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« Quote of the day | Main | Renewable friends - Josh 104 »

Climate cuttings 55

L'affaire Greenpeace rumbles on. Richard Tol has posted some thoughts here:

That study also assumes rapid technological progress in renewables and none in fossil fuels. That is a silly assumption.

Meanwhile Joe Romm is on Mark Lynas's case. I expect to hear about Lynas's links to big oil very shortly.

Another story that has kept us interested for a few days, and which seems to still have legs, is the coming ice age. New Scientist says that the impact is likely to be much less than global warming:

The reality is that, while the sun may well be about to give us a shove in the direction of cool temperatures, the evidence suggests it won't be anything like enough to drown out the warming effects of our greenhouse gas emissions.

How do they know this? The models say so it seems.

James Taylor at Forbes looks at the upside of a warming world. Scibloggers are tweeting that his article is "stupid beyond mortal ken", but I'm not sure I understand why.

Tom Karl says that extreme weather events have increased, but notes that this kind of thing has happened before. Kevin Trenberth, reported in the same article, says we are doomed.

Records are not just broken, they are smashed. It is as clear a warning as we are going to get about prospects for the future.

And lastly, Judith Curry looks at the uncertainty monster again.

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Reader Comments (48)

Also, I notice from the ijis website that arctic ice coverage is at a historic low for the time of year (albeit the historic data being for a rather small number of years). Any thoughts about this - noise, fudged data, odd wind/water current patterns?

Jun 17, 2011 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan E

I for one do not want an ice age, even a LIA, just so I can be on the winning side of the dispute. Warm is nice, cold is a disaster. I have nothing to fear from a couple of degrees, it would be like moving 200 miles south, or maybe living in town rather than country. But rest assured, for the other side, any catastrophe will do.

And the renewables story? If there were advances in renewables, say cheap solar paint as postulated by Heinlein before WW2, then sure it would take a large part of the market, why not? The problem is pushing the renewables we have now just because they are not fossil. If they are no good, we don't need them. If they were any good, we'd buy them anyway. But that would reward innovation, not lobbying and subsidy farming like the current ones do.

Jun 17, 2011 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

Not big oil links, big nuclear!

At least that is what one of George Monbiot's commentators suggested, asking how much they,d payed him!

Jun 17, 2011 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

"Kevin Trenberth .. says we are doomed"

Well, he would, wouldn't he? (h/t Mandy Rice-Davies). It's a condition of his job.

Jun 17, 2011 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P


" If they are no good, we don't need them. If they were any good, we'd buy them anyway."


Jun 17, 2011 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

The Mail has covered the latest IPCC gate du jour but credits Mark Lynas with rumbling their incestuous report selection procedure. Presumably no one in the MSM reads Climate Audit.

Jun 17, 2011 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterBuffy Minton

Zed is a registered commentator at the Mail and will, presumably, be writing a comment correcting their story.

Jun 17, 2011 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterBuffy Minton

An amusing footnote to the PR on this IPCC report ... If you go to and scroll down the page a bit, there's a video of Pachauri in which he declares that "renewable energy is the most effective means of reducing greenhouse gases".

In talking up this "report of the IPCC" he says - not his usual "it's all peer reviewed", but "it's all published literature"!

Meanwhile on a recent visit to my backyard last weekend, Pachauri, of course, mentioned this report during the course of 1.5 hour cosy conversation with CBC's Peter Mansbridge (who fed him lots of convenient questions) as a keynote at a 3 day International Student Energy Summit.

His main message - repeated many times - was "we need a price on carbon". If you are so inclined, video is here. Starts at approx. 01:00.

Jun 17, 2011 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered Commenterhro001

Ian E, maybe you should compare the IJIS data with this...

Jun 17, 2011 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

It is now pretty well proven that wind turbines increase emissions of carbon dioxide (carbon to governments and greenies), especially in places where the mean wind speed is low.

Wind turbines do not produce "clean, green" electricity. So what colour should one use to describe electricity that comes from wind turbines? - "dirty, black" perhaps?

Jun 17, 2011 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Actual even the Greenpeace report tells us 'rapid technological progress ' will not be enough to meet their fantasy idea , it also needs massive amounts of energy reduction usage . How that is supposed to come about is a mystery. Although price hikes to support renewable subsides are certainly on way to ensure that people can't afford energy and therefore don't use it. Just better get some really big grave yards built to cope the problem with that idea.

Jun 17, 2011 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

This says it all

Jun 17, 2011 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohnOfEnfield

Shall we all have an 'I am Spartacus ' moment and provide some moral support!!!

Mark Lynas says in his latest post (it seems like a few people have been on his case, including Jo Romm, Greenpeace,etc)

It is getting very interesting!!! Mark's latest response......

Mark Lynas: That this was spotted at all is a tribute to the eagle eyes of Steve McIntyre. Yet I am told that he is a ‘denier’, that all his deeds are evil, and that I have been naively led astray by him.

Mark Lynas: Well, if the ‘deniers’ are the only ones standing up for the integrity of the scientific process, and the independence of the IPCC, then I too am a ‘denier’.

I too am a 'Denier' - in that context...

Jun 17, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

It's puzzling that someone like Trenberth would keep pushing this extreme weather event idea. Isn't it true that the number of such events are either constant or even decreasing slightly (tornadoes for example)? Have the warmists completely lost the plot or is there just too much anti-science propaganda around? And why do they keep pushing Rahmsdorf's 0.3 C solar estimate and ignoring Svensmark's much higher estimates? Do they think people are stupid? Probably: but if they keep on like this, I predict that they may start to lose a little credibility.

Jun 17, 2011 at 11:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

I see Joe Romm (like Bob Ward) has taken the 77% figure at face value and not read the 30% conclusion. Is anyone brave enough to tell him..?

Jun 17, 2011 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Well Mr Ward is in the Graun again so maybe someone could ask him.

Jun 17, 2011 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris

KnR: You can't have bodies rotting and emitting in graveyards. They must be fed into biomass plants.

Philip: I think Trenberth's increasing desperate vocal emissions show just how much they realise that the end is in sight for their corrupt science.

Jun 17, 2011 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby


Ian E, maybe you should compare the IJIS data with this...

Jun 17, 2011 at 10:17 AM | Dave Salt


Thanks - I sometimes get the feeling with ijis data that something is not quite right!

Jun 17, 2011 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan E

Rhoda, I agree entirely!
I used the link above to Joe Romm's rant and skimmed through it as quickly as possible. He really is, as my American friends so nicely put it, 'a real piece of work'. I am amazed by Romm's sheer volume of words, which have the effect of masking his actual message, but I did gather that his reading comprehension level is at the lower end of the adult spectrum. If he wasn't such an irritating little man he would be funny.

Jun 17, 2011 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Some quotes from this which I believe is the Greenpeace report:

• Exploitation of the existing large energy efficiency potentials will ensure that primary energy demand increases only slightly - from the current 474,900 PJ/a (2005) to 480,860 PJ/a in 2050, compared to 867,700 PJ/a in the Reference Scenario. This dramatic reduction is a crucial prerequisite for achieving a significant share of renewable energy sources in the overall energy supply system, for compensating the phasing out of nuclear energy and for reducing the consumption of fossil fuels.


An increase in economic activity and a growing population does not necessarily have to result in an equivalent increase in energy demand. There is still a large potential for exploiting energy efficiency measures. Under the Reference Scenario, we assume that energy intensity will be reduced by 1.25% on average per year, leading to a reduction in final energy demand per unit of GDP of about 56% between 2005 and 2050. Under the Energy [R]evolution Scenario, it is assumed that active policy and technical support for energy efficiency measures will lead to an even higher reduction in energy intensity of almost 73%.

So in order for the "80% provided by renewables" to work, demand has to remain static until 2050 and this has to be achieved through energy efficiencies.

The IPCC considers this to be a realistic scenario.

Jun 17, 2011 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

One other thing, the energy supplied in 2008 was 517,864 PJ so the parameters of this scenario were exceeded over 2 years ago.

Jun 17, 2011 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

According to Romm, Mark Lynas is unduly influenced not by "big oil," but by Big Nuke. In his blog post yesterday, Romm says:

"Lynas has been penning pro-nuke articles that repeat long-debunked myths about renewable energy, that make errors of a factor of 1000, and that cite widely-debunked “propaganda” groups ,,,, And he is upset that the Greenpeace scenario doesn’t have new nukes in it."

So the excommunication of Lynas has already been started, with Romm leading the charge and identifying his heresy as "penning pro-nuke articles." All of this less than 24 (12?) hours after Lynas' first blog post on the matter.

Jun 17, 2011 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterGarry

I have read Romm's take on this and I have to say that it makes my blood boil. Nowhere in any comments I have placed here or on CA or elsewhere will you be able to see whether I am warmist or denier. My only interest is in a proper factual debate on thse issues, so I suppose I am a "lukewalmer" at heart. But for years I have been reading blogs, papers, and websites with their "mission statements" and all sorts of other information. I have to confess to being fed up now with the postings of Romm and others like him. I know this might be a bit O/T, Bish, and please snip the whole thing if you wish. But here is my post on Romm's site (the first I have ever made there), which sums up my feelings about the recent IPCC controversy:

As usual Romm you dont see the wood for the trees.

I have no problem at all with Greenpeace being involved in the "big discussion" leading to IPPC deliberations and resulting statements. At the end of the day what is the IPPC for? Apparently to disseminate the consensus of the various scientific viewpoints. Anyone who says that Greenpeace shouldn’t be allowed to contribute would be wrong. But that is not what is being said.

The issue, as always with the IPCC, is conflict and the repeated failure to identify it and make it plain to the recipients of its eminent statements. There are many areas of public life where standards on conflicts are rightly expected. Judges must recuse themselves from passing judgment on matters in which they (or indeed their families) have any financial or other interest. Local government officials must do likewise. These are just basic tenets of the proper functioning of public life and governance. The Greenpeace involvement in renewables and its links elsewhere are not in dispute – see You don’t mention this at all so I assume you don’t disagree. Unless the IPCC is able to highlight conflicts , not only in fact, but to give the perception that it does so, its pronouncements are useless and should rightly be seen to be so.

It is not just the IPCC that suffers from this dilemma – here in the UK, for example we have the same problems with our own politicians, many of whom benefit financially and directly from present policy.

As usual you come out with the same tired old “other people say the same, or go even further, than Greenpeace have said on this occasion so its not an issue” response. This demonstrates that you just don’t get it. Independence and transparency are the only things that can give credibility to any position taken by the IPCC. If that press release highlighted any perceived conflicts it would not be being criticised now.

In line with this usual tactic you then quote one source (Delucchi) as definitive of the argument that 100% renewables is possible and, laughably, “economic”. The fact is that the reality on the ground is hugely different and I am sick to death of being told that renewables are “economic” when they clearly are not when compared to other possible solutions. The facts on the ground are that wind energy is hugely expensive, relies on subsidies taken from the pockets of the population, has driven up energy costs so much that here in the UK we are facing record numbers of excess deaths this winter, and provides so much less in real terms than its manufacturers promise. That is fact. Yet you still in the face of the evidence of what happens on the ground come out with this garbage. “The cost of electricity would be similar to that today”. And yet it clearly is not so far – not by a long chalk.

You state that pretty much everything McIntyre writes is “propaganda”. Apparently that is, according to you what “most of us” would call anything he writes. I don’t think you can speak for “most” of anyone. A very large number of us (following your claim to know the minds of the masses to back up your own point of view) think that what you write is unutterable shit most of the time. Any sentient individual can see that this claim about McIntyre as a propagandist is a crock of shit. Disagree with him by all means, but please, stop with this crap.

You should wind your neck in. Everything you don’t agree with is “long debunked”, “propaganda”, “thoroughly debunked and discredited” or “deeply flawed”. Honestly your personal claim to righteous correctness is so tedious. Perhaps we should just leave it all to you since you appear to believe you are the only one who knows the “truth”.

And you say “…if we had a high and rising price for CO2 and were aggressive about efficiency….”. Why don’t you say what you mean? Perhaps that comment can be restated as “If we charged so much for CO2 that we destroyed industry, fined anyone who didn’t comply with our design, and sent the whole of western civilisation back to pre-industrial life…”.

“It would be politically very, very challenging…”. No shit Sherlock. People will die, violently, but then that’s just collateral damage and quite within the realms of what is acceptable for people like you, safely tucked away in their developed nations with their savings and pensions and all the other trappings enjoyed by those privileged to have been born in the right countries.

“Given that carbon capture and storage is wildly expensive…”. And renewables aren’t?

“It requires, as Hansen has noted, the rich countries to be off of coal (or have no coal emissions) within a decade and the developing countries to be off of coal in two decades…”. Have you even seen what Germany is doing today? Is this the same Hansen who confidently predicted that we’d all be dead by now? Christ on a bike – give it up man ffs.

Honestly, you contribute nothing to this debate.

Jun 17, 2011 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterRB

Richard Tol has an excellent point: I am not terribly elderly, but when I first had a New Zealand Motor Drivers Licence in 1955 and was absolutely the archetypical petrol-head, we had two choices for motor cars - English if one wanted mostly small, slow and fragile but cheapish to run, or American if wanted to move slightly faster but larger and mechanically crude but incredibly robust and almost unburstable. European cars were mostly unavailable and either madly idiosyncratic or wildly expensive and exotic - from the Citroen 2CV to lovely but rare Panhards and Bugattis.
Over the intervening years technology has moved on and it is not unusual now to see almost-silent small Diesel-powered cars sustain fuel mileages that could only have been achieved by Mopeds in the mid fifties, when a Diesel always announced it's presence with the stink of it's oily exhaust fumes and by sounding as if a handful of pennies were being rattled about in a can. I once owned an exciting but wildly unreliable Norton parallel 650 twin and, twenty years later, owned a Japanese-made 50cc two-stroke bike which produced almost as much power at the rear wheel as the Norton.
Of course technology improves over time!

Jun 17, 2011 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K


"a Japanese-made 50cc two-stroke bike"

I had a 2-stroke car once (a Wartburg) and that punched above its weight too. Sadly, nearly 30 years ago, the Greens insisted that it become a 4-stroke. I haven't liked them since.

Jun 17, 2011 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Simply put, you know you're doing something right when you've lined up the Rommbot and the Grantham Goon agin ye.

Jun 17, 2011 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

Re James P

I see Joe Romm (like Bob Ward) has taken the 77% figure at face value and not read the 30% conclusion. Is anyone brave enough to tell him..?

I doubt they'd take it on board. The big problem with the IPCC's advertorial is why they chose to lead with the '80%' scenario rather than the somewhat more realistic 30% one. It's easy to assume the 80% version was the message the renewables lobby would prefer to lead with, despite the damage it's done to the IPCC's crediibility.

The report also seems to be policy proscriptive rather than policy neutral by bigging up renewables rather than lower carbon options (nuclear, clean(er) coal, gas etc) which again makes it appear biased and an advertorial. Richard Tol makes a good point:

The coal-fired power plants that are being build today will still be generating electricity in 2050. 80% renewables by 2050 would require premature scrapping, that is capital destruction.

The UK's energy gap is partly due to phasing out old, less efficient and 'dirty' coal power stations under the large combustion directive. If those were replaced by modern supercritical plants as was proposed for Kingsnorth, CO2 emissions would have been reduced even without extra expense or efficiency reductions from CCS. Expectation for Kingsnorth was the replacement plant would reduce CO2 emissions by 20% compared to the old one, without CCS. If our objective is to reduce emissions by 20% by 2020, that would have helped achieve it. Yet it got blocked by Greenpeace with some help from Hansen. Bigger example of capital destruction I guess is Germany's decision to close it's nuclear power plants with little scientific or economic justification.

Jun 17, 2011 at 2:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Brilliant, and obviously straight from the heart! . I agree that Romm is a nasty little apologist for corruption, but you said it far better than I can.

Jun 17, 2011 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K


That was fabulous. Did it make it through moderation?

Jun 17, 2011 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterBuffy Minton

Curry - "We should try and quantify uncertainty where possible."

I am at a loss to understand this when it is being applied to predictions outside the bounds of knowledge which are by their very nature uncertain. A prediction that our Sun will expand to engulf its planetary system is based on astronomical observations: the uncertainty of that is less than 50% and therefore probably true. A prediction that any one horse in a race of more than two horses is likely to win, based on 'form' is not probable as demonstrated by bookmakers' profits.

The CO2 causes warming theory is not probable: all attempts to conclude that have failed. It is a prediction beyond knowledge: possible but uncertain. I can understand a quest to calculate probability or to reach certainty but one to *quantify uncertainty* is a fools errand.

Now back in the real world. Where is the proof exactly that shows mankind's fossil fuel burning *probably* increases (via CO2) temperatures to a meaningful extent? Come on Joe Romm and Bob Ward: forget the ad-homs, straw-men, post-normals, computer models and claims from authority, show me the probability. Even 51% would do as a start.

Jun 17, 2011 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

maybe j curry thinks if soemthing is 10% certain , then it is 90% uncertani ??

She is a Phd so i would not let her go to the toilet without a folder with instructions and policy guidleines.

Jun 17, 2011 at 5:19 PM | Unregistered Commentermisty

WTF is this problem with Judith Curry?

She's stuck her neck out for the sceptics further than any credentialled climate scientist in recent years, and there seems to be a JC Hate Club out there.

A little gratitude and some respect for her professional bravery would be a damn sight more appropriate.

Jun 17, 2011 at 7:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


The comment landed at Romm's for an hour or so - now been removed.

Jun 17, 2011 at 7:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterRB

"A little gratitude and some respect for her professional bravery would be a damn sight more appropriate."


On the other hand, she ain't been no saint either. She may even admit to that at this point.


Jun 17, 2011 at 7:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

"now been removed"

That would hardly be necessary if you were wrong. You'd think they'd have more confidence in their assertions - they make them loudly enough!

Jun 17, 2011 at 7:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

"she ain't been no saint either"

Who has? I think she's trodden a difficult path with grace and determination. She's made a difference, IMO, and few of us can claim that.

Jun 17, 2011 at 8:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

She has stood her ground for science.

What else could anyone ask of a scientist?

Jun 17, 2011 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterGarry


If you are happy with the idea of *quantifying uncertainty* that is fine by me. JC has chosen her course and I am aware of it to the extent that she makes it public. What this science is lacking however is plain (but not crude) language: the juxtaposition of a verb and a noun in an original way does not create a concept per se. Lest we all start expecting to quantify the uncertain, why not stick with the plain Olde English *probability* that stood the likes of Newton in such good stead.

The Met Office is another source of just this with "a 30% chance of rain" forecast. Why not call it as you see it - a 70 % probability it will be dry? Playing with words will not get us out of this mess. I ask again my question at 4:46 pm: 51% probability - anyone?

Jun 17, 2011 at 8:20 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

"I think she's trodden a difficult path with grace and determination."

I think she's a AGW propagandist. She only leans the way the political wind blows.


Jun 17, 2011 at 8:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew


I am only unhappy when uncertainty is either concealed or actively misrepresented. Any open treatment of scientific uncertainty - including approaches toward quantifying it in some way - is preferable.

Jun 17, 2011 at 8:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


I think she's a AGW propagandist. She only leans the way the political wind blows.

And you are a hard-core sceptic. Unlike JC, who is at pains not to be combative and tribal, you attack her for what you perceive as her 'propagandist' and politicised agenda. This makes you appear less reasonable than JC, not the other way around.

Jun 17, 2011 at 8:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

"This makes you appear less reasonable than JC, not the other way around."

Perhaps she's just saying what you want to hear, like any good propagandist would.


Jun 17, 2011 at 11:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew


I don't 'want' to hear anything. But I am open-minded.

Jun 18, 2011 at 12:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

I've absolutely no beef with Judith Curry. She's a champion of the scientific method and, while she will entertain postnormalism as a conceptual approach to science (we should all understand the concept - you can't ultimately challenge it if you don't thoroughly explore the concept and its implications), I don't believe she will ever surrender to postnormalism as any kind of alternative to traditional scientific processes. Her essays on the "Uncertainty Monster" are excellent.

And, of course, she's called out Mann's hockey stick as the work of pseudo-science that it is. As a result, she's even become an obsession of Mann himself, who incessantly trolls her blog with his unhinged drivel. She must be doing something right.

Jun 18, 2011 at 12:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

Well put, BBD. Going out of one's way to criticise Dr Curry is lamentable. I think she has an open mind.

Jun 18, 2011 at 3:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

From Romm's article:

"As an ironic aside, the “source” of this attack on the IPCC is one of the most thoroughly debunked and discredited disinformers Steven McIntyre."

He seems to have missed the real irony that he has described himself. And quite the nasty rodent when cornered.

Jun 18, 2011 at 7:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterEdward Getty

It's encouraging to see some support here for Curry. I am astonished - and saddened - by the irrational vitriol directed at her by some here. It should not pass unremarked.

Jun 18, 2011 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

I was very suspicious of Judith Curry when I first became aware of her attempts to get both sides of the CAGW divide to debate the science openly, but I now have very considerable regard for her and the manner in which she conducts herself in scientific matters. I feel that she deserves huge kudos for her very principled stance.

Jun 18, 2011 at 5:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

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