How long will it be before the climate forces us to change?

To judge by the story of the little ice age, there will be decades of terrible suffering before we adapt

17 January 2015

9:00 AM

17 January 2015

9:00 AM

This time last year, homeowners in Oxfordshire and Berkshire were recovering after storms had brought down power lines and blocked roads. Soon, power cuts were the least of their problems. The Thames flooded. In the south-west, the emergency services evacuated the Somerset Levels, and the sea wall at Dawlish in Devon collapsed — cutting the rail line to Cornwall.

Political Britain burst its banks. Ed Miliband demanded action. David Cameron convened emergency committees. TV reporters brought us urgent reports as water lapped their boots, while newspaper correspondents named the guilty men.

As in twenty20 cricket, you enjoy a quick intense hit with 24/7 news, then move on to the next game. The weather will not be an election issue. We will have the economy, the NHS, fake statistics, and possible permutations of coalition partners more complicated than a Jane Austen heroine’s dance card, but no argument about momentous changes.

Debate is confined to rows about whether deforestation and man-made emissions cause climate change. I believe it is scientifically illiterate to think otherwise. But what I believe is an irrelevance. The causes of climate change are one thing — unless you hold that the climate is not changing, then you should worry about the consequences.

At the end of his recently published Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the 17th Century, Geoffrey Parker says of our time that there ‘may perhaps be residual doubts’ about man-made climate change, ‘just as some still deny that smoking tobacco increases the risk of lung cancer, but the historical record leaves no doubt that climate change occurs, and that it can have catastrophic consequences’.

Politicians do not want to talk about consequences because they are so expensive. A briefing paper from the House of Commons library drew up a bill from the available research. One in six homes in Britain is at risk from flooding, and annual flood damage costs around £1.1 billion. The Office of Science and Technology estimated that the costs could rise to £27 billion by 2080 if current trends continue, and to prevent that calamity would take huge state intervention.

If you don’t like ‘if current trends continue’ predictions — I don’t — remember that civil servants aren’t only worrying about climate change. The cost of maintaining a crumbling flood defence and drainage system is rising. As the population grows, we will build more homes on floodplains, pave over more land. The burden does not end there. British aid workers urge benighted foreigners not to denude their lands. They forget to add that the British have denuded theirs. ‘Rather than rail against nature, there is a need to make us more resilient to flood hazard,’ says Sue Dawson, a geographer from Dundee University. We must reforest uplands so that trees can soak up rainfall, and ‘make room for water’ by reversing the draining of marshes.

I am a city-dweller who loves to walk. The idea of reforesting valleys appeals to me more than I can say. If I were a farmer faced with compulsory purchase orders on my land, however, or the owner of a home or business in a floodplain told to waterproof their property or lose insurance, I might not be so keen.

Affronted interests delay change. Proposals for a Thames barrier were first heard in the 18th century. Pressure from merchants, for whose ships it would block the Thames, stopped the idea until 1966, when Professor Hermann Bondi, the then chief scientific adviser, said the capital should not live with the risk of storm tides that would be ‘knockout blows to the nerve centre of the country’. Since its completion, the barrier has been activated with increasing frequency — 39 times between 1983 and 2000, and 75 times between 2001 and 2010 — as extreme weather has become more common.

Most Londoners barely notice. The most powerful city in the nation sits snug behind its defences. Will it worry about the rest of the country? Will, indeed, the five out of six homes not at risk of flooding want to pay more tax to protect the ones that are?

Parker shows how the mini-ice age of the 17th century provoked wars, revolutions, famines and incredible suffering. No modern historian can substantiate the claim of contemporaries that a third of the world’s population died. But Parker’s account of the fall of the Ming dynasty, Russia’s time of troubles, the collapse of stable Ottoman rule, the Thirty Years War, the French Frondes, the British civil wars, and the revolts against the Spanish monarchy, suggests that contemporaries weren’t far off the mark.

Why, he wonders, aren’t we better at facing climate change, when humans are meant to be adaptable creatures? A part of the answer in the rich world lies in our belief that we have escaped the nature. We think of natural disasters as calamities that strike elsewhere. If that was once true, it isn’t now.

A human capacity to postpone awkward decisions plays its part, too. After the 2004/5 hurricane season — which brought not only Katrina but seven of the costliest hurricanes yet to strike the US — the National Hurricane Centre asked why Americans kept building on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. They lacked foresight, it concluded. Most had never experienced a direct hit and thought it couldn’t happen to them. Even among those who had lived through a hurricane, memories faded.

Europe adapted to the climate crisis of the 17th century by developing insurance and minimal welfare states. But the change took decades. Vested interests fought it, as now. People did not want to pay higher taxes, as now. As much as anything, says Parker, ‘the frequency of natural disasters mattered as much as their magnitude’. Only repeated catastrophes made our ancestors act.

By this reckoning, it will be many years before climate change forces us to change.

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Show comments
  • Phillip2

    The climate has always changed and the only thing we can do is to adapt to it. Whilst the climate is currently relatively benign, we should be thankful (there is no evidence of extreme weather becoming more extreme and sea level rise is not accelerating). Increased warmth and increased CO2 in the atmosphere are giving us huge benefits in terms of plant growth. We should be preparing for a return to the Little Ice Age conditions as the sun has gone in to its less active mode and the ocean cycles are also in cooling mode.

    Instead of preparing for cooling, the politicians are wasting trillions on trying to stop emissions of the benign and essential plant food, CO2, a gas which has an immeasurably small impact on the climate.

    • asecondwill

      If only you knew anything at all about the subject I think you could add quite a bit to this discussion.

    • waxliberty

      Preparing for cooling!

      Sometimes you think the Enlightenment prevailed and we live in scientifically literate times, and then you visit the internet.

    • dalai guevara

      Der Dumme ist immer der Depp.

      Do not want to fix your environmental issues or not? Why not?

    • Exactly right.

    • Will

      Yes, let’s adapt to a world with no sea life because the sea has become too acidic. Let’s adapt to mass droughts; a collapsed eco system; and soil that has lost all its nutrients. After all, with scientifically literate geniuses like you, how can we possibly fail to adapt!

  • Nick, you’ve produced some stellar and brave commentary recently.

    This piece is pretty much the complete opposite.

    You are extremely poorly informed and lazy if you think the objections to the mainstream narrative of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change are “scientifically illiterate”.

    • Zanderz


      What annoys me about the climate debate is that the very sensible efforts to increase good management and stewardship of the world’s resources gets muddled up with the ridiculous scaremongering of the enviro lobby.

      It’s good to look after the planet and we need to promote local and personal responsibility rather than non scientifically based and unworkable global CO2 caps (which no one follows anyway..)

      • littleted

        “…unworkable global CO2 caps (which no one follows anyway..)”

        Least of all the UK with its madcap wind blade policy.

      • Ed_Burroughs

        Yep. In my last year of primary school (which would be 20 years ago this year) we did a project about the environment. There was all sorts about pollution: the ozone layer; acid rain (remember that?) and so forth. I’m sure the Greens we’re weird nimbies back then too, but now all they go on about is CO-friggin’-2 and how we should pay for the third world to emit it.

      • waxliberty

        Folks really should familiarize themseves with the basics. Here is an overview of the mainstream view in science, a joint summary from the National Academy of Sciences in the U.S. and the U.K. Royal Society:


        • Ed_Burroughs

          The science isn’t the problem, its the politics.

          • waxliberty

            Unfortunately, yes.

        • JKV

          A corrupted organisation.

          • waxliberty

            Both the National Academy of Sciences, founded by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 to advise on critical questions of scientific policy with members elected in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research – still considered one of the highest honors in science *and* the U.K. Royal Society, once chaired by Isaac Newton, are both “corrupted organisations” because they fail to come to the conclusion you would prefer?

            How about Academié des Sciences, France? Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia? Chinese Academy of Sciences, China? Indian National Science Academy, India? Science Council of Japan, Japan? Royal Society of Canada, Canada? Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina, Germany? Academia Brasiliera de Ciências Brazil? Accademia dei Lincei, Italy?

            Corruption across the board I’m sure. Not until they say what you want to hear, then you’ll accept they are “not corrupt”.


    • goggyturk

      Fine, in that case let’s compare the models of these dissenters with the mainstream scientists and see whose match the data best.

      • Sure. The Scaffetta model has been doing spectacularly well.

        You can find details here:


        • waxliberty
          • Wooh! Skeptical Seance. What a source. A “math guy” eh?

          • waxliberty

            …and ad hominem, like clockwork.

            Yes, one of my degrees, as it happens.

          • Slating a website, specifically questioning its reliability is now “ad hominem”? That must mean academic scientific debate is a non stop nightmare of one ad hominem after another.

          • waxliberty

            Of course, it is textbook ad hominem. Look it up. You think scientfiic issues are resolved by whichever scientist says “Wilson? He’s a crank!” the loudest? (I hesitate to ask.) Look up the principle of reproducibility.

            Dispute the Tamino analysis if you prefer. Or take the opportunity to explain why you think the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn would have such an effect on earth’s climate. Or do *something* to advance your claims based on reasoning and evidence. That’s usually what’s most compelling in debate.

          • Ed_Burroughs

            Purely out of interest has anyone been able to discern Jupiters tidal effect? My assumption is that it would be undetectable.

          • waxliberty

            I expect it’s of low interest. These numerological theories are all about fishing expeditions with numbers and finding or cooking up some random pattern and then declaring it’s a “theory”. And claiming it should have similar standing with mainstream theory because that is also “just a theory”. The absence of even rudimentary physical logic consistent with for example the 1st law of thermodynamics is, if anything, a strength, because it emphasizes to the believer the mystical and mysterious nature of the universe.

            I did find a reference that says the tidal force of Jupiter is 0.000005 times that of the moon. So naturally it probably controls climate and causes the system to accumulate ~25×10^22 joules of added energy, and deserves to be highlighted as a sidebar widget on wattsupwiththat…

    • Kennybhoy

      I take that you missed the severe kicking on this topic that he got from Michael Portillo and Andrew Neil on”This Week” some years back? 🙂

      • I did miss it indeed! I had no idea Portillo would likely take the sceptic side either? Do you happen to know if someone has clipped it on Youtube?

        • Kennybhoy

          Can’t find a trace on Youtube alas.It was back in late 2009. God how time flies…:-(

          I actually have a lot of time for oor Maister C, when he is right he is very very right, so it was simultaneously hilarious and painful to watch! 🙂 As I recall he, Maister C that is, may have been just a wee bit under the influence to boot! :O)

    • waxliberty

      The bulk of the objections that circulate on the internet are simply scientifically illiterate. Look at Phillip2’s post just above, with 51 upvotes. He thinks we should be preparing for another little ice age because of depressed solar and oceanic cycles – those cooling factors have already been in play for a decade, and indeed *should* cause cooling, and yet 2014 is the hottest year on record and the oceans are accumulating giant amounts of heat. You could read science and understand how that happened. Similarly, he thinks CO2 “has an immeasurably small impact on the climate”. There is no scientifically literate justification for any of this. Sometimes you have to speak plainly.

      • “yet 2014 is the hottest year on record”

        Right. On the basis of an already suspect land based data set, and an “increase” in the hundredths of a degree when instrument error is around one tenth.

        “Math guy” eh?

        • waxliberty

          Oh how ominous… “suspect”! It’s just thermometers, Kata. Lots and lots of them. Yes, they’re imperfect, but you’re hoping they’ve all gone bad in the same direction. So vastly unlikely as to be preposterous. (Yes, requires some math understanding to get why this is so.)

          Here’s what the thermometers say is happening in the ocean:


          Care to explain why this is happening when the sun is in depressed cycle? Do you even have an inkling of a theory, to challenge mainstream theory with? The faintest ghost of an idea why the physical greenhouse effect, as directly observed and measured from both the ground and orbit, doesn’t operate the way physics says it should?

          Are you able to demonstrate *any* kind of more credible scientific (i.e. evidence-based) reasoning than the sort of hand-waving you do in these comments?

          • What a surprise. You skip completely over the substantive point and provide a cut and paste odyssey of guff in its place.

          • waxliberty

            I directly addressed your handwave about “suspect data” (i.e., data that says what you don’t like) and error ranges. You not only think that was a substantive point, but think you had *another* substantive point in your comment that I ignored? Your replies need to come with their own soundtrack of circus music…

        • Ed_Burroughs

          Instrument error is mitigated by large sample size.

  • HCintheM

    Oh dear… Isn’t the Spectator readership supposed to be intelligent? Where, pray, have you (any of you) derived your views on climate change – from a collection of peer-reviewed articles and monographs supported by statistics and detailed, dispassionate analysis, or right-wing commentators armed with unrepresentative selections of statistics of uncertain accuracy and reliability (often even uncertain validity) and without significance (in the statistical sense) and making bombastic, contrarian claims as to global cooling?

    • rtj1211

      OH dear, you haven’t worked in science to know what really goes on in the ‘publication game’. You haven’t seen how article titles, summaries, introductions and discussions do not focus primarily on the reality of the data presented within papers (assuming they actually measured anything rather than just modelled it). You haven’t seen the ‘grants for the boys’ escapades games of central grant awarding committees and you haven’t seen the filing of patents to tick boxes rather than to increase the wealth of UK plc.

      I have.

      You are clearly sufficiently ignorant not to be able to judge scientists dispassionately, so you see them as ‘wonderful’, ‘selfless’, ‘servants of humanity’.

      I hate to inform you but they can be some of the most ruthless and disgusting humans on the planet, they can be like militant trades unions when lobbying for funding and they have religious mantras every bit as illogical as the religions many of them profess to despise in public.

      I have read the numerous articles of highly qualified, highly experienced engineers and scientists pouring scorn and derision on the IPCC religion.

      I suggest that you do too……

      • waxliberty

        Yep, science is a brawl. A lot of us like it that way. If it were all a hugfest dominant theories wouldn’t get challenged. You’re welcome to disbelieve whatever you like, but to make a claim that you are on *logical* grounds for doing so, you’ll have to show it in theory and evidence, and get published, like everyone else. Crying about it doesn’t give you special dispensation, sorry.

    • Martin Adamson

      When it comes statistics of doubtful validity, we cannot surpass the warmists’ habit of keeping two sets of books which do not tally and cherry-picking data to brandish from one or the other depending on which most meets the needs of The Cause at that particular moment. Satellite observations made since 1979, and mercury-thermometer observations over the same period contradict each other, yet both continue to provide fodder for the credulous.

    • dramocles

      Oh dear. You don’t really understand the scientific process do you?

      Others have pointed out the mechanisms of self interest operating in the scientific community but the argument and counter-argument nature of the current debate over climate change is an essential part of the way science moves our knowledge forward.

      What is unforgivable is the way in which the warmist lobby tries to shut down the debate. That is supremely unscientific.

    • Tom M

      Such naivety.

      “…..from a collection of peer-reviewed articles and monographs supported by statistics and detailed, dispassionate analysis,…..’
      You haven”t heard of the Hockey Stick Graph” then? and how it was shown by Ross McKitrick to be, well, just as you described above “……selections of statistics of uncertain accuracy……….”
      Whilst on the subject of “…unrepresentative selections of statistics….”
      The Congress investigation into Climate Change 2006. Dr D’Arrigo (a very prominent climate change advocate at the time) was delivering a speech to the committee in support of climate change.

      A Senator accused her of “cherry-picking” the data to support her claims.

      Her response was “well if you want to make a cherry pie you pick cherries”.

  • Sean L

    So you believe it’s “scientifically illiterate” to think that humans are not agents of climate change. But surely humans are themselves products of climate change. Wasn’t this land we now inhabit covered in ice up until 10,000 years ago, a blink of an eye in geological time? Beyond preposterous that the behaviour of any species of life could supersede such forces as determine life itself. Even if humans, all mammals for that matter, were wiped out tomorrow, climate change would persist, the very concept of *climate* already presupposing *change*. If your belief has any bearing on climate it’s the entirely man made political climate.

    • waxliberty

      Just amazing the strength of this logical fallacy. I assume the power comes from the underlying worldview you feel is threatened somehow?

      Please try to explain how this is any different than arguing that because people have died of natural causes for eons it is impossible for a human to cause another human to meet an unnatural death?

      “Beyond preposterous” to think that humans could achieve any result that also happens naturally! Breathtaking.

      • Sean L

        So you impute human agency to supranatural or supernatural causes? Entities that somehow counter the acts of the sun, the sea, the stars? But even the entire biosphere, irrespective of the human factor, is an infinitesimal force considered geologically, cosmically, that’s to say in the context of the forces that ultimately determine climatic shifts, an utter irrelevance. Which isn’t to say that what is the object of biological investigation has no influence at all. But interestingly, as physicist Freeman Dyson has observed, the climate ‘models’ take no account of biological phenomena whatever. But neither do they cloud formation, such entities as naturally resist ‘modelling’. But how could such an ultimately inconsequential being, the hairless ape that we happen to be, ever get ‘behind’ as it were such vast phenomena and their chaotic intricacies?

        • waxliberty

          “So you impute human agency to supranatural or supernatural causes?”

          What are you talking about? You think the atmosphere is supernatural?

          Sean, it’s really not this hard. The case is outlined on pages like this:


          Do you reject the simple fact that humans have increased the worldwide concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere by 40%? Let’s start with that one. Yes or no – you believe the atmosphere is of such cosmic scale that hairless apes cannot affect its makeup?

          Lakes are formed by forces geologically, cosmically profound – therefore if humans pump toxins into the lake they cannot change the chemistry of the water to the point that it is unhealthy to drink?

          You are letting flowery language cloud common sense.

          • Sean L

            No, humans are no more or less ‘natural’ than any other thing. You exaggerate the influence of CO2, let alone human emitted. Where greenhouse gases are concerned I understand water vapour to have a greater effect. But my point is merely that the alarmism is primarily political, not that CO2 has no bearing at all. Even so, no reason to suppose that *any* human act could be decisive in the determination of greater climatic shifts, whose ultimate causes span millennia. Local pollution is irrelevant. But yes those are the kinds of observable and measurable things that we ought to acting upon but it’s not as politically attractive as the kind of catastrophe typically invoked by the warmists.

          • waxliberty

            “Where greenhouse gases are concerned I understand water vapour to have a greater effect”

            Sigh. Yes, water vapor has a greater effect all up, and represents more than half the greenhouse effect. However, due to evaporation properties water vapor concentration cannot be manipulated independently of temperature. You can “pollute” more water vapor, it will just rain out. That leaves the #2 greenhouse gas, CO2, as the main “dial” in earth’s history whose concentration can independently function as a “forcing” on the greenhouse effect and therefore climate. Because the earth can only absorb CO2 back into surface/water at a certain pace, newly emitted CO2 persists in the atmosphere on the timeframe of centuries.

            It happens that water vapor is a major part of human-driven global warming though. Warmer air holds more water vapor, and so there is a compounding effect – as CO2 nudges the climate warmer, specific humidity increases, and the greenhouse effect is further amplified. This process is underway and directly observed.

            These are fairly basic points! I say not to try to be superior but just to point out – how do you have such a strong opinion *before* learning them??

            “no reason to suppose that *any* human act could be decisive in the determination of greater climatic shifts, whose ultimate causes span millennia”

            The mainstream view is that the earth’s system is driven by physics and not mystical causes. There is no reason to assume the “ultimate causes” of any climate shift span millennia, though some like orbital variation are quite minor/slow (~26,000 year periodicity). For instance, you are arguing that if the sun increased its energy output dramatically tomorrow, the climate would not respond because these things only happen on millennia timeframe. In the scientific view, energy is energy and greatly increased solar radiation would cause noticeable warming even in the single year timeframe.

            In honesty, it sounds like you are an intelligent individual, and you just haven’t taken the time to learn about this area of physical science.

          • Sean L

            Thanks for the considered and informed response. I’m not remotelyy qualified to argue about the science. Yes there are measurable *physical* phenomena. But there is much that is of its nature no more than educated guesswork, and much that is pure invention. The physicist Dyson I mentioned earlier called the very notion of a “global temperature” a “mathematical fiction”. The kind of certainty demonstrated by the alarmists in their catastrophic long term weather predictions, or ” climate “, which in this context is weather considered statistically, is unwarranted by any science. It’s purely political. Which isn’t to say that there’s *no* science behind their prognostications. Though of course much of it is misrepresented in the public realm. But there should be a lot more scepticism in relation to the computer models particularly. A truly scientific attitude *ought* to be sceptical about such things especially when they are so remote from the observable phenomena they purport to ‘represent’ as the values entered into a computer programme, that hypostatise what we see and feel all around us. Instead such imponderables as global temperatures are taken at face value. Not very scientific from my point of view, however ignorant that view surely is . . .

          • waxliberty

            I’m familiar with Dyson’s views on this. (He also famously remarked that he did not know a lot about the subject.) Yes, “average global surface temperature” is not a real/precise thing. It is really a semantic nitpick – you could formally say “our best-sampled approximation of average glboal surface temperature” and *still the fact that this measurement is continually increasing is physically meaningful*.

            Hard not to feel like these philosophical appeals to cosmic imponderability get quite arbitrarily invoked on occasions where there is a topic people seem motivated to ignore/reject. Do you also reject evolution, plate tectonics, cosmology?

            “climate which in this context is weather considered statistically”

            Which is not technically wrong, but in context again you are ignoring the physical understanding underlying modern views of the planet. Weather is the chaotic swirling of heat and matter within the fluid envelope around the earth. The range of temperature within that envelope is determined by the *total heat content in that envelope* i.e. earth’s energy budget – it is a straightforward thermodynamic problem. If more heat is introduced to the system by the sun on a significant, global scale, average temperature is going to go up. The fact that the heat is swirled around unpredictably (“weather”) is (generally) irrelevant.

            “The kind of certainty demonstrated by the alarmists”

            Climate science is riddled with uncertainty. That’s perhaps it’s chief characteristic. It just doesn’t mean that *everything* is uncertain. The questions of whether the globe is warming or whether the greenhouse effect is the chief cause do not happen to be some of the things that are greatly uncertain. Projecting between 1.4 to 4.8 degrees C warming by 2100 with ~95% confidence is quite a lot of uncertainty though.

            “A truly scientific attitude *ought* to be sceptical about such things especially when they are so remote from the observable phenomena they purport to ‘represent’ as the values entered into a computer programme”

            The models just take the formulas we know about different aspects of the physical system and put them in a computer. Each different aspect (like the humidity response to temperature) is exhaustively investigated and validated independently. In science, nobody asks anyone to take models on faith, ever. They are just built to *validate* theories.

            The confidence in global warming is not based on computer models, it is based on validated physics. Arrhenius worked out the basic details 150 years ago. The quality and depth of evidence has just gotten stronger over time. The fact that a range of computer models successfully predict temperature response to major inputs (solar, ENSO, volcanic etc.) across the past century worth of data is just supporting evidence that theory is on the right track.

            “Instead such imponderables as global temperatures”

            Imponderables! You are unable to even ponder on the idea of sampling temperature? When your local weather forecast says the day will be 90 degrees, do you scoff at the absurdity of the notion and mock the fools who think that number has any meaningful relationship to reality, and bundle up in your parka?

          • Sean L

            Dyson says he doesn’t kinow, but also that no one knows many of the things they pretend to in this field. The rather obvious point he makes in respect of global temperatures is that the earth is mostly covered in water. As I say, he calls the figures a fiction. As to local weather, snow was predictied today here in Tottenham. They even gritted the pavements and roads this morning. But it was actually very mild with sunshine. But that validates Dyson’s point that there are innumerable unknowns or imponderables in weather that are not comprehended by physics, biological in particular. Just as in far simpler phenomena in every day life where physics is of no predictitve value. It wasn’t long ago that the Met Office were saying there’d be no more snow at all. Then we had more snow than I can ever recall, that very year, in 2010. The following year they claimed the snow was attributable to man made climate change. . .

          • waxliberty

            “The rather obvious point he makes in respect of global temperatures is that the earth is mostly covered in water”

            And what do the thermometers we have bobbing down to 2,000m and back up all over the world’s oceans say?



            You are artfully dodging or confusing points. I did not make a point about weather being predictable, I made a point about whether the concept of a “90 degree” day was meaningless or not, as you assert it is. It’s not, and you know it’s not per your everyday experience, but you don’t wish to concede it so you dodge. Or you don’t understand the point, hard for me to tell.

            That *weather* is unpredictable is a separate subject. It is known for *physical reasons* (fluid dynamics, Navier-stokes equations etc.) *why* weather is unpredictable, just as it is known for physical reasons why if you apply heat to a pot of water the water will warm even though you *cannot* predict the exact eddies and bubbling of the water within.

            Neil deGrasse Tyson uses an analogy here in the Cosmos reboot to try to explain the concept:


          • TreeParty

            Wax, it seems like you have stumbled into a beehive of right-wing innumeracy. When a fully ridiculous comment like Phillip2’s gets 58 upvotes, it just makes you embarrassed for the insensates that give any credence to such foolishness. But I admire your patient and sensible explanations of some of the basics for this audience – thanks, and please keep up the good work!

          • waxliberty

            I know, well you never know who reads through here, right. And science is generally fun to talk about. And perhaps it is useful for someone to periodically and patiently remind folks inside the internet echo chambers that their reasoning doesn’t hold water, so that said echo chambers don’t reach some kind of self-reinforcing super-density and explode.

  • gerronwithit

    A flood plain is a flood plain and absolutely nothing to do with climate change. If some Council idiots think that it is a great idea to build there without considering the ‘flood’ aspect then try not to be surprised at the consequences. Yes, climate is changing as it has done since the dawn of life on Earth, and yes, man may have some minor effect but it is nature who will get us all in the end, aided and abetted, of course, very much by the Sun. Linking “climate change” with the vagaries of nature is the biggest scam ever perpetrated on mankind.

    • global city

      and deforestation and farming are nothing to do with CO2… if the IPCC considered these other factors then we may actually get some action

  • Martin Adamson

    Dearie me, you don’t seem to realise that in focussing on Professor Parker’s book you are completely sawing off the branch you are sitting on. If the 16th Century climate changed dramatically at a time when global fossil fuel consumption was a tiny fraction of what it is now, then how can we conclude that contemporary climate change is driven by fossil fuel consumption?

    • waxliberty

      First, changes in solar intensity or albedo (e.g. changes in volcanic patterns) can cause climate shifts. Generally on much slower timeframes than what is being driven in current greenhouse warming.

      Second, global warming refers to total heat/energy balance on the planet, and not to specific regional shifts. The 16th century climate change was more regional (Europe etc.) – global multi-proxy reconstructions show that there was not any dramatic shift in global temperatures through this period.

      Confidence in global warming today is driven by looking at all of the major physical factors. In general most of them aren’t changing radically (would be having slightly cooling effects) except for the greenhouse effect, which is spiking and thus driving the observed aggressive warming (accumulation of energy/heat.)

    • JKV

      You’re right – it isn’t. Ignore waxliberty. Probably in the pay of BigWind or BigSolar.

      • waxliberty

        BigWind and BigSolar crack me up as concepts. I think I saw a solar mafia SUV with tinted windows roll by a few minutes ago.

        I’m in BigTech baby. We actually are big. For purposes of discussion here, the only relevant connection is that I’m scientifically trained and literate, though in fairness I expect that *is* a kind of bias or corruption relative to the (ideological and faith-based) method you think people should use to understand the world…

  • John Carins

    Some muddled thinking that in places incorrectly attributes cause and effect. One single action to redress the effects of climate change would be to reduce population. However, I can’t see that happening even when the real necessity is to preserve habitat and a sustainable future. These things are possible in a warmer or indeed colder climate. Man has adapted before.

  • Trofim

    The UK can’t even find enough water for its present population. The very first thing is to ensure that we have a larger population, to solve that problem. You could manage this by having lots of immigration. That should do the trick.


  • James Jones

    “39 times between 1983 and 2000, and 75 times between 2001 and 2010”

    Rates of 2.3 and 8 times a year respectively, a 3.5 times increase.

    Please do-the-math for readers.

    I am numerate and I was surprised at the difference after working it out. The 17 year and 9 year intervals add confusion so it is necessary in this case to provide the rates if clarity is desired for casual readers.

  • Jenny_Tells

    The fallacy is to believe that if the manmade CO2 “tap” could suddenly be switched off, the climate would cease to change. The global climate is not a linear system which would allow the return to a previous state if the stimulus for change were removed. It is a chaotic system, and it could alter into a completely new and unexpected state.

    In fact, if the world decided at COP21 in Paris this year to reduce emissions say by 50% within 5 years, the results would be totally unpredictable and may have catastrophic consequences. In view of the uncertainty, it would be wise to leave well alone.

    • waxliberty

      “The fallacy is to believe that if the manmade CO2 “tap” could suddenly be switched off, the climate would cease to change”

      More your straw man than anyone’s fallacy. If you remove a physical cause of warming you will get less warming, is the mainstream view.

      As a math guy, I always like these arguments about chaotic systems. For the record, the implications of your argument is that if the sun were to significantly increase it’s energy output (say by 10% total, which would be 100 times greater than normal variability), you are saying that it would be foolish to predict that earth’s climate system will warm, because it is chaotic. Perhaps if the sun’s energy increases the climate will actually cool, right? Can you just confirm that this is in fact what you believe?

  • global city

    parading tropes….never makes for interesting reading.

  • global city

    the reason why only CO2 is counted as the cause of global warming is that it is the only stuff on which bogus models of exponential increases in temperature can be concocted…..and, of course, it would swiftly bring down capitalism and the sophisticated industrial/consumerist society we enjoy.

    • waxliberty

      You are profoundly mistaken about the mainstream view. CO2 is not “the only thing counted”. The greenhouse effect was first deduced by Joseph Fourier in 1824. He wasn’t concocting a plan to bring down capitalism. This is delusional.

  • Peter Stroud

    So once again we have the old comparison between man made climate change sceptics, and those who doubted the connection between smoking and lung cancer. A purely social scientific matter, and climate science. This comparison is nonsense. The increasing number of scientifically trained climate sceptics, are able to compare the predictions of mathematical climate change models, with empirical observations. And frankly, the predictions bear little or no relationship to actual facts. The climate has not warmed for fifteen years: this is against every prediction of the multitude of codes. And surely, we have not forgotten such claims as – young children in the UK would never experience snow. And that the North Pole would soon be without ice. Unfortunately, too many reputations have been made, and too many fortunes garnered by supporting the panic caused by warmists. So the myth will continue.

  • Bonkim

    Will not change – man’s tenure will end sooner or later – no way out.

  • PouringForth

    So I read Mr Cohen’s article then just for fun I went out and bought myself a nice graph showing, in the simplest possible terms, why he’s wrong – and why most of the scientists are wrong too. It’s a very, very simple test: Do the predictions of your models match actual reality?

    Here’s the answer.

    It’s quite baffling to me why people like Cohen, otherwise intelligent public intellectuals, are so meek and mentally pathetic when it comes to scientific issues. Or at least it did baffle me until I discovered that Cohen read PPE at Oxford.

    • Phillip2

      Not another PPE? The world would be a much better place if all the PPEs disappeared overnight.

    • waxliberty

      “so meek and mentally pathetic when it comes to scientific issues”

      Wow. Machine-Gunning Stones From Glass House award front-runner for 2015 here.

      You have to understand the science, and predictions, to test them. Your chart is silly internet fare.


      You are arguing against literally every national academy of science in the world and imagine you are in a position to condemn them all as “mentally pathetic”. You’re delusional and comical.

      • PouringForth

        Every national academy of science in the world has as its primary goal the acquisition of government grants, so anyone with a functioning brain will approach publications with scepticism by default, except the scientists with livelihoods and tenure dependent upon their ability to attract funding to their institutions.

        If you want to know anything else about how science is actually done, rather than the public presentation of results for marketing purposes, you’re free to ask questions.

        • waxliberty

          And yet you could validate the evidence yourself if you cared. You could launch your own satellite and look at the bites coming out of outgoing IR, or conduct your own global, multi-proxy temperature reconstruction of the past. But you don’t care about any of that because your conspiracy theory is good enough for you to ignore hard evidence. Congrats. No further questions, thanks.

          • PouringForth

            I’m simply telling you what happens in the real world. Science is a Human activity and scientists are vulnerable to all of the same biases, pressures and motivations as anyone else is. That’s one of the reasons facts have a half-life.

            But there are deep problems with your argument about the actual science. The first is that we’ve only had satellite records since 1979. So even if it is warming, there’s absolutely no way you can attribute it to man-made CO2 with any confidence.

          • Guest

            This is like saying that because we have only had the telescopes for a few hundred years, it’s impossible to for X years, we cannot say with confidence that the earth was also

          • waxliberty

            This is like saying that because we have only had the telescopes for a few hundred years, it’s impossible to have any confidence that the earth was orbiting the sun or that the sun was in the Milky Way galaxy one million years ago. Physics works the same whether we are looking at it or not. Yes it’s *possible* that the greenhouse effect was different in the distant past, but our reconstructions of atmospheric chemistry (we literally have air bubbles trapped in ice to look at) allows us to test theories, and there are a lot of reasons why science as a whole is confident that the laws of physics themselves do not change dramatically over time.

            Physics leads to the modern, multi-disciplinary view of how the climate works.

          • PouringForth

            Your simile would be more correct if you’d said that when it was realised the earth orbited the Sun, some bright scientist proposed that the reason it did so was because of man made emissions of CO2.

          • waxliberty

            Just ignorance.

            Who first “proposed” that CO2 was a component of the greenhouse effect, and in what year, Forth? And why did they propose it?

          • PouringForth

            Of course it’s a component of the greenhouse effect. Nobody said it wasn’t. The question is whether or not it’s the primary cause of the current warming and whether or not the modelled feedbacks are positive or negative.

          • waxliberty

            The greenhouse effect is real, CO2 is a component, and the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased *40%* due to human contributions.

            No other major factor on climate (albedo, solar intensity, volcanic activity) is changing in any similar way.

            Physics predicts warming, and the planet warms. It’s broadly that simple.

            There is a lot more detail in why the confidence is what it is, and of course not difficult to find reports that try to summarize this, though it is a dense subject that is the cumulation of decades of research on many different components.


            That feedbacks are positive is not remotely in question. This is due for one thing to the existence of ice ages and the like. If feedback was negative, this would mean the planet was inherently self-correcting and the climate could hardly change at all. This is why it is ironic when internet folks emphasize that the climate changed in the past in the ice ages etc. That’s not evidence that today’s climate change is natural, it’s evidence that the climate is subject to self-reinforcing shifts. Even a tiny change in orbital angle of sunlight adds up to shift the entire planet into an ice age state, with mile-thick blocks of ice over New York.

            More pragmatically, positive feedbacks are easily and directly observed. Specific humidity has increased as predicted as the air warms, and water vapor is the chief greenhouse gas. Arctic albedo (sea ice coverage) has decreased as predicted, meaning more sunlight is being absorbed in the oceans vs. reflected.

            The main reason there is such uncertainty about *extent* of positive feedback is clouds. This is what leads to the broad 1.5 to 4.5 range for “degrees warming per doubling of CO2” (entirely a positive feedback range, from weak to very strong). But the idea that cloud feedback is so vastly negative as to make the entire system self-correcting has been pretty clearly ruled out. There is a detailed assessment of the state of cloud research in the latest working group 1 report out; some of the relevant papers include Stowasser et al 2006, Dessler 2010, Lauer et al 2010, Zhou, Zelinka, Dessler, and Yang 2013, Sherwood 2014, and others. As an example:

            Dessler 2010, A Determination of the Cloud Feedback from Climate Variations over the Past Decade
            “Estimates of Earth’s climate sensitivity are uncertain, largely because of uncertainty in the long-term cloud feedback. I estimated the magnitude of the cloud feedback in response to short-term climate variations by analyzing the top-of-atmosphere radiation budget from March 2000 to Ferbuary 2010. Over this period, the short-term cloud feedback had a magnitude of 0.54 +/- 0.74 watts per square meter per kelvin, meaning that it is likely positive. A small negative feedback is possible, but one large enough to cancel the climate’s positive feedbacks is not supported by these observations. Both long- and short-wave components of short-term cloud feedback are also likely positive. Calculations of short-term cloud feedback in climate models yield a similar feedback. I find no correlation in the models between the short- and long-term cloud feedbacks.”

    • JKV

      No PouringForth. It’s a leftie thing. Even though some may be intelligent, their brains are wired differently. If Central Control (aka the UN) says something, they accept it unquestioningly. Depressing really but not surprising.

  • Bosun Higgs

    IPCC and Hansen predictions of global warming, based on CO2 theories: vary from .13 degrees K to .5 degrees K per decade (a huge range for any serious theory!);
    Observed trend (RSS and HadCRUT4) varies from zero to .11 degrees K.
    This is not Galilean science.

  • Blindsideflanker

    I will only consider climate change an issue the day the climate warmers advocate population control.

    • waxliberty


      Population growth is highest in undeveloped countries where CO2 emissions per capita are as much as 200x less than they are in developed countries. Population is both more difficult politically and less impactful on the problem at hand. I mean I think you can make a case for it obviously, but your comment seems doubly illogical because you seem to be hinging your belief in physical reality on what humans think about it. In principle, you understand that physical reality exists objectively, independently of what humans do or say about it, correct?

      • Sean L

        Having lived in Africa, rural and urban, east and west, I don’t buy that 200 figure at all. Even in urban areas people cook with charcoal and burn their rubbish, there being no such thing as organised rubbish collection, let alone landfill. As for the traffic in Nairobi. . . even rush hour London has nothing on it, there being no trains, overground or under. But these figures tend to serve vested political interests, just like the entire “global warming” or “climate change”, as it’s now branded, scare, in order to accommodate any conceivable weather event in its explanatory framework, whose elasticity knows no bounds being determined by nothing so much as its proponents’ political and economic exigencies.

        • waxliberty

          Well the 200x figure is a reference example, from the high end of differences. Published figures are typically calculated primarily from fossil fuel burning and some other economic properties (cement manufacture, that happens to produce a lot of CO2) as they are easier to calculate, and because fossil fuel burning as a whole accounts for 90% or so of emissions.

          It’s certainly true that rubbish burning is a significant and under-reported pollution problem both for particulates and CO2, and it is probably hard to get reliable figures but it just isn’t on the same scale as fossil fuel burning.

          I’ve also been to Nairobi. Are you thinking of Kibera? Kenyans have far less cars per capita, far less continual heat or air conditioning per capita etc.

          Here are figures from the US Department of Energy’s Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC).


          Per that the difference between Kenya and U.S. is about 57x more CO2 emission in the U.S., but Kenya has about 4x the population growth rate.

  • Dodgy Geezer

    …as extreme weather has become more common…

    That was as far as I read. It hasn’t. ALL the technical measures of ‘extreme weather’ point to FEWER extreme incidents of precipitation, wind, temperature, etc.

    There are going to be more reports of weather incidents, now that everyone has a camera and an immediate connection to a newsdesk. There is going to be more money lost in weather incidents, as more people live in weather-threatened locations. But by any real measure of weather – hurricane frequency or power, precipitation index, etc, we are experiencing a lull in extremes at the moment.

    This is not surprising, because we are also experiencing a ‘lull’, a ‘pause’, in average Global Temperature increase. The usual slight increase we been having as we come out of the Little Ice Age seems to have stopped. It might start again. But at the moment the rate of change is, and has been for the best part of 20 years, practically zero.

    Various interested parties have been quick to publish lies about ‘extreme weather’, trying to keep their lucrative scaremongering bandwagon rolling. I am surprised to find the Spectator supporting this obviously immoral activity…

  • answeeney

    Nick Cohen makes well publicised commentary on climate change controversy and Russell Brand disagrees so George Clooney is brought in to mediate. When the disagreement makes front page news David Cameron makes a statement in the House; ‘I agree with George’ but then he changes his mind later when Nick has a quiet word in his ear.

  • Diggery Whiggery

    “At the end of his recently published Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the 17th Century, Geoffrey Parker says of our time that there ‘may perhaps be residual doubts’ about man-made climate change, ‘just as some still deny that smoking tobacco increases the risk of lung cancer, but the historical record leaves no doubt that climate change occurs, and that it can have catastrophic consequences’.”

    No there are no doubts that the climate has changed, is changing and will always change. The doubt is over the role of human activity in that change, considering that it has always happened and in man’s ability to stop it or slow in down with green energy.

    We’re wasting billions on green energy instead of using that money to adapt ourselves.

    It’s amazing how greenies absolutely refuse to understand the other side’s point of view just to create their little straw man. No-one is saying that the global climate never changes, only that it doesn’t seem to be heating up for the moment and that scientists don’t really understand the complexities of climate change and so invent theories to explain the unexplainable. That these theories push us towards certain types of political and social solutions is of course merely a coincidence.

    • waxliberty

      “No-one is saying that the global climate never changes”

      I have never actually heard anybody argue otherwise, just contrarians like yourself calling foul about it. Can you point to an argument where some “greenie” argues that critics believe the climate never changes?

      Most people don’t even think it is something worth remarking about. We learned about ice ages in gradeschool. The only people who seem to think it is worth talking about are those who think it provides some evidence against human-caused global warming (i.e. because climate can change naturally, it means humans cannot change it), due to a catastrophic failure in logic. That, sadly, is not a straw man, as you can throw a stone in a forum like this and skip off 2 or 3 references to the argument.

      “only that it doesn’t seem to be heating up for the moment”

      Yes. Except according to the data:


      “invent theories to explain the unexplainable”

      The idea that if the sun sends out more energy the planet would heat would be an “unexplainable” concept? This belief that the climate is mystical and unknowable seems rooted in religious beliefs, is that a fair observation? In science, the prevailing belief is that the climate is a physical system that responds to physical inputs like the amount of heat/energy coming into the system and the amount of heat/energy leaving it.

      “That these theories push us towards certain types of political and social solutions is of course merely a coincidence”

      Well, the theories go back to Joseph Fourier in 1824, then Tyndall and Arrhenius. With a straight face you think they were kicking off a political conspiracy disguised as science? And that by and large all the scientists in the world continue to push it?

  • Simon_in_London

    Adapting to the ever-changing climate is a good (though obvious) thing to do, yup.

    The last round of flooding was apparently caused by EU restrictions on river dredging, so getting out from under harmful EU regulations would improve ‘resilience’.

  • oregun

    Nice article! Where is Henny Penny? The sky is falling!

    • waxliberty

      Not a science enthusiast, I take it.

  • global city

    The hard Left Marxist parties, which includes the Greens are pushing this agenda. It is their agenda.

    The group of hard left Marxist parties, which includes the Greens UK…even Andrew Neil is unaware of this stated fact…. have been central to the shenanigans at the UN, UNFCCC and IPCC.

    • waxliberty

      The agenda would be useless without the backing in scientific evidence and theory, and the scientific evidence has its roots in Joseph Fourier’s deductions in 1824, which have nothing to do with politics.

      You can dislike environmentalist politics if you like, but it’s not a rational path to rejecting the science. You’ll have to come up with different politics that do not deny objective physical reality. Surely it’s possible?

      • global city

        Ah, I see what you did there…as no doubt did everybody else!

        Why conflate ‘environmental policies’ with the CO2 led meme that drives the whole CAGW scam?

        Those at the heart of the debasing of science and the IPCC central role in all this are surprisingly few in number. ALL of the rest of the studies (like projections of habitat destruction in the Arctic) are based on the figures provided by the likes of UEA….and on the assumption that there are honest and accurate. They have never been either.

        • waxliberty

          “Why conflate ‘environmental policies’ with the CO2 led meme that drives the whole CAGW scam?”

          Um, because you did?

          That “AGW is a scam” (or that it cannot result in catastrophic impact) has no grounding in physical reality. There is not any significant doubt that the greenhouse effect exists, or that humans have increased CO2 by 40% in the global atmosphere, or that the climate is warming in response.

          Rather, it an internet conspiracy theory movement driven by classic anti-science fallacies and hopelessly faulty arguments, mostly embarrassing.

          Even your highlighting of the UN, as if it is core to the conspiracy, is typical of the antics. The IPCC reports are just summarizing research, and each chapter (e.g. on atmospheric water vapor) offers about 10 pages of small print references to published research done across disciplines and all over the world. The “conspiracy” is truly global, and involves all of mainstream science. Every national academy of science in the world and every physical science organization representing discipines from physics, chemistry, oceanography, geology, and more across every nation of the world endorse the modern mainstream understanding of the planet’s physics. It’s taught in introductory textbooks.

          Bluntly, you’re delusional, and I expect there is a reason you make vague mutterings about government organizations rather than discuss topics in physics or science and that’s because you have no real understanding of the physics or science.

          Have a great day.

          • global city

            We’ll see. The dam has burst, just waiting for the eyjits to realise now.

            The scam is at the heart of the hypothesis…a surprisingly small number of people and institutions worldwide involved in the compilation, analysis and distribution of the data. Butressed by the IPCC and international Green groups, it has been able to sustain itself on most other Earth science taking the core data produced by the likes of UEA as kosher….but they’re not.

            What with the straw man bollux at the start of your post? CO2 does interplay in the atmosphere and, of course we have pumped out loads of it, but the empirical data does not tally with the projections of the models. The scary figures are only given any resonance because they have increased fourfold the impact that CO2 has. They have done this through the entirely fictitious (so much for proper science!) positive feedback loops. They don’t exist. Neither does the hot spot, the melting glaciers or North Pole. The raw data is manipulated criminally in all sorts of ways that have been exposed by, er, mainstream scientists s well as good investigative journalists.

            Remember the hockey stick?…etc, etc, etc.

            As i said…. just waiting for the morons to finally click then it’s over. Please hurry, chicken little!

          • waxliberty

            “a surprisingly small number of people and institutions worldwide involved in the compilation, analysis and distribution of the data”

            Ahhh, the plot thickens indeed. I can see the molasses-like momentum of your thought process, oozing and building inexorably toward an impossibly shallow conspiracy theory conclusion. Turgid and bubbling, swelling lethargically toward a single transcendant declaration of faith: The data has been *FAKED*!!11!

            “the core data produced by the likes of UEA”

            Yes, and by thermometers in every country of the world. And by satellites managed by conservative anti-warming activists in Alabama. Not to mention the ARGO floats deployed by oceanographers all over the world’s oceans. They *CLAIM* that the University of East Anglia is *NOT* beaming mind control instructions on unused radio frequencies to centrally control all this scientific activity but I happen to have a homemade antennae (engineered into a head-mounted device with custom aluminum sheeting) which says otherwise. Believe the mainstream only if you want to be a sheeple!

            “The scary figures are only given any resonance because they have increased fourfold the impact that CO2 has”

            You really have an impressively torpid grasp of the physical science here.

            “They have done this through the entirely fictitious (so much for proper science!) positive feedback loops. They don’t exist”

            Oh, I like the “so much for proper science!” bit and the exclamation point. Snap!

            Do you have even the faintest and most remote idea what “positive feedback” refers to? What has happened to specific humidiy on a global basis in the last twenty years, as an entry-level question you will be unable to undersand much less answer?

            “The raw data is manipulated criminally in all sorts of ways that have been exposed by, er, mainstream scientists s well as good investigative journalists”

            LOL. They *CLAIM* there are fact check articles that debunk the conspiracy theory arguments but when you look who’s behind the fact check arguments guess what, *MORE* pro-science agitators trying to *STEAL OUR PRECIOUS BODILY FLUIDS!*


            “All of the experts we reached or whose work we read rejected Goddard’s conclusions.”


            “Even without including analyses from the UK research center from which the emails were stolen, the body of evidence underlying our understanding of human-caused global warming remains robust.”


            “Remember the hockey stick?”

            Hard to forget, since it keeps coming back with every global, multi-proxy reconstruction of Holocene temperatures. In papers like Huang et al 2000, Oerlemans et al 2005, Smith et al 2006, Wahl and Ammann 2007, Kellerhals et al. 2010, Ljungqvist 2010, Thibodeau et al. 2010, Kemp et al. 2011, Marcott et al. 2013.

            Or PAGES 2k 2013: “78 researchers from 24 countries, together with many other colleagues, worked for seven years in the PAGES 2k project on the new climate reconstruction … based on 511 climate archives from around the world, from sediments, ice cores, tree rings, corals, stalagmites, pollen or historical documents and measurements (Fig. 1). All data are freely available”

            Yielding this peculiarly familiar shape:


            But, hold on, let me adjust the reception on the helmet – yes, repeated independent replication is the *PROOF* of the depth of the conspiracy, and how centrally *ALL YOUR DATA* is belonged to the UNIVERSITY OF EAST ANGLIA, curse them!

            “As i said…. just waiting for the morons to finally click then it’s over. Please hurry, chicken little!”

            Pause for sober reflection.

            I… can only concede that your comments represent an absolutely stupefying performance. Thank you for your chastisement, it is the least I deserve.

          • global city

            Idiot. these type of push me pull you debates have gone on over the internet for 15 years.

            The corruption of core data has been exposed many times.

            The Argo floats and the satellite data is killing off the scam, as this is available, un-manipulated to the public and other scientific institutions, something that the historic data and the recent material collated from weather stations round the world is NOT. The debasement of this material is well recorded. Constantly moving datapoints, the dropping off of weather stations that do not ‘perform’ appropriately, dropping low end data whilst retaining top indicators, ‘adjusting’ temperature aggregates more, the further back in time than the more recent sets, giving selective values to certain sets of data of up to 400 times ‘unhelpful’ sets when making up the algorithms for computer models…..and on and on.

            I am not an expert in this line of ‘conspiracy’ so perhaps you could undertake your own research into this core area of the science/politics? You forgot about the IPCC, it is advisable to investigate their work habits…give it a try.

            Your passion and sneering over confidence shows how you are a dedicated follower of the religion…. it only remains to be seen whether you are a happy-clappy eyjit sort, or a monstrous Jihadi fanatic.

            The irony of your mocking ‘conspiracies’ is that the whole green mantra depends on there being any number of ‘conspiracies’ that undermine their march to the sunlit uplands…from the Koche Brothers to big pharma! I bet you believe in more ‘conspiracies’ than I do?

          • waxliberty

            Look, I’m well aware I shouldn’t make fun of you, but you both want to be a conspiracy nutter *and* call normal rational people lots of names. It’s an embarrassing combination, no matter how you slice it.

            I don’t believe in any conspiracies. I’m quite willing to believe there are anti-science nutters motivated solely by their political obsessions like you, and not only if they can get their hands on fossil fuel money. Some are naturally smart enough to get some of that money since it is available, but anti-science backlashes have existed in history since as long as there has been science. You can predict the existence of you and your movement *before* you even show up.

            The Argo data shows the oceans accumulating tons of heat. That you think this “kills the scam” underscores that you are daft.

            I’ll leave you alone. By all means please feel free to continue adjusting the aluminum foil hat.

          • global city

            Yes…as I wrote right at the start, we’ll soon see. Relax you aren’t destroying the world with your CO2

          • waxliberty

            Well to be completely honest I’m more alarmed by intense, entrenched, collective stupidity than I am the CO2 problem. There are at least mitigations we can marshal against problems like CO2. They’re just problems. But acute collective stupidity driven by ideological zealotry could truly end us, if not via this issue than by some.

            “We’ll soon see”. This is one of the more fascinating aspects of this sort of mass psychology. I’ve followed this topic for a couple of decades, and there has never been a point in time during which those in the anti-science movements (against global warming, evolution, etc.) haven’t expressed supreme confidence that “the hoax is unraveling” and “any day now” there will be a complete reckoning, and their faith will be rewarded.

            What do you imagine you will “soon see”, city?

            * Scientists worldwide will finally come forward en masse and admit they’ve been faking data? You’ve been saying that for a couple of decades. Has it happened? Rational people still just think this is conspiracy crankery, right?

            * The world will start abruptly cooling? You’ve been counting on that for a couple of decades as well, yet here we are with 2014 now declared warmest year in recorded history, with continual striking accumulation of heat energy in the ocean. Does this really feel like a smart time to declare superme confidence that science is wrong? If you understood a lick of the physics, you would realize *why* it has not really been that difficult to predict a general overall warming trend, even while solar output is at a low point.

            * You’re waiting for an El Nino event, because you think that will not result in the expected surface heating spike and thus finally prove that all of the talk of internal oceanic variability moderating year to year surface temperatures will be shown to be false? Take a look at 1998 in any temperature curve and ask yourself if you are being rational, if this one is your hope.

            What do you imagine “we’ll soon see”, seriously? Each of the last three decades has been dramatically warmer than the prior. It is quite easy to imagine we’ll do this for three more decades and you’ll be saying “we’ll soon see”. And you’ll think it’s perfectly rational to keep being “skeptical”. Because we’d be fools to underestimate the sheer will to stupidity here in service of whatever cherished belief you think science is threatening. (Which is what for you, anyway? Biblical views of the planet? A will to believe negative externalities as taught in Econ 101 don’t actually exist so that Any Rand’s philosophy works better? What drives your preposterously stubborn stupidity and uninformed arrogance? It would help others understand the overall psychological phenomenon.)

          • global city

            We’ll soon see that it will have to be explained that latest research shows that the hypothesis that CO2 increasing to …what ever, is not going to cause CAGW.

            as for the rest of your post… you are a walking cliche of the same trite responses to questioning the contention that we are going to hell because of fossil fuel use. Why do all you fools always use the same idiot examples, based on nothing. I question the validity of the CO2 mania so I am anti science, god bothering cancer merchant. The same stuff has been used so often it does not even raise a giggle at the idiocy any more.

            How many scientists ‘worldwide’ do you think work on the core data and the modelling? You keep on making the same points, even when I have not given you cause, an’t you think of an original response?

            Anyway, feck off… I’m bored with your droning and unjustifiable condescension.It is always funny though when a fuckwit assumes that because you do not agree with the current meme you must not be involved in any way with the environmental movement.

          • global city

            Negative externalities. Thanks for confirming my point…..those are the very influences at play that are mitigating the small effect that CO2 does/can have. Those are the very things that I ‘believe’ in, whilst you believe in the ones used for ‘positive’ forcing, by a factor of four, in order to make the laboratory measured effect of CO2 into a scary number….. like .8 of a degree in a century and a half. These positive feedbacks are the fictitious ones.

            Ramble over now… I am bored with you.

          • waxliberty

            Yeah I bet you are. Well, one last beauty – look up “negative externalities”, I’m actually making a reference to an economic concept, not climate feedbacks. Also over your head.

            Carry on. Hope your life is well as it can be aside from your simply terrible ideas, poor thinking and general boorishness here.

          • global city

            Yes…and Ayn Rand…. but you used it in the context that somehow shows that these exist in economics and other aspects of life, so there for MUST be true in the CAGW hypothesis. They don’t, but are central to boosting the numbers to a level that would convince people like you.

          • waxliberty

            You just got confused. Externalities and feedback are not remotely similar concepts. I already highlighted separately that you don’t have the faintest glimmer of an idea of what you are talking about on climate feedback earlier in the exchange. Water vapor feedback is a directly observed phenomenon, well underway, not an assumption. As is polar sea ice albedo. And the existence of ice ages essentially proves the climate is not self-correcting (i.e. is not characterized by negative feedback). Sigh, here I go lapsing into addressing you as if you are a rational entity…

          • global city

            I have made no attempt to pass myself off as expert in these issues, but from your idiot trotting out of all the usual garbage it is clear that I’ve delved a little more than you have into a broader field of evidence than you too. Read the gruniad and just spew garbage repeatedly, hey?

            In your desperation to ‘prove me wrong’ you have just proven me right. I did not say that the system is one of equilibria, it is dynamic and ever changing. I clearly wrote above that the ‘positive’ feedbacks proposed in the CAGW models do not exist….but the negative ones do.

            You introduced negative externalities, I assumed that YOU confused them, so made no comment.

            The thing about these sorts of forum spats is that anyone can just go and read through the posts for themselves. I think that you should actually do that too.

            Instead of reducing yourself to nitpicking and still failing, why not just stick to the main issue, the validity or not of the CAGW hypothesis being proved or disputed by the growing body of empirical evidence.

          • waxliberty

            “I clearly wrote above that the ‘positive’ feedbacks proposed in the CAGW models do not exist….but the negative ones do.”

            I know you did. That’s what triggered my comments. Both positive and negative feedbacks (water vapor, ice albedo, adiabatic lapse rate) have been directly observed and confirmed. Yes, it’s passingly tragic that you are brutally unaware of how errant and/or non-existent your understanding is, but that’s Dunning-Kruger, and there is no more need to beat it to death. Cheers.

          • global city

            Fookin ‘ell… I didn’t make the link, you did. I also did not suggest that the climate is stable. It’s variability is a cornerstone point against this nonsense that CO2 is causing warming that would otherwise not occur. I did point out that while there are feedbacks these are all negative….and that the positive ones used for the modelling are fictitious. I also pointed out that your water vapour basically highlighted this, as it is a negative, but is shoved into the modelling as a positive.

            Go back and read my posts, or just stop bothering me with inane repetition?

          • waxliberty

            I didn’t connect feedback and economic externalities at all. I raised economic externalities in the context of whether that might be a reason why you reject the science on global warming, that you don’t want to accept they exist (i.e. you are so ideologically pro-capitalist that you will not accept the existence of negative externalities that require attention, even when they obviously and objectively do exist.) Read my post.

            “Go back and read my posts”

            OK. You wrote: “Negative externalities. Thanks for confirming my point…..those are the very influences at play that are mitigating the small effect that CO2 does/can have”.

            Economic externalities aren’t mitigating CO2 effect. You are obviously confusing the concept with feedback. It is not a gigantic confusion given where your familiarity is, it is just out of sync with your pretend certainty about what is true. Hence, desperate and embarrassing denial that you could possibly have confused anything.

            “I also pointed out that your water vapour basically highlighted this, as it is a negative, but is shoved into the modelling as a positive.”

            And I have pointed out that the water vapor feedback is known and observed to be positive, because water vapor is a greenhouse gas. Having more of it in the air can have a small negative effect via adiabatic lapse rate, but has a large, known, observed, physically certain effect on the greenhouse effect. It’s more greenhouse gases. It’s impossible for them not to absorb more of earth’s heat radiation.

            I am not an expert here. You are merely fantastically inexpert, with an inverse relationship between your knowledge and your certainty. Dunning-Kruger.

          • global city


            In your desperation to expose my idiocy, line by line, you neglected to digest the context of the post/s as a whole. I have made my points, as have you. When people read for themselves they will see that you are making incorrect assertions about basic points, like the positive/negative feedback effect of water vapour (it is negative).

            As I wrote in my first post, we’ll soon see. I am happy to leave that hanging there as mere assertion…. but for some reason that is not good enough for you. From your point of no expertise you are asserting that the ‘science is settled’, like all the other idiots, bovines and incurious lapper-ups of green agitprop have. Your regurgitation of the ‘greenhouse effect’ is a wonderful case in point, you have accepted this as an article of faith, but even that mechanism has been disputed. I guess you have not bothered to check out any of the claims made by sceptics as (as you have been told) none of these are serious scientists, raising valid issues, in the pay of big oil/Koche brothers, blah, blah, blah…………………

            Seeing as we have both admitted out lack of expertise in the subject, where does that leave us? I would suggest that I will have read a little more broadly than you, seeing as how you so feel so smug regurgitating what ever it is you have read in the Guardian, whilst I have at least looked to see what the heretics are on about….and found plenty of genuinely interesting counters to the CAGW mantra, based on proper science, real investigative journalism and other things that you will no doubt dismiss for some smug reason?

          • waxliberty

            “Your regurgitation of the ‘greenhouse effect’ is a wonderful case in point, you have accepted this as an article of faith, but even that mechanism has been disputed”

            Yes, it is a wonderful case, and pretty much sums it up. You think something being “disputed” is a super meaningful event, and that as soon as something is disputed it’s maybe just as likely that it doesn’t exist. In the real world, the fact that dunderheads will dispute something on the internet is a *foregone certainty*, not an interesting event. It is guaranteed to happen, especially on a piece of knowledge people are motivated not to want to believe.

            Even the few remotely credible scientific critics of global warming take pains to distance themselves from greenhouse effect deniers. The operation of the greenhouse effect is observed directly, by dedicated satellites. You can also observe it from the ground, by simply measuring down-welling infrared.

            From introductory textbooks:

            More readable explanatory entry-level article:

            Even Alabama’s climate scientist Roy Spencer, who does not have a strong scientific reputation (a creationist who claims that “Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence —are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting”) distances himsef from the scientific illiteracy of greenhouse deniers on his blog here:


            You might as well say the existence of the sun is disputed. I’m sure that’s true too, if you look hard enough on the internet.

            You and I do not have the same lack of expertise, good lord. You are a comically misinformed conspiracy crank, as the thread lays bare. I know a few orders of magnitude more than you about this particular subject, but that is less an impressive achievement on my part than it is a statement about your amazing lack of understanding and IQ. Again, sorry to be blunt.

          • global city

            Sheesh! it’s like a discussion with a Trot or God botherer!

            The central issue there is efficacy…then there are ALL those other issues.

            Give me up as a lost cause if you wish, or just continue, we’ve plenty of time, as CO2 is not killing Mother Earth.

          • global city

            here we go….pops up all the time…but then, ‘the science is settled’, hey?


          • waxliberty

            Yeah, these are the famous “slayers” referred to in the Spencer link I sent in the other reply. Butt of a lot of internet jokes. Hint: just because a web site uses big words doesn’t mean it’s important. You just lack critical skepticism.

            To help, their argument is that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics prevents the greenhouse effect because cooler objects can’t heat warmer objects. Essentially, they are claiming that a blanket will not work – the blanket is cooler than your body, so can have no role in retaining heat energy.

            You see the comedy in comments like this: “The atmosphere has no source of energy, no source of power, has no chemical or nuclear reactions going on to liberate energy”.

            Of course, the atmosphere is not generating energy. It is trapping earth’s heat radiation and re-emitting in all directions, including downward back to earth, recirculating energy and slowing the loss of energy to space. The source of all energy flowing through the system is the sun.

            I’m aware that it seems impossible that lowly humans could affect the flow of such energy, but a useful analogy is beavers in the forest – they are small rodents, and too small to reshape the entire layout of the countryside, yet they do so anyway by damming and tapping power greater than themselves – in this case the flow of water. In the greenhouse effect, the flow being (slightly) modified is essentially the flow of solar energy through the system and back out into space. Because that is vast, it turns out that small increases in insulation are a big deal – at least to tiny little humans and their climate-dependent settlements and agriculture.

  • Hamburger

    Odd, considering that the warmest do not believe the little ice age took place.

    • waxliberty

      The evidence indicates that the Little Ice Age took place, in Europe. There is not much convincing evidence that it was a significant global event related to a large change in energy balance (per current warming) because of findings like:

      “78 researchers from 24 countries, together with many other colleagues, worked for seven years in the PAGES 2k project on the new climate reconstruction … based on 511 climate archives from around the world, from sediments, ice cores, tree rings, corals, stalagmites, pollen or historical documents and measurements (Fig. 1). All data are freely available … There were no globally synchronous multi-decadal warm or cold intervals that define a worldwide Medieval Warm Period or Little Ice Age”



      If there *was* a global, multi-proxy reconstruction that showed a global LIA, what do you think this would prove, that you are so fixated on the idea? Just curious.

  • mikewaller

    My gawd, something sensible on climate change in the Specky! Has anybody told Delingpole?

  • Shane Dyson

    Few people realize that – by the geologic definition – the Earth is presently in an ice age that began 2.6 million years ago.

  • wudyermucuss

    The climate,and the shoreline,has always changed.

    • waxliberty

      Everybody drink.

  • Dodgy Geezer

    ..I believe it is scientifically illiterate to think otherwise. But what I believe is an irrelevance. The causes of climate change are one thing — unless you hold that the climate is not changing, then you should worry about the consequences….

    Er…if you do the scientific thing, and actually look at the data, you will find that the temperatures over the last 20 years have stayed remarkably static, and ‘extreme weather’ incidents, by all measures, are dropping.

    If you are scientifically illiterate, as Nick Cohen seems to be, you produce a mish-mash of scare and inuenndo, with no valid basis beyond global warming religion.

    Mr Cohen produces two items of data to support his threadbare argument. He says that the Thames Barrier is raised more frequently, and that hurricane damage in the US is more costly. What he doesn’t tell you is that:

    1 – the SE of Britain is subsiding due to isostatic recovery, so the barrier will expect to be raised more frequently.
    2 – in any case, the policy for barrier use has been changed, causing to the be raised more frequently
    3 – recent US hurricane seasons have been the quietest, both in terms of number and power of hurricanes, by a large margin
    4 – the ‘cost’ of hurricanes is entirely a matter of population density and insurance inflation, with little to do with the climate.

    Nick Cohen is frantically lying to us in an attempt to maintain a disproven hypothesis, beloved of the left, and assiduously cultivated by fraudsters who are extracting ever-growing sums from taxpayers for their own profit. I wonder why?

  • trobrianders

    I don’t think we want to change. We should leave it. Let the world do humanity a favour and reduce our population of it by 90% We should do a lot better after that.