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The Great Global Warming Swindle debate now begins

Like everyone in my part of the blogosphere, I am very excited about last night’s Channel 4 Documentary, The Great Global Warming Swindle. I also recorded it to my TV hard disc.

The two most interesting claims in it, for me, were: that the Global Warming CO2 link is that that Global Warming causes more CO2 rather than the dominant notion now (as expounded by Al Gore) that more CO2 causes Global Warming, and: that Maggie Thatcher set the whole recent Global Warming pseudo- (if pseudo- it be) science funding bandwagon in motion because it was a stick to beat coal miners with. Brilliant. You want to explain what a mad cow Thatcher was? Denounce her take on Global Warming as cynical bollocks.

What was so excellent, for me, about this show is not that it totally convinced me (I have had enough experience with arguing to know that changing your mind is not something you should do lightly and impulsively) but that it sketched out with absolute clarity the anti-Gore (for want of a better phrase) case. It’s the sun what does it. Sun temperature change, earth temperature change, CO2. That’s the direction of the causes, not CO2 earth temperature change. They are correlated, just as Al Gore said. But Gore got the causation the wrong way round.

I also finally understand the point I have kept hearing about sun spots. Hitherto, sun spots have, when being sold to me as the explanation of all this, sounded to me like they are supposed to cause things. Wrong. They are merely a symptom of what does cause things, namely big change in the sun as a whole. The sunspots are a symptom of the sun warming, not the cause of anything on earth in themselves.

Nevertheless, this show certainly made me more of an anthropogenic Global Warming atheist, and less of a mere agnostic on the subject. I will be watching out for whatever arguments for and against that I encounter during the next few weeks and months. I will, for instance, be watching out for what happens to the academics featured in the show who were brave enough to put their heads above the parapet. That we now have a whole heroes gallery of sun-worshippers (so to speak), whose general intellectual demeanour and record we can now scrutinise, is an immense help. Presumably there will be (have already been) lots of character assassinations, attempted and maybe successful.

And who is Martin Durkin, the guy who made the programme? Ah yes, Living Marxism (that was what they called themselves when I first got to know these weirdos. Before that they were RCP. Equals Revolutionary Communist Party).

Living Marxism were one of those creepy outfits that then said you should only refer to them as LM, without saying what LM used to stand for. Sort of like BAT (who were absolutely not British American Tobacco you understand, definitely not, no relation whatsoever at all blah blah blah), only political. Then when that was greeted with the derision and contempt that it deserved, they dumped even the LM crap, and called themselves the Institute of Ideas. I do not trust them further than I can spit them.

But, for their own bonkers cult reasons, they are very ambitious and worldly wise, rather like the Scientologists (Claire Fox, for instance, is one of them. Frank Furedi is another). Generally, what they say is, strangely, well worth listening to. They speak truth to power, because they are insane and want one day to be power, and do Marx knows what to us.

RCP/Living Marxism/etc. is one of the great conveyor belts of libertarianism from the libertarian ghetto here on earth to the real world, also here on earth, via the planet Zarg. Their Zargian take on the whole Class War thing is that the Class War is still raging between the nobs and the yobs, just like Marx said, but Zargians explain it differently to the usual way. Instead of Al Gore et al being described as repentant nobs on the side of the yobs, the RCP/Living Marxism/etc. people describe Al Gore et al as unrepentant nobs, foisting their latest line of bullshit on the toiling masses, the Working Stiffs of the World who Have Nothing To Lose But Their Chains. RCP/Living Marxism/LM/Institute of Ideas/Whatever will lead the Working Stiffs of the World to victory, and then put Marxist lizards in power or whatever the hell they have in mind.

All of this will now be explained with great enthusiasm by Al Gore et al, the central claim being: These People are Bonkers and we can safely ignore what they say!!!

My answer: These People are indeed Bonkers and Not To Be Trusted (i.e. warmed over and (not very) secretly unrepentant Marxists), but meanwhile, what do you say to their arguments? This particular clutch of notions sounds rather persuasive to me.

Not the least of the fun is going to be that a bunch of warmed over Marxists (Al Gore et al) are going to have to explain that another bunch of warmed over Marxists are bonkers, and are going to disagree about whether they should play the Marx card. I personally agree completely that being a Marxist, still, is strong evidence that you should be taken away in a van. But how will other Marxists with a different take on Marxism handle this argumentative opportunity?

But all that is a digression. The truth is the truth. If a mad, not-to-be-trusted person says something true, there is still the matter of its truth to be considered. Pointing out that the person saying the truth is mad and not-to-be-trusted does not make the truth untrue. Point of logic. Besides which, although the RCP/LM crowd are from the planet Zarg, that doesn’t mean that the scientists they have rounded up are likewise Zargians. They are almost certainly, almost entirely, bona fide earth people.

The arguments in this documentary are now going to be the new orthodoxy of the global right wing, anti-regulation, anti-high-taxes, anti-road-pricing, fuck-you-Karl, fuck-you-Tarqin crowd, who will now echo-chamber these arguments with their blogs into a roar that will deafen the world, in other words these arguments will be adopted by a huge number of earth people. Al Gore et al are going to have to explain why these arguments are nonsense, or, despite the fact that they have won every battle so far, they will lose their war.

I await developments with fascination.

UPDATE: try here for some responses from the opposition.

Cross posted from www.brianmicklethwait.com

84 comments to The Great Global Warming Swindle debate now begins

  • If a mad, not-to-be-trusted person says something true, there is still the matter of its truth to be considered.

    Indeed there is. But shooting the messenger is so much easier than considering the message.

    Nick Kasoff
    The Thug Report

  • Anyone who want to get a look at what the Sun does to the Earth should go to http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov

    The homepage for the Solar and Heliosphereic Observatory SOHO. The picture from the instruments of things like Coronal Mass Ejections are truly awesome. Frankly we should thank God (or our lucky stars) that our planet is protected by the Van Allen radiation belts.

    The idea that little old ladies driving SUVs are changing the climate is ridiculous. So, of course, most of our political class believes its true.

  • I hope that this view gains huge momentum via a popular backlash, particularly as it will make my fruitloop watermelon MP look an even bigger fool than he already is. (He’s allegedly lined up for a job with Stern after he vacates his seat to Balls come the next election).

  • Nate

    So what if the world is getting warmer? (Either by the hand of God/nature or anthropogenically.)

    I don’t understand all of the hysteria about it. So the Earth gets a little warmer…do the alarmists think that it will no longer be habitable?

    Where did all those fossil fuels come from, originally?

  • Art Hill

    Strange that we know so much about our universe and outer space, but so little about the planet we live on. What is happening at the Earth’s core? Why hasn’t it cooled over these millions of years.? Is there a nuclear event at the core generating heat and energy endlessly just as the sun does?
    Do we know why the El Nino moves ? How deep have we penetrated the earths’ surface to understand what is going on at the core? Please tell me before any decisions on Global warming are made.

    Art Hill

  • Well said, whatever the merits of the climate arguments. I too look forward to a Zargian caste war.

  • Chris Harper

    Is there a nuclear event at the core generating heat and energy

    There is, it is believed that radioactivity is what keeps the core molten.

    Whether there is a kilometres wide if impure ball of uranium acting as a fission reactor is still a moot point.

  • Chris Harper

    Just read that article in the Observer, it opens thusly -

    After two decades, the long scientific and political debate over whether human activities are warming up the Earth is finally over. Or is it? The world scientific community says so.

    Sigh,

    Why do polemicists keep saying this? No scientist, or anyone else who understands the philosophy of science, would say this.

    No scientific debate can ever be over. EVER.

  • lucklucky

    This post show cleary why IPCC & Friends only make conjectures…

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=13

  • Jim

    “That’s the direction of the causes, not CO2 earth temperature change.”

    Wait, you’re now saying that CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas?

  • Jim

    Response, with extensive links to further reading, from RealClimate.org is here, for anyone who wants to get their science from a source slightly more reliable than Martin Durkin, speaking of whom:

    Martin Durkin, for his part, achieved notoriety when his previous series on the environment for the channel, called Against Nature , was roundly condemned by the Independent Television Commission for misleading contributors on the purpose of the programmes, and for editing four interviewees in a way that “distorted or mispresented their known views”.

    And it’s already emerging(Link) that he may have done it again. A key talking head says:

    I’ve not seen it and the context was not at all what we
    had agreed on. Was billed as a balanced discussion of the threat of global warming As I began to see ads for the program, I realized I’d been duped.

  • APL

    Micklethwait: “Global Warming causes more CO2 ”

    Which if you think about it, is logical. Warmer temperatures lead to more biological activity. More biological activity leads to more ‘so called’ green house gasses – CO2, CH4 etc. The correlation is high, but the lag between rising temperature followed by rising CO2 is roughly a millennia

    Jim: “Wait, you’re now saying that CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas?”

    No CO2 is a green house gas, just not a significant greenhouse gas. It is the water cycle that is the driver for global temperature. And the water cycle is amplified/attenuated by cosmic rays, which in turn are moderated by solar activity.

    Beautifully simple, but feindishly complex too. Magnificient nature.

  • guy herbert

    Hang on Brian,

    You are just turning the post hoc, ergo propter hoc argument round, and on at least equally dubious data.

    I’m a natural skeptic, and have been becoming less, not more, convinced by anthropogenic warming for the last 20 years, but the most one can say for the solar hypothesis advanced in the programme is that is a plausible hypothesis – which in science is a worthy thing. Its proponents have also turned up some key facts that are difficult for the overwhelmingly popular civilization-did-it thesis – which is also a worthy thing in science. But weakening the case that human emissions are the driver is not necessarily the same as strengthening some other case.

  • knirirr

    Unfortunately I missed this programme, but it sounds very interesting. Did they say anything about why Met. Office climate models show an increase in temperature following an increase in CO2? Some typical results are available here (shame the BBC don’t practice what they preach).

  • guy herbert

    Brian,

    OK, I understand that you are not making that case, but you do describe it as an “anti-Gore case” as if Gore himself had a scientific case to offer.

    I think the other point is much more interesting. People tend to choose their sides in this discussion on indirect political grounds: it is what they take to be the policy consequence that drives the lay advocates, and the scientific advocates, rather than the specialists who deal with the limited available facts.

    An anti-Gore case in that sense starts from the presumption that Gore would offer a similar world-government prescription to any other identified crisis or state of affairs (a new ice-age, for example). Spotting that, you can either become an anti-Gore promotor of alternative theories that undermine his factual premises, or Lomborg-like question the political-economic logic (fact X does not necessarily entail policy Y), or take a logical positivist or agnostic position that the Gore-text is so infinitely adaptable as to be actually meaningless – that his political premises are worthless and render the rest of the argument invalid. I lean towards the latter, but can see the middle-way as having a great deal to recommend it in a world where most will not recognise that there are political premises at the heart of Greenery.

  • sean

    I have GGWS on my hard disk and will be releasing onto limeware later today. in four parts probably.

    I am a skeptic, BUT I am prepared to take out an insurance policy in case I am wrong, In other words Nuclear energy and more intensive farming (GM) to change land use.

    David Deutsch (many worlds theory, popperian to boot) Has some interesting things to say about the whole approach to the subject HERE(Link)

  • Pa Annoyed

    The programme was a polemic, and probably only a little less full of scientific holes than al Gore’s masterpiece (although a lot less outright scientific inaccuracies, in my opinion). However, its purpose is not to provide proof to scientific standards, but to counter the similarly simplified garbage pumped out by the bandwagon.

    Brian, minor nitpick – the sun’s effect is not that it is getting warmer (it is, but as the IPCC are pleased to point out, the warming is too small to have a significant effect) but that its magnetic field, and hence the strength of the solar wind are getting stronger. Sunspots have no direct effect, but being giant magnetic storms bubbling to the sun’s surface, they are a symptom of the solar wind strength that does, and were readily observable before we knew about it.

    Nate, carbon circulates, with a lot stored in the form of carbonates, some as fossil fuels, some dissolved in the sea or in the biosphere. As it happens, CO2 levels used to be a lot higher back in fossil fuel forming days, but it doesn’t follow simply from the carbon in fossil fuels having to have come from somewhere.
    You also have to factor in the fact that in the distant past the sun was significantly less bright – a standard feature of stellar evolution – and the AGWers argue that the high CO2 levels were what compensated for that. Unproven, so far as I know, but you can be sure they’re not going to look at your graphs and be convinced.

    Art Hill/Chris Harper, Radioactivity at the Earth’s core was the old theory, the new theory is that it is due to the phase change as the iron core of the Earth gradually solidifies. An excellent example of how scientists are willing to change beliefs when a better explanation comes along. But also evidence of how little we actually know about what goes on below our feet. The theory could change again, and the debate is not over.

    APL, the theory in the programme was that the CO2 rise was coming from CO2 dissolved in the sea – a more active biosphere would be expected to lock more carbon away, both in the actual bodies of living things and in the carbonate shells of sea creatures falling to the sea bed. (Although it’s more complicated than that.)

    Guy Herbert, Quite right. The solar hypothesis is a relatively new one, and bound to be challenged and refined. There are a few little problems with it too – you probably didn’t notice, but when they plotted the solar activity and temperature graphs in the programme, one of the lines stopped short of the end. That’s because they don’t actually match over the last few decades, with temperature shooting up faster than the solar activity can explain. There are several possible explanations, most likely being that solar activity isn’t the single simple cause of climate either.

    It is also a very dangerous practice to look for graphs that seem to match and then declaring that one causes the other. There is a thing called spurious correlation, when time series with certain properties are more commonly correlated than a naive interpretation of statistics would suggest. Temperature series do indeed have those properties, and the climatologists have indeed been caught using naive statistics.

    I’ve no doubt the programme served a useful function in the propaganda war, and truthfully showed that the AGW case is a lot less solid than it is portrayed. But the debate isn’t over, and we’re still a long way from understanding climate; I worry that the programme might have given the impression it was all sorted out the other way. (But not very much, though.)

    I think linking it to Maggie was masterful, though. That on its own is going to convince a lot of people. ;-)

  • The programme is up on YouTube if you missed it. Just search the title.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Brian, this is an excellent post, and it got me thinking about what is going on with the “left”. The post-modernist, Blairite, Green bits of it are anti-science, anti-production. The LM, Institute of Ideas people are, for all their Marxian looniness and fondness for class-war crap, still devoted to the importance of production, of human progress and technology. Remember those old Soviet posters portraying factories proudly belching out smoke with grimy and smiling workers in the foreground? A few weekends ago, Sean Gabb, of the Libertarian Alliance, showed me some old Czech banknotes which had these images on them.

    Old-style socialism was and is terrible in many ways, but at least these guys loved things liked rockets, trains, cars, and so on. And they thought that all this stuff was good for the ordinary man. What the post-modernist leftists and the Cameroonian Tories want to do with the Green issue, however, is use it to bash mass capitalism, while saving the nicer parts of technology-driven civilisation for themselves. Look at who the main Greens are these days: people like the ghastly Jonathan Porritt, chum of Prince Charles; Prince Charles, who apart from saying the odd sensible thing about English and architecture, is a berk; Lord Melchett, etc. Many Greens are also conservative in the most reactionary sense, and some are probably racists as well, I would not be surprised to learn.

    No, I think the Marxists have a bit of a point in highlighting the class interests at work here. When Claire Fox made such a point at a conference recently, most libertarians, all ardent capitalists, applauded.

  • Nick M

    Chris Harper,
    While I generally agrre with you as far as the open-ended ness of science is concerned some scientific debates can be to all intents and purposes be over. The atomic nature of mundane matter is one such example. I would say though that has taken since John Dalton to fairly recently the invention of the STM to get pretty much nailed. GW is by this standard still in diapers.

  • Giles

    Living Marxism were one of those creepy outfits that then said you should only refer to them as LM, without saying what LM used to stand for.

    Bit like calling it Samizdata when you should call it UKIP.net !

    As an LM fan enjoyed the post but not sure about your gripe about LM being decitful rings true – they always seemed to me to wear their ex marxism on their sleeve. And they were/are undoubtably one of the most indpendent and origional thinkers about.

  • Chris Harper

    Even the current atomic theory of matter is open to reinterpretation if a viable alternative comes along, and that may very well happen given the current apparent complexity of the subatomic world. It may very well be time for the atomic equivalent of aether theory being rendered redundant by relativity.

    And I am impressed that you specify mundane matter. Although the distant celestial stuff seems to demonstrate the same properties we can’t be absolutely certain until we get our hands on the stuff.

    The specificity of your statement brought to mind the precision of language demonstrated by Heinlein’s concept of a “Fair Witness”.

    Or did you mean mundane as in ‘ordinary’, rather than ‘Earthly’?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Giles, I have met several LM folk and most seem to be pretty upfront in their Marxian views. But the people who write for “Spiked” seem to be pretty slow to reveal that.

    I guess the brand, “Marxism” is pretty toxic these days. Given the horrors carried out in its name, that is only to be expected

  • Pa Annoyed

    Chris, I suspect he meant “mundane” to exclude the more exotic stuff that scientists have been mucking about with.

  • Paul Marks

    My guess (it can be no more than that) is that the majority of scientists are not “man made C02 emissions are a problem” people because of the research grants and other such (which is what the programme seemed to be claiming).

    However, on Mrs Thatcher:

    Perhaps the lady was pro “man made Co2 emissions are a problem” partly because she was concerned both about the West depending on oil from nasty countries (and the Saudi Wahabis, Iranian Shia fanatics, and secular enemies like Putin and Chevez show that her opinion is not out of date), and partly because of distrust of the National Union of Mineworkers, – but she also beleived the science of the case (and, unlike me, Mrs Thatcher has a science background – the only Prime Minister in British history who does).

    However, Mrs T. thought that if people were concerned about man made Co2 emissions they would become pro atomic power. This assumed that people were logical – which (sadly) they often are not.

    As “Zac” Goldsmith and Mr Cameron’s other chums have shown, it is perfectly possible to be a “man made C02 emissions are a problem” fanatic, and (at the same time) be anti nuclear power.

    All this nonsense about banning light bulbs and putting up windmills is not going to do any good – but that is what governments are demanding.

    If Mrs Thatcher really did have a “cunning plan” it has been defeated by human stupidity.

    It is as much as if Mrs Thatcher had told people that their trousers were falling down (expecting them to buy a belt), but instead they have said “right you are, I will put a yellow flower on my head and chant to Pookong – that will stop my trousers falling down”.

    Such a reaction was to be expected (at least for governments – if not for human beings generally), but with Mrs Thatcher’s logical view of the world she did not expect it.

    By the way, the majority scientists have never denied that as the world heats up the seas will emit more C02 – indeed that is one of their fears (i.e. whatever causes the first heating the C02 from the seas will mean that it gets worse – which will lead to more C02 comming out of the seas, which will lead to……).

    Nor have the majority of scientists ever denied that if the Sun produced less heat the world would get colder – indeed they are hopeing that the Sun will become less active over the next few years. Not because this will “solve the problem” (they still think that man made C02 emissions are a problem), but because it will give more time to reduce C02 emissions.

  • Paul Marks

    On the question of how more nuclear power stations would help with the “car problem” (although this problem was largely caused by governments in the first place – as they undermined the railways with regulations and built “free” roads everywhere).

    The new designs of nuclear power stations are more than twice as efficient and the old ones, and whether one goes for electric cars or for hydrogen fuel cell cars the electricity has to come from somewhere.

    As to “crack” sea water to get the hydrogen requires electricity.

    Mrs T. was clearly on the right track.

  • Freeman

    The polar ice caps on Mars are melting. This is clearly not caused by human intervention, so it is indicative of some solar or gallactic change that could equally be affecting the earth.

    I had a look at the RealClimate site. It has a lot of discussion on CO2, but putting “water vapour” in its search engine got no returns. I find that strange, as water vapour is said to have a much larger greenhouse effect than CO2.

    No doubt the Channel 4 programme had a bias, but that is probably a debating fair tactic when faced with the combined scientific and political bias of the CO2 camp. The IPPC has retracted the now infamous “hockey stick” curve, supposedly illustrating global warming, so I wonder how many other errors are hidden in the efforts of the CO2 fearmongers.

    My final doubt comes from the strong political support for the CO2 camp, with the obvious implications of a new source of tax revenue; it’s just too convenient.

  • The best filleting of global warming bollocks and the people who peddle it that I have ever seen. It was a very well made documentary and I was rather shocked it was shown on mainstream terrestrial TV. I would not be shocked to see it on YouTube sharpish.

  • Freeman

    And the best news yet, which looks about to unscramble the whole fraud. For details see:

    http://www.anenglishmanscastle.com

    Essentially, an E G Beck is putting out a paper in which he is citing thousands of accurate, direct chemical measurements of CO2 concentrations going back to 1826, some made by Nobel prizewinners. These show up great flaws in the IPPC assumptions that ice core CO2 measurement are a representation of the true content of the atmosphere.

    Look out — it could be about to hit the fan.

  • lucklucky

    “By the way, the majority scientists have never denied that as the world heats up the seas will emit more C02 – indeed that is one of their fears (i.e. whatever causes the first heating the C02 from the seas will mean that it gets worse – which will lead to more C02 comming out of the seas, which will lead to……).”

    But they dont explain where all energy that make oceans rise and temperature getting high went…what started it.

  • Giles

    “Marxism” is pretty toxic these days.

    Marxism as a whole may be, but parts of are interesting, incisive and sometimes true. And since to few people train in Marxism these days, its a perspective thats very much missing from policticl debate these day. So I’m always prepared to lend a marxist my ear.

  • David Roberts

    One of the correlations discussed on the program was between sunspot cycles and the earth’s average temperature. If these two measurements do correlate and temperature follows sunspot activity then a low sunspot figure should predict a low temperature.
    So, following Popper, if at the next sunspot minima, we don’t have a low earth average temperature then the correlation is disproved. My understanding is that 2030 is the next low for sunspots. Patience, we only have 23 years to wait.

  • Paul,

    Conventional nuclear fission may help a bit, but it’s not going to solve the problems (which I take to be resource depletion and geopolitics more than global warming, though this programme is probably not the last word on the latter). Nuclear power currently provides around 2.5% of global final energy consumption. The IAEA’s latest Red Book estimates that Identified Resources of uranium (at $130/kgU) are sufficient to supply current levels of demand for just over 70 years. The dramatically escalated price for uranium (800% increase since 2001, a pretty good indication that it is in short supply) will add some marginal ores to those reserves, though the energy balance on those poor-quality ores will be weak. For nuclear to be more than a marginal player in world energy, we will need massive discoveries of additional economic reserves, development of other fuels (e.g. thorium), widespread adoption of fast-breeder technology, or ultimately a switch to nuclear fusion. As far as I know, none of those is envisaged for the next round of nuclear stations, and in reality, they are probably at least thirty years away, if at all.

    I’d be interested in your source for the claim that the next generation will be twice as efficient as the old stations. The principal constraint in the conversion of nuclear energy is the limits of steam-turbine technology. This is responsible for current conversion efficiencies of around 33%, and whilst an improvement may be likely, more than a few percentage points is not. The other way to improve efficiency would be to increase the amount of energy available for conversion, as such a significant proportion is lost as low-grade heat from old fuel. Again, it may be possible to generate from lower-grade heat nowadays, but the efficiencies of such technologies are very low, so I would be surprised if they could double the total efficiencies, even in combination with improved steam turbines. Perhaps you are thinking of increased use of reprocessed fuel, though I’m not aware that that is part of the plans for the new generation. Or perhaps there is another improvement of which I am not aware. I’d be genuinely interested to know how this improvement is to be achieved. You must forgive my scepticism, but we’ve seen the nuclear industry exaggerating its capabilities before (remember “energy too cheap to meter”?). But even if true, you will see from the above figures that it does not get round the resource constraint.

    This is not an argument against nuclear, as many technologies may have to play their part. Nor is it intended to imply that alternative magic bullets (such as fluorescent bulbs and windmills) are any better. It is simply an argument to keep things in proportion.

    Personally, I’d rather not pick any technological winner, but would instead internalise the external cost of carbon (which might turn out to be pretty low if this programme is right) and let the market get on with choosing the most efficient solutions. Nuclear will probably be part of that mix, but it’s highly unlikely to be the main part.

  • Pa Annoyed

    Regarding the sunspot number experiment – if you look at the graphs they actually plot the solar cycle period, which is only approximately 11 years, not sunspot number. See figure 146 in Bjorn Lomborg’s The Skeptical Environmentalist. However, the period is predicted to lengthen, so we will indeed see.

    Bruno, you may well be right, but I’ve seen figures like that predicting the imminent demise of oil in similar terms dating back half a century or more. So far as I know, the Red Book only cites known deposits and predictably expected extensions of them. Not much is mined because of the existing stockpiles in Russia which supply most of the world’s needs, and so prospecting is limited. And fast breeders are not economic at the moment compared to PWR and thermal reactors because Uranium is currently cheap and plentiful. If you build fast breeders or IFRs when you need to (like in about 70 years time) that 70 years extends out to about 2500 years.

    As usual, the problem is not that the resource isn’t there, but that it is currently more expensive than the alternatives, and so there is no incentive to go develop it. Besides which, there are a lot of political issues around nuclear that make it unattractive for investors.

    Now, I don’t know whether my figures are wrong (I haven’t checked them very carefully), or whether yours are just more Peak Oil. But if, as you say, we need breeder reactors to make it work, then we’d better get on and build them, don’t you think?

  • Pa,

    Everything is relative, so of course I don’t know what you have in mind when you say that uranium is cheap and plentiful. But as I pointed out, uranium prices have increased 800% recently, which is not usually a sign of a cheap and abundant material. Demand has not been increasing significantly (at least nuclear capacity and production has not, so I can’t see why demand would have). That’s usually a sign that supply is tight.

    Those stockpiles and redundant military-grade materials currently supply around 25,000 tonnes a year of our total demand of around 67,000 tonnes of uranium. The IAEA expect them to be exhausted by 2015.

    We are both sticking fingers in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. So you may also be right. We may find lots more uranium of a sufficiently high grade to be worth extracting. Or we may be able to just “get on and build breeder reactors”. But I’d suggest it was imprudent to assume we can until we have actually made those extra discoveries or built economic breeder reactors.

    Investment in exploration has increased dramatically with the recent price increases without any major new finds so far (increases in Identified Resources have been almost entirely due to upgrading the potential of known resources on the strength of improved assumptions about future cost and prices). No one, to my knowledge, has restarted their breeder-reactor programmes, which were shut down in the USA, UK, France, India and Japan, with only Russia persisting. It may happen, and it may be the most efficient solution, but it would be better to find out in the market than assuming it must be, for the purposes of some self-fulfilling, centrally-planned decision.

  • sean

    I think the general thrust of these LM folks is a very different interpretation of Marx, probably more classical Marx updated.

    In short I think they believe that for the workers paradise to emerge capitalism has to develop to ever greater highs and sort of play itself out, thus instead of trying to wreck it, help it to archive the development that is needed for Marxism to emerge.

    I think I can go along with them for the ride because I believe that capitalism will just keep recycling itself as its not a zero-sum game.

  • Steve

    I can recommend “The Chilling Stars” by Nigel Calder and Henrik Svensmark. It is rather longer on fact than the TV programme. I have not done much study of the references yet but I have found some data that seems to support the Svensmark hypothesis rather better than the conventional view.

    A good example is the anomalous behaviour of Antarctica, which has been cooling down. This is, as I understand it, inexplicable from the CO2-based explanation but appears to fit an explanation based on cosmic rays and cloud cover.

    The comments of various scientist that have left/resigned from the IPCC over the past few years are also worth tracking down.

    I remain sceptical but I feel confident that there are now two horses running.

  • lucklucky

    “A good example is the anomalous behaviour of Antarctica, which has been cooling down. This is, as I understand it, inexplicable from the CO2-based explanation”

    Right now IPCC guys atribute that to inertia/lag due to bigger oceans in southern hemispere.

  • lucklucky

    “In 2007, significant quantities of Uranium were discovered, and mining is projected to begin by 2010. Several international mining corporations have prospected in Botswana for diamonds, gold, uranium, copper, and even oil, many coming back with positive results.” No support link in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botswana

  • nick m

    Chris Harper,
    By “mundane matter” I meant stuff made from hadrons and leptons. I meant purposefully to exclude some of the more exotic dark matter candidates. Yes, I appreciate that anything in science could be ripped open again but to all practical intents and purposes the atomic theory is sufficiently well established to feel very safe acting upon it. This is in sharp contradistinction to the GW science.

    Your Heinlein reference means nothing to me, alas.

  • Cato

    Bruno Prior wrote:

    Everything is relative…

    Quite an abolute statement for someone who believes that *everything* is relative, don’t you think?

  • Birger

    “Global Warming causes more CO2″

    Wow, do they actually make this argument? Where does the CO2 form burning fossil fuels go? What about isotope ratios confirming the increase in CO2 is human caused?

    “I had a look at the RealClimate site. It has a lot of discussion on CO2, but putting “water vapour” in its search engine got no returns”

    Try the American spelling.

  • Sean

    Encourage people to see the video “The Great Global Warming Swindle”.

    Here is an easy URL to remember to see the program. Pass it along to friends and family.

    http://gorelied.notlong.com

  • Cato, :-) Fair point, but you know what I mean. What is cheap and abundant to one person may be expensive and insufficient to another.

    Lucklucky, According to wise-uranium.org, “In Botswana, uranium prospection and exploration is being performed by
    Uramin Inc.,
    Bannerman Resources Limited,
    Mount Burgess Mining NL,
    African Energy Resources Pty Ltd,
    A-Cap Resources Ltd “. From what I could discover, none of these companies has announced the discovery of recoverable reserves. The best I could find was A-Cap Resources had found some encouraging “high-grade uranium mineralisation of up to 10,000 parts per million U3O8 in a new zone on the Eastern edge of its Mokobaesi prospect”. At 1% grade, that would be pretty good stuff, but in fact most of their samples were in the range 0.02 – 0.06%, which is distinctly mediocre, though probably recoverable. I cannot find any mention of volumes.

    This may turn into something worthwhile, and there may be many more like it. Probably will be some. I’ll be delighted each time our options are expanded. I’m simply warning against counting our chickens. Unless this is an exceptionally large deposit, we’ll need a hell of a lot of these for nuclear to play a significantly expanded part in our energy needs.

    I don’t have a problem with energy companies choosing to gamble on future uranium prices and availabilities. That’s their business, provided they don’t expect to be insulated from the risk. I would only have a problem if a new nuclear programme were driven by government deciding that “nuclear is the way forward”. Leave it to the market.

  • Bruno Prior wrote:

    Everything is relative, so of course I don’t know what you have in mind when you say that uranium is cheap and plentiful.

    Then Cato wrote:

    Bruno Prior wrote: Everything is relative…

    Quite an abolute statement for someone who believes that *everything* is relative, don’t you think?

    Well (relatively speaking) there is a difference between a valid argument against “relativism” and selectively quoting out of context.

    Also, I would say (in absolute terms) and not reflecting on any Cato, that there are plenty of cheap comments from the pro-AGW camp. [Though I have not studied the counts relative to the AGW-sceptic camp.]

    Best regards

  • Freeman

    Birger:

    Thanks, but no site returns from “water vapor” either.

  • Rone

    So, perhaps, after all, fossil fuel burning-based industrial activity has not had such a dramatic effect on this planet’s evolution over the past one hundred years or so.

    Well, nuclear energy , if it is used just as irresponsibly though, might certainly mar global ecosystem beyond recognition.

    GW proponents stand for “nuclear option”, as it is clear now, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe//article1495115.ece?Submitted=true

    Meanwhile, Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster has already demonstrated that going nuclear is hardly more environmentally friendly than burning coal or oil. In the long run, tampering with nuclear radiation creates more problems, like nuclear waste utilization.

    The bottom line of the GW issue nowadays is whether or not to go nuclear. Cutting Europe’s CO emissions by a fifth by 2020 seems to be used as a pretext for expansion by nuclear industry. There is an apparently determined interest trend with this regard both in Europe and UK.

    Well, It seems like if you want to prove something, just find some “credible scientists” and…Vu Á  la! There you go!

    Where there is a will (and money) there is a way.

  • Rone Aone

    I am glad to hear that, perhaps, after all, fossil fuel burning-based industrial activity has not had such a dramatic effect on this planet’s evolution over the past one hundred years or so.
    The bottom line of the GW issue nowadays is whether or not to go nuclear. Cutting Europe’s CO emissions by a fifth by 2020 seems to be used as a pretext for expansion by nuclear industry.
    GW proponents stand for “nuclear option”, as it is clear now, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe//article1495115.ece?Submitted=true
    Meanwhile, Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster has demonstrated that going nuclear is hardly more environmentally friendly than burning coal or oil. In the long run, tampering with nuclear radiation creates more problems, like nuclear waste utilization.

  • Paul Marks

    I am not going to get on to Marxism here (other that to say that there is little that is true in the works of Karl Marx, nothing true and original – and most of the unture things are also unoriginal), I have already given as much time to Marxism as I want to on the the “can libertarians learn from Karl Marx thread”.

    I agree that nuclear fusion (rather than fission) is the long term energy source (unless someone comes up with something else – and that is quite possible). However, people have been waiting all my life for nuclear fusion – and we are still waiting (in the 1950′s the scientists said “thirty years”). I hope the new nuclear fusion plant to be built in France goes well – but it would be folly to rely on it (just yet).

    Some people cite a shortage of uranium (forgetting that companies only look for the stuff when the price goes over a certain point), and people (normally the same people) cite problems with storage of waste (normally ignoring the work done on this – and even ignoring James Lovelock’s offer to have all the waste buried under his back garden).

    To cite the percentage of electricity (still less of power) generated by nuclear power currently is rather pointless – as the point is to increase the percentage (at least till fusion or something else comes on line).

    As for new designs of fission reactor. One example is the British one recently bought by Toshiba of Japan. My guess is that they will end up selling the stations to the Chinese.

    The regulations here (the “planning process” and so on) make things very difficult for nuclear power stations (basically meaning that there is no real market – so even when the British have good ideas they have to be sold for other people to develop).

    It is not in the interests of a power company for its reactor to brake down (and they would be sued to bits if it killed people), also the various regulations do not make “health and safety” better (rather the reverse).

    Sadly politicians and other such do not understand the above.

    They prefer gesture politics such as “wind farms” (which offer small and unreliable amounts of energy at high cost), and banning light bulbs.

  • Andrew K

    When you follow the link for “responses from the opposition” and scroll down to “comments” the first comment you get reads as follows

    The figures showing a strong correlation between low cloudiness and GCRs was also the high-point of a television climate-denier polemic shown last night on Channel 4 here in the UK, entitled The Great Global Warming Swindle. Made [characterisation removed] Martin Durkin, whose previous anti-environmental film on genetic engineering got the broadcaster into trouble with television regulators (contributors had been edited to make their statements misleading, amongst other things – it had to make a prime-time on-air apology), it featured repeated contributions from all the usual deniers – Lindzen, Singer, Stott etc. There was no attempt at balance at all – only the climate-sceptic view was presented, and GCRs were the crux of the supposedly scientific attempt to show that CO2 is irrelevant in forcing climate change.

    Perhaps the weakest argument of all was the conspiracy theory – advanced particularly by Dick Lindzen – that pretty much all climate science nowadays is just chasing grants, and that the whole field is therefore distorted towards ‘alarmism’ by financial self-interest. That’s ironic, considering that the oil, coal and automotive industries, who one presumes have an interest in the climate denier case (hence all the well-established funding links) are hardly bit-players in the global political and economic scene…

    This comment was made by one Mark Lynas. Helpfully there is a link to his own website, (Link) .

    Here one discovers that our commentator . . .

    was born in Fiji in 1973, and grew up in Peru, Spain and the UK. After gaining a first-class honours degree in history and politics from the University of Edinburgh (where he also edited the university’s student newspaper), he joined a web start-up called OneWorld.net – helping turn it into the world’s most-accessed internet portal for human rights and sustainable development issues. He was also active in the flourishing environmental direct action scene during the late 1990s, joining road protests and helping mount ‘decontamination’ exercises against genetically-modified crops, as well as participating in Reclaim the Streets protests in London and Oxford.

    Since going freelance in 2000 to work full-time on climate change, Mark has also been active as a broadcast commentator and journalist, writing for the Guardian, Observer, Independent and various other publications, as well as appearing on radio and television news and discussion programmes ranging from Newsnight to the BBC World Service. His book High Tide: News from a Warming World was published by Flamingo/HarperCollins on 1 March 2004. He lives in Oxford, but has given talks and presentations on climate change and his travels for High Tide as far away as the United States and Australia. He writes a fortnightly environmental column for the New Statesman magazine, entitled ‘Green thinking’.

    In March 2007 he will be launching a new book: ‘Six Degrees – Our Future on a Hotter planet’ – about the future of global warming. This book will outline, degree by degree, what climate change has in store for humanity and the planet over this century. Based on scores of peer-reviewed scientific articles on the latest outputs from computer models, plus what palaeoclimate reconstructions tell us about past warm events in earth history, Six Degrees will be a terrifying warning that humanity will ignore at its peril.

    Hang on. Run that scientific background past me again.

    a first-class honours degree in history and politics from the University of Edinburgh

    Hmmm, so not actully a scientific background at all. Still, he does make a nod at his known deficiencies

    Based on scores of peer-reviewed scientific articles on the latest outputs from computer models, plus what palaeoclimate reconstructions tell . . . .

    Based on, eh? Impressive. Mind you, some people seem to be impressed.

    His article

    The Six Degree world: hellish vision of life on a hotter planet 03 February 07

    Was (he boasts) first published in the Independent. With typical restraint it tells us what life will be like at the end of the present century

    . . . . if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at current rates, global warming by the end of the century could total 6.4C. The scientists don’t say so explicitly, but a rise in temperatures of this magnitude would catapult the planet into an extreme greenhouse state not seen for nearly 100 million years, when dinosaurs grazed on polar rainforests and deserts reached into the heart of Europe. It would cause a mass extinction of almost all life and probably reduce humanity to a few struggling groups of embattled survivors clinging to life near the poles.

    Mind you, we should count ourselves lucky to have him around at all to comment for us. Not only is he an eco-onanist, so is his dad(Link).

  • Freeman

    JK:

    Thanks for the refs. Good read, but clearly not entirely conclusive for the sceptics.

    I imagine that Beck’s forthcoming paper on 90,000 atmospheric CO2 measurements (to better than 6ppm) made over the last 180 years will shed some more light on the issue (see anenglishmanscastle.com, March 9th).

  • Rone Aone

    When it comes to science, regardless of an issue, it is almost always an endless debate on right questions asked, rather than one conclusive right answer. Therefore, the only way to prove a scientific theory is to try it in practice.
    What discipline particularly is behind Anthropogenic Global Warming or how this theory can be proved right or wrong within the framework of my life time remains an obscurity to me.
    As one of many a commenter on the issue said, “the False Gospel” of Anthropogenic Global Warming is most obviously “preached” to help industrially developed nations’ governments continue to keep under control the world’s developing nations’ access to cheap fossil fuel energy sources.
    In light of the ongoing global war (not only figuratively speaking but in the most literal way) for the remaining natural resource endowments, AGW sounds to me like a proposed near-scientific theory which has been adopted as an ideological weapon against a number of developing nations in order to deny them their right to fully utilize the value of their natural resources as economic assets necessary to further develop their economic infrastructures.
    AGW model, as opposed to NGW, undermines the only traditionally known way of economic industrial development which is solely based on using available natural resources and in the process expanding your knowledge base, skills and institutions into greater industrial and economic diversity. As they say, the more you look the more you find. Eventually, it would lead to growing competition in the global market on the part of the now developing nations. Naturally, from the point of view of the industrially developed nations it is preferable that the developing nations would stay indefinitely “developing” and never on par with the “developed”. “Green” policies are well suited for the purpose.
    In view of recent rather grim empirical developments the globe over I tend to view the AGW theory arguments with huge skepticism.

  • Mary Contrary

    Brian,

    Spot on about The Great Climate Change Swindle. And to think there was me busily re-coding the programme off my hard drive recorder for release online: it looks like a lot of people beat me to the punch!

    I’m not so sure I follow your take on the RCP…IoI crowd. It strikes me that some of our own crowd have a bit in common with those vestiges of Marxian thought that the IoI types still believe in. My best guess is that if I hadn’t fallen in with you and yours, I’d be following Claire Fox around right now.

    Hmmm, maybe that’s a pity. She’s prettier than you.

  • To cite the percentage of electricity (still less of power) generated by nuclear power currently is rather pointless – as the point is to increase the percentage

    Paul, If you don’t know how much power comes from nuclear, relative to how much we use in total, how are you going to form a view on how easy it will be for nuclear to supply our needs? The point is that, if Identified (i.e. Reasonably Assured and Inferred) Resources are sufficient to produce 2.5% of our energy for 71 years, they are sufficient to produce 10% of our energy for 18 years, or half our energy for 3.5 years. In other words, we need more uranium for nuclear fission to make a major contribution.

    That doesn’t mean we won’t find more uranium that is economically recoverable (we probably will), but when you say that claims of a potential uranium shortfall “forget that companies only look for the stuff when the price goes over a certain point”, which part of “800% increase since 2001″ and “Investment in exploration has increased dramatically with the recent price increases” did you not understand? The price has gone over that point, they are looking, and I still haven’t heard of any discoveries that have added significant volumes to global Identified Resources. It will happen, but until it’s quantified, only a clairvoyant knows how much.

    Toshiba bought Westinghouse. Their current designs of reactor are 33-35% efficient (gross and net). I am still waiting to hear where you heard about the reactor design whose efficiency was double that of current designs. More efficient, yes (e.g. pebble-bed reactors), but double (or anywhere near it), I haven’t seen, and don’t expect to.

    I’m glad we agree about fusion being the technology of the future (and probably always going to be, as the joke goes). Do you also agree that it’s not about whether you or I am right about the amount of uranium, but about leaving the decision on new nuclear to the market rather than to a political decision? I’d agree that depends on removal of excessive obstacles like gaming of the planning system, but assuming that was prevented, would you be happy to leave it to the market?

  • Jon

    I have a Joke!

    What does a Scientists, a Politicians and Doctors have in common?

    Over Funded
    Biggest Criminal
    Biggest Lies
    Some of the Most Idiotic of So called Smart People
    Never Take Responsibility for Their Own Actions
    And Killed More People than Helped!!!!

    The Joke is You!

  • Rone :

    Meanwhile, Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster has already demonstrated that going nuclear is hardly more environmentally friendly than burning coal or oil.

    Your math is faulty. The Chernobyl plant is just one plant. You have to compare entire industries. What is the eco damage per kilowatt-hour of nuke, oil and coal industries?

    To buy your claim, one also has to assume that the problems that led to the Chernobyl disaster are inherent in all nuke reactors and cannot be fixed.

  • Chris Harper

    Tell me, does this mean that we get to label all green painted global warming hysterics as Thatcherites?

    They will just love that. So will I.

  • Saladman

    RCP/Living Marxism/etc. is one of the great conveyor belts of libertarianism from the libertarian ghetto here on earth to the real world, also here on earth, via the planet Zarg.

    How, in the name of all that is holy, is a neo-Marxist group a purveyor of libertarian ideas? Libertarianism and socialism are diametrically opposed philosophies. If you have met socialists claiming to be libertarians, all I can say is “I’m sorry.” Beat them down once for me.

  • Paul Marks

    First I loved that bit Andrew K. told us about the activist who blurb boasted that he had edited the student newspaper. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the debate, a man who feels the need have his former position as student newspaper editor boasted of is not likely to be a great mind.

    On Bruno’s points:

    Since the Club of Rome fiasco back in the 1960′s (when they predicted that loads of things would run out – things that are now, in real terms, cheaper than they were then) “proven reserves” have been shown to be a nonsense.

    Of course this absurdity does not start with the Club of Rome. For example the British economist Jevons confidently predicted that the nation would soon run out of coal – this was in the 19th century (one of Britain’s 20th century problems was that there was more coal than we knew what to do with).

    Also I do not remember typing that atomic fission could provide us with “all our needs” – although it might do, it depends on the market place (assuming all the regulations were eliminated).

    If reducing man made C02 emissions is important having more nuclear reactors is important – at least till something else (whether nuclear fusion, or whatever) comes along. Indeed even if we go for hydrogen fuel cell cars (and we should remember that the “car society” was a creation of government in the first place – via the regulations and the “free” roads that undermined the railways from the start of the 20th century) we will still need power to “crack” the sea water to get the hydrogen (I was under the impression that I had already typed this).

    But certainly “windfarms” and other such are not important. They do not last very long, are unreliable (which means that conventional power stations have to be kept running as constant potential back up) and generally just do not add up.

    However, there are new approaches in solar cell technology that could help in some places.

    For example, new technology solar cells (when and, IF, they become fully available) might be used (in California, Australia and so on) to crack sea water for hydrogen.

    They might also be used to power desalination and thus help with the Californian water shortage (and the Austrian one and so on), but this is another story.

  • Pa Annoyed

    Bruno,

    I’ve been reading around this Uranium question a little bit, although I still don’t claim to be an expert. By the way, you may rest assured that I’m quite happy to let the market decide – so long as we take away all the political/environmental obstacles not based on real science.

    Most of the comments I’ve read on the recent price rise ascribe it to the approaching the end of the weapons stockpile, and the rumours that China and India are about to go into a massive nuclear power building programme. If true, that kind of suggests that the market considers nuclear to be viable, although there is clearly a lot of political control in China, and probably India too, so it isn’t entirely market-led. My reading has also pointed out that the costs of the fuel are only a tiny portion of the final costs of the electricity, and so it doesn’t actually have much effect on the viability of nuclear. The cost will rise to meet the demand.

    The other point of note is the observation that virtually all mineral resources have expanded faster than they have been used, through prospecting, new technology, improved efficiency, and sometimes rising prices. The economically viable resources increase as the price goes up, and as uranium is actually a relatively common metal in the Earth’s crust (about middle of the range), ultimately hundreds, possibly thousands of years’ supply. There is a Japanese scheme under research for extracting it from seawater, projected to cost around $20/kg plus capital costs, which compares rather favourably with the current market price of about $40/kg. The sea contains about 4.5 bn tons of the stuff, which should last us for a while. (The known reserves being about 5 million tons.) And when we’ve sucked that dry, there’s about 100 times more in granites.

    They also say that very little exploration has been done compared to other minerals, because after the brief excitement back in the 70s when the energy sector didn’t expand as fast as predicted, and disarmament provided a large enriched stockpile, there was no incentive to look. Actual high grade resources are fairly confidently predicted to be many times as large as those we know about. It would be pretty odd if in one brief look over a decade or so we had happened to find all there was.

    Maybe its all hype, but this one appears to me to be yet another “Limits To Growth” fallacy. It’s all about cost.

  • Jim Meddle

    It’s ludicrous to describe Al Gore as a ‘warmed over Marxist.’ Anyone who makes a claim like that is clearly incompetent to have their opinions taken seriously on any issue, be it global warming, salmon fishing or anything else.

  • It would be more accurate to describe Al Gore (the great manbearpig hunter) as a freshly minted Marxist.

    He used to be a moderate Democrat who voted for most of Reagan’s anti Soviet build up, with the exception of missile defense, and was a standard centrist on most other issues. Losing the 2000 election seems to have driven him over the edge. Within a few years he’ll no doubt be trotting off to Pyonyang following in Ramsey Clark’s footsteps.

    De Gaulle’s line about Petain seems appropriate “Old age is a shipwreck.” It just hits some people earlier than others.

  • Jamie

    It was patently obvious to anyone with a brain and the capacity for further research that the science in this programme was flawed. To explain the reason for the lag between temperature and CO2, simply read up on Milankovitch cycles. The lag is covered in IPCC publications anyway, and it’s just stupid to try and imply that CO2 released by industrialisation are somehow in response to a temperature increase – it was humans that built the factories.

    The solar theories (and the specific studies cited in the programme) have been undermined several times in academic journals and the only one the deserves exploring – a recent Danish study on ionisation of cloud particles – was not mentioned.

    Finally, it is worth making it explicitly clear that the IPCC have never claimed to have definitive evidence for manmade CO2, just that it is ‘very likely’ and that there is no evidence against it (including all aspects of the sunspot theory). As one of the scientists who appeared on the programme and has subsequently complained about it says, “public policy should be made on the basis of probabilities”, a view which is far more rational than claiming one polemic television programme made by nutters is enough to close the debate.

  • I see that I did describe Al Gore as a warmed over Marxist. (“Al Gore et al”) I unreservedly withdraw that description of him. It was the et al people I had in mind, and a lot of them rather than all of them. Mistake.

    Another mistake is to dismiss all of someone’s ideas merely because of one mistake. Often done by people looking for an excuse to ignore someone though.

    I originally ripped this piece off for my personal blog. I should have had another look through before accepting Perry’s invitation to cross post it here.

  • Jamie,

    I saw the lag as a means to pop Gore’s balloon when he said high CO2 as shown in ice cores causes higher temps.

    Secondly, the programme I saw did not imply the temperature changes affected industrial CO2 production. The reverse might well be true, but icecores are hardly the route to prove that.

    It does not matter if the solar theory is not valid or if there is no other explanation as yet. The point is we are being bombarded with the “message” that Antropogenic CO2 is the cause, period, and we should just shut up, pay our taxes, stop doing ANYTHING, pay more taxes, sew our goosefatted selves into our clothes, shut up, pay even more taxes, stop eating meat, have clipboarders auditing our homes, be punished for excessive flying, driving and whatever the Sociofascists decide is the crime du jour. Oh, and shut up.

    “Soylent Green is People”

  • Paul Marks

    Albert Gore was a big spending Democrat Senator – both on general government schemes and for special Pork he could get (his voting record was judged one of the worst on fiscal matters).

    However, (of course) this does not make him a Marxist.

    Also I am not sure that has recently come out and said the govenment must provide everyone health care – as Senator Obama, Senator Clinton and ex Senator Edwards all have.

    This means that (odd though it sounds) Albert “Al” Gore could (if he decided to run for President) be the moderate in the race.

  • Pa Annoyed

    Jamie,

    What are you talking about?

    The shortest Milankovitch cycle is 23,000 years. The others are 41,000 years and 100,000 years. That doesn’t explain an 800 year lag. I think what you’re trying to get at here is the theory that ice ages and interglacials are triggered by Milankovitch cycles. Whether the theory is true or not (and it is currently no more than a hypothesis), it holds no relevance for the point of that part of the programme, which is to demolish Al Gore’s implication that the correspondence of the graphs is evidence for CO2 causing temperature rises, or that the sceptics are idiots for denying it in the face of such evidence.

    It is a valid point, made by climatologists, to say that it doesn’t disprove CO2-driven warming either – the initial warming might be amplified by the liberated CO2 in a positive feedback cycle. But the graph is not evidence for that, and the separate calculation needed to quantify any amplification is far less obvious and in-your-face, has not been publicised by Gore and Co., and is based on disputed figures anyway.

    I don’t remember anyone implying in the programme that the current rise is the result of the recent warming, although I could have missed that. It would, as you say, be stupid since you would only expect any such rise to occur in about 800 years time. Now, if there had been a warm period 800 years ago… ;-) You need to be careful with this one anyway since the human release of CO2 does not match the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere. About half of it goes missing, and nobody knows where to. If stuff can go missing, there might be other stuff coming from somewhere we don’t know about. In the absence of full scientific understanding of a phenomenon, it is a brave man who calls any theory “just stupid”.

    You would do better to explain how the solar theories were undermined, or at least to give a reference. Certainly people have argued against them in journals, but I’m sure we would like the opportunity to judge those arguments for ourselves, rather than accepting argument from authority. I’m aware of a couple of problems with the theory, yes, but then I’m aware of some problems with the CO2 theory too. Either problems should cause all theories to be rejected, or we have to be charitable and consider them works in progress. Ionisation was discussed in the programme, and it seemed fairly apparent to me that the Svensmark paper was the mechanism being presented.

    Your tolerance for uncertainty is a valid position with which I agree, but it is not the one the sceptics are faced with. Sceptics are told the debate is over, the consensus of reputable scientists is unanimous, anyone who argues or disagrees is a denier, a wrecker, an enemy of mankind. If it was a case of “you have your theories and we have ours and we’ll work to see who is right”, that would be fine. But it isn’t like that. What other scientific controversy has aroused the rage and condemnation this program has? Sceptics are villified, a number of those in the Swindle programme say they have received death threats. Actual death threats. Over something considered merely “very likely”? I think not.

    I agree that public policy should be made on the basis of probabilities. You take the cost of each possible future under each option, and multiply it by the probability, and see which gives the best odds. So, you take the cost of slamming the brakes on the global economy to varoius extents and the cost of the consequences of global warming multiplied by its probability in each case, and see whether the pain is worth the gain. If you read Lomborg, you’ll see where he did exactly that. Guess which option turned out to be better?

    Finally, nobody has said that one programme should close the debate – unless you’re talking about An Inconvenient Truth, which was film rather than TV. It is only the pro-AGWers that want to close the debate – to the extent that they consider putting on a single programme from the other side on national TV is such an outrage. This is the first, ever mass-media presentation of a credibly portrayed sceptical view. Debate?! Pro-AGWers don’t know the meaning of the word!

    So, if you want to talk about the flaws in the science, you’re very welcome. I enjoy doing that. But if you want to do it in a more civilised debate, it’s best not to start with describing one’s opponents as “nutters”. :-)

  • This documentary is nothing but right-wing propaganda. It has already been debunked(Link).

  • Paul, I was in a meeting today with someone from EdF (the company most likely to build new nuclear in the UK) and he also doesn’t know of a current nuclear design that doubles efficiency. Still waiting to hear where that came from.

    As for uranium, you, me and Pa can bang on about our different opinions (I don’t remember typing about fission supplying “all our needs” either), but ultimately I am happy, provided they don’t get a leg-up, to leave that judgment to companies like EdF, whose opinion is rather more relevant than yours or mine. Isn’t that fair? If you and Pa are interested in the arguments on the other side, have a look at http://www.stormsmith.nl/. I don’t present that as a definitive study, but simply as an alternative case.

    As you keep mentioning hydrogen, let me mention that our company owns the only plant producing renewable hydrogen in the country (see http://www.green-h2.com), so I am reasonably familiar with the concept. The rest of the UK’s hydrogen (like most of the hydrogen produced around the world) is currently produced by steam-reforming fossil-fuels, so you are right that electrolysis will be essential if hydrogen is to offer any environmental benefit. Hopefully green hydrogen will be a part of the future energy mix, and if nuclear hydrogen is a good way to go, that’s great. But we should discover that in the market without sweeping generalisations about which technologies are or are not important.

    Jamie, Basing policy on probabilities sounds reasonable, but it should actually be about balances of risks (i.e. probability times severity). So it’s not just about the probability that man is contributing to global warming and how severe the consequences would be if we are and we fail to do anything about it. It’s also about the probability that we are not contributing (significantly) and the consequences of acting unnecessarily. The programme pointed out that it is possible that the latter is more significant. I’m not convinced, but it’s another decision that should not be centrally-planned. It needs a market that allows trading between carbon-producers, carbon-absorbers, and consequence-sufferers, recognising the latters’ rights not to have impacts inflicted on them. They can then choose whether to trade their right not to incur the risk of harm with those whose emissions produce the risk. If you are a drought-ridden third-world country, you get to decide whether you’d rather have money now and take the risk on damage later, or whether the current benefit is not worth the risk. It’s a complex area, which Kyoto fails to address satisfactorily. This barely scratches the surface, but the point is, it’s not as easy as IPCC economists calculating probabilities on the basis of models and then governments mandating action on the basis of that. It gives a very distorted and quite possibly wrong result, even though it sounds reasonable on the face of it.

    Reasic, I don’t see how your page debunks No.1 (the lag). The programme certainly didn’t say T and CO2 are anti-correlated. It was quite clear that they were correlated but with a lag. And the fact that, on a graph with a scale of hundreds of thousands of years, an 800-year lag is too small to be seen is neither here not there, any more than it would be true to say that we shouldn’t worry about microbiota or radioactive particles because they were too small to be seen. They are there, and they need accounting for. I’ve seen the argument that it’s feedback, but what I don’t get is – if something caused the temperature to start rising, why assume that that factor just disappeared as soon as the CO2 started being released? And possibly more seriously for the theory, what is happening at the other end of the cycle, when temperatures start falling while CO2 is still going up? Why ould the feedback decrease? It may be possible to explain all this away, but it is a lot easier to explain if something else is the main cause of the temperature cycle, and the CO2 swings are primarily a consequence, not a cause. Occam’s Razor applies.

    I would have thought the stronger argument was that this may be what happens in natural cycles, but we are now adding extra CO2 on top of that, which will exacerbate the effect. There is no reason to think that the two are mutually exclusive. But I’d be interested to know if the acceptance of the alternative theory for the long cycles had an implication for the assumed forcing effect of CO2.

  • This documentary is nothing but right-wing propaganda.

    Hilarious! This reminds me of when CNN called the old guard COMMUNIST plotters of the attempted coup against Boris Yeltsin “right wing”. A bunch of LIVING MARXISM guys make a documentary debunking the whole climate change scam and they are… right wing. You guys are beyond parody.

  • One thing I found convincing about the exerpt I saw was that. The idea that a warmer Earth preceeds a C02 build build is supported by the environmentalist objections to building new damns because the fresh water lakes behind them will give off more CO2. If more of the evil stuff is produced by heating up water, presumably all the natural gunk and slime (biota?) that live in the water, then why make such a big deal about old ladies in SUVs ?

  • Paul Marks

    Bruno how often do I have to type the same thing?

    Compare the stats for the British design just bought up by the Japanese company and compare it with many of the British plants now in operation (although, I admit, they were designed in the 1950′s).

    I am not going to do the work for you (even if I was a scientist – which I am not). You do not pay me.

  • Pa Annoyed

    Reasic,

    Yes, I’ve seen all that before. Firstly, RealClimate are fairly well known as a polemic pro-AGW site, originally set up in response to Climate Audit, and not an impartial for-doing-science site. They’re worth paying attention to, but cannot be relied upon to present both sides of the argument where there is a controversy. They’re as willing to distort things to suit their agenda as Durkin.

    Secondly, the debunking either misinterprets the purpose of parts of the Swindle programme, or leaves out contrary bits of evidence itself. I’m not going to go through the whole thing, I’ll just pick a couple of points for example.

    1. The 800 year lag.

    The programme was presenting this in response to the corresponding section in An Inconvenient Truth, where, if you’ll look at it, the clear implication was given that this was evidence of CO2 causing temperature rises, and that the sceptics arguing with it was ridiculous, tantamount to denying that Africa and South America fitted together before continental drift was known about. I consider this a clearly dishonest presentation, which has been used to convince many laymen around the world. When considered as simply a response to Gore’s deceit, the Swindle approach was entirely honest. If you interpret it as an attempted counter to the general assertion of a relationship, then it doesn’t quite work because Gore’s graphs provide absolutely no evidence either for or against the CO2 hypothesis. It’s fair to point it out as something possible to misunderstand, but unfair to characterise it as deliberately deceptive or irrelevant to the argument.

    As noted above, the smallness of the lag is irrelevant. Saying “the correct interpretation of this is…” is tendentious, since it is arguable whether it is correct. The discussion in the previous link only says that feedback could be happening and they only assert the amount. And in case you think a counter to Gore’s version doesn’t affect the AGW side generally, I will point out that shortly after its release a number of prominent scientists were asked whether it got the science right and they supported it, and I want to ask who gave Al Gore those graphs and told him what they meant?

    2. Mid century cooling.

    It is quite correct that GCMs use sulphate aerosols to explain the difference post 1940. But given the low level of scientific understanding of aerosols generally, and the relative lack of global aerosol measurements from mid-century, to what extent is the strength of the aerosol effect deduced from the difference between CO2 and temperature, and to what extent has the aerosol effect been modelled ab initio and found to fit? In other words, aerosols can explain the difference and GCMs can model the dip by means of them, but is this any support for saying they do? Or is it merely curve-fitting?

    Furthermore, this is a complexity of which the public were previously unaware. They were told it was CO2 being like a greenhouse – a nice simple mechanism that you would expect people to understand fully by now. Oh, but all of a sudden we’ve got these aerosols coming in, and with a bit more investigation you find dozens of other factors coming in. And now it’s a little bit easier to believe there could be things we don’t understand and bits that have been missed out of the models. By keeping it simple, you make it seem more certain than it is.

    And incidentally, to say “it’s complicated and there’s another factor we ‘forgot’ to mention” here, and then in the next section to point out that the solar hypothesis has its own segment that doesn’t fit and interpret this as evidence that the theory is discredited is a bit hypocritical. That’s not to say Durkin wasn’t being misleading in leaving it off, but there’s mud for both sides here.

    I think that’s long enough to make the point. I think the RealClimate responses are valid debate, and should be brought up and addressed, but I think to say the programme has been “debunked” is a little premature, and being so dismissive of such scepticism looks like a rhetorical technique to avoid having to debate it properly. Particularly given a history of now clearly proven mistakes that have been made by climatologists, like the hockeystick. If people have questions you already have answers to, answer them, but please don’t pretend they’re ridiculous questions to be asked.

  • Paul, I posted a reference to the stats for Westinghouse’s latest design, which show that it is, if anything, one or two percentage points more efficient than the old designs. I am not asking you to do work for me, I am asking you to stand up your claim that there is a current design that is twice as efficient as the old designs. All you have done is make that claim, you have never provided a reference that supports that claim. Please do so, or retract.

  • Paul Marks

    Bruno.

    I said the British design recently bought by Toshiba.

    What has this got to do with Westinghouse?

  • Chopsticks

    It’s nice to see some counter to the all pervading notion “It’s all our fault”. as a kid I was disctinctly told “there’s another ice-age on the way, probably around the year 2000″ – if the graphs and data shown in the program are indeed factual then it should make reasonable people stop and think. I had heard glimmers of these arguments before yet like most dismissed them as “inductrial/political” propoganda.

    DOes this mean the bicycle I replaced my car with can now be scrapped so I can buy a nice big 4×4?

  • shanteria

    why i cannot find increase teperature for global warming data

  • andrea

    what i liked about your initial comment was “I have had enough experience with arguing to know that changing your mind is not something you should do lightly and impulsively”… maybe you should leave some time to judge the whole matter? And then change your mind?

    many Uk and non-uk newspapers (not blogs…) are rating the C4 programme as a non-scientific (and biasing some of the interviewed ideas) piece of information, please take into account many points of view before forming your own judgement

    Andrea

  • goggen

    I think the best one was to blaim both Tatcher and the communists for the global warming theory. I hear Durkin hopes to earn lots of money on DVD sales now – talk about swindle…

  • --

    okay, i thought the movies were cool

  • Shooting on Planet Mars – Cameroon to make a movie on lifestyle of humans if they go on to the planet Mars

    * Cameroon is getting ready to show new world
    * Agreement with NASA
    * New 3D Camera ready

    (Link)