Much of the climate debate turns on a single logical fallacy. This fallacy is clearly on display in some comments by UK Prime Minister David Cameron:
It’s worth looking at what this report this week says – that [there is a] 95 per cent certainty that human activity is altering the climate. I think I said this almost 10 years ago: if someone came to you and said there is a 95 per cent chance that your house might burn down, even if you are in the 5 per cent that doesn’t agree with it, you still take out the insurance, just in case.”
"Human activity altering climate" is not the same thing as an environmental catastrophe (or one's house burning down). The statement that he is 95% certain that human activity is altering climate is one that most skeptics (including myself) are 100% sure is true. There is evidence that human activity has been altering the climate since the dawn of agriculture. Man's changing land uses have been demonstrated to alter climate, and certainly man's incremental CO2 is raising temperatures somewhat.
The catastrophe is so uncertain that for the first time, the IPCC left estimates of climate sensitivity to CO2 out of its recently released summary for policy makers, mainly because it was not ready to (or did not want to) deal with a number of recent studies yielding sensitivity numbers well below catastrophic levels. Further, the IPCC nearly entirely punted on the key question of how it can reconcile its past high sensitivity/ high feedback based temperature forecasts with past relative modest measured warming rates, including a 15+ year pause in warming which none of its models predicted.
The overall tone of the new IPCC report is one of declining certainty -- they are less confident of their sensitivity numbers and less confident of their models which have all been a total failure over the last 15 years. They have also backed off of other statements, for example saying they are far less confident that warming is leading to severe weather.
Most skeptics are sure mankind is affecting climate somewhat, but believe that this effect will not be catastrophic. On both fronts, the IPCC is slowly catching up to us.
A climate alarmist posts a "Bet" on a site called Truthmarket that she obviously believes is a dagger to the heart of climate skeptics. Heck, she is putting up $5,000 of her own money on it. The amazing part is that the proposition she is betting on is entirely beside the point. She is betting on the truth of a statement that many skeptics would agree with.
This is how the climate debate has gone wrong. Alarmists are trying to shift the debate from the key points they can't prove to facile points they can. And the media lets them get away with it.
We know who the active denialists are – not the people who buy the lies, mind you, but the people who create the lies. Let’s start keeping track of them now, and when the famines come, let’s make them pay. Let’s let their houses burn. Let’s swap their safe land for submerged islands. Let’s force them to bear the cost of rising food prices.
They broke the climate. Why should the rest of us have to pay for it?
Instead of screwing around in the media trying to assign blame for the recent US heat wave to CO2 and threatening to burn down the houses of those who disagree with us, we should be arguing about what matters. And the main scientific issue that really matters is understanding climate feedback. I won't repeat all of the previous posts (see here and here), but this is worth repeating:
Direct warming from the greenhouse gas effect of CO2 does not create a catastrophe, and at most, according to the IPCC, might warm the Earth another degree over the next century. The catastrophe comes from the assumption that there are large net positive feedbacks in the climate system that multiply a small initial warming from CO2 many times. It is this assumption that positive feedbacks dominate over negative feedbacks that creates the catastrophe. It is telling that when prominent supporters of the catastrophic theory argue the science is settled, they always want to talk about the greenhouse gas effect (which most of us skeptics accept), NOT the positive feedback assumption. The assumption of net positive climate feedback is not at all settled -- in fact there is as much evidence the feedback is net negative as net positive -- which may be why catastrophic theory supporters seldom if ever mention this aspect of the science in the media.
I said I would offer a counter-proposal to Mr. Zwick's that skeptics bear the costs of climate change. I am ready to step up to the cost of any future man-made climate change if Mr. Zwick is ready to write a check for the lost economic activity and increased poverty caused by his proposals. We are at an exciting point in history where a billion people, or more, in Asia and Africa and Latin America are at the cusp of emerging from millenia of poverty. To do so, they need to burn every fossil fuel they can get their hands on, not be forced to use rich people's toys like wind and solar. I am happy to trade my home for an imaginary one that Zwick thinks will be under water. Not only is this a great way to upgrade to some oceanfront property, but I am fully confident the crazy Al Gore sea level rise predictions are a chimera, since sea levels have been rising at a fairly constant rate since the end of the little ice age.. In return, perhaps Mr. Zwick can trade his job for one in Asia that disappears when he closes the tap on fossil fuels?
I encourage you to read it all, including an appearance by the summer of the shark.
I have finally been able to publish a video of my presentation at the climate debate held by the Regional Council of Rural Counties last September. The entire video is about an hour long. As usual, I am offering several ways to view it. First, it has been posted on YouTube but had to be broken into seven parts. The playlist of all seven parts is below:
Unfortunately, YouTube crushes the resolution so many of the charts are hard to read. You can download the full resolution windows media version (about 96MB) as long as my bandwidth holds out by right-clicking and downloading form this link: Download RCRC Climate Debate (wmv)
Also, you can stream higher resolution version of this film (and all my other climate films) at this site. The resolution is not as good as the downloadable version but is much better than YouTube. Again, bandwidth pending.