We Are All Lukewarmers Now

Matt Ridley has another very good editorial in the WSJ that again does a great job of outlining what I think of as the core skeptic position.  Read the whole thing, but a few excerpts:

The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will shortly publish the second part of its latest report, on the likely impact of climate change. Government representatives are meeting with scientists in Japan to sex up—sorry, rewrite—a summary of the scientists' accounts of storms, droughts and diseases to come. But the actual report, known as AR5-WGII, is less frightening than its predecessor seven years ago.

The 2007 report was riddled with errors about Himalayan glaciers, the Amazon rain forest, African agriculture, water shortages and other matters, all of which erred in the direction of alarm. This led to a critical appraisal of the report-writing process from a council of national science academies, some of whose recommendations were simply ignored.

Others, however, hit home. According to leaks, this time the full report is much more cautious and vague about worsening cyclones, changes in rainfall, climate-change refugees, and the overall cost of global warming.

It puts the overall cost at less than 2% of GDP for a 2.5 degrees Centigrade (or 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature increase during this century. This is vastly less than the much heralded prediction of Lord Stern, who said climate change would cost 5%-20% of world GDP in his influential 2006 report for the British government.

It is certainly a strange branch of science where major reports omit a conclusion because that conclusion is not what they wanted to see

The IPCC's September 2013 report abandoned any attempt to estimate the most likely "sensitivity" of the climate to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The explanation, buried in a technical summary not published until January, is that "estimates derived from observed climate change tend to best fit the observed surface and ocean warming for [sensitivity] values in the lower part of the likely range." Translation: The data suggest we probably face less warming than the models indicate, but we would rather not say so.

Readers of this site will recognize this statement

None of this contradicts basic physics. Doubling carbon dioxide cannot on its own generate more than about 1.1C (2F) of warming, however long it takes. All the putative warming above that level would come from amplifying factors, chiefly related to water vapor and clouds. The net effect of these factors is the subject of contentious debate.

I have reluctantly accepted the lukewarmer title, though I think it is a bit lame.

In climate science, the real debate has never been between "deniers" and the rest, but between "lukewarmers," who think man-made climate change is real but fairly harmless, and those who think the future is alarming. Scientists like Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Richard Lindzen of MIT have moved steadily toward lukewarm views in recent years.

When I make presentations, I like to start with the following (because it gets everyone's attention):  "Yes, I am a denier.  But to say 'denier', implies that one is denying some specific proposition.  What is that proposition?  It can't be 'global warming' because propositions need verbs, otherwise it is like saying one denies weather.  I don't deny that the world has warmed over the last century.  I don't deny that natural factors play a role in this (though many alarmists seem to).  I don't even deny that man has contributed incrementally to this warming.  What I deny is the catastrophe.  Specifically, I deny that man's CO2 will warm the Earth enough to create a catastrophe.  I define "catastrophe" as an outcome where the costs of immediately reducing CO2 output with the associated loss in economic growth would be substantially less than the cost of future adaption and abatement. "


  1. herdgadfly:

    I am confused as to how the far rightest views of a libertarian can be lukewarm about anything. So I see no use in adopting a "lukewarm" attitude about climate change or more to the point the dangers warming trends within the atmosphere. It is evident after the warmists began their panic some 30 years ago, that no one is capable of predicting the future, particularly the effect of the changes we experience upon our overall living comfort on this planet.

    So let us limit our argument to ending mass expenditures to stop that which we humans are incapable of stopping. Secondly let us stop spending money on wild-ass theories unconfirmed by irrefutable proof and the first target should be laws related to CO2 levels. The likely result will be the elimination of worthless climate-related research grants and government misuse of taxes collected for enforcing harmless emissions. Then and only then will government spending begin to shrink to match inflows.

  2. Gil G:

    I wonder if global warming led to 3 billion deaths in a couple of decades time it wouldn't be a big deal really because those 3 billion deaths would occur in the poorest parts of the world. Plump Westerners would probably see out the 21st century without much discomfort as they can crank up the air-con a tad to deal with warmer days and the doubling of food prices wouldn't really see too many Americans go hungry. But people in the poorest parts of the world? Meh, who cares about them.

  3. Harry:

    You must mean 3 billion premature deaths caused by man-made CO2. It would be nice to see some reasoning for what appears to be a preposterous assertion. Are some of those deaths offset by people who would die prematurely from the cold?

    And how does warmer weather reduce food production?

    Food prices may indeed double, but do you think that creating paper or electronic currency might be at least part of the problem?

    And, could tractors, secure property rights, and RoundUp Ready soybeans might help impoverished third-world people more than subsidized wind turbines?

  4. Harry:

    You mean that the cost of immediate reduction of CO2 would be MORE than the costs of abatement, right, Coyote?

  5. Lawrence Karch:

    In the article Ridley notes that there has been no net warming for the past 15-17 years (as indicated by no net temperature increases. What could be the cause of this? Assuming excess heat energy is actually entering into environment (and not escaping earth by some unidentified mechanism), this comes close to denying the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
    If we don't see some net temperature increases in the next few years even as C02 levels increase, then the whole concept of anthropogenic warming will be called into question.

  6. skhpcola:

    Gil isn't actually positing anything that requires a reasoned refutation, Harry. As usual, he is simply vomiting up the standard progtard homilies that attempt to discredit reality and ignore science. He, like filthy leftist trash the world over, prefers the dystopian fantasy to the utopian reality of human potential. He can be safely ignored. Or ridiculed, as time allows.

  7. mahtso:

    Over at the environmental law prof blog the prevailing view is one of doom and gloom (if not worse), but recently one of the bloggers acknowledged the role of pessimism v. optimism in this debate. If one is an optimist (and perhaps has faith in human potential) it is easy to see man overcoming the problems the doomsayers assert are coming. On the other hand, if one is a pessimist, we are all doomed any way. (Of course there are those whose views are driven not by either optimism or pessimism, but rather opportunism.)

  8. skhpcola:

    That's exactly right, mahtso. Throughout modern history, there have been famous men that subscribed to gloom and doom...and have been thoroughly disproved of their wishes for human failure. Whether the supposed curse be population crashes, technology, or climate cooling or warming, none of these wannabe prophets had a single clue about the nature of...nature, or the imagination of a small number of humans. It is filth like Gil and his leftist icons that continue that sorry tradition of seeking failure when success should be celebrated.

  9. skhpcola:

    Gilth hides his Disqus activity because he knows in his black heart that he is a tool for evil. Garbage like he is can't tolerate criticism or challenges to their facile ideology and failed philosophy. He's just another piece of shit, like Larry Gross, Zach, and the rest of the dooshbags that pollute Coyote Blog, Carpe Diem, and other websites.

  10. Gil G:

    Nope inflation is overall neutral - food prices have doubled but so have incomes. Naturally I'm talking of food prices rising in real terms which in turn means there's a food shortage.

  11. Gil G:

    You and friends assert what? That the Earth's climate is static? That the data NASA and co. have accumulated of global temperatures is bogus? That all food animals and plants automatically love hot weather and more CO2? That people don't suffer under heat waves? That extreme cold is only threat? Etc.

  12. Gil G:

    And your activity is totally hidden because you don't even have a Dsqus account. Good job.

  13. Gil G:

    Why complain about Peak Oil? So what if food and fuel prices steadily increase with time? You make enough money to cover any financial storm? If others complain then they're not the Randian hero you are and deserve to suffer for their indolence? There's long-term data (not models) showing the steady rise in global temperatures over time as well as glacial retreat but it's all bunk because it dares to threaten your comfort zone?

  14. skhpcola:

    Who's complaining about the putative "Peak Oil" bullshit? Way to interject random doofus into a thread.

    Food and fuel prices aren't at historically low levels in real terms, but they were (or close) before your sodomy tag-team pardner Ozero assumed the helm.

    Long-term data showing what? Where are the data? How long of a term? Actual temperature data, not bullshit proxy data. As usual, you are spewing nonsense.

    Glaciers are not static. They advance and retreat. Just like weather changes for the better and for the worse. But I wouldn't expect a lying piece of Marxist shit like you to actually make any sense. You fucktards are ridiculous.

  15. skhpcola:

    You really are an inept retard, aren't you? Technology much?

  16. skhpcola:

    This stream-of-subconsciousness bullshit doesn't even make sense. Do you play an adult in real life, or are you retarded in person, too? Pfft.

  17. Gil G:

    Because it all dares to threaten your comfort zone. Deniers are definitely playing the game "times always change and so even if, IF, there's possible change for the worse then I've made a good life for myself and my immediate family so we can weather any proverbial storm". You can easily afford petroleum hence you can afford some fuel insecurity. You can easily afford food so you can afford some food insecurity.

  18. skhpcola:

    You, like Lartard Gross, are incorrigibly asinine. Nothing that you just typed made any sense to sentient humans, and we are all stupider for having read it. Gilthy, you are a retard.

  19. Gil G:

    Why? Because food and fuel is cheaper than ever? Because White people still dominate politics and finance. The famine Elrich predicted never came about out? And so forth?