Sunday, June 4, 2017

After the Paris Accord: What is the Best Route Forward for Dealing with Global Warming?

This week, President Trump announced that the U.S. will be pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord.   This was a serious mistake.

But perhaps the withdrawal can serve as a reality check that will motivate folks on both sides of the political spectrum to deal with increasing greenhouse gases in a more effective way.

The Paris Accord: Mainly Symbolic

First, the reality check.   Some politicians,  the media, and others have claimed that the loss of the Paris Accord is nearly the end of the world.  In truth, the Paris Accord was a voluntary agreement, with little teeth, and inadequate to do the heavy lifting that is necessary to deal with increasing greenhouse gases.  The voluntary national reductions would have only a minor impact on rising temperature, perhaps reducing the warming by a few degrees fifty years from now.  Don't believe me?   Those were the conclusions of Dr. James Hansen, well know climate scientist and advocate of strong action;  a number of major climate scientists concurred with him.


The value of the Paris Accord was mainly symbolic:  a statement by nearly all nations in the world that anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming was a problem that needed to be dealt with (sometime).   That in itself is useful.  But to seriously stop global warming from exceeding 2C by the end of the century requires draconian (huge) declines in greenhouse gas emissions this decade (like 80-90% reductions) and no nation is willing to do this.  

Thus, there was no need for the U.S. to drop out of the Paris Accord, we simply could have changed our national plan.  But Trump dropped out to make his political base happy.  A symbolic rejection of a symbolic agreement.

The Reality of Human-Forced Climate Change

Greenhouse gases are increasing rapidly now, driven by population growth, improving living standards, and particularly by the large increase of coal burning in China.  Reality is that we are doing a major experiment with the climate system of the planet. Major warming is inevitable.
The best science and models are emphatic that the planet will warm as greenhouse gases (such as CO2 and methane) increase due to human impacts. But there is also a great deal of uncertainty regarding what will happen, something many in the environmental community tend to sweep under the rug.

There is, of course, uncertaintiy of how much CO2 humans will emit during the century. And there are major issues with the main tools folks like me use to simulate future climates: Global Climate Models (GCMs). These atmosphere/ocean models are wonders and can realistically simulate many aspects of the current earth's climate. But they have well known flaws as well.

Many do not get details of the earth's cloud field correct. Others produce a double ITCZ (the Intertropical Convergence Zone), an important east-west band of clouds/convection in the tropics. Most do a poor job in simulating convection (e.g., thunderstorms) and fail to correctly simulate important features like the MJO (Madden-Julian oscillation). Most underestimate interdecadal (natural) variability and many appear to be overly sensitive to greenhouse gases (producing more warming than they should). And none of them have sufficient resolution to get local climate impacts correct.

Importantly, the global models have problems simulating the current climate until they are tuned, adjustments made in key parameters to optimize their duplication of current conditions. What are the implications of such tuning for a different climate? We do not know.

And then there is natural variability, variations in the climate that are inherent in the climate system. There are still major deficiencies in our knowledge of what drives such variability and how it will change as the earth warms.

The lack of communication of these uncertainties has unnecessarily left the climate community open to attack by skeptics, who note the lack of prediction of the recent "pause" in global warming, which was probably due to natural variability.

But even with their deficiencies, global climate models are useful tools for getting broad trends (the earth will warm, the arctic warms more rapidly than other locations, sea level will rise), but quantitative forecasts must be considered highly uncertain.

Time for More Effective Measures

In some ways, the Paris Agreement was problematic:  it gave folks the impression that mankind was dealing with global warming, while we were really kicking the can down the road.  Perhaps with the knowledge that the emperor has no clothes, mankind (and the U.S.) can get more serious about the issue.   And both sides of the U.S. political spectrum will have to change their approaches if we are to have any hope of dealing with the problem.

1.  Stop fixating on Donald Trump

The environmental community and the "left" are fixated on Donald Trump, an individual who historically has never had a real interest in climate change.  The guy wants attention and does anything to get it.  Stop giving him what he wants. Ignore his silly tweets.   Do what he will hate the most:  make him irrelevant. Work around him.


2.  Depoliticize Climate Change

Both the left and the right have used global warming as political tools and as litmus tests of "right thinking."    Both sides need to stop doing this.  It wasn't long ago (2008) that Senator McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, talked about the need to deal with global warming.  More recently the Republican party made skepticism about global warming an official tenet of their belief system.   Democrats and "progressives" have taken a similar tack, making  global warming action a central principle of their belief system.  And they have made the serious mistake of connecting climate change to their political goals (such as equity, racism, labor practices) and have participated in exaggerating current climate impacts in order to push folks  to "do the right thing."

It turns out the folks of all walks of life believe that global warming is a threat.  To demonstrate this, here is a graphic of the % of adults that believe global warming will hurt future generations (produced by the wonderful Yale Climate Communications group).  A majority in every state.


Greenhouse warming is too serious an issue to be a political football of either side.  Effective national efforts on climate change is best done in a bipartisan way.  Democrats need to work with moderate Republicans, who are not the enemies many of the left claim.   Consider:  many Republicans support climate research and research on renewable energy technologies. A group of moderate Republican leaders have supported a national, revenue-neutal carbon tax.

3.   The Solutions will be Based on Technology, Not Sacrifice

One thing is abundantly clear: most people are not willing to make real sacrifices to deal with global warming, even those with the most knowledge of the threat. A study by the Energy Research Institute of the University of Chicago found that  43% of Americans were unwilling to pay an additional $1 per month in their electricity bill to combat climate change, and a large majority were unwilling to pay $10 per month. I have found that many of those with the most knowledge of global warming (climate scientists) have the largest carbon footprints. Same with many of the most vocal politicians and advocates (like Al Gore). How many of you are willing to give up flying for vacations and visiting families? One international roundtrip flight emits enough carbon emission per passenger to equal daily work commutes for a year. No nation is willing to make draconian changes in their economy necessary to address the problem,if such changes will be costly or reduce the quality of life. This is reality, one that some folks (such as Charles Mudede of the Seattle newspaper, the Stranger) are not willing to accept.



So, as Bill Gates and others have stated, the solution to the global warming problem will have to be based on improved technologies that will allow people to live high-quality lives with minimal sacrifice or cost. To use energy without emitting greenhouse gases. And there is reason for optimism. The costs of renewable energy has plummeted, with wind and solar now economically viable without government credits. Energy storage technologies are advancing rapidly and long-range high-voltage direct current interconnects will allow long-distance buffering of load and generation. Adaptive energy usage by smart appliances could play a major role in balancing load and there is no reason why electric cars (perhaps with gas backup generators) could not become the standard around the nation.

After Fukashima, nuclear energy was rejected by many, but new-technology nuclear generation should play an important role in the future energy mix until renewables can take over.  Eventually, fusion power will be available, but we can not depend on that.

4.   Research on climate change and energy technologies

One thing is clear:  all sides of the political spectrum are willing to support research on climate change and new energy technologies.  There is a huge amount of work needed to improve global climate models, including their physical descriptions of key phenomena such as sea ice, convection, and low clouds.  Regional climate modeling needs to be perfected to provide insights into regional climate change (such as our project at the UW).  And we have to run our models many times using an ensemble approach, to produce probabilistic climate projections.


And research must continue on energy storage, transmission, and generation, supported by both the Federal government, states, foundations, and private sector entities, such as the Gates effort.

5.   Resilience and Adaptation

There is no way to prevent substantial warming because the atmosphere/oceans have not caught up with current greenhouse gas concentrations.  And there is no reason to expect that mankind will turn the greenhouse gas juggernaut around quickly.  So we need to work on preparing our infrastructure and population for global warming.   Humans are adaptable and changes will be relatively slow, so preparation and adaptation should be generally possible.  Current research suggests there are no "tipping points" or climate cliffs with abrupt changes.  And because our models are probably oversensitive to greenhouse gases, we probably have more time to make necessary changes.

For some, talking about resilience/adaptation is rejected because they only want to consider mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emission).   But such sentiments are not realistic--we need to prepare.  For example, in  Washington State the snowpack will decline by the end of the century, while total precipitation will probably increase modestly.   Thus, eastern WA agriculture must use water more efficiently and additional reservoir capacity will be needed to store winter precipitation and run-off.  It also means moving population away from rivers, which will undoubtedly have higher flood peaks during storm season.

6.   National Coalitions of State and Groups

If the Federal government is going to be missing in action during the next few years, there is no reason that concerned states, such as WA, CA, OR, and NY can't work together to develop technologies, do research, and begin adaptation.   They will be joined by others (cities, foundations) and I suspect even some Republican/battleground states will become involved (such as Florida and perhaps Texas). Already one such group is being formed:  the Climate Alliance.  The train will leave with or without Trump and friends.
_______

In summary, perhaps Trump's rejection of the Paris Accords could end up being a good thing if both sides of the political spectrum put ideology aside, secure a realistic appraisal of the problem, and move forward with both mitigation and adaptation.

52 comments:

Russell Miller said...

One thing you didn't mention: The fact that so many agencies, governments, and corporations are going ahead with it anyway is proof that it probably wasn't needed in the first place. Once I saw that that was the case, I saw it as unnecessary regulation and thought Trump probably did the right thing. As you said, symbolic.

(And I was not sure if it was or not until a couple of days later - something I wish more people would do)

Michael DeMarco said...

Keep working. Trump will be gone regardless of the timing. Keep at it.

Michael DeMarco said...

The symbol was his middle finger.

suetunn said...

Yes, it is a symbol. Humans go to war over symbols. We are emotional beings. We need a symbol that will motivate action towards the necessary technologies and economic benefits. Maybe your suggestion of rallying other groups to replace missing Fed leadership might work.

RentonRebel said...

All negotiated agreements are suboptimal, else no need to negotiate.
In all the world there is only one nation with a major political party that adamantly refuses to acknowledge the possibility of man made climate change. So adamant are US Republicans they refuse the concept of scientific research to enlighten our policy debate.

Unless and until Republicans enter the policy debate with reason none of your proposals stand a chance of being discussed, let alone implemented.

Dave said...

In the geological record, it has been much warmer, it has been much colder. CO2 has been up to 7,000ppm.

Although I do agree that the Earth is warming, I do not see that humans are having such an impact as claimed and in fact, I seriously doubt that we will have much of a measurable effect even if we were to cut emissions by 90%. Life will certainly be more miserable and expensive.

Satellites measuring atmospheric temperatures have observed a 19+ year decline in temps and the sun's output is much lower than normal - could we be headed to another Maunder Minimum?

Just some thoughts on a Sunday afternoon...

chrismealy said...

I'd like Cliff Mass to name these moderate Republicans rather than assuming they exist.

Michael Snyder said...

I found this curious, did you mean to say something else?:

"The voluntary national reductions would have only a minor impact on rising temperature, perhaps reducing the warming by a few degrees fifty years from now?"

I ask because the difference in ice-age periods and the warmest periods in the Earths history are just a few degrees.

Keep up the good work.


Michael Snyder said...

Dave, almost everything in your post is wrong, and whats worst is that its easy to find the correct information. Start getting your data from NASA and scientists, and not so much from Fox News and right wind blogs/sites.

One example: You said that life will be more miserable if we try to make the planet cleaner.
Would you rather breath in fumes from a car burning gas or ride in a city full of electric vehicles that emit nothing?

You get cleaner air, and you stave off all the problems that come with warming that globe.

K.R. Burgess said...


The "Paris Accord" is nothing more,than a chance for politicians to *BLOW* more smoke up our _______ !

Fill in the blank.

David Young said...

chrismealy, You are part of the polarization problem Cliff is talking about. Of course there are reasonable people in all political factions.

typingtalker said...

Both President Obama’s 2016 signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change and President Trump’s withdrawal from that agreement today fit into a category I will label as QTIIPS.
QTIIPS stands for Quantitatively Trivial Impact + Intense Political Symbolism.

QTIIPS policy changes provoke fierce political battles over trivially small policy impacts. Passionate advocates on both sides ignore numbers and policy details while fighting endlessly about symbols.


http://keithhennessey.com/

a progressive crank said...

>Satellites measuring atmospheric temperatures have observed a 19+ year decline in temps and the sun's output is much lower than normal - could we be headed to another Maunder Minimum?

Satellite data is notoriously inaccurate. Surface temps have been rising at ane ever faster rate over that time.

http://cdn1.globalissues.org/i/climate/co2-emissions-past-400000-years.jpg illustrates that the new normal is anything but.

If we accept CO2 as the driver, we can look at a graph like this — http://cdn1.globalissues.org/i/climate/co2-emissions-1751-2010.png — and see quite clearly that industrialization is how we got here.

Climate change as a byproduct of CO2 is not a new discovery. It was predicted 100 years ago, mentioned in a film series from the 1950s, was announced by Walter Cronkite introducing a news segment in 1980. But the same people who told us smoking wasn't addictive found new work, spreading disinformation about greenhouses gases. Feel free to persue the posts here — https://climatecrocks.com — and see what works is being done, both to verify and combat climate change.

Alex said...

chrismealy said...
I'd like Cliff Mass to name these moderate Republicans rather than assuming they exist.
June 4, 2017 at 12:34 PM


Name a single moderate Democrat.

Unknown said...

Cliff,

The tragedy of the US pulling out of the Paris Accord wasn't us actually pulling out. As you mentioned it was largerly symbolic and did little to help global climate change. The REAL tragedy was what happened after Trump gave his speech. Many of the global technology leaders began shunning the Trump administration, leaving the US future as a technology leader much more cloudy. These are where the jobs of the 21st century will come from, and we may have well shipped many of them overseas with this move. It's still possible that local and state governments will work on retaining these jobs, but the White House simply does not get it.

suetunn said...

https://nyti.ms/2kBy8kM
Here are some names from NY Tines

don said...

Chrismealy, you mean moderate republicans named in articles like this https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/07/science/a-conservative-climate-solution-republican-group-calls-for-carbon-tax.html?_r=0

DonB said...

A great synopsis of the issues Cliff, thanks.

Icarus said...

Gosh, imagine for a moment that we clean up the atmosphere by using renewable energy; and then global warming happens anyway. Ok, what if we keep on like we are and fill the air with pollutants? Hmmmm. If we refuse to acknowledge the fact that we do indeed have influence on the environment we condemn ourselves to breathing increasingly horrifically polluted air, drinking foul water and eating polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon filled food, and possibly causing climate anomalies that will plague our children, and grand children. In the fall/winter when the dew falls on your car, go out and wipe the dew off the wind shield, and look at the white rag. It will be black. Your're breathing that crap every day. Where we live here, in the winter when everyone has their wood stove going full blast, the air is so polluted a gas mask is needed. It gets worse and worse each year, and that's with strict regulations in place. So what's wrong with cleaning up our act? Really now?

Mike Ardington said...

Several posts sadly involved Partisan potshots. They missed Cliff's most salient point. This MUST become as apolitical as possible for meaningful progress. I believe, like most things, it will be market driven and markets are EVER SO SLOWLY reaching a good place. But Cliff's strongest point of all is the preparation/adaptation issue, which, in the end, will mostly be market driven in terms of on-the-ground action. PLANS, however, must continue to be made to decrease our eventual reaction time. I have worked in the Natural Sciences for 40 years and in the past 20 have been more impressed by our planet's resilience to disturbance than the opposite. Therefore I do not subscribe to the Panic Party. But we must ignore the complete denial contingent as well and calmly and cooperatively continue forward. Essential message: ignore politics!! Science and market dynamics are what matters.

Organic Farmer said...

Good Cliff..!
Thank you for fresh point of view.

IMHO both ends of our political beast are spewing the same old polarizing garbage.

I do question sea level rise. That has to be ice melt on land, so we are talking Greenland and Antarctica. It is hard to quantify, but the land will spring back up to some degree when the pressure of the ice is removed, mitigating sea level rise to some degree. Also the atmosphere will hold more moisture.
So we really do not have a good handle on the extent of sea level rise.

Increased CO2 will increase earth's biomass, that biomass is the planets carbon sequestering tool.

Where are the biomass statistics? Models? Projections? Seriously, why is this missing from the conversation.? (It is from this sequestered biomass we are releasing the hydrocarbons from anyway!!!!)

I can not fathom how anyone can debate, the fact that extracting sequestered carbon in the form of hydrocarbons and releasing them back into the active carbon cycle, somehow does not increase atmospheric carbon???!!

Sure it is good to debate the need or level we should attempt to mitigate our impact. But denial? I don't get.

For me the big concern, is ocean currents. Like the North Atlantic current. That stops and the impact on the ecosystem will be enormous.

It seems prudent to error on the side of caution, with things we truly do not understand.

Puffin said...

Add to the list of what we can't anticipate is the law of unintended consequences. Who can say if even small temperature changes to a region might enable a new pathogen to flourish, one that we cannot control, and that spreads worldwide. Global scale models of climate change can't predict these events, yet they could have outsize significance.

Sally Mizroch said...

Moderate Republicans were bought off by fossil fuel money. They didn't go down the climate change denial path on their own. It's not a level playing field

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/06/03/us/politics/republican-leaders-climate-change.html?referer=http://m.facebook.com/

Cliff Mass said...

Sally.... I simply don't buy the thesis that all the Republican's were bought off by oil money. The issue is deeper than that, including the politicization of climate by the Democrats. We have to rebuild the center on this issue and there are plenty of Republicans that will work with us on key issues, such as a revenue neutral carbon tax, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Consider this: a huge amount of wind energy facilities have been installed in Texas and eastern Washington growers want more reservoirs. Find common ground and work together. Perfect the science. Lots of constructive stuff to do. Fixating on Trump and evil oil folks will get you no where...cliff

Daran Rife said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daran Rife said...

Cliff, Thanks very much for this thoughtful piece. While I am very disheartened at last weeks events, you are right that the Accord was nothing more than symbolic. In my view, the risks for climate change are simply too large to ignore. We need a hedge. This requires real action and real money. Sadly, as you've indicated, very few seem willing to pay for this. Yet many of those same people hold (pay for) accidental death and dismemberment insurance policies? Why? Because the impacts on their immediate families would be huge, even though the statistical probability of such an event is exceedingly low.

Jennifer Gervais said...

Thank you for venturing out into the currently abandoned wasteland of thoughtful discussion... may we all follow you there shortly so we can begin the hard work of determining how we will all move forward to address the very real issues despite uncertainties.

Ansel said...

I do wish people (scientists, politicians, everyone) would talk about overpopulation more though. To me it is the real problem. It went out of vogue with the 1970's, and people accept population growth fatalistically, a fact which I do not like.

A lower world population would have less impact on all fronts: Less extinctions, more rainforest preservation, less agricultural pollution from pesticides, less air pollution, less coal mining, less global warming, less nighttime light pollution, less over-fishing, less
quota permits needed to regulate usage in national parks, less... shall I go on???

Of course, how we accomplish that fairly, that is the $64,000 question.

Joey DiJulio said...

I hope you know my respect for you (which was already pretty high) has tripled with this post. Bravo sir, bravo!

Calling it right down the middle is exactly how this topic should be dealt with. Thanks for once again doing just that, Cliff :)

JeffB said...

Excellent summary Cliff. Especially 1,2,3&5. The "never let a crisis go to waste" Left in our country has hyper politicized climate just like everything else and has only themselves to blame now that so many view their shrill calls to action as not credible. Couple that with their sycophant media partners and their "if it bleeds it leads" voracious appetite for scary stories and storm news coverage and you have a perfect "Little Boy Who Cried Wold" fairy tale.

The two things we could do to move the needle on CO2 emissions are:
1) Educate more on the dangers of animal consumption. Humans are naturally herbivores and most credible science shows we don't need the vast majority of the meat and dairy that we consume. If we lessened the methane and CO2 from the meat and dairy industry that would do much more than worrying about auto emissions. Read more in the excellent book "Meatonomics by David Robinson Simon" or watch the documentaries "Forks Over Knives" and "The Blue Zones" to see why health and longevity are directly correlated with less animal consumption. (Pro Tip: Learning about this might actually save your life, unlike worrying about Donald Trump pulling out of the Paris accord since the vast majority of Americans die needlessly from heart disease and cancer, both entirely avoidable diseases.) We would also save vast amounts of fresh water and vast amounts of diesel fuel not needed to feed three or four giant animal populations instead of just one human animal population.

2) Focus subsidy instead on a "space race" like effort for turning Thorium nuclear in to our primary energy source. This would let us eat up the waste we have created from the Gen1 and Gen2 heavy water reactors, produce energy so abundant it would be as cheap as water, provide an abundance of clean fresh water to the world for agriculture and second and third world countries, and allow us to more fully exploit electric cars and other technologies that are just as limited now by carbon energy sources as anything else, but masked by their much smaller adoption than carbon fueled vehicles.

No one, and especially not the glamorous hypocrites like Al Gore who jet around with their lavish lifestyles, is going to be the first one to volunteer to shut off their own lights and live in the cold for some elusive 50 years hence climate model that has not predicted the last 20 years accurately.

So stop the ridiculous hysteria and focus on concrete technology solutions.

Eric Blair said...

The cognitive dissonance regarding some of the comments here are hilarious, it's as if they didn't bother to read what Cliff actually posted and just launched into their political dogmatic screeds at will. Cliff says we need to get politics out of this debate, yet here we are - again. Once again, this is how you get four more years of Trump. Angry Venting of Spleen Commenters, heal thyselves.

Dan said...

All the arguments from the climate scolds ignore the elephant in the room: the rampant march ever upward of human population. Until we take serious steps to slowly lower world population over time (such as strongly limiting immigration from breeder countries) all this nonsense about living as ascetics will fall on deaf ears.

Doc Wellness said...

Cliff, you say "I simply don't buy the thesis that all the Republican's were bought off by oil money." Surely, you do not deny that Big Oil has bought off politicians, eg. Congressman Lamar Smith R-Tx, EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt, Energy Department Secretary Rick Perry or WA state senator Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, to name only 4 of many hundred. Surely you do not deny the dark money funding by the Koch brothers, Exxon, Shell and the American Petroleum Institute, among others, of ALEC and its push to slow renewable energy deployment in states. Should we not speak up about these Big Oil influences when Rep. Lamar Smith, Head of the House Science Committee, conducts grossly biased hearings to deny climate change and to slow action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Should we not speak out against Big Oil's funding of ALEC to slow climate change action on a state level?

Cliff Mass said...

Doc Wellness... there is certainly oil money...and you can feel free to call them on it. There is also money on the other side...like billionaire Steyer. The real issue is not oil money, but rather that no one really wants to sacrifice to deal with the problem. My colleagues, jetting off to their vacations, are not being influenced by oil money. Neither are the Europeans...cliff

Bruce Kay said...

It is true. The primary sentiment behind Trump pulling out of a non binding agreement is an unwillingness to take the slightest risk or assume the slightest cost to upset our comfortable status quo for some nebulous future abstraction of risk. This is not entirely a Trump phenomena either.

British Columbia is potentially the Saudi Arabia of hydro electric resources. Hydro electricity is by far the best proven and cheapest low GHG electricity producer, far more reliable than solar or wind and a perfect fit to displace coal fired power right next door in Alberta. This is so obvious yet you will not find one single BC based eco activist advocating for even one little run of river project. They will not take the slightest risk or assume the slightest cost against their primary values (wilderness preservation / anti corporatism) in order to mitigate the one risk they scream the loudest about. Like Trump and the right wingers, they also have a long list or plausible reasons that these risks and costs are unacceptable but in all cases, the central guiding principle is that the future abstract risk is less than their immediate and more salient values.

This is known as Loss Aversion, which all humans generally are subject to and will suffer from, adversely skewing our risk calculations to favour circling the wagons around assets we hold or even simply imagine that we might hold, by discounting future risk.

For the right wingers our loss aversion consists of preserving our first world entitlements and how we imagine they are sustained. The eco kooks don't want to lose all the pretty views, fish, deer and seal pups that constitute "wilderness" forgetting for the moment that they are as complicit as any by simply requiring the lights to go on whenever we flick a light switch.

Both consider climate change to be comparatively a lesser risk, despite the fact that they themselves are unskilled and most any skilled assessment suggests the opposite. In all cases how we feel is what is important, and by and large our feelings are dominated by the irrationality of loss aversion.

Incidentally, loss aversion is the primary reason why most people do not save enough for their retirement years, despite deliberately planning to retire. People value their immediate values by discounting their future needs. Play now.....pay later.

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/nov/10/brain-climate-change-science-psychology-environment-elections

Mark said...

Cliff, I find your comments hypocritical. You decry partisanship but only criticize progressive news stories when they go askew and not conservative news stories when they advance junk science. You justify your one-sided critiques with the incorrect reasoning that American news does not confront Environmental hyperbole. I guess you don't read or watch alt-right news: FOX, Drudge, Breitbart... Fox has been the number one cable news service for years. Several key climate change scientists have received anonymous death threats, public verbal abuse and political intimidated by certain extremist Republican politicians and their appointees. Many moderate Republicans have been replaced by extremists.

You don't counter political extremism with silence. Silence is consent. Silence did not end slavery or Jim Crow. Silence did not stop Hitler or Communism. Good people must speak out against extremism.

I voted against Nixon (supported HHH) but I went to the southeast Asian war and served my country. I never had to worry that my president, even Nixon, was aligned with our enemies until now!

President Trump is worrisome. He laughs with our enemies and is contemptuous of our allies. He speaks and writes obvious untruths. He does not know history but listens to conspiracy theorists. It is hurricane season, can you name the Director of the National Hurricane Center? It's vacant! It is President Trump's responsibility to name a new NHC director. Instead, he tweets rubbish.

If we don't stand-up to such madness it will spread across our land. We will lose our democracy, our freedom and our moral compass.

Moderate Republicans shoulder much of the blame for the current madness in our politics. They were SILENT about the extremists within their party. Moderate Republicans allowed the Tea Party extremists and Trump to seize control of the GOP. They did not confront racism. Instead, they gerrymandered and legislated to marginalize African American voters, Democrats and progressives. Their strategy worked. Republicans control all the levers of political power.

You do not end madness with silence.

Jack Graham said...


Cliff... though I have had some disagreements in the past I think you nailed this. Coming from a person who like's Trump for some things and dislikes him for others ... YOU ARE SPOT ON HERE !,,,, jump ON THE TRAIN AND RIDE IT... JUMP ON THE PLATFOEM AND WATCH IT GO BY OR STAND THERE AND GET HIT!.... duh!-JG

J. Patrick Moore said...

Has anybody reading these blog comments taken any personal action? For decades, I've chosen mostly smaller cars to drive, which are more fuel efficient. We've changed from incandescent to LED lights through most of our home. We have a relatively energy efficient home. We no longer use charcoal for grilling, as you end up with wasted energy in the form of coals that take an hour or more to die out.
None of these are tremendously big steps, but all have a cumulative effect of reducing carbon emissions.
Here's something to think about: unless you have solar cells with power storage to power your electric car, it's essentially running on coal. The same goes with light rail trains. And another question (to which I don't know the answer), are all these electric motors designed not to create ozone?
Think about the cell phone you use. Such computing power used to require a room full of technology that ate up electricity at a huge rate. Even twenty years ago, that much computer power required a room full of PC's. Now, it's run off a small battery. Cliff is right - it's through technological advances that we'll make an impact on global warming.

Kevin Lynch said...

Terrific article. I am an Independent, politically, but basically an FDR Democrat in Independent's clothing.

Paul said...

If the AGW folks on here can't admit that their data has been flawed and manipulated then we can't have a real conversation about the merits of Paris Agreement. Here is another BIG example of how mislead so many of you really are. I'm guessing now that Trump has pulled us out of this agreement and made it known that he does not intend to spend billions on climate change, we will now see more whistleblowers come forward and end this debate.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4192182/World-leaders-duped-manipulated-global-warming-data.html

Also, I'm guessing that Trump's climate policies will also open the door to new studies that have been covered up due to the previous administration's anti-science climate public relations(propaganda). For instance; look at all of the peer-reviewed papers coming out about the REAL DRIVER of the CLIMATE...... The SUN.

http://principia-scientific.org/20-new-science-papers-find-climate-driven-solar-changes/

Stay warm folks! The sun's Grand Minimum is upon us.

NC weather observer said...

Cliff,
One of your best editorials yet. We have to get beyond the politics to find real solutions and yes, we all need to take personal responsibility for our carbon emissions. Flying 100,000 miles per year or more then saying "I'm an environmentalist, I drive a Prius!" is akin to the obese person who eats multiple cheese burgers and fries then orders diet coke.

The Paris Agreement like the Kyoto Protocols are make believe guidelines that never have any teeth to enforce them. And it would be political suicide for any party who mandates the economic and lifestyle changes necessary to make it happen.

Bruce Kay said...




Guess all you want Paul. The fact checker is upon you.


http://www.snopes.com/2017/02/08/noaa-scientists-climate-change-data/

Bruce Kay said...

I am perpetually amazed at the purported logic in statements such as " Paris has no teeth so it is a bad deal"


Huh? A non binding aspirational agreement is a "bad deal"? OK I get it - the USA and other fat cat nations, all of us dripping with opportunity, wealth and privilege, are expected to contribute to a fund designed to help developing nations (by any measure not at all dripping with wealth, opportunity and privilege) to do their own shift toward a lower carbon economy. This, in the words of Trump, is called a unbearable burden on the USA or in dog whistle language to the Shining city on the hill crowd, an unearned "redistribution of wealth". There is no contractual binding enforcement but to refuse, while dripping with wealth is to some minds, coercive. It is persuasive, not coercive.

Forgetting for a moment where all that American wealth actually came from (dirt cheap energy and other resources flowing like honey straight from the third world), there is a very simple principle required to agree with this notion of a "bad deal". What we now own we will never give up for any reason, particularly any reason beyond the hallowed borders of the greatest nation on earth. America is an island and to hell with the rest. The second world war sure didn't play out under that attitude.

The greatest crime that Al Gore committed in his infamous movie was to state these words:

"Climate change is a moral problem".

He had the nerve to point out the obvious, a major fau pass in America where myth is sacred. I don't recall him ever saying that it is only some peoples moral problem or that moral problem can be turned off like a light switch. In fact I do recall him saying that we are all complicit and to each one's ability, we all need to adjust. Not just America but the whole damn planet. That will require taking small risks to mitigate the larger risk, systemically and proportional to ones vulnerability.

Any action that the USA takes to move away from fossil fuels will involve low vulnerability, simply by way of its enormous wealth. What vulnerability exists to a very few individuals can certainly be adjusted for by way of what you sneeringly call "wealth redistribution". On the one hand you applaud any family that funds their children post secondary education ( a gross redistribution of wealth to the most vulnerable) while at the same time defund health care and public education on the wrong side of the tracks (correcting that evil redistribution of wealth to those who don't earn it) At some point you need to acknowledge the obvious, as Gore did:

American morality is only applied to your tribe and to hell with the rest ( but give us your oil anyway)

I

Paul said...

@ Bruce - Snopes!?!?!? Really?!?!? Snopes has been proven many times to not be dealing in facts. I won't even waste my time clicking on this link.

Saul said...

I completely agree. Many scientists suggest that we have reached point of no return, where drastic, almost cataclysmic changes in human behavior would be needed to stabilize global temperatures and climate. Most people in the western world will not willingly do that. Behavior changes will need to start now, from industrial revert-olution, for instance why build cars that can go 150mph? why not build more efficient engines that g0 70mph? After all everywhere you go there's a speed limit of 60 to 75mph.
Agricultural behavior will need to start changing where more local or in-home agriculture and farming is encouraged. Why do we need to have millions of square miles of cattle ranches? So we will need to have an Industrial revertolution where everything is done at a scale of just of a fraction of what is now.

Everybody needs to forget about the politics, reach out to the other side, reach out to people that disagree. Example commands leadership.

We are trying our little part at home, beginning with learning farming techniques, biking to work and/or using public transportation. Eating less meat or eating less in general, reduce spending, not replace but fix.


JeffB said...

Bruce you obviously don't understand the difference between voluntary and involuntary. We call it sex when it is voluntary and rape when it's not for good reason. If someone chooses to spend their own money that's not wealth redistribution.

Bruce Kay said...

Oh I understand the concept of voluntary all right. The question is if you do, certainly in the context of giving voluntarily when need is high and your wealth is thick. The Paris accord was a voluntary agreement among nearly every participating nation, rich and poor. They all volunteered to cooperate, coordinate and contribute as a function of their ability. As we speak, China and India are despite great poverty and highly strained social structure, taking significant risk and cost to transition away from fossil fuels. Proportionally, most European countries have spent the past decade doing similar. You don't hear them whining about the pains of volunteerism.

For the most powerful, wealthy and privileged nation to step away from such a voluntary action, after spending the last century burning fossil fuels the most and still to this day maintaining one of the highest per capita carbon foot prints, is as I said a voluntary willful act that can only be characterized as immoral. But like I said with my analogy of how you selectively chose to redistribute wealth at home, perhaps your idea of morality is a bit more parochial. If it's your tribe it's called a virtue, when they are born on the wrong side of tracks, they need to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. This is not how American's behaved during the second world war but as we are constantly reminded, that was perhaps Americas last great generation.

This is the legacy America is staking out for itself with Trump and his pathetically transparent "America First!" We know what his essential character is. The only remaining question is to what extent he represents the whole nation.

g said...

If memory serves me right, Hansen called the PA "a fraud and a fake".

analog said...

Cliff Mass is spot on in that politics has no place climate science. So many in the debate have abandoned science for politics, feelings, fear and callus, hypocritical profiteering (Al Gore immediately comes to mind). Serious voices on both sides should welcome synergistic debate, transparent data sharing and open peer review. Resorting to ridicule, shaming or shunning of peers has no place in legitimate science.

In most areas of science we have the luxury of being able to verify theory through repeated controlled experiment, but this is generally not possible in climate science. Thus, many in the field resort to heavy reliance on computer modeling (as a long time successful user and proponent of computer modeling, I can tell you that old saw "garbage in - garbage out" very much applies).

With the major exception of nuclear energy almost all energy sources derive from the sun regardless of whether carbon is involved (coal and oil are solar "batteries" of stored solar energy).

Everyone wants clean air and there is no question that unscrubbed burning of carbon compounds injects many noxious "piggyback" substances into the atmosphere and environment, but given the fact that CO2 levels have varied naturally over wide levels over millennia, does science really support the conclusion that increasing levels pure CO2 is a danger to mankind? Volcanic and other sources of CO2 have historically dwarfed that produced by man. And how can we focus exclusively on human generated CO2 while virtually ignoring other factors such as variations in solar output and changes in the patterns of ocean currents?

As a member of the scientific community working in the solar industry, the near hysteria and politically charged emotionalism over human generated CO2 goes against all my training and automatically raises a YUGE red flag of skepticism. Cliff Mass is 100 percent right that these are completely counterproductive to true science.

analog said...

Anthropogenic global warming advocates believe that CO2 produced by man is its primary cause, but CO2 from all sources comprises less than two percent of the greenhouse effect while water vapor accounts for well over ninety percent. Thus, any impact that CO2 may have on the warming of the earth is relatively insignificant. Furthermore man-made CO2 accounts for only four percent of the total CO2 amount, which implies that the human CO2 contribution to the greenhouse effect is less than one tenth of one percent.

If global temperatures are driven primarily by solar output as many scientists believe, then based on long term sun spot cycles, we could likely be headed for a mini ice-age this century. It could well be that "global warming" is more about globalism and political agenda than actual science.

Bruce Kay said...

I wonder if Cliff Mass could step in and peer review the conclusions presented above by Analog.


Better yet if Cliff could comment on the advisability of any rank layman - such as myself or practically any follower of this blog - in considering the narrative of logic presented by anyone who is only "a member of the scientific community" in forming a judgement on those conclusions.

This fundamentally is the problem. What Analog says, the facts he / she claims are true and the inferences he / she makes sound perfectly plausible to anyone who lacks competency. If Cliff Mass said exactly the same words and sentences, would we trust that any differently? If the statements were qualified as coming from a "member of the drywall installers community" would that make a difference? If Analog never mentioned his professional status at all, would that matter?

The truth is that while most people do attached some credibility by way of status, we mostly judge validity by the simple metric of does it all sound plausible to us. The story told has to make coherent sense to us, sort of like following the logic of 1 plus 6 minus 3 = 4. If it adds up, it must be right. The fact that we ourselves are incompetent in the actual task is generally not considered (no, there is more to simple addition in climate science)

Try it sometime. When we read Analogues stories of logic, we do analyze it and we do judge it by how it "makes sense". When he says that "human CO2 contribution to the greenhouse effect is less than one tenth of one percent." We think "Gee, that doesn't sound like anything!" Our common sense says so. Our common sense agrees with most everything he says, but then climate science is hardly a common problem....is it?

Never once do we think "Wait a minute. How do I know if that is a lot or not?" This incidentally is the time honoured method of any act of fraud. Somehow arrange some mechanism of trust (" I'm an expert" will do) then tell a story that anyone can make sense of. Once the rube is convinced the story is coherently plausible, the hook is set.

Sometimes we set the hook right in our own mouth. This is known as the Dunning Kruger effect, which is most insidiously practiced when we think we are skilled far more than is proven. I'd be surprised if any actual professional scientist tasked with predicting uncertainties is not at all familiar and deliberately cautious of the Dunning Kruger effect.

Are you familiar with the dunning Kruger effect analog?

Andrew Mullenix said...

There are no currently-serving Republicans listed in this article.