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« The Times does climate | Main | Yeo investigated for perjury »

Our biggest problem is poverty

This is a guest post by Ralf Bodelier, translated from an original in Dutch.

Indur M. Goklany is one of the most influential climate analysts in the world. 'If we want a better world, we must continue using the cheapest form of energy.  For the time being that is the burning of oil, coal and gas'. Last month he published ‘Carbon Dioxide. The Good News’.

He was part of the climate negotiations for the United States in the run-up to the UNFCCC, and he was there at the birth of the mighty IPCC - the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He participated in several of the five assessment reports of the same IPCC. But two decades ago, Goklany (70) distanced himself from the 'climate alarmists'. He was one of the earliest champions of adaptation, arguing that it made more sense than mitigation (or emissions reduction). He developed the notion of “focused adaptation”, whereby you address current day problems that would/could be exacerbated by climate change.  Early this October he published "Carbon Dioxide. The Good News', a long article about the benefits of more CO2 in our atmosphere, including a plea to the world to not decarbonize too fast. ‘Since the 1980s, we’ve been hoping that clean solar and wind energy will break through', Goklany says.  ‘However, their share of energy worldwide still doesn’t exceed one and a half percent.’

The facts are well known. About 82 percent of our energy still comes from coal, oil and gas. Another 5 percent comes from nuclear.  The remaining 13 percent is from renewables, including hydropower. Fossil fuels also supply the raw materials for clothes and houses, fertilizer and pharmaceuticals, aircraft and technologies that boost crop yields and increase food production.

‘Besides, more and more research shows that the increase in CO2 in our atmosphere has very positive effects on nature and the environment’, Indur Goklany says. ‘Should we decide to leave coal, oil, gas and uranium in the ground, our society would be completely out of joint. And poor countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America would be most affected. In coming decades they will need a lot of cheap and reliable energy to develop. And that, like it or not, is fossil energy.’

I meet Indur Goklany, a friendly, modest and bearded scholar, in a tapas restaurant in his hometown of Washington. You won’t find him often on TV talk shows. You are more likely to find him in the footnotes of influential books like 'The Rational Optimist’ from Matt Ridley in 2010 or the recent 'The End of Doom' by Ronald Bailey. You could call Goklany the father of the Ecomodernism, the optimistic, high-profile alternative to the traditional environmental movement. Ecomodernism is a trend that has enticed more and more former environmentalists to cross the floor, including former hippie and compiler of the Whole Earth Catalog Stewart Brand, and also Mark Lynas, until recently one of the most radical environmentalists in the United Kingdom.

Indur Goklany has also crossed the floor, although that was back in the 80s, before the term `ecomodernism' was coined. 'In the 70s I even contributed to Greenpeace,’ Goklany says. In the late 1970s the doubts came in. He was one of the first to champion adaptation, which he argues is more cost-effective and less costly than mitigation (or emission reductions).

Since the 1990s Goklany has been delivering the figures and ideas that have helped the ecomodernists to tell their story. Usually, these are not figures and ideas that get a warm welcome among environmentalists and the politically correct. The India-born researcher likes to research subjects on the edge of science, ethics and morality, like the idea that we should stop with generating energy from fuel fossils as soon as possible.

Many think climate change is the main problem we face today. Apparently you see that differently. 

‘I do. Despite the dramatic reduction in poverty because of economic development, the biggest problems we face today are still extreme poverty and its consequences – hunger, premature death, disease and an impaired environment. Extreme poverty is the fundamental problem of the moment. If we reduce poverty first, we will reduce these other problems. It is therefore good news that the elimination of poverty is still number one in the list of new development goals of the United Nations. '

What is the connection between alleviating poverty and your plea for fossil energy? 

‘Between 1981 and 2012, the number of people in absolute poverty declined by over a billion people worldwide as the rate of absolute poverty declined by almost three-quarters, from 54 percent to 15 percent.  The vast majority of these reductions occurred in South and East Asia – think of India and China. What happened? They got wealthier, because of economic growth fueled literally by fossil fuels. This is why they are also major contributors today to CO2 today.  It is not rocket science – you are poor, you need to get richer, but for that you need access to cheap and reliable energy.  And today energy is, for practical purposes, synonymous with fossil fuels.

However, there are still almost a billion people living in absolute poverty today. Ensuring that they have the means for economic development, which means ensuring they have access to cheap and reliable energy, should be our first concern. We have no idea how pathetic it is to not have energy, although I can still remember from my childhood in India. People with no access to electricity or any of the conveniences we take for granted, cooking their meals using dung, all the while inhaling the noxious fumes from the burning dung; women and children walking miles to fetch water; when the sun set so did all productive activity including studying and working because lighting was rare and expensive; streets without light; the fact that any action took physical effort and was time consuming, because gasoline, diesel and electric powered machines and appliances weren’t available.

It is not surprising that even the Bible starts with energy. The first thing God created was light. Then the rest came.

‘Though he didn’t do it perfectly. He created the light, but he didn’t make it cheap. For millennia only the wealthy could afford it.  Over time, with the help of fossil fuels we humans made it affordable to the majority. From the time we started, we developed on every aspect. In life expectancy, in health, in safety. In countries that don’t have sufficient energy, many people die prematurely. Therefore, developing countries - and particularly the poorest in developing countries - should also get the chance to have cheap energy as soon as possible. And the way it looks now, this energy will be fossil energy. Because no other form of energy is so cheap, so reliable and with so many advantages. However, under pressure from the climate movement we create hurdles, if not deny that possibility to the poorest. I find that really incredibly and morally objectionable.’

Many will not understand your message. How dare Mr. Goklany to claim such a thing? We do know that the world is going to hell and that oil is the great evil. '

‘The data are crystal clear. On one hand there is that huge group of around one billion people who still live in abject poverty. At the same time, everyone, worldwide, that’s born today, lives longer than their parents. He or she is much healthier, gets more and better education and has less risk of hunger. Average global life expectancy, probably the single best indicator of human well-being, has more than doubled from 26 years in 1750 to 31 in 1900 and to 71 years in 2013. In developing countries hunger and malnutrition decreased from 24 percent of population in 1990–92 to 14 percent in 2011–13, despite a 37 percent increase in population. People are having fewer children. And not only in the USA or with you in Belgium/Netherlands. It is happening in more and more countries, including in Africa or Asia. The South and the West are pulling towards each other more. The inequality between countries is decreasing. I will continue to point out that we owe it to the fact that we have plenty of cheap and reliable fossil fuels. But it is premature to declare victory, because there still exists a substantial gap in well-being between the developed and developing nations, and the rich and the poor.  So the need for cheap, reliable energy is not diminished.’

Environmentalists are going against your ideas. They argue that it is much better to not build more coal plants and wait for cheap renewable energy. When you do invest, they say, do it right away as sustainable as possible.  '

‘It depends on your starting point. If you want to put an end to child mortality, tuberculosis or malnutrition as soon as possible, you cannot wait for economic development and cheap reliable energy. Developing countries need economic development and, therefore, power, now. Think of it this way: Suppose there is a deadly disease, and we have a vaccine against this disease. However, the vaccine is not perfect; it has some side effects, which could be severe but not necessarily as deadly.  Does it make sense to withhold this vaccine and wait a few years for one that has fewer side effects?  What do you do? Should you postpone vaccinations for, say, two years until a better vaccine comes in? '

The dangers of burning fossil energy, so we hear, due to climate change will be catastrophic. 

‘That’s what I hear too, but all that is based on model results that use climate models that even the IPCC’s underlying chapter acknowledges overestimate the rate of warming. So far, the data do not indicate problems that are claimed will occur.  Crop yields are increasing, not declining, fewer people are dying from extreme weather and climatic events, death rates have declined from malaria and other vector-borne diseases, sea level rise is not accelerating. Among colleagues, there is a lot of doubt and discussion. Anything being suggested by one scientist, whether it's the expansion of malaria, the acceleration of sea level rise, or the increase in heavy storms, will be doubted by another scientist. Apocalyptic predictions from the past turned out to be wrong.’

No one knows, for example, how to explain the Global Warming Hiatus that is there for 18 years now.

‘Supposedly, 66 hypotheses have been offered to explain the departure of reality from models.  But more important than the hiatus is that observational data indicating that the models are running too hot by a factor of two to four.  Data in the IPCC’s report confirm this overestimates.

We are now below the lowest estimate for the rate of temperature change projected by the IPCC from the 90s. When there is already a huge difference in a prediction that looks ahead 10 to 15 years on, how confident can we be about a prediction for 2100?

When you realize how much models are overpredicting warming rates, you have to be reluctant in supporting drastic measures such as the ' de-carbonization of the economy '.

Okay, now let's assume that this pause in global warming will be over one day. And that global warming just rebounds. Should we just let it go? '

‘Oh no, I am a strong supporter of, what I call, ‘focused adaptation'. We know that climate change is more likely to make existing threats worse rather than create brand new threats. So if we reduced our vulnerability to these existing threats we should be able to deal with the threats from climate change a lot easier. My research, based on impacts studies that have been quoted in the IPCC reports, shows that through the foreseeable future, the magnitude of these underlying threats – whether it is hunger, malaria, water shortage, or even habitat loss – will continue to substantially exceed the additional threat due to climate change alone. Therefore, if we reduce the underlying threats we would solve the bigger part of the problem even in the future. In addition the techniques that have to be devised to deal with the underlying existing problems should also serve to reduce the negative impacts of climate change in the future. In fact, we can reduce these underlying threats much more cost-effectively than we can reduce climate change.’

So what should we do?

‘We should adjust our practices and approaches in order to reduce our vulnerability to the current climate. Think about irrigation and storage of rainwater. Think about resilient and sturdier homes and infrastructure, genetic modification of plants to make them resistant against the vagaries of the climate, vaccinations to deal with malaria and other climate-sensitive diseases. These approaches will work whether or not climate changes, whether or not our models are eventually proven correct. If the climate changes or not, that is always a wise investment. The climate is fickle, and not always friendly to humans. Instead of many billions to spend on the fight against climate change, it is much wiser to fix problems that could be exacerbated by climate change. We know that sooner or later we’ll have to face droughts and floods. So we should prepare for those. So when we have a drought, for instance, we’d be able to deal with it, whether it is caused by climate change or just the usual, unpredictable climate or weather. If floods or storms are threatening, make sure they don’t do too much damage. This approach is also one in which climate-climate-skeptics and climate change believers can come together.’

In your latest publication 'Carbon Dioxide. The good news', you explain the benefits of more Co2 in our atmosphere. What are these benefits?  '

‘The most important one is the greening of the Earth. CO2 stimulates plant growth. In the 18th century humans produced three million tons of CO2 every year (measured as carbon), today it’s almost ten billion tons. And all that CO2 is plant food. It’s no surprise that many commercial growers pump extra CO2 into their greenhouses to increase production.

According to satellite data, between 1982 and today vegetation productivity has increased by 14 percent, in large part because of CO2. That's a huge increase for our forests, but also for agricultural yields. That higher CO2 increases productivity of plants and crop yields has been confirmed by numerous scientific experiments over the past two hundred years. And you can also observe from satellites that the Earth is getting greener. These are hard data and not results from models that don’t seem to be reflecting reality. You can find these kinds of data in the IPCC-reports. In fact, according to the IPCC, terrestrial productivity today is 5 percent greater than in pre-industrial times, more than compensating for all the deforestation and other habitat loss that occurred in the interim. 

Additional CO2 is a major contributor to this increase in productivity. The problem is that the IPCC’s Summaries for Policy Makers emphasize the apocalyptic stories and underplay the benefits. We should look at both sides and then weigh the disadvantages against the advantages. In doing so, we must not forget something: many of the problems we see in future will be resolved, like we resolved many problems in the past. Human inventiveness is huge and technology continues to develop. '

The predictions about the disadvantages of climate change may be uncertain, but when they come out, so say the climate activists, it will become a disaster. '

‘Let’s look at natural disasters, since this is constantly being mentioned. I have elaborated on that subject in 2011 [in: Wealth and Safety: The Amazing Decline in Deaths from Extreme Weather in an Era of Global Warming. RB]. I did so using one of the best databases on disasters that exists. It is the EM-DAT database, the International Disaster database, available from the University of Louvain, in Brussels. I analyzed their data on the base of the question: how many people passed away in each decade between 1900 and 2010 because of a climate related cause like droughts and floods, heat waves and tornadoes?

On one hand you see that the reporting of extreme weather indeed is on the increase. This might be because we have more comprehensive and faster news coverage today than in times past.  More people are in the path of any disaster because of the increases in population.  Also the damage is worse because we are getting richer, which means there is more to get damaged.

But on the other hand, and that stunned me, I found that the mortality from extreme weather events has decreased tremendously. In a disaster year like 1931 more than 3.5 million people died because of something that could be attributed to the weather or climate. However, the cumulative total death from all extreme weather events since 2000 is less than half a million. In 2013 it was only 30 thousand. And that while the population has increased from two to seven billion people, in the 30's 241 people per million people worldwide died because climatic, meteorological and hydrological disasters; in the first decade of this century this declined to five people per million. The chances now that you die because of drought, storms, heat or floods have declined to only one-fiftieth compared to eighty years ago.

We are, in short, getting better and better in protecting ourselves from the climate and weather. And, again, we do so thanks to fossil fuels. They give us the possibility to build solid houses to protect against storms, to grow crops despite droughts, to construct tougher dykes to protect against floods, to escape with a good car before a hurricane arrives, or to heat the house during cold waves or cool it during heat waves. When we were able to decrease the number of climate victims so enormously in the 20th century, should we not have some more confidence in the 21st century?’

You say that renewable energy won’t get through for the time being. But proponents of the de-carbonizing of our economy believe that renewable energy is getting cheaper so fast, that fossil fuels remain the best in the ground’

‘Yes, solar panels are getting cheaper, but are they also getting cheaper and reliable as oil? Because that is the crucial point. The big problem of, for example, solar energy is that it doesn’t work when the sun is hiding. The sun hides at night for twelve of the 24 hours that we have in a day. In addition, solar energy is less efficient when its’s cloudy or rainy, and in the West it’s cloudy for one third of the year. Because there is no solar energy available much of the time, some form of storage is needed, for example in the form of immense batteries. Currently, they are experimenting with many kinds of storage, but all of them make solar energy a lot more expensive than oil, gas, or coal. As an electrical engineer with some background in solid state physics I have great confidence that it will happen sooner or later, but it hasn’t happened yet.  But if a technology cannot pay for itself, it is no longer sustainable, so let’s not keep subsidizing such (non)solutions until they are ready.

That includes wonderful projects such as Sun farms in Arizona or the Sahara desert and transporting the power generated there through heavy duty cables to Michigan or France. Technically, anything is already possible, but it's the economics, stupid.

As long as there are huge stocks of cheap fossil fuels that can be tapped, fuels that also continue work on a cold, cloudy, windless winter day or in the dead of night in Western Europe or the Mid-West, for sure we will not massively switch to solar or wind power. At least for the time being, there is not much that point to that. When countries decide to move for political reasons, it costs them an awful lot of money. Think of the Germans who have now been switching to renewables for four years now have spent already tens if not hundreds of billions of euros. Germany would have been better off if Chancellor Merkel used a small fraction of that for more research on new energy sources and using the remainder to stimulate economic growth rather than saddling Germany with high energy costs.’

How should we describe your position now? You are on the Wikipedia list, "List of scientists opposing the mainstream scientific assessment of global warming '. Are you a ' climate denier '?

‘Not at all. I have no reason to doubt that carbon dioxide emissions contribute to climate change. But I am proud to call myself a skeptic. And I think it is every scientist’s duty to be a skeptic. One who practices science takes nothing for granted. He is always looking at data to confirm (or not) whether observations track theory and models. The skeptic does not rely on ideologies. Skepticism is an intellectual approach. But few skeptics doubt some influence of greenhouse gases on the climate, or that it is warmer today than a century and a half ago. But they do question its major cause or what fraction of the warming is due to human beings in general, and to greenhouse gases in particular.  They also question the rate of future change from greenhouse gases, what that means to us and how best to react to any challenges.’

In the past, nobody would have asked you this question. Back then you were still in what is called the mainstream today. What made you to move from a Greenpeace sympathizer to become a climate sceptic? ' 

'It started with research into air pollution that I did in the late 1970s when I was the Technical Director for the National Commission on Air Quality that was established by Congress. People were terribly worried about it, and rightly so. When I looked at these studies closely, I noticed, however, that the details were rather problematic. The researchers only had observed data on particulate matter air quality – in those days we were concerned with total suspended particulates or TSPs - in a limited number of spots in a county. Next they had extrapolated those results over the whole county.  But TSP concentrations varied rapidly from spot to spot. When I questioned this methodology, people didn’t seem very interested in the methodological flaws. They knew in advance what the results should be, who were good and who were bad, and who they had to be against.

Over time I started to notice the changing definition of ‘sustainability'. In the 80’s that concept had broad meaning. It encompassed economic development and environmental protection. But along the way the definition of sustainability was fully hijacked by environmental and climate activists. Nowadays you don’t hear them prioritize poverty and hunger, economics and development. Everything takes second place to climate change and the need to reduce CO2. So it’s OK to push biofuels even if it leads to greater hunger and more habitat loss, or have windmills that chop up birds and bats, or make energy expensive even if it postpones the banishment of poverty.'

How eccentric is your position? People who are committed to curb climate change rely on 97 percent of climate scientists who agree that we are heading towards a disaster.

'To me that is a strange argument. I was schooled by the Jesuits. A teacher used the argument that 40 million Frenchmen believed in the existence of God could 40 million Frenchmen be wrong? I listened to him and considered that the majority of all Germans believed in Hitler. However, that was not a good idea.

Even now, it doesn’t mean anything that 97 percent of a particular occupational group has an opinion about something. Why would those other three percent not be right? In addition, it is a dubious number.

So where does that 97 percent actually come from?  Last spring climate economist Richard Tol looked into the research by Australian PhD student John Cook, who came up with this 97 percent. From Tol’s article -Global warming consensus claim does not stand up- it turns out that Cook has fiddled with it a lot. Even despite the rumblings, Cook’s conclusions aren’t as robust as people make from it. His conclusion is that 97 percent of the scientific articles pointing to 'any' role that people play in climate change and not so much on a ' decisive ' role. In addition, those articles agree about the fact that there is human contribution to climate change, but don’t necessarily proclaim that this will be catastrophic.’

'You call yourself a climate skeptic. If you don’t confess in the Netherlands that you are a believer in climate changes, including the dramatic changes that come from it, you are not taken seriously anymore. How is it in the United States? 

That’s not different here in the US. But you should not worry about what people think. I often wonder how it is possible that so many people believe the story that climate change is going to turn out to be catastrophic. They never look at the data. Who reads the detailed chapters of the IPCC instead of just the Summaries for Policy Makers, for example? 

We are all social animals. We believe, say and do what everyone believes, says and does. No one likes to place himself outside the group by putting forward critical arguments against a deep and widely shared faith. Partly it's because we are all exposed to the same ideas, distributed by the press and universities. What’s not really helping either is that climate change generates a lot of money. Scientists, NGOs and companies know that all too well. Governments subsidize something easily that is related to climate change. Of course everyone wants a bit of it. No one wants to raise critical questions. That would kill the goose that lays the golden egg.  But still we have to ask these questions.’

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Reader Comments (37)

Of course the $64000 question is 'If the earth cannot support all the people being born today, who is going to die, and who decides that?'

These are questions only the so called hard right dare ask, and no one dares answer...

Nov 27, 2015 at 1:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterLeo Smith

Good article. It's difficult to think of any points he has missed.

Nov 27, 2015 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

...Our biggest problem is poverty...

Nonsense! Our BIGGEST problem is that we cannot make the global temperature conform to the models.

Once that is sorted, there will be grants for everyone, and poverty will disappear...

Nov 27, 2015 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Michael Hart Nov 27, 2015 at 2:00 PM

I agree. Real sense.

Nov 27, 2015 at 2:52 PM | Unregistered Commentermiket

Thanks for this interview. Is Indur Goklany the most sensible person on Earth, or just in the top ten?

Nov 27, 2015 at 2:58 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

There have been 1 million extra winter deaths since this climate scam started (Link)

That is one million lives shortened because gullible or (in light of Yeo) dishonest politicians have wasted time and resources on the none issue of CO2 which could have been used to help tackle that appalling & literal holocaust.

Nov 27, 2015 at 3:24 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Well said Mr Haseler

Leo Smith:

Are you crazy or was your post meant to be a joke?

Nov 27, 2015 at 3:36 PM | Registered CommenterDung

That's a long post by Ralf Bodelier for hereabouts, but my goodness it is a very welcome one.

The world is a better place because of folks like Indur M. Goklany, and a worse one because of all of those who have chosen to keep hyping the CO2 Alarmism for all it is worth to them. As he says

What’s not really helping either is that climate change generates a lot of money. Scientists, NGOs and companies know that all too well. Governments subsidize something easily that is related to climate change. Of course everyone wants a bit of it.

Nov 27, 2015 at 3:43 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

'Besides, more and more research shows that the increase in CO2 in our atmosphere has very positive effects on nature'

No, not really. Nature doesn't care. More plants, fewer plants . . . nature doesn't care.

Humans may like the effects.

Nov 27, 2015 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterGamecock

'the biggest problems we face today are still extreme poverty and its consequences'

WE ?!?!

Nov 27, 2015 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterGamecock

Yes, Gamecock, we!
Unless you haven't been looking at what is going on in the rest of the world.
Or perhaps you belong to the "**** 'em; they're only w*gs" tendency?

Nov 27, 2015 at 4:11 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

There are a lot of interesting points raised by Indur Goklany and he goes far beyond most other thinkers in bringing together the theoretical, empirical and moral aspects of the climate problems and consideration of the policy solutions. To I believe you should always have a single policy question in the background.

By acting, is there a reasonable expectation that the resulting future will be better than if we did not act, or took an alternative course of action?

On climate mitigation policies, sufficient for that answer to be "yes", there are a number of necessary conditions that would need to be met, that I would say are not being met, and Goklany would largely concur. The necessary conditions are split into three categories 1. The problem(s) to be overcome; 2. Policy to overcome the problem(s); 3. Best of alternatives.
1. Rising GHG gas levels are strongly net harmful. Goklany states that rising CO2 is beneficial, and that the theoretical harms are not in recent times showing up in the data.
2. That mitigation is net beneficial. That is the benefits outweigh the costs. The Stern Review claimed that it was in theory. (Peter Lilley dissects the claims). Goklany states that the technology is not there, and there are strong harmful consequences to economic growth from mitigation policies. Lomborg has shown (and the UNFCCC evidence agrees) that present policy proposals have a small marginal impact so even if fully enacted policy countries would bear all the costs with little mitigation benefit.
3. The policy alternatives are adaptation or strong economic growth. Adaptation means accurately identifying potential harms, and dealing direct with the issues. Strong economic growth lessons the harms, as Goklany states.

Nov 27, 2015 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

@dung: deadly serious. The elephant in the room of 'more of everything for more people' is that sooner or later we will hit a resource limit.

It probably wont be energy.
It certainly wont be climate change.

BUT it will be something. Even if its the ability of people to live in crowded anonymous cities without killing each other.

So the question is who is to die and who decides who will die.

Which is why I take a bit of a cynical view of people who say 'of course it can all be solved and we will have lots more people and everything will be sweetness and light'

Nov 27, 2015 at 4:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterLeo Smith


I've put up a discussion post on CO2 and it relates to mitigation policy. The reason I put it up is because through reading the post by Ferdinand Engelbeen about CO2 attribution, the dC13 proxy that is often used appears to show that before the industrial revolution there was a 1 degree change over the course of centuries. This is because there was a 10 ppmv change in CO2 if you follow Henry's Law and all that.

Which means pre industrial revolution there is a natural 1 degree change with 10 ppmv variation. After 150+ years in industrial revolution, there is also an apparent (if temperature anomalies are to be believed) 1 degree change but with a change of 120 ppmv.

Nature of course doesn't switch off and didn't just when we industrialised. So basically over two periods where there was a change of approximately 1 degree change in temperature there has been an order of magnitude change in CO2 in the atmosphere.

All we seem to be doing is increasing CO2 content in the atmosphere, not driving temperature. The dangers appear to be much less critical.

Nov 27, 2015 at 4:33 PM | Registered CommenterMicky H Corbett

Indur M. Goklany is one of the most influential climate analysts in the world.

Sanest, rather than influential. He has had numerous post on WUWT over the last several years. Those have been spot-on, just like this post.
Thanks for making it available.

It would be nice if he were the science adviser to the wrong-headed guy in the White House. Then he would be more "influential."

Nov 27, 2015 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn F. Hultquist

'Unless you haven't been looking at what is going on in the rest of the world.'

What's going on in the rest of the world is none of my business. I see no nobility in Goklany's views; I see a statist creep.

Nov 27, 2015 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterGamecock

Dr. David Evans has a 21 article series explaining the errors in the basic climate model and proposing a corrected model.
The series opens with the following statement. The articles are very readable.

"Short and Sweet
Many scientists believe in the carbon dioxide theory because of “basic physics”, or rather its application to climate, the basic climate model. Other scientists are skeptical, because of the considerable contrary empirical evidence.

Dating back to 1896, the basic climate model contains serious architectural errors. Keeping the physics but fixing the architecture, and using modern climate data, shows that future warming due to carbon dioxide will be a fifth to a tenth of official estimates. Less than 20% of the global warming since 1973 was due to increasing carbon dioxide."

Nov 27, 2015 at 6:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterCC Reader

Leo Smith

Your language is pure, authentic Malthusian and like the original it is wrong because you are ignoring the obvious .

Population in almost all developed countries is falling not rising, it would be falling in the UK if Camerbandaire was not inviting so many radical Muslims over to join us.
If the Western world would only allow Africa to build coal fired power stations then population would fall there also.
When you comment on resources you miss many things:

When we use fossil fuels we do not destroy anything, we simple rearrange some molecules to release some energy.
The resources we use at the moment are all in the Earth's crust but can you tell me what resources are stored in the Mantle? Thought not.
Do you ever look into the night sky and wonder how many stars and planets are out there? Do you think there are any resources out there? Do you think it is impossible for us to one day access all those resources?
Do you not think that long before fossil fuels run out; we will have new ways of generating electricity and engines that run on fuels we have not yet discovered/invented?

Nov 27, 2015 at 7:46 PM | Registered CommenterDung

CC Reader

Neither you nor Dr Evans deal with the real problem. It is not possible to model anything accurately unless you know every single component part and know exactly how each of those components works.

Nov 27, 2015 at 7:53 PM | Registered CommenterDung

@Nov 27, 2015 at 4:24 PM | Unregistered Commenter Leo Smith

You say” The elephant in the room of 'more of everything for more people' is that sooner or later we will hit a resource limit.”

You are indeed as Dung observes a Malthusian.

Remember this – just a little over 100 years ago.

In 1894, the Times of London estimated that by 1950 every street in the city would be buried nine feet deep in horse manure. One New York prognosticator of the 1890s concluded that by 1930 the horse droppings would rise to Manhattan’s third-story windows.
This problem came to a head when in 1894, The Times newspaper predicted... “In 50 years, every street in London will be buried under nine feet of manure.”

And :
This became known as the ‘Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894’.
The terrible situation was debated in 1898 at the world’s first international urban planning conference in New York, but no solution could be found. It seemed urban civilisation was doomed. (just like you Leo)
However, necessity is the mother of invention, and the invention in this case was that of motor transport. Henry Ford came up with a process of building motor cars at affordable prices. Electric trams and motor buses appeared on the streets, replacing the horse-drawn buses.

Also observe the well documented phenomenon that as countries move out of poverty their populations decrease. This is happening throughout the western world. What makes you think that it won’t happen elsewhere?

Nov 27, 2015 at 9:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas

Leo Smith, once cultures obtain the technology to turn a light on at night, at the flick of a switch, the birth rate goes down to about 2 children per couple. No social scientist has yet attempted to explain this curious correlation.

Nov 28, 2015 at 12:13 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

'However, there are still almost a billion people living in absolute poverty today. Ensuring that they have the means for economic development, which means ensuring they have access to cheap and reliable energy, should be our first concern.'

Nonsense. Property rights and free trade should be the first concern. Everything else will take care of itself. Energy without property rights will give you nothing.

And what constitutes "absolute poverty?" By current standards, all of humanity lived in absolute poverty a hundred years ago. Obama's half brother makes $10 a year. He's not in poverty. I suspect Goklany realizes the road to world government isn't paved by climate change, so he's going to try "extreme poverty." Which is not defined any more than climate change is defined.

Here's ecomodernism for you (of which 'You could call Goklany the father of the Ecomodernism'):

Note this declaration of orthodoxy:

'There remain, however, serious long-term environmental threats to human well-being, such as
anthropogenic climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, and ocean acidification. While these
risks are difficult to quantify, the evidence is clear today that they could cause significant risk of
catastrophic impacts on societies and ecosystems. Even gradual, non-catastrophic outcomes associated
with these threats are likely to result in significant human and economic costs as well as rising
ecological losses.'

SSDD. New sheep's clothing for the same old, same old.

Nov 28, 2015 at 12:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterGamecock


I have not noticed you before today however it seems you are just a troll. The people on this blog are always interested in new information and are willing to change their minds if necessary. However they are not really interested in loudmouths who have no clue as to what the facts are.

Nov 28, 2015 at 1:07 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Gamecock – ‘statist creep”?

WOW. I have been called many things, but “statist” is a new one for me! [You’ll notice I am ignoring “creep”. I’m sure that epithet has been hurled at me before, even if I can’t exactly recall when, where or by whom…]

Why don’t you google “Goklany” in conjunction with “free trade” and “property rights”, and check if your preconceptions about me are confirmed? You’ll get several hits where you can read my rantings about property rights, free trade and economic development. Or you can check out my papers at

In particular, you may want to look at Strategies to Enhance Adaptability: Technological Change, Economic Growth and Free Trade. Climatic Change 30 (1995): 427-449. It is one of the first papers on adaptation.

Nov 28, 2015 at 3:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterIndur M. Goklany

Indur M. at 3:44

Gamecock always fires from the hip and has no load in the chambers.
The link below is to a comment he/she/it made at WUWT, and my reply follows it.

Nov 28, 2015 at 6:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn F. Hultquist

Leo Smith
I have made the point before that given the present world population one could give around ¼-acre of Australia to every individual and still have a chunk left over.
Even the UN accepts that the population will peak at ~10-11 billion and then decline to the point where (some people argue) the earth will be under-populated by the end of next century or not very long afterwards..
We have barely scratched the surface of the planet in terms of natural resources.
Global warming is not a threat.
(How do I know? Because the Climateers say so. They have stopped using the phrase and have tried to scare us with "climate change" instead! Case proved!)

Nov 28, 2015 at 9:35 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Meet the three percent.

Nov 28, 2015 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterAila

What's going on in the rest of the world is none of my business.
Which tells us everything we need to know about gamecock, doesn't it?
"No man is an island", son. Time you learnt that.

Nov 28, 2015 at 10:19 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

If we have indeed had a visit by the real Indur M. Goklany then we are truly honoured, particularly since he took time out to educate our troll ^.^

Nov 28, 2015 at 10:44 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Gamecock wrote

"And what constitutes "absolute poverty?" By current standards, all of humanity lived in absolute poverty a hundred years ago."

Incorrect. Poverty is not a matter of having cellphones or the latest LCD TV.

Absolute Poverty was defined some 20 years as follows

"a condition characterised by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. It depends not only on income but also on access to services."

100 years ago that applied to much of Africa and India but most of Europe, North America and Australasia were relatively prosperous. People in those places didn't have playstations or iPhones but they pretty much knew they could find food, clean water, libraries, medical care and schools. The great achievement of the 20th and 21st centuries has been the extension of that to much of Asia and South America but there still 1 billion people who cannot rely on finding clean water, sanitation and wholesome food. THAT is absolute poverty and should be our number 1 priority not the mythical CO2 monster.

Nov 28, 2015 at 1:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith Willshaw

Keith Willshaw

Anyone who can say that "By current standards, all of humanity lived in absolute poverty a hundred years ago." obviously doesn't understand what he's talking about.
Add to that the fact that by his own admission he doesn't give a damn for anyone except himself and you have someone not worth engaging with.
I'd save your keyboard for somebody worth the effort.

Nov 28, 2015 at 2:52 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Ocean acidification is junk science writ large. This League of Extraordinary Scienetists embraces ocean acidification. It's in their manifesto. I give you warning that these people are nothing new. Ignore it, call me names, fine. Your choice.

Nov 28, 2015 at 3:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterGamecock

fao have a report fraud facility here it might be an idea to send them a copy of their own press release ,as it is indeed fraudulent.

Nov 29, 2015 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterbit chilly

Our biggest problem isn't climate or poverty. Our biggest problem is a lack of human compassion as well as a lack of education. And it will never get better because we are "taught" little beyond being concerned for our personal well being.

We live IN a world of incredible connectivity, but we live our lives as if we were living in a hermit's sanctuary. We see it all on the "boob tube" or the "mobile device," but there is no spiritual, ethical, moral, or intellectual connection to it.

Nov 30, 2015 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterTom O

I draw your attention to wisdom in pop culture: Starfleet's General Orders 1 (Prime Directive), 4, and 16, proscribing interference with local cultures.

People have been burning dried dung for fuel BENEFICIALLY since time immemorial. It is ubiquitous in Africa and Asia. It is not a sign of "extreme poverty," it is a sign of good adaptation. Using it as an Argumentum ad Misericordiam to violate the Prime Directive is not noble. It is elitist/imperialist/colonialist.

That I wouldn't join in Goklany's pity party makes me a bad person to some commentors. I think you should be embarassed. But again, that's just me.

Nov 30, 2015 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterGamecock

burning dried dung for fuel when the world has coal, gas and nuclear power is not a sign of good adaptation, do you fancy trying again? Apparently even monkeys can make sense if you give them enough chances.

Nov 30, 2015 at 4:38 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Doing anything out of necessity is not good adaptation; it's necessity. When someone comes along with something better you use that instead.
On the principle of "How'yre gonna keep 'em down on the farm now that they've seen Paree?", on a (relatively) small planet like this there is no way that Star Trek's prime directive can possibly apply and in any event long before that idea was even thought of the explorers and exploiters and missionaries were in there doing what they believed to be right for the natives.
Homo Occidentalis dragged himself out of poverty because being healthy is better than being sick and being "comfortable" is better than being poor and having the more widely dispersed outdoor pollution that comes even from coal-fired power stations is better than the indoor pollution from wood and dung.
Why would you want those considerably worse off than you are to stay in that unfortunate situation?

Nov 30, 2015 at 4:58 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

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