Stormy Fall Weather for Global Warming

As much fun as Climate-gate has been generating the past few weeks, it’s almost hard to remember that Climate-gate is actually autumn’s second big global warming story.  The release of the book Superfreakonomics generated the first global warming contretemps, just as the weather got chillier and leaves began to fall.


Superfreakonomics is the sequel to the wildly successful Freakonomics, by economists Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, in which the authors apply standard economic analysis to all sorts of other behaviors not traditionally examined by economists, such as the economics of drug dealing, incentives for cheating for Chicago public school teachers, and predicting what the most popular children’s names will be in the future.  Probably the most controversial issue they researched was the link to legalized abortion and declining crime rates.  Their conclusion?   There is a link; a finding that did not engender themselves to many on the right.


This time it’s the left’s turn to get skewered.  Levitt and Dubner turn their economic analysis to solutions to global warming.  First it’s important to note that Levitt and Dubner are not global warming “deniers” or “skeptics.”  They accept the media/Al Gore consensus that global warming is happening and it’s largely manmade.  What sets them apart is what to do about it.  They find it cheaper and more cost effective to resort to geoengineering


One method in particular strikes them as particularly cost effective.  In 1991 Mt. Pinatubo erupted, pumping 15 to 300 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere and reduced global temperatures by about half a degree Celsius for years.  Levitt and Dubner asked themselves, wouldn’t it be more cost effective to try to duplicate that effect rather than strangle our economy for decades at a cost of trillions?  Turns out someone is already working on the idea:  Intellectual Ventures is a company that is developing a workable, and affordable, method of cooling the planet.  They figured that 100 million tons of sulfur dioxide per year would be enough to reverse warming.  It sounds like a lot except that we already pump 200 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere per year.  We just aren’t getting it high enough in the atmosphere.  IV came up with a plan that would send, via a hose, pumps, and helium balloons, sufficient amounts of sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere to stave off any warming for an initial cost of $20 million, and operating costs of $10 million a year.


Find me another global warming solution cheaper than that.


Naturally this threw the true believers into fits.  I’ve always suspected that global warming was as much a religious belief as scientific theory.  The Superfreakanomics attackers basically confirm that (to me anyway) by arguing that the main issue is to change human behavior. Oddly, they even argue that the computerized climate models would have to be far more accurate in order to make such a plan work (More about why that is so funny later). If there was a real consensus on the right and left that anthropogenic global warming was actually happening, that is probably where the divide would be:  The right would want the most cost effective method that would impact people and business the least, and the left would want to control human behavior, control the global economy, and have international bodies tax nation-states to mitigate the results of climate change.


Since the true believers are primarily on the left, their “solutions” dominate the debate, with geo engineering considered as much a heresy as Arianism was to the early Christian church.


Which of course brings us to Climate-gate.


The contents of the e-mails have been gone over so many times on so many websites that they hardly need to be rehashed here.  The critical summary is that the Climate Research Unit’s scientists conspired to, fire editors of scientific journals to control the peer review process, cite instances in which they use “tricks” to massage the data, and delete data in order to avoid a Freedom of Information Request; a crime, and in fact, they now admit to deleting all of their original climate station data, leaving only the “value-added,” massaged data left.


All damaging to be sure, but the most damaging of all to me is the “Harry_read_me.txt.”  This documents the attempts of one of the programmers to translate the climate data into something that could be modeled on the climate modeling software.


Basically its crap.


 In fact, it’s so bad that I think the true state of climate modeling is even worse than I thought it was, and I never thought it was sophisticated enough to determine if climate warming was man made or not.  Since none of the climate models predicted the post 1998 cooling, I figured they weren’t any good, but these revelations make me think that we are not even in the ball park of reasonably close climate modeling.


A few weeks ago, before the news on Climate-gate had broken, someone claimed that nothing could convince me of anthropogenic global warming.  Ah but there is.  Build a computerized climate model that can accept the inputs of climate that we already know we’ve had, say, from 1960 to 1990, and see if it can predict the climate for the next ten years, to 2000.  Since we already know what the weather actually was for that period of time, reasonably close results would give us an indicator if the model actually works.  Then maybe you could put in the variable of increased CO2 and see if it shows increased temperature; global warming in other words.


But we still are not even close to doing that.  In fact we are still so far off from that I despair of seeing that combination of software and processing power for decades, if ever.  Certainly it won’t be ready for the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, which started today.  Not that they need actual science for the conference.  They are basing their conclusions on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which bases their science on, you guessed it, the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit!


About a year and a half ago I wrote a blog expressing my doubts of manmade global warming, and it looks to me as if everything that has come out since then have made my doubts grow.  However if you are a true believer, nothing, not the CRU e-mail scandal, or even the actual halt in global temperatures since 1998 will deter you.  The delegates to the Copenhagen conference, with their 1,200 limos and 140 private planes, are true believers.  President Obama, who will be flying in next week to put his stamp of approval on whatever agreement comes out of the conference, is a true believer.  And the EPA, which as of today announced that carbon dioxide will “pose a threat to human health and welfare,” are true believers.


Even if global temperatures continue to fall for the next 10 to 20 years, it may be at least that long before the AGW skeptics start to get some traction.  We’ve already had 10 years of no increase in global temperatures with no let up on the true believers dominating public policy in virtually every industrialized country on the planet.


It might take a new ice age to thaw out that consensus.

8 responses to “Stormy Fall Weather for Global Warming

  • Howey

    Guess who’s behind the scam?

    “While the hacked e-mails may reveal that scientists might not have nice things to say about climate change deniers at times, they do nothing to change the scientific consensus that carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use are raising temperatures and making oceans more acidic. As the right attempts to use the Climategate story to derail the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference this week, arctic sea ice is still at historically low levels, Australia is still on fire, the northern United Kingdom is still underwater, the world’s glaciers are still disappearing and today NOAA confirmed that not only is it the hottest decade in history, but 2009 was one of the hottest years in history. But how did the right-wing noise machine hijack the debate?”

    Meanwhile, I’d like lilDick to explain this FACT from Gore:

    “…the entire north polar icecap, which has been there for most of the last 3 million years, is disappearing before our eyes. Forty percent is already gone. The rest is expected to go completely within the next decade. What do they think is causing this?”

  • lil mike

    Thanks ekg, I did like that!

    Here are the authors on CSPAN:

    Now Howey, I rue the day you introduced ekg to thinkprogress and those other leftie blogs. She used to use real news articles for reference. So in that way, you’re a bad influence. However I will accept even leftie blogs if they are properly sourced.

    Now, this hottest decade thing flipped a few years ago, so it’s astounding to me that the old figures are still being used.

    “The warmest year on record is now 1934. 1998 (long trumpeted by the media as record-breaking) moves to second place. 1921 takes third. In fact, 5 of the 10 warmest years on record now all occur before World War II.”

    And sea ice?

    “Thanks to a rapid rebound in recent months, global sea ice levels now equal those seen 29 years ago, when the year 1979 also drew to a close.
    Ice levels had been tracking lower throughout much of 2008, but rapidly recovered in the last quarter. In fact, the rate of increase from September onward is the fastest rate of change on record, either upwards or downwards. ”
    And this looks like the sea ice is pretty stable to me.

    As far as “facts” from Al Gore, how about explaining this one? From Conan a few weeks ago:

    Conan: Now, what about … you talk in the book about geothermal energy …
    Al: Yeah, yeah.
    Conan: and that is, as I understand it, using the heat that’s generated from the core of the earth …
    Al: Yeah.
    Conan: … to create energy, and it sounds to me like an evil plan by Lex Luthor to defeat Superman. Can you, can you tell me, is this a viable solution, geothermal energy ?
    Al: It definitely is, and it’s a relatively new one. People think about geothermal energy — when they think about it at all — in terms of the hot water bubbling up in some places, but two kilometers or so down in most places there are these incredibly hot rocks, ’cause the interior of the earth is extremely hot, several million degrees, and the crust of the earth is hot …

    Several million degrees? Come on!

    Let’s say, for the sake of argument, the earth really is getting hotter every year. How would we know that the introduction of man made carbon dioxide is the cause? The only way we could tell would be to have computer models sophisticated enough…

    … which we don’t.

    Ah but what’s the use? You know that already if you read my blog or the CPU emails. But, like most believers, you’re not concerned with that. You’re only concerned with orthodoxy in your quaint little faith.

    But I’m not trying to convince you really. At this point, I want you to continue to be a true believer. It will just make you look dumber when the world gradually wakes up from it’s Al Gore coma.

  • ekg

    How would we know that the introduction of man made carbon dioxide is the cause?

    common sense?

    seriously, you agree that the earth is in essence a pretty balanced equation.. we have just enough of whatever chemicals to sustain our growth, our plants,waters,wildlife.. etc.. everything that distinguishes us from other planets.. some may have too little oxygen for example so they can’t sustain ‘life’ because their balance is off..

    so if we’re adding more of something to that delicate balance.. how is it not harmful?

    and btw, what would be the end result of this grand conspiracy.. if it works I mean.. what? that we are more efficient? we use less oil and thus have less need to have to suck the dick of a regime that is more ‘terroristic’ than the places where we are fighting wars? a place that is more oppressive than almost any other, that we actually build a society that uses renewable sources of energy like wind,solar,hydro [insert your fav renewable source here] and thus have less smog,less pollution,more forests,more sea life and generally a cleaner life for all?

    I just can’t grasp how an end result like that is such a horrible idea.. but you fight so hard against it that it must be a truly evil idea..

    so tell me what is the end game for this grand conspiracy that has involved every country on the planet, and just how in the hell even independent and unrelated agencies have all come to the same conclusions and their goal was _________?

    it’s funny that you can’t look at the 9/11 conspiracy with even a hint of an unbiased eye just because the amount of people that would have to be involved would be astounding and all of them keeping quiet would be even more of a feat.. and yet you can simple say “Sure, the entire world colluded with one another to fool us Republican/Conservatives just so they could ______” (again, I don’t know what the ‘green’ end game is…)

  • Howey

    “How would we know that the introduction of man made carbon dioxide is the cause?”

    This is where Chuck and I agree. The fact is that noone knows what’s caused climate change.

    I don’t care what the cause is…mankind’s irresponsible use of our natural resources is destroying our planet and the futures of our children.

    If we have the capacity to destroy, we have the capacity to fix. Let’s quit worrying about “who did it” and concentrate on “let’s fix it” before there’s nothing left to fix.

    Inserting Swift Boat style discourse and Watergate style tactics (regarding the emails) merely cheapens the issue and makes the one issue out there that affects each and every man, woman, and child on this planet a political issue is fucking ridiculous.

  • Howey

    Thought I’d do a little research on DailyTech and it’s leader, Kristopher Kubicki, since it appears to be one of lilIcee’s (lol) best sources on this.

    Love this comment!

    “In short, the guy is clearly politically biased and inexperienced with interpreting data.”

    and this one…

    “He lists himself as a “futurist.” That term is nearly synonymous with crackpot in my experience. He’s another right-wing nutbar scared the UN bogeymen are coming for him.”

    and this is telling…

    “And you know, going off on a tangent, this is a common thread among the skeptic “scientists.” They moan and whine how they can’t get their papers published because everyone is against them. That is *not* the reason. Their papers don’t get published because there are fundamental errors in them. If they were not so rigid intellectually, they would fix the errors and then publish. The problem for them is that if they fix the errors, they conclusions are the direct opposite of what they want to show.”

  • lil mike

    I think I responded well enough to ekg on the muche.

    As for Howey…

    Let’s follow this up. You used ThinkProgress as a source, I responded, and you critique my responses and sources with… wait for it…Yahoo Answers!

    Wow Howey, ya got me! I can’t top Yahoo Answers.

    So once again you’re being silly. Now as to your earlier point:

    “This is where Chuck and I agree. The fact is that noone knows what’s caused climate change.
    I don’t care what the cause is…mankind’s irresponsible use of our natural resources is destroying our planet and the futures of our children.
    If we have the capacity to destroy, we have the capacity to fix. Let’s quit worrying about “who did it” and concentrate on “let’s fix it” before there’s nothing left to fix.
    Inserting Swift Boat style discourse and Watergate style tactics (regarding the emails) merely cheapens the issue and makes the one issue out there that affects each and every man, woman, and child on this planet a political issue is fucking ridiculous.”

    The cause does kind of matter. If climate change is due to totally natural causes (as I believe it is) then none of the things that you and Al Gore want to do to mitigate it will have any effect. So as far as the climate goes, in that case we are not “destroying the planet.”

    If man is responsible, and every breath you exhale is pushing the climate temperature up, then none of the things that Al Gore and the UN want to do will be sufficient. We would have to totally dismantle industrial civilization, so anyone using electricity, purchasing any manufactured good, and eating anything that was transported out of the local area is a hypocrite. Considering the carbon generated to transport the delegates to Copenhagen, that would include all of the delegates there except for the Danish ones who biked there.
    Unless of course you support geoengineering , like the idea I presented in my blog. There is a method of fixing it.

    What say you? Sulfur dioxide for everyone?

  • “ClimateGate?” Not so fast… | The Velvet StraitJacket

    […] Ok, that’s silly. I really don’t know why the world would want to create this ‘hoax’  that we as human race were hurting the planet, much less know how a conspiracy of this magnitude could be kept secret; but that’s obviously what happened if you listen to the conservative media and conservative bloggers like my friend Lil Mike. […]

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