Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.


Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Donate

Twitter Facebook YouTube Pinterest

RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe

Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...

Keep me logged in
New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts


Climate Hustle

Recent Comments

Prev  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  Next

Comments 801 to 850:

  1. Ocean acidification isn't serious

    Tom Dayton,
    Let's consider one example of “correct chemical explanation” in OA is not OK. In the part 12, Fig.6 the graph of pH change in 1990 – 2010 is given, and the drop of pH in 20 years is found of 0.035. The data are processed contrary to the statistics rules without specifying the uncertainty and the correlation coefficient. The scatter of the data during the same year is about 2 times greater than above mentioned drop.
    Compare, please, this graph with Fig.13 in part 14. According to Fig. 13, pH value in Atlantic ocean is of 8.1, in Pacific 7.8. In the Fig. 6, pH value about 8.1 is given, while measurements are made on the Hawaii Station.
    Can you explain these facts? What about Michael Sweet's explanation: “pH is Pacific is less, because Pacific was formed before Atlantic”?
    And the last. It took you 15 minutes to find my post and define it as incorrect. But neither you, nor anyone else, having “the right theory” didn't try to answer Michael Schroeder's question (@76) for more than 2 weeks. May be you will offer your explanation?

    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Baiting snipped.

  2. Ciência e Clima at 23:50 PM on 14 January 2018
    The 'imminent mini ice age' myth is back, and it's still wrong

    A paper (forgot the reference, sorry) last year suggested that changes in ocean currents in the north sea also contributed to make winters more severe during the little ice age.
    About the news: if you follow the link, you'll get to an article from Sky News and there is only two quotes from the professor in it. So it is not an interview. And you could note that the journalist was promoting the idea of a little ice age, whilst the professor point of view was extremely cautious about it.
    Be aware of the media, my friends!

  3. The Key To Slowing Global Warming


    This is apparently Hartley's paper.  You should link your sources.  The fact that he has not submitted it for publication tells us he thinks it is not accurate.  It appears to be written to be cited by deniers on the web.  Here is an article where Hartley supports coal and fossil fuels.

    Hartley models electricity production in a small part of Texas to make claims about generating all power in the entire country.  This does not make sense.  His paper is 20 years out of date.

    Hartley uses an energy storage method that is completely impractical and expensive.  (Hydro was primarily built to store nuclear energy).  Then you wonder why his cost of storage is so high.  Hartlley has used an industry cost for building nuclear plants and not the actual cost from Georgia and South Carollina.

    If you read the articles I linked for you previously you would see that no-one who is serious considers mass hydro storage for wind energy.  Hartleys' article is using 1960's technology to argue that wind will not work now.  For Hartley to be serious he must address the storage methods that renewable energy proponents actually propose using.  His paper will never be published in a reliable journal.  You should have recognized this.  Where did you find this bogus paper?  Why do you read such trash?  The $.03/kwh was correct for wind energy.  Storage is estimated at a fraction of generating cost.  Nuclear is much more costly.

    Hartley did not address the 15 reasons Abbott details why nuclear cannot be used to power the economy.  Since he did not, we must conceed that nuclear is completely impractical.    There is not enough uranium to run the nuclear plants and they are not economic.

    It is common for nuclear supporters to write long, unsupported statements why they think renewable energy has problems.  I suggest you read more articles from people who are researching renewables to see what they actually propose.

  4. The Key To Slowing Global Warming


    You are asking for renewable energy to provide more than you are asking fossil fuels.  Do coal and nuclear plants have to bid for baseload energy plus peak power?  Why do renewable energy plants have to provide extra support like storage? Fossil fuel companies require renewable to provide storage in an (unsuccessful) attempt to make renewable uneconomic.  Storage is not necessary in our current grid when renewable penetration is less than 50%.  As grid managers learn how to use renewables higher penetration is possible and less storage is needed.

    Currently existing peaker plants (mostly gas) are more than capable of providing back up for renewable energy on windless nights.  Storage is not needed.  Requiring current renewable energy plants to build out storage just increases the cost of power without providing any additional economic use.  

    The battery in Australia appears to be used primarily to regulate voltage.  In the past this use was not asked for but now fossil fuel companies are asking for voltage stabilization in an attempt to make renewable energy more expensive.  As demonstrated in Australia, renewables can easily be used to stabilize voltage.  From what I have seen, the battery is cheaper and faster than fossil voltage regulation.

    Pumped hydro is not the most efficient method of storing energy and not many locations are suitable.  Most existing pumped hydro was built in the 60's or 70's as storage for excess baseload power to provide peak power since nuclear and coal cannot provide peak power.  Gas peaker plants are currently cheaper.  Pumped hydro is unlikely to be widely built in the future.  When do you hear supporters of baseload power discussing pumped hydro storage of baseload power?  Yet they complain of storage of renewables.

    Mass battery storage is currently not economic.  Already existing gas peaker plants provide more storage than the grid needs.  All plans for future mass storage use some method to convert electricity into gas or liquid fuels that would then be stored in existing facilities for use in peaker plants. Requiring additional battery storage on current renewable plants is a scheme to make renewable energy more expensive so utilities can continue to stiff customers for more expensive fossil energy.

    If renewable plants must provide storage, fossil plants should have to bid for peak power also.  You are comparing renewable energy costs to provide all power to fossil costs which only provide baseload power and not peak power. 

    It is not necessary for renewable energy plants to provide all energy using the fossil fuel model of power generation.  The future grid will not have baseload energy.  It will have variable renewable energy and peaker plants (storage).

  5. The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    Is Jeff a bored, tryhard upper middle-class white guy with an attitude trying to fit in with the boring upper crust suburb he grew up in?


    I bet Jeff can’t jump so instead he tries to play practical jokes on the human race.... 

  6. The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    One Planet Only Forever @ 20

    Let me add an "e" CO2e, and reiterate that I was suggesting this as a "wedge".  Taxation strategies will probably be a larger piece of the pie.

    It is somewhat similar to divestment, only at a personal level and targets all economic activity.  Your arguments against carbon labeling probably apply to divestment too?

  7. The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    NorrisM @22 , the big new lithium battery in South Australia is certainly not what you and I would call "bulk storage".  Its capacity is quoted (by journalists) as only 129 Megawatt-hours.

    Nor have I seen its official cost — which is expected to be in the region of USD35million.

    Reports say that it is saving big dollars already : and at the present rate it will pay for itself in 2 or 3 years (i.e. in approximately 10% of its expected lifetime) . . . owing to the complex variable contractual arrangements that the various Australian power generation companies have on the national market.

    The main benefits of the big lithium battery are in its rapid response to national grid load, in stabilizing grid voltage/frequency, and allowing time for gas turbine generators to spool up in event of a big outage.  I gather that it has been so successful thus far, that a number of provincial regions are now planning to install similar (but somewhat smaller e.g. 20 Mwh) lithium batteries.

    The SA "big battery" is fed by nearby wind turbines.  But obviously a much bigger wind/solar generation system will need real bulk storage, likely in the form of hydrogen generation (for gas turbines or power cells) or Pumped-Hydro or salt/ammonia/hot-gravel etcetera.

  8. The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    John Hartz @ 17

    Thanks for these references. I found second article (Christopher Arcus) discussing the Xcel Energy request for bids to replace 660 MW of coal-fired power capacity especially interesting but also confusing. Xcel Energy requested bids based upon wind, solar, natural gas and storage. It seems increasingly clear to me that if we are going to compare RE with natural gas generated electricity we need to include storage with any bid for wind and solar.

    Unfortunately, in comparing the various bids they received there was an “apples to oranges” problem (at least for me) when it came to comparing the quotes for combustion turbines and other fossil fuel bids compared to bids for wind, wind and solar, wind with battery storage etc. In the former case, the quoted measurement was $/kW-mo (I have no idea what that means) and in the case of the RE bids, the measurement was $/MWh.
    Can you provide some help in trying to sort through these different measurements?

    I have recently read a 2017 “working paper” by Peter Hartley, Ph.D. of Rice University looking at Texas to compare the relative costs of replacing fossil fuels as the base load with various possibilities including wind power and storage, nuclear power and storage, or some combination of wind or nuclear with backup natural gas. In all these cases, the measurement is the same based upon ₵/kWh.

    Could you help me with the relative conversions of the measurements in the Xcel Energy article with the measurement used in the Hartley paper of cents/kWh? Dividing MWh by 1,000 to get to kWh did not seem to make sense. Otherwise, the quoted cost of wind and solar and battery storage in the Xcel Energy article works out to $.03060 kWh.

    The Hartley paper is suggesting that the approximate cost of wind with storage (albeit pumped storage, not battery storage) is around $0.1513 to $0.24171 (dependent on whether the cost of capital is 5%, 7.5% or 10%).
    Something does not add up here unless there has been a massive breakthrough in battery storage which I would have thought would be front line news.

    I can provide a citation for the Hartley paper if anyone is interested. Supposedly Hartley has put this paper out for comment. He notes that it is a “work in progress and has not been submitted for editorial review.”

    Anecdotally, Hartley puts a price on what a carbon tax would add to the price of natural gas which is interesting. According to EIA data, burning one MMBTU of natural gas (about 1,000 mcf) emits about 53.07 kg of CO2. Thus a carbon tax of $10/metric tonne of CO2 is equivalent to a tax on natural gas of around $0.53 /MMBTU. The average price of natural gas in the US in 2016 was $2.89/MMBTU.

  9. The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    Riduna @ 18

    Thanks, but I could not access the url.  Could you provide a full address for the site?  

    I am interested in whether this technology has the potential to replace what I believe is termed as "bulk storage" or is it just a short term replacement in the case of some unplanned shutdown of the renewable energy source.    I appreciate that the difference is really a question of capacity of the backup.

    From what I understand is that given the present technology, pumped hydroelectric storage represents more than 99% of current worldwide bulk storage capacity.

  10. 2017 was the hottest year on record without an El Niño, thanks to global warming

    Dana, thanks for the article.

    The confusion you mention in @10 seems quite natural, given that the text says "15 billion", and a reader will naturally parse this as a single number before even reading the next word.  I also read "15 billion-dollar" as "$15 billion".

    Perhaps in future you can use the more verbose form with something (such as a "disasters", or at least a comma) between "15" and "billion".

  11. The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    Another wedge among the potential solutions to climate change, which has not been discussed, is carbon content labeling.

    The global economy is predominantly (≈ 80%) fossil fuel powered. So long as goods and services are produced with fossil fuels, every dollar we earn, spend, borrow or loan; every way in which we participate in the economy, contributes to climate change. CO2 emissions dipped during the GFC. It's the economy, stupid.

    So, less economic activity is a pathway to reduced CO2 emissions. A truly inconvenient truth. More accurately, less fossil fueled economic activity is a pathway CO2 emissions reduction. If we knew the CO2 emissions attributable to, or embedded in, every transaction we made, we would be able to; chose a pathway of lowest emissions; measure and manage our total emissions; assess the emissions of different activities, businesses, companies, countries, and administrations etc.

    In buying a car, building a house, planning a holiday, choosing an employer or political candidate, I could be carbon informed. In all my economic activity I could exercise more ethical behaviour.

    We have the technology today to do this. Every transaction could give us an instant carbon content calculation. The carbon content of our lifestyle could be on our facebook page. Only what gets measured gets counted.  Like obesity and diabetes, high CO2 emissions is a triumph of marketing.  Marketing could go some way to redeeming itself, by promoting low emissions lifestyles.

  12. One Planet Only Forever at 12:51 PM on 14 January 2018
    The Key To Slowing Global Warming


    The currently developed global economy has definitely been over-developed in an incorrect direction regarding the burning of fossil fuels (and many other unsustainable and damaging trendy popular and profitable activities).

    Labelling for CO2 could help, but would require the vast majority of consumers to base their buying decision on Ethical Labels. And consumers who do not care would benefit relative to the more caring ones by buying cheaper items (the reason that development in incorrect directions happens).

    And the labelling would have to be adopted in all nations.

    An additional consideration is that methane emissions and many other results of human activity are significant parts of the problem.

    A rigorously applied Carbon Fee (accounting any activity impacts on GHG in the atmosphere) in all nations would be far more effective than labels. It would put the Carbon Fee into the price of everything with Carbon impacts in amounts relative to the magnitude of impact. And the people who do not care have 'no way around it' (the people who do not care being 'free to believe what they want and do as they please is the reason that development in incorrect directions happens).

    Also, a global carbon fee program does not require all nations to implement a consistent Carbon Fee system. An International Carbon Fee would be based on the scientific understanding of what is going on and what level of Fee is globally needed to have a decent chance (50-50), of achieve the agreed objective of 1.5C warming and a better chance of not exceeding the dangerous 2.0C warming. Trade tariffs and sanctions would be applied to any nation that did not implement a Carbon Fee, or having a lower carbon fee, or not having a comprehensive carbon fee program. The amount of trade penalty would be determined by the understanding of their national carbon impacts with special evaluations for specific high impact products. However, to be fair, the less developed nations would be assessed based on a lower carbon fee where the carbon intensity of activity was reasonable and the activity was seen as a short duration transition to more sustainable activity.

    When discussing the economics of ending the burning of fossil fuels it is essential to reinforce that the current perceptions of prosperity due to over-development in the incorrect economic directions are undeserved. The correction has to occur and may very well mean that the 'supposedly more advanced/developed who are laggards in correcting their incorrect economic development will lose some of their developed perceptions of superiority relative to others.

    It is also important to remember that Carbon Fees only help correct the incorrect developments in the economy. A Carbon Fee by itself would not achieve the required rapid ending of burning of fossil fuels. Assistance is required for the expansion and improvement of renewable energy systems. And staged blanket global termination of activities with highest impacts will probably be required to responsibly limit the harm being done to future generations by those in the current generation who do not care.

  13. One Planet Only Forever at 12:16 PM on 14 January 2018
    2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #2


    There is an additional concern related to the over-extraction of aquifer water in the delta that does not appear to be mentioned in the research in Environmental Letters Journal you linked because it does not affect the subsidence issue that was being investigated.

    Rapid aquifer drawdown near ocean/sea interfaces will result in salt water encroaching into the inland extraction locations. This occurred on Oahu, Hawaii when prolonged over-extraction resulted in salt water being drawn up from extraction wells. The over-extraction was not appreciated before the salt water arrived because the water head at the extraction point was not dropping.

  14. The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    Another wedge among the potential solutions to climate change, which has not been discussed, is carbon content labeling.

    The global economy is predominantly (≈ 80%) fossil fuel powered. So long as goods and services are produced with fossil fuels, every dollar we earn, spend, borrow or loan; every way in which we participate in the economy, contributes to climate change. CO2 emissions dipped during the GFC. It's the economy, stupid.

    So, less economic activity is a pathway to reduced CO2 emissions. A truly inconvenient truth. More accurately, less fossil fueled economic activity is a pathway CO2 emissions reduction. If we knew the CO2 emissions attributable to, or embedded in, every transaction we made, we would be able to; chose a pathway of lowest emissions; measure and manage our total emissions; assess the emissions of different activities, businesses, companies, countries, and administrations etc.

    In buying a car, building a house, planning a holiday, choosing an employer or political candidate, I could be carbon informed. In all my economic activity I could exercise more ethical behaviour.

    We have the technology today to do this. Every transaction could give us an instant carbon content calculation. The carbon content of our lifestyle could be on our facebook page. Only what gets measured gets counted.  Like obesity and diabetes, high CO2 emissions is a triumph of marketing.  Marketing could go some way to redeeming itself, by promoting low emissions lifestyles.

  15. It's not bad

    David @378 , your argument carries zero weight — for the simple reason that there is no ice age imminent.

    The timing of the next glacial (the one that would have occurred, without human presence) has been discussed elsewhere on SkepticalScience.  The coming of the next glacial age, may be considerably more than the few thousand years away which casual observation [of history] would suggest.  An unusually low amount of orbital ellipticity (i.e. a more circular orbit) over the coming dozens of millennia . . . points to a greatly delayed "next" glaciation — delayed by tens of thousands of years, perhaps.

    David, balanced against all the multiple major problems occurring now and increasingly during the next century or three, from AGW . . . an ice age that might come in 2,000+ years (or more likely 20,000+ years) is a non-event in current considerations.

    And if such prediction of the zero threat of "imminent next ice age" should happen to prove wrong . . . then the history of the 20th Century demonstrates that we could easily scotch the ice, by 30 years of intensive coal-burning.  Easy fix !!

    David, in the current situation, there is zero benefit to warming, as a "preventative".

  16. It's not bad

    Hi everyone, I agree with commenter no 27: I too am puzzled there's no mention of Daniel Bailey's article about ice ages. His argument is that global warming has protected us from any risk of a new ice age. I would have thought that his point should be the first item on your list of pros and cons as an ice age would be cataclysmic and it makes the cons you mention seem insignificant. Surely averting an ice age is such a great achievement that any pros and cons list should come out heavily in favour of global warming?

    David A

  17. 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #2

    From research by the university of Ryukyus in Vietnam, rates of sea level rise in Vietnam over 1991 - 2003 are 3.1mm.

    According to research published in Nature Journal, predicted sea level rise by 2050 is 300mm, and will cause further salinity intrusion.

    According to research in Environmental Letters Journal, the Mekong Delta area is also subsiding, due to excessive extraction of groundwater. This presumably compounds the flooding, sea level rise, and salinity problems.

    So imo with so many factors involved and pressure on the land, the migrant crisis is likely to get much worse.

  18. Ocean acidification isn't serious

    Tom Dayton,

    Aleks posted a bunch of nonsense on ocean acidification in November, 2017.  There are a few posts from him here on the OA is not OK series you referenced.  Aleks does not understand ocean carbonate chemistry and cannot understand chemistry when it is explained to him.

  19. Ocean acidification isn't serious

    aleks, see the series of posts OA Not OK for a more correct chemical explanation that contradicts your assertion that "Chemical calculations show that the effect of CO2 on seawater acidity accepted by the majority of climatologists is highly exaggerated."

  20. Ocean acidification isn't serious

    Michael Schroeder, I'll try to answer your question from the chemical point of view.
    At first, please note that only a small part of dissolved CO2 exists in seawater as CO2(aq). According to contemporary experimental data, ~90% of dissolved inorganic carbon is in the form of HCO3-, ~10% CO2-3, and only ~0.5% CO2(aq).
    The second. Only very small fraction of CO2(aq) (about 1/1000) converts to the carbonic acid H2CO3 , and eventually only a small part of H2CO3 dissociates to form hydrogen ions H+. Chemical calculations show that the effect of CO2 on seawater acidity accepted
    by the majority of climatologists is highly exaggerated.
    Conversion of absorbed carbon dioxide to bicarbonate and carbonate ions is determined by total alkalinity of seawater that in considered geological period was, perhaps, not less than now. Possibly in that time ratio carbonate/bicarbonate was greater, because at higher temperatures bicarbonate converts to carbonate:
    2HCO3- → CO2-3(aq) + H2O + CO2
    So, limestone deposition at high atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide is
    quite understandable.

    Moderator Response:

    [Rob P] Conventional chemistry explains why the ancient oceans were hospitable to calcification - although the tropics would have been too hot for coral reefs. See this SkS post: Why were the ancient oceans favorable to marine life when atmospheric carbon dioxide was higher than today?  

    Please take the time to read and understand the OA not OK SkS series on the topic of ocean acidification. Also, note that further nonsensical comments from you on this subject will likely attract moderation.    

  21. The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    NorrisM @ 8

    Capacity and Performance of the Tesla Battery in South Australia are discussed here.

  22. One Planet Summit: Finance Commitments Fire-Up Higher Momentum for Paris Climate Change Agreement

    Regarding jobs in renewable energy:

    "As fossil energy has turned down, investments in renewable energy are rising fast. The U.S. solar sector has grown to about 40 manufacturing plants, over 9,000 installation companies and 260,000 employees, according to the Solar Energy Industries Assn., the industry’s major trade group in Washington. (By contrast, 53,420 people work in the coal industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)" from the Los Angeles Times

  23. The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    Suggested supplemental reading:

    Baloney Meter: will the Liberal carbon tax really mean paying more for everything? by Mia Robson, Canadian Press/National Observer, Jan 11, 2018

    Wind & Solar + Storage Prices Smash Records by Christopher Arcus, CleanTehnica, Jan 11, 2018

    Solar steam powers homes – and new jobs – in South Africa by Munyaradzi Makoni, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Jan 11, 2018

    Nuclear debacle energizes push for solar power expansion by Sammy Fretwell, The State (Columbia, SC), Jan 9, 2018

    As Trump's fossil-fuel 'energy dominance' plan founders, a crucial solar energy decision nears by Keith Schneider, Los Angeles Times, Jan 10, 2018

  24. Submerged Forests off the coast of Wales: a Climate Change Snapshot


    John Cook rarely posts here anymore.  You might try searching for his email address on GOOGLE.  He currently works for George Mason University.

    Moderator Response:

    [JH] John Cook has returned to Australia for a vacation visit. The best way to communicate with him is by using the "Contact US" button at the bottom of this page.

    [BW] As Kristinmoe's comment is on a post written by John Mason in 2012, I guess that it's him she'd like to contact. I already let him know about the comment and he'll be in touch with her.

  25. Michael Schroeder at 05:00 AM on 13 January 2018
    Welcome to Skeptical Science

    IowaCorn:  I had occasion to see Gregory Wrightstone present on his book at the Lebanon 9/12 Project meeting this past Dec. 21 in Lebanon County PA.  I asked some tough questions he wasn't able to answer adequately, and later purchased a copy of his book through his website (promo code 1776) — mainly so I can use it in my freshman-level "People & the Planet" course at Lebanon Valley College as a kind of "information literacy" assignment — the students' task will be to select one or more of Wrightstone's 60 "inconvenient facts" and hold it up to the scientific light-of-day by investigating the claim (and, I hope, amply demonstrating why it's bogus or misleading).  Wrightstone is a longtime Republican activist in Central PA and a paid consultant for the oil & gas industry, and has only recently turned his attention to climate change issues.  I wrote a scathing letter to the local paper (Lebanon Daily News) on his presentation, characterizing his book as "junk science," and the editor of the book, a local guy in a nearby township, wrote a rebuttal letter calling my letter a "smear".  Anyway the book is only recently published and I hope that by April or so I'll have a bunch of student papers debunking at least some of Wrightstone's fallacious claims.  Hope that helps. 

    Moderator Response:

    [TD] Perhaps you and your students could collaborate in writing a Skeptical Science post about that? It would be a nice way to cap that project for them, and force them to cope with having to summarize a lot of info for a particular audience.

  26. New research, December 25-31, 2017

    I'm sure someone already spotted this... but there's a typo on the first graph: "sanility" instead of the correct "salinity".

  27. Submerged Forests off the coast of Wales: a Climate Change Snapshot

    John, I'm a radio producer in the states and I'm putting together an idea for a podcast about the cultural dimensions of climate change. I'd love to interview you for it and talk about Cantre'r Gwaelod. I'm at Please send me an email if you'd be willing to chat with me. Thanks!

    Kristin Moe

  28. Welcome to Skeptical Science

    Tom:  Thank you.  I suspected as much when an Internet search brought up the usual denier web sites.  I'm saddened that folks in my line of work (engineering), folks who supposedly studied science and learned the scientific process, are not using it.

    Thank you again.

  29. With science under siege in 2017, scientists regrouped and fought back: 5 essential reads

    The pure sciences are extremely valuable and have lead to numerous technologies, but are often slow to generate profits, and have historically been neglected by the private sector. As a result much pure science is publicly funded, a very sensible idea.

    Basic economics 101 says that free markets don't solve all problems, or create all necessary goods. Even Einsteins discoveries eventually lead to numerous inventions, and still inspire inventions today.

    But there is also a "value" in simply understanding the world, just as playing sport has a value to us. Science has value even if it doesn't make a profit, or lead to an invention.

    It's deplorable that the White House has cut funding for basic sciences, and made unqualified and partisan appointments, and their rhetoric about global warming conspiracies and draining the swamp shows its all politically motivated, as opposed to economically driven. Trump keeps telling us how "great" the economy is, so it's clearly not economically driven.

    Unfortunately public funding of science is open to manipulation by politicians. Sadly The White Hoouse is playing with even more picking of prefered projects by politicians kown as "earmarking" as below:

    This is a most unfortunate development, that leads to wasted spending to reward donors.

    Of course not every science issue can be funded, but decisions are better made by officials, rather than politicians, and ideally a body separate from government, or a bipartisan committee at the very least. Ideology and politics or beliefs are no basis to decide science funding, and instead it has to be on costs and technical merits of whether research breaks new ground or is significant. 

  30. The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    Sunspot @14

    "20 years ago the world got over 80% of its energy by burning fossil fuels. Then we built lots of windmills and solar panels. The result is today, we still get over 80% of our energy by burning fossil suels. What happened?? Well, the world uses a lot more energy than we did 20 years ago."

    The reason for slow uptake of renewable energy is not really increasing demand for energy. The reasons have been political resistance to renewable energy, campaigns to spread doubt about renewable energy and climate science, and the high costs of early versions of renewable energy. Costs are much lower now, and growth in renewable energy has been much higher in the last 5 years or so, with both wind and solar power as in the link below. Solar growth has been near exponential since about 2008.

    "And, btw - I agree with Jef. I don't know how that is so confusing to some of you. If people get paid a living wage then they don't have to drive to work and consume fossil fuels."

    With respect this is not correct. A living wage is normally defined as a slightly higher version of a minimum wage (and its a good idea) that is paid by companies or subsidised by governments. People will still need to work to get this living wage, and to get to work driving something or by bus. So all the issues around renewable energy and electric cars remain.

    If you mean a "universal basic income" that people get as of right, this is  really for the unemployed and invalids, and is set at about the level of minimum wage or even less, so is very minimal. The vast majority of people will still work if they want to do more than merely survive. And money doesn't grow on trees, so a ubi has to be minimal, although I think its a useful idea.

    "If they are paid to grow vegetables then we have to get less lettuce from Chile."

    Nobody is going to pay people to stay home to grow vegetables. Money doesn't grow on trees. However I think you are right if you are promoting more self sufficiency in food, and less reliance on food imports, and associated transport costs.

    " And, the best part - we won't be able to afford to waste over a half trillion dollars a year, and all that wasted energy, bombing brown people on the other side of the planet who pose very little threat to us"


  31. The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    robert.hargraves @11

    "I didn't realize Skeptical Science was an anti-science blog. This article does not even mention nuclear power as a solution"

    Nuclear power electricity generation is a technology, not pure science as such.

    Nuclear power is an expensive technology (refer "cost of electricity by source" on wikipedia) and slow to build and get regulatory approval, and this is why its not being chosen by generating companies or governments. I have nothing totally against nuclear power, although the thought of hundreds of reactors in developing countries does not fill me with confidence regarding safety.

  32. One Planet Only Forever at 05:09 AM on 12 January 2018
    With science under siege in 2017, scientists regrouped and fought back: 5 essential reads

    Linking Science to Potential Private Interest Benefit can be a very Damaging Game. People wanting a Damaging Unsustainable Private Interest Result have a proven Competitive advantage. The game must be Played very carefully to achieve a Good Result. Clear Good Objectives with aligned rules and strict enforcement effectively limiting what can be gotten away with are essential, and is clearly what is missing from the developed games of popularity and profitability.

    My understanding is that achieving/improving the Sustainable Development Goals (which include climate action based on climate science), is essential for the future of humanity (a robust diversity of humanity fitting into the robust diversity of life on this amazing planet - Darwin's survival of the Fittest). Though the Sustainable Development Goals are rather recent (2015), the fundamental good objective for that understanding is not new, it is just missing-in-action too much today (and through the past several decades).

    Any effort to increase awareness and understanding of what is going on is potentially Helpful. So Pure Science research and reporting should be fundamentally defended/supported.

    The application of awareness and understanding, or deciding where to focus efforts to increase awareness and understanding, is when it becomes important to differentiate the Helpful from Harmful.

    Raising awareness of the potential for Private Interest benefit/profit-making by a sub-set of humanity from the application/pursuit of increased awareness and understanding is potentially dangerous. What is dangerous is a lack of alignment on Good Objectives for any application of awareness and understanding. And the Good Objectives are to achieve, and improve, the Sustainable Development Goals. The ways to abuse the power of misleading marketing, including misleading reporting by information media, is one clear example of harmful research focus and application of awareness and understanding.

    Bringing attention to the potential for Private Interest benefit is only helpful if the objectives used to determine the acceptability of Private Interests are aligned with, supportive of, the Global Public Interest governing objective of achieving/improving the Sustainable Development Goals.

    Without alignment on that Good Objective basis, setting priorities for research funding can incorrectly lead to efforts to develop damaging unsustainable applications. The result can also be the termination of funding for research that may produce increased awareness and understanding that is contrary to Private Interests, such as increasing the awareness and understanding that a developed Private Interest should not be as popular and profitable as it is because it is actually unsustainable or damaging.

    Another downfall of linking basic science to the development of Private Interest pursuits of profit is the potential for people with wealth to incorrectly influence research to be 'In their Private Interest'. Examples of this are 'think tanks with objectives contrary to the Good Global Public Interest' being populated by University researchers, or faculties of 'supposed higher learning and better understanding' that gear their programs of education and research to 'Suit the interests of those Private Interests in order to get more funding'.

    As an example, the recent Conservative Government in Canada deliberately evaluated what research 'they thought would be beneficial' and cut funding for any science that was 'contrary to their Interests'. They also insisted that publicly funded researchers only be permitted to make public presentations that the Political Minders had vetted/screened/edited for acceptability of alignment with 'Their Interests'.

    Similar things were/are done by recent Republican leadership in the USA, and by other groups of unhelpful/harmful pursuers of Private Interest around the world.

    Note: I try to avoid appearing political, but the governments in Canada and the USA that clearly did significant amounts of unhelpful/harmful Private Interest pursuits related to Science that I pointed out as examples, called/call themselves “Conservative” and “Republican”.

  33. The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    20 years ago the world got over 80% of its energy by burning fossil fuels. Then we built lots of windmills and solar panels. The result is today, we still get over 80% of our energy by burning fossil suels. What happened?? Well, the world uses a lot more energy than we did 20 years ago. 

    And, btw - I agree with Jef. I don't know how that is so confusing to some of you. If people get paid a living wage then they don't have to drive to work and consume fossil fuels. If they are paid to grow vegetables then we have to get less lettuce from Chile. And, the best part - we won't be able to afford to waste over a half trillion dollars a year, and all that wasted energy, bombing brown people on the other side of the planet who pose very little threat to us.  All I see is win-win-win...

  34. The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    I agree w/ comments above that encourage the use of Revenue-Neutral Carbon Fee & Dividend with border-adjustments in an integrated (do both, push & pull) array of mitigation policies, but that RNCFD is an absolutely essential component of such a do all policy scheme. See RNCFD proposals by Citizens Climate Lobby or Climate Leadership Council (tax applied at the source, w/ border adjustments to promote global domino equal tax effect). I wish the author had included this particular sub-set of carbon taxation in their mitigation policy analysis.

    Switching to RE is not a net zero sum game. In other words, as RE advances & its capacity increases (but without cost pressure on FF's), then the economy will (in no small amount) "add on" the RE and not equally reduce FF consumption. The $/mwh costs given here do not show the costs on a $/GDP/mwh yearly trend basis (offsetting for inflation) and as a function of total or per capita energy demand. ... Reductions in FF consumption will cause downward pressure on FF price (i.e. supply & demand) and FF industries will react and by doing so, will maintain profitability while sustaining supply (even at the lower cost) by a) dropping off their higher cost sources and b) improving efficiency on their remaining operations. All of this will help FF's retain their current very large market leverage in the energy infrastructure network, making large-scale reductions too protracted. ... Evidence: Energy US efficiency increased by 58% between 1990 & 2015. Thus, FF usage should have dropped by 37% (1 - 1/1.58) in a zero-sum energy usage game. Population increases (21%) "chewed-up" 36% of this efficiency gain (21%/58%). But, since US CO2 emissions in 2015 are essentially equal to that of 1990, then this means that consumption "added on" the remaining 64% of these efficiency gains. Why? This is because of the downward pressure on the FF price resulting from the slight drop in demand due to the efficiency gains works to maintain FF's leverage. ... Why would the impact of RE's be any different? ... This tells me that relying on "replacement only" forces and not offsetting the supply & demand forces on lowering FF prices is not looking at FF consumption in a 'dynamically' appropriate way. And, continuing, policies that do not build upon the offsetting economic force of a carbon tax (and the political durability of the revenue-neutral tax sub-set) will fail to achieve the required reductions in a maximum allowed (30-50 year) timescale.

    Yes, carbon taxes are politically difficult & global attempts have not been very successful in large-scale reductions. But 1) this does not mean we should not politically fight-like-hell to install a well designed tax (note: the politics are becoming a bit more positive in the US, outside the WH, read about CCL's growing, 66 member, Climate Solutions Caucas) and 2) nor does it mean that all tax policies need to be poorly & timidly designed as most current global polices are (too isolated, in addition to subsidizing the very industries that they are designed to 'squeeze'). CCL's 100% revenue-neutral approach is designed so to foster & assure political durability, which then enables installation of a higher effective tax rate ($100/ton CO2) w/o causing undo economic regression. Once installed & ramped up (& business accept its perpetuity), then the economic forces would be powerful (investment, R/D, etc) in moving markets toward the best technological solutions (since then all carbon impact considerations would be "packed" into the price). Thus the best solutions that would achieve the fastest carbon reductions would be the most profitable solution enabling and forcing their genesis & implementation. This all works effectively because the carbon tax rate is  the same as its social cost (or future cost, or external cost) of carbon based energy (i.e. read: Pigouvian tax). ... Read 'The Case for a Carbon Tax' for further in-depth comparitive analysis.

  35. Welcome to Skeptical Science

    IowaCorn: I can't find any serious reviews of Wrightstone's book. Judging from his web site, my guess is that nobody has bothered because his claims are all the usual, incorrect ones. For example, the first and third items in his book excerpts section of his site is the old CO2 is plant food one, which you can find rebutted here at SkS by searching for that phrase in the Search field at the top left of the page, or by clicking View All Arguments at the bottom of the Most Used Climate Myths list below the Search field. Note that many posts here have Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced tabs.

    He goes on a bit about warming being good. Please see the rebuttal to the myth It's Not Bad.

    He's also got a graph of central England temperature, which is not especially relevant to the topic of global warming. My guess is that he's showing that together with a CO2 level graph to imply that the curve shapes don't match, therefore CO2 can't cause warming. But he is wrong.

  36. The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    I recently rode an electric motorbike in Taiwan and electric bus in mainland China.  The electric motorbike had all the power I desired, even with two riding, and the range on one charge was about 45 miles.  Stopping by the rental place, one could change out a battery in about 20 seconds.  I'm not sure they are completely there yet but this sunny and windy isle are well positioned to keep their large fleet of EV bikes charged with renewables.             I rode an electric bus in China that carried about 20 people.  It was peppy and quiet.   China is getting into EVs in a big, big way, and fast, because they see it as cheaper, cleaner and the future.  Taipai's transportation system demonstrates an efficient way to move a lot of people in a relatively small space.  It has a mostly modern subway that serves most of the city.  People use more motorbikes than cars, lots of buses, hybrid taxis everywhere, bicycles and walking.  The city is dense but it moves in an efficient and relatively clean way.  The still burn coal but are moving away from it.  

  37. Welcome to Skeptical Science

    Good day, all.  I've been following Skeptical Science for a couple of years and consider you the Go-To folks on climate change. 

    I've run into a book that I have not yet seen addressed in this forum: "Inconvenient Facts: The science that Al Gore doesn't want you to know" by Greg Wrightstone.  I would not have paid much attention to it except that it's come up in a blog of an engineering group (ASCE).  If anyone here knows something about it, I would like to hear.

    Many thanks and keep up the good work.

  38. Human CO2 is a tiny % of CO2 emissions

    Dkoli . . . sorry, but Mr Randall Carlson is a very ordinary science-denier when it comes to climate.  Nothing intelligent or original.

    No new points from him, at all.  All his points are old stuff, debunked long ago.   Dkoli, pick any three of the points he raises, and then read through the relevant sections of SkepticalScience and you will see that he hasn't a leg to stand on.  Then pick another three, and you will find the same results.  And so on.

    Dkoli, you are wastiing your time reading any of the "Randall" commentary.  He clearly has a closed mind, and is years/decades out of date with his understanding of climate matters.  Very sad case . . . made even worse by his hubris (of the Dunning-Kruger type).

  39. robert.hargraves at 21:21 PM on 11 January 2018
    The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    I didn't realize Skeptical Science was an anti-science blog. This article does not even mention nuclear power as a solution. The cost of energy storage required for renewables is an order of magnitude too high. One day of storage would cost more than an entire nationwide all-nuclear grid See

    I'll not visit this site again.

    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Your choice.

  40. Human CO2 is a tiny % of CO2 emissions

    (314) But he goes on to say "this does not mean that CO2 is driving climate change" and gives reasoning. 

    I have listened to Randall on JRE podcasts before and he seems quite legit, but Ive never seen him debated or debunked so I figure the people here may have good insight into how hes wrong (if hes wrong). 

  41. The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    Norris @8

    Regarding costs of gas compared to renewable sources, refer to the Lazard analysis below for America, or costs of electricity by source on wikipedia. (These are all measured slightly differently from the article, and are average costs, not the lowest costs cited in the article, but the comparison is what is obviously most important)

    Key points:

    "Onshore wind has the lowest average levelized cost in this analysis at $59 per megawatt-hour, and utility-scale photovoltaic plants weren’t far behind at $79. By comparison, the lowest cost conventional technologies were gas combined cycle technologies, averaging $74 per megawatt-hour, and coal plants, averaging $109. These numbers are the average of Lazard’s low- and high-end estimates (see their study for more about their cost calculations)."

    Regarding the Tesla battery in Australia:


    Some points:

    "Less than a month after Tesla unveiled a new backup power system in South Australia, the world's largest lithium-ion battery is already being put to the test. And it appears to be far exceeding expectations: In the past three weeks alone, the Hornsdale Power Reserve has smoothed out at least two major energy outages, responding even more quickly than the coal-fired backups that were supposed to provide emergency power."

    "Fed by wind turbines at the nearby Hornsdale wind farm, the battery stores excess energy that is produced when the demand for electricity isn't peaking. It can power up to 30,000 homes, though only for short periods - meaning that the battery must be supported by power plants in the event of a long outage."

    IMO this is quite something for one of the first instillations. The article was in our local newspaper recently.

  42. Skeptical Wombat at 15:42 PM on 11 January 2018
    The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    Sure carbon taxes are not universal, are open to manipulation and vary from country to country.  That does not mean that they don't work.  The Australian experience is that introduction of a far from perfect tax resulted in a drop in emissions and its subsequent abolition resulted in renewed increases.

    A properly designed tax and dividend scheme encourages reductions in carbon use where they are most effective (for instance more careful management of refrigerants - reduction in concrete use - more use of public transport).  Carbon tax revenues should not be used to further reduce emissions - they should be returned to citizens and/or businesses to ameliorate the impact of the tax on employment and living standards.  A carbon tax also encourages R and D in non emitting sources of energy so you get your option B anyway.

  43. The Key To Slowing Global Warming


    "In 2017 the cost of renewable energy continued to fall with wind energy in the USA as low as $20/mWh, solar thermal dispatchable falling to around $50/mWh with grid-scale photovoltaic below $40/mWh compared to existing coal-fired generation at $40/mWh and new coal fired generation at $60-$70/mWh."

    Along with a few of the other posts on this blog, there is no discussion of the present alternative costs of natural gas in the US in the competition of alternative energy sources.

    Riduna, could you please provide the equivalent cost of natural gas per mWh?

    Policymakers will know this cost.  I think the sKs audience would also appreciate knowing this figure.

    michael sweet @ 6

    Are you suggesting that there has been a technological breakthrough with battery storage?  My understanding is that this has not occurred.  I do not fully understand the implications of the Tesla battery installation in Australia.  Perhaps someone can elucidate.

  44. The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    Jef @1

    "Financial pressures is another way of saying more people becoming poor and loosing access."

    No they aren't going to become poor. The personal costs of large cuts in emissions might be $3000 a year in paying off extra costs of an electric car, renewable energy costs, and other costs.  If you bought just a slightly smaller home, and less expensive appliances, and flew less, and wasted less,  you would easily pay for the costs, and could even come out ahead financially. 

    It's about adjusting your priorities slightly.

  45. The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    According to this article by JJoe Romm at ThinkProgress (a liberal web site), At a recent auction of wind and solar energy in Colorado the cost of wind with battery storage was cheaper than the running costs of any coal power plants in Colorado.  Solar was cheaper than 75% of the coal plants in Colorado.  These renenwable energy bids are lower than any fossil electricity in the USA.

    Jeff: please provide evidence to support your wild claim that renewable energy is more expensive than fossil fuels.  Renewable energy is cheaper than fossil fuels in most locations.  They do not have thousands of wind generators in Texas because they like the environment.  They are the cheapest source of energy.

  46. Human CO2 is a tiny % of CO2 emissions


    It appears that the OP refutes your link without any support needed.  The simple fact that in 1850 CO2 was about 270 ppm and now it is about 410 ppm indicates that humans have significantly increased the concentration of CO2.  In your link they agree that the CO2 concentration has increased.

  47. Human CO2 is a tiny % of CO2 emissions

    Any rebuttles to this (which I believe attempts to refute this page)

  48. The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    Jeff @1

    "Starts out good then lapses into the usual gobbledgook."

    This would more accurately apply to your own comments, and also rather unsubstantiated claims.

    For example, I have no idea why you are talking about paying people, god only knows what that means. And I can't see the point of cutting all consumption and activity 80%   and going back to the stone age, especially as much of that activity is not carbon intensive.

    Relatively affordable focused personal sacrifices would work. For example buying electric cars, taking the bus, and less air travel, or building smaller less carbon intensive houses, etc, would go a long way to solve the climate problem. Carbon tax and dividend would modify behaviour, while giving most of the tax back.

  49. The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    Jef @2, in America a toyota corolla and a honda civic costs about $20,000, and the comparible size electric Nissan Leaf is about $32,000. However some states also offer subsidies, and the nissan leaf costs about $25,000. This is not "way more expensive."

    The electric car also has much lower running costs and maintainance costs, which should be considered. 

  50. The Key To Slowing Global Warming

    I agree simple carbon taxes like that don't work very well, and aren't terribly popular.

    However without a carbon tax of some form, renewable energy would  require substantial subsidies to get going, as we have seen  in the UK for example, and this subsidy has to come from general taxation. This is a  limited resource, and would compromise spending on other projects.

    Carbon tax and dividend is another alternative that would help impel people towards renewable energy, help fund any subsidies, and would be more politically popular by giving something back to the public.

    Carbon tax and renewable energy are not mutually exclusive, and just have to be done properly.

Prev  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  Next

The Consensus Project Website


(free to republish)

Smartphone Apps


© Copyright 2018 John Cook
Home | Links | Translations | About Us | Contact Us