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« Bean holds forth | Main | King's credibility »
Wednesday
Jan082014

Deben and Kennedy sinking fast

This morning Lord Deben and David Kennedy of the Committee on Climate Change were questioned by the Energy and Climate Change Committee on the Fourth Carbon Budget.

It has everything - climate sensitivity, stadium waves, bickering over funding, and the splendid sight of the two witnesses flailing around for answers.

Start watching at 10:14.21. It's unmissable.

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Reader Comments (56)

I'll have to take your word for it, Bish.

After about 8 minutes the pleasure of watching them squirm was swamped by the awareness that although Deben clearly hasn't got a clue, nothing will change.

Jan 8, 2014 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Around 10:18, the argument is made that even if climate sensitivity is around 1.5C, steep global emissions cuts are justified.

That is, if one holds that an increase in global mean temp of 2C or more is "dangerous" and that the climate policy goal is therefore to achieve a low probability of such a dangerous increase, then, even if sensitivity is at the low end, steep emissions cuts are necessary.

Thus, it seems to me that if one wishes to oppose the consensus position on climate policy one has to hold both that (a) sensitivity is (very likely) low and (b) 2C is (very likely) not dangerous.

Does that seem right? I'd be interested to hear others thoughts.

Jan 8, 2014 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichieRich

But they are rowing back, though. Even two years ago, there would never have been any admission that anyone other obvious cranks, fossil fuel shills and the demented could argue against the consensus, the science after all being 'settled'.

There is a long, long way to go yet. But I get the distinct impression that even Deben is having to retreat a little.

Jan 8, 2014 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered Commenteragouts

At 10:22 so far...... but at last a reason for celebration :-) Graham Stringer asking the questions actually knows what he is talking about. That is fabulous.

Jan 8, 2014 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Cook

That is fabulous.

Two MP's out of 650 know what they are talking about when it's to do with 'climate change'. (Stringer, Lilley)

Fabulous?

Jan 8, 2014 at 1:36 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Richie
My understanding is that the "raw" figure for sensitivity is 1.2C and that the only way you can get to anything above 2C is by arguing for a fairly strong positive feedback for which there appears to be little or no scientific evidence. Which is why the models are running hot since they have been programmed to assume positive feedback.
Since there have been times in the past (MWP maybe; Roman almost certainly) when temperatures have been at least 2C higher than the present it would seem quite a tenable position to hold that a) sensitivity is very likely low and b) a temperature 2C higher than the starting point for the calculation (ie when CO2 was at 280ppm) is likely to be no more dangerous now than it was then.
The AGW exponents are still trying to tweak figures like these beyond what the science actually points to and then demand of the rest of us that we prove them wrong. I'm not sure that there is any longer a consensus about sensitivity except among the committed — Deben, Kennedy, King, Beddington, Yeo, and others — who are rapidly getting left behind as the real-world data start to make them look a bit silly.

Jan 8, 2014 at 1:39 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

@Martin A

Point taken. Up until this video I thought there were zero MPs who knew what they were talking about - so from my perspective this is a step forwards. Of course there is still a long, long way to go ;-)

Jan 8, 2014 at 1:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Cook

RichieRich (Jan 8, 2014 at 1:20 PM) said "Thus, it seems to me that if one wishes to oppose the consensus position on climate policy one has to hold both that (a) sensitivity is (very likely) low and (b) 2C is (very likely) not dangerous."

Well, that's part of the policy argument. The other important part is the cost/impact of decarbonising the 'developed' world's economy and, more significantly, preventing the 'developing' economies using carbon based energy to lift their people out of poverty... issues that tend to be avoided or even dismissed by the proponents of CAGW theory.

Jan 8, 2014 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

@ Mike Jackson | Jan 8, 2014 at 1:39 PM

The AGW exponents are still trying to tweak figures like these beyond what the science actually points to and then demand of the rest of us that we prove them wrong. I'm not sure that there is any longer a consensus about sensitivity except among the committed — Deben, Kennedy, King, Beddington, Yeo, and others — who are rapidly getting left behind as the real-world data start to make them look a bit silly.

I'm not sure you're being entirely fair to Deben, Kennedy and the CCC. Kennedy did say in his evidence that the CCC has modelled using the range of sensitivity values. And of course - and to repeat my earlier point - the CCC aren't left behind if one holds that dangerous climate change(DCC) = >2C.

Whilst I see a lot of info from sceptics/lukewarmers challenging higher values of sensitivity, I see less challenging DCC=>2C. And I'd be interested to see more. But, of course, I may be missing a lot of stuff that's already out there.

Jan 8, 2014 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichieRich

@ Dave Salt | Jan 8, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Well, that's part of the policy argument. The other important part is the cost/impact of decarbonising the 'developed' world's economy and, more significantly, preventing the 'developing' economies using carbon based energy to lift their people out of poverty... issues that tend to be avoided or even dismissed by the proponents of CAGW theory.

Agree that any analysis of the optimal emissions/temperature path should consider the costs and benefits of increased temperatures, the costs of adaptation and the costs of mitigation. AFAIK, this is the sort of thing Chris Hope's PAGE model tries to calculate. Last time I looked, the optimal path suggested by PAGE involved a temp increase greater than 2C.

Of course, there are strong arguments that cost/benefit analysis is not a credible methodology for calculating the optimal path.

Jan 8, 2014 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichieRich

My understanding is that the "raw" figure for sensitivity is 1.2C and that the only way you can get to anything above 2C is by arguing for a fairly strong positive feedback for which there appears to be little or no scientific evidence. Which is why the models are running hot since they have been programmed to assume positive feedback.

Not quite - that is the size of the forcing. It is what would happen if everything else stayed the same. If there were positive feedback it would be higher, but if negative, it would be lower.

No change at all is compatible with this level of forcing were there negative feedbacks.

Jan 8, 2014 at 2:28 PM | Unregistered Commentermichel

Isn't timescale the crucial point?
I am sceptical that we have any climate problem at all, but even if we have, surely no one can deny that we now have twice as long to fix it as everyone thought. This simply isn't an urgent problem any more; not when it's 'solution' is causing real damage now.
If it's going to take twice as long to hit problem levels of temperature increase (and current levels are beneficial) then why even bother now; we just need to check the scientific consensus (the real one, not the politician's version) again in a few decades and if it's an issue then just let 2060 Century technology (and our far wealthier grandchildren) look after it.

Jan 8, 2014 at 2:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Bishop,
My congratulations to Graham Stringer and Peter Lilley for asking the right questions. I can't help feel that we wouldn't have seen this a year ago.

RichieRich,
You should be aware that the canonical 2 degrees refers to a rise in temperature from "pre-industrial value" which is typically taken to be the global average temperature from 1850 to 1900. For an intelligent discussion on whether we are likely to get to that level by 2100, I would recommend Troy Master's article here:-http://troyca.wordpress.com/
As to whether an additional 1.2 degrees temperature gain is dangerous or not, nobody really knows. The most dire forecasts of human catastrophe all come from regional model projections which are negatively correlated with reality (that's not a figure of speech).

Jan 8, 2014 at 2:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul_K

Good to see Lilley, Stringer et al able to follow through their questioning of an increasingly frail-looking and petulant Deben without interruption from Trougher in the chair.

Much more interesting was the barely-concealed contempt in the replies and body language of bully-boy Kennedy. To me he obviously felt that this Committee meeting was something that had to be sat through, but which was ultimately of very little relevance to his world.

Certainly not the reaction of someone who is in any way concerned that they are merely rearranging the deckchairs on a sinking meme!

Jan 8, 2014 at 3:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

I found it almost amusing that Deben objected in a very animated way to the suggestion that money, in the form of grants, could potentially steer research conclusions. He swore he'd never made such similar appeals to motives, nor ever would (though with a side-swipe at GWPF funding by donors to charity).

Later, though, he expounds on a well-funded contrarian machine working to promote climate denial - albeit supposedly mainly in the US, and that by climate he apparently means tobacco.

Pants on fire.

Jan 8, 2014 at 3:08 PM | Registered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

Richie, I too have seen very little scientific discussion concerning why a 2C increase (from some defined ideal global temperature?) has been chosen as the totemic point that represents dangerous climate change. If I was seriously concerned about CAGW I would look to demonstrate the truth of one or more of the following arguments:

1. That at this point dangerous, uncontrollable, positive feedbacks must come into significance for the first time
2. That hominids have rarely, if at all, experienced global temperatures this high and we are sure therefore that it will be a significant threat to mankind's well-being
3. It is a staging point, or a line in the sand, so that we have a clear target to aim at preventing further dangerous increase.

As someone who tries to follow the topic as closely as I can, I am not very concerned because I think that each point (other than perhaps point 3) has not been substantiated and indeed appears to have very little credibility.

1. I have seen little evidence that supports a scientifically justified selection of a 2C figure. A large majority of climate models are already running too hot which suggests that positive feedbacks have already been over-estimated. The Earth's climate is a chaotic, highly complex system. I am not aware of any period in its history where there has there been runaway global warming threatening life on the planet, even when CO2 levels have been far higher than now. There has certainly been dangerous global cooling during ice-ages!

2. Hominids have been around for at least 3 million years. Our understanding of climate, global temperatures, CO2 levels and bad-weather events should always be put in this historical context. Even in the last 2000 years (a blink of an eye), the MWP and RWP may have been warmer. As far as I am aware successful human communities for the last 50,000 years have lived and are still living in climates where the average temperatures range from below 0C to above 40C (A fairly small percentage within 2C of the upper limit). An increase of 2C would surely be more comfortable for the vast majority (not counting our ability to grow more crops and vegetation at higher CO2 levels). Where I live the temperature often changes by more than 10C in a day. Looking over the last 35 years of the Central England Temperatures, the annual averages temps have varied by 2C. (And 3 of the last 4 years cooler than the average for the period).

3. A line in the sand may be sensible, but surely only at a point (and a point in time) we are very certain we must not exceed (see points 1&2 above). A significant number of climatologists now accept that ther is growing evidence that climate sensitivity could be as low as 1.5C. Global temperature data from the last 17 years certainly adds weight! We are very unlikely now to reach the 2C target for 70 years or more. Look back just 50 years and see how science, technology and global wealth have dramatically developed. Our children and grandchildren will be far better placed to address any DCC - unless of course we crash the world economy for them now in a futile gesture to abandon cheap energy.

Jan 8, 2014 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerrick Byford

None of it matters in the UK. Your PM cum climate scientist says that the cold in america and the rain in the UK is climate change aka global warming.

Jan 8, 2014 at 3:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterstephen Richards

Interesting. Did Graham/Lilly miss a trick there? Lilly stated that "experts" had said the climate models had overestimated the warming in the computer models. Deben stated with a glance to Kennedy for reassurance, that the modellers said it wasn't significant more or less. He didn't say our modellers are "experts" too, suggesting to me an admission that perhaps the modellers are NOT "experts". Petitio principii, should the modellers not be the best "experts" available anyway???? As I pointed out to a Wet Office atmospheric scientist a few years back, when he asked to explain how they got the graph shape out of the model, I simply explained that the Wet Office had to programme said model to show warming for a given amount of CO2. He was rather taken aback, suggesting that the belief in the infallibility of puter models absolute, when in reality (forgive the pun) the opposite should be true!

Jan 8, 2014 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Interesting. Did Graham/Lilly miss a trick there? Lilly stated that "experts" had said the climate models had overestimated the warming in the computer models. Deben stated with a glance to Kennedy for reassurance, that the modellers said it wasn't significant more or less. He didn't say our modellers are "experts" too, suggesting to me an admission that perhaps the modellers are NOT "experts". Petitio principii, should the modellers not be the best "experts" available anyway???? As I pointed out to a Wet Office atmospheric scientist a few years back, when he asked to explain how they got the graph shape out of the model, I simply explained that the Wet Office had to programme said model to show warming for a given amount of CO2. He was rather taken aback, suggesting that the belief in the infallibility of puter models absolute, when in reality (forgive the pun) the opposite should be true!

Jan 8, 2014 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Wow two incredibly incompetent people. Whatnblelievable nonsense Deben talks. Debens' total lack of scientific understanding comes through and his contradictions.

They agree with AR5 that there is more confident about CAGW despite every prediction failing!

He pretends to be sceptical but states he believes that climate change is "a significant challenge to us".So he is a believer but like Richard Muller pretends to be sceptic.

Jan 8, 2014 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

I loved the bit where Deben loses his rag with Lilley because Lilley suggests that the thousands of climate scientists Deben relies on would always tell him the CC is happening - otherwise they wouldn't get their grant money! Magic moment!

Then, when Deben tells him that he, Deben, would never resort to ad homs, Lilley reminds him that he did just such a thing at a Cambridge conference when he promoted the book, The Climate Deniers (a promotion which, as Lilley reported, Lindzen said was the most disgraceful comment.) Oh dearie me....(chortle)

Jan 8, 2014 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

I have no doubt that the water vapour amplification or positive feedback does not happen. We live on a water planet so there is plenty around. Any significant warming for any reason could send us into a catastrophic feedback loop. Instead, we seem to have a very stable climate, so forget positive feedback which is usually a cause of instability.

I believe that IR radiation will evaporate water. It will also heat the surrounding air through collisions with other gases such as nitrogen. This warmer parcel of air will expand, become less dense and rise by convection until its cooler surroundings cause the water to condense to form an aerosol. These sub-micron droplets no longer have GHG properties but they are good at scattering and blocking incoming solar shortwave radiation. Furthermore, energy has been transported high into the atmosphere where any further radiation will be mostly lost to space.

So no hot spot or build up of humidity, just simple everyday convection. In the tropics where evaporation is greatest the condensing water vapour will be substantial, leading to cloud formation.

Jan 8, 2014 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Sorry, Bish. couldn't take more than 6 minutes.

It was like watching the Muppets and Monty Python simultaneously! Come to think of it, neither of those legendary comedy teams could have come up with a better script.

Jan 8, 2014 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterYertizz

RichieRich (Jan 8, 2014 at 2:21 PM) said "Of course, there are strong arguments that cost/benefit analysis is not a credible methodology for calculating the optimal path."

My concern is that cost/benefit analysis may not correctly weight the 'possible' negative impacts of CO2 against the 'almost certain' negative impacts of rapid decarbonisation. The benefits of using cheap carbon based energy to increase people's welfare in 'developing' countries is clear has been long understood, so anyone who can ignore or dismiss this is, to my mind, being rather callous... to say the least.

Jan 8, 2014 at 4:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

Uncomfortable questions and totally inadequate responses here. We are making inroads towards reality but more slowly than I would like to see. Progress it is though.

Jan 8, 2014 at 4:24 PM | Unregistered Commentermikeworst

Deben when asked about renewables in Germany said that from memory they currently supplied around 30% of Germany's power and that he hoped that this would soon rise to 50%. According to the BP Statistical Review, renewables in 2012 supplied only 8.3% of Germany's power (Wind 3.3%, Solar 2%, Biomass1.7%, and Hydro 1.5%).

It is hard to say from this whether Deben is making the standard schoolboy error of confusing installed capacity with the electricity output from that capacity, or whether he is simply an ignoramus with no idea at all of what Germany's renewables output really is.

One is reminded of the now sacked Reverend Paul Flowers the former CEO of the Coop Group who when asked what the Coop Group's turnover was got it wrong by a factor of thirty. The Rev unlike Lord Deben had also of course a conviction for gross indecency, but in terms of his knowledge of the topic he is paid to comprehend, the two of them are pretty much peas in a pod.

We can only hope that Lord Deben will shortly share the Reverend Flower's fate.

Jan 8, 2014 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave

Has the video gone? I get pointed at 2 'live feeds' from the HoC and the HoL?

Jan 8, 2014 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdrian

Living in Canada I'm not aware of the niceties of the politics around CAGW in the UK but Deben fits my mental image of the Wizard of OZ. Seems that the curtain is being opened.

Jan 8, 2014 at 5:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Singleton

Thar She Blows >>>>

Windbag Deben ought to resign, before he has his collar felt !

Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad ?

Jan 8, 2014 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered CommentermOby Dick

Unfortunately, I too get no pleasure watching the incompetent attempting to defend the indefensible. I find it painful beyond embarrassment, however low my opinion of those involved. I won't watch bloodsports either.

Jan 8, 2014 at 6:25 PM | Unregistered Commentermichaelhart

It helps to set it to appropriate music. I recommend Ludwig van, 7th symphony, 2nd movement. It has a matching sense of Götterdämmerung ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uOxOgm5jQ4

Pointman

Jan 8, 2014 at 6:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

@ Alex, Jan 8, 2014 at 2:38 PM |

YES

Jan 8, 2014 at 6:33 PM | Registered CommenterAlbert Stienstra

The argument that a 2C rise in average temperatures would be dangerous could possibly be supported by appealing to the ideas of Aristotle. Are there any more up-to date arguments?

Geographical zone
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geographical_zone

Thinking that the area near the equator was too hot for habitation, Aristotle dubbed the region around the equator (from 23.5° N to 23.5° S) the "Torrid Zone." He reasoned that from the Arctic Circle to the pole was permanently frozen. He called this uninhabitable zone the "Frigid Zone." The only area that Aristotle believed was liveable was the "Temperate Zone", lying between the "Frigid Zone" and the "Torrid Zone".

Jan 8, 2014 at 7:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

La La La La La La La La La

Muppets

Jan 8, 2014 at 7:52 PM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

Comfortable chairs, pleasant atmosphere, interesting discussions - no matter how hard the participants have worked to prepare (?) I still find myself wondering if this is really work.

Jan 8, 2014 at 8:16 PM | Unregistered Commentertomfiglio

I must have watched a different football match because, although
I am delighted that Graham Stringer and Peter Lilley are wearing
our colours; in my opinion, they never came close to scoring a goal.
Messrs Deben and Kennedy were rarely challenged and I felt frustrated and
very dissappointed with our team.
On the rare occasions when there was an open goal opportunity, I never saw
a shot.
Does anyone else agree or is it really just me.
PS
I hope not

Jan 8, 2014 at 8:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

Seeing "the Boss" drivveling on, and talking balderdash like that, has upset me and the wife, because we didn't believe he was such a fool. Now we know Lord Deben has been pulling the wool over our eyes about Climate-Change. Is Lord Deben and sidekick Mr. Kennedy so stupid to believe that we are so simple to think that the Climate is never allowed to change of its own accord ?

The Climate Changes ! The Climate is not like Lord Deben's living room, with a thermostat to turn up and down as he likes. Lord Deben stated in the interview, that he wished that the Climate could never change ! This is the fundamental flaw in the policy. Discussions about so called Global Temperatures, are meaningless. Humans ;ive from the high Arctic at minus 50 degrees C or less, to the dry deserts where the temperatures are a hundred degress higher or more.

It is faruous to even suggest that there is such a thing as a "Global Average Tempetaure", let alone that we, as humans, and particularly such a small percentage of the World's population here in the UK, could influence the temperature or the climate to any significant, measurable degree, bny regulating the amount of what is in effect a "trace gas" in the atmosphere. It is in fact ludicrous and criminal to spend such vast sums of Taxpayers Money in attempting to do so.

This nonsense Must Stop !

If you agree with me, then why not tell Lord Deben yourself at these Publically Available methods :

Committee on Climate Change > Contacts
You can contact in a variety of ways:
Twitter – tweet us @theCCCuk
Telephone – enquiries please call +44 (0) 207 591 6131/6262
Contact the CEO please call +44 (0) 207 591 6080

Now where did I put my bucket of sawdust and brush ?

I thank you, and close the door on your way out, sir.

....... A. Janitor.

Jan 8, 2014 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Deben's Janitor

I can see what Pesadia means, but there's a game going on here, and it has to be played by the rules of the game. Deben was clearly nervous and uncertain throughout (unless that's his natural manner, in which case one despairs); He felt that he had the establishment on side, but was nervous about what Stringer and Lilley would throw in. I thought they were good to keep it calm, and they were focused, but yes, they missed opportunities.

The early questions seemed far to micro - the issues of solid wall insulation, whilst important, are as Deben said a matter for the policy makers, not for CCC. I felt that Stringer and Lilley could have established that there are genuine scientific debates to be had (which they did rather well) more pointedly and quickly, then moved on to the broader issues of the economic and social effects of the targets. With a few broadbrush attacks they could have undermined Debens case rather effectively. It's not, at the end of the day about the detail.

Kennedy and Deben would expect the detail attack on the science, and as usual fended it off with the usual generalisations and 'consensus speak'. They would struggle more with a direct attack on the economics I think,and that is something that the other parliamentarians would be able to understand and find more common ground with .

Jan 8, 2014 at 9:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

At ~10:21:05

"...the models are not designed to be able to predict the temperatures over 5, 10, 15 and 20 year timescales. They are designed to give us a projection of what is likely to happen over much longer timescales of 50 and 100 years."

Is it me, or do I sense the goal posts being moved.

Jan 8, 2014 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterBill Williams

Pesadia:

Yes. It was oddly flat. Deben and side-kick smarming, Stringer and Lilley curiously ineffective.

Where was the killer blow?

That said, perhaps they were all intimidated by the vast and hideous abstract paintings behind them. I would love to know how much those cost. And who authorised their purchase.

Ditto the rather natty green chairs they all sat on.

Could the tax-payer have been taken for yet another ride?

Can it be the case that confronted by such obvious evidence of state-funded largesse, Deben inevitably feels at home?

Jan 8, 2014 at 9:45 PM | Unregistered Commenteragouts

Bill Williams, the goalposts have not simply moved - they have been removed.

IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report gave a clear prediction that in all likelihood will fail spectacularly:

"For the next two decades, a warming of about 0.2°C per decade is projected ....."

The Fifth Report has no parallel prediction. But they are more certain now - go figure.

Jan 8, 2014 at 10:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterPolitical Junkie

ypical body language that reveals an internal conflict:

Hands over mouth
Hand to nose
Hand to ear
Hands or fingers moving, wringing, tapping
Head tilt to side
Head turned away
Body moving backwards
Blink rate increases
Pupils contract
Eyes go down to left or right
Eyelids stay closed during the answer
Voice tone rises
Clearing the throat

Jan 8, 2014 at 10:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterDocMartyn

I did not watch it all, but I was impressed with the questions this time. I like to think the politicals on 'our side' are smelling blood, and are well on their way to circling in closer for a final attack - perhaps later this year. Lord Deben and his bored assistant were exposed as only having one key argument - that of caution in the face of dire warnings. They had nothing of substance to say at any time while I was watching, and that I think will be of great encouragement to the slowly swimming sharks who have their eyes on them. Political theatre. It gave me hope that there could yet be some bite in the Houses of Parliament despite all the EU has taken away from it.?

Jan 8, 2014 at 10:45 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

As a service to UK tax payers - I posted this video to YouTube:

http://youtu.be/HtXE0U0JmNQ

So...this historical information can be:

a) not hosted by a government &

b) not involve 'Silverlight'

Jan 8, 2014 at 10:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Thanks very much ZT.

Lord Deben is spinning like a top at the 1Hour 20 minute mark.

Jan 8, 2014 at 11:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRipper

RichieRich (Jan 8, 2014 at 2:21 PM) said "Of course, there are strong arguments that cost/benefit analysis is not a credible methodology for calculating the optimal path."

When people start saying that cost/benefit analysis of a political or economic program is not credible, then you know that basically they know they are wrong. If a program can't prove its benefits outweigh its deficits, then why enact it at all? Obviously you have to include benefits that are non-economic, but we've been doing that for a long time now anyway.

That's why Lord Stern had to publish his famous analysis, because otherwise the alarmists would have to concede that the deficits of decarbonisation outweigh the advantages. (Of course to get the "right" answer Stern had to fiddle the discount rate rather stupidly, and other similar tricks, but he still had to do it.)

You see this sort of thinking with magical medical treatments -- say homeopathy or reiki. They don't work. So they fail proper large double blinded trials. Consequently their fans will follow the line that "not all things that work can be discovered by double blinded trials". It's bullshit, pure and simple. If there is an effect, then it can be found by a correct trial, albeit it might need a large sophisticated one.

So when people say "not everything is suitable for cost/benefit analysis" I know that they have a barrow which they wish to push, but that they know other people aren't interested in.

Jan 9, 2014 at 4:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterMooloo

From the Ecclesiastical Uncle, an old retired bureaucrat in a field only remotely related to climate with minimal qualifications and only half a mind.

I support pesadia's view that Stringer's and Lilley's contributions came across as weak. Lilley's (Lilly's?) tossed off "unsatisfactory reply" came across as petulant, I fear.

Gummer's a natural, of course, all grins where most of us would wear straight faces. 'Come on - we're all reasonable chaps so trust me.' It takes an effort for most humans including members of Commons Select Committees to spot that the friendly demeanour conceals the intention to deceive. Then he used an evidently well practiced technique of using four words where one would do, and so apparently succeeded in boring committee members to stupefaction so they were more focused on the upcoming lunch break than acute cross questioning.

IMHO, he made a good job of defending the indefensible. The cognoscenti here will disagree, of course, but I am ignorant in the same sort of way that committee members are and so perhaps my perception of what happened is the more significant. I doubt the committee will warn the government that it has to reverse policy as a result of this hearing.

But why did Stringer and Lilley (Lilly) let Gummer get away with it? Why was he not cut short and asked to get to the point with a yes or no or maybe a maybe? Is it convention that witnesses to committees be allowed to waffle? If the answer is 'yes' then there is an institutional problem: if 'no' then our side has to get a lot rougher.

One grain of comfort, though. Yeo hardly figured. Effectively he did not chair the meeting and it may be that he is now a spent force. A few more performances like that will surely come to the notice of his masters and his status altered to reflect the new reality: that he contributes nothing and should give way to someone who is more useful. Maybe not so good, however. We do not want a more competent and secure person as chair of this committee!

Jan 9, 2014 at 6:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterEcclesiastical Uncle

I thought Stringer and Lilley were very effective. Deben and Kennedy were on the defensive, in my view, and were back peddling, shifting their ground to portray themselves as being reasonable chaps. Lilley's contribution at 10.40 citing an ad hominen attack by Deben after Deben had condemmed such attacks was delicious.

Jan 9, 2014 at 7:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterFM

Surprised to see all the comments regarding Stringer and Lilley "suddenly starting" to speak out against AGW.
Both have been asking the right questions for years.
I can recall Graham Stringer asking similar questions a few years ago trying to get them to agree that global temperatures had not risen since the turn of the century.
Lilley has only recently been voted on to the committee
This time the evidence in the shape of "the pause" is a lot more difficult to counter
Lilley and Stringer's arguments were therefore much more difficult to refute and the Chairman, may be due to his own problems, decided not to interupt.
But I agree with other comments here.
There was no killer question.

Can anyone direct me to the "Mexican Wave" research paper?

Jan 9, 2014 at 8:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Hampshire

It's from Marcia Wyant and Judith Curry, AKA, the 'Stadium Wave' paper.
===============

Jan 9, 2014 at 9:27 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

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