Mark Cochrane: The Scientific Argument for Climate Change

In this week's podcast, Chris sits down with Mark Cochrane to discuss global climate change.

Mark is a professor and senior research scientist at the Geospatial Science Center of Excellence (the GSCE) at South Dakota State University. He is also the creator of Peak Prosperity's excellent forum thread on climate change.

In this interview, Chris and Mark explore the science behind the study of climate change, what it tells us, and what steps individuals concerned about the trend can take.

As a scientist, Mark sees an abundance of data that shows the planet is indeed warming. The key questions that concern him are By how much? and How fast?

The whole crux of climate change just comes down to the energy balance of the planet. If things are stable, where we have the same amount of imported energy from the sun and exported energy with the heat, then the climate will be fairly stable, it will be balanced out. If we lose more energy than we gain over a period of time, then the planet would cool and we get things like the Ice Ages that we are familiar with in our past. Conversely, though, if we are gaining more energy than we lose, the planet will warm, like it is doing right now.

Climate change science can sound incredibly complex. But, there are, in fact, just three mechanisms that we could come up with that would cause the planet to warm the way it is.

The first would be, the sun could be getting brighter, providing a bigger energy budget. We have satellites measuring solar radiation very closely and have for decades. We know for a fact the sun is not getting brighter, and we are actually coming out of one of the dimmest periods over the last hundred years, where we have these 11-year sunspot cycles, and we were at a major low in these cycles – it was the lowest in over a hundred years. We should have actually had global cooling over the last decade. Instead, we have had something that has been apparently more flat in terms of global temperatures. But a lot of energy is still accumulating in the oceans.

The second way we could potentially warm the planet, if we were trying to, would be to try to make the planet darker, so thereby we would absorb more solar energy and reduce our albedo tax. So, it is the difference between if you are out barefoot and you step onto white concrete on a hot, sunny day – not so bad. But, if you step onto the blacktop, the asphalt, it is very hot on your feet. So, if we get darker, we would absorb more of the sunlight and turn it into heat. We have been measuring the energy reflecting back off the earth for decades as well, and we know for a fact that the planet is not getting darker. If anything, it is getter brighter, due to the amount of atmospheric haze that we have created through pollution.

The third possible alternative for warming the planet is that, for some reason or other, the rate of energy dissipation, the thermal energy leaving the planet, is slowing down. We are not losing it as fast as we used to. This occurs because of changes in the atmospheric concentrations of the so-called greenhouse gases, things like carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane. When we look at the measurements we have, in fact, the rate of change corresponds very closely with the observed rate of the increase of those gases and the warming that we are experiencing. Measurements, theory and observations all support one another. Anthropogenic greenhouse warming is the only scientific theory that accurately explains what is occurring. We have had over a hundred years of scientists trying to prove this theory wrong, and there is as close to unanimous scientific agreement on this as you ever going to find, with at least 97% consensus among scientists who actually work on the subject.

And, when I mention anthropogenic greenhouse warming as a theory here, I mean that it is a theory that is on par with the theory of gravity or evolution. Scientists are still investigating the nuances and implications of climate change, and the modeling of potential future climate projections is active and a continually developing field of study. But, the existence of ongoing and geologically rapid global climate change is as settled as science gets. There is no remaining scientific debate about the subject. The scientific discussions are only about the rate at which the warming is occurring and what the implications are of this climate change as it happens.

Years of moderating discussion on this topic have taught us that it's a highly sensitive one that people often bring a lot of emotion to, as passionate belief systems operate on many sides of the issue. Civil discourse can often be a challenge.

We've received much urging from readers to have a "broad daylight" discussion on this topic, which is understandable and something we're happy to do. But we realize doing so will likely generate some major differences of opinion, so we ask that comments made below be respectful and in-line with our civility guidelines (i.e., our moderators are on high alert).

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Mark Cochrane (55m:10s):

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Dear Mark and Chris,
Thanks very much for this interview.  As we develop our understanding of the major destabilizing shifts in our industrial civilization, summarized by Chris as the three E's, it is both helpful and important that we deeply consider the largest of these shifts - Environment, the source of our primary and secondary wealth.  

The depiction of the third E in the Crash Course is somewhat incomplete, as it focuses on mineral depletion and degradation of soil and fresh water and expressly sets global warming to the side in the second  paragraph of Chapter 18.  While mineral depletion and soil degradation are certainly important aspects of industrial humanity's impact on the environment, in geologic history the environmental trump card has often been climate and there is strong indication that this is true again today.  The systemic nature of a geologically rapid climate shift, along with a rapid acidification of our oceans, has so many important effects that a well-developed conception of the third E should at least include and most probably feature anthropogenic global warming.

So, while many geologists now refer to our current geologic age as the Anthropocene – the age of humans – for a number of reasons, including habitat destruction, air and water pollution, massive earth-moving projects, and others, the most important way in which humans are rapidly degrading the biosphere’s productivity is by forcing one of the fastest and most abrupt climatic warmings in geologic history.

Such an inclusion of anthropogenic global warming in the third E will make PeakProsperity's conception of the Environment more on par with the excellent analysis that Chris has done for the first 2 E's.  After all, who can understand contemporary shifts in the economy without at least a basic explanation of fractional reserve banking (i.e. growth and debt-based capitalism) and LSAPs (i.e Quantitative Easing)?  Who can understand major shifts in the Energy that powers our industrial civilization without a basic explanation of peak oil and declining EROI?  

In fairness to you, Dr. Martenson, you have always tried to keep the message of the Crash Course as non-divising and as pallatable as possible, and so it is certainly understandable that you might choose to set aside climate change in the earlier conceptions of the third E.  I write this post with the intent to encourage an ever improving conception of the three E's.

Quantitative easing has a systemic and pervasive effect on our financial and monetary systems and very likely will have unintended consequences, as Peak Prosperity has astutely demonstrated.  Passing the peak of global conventional crude oil production has a pervasive and systemic effect on our industrial and economic systems, yet in spite of the fact that we passed this peak almost 10 years ago (05/06), the conventional wisdom still holds that it’s not happening and that we are on the cusp of a new era of cheap and abundant fossil fuel energy in the form of nonconventional oil and gas.  In other words, even though passing the oil peak has already happened, and we can demonstrate that, the majority view in our civilization has not acknowledged this, which puts us at a disadvantage in terms of planning and adaptation of our energy systems.  While I had first read about peak oil and EROI before discovering Chris' Crash Course, that book was instrumental in my understanding of shifts in the Economy and Energy as well as helping me question my own paradigms and the dominant paradigms of our civilization.

In a similar vein, it is necessary to include anthropogenic global warming in a well-developed explanation of the major Environmental shifts triggered by the our global industrial civilization.  Not including AGW in the third E would be like trying to explain Economy without talking about the probable consequences of QE or trying to explain Energy without addressing the reality of passing Hubbert’s conventional global oil peak. 

So, it is ultimately both useful and necessary that we confront the causes, consequences and possible responses to climate change driven primarily by the anthropogenic forcings of our industrial civilization.  That is why this interview is such a constructive step towards bringing PeakProsperity’s conception of the third E – Environment – towards the very rigorous, comprehensive, and useful analysis that Chris and others here have developed to explain the Economy and Energy.

Thanks again, Chris and Mark!




Thanks for a lucid presentation of the topic.


This is one of my stumbling blocks.  Is the chart below telling me that the average Earth temperature over a longer time frame is 22 degrees celsius (72 degrees fahrenheit) and that a more normal atmostpheric CO2 level over the same time frame would be closer to 1000 ppm?  


NASA pegged the 2012 average Earth temperature at 14.6C (58.3F).  If this chart has any validity at all, we would seem to be in an abnormally low period for both temperature and CO2.  If we manage to stop anthropogenic climate change, what's to keep the Earth from warming up independent of our influence?


Inquiring minds and all that.


Despite Mark saying that a summary of major developments on his thread, The Definitive Global Climate Change (aka Global Warming) Thread, is not available, it seems that he actually presented a fairly good summary of the points that he and others have made there concerning climate change. Chris did an excellent job of asking good questions, however, I wish that he had explored two others a bit further. The first is how do we know what the future is likely to bring. The second is, what effective mitigation actions can be taken. These have been discussed from many viewpoints on Mark's thread.
Mark mentioned that global average temperatures may rise by 4 C - 6 C and sea levels may rise by 2 meters by 2100. To obtain even 4 C by 2100, temperatures would have to rise at more 0.45 C per decade on average for the rest of the century. This is much larger than the rate of warming that has been observed in even the most recent decades. Why should we expect this to occur?

In view of the remarks about energy flows and balances, one might assume that the 4 C - 6 C expectations are based on mundane physics, but, as a physicist, I can say unequivocally that they are not. Those expectations are based on computer models of earth that have not been validated and are in increasing disagreement with actual observations. This has also been discussed in recent posts on Mark's thread.

Despite the prediction of a 2 meter rise of sea level by 2100, it should be noted that even the highest rates of mean sea level rise of recent decades do not extrapolate to more than about one foot of sea level rise by that time. Bearing in mind that about 85% of sea level rise is caused by ocean thermal expansion, even a 6 C increase of ocean surface temperature (and correspondingly less at greater depths) is inadequate to produce 2 meters of sea level rise by 2100.

I think it appropriate to say that the extreme numbers that were casually mentioned as expectations should be taken with a grain of salt. The models that produced them are of questionable validity, especially in view of the fact that the rate of global temperature increase has slowed to insignificance in this century. That brings up one last point; that there is no particular reason to expect a long term increase of climate variability without increase of temperature.

The second point needing elaboration is the issue of mitigation. The dominant human contribution to climate change would be that of increasing the atmospheric concentration carbon dioxide. The obvious mitigation measure should consist of reducing it, but it is a world-wide problem. It is not something that can be unilaterally stopped by the actions of any one nation. Carbon dioxide emissions of the U.S. have been reduced back to about 1992 levels in the last few years, primarily by switching the fuel for electric power generation from coal to natural gas. In the meantime, emissions from China, India and other nations has continued to increase at a rapid rate. If humans are to do anything more than merely adapt to the consequences of more carbon dioxide then we must address the problem on a worldwide basis.


Hugh,As with all things related to the 3 E's, there needs to be balance in our responses and preparations. For me, the key to the Crash Course was the way that Chris was able to lucidly present so much material from the disparate realms of finance, energy, and environment in a systems context. He connects the dots and suddenly so many disparate pieces that were concerning me for some reason all fit together and made sense as a whole. Understanding how the pieces fit together is key to seeing the larger picture.
With regard to the Anthropocene, while it is true that our activities have become geologically important, with globally noticeable changes, it is a mark of our continued hubris to think that we warrant our own geologic epoch. If do not learn how to live within limits soon, our activities will look more like the K-T boundary than a geologic epoch to some future geological study 100 million years from now.

Les,That is a fantastic chart, in keeping with this site's macro theme.  Sometimes I feel like all of us are standing too close to a Seurat. This backs us up nicely. Thank you

Your questions relating to projections of the effects of climate change are based on largely historical data without taking into consideration the accelerating effects we are actually witnessing, not least of which is the increasing rate of CO2 injections into the atmosphere.  I have seen projections elsewhere that have wide error bars that put Mark's projections about in the middle, maybe a little toward the high end.  Particularly salient here is that we just don't know how bad its going to get because we have never been here before.  Therefore, to me, the precautionary principle should prevail.  We need to stop doing what we're doing.  There is already considerable change baked into the planetary cake, why make it worse?  To that point, this paragraph is very relevant:

Unmentioned in the interview is that individual efforts to make our lives more resilient won't have much effect if we don't also take political actions individually and cumulatively.  True, one country can't fix it alone, but the US has been the global leader in many areas for more than half a century.  What other country is more suited to take a position of leadership?  Pres. Obama has made a small and halting step in that direction, but without all of us pounding on our reps in Congress, his individual leadership won't go far.  My Congressman, whose name will not be mentioned, but rhymes with (cough…Tom Reed of NY's 23rd Congressional District…cough), has been one of those whose environmental record (as he or one of his lackeys) wrote to me, consists of:

This is the type of attitude that prevents anything of value being done.  Environment=economic growth.  OBTW, he is heavily hooked into the fossil fuel industry.  That won't change without massive public participation.  Just as with the huge problem of no banksters cooling their heels in prison for nearly destroying the world economy, little or nothing will be done without the public putting heat on Congress.

Chris and Mark, great interview.  I'm very heartened.


Hello Les,You raise the important question of where we fit in the grand scheme of things on Earth. In the figure you present, you can see that through most of the last 600 million years there have been two roughly stable states, a hot world (22 C) and a cold world (12 C) with some fairly short transitional periods between them. Note, ice ages and interglacials (like now) actually make 'cold world' temperatures a squiggle up and down by about 5 C but on time scales too short to register on your figure which smoothes out changes in such short time scales - think 10 to 100 thousand years.
The hot world has been more common but every bit of human existence has been spent in 'cold world'. In fact all of primate history has been spent at or near cold world conditions. What gets lost in a graphic like the one you provide is the perspective of time. Can anyone really conceive of millions, or hundreds of millions of years in human terms? All of mankind's agricultural history has taken place in the last 10,000 years. Fossil fuel-driven society makes up only 150 years.
Transitions from hot world to cold world and vice versa have largely been linked with the long-term carbon cycle that is driven mostly by plate tectonics. In geologically active periods, where seas are spreading, volcanic activity beyond what we currently experience can release large amounts of carbon dioxide (slowly in human terms = millions of years), making hot world more likely. Conversely, continental collisions like India slamming into Asia cause massive uplifting (Himalayas) and chemical weathering of minerals that act to scrub CO2 from the atmosphere, making cold world more likely. This is a simplification of the process as the placement of the continents and oceans also play a role in changing the transfer of energy from ocean currents and the amount and type of vegetation (but see the figure for some perspective on vegetation on the time scales of your graphic).
The important thing for life (including us) isn't whether we are in cold or hot world, it is the rate at which things change. Slow change = adaptation and evolution. Fast change = collapse and extinction (for many species). Slowing from 100 km/h (60 mi/h) to a stop in 3-4 seconds (braking) is a very different experience from making that change in 3-4 milliseconds (crash). Through mitigation (e.g. reducing emissions rates) and adaptation (e.g. changing buildings, location, activities) we are doing the equivalent of trying to add and airbag into the equation. The airbag doesn't prevent the crash but it stretches out the time to adjust your speed from none to tenths of seconds. Not fun but survivable. Since we are currently driving at high speed in dense fog, at least taking our foot off of the fossil fuel accelerator would be wise (IMHO).
There are no guarantees that the planet will not snap into hot world regardless of what we do but those changes generally take millions of years to occur (rates of change we can deal with). We are currently causing what would look like an instantaneous temperature change on your figure. We have no geologic analogue for such a change so no one really knows what will happen. We do know that every life form on the planet will increasingly find itself living in the wrong climate. This is a recipe for nasty surprises.

[quote=Doug]Your questions relating to projections of the effects of climate change are based on largely historical data without taking into consideration the accelerating effects we are actually witnessing, not least of which is the increasing rate of CO2 injections into the atmosphere.  I have seen projections elsewhere that have wide error bars that put Mark's projections about in the middle, maybe a little toward the high end.  Particularly salient here is that we just don't know how bad its going to get because we have never been here before.  Therefore, to me, the precautionary principle should prevail.  We need to stop doing what we're doing.  There is already considerable change baked into the planetary cake, why make it worse?  . . [/quote].
You are overlooking the physics of CO2. Its contribution to temperatures near the earth surface varies in proportion to the logarithm of its concentration in the atmosphere. The exponential increase of CO2 will cause temperatures to increase linearly with time. That rate of increase has been about 5% per decade for half a century and the linear trend of increasing temperatures for that period projects to about 1 C by 2100. That is astounding enough without hyping larger numbers that make no sense, no matter where you might have seen them. There is no physical reason to presently expect an accelerating rate of temperature increase. In fact, the opposite is occurrring. Further, as I have previously pointed out on Mark's thread, there is not a large temperature increase baked in because of thermal lag. About one decade is all that would be needed for surface temperatures to equilibrate if CO2 concentrations ceased to increase.
The other ill effects of more CO2 will continue to increase and probably will accelerate, and I agree that the precautionary principle should apply. But it would be prudent to be sure that the cost of insurance would not exceed the cost of the losses.

I am amongst the upper quintile.
Every sentence caused a cascade of thoughts , far too many to keep track of them all.

But enough of being nice. Lets get the gloves off. I accuse Mark of denialism.

I have posted this picture of Strange Attractors up often in the context of our position in the Goldilocks zone, and nary a peep from Mark. He must know the significance of Chaos theory and its implications. Chaos theory was developed by climatologists. (Edward Lorenz).


So what to do about it? If life becomes non-viable on this planet and it is unable to support the oceans and atmosphere then we have to leave. How many will die? 100%. But we have to get Gaia back into the Goldilocks zone.

Compulsory reading : Anything by Professor James Lovelock and Dr Gerard K O’Neil.

Edit: I am assuming that you have all read your Gleick?

Thanks Mark/Chris/Adam for this podcast, greatly appreciated.


I am amongst the upper quintile.
Oops. Let me re-phrase that.
I really enjoyed that talk. It was really intelligent
I am not intelligent. On the contrary, I am as thick as a plank. (That is plank, not M.Planck.) Why is english so hard?


Hello Stan,Just as with many estimates, you cannot make linear extrapolations of exponentially increasing changes and project them very far into the future with any accuracy. This has been discussed many times on this site and in the Crash Course when, for example, someone states that coal reserves are going to last for hundreds of years.

Experts estimate that the United States has about 265 billion tons of coal reserves. If we continue to use coal at the same rate as we do today, we will have enough coal to last 285 years. (source)
The problem is that will not keep using these or any resources at the same rate as today. Our population is increasing exponentially and so is our rate of increase in the use of resources, only more so because everyone is trying to live like we do in the United States. Similarly, the oceans are rising, but they are rising at an increasing rate over time. Currently it is about 3 mm/yr but it used to be much slower. (Note GMSL means Global Mean Sea Level - from Church et al. 2008) Global sea levels are changing for three main reasons. 1. Melting glaciers in Greenland, Antarctica and alpine areas all over the world that pour water currently perched as ice on land into the seas ( just over 50% of sea level increase) 2. Changing heat content of the oceans that results in thermal expansion of the water (just under 50% of the increase) 3. Changed water storage on land (pumping aquifers increases sea levels while dammed reservoirs decrease sea level - the net is a slight decrease) From 1972-2008, sea level increased by 7 cm. If you assume that increase was linear then you would calculate an average rate of increase of 1.9 mm/yr. However, during the period from 1993-2008, sea levels have been increasing an average of 3 mm/yr. The figure below shows where the water is coming from (from Church et al 2011) In terms of climate change the whole issue comes down to the energy balance of the planet. As long as we are gaining more energy from the sun than we are losing through radiated heat to space then the planet will warm, the ice will melt, and the seas will rise. The last serious attempt to question the existence of global warming came from a team lead by physicist Dr. Richard Muller at Berkeley. His efforts were funded and assisted by the likes of the Koch brothers and Anthony Watts. They provided whole new analyses of everything and tested all of the 'skeptic' arguments for why global warming either wasn't real or at least wasn't caused by us. This is what Dr. Muller stated last year in a NYTimes Op-Ed that summed up the finding from 5 research papers.
CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause. My total turnaround, in such a short time, is the result of careful and objective analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which I founded with my daughter Elizabeth. Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases. . . How definite is the attribution to humans? The carbon dioxide curve gives a better match than anything else we’ve tried. Its magnitude is consistent with the calculated greenhouse effect — extra warming from trapped heat radiation. These facts don’t prove causality and they shouldn’t end skepticism, but they raise the bar: to be considered seriously, an alternative explanation must match the data at least as well as carbon dioxide does. (source)
Their analyses were all based on data from observations, not on any global climate models. I agree that no one country can singlehandedly deal with this issue but waiting for everyone to agree on something is a losing proposition. China got tired of waiting for the US and they are at least attempting to do something.
China pilots programs to meet carbon targets This year, alongside the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing as well as the regions of Guangdong and Hubei, Shenzhen is imposing greenhouse gas targets on hundreds of companies, ranging from power plants to airport operators. The goal is to develop a national carbon market over the next decade that could help put the brakes on the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitter. “China has internationally pledged 2020 climate targets,” observes Chai Hongliang, an analyst at Thomson Reuters Point Carbon, an Oslo-based information-provider specializing in carbon markets. He is referring to a commitment first made by China ahead of the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks to reduce its economy’s overall carbon emissions per unit of GDP to 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. “It has two ways to reach the target: shut down factories in the last months of 2020 or use more market-based approaches like emissions trading,” Chai adds. (source)
We've run out of excuses for not addressing climate change. Mark

Hello Arthur,Yes I have read Gleick's book on Chaos Theory and I actually had the good fortune to attend a lecture on the discovery of the so-called Butterfly Effect by Professor Ed Lorenz himself while I was at MIT.
Weather is chaotic but although there are chaotic elements of the climate system (e.g. El Niño), on the whole the chaos comes out in the wash, so to speak.
There is a good piece on this over at Skeptical Science (link)

Weather is chaotic because air is light, it has low friction and viscosity, it expands strongly when in contact with hot surfaces and it conducts heat poorly. Therefore weather is never in equilibrium and the wind always blows. The climate is mostly explained by equilibrium radiation physics, which puts the brakes on variations in global temperatures. Effects from weather, the Sun, volcanoes etc. currently only causes a small amount of chaotic behavior compared to the deterministic, predictable greenhouse gas forcing for the next 100 years"

At the risk of embarassing myself further, that does not address the problem of the Strange Attractor concept Mark.
The conditions that exist on our planet orbit (Mathematicaly) around what we consider to be normal. But as the climate swings further and further out from from it's locus it can bifarcate chaoticaly into a new normal. (The over-used tipping point metaphore).

These loci are called Strange Attractors. The climate on an asteroid orbits (mathematicaly) a strange attractor. In other words it's climate changes but only within a small range. The climate and chemistry of Venus also orbits a SA., And Mars and so on and so forth.

The conditions on Earth will be captured by a different Strange Attractor if its (Mathematical) orbit strays too far as is illustrated by the Lorenz diagram.

The conditions on earth are very unstable, and are held at a condition favourable to life by life with powerful feedback loops. The other dead planets are much more stable and they are not likely to migrate to a different Strange attractor.

As our sun heats up by converting hydrogen into helium the Goldilocks zone migrates outward. Rumour has it that we are flirting with the inner (Hot) edge. The mechanism that life has used to control the temperature has been to sequester CO2 as the temperature increases. We are now down to the last 280 ppm. This trick is failing, leading to the (Geologicaly) recent wild flutuations in temperature. The glacials and interglacials.

And then the Ape comes on the scene and releases the stored carbon.

My contention is that the Ape is the last hope for Gaia. We are a subsystem of the whole organism and our sole purpose is to move Gaia back into the Goldilocks zone. Obviously we cannot take the rock with us.

This concentration of wealth that I see is analogous to the fruiting body of a fungus when the moment is ripe for it to spore. This effort is going to consume the Mother. That phenomenon has its parrallels in nature too.

Stan is correct that warming has slowed in the last 15 years but that is only part of the story, and related only to surface temperature. Due to an increased uptake of heat in the oceans, the earth, as a whole, has actually warmed more quickly over the last 15 years than previously. See also Foster and Rahmstorf who have tried to adjust data for temporary factors and show that underlying surface warming hasn't slowed.
Stan is also correct that this is a global problem that needs a global strategy. It is pointless targetting individual country emissions when we live in a global economy. The US may crow about the decrease in emissions there but they don't include all emissions related to economic activity, or daily life, in that country, given the high emissions in countries that produce a lot of their goods and services.

I don't expect China to lead the way. The best they could come up with is to try to reduce their carbon intensity. That is, they still intend to increase emissions because they intend to keep growing their economy but they will try hard to reduce the carbon emitted per unit of GDP. Not good enough, given the problems we face with CO2, CH4, other greenhouse gases and with feedback loops, many of which have been kicked off recently.


First, I read a book on the subject a few years back that included a decision tree I still remember:

  1. Is the globe warming? No -> Do nothing.

  2. Is the warming anthropogenic? No -> Nothing to be done.

  3. Is the warming good or bad? Good -> Do nothing.

  4. Can we impact the warming? No -> Do nothing.

  5. Is reducing or stopping the warming worth the cost of the required changes? No -> Do nothing.

Yes -> Change immediately.

The book "Climate of Extremes" was written by AGW believers, but outlines the shenanigans and inaccuracies that have surrounded this hot topic.  That, however, is not why I mention the book.  In the last chapter, the authors talk about the benefits that humanity has received by taking advantage of cheap energy.  They talk about our life span almost doubling and world population increasing to a level entirely unlikely without cheap energy.  Also mentioned are the medical and technological advances that have made our lives what they are today.  The authors talk about the billions of human lifetimes that we have gained.  They then touch on the potential cost in lives that would occur were we to try to implement any meaningful plan to combat CO2 on a global scale.

This is not a topic that I see come up frequently in the AGW debate.  I found the entire book entertaining, but the last chapter was thought provoking.  Do we turn off airconditioners in the summer in the retirement communities of Arizona.  If so, how many lives will be lost.

I have to come out and say that, yes, 7 billion people are changing the face of our tiny planet.  I do not believe Earth's carrying capacity is nearly that large.  I could mention dozens of examples of humans changing the planet without having to resort to controversial computer models.  Do a google search on "Pacific Garbage Patch" and look at the images.  I'll leave it at one example, although I could add dozens.

I don't think AGW or any of the damaging things that are certainly happening to this planet can or will be addressed until our population is back down to a more reasonable level.  Certainly, we don't have the global political climate necessary to try to implement changes while maintaining our current population.

Debating whether AGW is happening or not is entertaining and distracting, but what can it practically accomplish?  I believe some of the other issues that this website addresses are going to impact humanity far sooner than AGW can become critical.  It appears the first giant shoe will be the debt bubble, followed by much more expensive energy and therefore food and everything else.  Clearly, environmental issues will come into play and already are.

However, the changes necessary to reduce AGW are going to be forced on us by circumstances, rather than implemented by intelligent politics.  Now there is an oxymoron as entertaining as military intelligence!


…and every word spoken a delight. This message is ongoing and Dr.Cochrane represented extremely well. Count me as a huge fan. I love shell food and by the looks of the demand for the stuff I would imagine some serious changes of behavior will have to be contemplated. Oh my, will we ever have changes. Mankind's glutonous ways and nature finally pushing back. I love how Mother Nature solves these simple math problems.
Man is gauranteed nothing and owes much. "May your conscious be your guide" were words spoken to me my whole life and I know they served me well. I am not perfect but I strive to be. It's in the striving that we succeed, ever so slowly.

Mark, love you Brother, just simply do. Thank you.


I will quote from Mark later. Arthur, I do believe I understood you, every word! Yeah surprised the heck out of me also, on the first read too!!. Mark too and I just have to keep things simple so without further delay a quote from Mark that takes all of these truly great threads down to its simplist form for me. I ask one question after your read: What can I do so my conscious is clear that I did my utmost because when I meet the BIG GUY I have got to say I did my level best. If there is a BIG GUY. I hedge all bets so am a believer in the BIG GUY. Mark's quote:

"There are no guarantees that the planet will not snap into hot world regardless of what we do but those changes generally take millions of years to occur (rates of change we can deal with). We are currently causing what would look like an instantaneous temperature change on your figure. We have no geologic analogue for such a change so no one really knows what will happen. We do know that every life form on the planet will increasingly find itself living in the wrong climate. This is a recipe for nasty surprises."

I live in the area of Southern Minnesota/Northen Iowa that got severe drought in 2012 and excess rains/snow in spring 2013. What I noticed was so devastating as crops died in the heat in 2012 then in spring 2013 - less than half the fields didn't get planted. ONLY a HANDFUL of farmers DIDN'T see the stress caused by the extreme weather and I wrote about the differences between them and HOW some fields survived and others didn't.What I see is that the commercial farm system is creating its own demise via not following standard crop rotation and crop covers. I wrote about it on:
I attributed the declining aquifer, the extreme crop loss and increasing flooding to farmers development of plow and hard pan because they lack crop rotation and the loss of deep rooted trees.
If the big commercial farmer doesn't change their practices, this condition will be seem more wide-spread than we are seeing now.