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...You are right that there is a spectrum between no effect and complete failure, and of course what caused ancient states to fail might only damage a modern Western country. But what would just damage the West might devastate many developing countries. And according to your "all aid is harmful" doctrine they should expect no help from the West to recover. It is good that you accept that climate change could be damaging, even if you feel insulated from it in France.
Dec 9, 2015 at 10:42 PM Raff

Well obviously catastrophic climate change would be, by definition, damaging so obviously I'd be deranged if I were to think the opposite.

It's not a question of my "feeling insulated" from CAGW. Irrespective of whether I were in Northern France, Southern Spain, North Africa, the Florida Keys or even Burkina Faso (where someone I know buggered off to live - and without air conditioning too), the prospect of a changing climate making life less pleasant would be just about the last thing I'd worry about. Nothing that climate science has come up with makes it seem even remotely likely.

Perhaps this is not the right thread to do it but it would be morbidly a little bit interesting to dream up a list of things that would be worse than the hypothesised CAGW and whose likelihood of happening might be greater.

Dec 10, 2015 at 9:13 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I forgot to add. I'm pretty sure that a few degrees more would not make much difference*. Why do I think that? Well, one degree is half way to the 2-degree limit beyond which disaster waits. Yet we would never even have noticed the one degree rise if we had not been told about it.

* that does not mean that I think an increase of a few degrees is likely. Far from it.

Dec 10, 2015 at 11:42 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin, you are right. I expect very few people worry about climate change. I imagine very few in Cumbria worried about flooding before this week either. Does that prove that floods are not a danger? If they could afford it, I guess most people bought insurance, just in case. I'd see reducing CO2 emissions as similar to such insurance.

Sandy, your argument that humans survived a few hundred thousand years of change so why should we worry now is, despite stiff competition from other skeptic lines, one of the most stupid arguments. Come on, you have pointed to the damage climate change can do, you have shown that there can be tipping points as forcing gradually changes, what do you tell your grandchildren when they say, if it happened before why can't it happen again?

...and the big Yin, having realized it was a bad curry that upset his viscera and not me, retreats without a word...

Dec 11, 2015 at 12:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Some arguments are worth arguing raff, and some are not.

At the end of the day we're all just bickering here for no good reason.

Personally I am not worried by a degree of further warming, not saying there will be no ill-effects, but I believe they are effects we can deal with in the normal run of civilization. Agriculture may have to change, but it's going to have to change anyway even without warming, and it has been changing radically over the last three centuries anyway. We may have to start being sensible about flooding and construction, again building crap houses during a dry spate is bad news. But overall, we will adapt to any ill-effects that may come along.

In the same breath, I am also not worried about the 'waste of money' being thrown at renewables and sustainability and the move away from fossil fuels. These are good things on their own, and we should pursue them even if there is no warming. Obviously when you push a technology artificially, the first products are hideously over-priced and under-performing. But once you've run those cables and roads out into the sticks, and once you've built those concrete foundations, the next lot will be cheaper. It won't be until generation two or three of wind farms and solar that we start to see them really benefitting us.

Overall, I'm not alarmed, that is my main reason for being here - I am diametrically opposed to needless alarm. I don't agree with the majority of people here on the various details, but I believe we here represent the optimistic side of human endeavour, the side who knows how to break eggs, and knows how to deal with the mess cleaning.

Rather than the crushing pessimism and cowardice of the alarmists who just want to stop and reverse everything we've achieved.

Dec 11, 2015 at 9:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Just what is stupid about looking at the past and learning lessons from it? History tells us not to build civilisations in marginal areas during climatic optimums, not to build on flood plains during dry periods, not to rely on wind as a power source. It also teaches that we shouldn't believe purveyors of disaster theories when they've been proved wrong once. Check out some predictions here and climate ones here

What is going to be so bad about 2'C warming. I've pointed out that throughout this interglacial in worldwide warm is better for humans than cold, sometimes some locations suffer. All this time all you have said is you're wrong without actually producing any hard evidence.

I still don't know what you are worried about precisely.

Dec 11, 2015 at 10:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

I'd see reducing CO2 emissions as similar to such insurance.
Dec 11, 2015 at 12:03 AM Raff

I understand that viewpoint and it's not irrational.

My view is more on the lines of having some obsessed sounding people arriving at the front door and telling me how my lifestyle is going to provoke some supernatural being into dispensing severe consequences on me and everyone else and the only way of avoiding that is to immediately downgrade my whole lifestyle .

Have you read "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" by Charles MacKay (1851)? - worth a read and it can be downloaded from Gutenberg.

Dec 11, 2015 at 4:55 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Big Yin, much sense there - I guess it came from your brain not your gut this time. I just don't know how much warming there will be or what effect 1, 2 or maybe 3 degrees might have. I think anyone here who claims they do know is using their gut not their brain. As for " the crushing pessimism and cowardice of the alarmists who just want to stop and reverse everything we've achieved" I don't recognize the reality of that. I read a lot of "alarmist" blogs and science podcasts and I have yet to read or hear an article that vaguely resembles such sentiments. Why you associate it with me I have no idea. It resonates more with the feelings expressed here, where any idea of adjusting our economies away from fossil fuels as met with such pessimism and cowardice of a future different from what we now have.

Sandy, if you don't recognize the stupidity of the "we survived the ice age, we'll survive modern climate change" argument, I can't help you.

Martin, one only has to look at religion to understand how people can be deluded. Nothing more is necessary, although examples abound. I do have a copy of that book. Maybe I'll dig it out.

Dec 11, 2015 at 8:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

If you can't tell me what you're scared of I can't help you. All I can do is to leave you quivering in fear and desperation looking into an abyss of gloom, and planning for an event which in all likelihood will never happen whilst nemesis is creeping up on you from a different direction. Those of us who take an interest in history may well end up like Cassandra, but that's not uncommon with the madness of crowds.

Dec 12, 2015 at 8:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS


SandyS' point about building in the right place is well taken.

We are a civilisation concentrated on coastal plains and in river valleys.Critical infrastructure sits close to water, especially power stations.

As demonstrated by recent recent increase in sea level rise related floding along the US East coast,not to mention the increased frequency of flooding in the UK recent years,, that infrastructure is vulnerable.

TheBigYinJames may be right that technology will save us from climate change. It will have to be water hardened or built on higher ground.

You can make flood resistant buildings. In Omagh the flood plains are used as playing fields. The changing rooms are raised above ground level and built of water resistant materials.All the electrical wiring is high up and water resistant.

After last week's flood they were hosed down inside to get the mud out and are now back in use.

Dec 12, 2015 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

EM: what “sea level rise related floding along the US East coast” [sic]? You do realise that 1mm (or even 3mm) per year is effectively unmeasurable – as is up to a little over an inch a decade? The Cumbrian floods had nothing to do with sea-level rise, and a lot to do with high rainfall and inadequate flood defences – even the flooding of the Somerset Levels, despite them being below sea level, were caused by failure of the EA to maintain flood protection, and nothing to do with mythical climate change. You are determined to find disasters caused by climate change, aren’t you, despite the simple fact that little of what you so happily label as such usually has nothing whatsoever to do with climate change and everything to do with weather?

It is good to see that, when building in flood-prone areas, some people are reverting to the ancient practice of ensuring that the building is built to cope with flooding. Progress!

Dec 12, 2015 at 10:24 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Entropic Man
The changes in rainfall are natural variation within the range of the last 10,000 years, and the last few hundred in the UK. History suggests that the residents of California should be prepared for long periods of drought as much as anything else, anyone taking advantage of the greening of the Sahara should view it as temporary, no one should be surprised if the Amazon Rainforest becomes savannah again in the future. Why the Japanese who gave us the word Tsunami didn't take more precautions with their nuclear plants is anyone's guess.

The evidence of natural climate change during the current interglacial is all around, as is the effects of the last glaciation, digging a bit deeper there is evidence of the prior warm (dung beetles, hippos, Lions and Crocodiles in the Thames Valley during the last interglacial) and cold periods. Anyone who doesn't take note and plans for a single future and puts all their resources into coping with that is courting disaster.

There's a very interesting to contrast the between optimism following The "Arab Spring" and the pessimism on Climate Change (natural or man made warming in this case). Europe's Year Of Revolution was in the short term a step backwards, which it could be argued took a century to recover from, whilst the current post-LIA warming has brought benefits in the same time frame and perhaps alleviated some of the after effects . Although I am an optimist regarding mankind's future while the warm lasts, the confidence about a rosy future in North Africa and the Middle East always seemed at bit misplaced to me. Louis XV - Madame de Pompadour and all that.

Dec 12, 2015 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Using this as a reference? It's interesting that ice in both Antarctica and Greenland is gaining mass if recent reports are to be believed and sea-level rises at the same time. Possibly some serious falls in sea-level if predictions by some scientists for a future 20 t0 30 year cooling come to pass?

Dec 12, 2015 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Here you are chaps, I put this on Unthreaded but relevant here:

Settled science

We're all doomed.

Fill yer boots.

Dec 12, 2015 at 12:52 PM | Registered CommenterSimonW


"The changes in rainfall are natural variation within the range of the last 10,000 years, and the last few hundred in the UK"

That turns out not to be the case.

Dec 12, 2015 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man


"The changes in rainfall are natural variation within the range of the last 10,000 years, and the last few hundred in the UK"

That turns out not to be the case.

Dec 12, 2015 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Entropic Man, do you even read the links you supply?
I mean, really?
Really, really?

Right or wrong, apart from the last week, your link says nothing about weather during the last 10,000 years.
Really nothing.

Dec 12, 2015 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

It's a waste of time reading anything that EM says. It's either something tha he has imagined and which has then become, for him, reality. Or it is a link to something that he has come across, skimmed uncritically, and concluded that it confirms the prophesies of disaster that he obsesses over.

As has been discussed here many times, there seems to be no concrete *evidence* (as opposed to plausibility arguments) linking human activity to measurable aspects of climate. If there were, it would undoubtedly have been gleefully pointed out.

Yet in the article EM pointed to, we read

Recent advances in the science of extreme event attribution now make it possible for scientists to, using peer-reviewed methods, rapidly provide an objective, quantitative initial estimate of the relative contribution of global warming to specific classes of extreme weather events. As a result, these analyses provide estimates of the return-time period of the event both today and in the past — before there was a strong human influence on the climate system.

When the history of the Great Delusion is written, "the science of extreme event attribution" will be ranked alongside sciences such as "the science of attribution of nasty occurrences to evil spirits". It's complete bollocks dressed up to sound like science. How can anybody, even EM, take such rubbish seriously is one of the mysteries of our time.

Dec 13, 2015 at 8:26 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

At the moment tI'm not interested in what happened over 10,000 years. This thread is about what is happening now.

Dec 13, 2015 at 9:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

At the moment tI'm not interested in what happened over 10,000 years. [sic]
What an absurd dismissal. Observation of history enables possible patterns to be determined – one of the most obvious patterns is that the global temperatures and/or climate has been following a more or less sinusoidal wave, each successive wave being of lower amplitude to those preceding it. At present, we are on the “up” part of the wave; how soon before we get to the “down” part? I fear too soon, as, when it does descend, then we will find how beneficial the heat has been.

What you have said, EM, is tantamount to me declaring that, as the sun has been rising later and setting earlier over the past three months, soon it will stop rising! What ills will befall us then? How can we appease the gods of the sun, the dawn and the evening? And don’t tell me to look further back in the year, when the opposite was happening – this time it is different! This time, it has been caused by Man! This time, it is irreversible!

Dec 13, 2015 at 10:12 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Martin said:

there seems to be no concrete *evidence* (as opposed to plausibility arguments) linking human activity to measurable aspects of climate
My father was a smoker. He died long ago of lung cancer. If you had his fresh corpse in front of you could you provide any evidence that smoking caused his cancer?

Big Yin, can you give me some examples from mainstream climate blogs of those people who exemplify your

"crushing pessimism and cowardice of the alarmists who just want to stop and reverse everything we've achieved"
I imagine you can find some among the extreme parts of the green movement, but you specifically associated this sentiment with me and I have said nothing in any way extreme.

On the contrary, pessimism and cowardice of any future that doesn't involve burning long-dead plants is the mainstay of the "skeptic" community (although not, it seems, of you).

Dec 13, 2015 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

At the moment tI'm not interested in what happened over 10,000 years. This thread is about what is happening now.
Dec 13, 2015 at 9:29 AM | Entropic man

You're only interested in the weather then?

Dec 13, 2015 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Well I was using this reconstruction. Although based on proxies; which I treat with caution as they can be selected in such a way as to win Nobel Prizes, but I trust models even less. The precipitation chart doesn't indicate much change (in recent years/months decades/centuries) to my eye.

Dec 13, 2015 at 3:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Raff, I'm sorry to learn that your father died of lung cancer. My grandfather too.

Since non-smokers contract the same cancers as smokers (though at a lower rate of incidence), there is no way of providing direct evidence that smoking was the cause of the cancer in any individual case.

Furthermore, my recollection is that there are reasons to believe that smoking renders a person more susceptible to lung cancer due to by other substances, including radon and asbestos. In such cases there is perhaps not one single cause of the cancer so saying what actually caused the cancer would be even more problematical.

Notwithstand the foregoing, the statistical evidence alone in terms of cancer rates for smokers, former smokers, and non-smokers leaves no room for doubt that, if you smoke, you are much more likely to contract lung cancer than if you don't smoke.

Dec 13, 2015 at 5:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

SandyS, MartinA

Actually I am watching the weather.

Across the Atlantic cool water south of Greenland is blocking the Gulf Stream and the trapped hot water is producing a big temperature gradient.

It is like watching Game of Life. The gradient is acting like a glider gun. Every couple of days it produces a deep depression and fires it northeast at the UK.

Dec 13, 2015 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Entropic man
Just another natural variation.

Dec 13, 2015 at 6:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Entropic Man
DMI temperature charts for Arctic showing nothing out of the ordinary, I certainly prefer the "warmth" (5'C) we're currently experiencing here in Limousin at the moment Arctic Temperature, Northern hemisphere sea ice extent is at its greatest extent since records began, or to be less sensational 2005 DMI Total sea ice extent on the northern hemisphere

You may like, or more probably not, reading this blog Sunrise's Swansong. It's one of my favourites, whether you do or not, as it has a different take and is not restricted to climate. According to Caleb, the author, somewhere is going to receive a large dose of Arctic cold air. I'm hoping it's not anywhere I'm going to be.

Dec 13, 2015 at 7:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS