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« Averting catastrophe | Main | A bad bet - Josh 121 »
Tuesday
Oct042011

The special contribution of Vaclav Klaus

David Henderson writes:

Vaclav Klaus, the President of the Czech Republic, recently passed his  70th birthday. To mark the occasion a Festschrift volume has been put  together, with a wide range of contributors. I understand that the main  topics in the book are: capitalism and the free market; European  integration; the euro; climate change issues; and the Czech  transformation after 1989.

 The English version of the volume has been sent for publication. Meanwhile I have been given clearance to circulate my own contribution,  which is herewith attached. It is entitled ‘Climate Change Issues: The  Special Contribution of Vaclav Klaus’.

Climate Change Issues: The Special Contribution of Vaclav Klaus

David Henderson

1 An established policy consensus

In relation to climate change issues, there is an official policy consensus. That consensus has been firmly in place for over twenty years, and virtually all governments subscribe to it. By way of recent example, paragraph 66 of last year’s G20 Summit Document begins as follows:

‘Addressing the threat of global climate change is an urgent priority for all nations. We reiterate our commitment to take strong and action-oriented measures...’

The measures referred to are chiefly directed towards curbing emissions of (so-called) ‘greenhouse gases’ in general, and carbon dioxide in particular. The policy consensus reflects what I call received opinion; and the core of received opinion is that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) constitutes a serious threat, which however can be contained and partially averted by severely limiting emissions.

The consensus has been increasingly reflected in a wide variety of official actions at local, state, national and international level. In taking these actions, the governments concerned have so far met with widespread public approval.

It is a remarkable fact that, throughout the period since its adoption at the end of the 1980s, the policy consensus has gone without serious political challenge. In the OECD member countries in particular, climate change issues have typically been the subject of close and continuing cross-party agreement, so that policies have been little affected by changes in government. Inside the governmental machine, the policies have had cross-departmental backing, with none of the usual conflicts of interest or differences of opinion.

2 An isolated dissenter

Political leaders across the world have embraced the consensus, and they continue to do so. Within their ranks, however, there has for some years now been a prominent and outspoken dissenter, in the person of Vaclav Klaus.

The position which Klaus has taken on climate change issues is distinctive. In particular:

  • For several years now, he has given a great deal of thought and attention to the subject. It has become for him a leading (though far from exclusive) preoccupation.
  • The views that he expresses on the subject are his own. It is unusual for a political leader to stake out publicly a strong personal position on a major issue of policy. Klaus’s readiness to act in this way reflects the strength of his convictions. No element of political calculation enters into those convictions or the way in which he has chosen to express them.
  •  His critique of the policy consensus, and of the arguments on which it rests, forms one element in a wider set of beliefs, a personal philosophy. Klaus is a committed liberal, in the European sense of the term – a classical liberal. In consequence, his assessment of any measure or policy largely depends on what he sees as its implications for the freedom – the personal liberty - of individuals. In the case of current and prospective climate change policies, his main single concern has been with the threat that he sees them as posing to individual freedom and to the market economy which gives expression to it.
  • Klaus views this threat as extremely serious. He holds that ‘ambitious environmentalism’ has ‘replaced Communism’ as ‘the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity’, in that it ‘wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning of the whole world’. [1]

Given Klaus’s isolation in the political world, and the persistence and intensity with which he has argued his case, it is easy for opponents to class him as both an eccentric and an extremist. Two obvious charges that can be brought against him are

  • first, that he has become over-preoccupied with climate change issues;
  •  second, that in relation to those issues, and the threat that he sees as arising from consensus thinking and policies, he has taken an extreme and untenable position.

In my view, these charges do not hold. I believe that in his lonely role, as outspoken critic and protester, Klaus has by no means overstated the grounds for concern about the situation of today. From the outset, the treatment of climate change issues by governments has gone badly astray. Both the content of policy and its underlying rationale give grounds for serious concern.

3 The costs and impact of consensus policies

Klaus has strongly emphasised the likely costs and dangers that consensus policies bring with them, and some of those costs and dangers have already materialised. Across the world, measures to curb emissions that are currently in force or in prospect largely take the form of a long and growing list of detailed regulatory initiatives - an array of interventionist gimmicks. These have raised costs unnecessarily, since little regard has been paid to cost-effectiveness; and by creating a host of new opportunities for rent-seeking and lobbying they have brought a further corrupting influence into public life. What is more, they involve a range of intrusions on the freedom of choice of individuals and institutions, opening up multiple new possibilities for what has been well termed ‘micromanaging the lives of people’.

All these effects have emerged already, yet they are no more than a beginning. Far more drastic measures will be required to meet the extraordinarily ambitious goals of consensus policy for reductions in emissions. Among those who endorse the goals, within governments and outside, there are frequent ominous references to the need and scope for individuals, institutions and societies to change their behaviour radically. Two representative instances are:

  • ‘... countries need to act in a concerted fashion to reshape human activities on an unprecedented scale’.
  • ‘Our call is for fundamental transformation and innovation in all spheres and at all scales...’ [2]

 I believe that Klaus is justified in his belief that world-wide ‘reshaping’ and ‘transformation’, in the cause of radical ‘decarbonisation’, could be expected to bring coercive and would-be permanent restrictions on individual freedom.

4 Steering the planet

Received opinion points to the need for and feasibility of what Klaus has referred to as ‘global central planning’. It holds that:

  • changing concentrations of ‘greenhouse gases’, in response to changing rates of emissions, are now the main influence on the climate system of today;
  • accordingly, the system can be reliably tuned and guided, and what would otherwise be dangerous concentrations avoided, through judicious expertly-directed collective action to control and curb emissions;
  • in exercising this control the objective, in the form of a safe maximum concentration of ‘greenhouse gases’, is known with close approximation, and
  • alternative paths to its realisation can be mapped out with confidence.

True, received opinion recognises the possibility that the costs of radical ‘decarbonisation’ could be significant; but it maintains that any such costs are known with confidence to be greatly exceeded (or overshadowed) by what would otherwise be the costs (or risks of disaster) of dangerous global warming: hence the case for far-reaching, concerted and well defined world-wide action has been firmly established. For the indefinite future, then, the constraint of not exceeding the now-identified safe twin maxima, of emissions and concentrations, is taken to be both practicable and binding: in this sense, the right climate change policies are now fixed for ever. Given the necessary political will on the part of governments across the world, supported by enlightened public opinion ready to adopt new modes of living, the planet can be held for good on a safe and prudent course.

To my mind, such beliefs reflect what Klaus has described, in a different but related context, as ‘immodest constructivist ambitions’. It is contrary to all past experience, including experience of failed energy strategies, to presume that governments now know enough about the extraordinarily complex systems involved, and the ways in which these might change, to lay down firm blueprints, and even specific targets, which are to hold good into the indefinite future.

5 The basis of received opinion

How is it that received opinion on climate change issues, and far-reaching policy conclusions arising from it, have won such widespread, continuing, confident and unqualified support, official and unofficial, including endorsement at the highest political levels and by central economic departments of state, over nearly a quarter of a century?

I think the answer is straightforward: it is the shared conviction of all these persons and institutions that ‘the science’ of climate change can now be taken as ‘settled’.

This response provokes the further question: What is the basis of this shared conviction? Here again, I think there is a straightforward answer. Received opinion everywhere reflects, and has throughout accepted and relied on, the scientific advice provided to governments through what I call the official expert advisory process.

That advice can and does come from many sources; but the main single channel for it, indeed the only channel of advice for governments collectively, has been the series of massive and wide-ranging Assessment Reports produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from 1990 onwards. The fourth and most recent of these, referred to for short as AR4, was completed and published in 2007. Work on its successor is now well under way.

For more than twenty years, then, governments and international agencies, and a great many outside observers too, have put their trust in the official expert advisory process as a whole and the IPCC process in particular. They are continuing to do so. However, there is now a substantial body of evidence to suggest that their trust is unwarranted.

6 A flawed process

From the start, received opinion has been subject to challenge on many fronts. In part, and predominantly until 2003, the various challenges have been to the correctness of the analysis, and of the inferences drawn from it, which have emerged from the expert advisory process. In recent years, however, a further dimension of challenge has been opened up, in which the critics concerned have questioned the integrity and professionalism of the process, often with implications for the plausibility of specific key results.

The main headings of unprofessional conduct which the critics have noted and documented have been:

  • over-reliance on in-group peer review procedures which do not serve as a guarantee of quality and do not ensure due disclosure;
  • serious and continuing failures of archiving and disclosure in relation to peer-reviewed studies which the IPCC and member governments have drawn on;
  • continuing resistance to disclosure of basic information which reputable journals increasingly insist on as a precondition for acceptance of papers;
  • basic errors in the handling and interpretation of data, through failure to consult or involve trained statisticians;
  • failure to take due account of relevant published work which documented the above lapses, while disregarding IPCC criteria for inclusion in the assessment process;
  • failure to take due note of comments from dissenting critics who took part in the preparation of AR4;
  • false claims to openness and transparency within the IPCC process;
  • resisting the disclosure of professional exchanges within the drafting process of AR4, despite the instruction of member governments that IPCC proceedings should be ‘open and transparent’; and last but far from least
  • failure over the years on the part of the IPCC and its directing circle to acknowledge the above deficiencies, still less to remedy them.        

Well-documented exposure of these flaws has come from a number of independent commentators: I would mention particularly, in relation to key chapters in the influential reports from the IPCC’s Working Group I, the outstanding work of Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, and later of David Holland.[3]

In November 2009 an unexpected event gave further substance to what these and other critics of the advisory process had been saying, through the unauthorised release of a mass of emails, data and code from the influential Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. Many of the now-exposed exchanges between CRU staff and fellow-scientists elsewhere, all of whom were closely involved in the IPCC process, revealed attitudes and practices which were clearly unprofessional. Among them, two in particular lent further weight to already existing lines of criticism. First, there was a dogged determination, on one false pretext after another, to continue to withhold information that should from the start have been in the public domain. Second, the clear intention was revealed to prevent the publication in scientific journals, and the inclusion in the IPCC process, of pieces of work that cast doubt on received opinion.

The manifest defects in the expert advisory process have gone unacknowledged and unremedied by what I call the environmental policy milieu. This high-level failure, as also the defects themselves, have resulted from chronic and pervasive bias. Right from the start, members of the milieu, and of the IPCC’s directing circle, have been characterised by what has been well termed ‘pre-commitment to the urgency of the climate cause’.

It is not just the environmental policy milieu that is to blame for the mishandling by governments of climate change issues. As a former Treasury official and international civil servant, I have been surprised by the failure of economic departments in OECD member countries to audit the evidence bearing on climate change issues, their uncritical acceptance of the results of a process of inquiry which is so obviously biased and flawed, and their lack of attention to the criticisms of that process which have been voiced by independent outsiders – criticisms which they ought to have been making themselves. A similar lack of resource has characterised the Research Department of the IMF, the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs of the European Commission, and the Economics Department of the OECD. In all these departments and agencies, national and international, there has been a conspicuous failure of due diligence.

7 A missing dimension

In relation to climate change, a fundamental flaw in official thinking and policies across the world, which has hardened with time, lies in treating the main issues as closed. Hence there is a continuing failure to consider and explore an appropriately wide range of possibilities for action.

On the basis of the advice they have been given, governments everywhere have accepted the reality of ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’. As a working assumption, this is understandable. But given (1) the huge uncertainties and unknowns that remain, (2) the high potential costs, and dangers to freedom, from far-reaching mitigation measures, and (3) the serious proven flaws in the expert advisory process and the conduct of climate science, it should not be the end of the matter. The various elements of received opinion should not be taken as embodying revealed and now unassailable truth. Rather, they should be viewed as working assumptions and no more. As such, they should be subject to rigorous and continuing test and review, and it should be a concern of policy to ensure that such testing takes place. Neither the current official policy consensus nor the advice on which it rests should be treated as authoritative or final. The whole notion of a now-settled consensus should be discarded. Governments should promote open exchanges of view and contrasting informed assessments.

In an area where so much is at stake, and so much remains uncertain or even unknown, policies should be evolutionary and adaptive, rather than presumptive as they are now; and their evolution should be linked to a process of inquiry and review which is more thorough, balanced, open and objective than has so far been the case. 

8 A disquieting episode

The treatment of climate change issues, across the world and over the past quarter of a century, forms a truly disquieting chapter in recent history. Richard Lindzen has drawn a parallel with the history of eugenics in the last century, and the analogy may prove to have been an apt one.[4]

In part, the story is one of ill-chosen policy initiatives already in place or in prospect. But the current disordered policy mix, though alarming, is symptomatic. A deeper cause for concern is the complex of attitudes, beliefs, presumptions and flawed procedures which have shaped and entered into received opinion, and which now form the officially unchallenged basis for further and far-reaching measures of intervention and control.

In this area of policy, the treatment of risks by governments is dangerously partial and one-sided. Since the late 1980s, attitudes, beliefs and policies world-wide have been fully attuned to the risks of AGW. But there is another side to the coin. A counterpart risk is that humanity is being committed to a costly world-wide collectivist adventure, in which people everywhere will be made not only poorer but less free, on arguments and evidence which are mistakenly treated as final and in a prevailing atmosphere of credulity, bias and intolerance.

In relation to climate change issues, governments in general, and the OECD member governments in particular, have locked themselves into a set of procedures, and an associated way of thinking - in short, a framework – which both reflects and yields over-presumptive conclusions which are weighted towards alarm. They have done so through a worrying combination - of credulity and inadvertence on the part of responsible lay persons, and of chronic bias and professional underperformance on the part of trusted experts and expert bodies. In this whole episode, the capacity of human societies today to arrive at well founded conclusions and decisions has been placed in question. Against this disturbing background, the lone stand of Vaclav Klaus appears as a salutary and much-needed contribution to the climate change debate.  

David Henderson was Head of what was then the Economics and Statistics Department of the OECD in Paris. He is currently a Fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs in London, and chairman of the Academic Advisory Council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.


[1] These quotations are from a newspaper article of 2007. Of Klaus’s many writings on the subject, the main single publication is his book, Blue Planet in Green Shackles, brought out (in its English version) in 2008 in Washington D. C. by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

[2] The first of these two quotations is from an article published in 2008 in the IMF journal Finance and Development by Mohan Munasinghe, then a Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The second is from a 2011 report from the German independent but officially-appointed Scientific Advisory Council on Global Environmental Change. The report is entitled ‘World in Transition: A Social Contract for Sustainability’.

[3] There is an array of possible references here, most of which are on Ross McKitrick’s website. In addition, leading elements in the story are treated in Holland’s article, ‘Bias and Concealment in the IPCC Process’ (Energy and Environment, 2007), and at book length in A. W. Montford’s The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science (Stacey International, 2010). McIntyre’s blog, climateaudit.org, is a notable continuing source of analysis, commentary and debate.

[4] Richard S. Lindzen, ‘Science and Politics: Global Warming and Eugenics’, from R. W. Hahn (Ed.), Risks, Costs and Lives Saved, Oxford University Press, 1996.

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Reader Comments (57)

A truly excellent summary, and good references. When all the "climate change" mantra collapses and real science is resumed, the name Montford will be amongst those of the modern heroes.

Oct 4, 2011 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

This is an excellent and measured statement of the situation we are in.

On cue, in his speech yesterday Mr Osborne (UK Chancellor of the Exchequer) said:
"Yes, climate change is a man made disaster.
Yes, we need international agreement to stop it."

This reflects the "science is settled" mentality that prevails in the UK coalition government. Even more disturbing, as Mr Henderson`s article points out, is the failure to evaluate the economic implications of policy.

Despite repeated requests to my MP to establish the outcome of studies into the effectiveness of renewable energy, there has been no answer. Copies of Mr Huhne`s replies, forwarded to me about two or three months later, fail to answer these questions. The latest refers to the need to comply with legal obligations and international commitments - no doubt in an attempt to close the issue down. Not only are the foundations of this policy deeply flawed. so are the supposed remedies of renewable energy. They fail to deliver the remedies they seek because they are far more expensive, in every sense, than the supposed problem they are there to solve.

The politest way to put it is to say we have chumps in charge. This includes the leaders of all three main political parties. It will only change when these same chumps are removed from office. For that to happen sooner than later will require a back bench revolt. My hopes are not very high.

Oct 4, 2011 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

"He [Klaus] holds that ‘ambitious environmentalism’ has ‘replaced Communism’ as ‘the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity’, in that it ‘wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning of the whole world’."

I very much fear that this is a view to be taken with the utmost seriousness by all who care for liberty and prosperity, whether they believe in the scientific consensus or not.

Oct 4, 2011 at 9:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Excellent essay. I take it that reproduction on other sites is allowed (quote: 'The English version of the volume has been sent for publication. Meanwhile I have been given clearance to circulate my own contribution.'). I will put it up on my own site just in case I have some readers who won't see it here.

Well done David Henderson! A very fine pice of work in itself, and a fitting tribute to the courageous and thoughtful Vaclav Klaus - would that we had people of his quality in our political class!

Oct 4, 2011 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Except he's not just 'sceptical' is he. He outright denies what the science is telling us. As he said in 2007 ""Global warming is a false myth and every serious person and scientist says so.". Which is just absolute rubbish.

He also steals pens. I'd recommend anyone to watch the footage of him doing that at the Chilean conference if you fancy a laugh.

Oct 4, 2011 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

@ ZedsDeadBed

"He also steals pens. I'd recommend anyone to watch the footage of him doing that at the Chilean conference if you fancy a laugh."

British politicians of all parties would be held in higher esteem if they only stole pens instead of robbing us with false expenses claims. Even the expenses scandal pales into insignificance compared with the way in which they are robbing us with "green" taxes.

Oct 4, 2011 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Zeds,
I you knew anything about diplomacy, you would know that pens at signing ceremonies are routinely kept as souvenirs by Heads of State, Heads of Government, and even plenipotentiaries. Lift you mind above the trivia of You-Tube!

Oct 4, 2011 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterAynsley Kellow

Do not feed the Troll no matter what she posts.

Oct 4, 2011 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered Commenterbreath of fresh

"Do not feed the Troll no matter what she posts."
Oct 4, 2011 at 10:24 AM | breath of fresh

i.e. please do not point out how tissue-thin our arguments are, how scant our evidence is, and how thoroughly suspcious most of the people we're required to get into bed with are, as they're the only ones who agree with us.

Oct 4, 2011 at 10:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

oldtimer,
I have also written to the Department of Energy etc. and the Chair of the select committee through my M.P. with specific questions on the science as well as " If we in the UK meet all our emission targets by how much will it decrease the Global Temperature by 2050" I would appreciate a definative answer but I believe it is about 100th degree C ! I have recieve the same "Consensus" replies with no seriours attempt to engage in debate. I am so frustrated.

Oct 4, 2011 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

" If we in the UK meet all our emission targets by how much will it decrease the Global Temperature by 2050"
Oct 4, 2011 at 10:36 AM | Ross Lea

You don't seem to have grasped the 'cooperation' bit Ross. Eveyone has to pull together. We're in a good position to lead here, so we should. Our per capita carbon footprint is also way above those of either China or India, so it would be very hypocritical to expect them to reduce theirs still further, without also reducing ours, which is so much above theirs.

Or are you just finding ways of saying 'I don't want to pay any money'? In which case, most of that argument will be lost on you.

Oct 4, 2011 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

The more often I read this type of article, the more the word conspiracy comes into my mind. It is forced into my mind by the shear weight of evidence. The subscription of so many governments to this idea has got little if anything to do with science. It is a dogma, a belief which we are expected to accept as truth without question. That is a reasonable definition of religion.
The fact that the wise and thoughtful words of Vaclav Claus and others continue to fall on the the deaf ears of our polititions leads me back again and again to that word.
I salute Vaclav Claus, David Henderson and all the skeptic websites who are challenging this cabal with vigour and integrity and a resolute refusal to bow down to this abomination.

Oct 4, 2011 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

Nicholas Hallam: You beat me to the quote ('[Klaus] holds that ‘ambitious environmentalism’ has ‘replaced Communism’ as ‘the biggest threat to freedom, democracy....[it] wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning of the whole world’.)

My worry, in agreeing with this conclusion, is that there are people like Zed who are fully signed up to this program. It's not, for them, about AGW and saving the world: it's only about control. The clue is in their unswerving and unutterable arrogance in the right-ness of their cause. There is, and can be no element of doubt. You do not get to control the world by having doubts about your aims and ambitions.

BTW: Apologies if this may have been pointed out before, but a 'Zed' is a female Armadillo. Perhaps that is why our favourite troll is so resistant/well-armoured against argument. But she must be grasping at straws (pens?) in her latest sally.

Oct 4, 2011 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

"The more often I read this type of article, the more the word conspiracy comes into my mind."
Oct 4, 2011 at 10:50 AM | pesadia

Funny that. You spend all day brainwashing yourself with paranoid conspiracy theories, then you start believing in paranoid conspiracy theories.

Who'd a thought it....

Oct 4, 2011 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

I'm on the verge of installing a PV system on my roof. Apparently I can then sell the electricity I don't use to the grid for a disappointing 3.4p per kWh. Fortunately the government has set up the UK's Feed-in-Tariff system which will pay me 44p for each kWh of electricity I generate, irrespective of whether I use it myself or export it to the grid. This rate is index linked and guaranteed for 25 years, kerching!!

What's not to like about green energy policy? I get richer and the poor pay for my new £1600 per year index linked income. I feel like the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Unfortunately the system is still so expensive that it will still take 8 years to pay for itself despite the huge subsidy.

Oct 4, 2011 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterEddieO

"My worry, in agreeing with this conclusion, is that there are people like Zed who are fully signed up to this program. It's not, for them, about AGW and saving the world: it's only about control."
Oct 4, 2011 at 10:54 AM | Snotrocket

Nope - you're wrong.

In a very weird way as well. Quite how you've got from 'believing what virtually all scientists in a field say' to ' wanting to control the World' is a very strange and bizarre journey.

I'm largely libertarian in many ways, and couldn't give two hoots about control. But science tells us with sufficient certainty that AGW is problem, and we all need to act now.

You lot try and stand in the way of that, which is deeply, deeply wrong.

Oct 4, 2011 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

I do not normally welcome the comments of ZDB but on this post they serve perfectly to illustrate exactly that which VC is concerned about. ZDB, if you are reading this, more please because this time you are contributing!

Oct 4, 2011 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

I am a serial disbeliever in conspiracies, the AGW one is no exception. If govts are banding together to push AGW in the face of scientific uncertainty, then there is no conspiracy, there is just something in it for them that is not obvious. Govts hate spending money on environmental concerns, so it's something else.

Oct 4, 2011 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Zeds,

What a constuctive an well thought out reply ANSWER THE QUESTION !

Oct 4, 2011 at 11:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

"Zeds,
What a constuctive an well thought out reply ANSWER THE QUESTION !"
Oct 4, 2011 at 11:46 AM | Ross Lea

I've already explained why the question is irrelevant - can't you understand that?

Incidentally, writing in capitals is the equivalent of shouting and is considered rude. It's generally the preserve of the barmy, the obnoxious, and those who lack the language skills to emphasise through words alone.

Oct 4, 2011 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

TheBigYinJames

That something else could be socio-economic direction. If you want to change the political direction of a region then you need a socially acceptable vehicle that promises benefits to those who convert, financial or moral, AGW ticks all the incentives. The alternative is revolution, which is politically ok in other countries but causes havoc to the infrastructure at home.

Oct 4, 2011 at 12:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

@ Ross Lea at 10:36 AM

Having given up any hope of getting a reply from my MP, I too wrote to the DECC and asked that very question. I did get a reply, but unfortunately most of it reads like something straight out of 'Alice in Wonderland.'

On the cost of climate policies, they reckon we'll actually be saving money by avoiding "damage costs" as outlined in their Climate Change Impact Assessment

Overall, the package of policies comes at a cost of £25 to £29 billion. These costs cover the costs of policies to meet our mitigation targets up to 2022 plus the legacy costs of these policies further into the future. The average annual cost over the period to 2022 is therefore closer to £2billion. The lifetime of the policies are therefore lower than the cost estimate in the Impact Assessment above; and though still significant, these costs are substantially lower than the damage costs which would be associated with unmitigated climate change and include energy efficiency measures which are a net benefit to society. 
 
These damage costs are estimated to be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global GDP each year, and they increase the longer we wait, according to the Stern Review, a report commissioned and published by the Treasury. The report made the compelling case that the avoided damages were far larger than the costs of action and estimated that the costs of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change will be approximately 1 to 2% of global GDP per year by 2050.

And on our contribution to reducing global temperatures, they came out with this gem:

UK emissions are 2% of global emissions hence the UK on its own will have little impact. Our future security and prosperity therefore depends on effective international action to tackle climate change. We need others to act, but in order to encourage them to do so we need a credible domestic story to tell, and we need to lead by example.

So it seems that our leaders believe that by throwing taxpayers' money at an imaginary problem we can set a good example to the rest of the world, and make a profit into the bargain.

Sheesh!

Oct 4, 2011 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterScottie

"So it seems that our leaders believe that by throwing taxpayers' money at an imaginary problem....."
Oct 4, 2011 at 12:33 PM | Scottie

But it's clearly not imaginary, is it Scottie. There is overwhelming evidence to say it is a very real problem, or did that somehow pass you by?

Oct 4, 2011 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

I do not use the word "conspiracy" lightly, but how else can you explain the complete absence of debate on this subject.Debate is styfled by the IPCC and that body is responsible for"affairs climate " internationally. No Consensus.org have torn the report and its participants to shreds. The infiltration of the green philosophy into government departments by NGOs is rife. If there is no debate then their is tyrany.

Oct 4, 2011 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

should be there
oops

Oct 4, 2011 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

"I do not use the word "conspiracy" lightly, but how else can you explain the complete absence of debate on this subject."
Oct 4, 2011 at 12:50 PM | pesadia

Because the science is correct. It's like gravity really. There's no debate on what happens when you let go of an apple you are holding, because scientists know the answer. Why aren't you getting hot under that collar about the great gravity conspiracy? There's no debate about that.

You're seeing conspiracies where there aren't any. That's why people call them paranoid conspiracy theories.

Oct 4, 2011 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

Well ZedsDeadBed,

I guess I must have been sleeping because I've not seen any overwhelming evidence of "a very real problem." Perhaps you could enlighten me? Oh, and please, could you do so without resorting to the usual logical fallacies, i.e.

argumentum ad verecundiam
argumentum ad populum
argumentum ad ignorantiam
argumentum ad nauseam

Just science, pure and simple, will be quite adequate.

Oct 4, 2011 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterScottie

"The report made the compelling case that the avoided damages were far larger than the costs of action "

The whole cost/benefit analysis argument then hinges entirely on the probabilities you assign to the future outcomes. Do they assume that the model forecasts are certain to be correct? Or do they assign a probability of them being correct? If the model outcome only has a 50% chance of happening, then the damages could be twice as large as cost of mitigation and it would still be better to do nothing

Oct 4, 2011 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

"Just science, pure and simple, will be quite adequate."
Oct 4, 2011 at 1:23 PM | Scottie

Glad to. There is a group called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They publish a report on climate change every few years, gathering together the existing evidence which is out there.

The first Working Group (WG1) concentrates on the physical basis - the science and evidence.

Go and fill your boots on IPCC AR4 WG1 for as much evidence as you could want, all referenced to the papers it's drawn from. To be honest, I'm surprised you haven't looked it over before.

Oct 4, 2011 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

Sorry, that doesn't count – argumentum ad verecundiam.

Next?

Oct 4, 2011 at 2:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterScottie

Sorry, that doesn't count – argumentum ad verecundiam.

Next?

Oct 4, 2011 at 2:04 PM | Scottie

What absolute rubbish. How on earth is lists of scientific evidence argument from authority? If I told you I was climate scientist, and you had to believe me because I know more than you, then that would be arument from authority.

To point you to a source which lists all the scientific evidence, and also lists the papers this evidence is take from, is in no way argument from authority.

Oct 4, 2011 at 2:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

@Zed: 'I'm largely libertarian in many ways, and couldn't give two hoots about control. But science tells us with sufficient certainty that AGW is problem, and we all need to act now.'

There's nothing 'largely libertarian' about you Zed. You have (demonstrated on this blog) certainly a very large ego to go with the large portion of arrogance you show. And before you go all poseur about ad hominem remarks, a short test:

1. Have you actually read Montford's HSI?
2. If not, why not?
3.If you have, is there not ONE thing in the book that you can agree with, or which gives you pause?
4. If there is nothing you agree with (and this would assume you are equal to the statistical accomplishments of the likes of Steve McIntyre), can you vouchsafe such disagreements along with their reasons?

You see, I go back to the fact that you are so arrogant that you cannot contemplate the slightest bit of doubt. In place of that you come out with such gems as: 'You lot try and stand in the way of that, which is deeply, deeply wrong.' So only the scientists you like are right, about anything. You.are.so.right.

Thing is, I never thought of science as a certainty. Sure, you can use the sophism about gravity being a 'consensus' and (therefore?) being 'right', but that's really no more than the fact that gravity is empirically proven and, let's face it, would be pretty damn difficult to disprove.

I'll stick with my current assessment of you as a person: a control freak; a soi-disant intellectual; and a bully. None of these qualities equips you to have domain over me or my beliefs. As a libertarian, I reserve the right to be 'free FROM your claptrap'. I think you think libertarianism gives your the right TO issue such rubbish. There you go. When you rule the world every day will be the first day of....

Oct 4, 2011 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

Z
Occasionally, this argument is called the "argument from prestige" and is based on the belief that prestigious people cannot be wrong. In these cases, the fallacy is best termed the "snob appeal" variety of the ad populum.

Oct 4, 2011 at 2:24 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

"but that's really no more than the fact that gravity is empirically proven and, let's face it, would be pretty damn difficult to disprove."
Snotrocket

Good chap - you're learning. And it's just like AGW theory in this respect. It's been empirically proven, and despite people trying really hard to do so, nobody has managed to falsify it yet.

I think you might actually get the hang of this if you keep in there.

Oct 4, 2011 at 2:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

"How on earth is lists of scientific evidence argument from authority?"

*Lists* of scientific evidences are indeed appeals to authority. Producing the evidences themselves wouldn't be.

Andrew

Oct 4, 2011 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

Z

"If I told you I was climate scientist, and you had to believe me because I know more than you, then that would be arument(sic) from authority."

Quite!

Oct 4, 2011 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

""How on earth is lists of scientific evidence argument from authority?"
*Lists* of scientific evidences are indeed appeals to authority. Producing the evidences themselves wouldn't be.
Andrew"
Oct 4, 2011 at 2:45 PM | Bad Andrew

Badly stated by me. It's both the evidence, and its sources, so we'll be ok.

Oct 4, 2011 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

"Badly stated by me."

Zed,

We expect nothing less from you. ;)

Andrew

Oct 4, 2011 at 2:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

@Zed: 'Good chap - you're learning. And it's just like AGW theory in this respect. It's been empirically proven, and despite people trying really hard to do so, nobody has managed to falsify it yet.

I think you might actually get the hang of this if you keep in there.'

If I were to call you a 'patronising git', I'd probably be right; I'd probably get a consensus; and I bet there would be empirical evidence to the fact. But then, you have merely shown how you and your control freaks manage the didactic; when you can't go to the point of the discussion go for the man.

However, let's leave aside your childishness and get to the meat of what you said: '...it's just like AGW theory in this respect. It's been empirically proven...'

No, it hasn't. Show me where there is empirical evidence to this fact, outside of any model or computer program?

'....and despite people trying really hard to do so, nobody has managed to falsify it yet.'

No one needs to falsify your AGW theory. It is up to you to falsify the NULL hypothesis. If your theory is so strong, why do the main players (Mann, Jones, Gore, et al) refuse to publish their data and code (OK Gore is not a scientist but his disgusting propaganda film marks him for what he is). I would have thought you would be screaming at them to do so so that you could ram the theory even more down the throats of our children.

Finally, as you won't answer easy questions (that must be down to your political teaching): If you are right and GW increases the average temps by 1 deg C or so per century, so what?

Oct 4, 2011 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

Apologies for the failed </I>. Poor typo.

[Fixed now]

Oct 4, 2011 at 3:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

ZDB I think in view of the ferocity of your attacks on so many generally civil posters here, it is time to call you out once more on "the science". To anyone who knows anything about science, the expression itself is absurd and betrays ignorance of the scientific process. Science is seldom monolithic in this way, least of all in such a new area as climate science. It builds by controversy and by being crash-tested, which is what you and your friends are seeking to prevent.
If you swallow your pride and go over to Climate Audit, you will see some interesting threads about the Dessler/Spencer controversy which, while it seems obscure and almost theological, goes to the heart of one of the key assumptions behind the use of IPCC projections in policy making, that of positive feedbacks to the (largely CO2 and methane-driven) greenhouse effect. Without positive feedbacks there is simply no case for global action on carbon emissions, regardless of any other policy considerations, because the expected increase in global temperatures falls to between between 1º and 2ºC per doubling, or perhaps two thirds of those figures by the end of the century, or well within policymakers' stated safe range. This is without even beginning to debate how much of the increase in CO2 is man-made and therefore theoretically capable of being controlled.
It is clear from the debate on Climate Audit that in spite of his best efforts Dessler has found no evidence of positive feedbacks. Neither he nor Spencer appears to have come up with any compelling conclusion in either direction, and a number of posters, notably Solar and McIntyre himself, have shown that by varying the smoothing mechanism and other parameters it is possible to generate either small evidence suggesting positive feedback or small evidence of negative feedback. The R squareds, or amount of variation potentially explained, are vanishingly small on both sides of the argument. As far as I know all other supposed evidence of positive feedbacks is reached by circular arguments, ie feeding positive feedbacks into GCMs and finding that they come out the other end.
Please go away, learn some maths and stats if you need to, and come back when you are technically equipped to join in an adult discussion. it is really tiresome that people who lack the numeracy to form a first hand view on the arguments have such aggressive opinions that they can only support by listing names of the great and the good.

Oct 4, 2011 at 3:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

"Show me where there is empirical evidence to this fact, outside of any model or computer program?"
Oct 4, 2011 at 3:15 PM | Snotrocket

I already have. IPCC AR4 WG1. It's full of the stuff. You've clearly never read it, I suggest you do so.

Oct 4, 2011 at 3:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

@ Oct 4, 2011 at 2:39 PM | ZedsDeadBed

And it's just like AGW theory in this respect. It's been empirically proven, and despite people trying really hard to do so, nobody has managed to falsify it yet.


Nice one Zed – argumentum ad ignorantiam.

Two down, two to go.

Next?

Oct 4, 2011 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterScottie

Next?
Oct 4, 2011 at 3:58 PM | Scottie

IPCC AR4 WG1. All the evidence you need is written down in there. Why not go and read it?

Oct 4, 2011 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

Excellent!

That covers argumentum ad nauseam.

Just one to go now. Go on, you can do it!

Oct 4, 2011 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterScottie

"All the evidence you need is written down in there."

Zed,

Evidently you can't tell what is evidence and what isn't. I report isn't "evidence". A report is words written *about* the evidence.

Andrew

Oct 4, 2011 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

@zed: 'I already have. IPCC AR4 WG1. It's full of the stuff. You've clearly never read it, I suggest you do so.'

(Still more empirical evidence that you are a patronising git....)

However, if you mean in WG1 the 'Observations on atmosphere, snow, ice etc', or the 'Paleoclimate' stuff with all the dodgy tree ring data etc?; one is aware of it, referenced it and understand what Trenberth, Briffa and their ilk would like us to believe. None of this seems to go towards man-made global warming, it merely goes to the fact that climate changes. It is not until the models get brought into the mix that there is any kind of take on the man-made bit.

The point here is that I, and I am sure many of my fellow realists, are prepared to read the words of the 'science' in AR4 and make a balanced view. You, on the other hand, have, as ever, failed to answer the questions I posed you earlier, the main one being, have you read The HSI?

What are your views on wheter Mann should have released his data/workings?

Oct 4, 2011 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

D'oh!!! What's going on the (italics off)?????

Oct 4, 2011 at 4:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

Enough on this now.

Oct 4, 2011 at 4:23 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

@ZedsDeadBed "But it's clearly not imaginary... There is overwhelming evidence to say it is a very real problem, or did that somehow pass you by?"

And hereby ZedsDeadBed counts herself out of having anything further of value to add. By her own admission - and by demonstration - her capacity for rational thought has been 'overwhelmed' by 'evidence'. When she recovers (if she wants to recover, that is), she might find herself in a better position to evaluate the available materials on the subject.

Oct 4, 2011 at 4:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter S

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