Lack of Environment

A blog on the politics and psychology underlying the denial of all our environmental problems

The solution to all our problems

with 64 comments

Those who have recently criticised me for appearing to be on a single-handed mission to dismantle climate change denial have, of course, suggested that I am grossly over-ambitious; and/or that I need to focus on solutions. Well, today, I promise I will do that but, first a brief re-statement of the problems; courtesy of this 18-minute video of James Hansen’s recent TED talk (which I summarise and discuss below)…

The problems
Here is a summary of the problems we are now facing:
1. The Earth’s current energy imbalance is 0.6 Watts per sq.m.; a rate of energy input 20 times greater than the energy output of all human activity; and equivalent to the detonation of 400,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs every day.
2. Since measurements began in 2003, there has been a noticeable acceleration in the annual rate of mass loss from both the Greenland and Antarctica ice caps.
3. The last time atmospheric CO2 was 390 ppm, sea levels were 15 m higher than they are today, which implies even if we stopped burning all fossil fuels tomorrow, this is where they would end up several centuries from now because the warming “is already in the pipeline” (i.e. because the Earth must warm-up in order to restore its energy balance).
4. Unless we stop burning fossil fuels soon, sea level rise will continue to accelerate, which is likely to cause between 1 and 5 metre rise by 2100AD (depending on how quickly we now decide to stop burning them).
5. Palaeoclimatology tells us that 350 ppm is the safe limit for avoiding significant disruption to the planet’s ecological carrying capacity (i.e. in terms of both populations of individual species and overall biodivesity); and it now seems likely that between 20%-50% of all species will be “ticketed for extinction” by the end of the century.
6. If we push the Earth beyond it’s “tipping point” (i.e. allow all the emerging positive feedback mechanisms to take hold); ACD will become unstoppable; and the ensuing socio-economic damage will be almost unimaginable. The total global cost of mitigation is already put at somewhere between 35 and 70 Trillion US Dollars depending on how soon we choose to act.
7. If we had started to get off fossil fuels in 2005, it would have required 3% reduction per year in order to restore energy imbalance by 2100AD. If we start next year, it will require 6% p.a. If we wait 10 years it will require 15% p.a.
8. Recent droughts in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico were 3 Standard Deviations outside the norm. Events such as these cannot therefore be ascribed to natural variability; anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) is happening just as Hansen said it would 24 years ago (if we did not change course – which we haven’t).
9. Pursuing emissions limits (i.e. Cap and Trade) will not work because there is no actual incentive to reduce emissions without any self-imposed restraint being to the advantage of others who do not do the same (i.e. the Tragedy of the Commons problem).
10. Hansen uses the analogy of an approaching asteroid – the longer we wait to prevent it hitting us the harder it becomes to do so.

Some will no doubt respond to all of this by claiming that Hansen is just seeking to make money out of environmental “alarmism” (e.g. by citing his Blue Planet award for a lifetime’s work) but, it is no longer just Hansen that is saying these things. He is now joined by people like:
the International Energy Agency; and
William Nordhaus.

To those who respond in such fashion, I am bound to ask:
1. How much longer are you going to hold out against the tide of history, science and now economics? and
2. What are you going to say to your children and grandchildren when you are finally proven wrong? (You had better start planning those speeches because that is what is going to happen).

The solution
In this TED talk, Hansen re-states the argument he made in Storms of my Grandchildren very succintly that what we need is a Fee and Dividend system, whereby fossil fuel producers and refiners pay the government a fee that is distributed to all taxpayers; with governments keeping none of the money: This would ensure consumers received more than they had to pay for fuel (especially if they maximise efforts to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels). In other words this would incentivise reductions in consumption (i.e. something that market forces alone struggle to do).

So why is it not happening? You guessed it… It is not in the interests of fossil fuel companies to back such a system because it will ultimately see them put out of business. But they already recognise the need to diversify away from fossil fuels (or at least they did) so, if the asteroid is approaching, what are they waiting for?

This is the problem, the people at the top of the oil companies are either in denial of the fact that oil will one day run out; and/or that “the asteroid is approaching”; and/or they are just not looking beyond securing a decent profit to stick in the bottom line of next year’s Annual Report.

Two questions that remain unanswered
1. When are our politicians going to stop being led by the nose down a Cap and Trade dead-end? and
2. When are we (the general public) going to start demanding that our politicians change course?

We must all be mad if we put up with the business-led control of world politics much longer because… It is not going to end well!

64 Responses

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  1. Point of order! 😦

    This constant swapping back and forward of the actual problem is beginning to sound a bit like alarmism, something which I am sure none of us is out to do.

    The problem facing humanity today is one of “ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING” (AGW)

    Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (ACD) on the other hand is nothing more than one of the “effects” caused by the real problem which is …. AGW.

    How can we ever hope to convince anybody of anything is we continue to make a new label every time we see a change occurring in our climate and how can we ever hope to have any changes made to help make a better future for our children if we continue to create new labels at every step in the evolution of AGW?

    We need to stick to the core issue .. “Anthropogenic Global Warming” so as not to confuse those who have a lesser understanding of what is going on otherwise they will end up so confused they will simply give up trying to understand.


    13 March 2012 at 02:28

    • Thanks for being so honest, Donald (you did say I could use your real name now, right?).

      However, I believe this post is blunt about the nature, scale and urgency of the problem we face (which we should all stop denying); but it is also offering a solution – James Hansen’s solution. Therefore, with all due respect, I do not accept your criticism of it as flip-flopping and, since it was a predicted and now evident consequence of warming oceans, I think it is more appropriate to talk about ACD rather than AGW.

      If I am guilty of indulging in environmental “alarmism”, it is because we should be alarmed about what we have done to our Planet.

      Martin Lack

      13 March 2012 at 03:58

    • You make a very valid point. Is it global warming, or is it climate change?. The misinformed are already confused enough as it is: continually changing terminology plays right into the deniers’ hands.


      15 March 2012 at 16:24

      • Pendantry

        You may like to consider that Wallace ‘Wally’ Broecker published a paper “Climate Change: Are we on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming” – PDF link : in Science in 1975.

        The distinction between the terms is well understood and if deniers cannot understand the difference then that is down to their own ignorance.

        It is comments such as yours which provide the cover of an excuse for stupidity.

        Lionel A

        15 March 2012 at 17:58

        • What about those who do not deny? I mean the ones who are not into science, who want to learn about AGW, AGD, ACD, AH, OA and OD and come to our sites looking for a read… The one’s we are all trying to educate? 😦

          Sorry, I forgot to include GoS :-)


          15 March 2012 at 22:22

        • You also forgot CAGW – the acronym of choice for those in denial.

          Martin Lack

          16 March 2012 at 07:25

        • Lionel A

          I am well aware that the various distinctions have been done to death. The point I think you’re missing is that though ‘experts’ in the field may understand (and, on occasion, wilfully misuse) the various terms, the plothora only serves to confuse the general public — upon whose political will the future of the planet rests.

          And as for ‘stupid’, well, I can only assume that you did actually follow the link I offered (and read the short article there to its conclusion).


          17 March 2012 at 09:39

        • Pendantry

          “And as for ‘stupid’, well, I can only assume that you did actually follow the link I offered (and read the short article there to its conclusion).”

          Well, ere – um, yes I did and that is exactly what I was indicating. That is the false contention raised by deniers to accuse climate scientists of being devious in switching between the terms.

          Now as to your distinction between Climate change and climate disruption I would argue that climate disruption is a subset of climate change, in other words climate disruption is a special form of climate change.

          Now if Joe on the street is confused about the Global Warming – Climate Change difference, how much more confusing is your split on climate change. Be careful that this aspect does not get ‘hoist on your own pedantry’.

          Lionel A

          17 March 2012 at 12:00

        • Lionel A — you’re absolutely right, I was trying to be too clever and misunderstanding your response.


          18 March 2012 at 18:43

  2. My brutality has no bounds when it comes to saving planet Earth! and Yes!, you may use my name, also your site looks much better now, not bad for what was once a clueless beginner! :-)


    13 March 2012 at 04:10

    • Thanks for the compliments. The only down-side to this theme is the page width. Am I right in thinking I can’t change this unless I pay 30 USD per year?

      Martin Lack

      13 March 2012 at 08:09

  3. I just checked and “MistyLook” has no feature to expand the width but that means nothing when one can click on “Ctrl +”


    13 March 2012 at 08:31

    • Useful shortcut to zoom window, thanks.:-)

      But my problem is with all the photos I have embedded in previous posts – they are now too big because the page-width is less pixels.😦

      Martin Lack

      13 March 2012 at 08:39

  4. That is the price of improving your site, out with the old, in with the new…
    Pssst …. check out my new animated header.:-)


    13 March 2012 at 12:28

    • Thanks Donald. The animated header is excellent. I posted a comment but it just disappeared, when I went back and did it again it said it was duplicated. This is happening a lot at the moment – any idea why?

      Martin Lack

      13 March 2012 at 13:31

  5. I was glad to see Dr. Hansen’s TED speech. I think he’s realized that the world his grandchildren will live in will be fundamentally different than the one he has enjoyed – there seemed to be a sense of melancholy about him.

    As you said, the warming is in the pipeline. We’re only now experiencing the result of GHG emissions in the 1970s and 1980s. Another 30 years’ worth will mean what? So far, we only have global and large regional projections of likely conditions and they’re not pleasant to look at.

    Keep up the good work, Martin!


    13 March 2012 at 16:24

    • Thanks for all of that; and for your words of personal encouragement.

      With regard to Hansen’s sense of melancholy, I agree he does seem reigned to our fate: The same thought occurred to me when I started to read Storms of my Grandchildren, which resulted in my entitling my first ever post on the subject How does James Hansen sleep at night? (27 October 2011).

      Martin Lack

      13 March 2012 at 17:05

  6. For my money, the one person who best describes both the problems AND the solutions is Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute, author of “Plan B”. They give the book away online:

    A must for every climate hawk.

    Mark Shapiro

    13 March 2012 at 23:22

    • Thanks Mark. I had not heard of him, that, or the book; so I am very grateful for the link.

      Martin Lack

      14 March 2012 at 07:13

  7. How do I think Jim Hansen (or any of us) sleeps at night?

    I try to keep a couple things in mind (to say to skeptics — always with a smile).

    1) We are only going to have one climate path. We are doing an uncontrolled, unintentional, continuous experiment on the one and only planet we inhabit. We only get one shot.

    2) Don’t worry, you can’t decarbonize the world economy too fast.

    3) Decarbonizing makes us healthier, wealthier, safer, and more secure.

    Sleep tight.

    Mark Shapiro

    13 March 2012 at 23:31

    • All very true but, what of my central – at least implied – point that, if humans survive in anything like current numbers, in the long-term we will need to extract uranium from sea water to put in FBR’s?

      Martin Lack

      14 March 2012 at 07:15

  8. From your summary of Dr. Hansen’s talk we seem to be saying that CO2 levels are at 390ppm and the last time those levels were reached sea levels were 15m higher than today. By that reasoning, is it then the case that sea levels today are 15m lower than they should be?

    Alex Thomson

    14 March 2012 at 11:25

    • Correct. But they will take 2 or 3 centuries to get there because Antarctica has barely started melting yet. Now do you get it?

      Martin Lack

      14 March 2012 at 11:31

    • Alex – CO2 levels are high enough to melt the Greenland ice caps and raise sea levels by 15 or so meters. However, global dimming (i.e. atmospheric pollution), which has a cooling effect, has so far kept the ice from melting too fast. It is only the speed of change that is being kept in check; not the change itself. Sea levels will rise one day, indeed they are already doing so right now (just not as fast as they might otherwise have done).


      14 March 2012 at 12:40

  9. Forgive me Martin but no I still don’t get it. Let me put it another way. We seem to be saying that at some point in the past sea levels were at x as a direct result of CO2 levels being at 390ppm. In other words CO2 at 390ppm is the cause and x sea levels the effect with no other discernable causes. Therefore with CO2 currently at 390ppm sea levels should once again, as in the past, be at x, whereas in fact they are at x minus 15m. If this discrepancy is solely the result of a lack of Antarctic ice melt today and nothing else then the Antarctic ice must have melted faster in the past despite the same CO2 levels.

    Alex Thomson

    14 March 2012 at 12:08

    • Alex, please accept my apologies for my somewhat abrupt initial response. As I tried to say in the Q&A session that followed Lindzen’s recent talk in London, no-one can fully understand the nature, scale and urgency of the problem that we now face unless they understand what has happened over the last 1 million years; and how the Earth regulates its temperature.

      Every time the Earth has emerged from an Ice Age, sea levels have risen over a period of time measured in decades or centuries, with atmospheric CO2 rise lagging behind by several centuries (but being bound to happen because it must happen in order to restore the Earth’s radiative energy balance).

      The situation is now reversed, but the outcome must be the same (in order to restore energy balance). Therefore, as we have increased atmospheric CO2, temperatures have risen, the ice is starting to melt and, therefore, sea level must rise. However, as before, things will take several centuries to sort themselves out.

      Where things get really scary is if you consider all the positive feedback mechanisms that could trigger runaway warming – meaning that equilibrium will never be re-established but – if you take away nothing else, please note that even if we stop burning all fossil fuel tomorrow, it will still take the Earth several decades if not centuries to re-establish equilibrium. That is why we can be certain that accelerating sea level will take several decades to slow down again and hopefully stop. However, that will not happen if we proceed to burn all the Earth’s fossil fuels before investing in alternatives.

      Martin Lack

      14 March 2012 at 12:50

  10. No apologies required Martin, I’m sure you are a busy guy, and thankyou for your interesting response. By the way let me say immediately that I’m no advocate of fossil fuels. In my lifetime I’ve learned that our dependency, particularly on coal and oil, renders us vulnerable to a whole array of real problems which have happened in the past, are happening now and will continue to do so in the future, but that’s another story.

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head when you say no one can fully understand the problem unless they fully understand the workings of (to quote the IPCC) “……a chaotic non linear coupled system…” The policy responses of decision makers seems to suggest that they do not which, rather interestingly, seems to be the view of both Drs Hansen and Lindzen!

    These two eminent climate scientists are both saying that the efforts being made by policy makers to “reduce emissions” will make no significant difference to future global temperatures and both use the term “greenwash”. Bizarre is’nt it that two scientists variously demonised by different people of different persuasions are both saying that we are wasting our time and money. Who’s listening to the scientists now?

    Alex Thomson

    14 March 2012 at 13:55

    • Thank you for those very perceptive comments, Alex.

      On the face of it, it does seem a strange paradox that both Hansen and Lindzen should be saying the IPCC/UNFCCC process is a waste of time. However, you must distinguish their motives:

      Whereas Hansen says Cap and Trade is the wrong strategy because it provides no incentive to reduce consumption, Lindzen says mitigation is not necessary because climate change is not happening. There is a big difference.

      Furthermore, whereas Hansen has been trying to tell anyone that would listen since at least 1988 that anthropgenic climate disruption will happen if we do nothing to prevent it, Lindzen has been telling anyone that would listen since at least 1992 that it is all a political conspiracy and/or hysteria.

      As for your final point, I think this is what I meant when I lamented 6 months ago that:

      “In his book, ‘Bad Science’, Ben Goldacre says that proponents of pseudoscience have succeeded in making people think science is impenetrable. However, the truth may be even more insidious because, by awakening people to the fact that they are regularly being lied to, these peddlers of pseudoscience have in fact contributed to – if not caused – a much more widespread distrust of science and all scientific authority.”

      UPDATE: Please also note this just posted by Peter Sinclair at Climate Change Denial Crock of the Week:

      Martin Lack

      14 March 2012 at 14:19

  11. Thanks for your response PS which I missed earlier (doing too many things at once I fear). Has it been clearly demonstrated somewhere that global dimming has indeed had this effect or is it an untested hypothesis? BTW I’m not challenging your statement. I’m asking a genuine question based on my own ignorance on the matter.

    Alex Thomson

    14 March 2012 at 14:19

  12. I think Hansen is right about Cap and Trade…..but curiouser and curiouser……Lindzen seems to agree again. In point of fact he’s virtually called it a racket for the benefit of Wall Street and City of London traders, (you know, those philanthropic bankers who care so deeply about the environment!)

    I wasn’t so much concerned about the motivations of these two learned individuals but rather, I’m fascinated how often points of difference are emphasised and points of agreement ignored apparently because one of the parties is in some way an ‘unfit’ person to hold a view (on the basis of their motivation or method of arriving at it) even though it is identical to that of a ‘fit’

    I’m aware of (but not read) Ben Goldacre’s book. I’m not certain there is such a thing as “bad science”. I do think that science is variously abused or ignored (invasion of Iraq anyone) to suit personal agendas be they either based on Political views or belief systems and if this is human condition scientists cannot be immune from it. Perhaps this is the origin of pseudoscience?

    Alex Thomson

    14 March 2012 at 15:47

    • With all due respect, Alex, I have explained why it is that both Lindzen and Hansen criticise current policy. Therefore, there is nothing strange about it.

      However, Lindzen’s ideoligically-driven need to deny what is happening is diametrically-opposed to Hansen’s critique of wrong business-driven policy to mitigate it.

      Therefore motivation is fundamentally important in explaining any similarity in the messages they spout.

      Martin Lack

      14 March 2012 at 16:11

  13. Thanks again PS. I will drop by when I can. Sadly I have to concentrate on earning a meagre crust in the next few hours but thank you for the invitation.

    Alex Thomson

    14 March 2012 at 15:49

  14. Hello Martin and thankyou for your response. I honestly don’t know what Dr Lindzen denies or accepts or what his ideology is, that’s his affair. In truth only he knows the answer and all else is speculation.

    What seems to be non-speculative is that both he and Dr. Hansen are making the point, with all the clarity they can muster, that policy makers have responded with a non-solution which will not mitigate any threat be it real or imagined.

    In Project Management and Sales (my background) we learn very quickly that reason and logic are not the only players in persuading people to come round to our point of view. Both these business disciplines invariably involve persuading people to change which in turn can easily produce anxieties, not about the change per se but rather about the unknown outcomes of that change.

    In perusing the websites and blogs of “sceptics” and “non sceptics” (I don’t like those terms but heyho), the anxieties become readily apparent. What appears to be a common thread is that both sides perceive themselves as victims of forces bigger than themselves. “big” business; “big” green; “big” lobbyist/activist groups; “big” government; “big” science/pseudoscience or whatever and that these powerful groups are seeking to deprive them of or desecrate something they hold dear and firmly believe in.

    Another common thread is that no-one but themselves get it and actually understand what is going on. No-one is listening so lets just pull up the drawbridge and throw rocks from behind the ramparts.

    So we seem to be in a situation where the first group thinks the second group so dumb and self-serving that they don’t care about the future of their own Granchildren while the second group thinks the first group so dumb and ideologically driven that they are prepared to support the spending of billions on “solutions” which the science says won’t work anyway.

    Perhaps a better way forward is to emphasise points of agreement; marginalise points of disagreement; and at all times try to make allies out those we perceive to be enemies

    Alex Thomson

    15 March 2012 at 15:29

    • Thanks for those thoughts (although I do not agree that Lindzen’s ideology is a matter solely for him).

      Martin Lack

      15 March 2012 at 15:56

  15. they are just not looking beyond securing a decent profit to stick in the bottom line of next year’s Annual Report

    Have you seen The Corporation?

    In other news: In the UK, we have had two successive below average rainfall winters: reservoirs and even groundwater is the lowest since records began; water companies are preparing to take unprecedented measures to protect reserves — and yet we’re still flushing toilets with drinking water.

    We must all be mad

    — yes, I believe we all are.


    15 March 2012 at 16:31

    • Thank you. As a former hydrogeologist, I know groundwater quite well.

      Martin Lack

      15 March 2012 at 16:50

      • Something tells me that we’re all going to have a need to be on increasingly familiar terms with the stuff in the very near future. Your expertise should be in high demand!


        17 March 2012 at 09:45

  16. […] If we start next year, it will require 6% p.a. If we wait 10 years it will require 15% p.a. [i.e. Point #7 in my summary of James Hansen's recent TED talk] Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  17. […] The current energy imbalance (0.6 Watts per – that is causing ACD) is equivalent to 4 hiroshima bombs being detonated every second. […]

  18. […] a summary of Dr Hansen’s talk, go to The Solution to All Our Problems on Martin’s Lack of Environment blog. I agree with both Dr. Hansen and Martin Lack about the importance of implementing a carbon […]

  19. […] change. (See the video later on.)  That Post refers to an item on Martin Lack’s Blog, Lack of Environment, where Martin as well as including the video below also lists the challenges that we on this […]

  20. James Hansen said 24 years ago that by 2028 New York’s West Side Highway would be under water, something that would require a rise of about 10 feet in the Hudson River level. What’s the position today? The water level has risen by around 2.5 inches. Still some way to go there I would suggest. You can work ths out for yourself here:

    If you go here,, you’ll see that the modest sea level increase started levelling off four years ago and has been remarkably stable since.

    Now here’s Hansen’s predictions on global temps from 1988 ( you’ll need to go to a denier website but it will only renew your sense of self-righteousness):

    Again, he’s wildly off.

    Sea ice. If you go here,, you’ll see that Antarctic and global sea ice extent is greater than the 1979-2000 average and Arctic ice only a little below the average. Arctic sea ice has been growing since bottoming out in 2007.

    There is no evidence of net positive feedbacks. There is evidence of positive and negative feedbacks but nothing conclsive either way.

    Texas rainfall last year was 14.89 inches. The next driest year, giving 14.99 inches, was in 1917. Presumably the earlier drought must have had supernatural causes as well? The average temp in Texas last year was 67.2 degrees. The record was 67.5 degrees in 1921. Did supernatural causes cause the 1921 record as well?


    3 May 2012 at 17:34

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment but, with all due respect, I think you are in a flight from reality.

      The problem with all the arguments and/or cherry picked data upon which you rely in order to justify your “there is no cause for alarm” position, is that you are living in denial of the non-linear nature of all the positive feedback mechanisms that are the reason why we are already in such deep trouble. You are also ignoring the fact that the cooling effect of aerosols and particulates, which will only lessen if and when air quality improves in developing countries (as a result of all that “unnecessary” environmental legislation of which all us supposed eco-Marxists are so fond), is likely to decrease in the next few years. Taken together, these two factors underlie the consensus view that, unless significant action is taken within the current decade, the cost of mitigating climate disruption will escalate rapidly thereafter.

      Apart from all of that – and ignoring the fact that 60 to 100 cm rise is now anticipated by the end of the Century – the modest rise in sea level seen so far is sufficient, when combined with storm surges, to put large parts of many major cities including NY at risk of more frequent flooding.

      Finally, your unwarranted optimism would appear highly likely to result in the inundation of large areas of low-lying, top quality, farmland; which will merely exacrebate the existing problem that the Earth already appears to have in being able to support the current human population (let alone the 50% increase therein predicted by the end of the Century).

      For all of these reasons, the absence of serious consequences to-date is not a legitimate reason to assume there will never be any.

      Martin Lack

      3 May 2012 at 17:54

  21. Au contraire, it is you who are in a flight fom reality! See how lame that sounds?

    I agree the following: CO2 is a greenhouse gas, it can cause warming, it has caused warming, and that our emissions have consequently caused some warming. That’s a realistic position that is obviously not as extreme as yours; but that doesn’t make it wrong.

    The difference between us is how the feedbacks are likely to operate. Let me see your evidence for NET positive feedbacks. I don’t want examples of positive feebacks: I want to see your hard evidence for the NET positive effect. Hard evidence excludes anything from a computer model.

    Your predictions of alarming sea level rise – sorry, “projections” – are an example of what happens when you start with a basic assumption about CO2 and positive feedbacks, feed it into a computer and press the run button. If you want to believe that is objective science, you wont mind if I leave you alone with that one.


    3 May 2012 at 18:31

    • The net positive effects are evidenced by accelerating rates of melting of glaciers, ice caps and sea ice; and of warming, expanding and acidifying oceans. Despite the fact that this is observable already, you will probably dismiss it all as doom-mongering. However, in reality, all of these things are the consequences of very-well understood physical and chemical processes.

      Thus, there is no need to rely on computer models to predict what will happen in the future. However, those models have already been validated (e.g. go back to 1991 and select the predicted CO2 concentrations associated with the emissions forecast closest to what has actually occurred).

      In point of fact, the glaciers, ice caps and sea ice are all melting faster than predicted 5 or 6 years ago because the positive feedback mechanisms (whose existence you seem to want to continue to doubt) were not included in the modelling. Therefore, there is only one of us that is ignoring the vast majority of research-based and observable evidence for the reality of anthropogenic climate disruption; and it is not me.

      Au revoir.

      Martin Lack

      4 May 2012 at 10:18

      • Martin,

        I’m not going to continue responding because I know it will achieve nothing. I will correct a few things, though. I don’t deny there are positive feedbacks: you have misunderstood me. There are both positive and negative feedbacks but no one can say that their net effect is positive. You are only looking at the positive effects whilst ignoring the negative effects.

        You say, “In point of fact, the glaciers, ice caps and sea ice are all melting faster than predicted 5 or 6 years ago because the positive feedback mechanisms (whose existence you seem to want to continue to doubt) were not included in the modelling. Therefore, there is only one of us that is ignoring the vast majority of research-based and observable evidence for the reality of anthropogenic climate disruption; and it is not me.”

        Take a look at the Cryosphere Today website and you’ll see that Antarctic sea ice extent is continuing to increase and is above its 1979-2000 average, global sea ice is above the same average and Arctic sea ice is very close to the average. Arctic sea ice hit a low point in 2007 but has bounced back and has steadily gained since then. How you can therefore say ice caps and sea ice melt is occuring faster than anticipated is just beyond me.

        It’s not the case that I’m ignoring your evidence for agw but it is true that you appear completely ignorant of the other side.


        5 May 2012 at 21:22

        • Just realised I was signed in under another name. Sorry for any confusion.


          5 May 2012 at 21:23

        • Thanks Sevad. I am sorry you find the truth so hard to swallow.

          Martin Lack

          6 May 2012 at 12:39

        • I am not ignorant of what the “other side” says. I just don’t accept that it is impartial and/or valid. Anyone who tells you global warming stopped in 1998, or that sea ice has stopped melting (or is “bouncing back”), is lying to you in order to prevent their business interest being damaged.

          Martin Lack

          6 May 2012 at 12:37

  22. The first issue here is that Hansen is just plain wrong, and he has gone on the record in a way that he will be proven to have been wrong.

    “The implications are profound, and the only resolution is for humans to move to a fundamentally different
    energy pathway within a decade. Otherwise, it will be too late for one-third of the world’s animal and plant species and millions of the most vulnerable members of our own species.” James Hansen 2008

    So we are 4 years into his prediction of a mass extinction event within a decade. Six more years, and we will know that Hansen was completely wrong. Six years from now, we as a planet will be burning more fossil fuels than today, CO2 in the atmosphere will be higher, and 1/3 of the Earth’s species in existence in 2008 will not be extinct. Nor will it be “too late for them.” Nor will millions of people have died from global warming.

    The big problem with his “solution” is that in order to work, his fee system needs to apply to everyone on the planet. And, he has no chance of making that happen.


    4 May 2012 at 14:59

    • Re-quoting myself from the original post above:
      Some will no doubt respond to all of this by claiming that Hansen is just seeking to make money out of environmental “alarmism” (e.g. by citing his Blue Planet award for a lifetime’s work) but, it is no longer just Hansen that is saying these things. He is now joined by people like:
      the International Energy Agency; and
      William Nordhaus.


      P.S. He does not predict mass extinctions by 2020. If you actually listen to what he says (rather than second-guess what you think he means to say), you will see that he is merely making the same points that the IEA and Nordhaus make: (1) it is time to decarbonise our energy systems; and (2) any delay will be a false economy… This is because the costs of mitigation and adaptation will get more expensive the longer we delay taking the radical action required, which is – as I have said so many times now – because it is cumulative emissions since 1850 that will determine the eventual temperature at which the Earth reaches a new radiative energy balance (if indeed it can do so).

      Martin Lack

      4 May 2012 at 16:32

      • Martin,

        Did you read Hansen’s article that I cited? He predicts these things within a decade from 2008. Mass extinction and the death of millions of people.


        7 May 2012 at 13:15

        • If it had predicted such, it is clear from the video above that Hansen has changed his mind!!!

          However, in my view, he never predicted extinctions by 2020: He was merely saying that, if we do not change our behaviour by 2020, we will have locked-in extinctions by 2100.

          Hence what he says above: “20 to 50% of species ticketed for extinction”.

          Martin Lack

          7 May 2012 at 13:57

        • Further evidence that Hansen has never predicted extinctions within a decade is available in an article he has had published in the New York Times newspaper yesterday. All he has ever done is predict hard-to-stop consequences if we fail to act within this decade. Today’s post on Climate Denial Crock of the Week, which alerted me to this article, also provides a useful retrospective look at the accuracy of Hansen’s predictions (for a range of emissons projections) in 1981 (courtesy of SkS).

          I will be very interested to see if you are able to twist any and/or all of this to pursue your ‘Hansen is a hypocrite’ meme…?

          Martin Lack

          10 May 2012 at 12:24

        • Martin,

          Did you read Hansen’s 2008 paper that I cited wherein he states “The implications are profound, and the only resolution is for humans to move to a fundamentally different energy pathway within a decade. Otherwise, it will be too late for one-third of the world’s animal and plant species and millions of the most vulnerable members of our own species.” It is not some obscure writing that he didn’t intend, but one of his papers listed on the NASA site.

          According to Hansen, by 2018, there will be nothing we can do to prevent the extinction of 1/3 of the planet’s species and the death of millions of people without a fundamental change in our energy pathway. And, let’s face it, that change is not going to happen by 2018. If anything, the developed world will cause CO2 emissions to accelerate well past 2018.

          And, I submit that it will not be too late for 1/3 of the species on the planet nor will millions of people be facing certain, unstoppable death.

          Let’s face it, Hansen is grossly exaggerating, and it is hurting his cause, even if his basic premise, harmful AGW, is right. The more people like Hansen exaggerate this problem, the more people will become skeptical.


          17 May 2012 at 12:41

        • I am getting very tired of pointing out to you that your interpretaion of what Hansen says does not withstand scrutiny. He has made it clear in many other places that, if we do not change course within the next decade, he expects significant extinction of species by the end of the current century.

          Hansen is not exaggerating. Species extinction has already started. He is not the only one raising the alarm.
          e.g. Peter Sale (Ecologist) – Our Dying Planet (2011).

          Martin Lack

          17 May 2012 at 12:53

  23. Martin: “I am not ignorant of what the “other side” says. I just don’t accept that it is impartial and/or valid. Anyone who tells you global warming stopped in 1998, or that sea ice has stopped melting (or is “bouncing back”), is lying to you in order to prevent their business interest being damaged.”

    Better take it up then with that hotbed of scepticism, the University of Illinois’ Polar Research Group, since the sea ice figures I quoted are their’s.


    6 May 2012 at 15:25

  24. I can see this is something we will never agree on until actual events prove one of us wrong but I appreciate you allowing me to raise some of the issues on your blog.


    6 May 2012 at 15:27

  25. […] for decades: If we do not decarbonise our energy generations systems within this current decade, the cost of doing so will grow exponentially because the speed of both climate change and the required decarbonisation will only increase. I […]

  26. […] to you, please click on the link below for the video and my 10-point summary of what he said: The solution to all our problems (13 March 2012) Share this:EmailFacebookTwitterLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

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