Fragility

Lower-Otay-Dam-DisasterThe NYT published a rather mild piece on climate policy written by its new “conservative” hire Bret Stephens. The consensus claque went nuts. Dana Nuccitelli, who was in on the fraudulent Cook et al consensus paper so often cited, put up a spectacularly unhinged piece at the Guardian rallying the troops and denouncing Stephens as a “hippy puncher”. Subscription are being cancelled as we speak.

The, more or less, instant over the top reaction to a not terrifically radical suggestion that the more strident claims of the climate alarmists need a second look is not surprising. In fact, it is pretty much the only reaction the climate alarmists can have.

The problem climate alarmists have, along with the fact fewer and few people take climate alarmism seriously, is that their coalition is fragile. At one point, I would say about a decade ago, the need to “do something” about “climate change” as a motherhood issue. After all, the science was certain and the time for debate was over. People who were unwilling to accept the innate truth of the IPCC reports and the urgent need for expensive action were “deniers” and entirely excluded from the scientific or policy discussion. The alarmists knew The Truth.

As Stephens points out in his piece, 100% certainty is almost always an indication of a cult rather than any sort of actual truth. And the problem with complete certainty is that there is no flexibility. Either the claim is correct in every particular – which is very unlikely – or it is not. So, for example, the decade old consensus position that the world was growing warmer and warmer and that increases in CO2 were responsible for that warming was a hostage to fortune which was very unlikely to survive. One cooling year could be waved away as “weather”; declining estimates of temperature sensitivity to CO2 were just obscure enough that they could be ignored or suppressed; but the overall claim and the consensus which surrounded it were and are extremely vulnerable to contradiction or even mild doubt.

On the science side the greatest threats were the inadequacy of the climate models and the advent of the “hiatus”. The models entirely failed to project any circumstances in which temperature ceased to rise when CO2 continued to rise. However the hiatus created exactly that set of conditions for what is now looking like twenty years. (Right this instant, last year’s El Nino, broke the hiatus. However, rapidly cooling post El Nino temperatures look set to bring the hiatus back into play in the next six months to a year.)

The economic side is even worse. It turns out that renewable energy – windmills and solar – costs a fortune and is profoundly unreliable. Governments which went all in for renewables (see Ontario) found their energy prices hockey sticking and the popularity plummeting without, as it turns out, making even a slight impression on the rise of CO2 concentrations.

The economics of climate change and its “mitigation” are a shambles. And it is beginning to dawn on assorted politicians that they might have been railroaded with science which was not quite ready for prime time.

Which makes it all the more imperative for the Nuccitelli and DeSmog blogs of this world to redouble their attacks on even mildly sceptical positions. Had the alarmists been less certain their edifice could have easily withstood a recalibration of the science and a recalculation of the cost/benefits. But they weren’t. They went all in for a position which claimed to know for certain that CO2 was driving world temperature and that there was no other possible cause for an increase or decrease in that temperature.

The problem with that position is that it was premature and very brittle. As lower sensitivity estimates emerge, as other, non-CO2 driven, temperature controls are discovered, consensus climate science becomes more and more embattled. What had looked like a monopoly on political discourse and media comment begins to fray. The advent of Trump and a merry band of climate change skeptics in the regulatory agencies and in Congress, has pretty much killed any forward motion for the climate alarmists in the US. And the US is where this battle will be won or lost. However, the sheer cost of so called “carbon reduction” schemes in the UK, Germany and the rest of Europe has been staggering and has shown next to no actual benefit so scepticism is rising there too. China has both embarked on an embrace of climate change abatement and the construction of dozens of coal fired electrical generation plants every year.

What had been a climate change thought monopoly a decade ago has fractured along dozens of scientific, economic and policy lines. Some of the more intelligent alarmists realize that if dissent is not snuffed out ferociously it will spread. Heterodox science will appear in respectable journals,  non-conforming scientists will be invited to appear before Congress (as happened a few weeks ago), the costs and limited to non-existent benefits of renewable energy and carbon taxes will be closely examined; once the thought monopoly is broken the collapse of the climate change scam is inevitable.

Speed the day.Lower-Otay-Dam-Disaster

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6 thoughts on “Fragility

  1. Dwayne says:

    This has been, and always will be, a cash transfer scam. We can all thank Canadian communist Maurice Strong and his enablers at the UN, and of course Jean Chretien. I still shake my head at the herd mentality of the people who are still pushing this garbage.

  2. John Cross says:

    Hi Jay: I don’t have much opinion on the Guardian piece except to say that they generally have their facts correct. I sort of liked the Times opinion piece, but probably not for the same reason that you do. Stephens whole piece was a straw-man so I would be surprised if many took it seriously.

    As always Jay your analysis is more fun to deal with. I really liked your comment “(Right this instant, last year’s El Nino, broke the hiatus. However, rapidly cooling post El Nino temperatures look set to bring the hiatus back into play in the next six months to a year.)” You are essentially saying that the recent rise we are seeing is due to the recent El-Nino. Of course if you wish to remove the effects of this El-Nino, then you should remove the effects of all El-Ninos – including the one that created the start of the “hiatus”. If you do, then the hiatus goes away.

    So its your choice, temperature trends with El-Nino or without – both show warming. In contradiction to your title, I would call this a robust result – your opinions may differ (but not your facts!).

    My solution is the one that I adopted 20 years ago when I first started to look at the science. Climate is very complex and as per the definition of climate, I try to look at 30 year averages and look at all the available data.

    • Jay Currie says:

      John, nice to have you here.

      Removing purely natural events like El Ninos can make a lot of sense and you are quite right that removing 1998 and beginning in 1999 and then ending at 2016 will still give you a slight warming trend (RSS MSU) of around 0.1 degrees or 0.3 with GISS.

      A few cooler years, which following an excluded El Nino are a reasonable anticipation, and the temperature rise will be very close to zero on a twenty-year scale.

      However, assuming a slight rise, should all that rise be attributed to increases in CO2? As the sensitivity numbers fall the possibility that other factors may be in play increases. And, as that happens, the rationale for significant policy changes to reduce CO2 emissions becomes less and less tenable. Spending trillions of dollars on CO2 reduction schemes makes little sense where decadal temperature increase attributable to CO2 emission is an unknown fraction of between 0.1 degrees and 0.3 degrees.

      This is particularly true when the environmental and economic costs of abatement are weighed against the actual abatement effects of proposed measures. It makes little sense to destroy landscapes, kill birds, obtain required materials in rather nasty mining situations, raise energy prices, decrease reliability all to, perhaps, reduce temperature by 0.001 degrees in 80 years assuming that all temperature increase is, in fact, caused by rises in CO2 concentration.

      Which is why I expect the keepers of the warmist flame to become more hysterical in their denunciations of heresy as we go forward. Their science is becoming less certain, their economics never made much sense so all they are left with is the politics of dogma. Which, to a very large degree, was what Stephens was pointing out in his piece. The over-the-top reaction of the warmists simply demonstrates how correct he was.

  3. […] Jay Currie looks at the reaction to a Bret Stephens climate article in the New York Times: […]

  4. John Cross says:

    Jay: I thank you for making my point. To be clear, you say “Removing purely natural events like El Ninos can make a lot of sense and you are quite right that removing 1998 and beginning in 1999 and then ending at 2016 will still give you a slight warming trend (RSS MSU) of around 0.1 degrees or 0.3 with GISS.” This is very much in line with the models which predict a warming between 0.1 and 0.35 /decade. So welcome to the side of science!!

    So, now that we have established that you accept the models, we can look at something you said in your reply. You state that we will be having a couple of cool years following the recent El-Nino event. You go on to say that the temperature rise on a 20 year scale will be very close to 0. So, here is a chance for you to show that you actually believe this.

    I am willing to propose a wager. We look at the GISS average temperature from 1997 to 1999 and compare that to the average from 2017 to 2019. If the 97-99 level is higher than the 17-19 then you win. If the 17-19 is higher than the 97-99 then I win. That should be an almost certain win for you since the times include the large El-Nino in 1998 and excludes the large 2016. So what say you?

    • Resources Wire | Jay Currie says:

      An interesting proposition John. Not sure I would trust GISS. And there appears to be a small El Nino forming as we speak. (Have to radiate that heat into space somehow.) So I will pass on this particular wager.

      But, sporting lad that I am, how about a straight bet on RSS that the overall “average” temperature does not statistically significantly increase from a start date of January 1997 to an end date of December 2020? In other words, that the pause continues with a few years more data?

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