August 17, 2021

Climate Hype Hurts the Environment and Undermines Our Society

Climate hype is profoundly damaging the environment and society; the evidence for this is compelling and discussed in this blog.

I have always been an environmentalist, worried about the protection of our natural environment. And I am concerned about global warming and its effects on humanity and the health of the planet.

Thus, I have become increasingly apprehensive about apocalyptic climate change hype, which is profoundly damaging the environment of our region and undermining the well-being of many.

Picture courtesy of Cristian Ibarra Santillan

Damage to the Northwest Environment from Climate Change Hype

There is substantial damage being done to the Northwest environment from the unfounded hype found in the media, some politicians, and several activist groups.  Consider a few examples:

Wildfires and Lack of Forest Management.  

Prominent politicians in our state and some media/activist groups have stated that climate change (a term used to mean human-caused global warming) is the predominant cause of the increase in regional fires and smoke.  

This is simply not true.  Regional forest experts (e.g., here and here) are emphatic that the key problems are unhealthy dry side forests, overgrown and explosive after decades of fire suppression, the invasion of flammable invasive grasses, and increasing fire ignitions by the rapidly growing population of our region.   Some knowledgeable local environmental leaders (e.g., Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz) have said the same thing.

Picture courtesy of Bureau of Land Management

To deal with the dangerously flammable forests, we must thin them and bring back fire (e.g., prescribed fires).   Their ecological health DEPENDS on fire. We must also work to reduce invasive grasses, limit human expansion into wildland areas, and take steps to limit fire ignition (e.g., improved powerline infrastructure).

But with many politicians and advocacy groups pushing the dominance of climate change for increasing wildfires, only very limited and totally inadequate attention has gone into restoring our eastside wildlands to a more natural and ecologically healthy state.  And human ignition on the western side has not received acutely needed attention.

The bottom line:  Climate hype has given us bigger fires, more smoke, and more danger to our citizens.

Disturbed and Degraded Shorelines from Shellfish "Farms"--  Protected By Climate Hype

A very large shellfish industry has grown in our region and it has had profoundly negative effects on our coastal environment. Our ecologically critical coastal areas have been physically disturbed to "farm" non-native species, such as the Pacific oyster.  Herbicides have been sprayed to kill native eelgrass and pesticides distributed to kill native sand shrimp because native grasses and shrimp got in the way of the shellfish aquaculture industry.  In addition, the shellfish industry has been responsible for extensive plastic pollution.  Some information here and here.

This ecological degradation has been tolerated, if not supported, by the State and some media/activist groups, because the shellfish growers claimed that increasing CO2 was acidifying local waters and killing shellfish, and thus they came under the "green mantle", with some major WA state politicians publicly supporting shellfish industry claims.  

As I have noted in earlier blogs, the science is clear;  increasing CO2 concentrations from human emissions were never the problem for the oysters, but rather, the culprits were mistakes in using high-CO2 upwelled water in commercial oyster nurseries.  The Seattle Times was particularly active in pushing a false narrative in their series, Sea Change, and certain local climate advocacy politicians have a close relationship with the industry.  The Seattle Times never forgave me for pointing this out in this blog.

Air and Water Pollution over Puget Sound

Much of the marine traffic in Puget Sound uses dirty bunker fuel or diesel, which produces substantial particle pollution that is potentially harmful to local residents.  An alternative exists: Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), which not only burns much cleaner but also puts less greenhouse gas pollution into the atmosphere. Furthermore, bunker oil and diesel can spill when ships dock at the fueling barges.  Puget Sound Energy (PSE) is planning a LNG terminal in Tacoma to help clean the air and reduce global warming, but a number of local climate activist groups (e.g., 350Seattle) and politicians (e.g., our Governor) are opposing the facility because it involves a fossil fuel.

This is a disturbing example of unrealistic, naive climate advocacy opposing a provable good (clean air, less greenhouse gas emissions) and serves as a potent example of a climate change movement losing its bearings.

Picture Courtesy of Seattle City Council

Undermining Our Civil Society And Democratic Freedoms

The groups and individuals hyping climate change are so sure of their noble cause that they are willing to undermine essential foundations of our society, such as freedom of speech and rule of law.  

 I experienced this myself at KNKX.  A local climate "justice" group 350Seattle was unhappy with my discussion of climate (peer-reviewed material by the way) and started a petition to get me kicked off the station.  The management of the station, unwilling to defend science or freedom of speech,  rapidly surrendered to the activists, agreeing to have my science evaluated--and even appointed one of the group's members to oversee it.

Of course, they did not find anything wrong with my science, but nevertheless, the station head, Joey Cohn, told me that would have fired me, except there would be a lot of complaints.  As soon as they had some cover (my blog opposing violent rioting in Seattle) KNKX terminated my segment.  The climate activists got their wish... silencing of someone they disagreed with--and you can read their gloating on Twitter.

Local climate activist groups such 350Seattle do not believe in freedom of speech or the importance of diversity of viewpoint.  They do not believe in the scientific process. They are certain that they possess the truth and anyone with a different viewpoint must be silenced.

One of the most prodigious name-callers in the local media is Charles Mudede of the Seattle Stranger, who viciously attacks individuals who differ from him on climate change.  He proposed using a strong hand to force people to follow his vision of climate action.  Charles Mudede doesn't hide his undemocratic views, calling himself a "green Mussolini."  
Reprinted from the SeattleStranger

Another potent example of anti-democratic climate actors is the decision of Governor Inslee to veto key sections of the Clean Fuel act that were approved by the legislature.  This may well be illegal and even many Democrats were furious.  He did not feel it necessary to honor precedent, legislature authority, or State law: the portions of the climate change bill he and activists were interested in were more important.

The climate hypesters have used climate change as a cudgel to attack those with differing political views, such as conservatives and Republicans, undermining the potential for bipartisan climate action.  And let's be clear, many Republicans and conservatives are committed environmentalists, including youthful conservatives in the American Climate Coalition to a recent Republican gubernatorial candidate (Bill Bryant) and the current minority leader of the Washington State house of Representatives (J.T. Wilcox).  I have talked to all of them and they are determined to deal with climate change and to protect the environment.

When there was a real chance to act in a bipartisan way on climate (Initiative 732, a revenue-neutral carbon tax in WA state), the environmental hypesters were against it--a tragedy for both the environment and bipartisan climate action.

Power Outages and Inequity:  A Major Product of Climate Hype

Climate activists have pushed for draconian steps like the immediate cessation of using natural gas in new buildings, phasing out natural gas in standing structures, the legislated termination of gas powered-car sales, and a precipitous increase in solar and wind power.  They have also opposed nuclear energy.

The trouble is that they have not thought through the energy problem, nor have come up with a viable plan.

The move to end sales of gas-powered cars will demand massive new electric power sources, and there is no way that renewables can provide it. Plus, renewables are intermittent, so huge storage is required.  Nuclear could play a critical role, but the climate justice community is against it.  

So they are pushing people to give up fossil fuels but have not figured out where to get the power from.  Not unlike defunding the police without getting something else in place.  You end up with more crime and homeless camps.  But in this case,  you end up with power outages and rapidly escalating prices.

We have a prime example of what will happen because California is ahead of us in effecting the new energy approach, leading to frequent power outages and rising electricity rates.  High power rates hurt low-income folks the most and lead them to less use of life-saving air conditioners.  In short, the activist green agenda undermines equity.  But the green elite doesn't care.

California has the highest and most rapidly rising electricity prices in the western U.S.  Our future?

Psychological Damage And Anxiety

The endless apocalyptic statements in the media and elsewhere have induced considerable climate fear and anxiety in the population.  This is something I have learned about firsthand, as fearful people call me to ask about the coming climate "crisis".  One woman was afraid to move to southern CA to care for her sick mother because her kids would be exposed to extreme heat and drought.  Others ask me whether they should have kids.  Several colleges, like UW Bothell, have climate anxiety classes, and NPR did a recent segment on climate fears that are spreading through the population.

For several decades, major media has featured increasingly end-the-world headlines.  If something is not done in ten years, two years, or six months, the world will face a non-reversible slide into climate disaster.  The Seattle Times is particularly guilty of this.

The truth is that global warming will slowly unfold and that many weather extremes will be unaffected or become less extreme (e.g.. cold waves), something stated explicitly in the recent UN/IPCC report.  Adaptation (e.g, more AC, additional reservoirs, better use of water, restoring forests) can help greatly, and better weather prediction affords great protection from extremes.  There is a reason that deaths from environmental extremes are down precipitously around the world.

Climate activists are trying to scare people with unrealistic scary scenarios to "get them to do the right thing."  They don't care about the harm they are doing to people's psyches, and particularly the most psychologically vulnerable.  Scaring people also makes folks turn off to the issue and less likely to take coherent, science-guided steps.

Science as Victim

One of the most serious victims of the "climate crisis" hype is science itself.  

When the apocalyptic predictions don't come true, people realize they were deceived.  15 years ago, activists predicted the catastrophic loss of Cascade snow, but it hasn't happened.  Ten years ago, there was talk of ocean acidification causing immense loss of shellfish harvests, but harvests are now fine, with oyster nurseries now avoiding the use of untempered upwelled water.  

Some scientists and science reporters have clearly crossed into political and policy advocacy (e.g, the climate attribution industry), and people can sense something is wrong.  And the hypocritical actions of the "climate elite", who enjoy high-carbon lifestyles, are noted by the general population.  (revelation:  climate scientists are notoriously for their carbon-intensive lifestyles--lots of travel, vacation homes, etc.)

Climate change has morphed from an area of science to one of a quasi-religion.  

One is asked whether you "believe" in climate change (are you ever asked that about gravity?).   Those with differing views are called "deniers."  Individuals with less extreme views are attacked in a very personal way, as if they are bad people.  Climate "adherents" note that their beliefs are the same as the "consensus" of 97% of climate scientists (this is total nonsense, but something I can discuss in a future blog).  The science is "settled" and thus can not be debated (science is not science without debate, by the way). 

Science doesn't work this way

And like most religions, there is a future apocalypse that can only be avoided or survived by having the "right" views.     Particular anger is directed at apostate priests (e.g., climate scientists with alternative takes on implications of the science), like the writer of this blog.


An apocalyptic future looms before us, but it has little to do with increasing greenhouse gases.

A future with catastrophically burning forests, of media providing increasingly apocalyptic warnings, of polluted coastal areas and poisoned shorelines, weakened democracy, attenuated and undermined science, omnipresent fear of the future, increasing power blackouts, and decreased equity in society.

But we do not have to have this future.

But to do so will require that we honor diversity of viewpoint and refrain from demonizing folks with different ideas or political backgrounds.  That we stop politicizing science and use the best science to guide our adaptation and mitigation activities.  That we stop pushing a false apocalyptic vision to encourage the "unanointed" to do the right thing.  That we support technological research and considering the value of nuclear power as part of the energy mix. And that the media, such as KNKX and the Seattle Times, move from advocacy to providing coverage that is both factually correct and representative of the diversity of ideas in the real world.

I am convinced that global warming is a technical problem that will be solved with technical innovation.  And that using it as a wedge issue to promote political and ideological goals will not only fail, but undermines our society in profound ways.



  1. Hahaha another shit hot take from cliff mass.. global warming is a technical problem lmao. Global warming was caused by unfettered capitalism and you think they will come up with the solution? Sounds like ecofacism. The world will be better off without ya cliffy (and the rest of us too!)

    1. Rather than call names, can you just focus on the issue? For example, can you point to a single incorrect statement in Cliff's post? I'll bet you can't!

    2. Most of Cliff's post is just opinionated conclusions like "There is substantial damage being done to the Northwest environment from the unfounded hype found in the media, some politicians, and several activist groups." There's no real way to counter that other than to disagree.
      He does misrepresent Hillary Franz's view of climate change, for one example.
      And the stuff about freedom of speech is just weirdly irrelevant and out of place.
      I don't know what Cliff is trying to do here, but it's a mess of edgy provocative opinions and not a lot more. Smart guy, but he's getting manipulated by culture war nonsense like so many others. Easy to let things continue as-is when your biggest concern is cancel culture

    3. Bobbypancakes, that says it all.
      Thank you Cliff for looking at data objectively.

    4. You can start with this big fat load of horse shit. Cliff is just telling you what you want to hear because Cliff just wants to be right.
      "An apocalyptic future looms before us, but it has little to do with increasing greenhouse gases."

    5. His presentation here is level headed, science based and quite reasonable. That in contrast to a emotional response calling it a "shit hot take". But good of Cliff to offer freedom of speech by allowing such a response to be posted.

    6. Booger, I hardly think his biggest concern is cancel culture, but he is pointing that out. He makes some good points-- and it's mostly about sensible, science-based ways to deal with environmental change. We have the power to mitigate forest fire risk, as one example, so-- why don't we invest in that!?

    7. Cliff,

      This is way out of my relm. As a skeptic (which I believe all scientists should be, nothing is ever truly "settled" and further understanding and knowledge is stiffled by it) this may help the skeptics and the hypers. What about a proof of concept experiment. We always say the graphs and trends, but the "deniers" claim it could be natural trend, while the hypers see the graph continuing to grow and not plateu. I think we should have the ability to actually simulate earth and the sun, I think of glass sphear with a vacuum around it ect. I may have missed it with all the hype, but I remember Gore saying the pollution acting like a filter and we would be in deep freeze. I think a simple proof of concept experiment would help a lot on the basic concept of CO2 vs warming ect.

  2. Absolutely brilliant, Cliff. Thank you!! I just wish that those of whom you write had the humility and intelligence to interact with your ideas rather than dismiss them out of hand. Living in an ideological bubble has certainly taken its toll on them.

  3. Could you do a blog on what effects you think that climate change will have on the planet, and what the effects/threats will be? I ran through your old blogs looking for it, but I was having trouble finding anything. I know you did one at some point. Thanks- Mike

    1. Michael.... I have done several blogs on exactly what you ask. Use the search box on the blog to find them.. I have also written several papers on this topic...cliff

    2. Michael: Two excellent recent books for you to read are "Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn't, and Why It Matters", by Steven Koonin (ex-Provost of Caltech, and a physicist), and "False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet" by Bjorn Lomborg.

    3. Michael, I second that, and I hope Cliff is reading this. While the climate across the whole planet is a huge topic to cover, I would also like to read about what's known about potential climate change effects on the western water supply-- the whole western US, not just WA. I'm referring to yesterday's NYTimes article on drought and usage based (!) restrictions on the Colorado River water supply. The assumption and insinuation is that climate change will make the Western states' drought worse, but that's far from clear, highly uncertain.

  4. Thank you for your sane perspective, Cliff. You are truly a breath of fresh air that provides much needed balance to the rabid climate change hand-wringers.

  5. Thank you Cliff. We need this scientific and level headed approach to the problems we face

  6. Cliff, what do you think about ammonia as an energy source for local use?

  7. Cliff - thanks for posting. Your position seems a bit too subtle for the average reporter and average American. If I summarize you correctly, you believe global warming IS happening and that man is behind a good portion of it through CO2 emissions. You also state that the RATE of change will not be catastrophic for those of us who live in the Northwest.

    I'm a firm believer that the climate changes over time, be it manmade or through "natural" causes (isn't man part of nature?). 15,000 years ago a large portion of our region was under an ice sheet from the last ice age, yet somehow the environment adapted to the loss of that ice and replaced it with what we have today. It's likely another ice age will happen in the future. Net, you seem to be telling us not to worry, that our lives won't change significantly, and that the change is happening slow enough that future generations will be able to adapt.

  8. Replies
    1. Never ever vote for an incumbent at any level.

    2. Anyone who believes there are too many humans is welcome to take the first step in reducing the excess.

    3. Toby.. the only way to reduce overpopulation is for us to kill ourselves? Seriously, is that the depth of your thinking?

    4. John K - it's called having the courage of your convictions. You might try it sometime.

  9. Climate change will likely result in mass extinction. It will also result in enormous mass migration, and instability that makes what is happening in Afghanistan look like a minor scuffle. Feel free to argue with the military experts at the Pentagon if you don't believe me. This would be nothing new -- arguing about something you know little about. Didn't you predict that the pandemic would be largely over by now, and that there is very little risk from being outside? Tell that to the folks who were stricken at the Gorge recently.

    Misinformation about Climate Change may hurt, but you provide very little evidence for that. Exhibit A, B and C all seem to involve your petty little feud with the radio stations (or a writer from The Stranger, who by the way, feuds with lots of people). You portray yourself as a scientific Colin Kaepernick -- being penalized for your beliefs. Sorry Cliff, the reason you have been fired by not one, but two radio stations is because you won't stick to the subject. They hire you to talk about the weather. Not the school curriculum (of which you have no expertise) or protests (ditto) or even the climate. By all means, if they ask whether the recent hot weather is caused by global warming you can offer an emphatic No. But to grab the mic and talk about things that are way off topic will get you fired from just about any public speaking gig.

    You offer up very little evidence that exaggerating about the effects of global warming is anything more than an annoyance. In contrast, ignorant comments about the potential danger that global warming poses to huge numbers of people worldwide -- saying that all we need is a little AC -- are much worse. There has been a concerted, organized effort by large, wealthy companies to misinform the public, and it has been happening for years. It is no different than tobacco. So what if someone exaggerates the effects of smoking -- it doesn't change the fact that it is bad for you, nor is it by any means equivalent to denying negative effects at all. There are still huge numbers of people who deny that climate change is happening. Many finally admit that it is happening, but not man made. Then you have others who admit that man-made climate change is happening, but not a big deal. This is by far the most dangerous group, given the lag time. By the time we really feel the negative effects, it will be too late -- like a smoker with a really bad cough deciding to quit without realizing they have lung cancer. Oh, sure, they won't die right away, but things will get really bad, and there is little they can do about it.

    Most of the world can't afford AC, and it really doesn't matter if your village -- or most of your country -- is underwater. All of this stuff is on Wikipedia by the way (e. g. .../wiki/Climate_change_in_South_Asia). Feel free to argue with the experts there as well.

    1. RossB, you make some good points, e.g. AC is expensve and unabatedly pumping CO2 into the atmosphere in the name of profit is a problem. Cliff is not denying that, but rather trying to reign in the hype and point out some things we can do that are being ignored, e.g. mitigating wild fire risks.

    2. Holy wall 'o text, Batman! Once again, another word salad offering nothing in terms of actual facts, just more pearl clutching from another culrist.

    3. Wikipedia as a reference, surely you jest!

    4. "Climate change will likely result in mass extinction"

      I went through mass extinction in the 70s. It was caused by the population explosion and the subsequent global famine. Now, those were tough time I'll tell you.

      Wiki "population bomb," then google "green revolution" for more details, won't you? Thanks!

    5. Entire countries this one?

  10. Thank you Cliff Mass for your level-headed science-based take. We must bear in mind that power grids fail and sometimes the sun doesn't shine and winds sometimes don't blow, so we must have a back up! For heat and for transportation. Natural gas is a really good compromise next to diesel or unleaded gasoline. It's fool hardy to just eliminate a next-best alternative. We know (see wind storms, hurricanes, and demand-based outages from cold snaps or heat snaps) the electrical grids do not always work.

    1. I would totally agree with that, while it's not good to rely just on gas, it is much the same with electricity, as it, too needs to be powered by something, say, water and a turbine, but much of the country does not have enough of that available, so guess what? Gas and oil are used to run those same turbines. The ONLY other alternative, right now is Nuclear, but we all know how that plays our (or doesn't), things like Chernobyl and Love Island.

      As it is now, if you have an all electric house, you need to have a generator and some way to heat/refrigerate your food when the power is out, and no generator can handle a 240V split phase needed for an electric stove, so a hot plate or bunson burner is the next best thing.

  11. It's sad. Your advocacy is misguided..and is becoming increasingly unhinged from reality. I wish you'd put your efforts into something more positive..So far we've done nothing, really. We need more not less. It's sad someone in your position is so unwilling to help.

    1. Cliff is trying very hard to help. His message just isn't the one you are predisposed to hear, so you don't recognize it as help. You young folks have to learn how to open up your thinking.

  12. The vast majority of forest land in the Northwest is Federal land not managed by the states and working to reduce fire hazards needs Federal funding, which has been lacking. Using proscribed burning to reduce fire hazard is an old technique and quite useful but people do not like it because it produces smoke. I know as I was a forest fire fighter crew boss and had a number control burns stopped due to public outcry. Management of our natural resources needs good leadership and funding, both of which have been lacking from the Federal government for many years. It is really a stretch to blame this on climate hype. Not buying what your selling.

  13. The comments are hilarious. How dare you! You are not a believer! Your comments are not towing the line! The same folks who drive their gas guzzling SUVs living in lavish lake-side homes while snacking on PCC organics and spewing judgment all over the internet with their rare earth metal filled power hungry electronics. Love it.

    Clearly they don't get what you're saying, because you don't say what they believe. Objectivity must be in short supply, as is common sense.

    Your assessments looks to be spot on. We are causing harm to the environment and we can effect it for the better (or not).

    We need intelligent application of technology and gradual lifestyle changes, not emotion-stoked flailing on the whim of the profit-driven media.

    Great post, thank you.

  14. Here's the rub with combating climate change:
    There will never be large scale support or even acceptance of the concept of combating climate change when resultant collateral damage is a massive reduction in quality of life for the majority of Humanity. There is also the logic that we could all abandon any semblance of modern convenience (unless you are willing to pay a hefty premium)and the climate STILL spirals out of control regardless, thanks to natural climate variation. The drastic and draconian measures being advocated are beyond a big ask for most people. Mainly because there is no viable alternatives in place.

    Cliff's assessment here is spot on. Why? Mainly because there is this thing called REALITY that has to be respected. Our society is based on a constant growth economic model for starters. Then there is the undeniable truth that as a whole our society is reliant on cars, urban sprawl and gobs of electrons. We want our big yards, separation from our neighbors and the ability to come and go as we please. Weening everyone off that paradigm is a multi-generational challenge and technological innovation is the only answer, along with the profit motive to motivate. Heck, we don't even build in a way that is even close to being sustainable with a much smaller carbon allowance. Solutions have to be WIN-WIN in so that even the most rugged of individualists will adopt them of their own free will for their personal benefit foremost. If said solution also combats climate change, than it has to be almost passive in its nature. Its that or just totally remove the concept of free will. For some, it would be less painful to just let the manifestations of climate change kill them.

    1. This is all, unfortunately, 100% spot on.

    2. The problem is, the manifestations of climate change wont kill them, they will kill their grand children, or at least make their lives very difficult. And, no the climate doesnt "spiral out of control" due to natural variation.

      I'm optimistic that there can be large scale support. I'm not sure decreasing dependence on traffic laden commutes on ever more packed freeways, increased localization of communities, markets, and supply chains, amounts to a decrease in quality of life, but some of these things will be expensive. Fortunately, theres a massive collection of gold a handful of billionaires are just sitting on.

      We can confront climate change and make lives better. In fact, there is a direct relationship between climate change and poor quality of life right here in this country. I'm hopeful a cultural shift is under way that will confront both.

    3. Colin, you are aware that there are perhaps millions or even 10s of millions of Americans who believe that Trump is still legally President? Or that our national response to Covid was/is...mixed at best? Even Afghanistan, which looked at pragmatically really could not have gone any other way than it going to again be another political dumpster fire? We as a nation can't seem to compartmentalize the politics, emotion and the empirical as applied to a challenge so as to objectively address each facet. Thus, we really suck at solving problems greater than on an individual level. Heck we suck at even recognizing problems and believing that the issue is actually a problem, let alone how to proceed from there....

      In the USA, everything is politics...which really requires minimum effort. If my political party thus affiliated with says that the current stance toward tapioca pudding is that we hate tapioca pudding...well... I guess I hate tapioca pudding now. Something to that effect. No thought required. Even if you really DO LIKE tapioca pudding, its best to publicly discredit and lambast tapioca pudding at any given opportunity. Get a disposable lackey to do your clandestine grocery store runs to feed your tapioca pudding urges. Maybe even secretly prop up the tapioca pudding industry with some creative accounting and shell corps....but nothing that can lead back to direct involvement. Next election cycle, it will be butterscotch pudding that is taboo. Tapioca might be OK but don't publicly state you enjoy tapioca pudding for a while. No until the mindless hatred of butterscotch forces everyone to forget tapioca even exists.

      You want any effort to combat climate change to be effective? Solve the question of how to uncouple the politics from everything...and then we can talk. In the mean time, asking people to go live in a yurt off grid and raise alpacas in order to make artisan alpaca wool blankets to sell on Etsy might have a very low carbon footprint, but what are the other 6-7 billion people going to do who want cold beer, hot showers and their PS5 in 4k OLED? It can happen but its going to TAKE TIME and require some COMPROMISE. Yup, that word that might as well not even be in the dictionary, let alone our political lexicon. Especially when it comes to bridge technology. You think nuclear is icky? Well, it is...but we need it right now. Badly. We still need to burn those dinosaur bones too, until we can get whats comes next in place.

      2024 might see Trump or a Trump acolyte back in the White House. If such an event occurs, which there is a high probability, then expect more 1950s or 1980s problem solving. At the very least, if its not in the Constitution than its not the USG's problem. Which wrong. If that can occur and constructive focus on climate change can still occur..then we are at where we need to be. Stop looking for government and the masses to solve problems. They won't. Its going to be the technocrats. Savvy?

  15. Here's to free speech - and reality. As for human habitation, Washington's and Seattle's density is nowhere near Manhattan's or Singapore's, Mexico City's or London's. Wiki-up the populations and densities of India and China. Is the planet headed to mass extinction because of climate change and population? Wiki-up the table of "biomass." Point: Things are complicated, but alarmists need to get a grip on proportion...IMHO.

    Great post, Professor!

    1. If you want a sobering biomass factoid on "proportions", about 96% of mammalian biomass on the planet are either humans (36%) or livestock raised by humans (60%) with only 4% in the wild mammal category, many of which are rodents and similar species who are highly adaptable to human-created environments. Roughly 85% of wild mammals have been eliminated since the rise of humans.

  16. Cliff, I agree with you regarding forest management practices and the invasion of cheat grass, dubbed grassoline by farmers and environmentalists alike. However, there is the problem of pine beetle infestations that have killed millions of trees in the west and Canada attributed to warmer winters.

    I don't think one can overstate the seriousness of human caused climate change. I2 years ago Seattle broke an all time high temperature record. This year it broke it again spectacularly on consecutive days. That was considered a once in a 1000 year event, and then last week Bellingham broke its all time high record hitting 100 degrees. As you know many other countries have experienced once in 500-1000 year climate events this summer.

    Perhaps you are not trying to make the case that climate hype is more damaging than climate inaction. But it sure seems that way. You say that reinventing our energy supply is difficult and costly. But do we have any choice? Should a nation that has led the world in innovation fall behind other nations who are leading the charge towards a cleaner future? We just wasted billions of dollars on a pointless war in Afghanistan. Do you support rearranging our priorities to combat climate change? I'd love to see more positive solution-based posts addressing climate change. I'm even open to a discussion of nuclear.

  17. Trying to sidestep the climate change minefield, Cliff makes a point here that has worried me for some time, too.

    Whatever you think about climate change, it is a global problem that will require global action, and nothing WA can do unilaterally will affect that.

    On the other hand, our forests are local and we can advocate for better practices that will certainly help our local ecosystems. As an environmentalist, I’m very concerned with this issue.

    I read everywhere that climate change is causing fires, but I had to really dig to learn 80% of CA forest fires are actually burning dead trees killed by pine beetles and left tinder dry. The pine beetle has been ravaging our forests for years and we can combat the problem with better management.

    Sure, I advocate global action and research and mitigation for climate change. What I don’t get is why that means I can’t advocate for local forest management, because that’s clearly more important for our local issue. How are these competing positions? Isn’t this both/and?

    1. Poor "management" of forests doesn't appear to be the main reason for pine beetle infestation's rocketing growth.

      Drought & warmer winters appear to be.,37519

    2. "Whatever you think about climate change, it is a global problem that will require global action, and nothing WA can do unilaterally will affect that." This kind of reasoning makes no sense to me. If global action is required what does that entail besides many diffuse and local efforts adding up to global action and impact. And if that is true, the actions in Washington State or any state or locality constitute one part of those diffuse, local actions that add up to a global impact. If every state and locality follow your logic, there will be not global action to address climate change. Or may you are suggesting a global government dictate climate policy. While we need to set goals globally, the dictates of a global government would surely fail.

    3. tofucactus...I don't think you are correct. Poor forest management is a major contributor to bark beetles. Too many trees are in competition for the same water....less water per tree, which stresses the tree and makes them more susceptible to bark beetles. ...cliff

  18. It would be interesting to see a debate between Cliff Mass and Greta Thunberg.

    Climate "hysteria" is perhaps a useful thing if it results in greater scrutiny of the Oil Companies. They have known that their product will cause climate change and have worked to shield this fact from society, to protect their bottom line.

    As far as Nuclear, Good Luck. There is still no solution for Nuclear Waste. These take several years to implement. Many of our current nukes are held together with duct tape and baling wire and are major (and expensive) accidents waiting to happen. Wall Street is reluctant to invest in these.

    1. Yes, the reluctance around nuclear is as harmful as the anti-vaxers are. Too much focus on the faults of 1950s design and technology.

    2. This must be a parody account, right? Because this is one of the more hilarious posts I've seen yet on this blog.

    3. That is exactly the type of reaction I often get from my FB Qanon high school classmates. :)

  19. Pretty easy to make the most of our current energy generation. Time of use rates promote delaying heavier energy usage to non-peak hours. Most modern appliances and EVs have features to take advantage of off-peak hours. Smart grid technologies make it even easier.

  20. Cliff says that too much fire suppression & increased population (thus more structures built in the Wildland Urban Interface -- WUI) are the primary reason for our record fire seasons of late.

    Climate change, he says, has little to do with it.

    We could have a long discussion about how many of the biggest fires on western forestlands in the last few years... have blown up in areas that have been extensively clear-cut lately. Cliff might respond that he favors "thinning", which is something that he'll have to get the US forest products industry on-board with. As matters stand, >95% of the logging we do is clear-cutting.

    We could discuss how this massive upsurge in wildfires has taken place in many parts of the world where they don't practice our 'put it out right away' fire policy.

    But the easiest way to answer this is look at the difference between acres burned in fire seasons preceded by rainy springs/summers & fire seasons in drought years. Especially drought years with high temps in the summer.

    Note what happened in 2019 the year when only 200,000 acres were burned in OR & WA. In contrast to preceding/following years, they had normal rainfall & temps in the preceding spring/summer.

    "In 2017, more than 1.1 million acres were scorched by wildfire in Oregon and Washington. 2018 was even worse, with 1.3 million acres of forest and fields going up in flame.

    This year was a much different story: Just over 200,000 acres were scorched across both states, a nearly 84 percent drop from the two previous years.
    "Our weather was closer to what weather typically looks like in Oregon and Washington,” said John Saltenberger, fire weather program manager, Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, which coordinates firefighting resources for Oregon and Washington. He noted that 2019 wasn’t exceptionally cool or wet, just that our last few fire seasons had seen temperatures well above average."

    Look what happens in 2020, when the spring/summer is dry & the summer has a string of 100ยบ days. The number of acres burned in Oregon goes up twenty-fold.

    Given that Cliff Mass is far more knowledgable about the Pacific NW weather than any of us, I bet he knows exactly what the precipitation & temperature trends were over past century. My understand is that the 1940s through the 1980s were cooler & wetter than the last 25 years. Contrast the acres burned in Oregon during that period to acres burned in the last decade.

  21. I believe you’re getting out over your skis here. Have you done a thorough review of the literature on the economics of the clean energy transition? The view I see as the consensus, for the electricity sector, is that California and Europe paid high costs for renewables for decades. Them paying those high costs created scale and deployment-led innovation such that renewables are cheap now. Across the country, utilities building solar and wind is often cheap enough to reduce consumer costs, even if gas plants have to be kept around as backup. Thus, getting to 40-60% carbon free electricity is very low additional cost now with current renewables pricing.

    And, lithium-ion batteries appear to be following the same cost curve. Once they are cheap enough, getting to ~80% carbon free electricity will be possible with very low additional cost.

    You are right that innovation is needed for the last ~20%. We really need some clean, cheap, dispatchable (ie you can turn it on and it runs as long as you want) technologies.

    But raising the specter of California-level electric rates for non-California customers in the short to medium term is not realistic. Going from ~10% renewables now to ~30-50% in a decade does not seem like it is going to be that expensive. Renewables are cheap now.

    1. Sierra...I think I am still over my skis. Things are not going well in CA. 50% of the electricity is from natural gas. Nuclear generation if half what it used to be. No growth in wind. Solar is only about 10% Electric rates are very high, powerlines are starting many fires, and outages are frequent. They are NOT on a good trajectory

    2. No, they're not - but their trajectory (as an early adopter of large-scale solar and wind) can't necessarily be extrapolated to other states that are now (20 years later) embarking upon a transition to mostly renewables. I think there are also serious governance and regulation problems in California in the electric sector, which complicates the issue. Not that there aren't governance problems in other states, but they're not all necessarily at the same magnitude as California.

  22. Great post! Thanks for the analysis!

  23. Thank you, Cliff, for sharing your well-constructed viewpoint. Down the road, could you please do another thorough blog like this one on exactly what we need to do to best manage our forests? Your reader support team could make a case to our legislators…

  24. The scientific illiterates tout electric cars as part of their answer but it's not going to happen. To power an all electric fleet of cars would require increasing the size of our electric generation, transmission, and distribution system by 244% which is physically and economically impossible. The numbers are readily available and the analysis is simple:

    Number of miles driven in United States (2019): 3.26E+12 Miles/yr
    Data Source:

    Energy consumption for electric cars: 3 kWh/mile
    Data Source:

    Electric energy required to power cars: 9.78E+12 kWh
    Calculated: Miles Driven X Energy Consumption (kWh/Mile)

    Total electric energy production in United States (2020): 4.01E+12 kWh
    Data Source:

    Increase in electric Production to power electric cars: 244%
    Calculated: Energy to cars/Total electricity production

    Electric cars will NEVER amount to anything and internal combustion engines are going to be with us forever.

    1. Looks to me like your kWh/mile numbers are off. The fueleconomy,gov page you cite is showing numbers in the 25-47 kWh/100 miles, or .25-.47 kWh / mile. Not 3kWh/mile.
      There are certainly challenges ahead for electric power generation and distribution as electric cars proliferate. But not as daunting as needing a 244% increase in generation capacity.

    2. It looks like the OP got the inverse. 3 Mi/KWH is normal for driving long distances at freeway speed. Around town closer to 4 Mi/KWH is normal.

      Another thing is that the predictions of all the extra electricity generation needed doesn't take into account how much electricity goes into refining gasoline. The petroleum industry tries to keep it secret, but refining gasoline consumes between 8 and 16 KWH of electricity from the grid per gallon of gasoline.

      For the energy off the grid needed to refine 1 gallon of gas you can drive a 3 Mi/KWH EV 24 miles.

      We also have many peaking plants that provided electricity for only an hour or two a day when needed (usually late afternoons). If we encouraged EV charging in the middle of the night when electricity usage is lowest (Tesla's already allow you to do this), and we ran the peaking units more, we have enough generating capacity. A study done in the UK showed that they could get over 50% EV adoption and charge them all with no problems without building a single new power plant, if they encouraged off peak charging.

    3. wdolson,
      the number you are providing are not correct. Gasoline requires less than .3 kwh per gallon to produce. Check out:

  25. Spot on as usual. I appreciate your view and clarity.

  26. 1) By reflecting away 30% of ISR the albedo, which would not exist w/o the atmosphere/GHGs, makes the earth cooler than it would be without that atmosphere like that reflective panel set behind the windshield. Remove the atmosphere/GHGs and the earth would become much like the Moon, a barren rock with a 0.1 albedo, 20% more kJ/h, hot^3 on the lit side, cold^3 on the dark. Nikolov, Kramm (U of AK) and UCLA Diviner mission all tacitly agree.

    2) the GHG up/down welling, “trapping”/”back” radiating/delaying/intercepting, 100 % efficient, perpetual warming loop requires "extra" energy which according to RGHE theory comes from

    3) the terrestrial surface radiating that "extra" upwelling energy as a LWIR , 1.0 emissivity, ideal black body which

    4) cannot happen because of the non-radiative, kinetic energy, heat transfer processes of the contiguous atmospheric molecules and as demonstrated by experiment, the gold standard of classical science:

    1 or 2 or 3 + 4 = 0 Greenhouse Effect + 0 Greenhouse gas warming + 0 man caused climate change/global warming.

    Version 1.0 081921

  27. If you want to do an accounting of who causes more harm, the hysterical or the deniers, I'm here for you.

  28. Cliff, what is your formal stance on the IPCC?

    Do you have a formal statement on the IPCC 6.0 report that you would present publicly?
    Not to us in your audience so much, but to the IPCC and the College on the Envornment anf the Department of Atmospheric Sciences.
    The scientific community needs some clarity where you stand to the IPCC.

  29. Formal stance? I support the IPCC...I think it is a good thing. Why do you ask? Do you dislike it?

  30. Cliff: I'm late to the party on this. You raise some excellent points about wildfire management. Fire suppression and growth of invasives have increased fire size and intensity. Thinning and prescribed fire could help a lot, but as another reader has noted, many fires occur on federal lands. Funding for such a costly effort never gets much traction in Congress. I know from my work with a federal agency that Forest Service political appointees also may order something different with the money, like doing salvage logging after the Biscuit Fire in Oregon got them funding to do treatments in Oregon forests.

    Also, if you could, please explain how climate hype in the media has gotten us bigger fires and more danger to citizens. I think that may be an exaggeration. Forest managers understand the problems and know what needs to be done.

    Finally, I'm wondering if you are still considering a post on solar minimums and maximums. I'd like your opinion on how these may more may not effect climate.

  31. Most balanced look at PNW wildfire (and other related) issues I've seen to date. Thank you!


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