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Plan B for Planet Earth

Richard Black | 17:05 UK time, Tuesday, 1 September 2009

"Geo-engineering is not an alternative to emissions reduction."

So not Plan A, then.

"Do we need it? Maybe."

So perhaps not Plan B either.

The words are John Shepherd's, spoken at the launch of the Royal Society's report into whether technical fixes such as painting roofs white, putting giant parasols in space or pumping iron filings into the ocean could curb climate change.

Professor Shepherd chaired the 10-month inquiry, and was keen to emphasise that although some of the technologies might have a role to play one day, today is not that day.

For some options, he said, "the technology is hardly formed". Many others "are still at the conceptual stage".

So further research - and pretty quickly - is the biggest single recommendation.

But the study does break new ground in attempting to rank the different contending technologies according to how effective they're likely to be, how much they're likely to cost, how safe they appear, and how quickly they could be deployed.

Royal Society report graphic of different technologiesSo the most cost-effective, overall, is probably pumping dust into the upper atmosphere, mimicking the impact of volcanic eruptions that are known to produce a net cooling by reflecting sunlight back into space.

Studies indicate [pdf link] that putting a few million tonnes of sulphate aerosols into the stratosphere every year could counter the extra heating from a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide; and the cost would be "just" a few tens of billions of dollars per year.

However, this would be nothing to combat ocean acidification - another impact of rising CO2 emissions. There are issues of who controls it and who funds it, and it has to be done for probably a century at least - stopping the programme while greenhouse gas concentrations remain high would result in abrupt warming.

So it's risky, in the report's judgement.

In fact, there is not a single technology that scores well on all the parameters.

Planting forests is judged to be safe and cheap but not particularly effective. Putting reflectors in space emerges as probably effective, but at high cost in terms of money and risk. Changing the reflectivity of the planet's surface, although safe, is unlikely to do much good and carries a high cost.

Cloud seedingAnd so on. Technology by technology, the potential silver bullets acquire a tarnish of one hue or another.

For technologies that work in the global commons - in the atmosphere or the oceans, or in space - the Royal Society emphasises there should be an internationally agreed set of rules for research, never mind deployment.

Perhaps the biggest paradox in the whole field is that the technology that has received the most research - iron fertilisation of the oceans - is now rated as quite expensive, of unproven worth, and one of the least safe in terms of its potential for upsetting the ocean ecosystem.

Yet it remains of commercial interest, with one company, Climos, seeking to prove its efficacy in order to generate income from a global carbon market.

To anyone who has followed the issue for some time, the Royal Society's conclusions can hardly come as a major surprise.

About 18 months ago, I chaired a panel debate on the issue at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) annual scientific meeting in Vienna.

It was one of those "debates" when actually there was very little disagreement between panellists over the substance.

Those speaking for the potential of geo-engineering emphasised the positives, and those speaking against emphasised the negatives; but really, putting a cigarette paper between them would have been a challenge.

At the end, we took a show of hands from the audience (almost all scientists, some active in the climate field and others not). They too were almost unanimous; geo-engineering could not replace carbon cuts and was not ready for "prime time" use, but research now, on a small scale, was a good idea.

Leaders effigies in CopenhagenMore recently, the American Meteorological Society reached a similar suite of conclusions.

The approach had potential merits, it said, but:

"Research to date has not determined whether there are large-scale geo-engineering approaches that would produce significant benefits, or whether those benefits would substantially outweigh the detriments."

And just last week the UK's Institute of Mechanical Engineering released a report, which although phrased a tad more bullishly than the Royal Society's, reached the same broad conclusions:

"Geo-engineering is not an encompassing solution to global warming.
"It is however, another potential component in our approach to climate change that could provide the world with extra time to decarbonise the global economy, a task which has yet to begin in earnest."

There, I think, is the rub. In John Shepherd's words:

"We believe it is still possible to combat climate change through emissions controls - if the international community is more successful than it has been."

And if the international community isn't more successful than it has been - notably at the UN summit in Copenhagen in December - then, perhaps, calls to invest in Plan B will receive a more sympathetic hearing.

The Royal Society's case for getting research underway is simply that society should understand the impacts and costs of the various options in good time. Then, if a key tipping point does appear on the horizon, society could make a rational decision whether to deploy.

Some environmental groups counter that even talking about the possibility of technical fixes may reduce the urgency of attempts to curb emissions - although it's going to be pretty hard to stop scientists and science academies talking about them as summit after summit passes and emissions continue to rise.

The Royal Society's is, I think, a rational case. But it has been for some time.

Questions such as so who's going to get on and do it, who's going to fund it, and when will an international framework be ready to regulate research (never mind implementation) are, presently, quite a lot less tractable.


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  • 1. At 5:44pm on 01 Sep 2009, CComment wrote:

    It's a miracle that Mother Nature has been able to rectify and regulate the climate for hundreds of millions of years without the assistance of assorted scientists, eco-fascists, green fanatics, vested interests and greedy opportunistic taxing politicians. Caledonian Comment

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  • 2. At 6:13pm on 01 Sep 2009, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    As I have just mentioned somewhere else. There is a giant pile of free plastic waste floating at sea, covering an area of an American state. I see this as an opportunity for developing it into something useful. I know investors prefer something more glamorous but surely there is potential here. 'Where there is muck there is brass.' All that is needed is a group of very creative individuals, some good ideas, some ships with melting facilities and a heap of money.

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  • 3. At 6:27pm on 01 Sep 2009, SamuelPickwick wrote:

    The full 98-page report can be downloaded from the Royal Society website.
    At first glance it looks to be rather cautious. It even has the word "uncertainty" in the title.
    I'm quite sceptical (as usual) though not quite as sceptical as caledoniancomment.
    I think that pumping millions of tons of stuff into the atmosphere would probably end up causing more harm than good.

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  • 4. At 6:36pm on 01 Sep 2009, JunkkMale wrote:

    I had to look up Afforestation just to be sure:

    Or... don't cut down in swathes those that currently exist and do a pretty good job.

    Just a thought.

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  • 5. At 8:36pm on 01 Sep 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    If CO2 were a singular problem this may make sense. The polution that spews from the many coal burning power plants worldwide infect the world with health issues daily. The only real solution is an alternative clean fuel. The carbon fuel industries and industrial sectors have used their political power to maintain the staus quo as long as possible. This will be an indirect tax on individuals as the corporations will simply pass them along in one way or another. It appears that the governments have determined that they can tax and sell the air. Rather than hold companies responsible the problem becomes identified as CO2. This also distracts from the many other particles that are in the air as a result of the same process that harm human health and the environment. Change can only come with change, not this fooling around the edges and political posturing that pretends that nothing is something and as long as coins can be collected in the governmental coffers the reality doesn't matter. When an alternative fuel is developed you will see that the governments will be the biggest barrier to implementation, handmaidens for multi-national corporations and carbon fuel providers, they will block or prolong implementation and then tax citizens to pay for conversions of private industries. Freedom isn't free, you must subsidise the wealthly if you wish to maintain what individual freedoms you may have. Change is coming and hopefuly it will be in reordering our systems of government, always a dangerous situation but no one ever gives up power willingly. You can smell the stench surrounding governments that have given rodents and slugs free access to the gardens of all forms of government. We have a modren day plague and self-flaggalation is not the cure but rather the control of the rats and fleas.

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  • 6. At 8:48pm on 01 Sep 2009, xpst2909 wrote:

    If you really want to control global warming,
    you need to do it directly:

    The remarkable part of this solution is that
    while cooling the planet, you generate power
    and clean water, too!

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  • 7. At 9:21pm on 01 Sep 2009, lburt wrote:

    Let's just make sure there's actually a significant problem with global warming before we spend trillions trying to fix it. Observed warming rates are actually below that suggested by the CO2 absorption math, suggesting low sensitivity and/or negative feedback. With a decade long plateau in temperatures (it's dropping actually) there is obviously little "heat in the pipe".

    Also we're not currently even experiencing unusually warm temperatures. If you will note in the 1000 year (proxy) temperature reconstruction there's a part that looks different. At the very end there's a new black line that shows up. This is the measured temperature superimposed on top of the proxies...something that in ANY other scientific discipline would get your paper tossed. Looking underneath you find that according to proxies we're currently about as warm as the medieval warm period. Also most of the unification of the proxies in the 20th century is an artifact of the calibration period of the various proxies...basically the modern temperature record getting caught up in the data.

    Since we're just now entering Earth's natural cooling period, it would actually be wise to adopt a wait and see attitude. If temperatures rise over the next decade then people may indeed have some reason to be concerned. If temperatures stay level we'll know to expect near the amount of warming suggested by CO2 absorption (about 1C more for doubling) . If temperatures fall somewhat we'll know CO2 poses no real threat.

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  • 8. At 9:32pm on 01 Sep 2009, Jack Hughes wrote:

    This is Ben Tre logic redux

    "...we had to destroy the atmosphere to save it"

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  • 9. At 11:22pm on 01 Sep 2009, David Bofinger wrote:

    It would be great to see the Kyoto treaty and other similar proposals put on the diagram in a real apples-to-apples comparison.

    The only real issue with stratospheric aerosols seems to be ocean acidification. If people are worried about that then fair enough, but if so we should stop even using the words "global warming" because global warming appears to be easy to stop. We should say that CO2 is a threat because of ocean acidification.

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  • 10. At 11:45pm on 01 Sep 2009, manysummits wrote:

    I think Plan 'B' will be implemented in various guises for two reasons:

    1) There is money in it.

    2) There is inertia in our political response time to most of the environmental problems we now face.

    The only geo-engineering plan which I personally support is Wallace Broecker's 'CO2 trees', which actually pull CO2 out of the atmosphere.

    James Lovelock thinks we could even use the extracted carbon and make something useful - perhaps even food. Engineering is neither my forte nor even a large interest of mine . Luckily, it takes all kinds to make a society.

    And I agree with 'ghostofsichuan' #5. Climate change and CO2 are only part of our problem. We have bumped up rather hard against our 'Limits to Growth,' and right now many people's noses are out of joint.

    - Manysummits -

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  • 11. At 00:27am on 02 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    This whole debate is ludicrous.

    Climate change is part of life on earth. It happens, it has always happened, and it will always happen.

    When people say that humanity can't cope with climate change, what they are really talking about is overpopulation.

    If the sea level rises..... you just move inshore. Unless you can't because of overpopulation.

    If the crops fail, you just use your reserve stores of food. Unless you have none because of overpopulation.

    If fossil fuels run out, you just use renewables and get by with less power. Unless you can't, because you need cheap energy to feed the massively overpopulated earth.

    And the crucial point is that no matter what happens with the environment, overpopulation is going to hit humanity exceedingly hard in the next 30 years. Even if.... listen up, you supposed "scientists" EVEN IF THE CLIMATE STAYS THE SAME...

    Even if climate change was ZERO, overpopulation is going to smash humanity for six in the next 30 years.

    Every scientist worthy of the name knows this, but the media and the politicians absolutely refuse to talk about it. The one great taboo of our modern age is overpopulation. Journalists wont touch it, and now pseudo scientists are gibbering on about climate change because they can't bring themselves to face up to the facts.

    The fact is that overpopulation is rampant, and that every great religion on earth is a driving force behind it.

    Because god up in the clouds doesn't care about overpopulation, he just wants more believers. It doesn't matter, to the faithful, what happens to the earth, because when they die they are going to go sit next to the big guy and sing songs and feel great forever and forever.

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  • 12. At 00:43am on 02 Sep 2009, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    P------ in the wind would probably work just as well. According to James Lovelock there is not much we can do because we have already tipped over the ecological balance. Perhaps I am being cynical and pessimistic and there really is a fairy tale ending where mankind sees the error of his ways and the super rich pump trillions of dollars into saving the planet.

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  • 13. At 01:02am on 02 Sep 2009, freddawlanen wrote:

    I've never cared about 'global warming', it simply doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things.
    There are many environmental things that do matter though:
    The continued dumping of toxic waste directly into our seas and rivers.
    The pumping of dangerous gases into the atmosphere.
    Overuse and therefore overproduction of pointless plastic products.
    Weak building regulations that lead to massive energy wastage.
    Unnecessary transportation of food over vast distances.

    All of the above continue purely through greed.
    All could be solved within a few years if governments looked further ahead than just the next election.

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  • 14. At 03:42am on 02 Sep 2009, ClimateClinker wrote:

    Please see the short slideshow at for a way to help populations adversely affected by melting glaciers and loss of water supplies.

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  • 15. At 08:02am on 02 Sep 2009, jon112uk wrote:

    This seems to be no more than a band-aid, delaying the inevitable.

    Even if these technologies were actually able to counter the alleged climate change it would not answer the other big issue - what we are going to do for energy as the outdated fossil fuels are increasingly unable to meet demand.

    Personally I would prefer to spend the same money on pushing forward the development of new (non-fossil) energy sources. Some of these are already demonstrated on a small scale and could probably be brought to the consumer faster than the schemes you discuss - well off consumers in the west are certainly ready to buy them.

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  • 16. At 08:21am on 02 Sep 2009, Chris B wrote:

    I notice that no one feels it necessary to calculate the economic cost of "Plan A", ie. emissions reduction. Perhaps because it is off the scale of the chart?

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  • 17. At 08:50am on 02 Sep 2009, Jack Hughes wrote:

    I had to check the date when I first saw this stuff on a news website ;-)

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  • 18. At 10:36am on 02 Sep 2009, Trefor Jones wrote:

    We really are entering desperation territory here. Even if it was feasible to do any of these things ( for instance what would be the cost in terms of energy of producing synthetic trees?)who will pay,provide or organise. In reality, this a plot from a 1950s B movie, simplistic and banal as is the entire IPCC case. Even if these things could be done it would be extremely unwise owing to the positive feedbacks which would ensue - could well cause economic catastrophe or even world war. In a sense of deja vu I cannot help believing that I am experiencing another recurrent plot from a B movie namely a brain wash on colossal terms by a media/government staffed by jornalists newly graduated in media studies or Environment secretaries not out of short pants . If you want some advice Richard, take the message from your recent climate hijack radio materpiece and say what you really believe. This is politics not science.

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  • 19. At 10:40am on 02 Sep 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    I haven't tracked down the source of the chart Richard presents but I have some immediate "issues" with it.

    What ever is a scale of "effectiveness" of 0 to 5?
    What is effectiveness of 1?
    What effectiveness is "fully effective"? Is it 1, 10 or 100 or what?

    Then the "affordability" puzzled me at first.
    Is it "1/cost" ?

    If so then it misrepresents the actual costs awfully.

    The options at "affordability" 5 would be 0.2 the cost of those at "affordability" 1, whilst those at the centre of the chart (affordability 3) would be just 0.33 the cost of those at "affordability" 1. ie not so much more that "affordability" 5.

    Extremely misleading if cost is of any interest at all.

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 20. At 10:43am on 02 Sep 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    The lnik to the report (pdf) seems to be here:
    Geoengineering the climate: science, governance and uncertainty


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  • 21. At 10:44am on 02 Sep 2009, Gates wrote:

    The thing that worries me with the whole Geo-Engineering debate is that as long as it exists as a possible option to combat climate change, it will distract us from making the cut backs to emissions which is the only true sustainable way of slowing warming. This is the continuing message coming from these reports, but that is not what is being reported by the media. Geo-Engineering is not a permanent solution, it is a band aid on a gaping wound.

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  • 22. At 10:53am on 02 Sep 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    I found the "Effectiveness" scale.

    They call it a "fairly coarse semi-quantitative scale"

    5 Very Good
    4 Good
    3 Fair
    2 Poor
    1 Very Poor

    Which means that any option down at "effectiveness" 1 or 2 is regarded as pretty useless. Not the first impression I got from the chart.


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  • 23. At 11:03am on 02 Sep 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    If I have correctly understod what the Royal Society is saying, they do not see any of the geoengineering possibilities they looked at as a substitute for emissions reductions.

    So far, so good, perhaps?

    But the report is a bit ambiguous because it does provide quite a bit of policy advice regarding deployment of geoengineering approaches. To me, the report is rather confused on the boundaries between research and deployment and what the conditions might be to move from one phase to another.

    If the intention was to focus 'hearts and minds' by highlighting the lack of 'real' options offered by geoengineering approaches offer, then this message could have been made more clearly. And, if so, why offer a sort of forlorn security blankett by dangling speculative technologies with wide-ranging ecological, societal and economic ramifications that the authors don't even believe will be effective?

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  • 24. At 11:06am on 02 Sep 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Now "affordability"

    "....affordability (the inverse of the cost for a defined magnitude of effect)..."

    I see no explanation as to why they use "1/cost" rather than cost. As I said, very misleading.

    They go on "...with the size of the points indicating their timeliness (on a scale of large if they are rapidly implementable and effective, through to small if not), and the colour of the points indicating their safety (on a scale from green if safe, through to red if not). Indicative
    error bars have been added to avoid any suggestion that the size of the symbols reflects their precision (but note that the error bars are not really as large as they should be, just to avoid confusing the diagram)."

    So red means not safe.

    As for "...the error bars are not really as large as they should be to avoid confusing the diagram"

    Seems more like a "powerpoint presentation" for managers as opposed to a scientific chart. (They do get confused easily).


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  • 25. At 11:22am on 02 Sep 2009, Beejay wrote:

    Too many people with nothing to do. Why does everything have to be linked to Carbon Dioxode? Leave well alone and let Mother Nature take its course. Adapt to any changes [if they actually occur] Anticipating to far in advance will cost squillions and be a total waste. Examples already are biofuel, wind turbines, carbon trading. Stop all this madness - now. If we are sliding into another ice age, Mother Nature will kill off the excess population and no politician will be able to stop it. Geo Engineering is another concept that will come to nothing and waste billions in the process.

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  • 26. At 11:28am on 02 Sep 2009, Jack Hughes wrote:

    Hi Davblo2 !

    I agree with you totally: the graph is a crock.

    I get a similar feeling when I look at a lot of AGW stuff. For example on this blog a few months ago we were looking at a graph of ocean heat content. The graph started well below zero - not possible for negative energy. It turned positive some time in the 1960s.

    I couldn't take the rest of the report seriously after that - the negative energy graph had got right through the 'peer review' process and into a NASA publication.

    This is not nitpicking - it shows serious holes in the theory and also in the process used for checking and reviewing new research. These people are making schoolboy mistakes and they have somehow got into the control tower...

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  • 27. At 11:52am on 02 Sep 2009, Richard Black (BBC) wrote:

    I think later posters have found answers to most of the issues raised by earlier ones - but just to clarify as far as I can, the graph does indeed come from the Royal Society report and as has been noted, it's very much a rough categorisation of the technologies. Ken Caldeira from Stanford University, who's studied geo-engineering as long as anyone and who contributed to this report, described it as "bold" because it had tried to compare the different technologies in a way that hadn't been done before.

    Realistically there is very little information about some of the parameters - we know how much it costs to paint a roof white but do we really know the price of putting a sunshield in space? - and so some of the numbers are, inevitably, speculative - I don't think the Royal Society would contest that description.

    How do costs compare with emissions reduction? Sulphate aerosols look to be significantly cheaper - but as noted above, they don't tackle all aspects of the problem. One aspect of the report that I didn't mention in the initial post was the division into technologies that tackle CO2 and those that tackle solar radiation - the former category of course would combat a wider range of impacts that the latter. Ken Caldeira suggested that the technologies tackling CO2, such as "artificial trees", are likely to work out relatively expensive compared with reducing emissions - but we don't know that yet.

    Another aspect that hasn't been widely considered concerns the non-climate-related costs and benefits. There are many reasons to think planting trees can be a good idea - not as many, you might think, for deploying a fleet of aeroplanes to carry dust into the stratosphere...

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  • 28. At 12:01pm on 02 Sep 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    (written before I saw Richards #27, but posted anyway)
    Richard says: "In fact, there is not a single technology that scores well on all the parameters."

    Still working on initial impressions, and quick looks through the report, but CCS hits me.

    (a) If you look at actual cost instead of their odd "1/cost" you'll see that CCS is rated only a little more expensive than the cheapest (stratospheric aerosols and afforestation), at 0.33, 0.25 and 0.2 respectively of the "affordability 1".

    (b) Its effectiveness is rated as fairly good.

    (c) CSS (as I understand it) is not really a Geoengineering option, since it could be carried out independently at local sites (hence "at source"). So it would be free from the international law problems.

    So for me Richard is wrong and the chart shows CSS a good choice; although the way it is presented does a good job of hiding the fact.

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 29. At 12:05pm on 02 Sep 2009, Jack Hughes wrote:

    Thanks for your comments, Richard. Now here's a question:

    Pretend that we had deployed all these devices earlier this century. Up-and-running for 8 years.

    How are we going to say if they are working - or not ? If global air temperatures had flatlined and ocean temperatures had gone down slightly and polar bears were still there would we agree that the gadgets had worked ?

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  • 30. At 12:06pm on 02 Sep 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Richard #27: "...for deploying a fleet of aeroplanes to carry dust into the stratosphere"

    I thought the idea was to add the appropriate material to aviation fuel and have commercial airliners do the job.

    "Commercial airliners typically cruise at altitudes of 9–12 km in temperate latitudes, in the lower reaches of the stratosphere."

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 31. At 12:12pm on 02 Sep 2009, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    When the super rich finally realise that escaping to a remote island or escape to another planet is not a feasible option to avoid the consequences of greed, perhaps then, they might dig in to their pockets. When the titanic sunk, it was down to chance who survived. How many really good patents are locked away to prevent them being developed because they will reduce the profits of some and create new competition for others?

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  • 32. At 12:15pm on 02 Sep 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Richard #27: "...Ken Caldeira from Stanford University described it [the chart] as 'bold' because it had tried to compare the different technologies in a way that hadn't been done before."

    I'd like to know where he said this.

    Does anyone anywhere budget on a "1/cost" basis?
    Would that be "bold"?

    I can't even find a basis for the definition of "affordability" as "1/cost".

    Most would think of "affordability" as being "how much will I have left afterwards?", which is at least still linear against cost.


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  • 33. At 12:19pm on 02 Sep 2009, KickAssAndGiggle wrote:

    Over population is a far more pressing issue than global warming. Frankly, any effort to deal with GW that doesn't take into account OP is hugely flawed and demonstrates wholly shortsighted thinking.

    ...Which rules out 99.9% of the current scientific community from making intelligent comment on this matter...

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  • 34. At 12:24pm on 02 Sep 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    My #30 cont'd

    I see they don't mention commercial flights (too low at 11 km?); they say...

    "Methods of delivering the required mass to the stratosphere depend on the required delivery altitude, assuming that the highest required altitude would be that needed to access the lower tropical stratosphere, about 20 km, then the most cost-effective delivery method would probably be a custom built fleet of aircraft"


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  • 35. At 12:47pm on 02 Sep 2009, Richard Black (BBC) wrote:

    davblo2 #28 and following:

    Ken Caldeira "bold" comment - to me following press conference.

    CCS - I agree, I'm not sure it falls neatly into the geo-engineering fold. Maybe if it's captured from the air - but here we're talking about "at source"... so for me, more a "clean energy" technology than geo-engineering.

    And your #34 deals with your #30

    Best, RB

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  • 36. At 2:10pm on 02 Sep 2009, Chris wrote:

    Anything we do here must be reversible and have a properly assessed ecological impact. Chucking iron filing into the sea isn't reversible and the consequences are hard to foresee.

    Not only should it be reversible to where we started but also in the opposite direction, since if we were to face an ice age we would feel pretty sill sitting there with all our iron filings in the sea and our space reflectors working away to cool the planet.

    And that is where we are probably heading. There are many scientists who believe that the additional CO2 in the atmosphere is part of the natural cycle - CO2 dissolves in sea water and as the temperature rises it can hold less, so it emerges into the atmosphere.

    These people point out that the temperature rise LEADS the CO2 rise, not the other way round, so what we are seeing is warming of the planet from the sun's cycles leading to higher temperatures and THEN dissolved CO2 emerges from the sea into the atmosphere.

    They also point out that the polar ice caps FLOAT on water, and due to Archimedes principle, will not raise the sea level if they melt (the Greenland ice cap is on rock).

    And that further, no global warming scientist has shown a mechanism for
    a simple linear molecule such as CO2 or methane to store additional energy or significantly influence the Earth's energy cycles.

    These scientists believe that there is little real science behind claims of global warming due to carbon emissions, but they receive little publicity from politicians who see ways to garner extra tax from green issues (and popular ones too!).

    However, they are probably right. Our major concern should be how to heat up the planet when needed, but technologies that allow us to go in either direction would be the thing to aim for.

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  • 37. At 2:34pm on 02 Sep 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    Now people want to change the topic from the pollution of the air and water by industrial and chemical waste to the topic of over-population. I guess they have a plan to eliminate certain groups or maybe come up with some voluntary program with tax credits to encourage the poor (not the wealthy) not to have children. Oh, forgot, sure "liberals" will also be on the list of those chosen not to reproduce. The only real purpose a human being has is to reproduce any other rationales have no basis in science. Ego, self-importance, cultural superiority, doing God's work, etc, don't make the cut. The topic is about the managment of a global eco-system and the negative impacts the activities of mankind has on that system and how those impacts have negative effects on other human beings, plants and animals.
    Statements about if the sea level rises that people just move must have been written by those educated in Catholic schools where religion classes replaced geography. Most major cities are coastal and "moving" them inland would create vary large costs and severe economic disturption and probably social chaos.
    Transition in earths' environment over time is not in question. Those events that people like to reference were generally pre-human or the last being primative human. A much greener and robust earth. We don't have any record of the impacts on human life, because humans were not in that environment so any claims are purely subjective.
    Grab another straw while others try to deal with the issues, put on your radio and listen to what the idiot tells you to say as he sells you some of his are the tail end of a commerial enterprise not a participant in a scientific or social debate.

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  • 38. At 4:44pm on 02 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    SoxSexSax wrote:
    "Over population is a far more pressing issue than global warming. Frankly, any effort to deal with GW that doesn't take into account OP is hugely flawed and demonstrates wholly shortsighted thinking."

    I beg to differ. It cannot be shortsightedness. For so many people to be standing in a room with an elephant of such tremendous size, and the vast majority of them claiming to see no elephant at all, this cannot be shortsightedness. What we have here is hard core willful blindness. We have discovered a genuine modern taboo.

    Consider the post by "ghostofsichuan" above.

    This is not rational informed debate, it is a hostile reaction. And that is precisely what you'd expect , when a taboo is transgressed.

    With all due respect to ghostofsichuan's gross ignorance of anthropology, the last ice age only ended 9000 years ago, by which time Paleolithic modern humans were widespread across the globe. Most children know that modern humans walked across a land bridge to north america during the past ice age, and that aboriginals in Australia had paintings 30 thousand years old when england north of Oxford was covered with a massive ice sheet. And yet, this pundit claims to be knowledgeable about science when writing:

    "Those events that people like to reference were generally pre-human or the last being primative human. A much greener and robust earth. We don't have any record of the impacts on human life, because humans were not in that environment so any claims are purely subjective."

    Never mind the vast quantities of data that have been gathered to show that the Norse vikings settled Greenland a thousand years ago, during a minor warm period, and the overwhelming amount of data to prove the earth entered a cold period during the middle ages.

    Most astounding of all, this "scientist" then throws the accusation around that claims of sustainable development for human populations are the result of a CATHOLIC!!! education, rather than one based in geology!!

    Surely this is a deliberate provocation?

    It is precisely catholicism, with its prohibitions on contraception and abortion, that is the fantasy ideology that forces the taboo on overpopulation in modern Britain, the EU and America.

    When so many voters are catholic, which politician can afford to come out and speak the plain truth about what is causing the worlds suffering through overpopulation?

    And it is not just catholicism, but all the great religions which engineer overpopulation. How? By enforcing social laws that keep every available female pregnant at every possible opportunity.

    Think about the following:

    1. No abortion
    2. No contraception
    3. No homsexuality (unproductive sex, biologically speaking)
    4. Monogamy ( a man with four wives will have a favourite, and the others tend to get a break from childbirth)

    Are these not precisely the laws required to generate the maximum possible population growth in any given human population over a given period of time? It is the science of farming human beings.

    Oh, I forgot a fifth rule:

    5. A man may legally rape his wife as he pleases.

    The most acute irony of the religious world is that the priesthood has employed a shrewd understanding of basic biological science in order to breed its flock, and thus populate the armies and slave galleys of the ruling elite so that they can expand their glorious empires ever outwards, over running other peoples and causing constant war and human suffering on a pitiful scale throughout history.

    And now this god fearing mass of religious folks enforce the taboo on overpopulation being discussed, urged on by priests who make tax free earnings by preaching utter nonsense to children who cannot defend their tender intellects.

    It is a desperate, appalling situation for humanity and for europe. Europe has only been free of war and genocide for sixty years because the Anglican common law and the soviet reformation restored female sexual rights to the continent, displacing the catholic law and the orthodox breeding program. That is not a wild accusation but rather an ugly, verifiable fact. Before the soviet union and the establishment of American military rule, men in Europe could rape their wives, contraception was banned, and abortion was a crime.

    And overpopulation plagued the land, and genocide and war were periodic and frequent. The government now has a chief scientific advisor, and he is making the case that humanity will face critical shortages of food and fuel within the next two decades. He claims a 50% rise in demand for food, and 50% rise in demand for fuel. And further, a 30% rise in demand for water.

    But the earth just can't provide these staggering increases in output, and that means we face gross and acute scarcity. When demand outstrips supply, prices don't just rise, they skyrocket. People hoard critical supplies out of fear, and countries close their borders to vast numbers of refugees who are driven by hunger to disrespect government orders. In other words, the chief economic advisor of Britain is predicting a collapse of civilization as we know it.

    And none of us can talk about it openly, for fear of offending the people who believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden.

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  • 39. At 4:57pm on 02 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    "They also point out that the polar ice caps FLOAT on water, and due to Archimedes principle, will not raise the sea level if they melt (the Greenland ice cap is on rock)."

    From whence cometh the belief that a person is knowledgeable about science when they cannot fathom the most fundamental of physical scenarios?

    This statement is glaring wrong in multiple places. Firstly, if water freezes and then floats atop the sea, does it not remove volume from the ocean and rest it in the ice, OUT OF THE OCEAN? And thus, when it lets it must therefore raise sea levels?

    Secondly, if the greenland (and antarctic) ice caps rest atop rock, is it not blindingly obvious that when this water melts it must drain back into the oceans, raising their levels?

    Thirdly, is it not commonly known from the geological and fossil record that every 150 thousand years the earth enters and ice age and sea levels drop, before the earth then warm and they rise again? I had thought that knowledge was as common as the earth being round.

    Good lord, the scientific ignorance on this blog defies belief. I thought every child knew that the reason the netherlands and the south east of england are sinking into the ocean (despite changes in sea depth) is because after the massive ice sheets of the last ice age that covered britain and Scandinavia receded, they removed a vast mass from the earth in those northern regions. this mass had previously depressed the very surface of the globe, and the indented mantel of rock has squished molten rock underneath southwards, like a bowling ball on a water bed, causing the land just south of the vast ice sheet to become propped up by an excess of subterranean lava. And thus, many thousands of years later, this lava still recedes back to whence it came, as the earths crust pops back into shape and a vacuum is created under the rising Norwegian land mass.

    I mean, these facts were proven by scientists and accepted by lawyers over a hundred years ago.

    Is it really possible for our society to be having the current debate, and calling it science?

    No, this is not casual stupidity or ignorance. This is willful, culpable refusal to accept what is already very well known. This is religion in action, and it will be the ruin of us all once more.

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  • 40. At 5:19pm on 02 Sep 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Further to my complaints about the chart presented by The Royal Society in the Summary section of their report at Geoengineering the climate: science, governance and uncertainty, and reproduced here by Richard in his blog article, I've replotted the data points with a linear cost scale (Relative Cost) as opposed to their weird "Affordability", and with the Y-axis showing the actual meaning of their Efficiency scale.
    (So far I haven't set the colours and data point sizes to match their usage; and I know there is a lot of uncertainty in their "data")

    The new chart is here.

    I'd be interested to hear whether you think it gives a different impression of cost vs effectiveness compared to their version.

    For me it puts things in a better perspective

    I see 3 techniques from Fair to Good, at and below the 0,5 Relative cost; which are not classed as unsafe: "CCS at source", "Enhanced weathering" and "CO2 air capture".

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 41. At 5:35pm on 02 Sep 2009, freddawlanen wrote:

    Compulsory sterilisation of everyone after their second child is the only answer to over population.
    This will never happen of course, as everyone believes they have a 'right' to as many offspring as they want, even if doing so destroys the planet for those future generations.

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  • 42. At 6:07pm on 02 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    freddawlanen wrote:
    "Compulsory sterilisation of everyone after their second child is the only answer to over population."

    This is evidently not so. If you wish to examine human societies where overpopulation has been controlled and kept in check with the environment, examine the polynesians who were restricted to tiny islands, often not much bigger than a few miles wide.

    These societies did not always protect themselves with sensible sexual and religious law, as Easter Island and New Zealand bear testament. However, a great many polynesian islands did manage to find a balance between their incredibly fragile stocks of natural resources and human population growth.

    Likewise, both Japan and Germany faced total ecological collapse over 500 years ago, due to overpopulation. Both now have extensive forestry programs, and Japan has a higher percentage of forested land than any other first world nation, despite having a massive population crammed onto a tiny island.

    It is religious doctrine and the greed of the ruling elite who create bad laws, not human nature.

    I find it an outrageous irony that it is catholic priests will will most readily throw their hands up in the air and lament about the inevitability of "human nature". Such is their faith in the wisdom of the lord.

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  • 43. At 6:36pm on 02 Sep 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    democracythreat #39: "...they cannot fathom the most fundamental of physical scenarios....Firstly, if water freezes and then floats atop the sea, does it not remove volume from the ocean and rest it in the ice, OUT OF THE OCEAN? And thus, when it melts it must therefore raise sea levels?"

    Sorry to trip you up mid-flight, but NO; not the way you explain it.

    Ice floats because it is less dense than water.
    Remember: "A floating body displaces its own weight in water". (See Archimedes)

    When ice melts the volume of water released equals the volume of water the floating ice had displaced (not the volume of the entire original ice).

    On the other hand, if you bring salinity into it, you could say that the water from a melted iceberg (assume freshwater) could have more volume than the same weight of sea water (the latter is more dense). So that could cause a rise in sea level. But the whole behaviour of the oceans look rather complicated (as usual). Take a look at this brief description... "Sea Water, Freezing of".

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 44. At 7:00pm on 02 Sep 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    democracythreat #42: "Japan has a higher percentage of forested land than any other first world nation"

    We have a few trees in our back yard as well...

    From Countries - forest facts by country

    "Forest and other wooded land" / "Total land area" (2005)

    Japan: 24,868 / 36,450 = 68.2 %

    Sweden: 30,785 / 41,162 = 74.8 %


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  • 45. At 8:15pm on 02 Sep 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    It appears that religion is the cause of global solved.
    Forced sterilzation, a Western brand of the feminist agenda, something to do with ancient polynesians, who, by the way, got in those small boats and settled the rest of the pacific rim and China (probably because of over-population), and geology being the equivelent of a written human history. Apparently, we also should be working on the construction of a big bowling ball.
    Is that Democracythreat or is it ThreattoDemocracy.

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  • 46. At 9:45pm on 02 Sep 2009, Jack Hughes wrote:


    Thanks for doing the work to 'normalise' the graph.

    There is only one reason why they did the graph the way they did:

    it's because in the business world just about every analysis you ever see has a 'golden quadrant' in the top right where something is good in both dimensions being discussed. eg 'affordable' and 'effective' in this example - in analysing market position it could be 'high market share' and 'fast growing market'.

    This usually means that the bottom left quadrant is pants and the other 2 (top left, bottom right) are problematical: good at one thing but bad at the other.

    I wouldn't spend too much time on this because the costs are not real costs - they are just guesses. Just remember how bad the estimates of any government-run large project are. Humber Bridge came in about 10 times its original estimate. Concorde ? NHS computers ?

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  • 47. At 11:54pm on 02 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    " Ice floats because it is less dense than water.
    Remember: "A floating body displaces its own weight in water". (See Archimedes)"

    I understood the physics to be that a SUNKEN body displaces water, whereas a floating body does not.

    In any case, I take it you wish to make the case that during an ice age, sea levels rise?

    I will not argue further with that claim.

    ghostofsichuan, you are being willfully obtuse. The entire point of the matter is that global warming does not matter. It is a red herring, designed to divert attention from the actual problem that underwrites the diabolical problems faced by humanity on an increasingly degraded earth. And yes, religion very deliberately creates overpopulation.

    Global warming is part of nature. The world gets warmer, then it gets colder. Then it gets warmer again, and so on.

    Human populations, by contrast, have been moving only in one direction: ever upward, and periodically they press at the very limits of the earth to sustain them. When the population is right on the edge of the earths capacity to support it, NATURAL climate change can and does and will create havoc with the happiness of the people.

    When you do not suffer overpopulation, people do not have to build their homes in flood plains, or underneath cliffs that are well know to produce periodic mudslides.

    Anyway, this whole debate is absurd in the extreme. If the chinese consume one fifth of the energy per capita that the UK currently consumes, it simply doesn't matter the UK does.

    All this talk of changing the weather is madness, sheer madness. I leave you to it. You and your mate archimedes, who insists on every chance to pursue a conceptual mistake to its pitiful end.

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  • 48. At 00:03am on 03 Sep 2009, Kev wrote:

    Anyone who thinks that pumping tons of pollutants into the atmosphere is the answer should watch the movie 'Highlander II' where they cure the problem of ozone depletion by blocking all sunlight! The result in the film is human misery, although in reality the result would be the death of every living organism on the planet.

    Has everyone forgotten that when Sulphur is pumped into the atmosphere it combines with the atmosphere to create Sulphuric acid, commonly known as Acid Rain.

    At a time where the suns output has dropped dramatically do we really want to be tampering? Especially as if global temperatures start to drop dramatically? We may well be thanking the CO2 we have in the atmosphere.

    Coral may die with acidification and temperature rise, but how well can it survive a freezing ocean?

    BTW what happened to the Ozone hole, I noticed that has gone very quite. Could it be because it never existed in the first place?

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  • 49. At 00:10am on 03 Sep 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    democracythreat #47: "I take it you wish to make the case that during an ice age, sea levels rise?"

    I said no such thing. During an ice age much of the ice is up on land not floating on the water.

    democracythreat #47: "I understood the physics to be that a SUNKEN body displaces water, whereas a floating body does not."

    Strange idea. So when a boat floats on the water and the lower part of the hull is beneath the water surface what do you call the fact that the water which was there before has been pushed aside? Not "displacement"?


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  • 50. At 00:21am on 03 Sep 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    My #40: continued.

    I found why "CCS at source" is only half-heartedly included in the report (at Geoengineering the climate: science, governance and uncertainty)

    In Chapter 8.2 under "Scope" they say...
    "The scope of the study includes all methods intended to moderate climate change by deliberate large-scale intervention in the working of the Earth’s natural climate system, but excludes (a) methods for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon capture & storage (CCS) at the point of emission, and (b) conventional afforestation and avoided deforestation schemes."

    The inclusion of "CCS at source" in the chart which Richard shows was mainly for comparison purposes.

    In Chapter 5.3 just before thchart appears they say...
    "For comparative purposes only, a judgement of where certain other mitigation methods not considered in detail in this report (Afforestation, CCS at source, and BECS) would fit in this evaluation has also been made, and the results"

    The subsequent Conclusions do not consider these as a possible geoengineering techniques.

    Again, rather misleading when the chart is taken out of context.

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 51. At 03:59am on 03 Sep 2009, TJ wrote:

    PS to Davblo2.

    Great response to democracythreat in #43 of the next blog. I was thinking of the same but you say it much better.

    Looks like we may have another Yeah_whatever. This time in the opposite camp.


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  • 52. At 04:15am on 03 Sep 2009, TJ wrote:

    Edit to #51. Sorry. This was meant to post on previous blog:)

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  • 53. At 07:46am on 03 Sep 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    Davblo2 at #40

    Nice work with the figure and for helping tease out what information it seeks to convey. Many thanks!

    Below is some feedback, but it is not intended as a request for you to do even more work!

    It may help to add a legend explaining what "relative cost" and "effectiveness" mean here, as I don't think they are necessarily self-evident.

    You point out in earlier postings that the RS figure gives an overly-simplistic impression. I agree, and I also think there is a problem that by displaying the information in this way, that it creates a false sense of precision that simply isn't there given the state of the information available. The report as a whole does a better job of explaining this.

    Even with your version, trying to represent the information on a two-axis figure is problematic. Sure, if one has the additional information from the report in mind, then it is possible to add that to the reading of the figure - hence you identifying a zone where you find 3 techniques from Fair to Good, at and below the 0,5 relative cost.

    However, my preference would be for some sort of representation that conveys more dimensions - possible unintended consequences ('other ecological' impacts); time frames - for implementation, duration required; current state of research. A polar chart might be preferable. More complex, but more useful.

    And given the magnitude and multiple aspects of the uncertainties here, rather than have not-to-scale error bars on point values, it might be better to have "incertitude" as one of the dimensions illustrated.

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  • 54. At 07:58am on 03 Sep 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    SkepticKev at #48

    If you really think that the ozone 'hole' has gone very quiet or never existed, then you are rather misinformed.

    Yes, as a result of actions taken pursuant to the Montreal Protocol, the total abundance of ozone-depleting gases in the atmosphere has begun to decrease in recent years. If the nations of the world continue to follow the provisions of the Montreal Protocol, the decrease will continue throughout the 21st century.

    Some individual gases, such as halons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), are still increasing in the atmosphere but will begin to
    decrease in the next decades if compliance with the Protocol continues.

    Around mid-century, the effective abundance of ozone-depleting gases should fall to values that were present before the Antarctic “ozone
    hole” began to form in the early 1980s.

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  • 55. At 08:51am on 03 Sep 2009, Jack Frost wrote:

    BBC front page Asia-Pacific

    'Australia's warm winter a record - Climatologists have blamed both the effects of climate change and natural variability. "

    Thats strange as Australian Climatologists views in news papers differ.

    Blair Trewin, a climate scientist with the Bureau of Meteorology, said "the warm weather was caused by a lack of large frontal systems sweeping up from the southern oceans, which would have brought cool air.

    Instead, persistent high pressure systems hung about the subtropics."

    Dr Trewin said the heatwaves were caused more by natural variability than by climate change. “The set-up we had this month would have given us an extremely warm month whether it happened 100 years ago or it happened now,” Dr Trewin told AAP.

    But of course the BBC plaster 'climate change' in its reporting before any other facts are considered.

    Another example of emotionalising this subject in the news.

    And dont forget as many Global warming experts have continually thrust down our throats:-

    'weather isn't climate'.

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  • 56. At 10:16am on 03 Sep 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    colonelAgentEnigma #55: "Dr Trewin said the heatwaves were caused more by natural variability than by climate change"

    But that's not a direct quote from the man.

    If you bother to look...
    Australia records hottest winter on record, summer tipped to be hotter'll find two actual quotations attributed to Dr Trewin.

    "The set-up we had this month would have given us an extremely warm month whether it happened 100 years ago or it happened now"
    "There's a lot of natural variability but you've got a climate change signal on top of that."

    The question is why "The set-up we had this month" did actually arise now, and not 100 years ago.

    There will always be variations (weather) but if you once change the underlying climate system then the "natural" variations are no longer truly natural.


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  • 57. At 11:40am on 03 Sep 2009, manysummits wrote:

    Since Ken Caldeira's name has been mentioned:

    "Only fools find joy in the prospect of climate engineering... There is a sense of despair that we are not seeing deep emissions cuts quickly, and that is pushing us to consider these things."

    - Ken Caldeira, New Scientist, 28 February 2009, 'Special Report: Geoengineering, Earth's Plan B.'

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 58. At 11:50am on 03 Sep 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To 'democracythreat' #38:

    You wrote:

    "With all due respect to ghostofsichuan's gross ignorance of anthropology, the last ice age only ended 9000 years ago, by which time Paleolithic modern humans were widespread across the globe."

    Actually, the modern date for the end of the last ice-age, and the beginning of the Holocene, is closer to 12,000 years ago:

    "The Holocene is a geological epoch which began approximately 11,700 years ago."

    ... and I do not appreciate your verbal attacks on blogmembers.

    - Manysummits -

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  • 59. At 2:03pm on 03 Sep 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 60. At 7:32pm on 03 Sep 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    The one of the concerns for cap and trade is the historical pattern of governments that once they establish a revenue stream they are willing to protect that revenue stream regardless of public consequences. Look at tobacco and how long it took governments to deal with that issue. Even when health costs clearly exceeded the taxes gained by tobacco, they were maintained and somehow smoking at one place is presented as less harmful than smoking somewhere else..mainly to maintain the taxes. This is cap and trade, paying to pollute in one place is OK as long as someone else is not polluting there. Governments have no interest in effectiveness or efficiencies, they care about revenues. Anything projected out to 2040 or 2050 is a good indication that the governments will not be seriously seeking alternative fuels in the near future. Even though the basic principal of government for the people is still on paper, the real business of government is business.

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  • 61. At 9:23pm on 03 Sep 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:


    don't know if you have visited this site:

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  • 62. At 00:10am on 04 Sep 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To ghostofsichuan #61:

    I hadn't actually. But I have added it to my 'history listings' on my computer - Thank You!

    - Manysummits - sipping an Irish-type beer in Calgary -

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  • 63. At 00:27am on 04 Sep 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    Hello Manysummits!

    As I was rummaging through my bookshelves today I came across an old 'gem' which I thought might intrigue you, in partiuclar, but perhaps also other contributors to this blog.

    It was published way back in 1970, courtesy of MIT, and was one of the earlier efforts to try assess what we were doing to the planet. It's worth looking through, if nothing else for a wonderful waft of nostalgia!

    It contains, amongst other things, a review of the then state of knowledge on anthropogenic climate change and recommendations for research that were then thought essential if we were to improve our understanding and the basis for policy actions... Dare I say it, but the list looks disturbingly familar!

    The reference is:

    Man's Impact on the Global Environment: Assessment and Recommendations for Action. Report of the Study of Critical Environmental Problems (SCEP). Massachusets Institute of Technology, Cambridge MA, 1970. Library of Congress catalog card no. 74-139447.

    Good luck finding a copy!

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  • 64. At 00:35am on 04 Sep 2009, manysummits wrote:

    Arctic 'warmest in 2,000 years'
    By Richard Black

    "The 20th Century is the first century for which how much energy we're getting from the Sun is no longer the most important thing governing the temperature of the Arctic," said another of the study team, Nicholas Mckay from the University of Arizona...

    "Scientists have been accused for years of scaremongering. But the real scaremongers are those who say we cannot afford climate action," he said in his Geneva speech, calling for world leaders to make bigger pledges of action in the run-up to December's UN climate summit in Copenhagen."


    Science 4 September 2009:
    Vol. 325. no. 5945, pp. 1236 - 1239
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1173983

    We have heard much from the denial group lately.

    All profess to a willingness to learn, and have in derogatory terms derided attempts by myself to provide scientific background to climate science - indeed - to all of science.

    I am not buying this line for one minute.

    I will be obtaining my own copy of the peer-reviewed research article myself shortly, and there is no reason that those who profess an interest in climate science cannot do the same.

    My sense is that this will prove very interesting, for here is a 'two-for-one':

    1) orbital-cycles (natural)

    2) and man-induced (inadvertant)

    - Manysummits -

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  • 65. At 00:38am on 04 Sep 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To simon-swede # 63:

    Thank you 'Simon'!

    A challenge - I will see what I can do.

    - Manysummits -

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  • 66. At 00:41am on 04 Sep 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To simon-swede #161 - addendum:

    Found it - at the University of Calgary:

    TD174 .M34 1970 7. Definite Loan (Two Weeks Guaranteed) MacKimmie Library Block
    TD174 .M34 1970E 6. Definite Loan (Two Weeks Guaranteed) MacKimmie Library Block

    - Thanks again,


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  • 67. At 01:07am on 04 Sep 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    Manysummits #66

    Impressive - there's gold in them there hills!


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  • 68. At 07:15am on 04 Sep 2009, Bishop Hill wrote:

    Many Summits

    The Kaufman paper looks, ahem, amusing. I gather from Climate Audit that he has used at least one of his proxies upside down. Too funny.

    There's a pattern here isn't there? Duff paper gets issued. BBC sounds fanfare. Flaws in paper pointed out. BBC doesn't notice.

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  • 69. At 08:14am on 04 Sep 2009, MangoChutney wrote:

    @manysummits #64

    since you don't seem to be able to answer my question here:

    and since you've completed ignored this article:

    i won't even get started on the missing hotspot!

    could you at least answer this question:

    "Does the Kaufman paper show evidence of AGW and if you think the answer is yes, please describe exactly how you think the paper shows AGW"

    But first please feel free to answer BishopHill's post

    PS apologies to simon for not answering his posts regarding climate sensitivity in the Africa re(de)fines the climate dialogue blog :

    i will return to this subject - the papers you have referred to are interesting so i want time to digest

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  • 70. At 08:30am on 04 Sep 2009, MangoChutney wrote:


    We have heard much from the denial group lately.

    All profess to a willingness to learn, and have in derogatory terms derided attempts by myself to provide scientific background to climate science - indeed - to all of science.

    I am not buying this line for one minute.

    where do you think i hav been? simon gave me a few papers to read, so i'm reading and learning

    i think following links and papers is worthwhile for all of us - on both sides of the issue

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  • 71. At 08:58am on 04 Sep 2009, Bishop Hill wrote:

    Crikey, it's even worse than we thought - they've used the usual suspects in terms of proxies - Tornetrask, Yamal etc. It's fairly clear that the data has been cherrypicked to give the required answer. But then we know that paleoclimatologists cherrypick data, because many of them freely admit it.

    Not that the BBC cares - the paper's on message so it gets top billing.

    The Climate Audit post is well worth a read - the similarity between Kaufman's results and what you can get from red noise is amazing.

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  • 72. At 09:27am on 04 Sep 2009, rossglory wrote:

    #71 BishopHill

    I'm just off to climate audit to pick some cherries then. may be some time, seems to be a bumper harvest at the moment.

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  • 73. At 09:45am on 04 Sep 2009, rossglory wrote:

    #70 mangochutneyuk

    i agree it's very informative to read published papers but very difficult to make judgements about them without a knowledge of the full breadth of the subject.

    since we're all making these judgements here it's important that we recognise the limitations not only in the science (and there are some of course) but more importantly in our ability to make sound judgements.

    so although i have read quite a few papers, i'm still an amateur scientist (albeit with a relevant degree) and i willingly confess my ignorance in many areas of the subject. that is why, since my interpretation is in line with authorative bodies such as national scientific academies, the ipcc, the uk's met office, the royal society etc i feel comfortable.

    if my interpretation was at odds with these bodies my first instinct would be one of humility and before shouting about laziness, incompetence, corruption or ignorance i would make sure i fully understand the subject matter pretty well first, and that takes a lot of time.

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  • 74. At 09:48am on 04 Sep 2009, rossglory wrote:

    #63 simon

    i take it the book reflects the oft repeated claim that there was a panic about the next ice age and recommends burning as much fossil fuel as possible to prevent a disaster ;-)

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  • 75. At 10:05am on 04 Sep 2009, rossglory wrote:

    #60 ghostofsichuan

    all valid points. but i was also reading in the ft this week that any hard plans to switch to alternative fuels only makes things worse. since reduced demand in the future could hit future prices of fossil fuels, energy companies would (and are) pump as fast as possible now to recoup maximum profit. and of course a tonne of carbon has more accumulative effect if burnt today.

    damned if you do, damned if you don't it seems :o(

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  • 76. At 11:33am on 04 Sep 2009, manysummits wrote:

    Plan 'C' - "Business as Usual"

    "Outlook "poor" for Great Barrier Reef:"
    Wed Sep 2, 1:22 AM
    By Rob Taylor

    "Even with the recent management initiatives to improve resilience, the overall outlook for the Great Barrier Reef is poor and catastrophic damage to the ecosystem may not be averted," a government reef management body said in the report.

    - Manysummits -

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  • 77. At 11:54am on 04 Sep 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To rossglory and MangoChutney #'s 73 & 70:

    'Rossglory' - well put - exactly.

    'MangoChutney' - It's the internal inconsistencies which drive me to say that I don't buy many of the assertions that denialists are claiming. I hope that in your case I am wrong! I will not be proving anything about your hotspot, and I have repeatedly furnished links to show the case for Anthropogenic Global Warming, and then you say it isn't relevant. But it is relevant, and so between the two of us, there is a missing logic circuit.

    Every point is relevant, and as has been pointed out, judgement is required to assess the evidence. It is the judgement which decides the case.

    Your going on about your hotspot is an example of an internal inconsistency. Wherefore comes the assertion, made by you and others, that the hotspot is proof of AGW? I'll tell you - from someone's judgement. So which judgement are we to believe? You and a few other bloggers and denialist scientists, or the concensus judgement of the International Panel on Climate Change, 45 National Academies of Science, and the very large "canaries" dropping dead at our feet? (see my post #76 & 64, etc...)

    - Manysummits -

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  • 78. At 12:28pm on 04 Sep 2009, MangoChutney wrote:

    @rossglory #73

    To an extent I agree with you, but when "amateurs" can look at the data and the conclusions drawn from the data, and show where the conclusions are at odds with the data and observations, surely you should asking questions?

    And how would you class bodies such as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, which recently told us a new 2,000 year long reconstruction of sea surface temperatures from the Indo-Pacific warm pool suggests that temperatures in the region may have been as warm during the Medieval Warm Period as they are today?

    As for the laziness / incompetence part, Gavin Schmidt is on record as having said there is no time for quality control at NASA (not all of NASA obviously, just the part he is involved with)

    And why does GISS still use nightlights from 1995 as a gauge for the UHI instead of current nightlight imagery?

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  • 79. At 12:30pm on 04 Sep 2009, MangoChutney wrote:

    @manysummits #76

    "Outlook "poor" for Great Barrier Reef:"
    Wed Sep 2, 1:22 AM
    By Rob Taylor

    Coral reefs can bounce back

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  • 80. At 12:44pm on 04 Sep 2009, MangoChutney wrote:

    @manysummits #77

    Wherefore comes the assertion, made by you and others, that the hotspot is proof of AGW?

    it's not me asserting that the hotspot is proof of AGW, it's the IPCC in AR4 - please read chapter 9, it's available here:

    i am saying, if the IPCC tell us proof of AGW will be found and, despite over 20 years of sending up thousands of radiosondes to find the hotspot, it is still not there. What conclusion would you draw?

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  • 81. At 12:45pm on 04 Sep 2009, MangoChutney wrote:

    btw, manysummits

    all your canaries are evidence of warming, not man made co2 induced warming, not even co2 induced warming

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  • 82. At 6:47pm on 04 Sep 2009, rossglory wrote:


    hi mangochutney,

    but this is what i'm saying. you can put forward some information you (or others) have gleaned, in this case from the whoi, but whether that information is particularly relevant to the agw argument or not is 'your' judgement. i think you'll find the whoi does not reject anthropogenic co2 as a greenhouse gas. there are many quotes from their staff on their website accepting agw just like almost every other scientist in the field. so maybe their findings on the mwp are not inconsistent with agw (and that is what i believe).

    and dr schmidt is a dedicated scientist who would not base years and years of his research on data he did not have confidence in (and there are many in the field that would highlight it if it was deemed to be an issue).

    and the same goes for the GISS questions.

    as i've mentioned before science is data plus scientific interpretation, it's important to ask questions about data but the chances climate audit has stumbled on something sooooo momentous as to persuade the community agw is a mirage is vanishingly let's start reducing co2 emissions i say.

    it's taken me quite a while to accept that you really are extremely sceptical about agw (i.e. a sceptic not a denier) but i really cannot fathom why :o(

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  • 83. At 04:51am on 05 Sep 2009, sunnywoof wrote:

    Personally I am not worried about the world getting a little warmer or colder as many people today live in temperature extreems and have have for millenia. Neither am I overly concerned about the population growth having lived in Hong Kong I am sure that, at least socially, population densities far higher than the current average are possible on land, beyond that the there is the sea and when neccesity finally demands there is the Moon, Mars and the rest of the final frontier. Perhaps one day we may even be able to recreate a sibling for earth.

    What bothers me is that from experience I can assure you all; London is polluted, New York is polluted, Paris is polluted, Hong Kong is polluted, Shanghai is polluted, Tokyo is polluted. I have traveled to many places but not know of any city with a population of over 100k that is not polluted. Our air is polluted, our water is polluted, our food is polluted, our children are polluted and our minds are polluted.

    Most solutions proposed seem to address the symptoms of the problems not the cause, and without wanting to state the obvious it seems to me that the cause of most of the problems is pollution.

    My solution has been to become a vegetarian, drink rainwater and or local brew and move to the top of a mountain on an island. Solar panels and a wind generator are on their way as is a second hand Tesla roadster.

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  • 84. At 09:15am on 05 Sep 2009, MangoChutney wrote:

    @rossglory #82

    dr schmidt is a dedicated scientist who would not base years and years of his research on data he did not have confidence in

    i didn't mean to imply Schmidt isn't dedicated and believes in what he is doing. My apologies if that is how my statement came over. Schmidt has, however, confirmed that NASA do not devote any real time to checking data from outside bodies, which NASA users to create their climate models. I do think, however, that Schmidt has invested a lot of his life in the AGW hypothesis.

    IMHO, this is unacceptable.

    it's taken me quite a while to accept that you really are extremely sceptical about agw (i.e. a sceptic not a denier) but i really cannot fathom why

    I appreciate this statement Ross, I do dislike the term "denier", even for people you are deniers, because of the holocaust connotations.

    You ask why. It's because of the lack of real evidence, not anecdotal evidence. This is why I keep mentioning climate sensitivity and the hotspot / signature / fingerprint of AGW. You see, if the hotspot is ever found, it really is the nail in the coffin for all sceptics, deniers and sceptics alike ;)

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  • 85. At 08:30am on 06 Sep 2009, rossglory wrote:

    #84 mangochutney

    if i ever use the term 'denier' then it's not intended to have any link to holocaust denial. i only use it to describe those that deny agw or its impact for ulterior motives. i'm not aware of the terms origin in this discussion, but i hope there was intention to conflate the issues.

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  • 86. At 08:51am on 06 Sep 2009, MangoChutney wrote:

    Recent article from New Scientist on 1500 of the world's top climate scientists gathering in Geneva at the UN's World Climate Conference:

    Breaking with climate-change orthodoxy, he said NAO cycles were probably responsible for some of the strong global warming seen in the past three decades. "But how much? The jury is still out," he told the conference. The NAO is now moving into a colder phase.

    Mojib Latif, IPCC author

    But some of the climate scientists gathered in Geneva to discuss how this might be done admitted that, on such timescales, natural variability is at least as important as the long-term climate changes from global warming.

    From the article

    Another favourite climate nostrum was upturned when Pope warned that the dramatic Arctic ice loss in recent summers was partly a product of natural cycles rather than global warming. Preliminary reports suggest there has been much less melting this year than in 2007 or 2008.

    Vicky Pope, UK Met Office

    In candid mood, climate scientists avoided blaming nature for their faltering predictions, however. "Model biases are also still a serious problem. We have a long way to go to get them right. They are hurting our forecasts,"

    Tim Stockdale, European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts

    Full article here:

    I look forward to the BBC's take on this conference

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  • 87. At 09:02am on 06 Sep 2009, MangoChutney wrote:

    @rossglory #85

    I believe the term was coined by Ellen Goodman of the Boston Globe:

    Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers

    which in turn led to some people to propose Nuremberg type trials and penalties for the leading "deniers" on global warming.

    It is particularly offensive to me for personal reasons, although i recognise that people here using that term may not know the origins. I have even complained to the mods about the use of the term, because of it's connotations, but the mods seem to believe it's ok to equate scepticism with idiocy (couldn't think of a word to describe how ridiculous it is that anybody could deny the holocaust)

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