Obama’s New Powerplant CO2 Rules: Guaranteed to Succeed (Retroactively)

June 2nd, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

It’s hard to find anything new to say about the new EPA rules being announced by the Administration today that seek to lower CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants by 30% by 2030.

Job-killing, poverty-exacerbating, electricity rate-raising, unmeasurable temperature-benefitting. And with no demonstrable technology for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), there is no way to make coal-fired plants meet the new rule.

But these objections are just, so, you know…old school. I mean, we need nice shiny new energy technologies that don’t pollute. Technologies that aren’t promoted by tobacco scientists like me. That make our roadways clean, Green and hi-tech. Without all of that nasty “carbon pollution” (sounds dirty, doesn’t it?).

As some of us try to list all of the reasons why such regulations are not just a waste of time, but also damaging to human health and welfare, there is a sizeable fraction of people who are easily duped by what sounds good to them.

Carbon dioxide, contrary to what you might have learned in school many years ago, is now a pollutant. It doesn’t matter that recent warming and CO2 increases have also led to greening of the Earth since CO2 (now standing at 4 parts per 10,000 of the atmosphere) is necessary for life on Earth. No, rather than real, demonstrated benefits of more atmospheric CO2, we instead have to worry about theoretical risks of more CO2.

I’ve met a whole new batch of these easily-duped people in the last few days who have left over 700 comments on my blog posts (here and here) where I pointed out that sane people shouldn’t be taking perfectly good solar collectors, normally tilted toward the sun to increase energy generation and kept reasonably clean and protected, and putting them in road surfaces to be repeatedly run over by heavy, dirty cars and trucks.

Apparently, I’m part of the problem rather than the solution. Part of the old, discredited way of doing things. Time to embrace the future, Dr. Roy.

So, I’ve been thinking about how this new EPA power plant rule will play out.

First of all, after an obligatory EPA 1-year comment period and then even more time for the states to decide how they might want to achieve the goals of the rule, it’s going to be after the next presidential election before we actually see substantial changes in coal-fired generation resulting from the rule.

How convenient. Old plants are already being shuttered in favor of gas-fired plants, which are currently cheaper. So what’s the point of the new regulations?

Well, what might well happen is this. Ten years down the road, “global warming” will turn out to be (surprise!) much weaker than predicted. Since we know the climate models that predicted much greater warming can’t be wrong, it must be those new EPA regulations back in 2014 that solved the problem!

We really can control the climate system! We did something…and it worked…retroactively!

It doesn’t really matter which came first, or what-caused-what. It didn’t matter for the ice core record of temperature changes coming before CO2 changes, and it won’t matter for this, either.

94 Responses to “Obama’s New Powerplant CO2 Rules: Guaranteed to Succeed (Retroactively)”

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  1. Gary says:

    As our civilization has become more dependent on technology, collectively we’ve lost the ability to read the signs in nature. Because we’re more isolated from the hard lessons nature imparts to those who don’t pay attention to it, we’ve become more delusional. Rather than learn the milder lessons we’re setting our selves up for a real hard kick. The gullible will be hardest hit and they also will be the most outraged. The puppet masters are hoping for that ten-year grace period; we would be better off with a moderate kick now while there still is infrastructure to handle it.

  2. benpal says:

    It’s all about window-dressing, isn’t it? Aren’t well dressed windows nice? Money is not a problem, we, the government, have plenty …

  3. londo says:

    Considering the logical fallacies that educated people in the AGW camp cling to in order to promote the “anti-carbon” agenda, can we really expect that much from ordinary people.
    Not that I want to defend Obama but he is (only) a lawyer by education, hence, completely at the mercy of his advisors. However, Angela Merkel has a solid education in physics and chemistry and look how she managed to mess up in Germany. How is that even possible. I just wish she is around when we settle the accounts on the global warming madness. Lets hope Obama is as well. I don’t think the outcome will look anything like with CFCs.

    • rossbrisbane says:

      Considering the logical fallacies that educated people in the anti-AGW camp cling to in order to still promote the “carbon” agenda, can we really expect that much from ordinary people.
      I want to defend Obama as he is (only) a lawyer by education, hence actually trusts the scientists who are telling him there are huge issues that lie ahead if we do not cut emissions. Angela Merkel has a solid education in physics and chemistry and look how she managed Germany. The propaganda oil & coal machinery through the media present this as an abject failure. How is it even possible for renewable industry in getting their real positive impacts to the general population as to what is really happening? I just wish she is around when we settle the accounts with obstructionists like Roy Spencer. This is in reality vandalism of the real science by him. Let’s hope Obama instigates something that will benefit the country. I know from reading hundreds of journals what the outcome will look like in 30 years if we do nothing about CFCs. Roy Spencer is an utter disgrace to the science.

      • 4TimesAYear says:

        Lowering our carbon emissions will do nothing – and that comes straight from this administration’s mouth. “This policy will result in negligible CO2 emissions changes or quantified benefits through 2022”

      • Francisco says:

        So you’ve read hundreds of journals and know what the outlook is in 30 years…. Those same journals that have been predicting for a very long time what has yet to happen but should, according to their models?

        As far as I can tell, from travelling a bit and actually being outdoors quite a bit, the only thing that has really changed in the climate extremes is that we hear more about ‘extremes’ in the media. Everything weather related is either unprecedented, an extreme or caused by global warming. There is absolutely nothing normal any more.

        If a flood prone area, where we have built development, floods, it is global warming. If a forest where we have been constantly putting out wild fires when it should have normally burnt (natural cycle) burns…. GLOBAL Warming.

        Why is Global Warming Anthropogenic?

        If there’s any warming (arguably, depending on the time frame you use) how can we decide to destroy poorer nations, create famines and wars when a bit warmer winters are all that would happen?

        As an engineer, I have to design (among many other things) containment and drainage plans. To the 100yr storm…. which hasn’t happened, but if it does, it was because of global warming.

        Why, if all these ‘scientists’ cannot forecast weather accurately to seven days, are they allowed to even publish policy changing facts predicting climate change? Why if all the models have failed?

        AND WHY is Mother Nature doing the exact thing it has always done and the models can only trend one direction?

        I guess mooma nature is the biggest denier, ain’t she?

        • rossbrisbane says:

          Francisco, You are typical of engineers who misunderstand the data within climate science. There is ample evidence in my travels of climate shift globally. For example: We are presently having our WARMEST winter on record since OCCUPATION of Caucasians on this continent. (Southern Hemisphere) As you have an engineering mind, you tend look at pin point accurate detail rather then trends over at least a decade or longer time periods. I have quite a few friends with this mindset. It takes quite a few B/Ques and pleasant talks with each other to convince my Engineering mates. I have brought a few around in seeing climate with a different paradigm other then detailed engineering focus and mindsets. There is nothing like having a conversation with a cranky 60 year old engineer who swears he is correct. One issue I have many fundamentalist Christian friends (of which I belong to that conservative spectrum) who see a clockwork wound universe started by a creator. Because He created, it can never break. I tell you – I see evidence everywhere that we are indeed breaking that God created environment. We are interfering with it and disrupting it. We ignore those apocalyptic warnings at our own peril. Both sources of prediction and evidence.

  4. David Gray says:

    Killing carbon will keep global warming from happening AND it will keep tigers away from my front porch.

  5. AlecM says:

    Paradoxically, there is a way to allow these idiotic people like Holdren and Obama to mess up the power system so as to enrich their mates.

    It’s to make half the homes independent of the grid for much of the time by installing domestic fuel cells using methane. In that way, the renewables’ subsidies are slashed because grid prices collapse.

  6. Peter M says:

    I’ve been thinking the same thing for a while now. The spin masters are so practiced in their art that it doesn’t matter what happens in nature, their only solution will be regulation and more regulation.

    It’s enough to drive a crazy person crazy.

  7. Ten years from now the temperature trend will be in a decline.

    The decline will become more established later this year as solar cycle 24 maximum passes by.

    • Aaron S says:

      Cooling more established in the middle of an El Nino? Salvatore, I agree with the long term trend, but not with being so absolute for cooling this year. A strong El Nino could mask the long term trend related to solar activity. I just don’t want to hear the sun is not a factor later on.

  8. Massimo PORZIO says:

    Just to say Dr. Spencer,
    last week, in a national environmentalist TV show here in Italy, an “expert” demonstrated how the light (and the sunlight too of course) is a powerful source of energy.

    That “expert” showed the power of light using a Crookes radiometer and an halogen spotlight.
    You should see him while he was explaining the people what a wonderful source of kinetic energy it is and what we could do with it.
    In his point of view, it was awesome that light could turn those blades so quickly.

    Of course. it doesn’t matter that he was using a 500W power lamp to spin so light blades into a very low pressure environment.

    Please don’t believe I’m an hallucinated psychotic, it really happened!

    Have a nice day.


    • JohnKl says:

      Hi Massimo PORZIO,

      Don’t worry you’re not psychotic. We seem to live in Zombie-land. This technological achievement (guffaw) will little doubt lead to improvements in fields as diverse as portable fans and military hardware. Some future scientist hybrid of Archimedes and Tesla will no doubt invent SOLAR POWERED, HYPERSONIC, ELECTRIC SURVEILLANCE JETS to replace the SR-71 black bird, but without the enormously hot ramjet tail emissions (wacky as this may sound it would be so cool if it could be done and I have a strange FEELING but no evidence given our current understanding of materials and the laws of physics it will some day be done (although under-powered, solar powered prop planes already exist))! Sound incredible? Little doubt you laughed at solar tiled/powered roadways (don’t try to hide – I read the previous threads! -I laughed at it myself), solar-heated air powered gas-turbine generators with tower exhaust chimneys (this came up in some previous thread months ago), and finally a CARBON FREE PLANET (how we plan to breathe, I have no idea) , Your probably a CAGW denier (heck, I know Iam)!

      Have a great day!

      • JohnKl says:

        Hi Massimo PORZIO,

        Just something to note. Solar powered surveillance, stealth drones do not at all seem out of the range of current technology.

        Have a great day!

        • Massimo PORZIO says:

          Hi JohnKl,
          “although under-powered, solar powered prop planes already exist”
          Hi Hi Hi… Just at the 8:00 PM tonight TV news I heard about a new solar plane which flies at the incredible speed of 50km/h (if the journalist said it right, it has just a couple of wings 35m long each!!!)

          Just to say: one of the two designer, Bertrand Piccard is a swiss psychiatrist 🙂


          I would prefer fly on a glider, maybe it’s older, less technological, but it should be more easy to pilot and environmental compatible too. 🙂

          Have a nice day, dear “comrade skepticist” 😀


      • Mark Luhman says:

        Since I am a carbon base life form, no I do not want to live on a carbon free planet, well let me rephrase that. As a carbon base life form I could not live on a carbon free world because I would be a pollutant, come to think of that is that not what Obama already thinks? Even worst I am a conservative pollutant, the worst kind.

  9. Greg McCall says:

    Dr. Spencer,
    To clarify a point you made:

    “How convenient. Old plants are already being shuttered in favor of gas-fired plants, which are currently cheaper. So what’s the point of the new regulations?”

    In many cases (depending on a whole host of site specific variables), existing old coal-fired power plants are still more economical to run than new gas-fired plants. What isn’t economic is retrofitting old coal-fired plants to meet new environmental regulations versus purchasing power off the grid and/or building new gas-fired generation.

    If one were to conclude that current emission standards have improved air quality to a reasonable level in the US, given the large expense of improving it further, existing coal-fired plants could continue to provide lower cost electricity well into the future.


  10. lemiere jacques says:

    and us a will sell the coal to other countries, the caol will be burnt.

  11. JohnKl says:

    Hi ROY,

    Your best point of this blog post:

    “Carbon dioxide, contrary to what you might have learned in school many years ago, is now a pollutant. It doesn’t matter that recent warming and CO2 increases have also led to greening of the Earth since CO2 (now standing at 4 parts per 10,000 of the atmosphere) is necessary for life on Earth. No, rather than real, demonstrated benefits of more atmospheric CO2, we instead have to worry about theoretical risks of more CO2.”

    Exactly! Perhaps I grew up completely deluded, but came to understand that SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE COMPRISED THE FACTS AND LAWS OF NATURE not SPECULATION!!! Of course it appears we live in Zombie-land where facts no longer mean a thing and theoretical projections reign supreme. Thank you for the post.

    Have a great day!

    • Frank K. says:

      Well, not only is CO2 a pollutant but so is nitrogen:


      Next, oxygen will be declared a pollutant, and then we’re really screwed…(LOL)

      • Massimo PORZIO says:

        Oh my God!
        the tire repairer just refilled my car tires with nitrogen…
        So, am I not just a polluter because I use that dirty gasoline?

        • Frank K. says:

          Massimo – It’s even worse than that!! We humans are SO filthy. We **inhale** harmful Nitrogen and **exhale** dirty CO2! The environment can not survive if we keep breathing like this… /cagw

        • JohnKl says:

          “the tire repairer just refilled my car tires with nitrogen…”

          I suppose it’s better than retaining too much in under pressure like a scuba diver suffering from Nitrogen narcosis (not to be confused with the “bends”). Of course with something like 78% of our atmosphere composed of the stuff, how much can we pollute to be a problem. Remember humanity has done it’s best to increase CO2 levels since the 19th century and we only managed to increase levels from ~280-8ppm to ~400ppm. Perhaps oxygen therapy for climate alarmists and Nitrogen alarmists may sorely be needed.

          Have a great day!

  12. Ossqss says:

    Well, looky there, he told the truth once upon a time.


  13. bassman says:

    I will be the first to say that this move by the EPA doesn’t even begin to solve the planet’s energy imbalance. It is mostly a gesture for moderate environmentalists and if your a democrat I guess thats good for elections just not the planet.

    Roy there is no way these cuts could be used as evidence of a slowdown there effect on the CO2 forcing, its effect is incredibly tiny. It will be buried in an increase of fossil fuel burning in Asia and the affect of emissions from the 80’s-2000’s already influencing climate (lag effect). It’s clear that negative PDO, week volcano activity, aerosols, low/moderate solar activity, poor surface coverage and a negative AMO have held back surface warming (not overall warming).

    PDO/ENSO being the biggest natural variation means that 2014 and 2015 are going to be record breaking years assuming El Nino keeps building.

    From NOAA


    I think the true story about this EPA act is how pathetic our attempts are to deal with this problem. If we are still making pathetic attempts like this after 2020 it won’t really matter. Even a very low estimate of 2 degrees warming will be locked in the next decade or two and thats not even considering the warming that will follow 2100. We need to make much more aggressive actions to create a stronger global price signal for green energy or the use of fossil fuels will just keep increasing.

    • Bruiser-101 says:

      Bassman says: It’s clear that negative PDO, week volcano activity, aerosols, low/moderate solar activity, poor surface coverage and a negative AMO have held back surface warming (not overall warming).” Typical CAGW tactic, don’t let the facts get in the way of a good scare campaign. Perhaps you should visit the SORCE data and work with the real figures. Average Top of Atmosphere (TOA) solar radiation figures for April 2014 are 0.6 W/M^2 higher than they were in 2010. Additionally, solar Cycle 24 maybe one of the lowest for sun spot activity in the last century however radiation levels are higher than for SC23. I know the CAGW lobby dismiss natural variation as insignificant however 0.6 W is more than the “missing” 0.5 W of outgoing LWR that spawned the rediculous Hiroshima Bomb application.

      • Nate says:

        FYI, that extra 0.6 W, when averaged over the globe is reduced by 4 x. Another ~ 25 % is reflected, so net is maybe ~.12 W.

  14. bassman says:

    Here is a really informative story about how the GOP swung strongly against climate change/science since 2008.


    It talks about how McCain and Palin’s cap and trade platform was much more aggressive than the EPA plant just announced.

    • Mark Luhman says:

      McCain my senator, he an idiot, although smart enough to marry a rich woman, although John Kerry out maneuver him on that one, Kerry married richer ones both time, the first one was not rich enough so he dump he for his present wife.

  15. RW says:

    We will be lucky — that’s right lucky — if we even get 0.5C of global warming for 2xCO2. Any attempt to reduce CO2 emissions is nothing short of madness, IMO. It’s time we all fully embrace the warmth and embrace the increased fertilization, otherwise future generations will look at us as irrational fools — the same way we tend see generations before us when studying them.

    • bassman says:

      It’s not just CO2 forcing. Many positive feedbacks are already beginning to contribute to the overall energy imbalance. Think of increased water vapor and the albedo changes due to sea Ice and spring/fall snow cover. The observed data and modeling clearly show the trends in terms of most feedbacks being positive rather than negative. Negative feedbacks like changes in chemical weathering take much longer.

      • Bryan says:


        Increased water vapor is always mentioned as the big positive feedback, but what you don’t mention is that the evaporation/cloud formation cycle has a cooling effect that counteracts part of the warming effect, since evaporation cools the air at the surface, but the condensation that creates clouds happens much higher in the atmosphere, and some of the heat given off at that time manages to radiate into space. I really think of this as heat sneaking around the greenhouse gasses and escaping, but since everyone likes the feedback paradigm, you could think of the presence of extra water vapor in the air as a positive feedback, and the evaporation/cloud formation cycle as a negative feedback.

        Global sea ice is above average, so if anything that could be a negative feedback right now, since some have suggested that slightly warmer weather near the antarctic coast leads to more antarctic sea ice.

        Spring/fall snow cover? Doesn’t warmer air in the winter lead to MORE snow? Is slightly warmer weather in the spring going to melt all the extra snow, or could spring snow cover actually be higher with slightly warmer overall weather? Is there solid data showing that spring snow cover is lower? If not, that could be another negative feedback. You don’t mention winter snow cover. The extra snow from the warmer air should increase winter snow cover, which is another negative feedback. For fall snow cover, you could be right, that could be a positive feedback.

        Of course you do not mention clouds. There is a lot of disagreement about clouds, but it is certainly arguable that they are a net negative feedback.

        “The observed data and modeling clearly show the trends in terms of most feedbacks being positive rather than negative. Negative feedbacks like changes in chemical weathering take much longer.”

        I’m very doubtful of the assertion that “the observed data” show any such thing. I haven’t seen convincing evidence of that. As for “modeling” showing that most feedbacks are positive — egads, are these the same models that are getting further from reality with each passing month? Are they the same models that are laughably low resolution compared to what would be required to really tell us anything useful? Are they the same models that parameterize cloud behavior in a way that prevents clouds from showing up as a negative feedback? Until I see evidence to the contrary, I’m convinced that these models have at best very limited ability to tell us anything about feedbacks.

        You basically gave a list of claimed positive feedbacks (some of which are open to debate), but left out the biggest known negative feedbacks, and threw in a straw man negative feedback that is relatively little known (and to my knowledge not emphasized by skeptics). This is the kind of post that might cause some to suspect that you may be trying to distort the evidence.

      • Mark Luhman says:

        If positive feedback existed life as we know on earth would not be possible the climate would swing from one extreme to the other. It would go from an ice ball to a hot house than back again.

  16. bassman says:

    RW, Are you serious. We already got that much warming, like already! (0.8) We have another 1 degree Celsius from current GHGs in the atmosphere. If you take out the negative forcing of aerosols, we likely have more than 1 degree C. Its amazing how many people come to comment on a blog that regularly shows monthly temp increases (UAH) decade over decade and yet argue by some unknown mechanism how its somehow not going not continue happening. This despite all peer-reviewed evidence showing the planet will continue to warm.

    • Bryan says:

      We have 0.8C warming already? I suppose you are getting that from the NASA GISS analysis, from 1880 to the present.

      1) Surface thermometer based global temperature data cannot give us a reliable average temperature today, let alone in 1880. There is not enough coverage, plain and simple.

      2) This particular global temperature analysis is famous for its numerous adjustments, all of which seem to make the past cooler and the present warmer. Just sayin’.

      3) Whatever the difference really is between the average global temperature in 1880 vs. today, we have no way of knowing how much of it is due to natural variation. We are told that the flat global temperatures of the last several years are due to natural variation counteracting the CO2 forcing. That means natural variation can cool. But somehow when the climate warms, that is all CO2 forcing, and NONE is due to natural variation. So we are expected to believe that natural variation can cool, but it cannot warm.

    • Chris says:

      Hi bassman – look at the temperature changes yourself and you will notice that the changes in the late 20th century are virtually identical to the changes in the early 20th century. Given that the changes in the early 20th century are attributes to natural causes – so can the changes in the late 20th century be attributed to natural causes. To believe otherwise requires a rather unbelievable set of assumptions.

      Look at the comparison here :-


      My take on this is that a group of people got rather excited in the mid to late 1990’s, expecting that trend to continue – which it did not – but by that time too many people were committed to the story to back pedal. It also came on the back of a seemingly successful campaign against CFC’s and the ozone layer – the chemistry of which can just about be written on a postage stamp – which is very far removed from the climate system – which no one can pretend to understand.

  17. Jeff R. says:

    Dr Spencer,

    Are you assuming that global C02 levels will decrease as a result of the EPA action? If not, then I don’t know how the believers will claim success. I know they will but just wondering how they will spin this thing.

  18. Tim says:

    I have a very simple question. Do solar panels actually produce energy? For those who are not technically educated, and after you get up off the floor from laughing :-), the question is simple to answer. Over the life of the panel, does it produce more energy than the TOTAL energy used by the factory to produce the panel? I cannot find an answer to this question anywhere.

    Thanks in advance to anyone who can answer the question.

    • Bryan says:

      The question is harder than it sounds, because there are so many ways to calculate the energy needed to produce the panel.

      For example, someone who wants to make solar panels look bad could insist on counting part of the gasoline burned by the surveyor when he drove to the planned copper mine where the copper in the solar panel’s wiring came from. Of course the copper mine was going to be built anyway, so such things should not be counted. But there are legitimate difficulties when doing the calculation, such as considering the energy used to build the factory that makes the solar panels. That energy should be counted, but it will be spread out over all the panels that will be produced there, and how many will that be? And how to calculate the energy used to build the factory? That would involve a lot of estimates, I think.

      I have to think that if the panel lasts as long as expected, and if it is placed in a proper location and used and maintained properly, then surely it produces more energy than used to produce it. But I would be interested in a definitive answer as well.

      • James Strom says:


        >>For example, someone who wants to make solar panels look bad could insist on counting part of the gasoline burned by the surveyor when he drove to the planned copper mine where the copper in the solar panel’s wiring came from. Of course the copper mine was going to be built anyway, so such things should not be counted.<<

        If the solar industry is to be large, as the greens hope, increased demand will result in digging additional mines. In that case, all the costs of mining, including the surveyors' work, should be included as part of the energy cost in producing the panel.

        • Bryan says:

          I agree. I had not thought of that. It is even more complicated than I thought.

          • Joe Wooten says:

            It is even more complicated than I thought.

            That’s what always bites the warmistas (and most of the greenies) in the ass every time. There are no simple solutions with no unforeseen complications.

          • Lewis Guignard says:

            Whether or not a solar panel costs more to build than it supplies in electricity is actually a simple calculation if one does it from an economic viewpoint and not actual energy costs and supply.

            If one assumes those who produce the solar panel know their costs, then the price of the panel includes all the energy used to make the panel, plus labor. This includes transportation, mining and installations costs etc.

            Then one can easily estimate the amount of energy the panel will convert over its lifetime. The problem here is the price of selling the electricity or the use of the electricity. Actually, one can only use the local price, as any others are guesses. Then one has to take into account the tax subsidies, by subtracting them out.

            It will usually turn out that the panel costs more to produce than it supplies in return, hence the need for the subsidies to encourage production and purchase.

            As most of the cost of production can be converted to energy uses the answer is: …… No, it doesn’t.

    • Francisco says:

      I’d like to see a solar panel factory run solely by solar panels… without subsidies or access to the grid.

      • Tim says:

        I think as a first approximation it would be fairly simple to look at the utility bill for the factory and apply that to the number of panels produced, but that information is not being made available.
        I also think a first generation panel made by reducing beach sand requires a lot more energy than a second generation panel made by recycling spent panels and recovering the silicon. In that sense, it may be a good idea to produce lots of panels while fossil fuel is still cheap and plentiful, but that information is not available either.

  19. bassman says:

    Jokes aside I hope everyone can understand that too much of anything can be bad. This idea of claiming that more and more CO2 in atmosphere can somehow be good overall is crazy. The benefits to plants needing less stomata in response to higher levels of CO2 may be positive for us in someways but cannot make up for all the other negatives even by very conservative estimates.

    The most dangerous aspect of this anthropogenic forcing is how long CO2 stays in atmosphere. So many tipping points may already be crossed at 400 ppm. In just a decade it will be 430 and so on.

    • Bryan says:

      “This idea of claiming that more and more CO2 in atmosphere can somehow be good overall is crazy.”

      “So many tipping points may already be crossed at 400 ppm. In just a decade it will be 430 and so on.”

      This sums up the CAGW argument. Tipping points which “may” already be crossed. What about socioeconomic tipping points that may be crossed if we continue to pursue and expand policies that make the nation and the world poorer? We are supposed to care about one but not the other. But temperature data is not showing us a good reason to impose harm on the world’s poor.

  20. bassman says:

    Bruiser 101, I wasn’t specifically referring to 2010 when discussing solar forcing. By the way, are you saying that the warmest year on record 2010 with a weak El Niño had really low solar input. Yet it was still the warmest year on record (NASA). That seems to suggest that there is a clear GHG warming effect and that solar forcing estimates (.25 variation in forcing) seem to be quite accurate. This suggests that 2014/2015 could be some impressively record breaking years.

  21. bassman says:

    Bryan, I try to be clear and concise, arguing complex science on a blog isn’t easy. Yes cloud cover is probably still the second biggest unknown in models (aerosols are the biggest). There are neg feedbacks, current research suggests that positive feedback is more significant (think about methane release).

    Snow cover in winter isn’t as significant because albedo matters less with less incoming sunlight. And yes spring snow cover has been declining along with sea ice.


    Honest data is a really big deal to me.

    Here is Nasa’s forcing data it’s really insightful


    I know I know I’m a “crazy warmest” for trusting NASA and all other reputable sources but at some point you have to trust the scientific process.

    • Bryan says:

      Methane release is considered a positive feedback. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, but doesn’t last nearly as long in the atmosphere. I agree that it should be studied.

      Yes snow cover in the winter isn’t AS significant, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t significant, and it is a negative feedback, that was my point.

      Thanks for the link. That site has a lot of interesting data. The North American April Snow cover showed 1.62% per decade decline over the years covered. Not real steep but it is a decline. I was surprised that it was steeper than September, which was down by 0.57% per decade, which I would call basically flat. December was up 1.00 % per decade.

      We should note that the data on that site is Northern Hemisphere only. Since the Northern Hemisphere has a lot more land than the Southern Hemisphere, leaving out the Southern Hemisphere is not as big an issue for snow cover. But for sea ice it is a big deal. There is a lot of sea ice around Antarctica, and it is farther from the pole than than North American sea ice, so it matters more per square mile for albedo (although admittedly the ice covered area is relatively small in the summer). It is because of the much higher than average sea ice in the south that total global sea ice right now is above average.

      As for the Nasa forcing data, it looks like estimates used in simulations. Sure, it is data, because all information is data, but this data is not determined from direct observation, as far as I can tell, but instead is composed of estimates that are used in the models. And we know how well the models are doing.

      As for trusting NASA and all other reputable sources, I’m sorry, but the federal government is putting on a full court press involving this, even to the extent that the President of the United States, and the Secretary of State, are repeatedly insulting distinguished scientists just because they dare to question the science upon which the administration’s policy is based. (By the way, this one really gets me. The skeptical scientists, such as Richard Lindzen, Judith Curry and our host Roy Spencer, are not named by Obama and Kerry, but they are clearly included as targets of these insults. It is a huge embarrassment for our country to have such high officials display such arrogance and disrespect, especially considering how ignorant both of them are concerning science.) When the desires of those at the highest level are this crystal clear, and the emphasis they constantly put on it is this great, there does not have to be a conspiracy at work. The federal agencies might just tend to fall in line, and have a tendency toward getting results that the bosses want. Again, I am NOT claiming a conspiracy. Instead, what I think could happen would be called a complicity. It is just a tendency to go along with the program and slant things a bit when you get a chance. I’m not saying it definitely happens, but it would explain a lot (like past temperatures being adjusted down, and current temperatures adjusted up). So, when I hear those at the highest level pushing so hard for this, to the point of insulting Freeman Dyson, then yeah, I’m not so keen on trusting the government produced science.

    • AlecM says:

      The IPCC’s understanding of ‘forcing’ is bad physics. it’s an Irradince and can do no thermodynamic work; only the vector sum of Irradiances can do that. So, if forcing increases, less net IR is emitted from the surface. What’s more, atmospheric processes reduce GHG-AGW to near zero, probably exactly zero.

      There is no methane issue, nor any CO2 issue; neither can cause warming and there is zero evidence of that happening: spectrometers measure irradiance, so do pyrgeometers.

      This act of Obama is totally wicked, an attempt by the Left using fake science to enslave and terrorise the population of the USA: there will be a violent reaction. This has been anticipated, hence the creation of an internal paramilitary armed with hollow point bullets to cordon off the inner cities as the poor realise they are being sacrificed on the altar of Agenda 21.

  22. bassman says:

    Also, the evidence of my previous post could come entirely from this two links above. Please don’t make accusations like that.

    • Bryan says:

      Fair enough. I thought the post I was replying to gave short shrift to known negative feedbacks, and instead mentioned a straw man negative feedback, so I stand by the points I made, but I apologize for the “might cause some to suspect that you may be trying to distort the evidence” comment.

  23. bassman says:

    Bryan, you can pick many ways to show/measure energy gain, they are all consistent with NASA GISS. Stop going down those rabbit holes.

    • Bryan says:

      “So many ways to show/measure energy gain”, but only one that we are told is going to cause great harm, and that is rising temperatures. Heat in the oceans only hurts if it eventually warms the atmosphere. Let’s face it, if it truly becomes well mixed in the vast oceans, we are talking about a tiny increase in temperature of the oceans which won’t hurt anything. If it doesn’t become well mixed and instead gets out and heats the atmosphere, then it will show up as a temperature increase. But that is not happening for the last 17 years or so. The same with any radiation imbalance that is observed, calculated, or estimated. Either it eventually raises temperatures, in which case it supports your argument, or it doesn’t, in which case it doesn’t matter.

      So disputes about NASA GISS are not rabbit holes. Global temperature is what the whole debate is about.

  24. bassman says:

    Bryan, for point 3, yes we do have a good idea. I know you may hate skeptical science but this posting is a very good response and it is based on good science. See link below.


    I prefer to link directly to the research but I’m on a smart phone so cut me slack.

    • Bryan says:

      You’ve got me there. Not that I hate the Skeptical Science Website, but I do find the articles, shall we say, less than balanced.

      I took a look at the one you refer to, and I think it brings up some interesting things. I did not read it closely enough to comment much. I’ll have to leave it to others to comment if they wish.

      I would say that the article mainly seems to claim that human caused warming can be detected, and estimates can be made of the percentage of warming caused by humans. Still, count me as doubtful that we even know how much it has warmed since 1880, let alone have a solid estimate of how much was caused by humans.

      I am not doubtful that CO2 tends to cause warming. I am doubtful about the extent.

  25. bassman says:

    Bryan, come on you sound like Matt Ridley. The worlds poor can surely benefit from clean renewable energy also. I totally get that people think the wealth western countries achieved from fossil fuels only makes it fair that others benefit too but the world is changing. Solar now employs more people than Coal and that will only increase. Most of the worlds poor live in places where solar can be implemented. There is simply too much uncertainty (with huge downside risk) too have that much of a CO2 forcing sustained.

    • Carbonicus says:

      Solar employs more people than coal…. Assuming true, that’s thanks to govt redistribution.

      That’s easy enough to demonstrate.

      But here’s the more pertinent question: how much useful energy do those employed in coal produce vs those employed in solar? (and do not attempt to use solar “capacity” as the denominator. All that counts for this question is energy produced)

      How many gigawatts of produced energy/full-time job?

      Central planners can employ millions, still starve tens of millions and ultimately collapse an entire country.

    • Bryan says:

      The world’s poor can benefit from clean renewable energy when and if it makes economic sense. Until then, forcing a switch to it is a waste that makes them poorer.

      As Carbonicus notes, central planners can make something happen, but that doesn’t mean that it will work out for the benefit of the people.

      Of course IF the forced switch leads to a sufficiently better climate in the future, that brings about more benefit than the cheap fossil fuel energy would have brought, then the forced switch would be a net benefit. But:

      1) We do not know that this is the case.

      2) We do know that the discussed policy favoring renewable over fossil fuels makes people poorer.

      3) We need a really good reason to make poor people poorer. In my opinion there is not enough evidence of potential catastrophe to justify the pursuit of these policies.

      4) I agree that we should be studying this like crazy, and working on better fuels, and conservation techniques.

      5) When and if we ever have to address it, we will be in better shape to deal with it if we are rich rather than poor.

      6) Is there a risk that a tipping point will be surpassed before we establish the danger, and it will be too late? I suppose there is a risk, but there is a risk in anything. If you try to avoid all risk, risk will come to you. The classic example is a person who wishes to avoid risk of financial loss, and so hides all of his money under the bed, so he will not lose it in the markets. He thinks he is playing it safe, but someone could break into his house and steal the money. Or his house could burn down. He could put the money in a safe deposit box to reduce (not eliminate) those risks, but inflation could still come along and wipe out a lot of the value of the money. Trying to avoid all risk is foolish. The best we can do is choose our risk wisely. In my opinion, with the evidence we have now, aggressive anti-carbon policy is not the right risk to choose.

    • Chris says:

      Given that I would prefer efficient industry to inefficient industry, I see the employment argument as a negative, not a positive.

  26. Carbonicus says:

    Dr. Spencer – Think it’s possible the Sheeple in Chief and his administration are, effectively, killing coal to force the conversion to nat gas (and, obviously, their pet “alternatives” that attempt to defy the laws of physics and economics…)?

    The 2005 baseline was chosen, essentially, to allow Him to take advantage of the impact fracking has had on conversion of base load power generation towards nat gas, which in itself is already covering (or baked into) somewhere between 10-15% of the “30% below 2005 emissions” stated goal.

    Would be curious if someone could calculate: given the 10-15% reduction toward that 30% goal already, if this regulation (assuming it becomes law/stands court challenge) has the effect of closing 30-50% of the US coal-fired utility fleet and replacing that capacity with 98% gas and 2% wind/solar, would it just about cover the 15-20% left to achieve His goal?

    The plan is economically wasteful, based on pseudo-science, and won’t change the avg surface temp of the earth by any amount that could possibly be differentiated from natural variability. Those are givens.

    I’m just curious what % of the US coal-fired utility fleet would have to be converted to nat gas to achieve His “plan” and wondering whether fracking is going to take us there anyway (ergo, this is just vote buying and taking credit for something the private sector/free market did DESPITE His best efforts….)

  27. Rick Adkison says:

    The Chinese are laughing all they way to the bank.

  28. M D MILL says:

    Not to mention:
    Wind mill generation kills 1.5 MILLION+ birds and bats every year, and FOR DECADES TO COME!![plus it is expensive and unreliable, and physically incapable of meeting even the increase in energy demand, let alone the total demand]

    If the coal or nuclear industries killed only 100 bald eagles every year,and boldly anounced that this would continue for decades to come, imagine the outrage from the sierra club, friends of the earth, politicians, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and all the same alarmist sources…imagine the lawsuits and prosecutions, the chest beating.
    Yet these bird blenders are touted as the savior of the green world.

    It is perhaps the biggest measurable case of hypocrosy
    ever recorded…1.5 million/100=15,000 times any reasonable amount of hypocracy.

    • Joel Shore says:

      Ah…Perhaps you are unaware of the thousands of HUMAN deaths caused by pollution from coal plants each year? (http://www.lung.org/press-room/press-releases/power-plants-epa.html) I am sure it ain’t such a picnic for birds either.

      • Lewis Guignard says:

        I am always amused by citations of human death caused by some manmade condition. It is as if without such condition men would not die. How humorless.

        It is the constant repeat of the lawsuit against cigarettes. The various state attorney’s general sued because smoking supposedly caused an increase in costs to the Medicaid population. This, so far as I can tell, is unproven and is only legal theory for the purpose of a lawsuit. It may turn out that dying from some cigarette induced disease causes the cost to Medicaid per individual to be lower. Would we then advocate smoking because it is cheaper on the government?

        The whole of these ideas is ridiculous but to argue reality is not PC.

        One other example. We could stop automobile deaths by limiting speed to 25 MPH. Who is out recommending that?

      • m d mill says:

        Ah..it seems you have changed the argument, rather than reply to the comment…No matter, this is a common failing.
        Dr Spensers blog (and my comment) is about the new EPA required 30% reduction of co2 “poison”!!!Not on other particulate emmision requirements. National limits on coal plant particulate poison emissions is a reasonable thing(though a debatable one), and nothing in my previous comments indicated otherwise. But how many people have died from coal induced CO2 “poisoning”…none.
        We HUMANS get almost unmeasurable benfits from coal power plants for almost unmeasurably small increases in average mortality rates do to poisoning(if you have a reasonable realistic alternative to this…well there probably isn’t one).
        What benefits do birds get from the avion cuisinarts..how much hypocrisy from the lovers of the natural earth? So, 1.5 million birds and bats for 50 years multiplied by 10 times as many NEW wonderfull windmills = 750,000,000 birds and bats, or until the supply runs out…excellent.

        • Joel Shore says:

          Even the Audubon Society doesn’t agree with your position on wind power (http://policy.audubon.org/wind-power-overview-0). Of course, I suppose that in your worldview this is will just be taken as more evidence of “hypocrosy” rather than any indication that perhaps your views might be a tad off-the-mark.

          • M D Mill says:

            Even PHD AGW alarmists admit windpower will not effect global temp in any significant way in the next 50 years.
            In the next 50 years enhanced windmills would kill close to a billion birds and bats (assuming the supply does not run out). Think of their responce if this was done by nuclear power (no co2 production at all).
            But the Audubons want all wildlife protection laws
            zealously enforced (http://policy.audubon.org/wind-power-overview-0). Is it possible the Audubons are
            being “a tad” hypocritical…NO WAY. You’ve convinced me…well done!

  29. Norman says:

    Problem with solar and wind power are the fact that neither will ever be continuous no matter how much promise the developers give to these. No wind, no power. Night (regardless of surface coverage be it 12 square miles or more) no power.

    Here is the area we need to move in.


    If we need to invest in alternative forms of energy lets do it on something that can provide continuous power night or day or on days with no wind.

  30. Aaron S says:

    If anyone was half way serious about decreasing anthropogenic CO2 then there are two variables: 1) The amount of people and 2) The amount of CO2 each person generates. You can not have this discussion without mentioning population control. People generate CO2 in many ways producing energy is a significant one, but so is deforestation. IMHO the reason we focus on ENERGY is pointing a finger at a big industry is much simpler than considering the real problem: EXPONENTIAL POPULATION GROWTH!!!! Both sides of the political spectrum need to wake up and face we can not double again, and the only thing proping up our population is our industry that is driven by hydrocarbons. There is no alternative fuel (except nuclear) out there that can sustain our population people are big dreamers but little thinkers.

  31. Massimo PORZIO says:

    Another crazy new from an Italian national TV:
    “in Italy we have reached the awesome 48% of clean energy production”!!!

    There should be something really heavy in the air that they sniffed before write that great piece of fictional journalism! 😉

    Have a great day.


  32. Rathnakumar says:

    Reading through the comments on your posts about putting solar panels on roads, I am quite impressed with your enormous patience with morons, Dr. Spencer! Keep up the good work!

  33. Gail Combs says:

    Given this newest idiotic move by the US government, one can only hope that Quaternary Scientists are incorrect and the Holocene is not ending.

    There had been a very intense debate regarding which of the most recent interglacials is the best analogue for the present Holocene. Lisiecki and Raymo, (2005) essentially quashed the Berger and Loutre’s 2002 modeling and no one has come forward with anything supporting an extended Holocene since then.

    Lisiecki and Raymo (Paleooceanography, 2005) produced an exhaustive analysis of 57 globally distributed deep ocean cores reaching back about 5 million years.

    Lisiecki and Raymo’s conclusion?

    …the June 21 insolation minimum at 65N during MIS 11 is only 489 W/m2, much less pronounced than the present minimum of 474 W/m2. In addition, current insolation values are not predicted to return to the high values of late MIS 11 for another 65 kyr. We propose that this effectively precludes a ‘double precession-cycle’ interglacial [e.g., Raymo, 1997] in the Holocene without human influence….

    We had better hope and pray CO2 can delay the next glacial inception because Dr. Alley has shown the climate transitions abruptly within years to decades. For example the Wisconsin Glaciation to Holocene transition was less than three years!

    Onset of the Little Ice Age was right about when the Holocene reached a half precession cycle old and it was bad enough. The Modern Warm Period, less warm then the the Medieval Warm Period, marks the second thermal pulse. There were two thermal pulses in the closest Holocene analog, MIS-11 just before glaciation.

    If Ruddiman’s “Early Anthropogenic Hypothesis” is correct, the ONLY thing keeping us out of the next ice age is Carbon Dioxide. The Industrial Age along with the the recent grand solar maximum, may very well have occurred at exactly the most opportune time for H. sapiens, at the end of the present interglacial.

    Also we are not out of the woods by a long shot. The Milankovitch Cycle low point will continue for 65 thousand years according to Lisiecki and Raymo. Yet these idiots in DC want to strip the earth of the CO2 security blanket that might be keeping us out of the next ice age. And to add insult to injury you can add the other papers showing C3 plants (99% of the plant species) were undergoing CO2 starvation when the earth was in the last glaciation.

    • Joel Shore says:

      One tell-tale sign of pseudoscience is when people selectively quote scientists to support conclusions that the scientists themselves do not draw…and are in fact diametrically opposed to the conclusions drawn by scientists.

      Your quoting of Dr. Alley certainly falls squarely within this definition of pseudoscience, given that Alley would not agree in any way with the nonsense conclusions that you draw.

    • RW says:

      I don’t think the effect of CO2 is anywhere near large enough to stave off the next ice age.

  34. Gail Combs says:

    Lets put this another way.

    For glacial inception, the summer solstice insulation minimum during MIS-11 at 65N was 489 Watt/m2 and in 2005 it was ~474 Watt/m2 (Lisiecki and Raymo, 2005).

    This means the earth need an ADDITIONAL 15 Watt/m2 to get to the insolation minimum in MIS-11. I am not familiar with any CO2 estimates which correlate with a 15 Watt/m2 rise in atmospheric forcing.

    For example:
    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Schimel, 1996] estimated that the change solar forcing between 1850 and 1990 was only 0.3 W/m 2 at the top of the atmosphere vs. 1.5 W/m 2 for forcing anthropogenic CO2 forcing [cf., Reid, 1997]. Therefore to prevent glacial inception using anthropogenic CO2 forcing, we are still off by a factor of ten.

  35. Chris says:

    There is a trend in Australia as well where it is far more important to appear to be doing the “right” thing, than actually doing real good.

    The irony of course is that the people I know that support such action most strongly are the ones that will be harmed the most by higher energy costs, and less reliable power.

    By now I am just starting to think we should just let them suffer the consequences of their choices.

    You also need to be careful of what you ask for – Fracking for gas may well have environmental issues far beyond those of CO2.

  36. About the last paragraph:

    “It doesn’t really matter which came first, or what-caused-what. It didn’t matter for the ice core record of temperature changes coming before CO2 changes, and it won’t matter for this, either.”

    I see this as a distraction from the previous content of the article.

    Atmospheric CO2 lagged temperature back when the sum of carbon in the atmosphere, biosphere and hydrosphere was largely constant, or at least much less connected to carbon in the lithosphere than it has been lately. Atmospheric CO2 content was a positive feedback mechanism for climate changes whose root causes were other things, such as the Milankovitch cycles. Warmer temperatures shifted CO2 from the hydrosphere to the atmosphere.

    Nowadays, with massive transfer of carbon from the lithosphere to the sum of the atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere, there is increase of CO2 that is caused by something other than warming, and warming will follow the increase of its presence in the atmosphere. The question is how much or how little.

    Thankfully, I don’t expect the hydrosphere to outgas CO2 from this warming, since solubility of a gas in a liquid varies directly with the partial pressure (a measure of concentration) of the gas.

  37. Steve Hill says:

    We are all doomed, after all, a dictator like Obama is worse that climate change.

  38. Rob says:

    Self destruction just seems a terrible price for a

  39. “Carbon dioxide, contrary to what you might have learned in school many years ago, is now a pollutant.”

    Much of the stuff we call pollutants are harmless stuff, but if it is placed in wrong place or in excessive amounts we rightfully call them pollutants.

    Horse manure is for instance a very useful fertilizer and does no harm when it is spread on the fields, but if you get a bag in your swimming pool you will experience it as pollutants.

    CO2 is also a natural stuff, and it is imperative for life on earth, but it can also be deadly in excessive amounts.

    I think it is right to call the human caused emissions of CO2 pollutants since it is an unwanted by-product of combustion and even most informed sceptics see the emissions as something we want to limit rather than increase.

    • RW says:

      I wouldn’t sequester CO2 emissions at zero cost. Far too many benefits and there’s so little available.

      • That is a little more extreme position than I expected, but that is ok. Some think that the current level of 400 ppm has more benefits than drawbacks compared to the pre industrial level of 280 ppm, and may be they are right.

        But the main concern in my view, is that the level increases in an unprecedented rate of 2 ppm / year.

        What about the benefit / drawbacks ratio when the level hit 600 ppm or 800 ppm?

        The consequences for warming and less alkaline oceans may be less than expected, or worse than expected. Nobody knows for sure because there are unknown factors in the equation
        In addition there may be other yet unknown consequences of unknown magnitude. Those are the unknown, unknowns.

        If we at zero cost could cut the carbon emissions so that the annual increase in the atmosphere was reduced to 1 ppm / year, we would reduce the unknown risk. Wouldn’t that be preferable?

  40. Chorche says:

    hi everyone. I, for professional reasons, tried to understand how Mr Obama was trying to reduce carbon emissions. I got very surprised knowing that ACTUAL plans was to be planned by others (the state’s). Does people in the USA did nog found this also a bit strange?

    In the other hand, I agree with Dr. Spencer that CO2 is NOT poisson: look at every tree around you, he has collected the lets say 3.000 kg of its weigh fully from the atmosphere CO2. the Carbon is unexisting in the ground. He only can get it from the tyni fraction of carbon in the air. Why is Obama willing to make trees life even harder?

    Dr Roy, thanks for your blog.

  41. Nick Schroeder says:

    The American public is sacrificing valuable coal fired electric power plants like virgins to a volcano, primitive, frightened, misinformed silly people ignorant of chemistry or physics or economics and the sneering hucksters egging them on and picking all of our pockets are simply delighted.

  42. kangen water says:

    Good replies in return of this difficulty with real arguments and explaining all concerning that.

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