Was Vaclav Klaus right in fearing the climate alarmists?

There was an extraordinary article in the Australian yesterday (here) by Vaclav Klaus.
In his article, which is a condensation of a speech for a conference of climate sceptics, Vaclav makes mince meat out of the climate alarmists and accuses them of having bad intentions. He doesnt just say that they are wrong and misguided when they, on the basis of very uncertain science, call for a radical change in our lives, but he accuses them of having ‘megalomaniacal ambitions’, putting mankind ‘on the road to serfdom’, that they falsely believe in ‘their own omnipotency’ and are guilty of ‘fatal conceit’. He furthermore accuses those social scientists and climatologists who are not climate alarmist of not standing up sufficiently to the alarmists. That’s quite an accusation!

Vaclav’s argumentation is simple. He notes that current carbon consumption is increasing unchecked in Europe despite decades of investments in cleaner energy (which implicitly means Kyoto is not being implemented). He notes there is no indication at all that the carbon efficiency of energy is improving nor that there is any hope for such a dramatic improvement in efficiency from the economic literature on technological innovation. Hence he deducts that the only real way to reduce emissions is to have contracting economies or reduced human population levels, and he notes to his horror that there are indeed people calling for these changes, though he doesnt name them.
I really sat up and took notice of this article, though I initially misread the name and was rightfully alerted to it (oops!). If Vaclav is claiming a new totalitarian regime is around the corner and that egotistical would-be tyrants are using climate phantoms to get us there, then one should perhaps worry.
My first problem is that I dont know who he means when he says climate alarmist? Is this Al Gore and the IPCC? Yes, Al Gore’s video was a fraud, but he is just one person and the IPCC hedged its bets by presenting many different scenarios. There might have been megalomaniacs on its board but I cant recall reading anything about the IPCC calling us to cull the population or halt economic growth. The IPCC just put forth exceedingly vague and unrealistic proposals for changes in people’s lives. Is that enough to see new totalitarian rulers in them? I dont know. More close to home, does Vaclav include the social scientists whose arguments are derivatives of the IPCC reports, such as Nicholas Stern (who just copied the IPCC) and Ross Garnaut (who copied Nicholas Stern and the IPCC). What about local ‘alarmist climate commentators’ such as John Quiggin or Geoff Davies. Davies is perhaps on the fringes because he notes that Garnaut copies the IPCC but thinks that Ross is not alarmist enough by half and greatly underestimates the true risks (see here)? Hence of all these, Geoff Davies seems to fit Vaclav’s description best because he indeed calls for dramatic actions curtailing individual choice and economic growth though he seems to stop short of advocating mass slaughter of surplus humanity. So are we now to believe Geoff is engaged in some kind of egoistic domination fantasy that threatens to put Australia on the road to serfdom?

Whilst I tend to agree with Vaclav’s basic contention that reducing emissions would require a culling of humanity or a reversion of economic growth, I nevertheless have to dismiss Vaclav’s argument. He is too dogmatic in his own way. He lived under a totalitarian regime and might hence be overly sensitive for the dangers inherent in constraints to mankinds’ actions. For one, he goes over the top when he juxtaposes the current position as ‘freedom’ and concerted climate action as ‘serfdom’. The reality is that modern society, including Vaclav’s own country, is full of constraints on individual freedom, ranging from compulsory seatbelts and taxation to a prohibition on whether individuals can own nuclear weapons. Any large group of people living together and sharing common resources sets rules upon each other and the question is not one of totalitarianism or freedom but that of degrees, i.e. whether the benefit of constraints outweighs the costs. Only blind fools think society can function without constraints or that one can meaningfully speak of the current situation as ‘freedom’. The real question is whether the climate threat is sufficiently imminent and the necessary response sufficiently dirigist to warrant a further encroachment on individual liberties. Since Vaclav doesnt debate the basic climate science he is a little vulnerable to the accusation that he doesnt know the degree to which climate change is happening or avertable by other means than concerted world action. One could for instance alternatively believe that there is some kind of engineering solution to climate change that could be implemented by a single sufficiently worried country, which wouldnt require human culling or reductions in growth at all. I have predicted for some time (see here) that engineering is where the debate will steer towards if climate change should really start to materialise with the speed and the consequences that the alarmists predict.
My main reason for dismissing Vaclav though is that he misreads what is going on in the political economy of climate change. He himself notes that countries are not serious about curtailing emissions and that the politicians promising these reduction live in ‘a dream’. Hence he should wake up to what is actually going on, which is that politicians and the ruling elite are not really curtailing emissions at all and are merely allowing the alarmists to dominate the public debate and play with carbon trading schemes in order to satisfy the need of the population for symbolic sacrifices to (real or perceived) climate threats. Whilst the rain dance is in full swing, the growth of energy and carbon consumption still rule in the background. Just like Christians seem to enjoy listening to the pope when he tells the Catholics not to engage in materialism but yet these same Christians choose to engage in materialism anyway when it comes to their own lives and their political voting patterns, populations now seem to enjoy paying lip-service to the notion that they should worry about carbon emissions whilst in reality buying more 4-wheel drives than ever before and voting for the politician that promises them more growth.
Vaclav seems worried that the alarmists might actually start having some effect and that concerted world action against climate change might actually occur. For me, that shows Vaclav is not on top of the basic insights of social science. The idea that the majority of the countries in the world are going to give up their sovereignty to some kind of world climate ministry (even if they believed the IPCC), or that they would sacrifice their own country’s economic growth for the ‘good’ of the world, reckons without the basic greed and will for self-determination of populations and their governments. No politician going against growth would survive in office and the competition between nations makes it hard to imagine them coming together over something as hard to model and predict as climate, let alone to agree upon population culling to avert climate change. Vaclav might be right when he claims the climate alarmists have delusions of grandeur and are indulging in a private fantasy, but at the end of the day his worries about the effect of those dreams seem unwarranted. He confuses people’s need for religion and sacrifice with what they actually are willing to give up when push comes to shove.

NOTE: I originally thought this article was written by Vaclav Havel, but didnt pay enough attention to the name following Vaclav. He is still a well-known politician, but not quite as well-known or as respected. Mea Culpa.
As to those who cling to the Gore movie An Inconvenient Truth as the absolute gospel, see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/7037671.stm
for the nine errors in it, handed down no less than by a judge who had to see whether it should be played at school or not.

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51 Responses to Was Vaclav Klaus right in fearing the climate alarmists?

  1. Ken Parish says:

    Hi Paul

    It’s a shame you pulled this post completely and reposted it because of the Havel/Klaus error. We could have just edited out the comments pointing out that error (if you’re sensitive about it – I just tend to cop those things on the chin – everyone makes mistakes), but still left the substantive ones several of which made good points (I thought). The worry now is whether people will bother to re-engage with the topic having had their previous contributions expunged.

  2. Paul Frijters says:

    Hi Ken,

    dont worry about the sensitivity. It was rather that I worked in a lot of Havel’s achievements into the article and hence had to change it so much (with changed title) that I simply reposted it. In the reworked version I acknowledge the original mistake and took the opportunity of reacting to those defending Gore’s video. I dont mind if you repost the old comments though (surely they are cached), but the thread reads strange since they react to a content that is no longer there.

  3. Ken Parish says:

    I’m not aware of any comment caching function in WordPress. If you delete a post you delete its comments as well. That’s the point. It would have been better to have edited the original article (however extensively) and then email me to delete comments that only pointed out the error while leaving those that made substantive points (I’m not sure whether an author who isn’t an administrator can do that, although I suspect you could in fact have edited the comments yourself).

  4. Paul Frijters says:

    well, then you will have to rely on my memory. The only non-Havel comment out of the 7 was by JC who basically agreed with Vaclav and, I seem to recall, advocated the nuclear option.

  5. James Farrell says:

    Yes, Paul could have edited the comments himself.

  6. Tim Lambert says:

    The judge decided that “An Inconvenient Truth” could be shown in schools. This contradicts your claim that the movie was “a fraud”.

    Nor did the judge find that there were nine errors in the movie. See here

  7. Talisker says:

    Claus? As in Santa Claus? Klaus, as in Vaclav Klaus!

  8. FDB says:

    Aha! “…a fraud…” versus “…absolute gospel…”

    I can has nother choys?

  9. Paul Frijters says:

    Tim,

    the point was that the judge agreed there were 9 errors, which were pretty damning.

  10. Ken Parish says:

    Tim Lambert’s piece on the Gore movie and UK judgment about it is admirably thorough. I do suggest, however, that he was unduly generous to Gore in defending his claim that “that’s why the citizens of these Pacific nations have all had to evacuate to New Zealand”.

    It’s certainly true that a few citizens of Tuvalu have sought and been granted NZ residency, but I suggest it’s more accurate to see them as opportunistic economic migrants taking advantage of the pretext of an unquantifiable possibility of future rapid sea level rise to achieve migration to a wealthy western country. Good luck to them, but it doesn’t provide any evidence for current or imminent major sea level rise, an impression Gore was clearly trying to create.

    Turning to Paul Frijters’ post, my non-economist’s understanding of the economic modelling is that most economists who have looked at it estimate that taking effective measures to achieve a major reduction in greenhouse emissions (at least over 50 years or so) is likely to mean not cuts in living standards but rather just a relatively modest reduction in the extent of economic GROWTH that would otherwise have cocurred (and will still occur) of only a couple of percent. There will still be very strong growth over that period even with such stringent measures i.e. our children and grandchildren will still be much richer if such measures are taken.

    Moreover, Paul’s picture seems to ignore the other side of the equation: given that the science DOES strongly indicate significant warming and significant adverse consequences/major adjustment costs if nothing is done to reduce it, one must also look at the effects on future prosperity if we simply ignore the problem as the denialists would have us do. Again my understanding of the economic costs of this is that they will be MUCH higher than the cost of taking effective action.

    In those circumstances, I think Paul overstates the nature of self-interested public reaction to implementation of effective greenhouse reduction policies. It’s certainly true at the moment that the majority appear not to understand (for example) the incongruity of being simultaneously worried about global warming and demanding that petrol prices be reduced. However, levels of public understanding of the issue has increased hugely from only a few years ago. I am confident that effective education programs will succeed in further enahncing understanding over the next decade or so. Quite frankly, even now anyone who actually understands the state of scientific knowledge would not oppose quiet stringent carbon taxes etc (as long as third world countries are encouraged and coerced into shouldering the burden as well) on self-interest grounds. Paul seems to be assuming that self-interest is ineradicably pig-ignorant and incapable of comprehending the economic and other consequences of both tackling the problem and ignoring it. That may well be true of denialists like Andrew Bolt, but I don’t think most people are quite that wilfully stupid.

  11. Ken Parish says:

    Paul

    You apparently didn’t read Tim’s long post, because the whole point of it was that the judge DIDN’T find that there were 9 errors at all, but rather that there were 9 statements which the judge concluded did not necessarily reflect a concluded IPCC consensus (but for which there is certainly respectable scientific evidence which may soon achieve IPCC consensus support). Tim explains this in very considerable detail, all of which you seem to have determinedly ignored. Moreover, Tim also demonstrates very clearly (by citing extracts from the IPCC report itself) that the judge was himself in error in relation to several of these matters. To put it bluntly, I don’t see how anyone could continue labelling the judgment as “damning” of Gore having read Tim Lambert’s analysis.

  12. Paul Frijters says:

    Ken, and Tim,

    I am happy to argue directly on this issue.
    let me first bring in this thread the main part of the BBC article we are all refering to:

    “Mr Justice Burton told London’s High Court that distributing the film without the guidance to counter its “one-sided” views would breach education laws.

    The Department for Children, Schools and Families was not under a duty to forbid the film, provided it was accompanied by the guidance, he said.

    “I conclude that the claimant substantially won this case by virtue of my finding that, but for the new guidance note, the film would have been distributed in breach of sections 406 and 407 of the 1996 Education Act”, he said.

    The nine errors alleged by the judge included:

    Mr Gore’s assertion that a sea-level rise of up to 20 feet would be caused by melting of ice in either West Antarctica or Greenland “in the near future”. The judge said this was “distinctly alarmist” and it was common ground that if Greenland’s ice melted it would release this amount of water – “but only after, and over, millennia”.

    Mr Gore’s assertion that the disappearance of snow on Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa was expressly attributable to global warming – the court heard the scientific consensus was that it cannot be established the snow recession is mainly attributable to human-induced climate change.

    Mr Gore’s reference to a new scientific study showing that, for the first time, polar bears had actually drowned “swimming long distances – up to 60 miles – to find the ice”. The judge said: “The only scientific study that either side before me can find is one which indicates that four polar bears have recently been found drowned because of a storm.”
    The case was brought by school governor Stewart Dimmock, from Dover, a father of two, who is a member of the New Party.

    His lawyers described the ruling as a “landmark victory”.

    Mr Dimmock said: “I am elated with today’s result, but still disappointed that the film is able to be shown in schools.

    Mount Kilimanjaro has had its snow reduce in recent years

    “If it was not for the case brought by myself, our young people would still be being indoctrinated with this political spin.”

    The judge awarded Mr Dimmock two-thirds of his estimated legal costs of more than

  13. Paul Frijters says:

    Ken and Tim,

    the use of the quote of the BBC article was at least to make it clear that the article itself reads as if the judge found there to be nine errors, wittness mainly the line “The nine errors alleged by the judge included”.
    While I understand Tim’s main point that the judge did not rule on errors but was was in fact making a ruling on whether the film portrayed a balanced view or not, his judgement still comes down to saying the film was unbalanced and hence additional information had to accompany the film’s use in schools and the claimants’ lawyers bill had to be (partly) paid. Also, the excerpts from the actual judges’ ruling quoted on the BBC certainly do suggest to a non-legal erson that the judge is convinced there were significant erros in the video.

    Before continuing the theme of Al Gore, first the main substance of Ken’s points, where I may again say that I am no climate change sceptic. I am fully convinced its happening but dont think that reducing carbon emissions is the ‘only game in town’ (the alternative is not do nothing but rather go into climate engineering) and I am simply noting that reducing carbon emissions is at present not happening, nor can I see it happen given the political and technological realities of the moment because of the reasons mentioned in my post. Ken’s point that the population now knows a lot more than before doesnt mean their actions in their personal life is going to change. I’ve not seen lines of converts handing in their SUVs. Have you? When people knew lots more about the bible in centuries past, did they live more ‘pure’ then they do now? Were they less materialistic? Hard to argue that that was the case. And Vaclav Claus is quite right that at present technologies the economy would have to contract to reduce emissions. The famed technological improvements in carbon efficiency are nowhere to be seen in the data and Vaclav is quite right that previous large-scale technological revolutions took decades to work through the entire economy. You need one hell of a technological miracle to reduce carbon emissions to 50% (let alone 10%) of current emission levels at current wealth levels.

    Next I want to return to the issue of Al Gore’s film.

  14. Paul Frijters says:

    Tim,

    I dont share Ken’s enthousiasm of your post on the ‘nine errors’. I think you are being too uncritical about Al Gore’s film. Two examples from your post:

    The initial accusation before the judge
    “The drying up of Lake Chad is used as a prime example of a catastrophic result of global warming. However, it is generally accepted that the evidence remains insufficient to establish such an attribution. It is apparently considered to be far more likely to result from other factors, such as population increase and over-grazing, and regional climate variability.

    Tims take on this:

    Sanjay Gupta reports:
    The United Nations Environment Programme says that about half of the lake’s decrease is attributable to human water use such as inefficient damming and irrigation methods. The other half of the shrinkage is due to shifting climate patterns. Anada Tiega of the Lake Chad Basin Commission blames climate change for 50 to 75 percent of the water’s disappearance.

    Tim’s conlusion: so some of it is due to human use, but it is wrong to say that global warming has been ruled out as a cause.

    My conclusion: so even the reference by Tim concludes much of the decrease is due to human consumption issues which puts the accuser into the right since the film does indeed strongly suggest it is global warming.

    Example 2:

    The original accusation:
    Mr Gore asserts in scene 7 that the disappearance of snow on Mt Kilimanjaro is expressly attributable to global warming. It is noteworthy that this is a point that specifically impressed Mr Milliband (see the press release quoted at paragraph 6 above). However, it is common ground that, the scientific consensus is that it cannot be established that the recession of snows on Mt Kilimanjaro is mainly attributable to human-induced climate change.

    Tim’s reply:
    The Kilimanjaro glacier may or may not be disappearing due to global warming, but it is making other tropical glaciers disappear. So while he could have picked a better example, it doesn’t affect his argument.

    My Conclusion: the initial accusation is right and Tim is guilty of a non-sequitur in Al Gore’s defense by convoluting the possibility that it may have been due to global warming with the contention that it is so.

    I am afraid I am on the accuser’s side and fine the movie suggesting far more than is currently scientifically deemed likely. Greenland glaciers needing millenia to melt is not quite in line with the dramatic pictures of sea levels rising Al Gore shows. The main cities shown are not much older than a couple of hundred years themselves!

  15. Jc says:

    “the judge decided that An Inconvenient Truth could be shown in schools.”

    So the film clips of Katrina were accurate then, Tim? Was that an accurate representation as that why Chris Landsea resigned from IPCC. Remember why he resigned? He resigned because there was no evidence that AGW was contributing to bigger and more frequent storms in the north Atlantic and he refused to sign up to a document suggesting otherwise. Gore thought it was fine to make this assertion though, which is something you obviously have no problem with.

    I know it’s hard, Tim, but be honest here. If the other side were using equally devious dramatic license what would your response have been. Ill hold my breath for an answer. 12345.

  16. Jc says:

    Tim,
    I dont share Kens enthusiasm of your post on the nine errors. I think you are being too uncritical about Al Gores film. Two examples from your post:

    LOL. Are you suggesting Lambert is uncritical of AGW proponents. Nooooo. Lamberts always been a passionate defender of scientific truth. Always. Well nearly always…

  17. Jc says:

    I think Paul overstates the nature of self-interested public reaction to implementation of effective greenhouse reduction policies.

    Well actually Im not sure. Im not sure that the public understands that under our present technological know how meeting those recent emission standards suggested by Prof Garnaut without nuke would mean living standards would be broadly comparable to late 19th century as we have no way of developing effective base load energy with wind and solar.

  18. Ken Parish says:

    Joe

    I certainly agree with you that in the current state of technology nuclear is the only proven and mature way of delivering greenhouse-clean baseload power to large parts of the world. That’s why I think Rudd’s position (as on some other issues) is in large part PR bullshit. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t develop other clean technologies that can deliver baseload power, albeit that we’re almost certainly talking about a 20 year timeframe until they are deployed on any large scale. In the meantime, efficiency measures can deliver some degree of containment of increases, as can non-baseload renewable sources.

    Putting in place both carrots and sticks (the latter including a carbon tax which kicks in progressively over a timeframe that will permit the investment and retooling that will be needed) is, however, the only way any of that is going to happen, because the costs of continuing to spew out CO2 are largely externalised in the absence of some such government-engineered price signal. And it would be pointless to create such a price signal here unilaterally, because the only effect would be to drive industries offshore to countries where they don’t face either those imposts or anything like Australia’s general environmental safeguards regime. That would actually make things worse not better. I don’t think anyone in their right mind is advocating unilateral carbon taxes.

    Nevertheless, I’m a cautious optimist on both the prospects of developing popular and political will to tackle these problems in a meaningful way, and on human ingenuity to come up with technological answers that will do the trick without sending economies broke (or even seriously reducing economic growth). In fact, we’re going to have to exhibit that ingenuity before too long anyway (and quite apart from whatever threat global warming poses), because “peak oil” is certainly going to occur at some point in the next 30-40 years if not before, and there are even suggestions that world coal reserves are vastly overstated.

  19. Paul Frijters says:

    Ken,

    whilst I think your comment above shows our positions are far less apart than I thought I think you under-estimate the degree of hypocrisy our politicians are now engaging in, and then I dont just mena Kevin Rudd.
    What are politicians actually proposing to do whilst they speak fine words about our historical commitment, leadership roles, etc? Well….

    1. Promising to build more big machines that need a lot of energy. The new desalination plants in NSW, QLD and probably also Victoria are a case in point. These eat energy like you’ve never known and guess where the power is going to have to come from to drive these technological marvels?

    2. Promising to build a lot more roads to accommodate the ‘projected’ increase in the use of these roads by car fuelled by…..? Examples: the new Federal Highway spanning our natino’s coastline. The electoral debate here ni Brisbane right now is almost exclusively focussed on the need for more roads and more tunnels. Do I hear any of the mainstream candidates (Labour or Liberal) suggesting we should not build more and make do with the roads and cars that we have? Of course not. They are promising what the electorate actually wants: more roads and more tunnels to accomodate more carbon consumption.

    3. Promising to build more housing for low-income families a long way from the city centres. And how are these people going to get to work? By bike or horse-and-cart? If you build large homes far from city centres you are imlpicitly acknowledging that their occupants are going to be burning energy to get to work and back. We’re not as a nation planning large appartment blocks close to the job centres. We’re planning expanded living.

    These initiatives are not put forward by Keven Rudd (though he is not stopping them). This is both main political parties at the state level. Open your eyes Ken: the climate debate really is a rain dance and whilst the public is mesmerised with false promises of emission reductions the selfsame politicians are nudge-nudge wink-wink accomodating our private plans to engage in even more carbon consumption. At this moment! And dont be mistaken about the nature of carbon trading either: in the corridors and without much media scrutiny that debate is about jockeying for position to get the initial carbon entitlements. The environmentalists are being taking for a ride and the thing that upsets me the most is that they dont seem to care that they are being taken for a ride, but perhaps I dont read enough blogs and they do know it.

  20. Bill Posters says:

    the alternative is not do nothing but rather go into climate engineering

    Ah, the old science fictional solution. We must terrascape Mars! Onward to the stars! Let us transfer our consciousnesses into robot bodies and live together in the glorious transhumanist forever!

    How about some realism?

  21. Paul Frijters says:

    well Bill, let me paraphrase your last reply:

    a) If you follow the links I provided in my post you can read what I meant rather than put up a straw man and ridicule it.

    b) since when is climate engineering the same as terrascaping Mars or advanced robotics? oh, but then of course you wouldnt say this if you actually had done a).

  22. Jc says:

    Hi Ken: Thanks

    However, that doesnt mean we cant develop other clean technologies that can deliver baseload power, albeit that were almost certainly talking about a 20 year timeframe until they are deployed on any large scale. In the meantime, efficiency measures can deliver some degree of containment of increases, as can non-baseload renewable sources.

    Agreed it doesn’t mean we can’t develop new ways of producing energy. However to be honest I’m a little under-whelmed with the level of technology progress as it looks like we have hit a brick wall in this area.

    Solar and wind have the opposite effect in terms of economies of scale. There are real engineering limitations that result dis-economies of scale unlike coal and nuke. That is marginal costs would rise with solar and wind rather than fall which is not the sort of thing you want when requiring cheap and abundant energy.

    We shouldn’t assume we will have linear progression with technological development or that we can time it as it is not a given. In fact it’s damn depressing at the level progress.

    Incidentally, it took about 200-300 years to move from wood to coal despite people knowing about the combustibility of coal and it was only after a new technological development that took place that coal could be used cheaply and abundantly for the industrial revolution.

  23. A J Nock says:

    People are dying every day because of this environmentalist movement. This quite apart from the millions they murdered via DDT bureaucratisation.

    Paul you are just going to have to investigate this toxic movement further.

  24. Tim Lambert says:

    Paul, you claimed that the movie was “a fraud”. But all you have is stuff like Gore saying that Kilimanjaro glacier disappearing was due to global warming, when there is good scientific evidence that it is, it’s just that there is not yet a scientific consensus on this point. If you have some evidence that Gore believes that Kilimanjaro has nothing to do with global warming and is lying about it, then please present it.

    JC, I know why Landsea resigned and you have got the reason wrong. You should not get your science news from Andrew Bolt. Nor should you get your engineering information from Gerry Jackson.

  25. JM says:

    > Al Gores video was a fraud,

    Really? You wanna explain how perhaps?

    > I tend to agree with Vaclavs basic contention that reducing emissions would require a culling of humanity

    Uh huh. You wanna explain why the only species occupying the cognitive niche is suddenly incapable of thinking its way out of a mess of its own making? As opposed to your proposal that we throw our hands up in despair?

    Do that, and come back here with a real argument. One that’s a little bit different from “well we screwed it up, but our only pragmatic option is to keep screwing it up until such time as we’re all dead”

  26. Patrick says:

    I know that desal plants are energgy-intensive. But consider nuclear-powered desal plants.

    Not only are they low-carbon per se, they are also (in Australia) largely ‘just-in-case’; ie they would be largely used just to replenish reservoirs not to actually supply anyone with water.

    Which offers an intriguing possibility: at peak consumption times, desalination could slow down or simply stop and the plant could resell its contracted-for energy into the grid.

    Unfortunately it appears that most governments, and in particular NSW’s, are too scared of higher power prices and unions to consider the genuinely unregulated pricing that would support this (in addition to eg a carbon tax). This tends to support Paul’s take on political positions on global warming.

    Accordingly, I expect that this could only happen if the government mandated for it, which in reality would involve a healthy dose of our paying for it. But maybe it would be worth it anyway.

  27. chrisl says:

    The debate about global warming has taken on emotional tones driven by passion and irrationality while it should be a scientific debate

  28. chrisl says:

    Paul: Your Rational arguments regarding what politicians say and what they do applies to petrol pricing.
    Kevin Rudd was just on the radio mouthing grave concerns about the rising cost of petrol leading up to Easter.
    If he was consistent with his “reduce emissions by 60%” mantra he should be saying higher petrol prices are a terrific thing.

  29. Jc says:

    Tim,
    you once told us that “wind was free” ignoring the associated production costs of the turbines and their obvious limitations. You also thought “dis-economies of scale” related to the production of wind turbines and not with their use in the production of energy. So I wouldn’t be relying on you for the economics of energy generation :-)

    No, I don’t read Bolt and I think Jackon’s economics on this subject was excellent (despite the fact that I think he was unfair on John Humphreys). That’s something you ought to get up to speed on one of these days as it would help you enormously.

    Did Chris Landsea resign from the IPCC as a result of a dispute over north atlantic strom activity? Yes, he did.

    Did Gore attempt to dissemble with the Katrina footage? Sure he did. You know that.

    I just don’t know why you have to deny these things. Why Tim?

  30. Jc says:

    Tim Lambert says:

    JC, I know why Landsea resigned and you have got the reason wrong.

    Here’s Landsea’s open letter, Tim.
    http://www.climatechangefacts.info/ClimateChangeDocuments/LandseaResignationLetterFromIPCC.htm

    After some prolonged deliberation, I have decided to withdraw from
    participating in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel
    on Climate Change (IPCC). I am withdrawing because I have come to view the
    part of the IPCC to which my expertise is relevant as having become
    politicized. In addition, when I have raised my concerns to the IPCC
    leadership, their response was simply to dismiss my concerns.

    ……..

    It follows on:

    Shortly after Dr. Trenberth requested that I draft the Atlantic hurricane
    section for the AR4’s Observations chapter, Dr. Trenberth participated in a
    press conference organized by scientists at Harvard on the topic “Experts to
    warn global warming likely to continue spurring more outbreaks of intense
    hurricane activity” along with other media interviews on the topic. The
    result of this media interaction was widespread coverage that directly
    connected the very busy 2004 Atlantic hurricane season as being caused by
    anthropogenic greenhouse gas warming occurring today. Listening to and
    reading transcripts of this press conference and media interviews, it is
    apparent that Dr. Trenberth was being accurately quoted and summarized in
    such statements and was not being misrepresented in the media. These media
    sessions have potential to result in a widespread perception that global
    warming has made recent hurricane activity much more severe.

    I found it a bit perplexing that the participants in the Harvard press
    conference had come to the conclusion that global warming was impacting
    hurricane activity today. To my knowledge, none of the participants in that
    press conference had performed any research on hurricane variability, nor
    were they reporting on any new work in the field. All previous and current
    research in the area of hurricane variability has shown no reliable,
    long-term trend up in the frequency or intensity of tropical cyclones,
    either in the Atlantic or any other basin. The IPCC assessments in 1995 and
    2001 also concluded that there was no global warming signal found in the
    hurricane record.

    So err, Tim, he did resign for the reasons I outlined.

  31. Ken Miles says:

    The ironic thing about Chris Landsea’s giant sook is that the IPCC Fourth report gave a very balanced statement into the state of research into the links between global warming and hurricanes. As far as I’m aware, Landsea hasn’t publicly commented on the latest report which is pretty poor of him. Of course this won’t stop idiots like JC quoting him in order to attack the IPCC.

  32. jc says:

    where did i criticise the ippc report on this thread, ken

  33. Ken Miles says:

    JC, you attacked the IPCC here:

    Was that an accurate representation as that why Chris Landsea resigned from IPCC. Remember why he resigned? He resigned because there was no evidence that AGW was contributing to bigger and more frequent storms in the north Atlantic and he refused to sign up to a document suggesting otherwise. Gore thought it was fine to make this assertion though, which is something you obviously have no problem with.

    Incidentally, nobody wanted Landsea to sign anything. He was asked to write then draft IPCC section on hurricanes. He presumed that he work would be interfered with and threw a giant sook. Later events proved him wrong.

  34. Jc says:

    KenM

    That’s not an attack on the IPCC report unless you think a press conference is the IPCC report. LOL.

    The IPCC members eventually did the right thing and accurately presented Landsea’s views. Pity it had to take Landsea’s resignation though.

    Unlike you though I am not about to attack someone like Landsea and call him a “sook” because he considered honesty and integrity to be important.

    Landsea was forced to resign. In Landsea’s position I guess you would have stayed on, right?

    He presumed that he work would be interfered with and threw a giant sook. Later events proved him wrong.

    Oh Yea, Miles. So you dispute this:

    Shortly after Dr. Trenberth requested that I draft the Atlantic hurricane
    section for the AR4s Observations chapter, Dr. Trenberth participated in a
    press conference organized by scientists at Harvard on the topic Experts to
    warn global warming likely to continue spurring more outbreaks of intense
    hurricane activity along with other media interviews on the topic. The
    result of this media interaction was widespread coverage that directly
    connected the very busy 2004 Atlantic hurricane season as being caused by
    anthropogenic greenhouse gas warming occurring today. Listening to and
    reading transcripts of this press conference and media interviews, it is
    apparent that Dr. Trenberth was being accurately quoted and summarized in
    such statements and was not being misrepresented in the media. These media
    sessions have potential to result in a widespread perception that global
    warming has made recent hurricane activity much more severe.

    And this:

    I found it a bit perplexing that the participants in the Harvard press
    conference had come to the conclusion that global warming was impacting
    hurricane activity today. To my knowledge, none of the participants in that
    press conference had performed any research on hurricane variability, nor
    were they reporting on any new work in the field. All previous and current
    research in the area of hurricane variability has shown no reliable,
    long-term trend up in the frequency or intensity of tropical cyclones,
    either in the Atlantic or any other basin.

    Landsea is one of the worlds foremost authorities on North Atlantic storms and he sees the head of the IPCC hold a press conference contradicting his views on the subject and you would expect Landsea not to be pissed?

  35. Ken Miles says:

    JC,

    Thats not an attack on the IPCC report unless you think a press conference is the IPCC report. LOL.

    Pay attention, I stated that you “attack the IPCC”, you’re the one who changed IPCC to IPPC report. I know that reading comprehension isn’t your strong suite but try not to mistake your strawman arguments for my arguments.

    The IPCC members eventually did the right thing and accurately presented Landseas views. Pity it had to take Landseas resignation though.

    Unlike you though I am not about to attack someone like Landsea and call him a sook because he considered honesty and integrity to be important.

    Try to think about it, the IPCC accurately represented Landsea’s views before his resignation and after it. Making it unlikely that they had plans to misrepresent it. And if they wanted to misrepresent it, why would they ask him to author it?

    Your quotations miss quite a bit of back story (here’s a surprise, global warming skeptic doesn’t have a clue about what they write about). Until recently, Landsea’s view were prevalent, however, this has started to change. Hurricanes had been observed in areas where they had never been seen before, a significant piece of research (by Kerry Emanuel) which found that hurricanes were getting stronger and lasting longer was working its way the scientific community. Some scientists, changed their minds. Landsea didn’t, Trenberth did. Rather than simply acknowledge that some scientists were changing their minds Landsea threw a sook.

    If Landsea wants to be known for “honesty and integrity” he should wait for the IPCC to misrepresent him, before accusing them of it.

  36. Jc says:

    heres a surprise, global warming skeptic doesnt have a clue about what they write about)

    Please don’t mispresent my position.

    Here, this is what Landsea resigned over. Pity I have to post it for the third time, but heopfully this time it will sink in.

    Dr. Trenberth participated in a
    press conference organized by scientists at Harvard on the topic Experts to
    warn global warming likely to continue spurring more outbreaks of intense
    hurricane activity along with other media interviews on the topic. The
    result of this media interaction was widespread coverage that directly
    connected the very busy 2004 Atlantic hurricane season as being caused by
    anthropogenic greenhouse gas warming occurring today. Listening to and
    reading transcripts of this press conference and media interviews, it is
    apparent that Dr. Trenberth was being accurately quoted and summarized in
    such statements and was not being misrepresented in the media

    If there was new information that came out, then why did the IPCC go with Landsea’s views?

    Try to think about it, the IPCC accurately represented Landseas views before his resignation and after it. Making it unlikely that they had plans to misrepresent it

    So you mean the press conference was a hoax?… LOL.

  37. Ken Miles says:

    JC, seriously can you read? You’re really demonstrating why bothering to debate someone who won’t argue is good faith is pointless.

    The press conference wasn’t a hoax – I never claimed it was and you’re a hypocrite for blathering on about honesty and integrity while consistently misrepresenting me. It was a number of scientists expressing their view. Nobody claimed that Landsea agreed with them. Nobody claimed that it was the IPCC’s view.

    Read the section that you’re quoting and tell me exactly what Trenberth did that was so wrong? Publically not sharing the same views as Landsea?

    If there was new information that came out, then why did the IPCC go with Landseas views?

    They didn’t. Instead they wrote a balanced review which provided an overview of the research done by both sides.

  38. Jc says:

    Ken:
    I really don’t know what it is with you with all the abuse. It seems every time you get into a conversation about AGW you seem to lose it.

    Now let’s take this very slowly and calmly.

    Landsea was pretty well considered the foremost authority on north Atlantic storm activity at the time the IPPC report was being prepared. Would you agree? Let me answer the question for you: yes he was.

    Trenberth, without telling Landsea, went and gave a press conference that was diametrically opposite to what Landsea’s work had been suggesting.

    This is part of Landseas letter:

    Experts to warn global warming likely to continue spurring more outbreaks of intense hurricane activity

    Landsea elegantly resigns in protest. He wasnt a sook as you suggest. He was rather principled in the action he took. His resignation made the difference in terms in forcing the IPPC authorities to be honest about that part of the report. (you think they were going to anyway, however you cant explain the press conference)

    So lets do a little fisking shall we?

    JC, seriously can you read? Youre really demonstrating why bothering to debate someone who wont argue is good faith is pointless.

    Well actually I think you cant follow an argument here, Ken as youre too emotionally attached to your views.LOL

    The press conference wasnt a hoax – I never claimed it was and youre a hypocrite for blathering on about honesty and integrity while consistently misrepresenting me.

    This is really funny. I was being sarcastic about the press conference being a hoax to demonstrate the absurdity of your position. You cant very well think that Trenberth et al at press conference , the final IPCC report and Landsea were all saying the same thing are you?

    It was a number of scientists expressing their view. Nobody claimed that Landsea agreed with them. Nobody claimed that it was the IPCCs view.

    Umm , the head of the IPCC and his buddies give a press conference suggesting that Katrina like storms are part and parcel of global warming were just for entertainment then? Was it April Fools day or something? LOL

    I thought you were kidding but youre actually trying to spin this thing aren’t you? They weren’t experts in that field. None of these dudes had even written a paper on the subject and they give a press conference linking AGW with increased storm activity ignoring Landsea’s work suggesting the opposite? Ken, is this a sane position for you to take?

    Read the section that youre quoting and tell me exactly what Trenberth did that was so wrong? Publically not sharing the same views as Landsea?

    Ah yes. As head of the IPCC he should not have done that. Moreover, as he had no expertise in that area that applies doubly so.

  39. Ken Miles says:

    Ok, JC unless you come up with an interesting reply (rather than the error filled garbage that you’re currently spilling forth) this is my last post. Unfortunately, your last post is so full of errors when they are corrected you aren’t left with much.

    First point: I have a strong dislike of people who slander scientists because their research doesn’t support some preconceived idealogical pov.

    Second point: While Landsea was (and still is) one of the experts on hurricanes, he isn’t (nor wasn’t) the only one.

    Third point: Trenberth is hardly a novice in the area. He is one of the world experts in the interactions between ocean and atmospheric physics (of which storms are a subset) and was conducting his own research into the area (he now has a number of peer reviewed publications in the area). He also regularly collaborates with experts in the field.

    Fourth point: Trenberth wasn’t the head of the IPCC.

    Fifth point: The press conference was held by Harvard Uni and was not endorsed in any way by the IPCC.

    Sixth point: The Harvard press conference didn’t link Katrina with global warming. Katrina happened after the press conference.

    Seventh point: Landsea’s work didn’t suggest the opposite rather he had previously found no evidence for it. There is an important distinction between the two. Trenberth was making his claims based off new evidence.

  40. Jc says:

    Trenberth was making his claims based off new evidence.

    Yea? What was that? And if it was why did the IPCC go with Landsea’s broad outline?

    So your saying that Landsea’s comment in the letter was untrue? This part here:

    I found it a bit perplexing that the participants in the Harvard press
    conference had come to the conclusion that global warming was impacting
    hurricane activity today. To my knowledge, none of the participants in that
    press conference had performed any research on hurricane variability, nor
    were they reporting on any new work in the field.

    You have any evidence you can point to that quote is wrong?

  41. Jc says:

    First point: I have a strong dislike of people who slander scientists because their research doesnt support some preconceived idealogical pov.

    maybe you ought to take a look in the mirror before you write things like this:

    The ironic thing about Chris Landseas giant sook

    and this:

    If Landsea wants to be known for honesty and integrity he should wait for the IPCC to misrepresent him, before accusing them of it.

  42. Ken Miles says:

    The big problem that we have is that neither you, me nor Chris Landsea was present so our information is pretty sketchy.

    However, the press release mentions the formation of a hurricane off Brazil in March 2004 an area which they have never been seen before (because it was previously too cool for hurricane formation). Plus, from the press release:

    Fueling concerns about the link between global warming and hurricanes is a new study on hurricane intensity published on September 28, 2004 in “The Journal of Climate.” The study used extensive computer modeling to analyze 1,300 future hurricanes and projected major increase in the intensity and rainfall of hurricanes in coming decades.

    This paper is (presumably) Knutson, T. R., and R. E. Tuleya, 2004: Impact of CO2-induced warming on simulated hurricane intensity and precipitation: Sensitivity to the choice of climate model and convective parameterization. J. Climate, 17, 34773495.

    I also think that it is likely that Trenberth knew about Emanuel’s observation evidence of increased hurricane power.

  43. Ken Miles says:

    JC, find where I have criticised Landsea’s research or how it conflicts with my “preconceived idealogical pov”. I’ll save you some time search – it doesn’t.

    I have only criticised Landsea for his massive over the top reaction which attacked the IPCC for a press release made by a different organisation.

  44. Jc says:

    I also think that it is likely that Trenberth knew about Emanuels observation evidence of increased hurricane power.

    And Landsea wouldn’t?

  45. Ken Miles says:

    And Landsea wouldnt?

    Don’t know… but given that Landsea said “To my knowledge, none of the participants in that press conference… were they reporting on any new work in the field” maybe not.

  46. Jc says:

    So you’re saying the guy considered one of the experts in his field wouldn’t know of other research that would actually dismiss his claims.

    The press conference guys knew but not Landsea. That’s your assertion is it KenM?

  47. Ken Miles says:

    Reread my last comment JC. The answer immediately follows the quoted text.

    However, it isn’t uncommon for scientists to be unaware of unpublished (at that point) research.

  48. Jc says:

    Let me understand what you’re saying here, KenM just so I’m clear on your proposition.

    You’re suggesting that Landsea didn’t know about this new super sized research or he ignored it. He then wrote an open letter as a result of the press conference “hosts” asserting that AGW is linked to storm activity (they did not mention the new research). However the final IPCC report basically went with Landsea ignoring the new research the Harvard guys were talking about (but didn’t mention).

    All this of course makes it way back to the original part of the discussion I was having that the mug shots of all those storms Gore’s movie showed were in fact (by your assertions) an accurate representation of the facts.

    Is this right or did i miss something here?

  49. Ken Miles says:

    No JC, you’ve once again completely missed the point and once again I’m breaking my rule of not bothering to reply to uninteresting pieces of bullshit. I didn’t mention Gore once, my “assertions” are more a product of your imagination than anything I’ve written. I’ll stop attacking you for not debating in good faith, when you stop making stuff up.

    Youre suggesting that Landsea didnt know about this new super sized research or he ignored it.

    Don’t know about what Landsea did or didn’t know. I’m not going to speculate on it anymore.

    He then wrote an open letter as a result of the press conference hosts asserting that AGW is linked to storm activity (they did not mention the new research).

    Yes they did. They cited mentioned their main peice of evidence in the press review, and I’ve mentioned it on this thread on comment 43.

    However the final IPCC report basically went with Landsea ignoring the new research the Harvard guys were talking about (but didnt mention).

    No, the final IPCC report, had no connection with Landsea (he had resigned by then), came out years after his sook and did mention all of the evidence (plus a whole lot more) that the conference had referred to.

  50. Jc says:

    KenM:

    Landsea said:

    I found it a bit perplexing that the participants in the Harvard press conference had come to the conclusion that global warming was impacting hurricane activity today. To my knowledge, none of the participants in that press conference had performed any research on hurricane variability, nor
    were they reporting on any new work in the field.

    I says:

    He then wrote an open letter as a result of the press conference hosts asserting that AGW is linked to storm activity (they did not mention the new research).

    You says:

    Yes they did.

    Was Landsea lying then?

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