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New, ‘relentlessly pragmatic’ approach to climate change needed?

hartwell cover.bmpThe collapse of UN-led international efforts to combat climate change means a new approach that is “politically attractive and relentlessly pragmatic” is required, according to a new report.

The 14 authors of a new report on climate policy describe themselves as “an eclectic group of academics, analysts and energy policy advocates”. They say the Kyoto Protocol style approach “crashed” last year with the perceived failure of the Copenhagen meeting.

A new approach, focusing on human dignity, is required, they argue in their ‘Hartwell Paper’ – named after the house in Buckinghamshire where the authors convened in February.

“To reframe the climate issue around matters of human dignity is not just noble or necessary. It is also likely to be more effective than the approach of framing around human sinfulness –which has failed and will continue to fail,” write the authors, including Gwyn Prins, of the London School of Economics; Roger Pielke Jr, of the University of Colorado; and Hiroyuki Tezuka, who represented the Japan Iron and Steel Federation.

A new approach should focus on three objectives, says the paper, ensuring energy access for all, developing in a way that does not undermine Earth systems, and ensuring societies can withstand all climate vagaries, “whatever their cause may be”. The Hartwell group argues that the inclusive approach of previous attempts to reach a global climate consensus needs to be broken up, with forests, biodiversity, air quality and other issues put back into silos and made to “again stand on their own”.

Their paper also suggests that an almost exclusive focus on carbon dioxide is unwise, and there should be more action on other greenhouse agents, such as black carbon and tropospheric ozone.

Bill Hare, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, told the BBC, he did not buy this. “The paper’s focus away from CO2 is misguided, short-sighted and probably wrong,” says Hare. “If you take action on black carbon and do not reduce CO2 emissions then you may end up with more warming in the long term.”

Hare also says that the Kyoto Protocol is “one of the few things that have worked” and he questions the Hartwell group’s acceptance of industry funding from Japanese industry group Nippon Keidanren [11/5: Professor Pielke has asked us to clarify that although some funding was received from Japanese industry groups Nippon Keidanren was not among them. The BBC story has also changed in this regard.]

On his blog, Pielke Jr writes, “As we state up front, some funding for our meeting did indeed come from industry. Other funding came from foundations. We are appreciative to all of our funders for enabling the work to occur. I can assure you that no one told us what to say, and I’m pretty sure most participants were unaware of where all of the funding came from at the time of the meeting (I was).”


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    Roger Pielke Jr. said:

    Daniel- Please note that the organizers our group (LSE) did not receive funding from Nippon Keidanren. They did receive funding from other industry groups in Japan that as far as I am aware support climate policy, although their exact stance is unknown to me.

    Thanks, Roger

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    Jesse Jenkins said:

    Daniel, also please note that the paper certainly does not propose focusing on black carbon and other non-CO2 forcing agents in lieu of reducing carbon emissions, as the quote from Hare implies.

    Hare notes, "If you take action on black carbon and do not reduce CO2 emissions then you may end up with more warming in the long term.”

    That is certainly correct, but it is equally certain that this is NOT the position of the Hartwell group. Rather, focusing exclusively on CO2 while ignoring other forcing agents like black carbon would be extremely unwise in a climate context, as the paper’s authors note.


    Jesse Jenkins

    Breakthrough Institute

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    a. n. ditchfield said:



    The Lebensraum doctrine of Green activists rests on three tenets they accept with an act of faith:

    · We are running out of space. World population is already excessive on a limited planet and grows exponentially.

    · We are running out of means. The planet’s non-renewable resources are being depleted by consumption at a rate that renders economic expansion unsustainable.

    · We shall fry. Carbon dioxide emitted by human economic activity causes global warming that shall make the planet uninhabitable.

    When such tenets are quantified, the contrast between true and false stands out sharply.

    Is overpopulation a grave problem? The sum of urban areas of the United States is equivalent to 2% of the area of the country, and to 6% in densely inhabited countries such as England and Holland. And there is plenty of green in urban areas. If comparison is limited to land covered by buildings and pavements the occupied land in the whole world amounts to 0,04% of the terrestrial area of the planet. With 99.96% unoccupied the idea of an overcrowded planet is an exaggeration. Population forecasts are uncertain but the most accepted ones foresee stability of world population to be reached in the 21st century. According to some, world population may begin to decline at the end of this century. With so much elbowroom it is untenable that world population is excessive or shall ever become so.

    Strictly speaking, no natural resource is non-renewable in a universe ruled by the Law of Conservation of Mass. In popular form it holds that “Nothing is created, nothing is lost, all is transformed.” Human usage is not subtracted from the mass of the planet, and in theory all material used may be recycled. The possibility of doing so depends on availability and low cost of energy. When fusion energy becomes operative it will be available in practically unlimited quantities. The source is deuterium, a hydrogen isotope found in water, in a proportion of 0.03%. One cubic kilometer of seawater contains more energy than can be obtained from combustion of all known petroleum reserves of the world. Since oceans hold 3 billion cubic kilometers of water, energy will last longer than the human species.

    There is no growing shortfall of resources signaled by rising prices. Since the middle of the 19th century The Economist publishes consistent indices of values of commodities and they have all declined, over the period, due to technological advances. The decline has been benign. The cost of feeding a human being was 8 times greater in 1850 than it is today. In 1950, less than half of a world population of 2 billion had an adequate diet, above 2000 calories per day. Today, 80% have the diet, and world population is three times greater.

    There is a problem with the alleged global warming. It stopped in 1995, after having risen in the 20 previous years, and unleashing a scare over its effects. Since 1998 it has been followed by 12 years of declining temperatures, in a portent of a cold 21st century. This shows that there are natural forces shaping climate, more powerful than manmade carbon dioxide and anything mankind can do for or against world climate. The natural forces include cyclical oscillation of ocean temperatures, sunspot activity and the effect of magnetic activity of the sun on cosmic rays. All such cycles are foreseeable, but there is no general theory of climate with predictive capacity. What knowledge exists comes from one hundred fields, such as meteorology, oceanography, mathematics, physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, paleontology, biology, etc. with partial contributions to the understanding of climate.

    Devoid of support of solid theory and empirical data, the mathematical models that underpin alarmist forecasts amount to speculative thought that reflects the assumptions fed into the models. Such computer simulations offer no rational basis for public policy that inhibits economic activity “to save the planet”. And carbon dioxide is not a pollutant; it is the nutrient needed for photosynthesis that supports the food chain of all living beings of the planet.

    Stories of doom circulate daily. Anything that happens on earth has been blamed on global warming: an Australian dust storm, a Himalayan earthquake, a volcanic eruption, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, tribal wars in Africa, heat wave in Paris, recent severe winters in North America, the hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico, known for five centuries, the collapse of a bridge in Minnesota. Evo Morales blames Americans for the summer floods in Bolivia. Hugo Chavez received a standing ovation in Copenhagen when he blamed global warming on capitalism. He has the support of the Castro brothers,, Mungabe and all such dictators, With friends like these does the cause need enemies?

    Global warming is not a physical phenomenon; it is a political and journalistic phenomenon that finds parallel in the totalitarian doctrines that inebriated masses deceived by demagogues. As Chris Patten put it: “Green politics at its worst amounts to a sort of Zen fascism; less extreme, it denounces growth and seeks to stop the world so that we can all get off”. In the view of Professor Aaron Wildavsky global warming is the mother of all environmental scares. “Warming (and warming alone), through its primary antidote of withdrawing carbon from production and consumption, is capable of realizing the environmentalist’s dream of an egalitarian society based on rejection of economic growth in favor of a smaller population’s eating lower on the food chain, consuming a lot less, and sharing a much lower level of resources much more equally.” Their dream is the hippies’ lifestyle of idleness, penury, long hair, unshaven face, blue jeans, sandals and vegetarian diet, imposed on the world by decree of Big Brother, and justified by the Lebensraum fallacy.

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