Jeremy Grantham, who has long had investments in Timber and Natural Resources, puts a surprising smackdown on the Global Warming denialist crowd.

In the updated version of Bailout Nation, I specifically mention the same think tanks slavish devotion to ideology and disproven ideas (EMH, etc.). I find it encouraging Grantham calls them out as well.


Everything You Need to Know About Global Warming in 5 Minutes

1) The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, after at least several hundred thousand years of remaining within a constant range, started to rise with the advent of the Industrial Revolution.  It has increased by almost 40% and is rising each year.  This is certain and straightforward.

2) One of the properties of CO2 is that it creates a greenhouse effect and, all other things being equal, an increase in its concentration in the atmosphere causes the Earth’s temperature to rise.  This is just physics.  (The amount of other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as methane, has also risen steeply since industrialization, which has added to the impact of higher CO2 levels.)

3) Several other factors, like changes in solar output, have major influences on climate over millennia, but these effects have been observed and measured.  They alone cannot explain the rise in the global temperature over the past 50 years.

4) The uncertainties arise when it comes to the interaction between greenhouse gases and other factors in the complicated climate system.  It is impossible to be sure exactly how quickly or how much the temperature will rise.  But, the past can be measured.  The temperature has indeed steadily risen over the past century while greenhouse gas levels have increased.  But the forecasts still range very widely for what will happen in the future, ranging from a small but still potentially harmful rise of 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit to a potentially disastrous level of +6 to +10 degrees Fahrenheit within this century.  A warmer atmosphere melts glaciers and ice sheets, and causes global sea levels to rise. A warmer atmosphere also contains more energy and holds more water, changing the global occurrences of storms, fl oods, and other extreme weather events.

5) Skeptics argue that this wide range of uncertainty about future temperature changes lowers the need to act: “Why spend money when you’re not certain?”  But since the penalties can rise at an accelerating rate at the tail, a wider range implies a greater risk (and a greater expected value of the costs.)  This is logically and mathematically rigorous and yet is still argued.

6) Pascal asks the question: What is the expected value of a very small chance of an infi nite loss?  And, he answers, “Infinite.”  In this example, what is the cost of lowering CO2 output and having the long-term effect of increasing CO2 turn out to be nominal?  The cost appears to be equal to foregoing, once in your life, six months’ to one year’s global growth – 2% to 4% or less.  The benefits, even with no warming, include: energy independence from the Middle East; more jobs, since wind and solar power and increased efficiency are more labor-intensive than another coal-fi red power plant; less pollution of streams and air; and an early leadership role for the U.S. in industries that will inevitably become important.  Conversely, what are the costs of not acting on prevention when the results turn out to be serious:  costs that may dwarf those for prevention; and probable political destabilization from droughts, famine, mass migrations, and even war.  And, to Pascal’s real point, what might be the cost at the very extreme end of the distribution: Definitely life changing, possibly life threatening.

7) The biggest cost of all from global warming is likely to be the accumulated loss of biodiversity.  This features nowhere in economic cost-benefit analysis because, not surprisingly, it is hard to put a price on that which is priceless.

8) A special word on the right-leaning think tanks:  As libertarians, they abhor the need for government spending or even governmental leadership, which in their opinion is best left to private enterprise.  In general, this may be an excellent idea. But global warming is a classic tragedy of the commons – seeking your own individual advantage, for once, does not lead to the common good, and the problem desperately needs government leadership and regulation.  Sensing this, these think tanks have allowed their drive for desirable policy to trump science.  Not a good idea.

9) Also, I should make a brief note to my own group – die hard contrarians.  Dear fellow contrarians, I know the majority is usually wrong in the behavioral jungle of the stock market.  And Heaven knows I have seen the soft scientists who lead finance theory attempt to bully their way to a uniform acceptance of the bankrupt theory of rational expectations and market efficiency. But climate warming involves hard science. The two most prestigious bastions of hard science are the National Academy in the U.S. and the Royal Society in the U.K., to which Isaac Newton and the rest of that huge 18th century cohort of brilliant scientists belonged.  The presidents of both societies wrote a note recently, emphasizing the seriousness of the climate problem and that it was man-made.  (See the attachment to last quarter’s Letter.)  Both societies have also made full reports on behalf of their membership stating the same.  Do we believe the whole elite of science is in a conspiracy?  At some point in the development of a scientific truth, contrarians risk becoming flat earthers.

10) Conspiracy theorists claim to believe that global warming is a carefully constructed hoax driven by scientists desperate for … what?  Being needled by nonscientific newspaper reports, by blogs, and by right-wing politicians and think tanks?  Most hard scientists hate themselves or their colleagues for being in the news.  Being a climate scientist spokesman has already become a hindrance to an academic career, including tenure.  I have a much simpler but plausible “conspiracy theory”: that fossil energy companies, driven by the need to protect hundreds of billions of dollars of profi ts, encourage obfuscation of the inconvenient scientifi c results.

11) Why are we arguing the issue?  Challenging vested interests as powerful as the oil and coal lobbies was never going to be easy.  Scientists are not naturally aggressive defenders of arguments.  In short, they are conservatives by training:  never, ever risk overstating your ideas.  The skeptics are far, far more determined and expert propagandists to boot.  They are also well funded.  That smoking caused cancer was obfuscated deliberately and effectively for 20 years at a cost of hundreds of thousands of extra deaths.

We know that for certain now, yet those who caused this fatal delay have never been held accountable.  The profi ts of the oil and coal industry make tobacco’s resources look like a rounding error.  In some notable cases, the obfuscators of global warming actually use the same “experts” as the tobacco industry did!  The obfuscators’ simple and direct motivation –  making money in the near term, which anyone can relate to – combined with their resources and, as it turns out, propaganda talents, have meant that we are arguing the science long after it has been nailed down.  I, for one, admire them for their P.R. skills, while wondering, as always: “Have they no grandchildren?”

12) Almost no one wants to change.  The long-established status quo is very comfortable, and we are used to its deficiencies.  But for this problem we must change.  This is never easy.

13) Almost everyone wants to hear good news.  They want to believe that dangerous global warming is a hoax.  They, therefore, desperately want to believe the skeptics.  This is a problem for all of us.

Global warming will be the most important investment issue for the foreseeable future.  But how to make money around this issue in the next few years is not yet clear to me.  In a fast-moving field rife with treacherous politics, there will be many failures.  Marketing a “climate” fund would be much easier than outperforming with it.

Category: Energy, UnScience

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

152 Responses to “Grantham: Everything You Need to Know About Global Warming in 5 Minutes”

  1. roguetradeur says:

    Jeremy, you have missed the point because you don’t understand what the Global Warming and Greenhouse theory actually says. The doubt is not about the warming effect of rising CO2. The doubt is about what happens to this in the earth’s climate. Is it amplified by positive climate feedback, as the theory says? Or is it lowered by negative climate feedback? If its not amplified, the CO2 warming is trivial. If its lowered, it could be non-existent. Its only with feedback, whose existence is unproven and uncertain, that you get the apocalyptic scenarios.

    This is the problem, the existence and scale and nature of feedbacks. If this were not the issue, doubters of warming would be flat earthers. But as long as it is the issue, advocates who argue along your lines are blindly asserting that the energy content of a gallon of gas means that physics says that a given car will do 40mpg. It could, but it depends on lots of other stuff. Its just like cash flow of x may be great. But how much of it goes to earnings rather depends on what else the company does.

  2. Expat says:

    @FrancoisT: Pour moi, c’est le contraire. J’ai quitté les E-U il y a vingt ans et je les comprends d’autant mieux.

    Global warming has, like almost all issues, been hijacked on both sides by political, moral, and economic groups for a variety of reasons. Big Oil wants to keep pumping. Radical Luddites want to follow the Taliban’s development plans and roll us back into the fifteenth century.

    But GW is real science carried out not by politically driven think-tanks but by real scientists using the scientific method. The science is not rock-solid. Climatology is in its infancy and the complexities make predictions difficult and imprecise, but that does not mean it is not a science.

    Do deniers refute Newtonian gravity because it has been proven to be wrong? Do deniers refute Einsteinien relativity since it has proven to be wrong? Do deniers refute quantum chromodynamics since it is incomplete and does NOT provide predictable responses?

    It is possible that global warming can be a natural event (as may be inferred from previous climate changes), but this does not mean that the present global warming is a natural, uncontrollable event. Or that since climate change happens anyway, we might as well let it happen by natural or manmade causes.

    The counter-arguments on this blog pretty much fall into the categories provided by Grantham. It mainly boils down to the paranoid, you-hate-capitalism-freedom-money-God rants which point to some conspiracy of research scientists all working as a global cabal to raise taxes to fund their Sect.

    Science is hard, but the scientific method is easy. If there are counter-examples to global warming, they would negate the science of global warming (a scientific theory may hold up one billion times under experiment, but must be discarded as ultimate truth if it fails just once).

    Global warming is just one one part of the meta-science and moral philosophy of environmental sciences (I use this term in the scientific sense, not the tree-hugging sense). The question remains whether or not we are worried about what we are doing to our home. Are we polluting it to a point where human existence will be severely altered? Are we over-exploiting our resources?

    Or are these questions irrelevant? Inch’allah. Que sera, sera. Whatever!

  3. Expat says:

    Oh, and by the way, your boy Motl is a “believer” in SUSY. If you want to pick a single field of science which is is less “scientificky” than string theory you will be hard-pressed to find one. String theory is not a scientific “theory” at all; rather it is a “theory” in the sense used by Creationists when they deny the Theory of Evolution. The math behind string theory is quasi-inexistent and the various competing sub-theories have myriad contradictions.

    SUSY is extremely compelling, though, for its charming resolution of infinities at sub-Planck scales and its apparent inherent prediction of a gravity producing particle. But it has proven a big old bust in terms of concrete predictions or math.

    Of course, this does not mean SUSY is wrong, just that it is in its infancy and the complexities make predictions difficult and imprecise, but that does not necessarily mean it is not a science. Unfortunately, unlike global warming SUSY has no data to sustain it yet.

  4. dougc says:

    I have degrees in chemistry and enviromental science and I am very confident that the average temperature ,+30 F, is higher now than at the peak of the last ice age. I am less confident about our influence on the last 1 or 2 degrees F. What I find amazing is how convinced highly intelligent non scientists are on the debate since very littke is known for certain.
    On one side of the scientific debate we have scientists that receive research grants,speaking fees, book royalties and increased academic standing based on global warming. On the other side we mostly have sciemtists that work for energy companies.
    Trying to make an informed decision is like basing a logical investment on watching CNBC.

  5. flipspiceland says:

    “Trade of the Decade”, eh?

    Now I get it.

  6. Jan Perlwitz says:


    One of the regular commenters here is a climate scientist

    Perhaps, you mean me (also known as rootless cosmopolitan).

    Maybe one of the climate contrarians here can explain why more than 95% of climate scientists who publish on climate change agree with the statement of a significant human contribution to global warming since pre-1800, whereas the fraction who agrees decreases with increasing distance to the area of climate change. The lowest agreement is found for the general population.[1]


    My hypothesis to explain this phenomenon is that scientists who work in the field have a better overview on the scientific evidence and there is a higher chance that they base their statements on an evaluation of this scientific evidence, whereas the farther away someone is from the scientific field the higher the chance is that non-scientific factors, like political affiliations and ideological convictions, influence the views on the matter and replace the emphasis on the scientific evidence.

  7. darekkkk says:

    What about pirates? Some data suggest that drcreasing population of pirates are responsible for the global warming ;-)

  8. tom25 says:

    Several of my friends, who are big global warming deniers and believe it is big conspiracy among liberals/scientists, assert that the science is flawed. They tell me the scientists have it wrong, the data is incomplete, etc. They tell me I am foolish to believe in man-made global warming.

    On the other hand, they are more than happy to believe in angels, ghosts, the devil, and resurrections. The data here is apparently sufficient to them. Too funny.

  9. darekkkk says:

    To be more serious let’s talk about facts:
    Facts are:
    1)You can receive Noble prize for fight against global worming even if you alone produce more CO2 than a small town from a developed world
    2)If you are a scientist you can get a grant for proving global warming. If your resarch claims something opposite yoo will get nothing.
    3) There is a rise in global average temperature during last 1 hundred years
    4Planet Earth has a longer history than 1 hundred years. Something like 50 000 000 times longer
    5)Global, avarage temperature was not steady before people have started producing CO2. Temperature changes were rather big. There was a glacier in place were a live now . There was also a warm Jurassic sea.
    5)You can prove that CO2 could cause a greenhouse effect
    6)You can not tell how much greenhouse effect has contributed to the rise of global temperature during last 1 hundred years. Was it 1 degree? 0,1 degree? 2 degree?
    7)People activity affects climat in many ways. Not always it should cause warming. It is very hard to measure this.

  10. Jan Perlwitz says:


    On one side of the scientific debate we have scientists…On the other side we mostly have sciemtists …Trying to make an informed decision is like basing a logical investment on watching CNBC.

    Where is the scientific debate? This statement would make sense, if there was a scientific debate on equal footing between climate scientists who work in the field on both sides and if where there were good arguments for either the reality of man-made global warming, or against it. Instead, there is a 30-year body of research, and then there are a very few dissenters. A scientific debate would be happening in the peer-reviewed journals of the field, or on conferences, where the scientists publish the results of their studies after they have worked hard on it. The results can be scrutinized by other scientists and may be challenged in this way. Then these results will stand or they will be revised. Most climate contrarians aren’t climate scientists. They don’t work and don’t publish in the field, at least not in the peer-reviewed journals. Instead, they are being found in the blogosphere, where they make a lot of noise, without being equally scrutinized by peers, and in the mass media where they get plenty of opportunity for PR.

    This doesn’t mean that there wasn’t any scientific debate. There isn’t just any on the reality of man-made global warming. The scientific debate is on many aspects of it, e.g., the modification of the warming by other climate drivers, like aerosols, the carbon cycle, the relative importance of certain feedbacks in the climate system, abrupt climate change, uncertainty in the projected scenarios due to uncertainty in the emission scenarios, regional effects of climate change and many more topics.

  11. V says:

    He seems VERY sure of statement number #2.

    Read this article and the physicists summary here, which raises significant doubt.

  12. Jan Perlwitz says:


    what makes you think the text under the link would be a valid basis for significant doubt?

    Gerlich and Tscheuschner (GT) claim the greenhouse effect is against the second law of thermodynamics and provide some wrong calculations to prove it.

    My favorite question to the fans of GT is to explain, please, if the greenhouse effect is against the laws of nature why is it hotter on the nightside of Venus than on the dayside of Mercury, although Venus only gets about a 1/4 of the solar radiation intensity Mercury gets?

    The greenhouse effect isn’t against the laws of nature, it can be derived quite quickly as done by Arthur Smith in a rebuttal of the GT text:

    A. Smith only needed a few pages for this, compared to the monster text by GT w/o any substantial content.

  13. hammerandtong2001 says:

    Thankfully, I’m late to this global-warming party.

    But I’d echo one of the points made above, namely, that Jeremy Grantham’s opinion about global warming is just that: “an opnion.” And that his scientific qualifications and credentials for opining on this subject are nil.

    A-Rod, MVP 3rd baseman of the World Champion New York Yankees, earns gobs of money too. What’s his opinion on global warming? And what’s it worth to you?

    That’s what I thought.


  14. Expat says:

    @ Darekkkkkkkkk:

    1) There would almost certainly be a Nobel Prize (which is a very noble prize) for the scientist which proves that human activity does not cause global warming.

    2) Do you have to reimburse the money if you prove human activity does not cause GW? Can GS write a reverse CDS to cover this risk?

    3) A rise in global average temperature is just a statistic, which as all deniers know is easily falsified. So, please don’t bore me with you so-called “facts” which are nothing more than the result of years of painstaking research and the arduous accumulation and collation data.

    4) Planet earth was created about six thousand years ago, so obviously your math is wrong. 1 hundred years is only about three to four times the period in question.

    5) Thank God for human activity. We have managed to steady the global average temperature. No more pesky temperature volatility! Does GS write options on global average temperature? They should be super cheap since implied vol must now be so low. I pity those suckers who bought temperature options back in the Triassic! They are sucking wind on theta bleed and now they stomped on their vol! Hello! Bad investment!

    I am confused. Was the glacier in your neighborhood really a giant iceberg slowly melting in the Jurassic sea? Is Jurassic next to Pasaic? You from Joisey? I’m from Joisey. What exit?

    5) Five is also MY favorite number, so I too will list it twice. Yes, you could prove that CO2 causes a greenhouse effect but you could also prove the contrary so what does that prove? nothing! ha! See, I told you so.

    6) Was it! Was it! Who knows? Maybe back in the 1800′s the thermometers were all different. Maybe it’s like inflation. Back in 1802, two degrees Fahrenheit would go a long way. Try to spend a night out in Manhattan these days with even ten degrees Fahrenheit. Ha! You won’t even get into a diner!

    7) People activity certainly affects the climate in many ways. I remember once at a formal dinner a colleague of mine turned to the guest of honor and called him a cunt. Well, that certainly cast an icy pall over what were up to then warm festivities. And I agree it was hard to measure, though the bill for dinner was fairly steep. I don’t how to convert British pounds into celcius though. Anyone out there have any ideas?

  15. number2son says:

    V, and here is the refutation of their “conclusions”, published at the same web site:

    Nice try.

  16. flipspiceland says:

    “De gustibus non est disputandum”.

    “In matters of opinion, debate is pointless.”

  17. number2son says:


    Jeremy Grantham’s opinion about global warming is just that: “an opnion.”

    Having an opinion is not the same thing as being informed. Grantham has taken the time to inform himself. Maybe you should do the same?

  18. dougc says:

    Is he informed or misinformed or disinformed?

  19. number2son says:

    I dunno, dougc. How ’bout you? Are you informed, a skeptic, or a denier? Check here to find out:

  20. V says:


    The paper you cite as a refutation, only discusses one of the many conclusions that refute the physical basis of CO2 Greenhouse effects. The paper you cite makes a number of errors, even given its limited scope.

    Here is a refutation of the refutation:

    Nice try.

  21. freejack says:

    And oddly enough many of these same individuals, so skeptical when it comes to global warming, fully embrace a different ‘crisis’ which has no basis in fact …… the need to immediately, before other issues such as unemployment, address the national debt.

  22. Kort says:

    The planet Earth has been here for five BILLION years. That’s 5,000,000,000 years. If we know “for sure” that humans have wrecked her in just 30 or 100 years, then we’re either full of ourselves or no matter what we do, we’re toast in another 50 years.

  23. dougc says:


  24. Chad says:

    Wow! I am horrified and dismayed at the lack of rational thought on this blog. Even if climate change (global warming is a misnomber) is magically removed, our future, as a race/society, scares the shit out of me. Maybe 10% of you are actually talking facts. The rest are talking ideological ideas and don’t give a shit about facts.

    Citing some random Czech physicist against climate change is fine, but thinking that proves anything is ridiculous. You can find someone “respectable” who is against any subject (General Theory of Relativity, etc.). Hell, you can even find scientists who back up the ludicrious intelligent design theory or that the world is 3000 years old. Doesn’t mean they are correct in anyway.

    Also, stating that guys like Barry and Grantham aren’t scientists, and thus are useless in a debate like this is plain nonsense. Their job is to sort through ideas and identify the ones that are correct. They couldn’t tell you how to make a cell phone, computer, or how to drill in deep water for oil, but they can tell you who has a better chance of doing all those things successfully, and part of that evalution is based on the tech/science. They are good at being rational and thinking through issues. No, you don’t want them doing the science, but you want them picking which science team gets the money.

    With all of that being said, let’s assume all the deniers (yes, it’s negative and for a good reason) are correct and climate change doesn’t show up over the next hundred years. If that happens it is STILL to our benefit to make renewable resources our main power sources for geopolitical reasons and economic reasons (Grantham mentions this briefly in #6). Any rational person can easily see the national security impact renewable energy can provide. These reasons alone would provide the U.S. with a massive benefit any rational and intelligent person can see.

  25. number2son says:

    V … again, nice try. Read the previous link and get a clue.

  26. DD123 says:

    Petey Wheatstraw at 8:54 pm

    In response to my statement (actually, it’s Thomas Kuhn’s) that true science offers reliable predictive value, you write:

    “Bullshit. There are forecasts out the wazoo for both the increase in c02 emissions and continued temp rise.”

    WTF are you talking about? Science isn’t about making predictions. If it was, then Psychics would by Scientists.

    Science is about providing theories which offer reliable predictive value. The models and theories provided by climatologists (to date) about long term temperature patterns have never provided reliable predictive value. It’s a fact.

    As for falsifiability, the science of climatology has not progressed far enough that one can either prove, or disprove an AGW hypothesis. Again, this is a fact.

    Just like AGC (that would be the climatologists theory of Anthropogenic Global Cooling) could not be disproved until decades elapsed, the AGW hypothesis will not be able to be disproved (or proved) until decades have elapsed. These 20-50 year time periods are baked into the theory. No matter what one might say in opposition to AGW, the inevitable response is, “The effects of AGW take time to manifest themselves. ”

    I’m not saying AGW is wrong. I’m just saying, it is not science. I think Popper and Kuhn would agree.

  27. eddems says:

    There is no doubt that the earth cannot support so many people as we have today. The method of cooling the earth that I’ve suggested is a relatively short term fix to the warming problem. In the long run, there must be fewer people. We’ve used up nearly half of the total oil, and other minerals are being used up too. Since there is already so much CO2 in the atmosphere already, reducing CO2 output will only slow the warming. Considering how many Chinese are going to buy cars in the future, it is unlikely that a reduction of CO2 will have any real effect. It seems it would be far effective to reduce warming with a solar reflector of some sort, such as the sulfur dioxide method proposed by Intellectual Ventures. Ultimately we must reduce the drain by reducing population. I just think this approach needs more disicussion. It certainly seems doable to me (as an engineer).

  28. farfetched says:

    Wow. 101 comments, 10 worth reading and an army of skinned knuckles. Poor primates, always reaching for a hammer to drive a screw. When all you’ve got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

    Most skeptics want to discuss temperature, which for the simple minded, seems like the point of contention. There were one or two that cited the the most reliable science, which is simple chemistry. People, the argument is one of chemistry, not physics. Choose the right tool and you can do the job right. Is there anyone here that wants to refute chemistry except those that failed it in college, high school drop-outs or religious fanatics? All you skeptics need to get a salt water aquarium. Stick to a very small one with a few inexpensive corals as you are bound to kill them with your hammer. But, it will give you a great lesson on chemistry, ph, temperature and how complex and sensitive our oceans are. Get one parameter wrong and you will off the whole experiment.

    Primates…listen. Even if the temperature isn’t rising or falling, the levels of carbon dioxide we are producing has risen 30% and is acidifying our oceans and soils. In the oceans we have records of corals going back to primordial goo that could not exist without stable ph levels of our oceans, which in turn are the product of stable carbon dioxide levels. Many of these organisms, like native oysters and shellfish in Puget Sound and the Northwestern Pacific Coast, haven’t naturally reproduced in years due to lowered ph, which dissolves their shells. The same is happening to our coral reefs and according to some major Ag universities, some of our most productive soils. Hell, if the warming doesn’t wipe us out, starvation will. We can add lime to soils to offset ph changes, but oceans are something a bit bigger.
    But skeptics should all try the SW aquarium. It’s a great lesson in chemistry and ecosytems. My bet is about 99% of the skeptics won’t be able keep an aquarium over 30 days and most won’t make it beyond two weeks.

  29. Lariat1 says:

    I am not a scientist and I am not going to watch all the you tube links that have been provided here. But I do like to make observations. This has been a very early and very hot Spring and summer so far. For some reason, the wild Rubekia Hirta ( Black eyed Susan), in my neck of the woods were blooming with the Chrysanthemum leucanthemum ( common Daisy). I’ve been observing plants for over 45 years and I have never seen this before. Also the Cirsium vulgare ( Bull thistle) are blooming now. This is a very prickly and spiny plant that blooms in August and when the flower is done ,it turns to a very soft down that the American Goldfinch uses to line their nests. The Goldfinch is the last bird to nest and produce young ( in the northeast), every summer. They are brood raising in late Aug., early Sept. Well the males are turning their bright yellow earlier than usual and I guess are moving up their time line to match the growth change in the thistle. And the Hibiscus syriacus ( Rose of Sharon), are also blooming now about four weeks ahead of schedule. These are just observations and it is important to watch how these plants and birds are adapting to this change this summer. It will be interesting to wait, see and compare next season. It this part of something bigger? I don’t know but I do think that as old as this planet is, and as many changes that it has gone through before, those changes haven’t been force fed to it in a short amount of time as we have since the Industrial Revolution. Of course this has to have some kind of effect. Instead of getting in over your head, just pay closer attention to your immediate surroundings, how’s it out your way, any changes? My little picture here is that this summer brought on changes in nature that people around here can’t ever remember.

  30. V says:

    @Jan Perlwitz

    The paper does not say that ‘greenhouse effect is against the laws of nature’, only that the [CO2] in our atmosphere, even if it were doubled would not lead to a measurable climatic effect.
    This is where the debate gets exaggerated, suggesting this one particular molecule, over all the others in the atmospheric mix wields such influence at very low concentration, compared to something like water vapour. (Which incidentally so much about atmospheric water remains unstudied.)

    I found it an interesting paper to read because of how many assumptions are involved in the IPCC reports. Given these assumptions how can climatology be a ‘hard science’, when it’s definitions are more like those found in economics?

    To answer your question:
    Venus has an atmosphere of 96% CO2 at a density 90x greater than earth, so yes it clearly does have a strong atmospheric greenhouse effect and is different to say a Mercury where the atmosphere is thin and is being lost to space due to the strong solar flux.

    I don’t want to annoy BR by clogging up his blog with climate debate, but suffice it to say science is not about mainstream/consensus versus conspiracy/deniers. It is about a hypothesis requiring continued testing and revision. Unfortunately the arguments are not as simple as those communicated by politicians or even by the scientists.

    As usual time will reveal all, I’m not for polluting the planet, but think there’s many other things environment-wise we can and should be doing (i.e. protect rainforest, wean ourselves off coal etc). My fear is the emphasis placed on what so far have been extremely marginal temp changes and the political response to it allows these other things to go on unseen. It’s the law of unintended consequences.

  31. rickw says:

    I read somewhere that the volcano that tied up air traffic earlier this year did more harm to the environment than anything man has done in a long time. Does anyone know if this is true?

  32. mmcd says:

    The amazing thing to me is the number of people who feel qualified to accept or reject the conclusions of the scientific community.

    You are all investment/business experts. How long did you work at your craft? Where did you divine your world view on investing. How many successful investors do you know that made their money on their first dozen trades? Why are you good at what you do?

    Members of the National Academy have employed the significant intellectual horsepower they were born with to the study of the natural world for decades. They have spent their lives employing the scientific method to their particular field of study. They have earned the respect of their peers. Many have contributed significantly to human kind’s understanding of the natural world.

    If you want to refudiate global climate change get to work. Learn the math, take the measurements, build the model, submit it for review and earn the adulation of your peers and your $100K per year salary. When your theory disproves GCC we will all breathe a sigh of relief and be reminded as you collect your Nobel Prize that you were right and the rest of the world was wrong.

  33. troutbum says:

    Yes, they have been snookered too! LoL!

    Here is the letter to members of Congress from 18 top U.S. scientific organizations:

    Oct. 19, 2009
    Dear Senator:
    As you consider climate change legislation, we, as leaders of scientific organizations, write to state the consensus scientific view.
    Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.

    These conclusions are based on multiple independent lines of evidence, and contrary assertions are inconsistent with an objective assessment of the vast body of peer-reviewed science. Moreover, there is strong evidence that ongoing climate change will have broad impacts on society, including the global economy and on the environment. For the United States, climate change impacts include sea level rise for coastal states, greater threats of extreme weather events, and increased risk of regional water scarcity, urban heat waves, western wildfires, and the disturbance of biological systems throughout the country. The severity of climate change impacts is expected to increase substantially in the coming decades. [See Footnote #1 below]

    If we are to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, emissions of greenhouse gases must be dramatically reduced. In addition, adaptation will be necessary to address those impacts that are already unavoidable. Adaptation efforts include improved infrastructure design, more sustainable management of water and other natural resources, modified agricultural practices, and improved emergency responses to storms, floods, fires and heat waves.
    We in the scientific community offer our assistance to inform your deliberations as you seek to address the impacts of climate change.

    The footnote reads:
    The conclusions in this paragraph reflect the scientific consensus represented by, for example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and U.S. Global Change Research Program. Many scientific societies have endorsed these findings in their own statements, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society, American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, and American Statistical Association.
    Here are all the organizations that signed on:
    • American Association for the Advancement of Science
    • American Chemical Society
    • American Geophysical Union
    • American Institute of Biological Sciences
    • American Meteorological Society
    • American Society of Agronomy
    • American Society of Plant Biologists
    • American Statistical Association
    • Association of Ecosystem Research Centers
    • Botanical Society of America
    • Crop Science Society of America
    • Ecological Society of America
    • Natural Science Collections
    • Alliance Organization of Biological Field Stations
    • Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
    • Society of Systematic Biologists
    • Soil Science Society of America
    • University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

  34. DrungoHazewood says:

    Some interesting things are happening

    The Arctic temperatures (above 80 latitude) are the lowest they’ve been at this time of year going back to 1958.

    Check out the previous years and you see that this is a huge deviation from the average.

    South America has just experienced a record breaking cold snap, and the blast of cold air actually made it across the equator. Several hundred people have died, and livestock has been devastated in some areas.

    Australia has been unusually cool this southern hemisphere Winter. So far it looks like the nh Winter will, once again, be brutal for Europe. We should know pretty soon as temps should begin to rapidly fall as the anomalous Arctic cold continues to build. Luckily it looks like we will be on of the few places in the nh that will escape this Winter’s mayhem.

  35. Marcus says:

    There are 191 responses to a nonstarter set of articles on global warming. And 6 responses to a very fine piece on state-by-state foreclosures that proceeded this entry on heating the earth. When 48 states go belly up, possibly this month, your investment dollars will fly far away.

    The disparity between responses on these two topics is telling.

    Barry – Maybe your readers would rather have an emotional tear at a subject that will affect us little, than get solid information on issues that directly affect their investments and pocket books.

    Something is bad wrong here.

  36. kottke says:

    The Asia Society has an exhibition of photos taken of Himalayan glaciers as early as 1899 paired with photos taken more recently from the same vantage points. The differences are stark. Be sure to check out the Comparative Photography section to get a sense of the scale involved. More photos at the NY Times Lens blog.

  37. gordonq says:

    Marcus, this is an extremely timely and hot (warm?) investment topic. The veracity of the climate arguments is key to the riskiness of future investments in this realm. To minimize financial risk it is paramount that skeptics be squelched or discredited whether they are right or wrong. If skeptics are right then the truth will very SLOWLY overturn the current burgeoning orthodoxy and the increase in investment risk on bets FOR warming will be manageable, allowing an orderly escape for the smart money. This investment topic has every hope of being the Next Big Thing. On further thought, this field may have so much risk of loss that it is not suitable for investors. It may be that we must make a National bet so that if there is a horrendous loss, the People can pay for it Collectively.

  38. DeDude says:


    Nice to see an actual skeptic (rather than a denialist) take part in the debate. I agree that there is a lot of uncertainty about the feedback effects, and exactly how fast we will get to what kind of temperatures – that is where the scientific debate is right now. However, would you question the feedback from melting of ice reducing sunlight reflection? I also agree that the kind of investments that can be justified for slowing release of green house gasses depend on the predicted temperature increase (and associated damage). So the issue of feedback effects is both very important and still scientifically up for debate.

    Climate has to be studied and debated in the context of some fairly complicated multivariate models with all kinds of positive and negative feedback mechanisms all included. That is where a lot of the debate outside the climatologist science community ends up short, and at times become absurd. The models initially allow a lot of “slack” on parameters and effects that are not easily defined or measured, so you end up with predictions of “between 0.5 and 15 degrees”. But then models can be refined (and “slack” reduced as more data is collected and previous years predictions are compared with the reality of actual measurements.

    The thing that has convinced me that there probably are some serious positive feedback mechanisms, is the last decades predictions and observations on melting ice in the arctic and other places. Models containing not only sunspot variations and continued greenhouse gas release but also (conservative) feedback mechanisms, did not predict how severe the ice melting would end up being. If you take out feedback mechanisms (presume they do not exist) from those models, it would seem even more difficult to adjust them so they would fit with the reality that was later observed

    Sometimes I wonder if people a hundred years from now will look back at this global warming debate as idiotic and misguided. There are so many other reasons why we have to become more efficient in energy use and give up carbon-based fuel as our main energy source. Those reasons are being drowned in idiotic postulates about corrupt scientists and poorly substantiated predictions of the effects of doing or not doing this or that.

  39. DrungoHazewood says:


    Getting financially eviscerated is yesterdays news. Most people couldn’t do anything if they wanted. Or execute a strategy, even if they knew the correct one to implement. All the big wheels around my neck of the woods are beyond broke, but they are still posing up a storm. The muscle cramps must be hell. Our real estate market is totally imploding and taking me (one of the few still solvent) with it. Totally painted into a very dark corner. More and more people are beginning to realize they are beyond broke. Erstwhile paper millionaires now living with their children-at least the ones that still have a job. All we want to know now is if and when we get burnt to a cinder. Now that’s porn the doomed millions can get into. All this financial blather is just the stuck together pages of a 1975 Sears catalog.

  40. Jan Perlwitz says:


    The paper does not say that ‘greenhouse effect is against the laws of nature’, only that the [CO2] in our atmosphere, even if it were doubled would not lead to a measurable climatic effect.

    Well, then we apparently perceive things differently, because I see very clear statements about a non-existence even of a natural greenhouse effect:

    Abstract: “The atmospheric greenhouse effect, an idea that many authors trace back to the
    traditional works of Fourier (1824), Tyndall (1861), and Arrhenius (1896), and which
    is still supported in global climatology, essentially describes a fictitious mechanism, in
    which a planetary atmosphere acts as a heat pump driven by an environment that is
    radiatively interacting with but radiatively equilibrated to the atmospheric system. According to the second law of thermodynamics such a planetary machine can never exist.[...]”

    pg 35: “3 The fictitious atmospheric greenhouse effect”

    pg 65: “3.7.5 Non-existence of the natural greenhouse effect”

    pg 93: “In other words: Already the natural greenhouse e ffect is a myth beyond physical reality. The CO2-greenhouse eff ect, however is a ‘mirage’”

    If GT were right your explanation for the high temperatures on Venus couldn’t be, since GT claim there is not natural greenhouse effect. You can’t have both, agree with GT on the greenhouse effect and give this explanation for Venus w/o being inconsistent in your argument.

    I found it an interesting paper to read because of how many assumptions are involved in the IPCC reports. Given these assumptions how can climatology be a ‘hard science’, when it’s definitions are more like those found in economics?

    I wouldn’t rely on GT to inform myself about assumptions made in climate studies. The text by GT is filled with misrepresentation of statements in climate science or the theoretical approach on which climate models are based. In addition to that, there are ad-hominem attacks against climate scientists and political/ideological statements in the text. This alone disqualifies the text to be at the standard of a scientific paper. I wonder how something as unprofessional could be published in a scientific journal where the papers are supposedly peer-reviewed. I have never seen before such a thing happening in any of the scientific papers I have read.

  41. krice2001 says:

    I don’t know how to put this politely but I’m shocked how many intelligent people are climate change deniers on this site, a site which I enjoy and respect for it’s diverse and often well informed opinions.

    From everything I’ve read by actual researchers in this field, this really is settled science. There is no debate among those that study the issue of Climate Change. The current warming trend is fast and well correlated to human CO2 production. It does not take a high percentage of CO2 to change the amount of heat retained in the atmosphere – chemistry (and physics for that matter) is like that. The rate at which the amount of carbon will change the climate is not precisely known (obviously) but is quite measurable looking backward. So far the changes happen faster than the consensus of climate scientists have predicted. Not a good thing.

    Like with tobacco, there is a heavily funded, concerted effort to create a debate on this. And it HAS worked well – less people now see Global Warming as a problem than 5 years ago. The money to be made is clearly on the side of making Global Warming either laughable or confusing enough to prevent any action. This is unconscienable, but so human. We love to believe that we don’t have to change anything we’re doing. I would love to believe that were true.

    Am I scientist, myself, no. I’m an engineer and an MBA with an upper management position in a research environment with a lot of PhD’s. Don’t know of any here that have followed the science that have any question about the relation between human CO2 production and the effects on the atmonsphere’s ability to retain heat. It’s physics (and chemistry for thatr matter).

  42. WFTA says:

    Well, B.R., this is a great button to push if you want to keep the conversation lively!

    I think more interesting than the question of whether anthropogenic climate change is or is not reality is the vehemence with which the positions are held.

    With no intent to sound flippant, I am free to not care whether or not it is true. In the long run, I’m dead. I have no offspring that I know of and unless overweight middle aged men suddenly become sexually fashionable, that is unlikely to change.

    Regardless of whether irrefutable empirical evidence of climate change is available today, I am persuaded by the logic: everything we do—plow the prairie, fell the forest, levy the river—impacts the environment. We are changing the composition of the atmosphere and the chemistry of the oceans. We are altering the engines that maintain the climate. Why will the climate not be altered?

    I suggest to those of you with, as we like to say now, skin in the game that the only sane response climate change is to wager as Pascal did on the existence of God: there is everything to gain if it is true and nothing to lose if it is not. In fact it is a better bet than Pascal’s since as several correspondents have pointed out, there are other benefits to reducing the desequestration of carbon.

  43. GerhardWMagnus says:

    The best part of being a sceptic, about global climate change or anything else, is that you don’t have to pass any exams. Also, most self-educated people don’t have the time to learn anything difficult — they’re too busy sounding off about their opinions.

  44. daf48 says:

    the bohemian: And hopefully or I should say the earth will eliminate homo sapiens if they are unable to evolve. And judging by the number of commenters on this blog, the prospects don’t look good.

  45. Lugnut says:

    I think AGW science relies too much on ‘correlation equals causation’ methodologies to warrant the amount of vehement pronouncements from AGW scientists (much less bleating from investment advisors with zero meteorlogical/atmospheric research training).

    PS, remember kids, its politicians and policy wonks who came up with the bright idea that the only way to solve this problem is to just give them $100s of billions of dollars in additional tax revenue and legislative control over it. That seems to be their prescription for any crisis. I would submit that they are not the most objective bunch to heed advice from.

  46. Grunschev says:

    There’s “stupid”, “industrial strength stupid”, and “military grade stupid”.

    AGW deniers I’d put in the military grade stupid category. I can’t really believe all these people are all that stupid, so there must be several other explanations. Unfortunately, the top possible explanation is they think everybody else is military grade stupid.

    Fact: CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
    Fact: We’re putting millions of tons of it into the atmosphere every year

    These are undeniable.

    How this debate gets classified by some as a liberal vs conservative thing amazes me.

  47. BlueSpruce says:

    There is an excellent video series by Potholer54 that covers the development of the science over the last 20 years, which he has covered as a professional science reporter. He has been doing the series over the last 2 years, so it includes the arguments that have gone on in both the scientific world and the public picture of it. This is the link to part1; it is now up to 10 parts:


    BR: Outstanding suggestion!

  48. Drewbie says:

    Wow, can I have the chemical formula for the Global Warming Denier Attractant you sprayed on your website today Barry? It sure works a treat!

    I’d like to dump a tub of it at the bottom of a cliff somewhere so we can finally concentrate on drastically reducing carbon output.

    Or stick them in a spaceship and give them a guided tour of Venus, so they can see what’s in Earth’s near future if they don’t gulp down a spoonful of STFU pretty soon.

    The crazy thing is that if the denialists are proved right, but we took steps to reduce carbon output anyway, it’s only “cost” the world a small amount of money (and we have the added benefit of reducing pollution and hence improving health). If we’re proved right, but they were successful at shutting down any response to the problem, then we’re all fucked!

    They’re probably your standard corporation management – too busy worrying about short term profits to think about the long term.

  49. Jan Perlwitz says:


    I think AGW science relies too much on ‘correlation equals causation’ methodologies to warrant the amount of vehement pronouncements from AGW scientists

    Based on what do you think this? Based on pure gut feeling? Or can you actually back up your claim with some facts? Perhaps you could point out some specific instances where climate scientist allegedly relied too much on such methodologies in their studies on AGW?

  50. Deflator Mouse says:

    BTW, good science follows Barry’s “strong convicions loosely held” approach. We must remain skeptical nof our own theories, not just those in competition (or opposition)


  51. Thank you for all of your comments.

    Comments are now closed