Where are we with Geo-Engineering in 2014?

Geo-engineering is increasingly looking like the only politically viable way of averting temperature rises above 2 degrees in the coming century. This is for three interlocking reasons: i) Any mayor country can try geo-engineering on its own without permission from anyone else, meaning one does not need a world coalition sustained for centuries to have an effect; ii) It holds the promise of immediate relief because ‘natural Solar Radiation Management’, ie volcanic eruptions that add lots of light-reflecting particles into the atmosphere, were found to cause immediate worldwide temperature drops, which compares favourably with the lags of decades and centuries that hold for CO2 emission reduction plans; and iii) It might be exceedingly cheap compared to any policy involving emission markets. For instance, according to a 2012 piece by McClellan and co-authors, we could keep the planet at current temperature levels at a cost of merely 10 billion dollars a year by having a fleet of planes deliver reflective particles high in the earth’s atmosphere.[1]

Given that continued global warming is predicted to happen in the next century no matter what emission policies are adopted, geo-engineering by some impatient large country is starting to look nigh inevitable. I reported in 2012 on the research efforts funded by the Royal Society, the Gates Foundation, and others. You now have dedicated institutes on this issue (eg. http://iagp.ac.uk ), and lots of new proposed experiments. With a large glut of published studies in recent years, it is time for an update: how far are we now in the world of geo-engineering?

The honest answer is that the scientific community is pussyfooting around when it comes to geo-engineering. Field experiments are largely stalled as scientists are awaiting regulatory frameworks that will protect them from criticisms of other scientists and environmental groups. Proposed regulatory frameworks designed to deliver this, such as by Nordhaus and colleagues, find it hard to get much political traction because politicians seen to support regulatory frameworks themselves become targets for criticism, both by those who pretend there is no climate change and by those who insist there is climate change but who also insist on emission reductions as the only way to return to our current climate some 300 years from now. Voters who agree the world is getting too hot and who would like it cooled down in their own lifetime rather than that of their great-great-great-great-grandchildren are still too rare to bother with for politicians.

This does not mean there is a lack of bright ideas. The engineers looking into this really are a very creative bunch, talking about whitening clouds, aerosol sprays, reflective shields, and artificial trees. One new idea that I hadn’t heard before is to genetically alter our crops so that they reflect sunlight better than the current crops. I don’t know whether this has any chance of getting serious traction, but one has to admire the ingenuity of the idea. Still, ominously, almost no field tests or large scale long-term testing is underway as scientists are waiting for societal approval to go ahead.

A good example of the ‘adverse climate for studies into geo-engineering’ is the reaction to the experiment with iron fertilisation off the coast of Canada in 2012: two businessmen/scientists dumped 100 tonnes of iron into the oceans in the hope of stimulating huge algae blooms that would capture a lot of carbon. The algae blooms failed to materialise, showing that iron fertilisation on its own was not as effective as once hoped for. Yet, these scientists were denounced as ‘rogue’ and there were widespread calls for legal action. This reaction was absurd once you think of the puny scale of the experiment: they only dumped 100 tonnes of iron ore into the oceans. Given a yearly world iron ore production by humans of around 3 billion tons per year, the experiment was insignificant compared to the amount of human-processed iron that flows to the oceans on a daily basis in terms of rust! You don’t hear equal amounts of complaints whenever an old ship is deliberately sunk to form an artificial reef, even though that is a similar amount of iron being ‘dumped’! The reactions hence were silly, vindictive, and essentially irresponsible. No wonder that the scientists looking at geo-engineering are waiting for official societal permission in the form of regulation that could sanctify their experiments and thus insulate them from the moral crusaders.

So at the moment, the scientific debates about feasibility and costs are mainly fought by means of computer simulation studies, with the usual claims and counter-claims that one gets when there is no real data. Typically, published reviews of this literature are critical of any form of geo-engineering that would have the potential to have immediate effects, usually saying the unknown risks are unacceptable. A good example is a recent paper by Cussack and others in 2014 that grudgingly admitted that Solar Radiation Management is indeed likely to be cost-effective at cooling the planet down quickly for relatively little money, but nevertheless says would entail unacceptable (but unknown) high risks, leading the authors to advocate broad-scale application of carbon-sequestration.

Carbon-sequestration is an oft-quoted darling in the literature critical of Solar Radiation Management, but is really a pretty hopeless technology as soon as you realise that coal is a beautifully compact form of sequestered carbon. To go from digging it up and burning it, which is what we do now in greater amounts than ever before, to re-creating it and then burying it seems rather costly, doesn’t it?

Re-sequestration would thus need to be done on a huge scale to have any effect, essentially undoing 2 centuries of digging up coal, oil, and gas, by putting similar substances back into the ground, preferably just as deep. The volumes involved would be such that we’d be talking decades of enormous industrial efforts to do it, which raises the question who would pay for it. Apart from the cost question though, the time-frame is off as it would not reduce the temperatures quickly but, once again, would only see its ‘benefits’ felt decades later. You might hence say that the world is still ‘unsequestering’ as fast as it can and ‘resequestering’ would only seem likely to happen if current populations were willing to expend huge efforts to aid their great-great-great-great-grandchildren. Not very likely, is it? This is typical of the studies critical of geo-engineering: they have little appreciation for the role of impatience and opportunism that are pervasive aspects of voters and their politicians.

We are thus a bit in scientific limbo-land at the moment, with moral crusaders preventing real progress: on the basis that the planet is hurtling towards disaster, we are asked to change our way life dramatically now, yet we should also accept that the damage takes centuries to undo and that we should just live with the climate change caused by our past sins. Solutions with immediate effect are seen as a form of cheating on our just deserts, and are said to involve unacceptable risks, with research designed to find out about those risks seen as unethical and already too risky. Why it is apparently more ethical to rejoice in the US-China announcement that they will keep increasing emissions for decades to come, is somewhat of a mystery: how can anyone truly fearing irreversible climate disaster see such non-binding agreements of sustained high emissions as real hope? As Ken Parish recently noted here on Troppo, it’s bizarre.

The stalemate that we see now in the science of geo-engineering would not seem sustainable though. Research funds keep being poured into this and the scientists involved will find ways to have real experiments in order to give the funders a real return. Also, at some point large groups of concerned voters will wake up to the absurd level of patience and altruism that the IPCC is currently asking of them, at which point they are going to ask their politicians to cut through the fog of political correctness and experiment on a wide scale, moralising crusaders be damned. How far are we away from this? Hard to know, but I would be surprised if we need to wait more than 5 years for big experiments to see the light of day.

 


[1] Justin McClellan, David W Keith, and Jay Apt, “Cost Analysis of Stratospheric Albedo Modification Delivery Systems,” Environmental Research Letters 7 (2012).

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108 Responses to Where are we with Geo-Engineering in 2014?

  1. conrad says:

    There are already natural experiments. For example, the Asian smog cloud (and part European too I’ve noticed in summer), is already believed to have a cooling effect on the world, although the basic problem is that it has lots of undesired effects too, some of which are bad no matter what even if you didn’t care too much about human health (e.g., less light hitting the Earth). So I think we can probably already estimate some of the geo-engineering effects, and it’s not like you’d need to implement them all at once, so I’d also predict we are likely to see these sorts of experiments earlier rather than later. Indeed, I’m surprised no-one has dumped large amounts of iron in parts of the ocean with different characteristics than that where the initial experiment was done.

    • Paul Frijters says:

      yes, we have been feeding off these kinds of natural experiments for a while now. The lack of airoplane vapours following 9/11 is another well-known one. They tell us that dimming is possible, though they do not help with the long-run effects of sustained efforts, nor with the question what the optimal form of reflective substance is, nor with the question what the technical difficulties would be of a sustained massive operation.

      Yes, the lack of follow-up studies on the iron fertilisation experiment is a real pity. I suspect its from the deterrent effect of the moral crusaders.

      • conrad says:

        Yep, it’s crazy. You can fish out 90% of the fish, leak radioactive substances into the water, dump any amount of pollution you want, have runoff from fertilizer etc., but if you want to chuck a bit of iron in the water and do an experiment you need to go through 15 committees, 4 of which have moral crusaders on them, 2 with people that have OCD, and 1 which has someone in a very bad mood that just wants to stop everything.

      • Peter Lang says:

        Rog,

        I agree.

        Furthermore, if China and the rest of the developing world (i.e. around 90% of the world’s population) can get access to a cheap alternative to fossil fuels (of which nuclear is the only proven and likely option), they will burn coal and other fossil fuels. See:

        India’s coal conundrum: which comes first, the climate or the poor?

  2. Persse says:

    Scientists are not pussyfooting around – they just find the concept beyond scary,and compared to simply stopping burning fossil fuels. fantastically expensive and probably undo-able.
    Efforts at planetary cooling that doesn’t entail extracting CO2 from the atmosphere would most likely in time be overwhelmed anyway, guaranteeing the comprehensive destruction of life on the planet.
    My favourite planet saving scheme is to turn all of central Australia into a giant lake, grow algae in it, kill them so they sink to the bottom and start again, given a thousand years or so, hey presto 200 ppm CO2.
    All for a modest eleventy trillion dollars. Pity that it would be too late anyway. But anything is better than have people walk to work, or join they library for their entertainment, I suppose.
    By the way, congratulations on finding a way to blame the greenies for the destruction of the planet, that furious scribbling sound would be Andrew Bolt taking notes.

    • Paul frijters says:

      Oh, I have stopped viewing people who oppose these experiments as greenies a long time ago. They don’t deserve such labels.

  3. Peter Lang says:

    Geo-engineering is increasingly looking like the only politically viable way of averting temperature rises above 2 degrees in the coming century.

    The opening sentence is false for three reasons:

    1. There is next to zero chance the the world would support geoengineering to control the climate

    2. There is no need for it – we can cut GHG emissions to achieve justifiable targets with the already well proven technologies – like nuclear power and its future developments. To achieve this the anti-nukes and those who claim to be ‘Progressives’ need to stop blocking progress. The blocks to progress are caused almost entirely by the ideological Left.

    3.. There is no need because the world is unlikely to warm by another 2C and even if it does, the impacts are just as likely to be positive as negative – the damage function is so poorly understood as to be next to useless.

    The world will not agree to any policy that increases the cost of energy – and nor should it. So the Left need to dump any thoughts of pushing policies that require more government intervention in markets such as more regulations, more taxes, carbon prices, more subsidies for renewable energy, more impediments to low cost nuclear power. In fact, they should remove the existing, unjustified impediments to low cost nuclear power.

    See the chart showing the net cost of carbon pricing on the world economy – it would be negative for all this century and well beyond. No rational person would support this or any other policy that will increase the cost of energy and damage the world’s economy.

    • Paul Frijters says:

      wrong on all 3 counts:

      1. The world doesnt need to approve geo-engineering. All it needs is one big country that thinks the world has gotten too hot for it to take action on its own.

      2. No, the level of emissions are now so much higher than the re-absorption rate of the ecosystems (around a factor of 10:1, ie every additional year of current emissions would take 10 years to get reabsorbed. This ratio is increasing rapidly), that even mass-adoption of nuclear and lots of renewables will have remarkably little impact on climate change, particularly if the fossil fuels get used up anyway but slightly slower. The trajectories are now such that nothing short from draconian changes in the way of life of most humans on the planet could reduce emissions enough to ensure that the climate in 300 years time returns back to what it is now. And that is the ‘optimistic scenario’!

      3. No, again it is not relevant that some countries will win from global warming and increased CO2, something I agree is the case and a point that is crucial in understanding the impossibility of world coalitions over long lengths of time. But it is not relevant when thinking of geo-engineering. What matters then is whether there is a big country that truly believes it is losing out because of increased temperatures and rising sea levels. I am actually thinking it might eventually be India, though they will only start to worry about this much much later on. Maybe China.

      • conrad says:

        I reckon China will do to if some of their deserts start getting too bad or if they get too many problems with food supplies. They’ve already spent oodles trying to stop desertification, and they love engineering solutions. They built the great wall, the great dam, thousands of kilometers of railroads in record time etc . . In addition, unlike as one of the other commentators seems think, they would have no qualms with unilateral action as they are answerable to essentially no-one including their own people (even less so than most other countries with e.g., nuclear weapons developed without world approval) .

      • Peter Lang says:

        [Sorry, I posted my reply at the wrong level. I hope it is acceptable to edit and move it to here:]

        Paul Fritters,

        Your comment is unsubstantiated assertions. But it reveals a lack of understanding of history and of the information that is relevant for ;policy analysis and for policy to succeed.

        If one powerful country could geoengineer the planet’s climate, as you say, and get away with it, they would have tried it long ago, And other countries would have stopped them!

        Your comments about the absorption rates are basically down in the weeds, FUD. Warming and human caused CO2 emissions have been substantially beneficial so far, and continue to be net beneficial. Life thrived when the planet was warmer and struggled when colder. We have next to know understanding of the damage function, the latest, observational estimates of climate sensitivity are close to half what IPCC is still claiming in AR5, and the projected GHG emissions rates for this century are higher than realistic.

        Your response seems to be that of an extremist. Not one I am like to consider a credible authority on the subject.

        Matt Ridley on 26 Nov: “Greens take the moral low ground

    • Patrick says:

      “Future developments” are my all-time favorite “proven technology”

  4. Peter Lang says:

    Paul Fritters,

    Your comments is unsubstantiated assertions. But it reveals a massive lack of understanding of history.

    If one powerful country could do it, as you say, and get away with it, they would have done it long ago, And other countries would have stopped them!

    Your comments about the absorptions rates are basically down in the weed, FUD. Warming has been massively beneficial so far, and continues to be net beneficial. Life thrived when the planet was warmer and struggled when colder. We have next to know understanding of the damage function, the latest, observational estimates of climate sensitivity are close to half what IPCC is still claiming in AR5, and the the projected emissions rates for the century are far too high to be realistic.

    Your response seems to be that of an extremist. Not one I am like to consider a credible speaker on the subject.

    Matt Ridley on 26 Nov: “Greens take the moral low ground

  5. I don’t mind the suggestion that some of the lesser intrusive forms of geo-engineering be investigated properly – such as a further attempts at ocean fertilization, or creating clouds over oceans. Filling the atmosphere with reflective particles seems one of the more extreme ideas though, with more potential for unforeseen consequences. (Well, that’s my hunch anyway.)

    But I would not want it to be done as a substitution for serious effect to reduce CO2 emissions. The reason?: geo-engineering needs to be continuous, and it is by no means clear that the world won’t face a natural disaster of some scale that it interrupts economies to such a scale that geo-engineering stops. In that case, the temperature rises to possibly catastrophic levels, never to be recovered from.

    Also – no one that I know of has a serious suggestion as to how “geo-engineer” the ocean pH back to its old levels. It is a potential very major ecological issue that can only be dealt with by reducing emissions.

    • paul frijters says:

      Hi Steve,

      yes, having to do it continuously is an issue, though double-edged. One problem is that one can then get conflicts with other countries who want it to be a bit warmer and who thus interfere with the geo-engineering activities of other countries. But it also comes at the advantage that one can fine-tune as you go along: you dont have to guess perfectly right how reactive the temperatures are and you can adjust as international coalitions favoring particular temperature targets emerge.

      But emission reductions, which you know I don’t believe can be organised politically or bureaucratically if the actual costs of fossil remain lower than the alternatives (even if only for air travel!), take centuries to work and are not fine-tuned to achieve anything in particular. Do you see that work? Pie-in-the-sky I am afraid.

      The acidification issue is indeed troublesome on its own. Given my views about reducing emissions, I must say that in that area too I am hoping for some technological solution, like churning the underwater calcium beds. That is the optimistic scenario. I fear that the reality is though that countries will be much less willing to expend efforts to engineer the acidity of the oceans than that they are willing to engineer land temperatures. Maybe some international agency will eventually give it a try.

  6. john Walker says:

    Past historical events – big volcanic dust eruptions- show that putting ‘enough’ particulates in to the upper atmosphere can be very effective at lowering temperatures, but do you think that we could be fairly sure about not overdoing it?

  7. paul frijters says:

    Oh, Peter, please dont disapprove of me. Pleaseeeeeee……

    You are so right of course! Why would you bother to get my name right, or even read the whole first paragraph when it is so obvious from the first sentence that I am such a fraud and that you are right? And from what smelly orifice did I pull the 10:1 emission to absorption number? What was I thinking? Sure, there are fellow frauds like the authors on the 2012 Nature article who claimed that the world’s ecosystems have absorbed around 4 billion tonnes of C per year (1 tenth of the weight of current CO2 emission levels), and expect the current absorption levels to decline (as they have quite strongly the last year). As another (Australian) set of scientists noted, the growth rate of carbon sinks is not keeping pace with emissions and in their projections we should soon indeed get a 10:1 ratio if emissions continue to rise. But who are they? Their names dont begin with Peter, nor do they end in Lang! Frauds and wannabees, clearly.

    I beg your forgiveness.

    Your humble servant,

    Mr Fritters

    • Peter Lang says:

      paul frijters,

      I don’t know who you are and haven’t seen your bio. But I doubt you are a serious scholar or authority given your sarcastic reply, over confidence, lack of humility and lack of substance.

      Your post and comments suggest you are one of the herd – suffering from group think and herd mentality. Here’s a bit on that subject from Climate Scientist, Judith Curry: “Groups and herds: implications for the IPCC

      Your points are disjointed factoids and irrelevant for policy analysis.

      Here are some examples of information that is relevant for policy analysis? Climate scientists and other disciplines need to provide this information, not the down in the weeds factoids you are using to justify your beliefs:

      1. probability that the policies being advocated will succeed in the real world – where succeed means deliver the claimed benefits (in $ of climate damages avoided) on the claimed schedule.

      2. time to the next abrupt climate change, its sign (warming or cooling), rate of change, magnitude of total change, duration.

      3. damage function

      4. Costs and benefits of advocated policies:

      • Yes, you indeed don’t know much but thanks for taking the trouble to at least read enough to be able to regurgitate my actual name.

        On the content, you are completely wrong when you think that it is climate scientists whose policy advise will sway the day politically. It is not the car mechanic who drives the race and determines where the car goes. It is thus from political scientists and economists that you should expect the expert opinions on what our societies can implement and what they cant. We are the experts in how the political and economic system throws up barriers to change, not the climate scientists, and of course we disagree amongst ourselves. So whilst you and I both should basically just follow the climate scientists when it comes to what is happening to the climate and what would happen under various scenarios (ie, take the car mechanic’s advise on what the car can do), you should ask political scientists and economists as to what policy options are feasible and are likely to be pursued, which is exactly what you are getting from me.

        • Peter Lang says:

          On the content, you are completely wrong when you think that it is climate scientists whose policy advise will sway the day politically.

          Another silly comment and strawman. I didn’t say climate scientsts do the policy analysis nor provide all the inputs. But they need to provide the important, relevant inputs, such as damage function and ECS. And, they should not be advocating for policies for the very reasons you’ve explained. But they are actively involved in advocating for policies.

          Clearly you you haven’t a clue what you are talking about. If you think that climate scientists aren’t advocating for policies to control the climate, what planet have you been on? And why are you making statements about climate and impacts if you think they are not relevant to the policy approach you are advocating? Clearly you have nothing more to constructive to say than Christine Milne and the rest of the climate cultists and greenies.

        • Peter Lang says:

          Paul Frijters
          Now I see. A Leftist economist on the extreme green fringe.

          Do your beliefs align with Stephan Lewandowski, John Cook and the rest of the climate cultists who contribute on sites like SkepticalScience?

        • paul frijters says:

          it’s been riveting, Peter, please do drop by again, though I would appreciate it if next time you read the post before you started to comment.

          I suspect that on the content we would probably agree on most things if you took the time to discover what I have been saying on this topic over the years (though I have to laugh at your depiction of how policy decisions are actually made. Talk about a straw man!). Pity that your ego is in the way of seeing that.

        • john Walker says:

          Well preserve me bodily fluids, Paul is really a pinko fluoride flavored greenie. Think I need a bex and a nap.

        • paul frijters says:

          Hi John,

          yes, I am going to dine on that epithet! I do see myself as pro-environment, but an extreme greenie? Wow. My parents would be so proud.

        • Peter Lang says:

          Paul Frijters,

          Also, at some point large groups of concerned voters will wake up to the absurd level of patience and altruism that the IPCC is currently asking of them, at which point they are going to ask their politicians to cut through the fog of political correctness and experiment on a wide scale, moralising crusaders be damned. How far are we away from this?

          You can work the answer to that question out for yourself. World population ~7 billion. Number of people who would support such action – less than 1%. So the answer is 99:1 against.

          And its getting worse because more and more people are waking up to the fact AGW is not a critically important issue and is a low priority compared with other priorities. Perhaps ~1% of the population see it as an important issue and that is declining.

          Until you and the others who would like to be called ‘Progressives’ wake up to the realities, there will be little and slow progress. Why didn’t you respond to this in my first comment:

          the Left need to dump any thoughts of pushing policies that require more government intervention in markets such as more regulations, more taxes, carbon prices, more subsidies for renewable energy, more impediments to low cost nuclear power. In fact, they should remove the existing, unjustified impediments to low cost nuclear power.

        • conrad says:

          Perhaps ~1% of the population see it as an important issue and that is declining.”

          Like I said, no-one cares about postmodernists any more. Although perhaps all of these surveys are also conspiracies.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_opinion_by_country

      • conrad says:

        Peter, post-moderism is a loser. Even stupid people get sick of invent-your own reality stories after a while. The left learned that after being beaten convincingly for a decade, so it was curious the right wing took it up. Now we have Tony Abbott getting beaten by Mr non-charisma Bill Shorten and Hilary Clinton odds on favourite to win in the US, despite many Americans not being able to stand her (I’ve never worked that one out).

      • conrad says:

        Peter, are you guys still going after Stephen Lewandowsky? These are clearly tough targets you guys are going after — A Professor of Psychology at UWA (now Bristol I think). Universities more or less no-one cares about.

        If you want to disprove climate-science, the guys at NASA etc. would generally be considered the real targets.

        • Peter Lang says:

          Relevance deficiency. That argument is about policy and what’s relevant for policy analysis. You seem to keep missing that.

  8. conrad says:

    Out of curiosity, what are the estimates of how many places are actually likely to benefit from warming (say, what proportion of people in the world)? All I ever read is Canada and Russia, but even these places might not be so good with rising sea levels and hundreds of millions of Bangladeshis etc. wandering around looking for a new home. Even if this wasn’t a problem, surely even the cost of having to deal with moving coastlines and all the huge cities sitting by the sea (and there are oodles of them) would be pretty expensive.

    • Peter Lang says:

      Rising sea levels are an insignificant cost – approx $200 billion for a 0.5 m seal level rise by 2100 or $1,000 billion for a 1 m sea level rise. That’s estimated damage cost for the whole world over the whole period to 2100. It’s down in the weeds.

      David Anthoff, Robert J. Nicholls, Richard S. J. Tol, 2010 ‘The economic impact of substantial sea-level rise

      GHG emissions are likely to be net beneficial for all this century, especially if we stop blocking the world from getting access to cheap energy. By far the greatest contributor to the damage costs of projected AGW is from the rising cost of energy which is based on implementing bad policies like distorting markets to force renewables energy to be implemented. See Figure 3:
      Richard Tol, 2013, ‘THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF CLIMATE
      CHANGE IN THE 20TH AND 21ST CENTURIES

      Notice how strongly positive are the impacts of CO2 and GW on agriculture and health.

  9. paul frijters says:

    I found you, Peter Lang! A retired engineer. You are the guy who blogs on Jennifer Marohasy’s site. The one that has on its home page the opening paragraph

    “The Australian Bureau of Meteorology takes a revisionist approach to history, changing the historical temperature record so that it accords with the theory of anthropogenic global warming.”

    and then goes on to doubt the consensus on global warming, and then claims that she has published in ‘top climate’ journals, listing Atmospheric Research, Advances in Atmospheric Research, Wetlands Ecology and Management, Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, Public Law Review and Environmental Law and Management. Of these, Atmospheric Research is a B on the ERA rankings, the rest is lower or not even on the list. I see from your original comment that you share her skepticism about the AGW theories in that you doubt the 2 degrees warming will happen. What company you keep, Peter!

    Even I have an A publication in a climate journal, and I wouldn’t claim to be in this literature. I write on climate politics from a civic-duty point of view: saying the obvious because it needs to be said.

    Having said this, I actually agree with what you wrote in 2012/2013 about the futility of carbon pricing, as well as Richard Tol’s assessment that serious international agreements on world emissions are not going to happen (which you quote approvingly). All that’s pretty obvious, and has been for years. But that is really only where the analysis of the international game on this begins: what will the next steps be?

    • Peter Lang says:

      So, Not only do you resort to strawman arguing tactics (pointed out in one of my earlier comments) now you resort to attributing to me what the blog owner does. How pathetic is that. I wonder where you’ve posted comments? have you posted on:
      RealClimate?
      SkepticalScience?
      The Conversation?
      John Quiggin?
      Labor Party?
      Greens Party?
      Are you responsible for and do you support everything they say on their web sites or what they’ve done during their lives?

      You may be interested to read the ‘10 signs of intellectual dishonesty‘ and 10 signs of intellectual dishonesty’. Your responses to me demonstrate many of the 10 sighs of intellectual dishonesty> Do I have to list which ones?

      • john Walker says:

        intellectual dishonesty , mmm
        “O, wad some Power the giftie gie us
        To see oursels as others see us!
        It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
        An’ foolish notion.”

      • paul frijters says:

        well, if you write on climate and the blogger that you write at writes almost exclusively on climate, you will indeed be tainted by her views a bit, Peter. Particularly as you write in your first comment

        “the world is unlikely to warm by another 2C”

        which, given that you are skeptical of emission reductions any time soon, puts you outside of the mainstream estimates.

        However, you can of course set the record straight right here. Do you disagree with Jennifer and if so, why blog about climate at her place?

        • Peter Lang says:

          Thank you for the offer to set the record straight. I can’t and wouldn’t even attempt to answer your question because I don’t know all Jennifer Marohasy says and, anyway, many answers would be nuanced and need lots of discussion. I wouldn’t attempt to answer such a broad question. It’s as silly as asking someone “do you believe in climate science?” or “do you believe in climate change?”

          I suspect the relevance of this from an earlier comment went right over your head, right?

          2. [pdfs for] time to the next abrupt climate change, its sign (warming or cooling), rate of change, magnitude of total change, duration.

          3. damage function

          I notice you dodged my question. Do you comment on or contribute to any of the sites I mentioned? Do you agree with any of the policies and beliefs the people who own those sites advocate? If so, it demonstrates, following your reasoning, you are a climate cultist, and a believer in bad policies such as carbon pricing. Avoiding the question is a sign of intellectual dishonesty.

        • Peter Lang says:

          Paul Frijters,

          “the world is unlikely to warm by another 2C”

          OK, I’ll phrase that slightly differently. Instead, I’ll say, I am persuaded 2 C warming by 2100 is about the most likely scenario. Furthermore, I suspect the impacts of this would be negligible. Furthermore, I suspect the projections are nonsense because the climate doesn’t change like the GCM projections indicate – it changes abruptly. Always has and always will. If not for our GHG emissions, the next abrupt change would probably be to colder. That would be damaging and perhaps catastrophic. Climate cultist’s don’t know most of this or ignore what they don’t want to know.

          You said:

          which, given that you are skeptical of emission reductions any time soon, puts you outside of the mainstream estimates.

          This suggests you are one of the herd. It seems like an appeal to authority. Another of the 10 signs of intellectual dishonesty. The post I linked on group thinks and herd mentality seems relevant.

          I have many reasons for 2C by 2100 being about where I am persuaded is the best central estimate:

          ECS is probably well below the GCM’s estimates. Observational estimates seem to be centering around 1.6 C to 1.8 C, rather than the 3.2 C in AR4 (IPCC avoided giving a central estimate in AR5).

          TCR is probably more relevant than ECS for the 85 years left to 2100. Observational estimates put TCR at around 1.3 C.

          No matter how hard the ‘Progressives’ in the developed countries try to block progress, the world will inevitably move to nuclear energy, so the amount of fossil fuel burnt will be much lower than the AR5 RCP8.5 projections and probably less than RCP6.

          Have you checked the assumptions on the amount of fossil fuels available to be consumed for RCP8.5 and RCP6?

          Economically available Coal resources may be far below the IPCC’s “projections”. See:
          Höök, M., Zittel, W., Schindler, J. & Aleklett, K. ”Global coal production outlooks based on a logistic model” Fuel, 2010, Vol. 89, Issue 11:3546-3558 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fuel.2010.06.013

          A small number of nations control the vast majority of the world’s coal reserves. The geologically available amounts of coal are vast, but geological availability is not enough to ensure future production since economics and restrictions also play an important role. Historical trends in reserve and resource assessments can provide some insight about future coal supply and provide reasonable limits for modelling. This study uses a logistic model to create long-term outlooks for global coal production.

          A global peak in coal production can be expected between 2020 and 2050, depending on estimates of recoverable volumes. This is also compared with other forecasts. The overall conclusion is that the global coal production could reach a maximum level much sooner than most observers expect.

        • conrad says:

          I’m always impressed at the ability of right-wing post modernists to convince themselves they’re smarter than the people at NASA etc., that 50%=1% and so on.

        • paul frijters says:

          To be honest, I don’t really know what I expect to happen by 2100. I follow the herd when it comes to the sensitivity of the climate to more Green House Gasses and hence take the mainstream estimates for the relationship between emissions and temperature, but what do I expect to happen to the volume of emissions the next 100 years? I am willing to say I expect a doubling of annual world emissions in the next 30-40 years, but after that? Jeez.

          It is less the uncertainties on the supply side (whether nuclear or solar becomes the next go-to technology) that make me hesitant. It’s the uncertainties on the energy demand side, which has to do with population numbers and the nature of the economy, that seem much bigger to me. Do I trust the population projections of the moment, ie a peak of 10 billion and then a gradual decline? Not really. Do I think that by 2100 the economic and political system are largely the same so that we can extrapolate from the last 50 years to the next 100 in terms of energy demand and economic growth? Not really either: I dont expect human nature and human organisations to change much, but I for instance expect computers smarter than us to emerge in the next 50 years, and for them to make a huge difference, including for the demand for energy. But which way their arrival will lead us to in terms of energy demand? In the scheme of all that may change, I would expect our emissions and climate discussions today to have virtually no impact on the outcomes 100 years from now! In that sense the discussions we are having are mainly for consumptive reasons. For retired engineers to feel useful.

          Politically speaking, the main point of the projections beyond 40 years from now are just how slow the reactions of the climate to emissions are, both when they increase and when they decline.

        • Peter Lang says:

          To be honest, I don’t really know what I expect to happen by 2100.

          No one does. But that’s no excuse to use the high end, worst case scenarios for every input, and then advocate for high risk policies – i.e. policies that will almost certainly make the world worse off. Policies that damage the global economy makes the world worse off. Policies that raises the cost of energy damages the global economy.

          It’s the uncertainties on the energy demand side [, …] that seem much bigger to me.

          That’s irrelevant once the impediments that are blocking nuclear from being much cheaper than fossil fuels are removed.

          Solar power. Forget it. It can’t do the job. It’s not sustainable.

          I for instance expect computers smarter than us to emerge in the next 50 years, and for them to make a huge difference, including for the demand for energy.

          Irrelevant. There are always new demands – unknown unknowns. Per capita energy consumption will continue to increase at roughly the rate it has been increasing since hunter-gatherer. Humans will want to explore other planets, the solar system, the galaxy, the universe and go through to blackholes to other universes “and return safely to Earth” (you get the picture). There is no end to growth in per capita energy consumption.

          I would expect our emissions and climate discussions today to have virtually no impact on the outcomes 100 years from now!

          We agree! So why are you advocating for high risk policies. The very best thing we can do is maximise economic growth for the whole world, and implement policies (like free trade and globalisation) that spread the benefits to all.

          For retired engineers to feel useful.

          Typical comment of an academic elitist.

          Politically speaking, the main point of the projections beyond 40 years from now are just how slow the reactions of the climate to emissions are, both when they increase and when they decline.

          You still haven’t got your head around the the fact the climate changes abruptly, not as the GCM’s projections suggest.

    • Peter Lang says:

      Having said this, I actually agree with what you wrote in 2012/2013 about the futility of carbon pricing, as well as Richard Tol’s assessment that serious international agreements on world emissions are not going to happen (which you quote approvingly). All that’s pretty obvious, and has been for years.

      Well it hasn’t been obvious for years to the EU or Australian negotiators at the UN climate conferences. It’s not obvious to Bill Shorten or the Labor Party. It wasn’t obvious to Rudd or Gillard or Senator Brown or Senator Milne and her followers. It’s not obvious to John Quiggin or Ross Garnaut or to many in Treasury. If it’s so obvious to us, why isn’t it obvious to everyone?

      And why isn’t it equally obvious that other high cost, economically damaging policies like the RET are bad policy too? And why isn’t it obvious that the unjustifiable imposts on nuclear power are blocking progress and are bad policy?

      But that is really only where the analysis of the international game on this begins: what will the next steps be?

      One obvious one and relatively easy to accomplish – although it will take a long time to have full effect – is to remove the unjustifiable impediments that are blocking the world from having low cost nuclear power (cheaper than fossil fuels).

  10. TOM BIEGLER says:

    An interesting set of exchanges on a large topic and an interesting set of ideas, from a distinguished econometrician. I agree with others that Paul is being naive when he imagines that one nation could in practice conduct geo-engineering experiments without any kind of global approval, but that’s just an opinion. There is a more important issue. While there are clearly some clever and original geo-engineering ideas around, they are just ideas. Anyone (like me) who has been associated with the real world of turning scientific ideas into applied technologies knows that the gap between taking the first step, having an idea, and finally getting the process or product into application, successfully, is huge and risky, not to mention expensive. It can take 10 to 50 years. Hardly anyone is game (or sceptical) enough to estimate the prospects of one particular technological idea succeeding, but as someone who had to manage the funding of ideas I shall stick my neck out here. I reckon it’s around one in a hundred. There are step-by-step methodologies for making such estimates. I’ll leave those to folk with more energy than I but I reckon I won’t be too far out. The small prospects of practical success must always be kept in mind.

  11. Nicholas Gruen says:

    Thanks for an excellent post Paul

    And I’m pleased to say that if some of our more ambitious plans here at Troppo come off, the winner of the next Troppo competition will not only be flown first class to Paris for a free weekend in the Troppo Merc Sports (now having been repaired from it’s nasty plunge from near the top of the Burj Khalifa) but they’ll get a year’s supply of Paul Fritters at any participating McDonalds anywhere in the world!

  12. Paul Foord says:

    Now if we could just geo-engineer an El Nino event we could end the drought in the South West USA. Geo-engineering is probably negative sum, so the need for mechanisms to compensate those who lose most globally from geo-engineering would be important if conflict is to be minimised.

    • john Walker says:

      Paul :-) have been told by a weather expert that nobody really knows what actually triggers the southern oscillation itself -As apposed to what then causes El Nino/La Ninia .
      BTW
      I have also been told that the SOI (and some other related indexes ) is becoming markedly less useful as predictor of rainfall/drought in SE Australia, possibly because warming is reducing the temp gradient between here and east of Tahiti.

  13. Crocodile Chuck says:

    What’s the worst that could happen?

    Oh, wait….

    ps if the above is really our last hope, we’re fucked.

  14. Cloudy with a chance of cheese fritters, yeesh. Paul sounds like a mad scientist with this stuff. This could be the strangest mainstream poliblog post since Eugene Volokh tried to argue against saving humanity from an asteroid because libertarianism.

    Alright, the geo-engineering suggestions made in the OP are:

    1. Causing a volcanic eruption, i.e. the next Krakatoa. The explosions at Krakatoa in 1883 caused tens of thousands of deaths due to earthquakes and tsunamis. Okay, so maybe you can minimise that down to very few deaths if the world knows it’s going to happen. What about the cost of property damage? Quite apart from the seemingly unavoidable earthquakes and/or tsunamis that would happen no matter where it is, the effects of acid rain from the sulphurous emissions would be impossible to quantify before the event. The sulphur dioxide would attack the ozone layer, affect rainfall patterns to possibly cause droughts, kill off plant life that needs sunlight, and could become a catalyst for a global famine. Not to mention the resulting loss of solar cell productivity.

    2. Seeding the atmosphere with sulphates delivered by plane, i.e. the McLellan option. This doesn’t have the explosive elements of the Krakatoa solution, but retains all of the other problems of sulphate “pollution”. It’s a macro project that would have very spotty micro outcomes. Any country that funded it would become a world pariah, fueled by objections from the loser nations.

    3. Various efforts to increase the Earth’s albedo and/or reflectivity, e.g. cloud whitening, reflective shields and GM crops. These usually involve messing with extremely complex natural systems which we barely understand: weather patterns, sea currents, stratospheric conditions. The science is not settled, and will not be settled by the time the problem has come to a head.

    4. Artificial carbon-eating trees belong in their own category as a worthy attempt but something that also won’t pass a cost-benefit analysis in the short- to medium-term, given the massive investments needed to make it work – unless it is made economical via carbon pricing, which would largely solve the problem in other ways anyway, and isn’t part of Paul’s “Competent Man creates an anti-Doomsday Machine to both save the world and punch hippies” scenario.

    5. Iron fertilisation, which either shows too much promise or not enough depending on whom you read. Will it mimic Mt Pinatubo, which seemingly added tens of thousands of tons of iron to the ocean but didn’t halt climate change, or will it cause a jellyfish plague… or will it wake up Gojira, the Kraken or Lord Cthulhu? (Yes, I’m taking the piss. It’s very difficult not to.)

    Paul’s last paragraph is amazingly declarative for such an uncertain set of fields. To be brutally honest, they are the sort of bare assertions I’d expect to see from a crank. His scenario is far more likely to come from dictators, not democrats. Putin blowing up the Shiveluch volcano to cause acid rain over North America? That would fit Paul’s parameters nicely, even though it would represent a monstrous act of terrorism. This is a major problem with the macro approach to big scientific problems: it can lead to wilful ignorance of micro effects.

    • conrad says:

      “These usually involve messing with extremely complex natural systems which we barely understand: weather patterns, sea currents, stratospheric conditions. The science is not settled, and will not be settled by the time the problem has come to a head”

      Alternatively, taking the risk might be better than the inevitable if consequences of global warming happen to be on the right side of the distribution rather than the left.

      “To be brutally honest, they are the sort of bare assertions I’d expect to see from a crank. His scenario is far more likely to come from dictators, not democrats”

      But there are lots of dictators out there. This is why I think China will happily experiment with some of these things, whether other people happen to know it or like it. Some of these things can hardly be worse than the gigantic smog clouds they already produce or the entirely putrified oceans that currently surround China.

  15. Persse says:

    Reiterating Paul Montgomerys’ points.
    No “Geo-engineering” scenario stands up to serious analysis as being practical, and you can forget any projection that doesn’t remove CO2. That is just delaying the moment to catastrophe.
    That leaves just the politics of emission reduction. That is all we have.

  16. Peter Lang says:

    Paul Montgomery – excellent comment.

    Persse – I agree. I agree it’s the politics and not technical or economic constraints. So it can be changed.

    As long as those who are most concerned about humans’ GHG emissions and catastrophic global warming continue to advocate for economically irrational policies – like carbon pricing, renewable energy and UN instigated and enforced emissions targets and timetables, there will be no progress.

    Progress will be made by allowing technologies that can provide low emissions energy to be cheaper than fossil fuels. That’s blocked at the moment by policies > caused by politics > caused by paranoia > caused by 50 years of fear-mongering (mostly by those who would like to be called ‘Progressives’).

    The ‘Progressives’ are blocking progress and have been for 50 years.

    If the ‘Progressives’ are genuinely concerned about CAGW (I’m not persuaded it their real agenda), they need to change tack. They need to start advocating strongly for economically rational policies that will make the majority of people on the planet better off over the short and medium term. One example is to learn about and then advocate strongly for removal of the impediments that are blocking the world from having cheap nuclear power.

    Here’s a short background on one aspect contributing to the blocks preventing the world from getting a cheap low emissions replacement for a major component of fossil fuel derived GHG emissions. It could be quickly and easily overturned (if led by a genuinely wise US President and US Administration). That could open the flood gates to get the rational people to reconsider the basis for their irrational fear of nuclear power:
    http://home.comcast.net/~robert.hargraves/public_html/RadiationSafety26SixPage.pdf

    And here is 45 minute video presentation by Oxford Professor, Allison Wade (take the time to watch it, it’ll be worth your while):

    • conrad says:

      The obvious reason we don’t have more nuclear power has nothing to do with scaremongering, it’s because its exceptionally expensive — far more so than renewables under almost any scenario imaginable.

      • Peter Lang says:

        conrad,

        Yes, nuclear is expensive compared with fossil fuel generated electricity in countries that have access to cheap fossil fuels and existing infrastructure. But nuclear is much cheaper than renewables generated electricity. You are dead wrong on that.

        See the CSIRO eFuture calculator: Start with the default inputs then select nuclear “permitted’ and build charts. Compare the costs and emissions reductions by 2050 for the no nuclear and with nuclear.

        Then try the CSIRO MyPower calculator:
        Move the sliders to try these technology mixes. Note the change in electricity price and CO2 emissions in 2050 compared with now:

        Change to 2050 in electricity price and emissions by technology mix:

        1. 80% coal, 10% gas, 10% renewables, 0% nuclear:
        electricity bills increase = 15% and emissions increase = 21%

        2. 0% coal, 50% gas, 50% renewables, 0% nuclear:
        electricity bills increase = 19% and emissions decrease = 62%.

        3. 0% coal, 30% gas, 10% renewables, 60% nuclear:
        electricity bills increase = 15% and emissions decrease = 77%.

        4. 0% coal, 20% gas, 10% renewables, 70% nuclear:
        electricity bills increase = 17% and emissions decrease = 84%.

        5. 0% coal, 10% gas, 10% renewables, 80% nuclear:
        electricity bills increase = 20% and emissions decrease = 91%.

        Points to note:

        • For the same real cost increase to 2050 (i.e. 15%), BAU gives a 21% increase in emissions c.f. the nuclear option a 77% decrease in emissions (compare scenarios 1 and 3)

        • For a ~20% real cost increase, the renewables option gives 62% decrease c.f. nuclear 91% decrease.

        • These costs do not include the additional transmission and grid costs. If they did, the cost of renewables would be substantially higher.

        Conclusion: nuclear is the least cost way to make significant reductions in the emissions intensity of electricity.

        The difference is stark. Nuclear is far better.

        But progress to reduce emissions at least cost is being thwarted by the anti-nuclear activists.

  17. Persse says:

    1) Is there a word for two paragraphs that utterly contradict each other?.

    1) ” economically irrational policies – like carbon pricing, renewable energy and UN instigated and enforced emissions targets and timetables, there will be no progress.”

    2) “Progress will be made by allowing technologies that can provide low emissions energy to be cheaper than fossil fuels”.

    • rog says:

      For 2) to occurr some sort of price has to be put on carbon thereby making low emission technologies feasible. Problem is that 1) blocks 2).

      This is the paper rock scissor game that denislists like to play.

  18. Peter Lang says:

    Persse,

    Can you please explain clearly, for my benefit why you say the two paragraphs you quoted contradict each other?

    As I see it policies that raise the cost of energy and require huge compliance costs for a century or more, like those in the first paragraph, are economically irrational and have no realistic chance of succeeding.

    However, policies that deregulate energy and allow enormous cost reductions as well as achieving the claimed objectives of the CAGW catastrophists, can succeed in the real world and are economically rational.

    What am I misunderstanding (before you respond could you please do me the courtesy of reading the links I’ve posted in earlier comments on this thread and confirm you have read and understood them)?

  19. rog says:

    I don’t think that there is any dispute that to move away from fossil fuel energy a carbon price is needed – Dr Ziggy Switowski made that quite clear when talking about nuclear.

    • Peter Lang says:

      Even Paul Frijters agrees there is no prospect of carbon pricing succeeding. Even Obama and China are not pushing that. It is irrational and therefore cannot work. Some reasons:

      1. It would cost the world a great deal of economic pain for no gain. Even the world’s most used and cited model of carbon pricing costs and benefits, DICE, shows the costs would greatly exceed the benefits for all this century at any plausible level of participation; see the red line here.
      http://catallaxyfiles.com/files/2014/10/Lang-3.jpg
      Source: Why the world will not agree to carbon pricing

      2. Virtually no one is going to support increasing the cost of energy for no gain or no tangible gain for them or their families. Less than 1% of the world’s population would support it (only the elitists in the rich world).

      3. Mark Lynas: India’s coal conundrum: which comes first, the climate or the poor?

      4. Do you have any idea what the Labor-Green ETS would have cost Australians and Australian families over the period to 2050 (undiscounted) or if you want to pay full amount upfront, now (plus interest since 2011) what the discounted cost would be per person or per family of four? If you don’t know, do feel free to ask.

      5. Carbon pricing is dead. Get over it. Get rational. Next is the subsidies and market distortions favouring renewable energy around the world. It’s another failed policy because it’s irrational.

      • rog says:

        “Carbon pricing is dead. Get over it. Get rational”

        Another of China’s National Development and Reform Commission officials, Su Wei, has said China will rollout its nationwide ETS in 2016, adding that the rules for the market could be released as early as this year, Bloomberg reports. 

        According to the news service, the official told a press conference in Beijing yesterday with a 2016 start the market would have matured by 2020.

        The comments come in the wake of President Xi Jinping’s vow for an emissions peak by 2030, and after another NDRC official made similar comments in September. 

        China already has seven provincial and city-wide carbon markets in operation around the country.

  20. Speaking of cranks, Peter Lang is just another superannuated energy industry joyrider. What is it with geologists who think their almost completely unrelated qualifications nonetheless entitles them to claim intellectual superiority over the operative consensus of specialist climate scientists? Saints preserve us from rock wonks with delusions of authority.

    Carbon pricing is the most rational response to the undeniable risk of AGW. There is nothing more economically rational than a market, by definition. That is where Persse’s confusion comes from. If AGW risk is real, treating it as an externality to be risk-mitigated through establishment of a market is utterly rational. To deny carbon pricing as rational is to deny that AGW is real.

    This is how “out there” Paul F’s OP is: it can attract attacks from the rational left and the irrational right. I guess that fits the definition of centrism…

  21. conrad says:

    “What is it with geologists who think their almost completely unrelated qualifications nonetheless entitles them to claim intellectual superiority over the operative consensus of specialist climate scientists? “

    I think it’s not just geologists (just look at the other cranks like Monckton and so on), it’s just that that group thinks people might believe them a bit more than other groups in this area — I think it’s the psychology of becoming an “invisible” person as you become old. You basically have people who were once reasonably well respected people in their lives, but once they get old they notice no-one cares about them anymore. So instead of retiring gracefully and enjoying themselves, as most elderly women do (who are even more invisible than elderly men), they try and make a lot of noise and pretend they are important and intelligent like they once may have been treated, even if they look like idiots now. It’s like the elderly version of the kid that needed a lot of attention at school.

  22. john Walker says:

    France (and the US) have quite a few nuclear power planfs. THe US is currently building a number of new ones, do we have verifiable figures as to the cost of building them, in itself?

    • conrad says:

      John Quiggin had a number of posts on this on his site, and there were number of reasonably informed commentators in threads (it’s worth looking at). The basic reality is they are more expensive now than anyone thinks.

      I personally think it isn’t as bad as it could be in areas if you want to count smog and declining rainfall as a cost of coal (I personally like them after working in Asia and France as there is simply less smog killing people), but they are still ruthlessly expensive both to build and decommission which is why they are not getting built (or have been cancelled) in democratic countries which don’t have “uber” power over everything and everyone, and don’t have to pay the real cost (e.g., sticking away billions in bonds for decomissioning, pay proper insurance etc.). A quick search gives this list of new reactors: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Current-and-Future-Generation/Plans-For-New-Reactors-Worldwide/ . It is worthwhile looking up the costs of individual reactors in democractic countries, as you find they inevitably end up costing vastly more than predicted but some will end up being built anyway (it isn’t just Australian governments poor at estimating costs!).

    • Peter Lang says:

      John Walker,

      There widely available, transparent and easily found on the authoritative sites. You can dig down as far as you want. Ask me a specific question and I’ll answer it briefly and direct you to authoritative sources.

      But I’d urge you to understand that the cost of a single plants is not what is relevant. What is relevant is the total system cost for different types of plants when included in a system. Here is one I did comparing costs of a 100% renewable energy electricity system for the NEM using Australian government sourced costs and Ellisaton et al. modelling of the proportions of electricity generated by the various renewable energy technology to meet the demand requireements in the NEM. This is the sort of analysis that is relevant. It estimates the capital cost, cost of electricity and CO2 abatement cost. See figure 6 for a comparison of the costs: ‘Renewable electricity for Australia – the cost

      Here are the same renewable technology scenarios compared with the mostly nuclear scenario. Note that the cost of electricity is about 2x higher and the CO2 abatement cost about 3x higher with the least cost ‘mostly renewables’ scenario than with the ‘mostly nuclear scenario’. ‘Renewables or nuclear electricity for Australia – the costs

      The CSIRO calculators (see links and discussion in previous comments), the UK DECC and most others around the world show similar. (Be sure to include transmission costs, they are often not included and are much higher for renewables scenarios (see figure 7 in the link above)

  23. Peter Lang says:

    The recent comments are showing that this is one of the Lefty sites where the real deniers and cranks blog away inside their bubble or reality denial. Fancy referring to the site run by the vitriolic, anti-nuke, extreme leftist, John Quiggin for opinions on nuclear energy. Why don’t you refer to authoritative sites? I gave several in an earlier thread. Don’t you guys read what you don’t like.

    And ad hominen arguing tactics, common in comments on this thread including by the thread’s author, are one of the signs of intellectual dishonesty: http://judithcurry.com/2013/04/20/10-signs-of-intellectual-honesty/

    It’s pretty obvious to outsiders why you are losing the CAGW debate so convincingly – you have no rational arguments to offer – only vitriol and ideological dogma.

    • If you think linking to Catallaxy Files and Judith Curry is referring to authority, Peter, then you’re all the way down the rabbit hole.

      Paul F’s arguments, like most of those at Club Troppo, are not leftist as such but instead are technocratic. At its best, technocracy is pragmatically centrist, going with what works in practice based on evidence, no matter whether the theory is perceived as left or right. It only looks leftist to you because the right is so anti-science these days.

      Technocracy falls down when the science being talked about is fundamentally speculative, as it is here. Paul F is railing against the fact that you can’t perform controlled experiments at the scale needed with some of these theories without the live test subjects complaining. Thankfully, the people still have enough democratic power to resist – albeit that they didn’t resist enough to prevent the original uncontrolled experiment of what happens when you change the climate in the first place.

      • Peter Lang says:

        If you think linking to Catallaxy Files and Judith Curry is referring to authority, Peter, then you’re all the way down the rabbit hole.

        Ad hominem and hypocritical (referring to far left sites like John Quiggin and writing on far left sites like The Conversation). How pathetic.

        You’ve presented no arguments of substance. No rational debate on relevant facts. Just repetition of ideologically Left mantra and the usual vitriol they are experts at. None of you have raised or managed to demonstrate serious flaws in any of the material I’ve posted, all of which is from authoritative sites and based on authoritative sources. You ignore all that. And continue singing the catastrophists’ and climate cultist’s mantra. You just believe what you are told by them, and ignore – deny- the relevant facts.

        Fortunately you are in a tiny minority comprised of some elitists in developed countries, – less than 1% of the global population.

        How about trying to show fault with the relevant fats I’ve posted. Scared to display your ignorance in what is relevant for policy analysis?

        • conrad says:

          The reason for the comments is because people like you can’t accept reality, and are willing to cut and paste and say any old crap to avoid it. For example, you’ve repeated yourself saying:

          “Fortunately you are in a tiny minority comprised of some elitists in developed countries, – less than 1% of the global population.

          Yet any 2 second search will show you that climate change is taken seriously by a large portion of people in a large portion of countries. Even the Green vote is more than 1% in Australia, and I think we can safely assume most Green voters would have views far to the left of here. So you’re either being deliberately dishonest, or it’s something you truly believe in the strange world of post-modern right wing realities of grumpy old men.

      • Peter Lang says:

        By the way, the link to Judith Curry’s site was about 10 signs of intellectual honesty and intellectual dishonesty. Very relevant to most of the comments I’ve seen on this web site.

        Catallaxy Files is run by Professor Sinclair Davidson and Professor Judith Sloan. And attacking the blog owners is ad hominem. Do you have any relevant issues to raise with the article I linked – i.e. significant enough to change the conclusions? if so what are they? Make them clear so we can debate them and I’ll correct them if you demonstrate clearly there is an error. Otherwise demonstrate intellectual honesty and acknowledge it is correct.

        I expect there is buckley’s chance of you doing that.

        • Neither of us are qualified to debate the science, Peter, so to do so here would be a waste of everyone’s time. I tend to leave that sort of thing to people who study it for a living.

          I don’t care how many rocks you hit with a hammer before you retired, you’re no more entitled to gainsay the conclusions of the vast majority of climate scientists than the average man on the street.

          In other words: no, I’m not going to play your game.

        • Peter Lang says:

          Typical of the Left. Strong opinions about ‘The science” and “Climate Science” and “the science is settled so just believe” it until challenged. Then run a mile, and dodge and weave. Pathetic. But worse than that. It’s irresponsible because you are spreading nonsense, ideological dogma and encouraging others to believe. It is people like you that are blocking progress – the Regressives.

          Neither of us are qualified to debate the science, Peter,

          We are not debating the science. We are debating the policy relevant facts. Policy is not something scientists have expertise in. By advocating for irrational, unworkable policies like carbon pricing and renewable energy, they are damaging the credibility of them selves of climate science and of all scientists.

        • conrad says:

          Peter, you’re still yet to learn the difference between your claim of 1% and > 50% in most places. Perhaps this is why you think things are not so settled.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_opinion_by_country

  24. Peter Taylor says:

    I think everyone should read Clive Hamilton’s “Earthmasters” before spraying the atmosphere with particles, if you want an Earth that’s liveable in twenty years.

    • Peter Lang says:

      Wow, another extremist Leftie. I’m getting a very clear picture of what sort of people follow the Club Troppo web site. Clearly the owners are of the same persuasion.

  25. rog says:

    Peter Lang is confusing climate scientists with policy makers; Ziggy Switkowski advised the govt on nuclear matters and recommended putting a price on carbon. Climate scientists say that unless atmospheric carbon is reduced there is a strong likelihood that the climate will change and that overall the change will not be beneficial. Economists have looked at the cost incurred by climate change and believe that adaption will be far more expensive than mitigation.

    • Peter Lang says:

      I’ve already addressed that comment. Why do you keep repeating yourself. We can pick any number of people from around the world who say open thing or another. And of course the nuclear industry and the renewables industries want a price on carbon to make their life easier and make their technology more competitive. But that doesn’t address the problem that raising the cost of energy by means such as carbon pricing and market distortions to favour renewable energy is a huge net cost to the economy,. So it is not rational and will not be supported by the world’s people or governments. it’s over. Cant you see that.

      Instead of continually waving your arms and repeating your unsupported beliefs, why don’t you address the issue that these policies would be economically damaging for all this century?

  26. rog says:

    So I guess we can put a line under this one; Peter Lang doesn’t understand the question(s) and his answers leave much to be desired.

  27. Peter Lang says:

    Here are some examples of information that is relevant for policy analysis. Climate scientists and other disciplines need to provide this information, not the down in the weeds factoids the deniers of the relevant facts are using to justify their beliefs:

    1. probability that the policies being advocated will succeed in the real world – where succeed means deliver the claimed benefits (in $ of climate damages avoided) on the claimed schedule.

    2. time to the next abrupt climate change, its sign (warming or cooling), rate of change, magnitude of total change, duration.

    3. damage function

    4. Costs and benefits of advocated policies:

    I have posted facts relevant for the policy debater on this thread, and they have not been shown to be incorrect; until there is a debate about the relevant facts for policy analysis, I have no interest in discussing the irrelevancies and the deniers arguments to support their irrational ideological beliefs.

  28. rog says:

    Nordhaus

    In the author’s view, the best approach is one that gradually introduces restraints on carbon emissions. One particularly efficient approach is internationally harmonized carbon taxes—ones that quickly become global and universal in scope and harmonized in effect.

    • Peter Lang says:

      Yes. Nordhaus, like many economists argue that on a purely theoretical basis carbon pricing is the least cost way to reduce global emissions. But the assumptions that underpin the model are unrealistic. Read this and let me know if there are any errors that are significant enough to change the conclusions. For example, what participation rate and on what schedule is realistic? What’s your basis for your figure?

      Part 1: Why carbon pricing will not succeed

      Part 2: Why The World Will Not Agree to Pricing Carbon

      Please address this, rather than posting any more cherry picked isolated quotes from the billions of words written on the internet.

      • Peter, the Nordhaus graph you make such a song and dance about does not take into account the economic effects of ignoring the externality. If the effects of runaway AGW were included, the dark blue line would not be flat but would slope downwards, so the whole argument is different.

        It is intellectually dishonest to compare the costs of dealing with an externality against the baseline of doing nothing and conclude that doing nothing is the best option, without taking into account the deleterious effects of the externality itself.

        You are, in effect, making the assumption that AGW is not real. Thus, your conclusion can not be taken seriously.

        • Peter Lang says:

          You haven’t a clue what you are talking about.

          If you think you are right, don’t argue with me, argue with Nordhaus, Tol, Stern and all the others whose analyses they are. I haven;t changed the data, only plotted it per 5 years instead of cumulative. And added an extra scenario at half the ‘Copenhagen, Optimistic’ participation rate. Even the half Copenhagen, Optimistic’ rate is virtually impossible to achieve for the reasons explained in Part 1.

        • You didn’t address my point, Peter. I am not doubting Nordhaus’ data. I am saying that your conclusions are erroneous, because that graph only tells half the story.

          If you want to be taken seriously, please stick to the point. The point, in case it needs to be reiterated, is that you are drawing conclusions from incomplete data. The data you choose to ignore is the risk of AGW, and by ignoring it you are effectively denying it exists. Until you correct this fundamental flaw in your argument, you can not be treated as an adult in the conversation.

        • Peter Lang says:

          I am saying that your conclusions are erroneous, because that graph only tells half the story.
          If you want to be taken seriously, please stick to the point.

          I did stick to the point. I told you you don’t have a clue what your talking about. I’ll say it another way. You are dead wrong. You don’t understand the analyses. You are so completely wrong it demonstrates you’ve never read any of the background.

          Start by reading the references I cited in the two posts. Don’t bother making any more comments until you’ve done so if your want to be taken seriously.

          It will take you a week or more to get your head around the basics.

        • conrad says:

          Peter, you still haven’t even admitted that most people don’t believe what you do, unlike the 1% which you claim. So speaking of getting things wrongs, you can’t even tell the difference between 1% and another large number. Most 3 year olds can do that.

        • john Walker says:

          Paul
          While from well before post-modernism Spinoza is sharp on post modern thinking (it should be hung over the door of all ‘chat rooms’.)

          Now many errors consist of this alone, that we do not apply names rightly to things. For when one says that lines which are drawn from the centre of a circle to the circumference are unequal, he means, at least at that time, something different by circle than mathematicians. Thus when men make mistakes in calculation they have different numbers in their minds than those on the paper. Wherefore if you could see their minds they do not err; they seem to err, however, because we think they have the same numbers in their minds as on the paper. If this were not so we should not believe that they made mistakes any more than I thought a man in error whom I heard the other day shouting that his yard had flown into his neighbour’s chickens, for his mind seemed sufficiently clear to me on this subject.

          Spinoza

        • Yet again you fail to address my point. You can dance around it all you like Peter, but that Nordhaus graph is incomplete if you want to draw conclusions like you do.

          Apart from anything else, it is irresponsible to pretend that the baseline do-nothing approach is a single line. It is far more accurate to treat it as a gradually expanding band, ranging from oops-nothing-to-worry-about all the way to you-killed-them-all-you-maniacs. Graphing it as a single line makes the assumption that there can only ever be one outcome, which is completely irrational from a risk management viewpoint.

          We don’t know exactly how bad it is going to get, because we don’t completely grok weather, ocean, polar, upper-atmospheric and other complex natural systems. It may not be as bad as median IPCC forecasts, it may be worse. The prudent thing to do is to mitigate risk by dealing with the source of the problem, which is that the AGW externality is not factored in to current economic systems, which means we must price carbon to bring market forces to bear.

          To deny the above is to deny that AGW exists at all. Which is what you continue to do, Peter.

        • Peter Lang says:

          I have answered your point about the Nordhaus analyses and the chart – twice!

          You haven’t answered my points.

          You’r incapable of participating in a rational discussion. The facts are clear and you’d been unable to show any errors.

        • You are a classic case of the invincible ignorance fallacy, Peter.

  29. rog says:

    If you want Nordhaus BAU then this paper might be handy. Nordhaus is quoted saying that his models are limited by not allowing for the cost of catastrophic events that might cost trillions. Interesting how the argument has developed over time

    Nordhaus, Garnaut and Stern also all now agree that substantial deviation from business as usual is required, and soon

  30. For what it’s worth, I had developed the view that nothing economists say about projections of the effect of climate change more than a short time ahead could really be taken all that seriously.

    Then I found this paper, which basically backed up my hunches:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0040162514000468

    I think the role of economists is rightly about the best policy way one could be expected to reduce CO2, and on that, pricing carbon emissions seems pretty universally agreed, with the only dispute being between ETS and simpler taxation. But as to expecting them to be accurately predicting the difference to GDP that climate change will have made in 60 years time if you do or don’t take mitigation steps – well really, isn’t “as if” is the right response?

    This doesn’t mean you don’t take action – the dramatic effect of things like a metre of sea level rise, even if it takes 100 years, and increased floods, widespread rainfall pattern changes, and changes to ocean chemistry are all just so obviously serious the right response is “just do it”, rather than carrying about discount rates and what not.

  31. Hijinks says:

    Steve from Brisbane

    Why is putting a price on carbon the best way to achieve the result, especially when we’re hobbled in what technologies we can use? No nuclear power.

    Long term policy signals have also worked in curbing car pollution for instance.
    Imposing a long term ban on coal fired plants…say 40 years and not hobbling nuclear energy would also do fine.

    Curbing carbon is an imposition and not market based. The Left finally discovering the market to impose what amounts to a tax is amusing.

  32. Hijinks: I’m pretty sure I’ve even had Sinclair Davidson say directly to me on a Catallaxy thread years ago that if it’s really a problem (which he disputes) then a tax on carbon is the way to deal with it. (Although only if other taxes are reduced so the government’s overall tax intake doesn’t increase.)

    When someone from the IPA says that, then I think I can take it as given!

    As for nuclear: I’m now agnostic on that. I am inclined to think that big plants are just too ridiculously expensive not just in construction but decommissioning, and (of course) can cause such wide scale problems if they blow up. For that reason, I’ve always been interested in small, modular nuclear, and its theoretical ability to be deployed quicker. But people who have know more about it than me (JQ, for example) are convinced small nuclear is not going to be readily scaled up as would be needed to be useful, and besides, instead of having arguments over the location of a handful of new big plants, you could end up with scores of locations with local opposition to nearby nuclear. I mean, when people see the townships, farms and land abandoned in Japan, and read that the plant manager was freaking out like this:

    Yoshida recalled the severity of the situation. “If we continue to be unable to get water in, all of the nuclear fuel will melt and escape from the containment vessel, and radioactive substances from the fuel will spread to the outside,” he said.

    Fearing a worst-case scenario at the time, Yoshida said, “What we envisioned was that the entire eastern part of Japan would be annihilated.”

    you really do have a PR problem with nuclear that is a challenge, to put it mildly.

    For this reason, I now suspect that all the money that would have to be poured into nuclear may be better spent on looking at all possible ways to get around the base load problem with large scale renewables. I mean, hybrid solar thermal/gas plants sound promising to me, with (I would have thought) few technical issues, but they are rather slow to be taking off. Reliable and cost effective overnight storage at a domestic level could also, I imagine, make a big difference too, but it also seems to be coming slower than I would have expected…

  33. Hijinks says:

    Steve from Brisbane

    If you’re pessimistic on nuclear, then I suggest you should debate the Google engineers tasked with investing in solar and wind and explain to them why they shouldn’t be. The annual growth rate of energy usage coming from the developing world, according to them, requires the entire land space of a European country.

    Conrad
    Battery technology is a great disappointment. There is no putting any lipstick on that pig. Rather than flirting with wishful thinking it would be better to stay at ground level.

    • conrad says:

      Hijinks, one of the weird things about nuclear advocates (and personally I like nuclear as I prefer it to smog – people in Aus never think about this because it isn’t in their face and down their lungs), is that they think somehow battery technology will stay the same (it won’t) but untried nuclear systems (i.e., the new small modern ones), will work fine and dandy as expected and if they were built won’t go over price and it will easy to find storage for the waste (despite all evidence to the contrary from places like Aus and the US — in Aus, we can’t even work out what to do with tiny amounts of medical waste apart from ship it to Scotland occasionally). Thus, I don’t think any these are likely to be true.

      The problem with batteries isn’t that they arn’t good and never will be, the problem is that they simply arn’t appropriate for a good chunk of the world’s population, like those living in big in cities in China. In places like Australia, if we listen to USB, they’re already viable, but in the end Australia is exceptional in the way people live in terms of both the distribution of people and the climate. So the best one could hope for is that they’ll provide a piece of some solution. Alternatively, massive reactors in China which would be impossible to build anywhere else might be a good idea.

  34. Hijinks says:

    Conrad

    A shorter version of your rant is..

    Let’s accept some people don’t like nuclear energy and also lets have faith battery technology will improve by multiples over the short term.

    I’m not sure that is a good way to plan for future energy production.

    And Peter Lang – great comments. Thanks.

    • conrad says:

      It doesn’t need to improve in multiples — you can already buy such systems, and they’re still expensive, but not outrageous (say, like house prices). They probably also have some resale value if you sell your house (I believe solar adds more than it costs on average). The Grattan Institute had a fun article looking at the consequences of more people doing this, but basically the more people go off the grid, the bigger the cost is to those that stay so the more worthwhile it will be to have them. Some people will also get off the grid just because they can (like the people that buy hybrid cars, which have also gone down in price over time — they arn’t much different to normal cars in the US now).

      As for nuclear, part of the problem is people don’t like it (aside from the already mind-boggling costs), which makes it even more expensive than it would be otherwise to build. In case you happen to be an authoritarian dictator (e.g., China) and have very cheap infrastructure development costs (e.g., China, India), you might not need to worry about some of these things, but you certainly would in any democracy like Australia. If you have a good way of solving these problems, then I’m all ears. And just saying “we don’t need to worry about people complaining when we stick a nuclear plant next to them” is not a solution, as anyone waiting for a second airport at Sydney could tell you.

    • conrad says:

      Hijinks, here’s a summary of the UBS report you might like to read to get some idea of current costs: http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/ubs-australian-households-go-grid-2018

  35. Hijinks says:

    Conrad

    The UBS study is basically one in false accounting. The current cost of grid power is one of the highest in the world, so comparing a high cost energy supply from solar to a very artificially high cost of grid energy is rediculous. You really need to try harder.

    As for nuclear power not being accepted by NIMBYs. What can anyone say.

    • conrad says:

      The high grid cost is why off-grid systems may become popular not why they won’t — because they are bought by individuals who are sick of high-grid costs. I also think the UBS study is probably conservative because the prices now are at the beginning of the technology cycle and thus are yet to benefit from being mass manufactured in China (or the US if you happen to be Elon Musk). Seems like a good time to sell utility shares to me.

      Also, you are confusing what you want with reality if you think nuclear would be easy and that it is just a minor nimby problem. People here can’t even agree on a place to dump the miniscule amount of radioactive waste Australia creates, let alone build a 30 billion plant and work out what to do with its waste (or if you really wanted to go the whole whack, build a reprocessing plant too). Even in places where 30% of children have malformed lungs (HK) because of the smog and everyone sniffles etc., people still don’t like the idea of more of it.

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