The “inconsistencies” of Chris de Freitas

by Gareth on September 7, 2010

Auckland University associate professor Chris de Freitas (yes, that one) is a favourite of the NZ Herald opinion editor, regularly popping up in the paper to argue a sceptic line on climate change or, as has happened a couple of times recently, to talk about responses to earthquake disasters. Quite why the paper would go to CdF for the latter when there are many other better-qualified academics who could address the issue remains to be seen, but his article in response to the Canterbury quake in yesterday’s Herald was interesting. Compare and contrast CdF, 6/9/2010:

The focus on earthquake-disaster planning and crisis management is on risk reduction, readiness, response and recovery. In this context, government and local authorities have the responsibility to minimise social vulnerability and have a duty to promote community resilience through enlightened planning.

… with CdF, 1/5/09:

No one knows for sure what the future holds, but there are some good clues as to what’s going on. It hinges on growing evidence that natural influences on climate are in fact stronger than any man-made greenhouse effect. It may be premature to discard our anxiety over the threat of possible human-caused global warming, but this anxiety should not be based on ignorance of what science can tell us.

So for earthquake hazards, de Freitas is happy to argue for risk minimisation despite imperfect knowledge of the size of the risk (his piece looks into failed attempts to predict quakes), but when it comes to climate issues his argument is we shouldn’t do much because we don’t know enough!

Another example of the remarkable intellectual flexibility we have come to expect from the scientific advisor to NZ’s Climate “Science” Coalition. Or perhaps it’s simple hypocrisy. You decide…

{ 110 comments… read them below or add one }

Patrick Jones September 7, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Sad to see you good people in NZ have an acedemic clown (or two) as we do here in Oz. It seems, maybe, your CdF is taking his information from our prize clown Ian Plimer who keeps telling everyone that volcanoes are the problem – even when he’s proven wrong all around the world.

Gareth September 7, 2010 at 4:53 pm

No need for CdF to take anything from Plimer. He’s been a player on the sceptic team for a very long time, as Deep Climate notes.

Sustainable2050 September 8, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Mr Plimer is a director of three mining companies and has expressed concern that a carbon-trading scheme would cost those a lot of money.

tomfarmer September 7, 2010 at 3:13 pm

sheesh.. jus when I thort the rockefellers were the problem!

more seriously, it would appear this guy attended boot camp this time around.. puts a smile on a fellows face.. and a lie in his step.. but who cares he may argue, everyone’s looking at my smile.. ;-)

R2D2 September 7, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Has de Freitas ever argued that we shouldn’t build cities that can handle changes in climate? (ie if the biggest ever huricane to hit New Orleans was a cat 5, so lets should build the levies to handle a cat 8)

I think there is a difference between risk mitigation and removing the hazard altogether. Ie he has not argued we should be trying to prevent earthquakes from happening.

Roger Dewhurst September 7, 2010 at 5:39 pm

The price difference between houses that will stand up to earthquakes and the flash ones with brick veneer walls is very small. Of course the brick veneer will fall off the latter in an earthquake. Since the cost difference can be neglected the economic analysis does not have to be very thorough. Perhaps that is what was in the back of de Freitas’ mind. I am not claiming to speak for him though.

Roger Dewhurst September 7, 2010 at 5:43 pm

The gutter press, the Daily Mirror for example, would surely welcome you.

Mr February September 7, 2010 at 6:54 pm

With respect to associate professor de Freitas, “Consistency is the least adhered-to virtue”.

Carol Stewart September 7, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Yes, I was somewhat bemused also when I read Chris de Freitas’s article. It’s certainly hard to argue with his call for reducing vulnerability – this is fairly standard and is the underlying principle of much research in NZ into the interface between natural hazards and society (at all its different levels of organisation). But as you point out, it’s at odds with his stance on AGW.

Ken September 8, 2010 at 9:33 am

Ah, I see. CdF is a scientific advisor to NZ’s Climate “Science” Coalition. He must be one of the “science team” Richard Treadgold claims to have. The “science team” that “wish to remain anonymous – at least when it comes to their discredited report “Are we getting warmer yet?”.

Roger Dewhurst September 8, 2010 at 9:44 am

“CdF is a scientific advisor to NZ’s Climate “Science” Coalition.”

That much is right. I understand that he prefers not a member of the NZCSC but he does provide it with his opinions from time to time. The rest of your post is rubbish, as might be expected.

Rob Taylor September 8, 2010 at 10:04 am

Chris de Freitas is an AGW denial propagandist who is an embarrassment to New Zealand science. For a compendium of climate denial half-truths, red herrings and schoolboy howlers, check out his op-ed pieces in the NZ Herald, e.g.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10569629

Here are some examples:
“according to the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organisation, the official climate record shows there has been no global warming for the past decade, despite steadily rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere”

“The greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is almost saturated, so that the effect of carbon dioxide on global temperature is already close to its maximum. ”

“…growing evidence that natural influences on climate are in fact stronger than any man-made greenhouse effect. “

Roger Dewhurst September 8, 2010 at 10:26 am

“according to the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organisation, the official climate record shows there has been no global warming for the past decade, despite steadily rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere”

Whatever you wish to believe that statement is reality as most sceptics understand it.

“The greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is almost saturated, so that the effect of carbon dioxide on global temperature is already close to its maximum. ”

No problems with that. The effect of carbon dioxide is logarithmic. Even the few scientists numbered among you will concede that.

“…growing evidence that natural influences on climate are in fact stronger than any man-made greenhouse effect. “

What is wrong with that? I know you do not want to believe it but that is your problem with reality.

RW September 8, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Years before AGW became a major subject of discussion, I can recall at least a couple of prominent NZ weather/climate people making unflattering comments about de Freitas and the quality of his work.

Dewhurst and R2D2 – time you boring, ignorant trolls took a hike for a while.

Ken September 8, 2010 at 10:05 am

So, Roger, why did CdF “wish to reamin anonymous” regarding the discredited report? Or is that just another of Treadgold’s fictions (repeated to me several times when I requested their data names of their scientists).

Roger Dewhurst September 8, 2010 at 10:29 am

Did he? What discredited report? Bear in mind that discredited by you, or in your opinion, means next to nothing.

Rob Taylor September 8, 2010 at 10:47 am

Roger, mindlessly repeating the same old discredited denialist tropes counts for nothing but evidence of an atrophied mind.

I suggest you do some homework on the basic observations – try this:
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/bams-state-of-the-climate/2009.php

or this:
http://www.swissre.com/rethinking/climate/climate_sceptics.html

If you are very, very brave, you could even download their review document “Climate sceptic arguments and their scientific background”.

Ken September 8, 2010 at 10:52 am

As I said in my7 comment, Roger, the report “Are we getting warmer yet?”.’

Two posts delving into the errors in the report are Peer Review for the Climate “Science” Coalition and New Zealand’s denier-gate.

Treadgold himself (and he is the only identified author although he hasn’t a scientific bone in his body) and Vincent Gray do acknowledge (contrary to their report) that site adjustments are necessary when displaying a time sequence of a temperature record. So, in effect, even they discredit their own report. (The report denied the necessity of adjustments).

Gareth September 8, 2010 at 11:01 am

Hi Ken. I doubt that CdF would have touched that “report” with a bargepole – he’s a working, publishing academic, and while he might cheer Treadgold et al on, any direct association with a paper as shonky as that would be a very bad move. Of course, he might not care, if he thinks he’s unlikely to advance much beyond his current position…

Roger Dewhurst September 8, 2010 at 11:32 am
TBwood September 8, 2010 at 12:13 pm

” Of course, he might not care, if he thinks he’s unlikely to advance much beyond his current position…”

I think the phrase involving ‘hell’ and ‘freezing over’ is rather apt here.

Australis September 8, 2010 at 1:22 pm

So, the professor doesn’t believe we can design our own future climate or future earthquakes. Instead, we should put our resources into planning for all eventualities and being in the best possible position to respond to whatever actually happens.

Makes sense to me.

Roger Dewhurst September 8, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Taken at face value, yes.

cindy September 11, 2010 at 9:59 am

ASSOCIATE professor, Australis – let’s not elevate the man to something he’s not.

Roger Dewhurst September 11, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Associate Professors are entitled to be addressed as Professor just as Lieutenant Colonels are addressed as Colonel and Rear Admirals as Admiral.

cyclone September 8, 2010 at 2:06 pm

But if we make efforts to curb emissions of CO2 and other GHG’es we may yet still avoid the worst potential impacts of AGW.

I know the skeptics/deniers/defeatists won’t bother checking this out.
But anyone can look at the predictions made over 20 years ago of temperature changes and the patterns (e.g., Chapter 5 of “Prospects for Future Climate” a special US/USSR report on climate and Climate change, 1990 – McCracken, et al editors – Lewis Publishers) and see that the much maligned GCM’s of that time predicted temperature rises – beyond what would be expected from ordinary natrural variability. Another robust prediction was that the main warming signal at first would be in the arctic. These predictions have largely been borne out (compare against plots in the recent Hansen, Reudy, Sato, and Lo paper titled “Global Surface Temperature Change”. All the skeptics/denialists/defeatists at that time rubbished those predictions. That is why we should ignore CdF and take serious note of the GCM predictions and account for them in our planning – and limit emissions of GHG to lessen the risk.

Roger Dewhurst September 8, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Lets see, on whose behalf might “Lord” Stern be down here in the
colonies , propagandising the serfs so they don’t rebel ??? Maybe this
is a clue (and this is just likely the tip of the iceberg) :
http://www.conspiracycafe.net/forum/index.php?/topic/19258-a-few-histori
cal-rothschild-estates/

[snipped for brevity: GR]

adelady September 9, 2010 at 11:40 am

Roger

The reason Stern came to Australia was the commemoration of the arrival of “the Dunera boys”. His father was one of those unfortunate boys who escaped Germany to get to Britain only to be regarded as an undesirable alien and summarily shipped off – to Australia. He returned after the war, which is why Stern is not an Australian.

Roger Dewhurst September 9, 2010 at 1:04 pm

I was not aware that he was in Australia before coming to New Zealand. The talk he is giving here is the issue, nothing else.

There is one and one only rational method of choosing between uncertainties: one multiplies the estimated costs of the various options by their probabilities, estimate the time frames and apply the appropriate discount rate. Then go for the least expensive, or most profitable, option. When the risks, costs, time frames or discount rate cannot be reasonably estimated the best option is to do nothing.

That is where Stern cocked up. He fiddled the discount rate down in order to make his costs look sensible. Would you lend money to someone at 2% or less? Of course not. Nevertheless Stern expects the NZ taxpayer to pay huge sums of money to solve some uncosted and possibly non existent problems, at some unknown time in the future and values our money at 2% to do it. An accountant or auditor would be kicked out of the profession for giving that sort of advice to a client.

Rob Taylor September 9, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Roger, you really should try to get out more…

Ray Pierrehumbert, Professor in Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago, has eloquently addressed the inadequacies of applying discounting (otherwise known as cost-benefit analysis, or CBA) to environmental problems:

“The fallacy of discounting becomes particularly apparent when one tries to discount human life. To take a well-known example, suppose that by an expenditure of $1000 we could either save one life this year or take an action that would prevent the extermination of the entire human race in five hundred years time. At a 5 percent discount rate, the value of ten billion lives discounted to the present over 500 years is the same as the value of one-fourth of a life currently. CBA, then, clearly tells us to save the one person today and let the future take care of itself, even if the action we forego represents a one-time opportunity to save the human race.

The situation just described is really not so far-fetched in light of the nature of global warming. We have already seen that actions we take in the next century have the possibility of causing major climatechanges that could last four hundred thousand years, with unforeseeable and potentially catastrophic consequences for humanity. What does CBA tell us about how much we should care about such long-term impacts?

Let us be generous to CBA and apply only a 1 percent discount rate, and assume that climate changes risk extinguishing ten billion members of the human race after one hundred thousand years. Continuing in the spirit of generosity to CBA, let us put a value of one billion dollars on a human life, far in excess of the value (typically on the order of several million dollars) used in practice.

How much should we be willing to spend over the next four centuries to prevent this catastrophe? The answer is unimaginably small; it is so small that the value of a single atom in a single US penny is still unimaginably greater than the amount we should be willing to spend to prevent the far off catastrophe. In fact, to get the correct value that CBA tells us to spend, you would have to take that poor single atom and divide it into ten parts, take a single one of those partsand divide it in 10 again, and repeat the process 363 times, taking only a single one of those unimaginably small parts at the end.

In short, the application of discounting tells us that the fact that global warming can cause potentially dangerous changes in climate lasting over one hundred thousand years is utterly irrelevant to our decision-making.”

http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~rtp1/papers/LawReviewCatastrophe.pdf

Gareth September 9, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Well remembered, Rob. I read that paper a while ago…

I like to describe the problem with valuing futures in terms of the nature of the change. Most of the changes that will result from global warming are essentially one way on human timescales. Lose a species, and its very hard to put back. Lose an icesheet and it may take tens of thousands of years to regrow (if it ever cools enough to allow regrowth). In other words, the stuff we do now makes it very hard for future generations to look after themselves, because they will be dealing with a fundamentally changed planet.

Rob Taylor September 8, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Roger, you are truly pathetic.

I know you don’t know or care about the facts and have no scientific credibility, but do you really have to stoop to blaming it all on Jewish bankers?

Why not just trot out the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” while you are about it?

Carol Cowan September 8, 2010 at 11:21 pm

Roger’s like one of those old bores who prop up the bar in the local pub and will keep on talking as long as they think somebody might be listening. They don’t care about what they’re saying, they’re just lonely enough, or drunk enough, to think their opinion matters. They get their kicks from provoking someone enough to argue with them – because at least then they have the illusion of a conversation. Give the man some peanuts.
(PS To any visitors to this site who would think this comment proves anything bad about people who accept the reality of global warming – sorry, but sometimes reasonable people lose patience with rude ones)

RW September 9, 2010 at 8:17 am

Dewhurst, R2D2 and their soulmates have all been accorded plenty of tolerance in putting their obnoxious worldviews here. The time is long past when they deserved any consideration or politeness. They all make it a habit to routinely smear the reputations of anyone in mainstream climate science whose work or views are perceived to be a threat to the fabric of their illusory universe.

Roger Dewhurst September 9, 2010 at 9:10 am

This thread is devoted to smearing the reputation of C de Freitas. Another was devoted to smearing Bryan Leyland and another to Terry Dunleavy and another to Richard Treadgold. As I recall this blog has also had a go at Owen McShane. That, I am afraid, makes the warmers fair game.

Our perception is that your very obvious anger is symptom of fear; fear that you cannot justify your case with the science that you know is weak. You fear also that you are losing the battle, failing to convince the public and ultimately the politicians. Bluster all you like but it is not winning you any friends or influence.

Gareth September 9, 2010 at 10:09 am

Roger, you are a real treasure. If you didn’t exist, no-one would invent you — unless they were trying to do an outlandish caricature of climate denial.

I don’t “smear” anyone – just hold their statements and actions up to the light for others to judge. If any opprobrium should be directed to the likes of de Freitas and Leyland (and in my opinion it should) then it is their own actions that have brought it on them.

As for my “fear”, it is that the actions of these people will have delayed action so much that it will be too late to avoid the worst impacts of rapid change. The evidence is what the evidence is: you are unable to see it. Your loss, perhaps, but also a loss for the whole of humanity. That’s what I fear most.

Roger Dewhurst September 9, 2010 at 10:37 am

Your absolute conviction that you are right makes me think that you would be the first up with a match in the days that they burned witches.

So much of the ‘evidence’ that you carry on about is tainted.

I am confident of some of things. The first is that the climate will change, one way or the other. It always has and it always will. The change may well be very rapid as it was at times between 20,000 years ago and 6,000 years ago. We should prefer warming to cooling. Cooling even to levels reached occasionally during the LIA will result in a degree of dislocation in the northern hemisphere which is likely to lead to war. Warming, on the other hand, will lead to greater agricultural production. I base this last opinion on history rather than science. As for carbon dioxide it will just make plants grow better. That is science!

Richard T September 9, 2010 at 11:46 am

It’s not so much that we are all right, but that you are so totally and absolutely wrong. Those deniers you mention all deserve to be sharply criticized – and people need to know just how misguided they are. The anger you mention is more likely to be a product of frustration at dealing with your ignorance. As for complaints about smearing their repuations, well you, your CSC soul-mates and those bully-boy ACT cowards hiding behind parliametary privelege would know a thing or two about that.

Roger Dewhurst September 9, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Perhaps you should have written a book on how to win friends and influence people.

R2D2 September 9, 2010 at 10:49 am

While lets all just agree to get along then. Because I do not smear anyone either. I simply try to hold some of yours and others statements to account when I feel they are lacking merit. Gareth, I accept what you say above. RW, I think your comment is naive and silly.

RW September 9, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Oh really, Mr Dewhurst? Let’s start with Jim Salinger – the cretinous collection of denialists that have “contributed” to this forum have attacked him from the outset. Even more ignorant individuals – a qualification admittedly hard to attain – such as “Whale Oil” have added their idiotic musings to the general cacophony. De Freitas’ understanding of climate science is trifling by comparison with Salinger’s.

You are the one who is blustering – take my advice, leave here and join the weird ones at Weatherzone.

Roger Dewhurst September 9, 2010 at 1:32 pm

We did not sack him. NIWA did! As I commented at the time a loose lip is not grounds enough to sack someone.

I do not think that I have to remind you where to put your advice.

F2D2 September 9, 2010 at 11:54 am

I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that most (if not all) of the nonny-mice regulars are puppets of the one or two NZC”S”C members who are able to walk and chew gum at the same time.

tomfarmer September 9, 2010 at 10:47 am

Roger, how are ye..?

The blog is about “inconsistencies” as it says up there at the top. A subject is found and example made. To me, and including me(as you see above) commenters are variously reactive. To the blog.. to its subject.. to each other..

This latter, informed folks would say deserves a life of its own.. you follow? .. which is why @9.10 your first par concludes with what your intent is—attack!

Attack.. by reaction, but for DEFENCE(i’m using the anglo word here to properly convey what is meant.. for you may realise how the american spelling could suggest attack-the-best-form-of-defence, and thereby justify attackers). That is defending the guy you perceive worthy of your defence.

You follow..? No. I’m not patronising you with questions, I’m doing it to ask you consider slowdown some, quit kneejerk. Because it does detract from otherwise apparent skills.

Skills like I’d expect a fellow knowledgeable on laterite to back up his assertion of “weak science”. I’d expect him/her to differentiate.. yep differentiation, the sorting process as it were by which folks inform themselves..

If the subject of this blog(thread) does that for you and that is all you need to defend his very obvious inconsistency, then DO say so.

Don’t, please don’t aid the prejudicial atmosphere of reaction with yet more of the same.

Roger Dewhurst September 9, 2010 at 12:27 pm

As R2D2 implied let us try and be nice to each other.

On weak science:

I have no faith in the numerical modelling of climate for reasons that I have set out several times. I am not about to change my view just because someone in the IPCC believes otherwise.

I am not about to swallow opinions on climate based on proxies when those conflict with historical records. Others will take a different view on this.

I have reservations about the science when people have deemed it necessary to hide their data and even threaten to destroy it rather than make it public. This is merely one issue among many raised by the UEA emails.

I do not have an issue about climate warming since the LIA. It has warmed.

I accept that there is a theoretical basis for the belief that carbon dioxide causes some climatic warming. However my view is that the effect is small and as it is logarithmic increasing levels of carbon dioxide will have less effect.

I do not think that the ice cores or the recent levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide support the proposition that carbon dioxide is the principal driver of the climate at any time in the last 20,000 years.

I am more amenable to suggestions that oceanic circulation patterns and/or the activity of the sun are the principal drivers of this post glacial climate.

I am not receptive to the proposition that that the feedback mechanisms are net positive. I do not think that the feedback mechanisms are adequately known for a start and I am inclined to believe that the biological feedbacks have been underestimated.

In my view history supports the proposition that life is better all round in the warm periods and worse all round in the cold periods.

I will not be dissuaded from the view that carbon dioxide is beneficial for plants immediately and ultimately for all macroscopic life forms. I am inclined to believe that the current level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is less than optimum for plant life.

As a geologist whose career has revolved around costs and values, the costs of exploration, risks, probabilities, the value of the deposits, the costs of developing water supplies, etc etc, the idea of throwing money at problems without knowing the probabilities, time frame, costs, discount rate is an anathema. i.e the precautionary principle is, for me, utter crap!

There is one and one only rational method of choosing between uncertainties: one multiplies the estimated costs of the various options by their probabilities, estimate the time frames and apply the appropriate discount rate. Then go for the least expensive, or most profitable, option. When the risks, costs, time frames or discount rate cannot be reasonably estimated the best option is to do nothing.

That is where Stern cocked up. He fiddled the discount rate down in order to make his costs look sensible. Would you lend money to someone at 2% or less? Of course not. Nevertheless Stern expects the NZ taxpayer to pay huge sums of money to solve some uncosted and possibly non existent problems, at some unknown time in the future and values our money at 2% to do it. An accountant or auditor would be kicked out of the profession for giving that sort of advice to a client.

Mike Palin September 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm

“I am not about to swallow opinions on climate based on proxies when those conflict with historical records.”

So do you or do you not accept reconstructions of past conditions at Earth’s surface from the geologic evidence? If possible, think carefully before you answer.

Roger Dewhurst September 9, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Your answer:

“I am not about to swallow opinions on climate based on proxies when those conflict with historical records.”

Mike Palin September 9, 2010 at 11:31 pm

Roger-
As you know well, the vast majority of geologic evidence for past Earth surface conditions, including climate, accumulated long before any historical records. So, do you accept this evidence? If not, then you have no basis to think that the recent warming is part of a “natural” glacial-interglacial cycle. If you do, then you should realise many of the proxies for more recent “paleo”-climate are geologic in nature. Rock, meet hard place.

Mike Palin September 10, 2010 at 1:53 pm

No answer yet? Feeling a bit pressured?

Roger Dewhurst September 10, 2010 at 6:03 pm

See below. I have asked a few questions about the rates of temperature change between 20,000 and 6,000 years ago. Why do you not have a go at answering them?

Mike Palin September 11, 2010 at 3:52 am

Roger-
Please answer my simple question. Do you or do you not accept prehistoric geologic evidence for past Earth surface conditions, including climate?

Mike Palin September 11, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Roger-
Still waiting for an answer. Why the uncommon silence on a subject that should be so near and dear? Are you feeling unwell?

Roger Dewhurst September 11, 2010 at 2:50 pm

I have already answered the question, twice. Now deal with this;

I have asked a few questions about the rates of temperature change between 20,000 and 6,000 years ago. Why do you not have a go at answering them?

Mike Palin September 11, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Roger-
You are failing this test because your “answer” is not to the question I am asking. Do you accept geologic evidence accumulated prior to the onset of historical observations for past Earth surface conditions, including climate?

Mike Palin September 11, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Roger-
You are failing your test because that “answer” is not to the question I am asking. Do you accept geologic evidence accumulated prior to the onset of historical observations for past Earth surface conditions, including climate?

Mike Palin September 10, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Roger, the dodger? Still no response?

Mike Palin September 15, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Roger-
Time is up – you fail.

The answer is the geologic record contains abundant evidence for variable surface conditions – including climate over Earth history. These changes have been both slow and fast. This same evidence provides constraints on the “climate sensitivity” for the current rapid rise in greenhouse gas emissions. No fancy computers needed, just good ol’ geologic evidence. The results indicate about 2-3 degC for a doubling of atmospheric CO2. As geologists, we know that Earth will survive that temperature rise, but the cost to human society will be great.

Those are the facts. What we do as a society is open to debate. There are the “do-nothings” and the “do-somethings”. Future generations will decide who is right.

Personally, I think think the ethical thing to do is start moving away from a carbon-based economy. Fossil fuels are finite and the real costs are rising every day. The question ultimately is who should pay when you spread your garbage over the neighborhood?

John D September 15, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Those are the facts.

Sorry, 2-3 degC doubling for climate sensitivity is not a “fact”.

It is an hypothesis, supported by a relatively small number of scientists

Macro September 15, 2010 at 6:46 pm

When you stop making “facts” up, people might start to listen to you, but until then, you spout nothing but “bullshit”.

Doug September 9, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Social discount rates are different from private or project based discount rates.

There is an extensive literature on the issues around working out the social discount rate and Lord Stern wrote many of them.

It is one of the [many] reasons why societies have governments. Individuals and business have limited financial time horizons, but societies must take account of costs and benefits over longer time periods.

For example using a discount rate of 10% virtually all costs and benefits are discounted to almost zero after 16 years. Using those criteria there is no need to worrying about an aging population and the future funding of superannuation.

Roger Dewhurst September 9, 2010 at 4:11 pm

The money that Stern and others propose to spend is taxpayers’ money. Taxpayers are entitled to an honest rate of return on their dollars. Reducing the discount rate to close to zero is nothing less than cheating the taxpayer. When the discount rate is set half way between the rates at which banks lend and borrow the logic of spending taxpayers’ dollars on a speculative problem at an undetermined time in the future is non-existent. No small wonder that Stern had to write a book to justify the fiddle. He had to bore everybody into submission.

Doug September 10, 2010 at 7:27 am

Again using your logic virtually all government spending in health,education, defence and law should not be funded based on the criteria of a commercial discount rate.

I suggest you go on a total tax strike.

Roger Dewhurst September 10, 2010 at 8:56 am

You have to cook up a plausible story when you are trying to sell the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Macro September 9, 2010 at 4:24 pm

You clearly have no idea about social discount rates do you Roger – but I see Doug has already elucidated the import of high as against low discount rates below. To use high discount rates is to understate the problem.

Roger Dewhurst September 10, 2010 at 8:53 am

It is the advice and opinion such as that of Stern that has turned Britain into a social basket case already and is rapidly turning it into an economic basket case as well.

There is a huge problem facing the world. It is overpopulation and not global warming. Something can be done about that and demographic Ponzi schemes are not part of any solution.

Macro September 10, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Have you any idea about how to slow the growth of human population? Apart from starvation, war, genocide, compulsory abortion, and extreme weather events? The sad fact is that the human population will continue to grow for some years yet – no matter what. Solutions that will eventually stabilize the relentless growth arn’t in your work book tho. Not from the comments we see here.
Have a look at http://www.earth-policy.org/ if you dare!
Better still – download the book and add it to your extensive library (having READ it of course!)

Mike Palin September 10, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Roger-
You (and others) may be surprised to learn that I share your concern about overpopulation. However, unlike global change induced by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, overpopulation tends to adversely effect speciifc regions rather than the whole planet. Also, because it is fundamentally a problem of “first-world” making, we are ethically responsible for coming up with a solution. I know that ethics and business are mutually exclusive concepts in your mind, but some of us have a conscience.

Roger Dewhurst September 9, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Some of you see some inconsistency between de Freitas’ approach to AGW and his approach to earthquake risk.

Bearing in mind that he and I have not discussed our opinions and beliefs at any length it would not surprise me if he is averse to throwing taxpayers’ money at an ill defined problem which may not even exist.

Earthquake risk is more readily estimated. Furthermore different approaches to building can reduce the cost of earthquake damage in the future without adding substantially to the cost. If that is what he had in mind I see no inconsistency.

Richard T September 9, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Roger Dewhurst.
“I have no faith in the numerical modelling of climate for reasons that I have set out several times. I am not about to change my view just because someone in the IPCC believes otherwise.”

This attitude is so typical of ARROGANT geologists who know little about climate models or the IPCC. Extremely closed minded. No one is asking you to change your mind on what someone in the IPCC believes – but rather look yourself at all the validation efforts that have been undertaken.

The climate models predictions are tracking with observations well enough to give any rational person cause for concern. You don’t want to face this issue and the only way you can deal with this is to dismiss the climate models for specious reasons and then much of the observational data as being fabricated and/or fiddled with.

Sadly your rmind is made up.

Geologists rubbished a climatologist about his theory of plate tectonics – you guys were wrong then and you’re wrong now. Geology has to be the weakest science out.

Roger Dewhurst September 9, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Obviously you know nothing whatever about the principles of numerical modelling.

On validation: As I have written elsewhere you can find an equation that will describe the position of every current in a cake but it will tell you nothing of the next cake.

“The climate models predictions are tracking with observations well enough to give any rational person cause for concern.”

Rubbish

Roger Dewhurst September 9, 2010 at 2:46 pm

I would add: There are umpteen models all of are tweeked by their authors to get the best fit to recent data. Mere tweeking to give the best fit is like fitting an equation to the currents in a cake. There remains no predictive value whatever.

Richard T September 9, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Utter drivel. Check out the model projections from 20+ years ago.

Roger Romney-Hughes September 9, 2010 at 2:20 pm

We object! It was the geophysicists who rubbished Wegener; many of us geologists supported him.

And as for that Roger fellow (not me, you understand, the other one), he doesn’t seem to be so much a geologist as a bullshitter.

RW September 9, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Oh dear – Roger D. disowned by members of his own profession!

Roger Dewhurst September 9, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Wegener’s theory was about Continental Drift, not Plate Tectonics. Continental Drift was accepted by most geologists long before Plate Tectonics had even been thought of.

Mike Palin September 9, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Yo Richard, tone down the anti-geologist crap.

Geologists have led the study of paleoclimates. In 1897, inspired by Arrhenius’s paper of the preceding year, T.C.Chamberlain suggested that ice age cycles might be regulated by feedbacks involving the atmosphere-ocean-lithosphere CO2 cycle.

In their more practical roles as finders of fresh water, raw materials and energy, geologists permit us to live our relatively cushy lifestyles. Please don’t judge us all on the basis of Roger!

Roger Dewhurst September 9, 2010 at 3:49 pm

You have a problem there. Most of my geological career had been related to ground water and uranium!

Macro September 15, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Which, of course, has a lot to do with climate change about which Roger is an EXPERT!

Richard T September 9, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Apologies, it was a terrible generalization.

tomfarmer September 9, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Roger,

nice or not.. at least constructive.. huh.

Your does and dont are clear. I cannot, however, see nor am I willing give time to your comprehension of them. Let’s just say bcos different playbooks..

Established I think is that your career experience is one of a geologist beholden to a business envirionment(context).

Interesting, perhaps and however, is a need for certainty by business diktat. Yet when per par 12(above) all is uncertainty the proscribed remedy is do nothing.

Whilst that may be satisfactory in a business-action-no-action decisive sense, how might it be in any way useful for human planetary existence?

Without a considered and satisfactory answer to this question, Roger, it would appear that no amount of protest at being called ‘denialist’ will serve. For clearly denial of the existent substantive scientific case for anthropo climate change – whether part of natural forcings or exacerbatory to this – is warranting your proscription.

Roger Dewhurst September 9, 2010 at 2:38 pm

So much for the “Let us be nice to each other” then?

Roger Dewhurst September 9, 2010 at 3:19 pm

I added a bit more on laterite. What do you want it for?

Rob Taylor September 9, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Here are Nicholas Stern’s slides from his Robb lectures (more to come).

http://www.auckland.ac.nz/uoa/home/events/template/event_item.jsp?cid=11237

Rob Taylor September 9, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Here’s what Stern has to say about deniers like de Freitas, Dewhurst and the NZC”S”C (p.23):

“Denying science is unscientific, irrational and dangerous. To dismiss adjustments as not worth the benefits is to absurdly misunderstand scale of risk, overblow the costs and overly discount the future.”

Roger Dewhurst September 10, 2010 at 8:43 am

We do not need advice coming from the social basket case of the northern hemisphere.

John D September 10, 2010 at 6:51 am

Rob Taylor-
de Freitas is not denying science, so your comment is gratuitous and irrelevant

tomfarmer September 10, 2010 at 10:36 am

Roger,

How are ye today?

It would seem you have discounted my let’s at least be constructive suggestion to zero with your remark @September 9, 2010 at 2:38 pm.
Or didn’t that apply to me? OTOH, if it did folks should know what was being attempted. Yep, implication that I was R2D2. [Or, don't tell me, Roger, you didn't realise that! ]

To hand some news for which I would have thought you much more interested in than my further knowledge of laterite. It concerns the Phoenix Mars lander. Which is capable of sampling that planet’s rocks and thereby determining a past association with water.

Feasible, what do you think?

Secondly, how might hands-on geologists feel about the possibility of remote operational tools replacing them. Not least in the usual order of things capitalist?

Roger Dewhurst September 10, 2010 at 4:52 pm

“Or didn’t that apply to me?”

No, to others.

They have sampled rocks before so i suppose that they can do it again.

“Secondly, how might hands-on geologists feel about the possibility of remote operational tools replacing them. Not least in the usual order of things capitalist?”

Not likely, I think. Visual images need a human brain to interpret them, so far at least.

Rob Taylor September 11, 2010 at 10:36 am

Nick Stern has evidently met the likes of Roger and the NZC”S”C before…

“You can challenge the evidence – that’s good science and good discussion. But chanting and slogans and making up facts and misinterpreting evidence isn’t… so many people who think they are Galileo are not.”

Clean Green New Zealand September 14, 2010 at 2:04 am
John D September 15, 2010 at 8:08 pm

When you stop making “facts” up, people might start to listen to you, but until then, you spout nothing but “bullshit”.

There are scientists who think that climate sensitivity is very low.

There are scientists who think that climate sensitivity is very high.

So sensitivity of 2-3 deg C is not a “fact” QED.

And my statement is not “made up” , nor “bullshit”

Mike Palin September 16, 2010 at 7:07 am

John D-
With regard to a 2-3 degC equilibrium climate sensitivity for doubling of CO2, get and read Knutti et al., 2008 (http://www.iac.ethz.ch/people/knuttir/papers/knutti08natgeo.pdf) for the current best understanding of this value.

With regard to what constitutes a “fact in science”, this is from Wikipedia, “In the most basic sense, a scientific fact is an objective and verifiable observation, in contrast with a hypothesis or theory, which is intended to explain or interpret facts.” Thus, the force of gravity is a fact even if we do not yet have a complete understanding of its origin or a unifying theory of how it relates to the other fundamental forces in the universe. In this sense, the equilibrium climate sensitivity for a doubling of CO2 of 2-3 degC is a fact because of the multiple “objective and verifiable observation(s)” compiled in Knutti et al., 2008.

Finally, because you provide no evidence for the assertion that the 2-3 degC value for the climate sensitivity is “supported by a relatively small number of scientists”, we can only conclude that you made it up.

RW September 16, 2010 at 8:25 am

Yes – as already suggested, he’s just another sock puppet. The aim seems to be to not just distract people from doing useful things in climate science, but to render them semi-comatose through the endless repetition of denialist mantras.

John D September 16, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Which “denialist mantra” are you referring to RW?

Roger Dewhurst September 16, 2010 at 1:45 pm

The aim, for me at least, is to try and stop the government from permitting your ‘climate scientists’ from rorting the taxpayer even more than is currently happening.

John D September 16, 2010 at 2:22 pm

To quote from Knutti and Hegerl, referenced above:

“The quest to determine climate sensitivity has now been going on for decades, with disturbingly little progress in narrowing the large uncertainty range”

..but the upper limit of climate sensitivity will be more difficult to quantify”

Therefore, I stand by my statement that a climate sensitivity of 2-3 degC is not a “fact”, based on the paper you provided me.

Mike Palin September 16, 2010 at 7:34 pm

John D-
OK, now read past the introduction.

Here is a quote that more accurately reflects the contents of the paper:
“Support for the current consensus range on S (climate sensitivity value) now comes from many different lines of evidence, the ranges of which are consistent within the uncertainties, relatively robust towards methodological assumptions … and similar for different types and generations of models.”

This is a learning opportunity, or are you past the days of being able to form new neural connections?

John D September 16, 2010 at 7:39 pm

So you are telling me that the abstract of the paper does not reflect the content?

How odd.

adelady September 16, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Maybe. But aren’t you least, tiniest bit perturbed that the abstract states that the lower values for sensitivity are well constrained but the higher values are hard to rule out?

Rob Taylor September 17, 2010 at 3:44 am

Really, John D., even a cursory glance at the full text of the abstract cited gives the lie to your blatant cherry-picking (I have capitalised two key words to highlight the disconnect).

“The Earth’s climate is changing rapidly as a result of anthropogenic carbon emissions, and damaging impacts are expected to increase with warming. To prevent these and limit long-term global surface
warming to, for example, 2 °C, a level of stabilization or of peak atmospheric CO2 concentrations needs to be set.

Climate sensitivity, the global equilibrium surface warming after a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration, can help with the translation of atmospheric CO2 levels to warming. Various observations favour a climate sensitivity value of about 3 °C, with a likely range of about 2–4.5 °C.

However, the physics of the response and uncertainties in forcing lead to fundamental difficulties in ruling out HIGHER values. The quest to determine climate sensitivity has now been going on for decades, with disturbingly little progress in narrowing the large uncertainty range. However, in the process, fascinating new insights into the climate system and into policy aspects regarding mitigation have been gained.

The well-constrained lower limit of climate sensitivity and the transient rate of warming already provide useful information for policy makers. But the UPPER limit of climate sensitivity will be more difficult to quantify.”

John D September 16, 2010 at 8:08 pm

adelady – you have exactly grasped the point. Thanks

ergo a climafe sensitivity of 2-3 degC is NOT a fact.

Mike Palin September 16, 2010 at 9:01 pm

John D-
Scientific facts have uncertainties – some are large, some are small, some are difficult to quantify. I challenge you to read the rest of the paper, you may learn something.

Johnmacmot September 16, 2010 at 9:06 pm

JohnD doesn’t do science, Mike. Cheap debating points seems to be the best of it.

adelady September 16, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Sorry John. My view of these uncertainties is a bit different.

I know that the person standing next to me is taller than I am. Observable, incontrovertible fact.

Uncertainties. I do not know exactly how tall this person is, but I can judge that they are my height plus x mm. We can get a reasonable measure by standing alongside something and using a school ruler to count those mm. Pretty good, we don’t need to know more. For some purposes we need to do something a whole lot better – perhaps a third person who knows what they’re doing to get it precise.

Regardless of the final result, the fact that this person is taller than me is never, ever in doubt. Fact.

Macro September 16, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Really John, your interpretation of scientific knowledge is childish in the extreme! Or is it really that childish? and are you just playing with words; or more to the point – being deliberately “ignorant”. No one here would claim any given figure of warming as a “fact”. But the science is well enough understood, and the evidence is now well enough established, to be confident to the 95% level of certainty that a doubling of CO2 levels above the levels of the 19th C will result in a warming of at least 2 – 3 deg C.
Or have you published peer reviewed papers that show conclusively that the above is not the case? I’m sure we would all love to read them.

RW September 16, 2010 at 9:32 pm

The guy hasn’t “got any science”, so he tries to distract one by means of quasi-philosophical waffle – just “mental masturbation”, as someone in a rather different context put it I think.

John D September 17, 2010 at 1:54 pm

As we know, the figures for climate sensitivity that lie in the range > 2degC rely on positive feedbacks from clouds.

Models developed with cloud super-parameterization indicate some negative feedbacks are possible.

The world’s first superparameterization climate sensitivity results show strong negative cloud feedbacks driven by enhancement of boundary layer clouds in a warmer climate.

We have performed similar +2 K perturbation experiments with CAM 3.0 with a semi-Lagrangian dynamical core, CAM 3.0 with an Eulerian dynamical core, and with the GFDL AM2.12b. These have λ’s of 0.41, 0.54, and 0.65 respectively; SP-CAM is about as sensitive or less sensitive than these GCMs. In fact, SPCAM has only slightly higher climate sensitivity than the least sensitive of the models presented in C89 (The C89 values are based on July simulations)…

The global annual mean changes in shortwave cloud forcing (SWCF) and longwave cloud forcing (LWCF) and net cloud forcing for SP-CAM are _1.94 W m_2, 0.17 W m_2, and _1.77 W m_2, respectively. The negative change in net cloud forcing increases G and makes λ smaller than it would be in the absence of cloud changes.

These strong negative cloud feedbacks resulted in a low climate sensitivity of only 0.41 K/(W m-2), described as being at the “low end” of traditional GCMS (i.e. around 1.5 deg C/doubled CO2.):

References:
Bretherton, C.S., 2006. Low-Latitude Cloud Feedbacks on Climate Sensitivity. Available at: http://www.usclivar.org/Newsletter/VariationsV4N1/BrethertonCPT.pdf [Accessed June 12, 2009].
Wyant, M.C., Khairoutdinov, M. & Bretherton, C.S., 2006. Climate sensitivity and cloud response of a GCM with a superparameterization. Geophys. Res. Lett, 33, L06714. ftp://eos.atmos.washington.edu/pub/breth/papers/2006/SPGRL.pdf
Bretherton, C.S., 2006. Low-Latitude Cloud Feedbacks on Climate Sensitivity. Available at: http://www.usclivar.org/Newsletter/VariationsV4N1/BrethertonCPT.pdf [Accessed June 12, 2009].
Wyant, M.C., Khairoutdinov, M. & Bretherton, C.S., 2006. Climate sensitivity and cloud response of a GCM with a superparameterization. Geophys. Res. Lett, 33, L06714.

Gareth September 17, 2010 at 3:47 pm

If you are going to cut and paste stuff from Climate Audit, please provide a link to the original source, so that we can see where you are getting your “facts”.

Note that one of the strongest lines of evidence used to infer climate sensitivity is the transitions into and out of ice ages. These imply sensitivity of the order of 3ºC per doubling. Models (whatever their cloud parameterisation) are only part of the evidence.

John D September 17, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Are you implying these peer reviewed papers are rubbish?

Gareth September 17, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Not at all. I’ll leave it to cloud modellers to decide their merit. My point is only only that you are failing to consider all the evidence — nicely laid out for you in the Knutti et al paper, or discussed in AR4, WG1, Chapter 9.6 (here).

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