Turn down the hype (by Arthur Dent, formerly Albert Langer)



Originally published as a guest post at Bill Kerr‘s blog by Arthur Dent on 21st May, 2015.


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According to the World Bank:

“By acting now, acting together and acting differently, we will be able to transition to a low emissions, climate resilient development path and hold warming below 2°C.”(1)

To help achieve this, a MOOC sponsored by the World Bank (Turn Down the Heat) requires students to produce “digital artefacts” with the aim “create a sense of urgency and a call to action for individuals, companies or countries to change behaviors associated with a warming planet”.

My call is for the World Bank to change its behaviour and “turn down the hype”.

It should be obvious that none of the measures advocated by the World Bank have had much impact on the planet warming, and there is no reason to expect that creating a sense of urgency in support of more of the same will have a better result.

The IPCC’s authoritative report on Mitigation of Climate Change(2) shows clearly that there is no realistic prospect of holding warming below 2°C.

The simple reality is that most emissions will result from the rapid industrialization of developing countries like India and China who cannot and will not switch from the cheapest energy sources available while they remain poor. No amount of hype will change that reality.

If the problem was as grave and urgent as claimed there would be no alternative but for developed nations who can afford the cost to switch from cheaper fossil fuels to more expensive nuclear power and also pay the costs of the entire world doing the same. But the World Bank does not advocate that, so it is difficult to believe it takes its own hype seriously.

Wind and solar power cannot solve the problem because they are intermittant. Power is also needed when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. There is no technology on the horizon that could store energy cheaply enough to compete with the dispatchable power from fossil fuels, even if wind and solar power was free. Instead of pretending that wind and solar could do the job it is clearly necessary to act differently. Since there is no viable replacement for fossil fuels on the horizon that developing countries could afford, it is necessary to do something very different from what the World Bank advocates.

We will need some breakthroughs in fundamental technology. Neither the regulatory nor the market pricing mechanisms advocated by the World Bank can achieve that. Massive investments in research and development and fundamental science are required. Contrary to the hype there is no “return” on that investment. As with all fundamental science, the results have to be made freely available to the countries that are too poor to pay for it. So the “free rider” problem ensures that no carbon pricing mechanism could motivate such investment. At present each developed country is hoping that somebody else will pay to develop the necessary technology. There is no “national” benefit in doing so. It is a global, not a national problem. The most ambitious national targets for R&D are about 3% of GDP for all purposes. These targets are not being met, despite the fact that new technology is the driving force for economic growth.

A global levy on developed countries that can afford it is required, to pay for the costs of a massive global R&D program that is not expected to produce any “return” on the investment, other than “merely” solving the problem of global warming.

That may require a significant expansion in the total scientific workforce and consequently a long lead time for education.

If it is not successful, then we will have to resort to some combination of geo-engineering, adaptation strategies and subsidizing nuclear power in all countries, at potentially vastly greater costs. But even if a massive global R&D program failed to produce clean energy competitive with fossil fuels, it would at least accelerate economic growth generally and enable the whole world to afford more expensive energy than fossil fuels more quickly.

“Modernization has liberated ever more people from lives of poverty and hard agricultural labor, women from chattel status, children and ethnic minorities from oppression, and societies from capricious and arbitrary governance. Greater resource productivity associated with modern socio-technological systems has allowed human societies to meet human needs with fewer resource inputs and less impact on the environment. More-productive economies are wealthier economies, capable of better meeting human needs while committing more of their economic surplus to non-economic amenities, including better human health, greater human freedom and opportunity, arts, culture, and the conservation of nature.”(3)

We need more modern technology, not medieval windmills.

(1) WDR 2010: Development and Climate Change
(2) Working Group 3
(3) An Ecomodernist Manifesto

Breaking the Climate Deadlock with R&D

Thanks to David McMullen for this post…

You do not need to be all that alarmist about the climate impact of increasing CO2 emissions to want to see energy go carbon free or at least greatly reduced. The idea of doubling and then tripling annual CO2 emissions in the second half of this century would make just about anyone a bit queasy.

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It is beginning to sink in that there is not going to be a major transition away from fossil fuels until the alternatives become a lot cheaper and this requires a much greater research and development effort. The alternatives are still too expensive for widespread deployment. There is considerable reluctance to bare the extra costs particularly in the developing countries where CO2 emissions are growing the most such as China and India. Indeed most increased energy production by far in recent years has been from fossil fuel.

The American Energy Innovation Council headed up by various capitalist big shots including Bill Gates is leading the charge, calling for a tripling of US federal funding of energy related research and development (R&D) or more precisely research, development, demonstration and initial deployment (RDD&D). They remind us that private firms usually under-fund this sort of activity. They cannot capture the benefits, there is too much uncertainty and the results are too long term. Furthermore energy is a pure commodity with no room for businesses to develop a differentiated product for which they can charge a premium. It is not like an iPhone. Another outfit called the Breakthrough Institute is telling a similar story.

You do not need to be all that alarmist about the climate impact of increasing CO2 emissions to want to see energy go carbon free or at least greatly reduced. The idea of doubling and then tripling annual CO2 emissions in the second half of this century would make just about anyone a bit queasy. Besides coal is rather unhealthy stuff and oil and gas may well get more expensive as they require increasing extraction effort. So there is hope that the call for increased energy R&D can attract bipartisan support.

A whole range of technologies require a lot of work and it is not just the renewables. Even if your preference is for wind and solar, it would be unwise to rely on them entirely. Solar thermal electricity only works when the sky is cloud free and the sun virtually overhead. PV solar gives far more power in a sunny climate than a cloudy one. And of course there is no solar power at night and some places have very long nights during winter. This is an even bigger problem when you take into account that most electricity demand is in the evening. Wind varies greatly from place to place and moment to moment. Most energy demand will be in large dense cities which are likely to be some distance from the large available land areas required for wind and solar. You would need considerable over-build of capacity and some major advances in energy storage and long distance electricity transmission. For biomass to fill the breach, you would need to ensure it does not compete with food or environmental needs, and is truly carbon neutral after taking into account harvesting and transport.

Two other big options are enhanced geothermal and nuclear power. Enhanced geothermal relies on fracturing hot underground rock. It is a massive resource, however it has failed to get going even in quite favorable regions in Australia after $1 billion in government and private funding. More research and learning by doing is needed.

A range of various next generation nuclear reactors are at the conceptual stage. These would use the spent fuel of current reactors, have passive safety systems, be mass produced cheaply and have low running costs. However, to ensure that we have at least one good option ready for widespread deployment 15 to 20 years from now will require an extensive ramping up of R&D.

Another area for increased R&D is in carbon capture and storage (CCS). A trial facility has already opened in Canada and a few others are under construction, but costs need to come down a lot. It is important to keep in mind here that much of the world’s fleet of coal and gas power plants is still relatively new and many more are in the pipeline. You can imagine governments particularly in poorer countries resisting the closure of such facilities when they still had years of life ahead of them. In these cases retrofitting CCS has to be the solution. There are also a number of industrial processes such as concrete and steel production where it is the only option.

Once alternatives are a lot cheaper than they are at present, a carbon price might be worth reconsidering. It would not have to be at a crippling level to induce a change in technology.

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It’s official! Climate alarmists are now even more alarmed…

My initial attraction to the Left 45 years ago was precisely because they were the ones talking about progress – or rather Progress (with a capital P). I would tag along with my father on Saturday mornings in the mid-1960s to visit the International Bookshop run by the Communist Party in Melbourne. He would meet a few of his like-minded workmates (from the factory in which he worked) there, and together we would marvel at the Soviet and Chinese propaganda magazines. What did we marvel at? Simple: all the pictorial examples of Progress – huge dams being built, new nuclear power stations, vast areas of land being cleared for food production or residential development. Just about everything that the Greens oppose.

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The release of the IPCC’s synthesis report on climate change has resulted in predictable headlines in the mainstream media about how the planet is running out of time. The leader of the Australian Greens has asserted that the world has in fact run out of time. Coal is bad, and only ‘sustainable’ growth can be justified.

Attributing a moral quality to coal highlights the quasi-religious thinking underpinning much of the opposition to fossil fuels.

As for ‘sustainable development’ has there ever been a finer oxymoron? How does development happen without change to that condition which preceded it? That which once was, ceases to be. Which is why I support Development.

This is not for one moment to suggest that humanity should not seek to move on from fossil fuels. After all, we moved on from wind power centuries ago and have not looked back as a species. Those today who wish to go back to wind power are quite literally reactionaries.

Three questions interest me.

First, does the actual summary report of the recent IPCC synthesis justify such alarm on its own terms?

Secondly, is the IPCC so credible that all that is needed is appeal to its authority to win an argument?

Thirdly, what does any of the alarmism – the hype and the media spin – have to do with a progressive left-wing outlook? (Spoiler: absolutely nothing, but please read on).

1. I have read all the summaries of the past IPCC reports. The ‘summaries for policy makers’ are what the politicians and their advisers, and the media people, are supposed to read. The latest summary has been compiled by about 50 IPCC contributors. There is little in it to justify alarmism. For instance, despite the iconic use of tidal waves and sinking islands in media coverage of climate change, the IPCC synthesis summary points out that “Over the period 1901 to 2010, global mean sea level rose by 0.19 metre”. Sea levels are rising by a couple of millimetres – note, millimetres not centimetres – per year. It is not possible to reconcile this with Al Gore’s tidal waves swamping Manhattan or the ABC’s Science Show host claiming that hundred metre tidal waves are possible as a result of the warming.

The IPCC summary also finds that “Many terrestrial, freshwater, and marine species have shifted their geographic ranges, seasonal activities, migration patterns, abundances, and species interactions in response to ongoing climate change”. Again, is that cause for alarm? Haven’t human beings been adapting to such changes for centuries? Things are never static. We can adapt as a species to such change.

I could provide other examples from the summary but the point is that the IPCC forecasts are based on the time-frame to 2100. Everything in it needs to be considered in that context, namely: we have 85 years in which to adapt to even the worst changes. The planet has NOT run out of time, contrary to what the Greens and sensationalist media want us to believe.

2. The IPCC represents a form of consensus science and, of course, science has never been consensual. It has always advanced knowledge through a process of debate and argument, the testing of hypotheses, observation and theory. Dissident scientists have often been proven correct over time against the wisdom and authority of the scientific establishment at a given point in history.

Personally, I am not a climate scientist and so I can accept that the consensus represented by the IPCC might be right, despite worrying criticisms that claim a flawed IPCC process. It may be that global warming is primarily driven by human industrial activity, by CO2 emissions. Beyond that, the consensus breaks down, but this does not stop the alarmists from using the IPCC consensus to justify every manner of exaggeration and hyperbole going way outside what the IPCC actually says. This is why I view with great caution people who insist that ‘The Science is Settled’ It certainly runs counter to my Marxist instincts based on old Karl’s personal motto: “De omnibus dubitandum” – question everything!

So, the appeal to authority is not good enough for me in itself. The principal flaw of the IPCC methodology that concerns me is its emphasis on computer modelling. How have the models stood up against observed changes? Not very well, it would seem.

The IPCC’s 2013 Assessment report admitted that the “historical simulations do not reproduce the observed recent warming hiatus”. The hiatus – or absence of the expected significant increase in warming due to record levels of CO2 emissions – runs counter to the computer modelling. John Christy, a climatologist at the University of Alabama, and a former Lead Author for the IPCC, tested the outputs of 73 IPCC climate models against the facts observed through satellite and weather-balloon data from 1979 and 2013 and found that all the IPCC models ran hotter than the actual observed climate. Similar studies and findings can be accessed here.

3. The mainstream media portrays the oppositional views about climate change alarmism in terms of a conflict between the Right and the Left. Apparently it is left-wing to take an alarmist view and to see coal as evil. What utter nonsense!

My initial attraction to the Left 45 years ago was precisely because they were the ones talking about progress – or rather Progress (with a capital P). I would tag along with my father on Saturday mornings in the mid-1960s to visit the International Bookshop run by the Communist Party in Melbourne. He would meet a few of his like-minded workmates (from the factory in which he worked) there, and together we would marvel at the Soviet and Chinese propaganda magazines. What did we marvel at? Simple: all the pictorial examples of Progress – huge dams being built, new nuclear power stations, vast areas of land being cleared for food production or residential development. Just about everything that the Greens oppose.

Some readers will say that I was naive to fall for this propaganda. But the point is that that is what attracted me, and many others, to the ‘red left’ back then. It was not a value system based on ultra-conservative notions like ‘Sustainability’ but a belief that capitalism’s profit motive and concentrated private ownership of means of production held back progress and that socialism was the way to unleash human creativity and productivity. I still believe that is the case, that we humans “ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”.

I smirk to myself when I hear the current Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, speak of plans to develop the north of Australia into a ‘food bowl’. I first heard of that dream back in the 1960s from old veteran communists. They held it up as an example of what would happen under socialism – the centre of Australia would flourish through irrigation, they told me. Again, these were not ‘green’ values but truly progressive ones. The old blokes also assured me that such great development of the north of Australia would not happen any time soon under capitalism because there was no short-term profit to be made from it. I was maybe 16 when they told me that – I am now heading for 64. They were right.


For all the alarmism, greater alarmism and even greater alarmism, our two billion brothers and sisters who are hungry and do not have access to clean water will not do what some in the ‘first world’ would tell them and opt for less efficient and more costly forms of energy. In the industrialising and modernising countries of Africa, for instance, people will be lifted from extreme poverty – as the rest of us were – thanks mainly to fossil fuels. The only way to stop this process is by developing energy sources that are cheaper and more efficient than coal. But people are hungry right now. And coal is cheap, and efficient.

Another value that attracted me to the left in my youth was the sense of confidence in humanity – and that meant, and means, confidence in the future. Without that confidence, why bother?

The lack of confidence in the future on the part of what I regard as the pseudo-left is found in the oft-repeated assertion that the planet has reached its natural limits. ‘We have gone too far with our so-called progress – the planet cannot sustain it any longer’. I can think of no idea that is more reactionary than this one. It could have been said at any point in history, by any set of princes and popes.

Once upon a time, coal was used merely for ornamental purposes. In Roman times, had you suggested that that black chunk on the end of the local beauty’s necklace would power a revolution in industry and production, and in social relations, that would overthrow a future system known as feudalism and lead to secular democracy and capitalism, you would have been regarded as insane. Who knows what the next energy source will be? How dare the reactionaries tell us that the planet’s resources are finite!

Those who think that way cannot see beyond solar panels and windmills, let alone begin to consider nuclear fusion or appreciate how northern and central Australia could one day flourish.

And then there are the planets and the stars. Awaiting us.

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Alarmism is the problem, not science

Alarmism: the excessive or exaggerated alarm about a real or imagined threat.

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Australia’s Chief Scientist says we’ve got five years to save the world from disastrous global warming. Who can argue with a Chief Scientist? Well, given that the Chief Scientist made that claim nearly five years ago, and there has not been disastrous warming but on the contrary no significant temperature increase for around 16 years, I’d say the answer is anyone who can read and think!

The then Chief Scientist, Prof Penny Sackett, made the remark in December 2009.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fifth assessment report says that the mean temperature of the planet has increased by 0.8 of a degree since the late nineteenth century. Therefore, the climate is warming. Moderately.

What then is with the continuation of exaggerated and alarmist claims and predictions? Why does the mainstream media generally give them so much publicity? (Rhetorical question, I know: the sensational headline sells papers and attracts viewers).

The IPCC’s most recent report accepts that there has been a pause or hiatus but does not see this as indicative of a reversal of the warming trend long-term.

The way to explain the pause is to allow scientific debate and argument, free of vilification. It may be that the increase of CO2 emissions to record levels and the lack of significant increase in warming do indeed point to a flaw in the original hypothesis that sees greenhouse gases caused by human industrial activity as the main driver of the warming since the 1880s. Or maybe not.

Perhaps there is something to be said for the new hypothesis that the heat is being absorbed by the oceans. This is plausible and testable; though according to a recent NASA study based on satellite observation and direct temperature measurement of the upper ocean (the deep ocean is difficult to measure, say the scientist authors): “The combination of satellite and direct temperature data gives us a glimpse of how much sea level rise is due to deep warming. The answer is – not much”.

* * *

Al Gore’s sci-fi ‘documentary’ ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ was screened in just about every primary school, high school and town hall in Australia – and in many other countries too. Counterpoints were rarely, if ever, offered. But his iconic portrayal of huge tidal waves swamping Manhattan was utterly unscientific, mere alarmism. They find no basis in the IPCC assessments, which put sea level rises at 0.26-0.55 meters (10-22 inches) by 2100 under a low emissions scenario and 0.52-0.98 meters (20-39 inches) under a high emissions scenario. Is this really headline grabbing and catastrophic? Why can’t policies of adaptation be effective and the most practicable response?

The former Chief Scientist should feel embarrassed at what she said nearly five years ago.

Having said that, fossil fuels really are so C19th and C20th. But that still makes them more up-to-date than medieval windmills.

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The left looks to the future. That’s what attracted me to it more than 40 years ago. You know, stuff like flying cars and holidays on the moon. Karl Marx meets the Jetsons. No, I mean it!

The problem is that pure research hardly happens any more because the needs of capital come first. There’s no profit in mucking around with ideas and experiments with no short- or medium-term marketable objective.

Change this system to one in which social need, fun and fantasy are the raison d’etre and who knows what humans will come up with?

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What exactly do the 98% of climate researchers believe?

Our political culture has moved so far to the Right that the term ‘sceptic’ now has a negative connotation and argument by ‘appeal to authority’ wins the day, even when dodgy.

De omnibus dubitandum – Question everything!

“If 98% of doctors said you needed urgent surgery, wouldn’t you have it?!” “If 98% of aeronautical engineers told you that your next flight is unsafe and likely to crash, would you listen to them or to the 2% who say otherwise?” John Kerry, US Secretary of State, claimed in May this year that the consequences of climate change could be “crippling” and that “97% of the world’s scientists tell us this is urgent”. Last year, a tweet in President Barack Obama’s name asserted that “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” Note: “dangerous”. Obama cited a study of climate science consensus led by University of Queensland academic, John Cook. (About which, more later).

I have heard these analogies and claims repeated in various forms by politicians and ‘climate activists’ through the media for a few years now. They certainly have a great run in the mainstream but they rarely cite a source for the 97%-98% figure. So, I decided to do a bit of investigating for myself.

Surveys of what the climate experts’ think take two methodological approaches: reviews of peer-reviewed literature and polls. Doran, Kendall and Zimmerman polled 10,257 Earth scientists in 2009 while Anderegg, Prall, Harold and Schneider reviewed 1,372 abstracts and citation data in the climate change/global warming field in 2010. Last year, John Cook et al examined nearly 12,000 abstracts from the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

Doran et al (2009)

Doran is interesting because it used a polling methodology and a seemingly big sample of more than 10,000 Earth scientists. However, on closer inspection, they point out that only 3,146 of the scientists responded. Still, that’s not a bad figure. But the 98% figure is derived not from those 3,000-plus but from those deemed to have special expertise in climate change, that is, those who had published at least 50% of their peer-reviewed papers in that area. The actual numerical basis for the 98% figure on this occasion is from 77 out of 79 in the study. Seventy-nine agreed with the proposition that global mean temperature has risen since the late nineteenth century and 77 agreed that human activity is a significant factor. The Doran study is called ‘Examining the scientific consensus on climate change’ published in the American Geophysical Union journal. Doran et al (2009) So, when John Kerry refers to “the world’s scientists”, one can only hope he has some other evidence in mind.

Anderegg et al (2010)

The Anderegg survey in 2010 was published in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences. Anderegg et al reviewed abstracts and citation data of 1,372 climate researchers (they use the term ‘researchers’, though presumably most are scientists) and drew conclusions from 908 of them. Leaving aside that publication does not necessarily equate to expertise, Anderegg et al measured the climate researchers’ positions regarding the same two basic questions: Has the planet warmed and has human activity been a significant factor? They found that 97% to 98% of the 908 Abstracts and citations agreed with both propositions. The Anderegg report is called ‘Expert credibility in climate change’. Anderegg et al (2010) 

Cook et al (2013)

The 2013 work by Cook et al received international attention. It reviewed 11,944 abstracts from peer-reviewed climate-related scientific literature and the authors concluded that 97% of those who took a position supported the consensus that warming has happened and that human activity is responsible for at least half the warming since 1950. However, 66% of the abstracts reached no conclusion or took no position on the topic and so were not included. Thus, the figure of 97% refers to 97% of those with a position: approx. 4,000 out of about 12,000 abstracts. Leaving aside for a moment the question as to how the 8,000 with ‘no opinion’ might have been better dealt with, the Cook et al review found essentially what Anderegg and Doran had found: 97% consensus. Cook et al’s study is called ‘Quantifying the consensus on anthropological global warming in the scientific literature’ in Environmental Research Letters Cook et al (2013).

Questioning and scepticism

In each case, the objective was to find out what climate experts felt about the question of whether the planet has warmed and whether human activity plays a significant part. None of the studies – and none that I know of – have sought to ascertain what the climate experts think about the likelihood of “crippling consequences”, to quote John Kerry, or the likelihood of crisis or catastrophe. Nor do the studies seek to ascertain expert opinion on whether warming may be good or bad on balance.

So, how do the words of John Kerry and other alarmists measure up against these studies of expert opinion? Do 97% to 98% of experts believe the situation is “urgent” and will have “crippling consequences”? The answer is no. There is no evidence for such a consensual view.

Politicians, climate activists and influential Hollywood celebrities are misusing the 98% figure derived from such studies to justify an alarmist point of view and to marginalise dissident scientific voices. This is especially unfair given that many or most scientist-sceptics could be part of the 98% in the terms of the studies above. Sceptics generally accept that warming has occurred over the past 130 years. Sceptics tend to be more questioning of the degree to which human activity is a contributing factor and, from my reading of them, generally place emphasis on natural variation rather than industrial activity and CO2 emissions. I do not have the necessary expertise to reach a conclusion on the science but I do know, from history, that minority voices within science are sometimes proven right.

Argument and debate are essential to the advancement of knowledge

A culture of debate is as essential to scientific progress as it is to democracy. Yet our political culture has moved so far to the Right that the term ‘sceptic’ now has a negative connotation and argument by ‘appeal to authority’ wins the day, even when dodgy. And if you stand up for those scientists and experts who are sceptics, as I do, for their right to argue a case without being vilified, then look out for that big “98%” stick! Argument and debate are essential to advancement of knowledge

The findings of Cook et al, referred to above, the one which received international publicity last year, were subjected to critical scrutiny by David Legatesformer Director of the Center for Climatic Research at Delaware University. The challenge by Legates et al drew attention to an obvious problem with the way in which the 97% figure was arrived at. Cook et al adopted seven levels of ratings to categorize their findings.

Category 1 is for research that “Explicitly states that humans are the primary cause of global warming”. Clear enough.

Category 2 is for “Explicit endorsement without quantification” (i.e., does not express a view as to how significant human activity is).

Category 3 is “Implicit endorsement”.

The final four categories are: “No opinion or uncertain”, “Implicit rejection”, “Explicit rejection without quantification”, “Explicit rejection with quantification”.

Using Cook’s own figures, only 64 papers fitted Category 1. That’s 64 out of 11,944 – or, out of 4,000, if we are to agree with Cook that those expressing ‘no opinion’ should not be included in the count. That means, only 1.6% of abstracts explicitly expressed the view that humans are the cause of global warming. A far cry from 97%. Cook et al arrived at the 97% figure by lumping categories 1 to 3 together, when only category 1 explicitly represented the view that human activity was the main cause of warming.

Cook and colleague Bedford claimed in a more recent paper titled ‘Agnotology, scientific consensus and the teaching and learning of climate change’ (2013) that “Of the 4,014 abstracts that expressed a position on the issue of human-induced climate change, Cook et al. (2013) found that over 97% endorsed the view that the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause”. The “main cause”? How could John Cook say that, when his own data shows something very different?

An article by John Cook in ‘The Conversation’ is titled “It’s true: 97% of research papers say climate change is happening”. Well, big deal. The fact of climate change is hardly controversial and very few sceptics challenge it. The increase over 130 years is less than a degree and the past 16 years show a pause, so it is hard to argue that the warming is accelerating.

Advice to Obama and John Kerry

Were Obama and Kerry and others to refer to the 98% in their public speeches in a more accurate and honest way, they would have to say something like:

“About 98% of experts accept that the planet has warmed by less than a degree over the past 130 years and that human industrial activity has played a significant part in this. However, there is no consensus as to the main cause”.

Somehow it just doesn’t have the same pull as “dangerous”, or the supposed need for ‘urgent personal surgery’, ‘airplanes crashing’ or “crippling consequences”.

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In my next post on this topic, I’d like to offer for discussion some ideas on what a left-wing response to all this should be. Alarmism needs to be repudiated but what should be advocated and demanded? 

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