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Melting Ice, Freezing Fossil Fuels Ambitions: Interview with Fen Montaigne

By James Stafford | Tue, 25 June 2013 21:54 | 14

It’s not mere anecdotal evidence: Visibly melting sea ice is the best evidence that the planet is warming. So prospecting for oil in the Arctic is a tricky endeavor that must be undertaken slowly and with extreme caution, argues Fen Montaigne, senior editor of Yale Environment 360, author of “Fraser’s Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctica” and other books, and contributor to National Geographic, The New Yorker and Smithsonian magazines.

So just how hot is it going to get? Hotter than we can handle if we fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly, Montaigne tells us in an exclusive interview in which we discuss:

•    Why prospectors should proceed with extreme caution in the Arctic
•    Just how hot it’s going to get with global warming
•    Why science is being side-lined in the climate change debate
•    Why oil companies will have to keep their assets in the ground
•    Why we need to rethink agricultural subsidies
•    What we can expect next from the volatile EV market
•    What really concerns environmentalists about natural gas
•    The great fossil fuels paradox
•    Why natural gas may not only be a bridge to the future, but the future itself
•    Why the US government has no business mandating ethanol

Interview by. James Stafford of Oilprice.com

Oilprice.com: We’ll start with the Arctic Sea because so much of your work has focused on this area. Right now, the talk here is of vast opportunities, and vast environmental concern. How can we balance these two, and what is at stake?

Fen Montaigne: I am in the go-slow camp when it comes to developing the Arctic, whether it be the region’s fossil fuel riches, its minerals, or its fisheries. I think the problems that Shell has experienced in its early attempts to drill off Alaska’s coast bolster the case for a cautious approach. Cleaning up an oil spill in that environment would be far, far more difficult than in the Gulf of Mexico, and a spill’s effects would be more severe and long lasting in a cold-water environment than in warm waters.

The Arctic nations — as well as other interested countries, such as China — need to carefully survey and assess the resources of the Arctic basin and draft a conservative plan for their exploitation. That may include a ban on drilling for oil and gas in large sections of the Arctic.

Oilprice.com: How can you make the case for global warming using the decline in Arctic Sea ice, and how profound will the consequences be?

Fen Montaigne: No better evidence of the warming of the earth in the last century — and particularly in the last 30-40 years — exists than the melting of the cryosphere, or ice zones. More than 90% of the world’s glaciers are in retreat, and the disappearance of Arctic sea ice is nothing short of stunning.

I have seen this melting with my own eyes, having spent 5 months researching a book on the Antarctic Peninsula, where sea ice and glaciers are retreating rapidly. Earlier this year, I visited a glacier in Switzerland that has retreated by a half-mile since I last saw it 20 years ago; this is not mere anecdotal evidence, as nearly all the glaciers in the Alps, Andes, etc., are in rapid retreat.

Related articles: Extreme Energy, Extreme Implications: Interview with Michael Klare

The world is warming. The overwhelming evidence is that it’s caused by human activities. The only question is how hot things are going to get. If we continue doing as little as we are doing now to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, it is entirely possible that the world might be 5 to 10 degrees F warmer in a century or two, which is not a world I’d like my children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren to be living in.

Oilprice.com: More broadly on the climate change scene, Yale Environment 360 recently published an article discussing the implications of a climate activist movement seeking to persuade universities, cities and other groups to sell off their investments in fossil fuel companies. What’s the long-term logic behind this movement and what will the impact be?

Fen Montaigne: I won’t attempt to predict the impact of the divestment movement. But to me one thing is clear: If in the next 100 years the world’s oil, gas and coal companies develop all the fossil fuel assets that they’re now sitting on, the world is going to be a very unpleasant place in which to live, barring some technological miracle that enables us to suck vast amounts of CO2 out of the air. It’s this realization that is driving the divestment movement and the fight to slow climate change.

Believe me, as a 60-year-old American, living in the most affluent country in the most affluent period in history, I appreciate and value what fossil fuels have done for civilization. I know we’re not going to be able to transition to a non-fossil-fuel economy overnight. But if you keep approving tar sands projects, or massive pipelines, or drilling in the Arctic, when does it stop? When does this movement to a renewable energy economy begin? If I were running a fossil fuel company, I’d be uneasy about the concept of so-called “stranded assets,” because at some point — when seas begin to rise significantly, when weather is sufficiently wild and destabilized, and when things are just too damn hot — people, business owners, and governments are going to say it’s time to stop burning fossil fuels as if there is no tomorrow. I think that as global warming intensifies, it’s likely that a significant portion of the assets of fossil fuel companies are going to have to remain in the ground.

Oilprice.com: As the climate debate increasingly polarizes the American public, science seems to be getting in the way of agendas on both sides. Your magazine recently noted how even environmentalists are ignoring science when it stands in the way of furthering their agendas. Are we entering a period in which scientific facts will be completely sidelined as climate change becomes the strict purview of politics?

Fen Montaigne: It’s indeed unfortunate that climate change has become so intensely politicized in the US and that both sides resort to twisting the facts and using super-heated rhetoric.

From my perspective, however, I think there is a lot more distortion of science on the climate change denier side. Still, when global warming activists ring alarm bells every time there is a heat wave or a period of intense storms, I think that’s a mistake. What happens if we have an unusually cold spring in the eastern US or Europe, like the current one? Does that mean global warming is a hoax? Of course not. Short-term ups and downs in the weather should not be the cause for either side to crow or cry wolf.

I also think it’s unwise when global warming activists warn that it’s “game over” for the climate if something like Keystone XL is approved. OK. So what happens if Keystone is approved? If that means it’s “game over,” then why should any of us worry about reducing CO2 emissions?

I do believe that in the US, we’ll soon be moving into a period where there is less debate about the science of climate change, for the simple reason that it’s going to become increasingly clear that human-caused climate change is affecting the world, from our backyards to the poles. Of course, the debate over whether global warming is real scarcely exists in Europe, which has far less of the contrarian, anti-science streak that exists in the US.

Oilprice.com: There is a significant amount of resistance to the Ethanol mandate, not only because of the connection to food crops with corn-based ethanol. Do you think America is ready for this mandate?

Fen Montaigne: I think that the US’s byzantine system of agricultural subsidies is a mess and needs to be seriously reformed. And I don’t think the US government ought to be in the business of mandating ethanol production.

Oilprice.com: What can we expect from the electric vehicle market in the next 2-3 years? Why have they experienced so many ups and downs? Where has it gone wrong?

Related articles: Energy and Geopolitics - New Realities Take Shape: Interview with David Shorr

Fen Montaigne: I am no expert on electric vehicles, but I am confident that reasonably priced EVs and hybrids will become increasingly common, especially as batteries improve and charging stations become more widespread.

As has been widely noted, the Obama administration’s mandating of far-better fuel economy standards was probably the most important environmental achievement of Obama’s first term. I think that the federal government, working closely with the private sector, also has to become far more involved in stimulating the transition to a renewable energy economy.

Ultimately, it’s innovation and advancement in science, engineering, and the private sector that are going to help solve this climate problem, but a transition as massive and revolutionary as the one away from fossil fuels cannot be done without government involvement.

Oilprice.com: What do you think of T. Boone Pickens’ idea to convert US trucking fleets to natural gas? Is this viable over the long term?

Fen Montaigne: I think using natural gas as a “bridge to the future,” including powering more trucks with natural gas, is a good idea. But many environmentalists are right to be concerned that natural gas is looking less like a bridge to the future, than the future itself. As I said earlier, societies have to take major steps to wean themselves off fossil fuels, and few countries are doing that now, with notable exceptions such as Denmark.

Oilprice.com: Is it possible for the fossil fuels and alternative energy industries to work together to create a viable “transition” period for a sustainable future?

Fen Montaigne: Of course it’s possible. The challenge is that it’s just so easy to keep using fossil fuels, as they are such a compact, relatively inexpensive, and effective source of energy. The profits are enormous, far greater, at this point, than in the renewable energy industry. This is why it is so hard to disrupt the status quo, but that’s what has to happen. What we’re looking at is one of the great paradoxes of history — the very sources of energy that have enabled us to achieve such an advanced civilization and to bring us so many comforts and conveniences are also the sources that threaten to dangerously destabilize the climate that has fostered the growth of human civilization over the past 12,000 years.

Oilprice.com: Are there any significant ways in which the environmental movement has metamorphosed in recent years due to the shale revolution, the natural gas boom, and other energy-related developments??

Fen Montaigne: Leading environmental thinkers such as Bill McKibben have pointed out that the environmental movement used to take heart in the prospect of peak-oil or peak-coal. I think the shale gas and shale oil boom of recent years, as well as the discovery of new oil and gas fields, have demonstrated that fossil fuel use is not going to decline in the next century because oil and gas fields or coal mines are tapped out. That changes environmental strategy, and is one of the reasons that McKibben’s 350.org and other groups are now targeting specific projects like Keystone XL.

And I am sympathetic to one of their central arguments: At some point, you’ve got to stop developing new oil and gas reserves and begin seriously developing alternative sources of energy. Otherwise, it’s going to get awfully hot, and rising seas are going to pose a major threat to cities from Shanghai to Miami.

[Audio currently unavailable]

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  • Jason Bradstreet on June 27 2013 said:
    "I am sympathetic to one of their central arguments: At some point, you’ve got to stop developing new oil and gas reserves and begin seriously developing alternative sources of energy. Otherwise, it’s going to get awfully hot, and rising seas are going to pose a major threat to cities from Shanghai to Miami."


    Sympathetic and stupid you mean.
    The words of an i60 year old idiot who doesn't know the difference between real world problems and extreme fiction, now turned into a political doctrine.

    With 400 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere (which is nothing if you know what ppm stands for)) and temperatures flat since 1998 and in decline since 2002, CO2 is not a climate driver.

    Global Ice extent is not in decline, sea levels are not rising. Get your facts right and stop selling bull shit to the world. http://wattsupwiththat.com www.climatedepot.com www.realscience.com
  • The Universe on June 27 2013 said:
    Jason,

    You're about as bright as a 10 watt bulb in a 2 watt socket that has been spray-painted black.

    I offer you only insults because the evidence supporting the idea that humans are having negative effects on the climate already exists and has had no effect on you.

    Trying to convince you with reason and evidence is akin to trying to teach philosophy to a baby seal that's in the process of being eaten by an orca. It just isn't going to work.

    Insults won't convince you either but that isn't my goal. I only wish to insult you.

    You don't even know why you don't freeze to death when the sun goes down. What makes you think you've arrived at the right answer on climate change?

    You reject the idea for emotional reasons that have nothing to do with evidence.

    Every "fact" you list is an outright lie meant to confuse people and make the truth more difficult to see. In that you succeed.

    Congratulations.
  • Colin Park (B.Sc. Double honors Mathematics and Physics) on June 27 2013 said:
    Both of you need to exercise more self-control.

    Jason: Avoid saying "stupid" and "idiot". Neither of those things are true, and neither will help you convice anybody to see your point. Had you said "Montaigne does't know..." instead of "The words of an i60 year old idiot who doesn't know" it would have been perfectly fine.

    Universe: You have said nothing except that you are a closed-minded reactionary. You present niether facts nor theory. You criticize Jason for the ad hominem, then you do far worse yourself. Jason offered us some straight-forward observations, and references to decent websites that back him up. You accuse jason of reasoning from emotion, but you are obviously a worse offender by that measure.

    I have read thousands of posts on climate change websites, hundreds of articles, dozens of scientific papers and presentations. I can tell you that this kind of debate is absolutely typical and annoying. One of the hallmarks is nicely displayed here. The person supporting the man-made global warming hypothesis is more abusive and less infromative than his opponent. What we have is an irrational political debate about a scientific issue that lacks a scientific basis.

    For what it's worth, Jason is correct in saying that CO2 is not a climate driver, and that we need to get our facts straight. I used to trust the so-called "scientific consensus" until I learned that it was actually quite unscientific. This truth is slowly gaining traction in the informed community. To say that there's only big money support for the sceptics is utterly wrong as well. But that's beside the point. You are accepting argument from authority, but that authority is corrupt. Look into it.

    I realize that CAGW supporters know your opinions don't matter and that your priority is approval from your peers, but making hay out of a serious issue is irresponsible.
  • The Universe on June 27 2013 said:
    Colin,

    At no point did I criticize anybody for an ad hominem attack. Reading comprehension issues?

    I made it very clear that my entire comment was one big ad hominem. More reading comprehension issues?

    I did that because even if I posted the evidence that runs counter to his beliefs it would be dismissed.

    For example, his claim that temperatures have been flat since 1998 and declining since 2002 is flat wrong or disingenuous.

    http://skepticalscience.com/clarifying-continuation-global-warming.html

    I accused Jason of rejecting evidence due to his emotional reaction to the conclusions the evidence leads to.

    I'm guilty of commenting "with" emotion. Very big difference. Yet more reading comprehension issues?

    My reaction to Jason's stupidity was emotionally based.

    My conclusions are not based on emotion but ARE based on having, "read thousands of posts on climate change websites, hundreds of articles, dozens of scientific papers and presentations."

    It would seem that we've likely seen the same evidence but have reached different conclusions about that evidence.

    Given your reading comprehension issues noted above I'd be hard pressed to trust your view of the evidence over mine.

    The evidential details of this subject are far more complicated than the content of my initial comment yet it still gave you difficulty.

    I noticed you put your education into the Name field of this comment form. Is that so I could know that you too are some sort of authority or is that your full name? ;)

    So do you have your degree in physics yet or are you still attaining it?

    Perhaps YOU can answer the question of why humans don't freeze when the sun goes down.
  • The Universe on June 28 2013 said:
    Additionally, Colin...

    Your comprehension problem seems to be both psychological and intellectual.

    See you are the one that took verbal exception to Jason's ad hominem. Not me.

    Then when you read my comment you injected your own beliefs into it and then wrote your comment accordingly.

    I must ask, how many of the thousands upon thousands of things you've read on this subject have you also injected your own beliefs into before comprehending?

    You obviously can't answer that question because you don't even realize you're doing it.

    You may even remain blind to it even now after I've pointed it out to you.

    Just another reason why I'll continue to trust my conclusions more than yours.
  • Colin Park on June 28 2013 said:
    OK, point by point:

    I stand corrected on the matter of you not accusing him of ad hominem. Yes too, you were clearly entirely ad honimen. But you must know that name calling does not refute any argument, so it's unproductive. Presuming your debate opponents are stupid and irrational is likewise counter-productive.

    Jason's claims about flat or declining temperatures are a matter of interpretation. These are relative terms, so both sides can make an argument depending upon what year and area you take as a baseline.

    Thank you for identifying your source (skeptical science). It takes a degree of sophistication to follow what Cook says, and the debates there have above average quality. On the other hand, that particular site has problems. Cook is actually defeated on many points, but won't admit it. There are actually a lot of problems with his arguments. For example:

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/John_Cook_Skeptical_Science.pdf

    Why humans don't freeze when the sun goes down: Well, they in some places. In other places they do not, because the air and surface do not release heat all that quickly. Rates of cooling vary according to humidity, surface characteristics, and cloud cover. Why do you ask?

    As for your personal attacks, no comment.
  • Colin Park on June 28 2013 said:
    A more recent bit about Cook:
    http://joannenova.com.au/2013/02/john-cook-of-un-skepticalscience-admits-climate-change-denier-is-inaccurate-will-he-stop-name-calling/

    The important thing is to think for ourselves, but unfortunately it takes time and effort. One has to examine facts and ideas, and refrain from unnecessary emotions in drawing conclusions. Even as we endevor to understand things, we must appreciate that we are limited by what we are aware of, so it is wise to hear out others. We must be skeptical of our own theories and perspectives.

    RE:Fen Montaigne.
    He seems to be on the right track regarding other environmental issues. This demonstrates he's no fool. Why is he confused about global warming? Most likely, it's because he assumed that the current orthodox view had undergone appropriate peer review. The breakdown of that orthodoxy due to its faillure to follow the scientific method is not common knowledge yet, so we can forgive his ignorance and listen to the rest of what he says. Little of it is based on the presumption of AGW.

    Cook doesn't seem to be on board with this philosophy. He's not a true skeptic and therefore not a scientific thinker. These are not simply mistakes that he humbly admists to and corrects. He is the kind of person you can listen to, but not the kind you should trust.
  • The Universe on June 28 2013 said:
    Interesting PDF. I especially like the part on page three that specifically calls out CO2 as a valid driver of climate. :)

    It definitely contradicts what Jason claimed.

    It seems the PDF is about 3 years old. Also even though the ability to link outside the document exists it is rarely used to reference evidence supporting the claims of the author.

    He happily links to all the neat stuff he's written though real references are few and far between.

    He mentions peer reviewed articles but doesn't provide links. Elsewhere he just claims that Cook is wrong then adds his opinion of why.

    Given the following...

    "It takes a degree of sophistication to follow what Cook says..."

    I'd say Luboš Motl doesn't have sophistication to that degree.

    "Jason's claims about flat or declining temperatures are a matter of interpretation. These are relative terms, so both sides can make an argument depending upon what year and area you take as a baseline."

    So you're claiming in his comment on a Global Warming article you don't believe that Jason meant global temperatures and climate when he said...

    "With 400 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere [...] and temperatures flat since 1998 and in decline since 2002, CO2 is not a climate driver." - Jason

    ...and instead you think he was talking about a specific local?

    I don't think that and I personally doubt that you really believe that.

    ==============

    Yeah so we've established the fact that the Earth stays warm, partly, because there is air the transfers heat from the Earth to everything else above the ground.

    Air is made up of many different kinds of molecules. Have experiments been done to see how energy flows or is transferred by each type of molecule?

    We both know there has been...

    What have those experiments shown specifically about CO2?
  • Colin Park on June 28 2013 said:
    Rather than rehash a lot of basics, let's get to where the rubber meets the road.

    The skeptics generally do not dispute that increases in the concentration of atmospheric CO2 will lead to a slight increase in temperature, on the order of 1 degree C. Nobody (who isn't ignorant) disputes that CO2 concentrations have increased with industrialization. Nor is the warming trend of the 1990s in dispute. The areas of major dispute concern feedback effects and identification of the more significant climate drivers.

    Particularly vexing is the role of clouds and water vapor in temperature feedback. The models have unsubstantiated assumptions built into them, which is why they predict the troposheric hotspot. This hotspot does not exist. Neither the temperature nor humidity match model predictions.

    This is one of 3 broad areas of failure for the AGW thesis. (Incorrect theory regarding the role of water vapor). The other 2 are missing/distorted/mismeasured data, and failure to properly review claims and counter-claims. Any of these failures is sufficient to draw the hypothesis into doubt. The troposheric hotspot was one of the few parts of the theory that was falisfiable, and it has been falisfied.

    Regarding the flow of energy in the atmosphere, we have a complex picture. The usual starting point for that discussion is Kiehl and Trenberth and the ERBE. They are criticized on many grounds, but their simplistic model of the atmosphere is probably the weakest point. When you read their paper you find that they admit it's a rough model. They made changes later, to avoid a constant temperature in the atmosphere. All of this is fine. You are supposed to state your caveats, and you can always update your thesis.

    The obvious problem with K+T's atmosphere is that it's a single layer. They also seem to treat it like a blackbody. It has long been known that temperature varies with altitude, defining the trposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, etc., and the turning points (tropopause, mesopause, startaopause). We also know that the comlecular components of the atmosphere change from one shell to the next, and that these different layers have distinct radiative properties as a result. Clementzi talks about this a lot.

    http://qs.mc-computing.com//Global_Warming/EPA_Comments/TheGreenhouseEffect.doc

    And what it means for K+T:
    http://qs.mc-computing.com//Global_Warming/EPA_Comments/Trenberth.doc

    Celementzi's index on realted matters:
    http://questionable-science.com/Global_Warming/

    One thing that puzzles me about all these discussions is the lack of consideration given to the way water, CO2 and other gasses are coupled due to thermalization. While there is some overlap between CO2 and H2O IR-absorbtion bands, these systems appear to be mostly independent when viewed strictly from the viewpoint of radiative energy transfer. However, if CO2 absorbs a photon and immediately re-emits it, then there's no change in air temperature due to this phenomenon. We know that an absorbed photon causes an oscillation along the molecular bonds, eventually leading to re-emission of IR. However, this takes time. (Roughly 100ns in the case of CO2). While this seems very brief, it's plenty of time for collisions with other molecules. Hence the thermalization, and increase in air temperature. The energy of the original photon having been converted to heat remains as heat until a similar process (resonance radiation) happens in a molecule capable of internally absorbing the heat energy. Subsequently, IR radiation makes a random walk towards either the surface or space. Given the much higher prevalence of water vapor, it would dominate the radiative energy transfer system.

    Coupling due to thermalization makes the role of water vapor impossible to ignore (within the troposphere). There are non-radiative energy transfers that bias the random walk in favor of cooling, such as latent heat transfer and convection. These appear to have been underestimated by K+T.

    In any case, energy transfer within the atmosphere is one of many partially understood areas relevent to modelling climate systems. The "partially understood" is important. What appears to have happened in the case of AGW is this:

    (1) A couple of decades ago, scientists acting in good faith began work on climate modelling. They were influenced by observations of Venus, with its CO2-rich atmosphere. A combination of scientific curiosity and duty to protect mankind from disaster motivated them.

    (2) Unfortuantely, atmospheric physics was (and still is) at a young and primative stage of development. Nevertheless, they forged ahead. What else to do? This produced some shakey but shocking propositions that should not have been hyped. However, James Hansen and others of his ilk saw it as a big opportunity for funding and career advancement. That's not necessarily a bad thing. If he were right, it would certainly have been money well spent!

    (3) Some sort of bandwagon effect got started, greatly affecting
  • Colin Park on June 28 2013 said:
    the media, the politicians, the activists, other scientists, green energy entrepeneurs, and the Wall street commodity traders.

    (3) Having gone viral, The whole thing was trasformed from ascientific inquiry to a crusade, with high stakes political, financial, and virtually religious components. The IPCC was formed -- not a scientific body, but a political one. Fancy computer models were made. Al Gore made a movie, and so on. Part of the crusade involved the persecution of heretics like Lindzen and Svensmark.

    Overlooked was the fact that, in their unavoidable ignorance, the early investigators had introduced man-released CO2 as a factor because their eraly models had failed to predict patterns observed during the 1970s (as I recall). But by the 1990s, there was too much at stake to call the whole thing off and admit that the models are GIGO (garbage in garbage out). Then you get climategate and all the distortions (like the hockey stick graph, the attempt to deny the existtence of the medieval warm period, outright destruction of data and so on. Meanwhile, the evidence goes against them (Vostok ice cores show temperature causes CO2 increase, not the other way around, missing troposphere hotspot, Spencer's satellite data, measurements from the new ocean buoy network, revelations about the placement of land thermometers and so on). But at this point there's such a multi-billion-dollar industry committed to it that these fatal flaws are still being supressed.

    So it started as science, morphed into a crusade, and now looks like a hoax. I wouldn't call it a hoax, more of a tragic corruption, really. There's a dangerous destruction of ecosystem, a dangerous reliance on fossil fuels, some kind of climate change that threatens our lopsided methods of industrial agriculture, among other concerns. These matters need to be addressed, but let's do it for the right reasons. Let's be efficient and fair about it.
  • Max Reid on June 29 2013 said:
    Hurricane Sandy first knocked out New York and sent a $60 billion damage bill to Washington D.C.

    It also derailed a political candidate's chance of winning the presidency who did not believe in global warming.

    In short, Earth has served 2nd warning to United States with the 1st 1 being the Hurricanes (Katrina & Rita) of 2005. Still people are not willing to accept global warming. Don't wait for 3rd warning guys.
  • The Universe on July 01 2013 said:
    Colin,

    The most interesting bits...

    "The skeptics generally do not dispute that increases in the concentration of atmospheric CO2 will lead to a slight increase in temperature, on the order of 1 degree C. Nobody (who isn't ignorant) disputes that CO2 concentrations have increased with industrialization."

    Followed by...

    "There's a dangerous destruction of ecosystem, a dangerous reliance on fossil fuels, some kind of climate change that threatens our lopsided methods of industrial agriculture, among other concerns. These matters need to be addressed, but let's do it for the right reasons. Let's be efficient and fair about it."

    This sounds like somebody who is in agreement with the science but disagrees with how the governments around the world (and their irrational cheer leaders) have chosen to react to and politicize it.
  • Colin Park on July 02 2013 said:
    @Max:
    The occurance of this of that hurricane doesn't prove anything about the AGW hypothesis, nor does a snowstorm disprove anything. The difference between weather and climate is scale. Weather is is short-term, local phenomenon. Climate is a long-term regional phenomenon. Therefore, once must use a statistical analysis, not an anecdotal analysis. Hurricane formation depends on many factors, especially ocen temperatures. Ocean temperatures come in long-lived cycles, which is why we talk about decadal oscillators, el nino, and the like. Here's a statistcal analysis from an AGW proponent that concludes we've seen nothing significant regarding hurricanes, except that they cost more and are more likely to hit populated areas, due to economic development of coastal areas:

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B92CyI7iP9pqenF2bVIyVUpfNFU/edit?pli=1

    note graphs on pages 19 and 20 particularly.

    @Universe:
    It's not a question of agreeing or disagreeing with "the science". There's no "the science", only claims that are or are not scientific. It's not a political match, where people take sides and have a fight. Reliable work is done supporting AGW, and reliable work is done refuting it. Unreliable work exists on both "sides" as well.

    Questions concerning the health of the ecosystem, over-reliance on depleting fossil fuels, highly questionable agricultural practices, and so on... these are independent of the correctness or incorrectness of AGW theory. AGW theory appears to be wrong, not because CO2 lacks a claimed effect, but because water vapor lacks the positive feedback effect assumed by the computer models. (The missing troposhere hotspot speaks specifically to this issue.) AGW is basically the wrong diagnosis. Addressing CO2 emissions will not solve the problems. Kind of like treating heart attacks and dizzy spells by putting the patient's leg in a cast.

    Joanne Nova put together a nice clear overview of the problems with the AGW hypothesis:

    http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/sh1/the_skeptics_handbook_2-3_lq.pdf

    Page 8 shows how we can accept that rising CO2 leads to warming, but not CAGW. (see also http://joannenova.com.au/2012/10/man-made-global-warming-disproved/)

    I would have done a couple of things differently:

    p3: temepratures not rising? depends on when you start counting. Also, she seems to accept only the satellite data, buoys, and weather baloons. She's correct in that these are more accurate data, and should be preferred, but she should acknowledege and refute data that goes the other way.
    p7: she's not harsh enough regarding the land-based thermometers. Had she shown a map of where the thermometers are misplaced, then a map of where there's the most warming, it would have demonstrated more clearly that the primary cause of global warming is placing thermometers close to heat sources. Then she could suggest that we can stop global warming by moving the thermometers to neutral locations.

    --- Regarding the political angle on the issue. Yes, quite right. I don have a problem with the reaction and involvement of governments. Jo Nova has another pdf about that, but I have done little independent research on it. (Being interested in global warming primarily as a scientific controversy.)

    http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/sh2/the_skeptics_handbook_IIj-sml.pdf

    I don't like the diversion of resources and emotional energy from enivronmental and humanitarian concerns to the AGW red herring and its profiteers.
  • Jameson Jones on July 04 2013 said:
    The media likes a good scary story, and will push it as far as the public will respond. Politicians are the same, and will use the media to push any scam that will let them grab more power and control.

    When the media, the politicians, and ambitious scientists of the less scrupulous sort all get together to push the same agenda, be very afraid.

    Sometimes the best way to fall into disaster is to run away from a trumped-up disaster as fast and as blindly as you can. Don't trust nobody, fool.

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