aTTP falsely attacks Bjorn Lomborg’s “Impact of Current Climate Proposals” Paper

The following is a comment to be posted at Bishop Hill, responding to another attempt by blogger ….andThenThere’sPhysics to undermine the work of Bjorn Lomborg. The previous attempt was discussed here. This post includes a number of links, as well as a couple of illustrative screen captures at the foot of the table.

aTTP’s comment is

In fact, you should read Joe Romm’s post about this. He’s showing that the INDCs are likely to lead to around 3.5C which I think is relative to something like the 1860-1880 mean. This is very similar to the MIT’s 3.7, and quite a bit lower than the RCP8.5 of around 4.5C. So, yes, we all know that the INDCs are not going to do as much as some might like, but the impact is likely to be a good deal greater than that implied by Lomborg who has essentially assumed that we get to 2030 and then simply give up.

Nov 11, 2015 at 9:31 AM | …and Then There’s Physics

My Comment

aTTP at 9.31 refers to Joe Romm’s blog post of Nov 3 “Misleading U.N. Report Confuses Media On Paris Climate Talks“. Romm uses Climate Interactive’s Climate Scoreboard Tool to show the INDC submissions (if fully implemented) will result in 3.5°C as against the 4.5°C in the non-policy “No Action” Scenario. This is six times the claimed maximum impact of 0.17°C claimed in Lomberg’s new paper. Who is right? What struck me first was that Romm’s first graph, copied straight from the Climate Interactive’s seem to have a very large estimate for emissions in the “No Action” Scenario producing. Downloading the underlying data, I find the “No Action” global emissions in 2100 are 139.3 GtCO2e, compared with about 110 GtCO2e in Figure SPM5(a) of the AR5 Synthesis Report for the RCP8.5 scenario high emissions scenario. But it is the breakdown per country or region that matters.

For the USA, without action emissions are forecast to rise from 2010 to 2030 by 40%, in contrast to a rise of just 9% in the period 1990 to 2010. It is likely that emissions will fall without policy and will be no higher in 2100 than in 2010. The “no action” scenario overestimates 2030 emissions by 2-3 GtCO2e in 2030 and about 7-8 GtCO2e in 2100.

For the China the overestimation is even greater. Emissions will peak during the next decade as China fully industrializes, just as emissions peaked in most European countries in the 1970s and 1980s. Climate Interactive assumes that emissions will peak at 43 GtCO2e in 2090, whereas other estimates that the emissions peak will be around 16-17 GtCO2e before 2030.

Together, overestimations of the US and China’s “No Action” scenarios account for over half 55-60 GtCO2e 2100 emissions difference between the “No Action” and “Current INDC” scenarios. A very old IT term applies here – GIGO. If aTTP had actually checked the underlying assumptions he would realise that Romm’s rebuttal of Lomborg based on China’s emission assumptions (and repeated on his own blog) are as false as claiming that the availability of free condoms is why population peaks.

Links posted at

Kevin Marshall


Figures referred to (but not referenced) in the comment above

Figure 1: Climate Interactive’s graph, referenced by Joe Romm.

Figure 2: Reproduction of Figure SPM5(a) from Page 9 of the AR5 Synthesis Report.


Update – posted the following to ATTP’s blog


Proximity to Natural Gas Wells and Reported Health Status Study

A new study has been publisheda tentatively suggesting that there are significant health effects for those living in close proximity to gas fracking sites. The study may make headlines despite the authors expressly stating that the results should be viewed as ‘hypothesis generating’. There are a number of problems with the survey which could indicate small sample size and biases in adjusting for other factors account for the difference. Alternatively there is also the possibility that reported health effects of living near the fracking sites is due to stress from the false perceptions of the risks of living near to a fracking site. Anti-fracking environmentalists may be damaging people’s health and happiness through misinformation.

The study is

Proximity to Natural Gas Wells and Reported Health Status: Results of a Household Survey in Washington County, Pennsylvania (Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1307732)

Peter M. Rabinowitz, Ilya B. Slizovskiy, Vanessa Lamers, Sally J. Trufan, Theodore R. Holford, James D. Dziura, Peter N. Peduzzi, Michael J. Kane, John S. Reif, Theresa R. Weiss, and Meredith H. Stowe


The households were split into three groups based on distance from a gas well. <1km (62 households), 1-2km (57) & >2km (61). The major result was

The number of reported health symptoms per person was higher among residents living <1 km (mean 3.27 ± 3.72) compared with >2 km from the nearest gas well (mean 1.60 ± 2.14, p=0.02).

The study also found significantly higher incidences in two out of five health symptoms in the <1km group than in >2km group.

There are multiple reasons for expecting these tentative results will not be replicated.

  • The small sample size for a very complex set of data.
  • Perceived water quality is not related to fracking.
  • Failure to control properly for obesity and smoking
  • Failure to repeat the sampling process with the same model.
  • Failure to corroborate the results by checks for actual contamination.
  • Biases in answering the questions.


  1. Small sample size

There is an obvious problem with the health status study. The sample size was reported as the sample size of 180 households with 472 people, too small to generate meaningful results when there are a number of inter-related factors involved.

Consider how this sample was selected. To select these households the researchers randomly selected 20 points on a map in each of 38 townships. On a map they located the nearest house to the spot. The researchers were concerned with the possible impact of fracking on ground fed water supplies, which only applied to a minority of households. This was the main reason for reducing the sample From 760 data points to 227 households. 47 refusals reduced this to down to the 180 households for which questionnaires were received. They then put the data through a model “that adjusted for age, gender, household education, smoking, awareness of environmental risk, work type, and animals in house.”

The results were based on comparing two sample groups – one with 62 households and 150 people, the other with 61 households with 192 people. The >2km households were 30% larger than the <1km group, and the average age was 7 years lower. Not only were the numbers small, but there were material differences in the sample groups. It was necessary to adjust for

  1. Perceived water quality is not related to fracking.

Sixty-six percent reported using their ground-fed water (well or natural spring) for drinking water and 84% reported using it for other activities such as bathing.

If there were health effects from contaminated water due to fracking, then there should be a difference in distance between those who drank the water and those who did not. But although there were more households who said the water has an unnatural appearance near the in the <1km group, (13/62 for <1km v 6/61 for >2km), the position was reversed when for those who said taste/odour prevented water use (14/62 for <1km v 19/61 for >2km). If people believed there was a problem with the water due to fracking, then those living near the wells might be more likely to avoid drinking the water than those further away. It was not the case. The proportions drinking the water were the same. It would appear that water quality is generally considered poor in the area. This point can be demonstrated by water sampling.

  1. Failure to control properly for obesity and smoking

Obesity and smoking have long-been accepted as having consequences for health. The questionnaire is in the Supplemental Material. For obesity it asks the respondent their height and weight, but not the height and weight of the other members of the household. For smoking the question is

Does anyone in this household smoke regularly inside the house?

Smoking causes health problems independent of whether someone smokes inside their home or not. Also the numbers of people smoking in a household matters, along with the number of years smoked and the quantity of cigarettes smoked.

  1. Failure to repeat the sampling process with the same model.

The model that filtered out other elements could have had some very large biases within it. For instance, the model could have over-adjusted for smoking. Conducting a completely fresh survey with the same sampling method would have eliminated this possibility.

  1. Failure to corroborate the results by checks for actual contamination.

If there were actual health issues water contamination or air contamination, then there should be some evidence in water and air samples. The authors did not consult any actual monitoring results to show contamination. In the case of water quality In the case of air quality they threw everything at the issue, including ‘operation of diesel equipment and vehicles‘. If there was something in the air and/or in the water that is causing real health problems, then it will be something that cannot be perceived.

  1. Biases in answering the questions.

In the introduction the authors say

A convenience sample survey of 53 community members living near Marcellus Shale development found that respondents attributed a number of health impacts and stressors to the development. Stress was the symptom reported most frequently (Ferrar et al. 2013).

The study said

We found instead that the refusal rate, while less than 25% overall, was higher among households farther from gas wells, suggesting that such households may have been less interested in participating due to lesser awareness of hazards.

If participation was higher in people nearer to wells because of perceived hazards, and the people get stressed by this. It could be that this stress exacerbates the symptoms and/or people on hearing stories of possible health effects notice their own conditions more. That is, the results of reported health effects of living near fracking sites may be to some extent real, but caused by the stress of believing the scare stories. This could be coupled with the fears of resulting in people remembering minor health symptoms, as there might be a cause. This alone could explain why the number of reported symptoms was twice the level for people living near to the gas wells. Conducting a similar, but larger survey with both dwellings where water is mains supplied and from ground-fed wells. If there is “something in the water”, then those who are mains supplied would not suffer from health effects to the same degree.

  1. Thanks to commentator “Entropic Man” at a Bishop-Hill discussion thread for alerting me to this study.

Kevin Marshall

Climate Change Impacts in AR5 – It is better than we thought

BishopHill has a screen shot of Climate change impacts for the new IPCC report. He notes the similarity to the AR4.

The differences are noticeable and demonstrate a subtle dilution of AR4.

First, the disappearing Himalayan Glaciers have disappeared – to be replaced by disappearing glaciers in Latin America.

Second, the potential disappearing Amazon forest has disappeared, to be replaced by tree species extinction.

Third, no mention of potential catastrophic losses of Antarctic sea ice or land ice. So that means that sea level rises are less of a problem.

Fourth, there is no mention of coastal storm damage. Roger Pielke Jnr has won the argument on hurricanes?

Fifth, species extinction is much more localised.

Sixth, global loss of wetlands reduced, to more seasonal coastal flooding in Asia. So that means that sea level rises are less of a problem.

Check out for yourselves.

2007 AR4

Which was developed from the Stern Review.

Antarctic Ice Melt at the dogmatic “Skeptical Science”

Have just posted the following at BishopHill (who has being looking at review comments

The comments are not the major issue with skepticalscience. It is the analysis. It picks from the peer-reviewed data to give the most alarmist spin, often ignoring the more rounded, more recent and less alarmist articles or data. (a pattern familiar to those who have read the Hockey Stick Illusion)

On Antarctic ice melt, this is certainly the case. SkS relies on a single author – Velicogna (two papers 2006 & 2009) – to substantiate the claim that the Antarctic pack ice is not just melting, it is accelerating. The 2009 paper looked at only six years of data. Yet less than two months ago there was published a paper that looked at a much longer period, looked at various studies (including Velicogna) and at different ways of estimating. It concluded that there may be some ice loss, but no acceleration. Anthony Watts summarises this paper quite nicely at

Watts’s article also links to the original article. Do not take the word of a (slightly) manic beancounter. Do the comparison and you will find that the SkS is anything but sceptical and far from scientific.

I would suggest that this is not an isolated incident either. I have found at least two more. Perhaps others could have a delve?

Would anyone like some suggestions where to start comparing SKs with other (more rounded) viewpoints?

  1. Why has it not warmed since 1998? SKS – It is because the oceans have been warming instead says Sks. But their data stops in 2003 – just when we started to get far more accurate data from some fancy buoys (search wattsupwiththat). It has stabilised since then. The air is not warming, neither are the oceans, so the alarmists have to go beyond the measurable.
  2. The economic case for carbon pricing has been made. If you take economic models as being reality, ignore the contrary arguments and most importantly ignore the public policy problems. I explain in theoretical terms here. Alternatively read books by Roger Pielke Jnr (the Climate Fix), Nigel Lawson (An Appeal to Reason), or Tim Worstall (Chasing Rainbows) for a better understanding of why policies will necessarily fail.

Will add others when I come across them.

Question for Sir John Beddington

According to Bishop HillSir John Beddington is seeking feedback on the climate impacts report I blogged about yesterday.”

My question is of a technical nature. Given that the Stern Review of 2006 received worldwide acclamation for its novel conclusions, I would have thought Sir John Beddington would have utilised this work. Apart from a footnote or two, the only reference is in a box on page 63.

Dear Sir John,

I am a humble beancounter, who spends his time in analysing complex project costs and application forms for capital expenditures. In this vein, on page 63 of your report you claim that the Stern Review had a social discount rate of 1.4%, whilst

conclude that the Lord Stern used a discount rate of 0.1%. Have we all misread the report?

Showing Warming after it has Stopped

Bishop Hill points to an article by Miles Allen that

“examines how predictions he made in 2000 compare to outturn. The match between prediction and outturn is striking…..”

Bishop Hill points out that this using HADCRUT decadal data. Maybe a quick examination of the figures will reveal something? Using the HADCRUT3 data here is are the data for the last five decade.

This shows that the decadal rate of warming has been rising at a pretty constant rate for the last three decades. So all those sceptics who claim that global warming has stopped must have got it wrong then?

Let us examine the data a bit more closely.

The blue line is the Hadcrut annual anomaly figures from 1965 to 2010. The smoother red line is the 10 year average anomaly, starting with the 1956-1965 average and finishing with the 2001-2010 average. The decadal averages are highlighted by the red triangles.

The blue would indicate to me that there was a warming trend from 1976 to 1998, since then it has stopped. This is borne out by the 10 year moving average, but (due to the averaging) the plateau arrives five years later. But the story from the decadal figures is different, simply due to timing.

So what scientific basis is there for using the decadal average? Annual data seems reasonable, at it is the time for the earth make one rotation around the sun. But the calendar is fixed where it is because 1500 years ago Dionysius Exiguus devised a calendar with a mistaken estimate of the birth (or conception) of Jesus Christ as Year 1, and we have number base 10 possibly to the number of fingers we have. Both are a human artefact. Further, the data is actually held in months, so it is only due to the Christian calendar that we go from January to December. This means of the 120 possible periods for decadal averages, Myles Allen shows a cultural prejudice, and in choosing decadal averages, he shows a very human bias, over real world selectivity.

How does this affect the analysis of the performance of the models? The global temperature averages showed a sharp uptick in 1998. Therefore, if the models simply predicted a continuation of the trend of the previous twenty years, they would have been quite accurate. The fact was the prediction was higher than the outturn, so the models overestimated. It is only by exploiting the arbitrary construct of decadal data that the difference appears insignificant. Drop to 5 years moving average, and you will get a bigger divergence. Wait a couple of years, and you will get a bigger divergence. Use annual figures and you will get a bigger divergence. The result is not robust.

CAGW – Paralleling Kuhnian Science or New Labour Spin?

A review of Montford’s “Hockey Stick Illusion” suggests that it is an example science described by Thomas Kuhn in “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”. Both the Hockey Stick in particular, and CAGW theory in general, I believe parallel something entirely different.

Catastrophic AGW theory is not an example of Kuhnian science. It was swallowed whole by the political establishment without going through the strictures of scientific acceptance. Furthermore, it is coupled with a major political policy objective – to constrain CO2 emissions. The IPCC was then set up to confirm and fortify the science and the policy. CAGW is thus not a proper science as such, but “politicised science”.

The Hockey Stick is the major example of this – a public relations ploy to promote policy and direct attention away from proper analysis of the data. The shenanigans may have milder and more short-lived parallels in other fields of science, but better parallels are to be found in New Labour Spin. That is, never admit to error; talk over opponents and view them as self-evidently wrong; deflect adverse comments by saying something different; deflect criticism and error by making an easily answerable point the major issue, or conceding a minor point; and then quickly moving the discussion onto safer ground. Most of all rely on image more than substance. In the case of CAGW, make peer review and agreement with collective experts the ultimate demarcations between science and non-science.

Jesus, the Samaritan Woman and Climate Change

Bishophill draws attention to Thought for the Day on Radio 4 on 25th March

The talk is confusing because it is, perhaps deliberately, ambiguous. Consider the last words of the talk

“all the knowledge in the world is worthless to us without the right perspective”

It speaks and encourages anyone who believes that “the right perspective” is on their side, believer or sceptic. Now modern theological perspective is to consider the Bible in the context of the times. For instance, John 4, where Jesus talks to a foreigner, divorcee woman appears normal in modern times, breaking multiple social conventions 2000 years ago. Furthermore, Jesus reveals more about his nature than he had in John 3 to Nicodemus a leading Rabbi.

As Bishophill has found out, the BBC now has a deliberate, but secret, policy of not giving equal airtime and treatment to alarmists and sceptics. The debate is settled and the science is in. Those who doubt the truth of global warming are cranks, in the pay of big business, or plain evil. Therefore, in the context of our times, any deliberately ambiguous or coded statements are more likely to be from a sceptical rather than a consensus viewpoint. In the context of our times, where orthodoxy is only the permissible theology, neutrality on climate change is a mark of dissent.

More than just shreds of evidence

BishopHill quotes approvingly from a comment made on the Booker column in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph

I have worked in government for 28 years as an economist, and for the last 20 years I have worked on environmental programs. In that time I have not seen a shred of evidence to justify global warming, let alone man made global warming and I have not seen a shred of evidence that there is going to be a green economic boom. The only evidence I have seen is that there is a green economic bust, that money invested in green technologies is usually wasted and simply consumes investment that could be better used elsewhere. I think that anybody in government or industry who can not understand this is either dishonest, stupid, or both. That applies to Cameron – I think he is both.

For those who support the sentiments expressed should consider trying to convince someone who is a true believer in climate change consensus of their error. If the consensus supporter finds shreds of evidence of global warming, and hints that the warming may be due to anthropogenic factors, then they have refuted this experienced economist. Just as a sceptic who finds fault with the temperature record, or who has read about “hiding the decline” concludes that climate change is all a hoax, or a global conspiracy.

An economist should look at the costs and benefits. In terms of Climate Change there are two sets of costs. First, those of climate change impacts and second, the costs of the policy to contain the global warming. The Stern Review put argument that the mitigation policy costs were 5 to 20 times less than letting climate change progress unchecked. Therefore there is a clear-cut case for global mitigation policy. But crucially Stern does not look at the consequences of ineffective and over-expensive policy. The Booker article “For every new ‘green’ job, nearly four are lost” looks at one aspect of these real policy costs. An economist would also claim that the Greens fail to look at the opportunity costs, claim that the new jobs are a benefit.

I have tried to demonstrate this economic argument for climate change mitigation here. Then I examine why the policy proposed will be ineffective in constraining CO2 rises and the costs will escalate here. I hope to post soon on why the costs of climate change are hugely overstated.

The argument against the climate change policy is not that there is no evidence. Rather, it is that blundering and ineffective policy will be far more costly than five or six degrees of warming bringing on highly variable weather systems. That is an argument for the economists, not the climate scientists.

Richard Black implies UNIPCC scientific conclusions have political bias

Richard Black, an environment correspondent with the BBC, loses sight of the purpose of climate change negotiations in criticizing the USA.

There is a proposal to withdraw funding from the UNIPCC, a result of climate change deniers taking control of House of Representatives in the mid-term elections last year. The consequence, according to Black, is that the USA could have reduced influence over the scientific part of the next UNIPCC report. Does this mean that the scientific conclusions of the UNIPCC reports are politically biased?

The result is that the USA looks

    “set to marginalise the country even further within the global community of nations – at least when it comes to climate change.”

So joining a global climate change agreement is to avoid censure from one’s intellectual superior? Not a matter of making a real positive difference for future generations? If you believe, like Richard Black seems to, that global agreement is all that is necessary to avoid global climate catastrophe, please consider my previous posting here.

Hattip BishopHill