If we do all this, by how much will we reduce temperature?

I like to have something a bit light-hearted for the Saturday post, but there’s nothing rib-tickling about. I did come across little ‘handy dandy’ calculator, however, and I thought that might do, because it’s fun. More about it in a moment.

One of the things that I can never understand about the orthodox AGW folk, especially the passionately convinced, is what they expect would happen if we all followed their wishes, cut our use of fossil fuels to the bone, avoided aeroplanes, wore more jumpers in winter, abandon the air conditioner — all that stuff. What would happen to global warming?

I know that Professor Flannery, when pushed, finally said that if we in Australia did all these things we wouldn’t notice the difference in terms of global warming for a thousand years. I can’t remember whether or not his interlocutor then asked him how sensible all this really was, then.

After all, if the efforts we are putting into carbon taxes, ETSs, RETs, wind turbines, solar cells and all the rest of the fossil-fuel-avoidance are not intended to significantly reduce global temperature, what are they for? I put something related to this to one of our MPs, whose response was that ‘the suggestion we shouldn’t be acting brought to mind Ross Garnaut’s riposte — “that suggests Australia is a pissant nation, rather than the world’s 12th largest emitter!”‘

But that simply avoids the question. Why are we doing this? Now to the handy dandy calculator, drawn to my attention by two sceptics, Pat Michaels and Chip Knappenberger, but using only data and values drawn from the IPCC. The calculator itself is called MAGICC  (Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse-gas Induced Climate Change), and was developed by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research through funding by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. You can read about the calculator here.

It works like this: you specify the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions that you think will occur by 2050 (from a 2005 baseline), where this is to occur, and what level of climate sensitivity you think applies (that is, roughly, the extent to which water vapour and clouds magnify or minimise the warming that would take place from an increase in carbon dioxide alone).

Michaels and Knappenberger, being American, didn’t think to specify ‘Australia’ as a region, but did include us in the list of ‘industrialised countries’, so I had a go at the calculator for that group, choosing values I thought, given what I had read over the last few years, were  possible or likely if there were a sustained effort to reduce emissions.

I thought we might achieve a 20 per cent reduction, and I thought climate sensitivity was likely to be at the +1.5 level. And if all the industrialised countries managed to pull this 20 per cent reduction off, by 2050 we would see a shift in global temperature of a whole  -0.016 degrees Celsius. Carried through to 2100, it would mean a shift of -0.067 degrees C.

Well, that’s not much at all, I thought. Back to the calculator. What if we reduced emissions by 40 per cent and doubled climate sensitivity to 3.00? Answer: by 2050, -0.045 degrees C, by 2100, -0.136 degrees C. But that’s not very different, is it? What if we go the whole hog, which is what the designers did with respect to the USA. They assumed that there was a complete, 100 per cent, reduction in the USA’s carbon dioxide emissions, and at a +3 level of climate sensitivity they could reduce global temperature at 2050 by 0.052 degrees C.

In short, none of these calculations does anything at all to global temperature, at least anything that would be discernible. The authors point out that you only see any differences because they used measurements to three decimal places, which is much more precise than what we can learn from thermometers. In point of fact nothing that we can do has any measurable effect on global temperature, partly because China and India aren’t in the list of industrialised countries, and partly because the effects would still be small even if they were included.

So I ask again: why are we doing this? If global warming is a real scare, then plainly what the orthodox want us to do will not achieve their stated goals. This has puzzled me for years, and the calculator enables me to show arithmetically that this is the case.

And while I’m on it, the same applies to the projected increase in sea levels, which regular readers know is another of my interests. Here you need to go to another excellent piece written last year by Professor Roger Pielke Jnr. He looked at recent work done by others without a handy dandy calculator, but employing the same kind of logic.

His conclusion? ‘[R]ecent research suggests that our ability to halt the rise of the seas is extremely limited.’ And the reduction in sea-levels over a century from what he called an ‘aggressive’ reduction in American carbon dioxide emissions seems to be around 8 centimetres. The IPCC is expecting an increase of more than 60 cm, though there are other, lower, estimates.

Why, again, are we doing this?



Join the discussion 22 Comments

  • Peter Lang says:


    The follow up question is “What is the cost of the policies we’ve already implemented and the ‘doomsayers’ want us to implement.

    The cost of the ETS, according to Treasury projections is a reduction in GDP of $1,345 billion to 2050 at current prices. If we discount it, to take into account a $1 today is worth more than a $1 tomorrow, the cost to 2050 is $390 billion.

    But the projected benefit (if it achieved) is much less – about $41 billion.

    [I’ve simplified these a bit for this comment. See here for the detail: http://jennifermarohasy.com/2012/06/what-the-carbon-tax-and-ets-will-really-cost-peter-lang/

    However the estimate of the benefit assumes that the world will implement a carbon pricing scheme at the optimal carbon tax rate, in unison, at the start, i.e. in 2012, and maintain it at the optimal carbon price (i.e. keep ramping it up yearly in unison in all countries). It will apply to all greenhouse gases in all countries to all GHG emissions sources. To understand how impossible just the last point is, the EU ETS applies to just 45% of the emissions produced in the EU. If the sophisticated, advanced countries of the EU cannot do better than 45% participation, what chance is there that, Ethiopia, Eritrea Mogadishu and Somalia can measure and include, in the global trading scheme, the emissions from every cow, sheep and goat?

    The reality, if Australia’s ETS is not repealed, we will spend the money and receive little if any benefit.

    • stefanthedenier says:

      ”carbon tax” is nothing but; ”protection money”

      Without use of fossil fuel – earth cannot sustain more than 3 billion people = is as ”premeditated mass murder” of 4 billion people…by starvation

  • Mike O'Ceirin says:

    I have long thought that it is amazing that so many can accept the abolition of fossil fuels and eschew the use of nuclear power. This is illogical since the offered “alternatives” wind and solar when examined quite quickly show they are totally inadequate. This is a characteristic of so much of the environmentalist thinking which reveals their motto is “If it works it is not Green”. I think we are dealing with a hugely successful cult for which reason and logic in that sense matter little. There is much to be said about this but let us just list key indicators of a cult:

    1. Lie or mislead you about what they practice or believe.
    2. You must believe in them to be saved.
    3. Character assassination of outsiders.
    4. You must accept the authority of the group belief system without question.

    Members are not open to considering ideas that could be critical of the group belief system. I think fossil fuel, world temperature, CO2 etc., are actually side issues for the core believers of this. They are a means to recruit followers and help the main agenda. Paul Watson was a significant member when GreenPeace was formed he was thrown out and these days is a member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. He says “Curing the biosphere of the human virus will also require a radical and invasive approach”, GreenPeace would cheer him on hearing that these days. The first attempt by GreenPeace to greatly affect our way of life was pressure to ban fluoride. If accepted this would have been quite effective in the misanthropic cause but then came GHG which was a much better instrument to reduce the virus called humanity and leave Gaia in peace. A further thing that shows the true agenda is the extreme opposition to GM crops. The problem is that it is very effective at improving food yields.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Mike, I think what you’re describing is the people at the loony fringe, What puzzles me is m=why so many otherwise sane and sensible people accept this stuff. It does seem quasi-religious to me: ‘we have sinned against the earth and must pay’.

  • Peter Kemmis says:

    About a year ago, puzzled by what looks like intellectual intransigence, I mulled over the various traps into which many appear to fall. The order below is not significant, and the explanation simplified.

    1. The pollution trap, confusing particulates and harmful gases with carbon dioxide.

    2. The political trap, where a position on AGW echoes the prevailing views of the left or right.

    3. The social trap, where a person’s main social circles can inhibit discovery and analysis, and apply conformist pressure.

    4. The guilt trap, to which some two generations in the western world have now been conditioned. “It is all our fault (the pronoun covers a raft of sins), and we must fix it.”

    5. The presumption trap, that humans can control a dire global warming of such projected magnitude – the calculators you discuss above, Don, put the lie to that presumption. (In fact, I’ve been wondering whether the effects of our actions starting in the late 1980s in replacing our use of CFCs, may have been swamped by natural changes to ozone levels, and that we may have been congratulating ourselves undeservedly. The ozone story may well have boosted our presumption, anyway.)

    6. The energy poverty trap, a myopia about how critical to the survival of so many is the availability of relatively cheap energy. Hansen’s “rivers of death” coal trucks are actually rivers of life to a billion or so, but I can’t see them from my favourite coffee shop. Out of sight, out of mind.

    7. The trap of slicing science, illustrated by convictions that carbon dioxide has such an amplifying effect on water vapour, by unproven climate sensitivity values, by ignoring or distorting past history . . . .

    8. The modelling trap – need I say more? See Fig 1.4 of the leaked AR5.

    9. The consensus trap, the chimera of peer review, the clarion call that the science is settled.

    10. The professional trap, where only “climate scientists” are competent to judge. That reminds me of a major plank of the Reformation, itself so critical to the Renaissance. This trap also uses the weapon of “ad hominem”.

    11. The funding trap; to gain research $$s, too often scientists have to bow to the AGW icon, whether they like it or not.

    Don, I think we have been hoping for reason to prevail. It will, eventually. However, I think we should promote reason more strongly. As a starter, why don’t we host a debate in Canberra? Its effects could be interesting, especially if there is some media coverage. Might be a bit hard to get a team of one or two to debate the pro-CAGW side? But worth a try? Will Steffen? David Karoly?

    • Don Aitkin says:

      This is an excellent approach to our current predicament, and worth a post in itself. Since it is already here for readers to this website, I might take it to another one in due course, like Judy Curry’s.

      Australia 21 has suggested such a debate in Canberra, and it is on my ‘to do’ list when I have time to do it, which isn’t this year because of my Musical Offering duties, which represent a full-time job in their own.

      Thank you again for your traps!

    • Don Aitkin says:


      I reposted your excellent comment on WUWT this morning. It looked good there! I didn’t give your name, but made clear that it wasn’t my work.

      • Peter Kemmis says:

        Don, thank you for your compliment; but I can’t find it on WUWT. Incidentally, I have no concern about having my name published with anything I post online. I stand by my statements, and hope what I write is always courteous, and either accurate or well-supported. Currently I’m scribbling a few thoughts on persuasion, without the subject matter, style or skill of Jane Austen, but hopefully with some of the lessons she teaches.

      • Don Aitkin says:

        It’s there, Peter, on the weekend thread:

        donaitkin says:

        August 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm

        One of my readers posted this thoughtful list of ‘traps’ that are there for the unwary in ‘climate change’ discussions. I thought it was worth a wider readership. So here it is, slightly edited…

        No one since seems to have commented on it. I’ll put it on Judy’s when she offers a thread for commenters.

    • DavidAppell says:

      CO2 is certainly a pollutant — a manmade substance that, in excess quantities, does damage to the environment. In the US, the Supreme Court ruled that manmade CO2 is, legally, a “pollutant” under the Clean Air Act. The EPA *must* work to cut it.

      • Don Aitkin says:

        But David, anything can be a pollutant if it is present in sufficient quantity in a specific situation. What is the specific situation where CO2 is present in excess quantities?

      • Aert Driessen says:

        So why do people have license to manufacture fizzy drinks with it?

  • PeterE says:

    For a supposed Saturday with a lack of rib-tickling subjects, this post provokes a lot of laughs as well as some most interesting comments. Thanks.

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    Matthews et al:

  • stefanthedenier says:

    This is loaded post; CO2 has nothing, NOTHING to do with the non-existent phony global warming! :https://globalwarmingdenier.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/cooling-earth/

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