Klein in Bolivia: global democracy is the way forward

by Bryan Walker on April 23, 2010

Naomi Klein has been to Bolivia. She reports in the Guardian on the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earthheld this week.

The Copenhagen Accord speaks of keeping global warming to two degrees. In fact to date the emissions reductions pledged under the Accord put the world on the path to three degrees. But two degrees, Morales told the conference, “would mean the melting of the Andean and Himalayan glaciers.”

Klein points out that Bolivia is in the midst of a dramatic political transformation which has nationalised key industries and elevated the voices of indigenous peoples.

“But when it comes to Bolivia’s most pressing, existential crisis – the fact that its glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, threatening the water supply in two major cities – Bolivians are powerless to do anything to change their fate on their own.”

Only deep emission cuts in the industrialised world can avert the catastrophe facing countries like Bolivia and Tuvalu. That’s what the leaders of endangered nations argued for passionately at Copenhagen. “They were politely told the political will in the north just wasn’t there.”

They were also shut out of the closed door negotiations which led to the Accord. And when Bolivia and Ecuador refused to endorse the Accord the US government cut their climate aid by $3 million and $2.5 million respectively. “It’s not a freerider process,” was the explanation of US climate negotiator Jonathan Pershing.  That strikes me as an extremely ironic statement given the disproportionate emissions of the US, a point which Klein makes in this way:

“Anyone wondering why activists from the global south reject the idea of ‘climate aid’ and are instead demanding repayment of ‘climate debts’ has their answer here.”

Klein goes so far as to say that the message in Pershing’s words was that if you are poor you don’t have the right to prioritise your own survival. This is the context for her characterisation of the conference as “a revolt against this experience of helplessness, an attempt to build a base of power behind the right to survive.”

There were four big ideas proposed for the conference by the Bolivian government:

  • “That nature should be granted rights that protect ecosystems from annihilation (a ‘universal declaration of Mother Earth rights’);
  • that those who violate those rights and other international environmental agreements should face legal consequences (a ‘climate justice tribunal’);
  • that poor countries should receive various forms of compensation for a crisis they are facing but had little role in creating (‘climate debt’);
  • and that there should be a mechanism for people around the world to express their views on these topics (‘world people’s referendum on climate change’).”

Seventeen civil society working groups worked for weeks online and for a week together to prepare recommendations. Klein describes the process as “fascinating but far from perfect”, and suggests that its most important contribution may be Bolivia’s enthusiastic commitment to participatory democracy.

She thinks this because of her concern that after the failure of Copenhagen the idea that democracy is at fault “went viral”. The UN process of votes to 192 countries is too cumbersome and solutions are better found in small groups.  She sees James Lovelock’s recent statement as an example: “It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.”

Klein won’t have a bar of this. It is the small groupings which have caused us to lose ground and weakened already inadequate existing agreements. She notes that Bolivia came to Copenhagen with a climate change policy drafted by social movements through a participatory process, resulting, in her view, in the most transformative and radical vision so far.

She sees the people’s conference as Bolivia trying to take what it has done at national level and globalise it, inviting the world to participate in drafting a joint climate agenda ahead of the next UN climate conference in Cancun. She quotes Bolivia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Pablo Solón: “The only thing that can save mankind from a tragedy is the exercise of global democracy.”

Her conclusion:

“If he is right, the Bolivian process might save not just our warming planet, but our failing democracies as well. Not a bad deal at all.”

Whatever one makes of the various avenues being pursued (if that’s not too strong a word) in achieving emission reductions, there is a need for the voices of the most endangered nations to be heard.  It seems likely that they will need to be raised to the level of loud and clear before a great deal of notice is taken of them. Bolivia recognises its vulnerability to glacier melt, and to various other threats which were identified in an Oxfam report last year discussed here on Hot Topic. It would be a failure of a government’s duty to its citizens to remain quiet. Their steps to mobilise global opinion should not be treated with indifference or contempt. And it is to be hoped that the US cutting off of funding will be reversed. It looked suspiciously like punishment, and undeserved at that.

{ 92 comments… read them below or add one }

bill April 23, 2010 at 5:37 am

Thanks! Ah, Naomi – this'll rile the Rightists!

As an aside, anyone interested in further discussions from the Bolivian summit can view or download DemocracyNow's daily 1 hour broadcast/podcast – they're currently operating out of the conference – <a target="_blank" href="http://www.democracynow.org/"&gthttp://www.democracynow.org/” target=”_blank”>;http://www.democracynow.org/

C3P0 April 23, 2010 at 6:05 am

Why do you want to rile 'rightists'?

I think is sad that people politicise climate change. It is a scientific theory. Is the big bang theory left wing as well? Or is that one right wing?

If I was going to become an arm chair Freudian I would suggest that by supposing those who disagree with you are stupid and blinded by an ulterior ideology, such as being Christian / conservative / libertarian / conspiracy nut (Gareth’s cartoon that he always uses), you can avoid actually considering their arguments and investigating your own beliefs.

There are very few people who comment on these pages that genuinely are willing to critically assess their own beliefs and have a proper debate on issues. Most of the time it is just pointless aggravations like the first line of your comment above.

nommopilot April 23, 2010 at 6:35 am

"by supposing those who disagree with you are stupid and blinded by an ulterior ideology … … you can avoid actually considering their arguments and investigating your own beliefs. "

or when you come across people whose arguments make it clear they are stupid and blinded by an ulterior ideology you can point this out to everyone. I've considered most of the denialist arguments extensively and investigated whether my beliefs are better supported by the available evidence. Sometimes I'm forced to consider the same piece of discredited rubbish on a monthly basis. Mostly they lead me to the conclusion that the troll making the argument is motivated by a simple contrarian urge and/or the fear of communism…

"Most of the time it is just pointless aggravations"

have you considered there might be a point to them and you're just missing it?

bill April 23, 2010 at 6:53 am

Actually my point was that given Klein's track record this would be a goad to those on the Right – a couple of whom have been rather active here lately – who are also deniers. I'm bet that somewhere right now some Tea Partyist blogger is saying 'Look, Naomi Klein is there; we told you it's all just a vast left-wing conspiracy.

C3P0 April 23, 2010 at 5:57 am

But two degrees, Morales told the conference, “would mean the melting of the Andean and Himalayan glaciers.”

Interesting comment given the recent IPCC dramas. Do you have a reference for this? I'm not claiming it is not accurate – just interested to see a reference (other than WWF).

dappledwater April 23, 2010 at 7:08 am

http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2139

"Bolivia’s famed Chacaltaya glacier has lost 80 percent of its surface area since 1982, and Peruvian glaciers have lost more than one-fifth of their mass in the past 35 years, reducing by 12 percent the water flow to the country’s coastal region, home to 60 percent of Peru’s population.

And if warming trends continue, the study concluded, many of the Andes’ tropical glaciers will disappear within 20 years, not only threatening the water supplies of 77 million people in the region, but also reducing hydropower production, which accounts for roughly half of the electricity generated in Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador."

The Himalayan glaciers will take much longer to disappear.

bill April 23, 2010 at 9:14 am

You do get that 'Glaciergate' didn't really happen, don't you?

Somebody in the IPCC WG2 report quoted from a 'grey' (WWF I think?) paper that was in error by stating that the Himalayan Glaciers would melt by 2035 – possibly just a transcription error for 2350, though some say that can't be right because there's no way they'll make it that far – and this was such a 'prominent' feature of the report that the error wasn't even noticed for a couple of years, and was actually first highlighted by one of the IPCC's own authors.

(When this first came up I actually took the time to search through the AR4 WG1 report – it says nothing about 2035. It does say glaciers are melting, and more quickly after 1990)

Now, outside of Murdochland everyone understood that the situation was actually pretty-much as Dappledwater has described. Sure, glaciers wouldn't melt by 2035, but they would still melt.

But then the denialist spin machine managed to beat the story into a 'howler' about one of the 'major claims' of the IPCC report proving the whole thing's a lie etc. etc. and we then get to the point where Morales' claim is somehow contentious, when in fact it ain't.

I do wonder what the impact might be on both Morales' and Lula's proposed new hydro 'development' schemes. And it'll be interesting to see how the economic growth vs. indigenous rights and the environment debate plays out there.

C3P0 April 24, 2010 at 9:27 am

I never said it was contentious. I would just like to see a reference. If it is true I am amazed and it is a worry. If it is not true then the statement shouldn't have been made. All the other stuff you said is fairly unfair. I don't know why wanting to see a reference creates such a reaction.

(I even added the last sentence, "I'm not claiming it is not accurate…", to avoid such a reaction.)

bill April 24, 2010 at 11:16 am

Interesting comment given the recent IPCC dramas. Do you have a reference for this

'The recent IPCC dramas' being? 'Glaciergate' perhaps? Referring to 'IPCC dramas' and asking for references is not an indicator of any notion on your own part that Morales' claim is contentious?

Dappledwater has given a very nice reference. I've given my version of a potted history of Glaciergate, but if you want it from proper scientists here's a link to the relevant page at RealClimate -http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/201

I'll observe in passing that the mere mention of RC may happen to rile a few people who I don't agree with – golly, Michael Mann's been known to post there – but oddly enough that's incidental to my intention in providing it.

(Advance warning – several comments and commenters at RealClimate are, um, robust. )

So – Bryan has provided the required reference for a quotation attributed to Evo Morales via a link to the source of the quotation, and links to sources that support Morales' assertions have now been furnished.

Can we therefore assume you are now officially amazed and worried?

C3P0 April 24, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Dappled post was helpful. He posted a reference and a quote and a short comment about the Himalayan glaciers that managed to offer guidance on most of my questions.

Most, not all of the Andean glaciers would melt with in 20 years if warming continued. This is a worry. Does not mention what 2C would mean.
– Did not post anything showing what 2C would mean for glaciers

Look I am sorry I said there have been recent 'drama' surrounding the IPCC and glaciers. But I think drama is a good way to describe it. I didn't say it was a controversy. Or an a major error. Just a drama, like Tom and Katie in the Womens Weekly is a drama. Or Shortland Street. From your explanation of the events it seems the word drama is warranted.

I think you have wasted my time and the readers of these comments time by posting knee jerk stuff in response. If you read my second post I think you have legitimised my claim that most of the posts on here are just "Most of the time [the comments are] just pointless aggravations like the first line of your comment above". Now you are just at the point of twisting whatever I say and trying to write some rebuttal too it.

This will be my last post on this thread in response to you, so I will let you have the last word.

What I am looking for however is a reference that shows what 2C will mean for the world major non-polar glaciers. If anyone has one of these it is great. Until I see on I will not accept the comment above on pure speculation. In that sense I am a sceptic – sorry.

Bryan Walker April 24, 2010 at 10:51 pm

I wouldn't call it pure speculation on Morales part to say that two degrees warming means the end of the glaciers. He is the political leader of a country which is clearly seeing the retreat of its glaciers at the present level of warming. The Copenhagen Accord speaks of keeping warming to not more than two degrees. His response is that that is too much. A good deal of scientific opinion would back him, though of course we won't know for absolute certainty until it has happened. But any responsible leader of a country as threatened as Bolivia would say the risk is too high to be taken. What weight do you give to your scepticism against the concern of the Bolivians?

C3P0 April 25, 2010 at 9:03 am

But can't you see how making alarmist claims with no solid scientific backing can do more damage than good in building a case for action to prevent climate change?

Bryan Walker April 25, 2010 at 9:22 am

And can't you see that from the point of view of Morales this is not alarmist at all? It's a proper concern for the future of the country. Nor is it without scientific backing.

nommopilot April 25, 2010 at 10:06 am

The capital of Bolivia is at the foot of a huge mountain with a glacier which supplies their water through a long dry season and from which the ice is visibly disappearing in decades.

Can't you see how they don't feel the need to debate about when exactly the ice will completely dissappear?

C3P0 April 25, 2010 at 9:33 pm

And just throw in the Himalayan glaciers to make it even more scary.

Nommopilot: You are absolutely right that this is cause for concern of the Bolivian people. I never said there wasn’t. My posts in this exchange are not an attack on the people of Bolivia. It is unfair to cast them as one.

My reason for posting was because the statement was made that there would be no glaciers left in the Andes (more than just Bolivia) or the Himalayas if the world warms 2C. If this is true I want to know! But apart from one unreferenced statement and some anecdotal observations from Bolivia, I have not seen anything to suggest this is true. The melting of a glacier in Bolivia does not mean there will be no glaciers left in the entire Andes or Himalayas!

My only problem here is with people who make unreferenced hyperbolic statements. Yet I get attacked. Do you all have no problem with people just making up effects of global warming based on what non-specialists think will happen?? (If the statement is based on a scientific study, I take the last para back, but no one has been able to show this yet)

Gareth April 25, 2010 at 9:59 pm

This BBC report on Ecuador's glaciers confirms that the glacier retreat in the tropical Andes is widespread. Lonnie Thompson's work (amongst others) shows that tropical glaciers around the planet are in full retreat. This is not remotely controversial.

C3P0 April 25, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Tropical glacier = entire Andes and Himalayas?
Warming = explicitly 2C?

nommopilot April 25, 2010 at 10:12 pm

"My only problem here is with people who make unreferenced hyperbolic statements. Yet I get attacked."

It comes across as if you make no attempt to research these things for yourself and expect to be spoonfed. In the short search I did I found plenty of scientific evidence of widespread glacial decline – enough to satisfy me that these concerns are valid.

You continue to demand someone provide you with a particular piece of information. Climate Change is a chaotic phenomena. There is no way of knowing exactly how much CO2 will cause exactly what temperature increase in that part of the world in what timeframe. There are too many unknown variables to make scientific statements like that.

That doesn't mean we can't observe the measured trends of mass loss in those glaciers and say "if we continue to heat up the atmosphere those trends are likely to accelerate".

I for one don't care if it's 20, 40 or 60 years. Regardless it is a world in which my children and grandchildren will be living, inshallah.

C3P0 April 25, 2010 at 10:26 pm

"There is no way of knowing exactly how much CO2 will cause exactly what temperature increase in that part of the world in what timeframe. There are too many unknown variables to make scientific statements like that. "

Yet Morales makes one.

"Morales told the conference, “[2C] would mean the melting of the Andean and Himalayan glaciers.”"

And I am the villain for asking,

"Do you have a reference for this? "

I cannot find google references for the comment. I HAVE TO then presume it is not true. If it is true I would like to know! I share your concerns! That is why I post a comment where the article is written asking for help. Instead I get clipped around the ears for wanting a reference. I guess next time I will just swallow unreferenced statements (as long as they are alarmist) like the rest of you.

bill April 24, 2010 at 11:35 pm

It's notable that if I ask you a question based on your own statements I'm told I'm 'twisting' what you say, while we are to understand that you weren't expressing any scepticism with your question. That might strike me as being 'fairly unfair'! As for 'knee jerk' and 'wasting readers time'… well, that's just Not Nice, is it?

According to the World Bank, the source of the report Dappledwater's article –

Most of the smaller glaciers in the Andes Cordillera are expected to diminish within a generation. Modeling work and projections indicate that many of the lower-altitude glaciers could completely disappear during the next 10 to 20 years. [emphasis mine]

The World Bank seems to think this will be disastrous for Bolivia, and will cost them $billions they can ill afford. This is an interesting rebuttal to the Capitalism Will Still Save Us All brigade's assertions that if we just stay the 'free'market course we'll all be able to afford our Own Personal Seawall, or whatever else is required to mitigate the effects of AGW.

Now, the World Bank, historically one of the world's most prominent neoliberal engines, is hardly the WWF – ultra-freemarketeers, what a blow it must have been to see them having joined in the 'conspiracy'. (Note, 3PO, I'm not saying this is you.)

However, 'if trends continue' the glaciers significantly disappear 'within a generation' causing all sorts of disruption, while a quick glance at the IPCC's charts show that even the outlier, most pessimistic, projections don't have us reaching +2C before 2040. (For the mean it's about, what, 2060? and with any luck we'll do something meaningful and it won't be at all!)

No wonder Morales and co. are outraged at the complacent targets that much of The West appears to be happy with!

But somehow I didn't think you'd be convinced. I'm not saying, 3PO, that your high-minded standards of fairness are only directed at one side of this debate, but I would appreciate any references confirming that this isn't so.

nommopilot April 24, 2010 at 11:49 pm

here's a good link for you C3:
http://www.google.com

within about 5 minutes I used it to find:
http://ambio.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=gethttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/2559633http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8046540.stm#image http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601130&a

I didn't find anything specific about what 2 degrees might mean (which you would claim was based on "unreliable computer models" anyway), but what I did find was enough information to see that not only has there been significant mass loss measured by scientists in the Andean glaciers since the 80s, but scientists expect that loss to continue and accelerate.

you don't have to accept things on pure speculation. use Google. if you are so concerned about wasting commenter's time how about doing some research yourself instead of demanding to be spoonfed by others. you've just wasted ten minutes of my time explaining this to you but it did lead me to this sad and beautiful quote in that last Bloomberg article, so I guess that's not a complete waste of time:

"“Chacaltaya was my bride in white, now she’s dressed for a funeral,” Alfredo Martinez, 74, said of the 17,785-foot-high (5,280 meters) glacier"

Steve Wrathall April 25, 2010 at 7:25 am

This "2-degrees above the pre industrial level" is meaningless unless you swallow that there was some level global pre-industrial temperature. Please explain why we should believe this when Michael Mann's methodology also generates hockey sticks from random data?

nommopilot April 25, 2010 at 9:59 am

"Please explain why we should believe this when Michael Mann's methodology also generates hockey sticks from random data?"

It doesn't. You are lying. Please stop.
http://www.skepticalscience.com/broken-hockey-sti

Steve Wrathall April 26, 2010 at 1:06 am

How can you believe these other "independant" reconstructions which also use tree rings to make the MWP disappear, when tree rings also make the late 20th C warming disappear?

nommopilot April 26, 2010 at 3:11 am

after a pretty good search I've found no accepted scientific papers supporting your claim.

No doubt you're prepared to provide either a link or an apology and retraction?

Steve Wrathall April 26, 2010 at 4:29 am

"The divergence problem is an anomaly from the field of dendroclimatology, the study of past climate through observations of old trees, primarily the properties of their annual growth rings. It is the disagreement between the temperatures measured by the thermometers (instrumental temperatures) and the temperatures reconstructed from the widths of tree rings in the far northern forests.

While the thermometer records indicate a substantial warming trend, many tree rings do not display a corresponding change in their width.[2] A temperature trend extracted from tree rings alone would not show any substantial warming. " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divergence_problem

dappledwater April 26, 2010 at 8:13 am

Hmmmm, last time I checked there weren't any tree rings in ice cores, stalagmites, fossilized coral, lake sediments & boreholes:
http://www.skepticalscience.com/broken-hockey-sti

C3P0 April 26, 2010 at 11:15 am
C3P0 April 26, 2010 at 9:17 am

And what do those proxies say about the MWP? (and earlier warm periods)

C3P0 April 26, 2010 at 9:18 am

Look at figure 5 in the link you posted. When did most of the warming occur?

C3P0 April 26, 2010 at 9:20 am

And figure 4. And figure 1 & 2 minus the instrumental data.

C3P0 April 26, 2010 at 9:42 am
C3P0 April 26, 2010 at 9:43 am
C3P0 April 26, 2010 at 11:14 am
C3P0 April 26, 2010 at 11:14 am
bill April 25, 2010 at 10:39 am

Anyone else overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenge to human ingenuity in calculating some sort of a mean for temperatures in the era before industrialization – say for a few centuries worth – and then comparing that to a current mean?

When you say Mann's data was random, what, he wrote down his shoe-size, his girlfriend's weight, his mother's birthday – that kind of thing? Oh , wait; you're going to tell me HE MIGHT AS WELL HAVE! Geez; I walked into that one…

Steve Wrathall April 26, 2010 at 1:08 am

No he simply wrote an algorithm which automatically weighted proxies with a 20th C uptick, up to 390 x those that did not.

C3P0 April 25, 2010 at 9:06 am

I didn't find anything specific about what 2 degrees might mean (which you would claim was based on "unreliable computer models" anyway)

OK. Thanks for telling me what I would think.

nommopilot April 25, 2010 at 9:53 am

"OK. Thanks for telling me what I would think."

Am I wrong?

C3P0 April 25, 2010 at 9:29 pm
nommopilot April 25, 2010 at 10:23 pm

It may be that there is no scientific paper showing that 2'c will mean the Andean glaciers will dissappear but there seems to be a lot of evidence that the warming that's happened so far has already caused a major increase in glacier decline.

Why just by doing what you were too lazy to do:
http://www.google.co.nz/#hl=en&source=hp&amp;…

I found all these links.

C3P0 April 25, 2010 at 11:00 pm

There is no doubt that if temperatures rise by 2C there will be an effect on glacial run-off.

The issue here is, will all of the Andes and Himalayan glaciers melt?

It is difficult to spend hours looking for something if it does not exist. I have found the following article, which does not address the issue explicitly but seems to suggest there would still be plenty of glaciers around Tibet if temperatures rose 2C.
http://www.nih.ernet.in/incoh-web/JVS/2007/paper8

Steve Wrathall April 26, 2010 at 10:00 am

"The decline of the Tiahuanaco empire was believed to have been caused by drought around 900 AD …"
Pity they didn't have someone else's SUV emissions to blame then. Probably wouldn't have sacrificed as many virgins.

dappledwater April 26, 2010 at 11:15 am

Yeah, drought is nothing new, we know that. Drought induced by GHG emissions, now that's another matter:
http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/adai/papers/Dai_pdsi_

"The global very dry areas, defined as PDSI ,23.0, have more than doubled since the 1970s, with a large jump in the early 1980s due to an ENSO-induced precipitation decrease and a subsequent expansion primarily due to
surface warming, while global very wet areas (PDSI .13.0) declined slightly during the 1980s. Together, the global land areas in either very dry or very wet conditions have increased from ;20% to 38% since 1972, with surface warming as the primary cause after the mid-1980s.

These results provide observational evidence for the increasing risk of droughts as anthropogenic global warming progresses and produces both increased temperatures and increased drying"

dappledwater April 26, 2010 at 11:15 am

Yeah, drought is nothing new, we know that. Drought induced by GHG emissions, now that's another matter:
http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/adai/papers/Dai_pdsi_

"The global very dry areas, defined as PDSI ,23.0, have more than doubled since the 1970s, with a large jump in the early 1980s due to an ENSO-induced precipitation decrease and a subsequent expansion primarily due to
surface warming, while global very wet areas (PDSI .13.0) declined slightly during the 1980s. Together, the global land areas in either very dry or very wet conditions have increased from ;20% to 38% since 1972, with surface warming as the primary cause after the mid-1980s.

These results provide observational evidence for the increasing risk of droughts as anthropogenic global warming progresses and produces both increased temperatures and increased drying"

nommopilot April 26, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Yes Steve, because there have been droughts in the past it is impossible that climate change is occurring. No flaw in your logic whatsoever. You can pat yourself on the back and put your feet up safe in the knowledge that the catastrophe is cancelled…

And if you don't ever get around to revisiting this site, which is clearly irrelevant now that your mastery of logic has fatally disproved AGW, well, we'll miss you but we'll get over it…

C3P0 April 26, 2010 at 9:53 pm

No that is not the point.

Because there have been severe droughts in the past, it is impossible to say the current drought is caused by humans with our current state of knowledge.

Looking back to the 70s as Dappled has done does not really count as a long look back in time. It is also likely that by picking the 70s as the start date the sample suffers from start date bias.

nommopilot April 26, 2010 at 10:09 pm

"No that is not the point."

Yes it is. Wrathall is claiming that because droughts can happen naturally it's not possible AGW can cause droughts – not to mention conflating emissions reduction with ritual sacrifice (which gives me a certain insight into his way of thinking). You are saying we can't know.

Read Dappled's link. There is no way we can 'know' anything but we can be pretty confident of the science that says the probability of droughts will increase with AGW.

Gareth April 26, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Here's a recent study confirming an intensification of the hydrological cycle (which covers droughts as well as floods):
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100416094050.htm

Steve Wrathall April 26, 2010 at 10:00 am

"The decline of the Tiahuanaco empire was believed to have been caused by drought around 900 AD …"
Pity they didn't have someone else's SUV emissions to blame then. Probably wouldn't have sacrificed as many virgins.

dappledwater April 26, 2010 at 11:58 am

"The issue here is, will all of the Andes and Himalayan glaciers melt?" – C3.

I don't think that is the issue at all, all the countries that depend on the glacial melt water will be in very serious trouble long before all the ice is gone. I'm sure Morales is well aware of that.

C3P0 April 26, 2010 at 9:50 pm

That comment was made in response to a request for a reference to Morales statement. I think 51 replies on I can assume the statement did not have any factual basis. Yet it is defended as being morally just because it helps drum up fears of AGW……. have you lot learned anything????

nommopilot April 26, 2010 at 10:36 pm

after 51 replies with Bill, Dappled and I posting plenty of links to glaciological papers, WHO reports and articles from reputable etablishments such as Bloombergs, Nature and the BBC (not to mention you doing some badass googling to find a reference to an article and try to present it as evidence that glaciers aren't declining). and all these articles, including yours, say the glaciers are declining at an alarming rate and you still manage to think that you have a point?

Readhttp://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2139 Dappled's first link again and try and realise the scope of the problem that looms for these people and try and figure out if you really know what the point is?

C3P0 April 27, 2010 at 12:48 am

What bollix. I never “tr[ied] to present it as evidence that glaciers aren't declining”. I said, “I have found the following article, which does not address the issue explicitly but seems to suggest there would still be plenty of glaciers around Tibet if temperatures rose 2C”.

This getting very frustrating and tiresome. Every time I post something write some lengthy reply addressing something I never said! I have ONE issue with ONE comment.

I HAVE NOT SAID THAT GLACIERS ARE NOT MELTING! I HAVE NOT SAID THAT IF TEMPS RISE 2C IT WONT EFFECT GLACIERS!!!!

I have only said the statement that 2C “would mean the melting of the Andean and Himalayan glaciers” Does not have a reference and seems like an unlikely comment.

Stop twisting what I say and grow up.

nommopilot April 27, 2010 at 1:39 am

The trouble is that you are clinging so tenaciously to this one, arbitrary quanta. You said you'd be concerned if what Morales says is true but since no one has found his specific words scientifically referenced you're happy to ignore a huge amount of evidence placed before you, including scientific papers which clearly show trends that validate what Morales has said. You should be concerned.

You may have a point within the narrow confines of your argument (one issue with one comment) but the fact that you are so concerned with this particular claim when the evidence is clear and abundant that the glaciers are retreating and that this will have real consequences for millions of real people shows that you are more concerned with scoring points than actually identifying (let alone considering) what the 'real' issues are.

"I HAVE NOT SAID THAT GLACIERS ARE NOT MELTING! I HAVE NOT SAID THAT IF TEMPS RISE 2C IT WONT EFFECT GLACIERS"

good. because that is the actual issue at hand. the rest of your argument is nothing more than a distraction.

Gosman April 26, 2010 at 9:07 pm

This is another example of how removed from reality the actual goals of many anti-AGW campaigners are.

That is not to say some of the ideas are without merit. I actually think the idea of some sort of global environmental judiciary makes a lot of sense. That stated I think what should happene is that compensation should be sort and paid after mitigation strategies have been adopted and not before. Otherwise it is at risk of becoming a giant rort.

However I doubt many nations are going to be willing to give up their sovereignty to such a body. There is also the fact that this just sounds like a continuation of the failed foreign aid schemes that have been practiced over the past few decades. These just encourage the recipient nations to become aid depenendent and distort their economies.

Bryan Walker April 26, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Our continuing to endanger the living environment of a country like Bolivia is not a giant rort, but their receiving aid to manage the consequences would be? Our economies dependent on externalities unaccounted for are not distorted, but those which receive scraps of foreign aid from the rich man's table are? Consider the beam in your own eye Gosman.

Gosman April 27, 2010 at 1:07 am

Frankly that is a load of high minded waffle without substance once again from you Bryan.

If you don't believe Foreign Aid distorts economies then perhaps you should take a look at Sub-saharan Africa, specifically nations like Kenya and Malawi.

As for costing and compensating externalities, that is not a bad idea except that does that mean countries which will benefit economically from Climate change, (and don't take an extremist view that there won't be some benefit from it), should be asked to contribute funds?

nommopilot April 27, 2010 at 1:51 am

the only reason financial aid is needed is the financial distortions created by colonial plunder, externalities and corruption enabled by institutions controlled by the wealthy. if you are blind to this Gosman, then you must live in a bunker with nothing but fox and broadband.

"As for costing and compensating externalities, that is not a bad idea except that does that mean countries which will benefit economically from Climate change"

The wealthy developed countries have already benefitted economically from climate change. all the industrial development throughout the last few centuries have brought us global climate change while benefitting a tiny proportion of the world's population. any economic gain accruing from the effects of climate change will be paltry in comparison to the economic gains from burning the fossil fuels which brought them about (depending on how quickly and effectively action is taken).

it is a feat of cyclopean prejudice to blame Kenya and Malawi for their position in the global economy after centuries of slaving and plunder. how much of the west's wealth was created on the backs of african slaves?

Gosman April 27, 2010 at 5:22 pm

LOL!

Typical Neo-Marxist thinking expressed there. Blaming all of the problems of the world on the big bad West.

I expecially love how you bring Slavery into the equation in the example of Kenya and Malawi. If you actually know anything about History you will find that the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade was based in West Africa *i.e. on the Atlantic coast). Kenya and Malawi are in East Central Africa. The Slave trade they were involved in was Arab. But we can't blame the Arabs for anything can we?

nommopilot April 28, 2010 at 1:53 am

It's not about blame Gosman, but if you do know anything about history you can hardly ignore the wealth that has accrued to the nation's that first managed to colonise and plunder the world. You can't pretend that the affluence that is currently enjoyed by the first world is largely due to said plunder.

my point about slavery is that Africa, more than any other continent was pillaged of it's natural and human resources by a whole cadre of colonial superpowers and is now locked into poverty by the economic system imposed by the wealthy nations on the poor.

Might makes right?

Bryan Walker April 27, 2010 at 4:36 am

I don't mind the "high-minded", but rather object to the "waffle". All sorts of things distort economies, if there is an ideal economy to be distorted. But the distortions of developed economies by excluding the costs of environmental damage surely dwarf any distortions which may (or may not) result from receiving foreign aid.

bill April 27, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Wow, IntenseDebate seems to have melted for this post on both my netbook and my desktop, and in both IE and Firefox! Too IntenseADebate, perhaps?

This is a pity, because I was hoping to share this – I was just tinkering around with a singularity that appeared in a good hot cup of tea I made the other day when this news article dropped out of the associated wormhole (don’t worry – it’s a Quantum thing!)

Tuesday 27th April 2080. AP. Cochabamba Bolivia.

The last trace of the remaining great Andean Glaciers disappeared today from the slopes of Mount Illimani.

A large crowd gathered in the square outside the town hall to commemorate its passing and protest the grave situation in which their country has been left by it.

They were all rather surprised when the protocol droid from Star Wars unexpectedly appeared. They were even more surprised when it proceeded to deliver a lecture to the assembled Bolivians on the importance of never overstating your case.

“Well really,” it said “there are perfectly serviceable Glaciers of quite significant dimensions still available in the high Himalayas. Should the Pakistanis and Indians not escalate their current dispute over the water contained in them into an all-out nuclear exchange, thereby rendering the sub-continent uninhabitable, I’m sure you can come to some amicable arrangement with the victors and/or survivors.

“If at the start of this century your former President, the World Bank, and the IPCC had had the foresight to have calculated specific projections of the glacial impact of precisely 2 degrees C of warming that were unable to be contested by contrarians of any stripe, well, how different the story might have been! But I want you to understand clearly that I do certainly have some sympathy for you.”

At this point it is perhaps only the timely intervention of the small robot that looks like a motorised dustbin and whistles all the time that saved the golden droid from prompt disassembly by the crowd.

Quantum, eh? Wow!

philscadden April 28, 2010 at 12:27 am

C3Po – I am struggling to understand what you are trying to say here. That you cannot estimate the amount the future warming from the CO2 increase? What is the relevance of the past proxy records to this? Sensitivity is an output of models, independent of any paleoclimate data. That the paleoclimate data show similar constraints on CS improves our confidence, but that is all.

C3P0 April 28, 2010 at 12:47 am

Taking comments to bottom – to many replies. See bottom comment.

C3P0 April 28, 2010 at 12:55 am

Phil. No, I was not drawing any connection to forecast future temperatures.

Simply saying that averaging multiple proxies does not always work, because, "most proxy temperature records claim timing errors of +-50 years or so" (Chick Keller).

So variation in GLOBAL temps can be lost when combining records from individual sites due to standard uncertainty on timing.

Gosman April 28, 2010 at 1:11 am

Why no comments yet on the rather big news announced recently that Australia has decided to postpone any decisions on their version of an ETS until after 2012?

bill April 28, 2010 at 10:46 am

Personally, while I wasn't greatly impressed by the ETS (I doubt that even Rudd or Wong were greatly impressed by the ETS! ), I think it would have been better for the Greens to support the idea of at least fixing some price on carbon so we could at least get started. The scheme's deficiencies would have showed up pretty quickly, and we just might have been able to argue for something that was actually, well, effective.

72% of Australians agree with me (that we should have some price on carbon), according to polling by the Lowy Institute in case anyone thinks this 'proves' anything about perceptions of AGW.

Now I'm worried that we'll end up with the Even Worse party back in again in November – now a full-on Denialist cabal after the fall of Malcolm Turnbull – and could then look forward to another glorious decade of going backwards. And not just on the climate. Where oh where shall I run to?

Amusing, though, that in Topsy Turvy world Labor's now pushing the Market-Based Solutions and the Libs are talking 'Direct Action'…

Bryan Walker April 28, 2010 at 1:37 am

Are purblind politicians big news?

philscadden April 28, 2010 at 1:39 am

Fair enough. Checked out the methodology in http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/shared/articles/Ma
by the way?

I dont actually accept SW assertion that need a level pre-industrial temperature to make any prediction about extent of glacial retreat with a 2degree rise. I dont know of any paper that does this, but the methodology would be something like:
Take map of predicted local temperatures that would go with a 2 deg global rise.
(eg fromhttp://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelE/ )
You could probably make a quick and dirty snowline prediction by combining lapse rate and a global height map. Any glacier with neve below that snow line would be history.
Better would be to add in take map of predicted precipitation as well. Then for each glacier do balance of ablation below zero line with precipitation below. That would be a little tricky but I have seen a paper with the basic determination.

philscadden April 28, 2010 at 1:55 am

Politicians can fortunately only do what the electorate will let them. It was looking politically too hard. But would the scheme have been effective if implemented?

C3P0 April 28, 2010 at 2:12 am

Thanks.

Agree with you on 2C point. If you say: 1850 was pre-industrial, what will 2C above that mean? Then it does not matter if the pre-industrial temp is in fact the average pre-industrial temp, it only matters what 2C will look like. Agree with your point but not sure if that was exactly what SW was claiming.

On paper: Have only had a chance to have a quick look at paper. I find it so frustrating that the proxies end in 1850. Why do they need to put intrumental temps on images?

philscadden April 28, 2010 at 2:25 am

Proxies all have problems and by one means or another are calibrated to the instrumental record. No point in looking at proxies when you have instruments. If you mean -"how well do proxies do against the instrumental record?" then it depends. As far as I can see, you need reasonably expert level knowledge on development and calibration to assess that. Some of that in the IPCC but I am not familiar with the subject and think paleoclimate more distraction than light in this debate. Modelled climate from estimated forcings has little trouble reproducing paleoclimate within the uncertainties but then the uncertainties are high. Let more data clarify things but it isnt going to change the present day physics.

bill April 25, 2010 at 11:50 pm

I know you're claiming you're refusing to read my posts, which might be why you apparently haven't seen the post I wrote which is available below (assuming 'IntenseDebate' reads the same on your screen as mine.)

In short the World Bank – hardly a green or leftist enclave – is the source of the original report that was the basis of Dappledwater's linked article. This report states that if trends continue many of the Glaciers will be gone within 10-20 years and most of the smaller ones 'within a generation' – generally accepted as 25 years.

Now, even the most pessimistic IPCC trend projections don't have us reaching 2C before 2040 – and for most it's well after that.

Therefore, by the time we reach 2C these glaciers will be gone. Therefore, a 2C target will wipe out Bolivia's glaciers, and those of several of its neighbours. You can nit-pick about when the last chunk of ice on a mountaintop is actually gone, but the World Bank report has no doubt the impact for Bolivia would be disastrous. How could it not be?

You really are being rather silly on this one, and it seriously undermines the 'honest broker' image you're trying to project. In short, this is what denialism is – a willful refusal to rationally consider the evidence and draw the appropriate conclusions. You said you'd be 'amazed' and 'worried' if we provided you with credible evidence (and we have to do it due to your apparent Google incapacity!) – we have, and you won't have a bar of it simply because you don't like the conclusions!

Painting Morales as an 'alarmist' is absurd! I mean, what's a national leader to do if all the qualified scientists tell him this? And his own people (+ his own experience) are telling him their glacial reservoirs are disappearing?

What would New Zealanders expect John Key to do if it there was a real chance that +2C of warming – provided mostly by other industrial nations – was going to wipe out the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers and your ski fields? But for broad impact this is even worse for Morales' country; a huge portion of Bolivia's economy that stands to go down…

C3P0 April 26, 2010 at 12:33 am

I can't be bothered with pointless debate with you when you misrepresent all I say.

For example, I never said that Morales was an alarmist for being concerned about water supply. I said alarmist statements with no scientific backing do not help the case for action to reduce emissions. Therefore if Morales is concerned about water supply he should simply state the facts as they are and forget about speculative statements.

For this you call me a denier. Then build some argument around reasonable leaders being concerned when there water supplies are in danger. Yet I never said Morales concerns were unjustified. I haven’t even said his statement is incorrect. I simply am interested in this statement and would like to know what the comment is based on.

nommopilot April 26, 2010 at 4:36 am

ah yes wikipedia. so nothing scientific then?

nommopilot April 26, 2010 at 4:38 am

that entry doesn't actually support your claim anyway Steve.

Wrathall cancelled

C3P0 April 26, 2010 at 5:21 am

You are right that Wikipedia is not a reliable source. However the article referenced by Wrathall was referenced this paper, which is a fairly good source. Neither confirms nor rejects Wrathall’s claim.
http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~liepert/pdf/DArrigo

C3P0 April 26, 2010 at 5:21 am

..There has been expressed concern that the divergence problem challenges the uniformitarianism assumption in tree rings (e.g., National Research Council, 2006). However, if the divergence is in fact anthropogenic in origin then it will only directly impact reconstructions within the past few decades. Some evidence suggests that this is the case, and that the divergence is limited, and unique to this recent period (Briffa et al., 1998a; Cook et al., 2004a). Nevertheless, there are still significant implications for the development of dendroclimatic reconstructions, as we have noted in this paper. For example, reconstructions based on northern tree-ring data impacted by divergence cannot be used to directly compare past natural warm periods (notably, the MWP) with recent 20th century warming, making it more difficult to state unequivocally that the recent warming is unprecedented. Inclusion of divergence-affected tree-ring variations in the calibration period of such reconstructions could result in overestimation of past reconstructed temperatures, and underestimation of recent warming… (goes on but comment too long)

Steve Wrathall April 26, 2010 at 9:45 am

That is precisely the point. If tree rings do not show the late 20C warming, and "decline" away from it. How do you know they haven't "declined" away from every other warming. Leaving the warmists able to deny their existence?

dappledwater April 26, 2010 at 10:56 am

The 20th century. Are you surprised?. I'm not.

dappledwater April 26, 2010 at 10:58 am

20th century, again. Something wrong with your eyes?.

dappledwater April 26, 2010 at 11:07 am

Wrong paper, this is the one referenced:
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/smith2006/smi

Strange how they end that paper you linked to though:

"All centennial to sub-millennial scale cycles exhibited by the WTR could be connected to solar variation cycles of about 208, 350, 700 and 950 years [Lean,2002]"

What if it was pixies that did it?.

dappledwater April 26, 2010 at 11:26 am

It rained a lot in Scotland during the MWP?. Isn't that what those numbskulls Soon & Baliunas found as well?, only they thought they were temperature proxies.

C3P0 April 26, 2010 at 8:13 pm

What half of the 20th century?

C3P0 April 26, 2010 at 8:18 pm

I was giving you some stalagmite proxies to look at. your comment above suggested that as divergence was only a problem for tree rings we should look to ice cores, stalagmites, fossilized coral, lake sediments & boreholes. I was seeing what I could find.

I have yet to see a single proxy reconstruction that shows more late 20th century warming than early 20th century warming. If anyone has one please post. Until I see that I am to believe the majority of modern warming occurred too early to be caused by greenhouse gas emissions. If I see evidence otherwise I will be forced to change my mind.

dappledwater April 26, 2010 at 9:28 pm

"I have yet to see a single proxy reconstruction that shows more late 20th century warming than early 20th century warming" -C3.

Why do you think a single climate proxy is better than multiple ones?. How would one reliably extrapolate global temperatures on the basis of one site?. Doesn't sound like good science to me.

"If anyone has one please post." -C3
http://www.skepticalscience.com/broken-hockey-sti

"Until I see that I am to believe the majority of modern warming occurred too early to be caused by greenhouse gas emissions." -C3

The Industrial Revolution began at around 1750, humans have been pumping out GHG's on a large scale since then. Why would this have not affected the global climate?.

"If I see evidence otherwise I will be forced to change my mind." – C3

I sense you may be in the running for a Pants on Fire award.

C3P0 April 27, 2010 at 12:02 am

None of the proxy reconstructions on that link show more late 20th century warming than early. Figure 1 and 2 both show a large amount of late 20th century warming, but if you look at the legend on the graphs this is not proxy warming, but the instrumental record.

C3P0 April 27, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Single proxy vs multiple ones.

It depends on the resolution of the proxy. For a high resolution proxy such a tree ring set, a multitude of locations can be combined together. For low resolution proxies the error in the estimation of date means that if you average a group together you will always get flat temperatures, due to the averaging effect.
http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/Unprecedent

C3P0 April 27, 2010 at 10:23 pm

No nothing wrong with my eyes. Early or late 20th century? What has it done for last 40 years?

C3P0 April 27, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Nice. I love how you can prove a published article wrong by pointing out the flaw that they did not consider the effect of pixies. I really do enjoy those kind of responses. It makes posting on this blog so rewarding…..

C3P0 April 27, 2010 at 10:51 pm

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