrialise and negate the weak effects of emission reduction policies in developed economies.

So, our current policies are parochial and ineffective.

And this is where I lose your drift. You should, I think, be writing urgent letters to the leaders of the developing world. Who will, of course, ignore you.

They literally cannot afford to do otherwise.

Dec 2, 2010 at 1:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Well, it seems clear that /some/ folk charged with looking at predicting "the climate" / weather have trouble looking at what's going to happen next week, let alone 10 years hence. The reliability record of prediction from many in the climate science community who feel they have to make extrapolations from now and the past is very poor indeed - hence the book......

As a professional weather watcher, a few years back I noticed wild fluctuations in (electronically) published simulations purporting to predict weather, on further investigation these emanated from lack of physical observations driving simulations dependant on umm...not much.... or nothing. Filling in the gaps in observation with simulation should be shown as such and I find the general acceptance of contiguous data sets presented without clearly showing the weighting of data provenance to be dodgy at best and blatantly dishonest at worst. Sadly, I see the same on a grander scale in much AGW supporting work. Kevin you talk of improved quantification - need I say more?

As to renewable priorities, offshore wind power is a gravy train at present and you'll find few in the dining care who'll care to talk/discuss much about Denmark.

You talk about getting up and talking the unpalatable / politically unacceptable.... Surely the near immediate reduction in fossil fuel from a comprehensive GSHP / CHP campaign fits that bill? oops, lower revenues and lower tax take - tut tut can't have that eh?

Dec 2, 2010 at 1:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterTom

Kevin Anderson

Thank you! Your earlier response crossed with my request for more info, and you have responded. If only some of your colleagues would show some respect for questions from people who question their "science".

I fear I am snowed in tomorrow, so will spend some time reading your links.

Thank you also for supporting the idea that scientific research should be accessible to those that pay for it. Unfortunately the University of East Anglia does not share your view. Do you think they should rely on exemptions from Freedom of Information requests to maintain secrecy?

I am a sceptic. I question things. I do not deny the idea that the climate changes. It has changed during my life time, and will keep changing. It has warmed, and it has cooled. Is CO2 the only thing that causes the climate to change? Does CO2 provide all the answers for climate change over the last 2,000 years? I do not think it does.

Dec 2, 2010 at 1:18 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

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