Fighting climate change skeptics in the pro nuclear community

Discussions about science and technology are often colored by opinion, world views, and political alliances. Though everyone is entitled to their opinion but not their own facts, it is nearly impossible to remove bias, even in a technical discussion, because everyone has a tendency to pick which facts they prefer to introduce into an argument.

In the past couple of days, I have been involved in a number of different conversations in which people who believe strongly that nuclear fission technology is beneficial also strongly counsel against the idea that nuclear energy advocates should emphasize that it is a wonderful tool to use in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. They choose a number of facts and pick at well known issues associated with climate models. They also point to the political and financial interests that stand to gain from carbon trading schemes or massive efforts to shift to “renewable” energy like wind and solar.

Since I did a recent show with Ben Heard about his Zero Carbon Options report, there have been several similar comments here. I have even attracted a new commenter who has provided several lengthy comments about why he thinks that climate change is either a hoax or nothing to worry about. His advice is to keep working on nuclear fission technology until it can be competitive in price with fossil fuels and then the world will adopt it.

I responded to him in the comment thread, but it is easy for thoughts to get buried there, so I decided to elevate my response to the front page. Since this is a blog and I am a writer, not a journalist, I am not going to do the same to
his comment.


@Peter Geany

In your self-described effort to follow climate science obsessively, did you begin with an existing position that environmentalism is bad and burning ever increasing quantities of fossil fuels is good?

I will freely admit that my preexisting lens may have provided me with a bias, but I started my reading in this topic with the position that nuclear energy is an incredibly powerful gift, that we should be good stewards of the land, water and air, and that remaining addicted to fossil fuels was a terribly unfair and destabilizing way to operate a global economy.

With those initial thoughts, I have come to the view that there is a real basis for concern about the growing rate at which we are dumping CO2 and other noxious waste products into our shared environment. I also believe that some far sighted and scientifically astute people like Alvin Weinberg and Hyman G. Rickover recognized the danger many decades ago. However, their proposed response of a shift from fossil fuel to emission-free nuclear energy – which is still the best available technology – tramped on the toes of the world’s most wealthy and politically powerful people.

The fossil fuel industry financed an effective campaign against nuclear energy starting in the 1960s by proxies who claimed to be concerned about “The Environment”. That was before very many others had awakened to the climate issue. The hydrocarbon marketers thought they had won a nearly complete victory in the US and Europe by the early 1990s.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, the world experienced a growing recognition of climate change risks that was led by scientists who were not quite as far-sighted as Weinberg, but were still able to determine reality and trends. At that point, the petroleum branch of the fossil fuel industry saw worries about climate change as beneficial to their bottom line. It was a wonderful way to market methane (natural gas) which is, in many measures, inferior to liquid or solid fuel. It may be the cleanest fossil fuel, but it is also the most difficult (expensive) to store or transport from one place to another.

Throughout the 1990s the message was that we should worry about climate, but the response should be a profitable shift from coal to natural gas – with a growing LNG fleet to move it from massive “stranded” resource locations like Qatar or Australia to build upon the core competencies of the multinational fossil fuel industry. People in finance, media and politics that were already enamored with the fossil fuel industry thought of all kinds of new ways to profit from emphasizing real worries about CO2 (spreading panic), including carbon trading schemes and “renewable” energy subsidies.

That marketing campaign was so successful that the world economy bumped into physical limitations on the rate at which gas can be extracted and moved to market, driving the price so high that investors started to think again about nuclear energy. Nuclear technologists quietly told the world that if climate change is really the big worry, we have a tool that is a lot better than cutting coal emissions in half. (Way too many nukes have been indoctrinated in the marketing techniques of the silent service.)

Of course, nuclear energy still steps on the toes of that same wealthy and powerful group, but after years of high fossil fuel prices, they have even more resources with which to battle reality. Since about 2005 or so, we have been treated to an enormous onslaught of reality-denying ads and think-tank sponsored doubt campaigns, accompanied by continued efforts to market natural gas as a bridge to an unachievable, “renewable” utopia.

While you can find numerous individuals and groups that spread fear about both climate change and nuclear energy, my assumption is that they are either witting or unwitting fronts for the petroleum industry. Their real mission is selling natural gas and other hydrocarbons.

Even if they deny that and say they want a world powered by wind and solar, I maintain that is still code for saying that they want to sell natural gas. Anyone with any facility with numbers knows it is impossible to power much of the world economy with wind and solar. At best, a huge renewable effort would result in 5-30% of our electricity from solar and wind – leaving 70-95% of a very large market available for high priced (but “clean”) gas for as long as people can be sold the notion that nuclear is too hard, too expensive or too scary to use.

In discussions about energy supplies, climate change and ocean acidification, I count the following people as being on “my side”: Jim Hansen, Barry Brook, Stewart Brand, Patrick Moore, Rip Anderson, Ben Heard, Tom Blees, Gwyneth Cravens, Chris Uhlik, George Monbiot, Mark Lynas, Robert Stone, Per Peterson, Bill Gates, Andrea Jenneta, Steve Aplin, Meredith Angwin, Suzy Hobbs-Baker, Kirk Sorensen, Charles Barton, and tens of thousands of others who are concerned about the long term effects of continuing to dump CO2 at an increasing rate AND who recognize that we have a terrific, but disruptive, tool with which to attack the problem.


In a similar discussion on a private email thread, there are several people who strongly assert that it is a bad idea for nuclear advocates to side with environmentalists and the IPCC and point out that nuclear energy is a powerful tool for avoiding the worst effects of climate change. The skeptics make the case that polls show that the public no longer cares and that the concerned side is losing. They say we should not align ourselves with the scientific consensus that there is something to worry about.

They claim that if we push our technology using zero CO2 as one of its marketing points, the public will turn against nuclear technology. In their opinion, the public is “tired” of hearing about the topic. These skeptics believe that nuclear fission has sufficient benefits to justify its use without pointing out that it is a zero emission power source.

My response to that line of discussion was more concise:

Bryce:

Puzzle me this – why do you think the petroleum industry uses concerns about climate change to market natural gas as “the cleanest fossil fuel” and as an effective way to reduce emissions?

On one private email list that is populated by pro nuclear advocates who want to learn more about using modern technology to better communicate about nuclear energy, the climate change/carbon dioxide topic became so toxic that it had to be banned from the list. As I have pointed out many times here, the nuclear industry has always included a large number of people who are agnostic about energy sources – they move easily between fossil fuel and nuclear technology.

Many of them have long standing grudges against “Environmentalists” and resist any suggestion that they should work together with people who honestly want to work towards clean water, clean air and unspoiled vistas. Many are diehard political conservatives who resist any notion that they should work with liberals – if Al Gore says anything, their natural tendency is to believe the opposite. Others have a fundamental belief that government is inherently bad and should be as small as possible.

I fully understand the view that burning hydrocarbons has been an enormous benefit to the development of modern human society and that burning fossil fuels is far superior to not having sufficient supplies of reliable power.

I hope that people understand that my own position is nuanced and conflicted; I have always burned a lot of fossil fuel. I have no intention of working to reduce my total energy consumption and no desire to tell anyone else that they should cut back. There is little motivation to sacrifice mobility, convenience or comfort. It goes against human nature; though many humans seem to love to tell other people that they should be sacrificing. I understand that there is a huge demand for power and that supplying that demand is a worthwhile endeavor.

However, I also recognize that there is a better way to provide reliable energy without many of the negative side effects of continuing to depend on hydrocarbons. Avoiding CO2 emissions is a good reason to work hard to deploy more nuclear reactors, but so it assuring plentiful energy, providing good jobs, enabling human creativity, pursing global prosperity and reducing the probability of resource wars. My bottom line is that I refuse to avoid using effective tools.

About Rod Adams

274 Responses to “Fighting climate change skeptics in the pro nuclear community”

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  1. Leslie Corrice says:

    I’m totally in agreement with you, Rod. When confronted by climate-change skeptics, I point to the massive change in North Polar sea ice since 2007. Not that they say “Oh migosh…I’ve been wrong”…rather, their wide-eyed silence says it all. FYI, here’s the link… http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

  2. Robert Margolis says:

    How often do nuclear advocates refer to authoritative scientific bodies such as ICRP, UNSCEAR, and so forth regarding low-dose radiation effects. Is it not inconsistent to then say that the major scieintific bodies related to climate are all wrong regarding climate?

  3. James Greenidge says:

    Seasons Greetings!

    There’s a war room scene in “Dr. Strangelove” where the Soviet ambassador breaks the news to the President that the U.S.S.R. secretly built a “Doomsday” machine as a deterrent to contaminate the Earth if they were ever attacked by a nuclear strike, and Strangelove states that the whole deterrent point of a Doomsday machine is lost if you keep it a secret. For me, likewise, it doesn’t help when nuclear energy’s own promoters fail to aggressively tout its virtues and benefits and instead letting their own opponents take stage with FUD and pernicious disinformation. The nuclear environmental argument becomes kind of moot if those with their hands on the till — Congress and the public — either haven’t a clue there is or are so totally confused they shut it out and just go with the flow of the intellectually easy status quo of gas and oil. I think it’s false reassurance to the nuclear industry that somebody’s poll claims that most Americans approve of nuclear power without including the poll punchline — Well, would you live near one? If nuclear energy promoters REALLY wanted to win a legion of fans then take the Paul Newman route of persuading environmentalists to your side rather than hawk yourself as the solo solution to “climate change” and avoid the quagmire of the debate. But again, just to either the nuclear side must really start marketing itself in earnest, and it’s been doing one bum job of it even before TMI.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  4. Jason C says:

    Bravo! When gas & petroleum companies have advertised in the past decade they’ve mentioned their contribution to clean energy investment to give the impression “they’re doing their part” usually with some solar panels or wind generators in the background. We’ve also seen some public service type ads from wind & solar also touting their clean energy benefits. Even coal was pushing “clean” coal for awhile. Gas had “blue energy” for awhile. A lot of that advertising and those investments dried up after I guess they decided they secured the political situation.

    But nuclear energy never joined the parade. Why? Or maybe the better question is: why not?

    My first hunch would be that unlike the Gillette business models of selling more solar panels, more wind turbines, more gas, more fossil liquids, more coal; nuclear’s business model doesn’t work that way. Instead, you have to buy a very expensive blade handle (the nuclear plant) and it will take a lot of time and effort, but once you have it, it uses very inexpensive blades (fuel) once every two-three years. There was no “More” to show off for the parade, except for more jobs- very good ones but those cost money too.

    Is it any wonder the one energy source that doesn’t run off the Gillette “more” model wasn’t invited, or rather ignored?

    The “less is more” would be a difficult point to articulate to the public as a benefit in an ad spot for nuclear energy, but it seems that since different campaigns weren’t attempted, it never found its advertising voice by seeing how different messages can get different responses.

    My other hunch that may add to the problem is unlike the other providers who see their product from source to market delivery more or less, nuclear is put together by a cooperative assembly of vendors to make it all happen. There was no one central place that could decide to collectively move forward.

    Maybe my hunches are wrong, but I think that’s part of the problem. But to see a lot of people who are supposed to be passionate about nuclear undersell it because of their personal views is rather disheartening.

  5. Brian Mays says:

    And what about people who just want to say that nuclear power might be a really good idea without having to join a doomsday cult (and a pretty fanatical cult too, judging from some of the comments that have been posted recently on this blog)? ;-)

    Personally, I think that you should be able to tout whatever advantages of nuclear power you want. If you want to emphasize it’s zero carbon-dioxide emissions, then go right ahead. I think that you’d receive less negative feedback, however, if you left out some of the slights and backhanded comments that you sometimes throw into your writing.

    What I can’t understand, however, is how anyone could think that picking fights with people in your own ranks is any way to do effective advocacy. Is it any wonder why nuclear power has such a lousy public image?

  6. Steve Schulin says:

    Hi Rod – I’ve been interested in energy and environment since my schoolboy days. Back then, there was much concern about power plant emissions and global cooling. There are thousands of journal articles every year on climate science. Few if any of the folks voicing conclusions about CO2-climate have a good grasp of the science, and I respectfully note that this includes most of the folks you point to as having come to consensus. My own conclusion after spending literally thousands of hours, in the early years of GW Bush administration, on reading the scientific literature and talking with wide range of scientists, is that the concerns about CO2 (which have led many self-described environmentalists to embrace nuclear power) are based on shoddy science. I join those who urge nuclear industry not to empower the alarmists. I support nuclear power because it is the safest way to generate lots of power at centralized locations, and that’s true even without giving a whit of credence to the CO2-climate alarmists. You’re a smart man, Rod. But your lumping of CO2 into the category of the “noxious” seems quite ignorant to me.

  7. David Walters says:

    Rod, you can add my name to the list of environmentalist/Climate Change activist for nuclear energy as well. While I can’t say I arrived at my position in support of nuclear energy from the “Environmentalist” side of the discussion, it was an important aspect of my decision to abandon my previously held anti-nuclear, pro-coal position.

    When I joined the same list of scientific heavy pro-nuclear folks I have to admit I was shocked by the number of climate change deniers “in the room”. As the science is in on this question, at least in terms that climate change IS occurring, and mostly that it is humanity’s actions causing it, it seems this group is way behind the times, at least a significant minority of them are.

    What I’ve found out is that *every* previous anti-nuclear person I know personally who changed their position to a pro-nuclear position, climate change was the single biggest factor involved in their sea-change on energy.

    David

    • Jason C says:

      I can say the same. Every person I’ve spoken to that reconsidered their position on nuclear came about after carefully weighing the facts in respect to CC/AGW. Those conversions did not happen over night. Many people were even bold enough to outright admit “I was wrong, I had a lot of old myth based conceptions about nuclear”. None of them gave up their beliefs in CC/AGW however.

      Still I can’t understand the reluctance to promote nuclear for this very reason. If CC/AGW turned out to be not the threat it’s theorized to be in 50-75 years and we had built a whole bunch of nuclear plants, there would be nothing to apologize for!! I don’t see that there is any risk in promoting nuclear as a partial treatment to CC/AGW. Contrast this with the tabacco industry that knew they were selling a product that caused cancer and stubbornly refused to admit it despite overwhelming evidence after the fact.

  8. Peter Geany says:

    Rod, thank you for raising this issue to allow further discussion. I take the fact that you have done a front page post on this to be a sign that you are perhaps surprised at some attitudes, yet a little intrigued and perhaps want to know more. Let me outline my personal road to the position I have taken and answer some question so as to remove any personal biases on both sides of the argument.

    Number one I love the environment, and I was a monthly contributor to one of the major environmental movements; I am no longer due to their political activism. I am what you may call a well-informed citizen, especially within science subjects. I also have a curiosity when I take a particular interest in a subject which is born of my engineering background. I have no connection to oil or otherwise but do know a number of people that work or have worked with oil companies. I’m not affiliated to any political party.

    Back in the late 90’s we were all subject to the notion that CO2 was increasing in the atmosphere and that this was causing warming. I at the time, unlike 99% of the population was somewhat alarmed as I knew that CO2 was the basic food of all life, and the effects could be catastrophic. Even we humans cannot survive without CO2. So I took a different route to most of my fellow realists and looked at where CO2 comes from. This sounds simple but no one really has an accurate figure for the natural biosphere. I also I realised just how little I knew. So I set about rectifying this situation.

    Without getting into all the detail, as others now do the subject more just justice that I can, the amount of CO2 we put into the atmosphere is minuscule as compared to the entire biosphere. It is not worth arguing over the numbers because at the upper or lower levels it makes no difference. The other thing I discovered is that there are only a handful of scientists who actually study the atmosphere in enough detail to qualify as experts. As a group they are either silent on global warming or realists. There was a satellite recently put into orbit to measure CO2 emitters. There was much anticipation surrounding the data. Naively many thought it would highlight the US, China and other industrialised areas. Imagine the shock when the Amazon, Tropical Africa and Southeast Asia where the largest emitters with the industrial areas not even registering. This data was quickly removed pending “calibration” of the satellite.

    I read avidly geological records, and came across very interesting facts about Dinosaurs. These facts revolve around how they grew so large, and that the atmospheric pressure needed to be much higher for them to support themselves and pump blood around their bodies. CO2 is the only atmospheric constituent that could have proved this additional pressure. Yet we had no run away global warming. Yes the average temperature was sometimes higher, but we also plunged into several ice ages during those times. By the way the temperature at the tropics does not increase over and above today’s temperatures due to evaporation and cloud modulation. Warmth moves toward the poles increasing the average temperature and we usually have to have land at poles to have permanent ice.

    What I’m trying to get across is my realism about Climate, for it is realism; I’m not sceptical of climate change because the climate is always changing. I base my realism on looking at a wide range of factors about animal and plant life, and about our earth’s life, for earth is a living planet, and so far within our knowledge still unique. When I join up all the thinking the tiny bit of CO2 that results from the burning of hydrocarbon fuel really has little or no effect in the greater scheme of things. And I don’t really care what the Royal Society or the Physics Society or any university says when they can’t answer simple questions that are put to them. As I stated in my previous posts, the real debate outside of the environmental movement and politics is all about whether the greenhouse effect is really real. My own opinion for what it worth, based on what I have seen so far, is that it is probably not, but as I have said it only takes one person to prove that it is real. We are all waiting.

    Most climate realists have based their opinions on the fact that all the alarming predictions have been based on climate models and that these have failed to predict that the world’s average temperature would not increase in the last 15 years. I hope I explained previously why so much effort has been expended on the temperature record.

    What bought me to your site? Well I was looking for better information after the Fucushima accident, and your site was one of the links I was given. You have so much on here that I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface. At the time I was very busy so I just paid the occasional visit. Also I have over that last 4 to 5 years turned my attention to our political representatives and what effect they are having on us as a result of their policy responses. Many of these have been disastrous. Bio fuels are a disaster as they are CO2 neutral at best, but more likely contribute positively to the CO2 budget. As a result of subsidies, they have taken some of the best agricultural land out of production. They have caused more destruction to the rainforest in both the Amazon and Indonesia for sugar cane and Palm oil than any other reason recently. They have also contributed to rising food prices that we in the west brush off but have a disastrous impact on the poor of the world.

    When we look at wind turbines and solar farms we see the same issues arising. I cannot support policies that are so poorly thought out that they do more harm than good and don’t save a single gram of CO2.

    We see our political elite prattling on about the increasing CO2 output from China and India, wanting them to capture the CO2 and bury it, when the real problem for these countries are the real pollutants that cause real heath issues. Sulphur dioxide, Nitrous oxides, un-burnt hydrocarbons, particulates, Carbon monoxide. We have in the West cracked these issues, and our air quality continues to improve each year as we turn over our cars trucks trains and power stations for new ones. Not a single person will have a single health issue from CO2. In what was until a few years ago my area of expertise, heavy duty diesel engines, an EPA10 certified heavy duty truck engine is to all intents a purposes zero emission. The exhaust contains just N2 O2 CO2 and H2O ignoring the 1% neon that goes in and out. The technology is truly inspiring, just as nuclear is. But I argue today that there should be a moratorium of further reductions in NOx and Particulates and we should concentrate the technology to reduce fuel consumption. We are not going to further improve our heath prospects, as I doubt we could quantify the benefits of last 2 reductions, but we sure as hell could make an economic improvement by reducing fuel consumption.

    And here is where I come to my first comment on your site. It’s not a comment that is based on 5 minutes thought and a dislike of the environment. It is based on what I see as a hijacking of the environmental movement by political activism. The political policy responses have been all wrong causing further harm to the environment for no gain. As an industry nuclear needs to concentrate on what is real, and that is traditional pollution. You need to concentrate on the whole economic argument, and I believe it favour nuclear. You need to educate the general public, for they are your real friends. But head off into fantasy land saving the world from CO2, keep on make alliances with elites who play you for their own ends and your journey will be long and unfruitful. Believe me when I say Public support for climate change mitigation is ebbing away. There is panic in some political circles as they have invested heavily in something that is not working economically or politically. It says much about the intellect of our leaders and how much real though they put into their decision making.

    I hope this helps to answer your questions and opens up the debate.

    • Engineer-Poet says:

      It’s not a comment that is based on 5 minutes thought and a dislike of the environment. It is based on what I see as a hijacking of the environmental movement by political activism.

      Based on the number of half-truths and denial of basic facts like the steepening rise of the Keeling curve, your comment is based on fossil industry propaganda.  It’s good of you to provide such a textbook example of what Rod has been talking about.

      • Peter Geany says:

        @ Engineer-Poet “fossil industry propaganda” Do me a favour please. What’s the fossil industry? Something to do with dinosaurs? I guess you are referring to the extraction of hydrocarbon based fuel? I come on here to hopefully to stimulate a long overdue intellectual debate on the on-going role I think the nuclear industry should play in our future energy needs. The nuclear industry holds all the cards yet cannot make headway. I hope I am right in suggesting it is either on the wrong road or is poorly led. I could be wrong but your comment adds nothing to the debate. I’m here to learn, I’m here to be persuaded they are on the right track, not be told 15 years of work in my own time is worthless propaganda.

        You mention the Keeling curve. Have you ever noted the scale for the Y axis? It is compressed to show only 310 ppm to 390 ppm, a mere 80ppm. What of the scale between 0 and 300 let alone that between 400 and 1,000,000. If you consider just the CO2 element of the atmosphere you could say it has increased by 30%. If you consider the atmosphere as a whole the change is within the error of our ability to measure CO2. Which view is reality? How much of that is man contribution? Let’s be generous and include changes in land use then we could say about 3%. So answer me why the 3% that man contributes is the only part that matters and the 97% natural emissions do nothing. No easy answer to that one, and if you ask the Royal Society or the National academy of sciences that same question they brush you off. That is no way to run science.

        Then we move onto where CO2 is measured. One place in Mauna Loa. Yes I say this represents the whole world! Just like the average temperature on earth tells you zero about the temperature anywhere on earth. And the way CO2 is measured is by infrared spectrograph. We used to do it the hard way by direct chemical analysis, but that is not done now. I for one would like to see some corroboration. If we are being asked to completely overhaul our way of life aren’t we entitled to that? I’m not being unreasonable here, and the reason being is that historical chemical measurements do not support the flat line pre 1950 280ppm that we are always feed by the establishment. 400ppm was often measured back in the 1800’s. And the numbers feed to us from ice cores have been questioned after new analysis. This is a complicated matter that we are asked to believe is as simple as black and white.

        On the point of my repeating propaganda from the hydrocarbon industries, all I can say they know even less about this stuff than the environmental movement and are quite useless when it comes to getting to the nitty gritty of this question. So there is no chance that I’m repeating their nonsense. In fact they often have there noses in the trough just as much as the environmental lobby.

        • Jason Kobos says:

          Mr. Geany

          The rate of change, or slope of a line does not change numerically when the y-axis changes. If you are claiming that the Keeling curve is not actually getting steeper but the graphs are simply changing the axis to make it seem like ti changes?

          If this is your argument it would be better made if you showed that the value of the Keeling curve is not changing by stating the value of the slope over time.

          Just leaving an open ended question about y-axis values up to 1,000,000 is a distraction for the argument at hand. The value of the slope of the Keeling curve.

          If you are trying to prove your case then you need to answer people’s questions with answers. Listing a bunch of open ended questions only succeeds in adding doubt, not clarifying the case that global warming is a non-issue.

        • Engineer-Poet says:

          I come on here to hopefully to stimulate a long overdue intellectual debate on the on-going role I think the nuclear industry should play in our future energy needs.

          Yet you suggest discarding a very high-value card in the industry’s hand, instead of playing it.  Strange, isn’t it?

          I’m going to address the first 3 of your assertions as proxies for the rest, because I’m not about to get into a Gish gallop with an expert prevaricator.

          You mention the Keeling curve. Have you ever noted the scale for the Y axis?

          Irrelevant.  Red herring.

          What of the scale between 0 and 300 let alone that between 400 and 1,000,000.

          Atmospheric CO2 has not been below 300 ppm since the beginning of accurate measurements.  Measurements from ice cores are plotted on a different scale, for obvious reasons.  I’ll be happy to accept a 1e6 ppm top of a linear scale if you’ll volunteer to breathe a 1e5 ppm concentration of CO2 (balance air) for 30 minutes.

          If you consider the atmosphere as a whole the change is within the error of our ability to measure CO2.

          The accuracy of modern CO2 measurements approaches 0.1 ppmv and rarely exceeds 0.2 ppmv, so that qualifies as a lie.  (For others who might be interested in the history of atmospheric CO2 measurement, this page on Keeling and his funding came up in my search.  It mentions climate concerns dating to the mid-1950’s.)

          You’re well-schooled in denialist memes.  I hope Robert refuses to let you use Atomic Insights to spread them any longer.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @Peter Geany

          The nuclear-focused part of the energy industry is quite tiny and limited to just a few companies like Bruce Power or Cameco. A large portion of the rest of the participants in the industry are actually in the energy equipment business and do not care whether they sell equipment to be used in coal, natural gas, oil, biomass, wind or solar.

          Another portion of what is often called “the nuclear industry” includes the operating companies that are actually in the business of selling electricity; most of them are structures so that their profits are not based on what kind of power plant they operate. They make the same return on investment even if the capital is idly invested in solar or wind or if they are operating a gas turbine burning expensive fuel inefficiently. Fuel costs are often passed directly to consumers, and there is no cost associated with dumping hydrocarbon waste products to the common atmosphere. That purposeful set up ensures there is no real incentive to consider buying equipment that produces power with really cheap and emissions free fuel.

          I’ve spoken on numerous occasions to PR representatives for both energy equipment suppliers and utility operators at events touted as being about nuclear energy. Inevitably they have told me that they are not allowed to compare nuclear energy against its alternative ways of producing heat or electricity. They can tell people that nuclear is safe; in fact they are almost invariably told that they must lead with that message. The NEI even started a web site with this URL http://safetyfirst.nei.org/. However, they are not allowed to mention that nuclear has proven to be far safer than coal, natural gas, oil, wind, or solar. They are allowed to call nuclear “clean air energy” but not allowed to mention that the alternatives of coal, natural gas or oil produce “dirty air energy”.

          I view the energy discussion through the lens of a unique set of experiences (we all do). I started out my collegiate education as an English major who was more interested in humanity than in engineering. I studied topics like “Satire and Sensibility in the Age of Reason” and completed an individual advanced research project that compared the influence of Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels) against that of Joseph Heller (Catch 22). I was trained to recognize slant, to dig through stories to find out why characters did or said what they did, and to attempt to understand what authors were really trying to say with the words they carefully chose to share.

          I served as a submarine engineering and communications officer, earned a Master’s in Systems Technology with a focus in decision support systems. I then served as the engineering department head where I gained important hands on experience in how a fission power plant can really run. I became friends with many sailors and chief petty officers because submarines are tight crews with few boundaries if you do not want to recognize them. (My dad was a WWII sailor and my father in law is a retired master sergeant; I never looked down from any blue tile perches like some of my fellow officers.)

          I’ve not only been a professional naval officer who studied the importance of fuel in world affairs, but I’ve also been a businessman selling the concept of small modular reactors starting in 1993. I’ve also been a businessman competing in a cutthroat enterprise of selling plastic injection molded toys, cooking tools, medical supplies and marine products against competitors that used other materials or really cheap labor from China or the Asian tiger economies. I became friends with production factory workers by getting out on the floor, participating in assembly parties to get an order out the door, running equipment to provide bio breaks, operating a forklift, and making deliveries to other local companies that used our parts in larger assemblies. My wife worked for a major regional environmental organization, which gave me the opportunity to become friends with a number of people from that “community.”

          When skeptics talk about the small percentage of annual CO2 released by human activity, they often neglect to mention that all natural sources of CO2 also have natural sinks (loss terms in a differential equation) that lead to an annual cyclic balance. The portion of CO2 released by burning long ago buried hydrocarbons is a pure addition term, leading to a small annual increase in inventory. The buildup is a little like a savings account started by a disciplined child who permanently puts away 1-5% of his income every year. As that child develops and prospers, her savings account keeps growing and growing to the point where the numbers get quite impressive. There may even be a little bit of compound interest helping that account to grow.

          There is another analog that nuclear-trained skeptics should think about when told about the small fraction of anthropogenic CO2 in the overall production rate. The fraction of neutrons that is “delayed” and does not appear at the instant of fission is quite small, somewhat less than 1%. That small portion of the total neutron production ends up being extremely important in our ability to control reactor power and the rate at which reactor power changes.

          At steady power or at times when only a small amount of excess reactivity is in the core, things work wonderfully. If, on the other hand, systems allow operators to insert enough reactivity so that the core is “critical” on prompt neutrons alone, things get out of control in a hurry. That is why we are so careful to make sure that there is a vanishingly small probability of ever inserting that much reactivity – unless the reactor is a research reactor specifically designed to “pulse” to a much higher than average power.

          I worry about CO2 driven climate change. Human activity produces about 30 billion tons of the stuff annually. Sure, it is natural and food for plants, but so is feces. Both are important, but should be kept in their place or under control.

          I push for reliable, affordable nuclear fission alternative energy that will make us more energy secure and not require any lifestyle changes or sacrifices other than spending a little more time learning math and science. I frequently point out that spending resources on wind and solar energy is dumb. Someday, someone might prove that my worry was misplaced, but I would prefer that outcome over pursuing business as usual and finding out that increasing CO2 concentration was as bad as some of the experts tell us it is.

          • gallopingcamel says:

            You believe the “Experts” who say that rising CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are “Bad”. I can cite a bunch of “Experts” who say it is “Good”.

            Even though we disagree on the consequencs of burning fossil fuels, we do agree that in the long term nuclear power will dominate.

            It is widely beieved that the generation of electricity based on coal or gas is competitive with nuclear. This proposition will soon be tested on a large scale. Will France with its >80% NPP electricity be competitive with a Germany that plans to phase out NPPs in the aftermath of Fukushima?

            IMHO it will not be a close race. France will trounce Germany when it comes to the retail price of electricity.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Peter

      I welcome the discussion. Though I have no doubt that pushing nuclear energy is right for many reasons, one of the more important is that fission is clean enough to operate inside a sealed submarine. Even if you totally discount the negative effects of CO2 as a waste product, there is no way you could say the same thing about burning anything. Even a lawnmower sized gasoline engine can produce enough waste products to kill everyone on a boat (sub) in just a few hours.

      I noticed that you claimed no relation to the fossil fuel industry, but you also mentioned that you designed large Diesel engines. That profession is completely dependent on having a supply of hydrocarbons; it is as much a part of the hydrocarbon industry as designing reactor pressure vessels and steam generators is a part of the nuclear industry.

      • gallopingcamel says:

        Great point!

        When operating in a closed environment with limited resources of air, water etc. it is much easier to understand what is toxic and what is not. My understanding is that the US Navy allows submariners to breath air containing 5,000 ppm of CO2 (>12 times what is found outdoors). That is from memory so please set me straight if I am wrong.

        Kirk Sorensen worked this meme when he discussed an energy source for a Moon colony:
        http://www.wanderings.net/blog/posts/thorium-an-alternative-to-nuclear-fuel-kirk-sorensen-ted

      • Peter Geany says:

        I like the lawn mower analogy. The old hose pipe from the exhaust into the car was an unfortunately easy way to commit suicide. However it has fallen from favour in the developed world because CO a deadly poison to any oxygen breather was one of the first targets for emission control on petrol engines. Now the only way you die is through oxygen starvation which takes much longer and you get nauseous and sick before you reach that fatal stage, often compelling you to leave the vehicle. In counties outside the US diesel cars are now popular due to the technological advances of the common rail fuel system that allows scaling down the capabilities of fuel systems that have been used on heavy duty diesels for many years. They too produce no CO. In fact we joke that the technology is so advanced on the EPA 10 heavy duty diesel engines used in on highway trucks in the US that the air coming out the exhaust is cleaner than that going in. In other words its N2, O2, H2O, CO2 and Argon. The real pollutants have been reduced to the point at which they have no effect on health or visible air quality.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @Peter Geany

          Though I know enough about IC engine technology improvements to believe you are correct for a properly warmed up machine using high grade fuel, I think you are being a little disingenuous about the pollution released out of the exhaust pipe of a diesel or gasoline engine.

          When combustion engines first start, they produce a burst of incompletely burned waste products, including CO. If they use fuel that contains appreciable quantities of sulfur, they release SOx. If the fuel contains other trace contaminants, it goes out the exhaust. Some modern diesels or gasoline engines will not run very long on lower grade fuel because of issues with the catalytic converters or other pollution control systems. That’s why the market for those machines is limited to places where there are high standards of fuel cleanliness. Those standards are not universal because they add quite a bit to the cost of producing the fuel.

          • Peter Geany says:

            Rod You are correct about fuel quality which is why in the west we have spent billions on upgrading refineries to produce clean fuel. Most particulates from a diesel came via oil consumption and the sulphur in the fuel, not as most people would imagine burning the fuel. There are large service improvements as a result of the manufactures fixing the oil consumption issue and clean fuel. Its not uncommon for these engines to be able to pass a new engine production test with 1 million miles on the clock. 99.99% of fuel in commercial engines is burnt at optimum temperature.

            Cars and recreational vehicles are another matter. But the technology and the emission standards now demand that they do not kick out any CO or un-burnt hydro carbons even when starting. Diesels don’t produce CO anyway, and the first petrol engines with no cam shafts and solenoid operated valves are going on the road. I’m getting one myself next month. This is innovation, (from Formula 1) and its the petrol engine fighting back against the more efficient diesel. The small car I’m getting is 850cc turbocharged twin cylinder putting out more power than most 1200cc four cylinder petrol engines.

            I spent 2 years in Saudi Arabia on secondment where they don’t care as much as we do. They have some of the highest sulphur diesel anywhere and it plays havoc with fuel systems and oil life. They even burn crude in some medium speed engines which is beyond stupid in my opinion, and worse they burn it in some turbine units. Even though they have all that oil its a travesty they burn it for power. They have no grid and small nuclear units is just what they need.

  9. Robert Steinhaus says:

    The natural position of science is skepticism (believe nothing that that is not supported by careful observations followed by reproducible experiment).

    I do not like massive 200,000 line computer models producing widely varying results being given the same weight as thousands of careful measurements and careful experiments. One line of code entered by a college summer intern buried in the middle of the huge model run on a peta-flop supercomputer at a prestigious University or National Lab with an errant constant can be enough to completely skew all of the results, and the flaw can be very difficult to detect and correct and stay buried for years.

    Modeled results do not deserve equal respect as the results of conscientious experiment..

    • Engineer-Poet says:

      One line of code entered by a college summer intern buried in the middle of the huge model run on a peta-flop supercomputer at a prestigious University or National Lab with an errant constant can be enough to completely skew all of the results

      True, so far as it goes.

      the flaw can be very difficult to detect and correct and stay buried for years.

      Not true, because papers do not publish model code, they publish algorithms.  People working to reproduce a model’s results write their own code.  If there was a bug in one implementation, it would quickly be revealed by its variant results from others.

      • Robert Steinhaus says:

        Academic papers may publish algorithms, what gets reported in newspapers, which helps form public opinion, is typically only the model results.

        If the results are being published by a prestigious University or National Lab, they are published with the full prestige of the University or National Lab. The press does not do a good job differentiating the results of experiments and modeled results.

        All Universities and National Labs depend on continued funding. When models support current Administration energy policy, the institutions running those models stand a better chance of getting funded next year.

        It is just too much for most University Department heads and National Laboratory Program Administrators to avoid subtly mucking with the models. Maybe they do not intend to directly lie, but as the modeling code evolves, the parts that build the case for the desired current energy policy are retained, and parts of the model that gave funny, non-helpful results get dropped off.

        In the end, the models that build the case for the current energy policy get rewarded.

        Conscientious Experiments based on careful observation are preferred over any modeled result.

        If modeled results are being used to close safe operating existing power plants with billions of dollars of economic consequence, then the difference between modeled results and experimental results and the limitations of models deserves attention and should be taught to the public.

        • turnages says:

          You allege that university administrations have been introducing systematic bias into the climate models produced by their researchers. This is a serious allegation. Care to provide some supporting evidence?

          Any serious climate researcher who calls himself a scientist is very unlikely to stand for that sort of thing anyway. Their job is to improve the model so that it best mirrors actual reality (measurements and “careful observations”), not to conform with “desired current energy policy”, whatever that is.

          • gallopingcamel says:

            I spent twelve years feeding at the government trough. My job was funded by Department of Defence research grants from NRL and AFOSR.

            Robert Steinhaus knows what he is talking about but he won’t be able to produce the “supporting evidence” you want. Nobody who is working in a university research department can ever admit how this corrupt system works. Every three years we “Sing for our supper”. We tell DARPA or whoever else what they want to hear and they approve our proposals.

            As our livelihoods depend on playing this game over and over again don’t expect anyone to admit what we are doing. There is too much money at stake.

          • turnages says:

            It is one thing to assert that levels of spin are involved when research faculties have to “sing for their supper”. Canvassing for funds involves appeals to topicality, political realities, and pushing people’s buttons just as much as rational scientific needs. In this it is no different to appeals for funds in any other sphere. That’s life.

            It is quite another thing to allege that climate models have been systematically distorted to produce politically convenient results. There are too many models, and too many different teams, for such distortions to survive for long in the arena of scientific rigor.

            But those who want to write off AGW as a political distortion aren’t really interested in scientific rigor.

          • gallopingcamel says:

            Turnages,
            “But those who want to write off AGW as a political distortion aren’t really interested in scientific rigor.”

            Wow! Where is your evidence for that wild statement? I would claim the exact opposite. Those of us who use physical observations and experiments as our basis are the ones who wonder how it is that so many governments promote energy policies that make no scientific or economic sense.

  10. agimarc says:

    Be very, very careful about joining forces with the greens against the fossil fuels industry. At their heart they are statist luddites, who have been fighting nuclear energy for generations. Your paths may converge for a while to defeat the evil oil and coal industry, but once victorious, they will turn against the pro-nuke guys using precisely the same arguments they have been using since the 1960s. And they will be successful.

    I am saddened that you count yourself in league with Hansen, a known fraud and liar, who has been using his position at NASA Goddard to serially revise historic temperature datasets on a rolling basis year by year so they no longer show the 1930s were the warmest decade of the last century, so the Medieval Warm Period no longer exists, and so they support the output of flawed computer models. What is worse is that Hansen is misrepresenting the atmosphere of Venus as an example of problems caused by CO2. Mars has about the same percentage of CO2 as Venus, yet is much cooler. Why is that? It is because there are 92 atmospheres – over 100 km thick – piled on top of one another. The high temperatures are an adiabatic result. Use another gas and you will get similar (though not exact) pressures and temperatures at the surface. OTOH Mars has only 0.6% of an atmosphere, leaving it much, much colder at the surface.

    One of the things that advocates on both sides of the argument is select where to start drawing their recent graphs. The glo-warmers choose to start their recent temperature graphs near the end of the Little Ice Age, showing significant warming over the last couple centuries. It nicely skews the visual effect in their favor. Most of the skeptics start at the end of the last ice age.

    People who target CO2 do similar things. As it turns out, during the height of the Ice Ages, CO2 levels in the atmosphere is at a minimum – very close to the minimum necessary for plant life – around 150 ppm is the life ends minimum. Toward the end of the Ice ages get well below 200 ppm, in the vicinity of 180 ppm. Most of it is in solution in the oceans. As the planet warms up, it comes out of the oceans as a lagging indicator of temperature rise. There is some argument about how long that lagging indicator lags, with 800 years being tossed around.

    I would say the largest threat to life on this planet is not higher levels of carbon dioxide, rather it is the cold with tends to drop the atmospheric levels over time. And with an extended period of quiet sun (Dalton Minimum / Maunder Minimum levels perhaps) in our very near future, I would submit that cold is a far bigger threat than higher CO2 levels in the are. Interestingly enough, heat engines (reactors) are an outstanding solution to the cold. And burning fossil fuels is a great way to keep atmospheric CO2 levels high enough to keep things green.

    I come to the nuclear discussion via interest in small reactors for space applications and for power applications for small communities here in AK. Cheers -

    • Engineer-Poet says:

      Be very, very careful about joining forces with the greens against the fossil fuels industry. At their heart they are statist luddites, who have been fighting nuclear energy for generations.

      It actually goes the other way.  The Greens are getting support from people concerned about the climate, because nobody else is dealing with the issue squarely.  The nuclear industry can step up and offer a third choice to the false dichotomy between the coal & gas industry on the one hand and the Green return to pre-industrial life on the other.  This will siphon off support from the Greens.  There is already an intellectual core for such a shift (Patrick Moore, James Lovelock, George Monbiot, etc.), all it needs is some support for publicity.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @agimark

      The historical followers of Ned Lud, the original “Luddites”, were members of a privileged guild of skilled weavers. They overturned mechanical looms because they recognized the new technology as a threat to their income and status.

      They were right; cheap manufactured cloth led to inexpensive clothes. Affordable garments were a boon to most of humanity, but they put the hand weavers out of business.

      In my view, the true “Luddites” in the energy world are those whose wealth and power is threatened by nuclear technology. In other words, they are the people who profit by keeping us addicted to hydrocarbon fuels.

      • agimarc says:

        I don’t view hydrocarbons as an addiction. Rather they are a reasonable response to economic conditions. When the economics of the nuclear world allow capital and operational costs to fall to the point where they are small enough and responsive enough to be viable as off the shelf power sources, you will be competitive.

        The key to this I believe is significant legal and regulatory reform. Putting up with anti-nuke appointees to the NRC from Markey’s staff or Reid’s staff is not helping solve this.

        In the not so distant future, you can make a great case for small reactors being power and heating sources for small and mid-sized towns (no transmission required) as an alternative to coal or NG. But you (we) have to really speed up the approval duty cycle, cut capital costs, and make licensing near instantaneous (or at least no slower than a similarly sized coal / NG / hydro generation).

        There is a lot more, but this is the start. The nuke industry is carrying around a terrible millstone in regulatory and legal limitations that have made it uncompetitive. Rather than going after the oil / NG / coal guys for doing what businessmen have been trying to do to one another since Adam Smith first wrote about it, do something about getting the regulatory lid pried off and we will all be better off.

        In some ways, the nuke industry is as burdened by regs and legalisms as aerospace, and with the same result. Unfortunate. Cheers -

        • Rod Adams says:

          Some of those regulations did not appear without the focused efforts of competitors.

          When I criticize the oil, gas and coal industries, I am also doing what businessmen have been doing since time immemorial – pointing out the weaknesses of the competition and highlighting the advantages of the product I prefer to sell.

      • gallopingcamel says:

        Your comments about Luddites are dead on. Whenever major innovations appear there are winners and losers. The skilled weavers were among the losers when machines for spinning and weaving transformed the textile industry at the start of the “Industrial Revolution”.

        Please don’t take my word on this. Read “Why Nations Fail”:
        http://www.amazon.com/Why-Nations-Fail-Prosperity-ebook/dp/B0058Z4NR8

    • turnages says:

      @agimarc, you assert that Hansen is “a known fraud and liar”. That is a very serious allegation. Have you any evidence? And what are your qualifications for making it that would make you credible to an unbiased and informed person?

      The real explanation, if you care to hear it, is as follows.

      Yes, the historic temperature record has been revised, in various minor ways, from time to time. This is not, as you assume, because people have been engaging in fraud and telling lies. Rather, it is done when inaccuracies are discovered in previous data, e.g. certain types of measuring devices are found to have systematic errors, when more modern methods or other types of devices allow the previous values to be re-baselined and corrected. Or measurements become possible from new areas of the Earth’s surface which allows a more complete picture. Sometimes this results in the numbers coming out lower, sometimes higher than before. All this is explained in an open manner on the NOAA and HADCRUT websites.

      Would you prefer that we carried on using the previous, uncorrected results??

      The 1930s were never the warmest decade globally, only the warmest decade in the United States. (The US is only 2% of the Earth’s total surface area anyway.) Recent years, however, are starting to surpass them.

      You are also woefully in error regarding planetary CO2 and temperatures. “Use another gas and you will get similar (though not exact) pressures and temperatures at the surface” is fallacious. The greenhouse effect makes a huge difference, if Earth had no CO2 or methane but the same mass of atmosphere, temperatures would be 30 celsius lower than they are now.

      As it is, atmospheric CO2 concentration has increased 30% since 1850, and the extra amount is shown to have fossil fuel origins by its changing isotopic composition. (Fossil carbon has no Carbon-14, biosphere carbon has C-14 from cosmic rays.)

      Svante Arrhenius formulated the CO2 greenhouse effect a hundred years ago. CO2 shortwave IR absorption and resultant temperature rise is readily demonstrated in the lab.

      Many independent experiments and measurements whose results buttress one another show that the CO2 greenhouse effect is real and increasing.

      For instance, longwave infrared backscatter radiation from sky to ground has been increasing, stratosphere average temperatures have been decreasing, and shortwave IR ground emissivity as seen by satellites has been decreasing. This is wholly consistent with increased greenhouse effect.

      Some claim that global warming is because solar insolation has increased over the last 30 years and is now decreasing again. Perhaps, but the effect is pretty minor and is being swamped overall by increasing CO2 greenhouse effect.

      Other symptoms demonstrating increased greenhouse effect as opposed to increased solar insolation:

      – polar temperatures are, on average, increasing more than equator temperatures,

      – night time temperatures, on average, are increasing more than daytime temperatures,

      – winter temperatures are, on average, increasing more than summer temperatures.

      This is seen to an extreme degree on Venus. At the surface, temperatures are basically constant regardless of day/night, season or latitude, at a roasting 450 celsius or so, and only vary significantly with altitude.

      As to your belief that the earth is actually cooling and will cool further, reality hasn’t got the memo yet. The global 10-year average temperature of the latest decade was 0.16 Celsius higher than the preceding decade, which was in turn 0.18 celsius higher than the decade before that. The north polar ice extent this summer (a fine indicator of the amount of surviving multi year ice) is 30% down on 1979, and that’s not a one-off, it’s been a steady continuing downward trend.

      How much are you willing to bet that the current decade will not break another record as the warmest since directly measured records began?

      What scientifically sound alternative explanations that fit these facts and demonstrate that an increased man-made CO2 greenhouse effect is not involved, can you come up with?

      • Brian Mays says:

        … you assert that Hansen is “a known fraud and liar”. That is a very serious allegation. Have you any evidence?

        Not really, but he does have an arrest record. ;-)

        The most accurate thing that can be said about James Hansen is that he has been more activist than scientist for at least the past 25 years, and he has been well rewarded for his activism.

        I’m sure that he means well, but good intentions aren’t scientific evidence. In fact, passion is quite notorious for clouding sober, objective judgment.

        • turnages says:

          So you admit that you have no evidence of Hansen’s lying and fraud. Glad that’s clear.

          As to his arrest record, I have great regard for a scientist being willing to come out from his ivied cloisters, and stand up and be counted for a cause – the well-being of coming generations and the world they will live in – that he regards as more important than his personal comfort. Who can but be appalled at the removal and burning of entire mountaintops of coal, the trashing of the surrounding environment, and the addition of millions of tons of long-lived greenhouse gases to our atmospheric commons?

          It is not wrong for a scientist to also be an activist, such people, if they preserve their integrity, can do a great deal of good. There is no credible evidence that his scientific judgment is in any way lacking.

          And, of course, he’s highly in favor of nuclear power as a way out of this mess.

          • Rod Adams says:

            It is not only “not wrong” but ethically imperative for scientists and engineers who are concerned to become activists. We have to learn how to get the public’s attention before we can effectively help them to better understand their world.

            Hansen’s willingness to stand up to overturn what he is reasonably certain is a very bad policy is admirable. Those who portray him as a self centered being focused only on obtaining grants and keeping his position in society need to think a little harder and recognize a man who is passionately trying to share important knowledge discovered during a lengthy career.

          • turnages says:

            Hear, hear!

          • Brian Mays says:

            No, the problem with Hansen is that he wildly exaggerates, and he ignores anything and everything that disagrees with or contradicts his fanatical obsession with carbon dioxide.

            Here’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about:

            ‘We have only four years left to act on climate change – America has to lead’

            He made this claim just before Obama’s inauguration in 2009. Guess what? It’s now four years later, and Obama has accomplished nothing on “climate change.” In fact, these days the President has been bragging about how much oil and gas America produces, and he has appointed people to chair the NRC who have done nothing but stand in the way of any kind of expansion of zero-carbon nuclear power in the US or abroad.

            So was Hansen right? If he was, then there’s no point in even talking any further, because it’s game over, man, game over. We’re already too late.

            But if Hansen was wrong, then what? Does he get a mulligan? Does he get to claim that it’s the next four years that really matter? And then four years later, will it be the next four years after that? Do we live in a world in which we perpetually “have only four years left”?

            After hearing these dire predictions over and over, any sensible person has to start questioning the man’s sanity. He’s like one of those crazy cult leaders who is always predicting the end of the world. Then when the date comes, and the world doesn’t end, he just forgets that he ever said anything and announces a new date for the end. Hansen is as much of a fraud as any of these prophets. Sadly, it’s amazing how many people are proudly willing to be members of this doomsday cult and accept whatever he says on pure faith.

            The only good thing that I can say about Crazy Hansen and his doomsday predictions is that, thankfully, he’s no Jim Jones. The only kool-aid he offers is the pseudo-intellectual kind.

        • John T Tucker says:

          So basically you have been quoting anti AGM propaganda from a site whose author holds NO degree(s) You also chose to insult me as a “know it all – I at least hold a graduate degree.

          Why dont you post your qualifications and lets go forward from there. No doubt you can explain many things I would need further explanation of. God forbid after what you have said we catch you making things up.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            Would Watts’ nonsense be any better if he had multiple PhD’s?

            I don’t mean to take anything away from your righteous rant, but for an example of nonsense produced by PhD’s, try the Nikolov and Zeller poster presentation which allegedly debunks the existence of any greenhouse effect on Earth.  Stifle yourself if co-workers might look at you funny for laughing out loud, and if you spray your coffee all over the place while reading it, I am NOT responsible for replacing your keyboard!

          • Peter Geany says:

            @Engineer-Poet Nikolov and Zeller are not the only people to put forward this hypothesis, just the latest. What’s more it works for all the planets and moons with an atmosphere. It answers many of the questions that real people have in the real world. It explains why when we are being told that CO2 concentrations are rising exponentially the temperature is going nowhere.

            No one on the climate realist’s side thinks that climate does not change. We just believe that there are other more realistic reasons for the change, and what’s more these other reason can be measured, whereas the greenhouse effect in reality cannot, and only exists as a theory and in climate models. Ironically many like Watts believe in the greenhouse effect but that increasing CO2 has little effect because of negative feedback of clouds.

            If you look at the realist community it is made up of those who were in the main educated in the sciences, many are engineers like myself who have spent many hours analysing data, having to join up multiple influences and used to thinking in multiple dimensions. I have spent a lifetime resolving problems, and more often than not would find human issues preventing resolution. Put another way I don’t believe anything until it makes sense to me

            For everyone in this argument, qualifications mean nothing. I don’t need to be a PhD in climate science to look at a temperature data set and work out if it is going up or not, and how relevant it is.

            Likewise if the greenhouse effect relies on back radiation, how does it work on Venus when little light reaches the surface? And how does the dark side stay at the same temperature as the sunny side? I go looking for the answers to these questions and many others.

          • John Tucker says:

            Oh god and like clockwork someone even showed up defending it.

            EP since AGW has been mainstream atmospheric science there has been enough time for someone to go from kindergarten to PhD. Is it too much to ask the leading denial site dealing with complex arguments in atmospheric science and challenging the academic scientific community have a basic and semi complete college education in SOMETHING?? Am I being unreasonable here?

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            Oh god and like clockwork someone even showed up defending it.

            It’s the new game show, Trolling for Cranks!

            Is it too much to ask the leading denial site dealing with complex arguments in atmospheric science and challenging the academic scientific community have a basic and semi complete college education in SOMETHING??

            Absolutely not.

          • gallopingcamel says:

            John T. Tucker and “Engineer Poet”,
            You should be highly skeptical about Nikolov & Zeller just as I am. While I am a physicist (as they are) my field is quantum electro-optics so I can’t claim any directly relevant “Climate Science” expertise in the way Peter Mays does.

            N&K claim to be able to predict planetary surface temperatures using only pressure and TSI as variables. I decided to test their equations against real observational data that they had not considered. Their theory was developed for rocky bodies, so I tested it on gas giants.

            The N&K theory is based on energy balance calculatons at planetary surfaces. In contrast, my calculations follow Carl Sagan’s “Top of the Atmosphere” approach, published in 1973, that correctly predicts the surface temperature of Venus.

            My major objection to N&K’s analysis is the failure to consider the effects of water on Earth’s climate via clouds, energy reflecting ice caps, wet adiabatic lapse rates and ocean currents. How can such factors be irrelevant given what we directly experience living on Earth’s surface?
            http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/?s=Nikolov

            I was hoping to find some major holes in the N&K analysis but I failed. While that does not mean N&K are right, it will take new observations or someone smarter than me to prove them wrong. Maybe you can help?

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            N&K claim to be able to predict planetary surface temperatures using only pressure and TSI as variables.

            It’s my understanding that Sagan was unable to correctly model the temperature (and profiles? not sure) on Venus without adjusting his model to incorporate a different atmospheric composition.  If so, N&Z were proven wrong decades before they published.

            Then again, that’s true of most of this stuff.  The authors don’t even try to be scientists; the point is to have something scientific-looking which can be used to snow the public.

      • gallopingcamel says:

        “You are also woefully in error regarding planetary CO2 and temperatures. “Use another gas and you will get similar (though not exact) pressures and temperatures at the surface” is fallacious. The greenhouse effect makes a huge difference, if Earth had no CO2 or methane but the same mass of atmosphere, temperatures would be 30 celsius lower than they are now.”

        Physicists like equations. Then they like to test them to how they hold up against observations.

        I can assure you that it matters very little what the gas composition of a planetary atmosphere may be. Whether it is 97% CO2 or 395 parts per million does not matter. All you need to know is the TSI (Total Solar Insolation) and “p” (pressure).

        Nikolov & Zeller have a theory that explains the surface temperatures of planets and moons with impressive accuracy. Like you I was highly skeptical about the idea that gas compostion was not a significant factor, so I did a little analysis of my own:
        http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/?s=Nikolov

        • turnages says:

          @gallopingcamel:

          I looked at the N&Z poster. It starts off badly: “No consensus currently exists as to why the warming trend ceased in 1998 despite a continued increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration.”

          When we’re talking about slow increases of temperatures over many decades, it is _meaningless_ to talk of a warming trend “ceasing” in a particular year. There are noisy year-to-year variations in average annual temperature due to El Ninõ/Southern Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation, volcanic eruptions, Asian air pollution, the sunspot cycle, etc. 1998 happened to be a convenient cherry-pick in which ENSO warming was particularly strong and has anyway been surpassed since.

          Over a whole decade, however, these variations smooth out and the upward trend is clearly evident. The decadal average temperature for 2000-2009 was 0.16 celsius higher than 1990-1999, which was in turn 0.18 celsius higher than 1980-1989. So M&Z are starting off with a mistaken premise.

          They then dive into their mathematical reasoning, but conspicuously omit any consideration of the fact that different gases really do absorb infrared radiation by different amounts, and consequently heat up by differing amounts under the same level of insolation. This is not a far-out hypothetical model, but a basic physical property, readily measured in the laboratory.

          Having disregarded this effect, they naturally come up with a formula that does not depend on atmospheric composition.

          As to their formula fitting real surface temperature measurements with “impressive accuracy”, puzzle me this: the Venusian night lasts for 58 earth days. During this time, the TSI is zero. This gives a rather low temperature from the formula. But what do we actually find? The Venus surface temperature is 464 C, unchanged from the daytime temperature. This is unlike Earth, where temperatures drop steadily as the thermal energy radiates into space.

          This is not explained at all by their “Unified Theory of Climate”. It is readily explained, however, by the greenhouse effect of the CO2, which acts as an insulating blanket. Just like a feather duvet, temperatures are equably warm (or hot!) anywhere underneath it.

          We see this to a lesser degree on earth, where night time temperatures in the desert plunge more rapidly than in humid areas, even with clear skies, because of the H20 greenhouse effect. CO2 _also_ has a greenhouse effect, readily measurable in the lab.

          Food for thought, I hope. We agree on the desirability of nuclear power. All the best for the Christmas season, and a Happy New Year.

          • Brian Mays says:

            As to their formula fitting real surface temperature measurements with “impressive accuracy”, puzzle me this: the Venusian night lasts for 58 earth days. During this time, the TSI is zero.

            I’d say that you’re puzzled. Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) it not the amount of solar irradiation received at any particular location at any time of day. Thus, it simply doesn’t make sense to say “the TSI is zero” on the night side.

            Besides, the quantity that is actually used in the equations on the poster is the mean TOA (top-of-atmosphere) solar irradiance.

          • gallopingcamel says:

            Thanks for the Christmas greetings. I wish you much of the same.

            Your comments cover too much ground for this forum. While I am not a “Climate Scientist” I am a physicist who has spent much of his life tickling photons for fun and profit:
            http://www.bdidatalynk.com/PeterMorcombe.html

            While photons often dominate the transfer of heat they are sometimes overwhelmed by other processes such as convection, conduction or phase change (latent heat). Thus it is that you can ignore the contribution of Infra Red radiation in moving heat around in the troposphere of Venus.

            On Venus the surface pressure is 92 bars, so convection is the dominant heat transfer process. Convection transfers heat so efficiently that the night side of Venus is at roughly the same temperature as the day side. Radiative transfer simply can’t explain how heat makes its way from the hot side of Venus to the cold side. Remember that the Venusian solar day is ~117 Earth days so without an efficient heat transfer process the cold side would be very cold indeed!

            The trouble with trying to have a serious discussion via blogging is that it tends to degenerate into a kind of trench warfare with each side lobbing web links at the other! You seem to be asking the right questions so if you want to continue this discussion I will be happy to do it “off line”. Here is my public email address:
            info@gallopingcamel.info

            If you don’t want to discuss this off line please take a look at a link I cited earlier:
            http://www.aip.org/history/climate/Venus.htm#M_5_

            Sagan’s analysis explains what is observed. James Hansen on the other hand writes scary fairy tales.

      • agimarc says:

        The scientifically demonstrable fact are temperatures deep in the atmospheres of the outer planet atmospheres. No greenhouse effect out there yet the temperatures lower in the atmospheres still are very high. It is due to the ideal gas law. Run the numbers yourself: http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/ideal-gas-law-d_157.html

        Hansen is now the head of NASA Goddard, the keeper of the long term temperature data for the US. It is one of the four existing repositories worldwide. Hansen’s background is planetary astronomy, particularly the atmosphere of Venus. Wiki can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Hansen

        He participated in the infamous 1986 Senate hearing chaired by Tim Wirth (D, CO), who chose a particularly hot day for the hearing and had the air conditioning turned off in the room. Hansen, using his position as an expert on the atmosphere of Venus dutifully answered the questions and made the case that its high temperature and pressure were due exclusively to the greenhouse effect caused by carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This is where he first committed fraud on the general public, as the reason for high temperatures on Venus is adiabatic rather than greenhouse. Sagan in the mid-1960s made some estimates on high temperatures on Venus based simply on the depth of the atmosphere which were pretty close to what was finally found. Hansen was in the middle of that community and should have known the science 20 years later. Link to the Senate hearing can be found here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/25/bring-it-mr-wirth-a-challenge/

        Adiabatic temperature in an atmosphere is driven by the amount of mass sitting above wherever you measure your temperature. It is why temperatures deep into the atmospheres of the gas giant planets are so high. It is why even here on Earth, it is warmer near sea level (the bottom of the atmosphere) than it is at the top of a 14,000’ mountain like Pikes Peak in CO. There is little greenhouse effect in the outer solar system, yet the massive planets have very high temperatures well into the depths of their atmospheres. Here is a comparative graph of several outer planets up to 10 atmospheres. It is the bottom half of the plots that are important: http://www.springerimages.com/Images/Physics/1-10.1007_978-3-642-11274-4_564-1

        Steve Goddard wrote a good piece on what is going on in Venus and how it is adiabatic rather than greenhouse. You can find the post here. The comments section is well worth your time wading thru. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/05/06/hyperventilating-on-venus/

        Finally, NASA Goddard has been caught more than once revising the historic temperature record so as to agree with the global warming due to carbon dioxide emissions model results. Last I heard, Hansen was still in charge of that outfit which is committing fraud on the general public. So my charge that he is a liar and a fraud stands. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/09/26/nasa-giss-caught-changing-past-data-again-violates-data-quality-act/

        Cheers -

  11. Wayne SW says:

    I don’t think it has to be an either-or choice. IF you are convinced of the validity of some of the climate change models, then moving to more use of nuclear to reduce carbon emissions would be a valid position. If you don’t want to endorse any aspect of the climate change position, there are still plenty of reasons to advocate the use of nuclear energy. Avoidance of sulfur emissions, PAHs, and other effluents is a good example, as well as economics, energy security, and other things. We’re here to be nuclear advocates. Start from that position. You can fit it into the other paradigms, or not, and save the arguments for or against those for another debate.

    • quokka says:

      Wayne,

      It is certainly true that nuclear produces no air pollution, but natural gas is also much better than coal (or oil) in that respect and, at least currently, cheaper than nuclear in the US. In the US, the enemy of new nuclear is natural gas and not coal. Whether low natural gas prices can be sustained is of course another matter. The gas “crowd” also have a fairly convincing argument about energy security, at least in the medium term. I feel that nuclear proponents in the US will find it difficult, currently, to put a really convincing position forward based on cost (vs gas) or on environmental grounds if GHG pollution is excluded even in the context of the anti-fracking movement.

      In much of the rest of the world, where coal is cheaper than gas, the equation is different. The recent IEA warning that coal may overtake oil as the number one energy source worldwide by 2017 is dire.

      • Rod Adams says:

        @quokka

        I’ve discussed the price war against nuclear and coal a number of times. Large fuel consumers that need to be buyers into the distant future are making a very poor bet if they do anything that locks them into natural gas.

        The multinational petroleum companies can afford to play a long game. I also believe that a good training ground for gas marketing is the drug trade. Hooking users works in both businesses.

      • Daniel says:

        @ Quokka,

        People make make a great deal about natural gas being clear than coal. Nice. However, it is not cooler than coal.

        Why ?

        Because coal emits sulfur which ‘protects’ us against climate change and provide a shield that keeps us ortherwise cooler. All of this coal replacement by gas will reduce this sulfur spray and may end up catching us off guard.

        This point is not adressed often on this board in the shift from coal to gas.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @Daniel

          No expert here, but you have mentioned what I believe is a reasonable explanation for a pattern that includes a moderate rise in global temperatures during the early to mid part of the Industrial Revolution (through the early 1960s) followed by a much more rapid rise in temperature as Europe and North America cleaned up our coal burning power plants from a soot and sulfur perspective.

          A dirty greenhouse does not get as warm as one with clean windows.

          The moderation in temperature increases that the skeptics point to over the last 15-20 years corresponds to the rapid, dirty coal-powered industrialization in China, India and a few other places. As they get tired of breathing nasty air and work to eliminate soot and sulfur, I suspect that moderation will disappear.

          Again, I am no expert and am just sharing some “arrow analysis” level thoughts. (Navy nukes will recognize my allusion.)

          • Reese says:

            I DO recognize it, Rod. All those ups and downs, then some sideways, then that big satisfying double arrow at the end! A great tool. Thanks Navy!

      • Wayne SW says:

        Overreliance on natural gas is not a pathway to energy security for many places. Europe, for example, is essentially beholden to Russia as a supplier of natural gas for many countries. Those countries would be royally rogered if the Russians decided to close the valves. As has been pointed out here and elsewhere, the price history of NG is nothing if not volatile, whereas the price for uranium, by comparison, has been pretty steady. Which of those cases makes for better “security”, at least from an economic viewpoint? And IF people are concerned about damage to the atmosphere, methane is much worse on a per unit basis than almost anything else, especially compared to zero emissions.

        • Peter Geany says:

          Shale gas and technology will ensure there is ample gas in Europe for many years. Russia has competition now and is being rather nice to Europe. It needs to export gas more than Europe needs to import it long term. Russia is focussed on ensuring that Europe does not exploit its shale gas.

          • Rod Adams says:

            If what you say about Russia’s position on shale gas is true, how do you think they feel about well maintained and operated nuclear units that never need to purchase anyone’s gas in order to produce massive quantities of reliable electricity and heat?

            There is no doubt in my mind that people who are sympathetic to Russia’s “need” to export gas to Europe have been very active in efforts to abandon nuclear energy in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy.

          • Rod Adams says:

            You sound like you are in alignment with Dieter Helms. I just finished “Carbon Crunch” and am thinking about writing a substantial review that shows how that book qualifies as a long smoking gun that exposes his real motive of promoting gas in competition with coal. It really bugged me how many times he put nuclear energy into the same category as wind and solar – both of which are capital intensive with no hope of replacing fossil fuel as a source of reliable power.

            Nuclear may be more capital intensive if viewed strictly from the perspective of building the power plant, but that statement ignores the immense amount of capital that needs to be invested to extract and deliver a gaseous fuel from tight formation deep underground.

          • Peter Geany says:

            Russia is a bully and if they think you have no alternative they play their hand. They have played what ever card suits them at the time. There are many supporters of Russia in Europe, especially in the political class within the EU. In fact the EU is more a kin to the old Soviet Union than the democratic states they once were. This is part of the issue with our energy needs.

  12. gallopingcamel says:

    I buy what James Greenidge and Jason C are saying. I have been puzzled with the way that BP and other fossil fuel companies spend millions to tell us how “Green” they are while the nuclear industry is strangely reluctant to engage with the public.

    For example, it took me more than a year to gain access to a nuclear power plant.

    More recently, I tried to get more information about the B&W “Small Modular Reactor” thinking there would be plenty of slick publications aimed at the general public, extolling the many virtues of this and other B&W projects. So I called the Lynchburg HQ and got a depressing automated switchboard. In due course I pressed “3” for the “Marketing and Public Relations” department. After a few seconds an answering machine told me “J**** B**** is unavailable so please leave a message after the tone.” I left a message but my call was not returned. I made three more attempts over a week……same result.

    This is not the way to win friends or influence people.

    • Peter Geany says:

      I echo these words and brings me back to where I started this discussion with a comment that it was the people that need to be brought on side not the environmental movement because they have there own political agenda.

      • Rod Adams says:

        My advocacy for nuclear energy is driven by my first hand knowledge of the importance of energy in the life of modern man. I recognize that plenty of energy is good and it is even better when that energy comes from a source that is likely to get cheaper and cheaper.

        I count people who are concerned about the environment as my friends, but they are not the “deep greens” who long for a pastoral existence that was not a reality for the vast majority of people.

        I like the things that mankind does when he discovers a newer, cheaper source of power. Unlike Amory Lovins and his friends in the petroleum industry, I do not worry about what we will do with that additional available power.

  13. John ONeill says:

    ‘The glo-warmers choose to start their recent temperature graphs near the end of the Little Ice Age…’
    The interesting one’s go back to snowball earth, the paleocene-eocene thermal maximum, and other bits of prehistory when there was nobody around to moan about the weather. Richard Allee has a lively take on it –
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RffPSrRpq_g

    • Rod Adams says:

      Why is the pre human, pre civilization climate so interesting to the skeptics? I’m not an alarmist who thinks we’re all gonna die, but I sure don’t like the notion of asking future generations to figure out how to rebuild on higher ground or to grow food in higher latitudes with less available land and sunlight.

      The earth’s climate over the last few hundred thousand years is the only one that has been proven to be amenable to human society. Why put that at risk when we have an alternative that is more capable and requires little sacrifice outside of a bit more study of math and science?

      • Peter Geany says:

        Its interesting Rod, because CO2 has always been way above todays levels and we live today in a CO2 depleted atmosphere. How does that gel with the alarmism about the levels going up? Our atmosphere started as CO2 and ammonia and perhaps methane and sulphur. CO2 was the first food for life and O2 the first poison that caused the first mass extinction. I mentioned the age of dinosaurs because the large flying dinosaurs needed an atmosphere of 3 to 5 bar to fly, not the 1 bar of today. CO2 is the obvious candidate for this additional weight. Could a blue whale survive out of water? No, no more than the dinosaurs could survive today. Without a comprehensive understanding of the evolution of the planet’s atmosphere we are likely to jump to the wrong conclusions about today’s world. If CO2 continues to be depleted at the same overall rate as we have seen in recent Geological history then life will cease as we know in about 10 to 15 thousand years as CO2 is top of the food chain. That’s not a long time given the 2 million years of human existence or the 4.5 billion years of the earth’s existence. I could go on and on with factors that just don’t add up with the alarmist meme.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @Peter Geany

          I know this might sound selfish, but I do not care a lick about a climate that is proven to be suitable for supporting flying dinosaurs. I care about the climate and atmospheric chemistry that supports homo sapiens.

          Human history is only a few tens of thousands of years and the oldest fossil evidence for what I would call a human dates us back less than half a million years, not 2 million as you claim.

          How can you claim that atmospheric CO2 is depleting – unless you are talking about including a time several billion years before the evolution of the first human beings?

          • agimarc says:

            We are not talking about going all that far back in time, only since the last major cooldown started 35 million years ago. Pay particular attention to the drop over the course of the multiple Holocene ice ages over the last few million years. Survey article from WUWT is as good of an overview as I have seen recently. There are others out there, but this is close enough to start. Cheers –

            http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/12/07/a-brief-history-of-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide-record-breaking/

          • Rod Adams says:

            35 million years is 70 times as long as humans have been around. WUWT is not exactly my idea of a credible source.

          • Brian Mays says:

            WUWT is not exactly my idea of a credible source.

            Plenty of people have said the same thing about your blog too, Rod.

            Caveat lector.

          • turnages says:

            It’s not what people say that matters so much. It’s whether they’re correct or not.

          • John Tucker says:

            But does Rod Adams challenge a mainstream scientific consensus as being totally incorrect? Anywhere from his opinions on energy to radiation dose?

            If you dont consider this a worthwhile effort why come here at all?

      • Jim Baerg says:

        There would be lots of pleasant places to live in a warmer world as pointed out here:
        http://www.worlddreambank.org/D/DUBIA.HTM
        However, as also pointed out there, they would not be the SAME places as those that are nice to live in now. Abandoning all our coastal cities & rebuilding elsewhere will be a lot more expensive that replacing fossil fuels with nuclear.

    • gallopingcamel says:

      Richard Alley is a really likeable guy. He is amusing, witty and sings quite well. He is also ready to help rank amateurs like me. I was looking at the raw Greenland ice core data that he used for one of his papers and I tried to link it to DMI and other instrumental records:
      http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/dorothy-behind-the-curtain-part-1/
      http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2010/12/30/dorothy-behind-the-curtain-part-2/

      My analysis was challenged so I emailed Richard and was astounded when he responded within a day, with all the information that I needed.

      There are a couple of academics who I greatly respect even though they exaggerate the influence of CO2 on climate. One is Richard Alley and the other is Barry Brook.

  14. Daniel says:

    Another interesting point on this planet of ours and climate change over time:

    Scientitst have been studying the sound of Stavivarius violins for the longest time.

    At some point, the verdict came in. The sound was attributed to the varnish and the special recipe that was used to put on the violins.

    Well a theory holds until a better one comes up.

    It is now accepted that the wood that made the Stradivarius violins were from trees that grew in a much colder than usual period of humanity in Europe. This is now accepted as the source of the secret sound of those violins (and violas and cellos of course). So climate change happens all the time on this planet.

    But I am convinced that it is our oceans that suffer most from CO2 emissions. This is were I am really worried. And I think there is plenty of proof to go around.

  15. Don Cox says:

    Peter Gearny: “CO2 is top of the food chain.”

    I don’t think you understand the meaning of the term “food chain”.

    There were no “large flying dinosaurs”, unless you mean large birds such as condors. You may mean Pterosaurs, some of which were larger than any modern birds. They had air spaces in their bones, air sacs under the skin, and air even in the wing membranes, so they were not so heavy as they look. And the air was warm, which would increase buoyancy.

    I know of no research that shows atmospheric pressure to have been much higher in the Jurassic or Cretaceous than now. The concentration of CO2 may have been as much as three times what it is now at some periods, but that doesn’t anywhere near treble the atmospheric pressure. The CO2 is still only a tiny part of the atmosphere.

    CO2 in the atmosphere has greatly increased in recent decades, so I don’t think you need worry about its depletion.

    • Peter Geany says:

      Hi Don I know exactly what I mean. What you say is the accepted wisdom, but ignores several key factors. One is it would be impossible for a large dinosaurs to live in todays 1 bar atmosphere unless there is some physiological property we don’t know about. I know all about birds hollow honeycomb bones and how they are super strong for a light weight.

      But just like an A380 or 747 or B2 everything that flies must obey the laws of aero dynamics, and a pterodactyl is no exception.. There is no way to get around the fact that for it to fly the air pressure needed to be 3 to 5 bar.

      The other factor is blood pressure. To pump blood around the huge bodies of the larger dinosaurs would be impossible in a one bar atmosphere. The hearts of the dinosaurs just would not be strong enough as we know of no physiological way it could work.

      If you ask many palaeontologist about this they have no idea or brush the question under the table. Now we don’t just have one question about past atmospheres we have many, which in there way contradict every thing we are told. Science is about looking for the answers, not brushing them aside.

      And Don CO2 was the predominate gas in the primordial atmosphere. Plate tectonics recycles CO2 and 95 % of the original CO2 is now locked into rocks in the earth crust. Eventually it get released via volcanic action, and again 95 % of which is in the deep ocean and goes unaccounted for. This is part of the reason we have no idea what so ever about the natural biosphere. Human caused CO2 release could be 3% of the total or it could be 0.3% or 0.03 %. We just don’t know and anyone who says they do know is a liar.

      • Engineer-Poet says:

        One is it would be impossible for a large dinosaurs to live in todays 1 bar atmosphere unless there is some physiological property we don’t know about.

        Like dinosaurs having avian rather than mammalian respiratory systems.

        • Peter Geany says:

          I am referring to the pumping of blood up to the brain of the large dinosaurs. The giraffe has a heart with 4 inch thick walls, and is at the limit of what is possible given what we know about physiology. Most giraffes die of a heart attach such is its punishing workload. Higher atmospheric pressure would easy the burden.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            Increasing atmospheric pressure would not materially change the difference in hydraulic pressure head in dinosaur circulatory systems.  If you tripled atmospheric pressure and density, you would have less than 4 kg/m^3 air density vs. over 1000 kg/m^3 density for blood.

            We don’t have dinosaur genomes, so we don’t know what adaptations they might have had.  Maybe they used myoglobin in their brain tissue to allow them to extend their heads beyond the limits of blood circulation for limited periods, and otherwise kept their heads down.  Maybe they adapted sections of neck artery into 2-chambered hearts for pressure assists.  Soft tissue seldom leaves fossil evidence.

            Something we do know is that there wasn’t another several bar of nitrogen in the atmosphere 100 million years ago.  There are no sinks that big.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Peter Geany

            Your knowledge of large diesel engines may be world class, but I am not terribly impressed by your understanding of physiology or even gravity. How does higher atmospheric pressure make it any easier to pump blood uphill? The higher pressure would be felt at both ends of the flow path, making the differential pressure essentially the same as it was before the change.

          • Peter Geany says:

            Hi Rod and Engineer-Poet You need to read this. I find it fascinating in its own right.

            http://www.dinosaurtheory.com/scaling.html

            I don’t pretend to understand it all, nor can I ever remember everything I have read. But others who have the expertise make strong cases that challenge areas that need to be challenged. A lot of this is called joined up thinking. The wonderful thing is we learn something new everyday just so long as we are open to it. Some of this is new to me and provided someone challenges the above I happy to read it.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            A trivial search for apatosaur size “bone strength” finds:

            http://hubs.plos.org/web/biodiversity/article/10.1111/j.1469-185X.2010.00137.x

            Gravity also limits body size, and the current gravity constant of 0.981 ms−2 has been proposed to limit body size to 20 t (Economos, 1981) based on a mass estimate for the largest land mammal ever, Paraceratherium (also known as Indricotherium). However, sauropods were much heavier than the largest land mammals, and Günther et al. (2002) suggested the upper limit for terrestrial organisms due to gravitational forces to be at least 75 t. Similarly, Hokkanen (1986) calculated that bone strength and muscle forces only become limiting to terrestrial animal size at masses in excess of 100 t.

            You need to start checking your own claims instead of asking other people to do your homework for you.

          • Peter Geany says:

            @ Engineer-Poet Sorry mate I stand by what I have said. There is nothing but conjecture in that document. And they have missed completely Galileo’s Square-Cube Law. Got to apply Occam’s razor. Some of what they hypothesise is too complicated, and at no point do they discuss atmospheric pressure.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            Sorry mate I stand by what I have said.

            A consistent adherence to falsehood is anything but admirable.

            There is nothing but conjecture in that document.

            You ignore the paper at the Public Library of Science, yet you take the fact-free contents of “dinosaurtheory.com” (which is a crackpot site) at face value.  That alone proves that there is something very, very wrong with your mental processes.

            And they have missed completely Galileo’s Square-Cube Law.

            It’s implicit in “bone strength and muscle forces only become limiting to terrestrial animal size at masses in excess of 100 t.”  Someone of your claimed capabilities should have seen that instantly.  Obviously, either you are failing to apply such capabilities or you do not possess them at all.

            at no point do they discuss atmospheric pressure.

            Because it’s irrelevant to the size of bones and muscles.  If you knew anything about avian lungs (which originated with dinosaurs, as did air-filled bones), you’d know that they are far superior to what mammals have; “In terms of overall operational efficiency, the feather wearing bipeds have us featherless ones beat all hollow. Their lungs are much more efficient than ours, thanks to the flow through and countercurrent mechanisms.“.  Instead, you’re waving your ignorance like a team flag.

            Got to apply Occam’s razor.

            Irony.

  16. Jim Van Zandt says:

    I too welcome the discussion. My position on climate change is different from the usual position of either skeptics or alarmists. I think it’s indisputable that the climate is changing. One may not find the statistics on storms and droughts convincing, but the change in arctic ice is clear. We have had worldwide maritime activity (including whaling in the arctic) for over two hundred years, but there was no commercial shipping through the Northwest Passage until 2008. The more interesting questions are: What caused the change? What should we expect next? What should we do about it?

    As to the cause, the timing alone makes human beings the likely culprits. It would not be the first time (see: Sagan, Toon, and Pollack, “Anthropogenic Albedo Changes and the Earth’s Climate”, Science, New Series, Vol. 206, No. 4425 (Dec. 21, 1979), 1363-1368, http://laurent.kergoatz.free.fr/AMMA/ALBEDO/sagan.pdf).

    As to what to expect, I do not find linear extrapolations of temperature, sea level, etc. very convincing. I’m also reluctant to rely on huge simulations. It’s not that I suspect anyone of tweaking the results just to protect their funding. It’s just that there are hundreds of parameters involved, and I’m not confident we know the right values. I suspect that albedo is important. I subscribe to a theory of Ewing and Donn, which proposes this model for ice ages:
    1) During an interglacial period, CO2 gradually rises and arctic ice gradually melts, until large parts of the arctic are free of ice during the arctic summer.
    2) Air flow over the ice-free arctic ocean leads to ocean effect snow.
    3) The added snow increases the net albedo of the Earth.
    4) Higher albedo reduces the temperature, which first makes the snow last longer into the summer, which is a positive feedback mechanism. (If this process runs away, we get an ice age).
    5) When it gets cold enough, the Arctic Ocean freezes again, stopping the ocean effect snow and allowing the Earth to warm up again.
    (See: http://popesclimatetheory.com/ and http://www.colderside.com/Colderside/F.A.Q..html).

    As to what we should do, I’m uncertain. One strategy is reduce CO2, lower the temperature, and restore the Arctic ice. Increasing the role of nuclear energy would help. But even just adapting to the changes will take energy: pumping water out of New Orleans, desalinating water to compensate for droughts, etc.

    Since clean inexpensive energy also helps health, prosperity, peace (as opposed to resource wars), and population control, there are plenty of arguments. But I don’t see why we should leave the climate change arguments on the table.

    • gallopingcamel says:

      Jim Van Zandt, December 21, 2012 at 1:28 PM

      I agree with most of what you say and particularly this:
      “1) During an interglacial period, CO2 gradually rises and arctic ice gradually melts, until large parts of the arctic are free of ice during the arctic summer.”

      The Vostok, Law Dome and various Greenland ice cores show CO2 rising 600-800 years after the start of each interglacial. This means that Temperature leads CO2. So the big question is “What made the temperature rise in the first place.”

      Just asking. I don’t pretend to know the answer.

      • Daniel says:

        @ Gallopingcamel

        The cause could be the lack of major volcanic activity in that period. When volcanoes erupt, a lot of sulfur makes it way into the atmosphere and create a cool shield.

        Maybe.

        • gallopingcamel says:

          We have not had much volcanic activity since 1815. If we had another “Mount Tambora” tomorow I suspect the IPCC would sing a different tune.

          Maybe they would even support my idea for carbon sequestration (the Hammurabi approach). You capture as much carbon as possible in the form of non-perishable foods during the “Fat” years so that your people will have something to eat during the “Lean” years.

          • Peter Geany says:

            The last really big volcanic eruption was from Taupo in New Zealand in about 180 AD although some say it was about 230 AD and some 100 cubic kilometres of ash was ejected. prior to this 26,500 years ago it erupted and ejected 1000 cubic kilometres of material. The resulting Caldera is 80 kilometres across.

            Taupo is often overlooked when people talk about volcanic eruptions. But make no mistake if even the modest 180AD eruption occurred today the climate would change. Now what happened in the years 200AD to 700AD?

    • Engineer-Poet says:

      I suspect that albedo is important.

      Greenhouse effect is more important by far.

      Take Venus as an example.  It receives roughly twice the per-area insolation that Earth does (~2720 W/m^2), but its albedo is 0.75 leaving 680 W/m^2 of disc, or 170 W/m^2 of planetary surface.  If it radiated as a blackbody, it would be at a chilly 234 K (-39 C, -38 F).  Instead, the surface of Venus is hotter than the surface of Mercury; it’s all due to the greenhouse effect of 92 bar of atmosphere, roughly 90 bar of it being CO2.

      • Peter Geany says:

        @ Engineer_Poet

        Greenhouse effect is more important by far.

        Take Venus as an example. It receives roughly twice the per-area insolation that Earth does (~2720 W/m^2), but its albedo is 0.75 leaving 680 W/m^2 of disc, or 170 W/m^2 of planetary surface. If it radiated as a blackbody, it would be at a chilly 234 K (-39 C, -38 F). Instead, the surface of Venus is hotter than the surface of Mercury; it’s all due to the greenhouse effect of 92 bar of atmosphere, roughly 90 bar of it being CO2.

        Wrong and I suspect you know you are wrong or is it you just can’t accept that something you have believed in all this time lies in tatters. Certain scientists have invented all manner of theories to make the greenhouse theory fit with both Earth and Venus. But when Nikolov & Zeller come up with a simple theory that seems to fit with all the data collected from all the planets and some moons you disregard this work. Remember Occam’s razor.

        I’m sure its not the last word but its a better fit than anything Hansen has put forward.

        • Engineer-Poet says:

          Wrong and I suspect you know you are wrong or is it you just can’t accept that something you have believed in all this time lies in tatters.

          From the number of crank theories and sites you bring up, I suspect you know you’re lying or just can’t accept that you’ve swallowed such nonsense.  Note that Carl Sagan, the man who first measured the surface temperature of Venus, backs me and not you.

          But when Nikolov & Zeller come up with a simple theory that seems to fit with all the data collected from all the planets and some moons you disregard this work.

          I’d never heard of them.  When I searched, I found the most likely hit on a site called Climate Wiki, which happens to be run by the Heartland Institute.  That’s sufficient to explain why real climate scientists don’t cite them.

          If you did even the most cursory reading of the N&Z page, you’d see that it applies to “grey-bodies”, without any heat capacity or transport outside the regolith.  The absolute temperature difference between the day and night sides of Mercury is about 7:1, going up to 631 K at the sub-solar point.  In contrast, Venus’ surface temperature is far hotter [720K mountain tops, 750K lowland] and there is no day-night temperature difference.

          I’m sure its not the last word but its a better fit than anything Hansen has put forward.

          Coming from someone whose major source is a lobbying outfit solidly into attacking good science where it doesn’t align with the interests of their supporters, who also flops at the outset by failing to understand the term “gray-body” and how anything relating to them, however true it may be, has no relevance to the characteristics of planets with atmospheres, this is thick with irony.

          I’m not sure why Rod lets you post here.  You’re obviously too good with language for you to be an exemplar of the Dunning-Kruger effect, but your appearance as soon as this blog took up the issue of climate change suggests you’re part of the denialist troll brigade.  The modus operandi of denialist trolls† is to raise claim after claim, and as they are either debunked or shown to be irrelevant they simply move on to something else without ever admitting that they were wrong.  If that’s not you, you are sure doing a good impression.

          If you’d like to prove me wrong, you can start by admitting when the authorities you cite turn out to be either wrong or inapposite.  Feel free to start any time.

          † This characteristic is shared with young-earth creationists.

  17. John ONeill says:

    The Carl Sagan paper on albedo is interesting, though note there’s been thirty years of intensive climate research since then. As the lecture from Professor Richard Allee I cited above shows,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RffPSrRpq_g
    carbon dioxide greenhouse effect ultimately trumps albedo. The early earth had ice cover to the equator at least three times, but CO2 built up enough to counteract even that massive cooling. Allee’s book on ice core climate history, for the period where our ancestors were thriving or otherwise, is also well worth reading.

  18. Ian Biner says:

    Hmmm… What’s with all the dissent here? In “An Inconvenient Truth”, Al Gore asked “how many of the world’s scientists do not believe in global warming?” Then he drew a big zero on his whiteboard. Universal consensus. That’s good enough for me… oh… no… wait… it wasn’t good enough for me, but it seems to have been good enough for most of the world’s media, and for the Nobel Prize Committee.

    Actually, it’s what made me question the whole AGW premise.

    I’m old enough to remember reading the predictions in the 1970s about Global Cooling, and about how it now appeared we were entering a new ice age. “Climate Scientists” were warning of dire consequences, and their “modelling” showed that most of the mid-western USA would be snowbound for 9 months of the year by the turn of the century.

    All of that is actually irrelevant though. The nuclear industry has a monumental task ahead of it thanks to some hubris at Fukushima. Until you can all demonstrate that a nuclear reactor can be designed to be self securing indefinitely, that is, it will automatically render to a safe state in the event of failure, and it will remain safe without further human intervention, then the whole coal v gas v nuclear v renewable discussion is moot.

    To demonstrate the disconnect between the designers and the end-users, Atomenergoproekt proudly states that it’s new Generation III+ VVER-TOI light water reactor requires no human intervention for 72 hours after shutdown. But what happens if those fallible humans can’t get in there to intervene for more than 72 hours? Energy consumers, that is, we, the people, expect more.

    Politically, 72 hours, or 7 days, or even 7 weeks just isn’t good enough. No democratically elected government can go to the people with a nuclear option right now. Guaranteed defeat would follow at the next election.

    Here’s the bottom line… whether you believe in AGW or not (and on the balance of evidence, I don’t), there can be no argument that we humans have been reckless in our treatment of the environment. We have to find cleaner, more responsible ways to power our world and maintain/improve our already high standard of living. That means we have to use oil, coal and gas much more efficiently. It also means we have to develop viable alternatives, one of which ought to be nuclear power.

    But right now, you’re not even in the stadium, let alone in the game.

    • Rod Adams says:

      Politically, 72 hours, or 7 days, or even 7 weeks just isn’t good enough. No democratically elected government can go to the people with a nuclear option right now. Guaranteed defeat would follow at the next election.

      You apparently missed reading about the very recent election in Japan. The only party in the race that refused to include any plans to phase out nuclear energy won in an enormous shift from the previous party in power.

      The ruling party, which had been spreading antinuclear FUD since its election won just 20% of its previous total of seats in the powerful lower house.

      I think voters are starting to recognize that they were lied to with regard to the actual consequences of a reactor melt down. In Japan, three large cores slowly self destructed after being damaged by an enormous tsunami. No one was hurt by the small quantity of radioactive material that managed to escape from the reactor pressure vessels.

    • gallopingcamel says:

      Every method of generating electricity on a large scale carries risks.

      One measure of risk is “Deaths per Tera-Watt-hour”. By this measure nuclear power is several orders of magnitude less deadly than other major energy sources:
      http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html

    • gallopingcamel says:

      Arguably the most deadly method of generating electricity is “Hydro”. In a single accident ~25,000 people were drowned. At least five times more people died from disease and starvation attribuatable to the accident:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banqiao_Dam

      • John ONeill says:

        I’d say slavery is the deadliest method of generating energy. Not sure how it would go in an election; depends on voting criteria. 

  19. gallopingcamel says:

    Rod Adams,
    This question is for you. The title of this post has me puzzled:
    “Fighting climate change skeptics in the pro nuclear community”

    Why would anyone who is “Pro Nuclear” pick a fight with “Climate Change Skeptics”?

    Why should it matter whether a person is a “Skeptic” or a “Believer” if your object is to gather support for your admirable “Pro Nuclear” blog? Surely you should be trying to appeal to as wide a spectrum of people as possible.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @gallopingcamel

      Anyone trying to market a disruptive technology needs to recognize that building anything close to unanimity is impossible.

      Climate change skeptics tend to be conservative “business as usual” types who see few negatives in our current energy supply situation. They are likely to be lukewarm supporters – at best.

      I’m looking for activists who are passionate about changing the balance between our current energy supply options.

      No matter what you might think about the antinuclear movement, it is hard to deny that they made a large impact with a small number of active contributors.

      • gallopingcamel says:

        I am passionate about improving public K-12 education and I am “Action Oriented”. Thus far I have created 8 independent (charter) schools and am working on another four:
        http://www.gallopingcamel.info/Education.htm

        I would like to be just as passionate about energy policy. The problem is to find people who are worthy of my support. You are one of a very short list that have my attention, so it is a little frustrating to find you applying a “Litmus Test” that makes no sense.

        It took me most of last week to penetrate the B&W Lynchburg HQ switchboard but I did leave you a phone message; you did not return my call. We need to talk.

        I would not be aware of your existence but for a comment that you made on BNC:
        http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/15/solar-power-in-florida/#comment-127426

        • Rod Adams says:

          @gallopingcamel

          Climate change attitude is not a “litmus test” issue for me. I hope you notice that I have never banned anyone from engaging in comment here because they were a climate change skeptic. I feel motivated to engage in “battling” or “fighting” when I am responding to those who insist on telling me that it is a bad idea to promote nuclear energy as a zero emission power source. I get irritated when they discourage me from spreading a message that nuclear fission can reduce CO2 emissions while also providing us with a better power system that requires little or no sacrifice in lifestyle.

          I feel pretty safe in arguing vociferously with people about the issue. I’m not well versed in the nitty gritty details, and I am not an “alarmist” who thinks that we must take action – any action – RIGHT NOW or we’re all gonna die. For me, however, it simply makes sense that there are negative effects associated with dumping 30 billion tons per year of CO2 into the atmosphere every year, knowing that the gas is relatively inert. The total addition term is larger than all of the removal terms, so the concentration is building up. There is a distinct possibility that the negative effects will be really negative and I recognize that there is a tremendous amount of inertia built into the system. That means that actions taken now will be a lot more cost effective than actions taken later.

          Though I am not a terribly religious man in the sense of current membership in any church or regular attendance at worship services, I’m pretty certain that the Earth is a pretty well organized system with with feedback loops and warning systems. It is endowed with a vast quantity of resources and useful materials. Human operators are an integral part of the system. I believe their assigned role is to learn, develop and create. As is the case for any operators of complex systems, they must learn to trust their indications, recognize warning signals and take advantage of their developed knowledge of materials and resources to make the system function better. My not-too-well-formed world view is not quite the same as Lovelock’s Gaia theory, but it is also not too different.

          Politics, economics, religion and power struggles have always influenced science. For example, though I recognize the fact that evolution has occurred and continues to occur, I am too well schooled in religion, thermodynamics, energy and entropy to believe in random natural selection as the driving force for the evolutionary changes that we can find via archeology. I’m pretty certain there was and is an active, creative force involved. My belief is similar to the way that I “believe” that excavating a century-old junk yard would not prove that automobiles have evolved via random natural selection. I think Darwin and the enormous amount of political push that his theory has received over the past 150 years or so has been motivated partly by a desire to take power from “The Church” by promoting an explanation for the world that denies recognition of a higher power or creative force.

          Those last paragraphs may seem to be completely off topic, but I’m trying to explain why I’m pretty sure that climate change skepticism is mostly aimed at retaining and building power for a group of people that I do not like very much – the people at the very top of the heap of the Hydrocarbon Economy. If the extraction companies were really “energy companies” as they like to claim, they would be investing their capital resources in developing the best possible product – energy that is so abundant and clean that we could treat power almost like digits where the “per unit” cost falls continuously – seemingly on the way to zero.

          Instead, hydrocarbon promoters continue to concentrate their wealth and power at the expense of all of the rest of us. They are working hard to keep nuclear fission energy off of the playing field as long as they possibly can. Since it is impossible to deny its existence, their strategy also includes doing everything they can to tie nuclear down with as many threads as possible.

          The effort includes forcefully defending the LNT. It includes the Lucy strategy of hooking nuclear companies on government programs that get defunded just as they get close to deployment. It includes piling on unnecessary and costly regulations in the name of increasing safety. It includes appointing regulators that believe there is a “safety” concern associated with a steam generator tube leak that is sufficient to force the expenditure of funds approaching a billion dollars. It includes promoting fusion and counting investments in that chimera as subsidies to nuclear energy. It also includes efforts to discourage nuclear advocates from using the best available marketing tools – like appealing to concerns about the long term effects of continuing to increase the rate at which we are dumping carbon dioxide into our shared atmosphere.

          There are obviously some climate change skeptics who are sincerely pro nuclear, but there are also many who merely claim to be pro nuclear so that they can infiltrate and cause damage from within.

          Do a search on Atomic Insights for “Jerry Taylor” and you will find one solid example of that kind of skeptic. I’m am about as angry with that kind of skeptic as I am with the climate change alarmists that deny the use of nuclear energy as an effective tool for addressing the risk.

          • Daniel says:

            Rod,

            The times they are changing and for the first time ever consumption of oil has tilted in favor of the developing economies. I do not remember the precise percentage but Europe and North America will soon not be so dominant as they once were consumption wise.

            Petro and Euro dollars are also a risk for many powerful and emerging countries. This can easily offset all the money that those you call – ”people at the very top of the heap of the Hydrocarbon Economy” – may have. Easily.

            The market is also efficient and money, smart money or dumb money, will soon find its way to nuclear. You and I both know where the money is and China and many Arabic peninsula countries have set the future of energy in motion.

            Poor countries like India, on a per capita basis, aso have the clout on a macro economics level to accomodate nuclear. 60 countries that have no nuclear capacities are in line for making it happen. SMRs are late, but in sight.

            A truism in this world is the impermanence of things. Rod, your time is coming for nuclear energy. It will not happen in the US where dinosaurs that you call the ”people at the very top of the heap of the Hydrocarbon Economy” are going in extinct mode. They want to block progress locally while globally the changes are occurring. Look at a recent poll in the UK. 70% of the nation is pro nuclear.

            The times they are changing right now. Let’s open our eyes and contemplate.

          • Rod Adams says:

            Sorry Daniel, but I forgot to mention that I also believe that the US and our constitutional form of freedom is the greatest place and system on earth.

            We have capabilities here that most other places simply dream of having (some of which have come from our ability to attract a better than fair percentage of the greatest minds from around the world). We can, should and will lead the world towards a more prosperous, fission enabled future.

          • Daniel says:

            Rod,

            On your passage regarding Darwin (or not) I have a funny story. A while ago, a French cinematographer (Luc Jacquet) filmed the March of the Penguins. A true planetary success.

            Once he came to the US, where journalists really insisted on him giving his position on the theory of creation or evolution as it relates to the movie he just made.

            After a while, being French and part of the planetary official opposition, he just bluntly stated : this is just a movie about some goddamn penguins !

            You had to be there, but it was so funny.

          • Daniel says:

            @ Rod,

            The US was the first country ever to give the lives of its own children so that others could benefit from freedom. That is quite a gift. It will endure.

            But freedom and US values have now transcended the boundaries of the US and many cultures have joined in. For the better.

            Now, global market forces will prevail as is the wish of american thinking. May the better man win.

            I would not bet against the US on any given day but have given up on local US nuclear on their territory. The US could play a role globally however, I grant you that.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Daniel

            No other country has as much experience as we have in building and operating nuclear fission power plants. It is probably a benefit that we cannot compete in all facets of building very large, central station PWR or BWRs.

          • gallopingcamel says:

            Many thanks for being so frank in your reply. My Litmus test has to do with honesty, integrity and a desire to leave the world a better place than one found it.

            You have passed my Litmus test but can I pass yours? Like most people I get paid for delivering goods or services. This is how I provide for my immediate family but I still have plenty of time to spare. Then there are leisure activities such as golf, dining out, movies etc. That still leaves plenty of time for “Causes”.

            My first “Cause” arose from living in London during the 1950s when atmospheric pollution was killing thousands of people each year and the lower reaches of the river Thames were devoid of vertebrate life forms (aka fish). To cut a long story short I worked with the TWA (Thames Water Authority) to eliminate pollution and by 1980 was growing salmonids (Rainbow Trout) in commercial quantities using Thames water. Today there are 115 species of fish in the Thames including salmon.

            After moving to the USA I was alarmed by the poor quality of public education. My remedy is to liberate one school at a time by returning control to the local community. Thus far I have created eight locally controlled schools and am working on another four:
            http://www.gallopingcamel.info/Education.htm

            My next cause was to run for office with the idea of retiring an anti-nuclear hysteric called Eleanor Kinnaird. Her anti-nuclear stance went down very well with the electorate. She got twice as many votes as I did:
            http://morcombe.net/Senate/Education.htm

            Currently I am appalled by the direction that energy policies are taking in the USA. Instead of drive to achieve the “Energy Independence” advocated by every president since Richard Nixon I am seeing policies that can only extend our dependence on foreign oil.

            Because I am getting old I can no longer build or operate a fish farm.

            I can still present a winning proposal for a new charter school but I no longer have the energy to run it.

            Can I do anything to improve US energy policies? My first idea was to work with Barry Brook who is making impressive efforts to engage with the general public. I was developing a working relationship with him until I failed his Litmus test. Sadly, he changed the “Moderation” policy on his website after this little exchange:
            http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/06/24/clearing-up-the-climate-debate/#comment-130300

            Your moderation policy is excellent. You have not censored any of my comments even though it is clear that we disagree about the contribution that CO2 makes to surface temperatures on this planet. Even though we may differ on a few such details I am hopeful that we can avoid the irrationality that occured at BNC.

            Barry Brook was kind enough to publish a “Guest Post” on solar power that I wrote. If he had not cast me into the outer darkness I would be offering him follow up posts on NPPs, natural gas and coal. If you are interested it is all yours, otherwise I will post them on my pathetic website that nobody will visit.

            Now a comment on “Jerry Taylor”. When he says that people with money in the USA will not invest in nuclear power he is right. I hate what he says but that does not change anything. If you want people to fight to make nuclear power an attractive investment in the USA, you can count on me.

            Finally, some of your comments come across as “Paranoid”. Then I realized that paranoia is a virtue in submarines, The world truly is out to get you!

          • Rod Adams says:

            @gallopingcamel

            I can accept your litmus test:

            My Litmus test has to do with honesty, integrity and a desire to leave the world a better place than one found it.

            I often apply a similar test to people in the public eye – current and historic – including business leaders, political leaders, career government officials, entertainers, etc.

            People who pass include people like Steve Jobs, Steve Colbert, Dwight Eisenhower, Gwyneth Cravens, Patrick Moore, Hyman G. Rickover, Paul Newman. There are MANY others, which is one of the reasons I am optimistic for our future.

            I also have a litmus test of people that make me “paranoid” (using your words) which generally starts with extreme selfishness and competitiveness to the point of desiring to win at all costs – including destruction of everyone else in the whatever race they are running. Until he retired from MS and began trying to make amends through philanthropy, Bill Gates was one, but so are many who seek to defend the current market share of hydrocarbons.

            You have not censored any of my comments even though it is clear that we disagree about the contribution that CO2 makes to surface temperatures on this planet.

            I think you misunderstand my concern associated with continuing to plan to dump 30 billion tons of CO2 and many millions of tons of other more noxious waste products per year into the atmosphere for the foreseeable future. I’m also very concerned about the effects of the extraction of the fuel materials that get combined with atmospheric oxygen to produce that volume of waste and about the severe economic consequences of putting an ever increasing amount of effort into the fuel supply process.

            The possibility that surface temperatures will rise an average of 1-6 degrees C is a concern of varying importance depending on the actual value of that change, but I am also worried about the consequences of ocean acidification, indiscriminate fertilization of all plant life (including fungi, algae, weeds and invasive species), and the effect of large changes in the water cycle that keeps all of us adequately supplied with something close to the right amount of water delivered at the right time to sustain society.

            My beef with people like Jerry Taylor is that they fail to acknowledge the fundamental superiority of fission fuels and to try to use a portion of their wealth to change the game so that investing in fission is not unfairly handicapped. In our exchange, he refused to recognize that the “cost is no object” regulatory regime imposed when the AEC was destroyed to form the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is a big contributor to the cost and risk that discourages investments.

            I’m willing to consider your guest posts, but remain a little wary about your continued insistence that there is no reason to be concerned about “the waste issue” associated with our current rate of hydrocarbon consumption.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            My Litmus test has to do with honesty, integrity and a desire to leave the world a better place than one found it.

            Since you have been shown to be wrong about Carl Sagan’s position on anthropogenic climate change, are you going to take back your snide remark about Hansen, or possibly change your position on the entire issue?

            I’ve noticed that the people who knowingly mis-represent the words or positions of others in argument seldom have any worthwhile virtues.

      • gallopingcamel says:

        Rod Adams,
        “Anyone trying to market a disruptive technology needs to recognize that building anything close to unanimity is impossible.

        Climate change skeptics tend to be conservative “business as usual” types who see few negatives in our current energy supply situation. They are likely to be lukewarm supporters – at best.”

        Nicolo Machiavelli understood this very well when he wrote Chapter VI of “The Prince” in 1513:
        “And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them. “

  20. gallopingcamel says:

    Rod Adams,
    You said:
    “……….but remain a little wary about your continued insistence that there is no reason to be concerned about “the waste issue” associated with our current rate of hydrocarbon consumption.”

    Clearly I am not expressing myself very well. Anyone who lived in London in the 1950s is all too well aware of the appalling pollution that can be caused by burning fossil fuels. Besides killing people the pollutants were eating the stone exteriors of many fine buildings.

    In London we were able to eliminate most of the pollution so it is once again safe to breathe there. It is important to note that the pollution was abated without trashing the economy.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @gallopingcamel

      Here’s my question about your insistence on vocal skepticism. Even if you are personally very skeptical and believe that CO2 is NO issue at all, but you still believe that all of the other negatives of burning stuff makes nuclear a far better energy source, why not use OTHER people’s passion about CO2 as a tool for adding to the uphill push that nuclear needs?

      Unless you are absolutely certain that a nuclear path is dramatically more expensive or risky (or threatening to your existing interests) why wouldn’t you use CO2 concerns as a rhetorical tool to obtain the right result of enabling nuclear energy development to recover the forward momentum it once had? Even if you are too fundamentally honest to use a line of argument that you do not believe in, why not remain silent and let others on your side who really do believe we need nuclear in order to address climate change share their concerns without your criticism?

      I think this might be the reason that Barry Brook eventually banned your commentary from Brave New Climate. Every time you strongly questioned his science and even his personal motives for being concerned, you were telling the world that you did not trust him. That is the kind of attitude that can be damaging to a conversation and cause even very well-intentioned moderators to decide to push you out of the discussion.

      • Engineer-Poet says:

        why not use OTHER people’s passion about CO2 as a tool for adding to the uphill push that nuclear needs?

        That encapsulates my angle in a nutshell.  Those who benefit from the status quo have managed to establish gridlock between “environmentalists” whose prescriptions mean grinding poverty, and “pro-economy” people whose sound-bite positions are things like “drill baby drill”.  The corporate media present them as “the sides”.

        Nuclear energy breaks this false dichotomy, so it is handled with a conspiracy of silence.  This can change if it becomes more widely known that nuclear energy satisfies the desires of both environmentalists and those desiring a first-world standard of living.  A pro-nuclear environmental group could peel off support from both the anti-industrialists and those who support fossil fuels for lack of an alternative.  That could break the impasse on climate, on imported oil, and several other things.

      • Peter Geany says:

        Rod The CO2 issue has no public support. You may not agree with this but here in the UK it has just dawned on people why they are paying double this year for their gas and electricity. The backlash has started and it will not end until all those who have got us into this mess have been banished from power. The Coalition government is in complete disarray over their energy policy. They have still to apply a new carbon tax which will only make matters worse. MP’s are in rebellion. What is worse there is public support for new nuclear but the regulatory environment is choking off any investment. You couldn’t create a bigger mess if you tried.

        Un picking this mess now means we must keep old coal plants going way beyond their design life and we will end up chucking NOx, SO2 and soot into the atmosphere when we have those problems licked. We couldn’t build new coal plants to tide us over because they insisted we bury the CO2. That technology does not work and consumes all the power from the plant anyway. This is what the public are feed up with.

        Now you are in the US, which I believe is politically behind the ball when it comes to the public waking up, but when it does if nuclear has aligned to those that have caused so much waste, you may get swept away and see your cause severely damaged. You see it doesn’t matter about CO2, as out government has wasted so much money for zero gain that they have alienated even those that supported climate mitigation.

        My own view is these wasteful environmental policies and idiot financial policies has damaged the financial system so badly that making a long term investment is off the cards for the next decade or so and we are in for 10 years of stagnation if not recession followed by 20 years to repair the damage. Those who have been at the heart of the age of stupid as I call it, will then be long gone. Perhaps then the innovation of our fathers can bring to the world the promise of unlimited power.

        • Engineer-Poet says:

          Meanwhile, GE-Hitachi is in talks with London to build two S-PRISM reactors to consume the plutonium stockpile from Sellafield.  They would only be paid for the disposal, and be able to sell the electricity they generate.

          It ought to be obvious that the thing to do with the S-PRISMs is to run them as breeders, consume the depleted uranium in the spent fuel followed by the DU from the production of that fuel, and build lots more S-PRISMs.  Sadly, the pyroprocessing step for closing the fuel cycle isn’t going to Britain, it’s going to S. Korea.  It’s almost as if there’s a conspiracy to scatter the essential parts so they can’t be assembled into a functional whole.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            FWIW and IIRC, the S-PRISM needs about 7.5 tons of fissionables (about 3 core’s worth in the fuel cycle) per GW(e) of capacity.  The inventory in Sellafield is currently around 112 tons, or enough for the fuel loads of about 30 GW(e) of S-PRISMs.  (This is from memory, corrections accepted.)

        • Rod Adams says:

          @Peter Geany

          Ahh, but you can dig through about 20 years worth of material here on Atomic Insights and NEVER find me advocating for wasting money on wind, solar, biomass, tidal, or any other unreliable power system.

          Nuclear energy can stand on its own two feet and does not need any public subsidies, quota or FITs. All nuclear energy needs is to have governments get out of the way and only impose reasonable performance related regulations.

          Of course, there are businesses that are a part of the energy industry establishment that have bought into the crony capitalism of the “renewable” industry. For example, Areva has an interest in offshore wind – as absurd as that is, but BP, GE, Shell, and Vestas have also had their hands out for renewable subsidies.

          It is not the fault of uranium, thorium and plutonium that some of the leaders in the “nuclear industry” were trained in the same way that the leaders of other profit hungry businesses were.

          • Peter Geany says:

            @Rod I couldn’t agree more, particularly with “All nuclear energy needs is to have governments get out of the way and only impose reasonable performance related regulations.” Where we differ, is I came to the conclusion 5 or 6 years ago that man-made climate change was political and had little to do with science. This is why so much money has been wasted on unreliable’s (I like this term) and any sensible scheme gets pushed aside.

            The more I look the more disgusted I become. As Engineer-poet points out GE-Hitachi are in talks to replace a nuclear station only 25 miles or so from where I live. But what our government needs to do is exactly as Engineer-poet suggests, but they are in coalition with a deeply anti-nuclear party. And our Prime Minister has swallowed the “Dangerous anthropogenic climate change” meme hook line and sinker, and is quite happy to see wind turbines on every hill top in the country.

            As I write this 46% of our power is from coal, 23 % nuclear and 10% gas. Demand is Low as many industrial plants are shut so wind is at 8% but this is an illusion as the total output from wind is about what it always is. Once industrial demand rises Gas will ramp up to take up the slack.

            Where I come from is the whole climate thing has completely skewed all the thinking, has put on hold all investment in reliable power and now we are being told by the EU that we must close all our old coal plants. Meanwhile Germany is ignoring the climate change thing and building 25 plus new coal plants to burn its Brown coal. This stuff is even worse than ordinary coal and on a par with biomass for CO2 emissions.

            Of course none of our plants will close as the British people will not accept this. But getting back to where I came in, my original comment was that to side with the environmental movement that has no concern with the environment but only with the agenda of reduced consumption is a dangerous place to be. As you have stated, and I agree, all we need is for government to get out of the way.

            Everything I have seen about nuclear leads me to the conclusion that it is the only long term way forward. Oil & gas will continue for mobile transport until we have electric cars that work along with cheap and plentiful nuclear power. But I’m under no illusion that hydrocarbon fuels will continue to play a major role in power production for the foreseeable future, because they are needed to provide the essential completion that will continue to drive innovation.

        • Engineer-Poet says:

          Rod The CO2 issue has no public support.

          This is another thing I constantly see being repeated by denialists:  the fallacy of popularity.  The presence or absence of public support for an objective fact has no bearing on that fact.  There was “public support” for the notion that thimerosal in vaccines caused autism; this support was created by a law firm on the basis of one fraudulent medical paper, since retracted (and its author’s medical license revoked).

          The so-called “CO2 issue” only loses support because it has been tied to a policy of energy poverty.  Nuclear power breaks that tie.

          • Peter Geany says:

            Engineer-Poet When you use words such as denialist you unnecessarily get peoples backs up so that they won’t read what you say. What is it I am denying pray tell?

            The CO2 issue is not a science that is even 1% understood, and I’m happy in my self that the majority of scientist if given a free hand would agree. Private correspondence and what is said in public are like chalk and cheese to these people and Galloping Camel has explained why this is.

            You are slightly missing my point about the CO2 issue losing support, but I’ll put that down to me not explaining it correctly. The CO2 issue has highlighted to the people of the UK just how much we are being conned on a whole variety of subjects, to the point that even when they are correct we don’t believe a thing our government says. The same is happening to science. This is the legacy of Climate gate. And it is the continuing Tax increases to pay for all this waste that has focused minds. There is now no going back.

          • Jason C says:

            @Peter Geany,

            Your statement: “The CO2 issue is not a science that is even 1% understood, and I’m happy in my self that the majority of scientist if given a free hand would agree.” seems very unscientific for a guy who seems to love science. You know as well as anyone else that’s conjecture to bolster your argument.

            As for the UK public mistrusting their government or science based on “a whole variety of subjects”, that’s an association fallacy. As you’re a science enthusiast (I actually don’t know your background, but I’ll assume this much), I’m sure you are aware there is a mistrust of science globally and varies depending on the science from country to country. I’ve read UK citizens are even more suspect of Americans of GMO foods for example. So just because one area has been suspected or debunked, doesn’t mean in any way all of the CO2 science is bunk. If that’s your position, it’s rather extremist.

            Now even though I give the CC/AGW science a lot of credit, doesn’t mean I think New York is going to be the next Venice in 10 years. And this is where it gets difficult to draw some level of respect between those who disagree. I don’t want to be accused of being an alarmist, but I am concerned. I think the people who’ve been doing the science and telling the world they are concerned are not crackpots off their rockers. I don’t see credible science coming from the other side of the debate, instead I see a lot of paid contrarians manufacturing doubt.

            To the degree that we should be concerned and respond appropriately, I do think is an opportunity for nuclear energy to present itself to the world as a CO2 abstaining solution. To be silent on the matter is not a good choice – that gives the Green lobby all the opportunity to frame nuclear energy as the bad guy, or fossil fuels all the opportunity as well. In this respect the CC/AGW science is less important than it is for an industry to stick up for itself during an era where clean energy is being defined for the future. On one level, it doesn’t matter what the market impetus is, what matters is how the industry defines itself and responds in the middle of this zeitgeist. And so far it’s done a piss-poor job of defining itself as safe clean energy. Sure, it may pat itself on the back that its done “market studies” and “surveys” that it can use to tell everyone the acceptance level is “acceptable”, but it’s not getting nowhere near the levels of growth it deserves or should be getting if the demand for clean energy is so high. Given the market opportunities for clean energy, it should be mopping the floor with the competition instead of just trying to keep the business it has.

            You said earlier that you didn’t want to see the world commit economic suicide to get the clean energy it wants. I agree. I also believe that well run nuclear projects will not be wasted money. A lot of renewable projects and their subsidies are wasted money. This point alone could be a point of emphasis against the competition.

            Are you concerned that if the nuclear industry promoted itself with some degree of lip service to CC/AGW or lobbied to gain the same kind of perks that other clean energy sources are getting that it would somehow tarnish it’s reputation? There are many clever ways to paint an image without explicitly saying much. Chevron is a master of this. Comparatively, the nuclear industry seems rather inept at this. Are you satisfied with how it’s been doing to better its image to all people and not just engineers and scientists?

        • Rod Adams says:

          We couldn’t build new coal plants to tide us over because they insisted we bury the CO2.

          Who is “they”? What makes you think that the power behind the anti-coal movement was coming from people who were truly concerned about the environment and not from the petroleum industry that was seeking “security of demand” for their capital intensive pipeline and LNG projects?

          • Peter Geany says:

            @ Rod Adams “Who is “they”? What makes you think that the power behind the anti-coal movement was coming from people who were truly concerned about the environment and not from the petroleum industry that was seeking “security of demand” for their capital intensive pipeline and LNG projects?”

            Over here it is very obvious who’s is at fault and I’m sure its not the oil industry. If you want one reason why nuclear is not going anywhere it is the regulations around low does radiation. Get that resolved and clear the fog of disinformation and you will make progress. Concentrate on this to exclusion of all else, because the economics are there as is the sustainability, and real pollution environment. Keep clear of the make believe.

            But Zero progress will be made teaming up with the very people who are trying to wreck everything, or blaming those who may use sharp business practise.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Peter Geany

            I would be interest in hearing your evidence rather than reading your assertion that it is NOT the petroleum industry. Do you really believe that natural gas marketers are not interested in replacing coal burning with their product? Are you telling me they have no interest in the increased revenues?

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Peter Geany

            Since you are relatively new to Atomic Insights you might not be aware of the “smoking gun” series of posts that show how competitive energy suppliers are often guilty of assisting the anti nuclear movement for financial gain.

      • gallopingcamel says:

        I hung out at Brave New Climate for a long time as I support their “Solutions”. It really does not matter to me whether the audience there agree with my views on CAGW, politics or anything else. I will cheerfully work with Warmists, Deniers, Marxists, Dimocrats, Repugnants or whatever.

        For the most part I ignored the CAGW nonsense at BNC as it is not a major concern for me, but then Barry Brook made a bunch of assertions which struck me as unscientific. For example:
        “We can calculate the effect, and predict what is going to happen to the earth’s climate during our lifetimes, all based on fundamental physics that is as certain as gravity.”

        See: http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/06/24/clearing-up-the-climate-debate/

        At first I thought this entire post was “Tongue in Cheek”, but the way Barry reacted to my comments convinced me he was in earnest. My debate with Barry had nothing to do with trust; it was about the scientific evidence or lack thereof. The only time “personal motives” were mentioned was in jest. I pointed out that the “Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change” could no more admit doubts about CAGW than the Pope could admit doubts about the existence of God.

        BNC and Barry Brook aside, most of the pro-CAGW web sites have degenerated into echo chambers for the faithful with complete censorship of dissenting views. That is proof enough that the CAGW case is weak in spite of the billions of tax dollars spent promoting it. Thus far your site tolerates open discussion and I see that as healthy.

        I would much rather be looking for areas of agreement in the hope that some constructive proposals will emerge. If you would prefer that I keep my views on CAGW to myself I will be gladly do so. I don’t want to provoke a change in moderation policy here especially over something as over blown as CAGW.

        • Engineer-Poet says:

          most of the pro-CAGW web sites have degenerated into echo chambers for the faithful with complete censorship of dissenting views. That is proof enough that the CAGW case is weak in spite of the billions of tax dollars spent promoting it.

          It proves nothing.  Data show that the earth is warming, the models show why.  PR firms using personality management software can turn a few paid agents into a virtual army of sock puppets to overwhelm any forum from which they are not banned.  And isn’t it funny that the denialists claim the backing of popular support on the policy side, then completely reverse themselves and say that a handful of publishing climate scientists who have difficulty producing work that passes peer review prove that the other 99% are wrong?

          People who will not hold themselves to facts and reason are not honest participants, and banning them from fora does not turn them into echo chambers; it prevents them from turning fora into shouting matches won by those with the loudest voices.

          • gallopingcamel says:

            As I am a scientist I will go with whatever the evidence says. I know what good research looks like and am diligent enough to analyze the raw data for myself.

            I have taken the time to visit Tom Peterson at NCDC in Asheville and have corresponded with a number of published climate experts in the USA, Holland and Denmark. Certainly I am no “paid agent” or “sock puppet”. Enough of the name calling already.

            If you want to be a critic please feel free to comment on these:
            http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/dorothy-behind-the-curtain-part-1/
            http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2010/12/30/dorothy-behind-the-curtain-part-2/

            Or this:
            https://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/peter-morcombe-comment-on-the-unified-theory-of-climate/

            Or this:
            http://www.gallopingcamel.info/Environment.htm

            I am open to persuasion by facts rather than skillful rhetoric.

            As a fan of the Bard I like your icon.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            Certainly I am no “paid agent” or “sock puppet”.

            Yet it was certain that the groundwork for them had been laid, if not fully implemented, at least two years ago: http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/thinking-tech/online-astroturfing-gets-sophisticated/6349
            Such software/service appears to be offered for sale today.

            There’s also the issue of proper forum.  BNC isn’t a forum where the basic scientific issues are hashed out; that happens in the pages of journals like Nature and Science.  If you have proof that all the models and experiments are getting something badly wrong, you should publish and send everyone else back to the drawing board.  You’ll probably get a Nobel.  But until someone does that, the BNC management have the right to decide that they are going to take the science as a given and work from there without anyone, sock-puppet or real, nagging at them about it.

          • Brian Mays says:

            Experiments? What experiments?

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            More, from here:

            I can verify that there are people running personality systems specifically to boost a brand name in the lead up to a marketing campaign…

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            What experiments?

            Every time temperature profiles and radiometry are measured and compared against the model, it’s an experiment.  They may not be creating the conditions as they do in the Large Hadron Collider, but every test of theory against the universe is an experiment of sorts (especially if particular conditions are sought out to place emphasis on one thing or another).

          • Brian Mays says:

            That’s not an experiment. It’s an observation or a measurement.

            Then again, rigor is not something that I usually associate with the CAGW crowd (they’re more into appeals to authority or appeals to “consensus”), so I guess I can let it slide.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            That’s not an experiment. It’s an observation or a measurement.

            Measuring the infrared transmission of air with CO2 and other GHGs added or removed is an experiment.  Measuring the growth rate of forest plants with CO2 added to the air is an experiment.

            I suppose you’re right that doing atmospheric radiometry measurements isn’t an experiment per se, but as validation of both laboratory measurements and models it’s certainly part of the scientific process.  I don’t see the self-styled “skeptics” showing where the scientists made mistakes.  It sure would be nice if we could just ignore this issue, but aren’t the adults in the room supposed to stand up and say “wishing won’t make it go away”?

    • Peter Geany says:

      Just to bring you up-to-date, I walk the Marylebone road everyday from Paddington to my office in Marylebone. Even back in the 80’s that short walk would have had you feeling like you had grime all over you. Today I get home feeling a clean as I started out. The worst thing to offend the nostrils now is following someone smoking a cigarette. From my 5th floor office I have unlimited visibility most days, apart from the rain which has been ever-present this year. Fog was still a constant issue in the 80’s but today it is a novelty. It annoys me intensely that a lot of clever people worked very hard to bring about a change that continues today, and get very little recognition. The young and our resident environment crowd are still telling Londoners that the Marylebone road does not meet health standards, which is patently wrong.

      • gallopingcamel says:

        How right you are! Back in 1950s I wore detachable collars on my shirt and changed them every day. The shirt itself had to last the entire week!

        We used to count fish on the intake screens at the Battersea power station. There were none as the river was a stinking sewer!

        Today there are 115 species of fish including salmon. It is safe to breathe the air in London and swim in the Thames. Humungous levels of pollution reversed. Anyone under age 30 is unlikely to appreciate how things have improved.

  21. Luca Bertagnolio says:

    A fascinating set of interesting comments!

    I am totally new into learning more about AGW and am reading a few books and watching some interesting content online. So I will not add anything interesting, except for one note to Rod.

    Rod, you mention Patrick Moore as an environmentalist which is pro-nuclear and in agreement with the AGW position.

    I have just finished reading his “Confessions of a Greenpeace dropout” book and in chapter 20 “Climate of Fear” he makes it very clear that he is a complete skeptic on the whole AGW situation.

    In the same book, in chapter 15 “Energy to Power Our World” where Patrick Moore talks about his views on nuclear, he does not mention CO2 as a reason for his “conversion”, but rather he talks about it in the context of a discussion he had with Jim Lovelock, in which Lovelock stated his fear of climate change, while Moore tried to convince him that the whole AGW was and is indeed a travesty. This quote summarizes the discussion between PM and JL:

    “You can’t sum up a day of discourse in a few words but the bottom line was that I now believed that nuclear energy was not something to be feared and Jim Lovelock still feared catastrophic climate change. So much for my powers of persuasion.”

    As you can see, clearly Patrick Moore does not believe that AGW is an issue at all.

    And at this time, for what it’s worth, I share his view, and am happy to see that many others in this thread think the same way, given their experience and data they possess.

    A very healthy debate!

    Thanks, Luca

    • Brian Mays says:

      Perhaps Dr. Moore was being a little too hard on himself. Earlier this year, Lovelock dialed back the alarmism and admitted that he had been wrong.

      So I guess it just took a little time to sink in. At least he is honest enough to admit that he made mistakes.

      • Engineer-Poet says:

        Part of the issue is the massive air pollution, much of it coming from E. and S. Asia.  Sulfur reflects sunlight and causes cooling; this offsets warming from GHG’s.

        The 2003 blackout in the USA shut down much coal-fired power.  This immediately caused a large decrease in atmospheric haze, which had hitherto cut the amount of sunlight reaching the ground.  The USA would be warmer without this air pollution, and Chindia even more so.  I predict that the ground-level temperature measurements will “mysteriously” creep upward as coal-fired power is cleaned up or retired.

        • Brian Mays says:

          Well, it’s far more complicated than that.

          Not all aerosols have the same effect. The sulfate aerosols in coal exhaust tend to reflect sunlight, but the soot from burning coal absorbs it.

          The direct effects from reflection of the aerosols themselves are not the only effect. These aerosols also affect clouds in rather complicated ways (e.g., their formation, longevity, and precipitation). Clouds are probably the least-understood component of the current generation of climate models.

          Anthropogenic aerosols, particularly from coal burning, are only a small component of aerosols in general. The dust from the desserts in North Africa are able to travel all of the way to Brazil, and the oceans (in addition to coal plants) release gaseous sulfur into the atmosphere, largely through the action of phytoplankton.

          The burning of fossil fuels is not the only source of anthropogenic aerosols. In addition to the burning of biomass — which is a quite substantial source, particularly in the Third World — changes in land use have a large impact. For example, desertification results in more dust being lifted into the atmosphere. None of this would change if the US stopped burning coal tomorrow.

      • Rod Adams says:

        Lovelock is one of my heroes. He is thoughtful and visionary. He provokes discussion about important topics. He is no longer well liked by traditional Greens.

        I’m not an alarmist. I believe in human ingenuity and in our ability to recognize warning signals early enough to change course to avoid the worst impacts of our continuing desire for better living conditions.

        We have been given the gifts of intellect, reason and sufficient materials to provide abundant living for a much larger portion of the world’s population than currently experiences the joy of a middle class American life style.

        Emission-free fission works much better than all alternatives and can make it possible to prevent dramatic atmospheric and climate changes without sacrificing our existing technological society.

        • Peter Geany says:

          Rod there are many aspects of Lovelocks work that have much to commend them especially about the living planet. But he seemed to later in life go very extreme on population control and climate change. As he is 93 rehabilitation will not occur. For you guys in America he may still be held in high regard, but I get the impression he has become an object of derision in the UK as a result of some of his extreme views. A very great pity when a scientist confuses science and beliefs.

      • Daniel says:

        But I take issue with the air I breathe and the quality of the ocean waters. On these 2 factors alone, we have a strong case for clean & reliable nuclear energy.

        I still maintain that CO2 dumping has a devastating effect on marine life.

      • Daniel says:

        @ Brian,

        When was the last time an anti nuclear admitted to being wrong ? Lovelock shows courage in my book.

        • Brian Mays says:

          Daniel – Well, Patrick Moore, George Monbiot, and Mark Lynas are a few examples of people with anti-nuclear sentiments who have admitted that they were wrong. The thing is that once people like this have admitted that they were wrong, they are no longer anti-nuclear.

          It takes courage to admit that you’re wrong.

        • Daniel says:

          Oups .. Another floating jab …

  22. Terry Krieg says:

    G’day Rod,
    Phew! What an interesting blog! Accidentally discovered it today [28/12]. I’m pro nuclear, have been since 1981 when on teacher exchange in Canada. Since 1998, have been speaking for it almost nonstop to politicians, business, the public trying to educate them to an acceptance of nuclear power. I was at it long before Barry Brook started talking about it and also Ben Heard who is an enthusiastic newcomer. I was saddened to hear that Galloping Camel had been censored from Barry’s blog. Barry did seem to tolerate my skeptical position on CAGW but I’ve not visited his site very much over the last two years. I must say that I’m a bit concerned however, that there are still many who still believe that the “science” is in. I would have thought that the open letter from 129 ” climate scientists” to UN General Secretary, Ban Ki Moon suggesting that he stop spreading “alarmist” sentiments at the recent Doha climate conference might have given them cause to at least have another think about it. Apparently not. I get the feeling that most bloggers here, except Galloping Camel, Peter Geany and probably Ian Biner are doing no more than just posting on your blog Don. I hope they are out there spreading the word to the general public about the need for greater nuclear build for world clean energy future, and not because of overblown CO2 danger but because of the other toxic muck that comes from fossil fuels especially coal. It has killed millions and still does [24,000 Americans per year] since the industrial revolution. We don’t have to stop mining coal but we have to stop burning it for electricity. Use it for pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, plastics, liquid fuels for starters. Just don’t burn the confounded stuff for electricity. Then of course, if we want to maintain our standard of living and help the developing world to improve theirs, then we have to include them [do it through aid] in the developing nuclear world.Now I know most of you bloggers on this site are already in nuclear countries. For Australia, however, we’re still in the”dark ages” when it comes to energy and we’re all hung up with Carbon dioxide taxes, ETS’s and we’re deluding ourselves that the renewables [sun and wind] CCS and geothermal and gas will enable us to reach our emissions reduction targets. They won’t and the costs of doing it all will probably send us broke. If there is anyone on this site who would like to read my latest pro-nuclear speech which is a precis of the four talks I have given or will give on ABC Radio National here in Australia, then please email me and I’ll send you a copy. Address is: patez1@yahoo.com. Now, I’m not a scientist, nor an engineer, nor an academic but over the years I’ve gathered lots of information from people who are. I know the world nuclear power generating industry better than most in Australia and am happy to share how crucial I believe it could and should be for Australia’s energy future.
    Thanks for the blog Don
    Cheers, Terry Krieg

  23. John Tucker says:

    Wow – I didn’t realize this was still such a issue.

    Understanding the role of atmospheric greenhouse gasses has been mainstream science for over 100 years. The earth is warming – no one legitimately questions that. The sun even had a net dimming over the period of greatest warming and greenhouse gas increases.

    Ive eve traveled enough and basically just opened my eyes to see it. The evidence is overwhelming.

    Bloggers and a article here and there by fringe “scientists” who consistently cant cut the mustard on the relevant issues doesn’t change reality.

    • gallopingcamel says:

      If you are saying that our planet has warmed 0.8 degress Centigrade since 1850 you have my vote.

      OK, we are living in toasty times. Can you tell me why?

      • John Tucker says:

        What?? We are talking about variations expressed from a energy budget organisms depend on. Extreme variation is not conducive to adapted life. Why dont you look up previous warming rates/extinction periods as opposed to me being your librarian when you are the one questioning established science and the vast consensus.

        I would think that you would have checked that before even commenting and alluding to a rate for which you’ve established no basis in comparison other than yokel “dat taint dat hot,” “wisdom.”

        Right?

        • John Tucker says:

          And BTW the PETM involved about a 5 degree C change over more than 20,000 years and was catastrophic for many species.

          Slow release of fossil carbon during the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum
          ( http://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/18383638/524132763/name/ngeo1179.pdf )

          • Brian Mays says:

            Considering the current rate of warming, if you’re worried about a 5 degree change in global temperature then please get back to me in 850 years.

            Oh, but I forgot. Your extensive tourism has made this imperceptible 0.8 degree rise in temperature “overwhelming” to you. I bow in awe to your powers of observation. So why are all of these countries wasting billions of dollars on weather stations and climate models, when apparently all one needs is a travel visa to “prove” global warming?

          • John Tucker says:

            ” if you’re worried about a 5 degree change in global temperature then please get back to me in 850 years.”

            Do you really believe that is how it works? It seems a expert on everything like you with the ability to point out error in the scientific consensus would understand a energy storage/balance situation.

            Global warming is not questioned. Do you even know that? Evidence abounds across the globe. That was the point there. Perhaps you could be bothered to check your own present locality as I assure you there are also indicators there.

            You cannot make valid a counter argument so you play ridiculous ad hominem games. Typical.

          • John Tucker says:

            Also its not about you and your relative comfort at a particular temperature. Or about your total lack of sophistication or understanding of what a small change in temperature means. Brian Mays why dont you do something useful and constructive for once and cite your post of why climate change of a few degrees is unimportant when already we are seeing it is. And its barely started.

            Please tell me why it will make “no difference” and considering the last three decades is something not to be alarmed about. Reference some that agree with you.

            Especially as I see you took the opportunity to disparage a respected climate scientist above whose work has actually been independently duplicated nationally and internationally across organizations and institutions.

            Please cite the basis of your conclusions.

          • Brian Mays says:

            John – If you continue to act like a fool, then I’ll continue to call you on it.

            When you say that your extensive travelling has allowed you to “see” a net 0.8 degrees Celsius change in mean global temperature and that this is due to atmospheric greenhouse gasses, then I will point out that you clearly have no idea what you are talking about.

            Your comment has more to do with superstition than science. It’s the same phenomenon (selective bias) that leads people to believe in miracles, ghosts, witches, etc. It’s the same poor logic that results in people (particularly reporters) believing that every random bad storm is an indicator that global warming will be the end of us all. There is no rigorous science to that notion whatsoever, and sober, responsible scientists will tell you that.

            What’s more disturbing, however, is that you seem to be under the delusion that, without man, the various climates of the Earth would never change. The idea of a once-perfect world, which man and his knowledge have destroyed, is an old one, and it shows up in many tales from many cultures, including the first book of the Bible.

            So please excuse me if I consider you a superstitious, unsophisticated, but probably well meaning, loudmouth with no scientific understanding at all. Posting random links to press releases will not change my opinion of you, by the way. An intelligent, adult conversation might, however.

          • John Tucker says:

            I never said that. did I – I essentially said climate change is already being expressed in earths systems on cruder levels.

            Looking at your unsupported comments above on Dr Hansen and “doomsday cult” id say you are then one showing unreasonable bias. I dont understand your politically based reality. It seems angry and wasteful. You seem to assume I based observations on some belief system by your own bias against some stereotypical “environmental liberal” construct. Im sorry if you were abused/treated bad by such at some point in the past, but you probably should let it go and cease projecting that experience on unrelated issues.

            In that vein, as we have tried the scientific and narrative here is a more emotive approach to the argument that you may find helpful or at least more fulfilling of your expectations:

            Can you paint with all the colors of the wind Brian? ( http://youtu.be/TkV-of_eN2w )

          • Brian Mays says:

            John – Unsupported? I quoted Hansen directly. Perhaps you agree with Hansen’s 2009 emphatic assertion?

            So was he wrong or is it already too late? Which is it?

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Brian

            So if Hansen is guilty of a bit of overstatement and ill advised specific prediction over too short a time frame, I guess you believe that the whole case falls apart? I freely admit that there are far too many people using far too dramatic calls for action, often for nefarious or financial reasons. However, people I greatly respect (Weinberg, Rickover and others) indicated concerns on this topic many decades ago. Time is a wasting and there really are some good reasons to get moving, even if there is no imminent catastrophe and even if a short term prediction has not quite come true.

          • Brian Mays says:

            So if Hansen is guilty of a bit of overstatement and ill advised specific prediction over too short a time frame, I guess you believe that the whole case falls apart?

            Rod – Not at all. I mean only what I say: Hansen is notorious for over-exaggeration. It speaks volumes about his lack of credibility. The damage that this does to his message goes far beyond me.

            If I were in the alarmist camp (which I’m not), I would want him to pipe down, much like I wish that the liquid-fuel-reactor evangelists (Sorensen et al.) would pipe down. These folks (Hansen included) are mostly an embarrassment to the advocacy that they want to support, because they continually make claims that are not justified.

            It’s unfortunate that the True Believers cannot realize and understand this, but it does explain why public concern over Global Warming is reaching new lows.

          • John Tucker says:

            So if Hansen was wrong in a comment it makes his peer reviewed and duplicated research incorrect?

            And you chide me for being unreasonable and “superstitious” – whatever that means.

  24. Bruce Behrhorst says:

    I’ll keep it as simple as possible.
    Human intellect understandably believes it is central and encompassing. Sequestering doubt & possibility to banishment as error and irrelevant. This is a flaw we live with. We tend to ignore massive scale and systems that make up our so called, ‘reality’. In order to progress we need discovery in realms that include error & irrelevancy if we are to promote our human species.

    Energy and space time are still beyond our reach note the simple discovery of an Earth-sized planet found just outside solar system. http://phys.org/news/2012-10-earth-sized-planet-solar.html

    micro/macro worlds still remain a mystery.

    • Daniel says:

      @ Bruce,

      Every now and then I like to remind people on this board of this little gem by Prof. Al Bartlett. It can easily be transposed to nuclear energy.

      “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”

      • Rod Adams says:

        @Daniel

        I think that many believers in “the exponential function” assume that the constants remain constant forever. When applied to predicting the future of things like population and economic output, the exponential function is about as useful as any other equation that ignores physical realities and human decision processes.

        • Daniel says:

          @ Rod,

          I am more pointing towards E=MC2 with regards to energy, nuclear energy of course ! The only form of energy that challenges the exponential function.

          I get your point however that Bartlett was focussing in on issues like population growth and the likes. But I am taking his thoughts to the energy playing field, which is just valid as the masses have problem figuring out the great powers of nuclear energy.

        • Daniel says:

          @ Rod,

          Your comment:

          … is about as useful as any other equation that ignores physical realities and human decision processes

          My nuance in line with your statement:

          With the new political reality set forth in a Pro nuclear Japan government, just watch the price of Uranium skyrocket in the next 3 months. Most experts had the commodity dead for the next 5 years, at least.

    • Engineer-Poet says:

      Energy and space time are still beyond our reach

      The 1990’s called, they want their New Age nonsense back.

      • Bruce Behrhorst says:

        Engineer-Poet Is the title meant as an attempt @ irony?

        • Engineer-Poet says:

          Are you telling me you meant that phrase (lacking most content and all context) seriously?

          A physicist 100 years ago could have worked the orbital parameters and told you what size of spectral shift you’d see from the motion of a star and exoplanet around their mutual barycenter.  They would have told you that they didn’t have the ability to measure such small shifts against Earth’s orbital motion, Earth’s rotation, etc.  That, not the underlying knowledge of physics, is what has changed.

  25. Bill Hannahan says:

    Let me propose an alternate position for the AGW agnostics who support nuclear power.

    1… Climate has been changing for 5 billion years, and will continue to change.

    2… No one really knows for sure what percentage of climate change is man made, despite what they may think. The ones who are most precise in this matter are the ones I trust the least.

    3… The human race is conducting a world wide experiment in climate change by burning a huge amount of fossil fuel, releasing CO2, mercury, sulfur and particulates, in a very short period of geologic time.

    4… We already know that some of these emissions are doing great harm, and there is the possibility of additional climate change resulting in enormous pain, suffering and death.

    5… Therefore the experiment should be stopped by any practical means (nuclear power) as soon as possible.

    • Bruce Behrhorst says:

      I agree with Bill Hannahan, Bill has articulated 5 reasons I’ve promoted.

      I live in a nation where it’s entire body politic in Gov’t is to sell its hydrocarbon industry and resources as if this were the only energy option. I dear say, a shortsighted policy could see oil sands resources mismanaged and enviro. tort significantly skewed toward antitrust/competition with courts clogged for decades with wasted funds in legal battles.

      We truly live in a stubborn Orwellian period where few bother to question single source energy policy.

    • Daniel says:

      @ Bill,

      All this CO2 dumping is also killing the marine life in our oceans. Let’s add number 6.

    • Engineer-Poet says:

      You’re trying to split the difference between the two camps’ position on the science.

      I’m not sure that’s going to work, because it has elements that alienate both of them.  On the other hand, if Moore and Monbiot and Lovelock can be peeled away from the anti-nuke position by knowledge of the facts, it suggests that many on the green side can be converted, while the other side is already pro-nuclear.

    • John Tucker says:

      I think its a bit more clear cut:

      The earth should have cooled with solar dimming, so up to and even over 100 percent is likely man-made. Considering also ocean heat content ( http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/heat_content2000mwerrpent.png ). The signal is clear and the cause has been predicted, observed, measured, theorized and modeled with confirmation.

      Why leave it open to misinterpretation when no other conclusion is presently available? Especially when not only misinterpretation could hinder legitimate decisions that need to be made but the process of ceding to vague and manufactured doubt and caving to unreasonable populist trends is causing poor decision making in other venues?

    • Peter Geany says:

      @ Bill Hannahan

      Your point one; correct but remember our atmosphere started out as 100% CO2 just as Venus is today. Do you know what changed it? And do you understand that change and do you understand the difference between Venus Earth and Mars?

      Your point 2; man does not change the change the climate. We can have an effect on weather patterns due to local land use, but any notion that we can fundamentally change the climate is false due to the sheer scale of nature and a misinterpretation of climate drivers.

      Point 3 I have already posted on Rods site about the scale of our burning of Hydrocarbon fuels (we must stop calling them fossil fuels as most are not) The amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere due to man’s actions on earth is puny as compared to the natural biosphere. As I have stated it could be 3 % or 0.3% or 0.03%, because we cannot accurately measure the natural biosphere. And the other problem is we only count volcanic activity above sea level when over 90% is in the ocean. Not only this we are living in a very CO2 depleted time and for 99.99999% of the history of Earth CO2 has be of a greater proportion than the current 390ppm as measured in one spot at the top of one volcano with a infrared spectrograph. Not even a direct chemical measurement. If the downward trend continues in 10,000 to 15,000 years CO2 will drop below the level to sustain plant life and life as we know it will cease. So never mind the sun using up all its hydrogen and starting to burn Helium in 4.5 billion years, we may not last another million.

      Point 4; Do you know that the Sahara desert has greened up by between 15 and 20%. No of course not because it doesn’t fit with the scare stories and simplistic doom scenarios, so it doesn’t get reported. Plants become far more resistant to drought when CO2 concentrations are higher so on the margins they survive longer. For every scare there are many positive of a higher CO2 concentration.

      Point 5 And this is where I come in. There is no real public support for climate mitigation. Because every measure so far taken has resulted in a gross waste of taxpayers money and we are all being asked to cough up more to pay for yet more mistakes. There are so many reasons that nuclear power is correct, but stopping CO2 is not one that is going to change anything. The biggest block is regulation, and the biggest pushers of regulation are the activist who are the same people pushing for climate change mitigation by telling everyone that CO2 is causing the world to heat up. I have mentioned before and will do so again; those scientists and other interested parties that have a real interest in the workings of the atmosphere are now questioning whether the greenhouse effect even exists. My view after 15 years of following this subject is that it doesn’t. No one has produced a single scrap of verifiable scientific data to support the greenhouse effect. But many scientists have produced other studies that offer alternative climate drivers, and studies that demonstrate how our atmosphere warms, and more importantly have produced data that others can check.

      @ Daniel I think you are referring to the ocean acidification scare. The ocean has a PH of about 8.1. Now unless chemistry has changed dramatically that makes it alkaline. The ocean is so large as compare to the atmosphere that we could dissolve all the CO2 in our atmosphere in the ocean and it would still not turn it acid. But of course that can’t happen anyway due to the way CO2 interacts with water. Even if CO2 in the atmosphere were to double it would still have little effect on the PH. But this is not the story that makes the papers

      The role of CO2 in life and the life of our planet is probably second only to water or perhaps equal with water and certainly fundamental. To have something as fundamental to life vilified by all in sundry without any real world supporting data is not science. But it won’t stop with CO2 and already they are looking to regulate the use of water in Europe in a way that infringes on our very liberty.

      Let me leave you with 2 instances where Politian’s have embraced our Environmental lobby without much thought and now it is costing all of us a fortune to fix. One has been the headlong rush to insulate houses. This has resulted in air circulation being stopped and the growth of mould. This has been worst in Germany where they embrace everything “green” without thinking. It has also hit social housing worst much of which now has to be demolished. It would have been cheaper to put in more heat, but of course we can’t do that because all power must come for windmills. The second problem is with water use. They have removed all the old toilet systems and replaced them with low volume flush. Now all the drains are blocked because not enough water flows through and it now cost millions and even more water than before to stop the drains blocking. Also some German cities stink in the summer. These are not the people you want to be aligned with.

      • John Tucker says:

        ” To have something as fundamental to life vilified by all in sundry without any real world supporting data is not science. ”

        I wouldn’t want to live under water either if it helps. The earth has maintained a delicate balance of CO2 in the last several thousands of years ( http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/83/i48/8348notw1.html ). Upsetting that balance rapidly is disastrous for specialized life. Thats not some “extreme” opinion – its simply reality.

        Realistically we are potentially looking at the loss of 10-50 percent of species conservatively as a final result of climate change and acidification. From the most basic stripped down “pro business”/”pro growth” moral standpoint that is unacceptable.

        I agree toilets that dont do the job are no fun but I dont think it really applies here. Germany has major issues that are not part of a reasonable approach to climate and energy no matter how its being sold. Thats not environmentalism.

        Also as acidification is already likely having severe consequences in some fisheries I dont think using the term “scare” is appropriate here.

        Hatchery, OSU scientists link ocean acidification to larval oyster failure ( http://oregonstate.edu/ua/ncs/archives/2012/apr/hatchery-managers-osu-scientists-link-ocean-acidification-larval-oyster-failure )

        • Daniel says:

          Regarding ocean acidification, I know that shelffish have their armour softened due to acidification. It makes them easier preys to predators.

          Hey, I like a fair game like the next guy.

          • Peter Geany says:

            OK ocean acidification. There is no such thing The Ocean is Alkaline

            Is that blunt enough for everyone? Has anyone any idea what it would actually take to turn the Ocean acid? Has anyone read about the ocean and interaction with rocks and the constant renewal of the earth’s crust???

            If you were to avail yourselves of this knowledge you would be embarrassed to mention ocean acidification. It is just words that have no meaning in science and certainly no relation to atmospheric CO2 levels. Has anyone seen the pools of liquid CO2 in the bottom of the ocean?

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Peter

            The pH of the ocean is greater than 7, but it is slowly getting closer to that number. Therefore it is acidifying. This is not some kind of crankpot theory, but is well proven science based on simple measurements.

            http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/story/Ocean+Acidification

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            Rod, he’s just working his way through the denialist talking points.  He won’t challenge the refutations with data, he’ll either repeat his assertion (maybe without even rephrasing) or just move on to something else.

            About the only thing that would make such “contributions” worthwhile is a filter which automagically catches the clichéd phrases and inserts editorial notes with hyperlinks to the refutations.  This would eliminate the human effort involved and turn the trolling against its organizers (which would effectively end it).

        • Peter Geany says:

          @ John Tucker
          “I wouldn’t want to live under water either if it helps. The earth has maintained a delicate balance of CO2 in the last several thousands of years ”

          You have to understand that mans contribution to the CO2 budget is puny. Second you need to get into you head that the atmosphere started out as 100% CO2. Life has changed Earths atmosphere. Man is NOT the most important life form on earth, despite what our increasing arrogance seems to dictate. And as I have stated several time CO2 will drop below the level to sustain life in about 10 to 15 thousand years if the current overall decline continues.

          I would wager that the recent changes as measured at Mona Loa have nothing what so ever to do with our burning of hydrocarbons. This is not me being an advocate for the oil gas and coal industry, but just stating what I think will be accepted geological wisdom in 30 to 50 years. What was it only 70 years ago that the idea of plate tectonics was though of as ridiculous?

          • Rod Adams says:

            Just curious, Peter. If earth’s atmosphere was once 100% CO2, as you claim, where did all that nitrogen that makes up 80% of today’s atmosphere come from?

            It is getting more and more difficult to believe you are a rational engineer who understands how to balance a chemical equation.

          • Peter Geany says:

            Rod that’s a good question and I know the answer but can’t remember all the details off the top of my head. But part of the answer is that earths atmosphere was 90 odd bar just as Venus is now. All the CO2 has either been sequestered away in carbonate rock, or converted to Oxygen and plant tissue. The nitrogen came from ammonia in the early atmosphere and the nitrogen compounds in the earths crust. Once in N2 form nitrogen is inert and so has become the primary gas in the atmosphere. Lightning is the natural way for nitrogen to be converted to a compound that can be used by plants, the other way we inadvertently convert N2 to something else is as a by product of combustion. NOx is what turns the air in cities brown and is why today so much effort has been expended on catalytic converters to eliminate it. With todays atmosphere at 1 bar, and CO2 at only 390ppm Nitrogen is the obvious candidate to be the largest constituent by virtue of the fact that its inert. More tomorrow or someone else can add to this.

            By the way many think that the earths atmosphere has been 1 bar for millions if not billions of years, so again unfortunately there are contentious issue here.

      • Engineer-Poet says:

        remember our atmosphere started out as 100% CO2 just as Venus is today.

        Venus has about 3 bars of nitrogen in its atmosphere, and you’re asserting knowledge of the primordial atmosphere’s composition without even a cite.

        I have mentioned before and will do so again; those scientists and other interested parties that have a real interest in the workings of the atmosphere are now questioning whether the greenhouse effect even exists. My view after 15 years of following this subject is that it doesn’t.

        Which view you back up with cites to irrelevant calculations, crank and lobbyist websites and other nonsense.

        Honestly, Rod should give you the boot.  You contribute nothing of value here; not even the practice people get debunking you is worth it, it’s done far better elsewhere.

        • Peter Geany says:

          @Engineer-Poet You have called me several names. Please stop. I have already asked you what it is I deny and now you accuse me of “ cites to irrelevant calculations, crank and lobbyist websites and other nonsense”

          I have given my view. I don’t have to cite anyone to give my view. As I stated in one of my first replies to Rod I have spent 15 or more years finding out all I can about CO2. Not for me checking as others have done the temperature record, but I have sort to understand CO2. To even attempt to put all that information down in this blog would be a mindboggling exercise. But I have put a couple of links up that should stimulate an enquiring mind. gallopingcamel has put some up as well which are some of the most interesting and recent. From there if you are truly interested you can look. Things change in science constantly, and if you have an open mind then you will learn.

          We are always quoted Venus as the runaway greenhouse. Well the problem with this is how is the dark side of Venus the same temperature as the sunny side. Answer good old convection, which is very good at 92bar of pressure. This is explained in one of the gallopingcamel links and I believe you have been invited to comment there. Given that Venus has a very long day, 181 days from memory, and no oceans you would expect the dark side to cool but it doesn’t. Indeed this is exactly what happens on earth. This phenomenon is very apparent in the desert far from the sea. I have experienced it, 40 Celsius during the day and near zero at night. But travel a few miles towards the coast and it’s a sticky 30 Celsius. When people have simple everyday experiences like this and ask for it to be explained by the greenhouse effect which should be equal in both locations there is no sensible answer. But convection can explain it.

          • Rod Adams says:

            I have given my view. I don’t have to cite anyone to give my view.

            That’s correct. Opinions do not need sources, but those without sources or measurable facts will receive exactly the respect they deserve.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            You have called me several names. Please stop.

            If you stop the problem behaviors, I’ll no longer be called upon to label them accurately.

            I have already asked you what it is I deny

            You’ve denied that the oceans are acidifying (part of the script—I’ve seen the identical talking points from enough different personas to recognize it), and that CO2 has anything to do with Earth’s greenhouse effect.  You’ve even denied that the atmosphere of Venus has major constituents other than CO2, which is easily checked.

            And now you act all butthurt when you are called on your BS.  We know it’s an act, which is why I’m calling you on that too.

            now you accuse me of “ cites to irrelevant calculations, crank and lobbyist websites and other nonsense”

            Which I’ve documented, often with sources.  And you act all butthurt because you’re confronted with FACTS and asked to show some HONESTY and INTEGRITY dealing with them!  Please cry us a river.

            I have given my view. I don’t have to cite anyone to give my view.

            You’re making assertions of fact, many of which are false.  You’re not entitled to your own facts, and views not consistent with the facts are best kept under your hat if you don’t want to be ridiculed.  If you blurt them out, you deserve what you get.

            I have spent 15 or more years finding out all I can about CO2.

            And it’s just an amazing coincidence that what you’ve “found out” is substantially (to outrageously) wrong and easily shown to be wrong through public sources, yet perfectly congruent with the fake science written under the auspices of the Heartland Institute and George C. Marshall Institute.  If you’re that good at making coincidences, how about making yourself useful and giving me some numbers for the next Powerball drawing?

            The use of fake science to protect commercial interests is not new; it was first done deliberately by the George C. Marshall Institute for the tobacco industry.  Some of the same people are involved this time around.

            We are always quoted Venus as the runaway greenhouse. Well the problem with this is how is the dark side of Venus the same temperature as the sunny side.

            This is one of your most objectionable tactics:  asserting a non-issue as a “problem” for climate science.  Indeed, uniformity of temperature is a prediction of the greenhouse model.

            What you’re obfuscating again (because it’s the issue you can’t handle) is how all that heat stays there.  The illumination of the surface of Venus “resembles that of the Earth on a heavily clouded day.”  Despite the minimal irradiance, at the coolest measured temperatures on the Venusian highlands the blackbody radiation at 720 K comes to over 15 kW/m²; at the lowland temperatures this increases to almost 18kW/m².  With only 170 W/m² net coming from the Sun and far less reaching the surface, what keeps this radiation from cooling the surface very rapidly?  The greenhouse effect.  When the atmosphere is opaque to thermal IR, photons random-walk and return to the surface as often as not instead of escaping to space.  Heat transfer is by convection, which implies an atmospheric temperature lapse rate.  This is exactly what is observed.

            I have experienced it, 40 Celsius during the day and near zero at night. But travel a few miles towards the coast and it’s a sticky 30 Celsius.

            Perhaps if you paid attention to non-deserts, you might learn something.  The day-night differential in the Amazon rain forest is closer to 15 C.  The major difference is the humidity; water vapor is a greenhouse gas.  The desert air has little, so IR radiates well and the air cools rapidly after dark; the Amazon has a lot, so IR radiates much less well and the air cools much more slowly.

            If this were a private discussion, I’d be wasting my time spelling this out for you.  But this is a world-readable forum, and your scripted claims are now stored along with the refutations in the archives of every search engine which crawls this page.

          • Brian Mays says:

            The dynamics of the atmosphere of Venus is more complicated than your naive explanation, and we’re still learning more about it every year. For example,

            A curious cold layer in the atmosphere of Venus

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            The dynamics of the atmosphere of Venus is more complicated than your naive explanation, and we’re still learning more about it every year.

            Let me get this straight.  You imply that a phenomenon observed at 125 km altitude near the south polar terminator of Venus calls into question the major calculations of the thermal radiation balance at the surface?

            It’s obvious that it’s quite irrelevant.  Further, your failure to note anything regarding the lack of relevance suggests that you intended to mislead people who fail to click through the link.  (If you were trying to be topical, you would have linked this article on sulfur chemistry instead.)

          • Brian Mays says:

            You imply that a phenomenon observed at 125 km altitude near the south polar terminator of Venus calls into question the major calculations of the thermal radiation balance at the surface?

            No. That’s your own dander talking. Perhaps a slight pause and a deep breath or two would do you some good.

            My comment means just what I said. The dynamics are complex, and don’t lend themselves well to overly simple explanations.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            That’s your own dander talking.

            You call it “dander”.  I call it being direct and to the point in the face of attempts to obfuscate.

            My comment means just what I said. The dynamics are complex, and don’t lend themselves well to overly simple explanations.

            Yet a more accurate explanation you fail to even hint at.  Why would you raise the issue, then?  This principle of physics has to explain how the fraction of the absorbed 170 W/m² which makes it to the Venusian surface is able to maintain temperatures up to 750 K, where the radiation intensity from a blackbody is 17.9 kW/m².  Whatever this alternative to the simple principle of infrared opacity (“greenhouse effect”) is, its effect is huge… yet you cannot even hint at what it is or how it works?

            Saying “the dynamics are complex” implies knowledge while attempting to weasel out of providing an explanation.  Why?  The obvious motive is that you don’t want to be caught in an outright lie.  I’m not one to let you slip out that easily.

          • Peter Geany says:

            Rod Before you get taken in by the Venus analogy of a runaway greenhouse you had better understand there is no greenhouse on Venus. The greenhouse theory on earth is that light (short wave radiation) heats the surface. The surface then radiates long wave infrared which is absorbed by CO2 CH4 and H2O (water being 90% of the so called greenhouse gases) and re radiates some of this heat back to the surface. It’s also worth pointing out that CO2 absorption rate follows a parabolic curve and every doubling sees it absorption drop by a half. After 60ppm nearly all the IR radiation that fits the CO2 absorption profile has been absorbed. So a further doubling to 120ppm and then to 240 and 480 etc only see a rapidly diminishing amount of IR energy absorbed by CO2. But the AGW theory is that this small increase in CO2 IR absorption is amplified by water vapour. How does it do this? By increased evaporation. Water vapour has a much wider IR absorption band. This is what is programed into all the climate models. What is not programed in, because we don’t understand it is the effect of clouds, and how much of the increased water vapour condenses into cloud.

            Now most of the real data available around clouds suggests that there is a negative feedback, in other words they cool the earth. This does not fit with the greenhouse effect.

            On Venus very little light (short wave radiation) gets to the surface. So how is it that Venus is so warm if most light is reflected back out. This is answered by the Nikolov & Zeller paper that is discussed here http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/unified-theory-of-climate/ this link has also been posted by gallopingcamel. They state that all you need to know are Ti (total irradiance) and pressure at the surface to determine the surface temperate. Composition of the atmosphere does not matter. Seems to work and many others have posted similar findings without having them published, so this is not a new thought as such, but publication of the latest thoughts on the behavior of atmospheres. What heats Venus? That’s simple, plain old convection, the same thing that warms Earth.

            But before I’m accused of being simplistic, this is just an overview. You need to read the paper and ask searching questions.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            Goodness, he’s at it again, and tag-teaming in this thread to take the heat off Mays.

            Rod Before you get taken in by the Venus analogy of a runaway greenhouse you had better understand there is no greenhouse on Venus.

            His “proof” for this isn’t even a peer-reviewed paper, but a poster presented at a conference about the cryosphere.  Amateurs can present posters; I’ve done it myself.

            Nikolov and Zeller are not even amateur-class if someone unschooled in the science can demolish their claims by showing that their logic is wrong, and it didn’t take me very long.  Their error is that a graybody will be colder on average than the Stefan-Boltzmann calculation result for a body of uniform temperature, because the lack of heat transport allows the dark areas to cool to extremes (like the polar craters of Mercury and the Moon).  Obviously this is NOT true of Earth (both the atmosphere and oceans store and move massive amounts of heat between day and night and from equator to pole), so their claim is both perfectly true and utterly irrelevant, making their calculations based on that assumption totally worthless (except to cranks).

            As for the calculation of surface temperature based purely on irradiance and atmospheric weight and not composition, this could be tested very easily by measuring the solar and thermal IR flux as the atmospheric pressure and humidity change.  Lower pressure should always produce lower temperature at the same irradiance.  I would suggest a comparison of daily average temperature between bone-dry Death Valley (about 36° N) with a patch of Amazon rain forest at low altitude and the same seasonal sun angle.  The difference in water vapor content of the atmosphere provides a good test of the N&Z claim… as in, it doesn’t pass the laugh test.

            I think the biggest irony is that these guys both claim to have PhD’s.

            What heats Venus? That’s simple, plain old convection, the same thing that warms Earth.

            Convection transports heat, it doesn’t create it.  Someone who’s been “studying CO2″ for 15 years ought to have learned that by now.

  26. gallopingcamel says:

    Terry Krieg, December 28, 2012 at 1:57 AM,
    Thanks for a really interesting post and some kind words for this ancient camel. I miss “Brave New Climate”. Most of what appears there is downright excellent. I regret speaking out against what struck me as unscientific statements by the owner (Barry Brook).

    This blog strikes me as comparable with BNC so I will mind my manners in the hope that Rod Adams will not cast me into the outer darkness. When push comes to shove I don’t care very much about CAGW but I do care about making energy cheaper and more widely available.

    You point out that pollution from burning fossil fuels has nothing to do with CO2. I lived in London when soft coal was delivering SO2, volatile organic vapors and particulates to create the famous yellow, brown and green fogs that killed thousands of people each year. We solved that problem by replacing soft coal with coke (pure carbon), anthracite (pure carbon) and Phurnacite (pure carbon). The quantities of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere did not change but all the real contaminants vanished. Today it is safe to breathe in London.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @gallopingcamel

      Cleaning the London air required a bit more than just changing the grade of coal. Individual “home fires” are now quite rare, a fair portion of the electricity in your country is produced by burning natural gas and fissioning uranium, and most of the power generation facilities have been concentrated in places that are far removed from densely populated cities.

      I continue to agree that CO2 is as natural as feces and that it has a large number of beneficial uses. It is just not something that should be discharged at ever increasing rates into our shared atmosphere in the hope that it will not do any damage and under the excuse that everyone else is doing it so we should too.

      Regulations will not necessarily change behaviors, but offering a better, cheaper, cleaner product changes the game completely. The only losers in the energy future that I envision are those who have substantial investment (not just money) in continuing business as usual with an increasing dependence on fossil fuel extraction and sales.

      • John Tucker says:

        “CO2 is as natural as feces” – thats a keeper.

      • gallopingcamel says:

        Rod,
        The measures that eliminated London’s “Killer Fogs” involved the banning of soft coal owing to the large quantities of volatiles and particulates emitted. The Smog generated by these pollutants entered your home whenever you opened the front door!

        Anthracite, coke and Phurnacite were permitted even though that did not reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. Those and other approved solid fuels allowed people to keep their existing furnaces and fireplaces in the short term. In the 1950s we would have laughed at scientific illiterates crazy enough to claim CO2 was a “Pollutant”.

        So much for the 50s. Much has happened since then. My home in Mill Hill (north London) had an anthracite driven central heating system that was later converted to oil burning and then gas. These changes in fuel had nothing to do with reducing “Smog” or CO2 emissions. They were dictated by economics once anthracite became too expensive. Some homes are heated using “Off-Peak” electricity. While people love the convenience it is still a very costly solution, particularly since the restructuring of the UK retail electricity market.

        How do I know all this? My many relatives in the UK complain a lot about heating costs. Especially the one who uses “Off-Peak” to heat her penthouse apartment.

        The UK consumed 812 GWh of electricity yesterday and 26.2% of that came from nuclear plants. Given the light load and the fact that it was windy, wind turbines accounted for an unusually high 13.3%.

        UK nuclear power generating capacity amounts to ~15 GW (out of 85 GW total) with up to 2 GW of nuclear electricity imported from France. Since November 1 the highest peak load was 54.5 GW.

        Nuclear power never was an important factor in eliminating London’s lethal air pollution. While I am a big fan of nuclear power I can’t let you re-write history!

        The UK has highly effective monitoring systems for electricity generation. The information is available to the general public with a lag time of about 30 minutes. If you need to know where the power comes from just check this web site:
        http://www.bmreports.com/bsp/bsp_home.htm

        • Peter Geany says:

          Electricity generation back to normal figures
          Gas 34.8% Coal 37.3% Nuclear 16.5% win 4.4% despite it being windy any the bits and pieces coming from France and hydro

  27. Bruce Behrhorst says:

    @ Geany

    On point #5 I concur. The public has little desire to dedicate public funds in climate correction. Even as passionate climate fear mongering in media continues daily. Greenhouse Theory is suspect in part by fundamental Absorption & Emission in heated objects described in Kirchhoff’s law. I’m not a fan of linking IR radiation and how water vapor from heat buildup is evident as some sort of total EARTH LENS FILTER trapping heat much like the velocity of a missile is shrouded & blinds a heat seeker tracking system due to friction heat build. If this were true why does the USAF Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) track enemy missiles? Infrared penetration of earth’s atmosphere is mixed within certain (m) wavelengths @ approx.85-100-200K temp(-173 C). it’s not a total seal.
    This is a small example of bad science fear monger.

    I would suggest a nice read, “Slaying the Sky Dragon” Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory by Tim Ball.

    • Engineer-Poet says:

      This, from the guy who claims we don’t know what energy is.

      YJCMTSU.

      • John Tucker says:

        Off the top of my head – Obvious indicators of warming in the CONUS and Alaska Ive observed firsthand or some aspect of :

        1. Warmer winters overall and the movement of hardiness zones north ( http://www.arborday.org/media/mapchanges.cfm )
        2. General higher summer temps over longer periods ( http://data.giss.nasa.gov/csci/stations/ ) and related phenomena – extensive reoccurring beetle kills, fires.
        3. Movement of species up in elevation. Shorter and earlier salmon runs. Butterfly species further north. ( http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=3483&from=rss ).
        4. Extensive deglaciation accelerating over the last few decades ( http://www.igsoc.org:8080/annals/50/50/a50a018.pdf )

        Then of course there is the mountains and mountains of specific observational data explaining these events and yet some here even question whether warming is even occurring or berating others who actually bother to research the issue as being “overly” concerned. Scientific skepticism at least has a reasonable basis. But this level of denial – You really couldn’t make this stuff up

        • Rod Adams says:

          You really couldn’t make this stuff up

          Of course you can. There is evidence of human creativity making stuff up every day – and quite a few examples in this thread.

          As a nuclear plant operator, I was taught to pay attention to my indications. My instructors were not just referring to the gages and dials installed in the control system, but a full sensory attention that used sound, smell, touch, and vision to provide warning of something that was not quite right.

          I know that it is anecdotal, but when I was a midshipman, we regularly experienced a complete freeze of the Severn River. I have a vivid memory of the crew team carrying their shells out to Trident Light, which is practically in the Annapolis Harbor in late February so that they could start practicing in real water instead of being limited to ergs practices. I remember being unable to sail until March. A few years back, while living in Annapolis, I experienced three winters in a row in which there was never any ice in that same river – even in the coves and tributaries where the water is shallow.

          There is something happening. We have some amazing tools available whose use does not require sacrifice. It is crazy to keep ignoring the opportunity to do sometime effective.

          • John Tucker says:

            That is a rather striking example. Can you imagine all the time the life that inhabited that region experienced winters like the one you described decade after decade without people even? mind you there was likely variation, but nothing like what is occurring now.

            Just after completing my service commitment I moved to Alaska in the early 90s. I was struck by the ridge after ridge of beetle killed conifers and the receding of the Glaciers. I was able to actually see “glacial” changes during my stay there. Even the few that were not shrinking, like Matanuska had only sped up because they were thinning. But the beetle kill was the most visually striking example.

            I think then I thought it was some kind of extreme local variation due to ocean currents or something. I wish now of course I would have taken the time to research it more as the truth was out there and available even then, pre internet days. I was young and very ignorant. I doubt I would have been able to correctly advocate for helpful courses of action then.

        • Peter Geany says:

          Where is the link to CO2?

          We all know we have just lived through a barmy period of warmth, which started back in the little ice age. Temperatures have gone up and down since then, but we haven’t got back to the medieval warm period temps, or to the Roman warming and we are way off the Holocene optimum. The rate of change we have witnessed over the course of industrialisation are not any different to those that we have seen in the past, indeed some past changes have been very rapid.

          Correlation is not causation.

          If you can relate these changes directly to CO2 then you will get a Nobel Science prize. But the fact remains that any link is conjecture.

          So I will give you some conjecture. There has been no warming for 15 years (the official figures just released) yet CO2 has continued to climb. I have already stated we don’t understand the natural biosphere and all the CO2 sources so its not just down to our burning hydrocarbon fuels.

          Perhaps something else drives the climate. The sun has been very active but has almost no sunspots despite it being solar maximum. What’s happening here? The oceans have gone into their negative cooling phase together. There are a number of other planetary and periodic phases that all point to a cooling is on the way.

          Another point to remember is we are in an interglacial of an Ice-Age. An Ice-Age is determined by having permanent ice at the poles, and this can only happen if there is land at the poles otherwise ocean currents would properly keep the poles ice free except in winter. If we look at back at the length of previous interglacials our one is at an end. And given that the overall trend for the last 4 thousand years or so is down, this spells disaster of far greater proportions than any benign warming has thrust upon the earth. But one thing is for sure, if that happens we will get our nuclear reactors as we will have no choice. I am not saying this is going to happen, but if you asked me to put money on a cooling or more warming with the available evidence then cooling wins. I hope I’m wrong.

          • Rod Adams says:

            There has been no warming for 15 years (the official figures just released)

            Link please?

            Also, that 15 year number sounds suspiciously like 1998 is being used as the anchor year, rather than fairing the numbers through a larger range of years. As someone who keeps talking about ancient history here, I suspect you know full well how tiny a 15 year period really is in the span of human history, much less in the span of geologic earth history.

          • Brian Mays says:

            Rod – Peter is correct. The variation in temperatures as compiled by the standard sources (GISS, HadCRUT) shows no statistically significant increase over that time frame. In other words, such a record could have reasonably resulted from random chance, if one assumes that there is no upward trend. Including the data point for 1998 does not change this. Yes, it was a warm year, but statistically it would be considered an outlier and would not have much effect on the total analysis of all of the years in the series.

            Your instincts are correct, however. A 15-year temperature record really doesn’t mean that much.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Brian Mays

            Can you provide me the link to the actual data? As you might imagine, searches on the topic can lead to a wealth of results that can require a substantial effort to filter to find the information desired.

            I’m a bit of a lazy guy, so if you can point me to the tables, I would be grateful.

          • John Tucker says:

            Where is this CO2 not related to warming coming from? John Tyndall described the absorption of infra red radiation by gases occurring in the atmosphere. Even before him it was thought there was a atmospheric “greenhouse effect,” but he proved it.

            His 1872 book on the matter is available here ( http://ia700301.us.archive.org/7/items/contributionsto01tyndgoog/contributionsto01tyndgoog.djvu ).

            Here is the absorption spectra of the relevant gases ( http://www.meteor.iastate.edu/gccourse/forcing/images/image7.gif ).

          • John Tucker says:

            Here are the last stats for November ( http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/ )

            Taking the highest spike in atmospheric temp from a en nino year as “normal” – I suppose you could say there has been little warming above that highest spike. Bust that is rather dishonest. The oceans have continued absorbing excess heat, warming never “stopped” or even really slowed. ( http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/heat_content700m2000myr.png )

          • Brian Mays says:

            Rod – Sure. Let’s use the dataset that is published by GISS. Since Hansen heads this group, I assume that you will have no problem with the source. The published data can be found at the following link:

            http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata_v3/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt

            Take the annual mean temperature data for each year (under the January to December column labeled “J-D”) from the past 15 years — that is, 1997 to 2011 inclusive. Now fit a line to these data using a least-squares regression technique. The p-value of this fit is 0.07, which does not qualify for the commonly accepted (and rather weak) definition of “statistically significant.”

          • John Tucker says:

            And the 1997-98 El Niño was the strongest such event on record. Such overtly ridiculous manipulations and cherry picking are unfortunately common place in the denial community.

            I assumed when I posted the ocean heat content graph here I didnt need to elaborate on the amount of energy required to heat water as opposed to atmospheric warming.

          • Brian Mays says:

            It appears that John Tucker didn’t even bother to look at the NASA data that I linked to. Sadly, that is what I have come to expect from loudmouth, superstitious, know-it-all nitwits.

            If he had actually looked at the data, he would have realized that the GISS temperature data for 1997 and 1998 were at the low end of the series, and they are key in providing the slight, but statistically insignificant, upward trend that is observed in the analysis.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Brian

            You’ve been posting here long enough to know better than to resort to name calling. Please elevate the discussion.

            It appears to me that John has mentioned at least one reasonable explanation for the way that some nukes, including you, respond to concerns about climate change; the Greens have worked hard to kill nuclear energy development, often resorting to techniques onerous enough to leave a very bad taste. You’re a second generation nuke; and have good reason to be angry with the anti nuclear Greens.

            However, that does not mean that all people who want to do something to directly slow CO2 emissions out of a real concern for rough climate stability are worthy of your wrath.

          • John Tucker says:

            I would like to know why you picked the year(s) of a event characterized by the transfer of energy form the ocean to the atmosphere as your initial point. And not only that but the most extreme one ever recoded. Why would anyone do that Brian?

            1998 was the third warmest year on record.

          • John Tucker says:

            Also your tone is unacceptable for a reasonable forum – if you cant honestly make a argument dont resort to name calling. You purposely selected a misleading data set to suggest warming wasn’t that bad/was no longer occurring. With ocean heat content and even with properly selected land temperature records it was proven far from the truth.

          • Brian Mays says:

            John – Please work on your reading comprehension. I didn’t pick anything. Someone else chose the years, I merely pointed out, for the sake of providing additional information, that a linear trend over these years is not statistically significant. I also pointed out that 15 years is almost meaningless as an indicator of climate trends.

            Nevertheless, I suspect that, if the same data had shown a highly positive trend, you and others like you would be shouting it from the mountaintops. That’s how selection bias works.

          • Brian Mays says:

            Rod – You are right and I apologize for the name-calling.

            However, I will not apologize for trying to inject a little common sense and scientific rigor into the discussion.

            You point out motivations, but you must realize that I have every incentive in the world to jump on the global-warming bandwagon. I don’t make any money at all from fossil-fuel interests; on the contrary, I work full time on the major technology for reducing carbon-dioxide emissions. Perhaps this is why I don’t mind (and I’ll state it once again) if someone wants to use nuclear power’s carbon-free electricity generation as a selling point. Why not point this out? It’s true, after all.

            So why don’t I jump on the bandwagon? Well, it all comes down to integrity. I’d rather use my voice to speak up for what is and what isn’t rather than be part of a propaganda machine, and having observed what has occurred in the public climate debate and what has occurred behind the scenes, I can’t help but be sorely disappointed in people who were supposed to be responsible scientists.

          • Bruce Behrhorst says:

            …as the old saying goes;
            ‘Climate change – happens with or without our help.’

            And the change in climate is statistically irrelevant in the short term to all but those who have a political agenda or want to fear monger.
            http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/UAH_LT_1979_thru_Nov_2012_v5.5.png

            Today the Earth warms up and cools down in 100,000 yr. cycles.
            http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Carboniferous_climate.html
            see table>>
            ‘Global Temperature and Atmospheric CO2 over Geologic Time’

            In a pro-growth pro-human environment nuclear energy is simply the best energy source till we find an advanced replacement.

            There is really no need to link “Global Climate” debate to the nuclear issue.

          • Peter Geany says:

            Rod I came on this blog to point out my opinion that the nuclear industry needs to forget CO2 mitigation and fight its corner on its own positive merits, of which there are many. I have allowed myself to be dragged into an argument about climate. This is not the forum for this as there are many who have dedicated their time to understanding this issue and have done as good a job of it as you have done of bringing to the public all the facts about nuclear power.

            If you think I’m wrong, and I don’t hide behind an alias, argue your case with those whose understanding is far better than mine. I’m sorry if you find what I have to say a little objectionable (in the sense that it runs contra to your beliefs) but it’s the reality as I and many many other see it. I’m struck by the irony of your article entitled “NRC Chairman writes about enhancing safety after a visit to Fukushima, Japan” which deals with the absurdity of regulations about low dose radiation and yet you are happy to embrace AGW for which there is the same lack of scientific application and rigor. I’m not going to cite anything as the best blog to get a decent view you have already said is not the place to go. But WUWT has consistently been voted the best science blog, has the greatest number of visitors and any other stat you like. Anthony Watts consistently lets those from all sides of the argument post, but very few from the pro AGW side take up his offer. By the way I don’t agree with everything on his blog, but I have my own brain and work out my own conclusions.

            I commend you for not moderating the blog but a few of your supporters need to get out a bit. From the WUWT site you can look at the links to other blogs. Note that both Luke warmers and Pro AGW links are before the sceptical links. Anthony is himself a Luke warmer I think, but doesn’t believe CO2 is having the effect attributed to it. I on the other hand don’t now believe there is a greenhouse effect. If there is I would love someone to demonstrate it, but the theory just doesn’t hold up. I don’t expect you to change your colours, but I hope you now look around a bit.

            As far as we are concerned in the UK climate change is a busted flush; dead in the water. It’s only the inertia in politics that now prevents rapid reversion to common sense.

            As for the 15 years of zero warming, the point of it is not that it is a short time span, but that the lack of warming supports all the other climate driving factors such as the oceans, the planetary orbits and sun spots plus others. It doesn’t support AGW theory. But there is an irony in you questioning the value of a short a 15 year period when I’m going back 10,000 or 10 million or 500 million years to understand the long term trends and behaviour of the climate and CO2s role and being criticised for it and being told it’s not relevant to today. I happen to think the geological past has much to offer our understanding of today. And a modicum of understanding about crust renewal and the role CO2 plays in this will quickly provide you with all the information you need to understand that so called Ocean acidification has nothing to do with atmospheric CO2 let alone the tiny bit we put in each year. Also it is quite incorrect to scientifically say an alkaline is acidifying. That is a bonkers notion and you would certainly get a fail for that in any chemistry exam. It would be correct to say it is becoming less alkaline, but this would not make good press copy. To most lay people there is nothing scarier than an acid. Perhaps I will leave it as is now.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            Bruce Berhorst writes:

            There is really no need to link “Global Climate” debate to the nuclear issue.

            When the fossil fuel interests are telling the nukes that there's no need for a link, you can be pretty sure there's a need for a link.

            Anything which brings the environmentalist camp together with those who want to keep industrial civilization threatens the status quo.  If gas costing 3¢/kWh(e) is replaced by uranium at 0.7¢/kWh(e), a lot less money changes hands (and goes into different ones).  Having a few folks troll blogs to spread false doubts and disinformation is a cheap way to derail momentum in that direction.

            BTW, I've found enough factual falsehoods, logical errors and mis-applied science in this discussion thread alone to start a 3-part blog series.  You guys have given me a LOT of material to work with, so expect to become the poster children for denialism.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            Peter Geany writes:

            I’m struck by the irony of your article entitled “NRC Chairman writes about enhancing safety after a visit to Fukushima, Japan” which deals with the absurdity of regulations about low dose radiation and yet you are happy to embrace AGW for which there is the same lack of scientific application and rigor.

            Climate scientists publish in peer-reviewed journals, and there’s a lot of very intense scrutiny aimed at their efforts.  If there’s a “lack of rigor”, how do they get away with it?

            But WUWT has consistently been voted the best science blog, has the greatest number of visitors and any other stat you like.

            So you use the fallacy of popularity, but only when those voting aren’t climate scientists.  I note the irony.

            Anthony Watts consistently lets those from all sides of the argument post, but very few from the pro AGW side take up his offer.

            Because the pages of a blog financed by the Heartland Institute are not where truth gets established, and giving credibility to Anthony Watts is a mistake.

            As far as we are concerned in the UK climate change is a busted flush; dead in the water.

            This is a very common tactic:  assert that the public perception of a particular government policy means the science is wrong.  Of course, it means nothing of the sort.

            As for the 15 years of zero warming

            Again he repeats the lie, despite having had the data about increasing oceanic heat content trend given to him at least twice (there’s another link to a different graph somewhere).  Things are warming, it’s just not going into the atmosphere at the moment.

            And he acts shocked when his bona fides are questioned.  Ye gods.

  28. Bruce Behrhorst says:

    Suppose to repair my ossified fossil fuel burner vehicle today. But I’ll drop another science factoid – on ya.

    Locally this planet has a fine buffer for CO2 as has been described earlier the oceans really treat CO2 to a point but externalities in solar activity can still trigger a much bigger CO2 engine. As a rule of course, this is nothing new since the planet has a correlation between temp and CO2 which has been going on for 150 million yrs. So ice shows that changes in temp always precedes the change in atmospheric CO2. Temperature increases or decreases come first. What is missing is courts have largely been absent since the Green group think has muted courts scapegoating AGW.
    Reality is POLLUTER PAY, Int’l courts need to assume tort and levy fines, Gov’t cronyism needs to cease be fair an let disciplined enviro. penalties law court function.
    A small example is deliberate forced intervention of dry gas fracking on or near stratovolcanos disrupting Geo thermal vents to harvest LNG gas & Geo thermal vents for industrial use. It’s always the Gas/OIL industry defending the practice of pumping excess CO2 to underground geology with the net effect of pollution the industry always seems to get a ‘pass’ even if it means dangerous volcanic eruptions.

  29. John Tucker says:

    Im actually more concerned about climate change and acidification now as I feel the case presented so far has been rather conservative considering the level and character of resistance to it.

    A while back before leaving a left leaning climate broad I mentioned that eventually they were going to have to stop coddling and deal with the anti nukes no matter how ugly it got or they would end up compromising reasonable and effective greenhouse gas reduction efforts with their irresponsible rhetoric. I think the nuclear industry has a similar version of that problem in climate denial elements and pro fossil fuel factions within its ranks. They subvert by far the best current arguments for the technology, as well as invariably classifying research and new applications as too complex/expensive.

  30. Daniel says:

    Now with the fiscal cliff thing in the US, does that mean the deal that’s being contemplated will extend Wind’s subsidies ?

    I think I heard Obama say it will.

    What a shame …

  31. John T Tucker says:

    Im sorry with all the obvious arguments lifted from Anthony Watts site I am unable to find his academic credentials. Could someone help me out as as I am sure people here would not reference someone with one less degree than a cosmetologist.

    God knows one of you better post if fast with all the derogatory remarks directed to acclaimed climate scientists, not to mention calling me a “know it all” – I have a graduate degree in my field

    You will never forget it without an apology, BRIAN.

    • John Tucker says:

      Still waiting on that.

      Not counting the incredible number of times they have been wrong over at WUWT do some of you actually think that with no real training or qualifications and a Internet connection they or you are going to come across something people in the field working on the matter for decades missed that negates the entire modern body of work?

      Seriously?

    • Brian Mays says:

      Mr. Tucker – If you are going to continue to embarrass yourself by rambling on incoherently about degrees, then perhaps you should know that I do, in fact, hold a PhD, and my doctoral research was focused on atmospheric/climate modeling. This research was funded by NASA through a graduate research fellowship (NASA grant number NGT-51221) with the purpose of improving the numerical methods used by its climate models. If you would like a copy of my dissertation, then please post your email address here, and I’ll be happy to send you a copy and answer questions about anything that you don’t understand about its contents.

      Although my particular research focused on the rather narrow subject of improving the numerical methods that are used in the “dynamical core” of General Circulation Models (GCMs), I’m pretty sure that I have more knowledge of atmospheric modeling and climate modeling than anyone else commenting here, including those professing to have some (yet to be revealed) skill at poetry or engineering.

      Of course, it is quite possible that there is a lurker here who will prove me wrong by demonstrating an outstanding knowledge of climate modeling. That doesn’t bother me one bit, however, since I’ve dealt with these people before at NASA, and perhaps I can finally have an intelligent, informed conversation on this topic here.

      • Rod Adams says:

        @Brian Mays

        I only have a BS in English and an MS in Systems Technology. My professional technical experience is in operating highly responsive nuclear plants and in operating a plastic products factory. I’ve done quite a bit of modeling work in finance and as part of my degree program. In other words, I have no background at all in atmospheric predictions other than short term weather – which I learned as part of being a professional naval officer and an ocean sailor.

        That said, I will concede your expertise in numerical models, but ask that you consider the fact that concerns about CO2 emissions are not the result of the predictions produced by models. Instead, the models have been produced in an attempt to provide some kind of numerical support for concerns that started off as observations but could not be quantified. For example, Rip Anderson, who was Gwyneth Cravens tour guide on her journey of discovery about nuclear energy, worries about the effects of CO2 because he has carefully measured what most would think of as small changes, but he understands the potential for a serious impact. Rip is an expert in ocean chemistry and is gravely concerned about ocean acidification caused by CO2 absorption.

        Perhaps our current atmospheric models are wrong and produce incorrect predictions. That happened to me quite frequently when I was asked to produce financial models to support Navy staff decision making because so many of the inputs were unknown. However, though we knew the right course of action even without the model, there were vested interests who refused to make the investments required without having some numerical “proof” that the investment was needed. (After a few years on the staff, I figured out that the vested interests often demanded the models as a way to delay decisions that would harm their interests.)

        That is kind of the way I feel here. It is pretty obvious that we have a reasonable answer that balances both the desires of those who want to avoid the risks of CO2 emissions and those who want to avoid the risks to society of depowering our economy. We can have both power and fewer emissions. However that solution risks disrupting the wealth and power of some serious players so scientists who are concerned are asked to keep producing better models to prove their case. When the models do not do such a good job, they are used to discredit the scientists and their concerns.

        I assume that your PhD experience has made you cynical about the models, but do you really know enough about chemistry and biology to feel confident that there is no reason to be concerned about putting so much CO2 into the atmosphere?

        • Brian Mays says:

          Rod – You’re close to stating what the real issue is.

          The simple, naive calculation, which almost nobody disputes (and I disagree with those who dispute it), is that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere leads to a global average temperature increase of slightly more than 1 degree Celsius. This calculation is naive because it doesn’t take into effect various feedbacks, which is what the GCM’s (i.e., climate models) are supposed to provide answers to. The Earth’s atmosphere/hydrosphere/biosphere system is very complex. Modeling it is almost the ultimate contemporary multi-physics problem, but with some of the physics being modeled in very crude ways.

          This key value — the temperature increase due to doubling of CO2, called the climate sensitivity (due to radiative forcing by carbon dioxide) — is the big question in global warming research. It has been since at least the first landmark work on the topic, called “the Charney report,” which was issued in the late 1970’s, and it is still a major focus of the IPCC Working Group 1. The problem is that feedbacks can be both positive and negative. For example, increases in tropospheric water vapor concentrations with temperature is positive feedback, whereas the albedo from clouds formed from water vapor constitutes a negative feedback. Complicating matters is that these feedbacks work on different time scales. The models are used to decide which feedbacks ultimately win out, which is why they are so important.

          In my personal opinion, there is nothing more wrong with being “concerned” than there is with being “skeptical” — particularly here in a forum where just about everybody agrees on what the best solution is regardless of the level of the problem. I have my own thoughts and opinions on this topic, but I wouldn’t claim to have banished all concern from my mind. There’s a big difference between concern and alarmism — cf. some people’s “concern” about low-level radiation exposure.

          My main beef is with those who have drank so much kool-aid that they can’t even consider additional information. Sadly, we’ve seen plenty of evidence of this attitude here. Disagree with them and they’ll assemble an army of strawmen, accusing of you supporting every crackpot theory or corporate “bad guy” that they can think of.

      • John Tucker says:

        Outstanding.

        No matter how long ago it was, I expect to see better arguments than what is appearing in the WUWT blogs on a simple search and arguments beyond that ones that do not consider the implications of the parameters presented.

        Also a bit of a refresher on formal and informal fallacy may be in order.

        Hopefully we will be able to enjoy you “expert credentials” in ways better than the overly simplistic expressions/modelings and fallacy ridden examples displayed up till now.

        Really “no warming” and the Venus stuff? Come on.

        In future ill try to notch it up, so that I with my lowly Art degrees, can be worthy to cower in the brilliance of your magnificent shadow and not irritate you with the need to dole out even minimal abuse and will try to enjoy it more when you do.

        For now:

        Temperature records from nature reaffirm climate warming

        In a large compilation, scientists used used 173 independent datasets – from natural sources such as ocean sediments – to show warming over the past century.

        Both natural records and instruments show a warm-up in the 1940s, then a dramatic increase in the rate of change in warming temperatures from 1980 through 1995. The instrument record shows a rapid rate of warming after 1995 as well, but this particular study did not extend to the present. ( http://earthsky.org/earth/temperature-records-from-nature-reaffirm-climate-warming )

        • John Tucker says:

          And once again I know im superstitious and all but “with all the obvious arguments lifted from Anthony Watts site I am unable to find his academic credentials.”

          Sounds to me like I was questioning Anthony Watts academic credentials and not those of Brian Mays. Unles Brian Mays makes content decisions/posts professionally on WUWT and if so all I can say its a good thing they cant take degrees back!

      • Engineer-Poet says:

        my particular research focused on the rather narrow subject of improving the numerical methods that are used in the “dynamical core” of General Circulation Models (GCMs), I’m pretty sure that I have more knowledge of atmospheric modeling and climate modeling than anyone else commenting here

        You claim to be the scientist here, yet you don’t bother to check the assertions of Peter Geany using simple tests like conservation of energy; instead, you defend his trolling by adding red herrings.  You’ve chosen sides and will defend even the most ridiculous claims so long as they’re on yours, science be damned.

        including those professing to have some (yet to be revealed) skill at poetry or engineering.

        I normally taunt the clueless and arrogant with limericks, though I’ll refrain here out of respect for Rod.  As for my engineering, you may have driven or even had your flight directed by devices incorporating my work.

        • John T Tucker says:

          Well I am not so nice or patient it seems. So far the modeling expert has posted surprisingly very little on modeling and use his posts for vague and misapplied unprofessional attacks – Lets look back at some of the main argument points.:

          “a doomsday cult (and a pretty fanatical cult too, judging from some of the comments that have been posted recently on this blog)”

          “I’m sure that he means well, but good intentions aren’t scientific evidence. In fact, passion is quite notorious for clouding sober, objective judgment.”

          “the problem with Hansen is that he wildly exaggerates, and he ignores anything and everything that disagrees with or contradicts his fanatical obsession with carbon dioxide.”

          “Then again, rigor is not something that I usually associate with the CAGW crowd (they’re more into appeals to authority or appeals to “consensus”), so I guess I can let it slide.”

          “Clouds are probably the least-understood component of the current generation of climate models. Considering the current rate of warming, if you’re worried about a 5 degree change in global temperature then please get back to me in 850 years.”

          “Oh, but I forgot. Your extensive tourism has made this imperceptible 0.8 degree rise in temperature “overwhelming” to you.”

          ” I suspect that, if the same data had shown a highly positive trend, you and others like you would be shouting it from the mountaintops. That’s how selection bias works.”

          “Hansen is notorious for over-exaggeration. It speaks volumes about his lack of credibility. The damage that this does to his message goes far beyond me.”

          “The dynamics of the atmosphere of Venus is more complicated than your naive explanation”

          “Saying “the dynamics are complex” implies knowledge while attempting to weasel out of providing an explanation. Why? The obvious motive is that you don’t want to be caught in an outright lie. I’m not one to let you slip out that easily.”

          “The variation in temperatures as compiled by the standard sources (GISS, HadCRUT) shows no statistically significant increase over that time frame. In other words, such a record could have reasonably resulted from random chance”

          ” I merely pointed out, for the sake of providing additional information, that a linear trend over these years is not statistically significant. I also pointed out that 15 years is almost meaningless as an indicator of climate trends.”

          “, and having observed what has occurred in the public climate debate and what has occurred behind the scenes, I can’t help but be sorely disappointed in people who were supposed to be responsible scientists.”

          “I’ve dealt with these people before at NASA, and perhaps I can finally have an intelligent, informed conversation on this topic here.”

          Indeed. So there we have it, almost nothing but repeated mass media denial points especially the “no warming” misquote/argument based on comments by Phil Jones. The rate of GLOBAL change is not comparable to temperature fluctuations in a room and a very small fluctuation has been shown to be extraordinary significant. Thats a fact.

          Also not a single technical argument on a problem with a specific modeling situation (which BTW would hardly negate the whole science).

          So im calling BS until I see a argument that is worthy of an PhD engineer in substance and delivery. I also think that someone running a media group changeling the scientific consensus, challenging the basis of the science; should at least have posted qualifications and be publishing in the field and not just be (hopefully) a high school graduate.

          Is any of that out of line or too much to ask?

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            To be fair, the quote with the word “weasel” was written by me, not Mays.

          • John Tucker says:

            heheh – shame on you! I wish we could get past all this manufactured doubt and discus real implications, not just the straightforward stuff but the newer implications coming to light – like increased seismic activity.

          • Brian Mays says:

            Well I am not so nice or patient it seems. So far the modeling expert has posted surprisingly very little on modeling and use his posts for vague and misapplied unprofessional attacks

            Nor, it seems, are you a competent reader. I never claimed to be an expert on climate modeling, nor did I ever claim to be a professional in this field. Since you were immaturely harping on educational backgrounds, I thought it prudent (if only to shut you up — I’m sorry it didn’t work) to give you mine.

            If I don’t discus the technical points of atmospheric modeling, it is because I don’t believe that there is anyone here who is qualified to engage in such a conversation. Unless someone has at least studied Haltiner and Williams, a classic text on the fundamentals of modeling large-scale atmospheric motions, then I doubt they would understand much of what I was talking about. Besides, I don’t do that stuff anymore (and I admit that I don’t even have my copy of H&W anymore). I’ve probably forgotten more about General Circulation Models than anyone here ever knew about the subject.

            The main reason, however, why I don’t discuss the technical points in detail is that nobody is interested in them. This is a policy- and political-driven issue and it should be discussed in such a frame, particularly on a blog.

            I find it ironically amusing that you choose to focus on my comments that compare James Hansen to a cult leader, when the alarmists here choose to compare any and all skeptics or “denialists” to tobacco companies. Hypocrisy does seem to be the alarmist’s forte (e.g., Al Gore).

            When it comes to my accuracy, however, perhaps we should examine some of the quotes from my comments that you have selected:

            “Clouds are probably the least-understood component of the current generation of climate models.

            “The modelling of cloud processes and feedbacks provides a striking example of the irregular pace of progress in climate science. Representation of clouds may constitute the area in which atmospheric models have been modified most continuously to take into account increasingly complex physical processes. At the time of the TAR clouds remained a major source of uncertainty in the simulation of climate changes (as they still are at present: e.g., Sections 2.4, 2.6, 3.4.3, 7.5, 8.2, 8.4.11, 8.6.2.2, 8.6.3.2, 9.2.1.2, 9.4.1.8, 10.2.1.2, 10.3.2.2, 10.5.4.3, 11.8.1.3, 11.8.2.2).”

            — IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Section 1.5.2

            Need I say more?

            “The variation in temperatures as compiled by the standard sources (GISS, HadCRUT) shows no statistically significant increase over that time frame. In other words, such a record could have reasonably resulted from random chance”

            “I merely pointed out, for the sake of providing additional information, that a linear trend over these years is not statistically significant. I also pointed out that 15 years is almost meaningless as an indicator of climate trends.”

            Indeed. So there we have it, almost nothing but repeated mass media denial points especially the “no warming” misquote/argument based on comments by Phil Jones. …

            You obviously didn’t download the data from the link to the GISS data that I provided and perform your own independent statistical analysis. Frankly, I don’t give a damn what Jones says or has said. His credibility has been shot once and for all. I provided real numbers that I calculated myself. I can only assume that you are too lazy or (more likely) too incompetent to perform this same statistical analysis yourself.

            Well, that’s an alarmist for you. They can’t even get their talking points right.

        • Brian Mays says:

          You claim to be the scientist here, yet you don’t bother to check the assertions of Peter Geany using simple tests like conservation of energy; instead, you defend his trolling by adding red herrings. You’ve chosen sides and will defend even the most ridiculous claims so long as they’re on yours, science be damned.

          I did not claim to be a scientist. These days — as Rod well knows, because we live in the same town — I work as a nuclear engineer.

          In any case, it is not my job, nor was it my purpose, to defend or refute any of Peter Geany’s claims. You made an argument based on statements that were somewhat naive, and without some sort of further explanation on your part, they were wrong, or at least misleading. I merely pointed out why with a quick comment. Rather than explaining better what you were trying to say or to incorporate the additional information that I provided into your narrative in any meaningful way, you immediately launched into full attack mode against me, with (and this is the funny part) a nonsensical rebuttal about a “phenomenon observed at 125 km altitude near the south polar terminator of Venus.”

          I guess that you must have been so captivated by the picture accompanying the article that you linked to that you failed to notice that the results shown in the article were “the average range of values calculated from 59 measurements taken along the terminator from 88ºN to 77ºS.” The “south polar” region is farther south than that, in case you’re so clueless and arrogant that you didn’t know.

          But this does make my point that alarmists are not interested in any additional information, nor are they really interested in modern science, which always benefits from additional information. No, your words sum it up best. Like any fanatic, you’re only interested in sides, and which side everyone is on.

  32. gallopingcamel says:

    Engineer-Poet said:
    “Then again, that’s true of most of this stuff. The authors don’t even try to be scientists”

    You seem to have some technical knowledge so you should be able to do better than the above quote. Please back up your arguments with facts rather than rhetoric if you want to be taken seriously.

    Carl Sagan had to correct his calculations for the surface temperature of Venus. In his 1967 paper he used a value for Cp (specific heat at constant pressure) from the “Rubber Bible” (“Handbook of Chemistry and Physics” published by the “Chemical Rubber Publishing Corporation, Cleveland, Ohio). From this he calculated the dry adiabatic lapse rate to be 10.5 K/km and you will still find that value in Wikipedia today.

    Sagan realised that Cp is not truly a constant as its value varies slightly with pressure. When he corrected for the extreme surface pressure on Venus (~93 bars) the average lapse rate came out at 7.8 K/km. Twenty four years later the Magellan mission made measurements of the temperature profile in the Venusian atmosphere that vindicated Sagan’s analysis:
    http://www.astro.wisc.edu/~townsend/resource/teaching/diploma/venus-t.gif

    • Engineer-Poet says:

      You’ll have to excuse my lack of research, I’m limited to very sporadic connections for the next few days and don’t have the ability to dig as deeply as I’d like for harder-to-find details.  However, you will notice that I had the researcher and other details correct, which N&Z couldn’t be bothered even to cite.

  33. gallopingcamel says:

    That you care about the details says a great deal about you. While I lack the ability to “Dig deeply” I have plenty of time to waste on probably fruitless endeavors!

    My approach has been to work from the same raw data that the climate professionals use. For example, the posts shown below were the result of a visit to Tom Peterson at NCDC in Asheville. Tom directed me to people at DMI, KNMI and Penn State. He was kind enough to point out some mistakes I made prior to publication:
    http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/dorothy-behind-the-curtain-part-1/
    http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2010/12/30/dorothy-behind-the-curtain-part-2/

    After I completed this little project it was done again by Kobashi et al. who produced essentially the same temperatures plots.
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2011GL049444/abstract

  34. gallopingcamel says:

    Engineer-Poet,
    As an “Engineer-Physicist” it has been fun to find some of my ex-colleagues in the Duke university physics department getting involved in discussions of climate and energy policy.

    What little I know about nuclear power was learned from my good friend and golfing partner, Edward Bilpuch who led the Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory for many years. Ed died last year but his legacy lives on.

    Then there is Robert G. Brown who has a much better grasp of thermodynamics than your average physicist:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/12/03/on-certainty-truth-is-the-daughter-of-time/

    Not to forget Nicola Scafetta at the DFELL (Duke Free Electron Laser Laborarory) where I worked for 12 years. Nicola is working with the ACRIM satellite data from which he believes he can predict future climate trends with greater accuracy than the IPCC:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/03/11/scafetta-prediction-widget-update/

    Across the car park from the DFELL is the Nicholas School of the Environment headed by William Chameides who has a totally different take on climate science. Some very interesting studies on the effect of CO2 have been done, such as the FACE experiment:
    face.env.duke.edu/PDF/es187-06.pdf

    It has been fascinating to see two sharply contrasting views on climate and energy policy under one roof. Thus far I find the physicists more convincing but in the end I will go with whoever can explain what is observed.

    • Rod Adams says:

      Thus far I find the physicists more convincing but in the end I will go with whoever can explain what is observed.

      In the end, I will align myself with the people who can recognize that there is a problem and who either devise or advocate for solutions that actually work, even if they are not EXACTLY sure how big the problem is.

      I’m a technologist, not a scientist. I do not want to try to explain to my grandchildren that spent my career building ever more precise models while watching my fellow humans consume as much of the easy to reach hydrocarbons as we could find and dumping all of the waste products to reside virtually permanently in the atmosphere. I do not want to explain that I worked with people who were more concerned about predicting the future than changing it to make it better. (Several hundred years is permanent enough to cover several generations of my potential descendants. In their eyes, it would be permanent.)

      • Bruce Behrhorst says:

        Rod, I would advise to look at data. I Read Slaying the Sky Dragon, Dr. Tim Ball .
        I follow @Piers Corbyn:
        Long range weather & climate forecaster by solar particle & magnetic effects NOTHING to do with CO2 Named by American Thinker as Climate Predictor of year 2010.
        I examine NASA climate Sat. data. I have my science/arts degree from Northeastern Univ. I don’t pump-up my academic fists to claim I know-it-all. I tend to aggregate information I examine. And I do question the political nature of people and media trying to manipulate science for their own ends -this much is true.

        I have a range of issues I debate :
        -Nuclear low dose debate
        -AGW Climate Change
        -Keynesian manipulation economics
        -Overpopulation debate
        -U.S. military healthy systems audits (chuck Hagel)
        -adherence to U.S. Constitution (amend #1 amend#2 etc.)
        -Proportional Representation electoral reform

        No one can tell anyone how or what to do in the end.

        All I know is that the most freedom-&-liberty options always seem to sell themselves to people.
        The minute people become responsible for themselves and the freedom to trade and collaborate with each other – humans tend to thrive.

        • gallopingcamel says:

          Bruce Behrhorst,
          I like your list but I contend that there is something better than “Proportional Representation”. In a real democracy the citizens can vote in person as in the ancient Greek city states (yes, I know there were slaves and perioikoi who could not vote). Sadly, this model does not scale well so today we accept the idea of a “Representative Democracy” in which we elect representatives to do the voting for us.

          The ancient Greeks invented an interesting system for selecting officials called “Sortition”. This amounts to selection by lot, somewhat on the lines of jury selection. I believe this approach is much superior to the kind of elections we have today. Here are a few advantages of sortition:

          1. No campaigning required as selection is random.
          2. No time is wasted getting re-elected as nobody serves more than one term.
          3. There is little opportunity to be corrupted by power because representatives serve only one term.
          4. It is much more difficult for elites to maintain control.
          5. Instead of lawyers accounting for 50% of our representation, the representatives look like a true cross-section of the public.

          Then you say: “The minute people become responsible for themselves and the freedom to trade and collaborate with each other – humans tend to thrive.”

          Acemoglu and Robinson’s book “Why Nations Fail” agrees with you although they talk about “Inclusive Institutions” being the key to prosperity and economic success. In my opinion, only “Inclusive Institutions” will ensure personal freedom and property rights.

          • Bruce Behrhorst says:

            @gallopingcamel

            Your point on Greek lottery type democracy selection is at best a half measure.
            Like you say; “Sadly, this model does not scale well so today we accept the idea of a “Representative Democracy” in which we elect representatives to do the voting for us.”

            I’ll go down my reasoning. But first I’ll remind you the U.S. is in no way “Representative” to Rep-by-population in a federal sense.

            Not since 1913 has the U.S. House of Representatives kept up with the law in the US Constitution to delineate a Rep-by-pop. ratio factor see>>http://www.thirty-thousand.org/

            This is a necessary requirement especially as the future becomes interconnected withj mobile devices & online activity abound. As more people get connected more will want to participate and have a say in governance or ‘consent of the governed’.
            Campaign ‘money pumping’ contrary to Supreme court ruling will have to be amended to cap contribution levels. Gerrymandering by the 2 party system will need to cease.
            Another problem is single member voting districts this also has to change toward multi-member voting districts. Take for example; a district, ward, borough, parish or county would have multi-members. The voter would vote for a city council in a Proportional Representatives (PR-Democracy) ranked ballot Single Transferable Vote (STV) system once selected the council members would select in the “Greek Lottery method” to select Mayor which is largely a ceremonial position. Real decision making would be under a check-&-balances in transparency.
            This allows the will of the majority vote & candidates vetting & merit to chose. It also reduces corruption and favorites. From experience if you allow abuse of elected positions at city hall on crony contractors to win bids and/or bond issues then rancor and mismanagement follow in contractual agreements.
            One need only look at the current controversy all over the U.S. (nuclear) building/development costs, insurance issues, and union padding. I’m not saying this is the only system of PR-Democracy there are others in fact the U.S. just before 1940 had PR-democracy style voting in major cities. Unfortunately the 2 party camp coercion became suffocating & simple to office holders of the day; “We’ll give you an offer you can’t refuse, either you take the money now or you’ll end up at the bottom of the Missouri River.” I’m sorry to say this is the way business and electoral politics is done in N. America in SOME cases. And this is also the way we are corralled into war making by false flag attacks coercion.
            I’m not saying, ‘…wave the magic PR-DEMOCRACY wand and all is better.’ I’m just saying let the voter have a say the American voter is not stupid it can see past the 2 party system. It’s because they aren’t given the chance to select their options in their own interests represented in plebiscite & governance.

            It’s better than the winner-take-all system, gun-to-your-head business & government function.

      • gallopingcamel says:

        Rod Adams said:
        “I do not want to explain that I worked with people who were more concerned about predicting the future than changing it to make it better.”

        In that brief statement you captured the allure of this blog. You are into “Solutions” just like Brave New Climate and http://energyfromthorium.com/.

        Too many people are content to debate things at length without having a single constructive proposal. Politicians are often like Captain Picard in Star Trek with his “Make it so” but lacking any clue about the implications. Sometimes as with JFK’s “Moon Speech”, great things are accomplished:
        http://er.jsc.nasa.gov/seh/ricetalk.htm

        To get anything done it takes creative people such as engineers, technicians, construction workers and so on. None of them will be remembered while nobody will forget the Captain Picards who made speeches and looked really good on television.

        • Rod Adams says:

          Sometimes as with JFK’s “Moon Speech”, great things are accomplished

          In my opinion, JFK’s speech had little or nothing to do with the eventual success of the mission. It was made at a time when the technology was nearly ready and when there was a widespread agreement that it was worthwhile to invest many billions in what turned out to be a flash in the pan just so that we could claim bragging rights.

          The moon trip did not step on any establishment toes and it is only through the fact that it attracted a whole lot of smart people and gave them a lot of good experience in real problem solving that it has turned out to have provided a positive return on investment. The spinoffs and the highly educated and experienced people produced have turned out to have real value. The trip itself did not solve any real human problems.

          • gallopingcamel says:

            Exactly my point. It is the creative people who do the work while the Captain Picards get the credit although they seldom contribute much.

            Interesting to ask whether a heroic project provides a postive return for society. I hope you can agree with me that building the Great pyramid at Giza and the hunt for the Holy Grail project were examples of projects that provided little in return for great effort.

            Getting back to the present day I would regard a Mesmer plan for the USA as a heroic project with a terrific return for the American people. More worthwhile than the Hoover dam.

  35. Peter Geany says:

    Rod You are far too pessimistic about matters over which we have little or no control. I implore you to read Dinosaur theory.com and give yourself a little understanding of how earth has evolved. It is NOT definitive (and does not pretend to be) and raises more questions than answers, but it is the best starting point I have seen recently. I know you tell me you don’t care about the past only about the future but I believe you worry unnecessarily and I believe you are sincere in your belief that CO2 is the next great evil. I was the same way 15 years ago, but as I have said no one in that time has come up with one shred of scientific data to support the green house theory.

    I’m with you 100% on controlling the harmful emissions from the combustion of hydrocarbon fuels, but by concentrating on CO2 everything become distorted. Melting ice or not, retreating and advancing glaciers, the falsely named “acidification of the oceans” these are just side shows that have been happening for time immemorial. This week the met office in the UK changed its prediction for temperature down and states it cannot explain why the temperature is flat. The strange thing is many did predict this flat lining based on the most obvious drivers of the climate, the Sun, the oceans and planetary orbits. Combine these with the myriad of other cycles that we are able to measure from the historical and geological records and what’s happening now is not a surprise.

    This is not to say we can predict what the climate will do, but we can at least see what is not having any effect on the climate. My engineering was at the application end of the product, rather than the theoretical and design. Many of my colleagues at the theoretical and design stages had no idea how the end products worked or were used. I guess this is why I’m not worried so much about the appeal to authority side of the argument, but more interested in what actually happens and what can be measured. Rod you see easily through the guff about Unreliable’s (love that term) the nonsense about radiation, you are able to put practical nuclear matters in perspective even if you make the odd error (which in the scheme of things doesn’t alter the message). So you should have no problems over time understanding that CO2 has nothing to do with controlling the climate. This will help you focus on what is important in bringing to the wider public the message that nuclear power is both clean and ultimately cheaper than burning hydrocarbon fuels..

    • gallopingcamel says:

      Peter Geany,
      You want to go with what the observations show so you have my vote.

      Meanwhile, this afternoon in Purilia (http://www.amazon.com/A-voyage-Purilia-Elmer-Rice/dp/B00085L1ZU), Diane Sawyer abetted by other CBS morons is uncritically parroting this gem from the LA Times:
      http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-noaa-hottest-20130109,0,2753789.story

      Apparently nobody cares about CAGW (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming) any more so we are now supposed to be scared of “Extreme Weather” even though there is ample evidence that recent weather is less extreme than what was experienced during the well documented “Little Ice Age”. Physics explains why weather becomes more extreme when the climate COOLS and history confirms it:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFQHTdn8egw

      While 2012 may be something special in NOAA’s imagination you can get a totally different “Spin” from the University of Alabama at Huntsville or RSS. These guys use satellites which don’t suffer from “Urban Heat Island” effects.
      http://www.drroyspencer.com/

      • Rod Adams says:

        @gallopingcamel

        You are moving closer to picking sides than to discussing reality. I freely admit that there are alarmists who have seized on various aspects of climate change in order to produce action forcing functions. (There was a period of time in my life where I was rather income challenged. I had a substantial mortgage, two children in elementary school and a wife who had been out of the work force since we got married and I started moving her every 6-36 months. I started attending seminars on how to sell things, thinking it might be a way to improve our situation. I learned a lot about sales techniques including finding “forcing functions” and closing deals. I learned so much and lost so much sleep that I jumped at an offer to become a general manager of a small manufacturing company with the opportunity to build “sweat equity.” That job was much more aligned with my core beliefs system. I would starve as a salesman of most products and services.

        The fact that there are alarmists who see business opportunity in pushing a gigantic shift in the world’s technological and economic structure should not surprise anyone. I also see business opportunity; but I honestly and fundamentally believe that it is more important to recognize rocks and shoals and to propose an effective course change than to make money.

        I hope that some lurkers will recognize the fact that Atomic Insights is a labor of love and does not even pretend to be a money making endeavor. There are no ads and no financial sponsors other than a single reasonably well paid professional. There is no staff other than that same professional who recently figured out that he has been a “short sleeper” for a few decades. (Of course, there are many contributors to the effort who make it more valuable by being more interesting than one man’s point of view.)

        My concerns about the long term negative effects of continuing to dump more than 30 billion tons/year of not quite inert gas into the atmosphere are very real. (Some sources use a figure of 9 gigatons, but they are only talking about the Carbon part of Carbon Dioxide. CO2 weighs 3.66 times as much as C.)

        I am not “alarmed”, but I have a sense of personal urgency in the fact that I recognize how long it takes to change course and speed for a very high inertia system and I know that the probability of me being alive for more than another 5 decades is slim to none. If I want to see change, I have to keep steadily pressing and using all of the rhetorical and world wide communication tools at my disposal to get the message across.

        • gallopingcamel says:

          Rod,
          Thank you for doing what you do.

          At the risk of repeating myself I support your idea that we need to eliminate the burning of fossil fuels to the greatest degree possible. However I don’t recommend doing it in a way that will ruin the economies of great nations. That is where nuclear power comes in. We can have our cake (fossil fuels in the ground) and eat it (maintain an industrial civilization).

          You and I only get at cross purposes when we debates topics such as “Fighting climate change skeptics in the pro nuclear community”. While the debate is stimulating it is not necessary for you to win it in order to implement your dream.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            You and I only get at cross purposes when we debates topics such as “Fighting climate change skeptics in the pro nuclear community”.

            Whereas some of us view this as a way to de-fang the opposition to nuclear power (by co-opting a large fraction of its opponents), which is necessary for its progress.

            I have a new Ergosphere post series in the pipeline which will adddress many of the claims made that e.g. “warming has stopped”.  I hope to pin down hard evidence for the debunking, but it’s tedious and thankless work.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            There are pro-nuclear environmentalists, read the commentary on the SXSW panel discussion at Consumer Energy Report here, with attention to Ted Nordhaus (esp. compared to Bill McKibben).

  36. Bruce Behrhorst says:

    Me too. A big thanks to Rod. I think you have more of a positive effect on nuclear science & industry than you know. More sites now cross link to atomicinsights. And look at mPower it’s on center stage for SMR’s and that’s good thing.

    • gallopingcamel says:

      It is a real pleasure to meet people like you who understand how important it is to live under pluralistic institutions.

      In the USA we have institutions that are superior to what exists in all but a handful of nations and indeed what has ever existed at any time in the past. I was not born here so when I tell you this was the greatest nation that ever was it should be seen as the admiration of an immigrant rather than the boastfulness of a native son.

      Notice that I used the past tense “was”. This nation was greater when I moved here in 1982. Back then everyone expected the USA to lead but today we no longer aspire to lead in space exploration, nuclear power, motor vehicle design and some other important technologies. Is this decline inevitable? Will it continue no matter how hard we try to reverse it?

      If we can resist the “Iron Law of Oligarchies” that applies in over 80% of modern nations there is at least a small chance that we will avoid the decline and fall that has afflicted all previous mighty nations. So how do you do that? You strengthen the pluralistic poltical and economic institutions that are designed to prevent Oligarchs from controling the majority in order extract resouces for their own benefit. Your inspiration should be the “Glorious” revolution of 1688 and the American revolution of 1776.

      • Rod Adams says:

        @gallopingcamel

        One of the most important parts of a pluralistic society, and one of the real strengths of America at the time I was born, is a universal education system that provides plenty of opportunity for all to learn.

        That includes an exceptionally diverse collection of post secondary educational institutions at a variety of price points starting at “free”.

        Unfortunately, we have allowed a variety of pressures and interests to tear at much of the fabric of that system. Some of the damage has resulted from what was otherwise a very good thing for the country as a whole; when I was young there was an enormous talent pool of ambitious women who entered teaching as a profession because they were largely shut off from many other professions. As women gained access to a wider variety of choices, there was no recognition that society had to figure out ways to prevent the “brain drain” from affecting schools.

        There has also been a cost escalation that is going to be disruptively reversed; there are some tremendous technological opportunities to provide low cost, accessible education that provides some salable skills. It is inevitable that the existing model is going to break; we have to help upcoming generations recognize the enormous risk of accumulating large debts before starting a career.

        The value of borrowing huge amounts of someone else’s money so that you can “invest” into a “quality education” is a dangerous, freedom destroying myth. It is similar, but worse, than the idea that you should borrow as much as the bank will let you to buy the biggest and best house you can “afford” because highly leveraged houses “are a good investment.”

        A population with education and skills has the confidence and the wherewithal to do what is necessary to keep the aristocrats under control.

        • gallopingcamel says:

          Rod,
          Amen to all that! When it comes to literacy the USA was once the envy of the world and yes, it has contributed powerfully to our prosperity and freedom.

          Today, our education system is in decline. All too often we get mediocre education at monopoly prices. Your passion is nuclear power; my passion is improving K-12 education.

          I know why our K-12 education is in decline and I know how to improve it. In a nutshell education will continue to decline until we reverse the relentless centralization that afflicts education in the USA and indeed all English speaking countries other than New Zealand.

          The best remedy is to return control of each school to a locally elected board. No more District bureaucrats, no more State bureaucrats and no more Federal bureaucrats. While this will save a great deal of money that is not the main reason for re-establishing local control. Once you have local control TEACHERS ARE FREE TO TEACH. What a concept! No more jumping through hoops trying to obey the conflicting whims of bureaucrats with their top down “Fixes” such as “No Child Left Behind”.

          Lacking the political power to liberate all schools I am liberating them one by one. Thus far I have liberated six schools with another four “In Process”. Probably this is way “Off Topic” for this thread but if anyone is interested, here are write ups on two of them:
          http://www.gallopingcamel.info/Woods.htm
          http://www.gallopingcamel.info/Carter.htm

        • Bruce Behrhorst says:

          @ Rod
          I agree, the education system has been muddled to the point of irrelevancy a total break from the past. I tend to point to the insular nature of big gov’t & unions that assumed more power over a once well organized education system. Education in my personal option should be a States Rights issue . I see the only way to fix the current impasse is to let the States legislators tailor their state’s educational systems on how education should run. I would like to see more competition in the educational system and see more emphasis on Co-Op programs in high school, college and university programs for salaried work-study programs so student’s can afford a reasonable priced degree with the ability to work part time in their skill set to get paid & pay off costs of degree.

          This would relieve students from massive debt and stress so they can concentrate of studies and work responsibilities.

  37. Bruce Behrhorst says:

    @ gallopingcamel

    Good info. you provide.

    For my regard both the House & Senate wings of U.S. Capitol bldg. should be expanded again in seats.and members should sit less in closed caucus. I’d rather see expanded representation in governance by the American people and less expansion of fed gov’t agencies like the Dept.of Ed. or TSA.

  38. Peter Geany says:

    @ gallopingcamel as a New Zealander I can vouch for my education. And as a parent with 4 children I have borne witness to the decline in the UK where I now live. My wife and I are blessed with clever children who in the main worked hard and didn’t need the teacher to spend time keeping them on track. But between my eldest going through school (now a doctor), and my youngest 17 doing her A-levels and aiming for Oxford the teaching has declined. Teachers teach the children to pass exams, they don’t teach understanding, and haven’t done so for perhaps 20 years in some instances.

    We have had to pay extra for all 4 children where the state system has let them down and we had no recourse to recompense from the state system. The other dangerous thing today is no children are taught to assess risk. They never go anywhere with any element of danger. They never so much as fall over and graze a knee these days without a 10 day inquisition. So today rather than making things failsafe we are breading better idiots.

    But there is more going on than meets the eye these days. I always thought it was going to be the US that leads the West out of its current centralist malaise. But I now believe it is going to be the UK. Small countries such as New Zealand are wonderful but there is only so much influence they have and only so much opportunity for the individual. But the people of UK are very restless at present. They now understand just how undemocratic the EU is and are beginning to wake up to the fact we are ruled from Brussels. This was never the deal the citizens signed up for and we are demanding out of the EU. This is causing our political class a heap of problems and they are rolling out all the usual scare stories. But it’s not going to work and the intervention by the Obama administration this week was not at all helpful and only increased the resentment.

    But it won’t end with coming out of the EU. We need fundamental reform, where we get education back to the local level; this has already started with academy schools, but is being fought tooth and nail by the liberal left and Unions. We need to break up the cherished National Health Service as it is just too large to manage, and we need to get our politics back to the local level leaving national politics to deal with security and foreign affairs only. We need to get back to real capitalism, not the crony variety we have today. The beating heart of every country are its small businesses, but our regulators have forgotten this and created an environment where only large multinationals seem to be able to survive. Where once we had 30 banks we now have 5 and 2 of them are bankrupt, and regulators make it impossible to start a new one. The EU wants even less. No people, the world is headed for some great changes over the next 10 to 20 years as we recover from the age of stupid, and a surprising amount of ground work has already been done. But don’t expect to find any news of this in the mainstream media. They are asleep at the wheel.

    • Bruce Behrhorst says:

      @ Peter Geany
      My uncle was a New Zealander WWII vet he was tough, fair & prosperous. New Zealand is a great model and I always positively point to it for my critics as an example of how election reform and other issues can work in N.America.
      My critics only shallow response is,’… It doesn’t scale well to N. American demographics and sensibilities.’ To which my response is it’s the same culture & language. How can it not be a model? Unfortunately N.America ignores New Zealand at their peril.

    • gallopingcamel says:

      Peter Geany,
      I am planning to visit the UK in September. Over the past 30 years I have come to dread these visits as it has been depressing to note the steady decline of a once great nation. Your comment leads me to hope that the decline has been arrested or even reversed.

      In 1988 the Education Reform Act was passed in the UK, While it had a positive effect on government schools it has been hampered by the fact that the UK still has a Department of Education to put sand in the wheels of reform.

      New Zealand started a year later with their “Tomorrow’s Schools” (1989). Much more has been achieved. The NZ Department of Education was seen as unreformable so it was simply abolished. Over the last 20+ years NZ government schools have improved to the point that they are competitive with Korea and Japan.

      When Helen Ladd and her husband Ed Fiske published “When Schools Compete” in 2000 they were highly critical of the New Zealand reforms but here is a comment from a study done nine years later by Mark Adams of George Mason university:
      QUOTE
      The Tomorrow’s Schools reforms in New Zealand fundamentally overhauled an education system that was bureaucratic and inefficient. Even leading critics of the reforms, Edward Fiske and Helen Ladd, admit that “literally no-one, not even the most vocal critics of the new fiscal and enrollment policies . . . wanted to go back to the old highly regulated system.”

      New Zealand’s reforms were premised on a shift from directing activities to monitoring outcomes. Schools were given the freedom to teach and were made accountable to parents through a board of trustees. New Zealand discovered that parents have local knowledge that allows them to be better judges of the quality of teachers than MoE bureaucrats. The reforms allowed schools to respond directly to the demands of parents based on this local knowledge. The results of reform indicate substantial improvements in overall performance with fewer students being failed.
      UNQUOTE