Don't Accept 100% of the Climate Change Story and You Get Labeled a Racist

Mish

If you do not accept any part of the climate change story, expect the worst.

Climate Change Parts 

  1. Climate is Changing
  2. CO2 is the Reason
  3. Politicians Have the Solution

It's Changing

Without a doubt climate is changing. 

There was a move a few years back to change the discussion from "global warming" to the more politically correct meme "climate change" just so no one could reasonably deny it was happening.

Depending on one's time frame, global warming is happening too. The questions are why and for how long?

Is CO2 the Reason?

An increase in CO2 is likely part of the answer but what part? And why the slowdown vs what the models predicted?

Nature.Com discusses Making Sense of the Early 2000s Warming Slowdown.

Warming Slowdown

Climate models did not (on average) reproduce the observed temperature trend over the early twenty-first century, in spite of the continued increase in anthropogenic forcing. This mismatch focused attention on a compelling science problem — a problem deserving of scientific scrutiny.

Nonetheless, let's assume the models are correct and that 1950-1970 and 2002-2014 did not happen.

Let's also assume there was no data manipulation anywhere. 

How Fast is the Sea Rising?

Please consider How Fast is the Sea Rising?

Between 1900 and 2016, the globally averaged sea level rose by 16–21 cm (6.3–8.3 in). More precise data gathered from satellite radar measurements reveal an accelerating rise of 7.5 cm (3.0 in) from 1993 to 2017, which is a trend of roughly 30 cm (12 in) per century.

Let's assume 100% of the ocean's rise is due not only to CO2 but manmade CO2 and as a result the oceans will rise by a foot in the next 100 years. 

Existential Threat of Our Time

On February 3, I noted Climate Change Moves to the Forefront of Biden's Legislation

It’s long past time for the Senate to take a leading role in combating the existential threat of our time: climate,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Allegedly, the existential threat to mankind is a 1 foot rise in the ocean over the next 100 years.

Cheaper to Deal With it Now

On January 28, I noted John Kerry's Straw Man Arguments for Wasting Money on Climate Change

Kerry blamed 4 hurricanes on climate change as if throwing any amount of money at the alleged problem would have stopped the hurricanes.

Some claim I took Kerry out of context. Play it yourself to see. 

Where is the CO2 Coming From?

Annual CO2 Emissions2

CO2 Stats

  • Please note that the US reduced its carbon footprint from 6.13 billion tons in 2007 to 5.28 billion tons in 2019.
  • Meanwhile, China increased its footprint from 6.86 billion tons in 2019 to 10.17 billion tons in 2019.
  • In the same timeframe, global output rose from 31.29 billion tons to 36.44 billion tons.
  • In 2007, the US accounted for 19.6% of the total global carbon footprint.
  • In 2019, the US accounted for only 14.5% of the total global footprint.

A Word About Cherry Picking Data

For pointing out that the US only accounted for 14.5% of the total global footprint, not only was I accused of cherry picking the data it led to charges of me being a racist.

This comment kicked it off: "Mish, please alter the graph. You can't show that China is a major polluter or in any way shape or form, a bad actor, because that is racist."

That I believe was sarcasm but many others jumped on the boat.

Take this comment for example.

What verges on racism is believing that the billions in China, Africa, South America don't have the right to pollute at the same rate as those of us in the developed world. And what verges on willful ignorance is discounting what climate scientists say are the consequences of introducing so much CO2 into the atmosphere.

AOC's New Green Deal

Please recall AOC's Green New Deal Pricetag of $51 to $93 Trillion vs. Cost of Doing Nothing.

Here's another amusing reader comment 

You keep equating the estimated cost of the green new deal with the cost of getting to net zero emissions. That is incorrect, there are a ton of expensive proposals in the green new deal which have nothing to do with carbon emissions.

OK. What portion of AOC's plan does one want to assign to carbon?

67%? 50%? 33%? 

$90 Trillion Solutions

In 2015, Business Insider noted A Plan Is Floating Around Davos To Spend $90 Trillion Redesigning All The Cities So They Don't Need Cars

The $90 trillion proposal came from former US vice president Al Gore, former president of Mexico Felipe Calderon, and their colleagues on The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. 

A Word About Scientific Consensus

Politicians Have the Solution?!

Now we are getting to the heart of the matter. 

Let's review the key point: In 2019, the US accounted for only 14.5% of the total global footprint.

Key Questions

  1. How much money are we willing to spend to reduce our 14.5% and falling percentage of carbon emissions?
  2. What would it cost to cut that by half in 10 years? 
  3. Assuming we could cut that in half in 10 years, what would it do to total carbon output?
  4. By what force do we get China, India, and all the developing economies in the Mideast and Africa to reduce their carbon output?
  5. Assuming we achieve number 4 peacefully by some sort of economic buyout like cap-and-trade what is the cost to the US? 
  6. What about inflation?
  7. Sure, China is producing goods for the US and EU but do we want that to stop? When? Why? How? Cost?
  8. Does not China, India, Africa, etc., have the right to improve their standards of living?
  9. What do the above points imply about the US standard of living?
  10. How the hell do we pay for this?

Looking ahead over the next 100 years, the US is a minor part of the carbon problem. 

I have yet see AOC, John Kerry, any Mish reader, or anyone else address any of the above 10 questions in detail, and I am sure that set of questions is incomplete.

Final Questions to All Those Demanding Government Do Something

What the hell are you doing? 

The #1 thing someone can proactively do eliminate their carbon footprint is to stop breathing.

Since that seems a bit impractical, the #2 thing someone can do is not have kids. 

Anyone up in arms about carbon ought to not have kids, not eat meat, not drive a car, not have a TV, not listen to the radio, and in general not do much of anything.

Instead, most demand the government do something. What? 

Until someone can put a realistic price on this while addressing my 10 questions, forgive me for not agreeing that a total rise in the ocean of 3 inches in the last 20 years is the existential threat of our time.

GM to Phase Out Gas-Powered Vehicles by 2035, Carbon Neutral by 2040

One day after Kerry's ridiculous rant, I noted GM to Phase Out Gas-Powered Vehicles by 2035, Carbon Neutral by 2040.

Assuming one believes CO2 is a problem, this is the way problems are solved.

GM is not doing this to save the world, it is doing this because market forces mandate a change.

Similarly, solar power will come into play as storage technology improves.

The free market, not populist ideas will solve real world problems.

Bonus Geopolitical Q&A

Q: What happened when Merkel went along with the Greens and did away with nuclear?
A: Germany imports more coal-based energy from neighboring states and is more dependent on  Russia for natural gas.

Q: Is wind and solar ever going to make a serious dent in China's growing energy demands.
A: No

Q: What happened in France when Macron pushed through a gas tax to support the Green movement?
A: How quick we forget the Yellow-Vest Revolt that went on for months.

The Real Threat

The "existential threat" is politicians seeking $90 trillion solutions to hyped-up problems. 

Mish

Comments (123)
No. 1-46
Sechel
Sechel

I've yet to see a cogent argument put forth disputing co2 and climate change. Where are scientists putting forth the contra argument. So ar we have nothing but crackpots. And the cost of not acting is miniscue compared to the environmental damange we're experiencing

Sechel
Sechel

Free market is a good allocator of resources in most cases, but it fails terribly when it comes to things like pollution. And Global warming is a pollution issue, jut co2 pollution.

Sechel
Sechel

I think constantly blaming AOC when the issue of green energy comes up is playing on social stratifications. It's an attempt to play up her progressive association. She just got elected to Congress and has nothing to do with the windmills and solar farms in Texas, but she's good at generating clicks and polarizing an issue. So why do it? It may not be racist but its not something good either

njbr
njbr

Need I say again that we export our carbon emissions to places like China when they do the heavy lifting of making the bric-a-brac that fills our lives?

Our demand creates their emissions. As is true with everone else that buys from China.

That cannot be denied.

It is all linked in this world.

KidHorn
KidHorn

Amen,
The predictions of global warming are always far worse than what actually happens.

I have yet to meet a 'climate scientist' who understands global warming more than I do. I don't know what the requirements are for being a climate scientist, but they seem to be so general, anyone can claim to be one.

One major factor that doesn't seem to be taken into account is as the earths surface warms, it will cool the earth at a very rapid pace. The amount of radiative heat transfer from a surface is proportional to the surface temperature raised to the 4th power. So, a small increase in temperature results in a rapid increase in the rate of cooling. Predictions of temperatures rising 10 degrees is insane to anyone who understands the physics.

simb555
simb555

You are 100% correct in your comments and position on so called climate change. We have had little ice ages in the past and are still alive and kicking. This is your best post for a while.

FromBrussels
FromBrussels

....there s that new word since Biden, for me it is new anyway, we even haven t got a translation in dutch, it is WOKE .....looks like you ain t WOKE Mish ! ... I admit not to be WOKE myself, don t want to be ....

KidHorn
KidHorn

According to the climate change experts, what's predicted from climate change is whatever current weather phenomena we're experiencing. Whenever bad weather hits anywhere, it's the new normal weather pattern because of climate change.

Doesn't matter that what happened in Texas wasn't predicted. Now that it's happened, the theory is changed so it predicted it. And from now on, this will be normal for Texas.

Frilton Miedman
Frilton Miedman

"Hear that Mr Anderson? ... That is sound of inevitability"

Feel free to split hairs, parse data and angrily berate each other, I'll be too busy sorting sectors and companies for good investment/trade ideas according to inevitability.

Free market wins every time. albeit the powers that be will fight change, namely Big Oil, or the big three, but this Texas crisis was an eye opener.

Takeaways
1 - Wind is now cheaper than nat gas
2- Wind was more reliable than nat gas (in this situation)
3 - Wind appeases the left's climate concerns while cutting consumer costs and benefitting domestic land owners vs OPEC.

I'm looking at companies like VWDRY, right now it's in a pullback from all time high's, also looking at QS, even though the "evil" George Soros just bet big on it, he does have a good track record.

Don't even get me started on my missed opportunity in TSLA.

I wanted in with TSLA when it IPO'd, but pro-oil guys scared me out of it years ago.

I am NOT recommending these stocks, just generally pointing out there are opportunities here.....the Climate change debate is over, it's really happening, and it appears alternatives aren't just appealing for the left.

Doug78
Doug78

Courageous post Mish. I remember reading "The Limits to Growth" in 1972 in which reputable scientists predicted the collapse of civilization due to running out of oil, metals, farmland and just about everything and the timeline was for it to happen in the early '80s. It was a rigorous report using computer projections and it was believable. Their prediction didn't happen. Instead of famines we got an increasing prosperity in most of the world. In the '80 we heard about how Global Warming would make the deserts expand, the poles melt and the seas to cover cities by in the 2000's. Al Gore, seeing a good opportunity, came out with his movie and made millions but all his predictions were wrong. When the predictions did not come true there popped up new models predicting explaining away why the former predictions didn't come true. Instead of less snow and more deserts the new models say more snow and less deserts. When the failed predictions started to be noticed it was necessary to shut out all anyone who questioned the narrative even scientists who did not toe the line enough. Consequently most green projects are not green at all. The US has lowered it's CO2 production but much of that was achieved by moving the heavy industry to other countries for example. Most of what we wear and use are made using fossil fuels. Changing to all electric will do nothing for that. The Earth is warming but it is taking its' own good and no matter what we do other countries want to become rich too and they will burn oil to do so. It's better for us to adapt. We live in a post-truth era where facts count less than hype however post-truth does not mean post-reality. In the end reality wins out.

kpmyers
kpmyers

Guess what else will affect climate over time? The Earth's moon and plate tectonics.

The moon is slowly moving away from earth. The moon affects ocean tides which affects ocean currents which affects coastal temperatures, which affect climates.

Plate tectonics are making the Atlantic Ocean larger, slowly pushing up the continental shelving . This will affect water depths on the coast which will affect water temperatures, which will affect air temperatures around the coasts which affects the climate.

FromBrussels
FromBrussels

First of all, this planet does not BELONG to the fckn (up) Sapiens Ape! All throughout evolution, disasters DID happen, it will be pretty difficult to avoid them in the future despite all fckn technology.... and please don t be too smug, our impressive 100 years of 'modern development' is only, or not even, a nanosecond within a universal context ! In the meantime, our one and only beautiful planet is being destroyed by 8 bln, and ticking, crazy predators, and although we might colonize the fckn moon and other barren rocks, NOTHING is guaranteed , the C pandemic being a great example ! Let's enjoy while we can, WITHOUT creating green dictatorships serving, as usual, the happy few like, Musk, Bezos, Gates and other admirable mfckrs ....

Too much BS
Too much BS

The current electrical grid cannot function or sustain itself through any weather anomaly. Imagine adding just a few or 10 million EVs. Need to go somhere get any old 69 F150 Ford and go tow that frozen Tesla.

Germ
Germ

The USA is responsible for a very substantial amount of the CO2 that China produces as it has offshored most of its industrial base to there. The plastic salad shooters along with most of the other crap purchased at WalMart comes from China.

Agave
Agave

Actually, it's probably going to be worse and happen faster than the initial models have shown, unless there are many and more rapid remediation actions taken quickly. I'm not going to bother linking you all to the experts, they're out there if you care to do the research.

I'll just say, I'm glad that the climatologists and related scientists don't try to dabble in economics.

Eddie_T
Eddie_T

Some of your takeaways are spot on.

The current scientific consensus on climate is questionable for a variety of reasons, the main one being that if you don’t go along with the narrative Kerry is flogging, you can’t even get published.

Climate models have been given too much credence. Some of them especially, like the doom-and-gloom RCP 8.5 from AR5, published by the IPCC in 2014. Short explanation....it’s totally bogus.

The AR5 reports were rushed to publication and had a lot of very questionable conclusions that don’t fit the data. However, some of the less dire predictions seem to be pretty close to the mark, like RCP 4.5......which is bad enough, btw.

None of the IPCC models take natural warming or cooling events into account at all. This is shortsighted. This is what explains the cooling you pointed out that doesn’t quite fit the narrative.

We still have what is probably bad science getting a lot of press. The most reliable piece of information the climate scientists have ever come up with....that we get a 3 degree rise for every doubling of CO2...is now being challenged as being on the low side.....I see no reason to believe that doubling CO2 will give a 4.5 or 5 degree rise, as some are now positing. It’s based on cloud science, which needs to be replicated, but won’t be.

So put me down for someone who thinks global warming is an existential threat, but is being somewhat overstated, with respects to the short term effects.

Sea level rise is not even going to be as a bad as Kerry says it is. And it will be dealt with.

Agriculture in many places is not going to be affected in a catastrophic way. In areas where agriculture is a marginally successful activity, we will have problems.

It is reasonable to think about spending money on getting more water to farmers, rather than subsidizing green energy.

It is reasonable to think about ways to increase resilience to the many climate related weather events, rather than subsidizing green energy.

However, we do need to cut our carbon emissions. I expect that will be market driven, but not by GM and their electric cars. It will be driven by demand destruction, which is already in progress. As cost of production goes up, producers can’t sell oil at a price consumers can afford....so consumers find ways to use less fossil fuel. There is plenty of room to reduce demand in a world full of waste.

I don’t think politicians are capable of making the right decisions to avoid climate disaster over the long haul. Humans have a short time horizon, both personally and politically. The green new deal is an ad campaign for a new conduit scheme to put government money into the usual pockets.

Renewable energy is not all bad....but it falls way short of providing for a civilization like the one we have going....peoople who can do math have figured this out already.

Nukes, good ones (not the plutonium fast breeder reactor kind) are a short-term viable solution...much progressive is being made in this area. If we could tap thorium as a fuel, it might take us out into the future a few hundred years. Not sure that one will be figured out, but I hope it is.

Meanwhile, the world still runs on oil.....production goals are still rising, not falling, in spite of the Biden and Kerry lip service to accords and our willingness to give Kerry a very large carbon footprint to reduce our collective carbon footprint.

ToInfinityandBeyond
ToInfinityandBeyond

As per my post in another topic I attended a college “Control Theory” lecture in the early 1970s regarding the greenhouse effect. At that time, as per the lecture, the jury was out as to whether this might lead to a global cooling or a global warming. It is beginning to look like it is leading to an overall warming but that is not to say the trend will be straight up. There may well be dips in the trend along the way. I have to say that I don’t buy into the argument that we should do nothing because of emissions from China and India. Every country should be doing whatever they can to reduce their carbon footprints. The developed countries of the world got a free pass during their developing years due to the fact that everyone was blissfully unaware of the damage being done.

AnotherJoe
AnotherJoe

@Mish

I don't think you are racist, ignorant yes, set on your 100 year old ways yes.

"How much money are we willing to spend to reduce our 14.5% and falling percentage of carbon emissions?"
"Looking ahead over the next 100 years, the US is a minor part of the carbon problem."

The market to lower CO2 is not just the US. There is pressure all over the world to move to green energy. The choices are: lead or follow. AOC is picking lead.

"GM is not doing this to save the world, it is doing this because market forces mandate a change."

Market forces LOL. Just a few month ago GM was all in to suing CA (with) Trump to keep them from enacting their emissions regulations, now they are ok with them. Did market forces changed in a couple of months or did the president change? Keep also in mind that Tesla is creating a market thanks to all the subsides they have gotten. Market forces? Please spare me your libertarian way of thinking that has no basis in reality.

njbr
njbr

We all like to think changes will happen gradually, but there are tipping points where changes happen rapidly and there is no going back. We know very little about such things as the global ocean circulation current and it's possible endangerment by rapidly melting Greenland ice (there's a reason why Ireland is relatively warm when compared to Hudson Bay at the same latitude). We don't really understand the present air circulation as affected by the jet stream and Hadley, Ferrel and Polar cells and the effect on rainflall, temperature and climate.

So here we are, charging forward, pushing CO2 and CO2 equivalents which are know to affect the temperature to some of the highest levels in the history of the world, without understanding that we have been in a sweet-spot of climate in the world's history that has allowed the billions of people to survive. There were many long periods of time in the world's history where human life would not have been possible so we are fortunate. Check out "Canfield ocean" and the "Boring Billion" on google. There are a lot of bad end states that can happen.

As a people, we think we hit the home run, whereas really we were born on 3rd base. And we don't really yet understand the rules.

Eddie_T
Eddie_T

All old white men are racists by the current definition of racism . No exceptions. As the lucky (but completely undeserving) recipients of unbelievable privilege, there is no way we could NOT be racists....

Please report immediately for your mandatory diversity training.

TexasTim65
TexasTim65
  1. Politicians Have the Solution

It's the old 'rainmaker' scam updated for the modern world.

In the 1800s when a town / region was in a drought a rainmaker (shaman) would appear and tell the people he could make it rain if they gave him some money to perform a dance and a prayer to god. When they gave him money, if it rained, he claimed the credit and with happy customers spreading the good word moved on to the next region. If it didn't rain, he'd tell them it was because the gods were more displeased that imagined and that he needed more money (ie double down on failure) and more prayer. Eventually it would rain or the townspeople would realize it was a scam (after giving more and more money) and run him out of town.

With climate change if we give 1.9 trillion and things get better (or not worse) they will claim all the credit and say we need to remain vigilant (ie continue paying). If things get worse they will say they underestimated things and that doubling down will get climate change under control. Rinse / repeat until we all realize the scam for what it is.

PecuniaNonOlet
PecuniaNonOlet

As Joe Biden would say, “here’s the deal...”
There is no free lunch period. Mish asks ten great questions but the solution in my opinion is the same thing as the solution to being overweight - offset those calories.

I remember reading somewhere that body builders consume 30,000 calories a day yet they tend to be all muscle, how? The burn the calories when they consume.

How does this apply to the environment? There is never any penalty for consumption of goods and services aside from payment with made up worthless currencies. You go and buy a new ipod, use it for a couple of years then toss it in the trash except trash = pollution. Where is the penalty here?

At least with calories, if you consume too many you get fat but not so with endless consumption and disposal of seemingly endless plastics and products. And while I am referring to the finished product (ipod), the amount of pollution it takes to manufacture an ipod is staggering - again no penalty to anyone...not Apple, not the miners of raw materials, not the shippers of materials or distributors.

I use ipod as an example because they are now mostly extinct except in landfills, same will billions of cables, plastics, boxes, packaging and on and on.

You dont need a high iq to understand this simply isnt sustainable, even with recycling. The cost to fix is irrelevant anyway because the problem wont ever be fixed, its the tragedy of the commons on a global scale.

A while back I made a comment about parking your running car in the garage and asking people to tell me what would happen, we had a mother and 7 year old kid die of just that carbon monoxide this week because of the cold. Sadly, with flaring, pet chem plants, cars, planes, refineries and every other thing running we are suffocating ourselves. Who cares about cost, just have a grand old mega orgy before the world dies....we reap what we sow.

FromBrussels
FromBrussels

I am afraid there is ONLY ONE general solution to safeguard our pathetic existance : BUY BITCOIN !

Eddie_T
Eddie_T

Bought a few GLD for another fun trade. The dollar is in an uptrend, but it’s a weak-ass trend so far. Gold is stretched a lot to the downside, if you believe in reversion to the mean.

Inflation signs are everywhere. The calculus for gold depends on what you fear most....inflation, or opportunity loss in some hotter asset. jmho.

Imho the biggest threat to any risk asset at the moment would be a big correction in stocks, which would take everything down...but since that looks a few months away in the worst case., gold might have time to make a move.

Gold is weak for many reasons....strong dollar, fomo behavior in bitcoin and stocks both....even the rising bond yields....but I like this for a short term bottom.

Paperguy
Paperguy

Few questions I have seen asked but not answered:
What IS the optimum temperature and co2 levels for this planet?
Does co2 lead temperature increase or does temperature increase cause more co2 in atmosphere?
If sea level rise is an issue why do the rich keep buying and building houses and resorts on the shores and islands?
I will believe its an issue when the rich start treating it like an issue and not another opportunity to get more, with or without their hands in the taxpayers pockets

Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

So the libertarian answer is always the same. There is no crisis. Do nothing. Let the individual suffer bear all the risks and events from these risks. By this libertarian logic we should not have done anything about anything in the history of time. Vaccines ? Nope. Let 'em all die. Libertarian logic says all government is bad.

Doug78
Doug78

And Perseverance has landed!

Syllabub
Syllabub

Six000mileyear
Six000mileyear

Let's blame central banks. Without fiat currency and borrowing it into existence, consumerism would not have been able to purchase as many disposable products as they have.

dunno_again
dunno_again

Stop playing the victim, Mish. Yes, I'm sure some people said some things that hurt your feelings when you put your climate opinions forward, but that happens with most subjects.

You jumped right on the "frozen windmills" meme like a little bitch loving every moment of the "those pointy-head scientists didn't think of this" stupidity - only to discover that if you'd either waited a few hours for the reality kickback, or just used your mediocre noodle, you'd have figured out that Fox News/Abbott memes have a tendency to deteriorate quickly.

As one commentator noted, the derision that would be poured on a climate scientist would be a degree of magnitude more on this board if s/he spouted simplistic nonsense about economics then you received.

Realist
Realist

Hi Mish. I would be happy to discuss this topic with you. I keep offering. You keep ignoring my offers. Why? I won’t call you a racist.

My only goal is to discuss the science, as I keep repeating. I am not here to talk about AOC, Biden, Kerry, the green deal etc. Just the science.

I am not advocating for anything, other than understanding the science. Once you understand the science, you are free to do whatever you want with that knowledge.

I will start here. Feel free to respond.

The sun is the key energy source in our solar system. It provides enough energy to warm our planet to around -18C.

Given the amount of energy the sun provides, our planet should be a much colder place. Thank goodness it isn't that cold. Fortunately, our planet also has a thin atmosphere around it that can trap and distribute some of the energy received from the sun. Because of that atmosphere, our planet currently has an average surface temperature of 15C. How much energy our atmosphere traps depends on several factors, but primarily greenhouse gasses, such as CO2. Scientists can see from the geologic records over many millions of years, that higher levels of CO2 are associated with warmer global temperatures, and lower levels of CO2 are associated with colder global temperatures.

For example, 500 million years ago, there was almost no CO2 in the atmosphere, and the earth was completely frozen over. This period is referred to as snowball earth. So, we certainly don’t want to get rid of all the CO2.

And 55 million years ago, CO2 levels were 1700 ppm and our planet was a hothouse. There was no ice anywhere, turtles and palm trees at the north pole, and the equator regions were too hot for most life. Sea levels were 200m higher. Florida was under water, as were all other current coastal regions. We don’t want CO2 levels to get that high again.

Fortunately, we are in a relatively sweet spot for CO2 and temperature right now. After all, we probably wouldn't be here otherwise.

So why are scientists sounding an alarm about global warming?

Because the current trend is one of increasing CO2 levels and increasing temperatures. It is easy to dismiss these increases, because they don’t seem very significant. One hundred years ago, CO2 levels were around 280 ppm and the average global temperature was about 14C. Today CO2 levels are around 415 ppm and the average global temperature is 15C. Which doesn’t seem like much, does it?

After all, there have been far greater changes in CO2 and temperature in the past, right?

So, what’s the big deal? Well, it’s all about the rate of change. When CO2 and temperature levels change naturally, it happens over tens of thousands (or more) years. The geologic record shows that temperatures often change as much as 1C every 10000 years. That pace of change allows nature to adapt to the changes. In fact, prior to the last few hundred years, our planet had cooled about 1C in the previous 10000 years.

But in the last 100 years, mankind has overwhelmed the planet’s natural cycles, by pumping lots of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, including CO2. As a result, we have warmed the planet by 1C in 100 years. The problem with this increase, is that it is happening too fast for the planet to adjust. One example: The rate of species extinctions is now happening at 10000 times the natural rate. I will not list any more issues, because I am sure you are tired of hearing them.

The next problem that scientists are trying to warn us about, is the length of time these greenhouse gasses stay in the atmosphere before they filter out. For CO2 (the main culprit) it can take several decades and up to two centuries for most of it to filter out. Which means that we won’t be reversing any of the problems that are currently happening anytime soon. The problems we are already seeing today, will be with us for a long time, even if we could magically stop all emissions today and in the future. The only way to reduce the next several decades of consequences is to find a cost-effective way to remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere ourselves.

The next warning is that we are making the problem worse every day, as we continue to emit more greenhouse gasses.

But it gets worse. Our planet has incredible stores of carbon dioxide and methane, currently locked in permafrost and other areas. As we continue to warm our planet, we are beginning to release these stores. The worry is that once these stores begin adding to the levels of greenhouse gases, they will accelerate the warming much faster, which will begin a feedback loop where every year the extra warmth causes the release of more trapped carbon, which causes more warmth, which causes more release etc. This is one of the 3 big tipping points scientists often talk about. Releasing this stored carbon would dwarf what mankind has done so far. This could lead to runaway, unstoppable global warming in this century. However, by the time we figure out whether we have crossed that tipping point, it will already be too late.

I am not here to tell anyone to stop emitting greenhouse gasses. I’m not telling you to stop driving, or stop heating your house, or cooking your food, or to stop breathing. And I’m not going to call you a racist because you don’t understand the science. But I would be happy to keep explaining the science, should you wish to discuss it, because I want to help people understand the science.

Up to this point, despite warnings from scientists, humanity has done very little about this problem. I suspect that we will continue to do very little.

As a result, the costs of global warming will continue to increase every year. Much of the cost will be financial. It is going to cost us a lot of money to do nothing about this problem. It is going to hurt the economy severely. At some point, the financial costs are going to overwhelm us.

But the biggest cost will be human. There is already a lot of suffering and death because of global warming, and it is only going to get worse every year.

Okay Mish. That’s a beginning. Feel free to explain the science to me. Tell me what I have wrong. There is so much we can discuss. It’s a big topic. I promise that I won’t call you a racist.

Felix_Mish
Felix_Mish

At the risk of becoming the resident Graph-o-Nazi, something should be said about that "Warming Slowdown" graph at the top of the posting.

It does not show climate. Well, it does, but you have to intuit climate from it.

Here's how:

Put a dot on the left on the 1950 axis where the temperature was measured to be in 1950. That dot will, presumably, be near the center of the gray area.

Do the same for 2010.

Put a dot on each of those years to best represent the predicted temperatures at those two times. Maybe in the middle of the predictions' values?

Do the same for 1980. Two dots in 1980, that is, one for measured temp, the other for predicted.

Now put similar pairs of dots on 1965 and 1995.

Draw two smooth curves between the measured/predicted dots.

Those two curves show the measured and predicted climate-temperature for those 60 years.

All the jagged ups and downs are best called "weather". They reflect things like El Ninos and perhaps sampling errata.

If it makes you uncomfortable extrapolating anything important from 5 samples, it should. That's why researchers have been madly trying to piece together accurate measurements from times before satellites have provided reliable data for their tiny bit of the whole-Earth's cover.

mezzo
mezzo

The bottom line: Americans are not convinced about the human CO2 significance argument. They are brilliant in their collective judgement. CO2 hypothesis has failed. Models are continuing to be wrong. Between planet degassing and the cosmic environment, tremendous arrogance is needed to think your computer model is relevant.

Thanks Mish for laying it out for all the readers.

Realist
Realist

Hi paperguy. I have some time and would be happy to answer.

What IS the optimum temperature and co2 levels for this planet?
Optimum for humans. CO2 280-320 Temp 14C.

Does co2 lead temperature increase or does temperature increase cause more co2 in atmosphere?
Temperature leads historically. CO2 follows. But don't let that fool you. This is how it works. There are natural warming and cooling cycles that the planet goes through, called Milankovitch cycles. The cooling cycles last around 80000-90000 years, while the warming cycles last 10000-20000 years. When a cold cycle ends and a warming cycle begins, the temperature begins to slowly rise because the earth is receiving a bit more energy from the sun. This temperature rise causes the release of more CO2 into the atmosphere. The extra CO2 traps more of the sun's heat. Which causes the release of more CO2, which causes more warming, which causes more CO2 and so on. It's called a feedback loop. So, while the increase in temperature is the match, CO2 is the gasoline that keeps getting added to the fire.

However, the planet is currently 10000 years into a cooling cycle. As a result, CO2 levels, and temperatures were already slowly dropping. But in the last 200 years, man has been pumping CO2 into the atmosphere and warming the planet, thus reversing the natural cycle. So this time, CO2 is actually leading. Temperature is following.

If sea level rise is an issue why do the rich keep buying and building houses and resorts on the shores and islands?

As Eddie said, people love to live by water. Sea level rise is very gradual, just a few millimetres per year. Many places will not be affected by it for decades. Though some places have already been abandoned. Just the luck of the draw on who gets hurt first.

I will believe its an issue when the rich start treating it like an issue and not another opportunity to get more, with or without their hands in the taxpayers pockets

The "rich" are not a cohesive group. Some care a lot. Some don't give a crap. You can't base anything you believe on any group as a whole. For example, many rich people support organizations and businesses that are trying to come up with solutions to global warming. Bill Gates has invested over a billion dollars in various projects, such as some which are trying to efficiently remove CO2 from the atmosphere. There are thousands of other "rich" people who are legitimately trying to help.

CEOoftheSOFA
CEOoftheSOFA

The cause of the 21st century "pause" in global warming is cyclical and was predicted. In 2000, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation entered the cool phase. This cools the Earth's average temperature by several tenths of a degree C. The cool phase will last for 30 years. In 2009 the Seuss/DeVries solar cycle entered the cool phase. This will cool the Earth by 1 degree C for 33 years, plus or minus one standard deviation. There is a mountain of physical evidence to support the proof of these cycles, among others. The climate models did not predict this cooling trend because the climate modelers are deniers of the climate science which indicates that nearly all of the climate change we are experiencing is cyclical. If the climate modelers admitted that the cooling trend is cyclical, they would also have to admit that all the warming trends we have seen are also cyclical. There is no physical evidence which indicates that the changing climate is due to increases in CO2. The increase in sea levels are due to the Earth entering the warm phase of the Eddy cycle in the 1850's, which was the end of the Little Ice Age and the beginning of the Modern Warm Period. However, the warm phases of the Eddy cycle are becoming less warm and shorter, and the cool phases of the Eddy cycle are becoming colder and longer. This indicates that the Holocene interglacial warm period is coming to an end.

2 Replies

Call_me_Al
Call_me_Al

Like the general perspective of your post, but would not be quick to discount the human factor going forward. The estimated population of the planet has increased from about 1 billion to 7.8 billion during the last ~220 years and collectively we've done a lot (from changing the surface of the planet to increasing cloud cover via air travel and general aerosol loading to dumping thermal energy (heat) into the atmosphere).

To riff on what they say in investing, past performance may not indicate future results.

Realist
Realist

Please show me your "mountain of evidence".

The Devries cycle entered it's cooling phase 40 years ago and is just beginning the next warming phase.

However, even if I accept your argument that the Devries cycle began a cooling phase in 2009, where is the cooling that it is supposed to be causing? Shouldn't the planet have cooled around 0.3C in the last 11 years, based on your argument?

Yet, the last decade was the planet's hottest decade since we started keeping track in the 1800s. The last 7 years were the 7 hottest individual years.

The fact is that solar cycles are background noise in global temperatures. The very minor changes in levels of irradiation could not possibly change the planet's temperature by as much as 1C. And if they could, why haven't they?

Where is this "mountain of evidence"?

Or, at the very least, explain why your theory is not working in the last 11 years?

JG1170
JG1170

The Climate change narrative is all about subjugation and taxation. Mish is right on with his analysis.

Call_me_Al
Call_me_Al

A few thoughts-

  1. 'Scientific consensus' is an advertising/propaganda term, not how science actually works. Having 4 of 5 dentists agree that toothpaste 'X' is best doesn't mean anything. History is littered with instances where 'most' of the educated people agreed about something and were wrong (e.g. blood letting to cure illness, heavier-than-air craft can't fly). Using consensus as evidence now is as silly as someone saying the climate isn't changing due to anthropogenic forcing because most thought an ice age was coming in the 1970s.

  1. Humanity has a tangible impact on the planet's environment and climate. Land use change over the past 10,000 years has been incredible and is underappreciated (effects on albedo, surface roughness, vegetation coverage, water distribution in the planetary boundary layer, etc.) Living is an exothermic process and so are efforts to heat/cool buildings and vehicles, but you leave an impact far beyond your "carbon footprint". Strive to reduce your impact and maybe leave some aspect of the planet's systems a little nicer than you found it.

  1. Statements about what hurricanes have done recently being unprecedented or a symptom of climate change show ignorance. The remote sensing record is about 40 years old and the U.S. has been flying into storms since WWII (additionally, data quality and density now is vastly superior to the early days of both sampling methods). There is a lot more to tropical cyclone development in the Atlantic basin than how warm the sea surface temperatures are.

  1. The planet's climate is a complex system of complex systems. Distilling the conversation down to 1 variable and trying to control that with economic tools seems to be financialization of the environmental movement (F.I.R.E.E. economy?)

" According to my research, carbon pricing really is not about the climate or ‘nature’ at all, but more related to institutional public images and profit through financialization of nature in the current era of neoliberal capitalism."

CEOoftheSOFA
CEOoftheSOFA

This is what you have wrong: Both the Eddy cycle (1,000 years) and the Suess/Devries solar cycle (206 years) can each increase or decrease the Earth's average temperature by 1 degree C. The latest cold point of the Eddy cycle was in the year 1700. The Earth's average temperature has increased 1 degree C per century since then. This rate of increase was the same before and after the Industrial Revolution. These temperature changes are well documented to have changed phase 25 times since the last ice age.

john_byrne
john_byrne

Mish, this is one of the best posts I've ever read here.

truthseeker
truthseeker

Mish I’m sorry I’ve waited so long to compliment you on all your posts on climate change and fossil fuels as they have been absolutely wonderful, the very best ever obviously since I’m in the fossil fuels business and live in Texas. Your depth of knowledge on all these issues is very impressive!

abbapapa
abbapapa

Mish, I join truthseekers above compliment to your posts on climate change. In an older post someone showed a graph from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/global-warming/temperature-change. Those data shows an incredibly strong correlation of CO2 and temperature over 800'000 years.

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/global-warming/temperature-change.

My question now was whether the data also shows that as presumed CO2 is somewhat a precursor and temperature follows or whether the data shows the opposite and temperature is more of a precursor and CO2 following. So I downloaded the data and analyzed it.

I admit it is not a strictly scientific result as the periods are not equidistant. But as best conclusion (with such a quick analysis) is that temperature is more of a precursor and CO2 is following. Correlation is slightly increasing with temperature as precursor and is declining a little more rapidly with CO2 as precursor:

Why might this be important? In those 800'000 years rising temperature seems to lead to higher CO2 (and not higher CO2 to higher temperature) and vice versa. One reason certainly is that CO2 is less stored in the oceans at higher temperatures. Now starting with the industrialisation for the first time we have a man made increase in CO2. If CO2 is not such a big driver (and precursor) for higher temperatures as always presupposed then the man made effect on CO2 might be much less important than widely accepted and correlation of temperature and CO2 will be lower. This is maybe one reason that the temperature increase observed is smaller than forecasted by main stream climate scientists.

Interesting that you never read things like this. But for billions of CO2 taxes it is much better to never ask things like this.

Cantruthseeker
Cantruthseeker

co2 does not control the climate. But it is essential for all life on the planet. Releasing co2 via burning fossil fuels is one of the greatest things we can do for the planet. Restoring a healthy co2 balance that supports all life. Without co2 there is no life- at all. co2 is definitely not carbon pollution. To suggest that is very dangerous and disingenuous.

BDrizz
BDrizz

Amazing to me that the sun, whose behavior still surprizes us, is totally discounted. We have a pollution problem, overconsumption of resources, etc. Many ways to improve without any mention of co2, warming, climate shift, etc. Pollution & overconsumption of annual resources are easy to see & try to mitigate.

Pardonmeforbreathing
Pardonmeforbreathing

Since when did gross assumption become "statistically significant empirical data" and therefore scientific data?