Climate discussions flat-line where they should be thriving

The climate science news, in reality, has waned in recent months, perhaps over the bulk of 2013.

Sure, the science is still trickling in but within the general media it’s really pretty much flat lined. Monckton’s last Aussie tour was a flop; a hopeful sign that his crackpot star is burning out. The “final nails” are rusted and forgotten…

Climate change is more or less left to the enthusiasts. The tone on the anti-science climate media is increasingly batty and fringe and arguably as drama soaked as any other conspiracy theory one may stumble upon for a chuckle. The lines in the sand have washed away and far fewer are selecting supposed “sides”.

Most people admit that anthropogenic climate change is real, but for the most part, the threat is trivialized by how intangible and far off it seems to the individual right here and now in a given city. The only real fight that seems to persist within the public eye is the rather extraordinary lengths we are going to, to find fossil fuels, be it fracking, offshore drilling or tar pits.

At the same time, the US president has finally joined the true dialogue of climate response policies, China is ever ramping up its activities in response to climate change and little Australia, with its massive per capita climate debt, seriously contemplates over two potential candidates for leadership; one of which goes from calling climate change “crap” to carbon trading “a so-called market, in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no one”.

As an observer, I can’t help but sit back perplexed.

Does being the lucky country also mean the wilfully ignorant country as well? Are we so scared that changing our behaviour must mean degrading our quality of life? Of course, the longer we take to begin meaningful change the more dramatic and thus uncomfortable change will be. Being honest, this is what motivates me more than anything – I simply do not wish to impose avoidable hardship on those I care about.

Small steps earlier rather than big steps later to catch up.

Globally, financial concerns have only increased over the past five years, leaving many policy makers focused entirely on growth, with the long term impacts of climate change placed on the back-burner for future discussions. Hope and Hope (2013) have illustrated that this may be short sighted as this low growth is likely to lead to a poorer future population, thus less able to match the social costs due to additional CO2 emissions. Under the current global economic pressures, there is even more reason to attempt to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, not less, than if economies were healthier.

There  really is no justifiable reason for the lull. While anti-science groups may be giving communicators less material to respond to (I’ve argued before that this should be done sparingly in any case), we still need strong discussions on what we do now to curtail future emissions to ensure we provide our grandchildren and theirs a climate akin to that we have prospered within. There are many concerns that need to be addressed, to be sure, but climate change is still a high priority.

Furthermore, it presents opportunity for new markets and community-based behaviours that in turn could lead to financial benefits. If we simply get on with the task and demonstrate positives in changing behaviour, we will also erode the platform on which many anti-science communicators stand upon; it will be increasingly untenable to insist anthropogenic climate change is not real, uncertain or exaggerated when communities are progressing and thriving in low-carbon economies.

We never needed the momentum we drew from rebuking anti-science propaganda, but we have been doing it for so long that we have convinced ourselves otherwise. The dialogue belongs to science communicators now and we are not doing our part to assist with the necessary behavioural changes.


7 thoughts on “Climate discussions flat-line where they should be thriving

  1. CO2 increase from 1800 to 2001 was 89.5 ppmv (parts per million by volume). The atmospheric carbon dioxide level has now increased since 2001 by 25.16 ppmv (an amount equal to 28.1% of the increase that took place from 1800 to 2001) (1800, 281.6 ppmv; 2001, 371.13 ppmv; June, 2013, 396.29 ppmv).

    The average global temperature trend since 2001 is flat.

    That is the observation. No amount of spin can rationalize that the temperature increase to 2001 was caused by a CO2 increase of 89.5 ppmv but that 25.16 ppmv additional CO2 increase had no effect on the average global temperature trend after 2001.

    I wonder how much wider the separation between the rising CO2 level and not-rising average global temperature will need to get for some people to recognize that the AGW theory was a mistake and that their lack of broad scientific knowledge has made them gullible.

    GW ended before 2001.

    AGW never was.


    1. That’s fantastic news!! I wait with bated breath to see this remarkable discovery go through peer-review and turn everything we know about the physical properties of greenhouse gases, climate and thermal dynamics on its head.

      Talk about faith! The temperature anomaly is flat, just like the earth…

      For anyone who wants to learn more about this supposed “no warming period”, based on genuine science and real world data, Dana explains it really well here. In short, the atmosphere isn’t the only place for energy to go, just like you wouldn’t attempt to find the volume of a pool by only measuring the depth of the shallow end.

      I’ve always liked this graphic explanation also;


    2. I will not be drawn into yet another game of semantics by yet another anti-science advocate who cites nothing but blogs where the science simply does not support their position. Again, I wait with deep enthusiasm for these radical “findings” to appear within the peer-reviewed literature; of which I actually read and keep up to date with. Likewise, I work in a relevant field of science, one that can only work if CO2 absorbs infra-red radiation (I use Infra-red Gas Analysers) and simply don’t make baseless claims of personal accreditation as a faceless blog commentator (my work history is demonstrated throughout my work here).

      As such, you will not be welcome to graffiti baseless anti-science assertions here any longer. This is not an attack on freedom of speech as WP is a free platform on which you are welcome to start up your own space to cite all the blogs you wish. I support factual science on NewAnthro. It is a move I’ve been forced to make.

      The genuine scientific community has moved beyond the question, “do greenhouse gases causes climate change” and ask “how much does climate change due to greenhouse gas concentration”. For CO2 it’s somewhere between 1.5°C-4°C for a doubling from pre-industrial concentrations. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, noting that the mean surface temperature is about 15°C, it equates to a change of 10% – 26.7%. Wherever the actual figure stands, that’s a lot of change to the climate regime.

      The image provided the point that an anti-science advocate can find at least 5 “flat” periods in the past 40yrs. Yet the claim that there’s been no warming in 10yrs is about as odd as claiming that the water is not longer hot because it flat-lined at 100°C and merely boiled. The energy is going into another process – the physical process of changing the state from liquid to steam. Likewise the energy over the past 10yrs has been going largely into the water and ice melt, of which the ambient temperature does NOT account for.

      But, if a 40yr graph may be considered misleading to some, let’s look a little deeper into history, 2000yrs:

      Marcott et al. (2013)

      And CO2 concentrations over that time;
      From 0-1800AD

      From 17500-2000

      MacFarling Meure et al (2006)


  2. Dan’s always good for the contrarian talking points.
    ~ ~ ~

    Pangburn writes: “I wonder how much wider the separation between the rising CO2 level and not-rising average global temperature will need to get for some people to recognize that the AGW theory was a mistake”
    ~ ~ ~

    Hmmmm . . .

    Melting cryosphere… rising sea-levels;
    Arctic Ocean… solar absorption medium;
    Jet Stream… getting all sorts of perturbed;
    *** cascading consequences ***
    Extreme weather events;
    Warm weather extremes;
    Extreme wind and cyclone events… beginning to tear at our society’s infrastructure
    faster than we can rebuild;
    growing patterns migrating northwards, etc., etc., etc..
    ~ ~ ~

    Oh yea Dan, aren’t you the guy
    who believes CO2 has next to nothing to do with global warming?

    Isn’t your premise that a couple centuries worth of practical physics
    {and that dastardly consensus thingie}
    is wrong?

    Please correct me if my impression is wrong.


    1. I did a detailed run down discussion on Dan here. In short, he presents a non-argument that distracts the credulous. I haven’t time for such anti-science here and leave him to find other corners to bitch with anti-fluoridation advocates and UFO enthusiasts about government cover-ups, mind control and evil scientists. I’m more interest in reality than a two-bit ghost story.


  3. Moth,
    I like what you wrote here.
    I keep getting older and pisser, not proud of it, but what can I say.

    You see, it’s like the same bs has gotten repeated for near three decades now.
    OK, at first, it was fair enough as skeptical complaints and observations and challenges got catalogued.

    But, as the years, then decades flowed past > and the Earth observations and science advanced… and the real-world atmospheric situation deteriorated
    (that is very rapidly increasing greenhouse gas injections),
    those complaints and observations and challenges were met with studies –
    the scientific learning process in action;
    then explained to the non-expert public. ]]]]]]]]]

    There has been a learning process going on.
    But at the same time there’s been a political PR battle going on.

    The Republican(USA) dialogue kept going backwards,
    partly driven by their constituencies expectations,
    but even more through calculated PR manipulation –
    where honesty and learning took a back seat to personal interests.

    The years and decades speeded by and simple systematic changes were ignored in favor of… well, we (the right side) were busy blasting other countries back into the stone-age… saving democracy or something like that.

    ~ ~ ~

    That’s why the voice of the young is so damned refreshing to an older crusty type like me. And I think you’ve done a nice job of presenting some thoughts that
    pro-active young people (you know the inheritors of this mess) need to start understanding.

    Face it, my generation’s legacy to it’s younger generations
    is a really, really tough future.
    We older types like the McIntyres and Wattzs and Moranos and Kochs
    are just going to fade into the sunset
    and sidestep most of the pain we’ve guaranteed your generations.

    Adios and deal with it. I sound bitter? Go figure?
    We’ve f’n well known since at least the 80s, if not 70s –
    that we were creating a Climate Monster –
    More energy into the system, the more energetic,
    read > wilder – the system was going to get!

    What could be simpler – exact numbers, not so good,
    but come oh can we get real here –

    Energizing the climate system our human society was nurtured in sounds like a really, really dangerous idea.

    But, rather that wrestle with that fact of life during the 80s and 90s
    we partied away the decades ignoring what
    every thinking person understood, deep down.
    ~ ~ ~

    OK enough of my rant –
    I’m sharing because I’m explaining why I want to Repost this article
    over at citizenschallenge.

    As something intelligent and positive and outside my ability to write,
    but that I would like to share just the same.


    1. No different to creationists: for every new fossil found, rather than a link being made, to a creationist, 2 new gaps exist. Climate deniers need exact numbers like a creationist needs to watch evolution over a million years. In both cases, it proves impossible and thus they present a fallacy to “win” their argument.

      That’s why I was somewhat sarcastic in my initial reply to Dan. “Flat tempers” are our modern day “flat earthers”. You can’t see that the world is round, thus it isn’t. You can’t measure latent heat with a thermometer, thus climate isn’t changing alongside increasing CO2.


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