Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

Scrapping EU renewable targets after 2020 makes no sense

The European Commission has presented a new climate and energy policy framework for 2030 that focuses heavily on emissions reductions. Currently the EU implements “20-20-20” targets, which require a 20…

It’s about climate change, but it’s not ALL about climate change. John Giles/PA

The European Commission has presented a new climate and energy policy framework for 2030 that focuses heavily on emissions reductions.

Currently the EU implements “20-20-20” targets, which require a 20% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels, an 20% increase in the share of renewables in electricity generation, and a 20% improvement in energy efficiency.

But the European Commission now intends to scrap the energy efficiency target and weaken the renewable energy target. Though the proposal includes a “binding” EU-wide renewable energy target of 27%, this would not be translated into national targets through EU legislation, leaving “flexibility” for member states. It is questionable, however, whether flexible targets are targets at all.

Of course such a move has been lobbied for by business and industry groups, such as Businesseurope, and is supported by some EU member states including the UK and the Czech Republic who argue it should be for individual nations to decide.

But some economists also approve of the idea, such as Harvard’s Robert Stavins, who claims that a single emissions target “would be good news for the economy and the environment”.

It’s not all about climate change

We should all rejoice, then? At first glance, the argument for a single greenhouse gas emissions target alone is appealing. The EU emissions trading scheme, the EU’s main instrument for driving down emissions, uses market forces. Stavins argues that adding further targets and policies for renewables and energy efficiency only distort these incentives, making them more expensive, and in turn raising the cost of reducing emissions.

But this line of argument presupposes that the transition to renewables and energy efficiency improvements are seen only as means to mitigate climate change. In fact, the process of generating and distributing energy inevitably creates environmental problems, besides climate change. These occur throughout the chain of production, from extraction (for example, open pit coal mining), transport (leaking gas pipelines), combustion (local air pollution) and by-products (such as disposal of nuclear waste).

So if nuclear power is really considered an answer to climate change then we are replacing climate impacts by other kinds of environmental harm. So the idea that completely free choice of technology is only restricted by carbon pricing – an argument usually favoured by economists – could be misleading. And if producing energy means producing these environmental problems along the way, it makes sense to not only use cleaner, renewable energy sources, but also less energy in the first place.

There are also economic justifications for maintaining targets for renewable energy, even if climate change was the only environmental aspect that mattered. Renewable technologies are trying to break into imperfect markets, which tend to benefit established sources such as fossil fuels and nuclear energy. This leads to low adoption of renewables.

But substituting fossil fuels imported from politically unstable regions for renewables can improve energy security, reducing the costs associated with relying on others: sudden blackouts, diplomatic failures, even military interventions. (The ease with which Russia’s state-owned gas and oil firms can “turn off the taps” of supply to clients, for example, has hastened several Eastern European states' efforts to diversify their energy mix.)

But these effects are typically not fully reflected in the market price paid for energy. This represents a distorting influence of its own on the mix of energy sources and the level of energy consumption. In other words, climate change is not the only market failure to be considered.

A direct approach would be best, but…

Ideally, all these matters would be addressed directly. Local air pollution would be dealt with efficiently on-site, nuclear power plant operators would provide for their own waste disposal, and imported energy such as oil and gas would be taxed to account for the environmental costs of transporting them. Of course, such a direct approach may not always be feasible. In the case of the European Commissioners' decision, some elements may fall outside the EU’s jurisdiction – or indeed beyond the political willingness required.

Under these conditions, maintaining separate targets for renewables and energy efficiency could be practical contributions. They indirectly contribute, through the effects they have on choice of energy source and level of energy consumption, to reducing many associated environmental problems. That said, large-scale renewables entail some negative effects of their own, such as increased land consumption and the ecological and aesthetic problems which that brings.

There are additional obstacles that need to be tackled in order to reach a level playing field for energy. The current low carbon price of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme at only €5 per tonne implies that industry is not taking its environmental damage into account in long-term investment decisions. The financial incentive – that is, the expense of a higher carbon price – is not there to force their hand.

Political support, such as the recent UK deal with French nuclear giant EDF also disadvantages renewables, to the point that supporting renewable energy sources could be seen, not as an unreasonable “subsidy”, but as an effort to level the playing field. Compared to an idealised setting from an economic textbook, this may be considered a second- or third-best choice. But then the real world hardly ever corresponds to the textbook.

Finally, the way in which EU member states promote renewables can be criticised for failing to make best use of the potential for cooperation between them – a credible EU-wide target for renewables may provide a boost to cooperation, and the chance to achieve cost savings.

So the European Commission needs to take a long-term perspective. This needs to look beyond just climate change, and take other real-life constraints into account. And enforceable targets and policies are the way to make that happen.

Articles also by These Authors

Sign in to Favourite

Join the conversation

109 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. David Arthur

    resistance gnome

    There's only one emissions reduction goal that is scientifically supportable, and that is 100% reduction in fossil fuel use as rapidly as possible.

    Here's a simple summary that might explain why.

    Pliocene Epoch 5.5-2.6 Mya CO2 ~ 400 ppm, sea levels ~ 10-20 m above present, global average temperature ~ 2-4 deg C above present.

    Pleistocene glacial periods 2.6 Mya-12 kya CO2 ~ 200 ppm, sea levels ~ 120 m below present, global average temperature ~ 5 deg C below present.

    Pleistocene interglacial…

    Read more
    1. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      As someone who has worked assiduously towards having a negative CO2 footprint, who thinks we should be working towards thorium based nuclear energy and who relishes energy efficiency in all things, I nevertheless think it is possible that in the final washup, CO2 may not be as guilty as you think.

      report
    2. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      Compared to former geologic times, our present atmosphere, like the Late Carboniferous atmosphere, is CO2- impoverished! In the last 600 million years of Earth's history only the Carboniferous Period and our present age, the Quaternary Period, have witnessed CO2 levels less than 400 ppm.

      http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Carboniferous_climate.html

      report
    3. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Plenty of rational, sceptical experts agree with me, plenty of others like you and David, Michael, possibly don't.

      report
    4. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Hmm. Very interesting. That statement says a lot more about you than about me.

      report
    5. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      I understand why you might feel that stating this is some kind of censorship and you probably will be allowed to continue to comment but I would like to try to explain to you why I feel this way

      Jim I hope you understand that in light of experts from the various fields engaging with you, in light of multiple articles on the topic, in light of many many commenters being everything from nice to blunt with you on this topic.....you are still repeating the same talking points even after they have…

      Read more
    6. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Michael Shand

      But what if I'm right and you're wrong?

      report
    7. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Michael, your hubris is breathtaking.

      report
    8. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Michael Shand

      You don't get it that none of your "experts" really has any idea on the uncertainties of climate, more than toss of a coin assumptions as witnessed by their GCMs not even being able to hindcast, let alone forecast.

      When they can't get straight whether clouds are pos or neg etc. how can you ever claim that the science is settled?

      CSIRO calcs on SLR are wrong because the satellite references are wrong.

      The GRACE measurements of ice melt are wrong for the same reason.

      The BoM gets all the…

      Read more
    9. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Michael Shand

      But to get back to the point of this discussion, it looks like the sceptics in Europe are winning the argument and commonsense is prevailing:

      "Today is a big day in Brussels as the EU has begun the gradual process of rolling back its bankrupting climate and green energy policies. Of course this modest climbdown is not the end of Europe’s climate hysteria that has dominated Brussels for 20 years. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is the beginning of a much deeper retreat of its unilateral…

      Read more
    10. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Michael Shand

      The unintended consequences, AKA the real world, of being green:

      "The German Association of Energy Consumers estimates that up to 800,000 Germans have had their power cut off ….
      With snow blanketing the ground, it’s the perfect time of year to snuggle up in front of a fireplace. That, though, makes German foresters nervous. When the mercury falls, the theft of wood in the country’s woodlands goes up as people turn to cheaper ways to heat their homes."

      And in Greece, the winter of their discontent…

      Read more
    11. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Yes Michael, what? indeed.

      As Benny Peiser says:

      "There can be little doubt Europe’s flagship climate policy has turned into an utter failure. In a realistic assessment of Europe’s policy shift, the International Energy Agency recently noted that “climate change has quite frankly slipped to the backburner of policy priorities”.

      Germany’s green energy strategy is likely to change significantly after federal elections on September 22; Merkel has promised voters to drastically curtail the €20bn burden they have to pay renewable energy investors every year should she win.”

      report
    12. John Benton

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      My goodness Mr Shand, you really are a gift to CAGW sceptics the world over. Your intolerant and boorish attitude towards people who question the science behind CAGW tells me you have lost the debate and have no alternative but to respond with ad hom.

      report
    13. John Benton

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      "your (sic) not qualified in the area's you talk about"

      Neither was Einstein. He was a patent clerk, but that didn't stop him correcting the academics.

      report
    14. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Thanks Mr Inglis.

      The Carboniferous Period was one of those in which terrestrial plants drew down vast quantities of CO2 to be petrified as coal. Indeed, it is part of the chain that lead to a world cool enough for endotherms such as ourselves to prosper and progress to be the instigators of a new geological period (the Anthropocene).

      While life undoubtedly prospered through the Carboniferous Period, terrestrial life did not do so on any present coastal lands or river deltas, because the Carboniferous…

      Read more
    15. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to John Benton

      Unfortunately all your talking points seem to have been passed down from creationists and the difference between Einstein and denialists is that when Einstein presented his proof - it was accepted by the relevant experts

      report
    16. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim, do you realise that the only way that you can be right is if there is a massive global cover up and conspiracy going on to promote climate change

      not just a one off fraud and massive and coordinated widespread corruption

      is this what you are suggesting? it has been suggested before and the way to deal with this is not to spam websites - what you do is take the perps to court

      Now, I have said this before, I am willing to bankroll the case if you can provide the evidence of say BOM propping up temps?

      report
    17. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Michael Shand

      "Now, I have said this before, I am willing to bankroll the case if you can provide the evidence of say BOM propping up temps?"

      Stop waffling, Michael, and use your God-given loaf.

      When science can't agree on the evidence, as seen from the NIWA fiasco, judges simply go with the highest govt employed "expert".

      But if you can't see that putting the blender through all the old records to "homogenise" the peaks that show past warming records and not allowing sufficient adjustment for the UHIE to reduce the false present warming, that tiny 0.7c of contrived warming would be tinier still, to the point of insignificance, then there is not much hope for your future in this hard, cold world.

      Unless you're rehearsing as a snake-oil salesman.

      But you wouldn't do that.

      Err...Would you?

      report
    18. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to John Benton

      "Neither was Einstein [qualified]. He was a patent clerk ..."

      From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein#Early_life_and_education:

      "In September 1896, he passed the Swiss Matura with mostly good grades, including a top grade of 6 in physics and mathematical subjects, on a scale of 1-6,[26] and, though only seventeen, enrolled in the four-year mathematics and physics teaching diploma program at the Zurich Polytechnic. ... Einstein and Marić's friendship developed into romance, and they read books together on extra-curricular physics in which Einstein was taking an increasing interest. In 1900, Einstein was awarded the Zurich Polytechnic teaching diploma ..."

      From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein#Academic_career:
      "On 30 April 1905, Einstein completed his thesis, with Alfred Kleiner, Professor of Experimental Physics, serving as pro-forma advisor. Einstein was awarded a PhD by the University of Zurich. "

      report
    19. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "But if you can't see that putting the blender through all the old records to "homogenise" the peaks that show past warming records and not allowing sufficient adjustment for the UHIE to reduce the false present warming, that tiny 0.7c of contrived warming would be tinier still, to the point of insignificance, then there is not much hope for your future in this hard, cold world."

      Is this your evidence for a conspiracy, Mr Inglis?

      report
    20. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      "Is this your evidence for a conspiracy, Mr Inglis?"

      That's your word for it David, not mine.

      But you're surely not denying that doing just that is increasing the perceived warming?

      These days most cars have very accurate thermometers and if you live in an area like I do where there is no asphalt and lots of natural bushland and then drive into a big city you can read the substantial increase that quickly occurs.

      UHIE is often more than 0.7c.

      And please explain why the other gatekeepers…

      Read more
    21. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project (http://www.berkeleyearth.org/)
      found (summary of findings; http://berkeleyearth.org/summary-of-findings)
      1. Global land temperatures have increased by 1.5 degrees C over the past 250 years ... about 0.9 degrees in the past 50 years.
      2. Human effect:
      Many of the changes in land-surface temperature can be explained by a combination of volcanoes and a proxy for human greenhouse gas emissions. Solar variation does not seem to impact the temperature trend.

      Oh, and before you raise the "urban heat island" furphy, "... NO urban heating effect over the period 1950 to 2010 ..." (http://www.scitechnol.com/2327-4581/2327-4581-1-104.pdf)

      Oh, hang on, is that what 'UHIE' purports to represent?

      report
    22. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      "... NO urban heating effect over the period 1950 to 2010 ..."

      What world do you live in David?

      Just take a single building in the bush and put your thermometer in a ss on one side or other of that building as opposed to out in the open and compare.

      A huge city whose heat absorbing infrastructure through the day which then radiates the heat at night can have a considerable effect.

      Thermometers at airports beside huge black tarmac areas and exposed to large exhausts particularly in cold…

      Read more
    23. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Remember what Santer et al said about separating signal from noise in atmospheric temperature changes:

      “Our results show that temperature records of at least 17 years in length are required for identifying human effects on global-mean tropospheric temperature.”

      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2011JD016263/abstract

      It is now 17 years and 4 months.

      report
    24. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Mr Inglis, time and again you have referred me to engineered images at these various obscure websites.

      On several such occasions I have actually bothered to take a look, and have reported back to you in these pages explaining how and why the the images are misrepresentative and hence misleading.

      I have also explained to you how and why it is not possible that earth's climate can be unaffected by changes to atmospheric greenhouse gas content.

      I refuse to further indulge your pathetic fondness for climate porn.

      report
    25. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      "I refuse to further indulge your pathetic fondness for climate porn."

      Wash yo mouf out, David.

      Surely you aren't referring to an alarmist, Santer et al peer reviewed paper as climate porn.!!

      report
    26. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Mr Inglis, I'm NOT critiquing Santer et al.

      What I'm saying here is, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project has found that meteorological records have succeeding in eliminating any bias due to urban heat island from their databases.

      I've even given you the reference that proves it - so your continued blathering on the issue suggests sufficient derangement as you are incapable of learning.

      report
    27. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "But what if I'm right and you're wrong?"

      You're wrong, Mr Inglis. You're suicidally wrong.

      As I've explained to you ad nauseum in these pages, you are worng.

      report
    28. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      "Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project has found that meteorological records have succeeding in eliminating any bias due to urban heat island from their databases."

      We all have selective belief systems, David.

      But we should always remain sceptical.

      report
    29. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      "You're wrong, Mr Inglis. You're suicidally wrong."

      One thing you can be absolutely certain about, David, is that when you are as closed-minded as you are about a subject that no one understands fully, you certainly won't be right.

      report
    30. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      I'm not so much closed-minded, Mr Inglis, as being conversant with the science - which is continually learning and progressing, converging upon reality.

      On tyhe other hand, Mr inglis, you seem closed-minded regarding the exclusion of any and all reality from your mental processes.

      report
    31. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "... should always remain sceptical." Well, as have the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, who (with the possible exception of Judith Curry) have been careful to adhere to what the evidence can tell them.

      report
    32. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      " conversant with the science - which is continually learning and progressing, converging upon reality."

      When do you suppose it will converge upon the reality that the UHIE-free data have been showing no warming for the last 17.3 years?

      " you seem closed-minded regarding the exclusion of any and all reality from your mental processes."

      I thought I was the sceptic in this discussion and you were the alarmist believer.

      I must have somehow got confused, David.

      report
    33. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      I think you'll find that Judith is quite a realist and is very aware of the limits and the uncertainties of the "evidence"

      report
    34. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      At least 17 years includes periods of more than 17 years.

      So your point is?

      report
  2. John Benton

    logged in via Facebook

    What is it about The Conversation that requires the need for misleading or fake photos. In the last week wee have been presented with Fake polar bear photos and now backlit steam masquerading as CO2 or carbon (smoke). Does no one at the Conversation know the difference?

    This particular photo has a history of misuse in these kind of articles.

    report
  3. Jim Inglis

    retired

    The benefits of Fossil Fuels outweigh social costs 50 to 500 times:

    According to the study, The Social Costs Of Carbon? No, The Social Benefits Of Carbon, over the past 250 years global life expectancy has more than doubled and incomes have increased 11-fold in large part due to increased energy production and delivery, most of which has been fossil-based. And although a Federal Interagency Working Group (IWG) estimated the social cost of carbon (SCC) to be $36/ton; the actual societal benefits of carbon – as a by-product of energy production – is 50 to 500 times greater than the perceived cost.

    http://www.americaspower.org/sites/default/files/Social-Benefits-of-Carbon.pdf

    report
    1. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      I'd go so far as to argue that up until ~1988, fossil fuel use served to forestall reversion to another glacial period ("Ice Age"). That's about when atmospheric CO2 exceeded 350 ppm.

      All fossil fuel use since then is proving to be increasingly problematic: for that reason, I argue that all fossil fuel reduction targets short of 100% are inadequate.

      report
    2. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      It is a great aspirational goal, David, but it has to be affordable and the solution has to be better than the problem unlike at present where some of the carbon credits for RETs are just madness and the carpet baggers have been making a killing at the taxpayers expense.

      I have lived with off-grid wind and solar power for years but you have to be very miserly in consumption or have better technology than we have now.

      Australia has to go nuclear for a start.

      report
    3. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "It's a great aspirational goal" - err, not if global warming isn't a problem.

      "It's a great aspirational goal" - because global warming is a problem (sea level rises of 10-20m if atmospheric CO2 is allowed to stabilise at 400 ppm), it's not just an aspirational goal, it is essential to avoid large-scale disruption, economic and demographic losses (all coastal cities, at least 6 of 7 billion people).

      The way to do it is to discourage all consumer decisions away from the product or service that…

      Read more
    4. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      '"It's a great aspirational goal" - err, not if global warming isn't a problem.'

      The jury's still out on that one.

      Your green method of penalising people into it will not work and will wreck the ecology as well like it is doing now.

      It will be a start stop system as we are seeing in Europe now where even with bankrupting economies, carbon emissions are not reducing.

      It's a lose/lose.

      The US is the only country reducing emissions and incentive based, market type systems are the only ones that will last.

      It's happening in the US in spite of, not because of, the govt and the EPA and could work a lot better if they got out of the way.

      report
    5. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      When do you think Global Warming began, David?

      "While anthropogenic CO2 emissions are the highest they’ve ever been, and growing rapidly, Earth’s temperature has been in a 9 – 17 year Pause. And the only period of warming that anthropogenic CO2 emissions could have had a significant influence on, 1975 – 1998, is “similar and not statistically significantly different from” the periods of 1860-1880 and 1910-1940 when there is no evidence of anthropogenic CO2 emission influence. As such one could argue that “Global Warming” due to anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide emissions may not have begun, that Earth’s sensitivity to CO2 may be low, that natural processes may be large enough to outweigh the effects of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, and/or that preparing for a period of rapid and catastrophic Global Warming, when there is no observational evidence that it is in fact occurring, may be a historic folly."

      Anyway, what do you think, when did Global Warming begin?

      report
    6. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Mr inglis, several times over I have explained to you how and why global warming is a problem, to which you remain oblivious ("The jury's still out on that one.") Now, Mr Inglis, many problems ensuing from global warming are sufficiently well-establised to refute that remark outright.

      "Your green method of penalising people into it will not work and will wreck the ecology as well like it is doing now." So, you admit that ecology is being wrecked right now? Excellent, you can't dissemble about…

      Read more
    7. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "Earth’s temperature has been in a 9 – 17 year Pause" FALSE. Ref: "Is global warming in a hiatus?", https://theconversation.com/is-global-warming-in-a-hiatus-18367

      "when did Global Warming begin?" You mean, when did anthropogenic perturbations of earth's climate commence? About 6-8,000 years ago ref: Figure 7 of "The Geoscience of Climate and Energy 2. Climate Changes at Geologic Time Scales: An Overview" (http://journals.hil.unb.ca/index.php/gc/article/view/12436/13338); downloadable pdf…

      Read more
    8. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Up until the Anthropocene, the world has indeed been cooling. Ruddiman presents a case that the rate of cooling would have been somewhat FASTER but for humans.

      However, over the last century or so the world has warmed faster and further than at any time in the last 8,000 years. At a time when, but for humans, the world should be entering the next "Ice Age", it is now warmer than at any time in the entire Holocene Epoch - and with atmospheric CO2 at levels not experienced since the early Pliocene…

      Read more
    9. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      According to Gisp and Vostok we are nowhere near as warm as 8,000 y ago. Old sea levels and old corals down the east and west coasts support that.

      And while I agree that humans have without doubt caused some warming, with our total being only ~ 0.7c since the LIA, with all the other causes of warming, ACO2 could very well be causing cooling.

      There is no acceleration in SLR because there is no increase in ice melt.

      Your science belief is not only selective, you don't go and check for yourself…

      Read more
    10. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      In a joint press conference NOAA and NASA have just released data for the global surface temperature for 2013. In summary they both show that the ‘pause’ in global surface temperature that began in 1997, according to some estimates, continues.

      Statistically speaking there has been no significant trend in global temperatures over this period. All these years fall within the error bars of 0.1 deg C. The trend is less than this and is statistically insignificant. There is no statistical case for…

      Read more
    11. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Mr Inglis

      1. It takes a while for Antarctic snow to pack down into corbel ice, so Vostok ice core recede doesn't go back from 2013, it goes back from ~300 BC.

      2. Even 0.7 deg C atmospheric T resettle, when you consider the huge amount of heat that's gone into oceans and ice caps, is terrifying. Last Glacial Maximum was ~ 5 deg C cooler than pre-Industrial global average temperature, and early Pliocene was 3-4 deg C warmer than that same measure, with atmospheric CO2 no higher than present…

      Read more
    12. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      Personal obs over 70 years on very accurate benchmarks at highest astronomical tides tell me SLs are actually falling in Eastern Australia.

      SLs in Moreton Bay are ~ 20cms lower than 1946.

      The highest cyclonic sea surges in MB were in the1930s.

      SLR isn't happening.

      And if you can explain how that 90% of the worlds ice in the Antarctic at high altitude is melting when the ice at sea level there is growing, everyone would like to hear it.

      Bourke with an "o". The burke is someone that can remain nameless.

      " I don't have heroes, I base my assessment of source credibility on whether they are consistent with what's already known. Global warming consensus isn't the result of a vote; it is compelled by the evidence."

      That would be fine if you produced some but when the best witnesses for the prosecution [Gavin et al] throw you under a bus, it affects your cred.

      report
    13. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      An interesting obs by a good scientist....

      Garth Paltridge, a former chief research scientist with the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research:

      ...there has been no significant warming over the most recent fifteen or so years…

      In the light of all this, we have at least to consider the possibility that the scientific establishment behind the global warming issue has been drawn into the trap of seriously overstating the climate problem ... in its effort to promote the cause. It is a particularly nasty trap in the context of science, because it risks destroying, perhaps for centuries to come, the unique and hard-won reputation for honesty which is the basis of society’s respect for scientific endeavour…

      report
    14. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      Paltridge goes on further to say....

      "The trap was set in the late 1970s or thereabouts when the environmental movement first realised that doing something about global warming would play to quite a number of its social agendas. At much the same time, it became accepted wisdom around the corridors of power that government-funded scientists (that is, most scientists) should be required to obtain a goodly fraction of their funds and salaries from external sources—external anyway to their own particular…

      Read more
    15. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Paltridge argues that although changing atmospheric greenhouse gas content can influence climate, the effects are too minor to be of any concern. Indeed, that might be the case, if the earth was a waterless planet so that there were no oceans and no hydrologically-driven weather.

      All that is necessary to refute Paltridge is reference to paleoclimate observations.

      Pliocene Epoch 5.5-2.6 Mya CO2 ~ 400 ppm, sea levels ~ 10-20 m above present, global average temperature ~ 2-4 deg C above present…

      Read more
    16. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      But you defeat your own purpose, firstly when argue from authority and then when you do not treat climate science with scepticism from the uncertainty it is known to have.

      This is precisely what is happening in the EU.

      People who would otherwise support you are sick of the propaganda.

      Even Science Magazine are just becoming aware of the glaring problem that has been evident to sceptics for decades:

      This reads as though it were written by McIntyre, Montford, Wegman….

      “Because reviewers…

      Read more
    17. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "… firstly when argue from authority …" Err, you've got it wrong again, Mr Inglis.

      The authorities to which I refer are the OBSERVATIONS themselves - that is, I adhere to the only possible evidence-based position, where as others here give credence to pseudonymous bloggers.

      "and then when you do not treat climate science with scepticism from the uncertainty it is known to have." This is also incorrect: the uncertainties referred to in the Science reference you furnish pertain to measured…

      Read more
    18. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Ahh, you've moved on to David Archibald:

      David Archibald asserts: "Arctic sea ice has recovered"
      Multi-year observations: Ongoing sea-ice disappearance.

      David Archibald asserts: "Arctic sea ice loss [contradicting his own Arctic sea ice has recovered] is matched by Antarctic sea ice gain"
      Multi-year observations: Arctic sea ice losses are approximately three times as great as Antarctic sea ice gains.

      David Archibald asserts: "It's a natural cycle"
      Multi-year observations: the last century's…

      Read more
    19. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      David, when you assert that there are no uncertainties when the GCMs are wrong, climate sensitivity is an unknown, clouds are an unknown, etc., shows you lack the required rationality to BE sceptical.

      report
    20. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      When I show you your heroes contradicting you, it's ok but when I show you some data that just happens to be used by Archibald or Watts you go ballistic.

      You are coming off your hinges.

      This is simply stuff that is out there for all to see and use and I hope you used it to pick up on some of your errors.

      report
    21. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      With due respect, Mr Inglis, I have already explained the difference between quantitative uncertainty ("how big is it?") and qualitative uncertainty ("does it exist?").

      Our continuing dialogue leaves me increasingly sceptical of your mental faculties altogether. On this Australia Day, I refuse to be conned by a blithering self-deceiving traitor to himself, his children and his nations.

      report
    22. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      I don't think Shepherd et al is what it seems:

      See the JPL PowerPoint here: Poland 2012 – P09 Bar-Sever PR51 (PDF)

      Summary:

      1. JPL admits that satellite measurement of the Earth has issues because a stable Terrestrial Reference Frame was never established for any of the satellite programs. It’s like setting out to do a terrestrial survey without having an accurate benchmark first. This puts all subsequent data derived with the stable benchmark (the stable TRF) into question.

      2. The lack of a stable TRF affects most if not all satellite programs used in this new Shepherd et al paper ‘A reconciled estimate of ice sheet mass balance‘ including ICESAT and GRACE, upon which the paper heavily relies.

      How could Shepherd et al adjust for them when they didn't know how inaccurate they were?

      But if you have evidence for this please supply it.

      report
    23. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      "and then when you do not treat climate science with scepticism from the uncertainty it is known to have." This is also incorrect: the uncertainties referred to in the Science reference you furnish pertain to measured quantities, such as Shephered et al who have incorporated GRACE measurement uncertainties in their assessment of polar ice mass loss estimates."

      Oh, they have?

      It appears that all 47 authors of Shepherd et al are unaware of the TRF stability issue, or if they were aware, it was never brought to bear in peer review to test the veracity of the paper and its conclusions from the satellite data. Section 3 of the Shepard et al SM-SI deals with uncertainty, but also makes no mention of the TRF issue.

      As I said before, feel free to provide evidence to the contrary and stop waffling on about Australia Day and "traitors".

      What a desperate argument.
      .

      report
    24. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Thanks for the reference, Mr Inglis.

      I note that the Summary that you have written out here does not appear in that reference; did you? Did you do enough thinking to write it yourself, or did you copy and paste it from one of your discredited sources? David Archibald, perhaps?

      report
    25. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      "David Archibald, perhaps?"

      Not playing the man again by any chance, David?

      As I have already said 3 times, feel free to prove otherwise.

      But I note your claim more than once that Shepherd et al WERE aware of the TRF problem and corrected for it when you didn't have any evidence to support your statement.

      What do you call that sort of "science"?

      report
    26. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Shepherd et al didn't just use satellite data: they reconciled satellite data with surface mass balance models and glacial isostatic adjustment data.

      Result: mean annual terrestrial ice mass LOSS = 213 Gt/yr +/-~34% (ie 0.6 +/- 0.2 mm/yr sea level rise)

      Before Shepherd et al did their reconciliation, ice melt contribution to sea level rise estimated at +0.85 mm/yr +/- 0.95 mm/yr.

      So not only have Shephered et al tightened the range of estimates, by incorporating satellite data with previous ground data their mean estimate is LOWER. So bring on the GRASP by all means.

      Regarding David Archibald, when the man consistently makes claims tat are not borne out by observations (ie reality), it is imprudent to not consider his claims with scepticism.

      report
    27. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      "Shepherd et al didn't just use satellite data: they reconciled satellite data with surface mass balance models and glacial isostatic adjustment data."

      IOW doubly wrong.

      Wrong data to start with, and wrong assumptions to follow.

      But that still doesn't prove your assertion that Shepherd et al "incorporated GRACE measurement uncertainties in their assessment of polar ice mass loss estimates."

      So that was just another assumption?

      And what is the mechanism by which Antarctic ice caps are net melting but ice at SL is net gaining?

      I think you'll find, if you're honest, that my "discredited sources" are certainly no worse than your discredited sources.

      report
    28. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "And what is the mechanism by which Antarctic ice caps are net melting but ice at SL is net gaining?"

      As previously advised, both sea water stratification and elevated fresh water runoff result in lower salinity at the surface. Fresh water freezes at 0 deg C, whereas fully saline sea water stays liquid don to -2 deg C.

      Further to your comments on Shepherd et al, let's look at Rignot et al (2011) "Acceleration of the contribution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to sea level rise…

      Read more
    29. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      Fresh water freezes at 0 deg C, whereas fully saline sea water stays liquid don to -2 deg C.

      Exactly!

      Yet this ice is increasing but your heroes claim the altitude, freshwater ice is net melting.

      But with no SLR to back it up!

      They are wrong.

      Relax.

      report
    30. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "Fresh water freezes at 0 deg C, whereas fully saline sea water stays liquid doWn to -2 deg C."

      It's most likely that the expansion of ice around Antarctica in winter is due to the surface layers of the sea around Antarctica being diluted by the huge amounts of meltwater coming off the land, which then freezes before it has time to be fully mixed with ocean water.

      Sea level rise is proceeding apace, and increasing - with ever-larger contributions from melting ice starting around 1992 give or…

      Read more
    31. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      And why isn't this also happening in exposed coasts of Greenland?

      And why are the sea levels not rising?

      Shepherd's paper was obviously wrong, because they did NOT incorporate the TRF adjustments in spite of your claims, just not as wrong as Rignot's [which, with noise greater than signal, was meaningless]

      report
    32. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      According to the IPCC AR4:

      Mid-depth waters of the Southern Ocean have also warmed in recent decades. As shown in Figure 5.8, temperatures increased near 900 m depth between the 1950s and the 1980s throughout most of the Southern Ocean (Aoki et al., 2003; Gille, 2004). The largest changes are found near the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, where the warming at 900 m depth is similar in magnitude to the increase in regional surface air temperatures. Analysis of altimeter and Argo float profile…

      Read more
    33. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "And why isn't this also happening in exposed coasts of Greenland?" Less ocean stratification, different currents.

      "And why are the sea levels not rising?" Err, they are: http://www.cmar.csiro.au/sealevel/

      "... Rignot's [which, with noise greater than signal, ...]" Err, what the? They got 475 Gt/yr +/- 158 Gt/yr.

      158 ÷ 475 = 33% < 100% ie noise < signal.

      Jim Inglis:
      1) that terrestrial ice is NOT melting - demonstrably FALSE, and
      2) ice melt is not contributing to sea level rise.
      3) there is no sea level rise anyway: FALSE
      4) because there is no warming: FALSE.

      Reality
      1) terrestrial ice is melting
      2) terrestrial ice melt contributes to sea level rise.
      3) there's more sea level rise than accountable by ice melt, because
      4) warming earth is expanding ocean independent of ice melt.

      report
    34. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Regarding the reference to IPCC AR4's reporting of trends in Antarctic conditions, rplease bear in mind that the ozone hole of the last several decades has had its effects on climate: http://theconversation.com/antarctic-ozone-recovery-will-be-a-long-and-bumpy-road-22429, "Ozone hole linked to climate change all the way to the equator" (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110421141630.htm).

      Regarding the Time article from 1974, one of the points I've been making to you for quite a while…

      Read more
    35. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      You just don't get it do you David?

      You just can't live in the virtual world all the time. Sooner or later you have to go outside and see for yourself.

      There has been no SLR for at least 68 years.

      The IPCC say the Antarctic ocean is warming but you say it is cold enough to freeze the melting ice caps.

      And that we have considerable SLR as a result.

      Why is it, do you think, that I am sceptical?

      How old are you David?

      Have you ever benchmarked highest astronomical tides over many decades and noted barometric pressures so you can see these things for yourself?

      It's probably a bit late for you but you should try it.

      It's called being aware.

      report
    36. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Getting my own anecdotes about tides out the front of my place is one thing, but monitoring global oceans is something else again.

      No sea level rise for 68 years?

      Sea-level rise drives shoreline retreat in Hawaii - Science Daily
      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130830092448.htm

      What the past tells us about modern sea-level rise - Science Daily
      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131212095513.htm
      Dec 12, 2013 - Researchers report that sea-level rise since the industrial…

      Read more
    37. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      That Hawaii link is not SLR, it's simply high tide beach erosion from building hotels too close to a surfing beach.

      I was in that exact spot when they shipped sand from Australia to rebuild it from the same problem decades ago.

      Nothing to see there.

      I've sandbagged many buildings to stop them falling into the ocean, even pushed car bodies onto the beach to stop highrise buildings collapsing in cyclones but on the east coast of Australia which is a tectonically stable area, SLs are lower than they were in 1946.

      And the highest cyclone surge in Moreton bay was in the 1930s.

      The HAT on the Gold Coast earlier this month came to the top of the canal walls that were built to AHD 100 and which they came to in the 50s.

      It seems then I might be a little more aware of the real world than you are.

      And I'm telling you, you can relax.

      report
    38. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      Interesting that they found the ruins of the Roman fleet that invaded Britain 2000 y ago recently, when they had given up all hope of ever finding it because it was thought it would be way out to sea due to SLR.

      It was a couple of miles up the river Stour.

      And those polders in Holland from 500 years ago are still functional.

      Be aware!

      Relax!

      report
    39. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Just as rising seas accelerate beach erosion, your Good Work all those decades ago seems to have helped protect beaches, possibly allowing them to grow.

      The other reference is to a news release on an Open Access paper by Rohling et al - "A geological perspective on potential future sea-level rise. Scientific Reports, 2013; 3 DOI: 10.1038/srep03461. http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/131212/srep03461/full/srep03461.html

      In case you're unable to follow the link (cowardice?), this is from their…

      Read more
    40. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Just as rising seas accelerate beach erosion, your Good Work all those decades ago seems to have helped protect beaches, possibly allowing them to grow.

      The other reference is to a news release on an Open Access paper by Rohling et al - "A geological perspective on potential future sea-level rise. Scientific Reports, 2013; 3 DOI: 10.1038/srep03461. http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/131212/srep03461/full/srep03461.html

      In case you're unable to follow the link (cowardice?), this is from their Abstract…

      Read more
    41. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      I'm perfectly aware of all the predictions of doom.

      The fact remains that in spite of being fed this diet, claiming SLR over the last thousands of years, it hasn't happened, as witnessed by that evidence above.

      Possibly just when science needs the trust of people most and the people need science most, they are losing that trust and it can't be a good situation.

      report
    42. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "claiming SLR over the last thousands of years, it hasn't happened," well of course there's been no sea level rise from the time of the high-point of the Holocene, ~8 millennia ago, up until the anthropogenic intervention, the Industrial Anthropocene, starting in the last couple of centuries and now in 'full swing'.

      If anything, sea levels were in decline from that early-Holocene high-point.

      "as witnessed by that evidence above" Err, worng again: all the 'evidence' above is simply normal fluvial processes that prooceed independent of climate.

      "Possibly just when science needs the trust of people most and the people need science most, they are losing that trust and it can't be a good situation." You're no scientist, Mr Inglis, but our discussion would have you seemingly quite active in the dissemination of fallacies.

      Whatever will your children think?

      report
    43. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      "well of course there's been no sea level rise from the time of the high-point of the Holocene, ~8 millennia ago,"

      Somebody's disseminating:

      http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Holocene_Sea_Level.png

      "Possibly just when science needs the trust of people most and the people need science most, they are losing that trust and it can't be a good situation."

      The EU is scrapping these RETs precisely because of your disseminations.

      Not mine.

      And you are still too thick to get it.

      report
    44. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Thanks for that clarification about sea levels, Mr Inglis, I've learnt something useful. Holocene sea level variation os the first thing i've learnt from you in our entire discussion.

      The EU is NOT scrapping its RET's for my arguments, unfortunately, just for the usual short-sighted economic ploys.

      Regarding thickness, you're right, I am so thick I cannot see how anyone could willfully consign their own descendants to misery because they decided, a priori, that just because they didn't understand science it all must be a Commie plot. Or at least, that what Guru Garth told them.

      report
    45. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Further to finding out about Holocene sea levels, expected sea level rise of 2.5 m by 2200 (Rohling et al) is remarkable: non-anthropogenic trend would see sea levels declining on a millennial scale, not rising on a scale of centuries.

      report
    46. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      I'm "still too thick to get it".

      What would this "it" be, Mr inglis?

      Would "it" be that I've been hoodwinked by anti-progress climate scientists into believing that all those nice petro-billionaires are paing people to tell me the truth, that there is no such thing as global warming?

      Would "it" be that there's been an anti-progress conspiracy of scientists, making up all this global warming scare story so that all humanity, fearful of its own shadow, would forever cower in the cold and primitive…

      Read more
    47. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      No, "IT" is scientists making positive scientific claims when they are only making assumptions.

      As evidenced by their wrong GCMs.

      As evidenced by Clive Hamilton's desperate claims of ignorance in climate sceptics.

      As evidenced by the Lewandowskys, Cooks, Nutticellis, Hockey Teams et al who favour a consensual huddle over debate, on a very uncertain science.

      "Why should I divulge my data when you only want to prove me wrong"

      Quelle science!!

      As evidenced by you when you can't make your point here, you go to another thread in search of consensual support and complain about me.

      How pathetic.

      "Am I the dupe"?

      You got that right

      BTW, have you weaned yourself off fossil fuel yet?

      report
    48. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "Statistically speaking there has been no significant trend in global temperatures over this period."

      Statistically speaking there has been no significant slowdown in global warming over this period.

      report
    49. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "There is no statistical case for representing the post-1997 data as anything other than a constant line."

      Says the master statistician.

      Actually, it could be represented by any straight line between -0.044 deg C/decade and 0.192 deg C/decade with 95% confidence.

      report
    50. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "The HAT on the Gold Coast earlier this month came to the top of the canal walls that were built to AHD 100 and which they came to in the 50s."

      Statistically insignificant information.

      report
    51. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      You wouldn't be stalking me by any chance would you CON?

      Why don't you stick to playing with your tortured statistics?

      report
    52. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Thanks for this remark, Mr Inglis; it firmly locates you among the non-cogniscenti (this who don't know). In your case, although I have directed you to the science, you chose to remain non-cogniscent; this renders you among the ignorant. I'll happily be insulted by one as demonstrably ignorant as your Good Self.

      Are you the dupe? Well, yes; you are the dupe of the anti-science mob who've got a lot of coal they haven't yet sold.

      I note that our discussion has diverged from the topic at hand into personal insults. Well, you're demonstrably the master there, to which I dips me lid.

      report
    53. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      As a renowned man, as opposed to ball, player, Dave, you do the hypocrisy thing quite well too.

      report
    54. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "stalking"

      So that your latest excuse for pushing misleading information.

      "Why don't you stick to playing with your tortured statistics?"

      Your hypocrisy knows no bounds. You are a master of tortured statistics, no statistically significant etc etc.

      report
    55. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Several times over, Mr inglis, you have suggested that I consider scientific findings with somewhat more scepticism than I have apparently shown in our discussion.

      It is extraordinary claims that require extraordinary evidence, Mr Inglis: each new finding that is consistent with all previous scientific observations requires no great scrutiny.

      That said, Mr Inglis, while we must be prepared at any time to abandon our paradigm in the face of compelling new evidence, we would be foolish to not…

      Read more
  4. Luke Weston

    Physicist / electronic engineer

    "So if nuclear power is really considered an answer to climate change then we are replacing climate impacts by other kinds of environmental harm."

    Really? Your implication that there is any remotely, distantly equivalent environmental impact here is just absurd.

    You've got say 25 tonnes of used LWR fuel used to generate 1 gigawatt of electrical power continuously for a year - 25 tonnes of a dense, compact used nuclear fuel which is stored inside a small room, completely isolated from the environment…

    Read more
    1. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Luke Weston

      "So if nuclear power is really considered an answer to climate change then we are replacing climate impacts by other kinds of environmental harm." Indeed; in Australia, it depends on the water resources from which the nuclear power stations draw their cooling water, and to which water bodies the power stations discharge the warmed ('spent') cooling water.

      In this regard, coal-fired power station locations have been unmitigated disasters - they either draw from Australia's desperately meagre inland…

      Read more