The phony breakthrough vs deployment debate

David Roberts is, as usual, bang on in his latest Grist column, lamenting the pointlessness of the debate between those who insist we need more research and development before tackling climate change, and those who say we shouldn’t wait. (Roberts is among the best commenters around when it comes to the social and political context of climate change.)

For the amount of attention it gets, you’d think that settling this debate is the crucial first step in developing a policy plan or a political strategy. You’d think the “enough technology” question must be answered before anyone can move forward.

But as I see it, pretty much nothing hinges on the answer. Indeed, I find the whole debate baffling and confounding.

Continue reading “The phony breakthrough vs deployment debate”

Carbon dioxide emissions hit new record

From Long-term trend in global CO2 emissions, published by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, comes some good news:

Even including the USA whose emissions in 2008-2010 are 11 percent more than in 1990, the industrialised countries have on average reduced greenhouse gas emissions by about 7.5 percent in the period 2008-2010, compared with 1990. Together they are well on course to achieve the [Kyoto] protocol, target of a collective average decrease in greenhouse gas emissions of 5.2 percent between 2008 and 2012 compared to the 1990 level.

Bet you didn’t know the Kyoto Protocol was a success, even without the U.S.

But then there’s the bad news:

Continuing growth in the developing nations and economic recovery in the industrialised countries drove the record-breaking 5.8 percent increase in global CO2 emissions to the all-time high of 33.0 billion tonnes, even though these have not returned to pre-recession levels in most industrialised countries. CO2 emissions went up in most of the major economies, led by China, USA, India and EU-27 with increases of 10 percent, 4 percent, 9 percent and 3 percent respectively.

Whole dreary report, including stats like “Since 2003, CO2 emissions in China have doubled, and in India they have increased by 60 percent,” is here.


Wouldn’t it be great if everyone was as good at admitting their mistakes?

Abstract: Peer-reviewed journals are a pillar of modern science. Their aim is to achieve highest scientific standards by carrying out a rigorous peer review that is, as a minimum requirement, supposed to be able to identify fundamental methodological errors or false claims. Unfortunately, as many climate researchers and engaged observers of the climate change debate pointed out in various internet discussion fora, the paper by Spencer and Braswell [1] that was recently published in Remote Sensing is most likely problematic in both aspects and should therefore not have been published. After having become aware of the situation, and studying the various pro and contra arguments, I agree with the critics of the paper. Therefore, I would like to take the responsibility for this editorial decision and, as a result, step down as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Remote Sensing.

Full mea culpa, and some unkind words for the authors and their allies in the denialosphere here. Here’s a little more to pump you up:

Continue reading “Oops”

Sometimes, even television has its uses

This video, a selection of TV news clips that serve to illustrate Bill McKibben’s recent op-ed on climate change denial, has already made the rounds, but as it deserves as wide an audience as possible, I’ll do my bit.

It’s also noteworthy because the op-ed marked a first for McKibben: the use of a snarky, satirical tone. Until now, he’s been a upbeat cheerleader for climate change activists. Sooner or later, it would, we all get tired of banging our head against a wall and have to lash out at idiocy.

It is what it is


The main thing is they are in absolute, abject and catastrophic denial about a straightforward set of facts that is probably the most important set of facts we face as a nation, and as human beings on planet earth. They have turned their faces away from climate change in a way that is simply and utterly unforgivable. They now apparently DO feel entitled to their own facts, and they live, campaign and purportedly do their jobs in a zone of outright lies. Lies they have every reason to understand are lies, and lies that will almost certainly result in massive destruction and death. Exactly how would you be “fair” to these people? — Tom Toles

Which brings to mind Ed Brayton’s quotation from Isaac Asimov:

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

Obama’s birth certificate’s carbon footprint

Floods, droughts, heatwaves, rising sea levels. Massive debts and deficits. Multiple wars. Peak oil. But what’s really important is providing yet more evidence that the president was born on U.S. soil. So the White House flies a staffer 9,600 miles (15,450 km) from Washington, D.C., to Hawaii and back to collect the certificate of live birth.

Un frakking believable.


Of course, the emissions generated by the staffer’s share of the flight is hardly among the most objectionable consequences of the insanity that is the birther movement. But I just thought I’d point it out.

The future of nuclear power = [null set]

I’m almost weary of blogging about nuclear power. But others are still going strong. Take the Globe and Mail’s Doug Saunders, who writes this week that we shouldn’t even think of abandoning the technology. Such enthusiasm is particularly curious because he glosses over the Achilles heel of nukes — the cost — and Canada has one of the most expensive varieties of nuclear reactors around.
Continue reading “The future of nuclear power = [null set]”