Herald censures IPCC on flimsy grounds

In the current open journalistic season on IPCC sniping the NZ Herald has joined in with an editorial taking up new accusations made by the UK’s Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times.

The editorial begins with the Himalayan glacier error, which the IPCC itself has accepted and expressed regret for.  But the Herald has the scent of blood and moves on to take up the claims of the UK newspapers with uncritical enthusiasm.

“If the Himalayan debacle was bad enough, the panel references to disappearing ice in the Andes, the European Alps and Africa are even more embarrassing.

They turn out to have been based on a student dissertation and an article in a climbing magazine.”

This absurd accusation probably originates with a Sunday Telegraph article, though it is not cited. Let’s look at what is involved.  In chapter 1 of Working Group II’s report there is a section on observed changes in the cryosphere.  In the course of the section a short table (page 86) of selected observed effects is provided. Included among them is the loss of ice climbs in the Andes, the Alps and Africa. It is in relation to this minor observation that the student dissertation and climbing magazine article are cited by the IPCC. But somehow the Herald manages to imply that the IPPCC references to disappearing ice are based on these two sources.

The reality is that the Working Group I report in chapter 4 (pages 356-360)  deals with observed changes glaciers in a section densely packed with scientific information, whereas the Working Group II report in which this report is found describes the observed effects on the environment and on human activities due to these recent cryospheric changes. And the loss of ice climbs is a tiny part of those effects.

But, says the Herald, the articles fall some way short of scientific evidence.  Admittedly they are anecdotal, but I imagine the IPCC authors regarded that as not unreasonable in a matter more likely to be noticed by climbers than researched in scientific papers. The author of one of the articles commented: “I am surprised that they have cited an article from a climbing magazine, but there is no reason why anecdotal evidence from climbers should be disregarded as they are spending a great deal of time in places that other people rarely go and so notice the changes.” Worth noting too that the magazine article was written by Mark Bowen, a keen climber and author of Thin Ice, the excellent story of Lonnie Thompson’s efforts to drill cores in high altitude tropical glaciers. Bowen went with Thompson on a number of expeditions, so knows his stuff.  IPCC authors are not, as is commonly thought, entirely restricted to peer-reviewed literature. Their instructions include the following:

“The authors will work on the basis of peer reviewed and internationally available literature, including manuscripts that can be made available for IPCC review and selected non-peer reviewed literature. Source, quality and validity of non-peer reviewed literature, such as private sector information need to be critically assessed by the authors and copies will have to be made available to reviewers who request them. Disparate views for which there is significant scientific or technical support should be clearly identified in IPCC reports, together with relevant arguments. Expert meetings and workshops may be used to support the preparation of a report.”

Maybe their judgement can be faulted in this particular case. Not by me, I hasten to say. But it is hardly a matter of any great substance. Indeed it is tiny. The Herald editorial grossly exaggerates its significance.

And there is more, says the Herald. There has been a critical examination of the IPCC’s ”attempts to link natural disasters to global warming”.  The Herald doesn’t mention that this ”critical examination” was conducted by the UK Sunday Times.

“ [The IPCC’s] claim in 2007 that the world had ‘suffered rapidly rising costs due to extreme weather-related events since the 1970s’ turns out to have been based on a paper that had not been peer-reviewed or published at that time.”

The words in quotes look as if they are from the IPCC report.  They’re not.  They’re from the Sunday Times article. The IPCC report is restrained and cautious. The Sunday Times article is sloppy and wildly inaccurate.  You can read what I wrote about it on Hot Topic here.  I won’t repeat myself. I described it as simply untrue. But it has evidently entered the journalistic canon.

I guess we should be relieved that the Herald shows no inclination to join the denialist community as a result of its uncritical acceptance of the Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times articles, but it should think again about the strictures which it was lavish with.  The IPCC reports are massive in size and massive in value.  It may be asking a bit much that editorial writers should spend time acquainting themselves with them, but if they are not going to do that they should at least treat with great caution the ”revelations” of its failures in scientific rigour. There will no doubt be more of those, since I suspect the denialist community is going through the IPCC references with a fine comb. If they prove correct the IPCC will again acknowledge error and express regret, as it did over the Himalayan glaciers. But the Herald should make sure it is dealing with matters of reasonable substance before it rushes to judgement.

170 thoughts on “Herald censures IPCC on flimsy grounds”

  1. Last time I checked I thought the IPCC was meant to be the forum where all the SCIENTIFIC literature and research on Climate change was analysed so a consensus could be reached about what was happening to the planet.

    Would you please let me know how anecdotal stories from Ice Climbers are in any way, shape, or form, Scientific?

    If they are not Scientific then what were these stories being used by a Scientific organisation dedicated to presenting the Scientific consensus?

  2. Gosman, rein in your indignation and read the post again for answers to your questions. I personally see no reason why anecdotal evidence shouldn’t be occasionally referred to when it supports well-founded scientific observation. Oxfam’s use of stories from people suffering the effects of climate change in poor countries, which I have frequently written posts about, is a good example of this – decried by those who deny climate change of course. It needs to be treated with reasonable caution, but by no means ruled out.

    1. The only point of Oxfam using stories of people suffering the effects of climate change in poor countries is to further their political agenda via emotive PR. This is excusable for a political Aid organisation like Oxfam. It should be unacceptable when it comes to a Scientific organisation like the IPCC.

        1. Bravo for telling us about your great intellect.

          Although I guess we will have to take your word for it because you haven’t shown us it in action.

          I do love it when someone states that someone elses argument is completely false but they can’t be bothered to tell us why for no apparent reason and then expect people to clap them on the back for being so very clever.

          How about you spend some time backing your argument up rather than exercising your rather arrogant ego.

          1. If you can’t see your glaring error – my explanation will be of little use to you.
            Suffice to say that neither the IPCC nor Oxfam are arguing from the particular to the general. But you certainly are.

            1. You might think this is some sort of clever debating trick but it just seems childish to me.

              Anyway please humour me and point out my ‘glaring error’ and the ‘errors in logic’ in my argument below.

              Anecdotal evidence is not Scientific evidence. The IPCC is the organisation that is meant to analysis the research and present the scientific consensus on climate change.

              The use of anecdotal evidence by organisations like Oxfam in reports are primarily for PR purposes.

              There is no Scientific reason why the IPCC should be using anecdotal evidence in their reports so therefore they are doing so for PR purposes, which is not really the role for such an organisation.

            2. “Anecdotal evidence is not Scientific evidence.”
              I never said that it was.
              But if disappearing glaciers are being evidenced, and that is a logical conclusion from the science, then it is perfectly valid to say so.
              However, to argue that the IPCC’s conclusions are invalid simply because they incorrectly predict the demise of the Himalayan glacier by several decades is false logic.

            3. My point is that the IPCC should be an organisation dedicated to presenting the Scientific consensus on the subject.

              I don’t see where anecdotal evidence fits into this unless you feel that PR is also something the IPCC should be doing. If so then that is where I disagree.

              I am still waiting for you to point out where my argument falls down in logic.

            4. Gosman – the IPCC’s remit is to collate and present all the information available. There is a section of the report that presents the current scientific understanding of climate and how it is / will change, and another section looking at present and projected impacts. Any catalogue of present impacts is necessarily going to include anecdotal evidence (in effect, observations by non-scientists) if it is going to attempt to give an overall picture of what is happening around the world. Climbers and mountaineers have been observing (and recording) the state of mountain ice for many more years and in many more places than “scientists” have been able to record, so it would seem very remiss if the IPCC group looking at historical changes discarded the information simply on the basis that they had not been published in the scientific literature.

              It is you, Gosman, that are raising the straw man here.

            5. If it is collecting and presenting anecdotal evidence then that part of the IPCC is incredibly weak from a Scientific point of view and opens itself up to the sorts of criticism that the NZ Herald has raised.

              The trouble with using anecdotal evidence is that it completely and utterly dependendent on selection bias and virtually impossible to verify.

              To give you an example, someone could select a bunch of ice climbers who have a story about climbing in a locale where there was more ice than the previous time they went there. This adds nothing to the Scientific discussion of overall climate change. The only purpose I see is to try and influence peoples opinions using standard PR tactics.

              BTW it was the NZ Herald who raised the issue about the use of anecdotal evidence. It is hard to raise a Strawman when it is part of the original argument being discussed.

            6. You’re missing the wood for the trees here – the IPCC is not going around collecting anecdotes, but they are noting that these mountaineers are writing stories about how the ice is disappearing from many historical sites. That is a useful observation that apparently numbers of mountaineers have commented agrees with their own experiences. Presumably if there is contrary opinions then there will be other articles in those magazines saying “wow, here’s a new ice climb that was not there before”, or even letters to the editor saying “that article sucks – those places never had ice before”.

  3. Australis, I suspect the IPCC uses anecdotal evidence so sparingly that it would take an age to track anything of that nature down. I have no interest in undertaking the mammoth task that would represent. Have a look at the list of references at the end of the chapter in which the references to climbers occurs. It’s linked to in the post. And that’s only one chapter. Perhaps the deniers who are likely going through all the thousands of references assiduously could help you. But then they mightn’t object if it was a reference to the beneficial aspects of climate change – an aspect it may well present for a while in some parts of the globe.

    1. The point is that the IPCC is not a PR agency for the AGW brigade. It is meant to be a serious organisation dedicated to collating and presenting the Scientific consensus on climate change. Anecdotal evidence should not play any part in this sort of task.

      1. The IPCC process is a review, not original research in itself. In WG1, the science of climate, the references are all (as far as I know, but I haven’t gone through the references line by line) to peer-reviewed papers. In WG2 and 3 (impacts and mitigation) there’s a wider standard — not least because some of the relevant work has been conducted outside of purely academic institutions (insurance companies/energy companies etc). There’s a discussion of some aspects of this at Stoat here. For what it’s worth, the Australia and NZ chapter in WG2 includes material commissioned on impacts by MfE and MFAT from various bodies (NIWA, various consulting scientists/economists, etc). Those reports may have gone through an internal or external peer review, but have not been published in the peer-reviewed literature. It would be stupid to deny yourself that sort of stuff…

      1. I’d suggest the very fact that the IPCC is meant to be the mechanism for building a consensus on the science around Climate change would mean that it has less reason to use anecdotal evidence in any output than standard research literature.

        1. You need to read up on the history of the IPCC. You’ll find an overview in The Discovery Of Global Warming (link in left sidebar). It was set up provide governments with a regular overview of the state of the science of climate, together with potential/actual impacts and means of mitigating change. The process was explicitly designed to be conservative (ie to deliver watered-down results).

        2. ALL information is initially anecdotal, at least until it is properly studied and peer reviewed. Given the rapidity of climate changes and the paucity of cash* to follow up all of the developments , we would be idiots to ignore anecdotal info, especially when it comes from credible observers.

          (*in spite of all the trotters-in-the-trough claims)

          1. Ummmm…. who stated anything about ignoring anecdotal evidence completely?

            We’re talking about the use of anecdotal evidence in documents which are meant to be a review of the Scientific literature and put forward a consensus summary on the SCIENCE of Climate change.

            Please advise where you think anecdotes sits in the hierarchy of Scientific evidence?

            1. Have you actually read any of the IPCC reports? You should – you’d be quite surprised I think by their breadth and detail. They are a heck of a lot more than a “consensus summary on the science of climate change”.

            2. So they include ALL the various papers and research by people involved in Climate research, including access to the raw data and supporting sources, do they?

            3. Yes. Look for yourself. Heres the link to the reports:
              http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/publications_and_data_reports.htm
              Four reports
              1 “The Physical Science”
              2 “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability”
              3 “Mitigation of Climate Change”
              4 “Synthesis report”
              Full references within each chapter

              Here’s the link to the data used in the reports:
              http://www.ipcc-data.org/obs/index.html

              There are other reports on the site detailing their methodologies and other technical issues.

  4. Is this where you ended up gosman? I miss you terribly at tumeke, you posted recently that hot topic were getting it’s arse kicked, I come over and find the opposite to be true. The NZ Herald article is the latest in the attempt to discredit the science behind global warming in the same way the tobacco industry successfully pulled off the claim that there was no connection between cancer and smoking. This dangerous spin is however winning ground, if you look at the right wing blogosphere in NZ – No Minister, Un PC, kiwiblog and whaleoil are winning the propaganda war. We need to perhaps work out a better countrer attack on this front or the deniers like gosman will win the propaganda war and we will not get the political direction necessary to force the legislative change towards a sustainable future

    1. Ah Mr Bradbury. I must admit I am quite surprised you appear on a site where you can’t censor any contrary opinions so as to big up your own.

      Interesting you say you miss me at Tumeke when Tim has told me that you have decided to ban me from posting on anything you write simply because you don’t like what I write.

      I also like the way that you automatically assume that the Herald article is part of some giant conspiracy theory involving all usual nasty Right wing bogey men you go on and on and on about ad nauseum.

      I think you will find that the owners of this blog don’t share the same level of paranoia, in fact this posting is quite a meassured and reasoned analysis explemplified by the following quote from Bryan

      “I guess we should be relieved that the Herald shows no inclination to join the denialist community ”

      This contrasts with your attitude which basically is that all the MSM is in the hands of the nasty Right wing who are out to eat little babies yadda yadda yadda.

      Might I suggest you go back to your rather small playground at Tumeke.

  5. Gosman, you posted on Tumeke that you were kicking their arse over here, I pop over and see you are the one getting the hiding. My comment that the Herald editorial is the latest in the attempt to discredit the science stands but I do like that you try and put words in my mouth here as well as on Tumeke. As for small pools, I’ll be on Radio NZ tomorrow where perhaps you can send another stalker email to them regarding your dislike of me being on the Panel?

    Always a pleasure playing in the sand pit with you gosman.

  6. Ummmmm…… it is you seem to be the master at deciding the position of someone without any evidence whatsoever Mr Bradbury.

    It is quite clear from your comments about the Herald in the past on this topic, as well as others, you believe it to be part of some giant Right wing attempt to control the dissemination of information and deliberately discredit the science behind AGW.

    Do you deny this is your position ?

    It is always good to see you lower the tone of debate with personal attacks as well. The trouble is here you don’t have the power to censor people who stand up to your bully boy tactics.

  7. Dearest Gosman, you are the one who posted on Tumeke that you were kicking butts over here on Hot Topic, I merely came across to see you in action and find it not to be the case. Crying bully boy tactics and moaning about censorship seems churlish Gosman, do you have it all out of your system? Please point out anywhere I’ve claimed that the Herald is in some type of active conspiracy re climate change? They are right wing corporate media, that’s all the bias Chomesky points out they need to continue the corporate interests to have no carbon tax, but that they are actively emailing one another to allow climate denial opinions like yours to flourish is simply silly. I have been VERY clear however about where the right wing attack on science and big oil funding has come from in my Skepticism with a Capital K post on Tumeke. That you mouth the same attack on science line isn’t so much a conspiracy Gosman as an indication how easily the spin lines can be believed.

    Decades ago you would’ve been arguing there is no scientific link between tobacco smoking and cancer. I salute Hot Topic for having the patience to deal with you, I certainly don’t on Tumeke.

    1. Ahhh… I don’t think butt or arse kicking was ever mentioned Mr Bradbury.

      It seems it looks like it is you who are misrepresenting someone’s position yet again.

      As for your rather childish Neo-Marxism 101 reply on the following:

      “They are right wing corporate media, that’s all the bias Chomesky points out they need to continue the corporate interests ”

      This tends to suggest you do believe there is some sort of unwritten conspiracy afoot even if it is just to make more money and screw the planet.

      As for me being a Climate change denier, you obviously haven’t been following the discussion pages on Hot Topic very thoroughly as there is no evidence I have disputed the Scientific consensus on the subject.

      I do enjoy pointing out your inherent hypocracy though Mr Bradbury so please, by all means, give it another go at me.

  8. The trouble with the Climate Change debate is that certain people on both the left and the right of the political debate have turned it into an ideological battleground rather than a reasoned discussion.

    Mr Bradbury is an example of this from the left of the political spectrum. He attempts to use the Science behind AGW to push the viewpoint that Capitalism has failed and our only hope is to abandon it for the Socialist Utopia he dreams of and read about when he was at Uni.

    The danger with this sort of thinking is that you polarise society and noone really wishes to discuss the matter rationally without name calling and finger pointing. This is why it is important that the Science which decisions are made on this subject is not just sound but also above reproach.

    Now if anyone wishes to label me a ‘Denier’, whatever that rather childish title actually means, then go ahead. Although I would suggest it says more about you than me personally.

  9. I’ll keep this reply brief just for you then.

    Are you going to contribute anything to the discussion or just engage in ad hominem attacks.

    When someone attacks me personally I retaliate in kind – Simple really.

      1. When are you going to do anything except engage in childish ad hominem attacks?

        BTW what is your position on the danger of the Climate change debate being hijacked for idealogical reasons, or don’t you think that is an important part of the debate?

        1. Oh this is pathetic – I love how you cry ad hominem attacks and post up a sobbing “I’m sorry its so heated but he won’t let me post on Tumeke” whine but then try and twist the global warming problem as me, that’s right, it’s not about man made pollution apparently the problem is me over at Tumeke making it (in your words) an ideological dick fight. Like I said I don’t tolerate trolls over at Tumeke but I salute Hot Topic for putting up with you.

          1. You couldn’t help yourself could you Mr Bradbury. Always quick to lower the tone of debate.

            Also amazing that your ego is that large you think this discussion is all about you. I can assure you that your views are just one small part of this wider debate about idealogical hijacking of the climate change discussion.

            BTW you seem to be the only person who has a problem with my views at Tumeke as both Tim and Phoebe seem quite relaxed with vigorous debate.

            Perhaps that says more about them than it does you eh 😉

        2. As it happens I am very much concerned by the PR and spin merchants of those companies and industries with vested interests – particularly the “useful idiots” who troll web sites such as this, spouting scepticism and denialism.

            1. If you could get off your high horse for one instant you would see that it was you who asked my opinion at 41. I have given it you.

              I am unable to reply directly to you comments at 9 and 10. I take it then that you do accept the findings of the IPCC. If this is the case, then my sincere apologies, but the tenor of your comments here suggest otherwise.

            2. Fair enough however I was meaning particular the fact this issue is being framed as a straight left = AGW solution and Right = AGW opponents.

              You might very well have valid concerns about the PR and spin merchants of companies and industries with vested interests but do you think it helps the debate to frame the argument in traditional Left versus Right terms?

  10. The trouble with the Climate Change debate is that certain people on both the left and the right of the political debate have turned it into an ideological battleground rather than a reasoned discussion.

    I heartily agree. But there is also the little problem that (more or less), “not all convervatives are deniers, but all deniers are conservative”. The suggested solutions to AGW are on the whole an anathema to the right and cognitive dissonance kicks in and declares the AGW must not exist. There badly needs to be suggested solutions to the climate problem that do not violate right wing values so debate move to what to do about climate change.

    What we have at moment is a lot of sucker-tucker floating around, worrying away at the edges of the theory creating the illusion that AGW is less well founded than it is. As a tactic to delay action, this is working all too well. Note that most of the discussion here about what was said in one form of media or other and little about published science.

    1. “not all convervatives are deniers, but all deniers are conservative”

      – I would respectively disagree with that statement. There are a small group of Left wingers who believe that AGW is part of a conspiracy to impose a Right wing one world government on the planet.

      I have come across one or two in my time. They are the same people who believe that the September the 11th 2001 attacks were staged by elements of the US Government.

    2. If you don’t like the sucker-tucker floating around then you should be demanding that the Science supporting AGW is carried out in a completely correct manner and critisise bad scientific practice when it comes to light not defend it and try and smear those pointing it out.

      I have experince of the debate around Vaccinations causing Autism. Now as far as I can tell the Science behind the benefits and risks of Vaccinations are reasonably clean and straightforward. Yet there is still a large body of people out there decrying Vaccinations and the supposed effect of them on their kids.

      To avoid this type of controversy you have to be incredibly careful and precise in presenting evidence. The IPCC and CRU have let the side down recently. They need to improve their methods.

  11. Gosman. Okay I stand corrected. From discussions I have had US Republicans it seemed it was the right wing that confusing attempts at international cooperation with a left wing plot for world government. It would appear that paranoia crosses all political boundaries.

    I would indeed decry scientific fraud etc. and I would also say the Phil Jones behaviour leaves a lot to be desired but certainly nothing that would make me doubt the science. What I do see is selective quoting without context being misconstrued completely and, no this isnt defending the side but at least I was concerned enough to bother investigating the context. I do not see anything affecting the science and can I suggest you bother to investigate the context too before throwing accusations around.

    The nature of the IPCC is that is always going to attract massive criticism, and I will accept that it is made up of mistake-prone humans. Again, there seems to be a belief that the criticisms somehow really undermines the case for AGW which I emphatically disagree with. Want to guess how many people bandying criticism of IPCC around the blogs have actually read AR4 WG1?

  12. There’s an upside to this affair. We now have a whole bunch of skeptics(*) parading their indignation about the use of non-peer-reviewed sources. This will rebound on them when they go back to citing blog posts and shoddily-written reports in support of their own views.

    (*) I use this term only as a convenient, non-confrontational label.

    1. I agree with you completely Mark H.

      The benefit of having Anti-AGW Skeptics decrying shonky practices is that they have to acknowledge their own shonky practice in return or look like hypocrites.

      By ignoring or excusing the behaviour of members of the CRU or the faults of the IPCC you allow the other side of the debate to also ignore similar, or worse, faults in their supporting evidence.

        1. I’m no fan of Ian Wishart so I have no problem with this.

          That stated, Ian Wishart along with Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury are necessary evils in a modern pluralistic democratic society. They help define the middle ground of discussion more clearly.

          One thing ou can’t call Mr Wishart is in the pocket of big business. He may well believe in a multitude of wacky ideas but then again so does Mr Bradbury as far as I am concerned.

          1. >>>I’m no fan of Ian Wishart so I have no problem with this.<<>>That stated, Ian Wishart along with Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury are necessary evils in a modern pluralistic democratic society. They help define the middle ground of discussion more clearly.<<<

            I totally agree. I have a tendancy to seek out people that are diametrically opposed in their thinking as it helps me considerably more than hanging around like-minded people. In terms of ensuring I'm not following people down a ideological hole. Ongoing testing. (Although it must be some form of masichism that has me at almost 12,000 posts on a right-wing American forum)
            I'm a fan of John Raulston-Saul's ideas about 'doubt'.

  13. What I would like to discuss at sometime is the point I raised about how the debate is being used for ideological purposes from both sides of the political spectrum.

    This is what truly disturbs me about this topic as I feel as though the left has tried to hijack this topic to push through some radical left wing ideals.

    In my opinion tackling climate change can be done a number of ways, including the use of the market mechanism to mitigate or avoid major negative impacts.

    If the position is that what is at fault here is the capitalist system and that needs to be replaced with something, (what that is is ill defined), then you have lost me as well as an lot of other people.

    The people pushing this ideological approach on the Subject of Climate change, (like Mr Bradbury of Tumeke), are actually causing much harm. Essentially they are taking the TINA approach (There is no alternative) which alienates and turns many people off the subject.

    1. In my opinion tackling climate change can be done a number of ways, including the use of the market mechanism to mitigate or avoid major negative impacts.

      Good for you. I agree.

      1. Excellent, then you and I can have a reasoned discussion about the alternatives.

        Would you agree that the position taken by someone like Mr Bradbury is not entirely helpful in this manner?

        1. I am insufficiently informed on Mr Bradbury’s position to make an informed comment. I certainly agree that pushing ideologies in not helpful. Ideologies are bound up in people’s values systems which you arent going to change by argument. I dont really care whether we take left wing or right wing solutions to the problem so long as we a/ acknowledge there is a problem, and b/ do something effective to mitigate or avoid.

          I do not consider myself well enough informed to make judgments on things on carbon tax/trading/rationing/geoengineering.

            1. Hmm. The only place in that document that I can think of that mentioned anything resembled societal change was in the tables at the end. I tried to provide some guidelines for individuals and communities that are motivated to work for sustainable energy (which is a slightly different thing to mitigating climate change). I also mentioned some things for government, including pricing carbon. Now I admit to being somewhat ambivalent about this. In principle you can seriously encourage a move away from fossil fuel by ensuring emission cost is part of pricing (whether by carbon tax or emissions). I do not know enough to be confident of what the mechanism could or should be. The previous government simply said no new fossil fuel plant which I guess is another way but doesnt deal with transport fuel which is our major problem. A lot depends on timing – if you have 50 years then I dont really see that you would need carbon pricing at least in NZ provided you had political will to move to renewables. A 20% cut in Kyoto emissions to below 1990 levels by 2020 without reducing farm emissions is another story. That would require a lot of forestry as a stop gap till electrification of transport could cut in. I struggle to see how that could be done without some kind of carbon trading at work but I am open to ideas.

            2. Apologies if I have misinterpreted the document I posted. I was prety sure you mentioned some general societal changes that would need to take place in NZ such as reducing air travel to a minimum and being more willing to accept the intrusions of renewalable energy sources such as wind turbines.

            3. “reducing air travel to a minimum and being more willing to accept the intrusions of renewalable energy sources such as wind turbines.”

              Fair enough. Air travel is big component of energy use and so far rather tricky to replace with sustainable alternative (though biofuel might). How you reduce air travel is the interesting question and one I didnt address. My point more was that screaming about ugly windmills or the amount of power used by x appliance while making trips to Europe every year is inconsistent. So is boasting about your vege garden and windmill on your lifestyle block while doing a1 hour commute each day.

              The need for sustainable energy means society does have make choices. Ignoring other reasons for going to sustainable sources, climate change would say you either make choices about which non-fossil energy sources to use (and each have pro and cons) or put up with effects of global warming. The document I hope pushes line accurately about what those choices are. If you cross off all big hydro, then need a hell of lot more wind. The idea here is be realistic – you dont fix the energy problem by JUST changing your lightbulbs.

            4. I agree whole heartedly with you on the Wind Tubines. There is nothing more I despise than precious Nimbyism displayed by those protesting new Wind Turbines.

              I spent the past two weeks in Martinborough where I was confronted at numerous location by petitions against the proposed Wind Turbines being sited about five or so kilometers from town. I love the look of Wind Turbines myself. They are a visual reminder of the majesty of human ingenuity for harnessing of the environment for our own ends. I very much doubt the sound pollution is going to be great considering other communities live much closer to similar structures with little problem.

              You proposed reduction in air travel is actually a big societal change as well as an economic one. I presume you would expect the number of people coming to NZ via the air to drop dramatically as well? If so then our tourist industry will be massively impacted.

            5. Well this kind of leaves you with choices then. Assuming that do want emissions reduced then you either.
              a/ find a renewable fuel for air transport
              b/ reduce air travel
              c/ reduce emissions so hard in other areas that they dont matter.

              Given other possible constraints ( difficulties in increasing oil production) then I’m not investing in tourism and I think this is a rather risky long term proposition for NZ. I hope I am wrong.

            6. I’d agree with you that those seem to be the options available. I’d tend to support looking into option a myself.

            7. Option a/ has to be the most appealing to consumer – depending on price and if too expensive then it quickly become option b/

              The back of the envelope calculation required at moment is how many sq kms of biofuel production do you need assuming a process at photosynthetic limit of efficiency to cover the worlds current aviation fuel consumption? Can we afford it? I dont have the numbers at hand to do this. Other inventive alternatives may come along but you might need a plan B in the interim.

  14. Gosh multiple posts protesting your position Gosman, I think that says more about you than me (although I’m flattered that you use my favourite ‘that says more about you than me’ retort on Tumeke here against me on Hot Topic, that’s cute Gosman).

    Gosman, the reason I simply trash anything you have to post on Tumeke is because you have nothing of any validity to contribute, you are the problem Gosman, you and your ilk muddy the water with big oil inspired attacks on the science of Climate Change and as another commentator here noted

    The suggested solutions to AGW are on the whole an anathema to the right and cognitive dissonance kicks in and declares the AGW must not exist. There badly needs to be suggested solutions to the climate problem that do not violate right wing values so debate move to what to do about climate change.

    – your weak fray-the-edges-of-the-debate come back is that a couple of fringe lefties who believe explosives were planted on each floor of the WTC show that the right aren’t the only ones who attempt to decry AGW is scrapping the bottom of the barrel, which in itself is an example of the debate style so many attacking to science of AGW are left to peddle.

    Let’s focus on some of the things you’ve said – first up, your email to me that you were kicking arse over here at Hot Topic, did you forget that you had posted it to me because late last night you must have realized you did because you front footed my point by reposting it to Tumeke, now folks, you will need to forgive my vernacular when I described Gosmans self proclaimed ‘kicking arse’, here is what he actually said


    Gosman said…
    You might like to know that the posters on that Hot topic thread you mentioned are running for the hills when asked to defend the dodgy Scientific integrity of the originators of those Climategate e-mails.

    It seems like Bad Science is acceptable so long as you have safety in numbers.”

    Okay, Gosman didn’t directly say kicking arse, but he did say you were all running for the hills, I came across to have a look at you all running for the hills, and what do I find? Gosman is the one fighting the rear guard action, your previous post demanding I show you the link suggested you had said nothing of the sort, I will leave it to the readers of this fine blog to decide how far you have stretched your credibility.

    Just as a point of interest, are you also denying you have sent emails to Radio NZ attacking me being on air there? Or are you going to pretend like your grandiose email self proclaiming your brilliance that email does not exist as well (until I pull it out)?

    That’s the petty stuff over with, let’s get to the points that matter…

    As for your rather childish Neo-Marxism 101 reply on the following:

    “They are right wing corporate media, that’s all the bias Chomsky points out they need to continue the corporate interests ”

    This tends to suggest you do believe there is some sort of unwritten conspiracy afoot even if it is just to make more money and screw the planet.

    Your sad write off of Chomsky’s propaganda model speaks volumes of your ignorance of the mans works Gosman as I have pointed out numerous times on Tumeke, this skepticism is merely a manufacture of doubt, and you puppet that manufacture…

    Scepticism with a capital K – Manufacturing Doubt

    The climate skeptic position that Greenpeace with $30 million can out spin Exxon Mobil valued at half a trillion is as believable as the climate skeptic position that all 6 billion of us and our pollution has NO EFFECT on the planets climate whatsoever. That is fairies at the bottom of the garden stuff.

    Have poor research methods regarding peer reviewed material come to light? Yes, but they WERE ALWAYS THERE – pretending that it is unique to the Climate Warming debate is a lie in itself, and these issues are again cherry picked fringe issues to the vast body of work that shows us man made pollution is heating the planet in a manner that threatens our ability for modern civilization as we know it to continue.

    As for your ‘problem with climate change debate is that certain people on both left and right blah blah’ argument is a joke. Capitalism IS the problem, unsustainable consumer culture is the driving force for wasteful pollution derived through neo-liberal trade empires that rape the third world for resources while manufacturing them in the developed world to be sold to the first world. You are right in one regard though, there is a cultural war element to the climate change debate. Those elites who have profited so well from the current consumer culture have no interest in changing, and those who benefit from it will not be told by smelly pinko tree huggers that they were wrong all along. You, Whaleoil, No Minister, UN PC, Leighton Smith and the Paul Henry’s of this world WILL NEVER admit that they were wrong, and will continue to follow the big oil sponsored Frank Luntz memo he wrote for the Republicans in 2002 to attack the science behind climate change at every turn.

    As for TINA – that’s right, there is no bloody alternative Gosman, we either rapidly change the manner and way we consume and live or we will continue to create the pollution that will push our planet to tipping points. Trying to twist the debate into ‘bomber is bad, he’s the problem, let’s debate that’ is just so fucking juvenile it doesn’t merit response.

    Like I said, I salute Hot Topic for having the patience to indulge a climate denier like you Gosman, I certainly don’t bother on Tumeke.

    Oh and could you just point out to me where anyone on this site was running to the hills from your brilliance?

    1. >>>Like I said, I salute Hot Topic for having the patience to indulge a climate denier like you Gosman, I certainly don’t bother on Tumeke.<<<

      Hats off to Ian Wishart too. I seem to be getting away with everything over there. Say what you like about the man, but he's provided a place to respond and engage (as much as you can) with him and his ilk. Every single post I've sent has appeared and none have been removed.

  15. Wow! An entire diatribe from Mr Bradbury direct at me on a site where I won’t have my reply censored because it is a little too unfortable for his rather large ego to handle.

    I mentioned on the Tumeke blog, (not an e-mail to you as you erroneously suggest), that the posters on this thread were running for the hills in relation to defending the appalling lack of Scientific principles displayed by memebers of the CRU, both in the e-mails and also in the public domain. I stand by that statement.

    My position has recently been bolstered by the article by Fred Pearce in the last day or so, (have you bothered to even read that Mr Bradbury), and also by one of the most senior Scientists in the UK Professor Beddington. Both have suggested that the sort of behaviour that is suggested in the e-mails and also in the public debate is not reflective of the high standards expected of top Scientists.

    To accept this fact is not to deny the probability that the underlying Science behind AGW is correct. Bad Scientists can still come up with the right answers and there are also many good Scientists involved as well. Mr Pearce has not suddenly become a denier for pointing the flaws out has he?

    As for your obsession about my e-supposed e-mail to Radio NZ which you claim I opposed your appearing on the Afternoons show. I think you have got the incorrect information. I did send a request for Jim to ask the panelists, including yourself a question regarding what their views were on freedom of speech on Blog sites. I believe Jim actively encourages people to send through e-mails with questions for the panelists.

    Do you have a problem with this, if so why?

  16. So do people here agree with Mr Bradbury’s position expressed below?

    “As for TINA – that’s right, there is no bloody alternative Gosman, we either rapidly change the manner and way we consume and live or we will continue to create the pollution that will push our planet to tipping points.”

    “Capitalism IS the problem, unsustainable consumer culture is the driving force for wasteful pollution derived through neo-liberal trade empires that rape the third world for resources while manufacturing them in the developed world to be sold to the first world”

    1. I could quibble with some of bomber points (I generally try to avoid polarising the issue along left/right, capitalist/socialist lines), but his general thrust is spot on. We have no alternative to dealing with climate change — it’s inevitable — and there is no way that the resources of a single planet can support the nine billion people projected to be alive in 2050 if they all want to live like Americans (or Aussies, NZrs, Brits etc). We have to find a way to live within our planetary means, or the planet will do it for us — and the result will not be pretty.

  17. There are always alternatives Gareth so i am disappointed in seeing that you have adopted the hard left TINA position.

    Have you read Superfreakonomics for example? They have a section on Global warming solutions in there. Now whether or not it is a viable solution or not has yet to be determined but it is still a alternative albeit maybe a temporary one.

    If those involved allow the discussion on solutions to AGW to degenerate into an idealogical cock fight then it is likely no solution is going to be able to be implemented.

    1. The facts of climate change are not left or right wing, the policy responses to it may be. I’m comfortable with market-based approaches to emissions reductions. I don;t think that makes me “hard left”, unless you define Rodney Hide as commanding the centre ground in NZ political thought.

      The Superfreakonmics guys were given a very hard time for their facile chapter on climate change. You can read one response (from climate scientists) here.

      The “ideological cock fight” of which you speak is not coming from those proposing solutions, it’s coming from those who dispute the facts because they want to do nothing. In my world, the facts set the ground rules within which we have to operate. Those advocating inaction seem the think that the facts can be what they want them to be.

  18. That article you linked to about the Superfreakonomics approach to Climate change doesn’t actually say that it can’t be done, just that it would be more difficult and more costly than the Author’s think. I have no doubt that it would be difficult but then again so is getting a Global agreement on Greenhouse gas emissions.

    Additionally the Author’s of Superfreakonomics point out that their solution does not preclude other actions to mitigate or reverse Climate chage and that the proposed solution they discuss is put forward as a kind of insurance, like having a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.

    As for your view that the idealogical cock fight not coming from those proposing solutions, I’m pretty sure you aren’t as naiive as that. Mr Bradbury is a prime example of the extreme left’s solution to Climate change which is to somehow destroy the Consumer driven economy we currently live in and replace it with some sort of Socialist utopia. His view is that this is the ONLY way to resolve the problem and has stated such both here and on the Tumeke blog.

    Now if this is the belief you hold then you are welcome to it, however to get actual action from people you need to get as many on board as possible and pushing this manure uphill will be virtually impossible in my opinion.

    1. Stop setting up straw men and then beating me around the head with them. Bomber’s entitled to his views, just as you are to yours. Because he believes action on emissions reductions is urgent and pressing, and I agree wholeheartedly with his assessment, does not mean that any action is necessarily left wing.

      And how do you propose that nine billion people can all live the same lifestyle we do today? In a world where climate change is biting and oil is scarce it will not be possible. To point that there’s a problem with wasteful, profligate consumerism is not to be left wing, it’s a simple appreciation of the limits within which we operate.

      On geoengineering: it’s certainly worth trying to see if it can be made to work, but the Superfreaks were doing rather more than that – they were suggesting it was all we needed to do, and that’s nonsense. Ocean acidification alone provides sufficient reason to cut emissions, even if they weren’t driving warming.

      1. I’m not sure why you believe that the authors of Superfreakonomics were stating that we should only geo-engineer. They specifically mention that the solution they mention was only part of a co-ordinate approach to tackling the wider issue.

        You do realise that the Consumerism is code word for Capitalism in the hard left world. Hence if you have a problem with the dominant Consumerist culture then you are essentially advocating for the radical restructure of Capitalism. As soon as you do that then this becomes the ‘Idealogical cock fight’ mentioned earlier.

        1. You’re the one interpreting the “code word” that way, not me. Your ideological cock fight, not mine. Our entire society needs to come to terms with finding a solution to that problem, and pretending it will go away if you define is as “hard left” isn’t exactly helpful.

          For me, I find Bill McKibben’s idea in Deep Economy interesting. He emphasises “quality” over “quantity”, something I find intuitively appealing. I’d rather have one bottle of really good wine than two of undrinkable rubbish. As a wise man said, life’s too short to drink bad wine.

          1. Good for you Gareth. In a free society you are entitled to make that choice between the one bottle of quality wine versus the two of undrinkable rubbish. However as soon as you start talking about enforcing that choice on others then you run into all sorts of problems including how to practically do this. You also cross the idealogical divide and join those on the left of the debate.

            For some reason you have this view that consumerism is more wasteful than the alternatives. In my view it is a very efficient way of allocating scarce resources efficiently as well as increasing the overall well being in society.

            State managed systems are far more wasteful. The Soviet Union is a prime example of this. Virtually everything produced under that system was wasteful as they were produced in an incredibly inefficient manner and most people didn’t really want the end product (Beyond food and Vodka)

            One other thing about your support of Bill McKibben’s idea of quality over quantity. Whose interpretation of quality do you use? Quality is an intangible specific to the individual. Are you supportive of Government beauracracies dictating what is and isn’t quality for pretty much everything then?

        2. “you are essentially advocating for the radical restructure of Capitalism. As soon as you do that then this becomes the ‘Idealogical cock fight’ mentioned earlier.”

          To the extent that anyone proposing that preservation of our capitalist consumerist utopia should take precedence over action to save our descendants from inhabiting a climate we are not adapted to inhabit, it’s a fight that needs to take place. You are a fool if you think that our current Capitalist paradigm of ongoing growth can continue without consequence and your inability to engage with any solution challenging it’s hegemony is clearly a sign of your being as much of an ideological ‘cock’ as anyone else around here.

  19. I would like to apologise for the rather heated debate between myself and Mr Bradbury here. I would much preffered to have carried out this on the Tumeke blog but, as stated by me earlier on, he doesn’t allow posts that he deems to paint him in bad light on that blog. Hopefully Mr Bradbury will refrain from coming here again and attacking me personally.

  20. Billy T, thanks for drawing attention to the IPCC statement which my radar hadn’t yet caught up with. I read it with interest and pleasure and should think it would be very useful for media people to read, to say nothing of others who are currently intent on belittling its work.

    1. You do realise it is a damage control press statement put out by the IPCC to defend itself don’t you?

      It is certainly very interesting and raises some pertinent points but it in no way means the IPCC should be absolved from criticism.

  21. A NEW AGE OF AIRSHIPS?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-511843/The-flying-hotel-Thunderbird-2-The-700ft-super-airship-gently-float-world.html

    Towering, kite-shaped airships could herald a new era of luxury transport following today’s introduction of the Aircruise concept.
    Standing 98ft taller than Canary Wharf, packing 330,000 cubic metres of hydrogen gas and capable of lifting 396 tonnes, the Aircruise concept features penthouse apartments, bars and even dizzying glass viewing floors.
    Aircruise was created as the antithesis of a hurried, crowded passenger jet. London-based design and innovation company Seymourpowell wanted to rethink transport – on the premise ‘slow is the new fast’. It could ferry 100 people from London to New York in a leisurely 37 hours as opposed to the seven it takes now by airplane.
    Scroll down to see video
    At home in the clouds: Aircruise would be a luxury transport option focusing on comfort over speed
    At home in the clouds: In this image two of the airships are tethered above Hong Kong. Its developers believe the craft will offer luxury transport which focuses on comfort over speed
    Here, the kite-like airship comes to rest on a landing pad. It can fly at a maximum altitude of 12,000ft but if there are specific locations of interest en route, the ship can drop down to within a few hundred feet of the ground
    Design director Nick Talbot says: ‘The concept questions whether the future of luxury travel should be based around space-constrained, resource-hungry, and all too often stressful airline travel’
    Silent and pollution free, the Aircruise combines solar power with a primary hydrogen drive for a cruising speed of around 90mph.
    It can fly up to a maximum of 12,000ft but if there are specific areas of interest en route it can drop down to a few hundred feet.
    Seymourpowell design director Nick Talbot said: ‘The Aircruise concept questions whether the future of luxury travel should be based around space-constrained, resource-hungry, and all too often stressful airline travel.’
    He said the Aircruise straddles the line between a cruise ship and a floating hotel.
    Mr Talbot explained: ‘In a world where speed is an almost universal obsession, the idea of making a leisurely journey in comfort is a welcome contrast.’
    Airships had their heyday in the 1930s with the famous German zeppelins. However, new technology has made them increasingly attractive from an environmental standpoint.

    LET’S GO FLY …

    Height: 265m, from docking rig at the base to the tip
    Volume of airship’s ‘main envelope’: 330,000 cubic metres
    Primary structure, envelope and systems: 270 tons (same weight as an airbus A380 super jumbo)
    Consumables, water, ballast: 20 tons
    Max number of people on board: 100
    Max altitude it can fly at: 12,000ft.
    Crew: Six, including two flight engineers
    Support staff: 14 to look after passengers

    Theoretically, it could ferry 100 people from London to New York in a leisurely 37 hours or from Los Angeles to Shanghai in just under four days.
    Seymourpowell’s early Aircruise designs attracted the attention of Korean giant Samsung Construction and Trading (C&T) – the primary contractor of the tallest man-made structure the Burj Khalifa in Dubai – who commissioned Seymourpowell to produce a detailed computer animation.
    Seung Min Kim, design director at Samsung, said: ‘This was a dream concept project for us, helping to realise a future of sustainable buildings combined with innovative and luxury lifestyle.
    ‘In an age when environmental impact is a key consideration for architecture, we are keen to extend this vision of the future by searching for solutions that can be realised by 2015 – the year that many futurologists foresee as the turning point for the future.’
    Technological advances mean lightweight, semi-flexible structures can now be built on a big scale. Although large, this is nevertheless a semi-rigid ship, the main structure consisting of eight vertical, composite lattices supporting four main flexible envelopes, which contain 330,000 cubic metres of hydrogen gas.
    Visionary concept work for Samsung C&T explores the future of travel and transport.
    London, UK, 03 February 2010 – Leading design and innovation company Seymourpowell is today unveiling full details of its visionary transportation concept, Aircruise – a giant, vertical airship powered by natural energy and designed to carry travellers in style and luxury.
    Originally a self-generated project, Seymourpowell’s Aircruise is the concept design for a hotel in the sky, with low passenger numbers and huge internal spaces offering room for living, dining and relaxing, as well as scope for dramatic and inspirational public spaces. The initial design proposes a bar/lounge zone, four duplex apartments, a penthouse and five smaller apartments.
    The concept subsequently captured the imagination of Korean giant Samsung Construction and Trading (C&T). Driven by its interest in new materials for building, Samsung C&T appointed Seymourpowell to refine the idea and produce a detailed computer animation of the proposed experience to illustrate this visionary approach to the future. The video can be viewed here:

    * http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bP15Vgt55Gk

    1. Its worth having a look at David MacKay’s section on air ship travel in
      http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/cC/page_280.shtml

      and also his section on ships. http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/c20/page_133.shtml
      (looking at question of whether we will see a return to boat travel).

      Its not that planes are particularly inefficient – its the distances are the problem. Travelling slower means needing the energy to keep the cargo comfortable for days which isnt that much better in his example.

  22. “Theoretically, it could ferry 100 people from London to New York in a leisurely 37 hours”

    I don’t know about you but 37 hours stuck on something like this isn’t my idea of leisure.

    Nice to see that modern science is coming up with solutions to the challenges confronting us . No mention of having to overthrow the Capitalist system either which is a refreshing change.

  23. People are recognizing that waiting another 5 years for the IPCC to scientifically-justify proposed industry change is not beneficial to national economic wellbeing or the environment.

    There are a lot of choices already available for concerned people to commence small lifestyle changes that decrease adverse effects on the environment, and can also be cost-effective.

    NZ must also examine how to move our agricultural products to markets. Some airships/sailing ships etc. may offer intrinsically-lower emissions than heavier-than-air aircraft and propeller/jet powered ships, but it’s not a given. The numbers will also be specific for origin/destination and cargo type. NZ should be continuously reviewing progress in alternative cargo transport, and possibly funding innovative research.

    NZ will also have to consider how to get tourists, such as skiers ( both types – Snow cruisers and Spending Kids Inheritance oldies ) here quickly and efficiently, as tourist’s available leisure time may still only be a few weeks per year.

    One possible change is to develop markets closer to us, and Asia is an obvious target. It’s also important that we don’t permit marginally-beneficial, high-intensity, agricultural practices that will affect our overall premium brand value, especially types that can be located anywhere on the planet.

    It’s very likely that emission trading schemes will soon be recognized as broken crutches, and the emission profile ( not just food miles ) of our products will be assessed by global customers when making purchasing decisions. Any price premium may be negated by adverse
    production and transport emissions. NZ should look to innovation to help mitigate future energy use, and emissions.

    Based on past history, there will be several bespoke innovative solutions
    over then next few years, and the sooner we marginalise the bickering climate scientists and their adversaries, the better.

    Some IPCC senior scientists have behaved badly but are unlikely to be adequately censured because the issues are now more political than science. Aside from the entertainment value of various *gates, the IPCC is now irrelevant, and unlikely to induce effective mitigations or years, but NZ can start now, and beat the rush – perhaps even selling our solutions to other nations.

    If developing countries decrease their emissions / $GDP as part of national development strategy, the competitiveness of NZ producers will be seriously compromised unless we can match competitors’ efficiency.

  24. ” NZ should be continuously reviewing progress in alternative cargo transport, and possibly funding innovative research. ”

    Just a note that sea shipping is a very energy-efficient way to move tonnes to the other side of the world. I dont the emissions from shipping constitute much of risk to the environment at all. Right at bottom of priority list.

    Moving people is another story. Our growing dependency on tourism worries me. I would say for medium term future (20 years), air travel is going to get a LOT more expensive and not just because of climate mitigation efforts (if any). I’d be thinking hard on plan B – not my pick of an industry to invest in, neither as an individual nor as government.

  25. Phil,
    “Just a note that sea shipping is a very energy-efficient way to move tonnes to the other side of the world. I dont the emissions from shipping constitute much of risk to the environment at all. Right at bottom of priority list.”

    I recall a recent article in ES&T estimated 60,000 people died prematurely from shipping emissions in 2002. Also, whilst ships can be effective moving bulk products, containerization of other products involves much more onshore handling.

    Shipping fuels oils are some of the dirtiest around, 3% sulphur ( S is a fuel ), as well as CO2, emissions include lots of NOx and particulates. Bad for the environment and people.

    Turbines require much more expensive fuels, and IIRC, NZ Shipping Co managed to kill two very expensive engines by purchasing cheap fuels. From memory, they subseuqently refitted the 4 ships with diesels, as price difference in fuels justified the expense.

    The IMO is a UN entity that effectively supports shipping companies, and has sat on it’s hands for decades, but don’t expect consumer countries to continue to allow such pollutants into their environments.

    The US and Europe are both looking at the issue, and shipping, if not retrofitted, is projected to be the source of 20% of Europe’s NOx emissions in 2020.

    1. Bruce, my comment was about energy efficiency – onshore container handling is irrelevant to this. In terms of energy per tonne, I dont think you can beat shipping for energy efficiency so in terms of GHG its pales into significance compared to cars and coal plants. While obviously other pollution is an issue, and more could be done to clean up, I’ll stick by point that shipping is not a priority in the climate mitigation debate.

  26. Phil,
    “I’ll stick by point that shipping is not a priority in the climate mitigation debate”

    Your call, others are somewhat more concerned. The reason shipping emissions aren’t attributed to Kyoto Protocol national inventories is mainly due to difficulty in assignment, not because they are trivial.

    CO2 shipping emissions were 1.12 billion tonnes in 2007, and the IMO predict ~1.5 billion tonnes by 2020. From memory, NZ’s CO2 emissions in 2007 were about 0.04 billion tonnes.

    Aviation CO2 emissions in 2007 were 0.671 billion tonnes, much less than the IMO estimate of ship emissions. Even if plane emissions affect climate more because of the altitude of release, the shipping emissions still represent 3% of global man-made CO2 emissions.

    1. Bruce. You are correct. I live and learn. I guess moving less fossil fuel around the world would help.

      I would still stand by my statement that cars and coal-fired generation are the priorities. I would see shipping as being rather like steel – something that should be reserving emissions for because of poor alternatives. It remains the most energy efficient way of moving goods and like steel would be a major change to nature of civilization if we left behind. And I guess like planes, something we should be trying to find alternatives for.

  27. Gosman
    “The use of anecdotal evidence by organisations like Oxfam in reports are primarily for PR purposes.”

    I wasn’t going to continue any engagement with you on the matter of anecdotal evidence, on which we simply disagree. But I feel obliged to object to your interpretation of Oxfam’s concern about what climate change is doing to poor communities in many parts of the world. Oxfam as an organisation sticks very close to the mainstream science, and has well-qualified people advise it. The suggestion that it uses anecdotal evidence to tug the heartstrings of donors is somewhat cynical. In its climate change impact reports that I have read its human stories are offered as on-the-ground evidence that the predicted impacts of climate change are indeed being experienced. That’s the thing about climate change – it threatens human welfare, starting with the poor. I recognise – and so does Oxfam, quite explicitly at times – that it is not a simple matter to attribute the difficulties experienced by people in their localities to the direct effects of climate change, but generally speaking I consider the human stories in the Oxfam reports confirm the science.

    1. I’m sorry but to try and claim that Oxfam is some sort of apolitical Aid group without a political agenda is a little naiive. It has a particular political viewpoint about the world which it tries to promote as part of a general development agenda. To try and argue otherwise is naiive.

      As for tugging heartstrings by use of emotive pictures, that is what aid agencies do all the time. This is a very controversial areas actually as many people claim it perpetuates stereotypes of poor foreign people in the West.

      1. Oxfam’s “agenda” is to improve the lot of the poor and starving in the least developed countries. It does a huge amount of excellent work, and is (IIRC) one of the most efficient of aid agencies, as measured by the amount of each dollar that gets through to the intended beneficiaries. From that perspective, Oxfam develops and advocates policies that will help the poor and starving. That is certainly “political”, in the sense that any public policy initiative is inevitably a matter of politics, but it’s important to distinguish between Oxfam’s bottom-up approach, not tied to any ideology beyond compassion (it was established specifically to be non-aligned), and that, say, of governments or agencies who take an ideological position on what should be done.

        [For the record: Oxfam is the group I prefer to use for disaster relief donations. We’ve used their “give a donkey/goat/etc for Christmas” scheme regularly.]

        1. I guess we will have to disagree on this topic as I firmly believe that Aid agencies do much more harm in the long term than they help in the short term.

          There are numerous examples of countries having their economies seriously distorted by the effects of foreign Aid money and agencies, including Oxfam. Aid dependency in places like the South Pacific and Africa is a major problem and can lead to massive amounts of corruption and economic inertia.

          What these countries really need is the opportunity to develop economically without the distortions imposed on them by Western nations.

          1. “What these countries really need is the opportunity to develop economically without the distortions imposed on them by Western nations.”
            Conditions imposed on them that are distinctly of a fundamentalist neo-liberal ideology. eg “No development aid for countries that give any subsidies to farmers”, and the equally hypocritical massive subsidies G.W Bush bestowed on US Grain growers in 2002 and subsequent years. Further exacerbating the situation is the USA’s insistence on providing Food Aid from its own supply and not purchasing grain locally – shipping in grain to Ethiopia when the local warehouses were full!
            So when science points to the likelihood of drought on the Horn of Africa as a result of a warming Atlantic and Oxfam says – “Hey people we have a drought happening here now!” I say good on them!
            And just for the record, there is no way on this sweet Earth that we will solve the problem of AGW, if we leave it all to the “Market” to sort out. The “Market” is controlled by greedy people who are too self interested to care anything about the future except the size of their bank accounts and share portfolios.And I’m not talking about mum and dad investors here – I’m taking about the 1 to 2 % who control 60+% of the worlds wealth.

            1. I disagree. You are entitled to your opinion though.

              My view it is protectionist policies in the west, most notably the US and Europe, and not ‘Neo-liberal’ policies are at fault in much of the poverty of the Developing world. Hence foreign Aid is not actually helping the situation but perpetuating the client-servant relationship currently persisting as well as introducing economic distortions.

              Interesting to see that you are one of the people who think the problem of AGW is unable to be resolved via the market. Do you also believe it was caused by the Capitalist system and that our only jop is to replace this system?

            2. You might like to read “Enough – why the world’s poorest starve in an age of plenty” by Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman. This is a thorough going analysis of the problem as witnessed by both these men, the African leaders who face the problem daily, the Aid agencies, and the people most affected by the policies of the West (primarily USA – Europe is begining to see the light) the farmers of Africa themselves. It WAS the neo-liberal policies of the World Bank – refusing monies where countries dared to subsidies their farmers to plant grain that lead to a collapse of the green revolution in the early part of this century – compounded by the protectionist policies of Bush.

              The world economy runs and breaths on carbon emissions. Yes the “Market” as we know it today aided and abetted the growth of emissions to the extent that humans have practically doubled the ppm of CO2 in 150 years. The “Market” by definition places no moral value on any element. Ultimately it is a value/moral judgment – “do we allow CO2 emissions to continue to increase or don’t we?” No the Market and our own pursuit of “choice” and “more” got us into this mess – there is no way it will get us out of it – ETS’s included!
              Wars are not fought and won by the “Market” – resources are allocated to those most in need.
              Today I can feed myself with whitebait from Indonesia, beans from China, cheese from Holland, grapes from California, and wine from France . The super market makes this possible – their only consideration being that the goods arrive – just in time for me to buy. Is this same Market somehow miraculously going to make my purchases more Carbon Friendly? I think its a long bow to draw to suggest that it will.

          2. “I firmly believe that Aid agencies do much more harm in the long term than they help in the short term.”

            because keeping all those starving people alive prolongs their misery?

            “What these countries really need is the opportunity to develop economically without the distortions imposed on them by Western nations.”

            Sorry, what? They need to be on a planet that doesn’t have global trade inequities creating extreme poverty across large swathes of the planet? and I thought you were capitalism’s little cheerleader.

            1. “because keeping all those starving people alive prolongs their misery?”

              Combined with the other elements of the Aid the answer is yes.

              Do you remember live aid in 1984. Did all that money people gave make a significant difference to the longe term sustainability of Ethiopia? If so why did we have another big aid effort a few years ago for the same country?

              Protectionist policies in Western nations is not free market capitalism. Why do you think it is?

            2. “Do you remember live aid in 1984. Did all that money people gave make a significant difference to the longe term sustainability of Ethiopia? If so why did we have another big aid effort a few years ago for the same country?”
              I answered that above. The Blue Nile which provides 85% of the water to the Aswan Dam runs through Ethiopia. Because of its unique historical political situation (Ethiopia was never fully colonised by any of the major western powers) it it has been reluctant to assert its water rights for fear of upsetting other counties – make of that what you will – but that is the fact of the matter. The huge river runs thru a barren land to water Egypt instead. Ethiopian farmers could – with some small assistance – feed the country and in fact in 2001 exported corn, only for the grain of 2002 to be undercut by the USA “dumping” food aid grain the following year. The “free market” policies have been imposed on the African nations by the world bank. Now that Malawi and others have broken the stranglehold of free market policies they are begining to make headway.

            3. “because keeping all those starving people alive prolongs their misery?”

              Combined with the other elements of the Aid the answer is yes.

              Do you remember live aid in 1984. Did all that money people gave make a significant difference to the longe term sustainability of Ethiopia? If so why did we have another big aid effort a few years ago for the same country?

              “Sorry, what? They need to be on a planet that doesn’t have global trade inequities creating extreme poverty across large swathes of the planet? and I thought you were capitalism’s little cheerleader.”

              Protectionist policies in Western nations is not free market capitalism. Why do you think it is?

            4. So you don’t acknowledge there is such a thing as free market policies then?

              You argument is similar to stating nthat true Communism can never exist therefore there is no such thing as a Communist. It is nonsensical.

            5. “It is nonsensical.”

              For someone who laments “that certain people on both the left and the right of the political debate have turned it into an ideological battleground rather than a reasoned discussion”, you certainly are a ferocious little troll toward any challenge toward capitalism.

              it is incumbent on the current system to produce meaningful fundamental change to emissions. If it doesn’t happen the system will be overthrown or fail in the face of environmental catastrophe or resource depletion. arguing whether or not it is ‘real’ capitalism are nonsensical. the system is what it is.

            6. nommopilot, So far your entire contribution to this debate is to state some leftist slogan that Free markets can never exist and then to engage in an Ad Hominem attack on myself and a rant about how we are all doomed and there will be a revolution if we are not careful. You do that and then have the nerve to call me the ferocious little troll. Quite amusing really.

              I note you did not refute my point about your nonsensical argument about the free market. Do you have anything more to add on this point?

              If you wish to frame the Climate Change debate in terms of a left wing versus right wing position you are free to do so. If you do choose to do so then you should realise that this is why there has been such a backlash against AGW recently. Many many people feel that the topic has been hijacked by the far left to push radical left wing solutions as the only way we can deal with the challenges posed to human society by AGW.

              I have no problem with the underlying Science which supports the theory of AGW. I think that we need to look at solutions to the problems. If someone brings ideological positions to this debate though I will vigorously push my preference for Market based solutions rather than the leftist alternative. This is hardly trolling and if you think otherwise you are saddly mistaken.

  28. Gareth, not sure if you noticed but on pg 54 and 55 of Air Con:

    >>>”Global warming seems of little help to explorers,” noted the K2Climb.Net explorers’ website wistfully in January 2009<<<

    The footnote gives the source as "http://www.k2Climb.net/news.php?id=17941&quot;

    After two further paragraphs of quoting from that source he says:

    "You've got to love serendipity!"

    Indeed. I about fell out of bed last night when I saw that.
    Obviously (following his own standard) if he's relied on anecdotal evidence from climbers about ice, we need to set aside the entire book.

      1. Thought you might enjoy that. No doubt I’ll be met with stony silence bringing that up over at briefingroom……

        And as bad as it is (by his logic), it’s still better than junkscience.com, WUWT. CO2science.org, which appear elsewhere.

          1. I’m only up to page 57 but I’m yet to see ANYTHING fairly represented. It’s just astonishing. No wonder he had to set up his own publishing company to get it out to the masses. After this I might read Plimers. For dessert.

            My copy if from the library. No way am I forking out money for this. I was reluctant to even pay the $1 for the reservation. But as that doesn’t go to him, I coughed it up.

  29. For someone who laments “that certain people on both the left and the right of the political debate have turned it into an ideological battleground rather than a reasoned discussion”, you certainly are a ferocious little troll toward any challenge toward capitalism.

    Exactly

  30. If you wish to frame the Climate Change debate in terms of a left wing versus right wing position you are free to do so. If you do choose to do so then you should realise that this is why there has been such a backlash against AGW recently. Many many people feel that the topic has been hijacked by the far left to push radical left wing solutions as the only way we can deal with the challenges posed to human society by AGW.

    And this is the crux of the issue, Gosman, Paul Henry and Leighton Smith NEVER want to admit that the lefties had a point when it came to sustainability arguments. Consumer capitalism and the vested corporate greed of those who pollute IS the problem, Gosman’s denial of this and his need to frame the debate as between sensible free market him and alarmist socialist utopia speaks volumes about him not the debate.

    I have no problem with the underlying Science which supports the theory of AGW.
    This is hilarious, anyone who has read Gosman on this site knows that to be as untrue as her assertion that you were all running to the hills from his brilliance.

  31. Ah Mr Bradbury good to see you contributing your usual level of intellectual analysis to the debate.

    Where is the evidence that I have a problem with the underlying Science? You won’t be able to find it because it doesn’t exist.

    As for my claims about people running for the hills when challenged about the Scientific professionalism displayed by members of the CRU, I stand by that completely. People here were quite unwilling to confront disturbing Scientific behaviour and engaged in all sorts of sophististry to deflect attention. Fred Pearce of the Guardian wasn’t afraid to write about this. Does that mean Fred Pearce is a Denier in your view now?

    This does not mean the underlying Science is unsound but to avoid dealing with Bad Scientific practices allows critics leverage to attack. This is what has happened in the Climate change debate. The fail of the AGW proponents top deal effectively with failings is meaning they are losing ground in the court of poublic opinion. You might like to say it doesn’t matter or that this is a problem caused by the nasty Right wing MSM but it is still a problem nonetheless.

    BTW I was most amused that you though Cock fighting involved actual Penises rather than Roosters. It certainly shows the level at which you operate on.

  32. So anyone else wish to take the radically wacky left wing position as Mr Bradbury and come out and say that Capitalism is the problem and we need to overthrow this and replace it with some Socialist alternative if we want to avoid the Environmental Apocolypse?

  33. Where is the evidence that I have a problem with the uderlying Science? You won’t be able to find it because it doesn’t exist.
    EVERYTHING you argue here questions the science Gosman, you try and weasel it around now because all the climategate emails have revealed are problems inherent within peer researched science and anecdotal evidence, sadly for you and your big oil denial mates nothing else has been exposed.

    Bringing up the brilliant Fred Pearce to defend your position is hilarious, but I do note that you are being forced from your denial ways Gosman, bit by bit you are having to concede more and more.

    As the ever well read Monbiot points out in his latest blog…

    On the other side of the debate, people are in denial not only about the science of climate change but also about manipulation and deception by other climate change deniers. They stoutly ignore far graver evidence of falsification and fabrication by their own side, even when there is smoking gun evidence that their champions have secretly taken money from fossil fuel companies to make false claims. They make no attempt to hold each other to account or to sustain any standards of truth at all.

    In fact, as Fred Pearce has shown, even their claims about the material in the hacked emails are almost all false.

    The vast body of climate science still shows that manmade climate change is real and that it presents a massive challenge to human survival

    Interesting isn’t it how you never mention the failures on your denial side of the argument Gosman.

    The problem in manipulating the issues of peer review and anecdotal evidence are from the right wing media and the oil funded skeptics, you muppeting their spin attack lines doesn’t give it credence. Yes the criticism Monbiot and Pearce put on the IPCC are legitimate, but they don’t go any further by trying to pretend man made pollution isn’t causing the planet to heat.

    As for people running to the hills from your brilliance , I’ll leave it to the readers of this fine blog if your egotistical hyperbole stands up to their scrutiny.

    As for this bullshit…

    So anyone else wish to take the radically wacky left wing position as Mr Bradbury and come out and say that Capitalism is the problem and we need to overthrow this and replace it with some Socialist alternative if we want to avoid the Environmental Apocolypse?

    …you consistently put words in my mouth all the time to try and make your increasingly desperate points, I highlight the problem is consumer capitalism and its vested corporate interests, I do not pretend that a ‘socialist alternative’ is needed to over throw it, I’m not calling for revolution, I’m calling for a sober review of the insanity of a capitalist growth model that is utterly unsustainable. Capitalism has a unique dynamic built within it that allows it to adapt in a manner socialism and communism could never dream of. Capitalism has redefined itself from it’s 19th century roots, post the Great Depression with managed Keynesianism the capitalist state reformed to include social welfare, it will need to do it again to survive the current great recession. Capitalism can reform, it has that dynamic.

    Your need to belittle and humiliate my salient point that this change is necessary because consumer capitalism and its corporate interests are a major part of the problem creating pollution that warms the planet again speaks volumes about you Gosman and many on the right who seek to derail the science behind global warming.

  34. So let’s get this straight Mr Bradbury, you admit you have no evidence that I have any problems with the underlying Science behind AGW but because you detect a certain tone in my posts and that I support Free market Capitalist solutions I must be a ‘Denier’. Hmmmmm….. I am thankful that it is unlikely I will be on trial in a court of law where you could decide my Guilt or innocence.

    I have no problem with you taking a Hard core leftist position on this topic. Perhaps some of your proposed solutions might even do more good than harm, who can say. What I take issue with is people like you attempting to frame the debate on the challenges posed by AGW as a strictly zero-sum game i.e. Evil Capitalism is the cause and some sort of People’s Global republic is the ONLY solution.

    Attempts by hard core leftists like your self to define the Climate change debate in this way will only serve to alienate more and more people and reduce the probability that action on tacking the impacts of climate change will happen any time soon.

  35. I reject your asertion that capitalism has fundamentally altered over the past hundred or so years. It may have got more sophisticated in application and Governments have invented more and more ways in which to distort it. The underlying principles and concepts have remained the same as those detailed by Adam Smith in the 18th Century.

    You might fool yourself that you only advocating ‘reforming’ the system. It is quite clear that the changes you moot are more a revolution than a reform. They would require a level of social engineering not attempted since Chairman Mao in the 1950’s and 60’s.

  36. Attempts by hard core leftists like your self to define the Climate change debate in this way will only serve to alienate more and more people and reduce the probability that action on tacking the impacts of climate change will happen any time soon.

    Oh bullshit Gosman, yes, yes – I’m the problem – not pollution exacerbated by consumer capitalism and as for this crap…

    You might fool yourself that you only advocating ‘reforming’ the system. It is quite clear that the changes you moot are more a revolution than a reform. They would require a level of social engineering not attempted since Chairman Mao in the 1950’s and 60’s.

    You spend so much time putting words in my mouth you believe your own voice.

    I reject your asertion that capitalism has fundamentally altered over the past hundred or so years. It may have got more sophisticated in application and Governements invented more ways in which to distort it but the underlying principles and concepts have remained the same as those detailed by Adam Smith in the 18th Century.

    You seem to have missed Adam Smiths latter work beyond the Wealth of Nations where he examines the morality of self interest, and you seem to utterly misunderstand Keynes, the management of capitalism and the dangers a unregulated free market motivated only by greed and fear can cause.

    For someone who pretends to know my ‘socialist’ mind you seem to understand very little about your own blessed capitalism Gosman. Which is ironic coming from someone who works at a bank.

  37. How about you enlighten us all Mr Bradbury about what exactly is this evil called ‘Consumer Capitalism’ instead of hiding behind convenient leftist propaganda slogans?

    While you are at it you might also explain how the system should be ‘reformed’ without engaging in massive social engineering. I suspect you can’t go much further than saying how people need to be ‘educated’ to live more ecologically sound lives and that the ‘Evils of Consumerism’ should be legislated and/or taxed away.

  38. How about you enlighten us all Mr Bradbury about what exactly is this evil called ‘Consumer Capitalism’ instead of hiding behind convenient leftist propaganda slogans?

    While you are at it you might also explain how the system should be ‘reformed’ without engaging in massive social engineering. I suspect you can’t go much further than saying how people need to be ‘educated’ to live more ecologically sound lives and that the ‘Evils of Consumerism’ should be legislated and/or taxed away

    GRIN – Notice readers the outright hostility Gosman has at the mere word ‘consumer capitalism’. There are plenty of ideas about reforming Capitalism to a more sustainable version Gosman, your total ignorance of the subject suggests you are the ideologically blind one in this debate.

    1. And yet you fail to actually provide the details for this ‘Reformed’ capitalism you dream of when asked directly to do so.

      What is the matter Mr Bradbury, not sure what to do when someone asks you to put meat on the bones of your ideologically constructed alternative?

      I have a feeling though that you will pop back in a few minutes with a wealth of links to sites where other people have written various things about the subject you picked up on and liked. Your posts on Tumeke tend to read like an undergraduate thesis on Marxists Politics sometimes with the amount of links in them.

      Just put forward your vision of how society should be structured instead of relying on other peoples opinions

  39. Ahh the old capitalism debate resurfaces.

    Free-market capitalism is a system where individuals make decisions on how to manage the non-labour factors of production (natural capital, physical capital and technology).

    The opposite of this is a centrally planned economy, where the use of these factors of production is managed by a government of some sort.

    In reality I am not aware of either system existing anywhere at the present time. Most people would agree that an ideal economy would operate somewhere between these two hypothetical extremes.

    For example some natural capital should be privately owned to allow the most efficient use of land, however other natural capital, such as the air we breathe or arguably fish stocks, need to be managed by a government body.

    There are of course plenty of cases where physical capital could be managed or partly managed by a government body, for example emissions standards on cars (both greenhouse gas emissions and poisonous emissions), public health systems, schools, traffic lights, or patent and copyright law.

    I think both extremes are just as evil as each other. Rather than implying that our evil capitalist ways are responsible for this or that we should have healthy debates about where and when government management is needed and where private ownership should be protected.

    1. Seems sensible enough to me, C3. So let’s have a great deal less of the “action on emissions is an excuse to introduce global socialism/world government” argument from the inactivists, shall we?

      1. Fair call.

        I guess in some cases people who are extreme non-interventionist will jump on the sceptic band wagon and in some cases people who believe in redistribution of wealth will push climate policy because they see this as a means to achieving this.

        I guess we just all aim to keep the debate about the science of AGW rather than trying to imply those who disagree with us do so for immoral reasons.

  40. So you are happy with the AGW has been caused by ‘Consumerist Capitalism’ argument then Gareth?

    If so perhaps you could explain what ‘Consumerist Capitalism’ actually means beyond some vague notion of people consuming more than they should.

    If you want a balanced debate on this topic, and I thought that was the whole point of this blog, then you need to be more consistent in this regard.

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever used the phrase “consumerist capitalism”, but — as I’ve pointed out before — there is no way that nine billion people can hope to live a US/EU/AU/NZ lifestyle in 2050. Just not enough of anything to go around. That’s not in itself a political position, it’s a recognition that there are limits and we’re running into them. What we do about it, though, is inevitably political.

      One way or another, we will have to learn to live within planetary resource, climate and ecosystem limits. It could be a world where there’s at least some pretence to equity, where there’s a recognition that everyone has some rights to basic services and quality of life, or it could be a world where the rich nations defend their wealth, and thus condemn the unlucky to poverty. Either way, the constraints will bite. I hope we’re smart and lucky.

  41. You have artfully avoided the question I posed you though.

    Do you think ‘Consumer Capitalism’ (Whatever that means) has been the main cause of AGW or is it just a byproduct of human development not limited to a particular socio-economic system?

    I completely agree with your comments about us having to learn to live within the contraints of planetary resource, climate and ecosystem limits. I happen to think that free-market policies with a minimal interventionist framework is the most optimum mechanism to achieve this. Others don’t share this view and, as stated on numerous occasions, that is their right. However if the debate on what we can do to tackle Climate change gets turned into an ideological battleground then you will find that getting progress on tackling the subject will be much, much harder.

    I’d also be interested in knowing what you propose to do to try and stop nine billion people from wishing to attain the Western lifestyle in 2050. The only options available would be to either change their aspirations, which would be social engineering on a global scale, or reduce the lifestyle of people living in the West to a level which reduces the gap. Good luck with getting people to agree to that.

    1. Global warming is an unintended consequence of the industrial revolution and the huge increase in human numbers and resource consumption that it ushered in. Now that we understand the basic equation with respect to atmospheric carbon (more = more warming), future warming will no longer be unintentional.

      Of course, those who are currently poor are going to aspire to be richer. They may even aspire to live a US-style life (though I don’t think that’s necessarily a given, for all sorts of cultural reasons). Can there be a levelling up of the poor without a levelling down for the wealthy? Big question. In emissions terms, this is what “contraction and convergence” is all about. I mentioned McKibben earlier, and his view is that if the rich settle for quality of life over quantity (and the inevitable waste that accompanies over consumption) then it might be possible.

      I don’t think this means “social engineering”, but it does mean social change — but I would put it more on a par with attitudes to smoking, for example, or requiring people to recycle waste, than any imposed changes in lifestyle. For the developing world, I would suggest we need to help them transition to a wealthier, low-carbon, low-waste way of life. Whatever we do, we have to work with the grain of social circumstances, not against it.

  42. Good to see you ackowledge that it has more to do with general human activity rather than what particular system people live under. Communist societies are more than capable of impacting negatively on their environments, just look at the mess in the former Soviet bloc at the end of the Cold war.

    I touched upon McKibben’s elitist views in an earlier reply. It smacks of an arrogant snobbishness that is hidden under the surface of many on the Left, and even on the Right. It assumes that certain small group of people, namely the ones pushing this line, know better than the general mass of people what is good for them in terms of quality. I can abide this in some small aspects of society but I would find it appalling if this was applied to virtually every single aspect of our lives.

    1. “I can abide this in some small aspects of society”

      Like how the economic power of the elite west causes intense poverty and suffering throughout the remainder of world?

      most people you meet on the internet are part of a certain small group of people who have access to teh computerz, let alone teh internet. And most of them, including your good self think they know what is best for everyone.

      In terms of quality, pollution could be greatly reduced by introducing standards of durability. It would be nice if you could still buy a blender that would work fine for 20 years instead of the crap that is flooding our landfills. Or a computer that can be upgraded on an ongoing basis instead of needing replacement every 3 years…

      1. “…Or a computer that can be upgraded on an ongoing basis instead of needing replacement every 3 years…”

        By that statement you show you fundamentally misunderstand innovation in the technology sphere.

        The reason why you need to upgrade is because the circuit boards are becoming steadily more sophisticated. Software developers then take advantage of these enhancements to increase the performance of their applications.

        You could keep your old computer going for longer than three years. I know I have still got my one that I bought back in 2006 for example. The problem is I can’t run many new applications on it as the performance becomes really poor.

        If you want to stop technological innovation then good luck to you. Remember though that Climate Science is crying out for super fast processors that can handle the numbers needed for accurate climate modelling.

  43. Just for the record I disagree that 9 billion people cannot live with a high quality way of life. People have always seen the world as over populated (since the time of the Greeks at least) yet populations have always grown. Far from the third world getting poorer recently the opposite is actually happening. Countries and regions that are not experiencing economic growth generally do so for political reasons rather than environmental ones, Zimbabwe is an excellent example of this. An exception to this that jumps to mind is Botswana, who was enjoying good governance and growth but has now been tragically hit by the AIDS epidemic.

    Personally I am still hopeful that the poor nations of the world can one day improve their quality of life by expelling dictators, reducing corruption and improving human rights.

  44. “Just for the record I disagree that 9 billion people cannot live with a high quality way of life.”

    high quality is a pretty fuzzy term there. if by high quality you mean that everyone gets to spend two hours a day slowly crawling along a motorway, swimming at poisoned beaches and rivers, working forty-fifty hour weeks for low pay and eating fast food then I disagree.

    1. No I do not mean that at all.

      You do not seem to have a very open mind, while New Zealand can not seem to solve traffic problems in a city of 1.2 million people, many larger cities such as Tokyo or London have tackled this with underground rail, I suggest it is possible to have 9 billion people and not have this problem. An alternative to rail would be a change in the attitude that you need to work from the office to be effective.

      I think the other problems you point out can also be solved with or without continued population growth, but hey maybe I’m just an optimist.

      “high quality is a pretty fuzzy term there”

      I agree. Lets define it as continued increase in welfare based on the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI).

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genuine_Progress_Indicator

      (edit: just reading the link now that I posted, I thought this was an indicator that I had seen before that contained both social and enviromental considerations but perhaps it is a different one, the one that I had seen also considered leisure (ie hours worked). This is important as if a nation was to reduce the hours worked but maintain the same consumption, ceteris paribus it should be considered welfare enhancing, GDP does not capture this and I’m not sure if GPI does either.)

      1. As Gareth pointed out above C3 there just isn’t enough space for everyone to live the life of a NZer. From a land use perspective NZ’s life styles require around 8 – 10 hectares per person per year – that’s to grow all our meat and grains, vegetables, and dairy products etc. and to produce all the other stuff we buy and use – paper and buildings and cars coal electricity ……. If you were unfortunate enough to live in Afganistan however, your life style would only be dependent upon about half a Hectare. To elevate everyone to a NZers life style would require more productive land than the planet has. Furthermore we in the western world are consuming and using more than we should sustainably already. We are using up our resources far faster than than the planet can replace them, so that we go into deficit form a resources point of view around two thirds of the way through each year.
        Of course you may poh poh all this, and say it doesn’t count – but your grandchilden will be holding you to account.

        1. If Africa, Europe and Asia adopted the agricultural practices of the USA how much land would it require per person to achieve western welfare?

          What if the majority of nations adopted nuclear electricity generation? Or if renewable generation became cost effective?

          What if future GE discoveries allowed us to redouble food production per ha? What if urban food production (food tower things) allowed the production of lettuces / tomatoes / fruit indoors in cities?

          There isn’t enough space?? Have you been to other countries? Does Japan have a high quality of life in your book?

          Sorry, I just get fed up with doom sayers always claiming the world is overpopulated. Talk to your oldest relative and ask them if people used to say the world was overpopulated when they were young, I guarantee no matter how old the person they will say that when people were younger food shortages, over crowding and overpopulation was a major concern.

          1. The cause of the problem of poverty in places like Sub-Saharan Africa has very little to do with lack of land and too many people. There was an interesting programme on Radio NZ National on the Weekend about Ethiopia. Huge tracts of land in that country lie fallow while the majority of the population toil away for little effort on tiny plots of land. The real problem is that they haven’t got access to capital to exploit the available arable land and they don’t have the expertise to do much more than subsistence farming. The Ethipian government is actually leasing the land out to foreign corporations from places like China and India (So it is not ‘Evil Westerers behind this).

  45. R2D2 – how many days would Japan last if it had to live on its own resources rather than importing them? I think we could probably could feed 9 billion without too much trouble provided we werent also trying to grow all our own fuel. Coping with massive disruption to the hydrological cycle wouldn’t be a picnic either so fingers crossed on that one.
    The resource limits question is a very complex problem because of the interrelationship of resources and distribution. The US lifestyle is not just about hectares for food – its also about things like metal consumption and energy. From memory, your annual ration of petrol assuming it was distributed evenly would be 40 liter per year. Do really think we can ramp petroleum production to provide US petroleum consumption to rest of the world? Or even NZ fuel consumption?

    On other hand, problems with production limits make themselves felt just fine in price signals and I would need some convincing that we need something more than that to drive adaptability to resource limits. Countries like China and India with rapidly accelerating consumption will drive prices up on limited resources. Hopefully we will adapt rather just fighting them for it. That said, nature’s way of dealing with resource limitations is population reduction and human’s haven’t avoided this in the past. Its nicer to do this through lower fertility rather than higher mortality.

    1. “That said, nature’s way of dealing with resource limitations is population reduction and human’s haven’t avoided this in the past. Its nicer to do this through lower fertility rather than higher mortality.”

      Wealthy Western nations generally don’t have an issue with high fertility. In fact one way to resolve the popluation ‘problem’ (If you can call it that) would be to encourage the sort of economic development that Westerners have enjoyed over the past 50 or so years.

    2. Yeah good points Phil, agree.

      Biofuel would put pressure for sure on food production. And steel etc are consumed at higher rates in the west.

      Also agree that markets can deal with resource distribution.

      My main point is I am optimistic that future developments in technology will allow populations to continue to grow. I do not agree with others that we need to avoid population growth or that we are reaching some carrying capacity of the planet.

  46. Gareth, without getting into the details of their accounting measures, from a population point of view, surely capacity is also a factor of consumption. (I=PAT). The population could rise so long as average consumption went down. As resource costs go up, it seems inevitable that consumption per person must decrease.

    That said, I would also agree that less humanity would be better. Any wealth creation that depends on population growth sounds like a pyramid scheme played by one generation on the next.

    1. Consumption is obviously a big part of the equation, which is why I like the “quality instead of quantity” argument. There’s no doubt that technological improvements could also help to support a larger population, but I don’t think that there’s any magic wand to wave or oofle dust to sprinkle. There is a lot of interesting technology that could come on stream in the next decade that could help us move to a low carbon economy, but it’s not here now.

  47. On the subject of markets dealing with resource shortages: one of the problems with a tightly constrained resource is that prices can be very volatile. Take oil as an example. In 2008, oil prices rose sharply and peaked at over $120 (IIRC), but then plummeted back to $40. Some would argue that this played a significant role in triggering the global recession, much as the oil price spike in the 70s did.

    Today a bunch of British businessmen warned that the next supply crunch could come in the next 5 years. I don’t want to argue about peak oil on Hot Topic (there are plenty of places where you can do that), but ever-increasing demand for oil, fuelled by economic growth in China and India and recovery in the global economy generally, is likely to use up current oil stocks and put pressure on supply (which is not keeping pace with demand). The inevitable result is that prices will rise.

    In ideal circumstances, a steadily rising oil price would cause people to switch to other fuels (where possible) or reduce consumption. But sudden spikes don’t seem to do that, because the rapid fall in price post peak allows normal use to continue. To make big investments in movements out of oil, you need to have some certainty about long term price increases. I would suggest that this (like a warming climate) is more or less self-evident, but acceptance of the idea at government level has been slow — not assisted by oil company and producer country assertions that there isn’t really a supply problem.

    Oil company motivation is clear enough. They want their customers locked into oil use for as long as possible, because rising prices bring them windfall profits. This is also why they are not keen to see action on climate change, because emissions reductions are another way to justify moving away from oil burning. The longer they can delay action on either peak oil or emissions reductions, the longer the economic lock-in to their products will run.

    1. Oil companies have far far less impact on the price of oil than Oil producing nations via cartels like Opec, and even the cartels are subject to the various dictates of the market.

      You seem to imply that the Oil companies are manipulating the oil prices for their own ends yet provide no supporting evidence for this. My knowledge of how markets work suggest it is unlikely recent peaks and troughs are being driven by anything more sinsiter than vagracies of normal supply and demand coupled with the speculative tendancies of certain investors.

      You may well be right about this Gareth but your argument seems particularly weak as currently presented.

      1. I said nothing about oil companies manipulating prices, but I do accept that OPEC explicitly tries to exercise some control. It is however a matter of record that oil companies have been less than keen on emissions reductions.

        The “vagaries” of supply and demand are precisely what is driving prices — inexorably rising demand, as I noted, bumping up against (at best) slowly rising or stable supply. Speculation doesn’t help, of course, because it probably exacerbates the peak to trough change. But the growth rates of car use in China, for instance, mean that at some point there will be a price crunch. Sooner rather than later, I would guess. But it’s the large swings in pricing that worry me most, because they increase instability in the global economy.

        1. Large swings in pricing in the short term are just how the Market deals with uncertainty. The overall trend is what is more important to your argument and if you are right, and I’m not stating you are not, then the average trend will move steadily upward and allow people to make those decisions on switching and/or reduction that are necessary.

          If you didn’t mean to imply that Oil companies attempt to manipulate the market price for oil I’m not sure why you included them in a discussion on the Price instability of oil over the past few years.

          Your point about them wanting people to keep using oil is a no brainer. Of course they want people to buy the product that they sell. I’m pretty sure Wainwright’s still wanted people to buy their products even after the invention of the Motor car.

  48. Gosman. I dont think Gareth is implying that the oil companies are manipulating the price – I cannot see how they have the power to do so. What is implied is that oil companies are very keen for us to maintain our dependence on oil. Oil prices rises deliver big profits (look at company results) because consumer pays more while productions costs arent that much affected. A large scale move to alternatives not owned by oil companies will certainly affect company (and oil nation) bottom lines.

    1. Oil companies are essentially in the process of selling portable energy that is used to power various processes for the benefit of an end user. Whether the end user has to use Petroleum Oil for this or not is questionable. In fact in the 19th Century Whale oil was used in many areas until Petroleum eventually replaced it.

      Ultimately the Oil companies are far more interested in making money from the portable energy market than the nature of that portable energy. Sure they have current expertise in the extraction, refining, and distribution of Petroleum oil but if another portable energy product comes available that offers a better commecial opportunity then they would likely switch to that.

      The key is to identify that alternative and encourage the transition to it within an acceptable timeframe. Demonising Commerical enterprises for being interested in making money does not help do this in my opinion.

      1. While it is true that some oil companies have made some investments in non-fossil energy sources, the capital committed has been tiny and they have frequently changed their minds (see Shell’s recent actions, for example). It is undeniable that oil companies and groups or individuals with extensive oil investments have intensively lobbied against action to limit emissions. That’s also happened at a national level: note Saudi Arabia lobbied at Copenhagen for a mechanism to compensate them for loss of oil revenues in a low carbon future.

        1. I’m not sure I have seen any of the oil companies come out and dispute the Science behine climate change directly Gareth. Certainly the major European based oil companies like Shell and BP at least pay lip service to the idea in their corporate structure.

          I know people who work/ed for some oil companies and they all have strategies on Sustainability and Green energy development. You might not like the speed or amount of effort they expend in this area but it isn’t as if they aren’t making any effort at all.

          What really needs to be done is more investment in alternative forms of portable energy. Instead of someone like Al Gore deciding to spend millions and millions of dollars on ‘Educating’ people about the dangers of Climate change perhaps it would have been better to use this money to fund research into clean portable energy sources.

      2. I dont demonise oil companies for wanting to make money – I do when they facilitate this by corrupting governance and disrupt efforts to deal with climate change by knowingly paying for disinformation campaigns, the purpose of which is to hamstring democracies through doubt. The key word here would be “knowingly” – the uproar at ExxonMobile AGM would seem to justify this charge as does their declared investments.

        The right way for companies to make money is produce consumer goods at a price/quality better than your competitor. Got a long list of wrong way (eg graft, monopolizing, market positioning by lobbied legislation etc.)

        The problem with oil companies move to other portable energy is that electric vehicles dont give much room for them at the moment. Dont see a lot of oil company investment in say batteries yet. On other hand, I do see investment in biofuel but I guess I doubt very much whether biofuel is much more than speciality item in a long term solution. Happy to be convinced otherwise.

        1. What you need to do then is to change the mindset of the owners of those companies you feel are causing the problems. This can either be done vioa changing the owners or by influencing the current owners via various methods. This might not be a easy job but I think it is better than any alternative I have seen.

  49. I am interestied in Gareth and Bryan’s position on one topic of the Climate Change debate that is unrelated to what we have been discussing to date. Apologies if they have touched upon this already on this site. If it has I would really appreciate if I could be directed to the particular post or posts.

    Why is there such a focus on the total amount of CO2 as a proportion of the Atmosphere? Surely we should be more concerned about the warming caused by the total greenhouse gas emissions rather than focusing on one particular input into this equation?

  50. Well I think it would be better if you couldnt buy a politician myself. However, the issues on demonizing oil companies are focussed on Exxonmobile – as you point out BP and Shell have acknowledged the problem. And shareholder meetings at Exxonmobile have certainly shown that some (led by Rockafellers) are trying to change that. As to denial, they are charged with funding various organisations (eg Heartland, Cato, CEI) which do their dirty work for them. I do notice in oil industry rags some questioning as to whether this is likely to leave them open to later class actions as is happening with tobacco.

    Myself, I would like some real consequences for attempts to deliberately influence public policy by telling lies.

    1. Muddying the waters is not the same as telling lies. In my ultimate fantasy someone like Jenny McCarthy would be taken outside and sho- I mean given a stern talking to – over her promotion of wacky Autism theories. However the nature of the world we live in means alternative viewpoints are allowed to be promoted regardless of whether they are backed up with sufficient evidence. Science in fact requires people to keep trying to think of ways of breaking the current paradigm so that it works efficiently.

  51. Gosman – see articles on methane. CO2 matters because it is the major GHG forcing globally. NZ is pretty unique in its methane profile. Other gases are either minor or linked to same as activities that produce CO2 and CH4.

  52. “Muddying the waters is not the same as telling lies.” There is a difference here – the wacky stuff like Autism is pushed by people who sincerely believe it is true. Statements around “arctic melt nothing to worry about – look at Amundsen” or statements about “Volcanoes produce more Co2 than humans”, or “Glaciers are growing”, are coming from sources that know better, phrased very carefully and then taken up by sincere people who do not know better. I have every respect for alternative opinions and certainly for alternative models, but not for deliberate misconstructions of the truth.

    1. I would also add as lies:
      – quoting supporting papers that don’t exist
      – claims a “supporting” paper says something it doesn’t.

      Works for people who arent going to check. Those that check werent going to be convinced anyway so good tactic in war for public opinion.

      – employing a PR firm to write FUD on blogs under guise of being concerned public citizens.

Leave a Reply