I was going to write about Earth Hour once more, and for the last time, when I realised that it seemed to have passed its use-by date, for it seemed to have been almost unnoticed. There was no sign of it in Hobart, where I was on the hallowed night, and I couldn’t find out much about its effects in Canberra, where I have been for past Earth Hours. Earth Day passed too, without much fuss. So I have gone on to a subject I have been playing with for some years now, which is caught up in the phrase, ‘the Social Cost of Carbon’.

There is a paper with this title, but it is American, the work of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and it underpins all sorts of ‘climate’ regulations in the USA (and Canada). No matter, it has cousins in the Stern (UK) and Garnaut (Australia) Review Reports, since all of them take for granted some aspects of the science surrounding the study of climate, make assumptions about the future, and then tell us that bad things, really bad things, will happen if we don’t mend our ways, because their models say so. The phrase ‘the social cost of carbon’ tells you something at the beginning. First, it is not actually about carbon but about carbon dioxide, and the scientists in the Environmental Protection Agency, who wrote the paper, must know this. But for some unexplained reason, the slip to ‘carbon’ occurred, as it did in Australia when Senator Penny Wong, then the responsible Minister, was fond of talking about ‘carbon pollution’. My feeling is that the use of carbon was intended to demonise coal, but I may be wrong.

Second, if you are going to talk about ‘costs’ in the context of government, you normally talk about ‘benefits’ as well, and compare the costs with the benefits. This paper simply ignores any benefits, or if it mentions them at all, belittles them or glides over the issue. Here is a little of the introduction: EPA and other federal agencies use estimates of the social cost of carbon (SC-CO2) to value the climate impacts of rulemakings. The SC-CO2 is a measure, in dollars, of the long-term damage done by a ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in a given year.  This dollar figure also represents the value of damages avoided for a small emission reduction (i.e., the benefit of a CO2 reduction). The SC-CO2 is meant to be a comprehensive estimate of climate change damages and includes changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, property damages from increased flood risk, and changes in energy system costs, such as reduced costs for heating and increased costs for air conditioning. 

No benefits at all? Here’s Ross McKitrick, at the beginning of an impassioned diatribe against Earth Hour, which I’ve used before.  I abhor Earth Hour. Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance in the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity. Giving women the freedom to work outside the home depended on the availability of electrical appliances that free up time from domestic chores. Getting children out of menial labour and into schools depended on the same thing, as well as the ability to provide safe indoor lighting for reading.

Development and provision of modern health care without electricity is absolutely impossible. The expansion of our food supply, and the promotion of hygiene and nutrition, depended on being able to irrigate fields, cook and refrigerate foods, and have a steady indoor supply of hot water. Many of the world’s poor suffer brutal environmental conditions in their own homes because of the necessity of cooking over indoor fires that burn twigs and dung. This causes local deforestation and the proliferation of smoke- and parasite-related lung diseases. Anyone who wants to see local conditions improve in the third world should realize the importance of access to cheap electricity from fossil-fuel based power generating stations. After all, that’s how the west developed.

And more of the same. I wrote about the Powerhouse Museum in Streaky Bay, South Australia a few years ago, and you could see there the machines, now forgotten, that did the work that flicking an electricity switch with now does for us. But how do we know what these social costs are, never mind about the benefits? If you go to the EPA website you will be sent off to a series of papers, most of them technical. I found a more useful summary in a British effort, the work of CarbonBrief, which is solidly in support of the orthodoxy. The Q&A it provides is accessible to the ordinary reader.

Since it is a summary of the American position, it provides the same sort of introduction:

Scientists expect climate change to have increasingly negative consequences for society, from rising sea levels to more frequent heatwaves. There is broad agreementthat initial, modest benefits – for instance, increased yields for some crops in some regions – will be outweighed by costs as temperatures rise. Even those who see climate change as a relatively minor problem agree that damages will exceed benefits above 1.1C of warming. Moreover, the world is already experiencing record-hot temperatures around 1C above pre-industrial levels. So how much should we be willing to pay to avert future climate damages?

A dispassionate reader will see some large claims here, and some inaccuracies as well, and reading further offers some heroic (or perhaps diabolical) assumptions: there is such a thing as carbon sensitivity, and it is high; climate change is a case of market failure: carbon dioxide persists in the atmosphere for thousands of years, and so on.

We jump then to integrated assessment models (IAMs), which are blended scientific and econometric models. They try to answer questions like these:

  • First, there are socioeconomic projections: How many people will be alive in 2150? How fast will the economy grow next century? How much CO2 will humans emit?
  • Second, there is a “climate module”: How will the climate change in response to CO2 emissions? How quickly will sea levels or temperatures increase? What about rainfall patterns and extreme weather events?
  • Third is benefits and damages: How will climate change affect crop yields? What is the cost of living with, or adapting to sea level rise? How do increased temperatures affect labour productivity or energy use for heating and cooling? How can we value non-market impacts, such as loss of species and habitats?
  • Finally, the fourth element uses discounting to value future benefits and costs in today’s money. Future damages tend to dominate SCC estimates, because CO2 persists in the atmosphere for thousands of years and damages increase as temperatures rise. As a result, discounting has a big impact, see below for more.

‘Each of the four elements in the models,’ the Q&A continues, ‘is uncertain and incomplete’. You can say that again. As fas as I can see, the models use the worst-case possibilities that flow from IPCC reports, no matter what the evidence says.

Just think about the assumptions piled on assumptions that would provide the ‘data’ for these models. There are three models, DICE, FUND and PAGE, and they don’t provide the same outcomes.How could they? There are so many possible measures you could invoke, and you are talking about the future, for which we have no real data at all.

After trying to guess at population, GDP, technological status, health and all the rest, the most difficult aspect of all this for me is the discount rate, which is how we might value costs today and benefits in future. And there are a couple of ways of doing this. You could use ‘social time preference’ — how important to you is $70 now compared with $100 in ten years’ time? Another is ‘social opportunity cost’. The orthodox will tell you that investing now in, say, renewable energy means less global warming in future. A third is the ethical perspective, which suggests that we are responsible for the problem (setting aside whether we really have one, or whether the proposed cures would actually work, or whether anyone in government anywhere is really serious about doing so).

Then you pick a discount rate. The higher the discount rate the more you are valuing those alive today compared with future generations. Since my own guess is that future generations will know a lot more than we do, I am prepared to leave some of these problems to them. So if I had to, I would choose a high discount rate. The Stern Review chose one of 1.4 per cent.

The more I read of this stuff the more puzzled I become. The very notion that we have models that can tell us how things will be in a hundred years, based on what we know today, seems preposterous to me. But governments instituted reviews that provided these models and the policies said to flow from them. Looking back, all that activity seems set in the context of the rapid rise in warming from 1975 to 1998, and the graph that showed carbon dioxide accumulations rising at exactly the same rate. That simultaneity stopped after 2000, but the Stern and Garnaut reviews are a product of that earlier time. Nearly two decades later we can see that nothing has happened of any consequence other than the earth has become greener and food more readily available. I still await the clear sign of anything bad that can be shown to be caused by increased carbon dioxide levels.

President Trump may well tell the EPA that he is not going to take any notice of the Social Cost of Carbon, and indeed he is acting as though that is the case. As far as I am concerned, more power to his elbow.



Join the discussion 52 Comments

  • David says:

    The short answer is because these external “costs” of burning fossil fuels are not are not reflected in their market price but the “benefits” are. This is the tragedy of the commons argument. At the very least, you should include some reference to it in your post.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    There have been no such costs yet, as far as I know. Do you have any to offer?

    • David says:

      Your argument mixes the social costs of CO2 with the private benefits of electricity. This is mixing apples and oranges. The “social” benefits of CO2, would be those “plant food” arguments you like. i.e., CO2 improves plant growth. I agree it would make sense to include these benefits (if they exist) in the economic evaluation. You would not include the private benefits of electricity in the evaluation because the whole point is to replace the fossil fuels with an alternative source of electricity.

      No one is suggesting a decision be set in stone based on a single economic evaluation. Any decision is subject to ongoing re-evaluation. You recycle your horse poo in New York City story as an example of a problem than never needed a solution eventuated to illustrate your anti planning meme. However, I can also point to aqueducts or roads that were built by the Romans 2000 years ago, that are still in use to this day. The Romans saw a problem and invested in a solution. Subsequent generations saw fit to maintain these infrastructures, because it was beneficial to do so. Any solution to AGW will also be subject to similar ongoing re-evaluation.

  • Aert Driessen says:

    Thanks again Don. I don’t know how you hang on to your sanity analyzing this sort of stuff. All the deliberate corruption of language, promoted by the ABC, comes from only one side of what is supposed to be a debate, albeit a stillborn debate in that the alarmists will not engage in one-on-one public debates with evidence-based scientists. So, carbon is used to denote carbon dioxide, as you say, because carbon (= soot) is dirty, climate change denotes warming because it hasn’t warmed for close on 20 years, and the ABC portrays all this with images of belching steam (benign) from cooling towers to convey an urgency of action to stop all this because these images look so threatening. I wonder how the alarmists will refer to a cooling event which might represent actual (real) change of climate as some eminent scientists in Russia are forecasting for mid-century? The corruption of meaningful language, along with the science, not to forget the monies (subsidies) being won by the rent seekers, is now so entrenched that only real events (a cooling event like the Maunder Minimum and failing crops, or indeed a political ‘revolution’) will end this nonsense. The depressing thing is that there is not a true leader in sight to lead us out of the swamp.

    • Mike Burston says:

      Considering those rent seekers it’s interesting how inner-city elites used to excoriate farmers for receiving subsidies entrenching inefficiency and now those same elites want inefficient power generation massively subsidised by the community which is not even allowed to question it

  • The banks seem to have avoided scrutiny for their part in all this. Carbon dioxide is ideal for commercialisation because we’re dependent on it so cap and trade will enable the banks to do this is but they don’t make a profit direct action hence the push for emissions intensity schemes. considering westpac and the Carmichael mine it’s hard to believe the banks withholding finance for altruistic reasons.

    • Aert Driessen says:

      Yes, I wish that I had an account with Westpac so that I could close it to make a point, but I don’t.

      • Ross says:

        Do you have an account with any of the other major banks, Aert?
        They hold exactly the same position as Wesrbank, so knock yourself out.

      • Thorfinn says:

        Agree. I think Westpac have shown themselves as pisspoor examples and unworthy. Bank on the Wales ? Reality dictates otherwise, so their decision makes not a bit of difference.Adani will go ahead.

      • Chris Warren says:

        Aert Driessen

        When people accuse others of corruption – as you do, I generally find that they are the ones most implicated in this.

        You have stated:

        ” it hasn’t warmed for close on 20 years,”

        This is a false, corrupt statement, because the temperature rise since the 1980’s is here:


        You also ignore, or do not know about, the cooling in the stratosphere, which indicates that the distribution of solar heat is being disrupted by a heat trap in the troposphere.

  • JimboR says:

    “First, it is not actually about carbon but about carbon dioxide, and the scientists in the Environmental Protection Agency, who wrote the paper, must know this. ”

    They also know that the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is a function of carbon cycles: slow carbon cycles and fast carbon cycles. There are multiple sources and sinks and they almost all involve chemical reactions that convert between CO2 and lots of other compounds of carbon.

    “My feeling is that the use of carbon was intended to demonise coal”

    Maybe they remembered these:

    C + O2 —> CO2 + energy
    CH4 + 2O2 —> CO2 + 2H2O + energy

    Burning any fossil fuel takes carbon or some compound of carbon and produces energy and CO2. Pretending carbon isn’t involved is silly.

    • ianl8888 says:

      > “Pretending carbon isn’t involved is silly”

      Straw man. No one is pretending that the element carbon is not involved – you are just sidestepping.

      The atmospheric concentration of CO2 gas, a compound, from emissions is the point. Avoiding the phrase carbon dioxide is a propaganda ploy to mislead gullible people into equating “dirty” black particulate solids with a gas transparent to visible light which they themselves expel with each breath.

      Pretending this false equivalence isn’t propaganda is silly. So, silly JimboR. Now choose a lie to reply with. Don Aitkin has provided a long list of dishonest modes of argument for you to select from. I know you are familiar with that list.

      • David says:

        No one is avoiding the phase “CO2” or “carbon dioxide” For example in passage below uses the terms 6 times!

        “EPA and other federal agencies use estimates of the social cost of carbon (SC-CO2) to value the climate impacts of rulemakings. The SC-CO2 is a measure, in dollars, of the long-term damage done by a ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in a given year. This dollar figure also represents the value of damages avoided for a small emission reduction (i.e., the benefit of a CO2 reduction). The SC-CO2 is meant to be a comprehensive estimate of climate change damages and includes changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, property damages from increased flood risk, and changes in energy system costs, such as reduced costs for heating and increased costs for air conditioning.”

        To presume that we automatically equate the term “carbon” with only “coal” is silly. Anyone who has studied science beyond Year 9 will know this. The problem with Don’s writings is that he assumes his readers will know less about any given topic than he does. And this is a mistake he makes often.

        • ianl8888 says:

          > “To presume that we automatically equate the term “carbon” with only “coal” is silly”

          Yet another straw man. We do not presume you do it automatically – we know you do it deliberately for its’ propaganda value. And then pretend you’re being “sciency”. And pretending year 9 students know what you’re doing is silly – 90% of the population cannot tell the difference between an element and a compound and barely the difference between a solid and a gas. Try straw polls in any shopping mall, or a gaggle of ABC journos for that matter.

          That’s why your propaganda works. Most people *are* scientifically/engineeringly illiterate and mathematically innumerate. This makes them gullible to the deceits you practise.

          Here is another simple equation that is routinely excluded from the “carbon is pollution” propaganda:

          6CO2 + 6H20 + sunlight ————> C6H12O6 + 6O2

          Simple (too simple, I know) but golly and gee. Very definitely part of the carbon cycle and just so, so polluting,

          Now for the next straw man …

        • David says:

          The problem with David’s writings is that he assumes his readers will know less about any given topic than he does.

        • Chris Warren says:


    • Leigh says:

      “Pretending carbon isn’t involved is silly”
      So where is the carbon in SF6? SF6, or sulphur hexafluoride is one of the most effective greenhouse gases known. It attracted a carbon tax of around $500,000 per tonne, and yet contains no carbon.
      It was interesting to watch Todd Sampson in a recent episode of Life On The Line (Buoyancy) fill a glass tank with SF6 and, ironically, float a black balloon on it. I estimated that the SF6 in the tank was the equivalent to burning 30 tonnes of coal. I think Todd will need a truck load of those black balloons to capture all those emissions.

  • spangled drongo says:

    The true philosophy of these promoters of the SCC is that they welcome what they predict. Catastrophe and huge population reduction.

    So why don’t they just keep quiet and let it happen?

    But they know it probably won’t happen so the next best thing is to milk it for all it’s worth while they can.

  • DonA says:

    By continuing to analyse and criticize and refute all the negative effects of CO2 are we not being seen to actually accept that CO2 is at least a minor cause. This presentation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAELGs1kKsQ) by Carl-Otto Weiss gives a very credible analysis of what is more likely the cause of the accepted gradual, but erratic global warming. We should be shouting this from the roof tops, not reading crap from CAGWers.

    • dlb says:

      Robert G Brown (Duke University) is not convinced about the Weiss curve fitting exercise.
      “Periodic climate Oscillations” WUWT May 4 2013

      “This would make a great experiment in practical psychology and the systematic abuse of scientific methodology. Give it to Mann, and he’ll turn it into a hockey stick. Give it to Tamino, and he’ll find a “warming signal” at the end that can be attributed to CO2. Give it to Dragonslayers and they’ll either turn the curve upside down and claim that is the REAL curve or they’ll attribute the warming to thermonuclear fusion occurring inside the Earth’s core and tell you that CO2 is obviously a cooling gas and without it the Earth would resemble Venus.
      Give it to an honest man — note well, not Mann — and they’ll analyze it and tell you something like “I haven’t got a clue, because correlation is not causality and hence monotonic covariation of two curves doesn’t prove anything.”

      • David says:

        “I haven’t got a clue, because correlation is not causality and hence monotonic covariation of two curves doesn’t prove anything.”

        True correlation is not “proof” in the absolute sense. But we do not require absolute proof before we make a decision. We do have a clue. Its called a p-value. All sorts of organisations will use statistical correlations to make decisions all the time, and with good results.

    • Ross says:

      Crap being the accepted science. CAGWers being the scientists.
      It’s a tough argument, Don. Bloodied but unbowed. Good for you.

    • Chris Warren says:


      Understanding natural cycles is a worthwhile exercise. The De Vries cycle is well known. According to Nature magazine article discussing this:

      “This has led to some climate sceptics misrepresenting this literature to argue strongly that solar variability drove the rapid global temperature increase of the twentieth century. … Our results demonstrate that solar-type signals can be the product of random variations alone, and that a more critical approach is required for their robust interpretation.”


      Also according to Jurg Beer et al,

      “IN the past solar cycles may well have impacted past climate, during the 20th century the temperature increases more steeply than the 10Be record … This could be interpreted as a result of global warming”

      [see page 298ff – http://tinyurl.com/20thC-solarcycles ]

      Personally – I think the various ENSO, Pacific and Atlantic cycles are driving fluctuations (the sine wave), but the recent rising tendency is unlikely to be caused by a 230 year cycle.

      A better interpretation is therefore that there are such cyclical variations but there has been a recent breakout from their impact – an additional superimposed warming trend.

  • Neville says:

    Have a look at the history of co2 emissions since 1990 and beyond to 2040. The EIA shows that their CAGW ? problem is NON OECD country emissions and that will go a long way past 2040.
    But the SCC is baloney if you look at all the benefits to human life expectancy, health and prosperity since 1800. And the planet is greening and deaths from extreme weather events have dropped off a cliff in the last 100 years. What’s not to like? Here’s the EIA link.

  • Neville says:

    Can anyone give us a list of the costs of burning fossil fuels and then tell us how to mitigate these problems?

  • dlb says:

    Hi Don, when I went to post my last comment I got the name and personal email address of another commenter in the submit field.
    This is quite concerning!

    • ianl8888 says:

      > “This is quite concerning!”

      Yes it is. Happened to me too.

      > “Your email address will not be published.”

      Unhappily, it has been.

  • ianl8888 says:

    Unfortunately I’ve now got other names and email addresses here as well. Why would this be the case?

    • Neville says:

      Sorry Ian but your email address was retained when I posted the above. So I’ll try again. From Neville.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Looks like the SCC just dropped around 20%.

    The economic prospects of advanced coal technologies have never seemed so promising:


  • spangled drongo says:

    There’s more than one way to skin a SCC cat:

    “Appeals panel agrees to delay case on coal plant pollution

    The Trump administration has successfully delayed a legal fight over enforcing Obama-era restrictions on pollution from coal-fired power plants.

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Thursday granted a request from the Environmental Protection Agency to postpone a planned hearing on 2012 rules requiring energy companies to cut emissions of toxic chemicals. Though the regulations are finalized and already in effect, the new administration told the court it intends to rewrite them.

    It is the latest in a string of moves by President Donald Trump’s appointees to help companies that profit from burning fossil fuels. Trump has pledged to reverse decades of decline in a U.S. coal industry under threat from such cleaner sources of energy as natural gas, wind turbines and solar farms.”


  • spangled drongo says:

    That carbon must be daaangerous stuff, hey?

    A 15 megaton hydrogen bomb that was 1,000 times more powerful than the blast that destroyed Hiroshima, vaporizing islands with temperatures hitting 99,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and shaking islands up to 120 miles away couldn’t stop coral regrowth at Bikini Atoll.

    But a little bit of CO2? Easy-peasy!!


    • bryan roberts says:

      SD, your comments really are an object lesson to children everywhere as to why they should stay at school past year 6 and learn to read.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    Something technically bad is happening to the website , such as commenters’ details appearing to others, and now a comment from one reader appearing as a comment from another. Please leave comments for the moment as I try to find out out exactly what is happening.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      I think, and hope, that the trouble has been sorted out. There have been some changes to the basis of the website and there may be more in the future. If there is further trouble, please let me know.

  • JimboR says:

    “The very notion that we have models that can tell us how things will be in a hundred years, based on what we know today, seems preposterous to me. ”

    These guys seem to have done a pretty good job over 50 years:


    These models are based on the laws of physics, and our understanding of them doesn’t change that often.

    “Since my own guess is that future generations will know a lot more than we do, I am prepared to leave some of these problems to them”

    Sure, but those scientific advances don’t just happen. It’s easy to look back 100 years and say “look how far we come”, but we’ve come that far through lots of tiny steps. If we don’t start taking those steps, who will?

    Don, I think you have some big issues with your website. It’s leaking commenters’ email addresses all over the place by pre-filling the “Submit Comment” form with other commenters’ credentials. It all seemed to go wrong with some sort of server-side cache issue at roughly the time you wrote this essay. Now it seems to be doing random cookie matches and serving up other folks’ credentials.

  • Neville says:

    Here’s Judith Curry’s latest post on the SCC and her summary. But can anyone choose JUST ONE of their icons and tell us how to mitigate some change to improve said icon’s future by 2100 and beyond?


    “Where do we go from here?

    “Since I’ve argued that the cost/benefit approach doesn’t really make sense for such a wicked problem with massive uncertainties, does this mean I think we should ignore the problem?

    NO, we should not ignore the problem, but we should reframe it in ways that put some realistic bounds on what we are dealing with– not just climate change, but also population increase and concentration of wealth in vulnerable coastal regions. Not to mention the growing needs of this increasing population for energy, water and food.

    I would challenge the policy making community and the science-policy interface communities to consider the following questions and proposed analyses:

    1.How many different combinations of assumptions in the SCC models can produce a SCC value that is not significantly different from zero, or within some ‘tolerable’ limit?

    2.Imagine the worst plausible future climate outcome on the time scale of the 21st century (consistent with the AR5), and estimate the damages in the 21st century. Assess whether any conceivable path of CO2 emissions reductions in the 21st century would make a significant dent in those damages.

    3.Estimate the costs of extreme weather in the 21st century, based on weather statistics from the 20th century while accounting for 21st century changes in population, demographic, property, GDP, etc. Then compare the impact of socioeconomic changes on 21st century costs relative to the hypothetical delta of extreme weather events as derived from climate models. I wouldn’t be surprised if population increase and concentration of wealth in coastal regions is a much bigger factor here than climate change.

    4.Estimate the costs of sea level rise in the 21st century based on three different assumptions: 1) applying the average sea level rise rate over the 20th century; 2) applying the average rate of sea level rise for the past 50 years for each coastal location, which also includes land use, geologic factors, groundwater withdrawal, etc.; 3) apply the average rate of sea level rise from the IPCC AR5. I suspect that #2 will be associated with the most damage, since the most vulnerable locations have local sea level rise rates that far exceed anything that can be explained by warming. Apart from geologic and land use effects on sea level rise, the increase of population and concentration of wealth in coastal regions may also be a bigger factor than sea level rise associated with warming.

    5. Estimate regional per capita water needs (globally), using population and socioeconomic projections for the 21st century. Compare that with 20th century water availability (total and per capita). Estimate the per capita water availability in the 21st century using climate models. Is the decline in 21st century per capita water availability caused by population increase or climate change? (Hint: whether or not you find them convincing, climate models predict overall MORE rainfall in a warmer climate; melting glaciers will help at least in the short term.) Assess the costs of meeting per capita water needs using 20th century rainfall versus 21st century projected rainfall.

    6.Based on estimates from #3, #4, #5, decide on how much resilience we can afford, in terms of infrastructure, and work on other clever ways to reduce your vulnerability through land use policies, advance warning of severe weather, etc.

    This list is by no means exhaustive; once you think about reframing the climate problem and the solutions, lots of new ideas pop up. Such analyses would provide the basis for a pragmatic climate policy that puts people first in the 21st century, which is a reasonable thing to do given the deep uncertainties surrounding the wicked climate change problem. Any rationale that supports rapid reductions of CO2 emissions needs to provide pathways for improved technologies for energy, transportation, agriculture, etc. Not to mention supporting human development in regions that currently do not have access to grid electricity.

    The bottom line is: water, food, energy. Heck, even the folks attending Davos get it [link]. People need it and large numbers of people want more of it. And there are more and more people all the time. A single minded focus on reducing CO2 emissions neglects a lot of real problems facing many nations across the globe.

    Climate variability and change impacts water, food and energy. But there isn’t much we can do to influence the climate on the timescale of the 21st century — however much we have impacted the climate over the past 70 years or so, those impacts (large or small) will work their way through climate system over the next centuries as the oceans act as a big flywheel on the climate system.

    Back to the question posed by Revkin: Will Trump’s climate team accept any social cost of carbon? Well, I hope not. Here’s to hoping for a more pragmatic approach to all this in the Trump administration”.

  • Neville says:

    Yet more recent Arctic studies show that most warming occurred in the first half of the 20th century. Here is the link and a summary of a number of recent studies. Most of the SLR from Greenland occurred before 1950 and that attribution is estimated to be just 0.6 inches ( global SLR) over the period 1900 to 2010.


    “Conclusion: Abrupt Arctic Warming, Cooling, Ice Melt Uncorrelated With CO2 Emissions

    “Implicit in the alarmist projection that rapid Arctic warming and ice melt will raise sea levels by 19 to 25 centimeters during the next 8 decades is the assumption that the Arctic’s post-1990s warming trend and ice melt has been driven by anthropogenic CO2 emissions — which are expected to continue to rise without dramatic energy policy changes. However, this assumption ignores the nearly 100 years (1900 to mid-1990s) of non-correlation between CO2 emissions and the Arctic climate.

    Succinctly, during the 1920s to 1940s period the (a) Arctic warmed rapidly (~3°C per decade), the (b) Greenland ice sheet melted rapidly, and the (c) glacier melt contribution to sea level rise was explosive. This occurred while anthropogenic CO2 emissions were both flat and negligible (10 times smaller than today’s emissions).

    Then, just as CO2 emissions began to rise at an accelerated pace after 1940, the (a) Arctic cooled (for nearly 60 years), the (b) Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance was positive with a “null” contribution to sea level rise (1940-2000), and (c) the Arctic-wide ice melt contribution to sea level rise abruptly decelerated.

    For the 110 years between 1900 and 2010, the Greenland ice sheet contributed just 0.6 of an inch (1.5 cm) to sea levels despite a 10-fold increase in anthropogenic CO2 emissions during that period. Therefore, the very mechanism (human CO2 emissions) assumed to be driving a projected 19 to 25 centimeters of Arctic ice melt contribution has not been observed to be a driving mechanism previously.

    The observational evidence indicates that variations in anthropogenic CO2 emissions do not drive Arctic warming (or cooling), ice sheet surface mass balance, or sea level rise from retreating glaciers”.

  • Neville says:

    So what are the costs of using fossil fuels? List your so called CAGW icons and provide evidence since 1850 explaining the negative impact from coal, oil or gas. And then tell us how to mitigate your so called problem.
    I’ve listed a lot of benefits from FFs since the end of the LIA and I’ve given the the simple EIA co2 emission numbers since 1990 and IEA graphs showing that S&W are make believe energy and by 2040 will still be SFA of the TOTAL energy used in the world.
    So come on, if it’s all so easy to understand you should be able to provide the evidence of your problem and maths proof of mitigation and temp and co2 reduction by 2100. OH and don’t forget to explain it all to China, India and all of the developing NON OECD countries as well. Funny thing is that they also want to develop and provide their people with higher living standards and life expectancy. This should be interesting and be sure to use the US EPA MAGICC modelling tool as used by the IPCC and Lomborg’s team.

    Don’t forget these new FF facts and future soaring co2 emissions from countries like Pakistan. It seems FFs are very addictive.


  • spangled drongo says:

    With that “huge” 0.1c of warming in the last 20 years during which time one third of all human CO2 emissions have occurred, how much cost, as opposed to benefits, would you ascribe to that catastrophe?


  • ianl8888 says:

    Well, this thread is dead – database corruption will do that. No one, or at least me, can be bothered going back to last week’s stale bread.

    There was some comment from the glib set above about statistical p-values, as if that settled the real probability issues. No hint was supplied of the very unsettled statistical arguments over Bayesian subjective vs objective priors. Naturally, the CAGW activists (in fact, all activists) prefer the subjective priors as these give so much more leeway for dodgy conclusions.

    I suggest you google Nic Lewis for the detail here. He is a respected mathematician, with a goodly list of peer-reviewed publications, who has specialised over the last decade in analysing the statistics behind AGW models, including sensitivities. That is, read his essays and papers if you value critical thinking compared to low level propaganda.

  • David says:

    Testing comments

  • David says:

    Im thinking of adding something new

  • Neville says:

    Not one Microbiologist in this audience thinks that climate change is the world’s number 1 threat. These people are all tertiary educated intelligent people yet they don’t buy the extremist BS. Good for them. Here is the WUWT article and link.

    “Awkward moment: Are Microbiologists Climate-Denying Science Haters?
    Anthony Watts / 2 hours ago

    “From the American Council on Science and Health comes this interesting but awkward moment in science communications.

    By Alex Berezow

    “Recently, I gave a seminar on “fake news” to professors and grad students at a large public university. Early in my talk, I polled the audience: “How many of you believe climate change is the world’s #1 threat?”

    Silence. Not a single person raised his or her hand.

    Was I speaking in front of a group of science deniers? The College Republicans? Some fringe libertarian club? No, it was a room full of microbiologists.

    How could so many incredibly intelligent people overwhelmingly reject what THE SCIENCE says about climate change? Well, they don’t. They just don’t see it as big of a threat to the world as other things. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of them felt that antibiotic resistance and pandemic disease were the biggest global threats. One person thought geopolitical instability was the biggest concern.

    I told them that I believed poverty was the world’s biggest threat. The reason is poverty is the underlying condition that causes so much misery in the world. Consider that 1.3 billion people don’t have electricity. And then consider how the lack of that basic necessity — what the rest of us take completely for granted — hinders their ability to develop economically and to succeed, let alone to have access to adequate healthcare. If we fix poverty, we could stop easily preventable health problems, such as infectious disease and malnutrition.

    Was I booed out of the room? No, the audience understood why I believed what I did. But woe unto you who try to have a similar conversation with climate warriors.

    Woe Unto You, Bret Stephens

    Conservative columnist Bret Stephens, formerly of the Wall Street Journal, landed a new gig at the New York Times. His very first column, “Climate of Complete Certainty,” caused much weeping and gnashing of teeth. And probably the rending of garments. What did he say that caused so much outrage?

    In a nutshell, his thesis was that certainty often backfires. He used the Hillary Clinton campaign as an example; in his view, certainty of victory was one factor in her defeat. Next, Mr. Stephens drew an analogy with climate science, worrying that the certainty expressed by the most vocal proponents of major climate policy reforms are speaking with a sense of certainty that is not well-founded. He warned against taking imperfect models too seriously and the dangers of hyperbolic doom-mongering.

    It often irks me when political commentators write about science, usually because they haven’t the foggiest clue what they’re talking about. But Mr. Stephens’ article used reasonable and cautious language, and to my knowledge, he didn’t write anything that was factually incorrect. He simply concluded, as I myself have, that doomsday prophesying is wrong — and even if it was right, it convinces few people, anyway. (Do the antics of the Westboro Baptist Church change anyone’s mind?)

    Yet, the reaction was swift and entirely predictable. Vox, whose stated mission is to “explain the news,” called Mr. Stephens a “bullshitter.” GQ ran the headline, “Bret Stephens Is Why Liberals Have Every Right to Be Dicks.” And Wikipedia (whose founder is going to try to solve the problem of fake news) labeled him a “contrarian.”

    All that because Mr. Stephens warned against speaking hyperbolically. The concept of irony appears to be lost on his critics.

    Can Smart People Disagree About the Threat of Climate Change?

    What so many in the media (and apparently the climate science community) fail to understand is that people have different values and priorities. Foreign policy analysts are terrified of North Korea. Economists fear Brexit and a Eurozone collapse. Geologists, especially those in the Pacific Northwest, fear a huge earthquake. Experts across the spectrum perceive threats differently, usually magnifying those with which they are most familiar.

    That means smart people can accept a common core of facts (such as the reality of anthropogenic global warming) without agreeing on a policy response.

    Yet instead of being a place to debate a policy response for complex science issues, the media have chosen to be an extension of the militant Twitterverse. Even if you are just discussing courses of action, you are not allowed to deviate from climate orthodoxy lest you be labeled a science-denying heretic.

    Perhaps journalists should spend more time talking to microbiologists”.

  • Neville says:

    More evidence that the SCC could be negative. So why are we ignoring the benefits of co2?

  • Neville says:

    Many more African countries plan to build over 100 new coal plants backed up by Chinese and Kenyan finance. Outside of Sth Africa this is an increase of at least 8 times the current capacity of those countries.


    And the WSJ also makes the case for Trump withdrawing from Paris COP 21.

    “The Wall Street Journal Makes The Case For Pulling Out Of Obama’s Paris Deal

    Date: 10/05/17
    Editorial, The Wall Street Journal

    We Shouldn’t Always Have Paris

    “President Trump is expected as soon as next week to order the Environmental Protection Agency to rescind its Clean Power rule that is blocked by the courts. But the President faces another test of political fortitude on whether to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord.

    That’s suddenly uncertain. Mr. Trump promised to withdraw during the presidential campaign, correctly arguing that the accord gave “foreign bureaucrats control over how much energy we use.” His transition team even explored strategies for short-cutting the cumbersome, four-year process of getting out of the deal.

    But the President’s is now getting resistance from his daughter, Ivanka, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who are fretting about the diplomatic ramifications. No doubt many countries would object, and loudly, but this risk pales compared to the potential damage from staying in the accord.

    President Obama committed as part of Paris to cutting U.S. emissions by 26% compared with 2005 levels by 2025. Even Mr. Obama’s climate regulatory programs—all imposed without Congressional votes—would only achieve about half that commitment. Mr. Trump is killing those Obama programs, which means the U.S. may not reach that Paris promise. Why stay in an agreement that the Trump Administration has no interest or plan for honoring?

    Another risk is that the U.S. might at some point be coerced into compliance. Mr. Obama joined the accord without congressional assent and endorsed the lengthy withdrawal process precisely to bind future Administrations to his climate priorities. Since Mr. Trump’s election, the international climate lobbies have debated ways to muscle the new Administration to comply.

    These include imposing punitive tariffs on U.S. goods or requiring the U.S. to hit targets in return for other international cooperation. Mr. Tillerson might consider that Paris will be used as leverage against him in future international negotiations.

    Lawyers and domestic environmental groups are also exploring how to use lawsuits to enforce the deal. Greens are adept at finding judges to require environmental regulations that Congress never intended. Such sympathetic judges today pack the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and include Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who in 2007 joined four liberals to redefine the Clean Air Act to cover carbon as a pollutant.

    Remaining in the Paris pact will invite litigation to impose the Paris standards and direct the EPA to impose drastic carbon cuts that would hurt the economy. Energy companies are aware of this threat, and despite Exxon ’s recent pledge to pour $20 billion into Gulf Coast facilities, other companies remain wary of U.S. regulation. They will be warier if Mr. Trump looks like he’s waffling on his climate positions.

    Mr. Trump’s best bet is to exit the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which could be done in a year and would result in a simultaneous withdrawal from Paris. That would quickly end the litigation risk.

    Mr. Tillerson said at his confirmation hearing that he believes the U.S. should remain in the Paris pact to have a “seat at the table” for the climate debate. But the U.S. doesn’t need Paris to have a say in global energy policy.

    America has already done more to reduce CO2 emissions with its natural-gas fracking revolution than has most of the world. Many of the Paris signers want to use the pact to diminish any U.S. fossil-fuel production. Mr. Tillerson will also be on the back foot in Paris discussions as he tries to overcome his past as an oil company executive.

    The best U.S. insurance against the risks of climate change is to revive economic growth that will drive energy innovation and create the wealth to cope with any future damage—if that day arrives.

    Policy details aside, the worst part of Mr. Obama’s climate agenda was its lack of democratic consent. He failed to persuade either a Republican or Democratic Congress to pass his regulation and taxes. So he attempted to impose that agenda at home through the EPA and abroad via Paris to use international pressure against domestic political resistance.”

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