The right must face up to the reality of climate change

First published in The Times, 28 November 2015

Why is it that some scientific issues become so politically polarised? Hundreds of independent studies have established beyond any reasonable doubt that the genetic modification of crops is a safe technology, and yet the green left continues a decades-long denial of the science. On the other side of the political ledger, and especially relevant as world leaders assemble for next week’s Paris climate conference, much of the right continues to dig itself deeper into the hole of denying the very science of global warming.

In a rational world, scientific objectivity would be a universal guiding light, and evidence-based policymaking would be a common goal for all. The real world is rather different. Take the Scottish government’s recent decision to ban cultivation of GM crops on its territory — a populist diktat rightly met with outrage by virtually the entire scientific community. Or the fact that in the US presidential race rejection of climate science has become an article of faith — and I literally mean faith — for all Republican candidates.

There’s an important caveat here. I am not saying that modern science is inherently perfect. Scientific results can be faked and peer review can encourage group-think. Nor can science simplistically trump politics: we need the latter to decide between competing priorities or to frame the moral values that science can help us uphold. But science remains the only window into truth about objective reality, and the scientific Enlightenment surely remains the greatest gift bestowed by European culture on humanity.

That is why, in these polarised times, it is distressing to see science so relentlessly under attack from both ends of the political spectrum. On climate change the right seems largely to have ceded ownership of the issue to the left. The field is clear, therefore, for Naomi Klein’s insistence that the science of global warming requires the triumph of anti-capitalism. Leftist greens propose numerous anti-corporate and big-government approaches, and even on occasion hint darkly that the suspension of democracy may be required.

What does the right do in response? Rather than proposing credible ways to tackle climate change that meet its ideological preferences, it instead attempts to undermine the science. Witness the constant attacks on the Met Office by commentators in the right-wing press, the insistence that global temperature records showing 2015 is the hottest-ever year must somehow be incorrect, that computer climate models projecting future climate change must be dismissed out of hand, that every cold snap “proves” global warming wrong, and many other even sillier talking points. Expect a barrage of this sort of tedious cynicism next week.

Under the circumstances it is a credit to this government that it maintains support for the Climate Change Act, and that energy policy continues to push towards decarbonisation. Energy secretary Amber Rudd’s plan to phase out coal over the next decade is especially welcome. But Tories like her who accept the science must do more to reclaim the political mainstream on climate change from the green left.

Instead of merely downgrading the climate policy legacy of the coalition government, Cameron and Rudd need to establish some broad principles for what a Conservative approach to tackling climate change should look like. It could include a central role for the market and a strong belief in the role of technological innovation.

Paris, which along with London and Edinburgh was the cradle of the European Enlightenment, would be the perfect place to set out this vision.

88 Comments

  1. Leo Smith

    Climate change is not and has not been for at least 17 years a scientific issue, It is and has been for some time a convenient political and commercial issue, to the point where the objective truth is totally irrelevant: What counts, as the Paris conference shows in exquisite detail, is what people can be forced to accept in terms of political power imposed, taxation imposed and unsuitable technologies imposed on them in the name of ‘saving the planet’ (But never mind saving the human beings)

    The ‘useful idiots’ of the intellectual green left are fully occupied in showing patronizing and pompous concern over climate, whilst political and social freedoms are eroded, and assets stripped from the class that still actually works, into the pockets of rent seeking profiteers.

    Climate change science? Hardly. A most convenient lie, is all.

    Reply
    1. Clyde Davies

      Utter Bollocks, Leo. Every major scientific society out there says that climate change is an issue, 97% of papers published on this subject agree that AGW is real, and you come out with Randian claptrap like “assets stripped from the class that still actually works, into the pockets of rent seeking profiteers.”

      Yeah, like the bankers who got a massive taxpayer-funder bailout while the rest of who DO actually work have suffered from eroded wages and declining living standards and public services.

      I come across people like you from both ends of the political spectrum. Gobshites, the lot of them.

    2. Clyde Davies

      Thanks, by the way, for exemplifying exactly the kind of hidebound thinking that Mark was excoriating.

      Pathetic.

    3. Scott

      I highly recommend you read Mark’s words again Leo. This time think it through.

  2. Ron

    I don’t see much chance of any real effort to slow or stop global warming. I’m thinking we should turn our attention toward adapting to the changes that are coming.

    Reply
    1. Scott

      Luckily adapting and stopping AGW are not incompatible. In fact, probably the best way to adapt to AGW is exactly the same thing that is the best way to mitigate AGW.

      We have to change the agricultural business models to adapt to AGW, as the best way to adapt to floods, drought, etc etc etc is by restoring ecosystem services function to agricultural lands by restoring soil health. Ironic thing about that strategy is it involves increasing soil organic matter to our agricultural lands. Everyone knows SOM is carbon. The same thing we have too much of in the atmosphere (carbon in the form of CO2) is what we are lacking in our soils (carbon in the form of humus). Fix one and you can’t help but fix both, as there is more carbon missing from our agricultural soils than is in excess in our atmosphere.

      Again luckily agricultural science and technology is well proven in how to remedy SOM. All we need to do is educate and promote a change in agriculture from the destructive current models of production to regenerative models of production, increasing food supply, soil health, ecosystem services, profits for the farmer, nutritional quality of the food supply for the consumer, biological diversity, wildlife etc etc etc..

      You didn’t really believe we could spray chemicals and poisons every year on 40% of the land surface of the planet without side effects did you? AGW is just one of many side effects of the so called “green revolution”. Fix that mistake and we fix so many issues.

  3. Dick Newell

    Mark’s arguments against sceptics look identical to sceptics arguments against warmists: for example denial of science and faith systems. Whenever I ask someone on the warmist side what is wrong with a sceptic’s argument, they invariably attack the sceptic, not his argument.

    I would like to know what is wrong with this argument:
    The difference in temperature between successive years, over the last 150 years, presumably represents the net energy change of the planet between those years. These differences look like random noise with a mean not statistically different from zero.

    If one runs a model by generating random noise, mean zero, and variance equal to the real world data, the resulting variation in temperature varies by far more than what has actually happened (you can try it for yourself). Such a model can exhibit long term increasing, decreasing and fluctuating trends.In mathematical terms it is known as a ‘random walk’.

    So how can one possibly detect an anthropogenic signal in the real data, let alone a dangerous one? The random behaviour of a chaotic system is sufficient to explain everything.

    Reply
    1. Clyde Davies

      “So how can one possibly detect an anthropogenic signal in the real data, let alone a dangerous one? The random behaviour of a chaotic system is sufficient to explain everything.”

      No it isn’t. The ‘noise’ in the diagram I link to below is quite small compared to the underlying trend.

      You’re talking bollocks.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming#/media/File:Global_Temperature_Anomaly.svg

    2. Dick Newell

      Clyde,
      You are right, the noise is quite small relative to the overall trend, but the cumulative effects of noise can generate quite large trends, +ve or -ve. Try it for yourself. Generate 150 random numbers in a spreadsheet with mean 0, variance equal to the noise, then integrate and see what happens. You will find trends much larger than what has happened, the difference is easily explained by negative feedbacks in the real world. Undoubtedly CO2 has to make some unmeasurable effect on temperature, but how do you separate it from the noise. Let’s face it, the correlation between increasing CO2 and temperature is not very good, so it has to be questionable that CO2 is the major cause of the overall trend.

    3. Clyde Davies

      “Let’s face it, the correlation between increasing CO2 and temperature is not very good, so it has to be questionable that CO2 is the major cause of the overall trend.”

      More utter bollocks. Take a *good* look at this graph:
      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CWRgWHiWEAAA2R4.jpg

      It’s from this article:
      http://blog.ucsusa.org/michael-halpern/how-to-misrepresent-global-warming-in-one-graph-for-dummies

      Now, what’s your alternative explanation for the trend we are seeing?

    4. Clyde Davies

      My previous comment awaits moderation, not because it is abusive but because it contains links to external sources.

      You say ““Let’s face it, the correlation between increasing CO2 and temperature is not very good, so it has to be questionable that CO2 is the major cause of the overall trend.”

      This is utter nonsense for several reasons. First, there is getting on for 200 years of solid science underpinning the notion of AGW, starting with Joseph Fourier in 1826, then John Tyndall in about 1850, and Svante Arrhenius in 1896 all refining the idea that increasing CO2 concentration leads to an increase in radiative forcing.

      And of course, in keeping with the time-honoured tradition of cherry-picking results that suit your agenda, you’ve focused of a short time period to make your claim. That scam is dealt with in this analysis – look at the longer term trends and tell me there is no correlation.

      What’s more, if I were to ask you what actually counts as an alternative explanation for the correlation we are seeing,then you wouldn’t be able to suggest anything credible: https://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-temperature-correlation-intermediate.htm

      D-. Go away and do your homework properly,

    5. Dick Newell

      I seem to have upset you, I am sorry.
      Yes CO2 has a warming effect on the atmosphere.
      But how much warming, and how can one find out how much, given that random effects can have such a large effect.

      I have put a model online, which I hope is self explanatory.
      I have taken real data since 1850 (all of it).
      The spreadsheet is here, you can download it:

      https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_fx9kYNkQnleS1kaExkQXFnNFU/view?usp=sharing

      There are 4 worksheets:
      1 Is a Readme
      2 Differences: Generates the actual differences between successive years, and then generates 5 sets of normally distributed randomly generated differences with mean zero and variance the same as the real data
      3 Temperatures: Integrates the differences to produce temperature profiles, both the actual data and the fabricated data.
      4 Feedback: Same as 3 but with a feedback parameter built in, which you can set (the yellow cell)

      Prod on any cell to see my formulae
      Edit any blank cell to generate a new set of random numbers.

      Given what a random walk can do, how can one possibly identify a CO2 signal?

    6. Clyde Davies

      No, you haven’t upset me. I’m normally a pretty bad-tempered person.

      I’ve never seen anybody else in any other field cite this ‘random walk’ hypothesis to explain away inconvenient data. What I find quite perplexing is why the observed warming and the CO2 concentration should choose to go on the *same* random walk more or less together.

      “Well, yer honor, the reason why I just happened to be in the vicinity of the victim when he died was because we both ended up going to a random walk together. I wasn’t stalking him, honest, guv’nor.”

      You gave away the fact that you occupied an entrenched position as soon as you used the word ‘warmist’. And this is the best you can do?

      I’d suggest you devote your time an energy to actually achieving something worthwhile, instead of trying to come up with novel ways to tear down the work of others.

  4. Scott

    WOW Mark! Finally something we can agree on! I know we have butted heads repeatedly over agriculture, especially the old fashioned antiquated environmentally destructive forms of “green revolution” agriculture you advocate.You even once threatened to ban me from posting once long ago when I was particularly critical of your incredibly stubborn anti scientific views on the matter.

    BUT here your words are a breath of fresh air! Absolutely spot on 100% correct. With a clarity of thought and wisdom seldom seen in journalism. I can’t praise this article enough. Your observation that by abandoning the issue of AGW mitigation, the right has only given power to the left and insures that any potential solution is accompanied by leftist political baggage is so spot on it needs repeated to everyone!

    Reply
    1. Clyde Davies

      I don’t think Mark’s comments have been anti scientific. I just think that like me he wants to see more evidence. Most of the ‘evidence’ for the alleged superiority of organic farming methods seems to come from one body, the Rodale Institute. That’s a heavy burden of proof for one organisation.

    2. Scott

      Clyde,
      I don’t think you get it. The parallels are stunning. Much like the left came in and “stole” the AGW issue, a similar thing happened in “organic”.

      As soon as you remove the dogma and start talking rationally about organic, the evidence is copious and robust. Start getting wrapped up in the dogmatic woo like surrounds “GMO” from both sides and people get too polarised to think rationally. And the irony is that GE technology has nothing to do with organic at all, one way or the other.

      Organic agriculture refers to methods of production that sustain or regenerate soil biology and humus. It’s the carbon cycle. Since life on the planet is carbon based, you could also just as easily say the life cycle. So in agriculture we have a gazillion studies about the impact of SOC and SOM. (soil organic carbon and soil organic matter) and how it is the part of agriculture that is the single most important predictor of productivity behind water and actually effects water infiltration, holding capacity, and evaporative rates.

      So anyone claiming the evidence is lacking is only looking at the dogma, and ignoring vast amounts of evidence.

      It’s analogous to the One True Scotsman logic fallacy.

    3. Clyde Davies

      I don’t dispute that there is a lot of politicization going on here, but I also know that Mark can’t be easily pigeonholed that way.

      I don’t have the time to acquaint myself with the huge amount of detail in the organic versus conventional argument. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t form a valid opinion, given the right tools to do so. One of these tools is meta-analysis. And one such analysis was published in Nature:
      http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v485/n7397/full/nature11069.html

      Quote from the abstract:
      “Our analysis of available data shows that, overall, organic yields are typically lower than conventional yields. But these yield differences are highly contextual, depending on system and site characteristics, and range from 5% lower organic yields (rain-fed legumes and perennials on weak-acidic to weak-alkaline soils), 13% lower yields (when best organic practices are used), to 34% lower yields (when the conventional and organic systems are most comparable). Under certain conditions—that is, with good management practices, particular crop types and growing conditions—organic systems can thus nearly match conventional yields, whereas under others it at present cannot. ”

      I also know that GE technology and organic farming are orthogonal issues, and the adoption of one has nothing to do with the other. I’ve been banging on about this very point for long enough, I think. The only barrier between the two is ideological, and that barrier is being propped up by one side exclusively.

    4. Scott

      Clyde,
      Here is the flaw in the nature study:

      “However, critics argue that organic agriculture may have lower yields and would therefore need more land to produce the same amount of food as conventional farms”

      This treats it as if it is a single product system, like the industrial model does.

      You don’t need more land, you stack enterprises on the same land.

      The way organic outproduces conventional in most cases is by incorporating a multi level stacked production model. Sure you might get 10% more insect damages in some cases (not all) but the damaged culls feed a stacked system like chickens or pigs reducing those inputs 20%.

      Or in the case of grains produced for cattle, not even growing any at all, a decrease of 100% in grain production, but more actual beef produced per acre due to the huge forage biomass increase of a properly managed pasture.

      And if you are not spraying , then you can produce honey stacked on the same land. Or after harvest turn out the animals to glean.

      There are many ways organic outyields conventional, but the one way it doesn’t is the single product system. In that case conventional beats organic for a few years, until the soil deterioration becomes so excessive the land can’t be farmed any longer because all the topsoil is gone.

      We have about 50-60 years left before we hit the wall world wide due to soil degradation.

    5. Chuck Niwrad

      Scott,

      Many, if not most of the studies done comparing organic and conventional systems are flawed, including those that narrow the yield gap between organic and conventional. For instance: “Diversification practices reduce organic to conventional yield gap” http://bit.ly/1lWBWwS

      “Instead, we found the novel result that two agricultural diversification practices, multi-cropping and crop rotations, substantially reduce the yield gap (to 9 ± 4% and 8 ± 5%, respectively) when the methods were applied in only organic systems.”

      However, when comparing organic systems to conventional systems when both employ conservation techniques, the gap widens back out to 20% in favor of the conventional system.

      Stacked enterprises, as you call them, have limits in that they are necessarily bound by the relationships among crops and products produced. An extreme example would be something like a conventional 90-day veg crop where I can start with a clean slate every three months and react to market demands as opposed to a circumstance where I am confined to a set of puzzle pieces that have to fit well together. Then there are the infrastructure disadvantages of a distributed production model versus a centralized one.

      Makes more sense to me to have intensively farmed ag zones employing the best of conservation techniques that still allow for the flexibility necessary to change with market demands. What I would call science-based agriculture rather than the various ideological-based “organic” production models.

    6. Clyde Davies

      My, this IS shaping up to be an interesting discussion. As I’m sure I’ve said beforehand, I’m not bothered whether the world ends up using organic agriculture or not, providing it’s the best solution. I quoted the Nature study if only because when it says that when both methods are used in comparable circumstances, the organic yields tend to be up to 34% lower.

      Chuck’s comment about flexibility is salient. Like it or not, organic produce is a niche and premium product which only exists because there are sufficient folk with the disposable income to favour it. It has come about simply because the producers have spotted a gap in the market.

      As for me, I’d be quite happy to see the world grow food organically *providing* the bigger picture was favourable. But I’m still not convinced it is, which is why I think organic produce will remain a niche product.

      I’m not antipathetic to either of your arguments, but I’m with Chuck that says he just calls it all ‘farming’. If we didn’t create false dichotomies, we’d be growing GMOs using stereotypically organic techniques. But ideology has got in the way and, for some, ideology has proven to be very profitable indeed.

    7. Scott

      Clyde,
      You quoted the nature study, “However, critics argue that organic agriculture may have lower yields and would therefore need more land to produce the same amount of food as conventional farms”

      But I think you missed this part of my reply:
      “We have about 50-60 years left before we hit the wall world wide due to soil degradation.”

      So maybe I should explain that part better. We already produce far more food than every person on the planet can possibly eat. In fact there are absolutely huge surpluses of grain. That’s the primary purpose of ways to use up that surplus like feedlots force feeding grain to cattle, even though cattle don’t even eat grain. Also why biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel. Anything to use up the glut so as to keep the commodity prices high.

      However, subsidies, regulations, and artificial market manipulation to keep production high has its unexpected emergent property as a hidden cost, soil degradation. Vast areas of the planet that once were fertile and productive have deteriorated so badly, they are no longer arable. These are the primary factors pressuring the expansion of farmland into previous wildlands and forests. An agricultural model that regenerates soil health does not have this problem. So those critics quoted in the nature study are actually exactly wrong, and it is conventional production and business models that are causing the problem.

      Do you suppose a farmed out desertified piece of land that is no longer even in agriculture is included in the yield numbers of conventional ag? Or they just use it up, and move on, ignoring the destruction they caused while bragging about the temporary yield bonuses they are getting from new land they are starting to destroy?

      Mark has admitted as much in an earlier article. The idea is to use up that land, but hopefully that formerly farmed out but now fallow land will recover before the new land is farmed out, so there will be something to move on to. The idea is insane in my honest opinion. Maybe it is what happened to the Mayans and other early cultures, but we now have no where to go. We hit the wall in current trends in about 50-60 years. That’s when the real food shortages hit, not the artificial ones created artificially now in order to prop up commodity prices.

      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/only-60-years-of-farming-left-if-soil-degradation-continues/

    8. Clyde Davies

      I really don’t know enough to comment about soil health, but the problems we are talking about are happening right now. If the world *were* to switch to organic agriculture wholesale and abruptly I think it would to far more damage than good in the short term, not least in terms of the amount of land put under the plough.

      I don’t have any ideological problems with organic farming but it would be more intellectually honest for its proponents to acknowledge that its viability is as much as product of market forces as any other kind of farming. It’s a niche product, and niches only arise when there are cheaper, far more widespread models in operation, and there’s a customer base will to pay for the overhead involved, because an overhead there certainly is.

      Now, for the organic model to become mainstream, it’s going to have to show that it’s at least as productive and doesn’t have any more environmental impact than orthodox models. Being as charitable as I can, it’s fair to say that the jury is still out on that issue.

      Ultimately all this talk about models is a waste of time. There is no *right* way to do farming any more than there is any *right* way to do medicine or software development. There are external and internal pressures, and ways to respond to them, and the most appropriate model is the one that responds best to the most pressing issues. Nobody could stop a farmer growing GMO corn organically, just him sealing it as an organic product.

      And Bluebell hasn’t stopped talking bollocks, as far as I can tell. What is wrong with profit? it’s the only thing that separates a commercial farmer from a subsistence one, last time I looked.

    9. Scott

      Clyde,
      You said, “I really don’t know enough to comment about soil health, but the problems we are talking about are happening right now. If the world *were* to switch to organic agriculture wholesale and abruptly I think it would to far more damage than good in the short term, not least in terms of the amount of land put under the plough” and that assumption is flat out wrong.

      There would actually be a reduction of land needing to be cultivated, but about 1/2. Right off the bat, before any other factors even begin, close to 1/2 the land growing crops is used for livestock and a significant % more for biofuels. So right off the bat 1/2 the fertile grasslands can be restored to pasture. Then the pressure to deforest also greatly reduces. Sure there will always be a timber industry, but without the huge artificial demand for subsidized corn and soy production, it becomes more profitable to replant trees after timber is harvested.

      The remaining land we can argue about 10% +/- here and there, but it becomes mute. No one is starving due to lack of food production, rather due to political, social and economic issues. It’s not about not producing enough food, but rather poverty, war, displacement of populations from their land etc….

      But in a world where 40% of the land surface is used for agriculture of one sort or another, and the majority of that is done in manner that adds to AGW rather than mitigates AGW, it borders on insanity to be diametrically opposed to the one solution large enough to actually solve AGW. And what side effects? More food? Less poverty? entire vast ecosystems restored to functioning again? I can live with those side effects. Clinging to the myth that it would cause hunger makes you as big a denialist as any climate denier.

      http://e360.yale.edu/feature/soil_as_carbon_storehouse_new_weapon_in_climate_fight/2744/

    10. Clyde Davies

      Scott,
      I don’t ‘cling to myths’. But the big meta-analyses all say the same thing: that organic tends to be less productive than conventional for a given land area. Now, you claim that this is not the case. Very well, go ahead and prove them wrong.

      You see, I’m far more interested in what is *effective* rather than ‘right-on’. And as I have pointed out many times now, we shouldn’t chuck out the effective baby with the ideological bathwater. let’s take the best approaches from all models; if certain GMOs benefit from organic practices then let’s grow them. I cannot see why we shouldn’t be growing Bt crops in such a manner.

      There is a massive schism between science and ideology in farming right now. Created and perpetuated in large part by the activities of groups like FoE. Greenpeace and the Soil Association, mainly because they don’t get to exist unless they have something to set themselves up against. People like you are in the best position to overcome it.

    11. Scott

      Clyde,
      Again you are missing the main factor. If I raise 10 % more but destroy the soil while doing it, eventually I will have to abandon that farm acreage and find a new acreage to farm. Your “meta analysis’s” do not count that farmed out abandoned acreage in their analysis. Nor do they distinguish between traditional and modern science based organic.

      There simply isn’t enough land left to do the old style farm it till it is useless, then let it go fallow until it recovers style of agriculture anymore. We hit the wall worldwide in about 50-60 years +/-. There is no option. We must change agriculture to a model that regenerates soil or civilization collapses like the Mayans, but everywhere. Arguing about 10% here or there is ridiculous when we are talking world wide complete collapse of agriculture, the foundation of all civilization.

  5. Chuck Niwrad

    Scott,

    You seem to be stating a common false dichotomy: organic and conventional farming methods are mutually exclusive. Many conventional farmers pay close attention to soil health and build their soils by various means including those used by organic growers, to them, they are just good farming principles that have been around since before Organic farming became a thing. The organic crowd seems to have coopted those principles as their own intellectual property. The power of conventional farming is that it is science-based and no practice is ruled out on ideological grounds.

    Reply
    1. Scott

      No Chuck, exactly the opposite. The so called “organic crowd” created the false dichotomy by narrowly defining “organic certified”. ie a one true Scotsman fallacy that ended up in the regulatory process from political pressure. Ie the leftist political activist groups stole the term away from us farmers. What I am stating is that organic methodology, whether “certified” or not, is more productive owing to the fact that organic matter in the soil in the form of humus increases long term productivity.

      They stole our term and now as Mark correctly pointed out they are also trying to steal AGW too.

    2. Chuck Niwrad

      The term “organic methodology” is misleading and suggests the same false dichotomy you correctly accuse Big Organic of creating. When I shred brush and return it to the soil as a mulch or when I apply composted manures and do other things to improve soil health and tilth, I don’t call those things organic methods, I just call it farming.

    3. Scott

      There is a fundamental difference though. Conventional uses chemistry, organic biology.

      Now of course biology uses chemistry, but biological systems are regenerative and self adjusting. In other words they “heal”. Whereas a mechanistic non living chemistry system doesn’t , It takes human intervention.

      This vid probably explains it better than anything.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnC_LUIicR4

      Pertinent especially since it ties climate change and agriculture quite well.

    4. Chuck Niwrad

      Scott,

      Despite your claims to the contrary, you continue to present a false dichotomy by defining “conventional” as a mechanistic, non-living chemistry system. A conventional farmer using conservation agriculture techniques can work within the same regenerative, self-adjusting framework you describe as organic, plus they can also use inputs that certified organic farmers cannot. In other words, as Marc Brazeau described it: Full-toolbox Farming.

      Video is just more of the same natural = good, synthetic = bad, “holistic” ideology, not science.

    5. Scott

      Holism isn’t science? Maybe you should look it up? Holism is a type of systems science that applies to complex systems.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holism
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_science

      Since agriculture is fundamentally a complex biological system, it is easy to see where the fail is in conventional agriculture, emergent properties found in all complex systems.

      Oh and btw again, you are projecting the false dichotomy, has nothing to do with what I said. I specifically said organic methodology, and never claimed one had to be dogmatic about it or certified. Of course a farmer using antiquated conventional methods can integrate the far more advanced organic methodology into their operation little by little. As they do, they will get better and better yields at lower and lower cost of inputs. Done gradually step by step there will be no yield losses but it will take many years before they can wean themselves off all chemical inputs completely. That’s because as soil health improves, less and less inputs are required. Going dogmatic organic all at once is where yield problems arise. The reason for this is that it takes time for highly stressed soil food web to recover. Not to mention predatory beneficial populations to recover. But they will eventually. As I tried to convey before, living complex systems have the ability to heal.

      There are more modern soil tests to help farmers make the transition too.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQ3tI-KwgEE

      “When farmers view soil health not as an abstract virtue, but as a real asset, it revolutionizes the way they farm and radically reduces their dependence on inputs to produce food and fiber.” -USDA

      .

    6. Scott

      My reply is in moderation because I included links to sources.

    7. Chuck Niwrad

      I think it is disingenuous to deny that “holistic” is more commonly used to describe concepts like the Gaia hypothesis and lots of pseudoscientific bullshit just as your use of “organic methodology” ignores the more common meaning of “organic” within agriculture today.

      So your claim is that we do not appreciate the healing power of organic methodology because comparisons are being made before there has been time “for highly stressed soil food web to recover?” By all means, please direct me to the empirical data that supports your claim that “As they do, they will get better and better yields at lower and lower cost of inputs” and that such production methods are superior to what can be described as “conservation agriculture” or “full-toolbox farming.”

      “Far more advanced?” “More modern?” Everything you have discussed was being taught in ag schools 40 years ago and probably before. We have been working out the details since, and while the adoption of soil health and conservation practices has been increasing (with a lot of help from GMOs), there is nothing new or more modern in your “organic methodology” or the concepts discussed by Haney.

    8. Scott

      Chuck,

      You said, “please direct me to the empirical data that supports your claim that ‘As they do, they will get better and better yields at lower and lower cost of inputs’”

      Here is a webinar discussion of several case studies by USDA-NRCS
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjI2zWf4uMI

      Here is a discussion by one of the farmers in the above case studies, describing how he uses holistic management.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yPjoh9YJMk

      Is it organic? Not yet from a dogmatic view. Certainly it does document the gradual step by step integration of modern science based organic methodology and the gradual increase in yields as a result.

      Gabe is down to no chemical fertilizers, no chemical insecticides, no chemical fungicides, no antibiotics for his 100% grassfed livestock, and only 1 small herbicide use about once every three years. I’ve talked to him. He has one invasive non native weed that troubles him, otherwise he probably could go 100% organic, and with far higher yields per acre than the county average. He thinks that one year soon he will be able to eliminate all chemical inputs 100%. But that didn’t happen overnight.

      If you want hard science, as in published scientific studies:

      Effects of humic substances derived from organic waste enhancement on the growth and mineral nutrition of maize B. Eyheraguibel et al

      Physiological effects of humic substances on higher plants Serenella Nardi et al

      Effects of humic acids from vermicomposts on plant growth Norman Q. Arancon et al

      The influence of humic acids derived from earthworm-processed organic wastes on plant growth R.M. Atiyeh et al

      There are many more barely scratching the surface, but that should get the point across. Of course that organic science still needs holism to put it all together into an organic technology usable for farmers.

      You said, “I think it is disingenuous to deny that “holistic” is more commonly used to describe concepts like the Gaia hypothesis and lots of pseudoscientific bullshit just as your use of “organic methodology” ignores the more common meaning of “organic” within agriculture today.”

      Rejecting that woo doesn’t mean I also must reject the science of organic or holism too. You should know that yourself. The Father of organic was Sir Albert Howard, a scientist. The developer of holistic management in agriculture was Allan Savory, a scientist. The fact that you have so many hoaxers in GB that coopted the terms to spread their woo has nothing whatsoever to do with anything. The only thing disingenuous is in falling for the hoax yourself and spreading lies that those terms mean organic agriculture or holistic management are not science based. Sure chemistry is science, but so is biology. I would contend that biology is a far more useful science in agriculture than abiotic chemistry like the haber bosch nitrogen based fertilisers or chemical pesticides because of the trophic cascades that causes. You can’t even describe a trophic cascade in science without holism.

      Especially in the case of Sir Albert Howard. Howard and his wife, both Cambridge educated scientists, painstakingly looked at hundreds, even thousands of traditional methods, techniques and systems of agriculture and through long years of great attention to detail separated out what could be verified scientifically and discarded what couldn’t. He then called the result “organic” because the primary and most fundamental difference between what they developed and the conventional chemical based agriculture of the day is the carbon cycle. Just as organic chemistry is a subset of chemistry, so organic agricultural science is a subset of agricultural science.

      AND most importantly to this thread discussion, Organic methodology, because it focuses on the active carbon cycle, and sequestered soil carbon, is definitely on topic and relevant to AGW and climate change. Many people have noted that the loss of carbon in our worldwide conventional agricultural soils exceeds the extra carbon in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels. So reversing that trend would have a profound positive effect on mitigating AGW.

    9. Scott

      Chuck,
      My reply did not make it through moderation. So I guess you’ll have to prove it yourself by educating yourself on modern science based organic methods. The field has advanced significantly in even the last few years. In fact, glomalin wasn’t even discovered until something like 1996 or 7. What it means to agriculture and climate science still being investigated. But we know enough already to understand it is profound.There are many other things just a new too, like the effect of methanotrophs in an ecosystem, They can profoundly effect carbon and nitrogen cycles. One day maybe we can find a forum that doesn’t moderate posts with sources, so we can talk seriously about an issue. Instead of here where the format is limited to the point it is impossible to have a serious discussion and everyone leaves believing what they already thought before they started.

    10. Chuck Niwrad

      Scott – Your arguments sound a lot more like naturalistic ideology than science as you extoll the healing powers of biological systems and dismiss those who disagree with you as not having kept up with current developments and continuing to use “antiquated conventional methods.” Ultimately, even though you have been able to post links in the past, you blame our host for not allowing you to present what I suspect you think passes for evidence.

      Yes, our understanding of what constitutes soil health and how to improve it grows every year and farmers are constantly tweaking their production systems based on new information, however, you provide no evidence to demonstrate that an all-natural, “organic methodology” as you define it is superior by any objective measure to a full-toolbox approach.

    11. Scott

      Chuck,
      Your “toolbox” comments I actually agree with in principle. For example I lobbied hard against having “GMOs” banned from organic. I happen to agree that the current GMOs developed are nearly if not entirely useless to organic production, but strongly disagree with the notion that GMOs are incompatible with organic. GE technology a tool, used wisely it could produce great results, used unwisely not so much.

      I did post evidence, both case studies and raw science, the fact it hasn’t made it through moderation yet has little to do with anything.

      Fact of the matter is slowly but surely these advances in organic science are making their way into the mainstream, at least in the USA. I can now purchase organic pest control, mycorrhizal and other inoculates etc… at any big box store in the US and quite cheaply too. The methodologies are being taught by the USDA-NRCS. There are webinars seminars and local demonstration farms popping up in every state. The local USDA NRCS office here in Oklahoma just had a demonstration on soil health in person last month in fact. Very convincing too, I might add.

      The antiquated idea of chemical NPK style conventional farming is on the ropes here, as more and more farmers begin experimenting with organic solutions, not out of dogma, but economic necessity. It will catch on other places too I am sure. Farmers are not dumb. When their neighbor makes more money, higher yields, less costly inputs, and ends up with better soil, all simultaneously, they are quick to experiment with a few acres at least on their own farms.

      Keep in mind, I have been at this long enough to remember when Organic was a producer driven movement, rather than a consumer driven movement. BEFORE the certifying bodies. I remember when the silly unscientific dogma found in many certifying bodies was nearly non-existent. There are a few of us around that have been at this long enough to actually see, from the producers side, many advancements in organic science and technology. In fact, time and time again, we make the advancements, and the science and technology hurries to catch up, investigate, quantify, and teach others. Internet is helping that a lot. There are farmers that have raised bumper crops year in and year out for over twenty-thirty years and not a single drop of NPK fertilizer used the whole time. Their soil increasing in fertility and carbon content every year. It takes a wise farmer to do something like that, before some hard headed conventional “green revolution” types even will stop to look at their operations and use science to understand why it works. I still meet many that say it is impossible.

      “When farmers view soil health not as an abstract virtue, but as a real asset, it revolutionizes the way they farm and radically reduces their dependence on inputs to produce food and fiber.” -USDA

      “When you increase organic matter, good things happen.” -Jay Fuhrer (USDA soil scientist)

    12. Chuck Niwrad

      Scott,

      “For example I lobbied hard against having “GMOs” banned from organic.”

      That reminds me of the Chris Rock riff on “I take care of my kids” as if doing the right thing is an exception worthy of special praise. https://youtu.be/LaPHPQt91w8

      Of course one should defend the production of GMO crops because that is what the evidence supports. The preponderance of credible evidence also supports the conclusion that one cannot push cropping systems beyond their “natural” limits without adding nitrogen, among other chemicals.

      Go ahead, marvel at new developments and the potential for natural systems to heal themselves, but don’t tell me your organic methodology and nonmechanistic, “nonchemical” approach is an objectively superior system to current full-toolbox approaches unless you’ve got the data. Not conjecture about potential, but actual empirical data from properly controlled field trials. Titles and authors work just as well as hyperlinks. No excuse for not citing the evidence you say exists. For starters, just give me your single best title and author that supports your claim.

    13. Scott

      Chuck,
      It’s still in moderation. Apparently Mark just won’t post the links to USDA case studies in video format. Ironic because for whatever reason, that’s the primary way the USDA is handling case studies now, since their target audience is farmers, not scientists.

      But hey, I can copy the parts of my post that had just studies.
      Effects of humic substances derived from organic waste enhancement on the growth and mineral nutrition of maize B. Eyheraguibel et al

      Physiological effects of humic substances on higher plants Serenella Nardi et al

      Effects of humic acids from vermicomposts on plant growth Norman Q. Arancon et al

      The influence of humic acids derived from earthworm-processed organic wastes on plant growth R.M. Atiyeh et al

      That of course needs some further work to actually translate into higher yields for farmers. Just proving humus and humic acids from various sources increase yields, all else equal, doesn’t say much about how a farmer actually accomplishes it. But it proves the point with regard to AGW since soil organic matter is carbon, same thing in a different form we have too much of in the atmosphere, and too little in worldwide agricultural soils.

      I guess for case studies you need to try googling people with higher than average yields,sometimes record breaking, that don’t use haber process nitrogen.People like Gabe Brown, Joel Salatin, Tom Trantham, Ray Styer, etc etc. A couple of them still use a small amount of herbicide, others don’t. For example Game sprays 1 time every 3 years. None of them use any chemical fertilizers at all. Styer for example hasn’t used any chemical fertiliser since 1996. Gets better and better yields and higher nutritional quality consistently.

      It all starts in the soil.

    14. Chuck Niwrad

      Anecdotes, testimonials, disconnected studies about specific components, not entire farming systems (like comparing humic acids extracted from food waste to a commercial humic acid product). This is what you consider evidence? If so, you are far from making a compelling argument for the universal adoption of your holistic, organic methodology.

      You cherry pick case studies like Mr. Styer who virtually ignored soil health and then made it his religion. In one breath, Mr. Styer says he does not apply nitrogen, and then in the next, he says he applies 10 tons of manure per acre. Huh? His story reminded me of an acquaintance who was trying to farm a little piece of land that had literally been a parking lot at one time. He piled on nutrients, invested in a sophisticated irrigation system, he did everything but address the most limiting factor, which was soil compaction. He finally did some deep tillage and planted cover crop, and things improved tremendously (aided by the accumulation of all those previously applied, unused nutrients). He became an evangelist for cover crops, but cover crop was not a miracle cure in his case, it just happened to be a useful tool in addressing a soil compaction issue.

      Besides the lack of proper evidence, where I think your argument fails is that you are focused on the how rather than outcome. That is not only a poor business model, it is also more about ideology than science. Why should discontinuing the use of all synthetic chemicals be a goal? Do you contend that there is no such thing as a synthetic chemical that can be used in a sustainable, responsible way? Do you really think that raw manures are a realistic source of N for all production systems?

      I understand that some farmers want to farm a certain way, and if they can’t, they won’t farm, but most farmers I know are not in it for the lifestyle, they are smart business people who make smart business decisions. They are running family farms and have lived on the land they have worked for generations and expect to pass their business on to their sons and daughters. They are committed to their land, they are invested in making sure their land remains productive, and they have learned long ago that the soil comes first; that is not news to anyone here. Except for those who sell to the certified organic market, the vast majority of these farmers practice full-toolbox farming, they are not farming based on an ideology, they are farming based on science, what is best for their bottom line, and what is best for the long term productivity of their land and their families.

    15. Scott

      Chuck,
      I’ll start by ignoring your evidence BS nd woo. Once again, the failure of this website to post links is not the same as there being no evidence. So go piss off about all that. I offered to change the forum if you were actually interested in learning about the evidence you would have agreed.

      However, you did ask a pretty good question which I can answer. Why would one want to eliminate haber process nitrogen? That’s fairly easy to understand. It is derived from fossil fuels. This is a thread about climate change. So right off the bat agriculture can cut their impact to AGW,

      More than just that, there is more good reasons. Applying ammonium nitrate, reduces the specific biological parts of the natural nitrogen cycle 70% or more. Since like on this planet is carbon based, that means it also reduces carbon cycling too. That means the other side of the cycle to AGW is also reduced. ie less carbon sequestration. Less carbon sequestration into the soil means less humus, which leads to many side effects like increased erosion, increased need for even more chemical fertilizers, increased compaction, loss of habitat for beneficial microbiology resulting in more pest pressure, increased need for even more chemical fertilizers, and on and on in a slow downward spiral.

      If this format would have posted the USDA case study videos you would have your answer.

      Gabe Brown: Keys To Building a Healthy Soil
      and
      Innovative No-Till: Using Multi-Species Cover Crops to Improve Soil Health

      You would have that explained in detail.

    16. Clyde Davies

      I think it’s worth remembering that 80% of the nitrogen atoms in our bodies originated in a Haber-Bosch reactor. Without this process we would only be able to support a global population of about 1.6 billion. “With average crop yields remaining at the 1900 level the crop harvest in the year 2000 would have required nearly four times more land and the cultivated area would have claimed nearly half of all ice-free continents, rather than under 15% of the total land area that is required today.” http://www.vaclavsmil.com/wp-content/uploads/docs/smil-article-worldagriculture.pdf

      All that manure, shit, mulch whatever used in organic farming has to come from somewhere. I doubt very much whether the nitrogen that ends up in organic manure was 100% grown on organic farms. So does this chap: http://csanr.wsu.edu/organic-ag-synthetic-nitrogen/

    17. Chuck Niwrad

      More anecdotes and testimonials. What, you have never had to write a proper citation or you don’t know the difference between anecdotes and properly controlled studies? Good luck to you.

    18. Scott

      Chuck,
      I am getting rather annoyed at your willful ignorance. Jay Fuhrer is a NRCS District Conservationist specializing on soil health. His case studies are scientifically run with proper data collection and analyzation, and peer reviewed by other professional soil scientists at the NRCS. Gabe Brown is one of the farmers in those case studies, who explains quite well how it is done from a hands on holistic perspective relatable to other farmers.

      YET you dismiss that as anecdotal?

      Then to make matters worse I post a couple reductionist science studies and you reject them as “disconnected studies about specific components”.

      You are rejecting reductionist science as not holistic, and rejecting the holistic case studies in the field by working farmers as well! You are on the side of simply rejecting science period, Those are the main two types of scientific method with which advancements are made. The only thing left is statistics about current BMP forms of agriculture, and no possibility of development beyond what already is. No wonder you are stuck in antiquated paradigms. I have no time for idiots that reject science. I don’t believe there is anything that could possibly change your mind as you reject anything that opposes your rather biased world view. pity your world view is so destructive.

    19. Chuck Niwrad

      But Clyde, what you describe is not pure, holistic, organic methodology. HOM does not condone the importation of manures derived from chemically fixed sources, it only allows for organically fixed sources like those from legumes, green manures, and animal manures, primarily from on-farm sources. Once a natural balance is achieved with those sources of nutrients and in the absence of synthetic chemicals, production is maximized and is greater than that which could be achieved if synthetic chemicals were used. At least that is what Scott tells me, but unfortunately, I don’t have the evidence to back up his claims.

    20. Chuck Niwrad

      Andrew makes my point better than I did:

      According to Andrew Kniss, associate professor, weed biology and ecology at Wyoming, agroecology is a science that looks at agriculture as a complete ecosystem that must be sustainable and does not make an arbitrary distinction between natural and synthetic; hence in theory it should have no problem with using all the tools in the biotechnology toolkit, including GMOs and synthetic pesticides and fertilizers if they contribute to sustainable production. http://bit.ly/1PMt33a

    21. Scott

      Chuck,
      That is an awful big “IF”! But if it makes you feel better as I have stated many times in this thread already, and many previous threads going back years, that is also my position. IF. Design a GMO useful to me and I will use it. Until then, don’t mind me, nothing there to see. I have biological pest control for pretty much everything that can plague me, but I do have one bottle of chemical pesticide collecting dust in the shed “just in case”. I even have an unused never opened bag of fertiliser in the shed. Might even use it next year to jump start a new leased field that conventual ag destroyed and is technically no longer considered arable land due to severe erosion and land degradation. We will see. I will try it without any chemical fertiliser help, but the soil test I had done looks pretty bad. I may need help just to get the whole process started first year. After that I am fairly sure it will be superfluous.

    22. Chuck Niwrad

      Scott,

      USDA NRCS is a fine organization with many good people, but their priority is not the kind of research it takes to support your claims and what you have offered is woefully inadequate to make your case. There is a big difference between doing practical case studies and on-farm demonstrations reviewed within the NRCS as compared to doing rigorous, controlled studies reviewed by experts outside the sphere of the researcher’s organization and colleagues, and published in a respected, high-impact journal.

      Here is the type of study you cite: Farmer Brown farmed in a manner that depleted soil fertility and degraded soil structure. NRCS showed Farmer Brown how he could improve soil fertility and structure through minimum or no till practices and the addition of leguminous cover crops, green manures, and animal manures. Those practices also reduced synthetic chemical inputs.

      You then claim that such studies represent a modern, holistic, organic methodology far superior to antiquated, conventional production systems and apply that broadly to all of agriculture. I don’t know you from other posts, I only know what you from what you have said in this thread. And while you came out of the closet in your last post and said you are really a science-based, full-toolbox kind of guy, prior to that, you claimed that an agricultural production system succeeds to the extent it can reproduce a natural, self-healing biological system. You then extrapolate far beyond what your evidence supports in claiming that your model production system is what’s best for our planet and everyone on it. That’s as close as one can get to invoke a naturalistic fallacy.

      In order to make the leap from the NRCS data you cite to your general conclusions, one would have to include an analysis of evidence from a much broader base of studies than what you have presented. Just because a particular on-farm system sequesters more carbon than another does not support the conclusion that its net carbon footprint is less than the another in the context of the entire field to fork system for every commodity. In that, its not unlike the spurious claims that “local” is always more sustainable. What are the implications of animal-plant systems? Is the animal side of the equation really sustainable? Is relying on organic-only sources of nutrients realistic or superior to alternatives? Is growing green manures and foregoing a cash crop for that part of the production cycle economically viable for more than the narrow range of production systems you use as examples? How do your holistic, organic systems compare to systems that combine strong soil health and conservation practices along with the intensive use of synthetic inputs? Are there systems that are less sustainable within a narrowly defined set of criteria, but are more sustainable on a global scale due to greater production per unit area of land along the lines of Mark’s recent post?

      You’ll get no debate from me in regards to your sentiment that one must not neglect soil fertility and health, but otherwise, when you exaggerate the relevance of cited NRCS studies, you demonstrate you are willing to set the bar very low for standards of evidence when it is evidence you think supports your conclusions.

  6. Chuck Niwrad

    If you want labels, I prefer “conservation farming” as used in this article by Marc Brazeau: “Organic yield gap shrinking? Study actually shows it’s less sustainable than conventional ag” http://bit.ly/1lE7kRe

    “Indeed, when organic farmers employ the conservation agriculture techniques of diverse rotations and growing in polycultures, we see the gap closes to around 9 percent. However, when conventional farmers also employ the same conservation techniques that boost organic yields, the gap widens to over 20 percent.”

    Reply
  7. Dick Newell

    In reply to Clyde 20th Dec
    Clyde I like to think I am a careful, logical person in what I write.
    Since the start of the 20th century, the temperature went up (to ~1940), then down (to ~1970) then up (to ~1998) then flat until now. CO2 went inexorably up. That is why I said it is not a very good correlation. Saying to you that correlation doesn’t mean causation would be teaching you to suck eggs, I guess – but, to repeat myself, it is not a very good correlation anyway.

    Other people have suggested a random walk explanation for long term changes in temperature, and those who refute it use explanations that are opaque to me (I am not saying they are wrong). People who have AGW beliefs need to find better ways of making their case. The sceptical (or should I say denier) side makes a much better job of making their case.

    Interestingly, if I decided to debate the random walk idea on the side of refuting it, I think I could make a much better job of it. However, it would be hard to refute the idea that some of the change in temperature is due to cumulative random effects – especially as the evidence seems to be appearing that the temperature increase in the last 30 or so years is exaggerated by 50% due to badly sited thermometers.

    On your suggestion that I should do something more useful: well actually I do spend a lot of time doing things which I think are useful, one of them you can read about on actionforswifts.blogspot.com (and I do other things). I have been an RSPB member since 1955. I hope this establishes my environmental credentials.

    It angers me the amount of political energy and financial capital that is spent on a distraction to the real environmental problems that the planet faces.

    Reply
    1. Clyde Davies

      When thousands of scientists all get together and write a report which says that (a) the climate is warming and (b) it’s the CO2 we’re chucking into the atmosphere that’s causing it, then I’m inclined to believe them.

      You see, the funny thing is that they offer a coherent, consistent narrative, whereas the denialists don’t. One week it’s the fault of the sun, the next week it’s a global conspiracy theory, the week after that it’s a random walk. Every denialist seems to have their own story and none of it forms a coherent or compelling narrative.

      I don’t even think your ‘random walk’ explanation is internally consistent, and the reason for this is that up to the time when the warming kicked in there is no evidence whatsoever of temperatures following such a variation. I know enough about random walks to know that they can soon wander off into extremes. Yet no such behaviour is seen.

      And then you say stuff like :”the temperature increase in the last 30 or so years is exaggerated by 50% due to badly sited thermometers.” Really? What about the satellite measurements of temperature? Are they badly situated? Give a global distribution of thermometers, aren’t siting effects likely to cancel out, not lead to a systematic error in one direction?

      The simple point that many people don’t grasp about my way of thinking is that I am not wedded to outcomes. I ultimately don’t care whether the climate is warming or cooling. What I DO care about is that IF it is warming, WE are responsible and the effects are likely to be harmful THEN we do something about it.

      This is evidently too much for many brains to grasp, yet the rationale is very simple and akin to that which underpins Pascals Wager. And the funny thing is that actually *acting* as if something bad *is* going to happen will benefit the economy, not damage it. It’s a lot more expensive to burn fossil fuel than it is to save it, despite what some right-wing pundits would otherwise claim.

      Why on earth someone like you would climb on their bandwagon escapes me, all the same.

    2. Dick Newell

      But Clyde,
      How do you eliminate the bias caused by the vested interests of those thousands of scientists? 40,000 have just had a great boondoggle in Paris, drinking French wine and eating French food – at our expense! Should any of them publish anything on the denier (your term) side, their personal well being would be seriously compromised and no more boondoggles.

      The pharma industries go to great lengths to eliminate bias by their thousands of scientists. They are not saying those scientists are dishonest or incompetent, they are human beings who cannot help favouring one result over another. Unfortunately we don’t have 2 planets to do a double blind trial.

      The peer-reviewed scientific literature is littered with unsound science, precisely because of bias.

      So for me the risk assessment looks like this:
      1. Adopt policies that mitigate any risk resulting in a guaranteed amount of damage to the global economy and hence the environment, keeping the poor in poverty ever longer.
      2. Adopt policies that adapt to changes as they occur, focus on lifting the poor out of poverty and hence controlling population growth – the real problem.

      There is so much evidence that the science is still evolving, it is not settled, that to commit to 1 now is at a minimum premature, and at a maximum guaranteed to lead to a lot of damage.

      Now, am I entrenched in my position, no. If someone can come up with an explanation that I can understand, or, even better, if certain luke warming scientists (e.g. Curry, Spencer, Lindzen, Singer, Christy) became convinced of impending disaster, then I would change my current position.

  8. Clyde Davies

    “How do you eliminate the bias caused by the vested interests of those thousands of scientists? 40,000 have just had a great boondoggle in Paris, drinking French wine and eating French food – at our expense! Should any of them publish anything on the denier (your term) side, their personal well being would be seriously compromised and no more boondoggles.”

    Well, it’s very simple: people who disagree with them, like you, write papers, get them published, and then others get to reflect on them and throw every criticism they’ve got at their conclusions. And, if after all that, their conclusions still stand, then we adjust our view of what’s going on.

    And guess what: *nobody* is writing those papers challenging consensus. They aren’t going through to the journals. What does that tell you? Like you say, “*Should* any of them publish anything on the denier (your term) side”…yeah, I’m still waiting for hell to freeze over first.

    “The pharma industries go to great lengths to eliminate bias by their thousands of scientists.”

    *cough* *splutter*…
    I used to work in Pharma R&D. I like to think that there were a lot of upstanding and decent people working with me. But try reading Bad Pharma, to see exactly how the pharma industry plays fast and loose with their data and results.

    “1. Adopt policies that mitigate any risk resulting in a guaranteed amount of damage to the global economy and hence the environment, keeping the poor in poverty ever longer.”

    Nonsense. The kind of policies that would ameliorate the damage done to the climate would actually help the economy. As Amory Lovins says in http://www.scientificamerican.com/media/pdf/Lovinsforweb.pdf,
    “A basic misunderstanding skews
    the entire climate debate. Experts on
    both sides claim that protecting Earth’s
    climate will force a trade-off between
    the environment and the economy….
    If properly done, climate protection would
    actually reduce costs, not raise them.
    Using energy more efficiently offers an
    economic bonanza—not because of the
    benefits of stopping global warming but
    because saving fossil fuel is a lot cheaper
    than buying it.”

    ” 2. Adopt policies that adapt to changes as they occur, focus on lifting the poor out of poverty and hence controlling population growth – the real problem.”

    Says who? The real reason why the population is growing is not because feckless foreigners are having too many kids. It’s because more of those kids are surviving into adulthood. And the best way to stop people having kids to educate women and allow them to reach their full potential as human beings, not baby-making machines. This is going on right now throughout the world.

    So really, this actually blows a hole in your statement that “There is so much evidence that the science is still evolving, it is not settled, that to commit to 1 now is at a minimum premature, and at a maximum guaranteed to lead to a lot of damage.”

    Firstly, the science looks pretty settled, until somebody actually comes up with a coherent counter-narrative. Secondly, the idea that ‘business as usual’ is the optimal way of doing business is based on a deeply flawed assumption.

    Reply
    1. Dick Newell

      Well Clyde,
      It seems pointless swapping arguments, you may convince me at some point, but I will never convince you to doubt your position even one little bit. However, at some point in the future, the truth will out. The wishywashy Paris accord means that CO2 will continue to rise inexorably for some decades to come. I have no idea whether it will take 10, 20 years or longer of observations to indicate whether those who believe in dangerous AGW will be proved right, or whether those of the denier (your word) position are proved right.
      On what I have seen so far, CO2 has a beneficial fertilisation effect on the planet, modest warming is of benefit, most policies instigated so far have been damaging both economically and environmentally.
      So, thanks for the discussion
      Merry Christmas
      Dick

    2. Clyde Davies

      Some Christmas Reading for you, Dick. I’d draw your attention to ‘Myth 5’…

      http://www.nature.com/news/the-science-myths-that-will-not-die-1.19022

    3. Dick Newell

      Blimey Clyde, why do you try to put words in my mouth. Yes, the first world (the wealthy world) has already stabilised its population, some countries are even declining (even Japan and Italy, despite the Pope’s best efforts). The rest of the world will get to the same point, and the quicker the better. This can only happen by increasing their standard of living, not by taxing the energy they need to do that.
      Merry christmas
      Dick

    4. Clyde Davies

      You’re making the same mistake that too many other people make: that increasing their standard of living is mutually incompatible with effectively dealing with climate change.

      I think the original point of mark’s posting was that too many on the Right allow themselves to be blinded to the opportunities that dealing with AGW present. They are fixated on low-government, low taxation models and seem to regard all environmental initiatives as a threat.

      Why are we, in the UK, allowing the Chinese to build our new nuclear reactors based on an old and inefficient design? Perhaps it’s because all our nuclear engineers who know about things like fast reactors have either died or retired. Who knows, if we hadn’t let that happen, we might now be selling our expertise to China and India and actually helping them to deal with their own AGW issues.

      This false dichotomy of economic growth versus climate responsibility has bedevilled political thinking on both Left and Right. It fundamentally boils down to a lack of imagination leading to trammelled thinking. I don’t personally want to overthrow the capitalist system. I just want a decent world for my daughter and her children to live in. That’s it.

  9. Clyde Davies

    Well, one of the perks of being a scientist is that you can get to change your mind diametrically and still hold your head up high. When the evidence changes, my mind changes. Until then…I prefer to err, if I am erring indeed, on the side of caution.

    “Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.”

    Merry Christmas to you too
    Clyde

    Reply
    1. Dick Newell

      Clyde said: “Well, one of the perks of being a scientist is that you can get to change your mind diametrically and still hold your head up high.”

      Well Clyde, what would change your mind? Imagine 10 years time, and 2 scenarios:
      1. the temperature has remained on the same trajectory as the last 15 years
      2. the temperature has declined.
      Would either of these change your mind?

      If the temperature resumes the profile pre 1998, then I would reconsider my position, and I might even change my mind.

      Clyde also said:
      “Why are we, in the UK, allowing the Chinese to build our new nuclear reactors based on an old and inefficient design? Perhaps it’s because all our nuclear engineers who know about things like fast reactors have either died or retired. Who knows, if we hadn’t let that happen, we might now be selling our expertise to China and India and actually helping them to deal with their own AGW issues.”

      And wasn’t it the left wing, scaremongering environmental movement, again focussing on the wrong problem, that caused the demise of our nuclear industry?

      At least we both agree,we need more nuclear.

    2. Clyde Davies

      Fifteen years from now might be too late to do anything about it. And your contention that doing something regardless would be economically damaging is, as I have pointed out, utter rubbish.

      I’ll quite happily bet that the temperature will keep on rising the more CO2 we chuck into the atmosphere. There’s 200 years of science backing me up. Care to tell me why that’s wrong?

  10. Dick Newell

    On 22nd Dec Clyde said:
    “And then you say stuff like :”the temperature increase in the last 30 or so years is exaggerated by 50% due to badly sited thermometers.” Really? What about the satellite measurements of temperature?”

    Well what about them Clyde? – apparently, the satellites tell us that if you extrapolate the last 37 years of satellite temperatures, we are headed for a warming of [only] 1.2°C after 100 years, according to Spencer and Christy – or do you dismiss them because they are “deniers”? (see http://www.thegwpf.com/37-years-of-satellite-data-show-global-warming-will-remain-below-2-degree-c/)

    Elsewhere you complained that the ‘deniers’ are not submitting papers. Climategate showed how denier papers are excluded from mainstream journals.

    Reply
  11. Dick Newell

    Clyde said:
    “*cough* *splutter*… I used to work in Pharma R&D. I like to think that there were a lot of upstanding and decent people working with me. But try reading Bad Pharma, to see exactly how the pharma industry plays fast and loose with their data and results. ”

    Are you not making my point for me Clyde? The financial incentives for Climate Scientists to ramp up the rhetoric on dangerous global warming are not that dissimilar to the financial incentives for climate scientists – the more they can scare people, the bigger their grants.

    At least, we hope that the pharma industries have a functioning peer review process.

    Reply
    1. Clyde Davies

      “The financial incentives for Climate Scientists to ramp up the rhetoric on dangerous global warming are not that dissimilar to the financial incentives for climate scientists – the more they can scare people, the bigger their grants. ”

      I find this argument that climate scientists are out somehow to bilk the taxpayer to be idiotic. Firstly it would require a conspiracy of thousands. Ben Franklin once said that three people can keep a secret providing two f them are dead. The idea that thousands of climate scientists would get together to defraud public funds without at least one of them breaking ranks is risible rubbish. And besides, if I wanted to bilk the taxpayer, I’d be a banker. They’ve been spectacularly successful at getting government handouts.

      I dismiss the GWPF because they are wedded to outcomes. They want by any means to prove that AGW is a fiction, and they don’t care how they get there. They cherry pick and misrepresent and refuse to acknowledge their sources of funding. You might not like the fact that climate scientists take public money, but at least you know where it’s coming from.
      And then you go on to say:
      “At least, we hope that the pharma industries have a functioning peer review process.”
      So, what’s wrong with the peer review process behind climate science? In which way is it dysfunctional? Is it rejecting papers that question the consensus?

      Somebody would have to write those papers first. The journal editors will tell you that papers which *do* question the consensus *aren’t* coming through. Lobbying groups masquerading and charities, like the GWPF, like to snipe from the sidelines, but when it comes down to actually publishing any rigorous and novel analyses of their own, they somehow come up empty-handed.

      So, until the antis come up with a coherent and cogent narrative of their own, the whole ‘peer review’ criticism is nothing but a total red herring.

      Oh, and by the way, Climategate really proved nothing. And that Spencer
      and Christy analysis was wrong right from the start:
      “To understand what was wrong: The satellites must pass over the same spot on Earth at the same time each day to get a temperature average. In reality the time the satellite passes drifts slightly as the orbit slowly decays. To compensate for this and other orbital changes a series of adjustments must be applied to the data.

      Temperature trends of the troposphere now match well with the surface based trend.

      The MSU satellite data is collected from a number of satellites orbiting & providing daily coverage of some 80% of the Earth’s surface. Each day the orbits shift and 100% coverage is achieved every 3-4 days. The microwave sensors on the satellites do not directly measure temperature, but rather radiation given off by oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere. The intensity of this radiation is directly proportional to the temperature of the air and is therefore used to estimate global temperatures.

      There are also differences between the sensors that were onboard each satellite and merging this data to one continuous record is not easily done. It was nearly 13 years after the orginal papers that the adjustments that Christy and Spencer originally applied were found to be incorrect. Mears et al. (2003) and Mears et al. (2005).

      When the correct adjustments to the data were applied the data matched much more closely the trends expected by climate models. It was also more consistent with the historical record of troposphere temperatures obtained from weather balloons. As better methods to adjust for biases in instruments and orbital changes have been developed, the differences between the surface temperature record and the troposphere have steadily decreased.”

      https://www.skepticalscience.com/satellite-measurements-warming-troposphere.htm

      “It was nearly 13 years after the original papers that the adjustments that Christy and Spencer originally applied were found to be incorrect.”
      If you’re going to have to pick cherries, at least get some fresh ones, would you?

    2. Dick Newell

      Hi Clyde,
      You didn’t answer my question: what would change your mind?

      btw I had a typo in my last post, I should have compared pharma scientists with climate scientists – but I guess you figured that.

      Anyway I don’t understand why financially insentivised climate scientists are squeeky clean and unbiassed, whereas pharma scientists are all corrupt and biassed. They are all human beings and will therefore have their prejudices, especially when they have a vested interest.

      You brought up satellite data as a counter to my argument about a 50% overestimate by surface stations. Then when I point out what satellite data is telling us, you then try to discredit the satellite data.

      The GWPF, or Spencer, Christy, or anyone else that says something that does not conform to your beliefs is a target.

      The idea of thousands of scientists getting it wrong, I find not surprising, it is how religious movements are built. Are all the Christians right? or are all the Muslims right? – they cannot both be right, and there are rather more Muslims and Christians than climate scientists.

      You said “The idea that thousands of climate scientists would get together to defraud public funds without at least one of them breaking ranks is risible rubbish.” Well, they do change their minds, Judith Curry is just one example – there are others (as well as converts the other way).

      You also said: “I’ll quite happily bet that the temperature will keep on rising the more CO2 we chuck into the atmosphere. There’s 200 years of science backing me up. Care to tell me why that’s wrong?”

      I agree with you Clyde that more CO2 will have a warming effect, this is what the 97% consensus is all about, (I cannot imagine what the other 3% were smoking), but by how much? It is on a logarithmic curve, as we add more CO2, it has less additional effect. Once you have blacked out a window, there is no point in another coat of paint.

      Anyway, a bet is not an answer to my question as to what would change your mind.

    3. Clyde Davies

      Evidence.

      When the evidence changes, my mind changes. It’s that simple.

      Now, if you feel you have some actual cogent, compelling evidence that says why all the conclusions of the pro AGW camp so far are wrong, then write it up, submit it and publish it in a respectable scientific journal like Nature or Science.

      Until then, it’s all piss and wind.

    4. Dick Newell

      The trouble is Clyde, I fear you will ignore any evidence that contradicts your beliefs. The arguments that make one question the dangerous AGW hypothesis include:

      1. The stable temperatures of the last (pick your number 10, 15, 18, 22) years.
      2. No reasonable explanation for the fluctuating temperatures since 1900: the temperature rises at the start of the 20th century looking very similar to those at the end, with falling temperatures in between.
      3. The lack of a hotspot in the tropics – supposed to be a signature of GHG driven global warming
      4. The most recent, peer reviewed estimates of climate sensitivity, nearer 1°C than beyond 2°C
      5. Increasing antarctic ice, both sea ice and land ice – arctic ice may have stabilised.
      6. No evidence of increasing hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or heatwaves.
      7. No explanation of medieval and earlier warming periods and little ice ages.
      8. Milankovich cycles may be of more importance, (though it is not clear in which direction).
      9. And I have to throw in this one, no evidence that warming is not caused by internal variability in the system – which is where we started.

      So, you may be right Clyde, but where is the evidence? and please don’t call a climate model based upon theoretical physics, together with some arbitrary assumptions, ‘evidence’.

      The truth is, no one knows where temperature is headed in the rest of this century, so why don’t we wait and see – and I know your response “arrrrrrggghh! it will be too late!!!”
      Dick

    5. Clyde Davies

      I am not going to bother going through and refuting your points piecemeal, not because I can’t, but because I have better things to do and I’ve done it all beforehand.

      It’s very simple. You choose to go against the consensus on this one issue. You provide the arguments as to why, and you publish them and run the gauntlet of peer review like everyone else has to.

      Put up – or shut up.

      Until then, this discussion is concluded.

    6. Clyde Davies

      Oh, and one more thing before I sign off and get on with something more productive:
      “The trouble is Clyde, I fear you will ignore any evidence that contradicts your beliefs. ”

      I don’t know how much plainer I can say this, BUT I DON’T FUCKING CARE WHETHER OR NOT THE CLIMATE IS WARMING. All I am concerned about is the IMPLICATIONS and what WE can do to forestall them.

    7. Dick Newell

      Thank you Clyde, there is no need to shout, but over and out it is. You can certainly get on with something more useful, because, whatever you may wish for, “WE” are not going to do anything to forestall temperature changes – that was the clear outcome of Paris, so why worry about it? It is only worth worrying about things you can do something about. Anyway, if I am still on the planet in 10 or 15 years time, we can return to this discussion – maybe there will be some compelling evidence by then.
      Dick

    8. Scott

      Dick,
      There already is compelling evidence, what will happen in 15 more years? It will rain in December in the arctic circle almost every year instead of just this Dec? Or maybe the droughts/floods seen all over the globe will reach a level that even a stubborn denialist like yourself will finally understand? Or maybe the tides in coastal cities will finally flood enough of the coastlines you notice it? What exactly do you think is going to happen in 15 years?

    9. Dick Newell

      Well Scott,
      If your predictions for the next 15 years play out the way you are convinced they will, then I may change my mind. In the meantime, I will keep an open mind. To my mind things are trending in the direction of not heading towards catastrophe. By trending I mean not only “the pause” but also recent research showing sensitivity being less than previously thought, research demonstrating exaggerated warming in the surface record, more in line with the satellite record. I could go on, but it will not convince you., so let’s call a truce. I don’t expect this to happen, but if temperatures were half a degree lower in 15 years time, would that change your mind?
      Dick

    10. Clyde Davies

      ” To my mind things are trending in the direction of not heading towards catastrophe. By trending I mean not only “the pause” but also recent research showing sensitivity being less than previously thought, research demonstrating exaggerated warming in the surface record, more in line with the satellite record. ”

      What pause? Oh, the ‘it hasn’t been warming for 18 years’ claim that new Scientist so effectively demolishes here: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14527-climate-myths-global-warming-stopped-in-1998/ . The apparent ‘pause’ is mainly down to heat sloshing about between the atmosphere. land and ocean. This kind of exchange explains the major proportion of availability in temperature measurements from year to year. And then you have people up to no good, playing last and loose by drawing level lines though little sections of the graph when they should be drawing an incline through the lot of it. Well, ramp or staircase, it’s still going up, mate.

      As regards ‘research’ claiming that climate sensitivity is somehow exaggerated: http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-sensitivity-advanced.htm

      So, no, I’m not calling a truce. 2015 has been the warmest year on record, with the worst El Nino we can recall, and the Arctic is right now experiencing temperatures tens of degrees higher than it ought thanks in part to Storm Frank: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2015/12/30/freak-storm-has-pushed-north-pole-to-freezing-point-50-degrees-above-normal/

      If you want to gamble on there being no change, do it with your own planet.

    11. Scott

      Dick,
      I would love to see temps drop 1/2 a degree in 15 years time. But the only way that has the slightest chance of happening short of a catastrophe like a meteor strike, nuclear winter, or super volcano….is to actually mitigate AGW by sequestering large quantities of CO2 that is currently in the atmosphere back into the soil where it belongs.

      We have about 50 years to do that or the wheels come off world wide civilization, a much more immediate threat than AGW, but actually symptoms of the same basic problem.

      See in a fully functioning biosphere, I don’t even see how the relatively small quantities of CO2 from fossil fuels could effect climate much at all. That is because complex living biological systems have the capability to self adjust, moderating things like climate. For example, increase CO2 and plants grow faster, pulling the excess right back out again in short order. The problem is we have done both. We have degraded the biological systems, mostly through deforestation and and a “green revolution” agriculture that is anything but “green”, simultaneously to burning fossil fuels. So we have both added CO2 and degraded the capability for nature to suck up that excess.

      But before AGW has a chance to become catastrophic, we have another related problem. The soils world wide are missing even more carbon than there is extra in atmosphere and continuing to drop at ridiculously high rates. Since soils are critical to agriculture, and agriculture is critical to civilization, AND carbon is critical to soil health and productivity, solving the later fixes the former as a matter of course.

      Waiting 15 years to get even started on a problem that must be solved in 50 years and takes at least 10-20 years to implement and actually have significant positive results is running it kinda thin don’t you think? With all of world wide human civilization at risk?

    12. Dick Newell

      “I would love to see temps drop 1/2 a degree in 15 years time. ”
      Really Scott? Given what you believe about the scale of the warming effects of CO2, and assuming the likelihood of little or no reduction in CO2 emissions by then, then there would need to be some fairly dramatic natural forces operating to push the temperature down by 0.5°C, so would not the alarmists then start to worry about a slide into the next ice-age?

    13. Scott

      Dick,
      I happen to agree that there is not enough extra CO2 in the atmosphere to restore the agricultural soils to fertility worldwide. So long before we are finished regenerating our agricultural soils, the process of removing CO2 from the atmosphere (photosynthesis) will slow until we have reached a new balance where emissions = sequestration. There is no immediate risk of triggering a new glacial period, but one day there might be. When that day comes far in the future, it would be nice to have a bit of fossil fuels left unused. That would be one of the easiest cheapest best ways to solve that future problem. So reducing fossil fuel use now is still the best action we can take in both scenarios.

      I am going to go back to what Mark Lynas said in the article. I very much disagree with Mark on many things, but he made a great point. See I don’t know for certain, but I highly suspect that the main true objection to AGW has nothing to do with science. Rather more likely they simply object to left wing politics. So do I. But I am not foolish enough to cut off my own nose to spite my face. The reason the leftist own the issue is that conservative politicians are too stupid to understand that AGW denial guarantees that the only solutions will be tied to socialist political agenda.

      Want a reasonable conservative solution? Make a conservative plan for mitigation. Making no plan forfeits the race before it even starts.

      Now if I could only convince Mark how wrong he is about agriculture, an even worse mistake than any AGW denialist. But he is as wrong about agriculture now as he was wrong back in the day when he was actively campaigning against GMOs. He just flipped between one extreme to the other, missing the solution both times. Ironically his position on agriculture in both cases is incompatible with his other positions on ecology and AGW. The old house divided won’t stand analogy. Until he actually comes to terms to this inconsistency, there is no hope that anything he advocates will bring fruit.

    14. Clyde Davies

      I agree that the AGW issue has become elided with left-wing politics. Guess what: I tend to the left myself (but I’m mostly a centrist). I happen to think there’s not enough equality in society, not too much. And I also happen to think that government has a role in redressing that imbalance, along with regulating markets. But I’m a scientist first, and a lefty second, so I tend to be impressed more by evidence than rhetoric.

      But a robust and pragmatic conservative response to the AGW problem would go along these lines:
      If someone dumps garbage into your backyard you have three possible responses:
      * You let them carry on
      * You tell them not to do it
      * You let them do it but charge them for the privilege.

      In a properly functioning carbon trading market, the third option would become attractive. If you put a price on CO2 emissions and allow polluters to compete for the right to pollute by bidding against each other, then pollution becomes very unattractive indeed, and those who want to carry on have to foot the bill. You could then use the taxes raised to offset income and corporation taxes.

      Of course, this is far too radical to work, and I begin to hear the snorts of conservative derision. A carbon tax set an effective level of $25/tonne of CO2 would be ruinous for business and destroy economic growth. Well. go tell that to the British Columbians, who have been operating just such a system, have high and steady rates of growth and have some of the lowest tax rates in Canada. They also invest heavily in R&D as a result of this carbin tax.

      So, when I hear people like Dick – who is evidently a conservative first and a scientist possibly third or fourth – whining about making the ‘poor poorer’ (as if a conservative ever cared about that) or damaging growth, then all I can surmise is that they are have a very limited imagination. Markets are human creations, and they function best with intervention and regulation. The carbon market isn’t just dysfunctional – it’s non-functional. If it was, we wouldn’t be heading for the mess we’re heading headlong towards right now.

    15. Dick Newell

      Clyde – why do you need to throw insults? Try attacking my reasoning. But never mind, I was going to remark that you are acting true to type – which I guess you might interpret as an insult, so I withdraw it.

      You are right, I am not a scientist, I am an engineer with a PhD – not that that qualifies me for anything, but I like to think that I reason logically. I have published in peer-reviewed scientific literature.

      If the ‘luke warmists’ are right then a little more warmth and some more CO2 can mostly (only?) be good for the planet. So why would we tax CO2?

      If the ‘catastrophists’ are right you could take the view, that things need to get a whole lot worse before we need drastic action like carbon taxes. Let’s face it, CO2 omissions are not going to reduce for quite some time – even with draconian taxes, so we may as well focus on adaptation, while monitoring the situation, funding research into natural causes of climate change, to reduce the uncertainty, as well as research into sensible alternative energy.

      Given the huge uncertainty (not acknowledged by catastrophists) either of the above positions would be acceptable to me.

    16. Clyde Davies

      I thought I did attack your reasoning. i attacked you silly ‘random walk’ hypothesis, I attacked your claim that tackling AGW and economic growth were inimical, and I have also attacked your claim that there has been a pause in global warming. And you haven’t said a damn thing in response apart from just repeating the claims.

      I have a Ph. D. in Physical Chemistry. I’ve published in peer reviewed literature, such a long time ago as it happens I can’t actually remember when. I like to think I can think logically too. And one of those logical conclusions I have come to is that I don’t know when I don’t know. I’m not at home to Mr. Dunning and Mr. Kruger.

      But they seem to have taken up permanent residence with you, evidenced by statements like “If the ‘luke warmists’ are right then a little more warmth and some more CO2 can mostly (only?) be good for the planet. So why would we tax CO2?”

      I don’t think the Maldives would regard a little more warming as at all welcome, as they would end up underwater. If anybody asked me what my motto would be, it is ‘expect the best and prepare for the worst’. The kind of complacency on show here makes my blood run cold.

    17. Dick Newell

      Clyde said:
      “I thought I did attack your reasoning. i attacked you silly ‘random walk’ hypothesis, ”

      Why is it silly? It may be wrong, because there are other plausible explanations of the trends in temperature, but I have not seen a statistical test that can distinguish between a random walk and the actual temperature trend. I agree, a random walk may well be the wrong explanation, but I would like to know how it is excluded.

      “I attacked your claim that tackling AGW and economic growth were inimical, ”

      Economics is far too complex to answer this one simply, but increasing the price of energy must have damaging economic effects.

      “and I have also attacked your claim that there has been a pause in global warming.”

      So why does the IPCC acknowledge the pause, as well as a wide spectrum of climate scientists? But just look at the graphs. I think (although I have not done it) if you treated 1998 as an outlier, one would still get a temperature trend not statistically different from zero going back before 1998. It seems that the decline of arctic sea ice may have paused also, at least since 2007.

      On the question of disappearance of low level islands, many such islands are growing as sea level rises.

      You see Clyde, you say what I say is wrong, but you do not put up an argument to defend your position, apart from appeals to authority, followed by you losing your temper.

      Given the levels of uncertainty, we need to invest a lot more in non anthropogenic global warming research. If you give a climate scientist a load of money to prove that CO2 causes dangerous global warming – guess what answer he will come back with, ready for his next grant.

    18. Clyde Davies

      The random walk is silly because of the reasons I stated earlier: it hasn’t behaved as such up to when CO2 levels started increasing, and all of a sudden the ‘random walk’ starts when CO2 levels do increase? It’s a lame duck hypothesis.

      “Increasing the price of energy must have damaging economic effects.”
      Despite the British Colombian experience, which flies in the face of what you’ve just said.

      “So why does the IPCC acknowledge the pause, as well as a wide spectrum of climate scientists?”

      THERE HASN’T BEEN A PAUSE! There has been an apparent levelling off because of the sloshing backwards and forward between land and sea. The Arctic Ocean has been warming fastest, but the Hadley Centre record simply excludes this area because there are NO permanent land based stations. And of course it’s the land-based stations that people fixate on when they decide to cherry pick. The Hadley record is based only on surface temperatures, so it reflects only what’s happening to the very thin layer where air meets the land and sea.

      Ocean however stores 1000x as much heat as the surface. Since the 1960s, over 90% of the excess heat due to higher greenhouse gas levels has gone into the oceans, and just 3% into warming the atmosphere. Surface temperatures can therefore fall despite the planet as a whole warming up.

      Surface temperatures will may even static or even fall slightly over the next few years. This could be caused by long-term fluctuation in ocean surface temperatures known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

      But until you start seeing a simultaneous fall in both surface and sea temperatures, claims that there has been a ‘pause’ is utter bollocks. You can read all about the IPCC ‘admission’ here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/ipcc-global-warming-pause.htm

      The climate is warming. We are largely responsible for it. We paying our taxes for scientists to produce conclusions that YOU don’t like and can’t accept.

      Get over it. And stop wasting our time with you tendentious drivel.

    19. Dick Newell

      So why did all the heat disappear into the oceans in the last 17 or so years, but not in the previous 30. You obviously believe in Gore’s hockeystick, but recent history is not the first time the temperature has departed from flat. There is no point in continuing this. I may be wrong, but you have said nothing to convince me of that. Until such time as the uncertainty has disappeared, I am not a supporter of draconian policies which may well not be needed.
      That’s it from me.

    20. Clyde Davies

      Why don’t you do what you should have done in the first place, and read the bloody research papers?

      And what WOULD convince you otherwise? And when have you gone against the scientific consensus on any OTHER issue? I think I can answer the last two questions: (a) nothing/I don’t know/fifteen years; (b) never.

      I really don’t see why it’s my job to convince you. But I’m certainly going to try convince others of what I think of your position. Which quite frankly, isn’t a lot.

    21. Dick Newell

      Clyde, I will continue to follow my high priests, and I am sure you will continue to follow yours. If and when either of them change their minds, then maybe we will end up on the same side. It will certainly be interesting to see how the future unfolds in the next 5, 10 or 15 years – but maybe even that will not be long enough.

    22. Dick Newell

      Clyde, By coincidence, I have just become aware of this hot of the press piece by Judith Curry:
      http://business.financialpost.com/fp-comment/unnatural-consensus-on-climate-change
      She says it far more clearly than I could.

    23. Clyde Davies

      Oh, positively my last work on the ‘pause’ (thanks mainly to the Skeptical Science website):
      “Some have asked if the ‘pause’ is real or a result of cherry picking. The answer is that there is a ‘pause’ if the data are cherry picked. First we have to cherry pick the 2 percent of global warming represented by surface temperatures and ignore the other 98 percent. Then we have to cherry pick a sufficiently short time frame to find a flat trend.

      Despite this double cherry picking, ignoring 98 percent of global warming, and despite the sun and volcanoes and ocean cycles all acting in the cooling direction over the past decade, the best climate contrarians can do is find a flat 10-year surface temperature trend. Can you guess what’s going to happen the next time the oceans shift to a warm cycle? That’s the thing about cycles – they’re cyclical.”

      I’m amazed that somebody can get a Ph.D. and adopt such an uncritical attitude towards a subject as this. And I’m talking about you, not me.

  12. Clyde Davies

    Oh, that well known scientific organ, the Financial Post. With an opinion piece by Judith Curry.

    Try reading some original peer-reviewed research for a change in a reputable source like Science or Nature. get your informat6ion from the horses mouth, not its arse.

    Reply
  13. McHugh

    Mark Lynas, Your campaign strategy is highly confusing. If climate change is such an issue for you why do you focus on GM at all? The current trend of global temperature puts the 2 degree threshold on our horizon. Why waste your energy on fighting people on GM? For many GM is not just a science issue. It is about having the right to choose what to put in our bodies. In the same way people can choose not to eat broccoli or meat. This is why it confuses me why you are so adamantly opposed to labeling. Surely, consumers have a right to choose what they eat? Furthermore, many people are worried about the genetic ownership laws related to GM expansion. This is not a science issue at all so to conflate all the issues related to GM as science issues is hugely misleading.

    Reply
    1. Clyde Davies

      He isn’t adamantly opposed to labelling, quite the opposite. If you’d read his latest posts on the issue then you’d understand that.

      Nobody is forcing anybody to eat things they don’t want to eat. Of course, opponents would be treated more sympathetically if they could point out some rational – as opposed to ideological – objections to GM food.

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