Ancient VW Beetle confounds modern faith based science

Some weeks ago, Tim Blair, in his ongoing quest to ridicule Global Warming out of existence, decided to take a swipe at influential UK columnist George Monbiot. If you don’t know of Mr. Monbiot he appears to be a very impressive fellow. He has led a very exciting life,   having received a United Nations award from Nelson Mandela, something which Mr. Blair is yet to achieve, and having been  pronounced clinically dead, something which Mr. Blair is also yet to achieve.

George Monbiot had originally said this of fast motor cars:

There is a direct relationship between an engine’s performance and the amount of greenhouse gases it produces: the faster the car, the quicker it cooks the planet.

Mr Blair, motor enthusiast that he is, took issue with this and claimed that Mr. Monbiout was an idiot because as all petrol heads know:

A 40-year-old VW Beetle produces far more pollutants per kilometre than a modern Ferrari. Monbiot is an idiot.

This claim struck me as very odd indeed since, like myself,   Mr. Blair is a known fan of cultural stereotyping,   and no practitioner of that delightful sport would be unaware of the German stereotype for engineering efficiency, and the Italians’ contrasting reputation for flash and crash.       Could Mr. Blair be wrong?   It was time to do some investigation.

Finding fuel consumption information on a vehicle that ceased production long before the thought of denying Global Warming occurred to Mr.Blair is not easy,   but with the power of modern day search technology, I managed to scrounge up an answer in …ooooh   about five minutes.   First port of call was a homage to the classic air-cooled Flat 4 1966 VW Beetle, courtesy of John Muir of Wisconsin. There I found a fascinating history of this 40 year old motor and some useful  revhead specifications,   in particular an average fuel efficiency quoted as  28.5 miles per gallon, which if we assume that Mr. Muir is quoting US Gallons converts to  8.25 litres per 100k.

To obtain a second source as Journalist Blair insists we do,   and to qualify this consumption figure, the next stop took me to a site devoted to the   sportier 1972 GT Beetle.   This “Love Bug” has a bigger engine that the 1966 variety and so presumably consumes more that Mr. Blair’s 40 year old VW Beetle.     This GT Beetle in the auto version has a fuel consumption of 9.6 litres/100k.
So call it 10 litres per 100K to be on the safe side, and to give Mr. Blair maximum wiggle room.  

Ancient VW Beetle

 Ancient VW Beetle : Did the Germans fail to conform to the sterotype?

Now how about the modern Ferraris of fewer pollutants per kilometer fame?   Well there’s the impressive 612 Scaglietti. A V12 road car which gulps a mighty 8.8mpg (32 l/100k) around town, or 13.6mpg (20.7 l/100k)  on combined cycle, or once again being on the safe side, and using the most economical extra urban measurement  20.2mpg (13.9 l/100k).  Ferrari’s other current production cars are much the same with the 599 GTB Fiorano using 14.7 l/100 K at its most economical,   and the F430 and the F430 Spider both with 21.2 mpg (13.3 l/100k) extra urban.

All of these modern production Ferraris consume several litres per 100km more than our humble 4 cylinder VW Beetle.   They are 33% less fuel efficient at best.   This surely leaves Mr. Blair’s contention is looking a bit shaky, No?

But ‘Hah’   you say.   Tim Blair said that the modern Ferrari produces less pollution per kilometer.   He said nothing about fuel efficiency.   That is true my eagle eyed trainee journo. My warm and fuzzy logic denialist.   But I now use the old “higher authority” trick to introduce Peter Evans, Senior Manager, Environmental Products, Toyota Australia, who points out.

..greenhouse gas emissions, CO2, are directly proportional to the fuel consumption, if you halve the fuel consumption, or double the economy, then you halve the greenhouse gas emissions

So assuming that when Mr. Blair says “pollutants”, he is sticking to the context of his post and is referring to greenhouse gas pollutants (a rash assumption I know) then we can quite categorically say to Mr. Blair.   Nonsense. A 40-year-old VW Beetle produces far fewer  pollutants per kilometre than a modern Ferrari.

And so, and after much scientific sleuthing we are reluctantly forced toward the inevitable conclusion that – Blair is an idiot.


[Of course there is the possibility that Mr. Blair had this in mind when he made his claim, in which case, strictly speaking, his argument would be true.   Mr. Blair under this scenario would not be an idiot.   Just a self serving opportunist trying to toady his way onto the right wing opinion gravy train by dodgying up the facts]

Update : Tim Blair bats poor Rex around a bit and makes mention of all sorts of new technological improvements such as catalytic converters that make modern cars cleaner.   Gee… it’s almost as though he cares.

Shame however that he didn’t care enough  about his devoted readership to be accurate in his original post.    Let’s revisit the scene of the crime for a moment.

Monbiot said:

There is a direct relationship between an engine’s performance and the amount of greenhouse gases it produces

Blair said:

Nonsense. A 40-year-old VW Beetle produces far more pollutants per kilometre than a modern Ferrari. Monbiot is an idiot.

Apparently though Mr. Blair was specifically excluding carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas in automobile exhaust, from his argument.    Now the US EPA considers CO2 a pollutant, but that OK.   Tim doesn’t have to if he doesn’t want to.   It just makes his statement seem kinda….. pointless?   Certainly irrelevant… Unless you consider maybe it was all designed as a quick lead-up to the punch line     “Monbiot is an idiot”,   and being fastidious with the facts can certainly ruin a good put-down.

I think there’s something we can all learn from this.

PS. A cheery howdy podner to all the Tim Blair groupies visiting today.


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49 Responses to Ancient VW Beetle confounds modern faith based science

  1. Parkos says:

    If you are looking for impressive environmentalists try Australian Lithuanian Olegas Truchanas, he single handedly started the global green movement with his powerful images of Lake Peder which inspired the formation of the Tasmanian Greens (the world’s 1st green party).

    He does not feature in Monbiot’s Guardian Newpaper’s list of the world top 100 environmentalists (not composed by Monbiot), becuase Monbiot is undereducated and so are those who publish him.,,1958602,00.html

    Monbiot is basically a masochist who is confused by the lack of actual intelligence in his supposedly priveleged conservative party background. He is less impressive than someone who runs a mortgage company expecting to be taken seriously by the Fabians.

    The VW is a waste of time, a symbol of the ideology of racism and a people whose notions of their own superiority were so inferior they were forced into a bunker to commit suicide.

    Blair is not worthy of further comment. The Ferrari is at least a serious insult to the world and its acoustic ecology.
    Get off the freeway Rex, get onto your local bike path and lay the 20th century to rest beofre it kills us all.

    .02c werth

  2. Factory says:

    OTOH a 40-yo beetle would today have pretty crap mpg, unless it was _extremely_ well maintained. Also one should note that the stereotype of sportscars being all fuel guzzlers isn’t quite right either, shows that even a porsche can have reasonable mpg, if not great.

  3. meika says:

    and having been pronounced clinically dead, something which Mr. Blair is also yet to achieve.

    But where there’s life, there’s hope.

    One should also remember that in the manufacture of all that steel that goes into a new car there is a great whack of CO2 put into the atmosphere. Tonnes of it in fact, which is the equivalent of quite a few kilometres just rolling down the road.

    Now new small and micro cars are much more efficient than the VW Beetle with the same engine size, but if you buy a new car every couple of years and you forget the production cost of CO2 you will not go to heaven on a Pacific atoll becuase they will have all been flooded.

  4. Patrick says:

    Yes, but I think TimB might have actually been referring, not to fuel economy, but to the massive advances in emissions filtering in the last few decades.

    I’d be interested to see how that checks out.

  5. That’s not what he says though Patrick. I’ll stick with evidence based science thanks.

  6. Robert says:

    You’re taking it all too seriously, Rex Ringschott. With Tim, it’s all about product – as in consummable. If it were about substance, the guy would write substance. [Whatever you do, don’t mention the word ‘book’]

    We’re talking fast food mate.

    Good luck to him. Cherry pick from others, play pretendies, serve it up slick.

    You want a proper writer’s meal, obviously you go elsewhere. Digest that, takes a while, then check out the whip-it-in-and-out, flick-it-all-about bloke with the funny headgear on ’round the corner, and see what he does to what-coulda-been content (by the hand of someone with source – original, ie.). It’s the free thingo (you know, the Lebanese oblong thingo) given after desert, mate.

    It’s good stuff. Suck the sweetness, sugar, won’t last, chew on your own brief prejudice. Satisfying as far as you lick it.

    The real meal bill gets paid elsewhere, Rick Ringschott. Pick up the freebie flick ‘n lick for what it is, and don’t hassle the bloke with the funny hatgear. He knows what he’s cooking. It’s all about a bit of fun.

  7. Harry Bergeron says:

    Rex has gone off the rails, again.
    The old dung-Beetle was crap — a good car in 1949, but obsolete by 1969.
    As a pollution technician back in the day, I can assure you that they were filthy little buggers, and having a wreck in one was a one-way trip.
    BTW, quoting Monbiot might be soothing to self-image, but is an affront to science.

  8. John Thacker says:

    So assuming that when Mr. Blair says “pollutants”

  9. Jason says:

    Never use “QED” in an internet argument Rex. You will only end up looking like an idiot when your syllogistic asseverations unravel.

  10. phranger says:

    Not wishing to seem provocative, but you’re a nong, Rex.

    A typical 100cc lawnmower produces more pollution and particulate matter than a 2-litre car driven 100 miles. Engine size has no relation whatsoever with pollutant output.

    Look it up if you don’t believe me.

  11. Matthew Canfield says:

    Blair *was* referring to pollutants, not fuel consumption and the amount of pollutants pumped into the air by an older air cooled vw engine is far greater that of any modern car engine, even large v-8’s or Ferrari V-12.

    Remember that CO2 emissions are probably the least noxious of the many pollutants to come from the exhaust pipe, so even if Evans is correct the emissions as a whole from the VW will be a far worse for the environment than that from the modern Ferrari.

    Even the fuel mileage of a an old VW doesn’t compare so well, if the old VW was 20-25 mpg and some modern Ferraris are around 15-20mpg.

    Finally, as Blair correctly notes, the air cooled VW was dropped from the US market in 1977 because it couldn’t even meet the comparatively lax US emissions standards of that period.

    Your originally assumption of the eco-friendliness of an old VW compared to a new Ferrari seems to be incorrect. Probably the best thing to do now is just admit your mistake and move on.


    Seattle, WA

  12. wronwright says:

    CO2 is a pollutant? Only in the mind of a leftist.

    All right all you conifers, this is the EPA. Drop those pine cones and raise your branches, slooooowly.

    (no Rex, Tim was not including CO2 as a pollutant, nor oxygen, nitrogen, or even water vapor)

  13. Rex says:

    Nothing I like more than a bit of fun Robert. Especially at someone else’s expense. That’s why I, like you, can admire Mr. Blair’s MO. Though some things are worth coming to the rescue of, and the reputation of post-war German automotive engineers is one of them.

  14. matt says:

    You’re a fool, Rex.

  15. Teaparty says:

    And so, and after much scientific sleuthing we are reluctantly forced toward the inevitable conclusion that – Blair is an idiot.

    Actually it was very little sleuthing and with an oversimplified conclusion to boot.

    Who is the idiot again? I forget. A Beetle just drove by and, in my coughing fit, I lost my train of thought.

  16. Rococo Liberal says:

    Of course, the whole argument is silly; because there is no Greenhouse Effect. VWs do produce more pollutants however than modern sportscars. So Tim Blair 1: Rex 0.

    BTW Monbiot is a known ultra-extremist greeen- fascist of very little brain. Nothing he has said has disproved this verdict. The only possible reaction that a well-educated sane individual can have to a maniac like Monbiot is to ignore him, or if necessary, to heap scorn upon him.

  17. Alastair Smith says:

    All of these modern production Ferraris consume several litres per 100km more than our humble 4 cylinder VW Beetle. They are 33% less fuel efficient at best. This surely leaves Mr. Blair’s contention is looking a bit shaky, No?

    Clearly Rex you are an idiot; how can you logically argue that fuel economy compares with emissions. Have you not heard of emissions technology – or are you ignoring it to make a point? i.e. Are you ignorant or are you wilfully distorting the truth?

  18. Ringpiece: you’re the sort of semi-educated nong that gives any competent environmentally-minded person a bad name. Your heart may be in the right place; your brain seems to be AWOL. Grow up, please.

  19. Ken Parish says:

    I wonder what it is about exposure to Right Wing Death Beastery that causes usually relatively sensible people like Yobbo to suffer sudden brain atrophy.

    If Yobbo had bothered to read and understand Rex’s post, he couldn’t have failed to notice that he comprehensively demolished Blair’s idiotic nonsense. In fact Rex even anticipated Blair’s counter-argument in his primary post and pre-emptively demolished it too!! That is, Blair, tries to fudge his argument and claim that he was merely talking about non carbon-based “pollutants”. However, as Rex points out, if that’s really what Blair meant then his argument is largely irrelevant to that of Monbiot.

    In fact, anyone familiar with the writings of Blair and Monbiot won’t be surprised to learn that both of them are talking complete crap. Monbiot’s statement that “[t]here is a direct relationship between an engine’s performance and the amount of greenhouse gases it produces: the faster the car, the quicker it cooks the planet” is so simplistic as to be wrong. There are plenty of modern, highly efficient engines whose performance is vastly superior to an old VW Beetle but which guzzle less fuel and therefore produce less greenhouse gases. AFAIK no Ferrari is among them (as Rex observes), nor is the current model Porsche 911 Turbo (the Porsche manual model achieves 12.6 L/100km, which is quite a bit better than any Ferrari but worse than an old Beetle).

    Monbiot would have been closer to the mark if he’d claimed that there was a direct relationship between an engine’s capacity (rather than its performance) and the amount of greenhouse gases it produces, but even that is an oversimplification. Engine efficiency and the weight and aerodynamics of the vehicle also come into it. Nevertheless, Monbiot (and Rex) is a lot closer to the mark on greenhouse gases and car engines than Blair. An old VW Beetle does/did indeed emit considerably less greenhouse gases than any Ferrari (past or present), mostly because Ferraris are much heavier and have huge V12 engines.

    Lastly, turning to those other (non-carbon) pollutants with which Blair tried to fudge/confuse the argument, it’s certainly true that old cars like VWs produced lots more of them than any modern vehicle including a Ferrari. Ironically, however, scientists now believe that those pollutants (especially sulfate-based ones) actually had the effect of masking/mitigating the warming effect of human-produced carbon emissions through a phenomenon often referred to as “global dimming” [insert obvious Tim Blair jibe here].. Stringent government controls on vehicle and industrial emissions over the last 20-30 years (at least in western nations) have reduced urban smog and cleaned up our atmosphere, but had the unexpected side-effect of removing/reducing the masking/mitigating effect that smog was having on CO2-induced global warming. Now, no-one in their right mind would suggest that we should revert to allowing cars and factories to spew out smog, but it’s an interesting point just the same. At least in global warming terms, an old VW contributed vastly less than any current Ferrari (and most other high performance cars), not only because it used less fuel and therefore emitted less CO2 and carbon monoxide, but because it spewed out lots more sulfate and nitrate aerosol emissions which also inhibited carbon-induced warming (though having lots of other nasty effects as well).

  20. JC says:

    Parkos says:

    He is less impressive than someone who runs a mortgage company expecting to be taken seriously by the Fabians.


    I don’t agree with most of what Gruen says. However he does have impressive credentials and seems by all accounts a very bright person. Owning a mortgage company is not something to be ashamed of.

    It’s a very bad day you found this blog.

  21. We are getting nasty around here. I wonder why?

  22. Yobbo says:

    Because one of your bloggers deliberately attacked the blogger with the biggest readership in Australia and he promptly sent his minions after you?

    Just Guessin’.

    And Ken, Rex is the one that assumed by “pollutants” that Blair was only talking about greenhouse gasses. He fucked up and it’s obvious, why defend him when he’s completely wrong?

  23. kk says:

    anyone with an ounce of experience in vehicle pollution control winces at the thought of the emissions from a 40 year old beetle – unburnt fuel, partially burnt lubricants: the volatiles & particles emitted would make sucking on the exhaust of a ferrari seem like a breath of pure mountain breeze

  24. Ken Parish says:


    I imagine this is the first time Nicholas has experienced the dubious pleasure of a visit from Blair’s army of keyboard thugs (I wonder whether the one above who reckoned that the greenhouse effect doesn’t exist realises that if he was actually correct then even the warmest places on earth would have summer night-time

  25. JC says:

    There’s three silly people here.

    1. Monbiot for being a complete idiot about AGW. He is really as bad as the denialists by preaching we will all dead soon.

    2.Blair for using the ferrari/VW example. The prancing horse is clearly a big guzzler. i ought to know as i own one that I strictly use on weekends.

    3.Rex for taking issue with this whole thing and playing gotcha. After all he clearly realized that even if Blair had made a wrong comparison, Monbiot made a truly idiotic or thoroughly dishonest statement.

  26. Ken Parish says:

    Joe, for once I agree with you 100%.

  27. Ken Parish says:

    Although I do wonder why you slate Monbiot as being a “complete idiot about AGW” but don’t similarly label Blair. After all, rapid global warming is indeed a very serious issue (although science doesn’t yet allow us to predict exactly how serious it is likely to be), whereas Blair claims it’s all a figment of the fevered imaginations of left wingers. At least Monbiot is taking a serious problem seriously, even if he IS guilty of Henny Penny “the sky is falling” hyperbole.

  28. Ken,

    Silly me. We’ve obviously had the pleasure of a link from Tim’s friends. And yes I have had the experience before. Remember?

  29. aah Rex – driving an old VW would Look Smart – would it not?

  30. JC says:

    Monbiot is scaring the kids. To all intents and purposes global temps have risen an estimated .7degs over the last century. It’s something to be watchful of, but it certainly isn’t something to panic over.

    We know that there is warming. We know that on balance some of this warming is most probably human induced. But we do know that we’re not going to fry over the next 100 years….. on balance.

    Monbiot’s screed is that we should panic and that it’s the end of the world as we know it. He also advises that we must reduce emissions by 90% by the next 30 years to avert disaster.

    This isn’t going to happen and neither should it happen.

    The world is going to be a different place in 30 years. Charging up costs now to avoid a potential problem is an enormous wealth transfer from poor people (the present world) to much richer people those in 30/50/100 years.

    Current world GDP is US$ 45 trillion. GDP is accelerating as we move forward and it is likely we may even see over 4.5% as the norm in the future. But even using this estimate real world GDP would be $US3600 trillion in 100 years. That’s a lot of wealthy people who can afford to do something then rather than we attempt some major effort on our comparativley meagre technology and resources.

    My view is that we leave things well alone. Persuade giga countries like India and China to favour nuke power and keep a watcful eye on things.

    A movement of 1% in real GDP over the next 100 years has an enormous effect on accumulated wealth.

    Things we can do:

    1 would say removing height restrictions on major cities ought to be a priority to prevent urban spread. This has big implications for things like travel to and from work etc. Commercial transport…….

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  32. guthrie says:

    ALl the blairites who rant on about Monbiot being wrong are being really really stupid, because Blair appears not to count CO2 as a pollutant, and its CO2 that Monbiot is talking about.

    JC- Monbiot doesnt think we’re all going to die. I heard him speak a few months ago. He thinks that if we dont do things to help reduce warming, things will get hairy, with increased starvation and a host of other problems. Instead, he has a list of things that we can do to help sort it all out, many of them easily achievable, some of them a bit harder. If you want “We’re all gonna die” I suggest you try Lovelock.

  33. JC says:


    I repect Lovelock because he is a scientist with expertise in that area. I think he is wrong judging by what other scientists are saying. However even though I think he wrong I respect a guy who comes from his field of expertise and puts his balls on the line with an outlier of a prediction. The reason is we want to make scientists feel comfortable with their theories and predictions even if they are outside the consensus. Lovelock is clearly a respected scientist.

    I see Lindzen from MIT in a similar way to lovelock. Lindzen gets pilloried though.

    Monbiot isn’t a climate scientist. He’s studied zoology. If he wants to put himself out as an expert he should study the subject first , get the grades and obtain a degree at Phd level.

  34. Chris O'Neill says:

    Monbiot wrote:

    “There is a direct relationship between an engine’s performance and the amount of greenhouse gases it produces: the faster the car, the quicker it cooks the planet.”

    To which Blair replied:

    “Nonsense. A 40-year-old VW Beetle produces far more pollutants per kilometre than a modern Ferrari. Monbiot is an idiot.”

    Monbiot wasn’t talking about pollutants in general. He was talking about greenhouse gases. Blair’s statement is a non sequitur.

  35. Link says:

    Having recently been the proud owner of a 1958 Beetle which served me for ten years, and needing to assuage my guilt that this post is evoking. I would like to point out that even though I had a ‘thing’ put onto my fuel lines that meant I could use unleaded petrol, I will concede that its fuel economy while once impressive was, compared to newer smaller cars, no longer so. HOWEVER, my Beetle will be when that sad day arrives, 100% biodegradable. All that moulded plastic in new cars breaks down very slowly emitting a host of noxious gases into the atmosphere once cast onto the scrapheap if not before, and usually within 15 years of manufacture. So one car that lasts and keeps lasting nearly 50 years has got to be using less resources and therfore creating less carbon emissions than replacing them every 5? 10? 2?.

  36. Link says:

    BTW change your lightglobes.

  37. guthrie says:

    Umm, JC, Monbiot usually uses actual science sources. If you hold that you have to get a phud in anything to really start commenting on it, you certainly shouldn’t be on here, and also democracy should be banned.

  38. Patrick says:

    The problem with global warming as fantasised about by the likes of Monbiot is that it is just a convenient hook upon which to hang their essentially authoritarian and anti-capitalist hats.

    JC is basically right. We know so damn little about global warming that it seems insane to attribute such importance to it.

    Basically, as far as anyone can tell me, we know that the earth has been getting warmer in the last few hundred years, and that a (large) fraction of increase is due to human intervention (although as KP points out, we may also have been responsible for retarding this warming).

    We believe that there is a trend of an increasing rate of warming, but only over a couple decades.

    We know that historically, temperatures have cycled from ice ages to ‘hot’ ages, and that present temperatures are at neither extreme.

    We do not know if the long term actual trend is up or down.

    We do not know if we are distorting the long-term trend positively or negatively.

    We do know that the negative consequences we expect increased global average temperatures to have on human welfare will mainly not be felt for many years.

    We do know that the global average wage is presently increasing at a rate an order of magnitude greater than the temperature.

    So as far as anyone can convince me, a fairly ‘easy as she goes’ policy where long-term global emission reduction is pursued on a cost-minimising basis, is the present ideal policy. There is no justification for sharply cutting present economic output (and accordingly the welfare of millions of mainly poorer people). But that is what the Monbiots of this world want, mainly because it fits in with their anti-capitalist anti-progress agenda.

    Or so it seems to me.

    PS I think Rex really trumps both Monbiot and Blair with just that first paragraph.

  39. Bannerman says:

    Bannerman is aghast that someone, a relative unknown and undoubtedly a leftie to boot, has taken Blair to task on irrelevancies, misquotes, misuse of facts or even *SHUDDER* denial of facts themselves, when all the blogworld knows that Timmy is never wrong!

    Oh, Bannerman wonders if his readers have ever clapped eyes on the fellow? Ever noticed his arse & face appear remarkably similar? Yet here we have someone accusing Timmy of speaking through his anus!!! Bannerman is………almost speechless!

  40. guthrie says:

    Well, Patrick, seems you just answered your own question- to turn it around, we know so little about global warming, it seems we should be doing everythign we can to avoid messing about with the climate, since we dont know what the conequnces will be. I personally doubt they will be as bad as Lovelock suggests they will be, but since you have admitted things are going on, how do you know that actually a moderate program of greenhouse gas cuts will be enough? Is there something you know that we don’t?

  41. Well said Ken. Well said JC. Monibiot was obviously wrong… and so was Blair. Neither are reputable sources for information, though at least Blair can be interesting.

    Dissapointing to see Rococco Liberal saying that the Greenhouse Effect doesn’t exist. As Ken points out, it is necessary for the earth’s current warmth. Further, the Greenhouse theory for further warming is perfectly reasonable — more co2 could lead to more warmth and recent years has seen both more co2 and more warmth. It does the GW non-activists no service to deny reality.

    FWIW I don’t think there is any need for large scale government action on GW at the moment. But that’s not because I don’t believe in the existence of the Greenhouse Effect.

  42. chrisl says:

    John H Perhaps what Rococco Liberal meant was that mankind isn’t having an effect on Greenhouse gases. All those gases up there including water vapour and yet if co2 goes over some miniscule tipping point – thats it, all over.Unproven and unprovable.Climate science is a whole lot of circumstantial evidence thrashing around for a theory. And with CO2 fitted up as the culprit.

  43. Chris O'Neill says:

    “We know so damn little about global warming”

    So little time, so little to know.

  44. Patrick says:

    Is there something you know that we don’t?

    Well, I would not have thought so, but apparently at least three things:

    That the effects of any reduction in economic output will have its greatest detriment on those who can least afford it.

    That no-one seems able to make a clear case, to me, that the long-term trend is either up or down. In light of which it seems unfortunate to be so committed to reducing warming if it turned out we were only accelerating cooling.

    That your ‘precautionary principle’ is a crock. Should we have bombed Saudi Arabia? With nukes? Would that be enough? Should we bomb Russia too? After all Sting is nearly dead isn’t he? Because, you know, you never know… On the application of that principle, anyone with a neutral mind would never endorse any action on anything. But those with neutral minds do not seek to apply the ‘precautionary principle’ – it just happens to always be applied by those with closed minds to endorse their preferred irrational outcomes.

  45. chrisl says:

    Chris O’Neill You need to have the hallelujah chorus playing when linking to that site
    Hallelujah, hallelujah,hallelujah

  46. Chris O'Neill says:

    “You need to have the …. when linking to that site”

    Much better to know so damn little.

  47. heather stone says:

    Perhaps we could do the quick fix, explode another krakatoa and induce another mini ice age??

  48. Chris O'Neill says:

    Basically, as far as anyone can tell me, we know that the earth has been getting warmer in the last few hundred years,..

    We believe that there is a trend of an increasing rate of warming, but only over a couple decades.

    The present strong warming trend began around 1910, just over nine decades ago, after hundreds of years of much weaker long-term trends.

    We know that historically, temperatures have cycled from ice ages to ‘hot’ ages, and that present temperatures are at neither extreme.

    Only about 30,000 years out of the last 740,000 have been warmer than the present according to Vostok and Epica ice cores. Also according to the Vostok core, the highest temperture in that time was 3 degrees C above the average for the last 130 years or so. That period of 3 degrees C above the recent past lasted for about 200 years.

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