Skip to main content

How Accurate Are Climate Change Predictions, Really?

Conversation and Challenge

"What would it take,” I asked fellow writer and climate skeptic jackclee, “to convince you that we have a climate problem?”

We’d been having an extended discussion in the comments of my article, Climate Change: How Much Time Do We Have? Jack responded:

Doc, the one evidence I need is for the various climate models to agree with reality. There projections has consistently over estimated the temperature rise. I just don't trust them considering how the models have such variables which are based on assumptions and the small tweak can cause large changes in the model outputs. In a few short years, we will see if these models are for real or they are contrived. Please revisit this in a few years. Take care.

Though marked by Jack’s customary civility, it was a frustrating response for me, as the article in which the conversation was occurring had gone to considerable lengths to examine how much time remains to us to take action on climate, concluding that in certain respects it is already too late. The least misleading answer to the question “How much time do we have?” was, I wrote:

None, really. We are late, and we just need to work not to get any later.

That was true, I had said:

  • Because it’s already too late for the victims of climate change to date.
  • Because climate change is insidious--as with tobacco smoking, the damage is often done before symptoms are evident.
  • Because global carbon emissions still seem to be increasing.
  • Because we are running out of time to avoid what is generally considered ‘dangerous’ warming.

So I tried to address Jack’s concern directly, citing data and discussions that show that, in fact, the observations are consistent with IPCC projections of temperature, as linked in the sidebar below.

Original Model-Observation Comparison Graphs


Updated Comparison Graph, August 2016

Updated observation-model comparison, August 2016.  Graphs courtesy of RealClimate.

Updated observation-model comparison, August 2016. Graphs courtesy of RealClimate.

BEST update, to February 2017

Updated model-observation comparison, courtesy of Dr. Zeke Hausfeather of BEST.

Updated model-observation comparison, courtesy of Dr. Zeke Hausfeather of BEST.

Discussions of Model-Observation Agreement

Although temperatures had been running lower than the central estimate of IPCC projections in recent years, they were, and are, still within the projected ‘envelope,’ as shown in the figure above and discussed at length in the linked articles.

Moreover, I added, there was and is a long track record in the scientific literature of successful predictions by climate models. It was collected and documented by Barton Paul Levenson (also linked in sidebar.)

I quoted Barton as follows below:

Global Climate Models have successfully predicted:

  • That the globe would warm, and about how fast, and about how much.
  • That the troposphere would warm and the stratosphere would cool.
  • That nighttime temperatures would increase more than daytime temperatures.
  • That winter temperatures would increase more than summer temperatures.
  • Polar amplification (greater temperature increase as you move toward the poles).
  • That the Arctic would warm faster than the Antarctic.
  • The magnitude (0.3 K) and duration (two years) of the cooling from the Mt. Pinatubo eruption.
  • They made a retrodiction for Last Glacial Maximum sea surface temperatures which was inconsistent with the paleo evidence, and better paleo evidence showed the models were right.
  • They predicted a trend significantly different and differently signed from UAH satellite temperatures, and then a bug was found in the satellite data.
  • The amount of water vapor feedback due to ENSO.
  • The response of southern ocean winds to the ozone hole.
  • The expansion of the Hadley cells.
  • The poleward movement of storm tracks.
  • The rising of the tropopause and the effective radiating altitude.
  • The clear sky super greenhouse effect from increased water vapor in the tropics.
  • The near constancy of relative humidity on global average.
  • That coastal upwelling of ocean water would increase.

Seventeen correct predictions? Looks like a pretty good track record to me.

Jack's response to that was indirect:

Doc, I came across this web site recently and would like you to comment -

(Jack's site is linked below.)

I will make a pledge to you.

You ask me what it would take to be convinced.

If the items in the forecast for 2015 and 2020 comes true as they projected, I will be convinced.

There were problems with that. The worst for me is that there is simply no point in convincing Jack (or anyone else, for that matter) sometime in 2020 or 2021. We need decisive action on climate, and we need it now.

But there are other issues, too. Some of the ‘predictions’ involve things that are really not all that relevant—global air conditioner sales, for instance. And what would the criteria for predictive success be? Surely it would be unrealistic to expect each and every point to come true precisely? For that matter, some of the projections are not couched very precisely. How could we decide whether or not they should be considered ‘successful’?

Noting all these problems—and, frankly, hoping to split up what looked like a daunting workload—I made a suggestion to Jack:

So, how about this: you and I make a project. We'll sort the predictions for this year (ie., predictions on the 2015 page of the site) that we want to assess--other than what I've done here, no looking ahead! (Full disclosure: I already looked at the case of Lagos, Nigeria, a bit.) Then we'll research them and compare what we find. We each write an article about it.

What do you say?

Jack accepted, and so the present article was born.

Read Jackclee's Article Here!

Sorting The "Predictions"

My first task was to read and sort the predictions on the 2015 ‘predictions’ page. (As of 2018 this site is unfortunately dead, so accessing the original is no longer possible.)

A tedious process of listing, winnowing, consolidation and tabulation eventually produced a more-or-less manageable list of 28 items. Fourteen of them were then eliminated ‘for cause.’ These items (with their original list positions and ‘cause for dismissal’) are listed in Table 1:

Table 1: Rejected 'Predictions'

Table 1: Rejected 'Predictions'

Item DescriptionOriginal list #Reason for rejection

Global air conditioner sales increase


Silly proxy. Sales can be affected by too many things besides climate. (But the projection did apparently come true, FWIW.)

Global emissions projections


Not actually a prediction, and a driver of climate, not a consequence of it.

Lake Mead dry by 2014, 10% chance


Too low a chance to count as a ‘prediction.’

Suna’a, Yemen, to run dry by 2017


Water situation serious, but civil war renders clear outcome relative to prediction impossible.

Various population projections


Not climate predictions, though growing populations do tend to use more energy.

Climate-driven migration in Nigeria


Civil conflict and weak governance make this impossible to assess.

Loss of climate measurement/observation capability


Not a climate prediction, though it makes climate study harder (and has occurred).

Rare earths shortages by 2015


Not a climate prediction.

Worldwide oil supply shortage of 10M barrels/day by 2015


Obviously a bad miss, but still not a climate prediction.

No ‘demand challenge’ to global energy supply in 2015


One more time—not a climate prediction.

Global energy prices to be unstable during 2000-2015.


Certainly, but no, not a climate prediction.

Solar energy predicted to be the least expensive source of electricity by 2016.


Not a climate prediction, but will comment briefly as ‘appendix.’

China to mine 25% more coal; consumption to reach 2.3 billion tons by 2015.


Not a climate prediction, but will comment briefly as ‘appendix.’

US agriculture suffers due to lack of pollinators, leading China to supply up to 40% of US vegetables


CCD—the epidemic of bee deaths—is still quite a problem, but hasn’t undermined US ag quite that badly. And the Chinese economy has grown in ways not well anticipated in 2006.

The Rubric

That leaves 14 predictions to assess. But how to assess them? Not all were precisely quantified, and even when they were, available data aren’t necessarily sorted in such a way that direct comparisons can be made.

I fell back on classroom teaching experience to create a rubric to enable ‘grading’ of each prediction. Here’s what it looked like:

Predictions rubric


  • 4—Prediction within 10%
  • 3—Prediction within 25%
  • 2—Prediction within 50%
  • 1—Correct sign
  • 0—Wrong sign


  • 4—Outcome closely resembles prediction
  • 3—Outcome reasonably resembles prediction
  • 2—Outcome somewhat resembles prediction
  • 1—Outcome points toward possibility of prediction being realized, given enough time
  • 0—No resemblance between outcome and prediction

(1 additional point may be awarded in cases where outcome exceeds prediction--that is, where climate change is worse than predicted.)

With that in hand, I attacked the list of remaining predictions. Here are the results, item by item, and with a discussion of what I see as important points relating to each.

Assessing The Predictions

In all cases, the supporting web links for the prediction and outcomes will be found following the prediction and preceding the section describing the observed outcome.

Prediction #1:

Stanford computer models project a dramatic spike in extreme seasonal temperatures during the period 2010 - 2019. "The Stanford team also forecast a dramatic spike in extreme seasonal temperatures during the current decade [2010 – 2019]. Temperatures equaling the hottest season on record from 1951 to 1999 could occur four times between now [2010] and 2019 over much of the U.S., according to the researchers. The 2020s and 2030s could be even hotter, particularly in the American West."

The reality:

The US experienced significant heat waves in 2011 (“On a national basis, the heat wave was the hottest in 75 years”), 2012 (March brought “a remarkably prolonged period of record setting temperatures”), 2013 (regionally, in the Southwest “46 monthly record high temperatures were reached or broken, and 21 records for the highest overnight temperatures were reached or broken”), and 2015 (“triple-digit heat indices across a large swath of the U.S...”)

Interestingly, consideration of one obscure but telling statistic—the tally of ‘cooling degree days’—the top three hottest US summers occurred during the prediction period so far. In order, they are: 2011, 2010 and 2012.

Given that the prediction period ran from 2010 through 2019, and is thus only about half over, it is tempting to rate this prediction as a ‘5’—that is, the number of observed events matches the predicted number of events, for a ‘4’ on the quantitative rubric, plus a bonus point since there are still several years to run in the prediction period.

However, considering that there are serious definitional issues about just how geographically widespread and how long-lasting a heatwave needs to be to count, and considering my own biases, I reduced that to a ‘3’—“outcome reasonably resembles prediction.”

March 2012 heatwave.  Image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory & Wikimedia Commons.

March 2012 heatwave. Image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory & Wikimedia Commons.

Prediction #2:

Britain’s Met Office projects 2014 temperature likely to be 0.3 degrees Celsius warmer than 2004. “Here is the climate forecast for the next decade [2007-2014]; although global warming will be held in check for a few years, it will come roaring back to send the mercury rising before 2014."

The reality:

Once again, definitional issues cloud the picture a bit. Using the data set associated with Britain’s Meteorology Office, HADCRUT 4, one finds that 2014 temperatures were not 0.3 C warmer than 2004, but rather 0.117 C. (NASA’s data would have made that figure 0.20 C.) Clearly, less warming than forecast. On the other hand, the shape of the temperature curve does match the description given: “ warming will be held in check for a few years [but will] come roaring back.”

Overall, I rate that as a ‘2’—“outcome somewhat matches prediction.”

It’s worth noting, though, that this is more a test of ‘the Met’s’ experimental long-term forecasting ability than of climate modeling; though the 10-year is very long for weather, it is very short for climate. According to Santer et al., the shortest period for which one might expect to see a statistically-significant warming trend is 17 years.

Prediction #3:

By 2015 10 million acres of national forests may be at high risk of uncontrollable, catastrophic wildfires... as much as $12 billion, or about $725 million a year, may be needed to treat the 39 million acres at high risk of uncontrollable wildfire by the end of fiscal year 2015.

The reality:

By September 25 of this year, over 9 million acres had in fact burned. By the end of October (the conventional end of the ‘fire season’, the number had reached 9,407,571 acres. Clearly that is well within the 10% envelope for a ‘4’. There aren’t yet comprehensive numbers on the cost of those fires, but on August 5, a Forest Service Report informed us that “For the first time in its 110-year history, the Forest Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is spending more than 50 percent of its budget to suppress the nation's wildfires.” That was not a result of one exceptional year, but rather a consistent trend in fire-fighting costs. The Service called for a change in the funding mechanism to reflect this reality, as ever-increasing proportions of the Service budget were being absorbed by fire-fighting costs, to the detriment of other functions. (The full report link is in the sidebar.)

Rating: 4 “Prediction within 10%.”

Washington State wildfires, 2015.  Image courtesy NASA & Wikimedia Commons.

Washington State wildfires, 2015. Image courtesy NASA & Wikimedia Commons.

Prediction #4:

Water shortages projected for 36 states by 2013. Water managers in most states expect shortages of freshwater in the next decade [2003 – 2013]

The reality:

Unclear. Although the General Accounting Office publishes periodic surveys of state water manager expectations, they do not examine the actual outcomes. And among the responses of the water managers are survey responses that raise real questions about response quality. Apart from answers that were unresponsive—in 2014, the most recent such survey, Indiana and Ohio were both listed as ‘no response or uncertain’—there were instances that were simply not credible.

A notable example is provided by the states of Alabama and Georgia, which both report no concerns about freshwater availability despite the fact that they are, along with Florida, embroiled in a legal and political wrangle over the apportionment of freshwater flowing out of Lake Lanier, the sole source of most of Atlanta’s drinking water. The ‘tri-state water war’ has been before courts since 1990, and was the subject of a closed-doors meeting of all three governors as recently as June 2015.

In my view, if that is not cause for ‘concern’, then something is wrong with the definition of ‘concern’ in use. (To be completely clear, though, water problems in the Southeast are not a climate change issue—regional modeling does not project drought problems to be likely, as overall the region seems likely to become slightly wetter—but a policy and resource versus population issue.)

However, despite such concerns, the 2014 report has the number of ‘concerned’ water managers up by 4 to 40. And in the general media there were very serious water shortages reported for 7 states in 2015. (Of course, the current serious water shortages in California are too well-known to require a citation.)

Considering the information available, the outcome seemed ‘somewhat’ to resemble the prediction, for a rating of ‘2’.

Prediction #5:

Lake Mead’s water levels could drop below its water intake pipes by 2013. "Southern Nevada Water Authority chief Pat Mulroy . . . said the authority is in a race against time to complete a new [third intake] system [or third straw] to draw water from deep in Lake Mead [Hoover Dam]."

The reality:

The Water Authority won their race, but not by much. The ‘third straw’ project is now complete, at an announced cost of $817 million, with another $650 million for a new pumping station. The level didn’t quite reach crisis levels: problems start at a level of 1062 feet, and the system as it was would have been shut down at 1050. This summer saw levels of a little over 1075. That margin of less than 14 feet may not seem small to some, but for context, consider the ‘old normal’: in 1983 Lake Mead stood at 1225 feet.

The outcome reasonably resembles the prediction, for a rating of ‘3’.

Hoover Dam, 2012, with the 'bathtub ring' showing low water level.  Image by Tony Webster, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Hoover Dam, 2012, with the 'bathtub ring' showing low water level. Image by Tony Webster, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Prediction #6 (related to #5):

Hydroelectric turbines at Hoover Dam could cease generating electricity by 2013. “After 75 years of steadily cranking out electricity for California, Arizona and Nevada, the mighty turbines of the Hoover Dam could cease turning as soon as 2013, if water levels in the lake that feeds the dam don't start to recover, say water and dam experts. Under pressure from the region's growing population and years of drought, Lake Mead was down to 1,087 feet, a 54-year low, as of Wednesday [September 8, 2010]. If the lake loses 10 feet a year, as it has recently, it will soon reach 1,050 feet, the level below which the turbines can no longer run.”

The reality:

Fortunately, the loss rate since 2010 did not continue uniformly, and although there is a small net loss, the turbines still turn—albeit with a 25% power loss. It’s worth noting, though, that hydropower in California is seriously affected by the ongoing drought and water shortage, with reductions of around 60%. As a linked story puts it:

California’s drought is just four years old. But the drop in the state’s hydroelectric production has been precipitous. Hydroelectric sources are projected to contribute just 7 percent of the state’s power this year, down from 23 percent in 2011.

Overall, the outcome was judged as pointing toward a later possibility of realizing prediction, for a rating of ‘1’.

Prediction #7:

Nearly half the world’s population will live in water-stressed countries by 2015. “By 2015 nearly half the world's population — more than 3 billion people — will live in countries that are "water-stressed" — have less than 1,700 cubic meters of water per capita per year, mostly in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and northern China."

Note the wording: this does not say that half the world’s total population will be water-stressed; it says that countries accounting for half the world’s population will experience significant water stress.

The reality:

This appears to be a solid ‘hit.’ Though definitive numbers for 2015 are not available, India and China are indeed both experiencing water stress at very significant levels, as has been the case for some time, and together account for close to 50% of global population. The story in the UK's Guardian newspaper, linked, tells the wider tale.

Rating: ‘4’.

Ladakh, India, 2014.  Image by Christopher Michel, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Ladakh, India, 2014. Image by Christopher Michel, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Prediction #8 (related to #7):

By 2015 a number of developing countries will be unable to maintain their levels of irrigated agriculture. “In the developing world, 80 percent of water usage goes into agriculture, a proportion that is not sustainable; and in 2015 a number of developing countries will be unable to maintain their levels of irrigated agriculture...”

(This comes from the same 2000 report as item #7, and is not linked again.)

The reality:

The situation for irrigation is bad and getting worse in both India and China. Additionally, Africa has serious problems, though these arise from a whole network of reasons, from climate change to population growth to poor policy and migration.

Rating: ‘4’.

Prediction #9:

Mt. Kilimanjaro’s remaining ice fields likely to disappear between 2015 and 2020... if current climatological conditions persist, the remaining ice fields are likely to disappear between 2015 and 2020.

The reality:

Thankfully, ‘the snows of Kilimanjaro’ currently seem unlikely to disappear any time soon. This prediction would receive a clear zero, except for one thing: attention to the issue, prompted by the possibility that the prediction could come true, may have been crucial.

Initially, the observed loss of ice mass on Kilimanjaro’s summit was ascribed more or less directly to global warming. But further analysis showed that the loss was probably due to less precipitation falling at the summit, and that in turn this was not so much due to global changes, but to more local ones: deforestation on Kilimanjaro’s massive slopes had altered the local water cycle. Replanting those slopes seems to have helped increase precipitation, slowing (though not halting) ice loss:

...the massive tree planting around the mount Kilimanjaro could have been mitigated the ripple effects of the global warming.

Alarmed by the...Thompson study, way back in 2006, Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete imposed a total ban on tree harvesting in Kilimanjaro region in a move aimed to halt catastrophic environmental degradation, including melting of ice on Mount Kilimanjaro.

As a result of the measures, the forest cover on the mount Kilimanjaro is slowly, but surely becoming thick.

Experts say the forests on Kilimanjaro's lower slopes absorb moisture from the cloud hovering near the peak, and in turn nourish flora and fauna below...

Given that ice loss has not been completely arrested and that warming continues, the outcome points toward a possibility that the prediction may become true in time, which rates a ‘1’.

Aerial view of Kilimanjaro, showing ice fields on Kibo peak.  Image by clem23, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Aerial view of Kilimanjaro, showing ice fields on Kibo peak. Image by clem23, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Prediction #10:

Computer model forecasts taking into account sea ice thinning and albedo effects project an ice-free summer Arctic Ocean between 2010-2015. “The Arctic Ocean could be free of ice in the summer as soon as 2010 or 2015 -- something that hasn't happened for more than a million years, according to a leading polar researcher. Louis Fortier, scientific director of ArcticNet, a Canadian research network, said the sea ice is melting faster than predicted by models created by international teams of scientists, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They had forecast the Arctic Ocean could be free of summer ice as early as 2050.”

But this 'prediction' needs more context. Note what is said in this story—(so-called) ‘IPCC models’ at that point (November, 2007) had been estimating that the Arctic sea ice would likely be gone at the annual minimum in September ‘as early as 2050’, but a new regional model by Dr. Maslowski, of the US Naval Observatory, had projected that a much earlier outcome was possible.

Note, too, that the 2007 minimum thoroughly shocked experts; they had been concerned by the record low of 5.6 million square kilometers (mean value for the month of September). Prior to 1990, only once had that value dropped below 7 million square kilometers, and never had it broken through 6 million square kilometers. But in 2007, the disturbing record clocked in 2005 was obliterated by a stunning 4.3 million square kilometer mean September extent--a full 1.3 million kilometers less than the 2005 record (roughly 23% lower). Dr. Fortier’s comment that ‘'s probably going to happen even faster than that” should be read in the context of the shock the 2007 minimum provided.

Graph courtesy Dr. Larry Hamilton.

Graph courtesy Dr. Larry Hamilton.

It should also be noted that the newspaper story is almost certainly wrong in one respect. Though the identity of the ‘computer models’ referred to is never given in the story, it is undoubtedly the regional modeling of Dr. Wieslaw Maslowski, of the US Naval Observatory, as reported in the BBC story linked above.

Dr. Maslowski is directly quoted in another story from the same time:

Given the estimated trend and the volume estimate for October–November of 2007 at less than 9,000 km3, one can project that at this rate it would take only 9 more years or until 2016 ± 3 years to reach a nearly ice-free Arctic Ocean in summer. Regardless of high uncertainty associated with such an estimate, it does provide a lower bound of the time range for projections of seasonal sea ice cover.

So the projection, according to the scientist who made it, should be regarded as a “lower bound”, and the time frame is not 2010-2015, as the story had it, but 2013-2019. All that clarified, we're ready to look at the outcome.

The reality:

Dr. Fortier was wrong.

But consider the continuing decline of the sea ice—after 2007, the September mean has never again risen above 2005 levels. And in 2012 the September mean extent crashed to just 3.6 million square kilometers. (September of this month saw the fourth-lowest value in the record, with a mean of just 4.6 million.)

In that context, it is not so clear that Dr. Maslowski was wrong. The window for his ‘lower bound’ estimate runs until 2019.

The IPCC was wrong, too, or so it appears at this juncture. In 2007, they thought that we had until 2050 or so before the first ice-free Arctic summer. The sea ice crash we have seen since then makes that scenario highly unlikely; currently observers such as the National Snow and Ice Center’s Dr. Walt Serreze now think the likely year is sometime around 2030.

Dr. Fortier gets a ‘1’, even though the mainstream science would do better.

Eko-Atlantic City under construction, Lagos, Nigeria, 2011.  Image by omar 180, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Eko-Atlantic City under construction, Lagos, Nigeria, 2011. Image by omar 180, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Prediction #11:

Lagos, Nigeria projected to be at risk from sea level rise. "Nigeria will suffer from climate-induced drought, desertification, and sea level rise... Lagos, the capital, is one of the West African coastal megacities [along with Alexandria, Egypt] that the IPCC identifies as at risk from sea level rise by 2015.”

The reality:

Again, solid, comparable information is hard to come by, and the prediction itself is not very specific. But it is clear that Lagos is facing increased flooding, forming a serious threat to its infrastructure:

An increasingly important threat to the high population and large concentration of residential, industrial, commercial and urban infrastructure systems in Africa’s coastal megacity of Lagos is flooding. Over the past decade, flooding in Lagos has increased significantly, drawing increasing attention to the need for flood risk management.

It’s not as clear what proportion of this risk proceeds from sea level rise, as identified in the prediction, and what proportion from extreme precipitation and increasing storm surge (both expected consequences of climate change, in general) or from other causes, such as land subsidence (which can be either natural or man-made, and which results in localized ‘relative sea level rise.’)

However, it is noteworthy that the there’s a mega-project, underway since 2003 and now said to be nearing completion, intended to protect the city from sea-level rise—an 8-kilometer barrier dubbed the ‘Great Wall of Lagos.’ Not only that, an artificial island will be the site of a glittering new city center, financed entirely by private investment, and intended to become the “Hong Kong of Africa”. As usual, that is linked above, together with another, less enthusiastic take on the project. Not yet reality, but perhaps worth noting in passing, is that serious, widespread issues with both desertification and sea level rise continue to be projected for Africa.

Overall rating: ‘3’.

Adelie penguins.  Image by Jerzy Strzelecki, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Adelie penguins. Image by Jerzy Strzelecki, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Prediction #12:

Projected extinction of Adélie penguin population around Palmer Station, Antarctica. “A small residual population [Adélie penguins] on Humble Island [near Palmer Station, Antarctica] may survive the climatic shift down the peninsula, [seabird ecologist Bill Fraser of the Palmer Long Term Ecological Research (PAL LTER) project] guessed, but the overall prognosis is that in the next decade the Adélies around Palmer will be gone. ‘Their numbers are in catastrophic decline,’ Fraser said.”

(Unfortunately, the original link appears to be dead, and so is not linked.)

The reality:

The Adelies are not gone yet, though the decline in population continues. Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins, which tolerate warmer temperature better, have been moving in in large numbers.’s been a shock to see how drastically Adelie penguins have declined while gentoos have increased in the last 20 years.

I have linked some of the baseline research, from 1998, and including as one author Dr. Bill Fraser, who was mentioned in the prediction.

It would be great to see some hard numbers on the Adelie population of Palmer Station, to get a better feeling for how the trends are playing out. But it appears that the prediction is somewhere in the midrange: 2018 is probably too aggressive, but all sources discussing the population agree that the species is in trouble in the Palmer Station area.

Rating: ‘3’, “Outcome reasonably resembles prediction.”

Update on Adelie penguins, 7/2/16

A recent article on the prognosis for Adelie penguins, not just around Palmer Station, but around the whole Antarctic continent, stated that, as of 2013, the Palmer Station population had been reduced by about 80%.

The outlook for the species generally is not great:

by 2099, our projections suggest 78% to 51% (mean 58%) of colonies could experience declines, containing 64% to 39% (mean 46%) of the current abundance.

Luckily, while Adelies look to be vulnerable to decline, there are areas projected to serve as 'refugia', so complete extinction doesn't appear to be a risk--over the course of this century, at least. Of course, under any 'business as usual' scenario, warming will not stop magically when the 22nd century arrives.

Update on Adelie penguins, 4/21/19

An NPR interview with marine biologist James McClintock provided an update on the status of the Adelie penguins--and not an encouraging one.

The news is a little sad. The population of 15,000 breeding pairs of Adelie penguins has reached a new low. It's down to 1,100 this year. So over 90 percent of them are disappearing. What's happening mainly that's causing the big problem is that they come in at a very predetermined time of year to lay their eggs. And then along comes these unseasonably late snowstorms because it's getting warmer and more humid. Ironically, it's snowing later. And then the snow melts, and the eggs drown. So the Adelie's having a really tough time right now.

Prediction #13:

Antarctic ozone hole will continue to expand through 2015. “Some existing agreements, even when implemented, will not be able by 2015 to reverse the targeted environmental damage they were designed to address. The Montreal Protocol is on track to restore the stratospheric ozone layer over the next 50 years. Nevertheless, the seasonal Antarctic ozone hole will expand for the next two decades [2000-2020] — increasing the risk of skin cancer in countries like Australia, Argentina, and Chile—because of the long lag time between emission reductions and atmospheric effects.”

(The source for this prediction is the same as #11, above, and is not re-linked.)

This is not really a climate prediction, either, but I consider it nevertheless because it bears in several ways on the current topic, aside from the fact that it was included on the website. Essentially, it’s an important environmental issue involving science, global policy, and numerical modeling of atmospheric processes, and one in which we can observe the outcome of an international treaty intended to mitigate human-induced damage to the atmosphere.

The reality:

Essentially, ozone loss has gradually stabilized since implementation of the Montreal Protocol. The lowest 30-day extent occurred in 2006, but this year saw the single largest one-day ozone hole on the record. Despite that, some thickening of the ozone layer has been observed, and scientific observers believe that recovery of the layer may have begun.

Rating: ‘4’.

Maps courtesy of DLR (German Aerospace Center.)

Maps courtesy of DLR (German Aerospace Center.)

14. The prediction:

By 2015 the cost in lost income of degraded coral reefs is projected to reach several hundred million dollars annually.

The reality:

Again, one might wish for better numbers. But the worldwide decline of coral reefs is so serious as to merit an entire chapter in Elizabeth Kolbert’s Pulitzer-winning book, The Sixth Extinction, and NOAA officials warned last month of a third-ever global-scale coral-bleaching event:

This bleaching event, which began in the north Pacific in summer 2014 and expanded to the south Pacific and Indian oceans in 2015, is hitting U.S. coral reefs disproportionately hard. NOAA estimates that by the end of 2015, almost 95 percent of U.S. coral reefs will have been exposed to ocean conditions that can cause corals to bleach.

The biggest risk right now is to the Hawaiian Islands, where bleaching is intensifying and is expected to continue for at least another month. Areas at risk in the Caribbean in coming weeks include Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, and from the U.S. Virgin Islands south into the Leeward and Windward islands.

The next concern is the further impact of the strong El Niño, which climate models indicates will cause bleaching in the Indian and southeastern Pacific Oceans after the new year. This may cause bleaching to spread globally again in 2016.

Earlier, reported estimates put the annual value at risk at about $30 billion, and stated that the Caribbean might have lost 80% of its coral. This estimate dates from 2002, however, and so does not ‘confirm’ the scale of contemporary losses.

Considering the available information, while the value at risk remains uncertain, the estimates of total value imply that the prediction’s losses would amount to a few per cent of the total value. Given that loss rates are very high, it would seem to follow that the outcomes we see are ‘closely resembling the prediction,’ which would merit a rating of ‘4’.

Update, 3/19/17

The "third coral bleaching event" mentioned did indeed continue in 2016, and indeed intensified as the world saw a record-warm year on the strength of the ongoing anthropogenic warming trend in combination with an El Nino nearly as strong as that of 1997-98. Unfortunately, it appears to be continuing in 2017, as global temperatures have remained quite warm even after the El Nino ended.

The world has lost roughly half its coral reefs in the last 30 years. Scientists are now scrambling to ensure that at least a fraction of these unique ecosystems survives beyond the next three decades. The health of the planet depends on it: Coral reefs support a quarter of all marine species, as well as half a billion people around the world.

"This isn't something that's going to happen 100 years from now. We're losing them right now," said marine biologist Julia Baum of Canada's University of Victoria. "We're losing them really quickly, much more quickly than I think any of us ever could have imagined."

Even if the world could halt global warming now, scientists still expect that more than 90 per cent of corals will die by 2050. Without drastic intervention, we risk losing them all.

Israeli corals near Eilat, at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba.  Image by Ludwig14, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Israeli corals near Eilat, at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba. Image by Ludwig14, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Table of prediction ratings

Item DescriptionPointsComments

US heat weaves, 2010-2019


Rating reduced due to definitional questions.

UK 2014 temperature


Underpredicted; technically weather, not climate

US Wildfire



US water shortages


Poor information on outcomes

Lake Mead water levels


$1.4 billion spent on remediation

Hoover Dam hydro generation



Global water stress


Definitive numbers not yet available

Agricultural irrigation at risk



Snows of Kilimanjaro


Human response to trend altered outcome

Louis Fortier over predicts ice-free Arctic


Mainstream climate science would do much better than Fortier

Lagos at risk for sea level rise


Large expenditures on mitigation of risk

Palmer Station Adelies extinct



Antarctic ozone hole extent


Model predictions appear to be accurate

Coral bleaching costs


Economic costs hard to document, but extent of coral loss is clear

Total points



How do you interpret those numbers? In school, that would likely be a D, or perhaps a C-; a pass, to be sure, but nothing to brag about.

But those numbers aren't grades. Consider that:

  • The most frequent rating was 4, the highest possible;
  • The least frequent rating was 0, which was never awarded;
  • The highest rating was given the same number of times (5) as the two lowest ratings combined.

Jack picked his predictions on this basis:

Doc, you missed my point about the far reaching projections of this site. The point is they are meant to scare and not based on anything real.

I think this exercise shows that however they may have been meant, they are indeed based on reality.

RatingTimes awardedPoints resulting



















Jack's "Big Three" Predictions--Temperature

I'm going to take the privilege of the tardy--for Jack published his Hub roughly six weeks before I wrote these words--and comment briefly on the three predictions that he addresses there.

1. Temperature increase. In part, I've already addressed this issue above when I cited the various model-observation comparisons that have been made. But let's get to the nitty-gritty.

Jack quotes Jim Hansen (not Michael Mann and Jim Hansen; in 1988, the former was still a humble physics undergrad at Yale):

If the current pace of the buildup of these gases continues, the effect is likely to be a warming of 3 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit from the year 2025 to 2050, according to these projections. This rise in temperature is not expected to be uniform around the globe but to be greater in the higher latitudes, reaching as much as 20 degrees, and lower at the Equator.

How does this stack up against reality? Jack doesn't really examine that, citing only a Daily Caller report on a single study which concluded that observed warming so far did not exceed natural variability over the last 8,000 years. But that says nothing about the prediction that was made.

But it's not a difficult question to answer: since 1988, the GISTEMP temperature record shows a total warming of 0.45 degrees Celsius, according to a standard 'least-squares' regression, or about 0.16 degrees C per decade. If we presume that warming continues at that same rate until 2025, then we would see 0.56 C; for 2050, that would be 0.96 C. What's that in Fahrenheit? Well, rounding up to 1 C for simplicity, that would be 1.67 degrees F, or a little more than half the 1988 estimate.

But before we conclude that climate science and global warming are nothing but bunk, perhaps we should look at what more recent science has to say? After all, 1988 was a long time ago in terms of scientific progress. And what more recent work has to say, too, is not difficult to answer, for the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) put forward estimates of future warming in each of its Assessment Reports to date.

The first came in 1990, and in line with the 1988 quote estimated a warming rate of 0.25 C per decade. Multiplying by the six decades to 2050, one reaches 1.5 C total warming, or 2.7 F, reasonably close to Hansen's lower bound. But by the Second AR, in 1995, new work had reduced that number to just 0.14 degrees per decade. Since that is 2.7 decades, we'd expect to see roughly 0.38 C--quite close to the 0.45 we've actually observed. By the time of TAR (2000) the warming rate had crept up to 0.16 C, and by AR4 in 2007, the best estimate had become 0.18 C. Clearly, work that is no more than 2 decades old is pretty close to reality in estimating global mean surface temperature.

GISTEMP record with trend.  Graph by author, using online tool.

GISTEMP record with trend. Graph by author, using online tool.

2015 Update

2015, powered by a strong El Nino, continues to set temperature records. With October data now in for several of the major datasets, the year is almost certain to set new records for warmest on record. As the Washington Post reports:

Earlier this month, Britain’s weather service, the Met Office, and NASA both stated that the Earth’s average temperature is likely to rise 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels for the first time by the end of this year. This milestone is significant since it marks the halfway point to two degrees Celsius, the internationally accepted limit for avoiding the worst consequences of climate change.

More specifically, GISTEMP reported an October anomaly value of 1.04 C, the warmest monthly anomaly in their record, and the first to exceed a degree Celsius. (HADCRUT4 has not yet released their October value; September clocked in at 1.03 C, though their baseline is slightly different from GISTEMP and thus the numbers are not directly comparable.) The Japanese Met Office also reported a record-warm October. Even the UAH satellite record reported their warmest October ever, as reported by the 'skeptic' website Watt's Up With That.

Though there was never any statistical evidence that a true 'pause' in warming was taking place, the slowdown in warming rate seen through much of the 00s has definitively come to an end.

2018 Update

With the hindsight afforded by several more years' passing, we know know that 2015 was again supplanted as record-warm by 2016. Powered by a significant El Nino event in addition to the ongoing observed warming trend, that year was far and away the warmest in the instrumental record.

The surprise has been the failure to see much cooling as that El Nino waned. (The last comparable event in 1998 saw a marked cooling before temperatures once again rebounded.) In NASA's GISTEMP record, for example, 2017 actually surpassed 2015 to become the second-warmest year ever. And the current year, which began with a 'cooling' La Nina event, is on track to be 3rd warmest ever, and will be the warmest La Nina year ever.

Jack's "Big Three" Predictions--Sea Level

2. Sea Level Rise (SLR). Jack quotes a 1988 report from the World Conservation Union, which states:

With the B-a-U [Business as Usual] Scenario, the best-estimate is that MSL [Mean Sea Level] will be 18 cm higher than today by the year 2030, with an uncertainty of 8-29 cm.

Jack doesn't examine that prediction, instead offering a graph showing SLR to date, together with the IPCC prediction with 3 unattributed 'expert' opinions. The IPCC prediction is for 12 inches of SLR, while the extrapolated present-day trend gives an estimate of 10.5 inches at that time. That's actually a pretty good fit; there is some suggestion of an acceleration in the record, though it is not statistically conclusive, and it wouldn't take much acceleration of SLR to reach the IPCC estimate. The other opinions are much higher--suspiciously located at 2 feet, 3 feet, and 4 feet, respectively.

One could look at the record to try and decipher who predicted what, and what the assumptions and margins of error associated with those projections might have been. However, I promised to be brief, so I'll simply compare the prediction quoted above with the record since 1988. And, as is turns out, SLR during the satellite period (1993-present) amounts to about 8 centimeters. Allowing for the 5 years previous to 1993 and the 15 years until 2030, that trend, extrapolated, would give approximately 16 cm of SLR--in good agreement with the 18 cm in the Conservation Union estimate.

U. of Colorado Sea Level Rise satellite data time series.

U. of Colorado Sea Level Rise satellite data time series.

2018 Sea level update

In editing this Hub, I somewhat randomly noticed a curious thing in Jack's source, the 1990 World Conservation Union report. Buried in the text was this interesting passage:

With the B-a-U [Business as Usual] scenario, the best-estimate is that MSL [mean sea level] will be 18cm higher than today by the year 2030, with a range of uncertainty of 8-29 cm. The range reflects uncertainties in both the warming and the contributing factors to sea level. Most of the future rise comes from oceanic thermal expansion and glacier melt; the Antarctic ice sheet is likely to gain in mass and thus slightly decrease MSL, due to increased precipitation and hence greater accumulation rates.

--Environmental Implications of Global Change, 18th session of the General Assembly of The World Conservation Union, Perth, Australia, 1990.

18 centimeters above the 1990 level by 2030? How does that prediction seem to be coming along?

So I found an updated version of the combined satellite sea level record, shown below.

Combined satellite MSL record, per NASA (JPL)

Combined satellite MSL record, per NASA (JPL)

Extrapolating backward from the beginning of the record in 1993 (using the observed trend rate of 3.22 mm/century), we can conclude that the rise to date has been roughly 100 millimeters (or 10 centimeters). Extrapolating forward 13 years, we find:

13 years x 3.22mm/year = ~42 mm (future rise)

+ 100 mm (observed rise)

= 14.2 cm (total estimated rise)

14.2 cm is quite close to the best estimate, and certainly well within the prediction interval of 8-29 cm. Add to that the facts that 1) the greenhouse forcings from 1990 to present turned out to be somewhat less than 'B-a-U', and 2) SLR is likely to accelerate as the increasing mean surface temperature is likely to increase glacier mass loss rates, the forecast accuracy is probably even better than the raw extrapolated number would indicate.

Jack's "Big Three" Predictions--Hurricanes

3. Hurricane frequency & intensity. Jack doesn't cite a specific source here, simply asserting that:

Another projection is that global warming will lead to drastic increases in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes.

Against this, he poses a reality in which:

1) "In the last 10 years, there has not been a category 3 or greater hurricane making land fall in the US", and

2) 'Category 5 storms happened in 1938 and 1960, before any global warming awareness.' (The latter is paraphrased, not an exact quote. Compare Jack's Hub.)

As it turns out, he is half right--cyclone intensity is expected to increase. The IPCC says almost nothing substantive about hurricanes until AR4 in 2007. Prior to that, the Third Assessment Report just says that one study:

…suggested that only small changes in the tropical cyclone frequencies would occur...

It goes on to offer estimates of a 10% increase for the Northern Hemisphere, and a 5% decrease in the Southern Hemisphere.

AR4, however, had much more to say, due to the improvement of numerical modeling capabilities:

...for a future warmer climate, coarse-resolution models show few consistent changes in tropical cyclones, with results dependent on the model, although those models do show a consistent increase in precipitation intensity in future storms. Higher-resolution models that more credibly simulate tropical cyclones project some consistent increase in peak wind intensities, but a more consistent projected increase in mean and peak precipitation intensities in future tropical cyclones. There is also a less certain possibility of a decrease in the number of relatively weak tropical cyclones, increased numbers of intense tropical cyclones and a global decrease in total numbers of tropical cyclones. [Emphasis mine.]

Yes, you read that right. Insofar as Jack's reality tests mean anything at all, they agree with the AR4 projection of fewer cyclones overall. Cyclone intensity will increase, according to climate projections, but frequency will probably decrease.

It's pretty doubtful that Jack's tests do mean much, though; why compare the category of 'global hurricanes/typhoons/cyclones' to 'Category 3 storms making US landfall?' Most cyclones do not make landfall, even in the Atlantic basin, where storm tracks make landfall more likely than in the Pacific or Indian basins. Obviously, there will be far, far fewer Cat 3 storms making US landfalls, rendering statistical comparisons meaningless. And the projections are mostly referenced to 2100, meaning that changes up to 2015 are unlikely to be noticeable, anyway. We wouldn't expect to see much, if any, difference just yet.

...And in conclusion--

So, let's sum up.

1) Regarding Jack's 'big three':

  • Observed temperature rises are in good agreement with models, and there is no evidence for the supposed 'pause' because its timespan is such that one would not expect to see statistically significant warming anyway.
  • Sea level rise is quite in line with the prediction Jack offered.
  • Jack was mistaken about what the IPCC actually predicted about tropical cyclones, leading his only evidence 'disproving' the IPCC claim actually to support it!

2) Regarding the more granular predictions Jack linked from the climate predictions site, they proved a more mixed bag. But as my detailed examination above shows, they are much more right than wrong overall.

3) Regarding Barton Paul Levenson's successful model predictions, the seventeen instances he cites and documents on his site stand unchallenged.

But the biggest picture 'prediction' remains that implicitly made by Roger Revelle and Hans Suess in 1957:



Solar power: In 2008 Rhone Resch, of the Solar Energy Industries Association, predicted that "... by 2016, we expect solar energy to be the least expensive source of electricity for consumers." It hasn't, quite, but has come much closer than most people realize. Solar energy is now about 70% cheaper than at the time of the prediction, and is roughly 1% of what it was in the 1970s. Around the world, solar energy projects are being bid in at prices comparable to fossil fuel generation such as coal and gas. For instance, in the summer of 2015, Nevada Power sought approval for two new solar parks. If approved,

The utility will be paying USD 46.00 per MWh for the output of SunPower’s Boulder Solar park and just USD 38.70/MWh for power from First Solar Inc’s Playa Solar 2 farm.

That's compared with average US residential electricity prices of 121/MWh.

Wind is already cheaper on average than new coal generation capacity, and like solar does not impose external costs associated with air pollution. These costs come in the form of increased incidences of respiratory diseases, including asthma, bringing economic losses for medical treatment and lost productivity.

Concerns expressed by Jack and others about 'expensive' renewable energy are quite simply outdated.

Chinese coal: In 1995, China's coal consumption was projected to reach 2.3 billion tons by 2015. By 2010, that projection had increased to 3.6 billion tons. The reality?

The 1995 projection missed badly, and even the 2010 projection was on the low side: actual consumption in 2014 was given as 3.87 billion tons--and at that, the number was down 2.5% from 2013. And more recently, it has been shown that those numbers were too low; as reported by the New York Times, the actual number for 2013 was 4.2 billion tons.

The good news, however, is that China has committed to ending the growth of carbon emissions, and has already taken dramatic steps to do so, from building the world's foremost solar manufacturing capability, and the world's largest renewable energy capacity, to creating a national carbon market to appropriately price the true costs of carbon emissions.

One is reminded of the meme--correct or not, I do not know--that the Chinese character for 'crisis' combines the characters 'danger' and 'opportunity.'


Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on September 27, 2020:

Scott, I think you are dreaming. Trump will win re-election by a landslide, GOP will keep control of the Senate and may even win back control of the House. With 5 conservative originalist justices on the bench.The country will be secure for years to come.

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on September 27, 2020:

And now with the new far-right Conservative getting on the bench (unless two additional Senators see a eureka moment), it will become that much harder for Biden to start recovering from the environmental damage Trump has caused.

That said, since the Ds will maintain control of the House and will likely win the Senate, legislation should be able to be passed that cements Obama's EOs into place. If they can do that, then they can nullify some of the poor Conservative decisions on the Court that will slow down the effort to slow down climate change.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on September 27, 2020:

Sounds like you are keeping active, which is good. We have a shopping day a week, plus a fun excursion, which often involves exploration of our area, and often walking as well.

No, what happened with the pandemic wasn't what 'we' wanted. What we wanted, and still want, is a systemic shift away from fossil fuel consumption. And more in that respect has been achieved than most people (apparently included yourself) think. There is a reason why US electrical generation from renewable energy for the first time surpassed that from coal for the first time earlier this year:

But all that said, yes, there is still far more to do. CO2 in the atmosphere is still increasing; for instance, the most recent month available in the Scripps Mauna Loa monthy record is July, which clocked a mean value of 413.70 ppm CO2. Compare that with July, 2019, which logged 411.04. That rate of increase, sadly, is pretty comparable to

recent norms:

July 2018: 408.09 ppm

July 2019: 411.04 (+2.95)

July 2020: 413.70 (+2.66)

Consequently, the warming rate hasn't changed much, either. As to how we know that the increase is down to human activity, well, the answer there hasn't changed: it's 1) simple accounting, which reveals that the observed increase amounts to about half of human emissions, and 2) isotopic analysis, which shows the new CO2 to be of fossil origin. We've been through this piece of it repeatedly, if I'm not mistaken.

Yes, the fires release significant amounts of CO2. However, not more than a fraction of human efforts:

"...the 2018 wildfire season in California is estimated to have released emissions equivalent to roughly 68 million tons of carbon dioxide. This number equates to about 15 percent of all California emissions, and it is on par with the annual emissions produced by generating enough electricity to power the entire state for a year."

I would also note that 1) while wildfires are on the increase in the American west generally, they are not new, so the CO2 increase is proportional to the marginal increase only, and 2) the increase in wildfires is itself in part a product of human activity.

Thus, there's a feedback cycle:

1) CO2 produces warming;

2) warming dries forests and soils;

3) drying increases wildfire;

4) wildfire releases CO2.

An important facet of climate mitigation is to avoid situations where such feedback cycles take on a life of their own, independent of further human input. That's what folks mean when they talk of "tipping points."

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on September 17, 2020:

Doc, Thanks for the well wish, we are doing fine and not staying home like most. We drive upstate to hike and walking trails and stay active, eating outdoors and trying to stay as normal as possible. In NY, our numbers are looking good and we are beginning phase 4 and even my fencing club is opening with limited capacity.

I hope you had a chance to read my article and it address the very point of why this pandemic has a silver lining. For climate change activists, it is undeniable that what we did last few months of the shut down across the globe due to the pandemic, is the very thing your side wanted to do and couldn't achieve despite all your efforts.

Cutting man made carbon emissions.

Yet, the results if any are negligible according to some estimates.

Meanwhile, the contribution due to natural causes like these wildfires in CA is causing more CO2 than ever.

How can you justify your position that all the warming is due to humanactivity? It just does not make common sense...

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on September 17, 2020:

Jack, thank you for thinking of me. We are fine here in South Carolina, though we're seeing very intense rainfall at the moment, courtesy of Hurricane Sally. The pandemic has kept us mostly at home. I presume--and hope!--that you are well, too.

I see that, despite all odds, you still cling to the fantasy of "failed predictions." It's amazing to me to see that in 2020, because we have also seen, since last we talked, yet more very warm years; more extreme precipitation; more heat waves; more wildfires; more 'sunny day flooding' not only in Miami Beach but at numerous locations on both of our coasts; more ice sheets disintegrating; and at present another September sea ice minimum well below 4 million km2--only the second time that's happened. So far.

And of course, we are also presently seeing a hurricane season so active that running through the entire list of 21 storm names seems highly probable. It featured yet another major storm causing a multi-billion dollar disaster in the US, in the form of Laura. Sally, though missing "major storm" status by about 1 mph of sustained windspeed, figures to be of comparable destructive magnitude.

And yeah--all of this was predicted, generically at least. As you know. Your persistent failure to recognize such things, or to give them any probative weight, is why I felt compelled to step back from regular interaction with you, despite warm personal feelings, as being a relatively unproductive use of my limited time.

"We'll know in a few years," you wrote then. But *how* will you know, Jack? You also wrote that the temperature data were not to be trusted, presumably because you think they are just the product of scientific conspiracy or maybe groupthink. Having dismissed the most objective and comprehensive data around, what can possibly convince you to change your mind?

As far as I am concerned, anyone not in denial is *already* convinced. So instead, I'm actively organizing for robust climate action at the local level. Hopefully it is less futile than trying to help you recognize reality.

Once again, best wishes. Perhaps we'll 'talk' from time to time.

Scott, thanks for posting some good information on SLR. Last thing I saw, properties at risk suffer a price penalty of about 7%--and surely rising. So in that sense, the market is already betting against Jack on this point.

Off the top of my head, global SLR has been running at ~3.1 mm/year, so in 2030, we'll have seen at least 3.1 cm of rise, or rather more than an inch. I say "at least" because 1) the US east coast has been experiencing higher rates for various geophysical reasons, and 2) the rate of SLR has now been pretty unequivocally determined to be accelerating. So all in all, there should be several more inches to cope with by 2030.

That's one reason that places like Charleston, SC, are working to mitigate risk and to adapt as well. That includes elevating or buying out at-risk homes and properties:

They've already committed or spent something like a half-billion or so on various drainage tunnel projects, like this one to move flood water into the Ashley River:

And the Army Corps of Engineers may get involved with the City in a proposed $1.6 billion seawall project.

(But, hey, nothing to see here, right?)

By the way, I'm currently setting up a fundraiser to help hurricane victims of this season--by coincidence, I have a CD-length album of original songs coming out this month that includes a song inspired by Hurricane Harvey back in 2017, as well as our experience in a derecho disaster in 2011.

I wrote about it here, and the updated Hub contains links to donate, either via my publisher (in which case you get a complementary download of the song "Charm For A Way") or directly to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy's "Atlantic Hurricane Relief Fund":

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on September 11, 2020:


I am willing to bet it won't happen. Hope you and I will live to see that prediction fail, as so many others in the past.

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on September 10, 2020:

The latest data shows Miami beaches going under water by 2030 during high tide. Many buildings will be inundated by 2050.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on September 09, 2020:

my latest article on this topic -

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on September 09, 2020:

doc, have not heard from you for sometimes. How are you dealing with the pandemic? Any thoughts on climate change as related to the shut down?

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on July 24, 2019:

Meanwhile in China, the electric vehicle market continues to expand rapidly (almost as rapidly as Tesla's new Chinese gigafactory, which is expected to start its production ramp by the end of the year!)

"Fully electric vehicles (BEVs) grew... at +97%, and because the mainstream market is falling (-8%), June’s plug-in vehicle (PEV) share reached a record 8.5%, pulling the PEV market share to 6.3%, well above the 2018 result (4.2%) and on target to reach my forecast of 8% for 2019."

In a sign of confidence that the market is maturing, subsidies have been eliminated for BEVs with less than 250 kilometers range, and halved for those meeting that range target. It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, this has on new BEV registrations. (My guess is that there will be a small and temporary sag, but my guess on this topic can't be considered "informed".)

Will BEVs hit the 10% mark in 2020? It seems possible, with the Gigafactory coming online to offer Chinese consumers many more and cheaper Model 3s, and with an ever-increasing range of offerings from indigenous makers. But perhaps it depends, too, on the overall health of the Chinese economy, which in this trade environment is less certain than it might be.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on July 03, 2019:

Robert, thanks for checking it out, and thanks for the good words.

Duly noted about Dr. Mann, though you have a difference of opinion with several prominent scientific groups, such as the European Geophysical Union, which awarded him the Hans Oeschgar Prize. (Hope I spelled that right.)

But I'm a little puzzled; did I even talk about him in this Hub?

Robert Kernodle on July 03, 2019:


I just wanted to say that you have done an exhaustive job on producing this hub. You put a lot of skillful effort into it. But, as you might guess, it does not jive with my own research on the topic.

Consequently, Mann wins no respect from me.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 18, 2019:

Michael Mann wins an apology and retraction for smears leveled at him by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy:

Tim Ball, formerly a co-defendant with the Frontier Centre, has not settled, yet.

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on June 11, 2019:

Good points on the cost and lack of timeliness of nuclear energy.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 11, 2019:

Jack, thanks for your new article. I have commented there, and very much welcome your acknowledgement that we have a problem--circumscribed though you have made that acknowledgement. We need all sorts of voices and perspectives addressing that problem, not just 'liberal' ones, and I welcome your thoughts. May they spark attention and conversation!

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 11, 2019:

Checkout my latest article on climate-change -

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 11, 2019:

Scott, FWIW, I wouldn't say I'm a "fan" of nuclear, but I see a place for it in the energy mix. I don't support efforts to expand it in general and at present because I think the opportunity cost is too high: right now, we need to build as much non-fossil capacity as fast as we possibly can, and with nuclear 2-6x more expensive as measured by LCOE, and much slower to build to boot, the bulk of our dollars needs to go into wind, solar, storage and--mustn't forget!--efficiency.

I do support continued nuclear research, and do support maintaining extant nuclear capacity where possible even if it means subsidies of some form. (Heck, it's already subsidized in a huge way with the liability exemption in law.)

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on June 10, 2019:

I don't know about Doc, but I am also a fan of nuclear energy, even the "dirty" kind so long as provisions are made to safely dispose of the radioactive waste.

From what I read, we are about 30 to 50 years out from safe, clean fusion energy.

Doc - you may have a point about "intentional". While the industrialists may not have appreciated the hazard of dumping all of the CO2 in the air, there came a point where they did. And like the cigarette makers before them, burying your head in the sand and hiding information in order to keep doing what you are doing, that crosses the line into the realm of the "intentional".

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on June 10, 2019:

"What have we to show for it?" - Well, Jack, until Trump came along, we had a rapidly decline Carbon footprint in America to show for it. I am guessing, however, that doesn't impress you.

I agree with Doc when you say ""... when solar and wind or another source...can be produced reliably and cheaper, I would be all in.". Well the race is won by solar, wind, and other renewables, so why aren't you all in?

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 10, 2019:

"What have we to show for it?"


1) Massively increased understanding of our planet and how it works.

2) Massively improved weather forecasting, which is an economic benefit difficult to overestimate. For instance, had we not had excellent warning of the landfall of Florence last year, there undoubtedly would have been many more fatalities in the Low Country of South Carolina.

3) The chance of avoiding enormous risks, beginning with very serious economic loss, and proceeding through drastically worsened public health and drastic loss of biodiversity, to the fall of our technological civilization and even, in the very worst case, to human extinction.

Seems like a bargain to me.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 10, 2019:

Jack, precisely the point. The GND is just one approach, and it isn't proposed by all Democrats--nor is concern for climate exclusive to Democrats.

So, conflating the GND with the 'climate debate' or one side thereof, is a distortion. And it's a distortion that is pushed by Trumpists and Republicans precisely because it's politically convenient, who would like to be able to argue that the only option besides the status quo is stark, staring, raving socialism.

But there are many options--some of which were already argued below by Scott, and another of which was previously discussed by me--that is, the option of a revenue-neutral carbon tax. That's an option with bipartisan support in Congress already.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 10, 2019:

Doc, scott, according to this study, the US has spent almost the same amount of research $ on climate change as the Apollo moon missions...

What have we to show for it?

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 10, 2019:

Doc, your blame is misplaced. Who came up with the Green New Deal?

Did it include elements on social justice and income redistribution?

Did it support massive government programs government spending?

So, don’t blame this on Trump or his supporters.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 10, 2019:

"...climate change has become a debate about capitalism vs socialism..."

No, it hasn't. Trumpists are trying to make it so, but it isn't. It's about truth and about survival. Policy prescriptions of all sorts are up for debate--including by Democratic Presidential candidates.

Don't believe the propaganda that says otherwise; it's meant to energize base voters, not provide an accurate picture of the reality.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 10, 2019:

On "controlling" the climate, I disagree with both of you, but for different reasons.

I disagree with Jack because the evidence supporting human causation of observed warming is, as Scott says, quite overwhelming. There's no real doubt about it--though there is still considerable *manufactured* doubt.

And I disagree with Scott over what I suppose is to a considerable degree semantics. To me, "control" implies a degree of intentionality, including by implication control of one's actions. Therefore, to actually control climate in my view, we'd have to have a demonstrated ability to control our own GHG emissions.

So far, that is, sadly, lacking, at least on a sufficient scale. Therefore, in my view, while we certainly *influence* climate, we are not meaningfully "in control" of it. We are, as I've said to Jack in the past, merely 'monkey-wrenching it.'

And Jack made a very good point in saying this:

"...any attempt to make changes [to the climate system] will have unintended consequences. It reminds me of the butterfly effect."

Indeed it will, Jack. You should ponder what that means for risk management in connection with climate--and how it supports, or does not support, your oft-expressed complacency with regard to the effects of climate change, and the time we have to address them.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 10, 2019:

"... when solar and wind or another source...can be produced reliably and cheaper, I would be all in."

That would be now, Jack, as I've already documented repeatedly.

For example, this quote from an energy analyst rather nails the point:

"“Solar and onshore wind have won the race to be the cheapest sources of new ‘bulk generation’ in most countries,” says Tifenn Brandily, energy economics analyst at BNEF. “But the encroachment of clean technologies is now going well beyond that, threatening the balancing role that gas-fired plant operators, in particular, have been hoping to play.”"

This is because it is now actually cheaper to *build* new wind and solar that simply to *operate* existing coal plants in the United States three-quarters of the time (and rising):

"Locally generated solar and wind energy could already replace almost three-fourths of electricity made by U.S. coal plants for less than the cost of continuing to operate those plants, according to an analysis released today by two clean energy research groups.... By 2025, the share of “at risk” coal generation will jump from 74 percent to 86 percent..."

The same dynamic exists in many countries around the world.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 10, 2019:


One more thing, climate change has become a debate about capitalism vs socialism. It is a debate that has been fought and won 30 years ago when the Soviet Union fell. The current democratic party has made this front and center for the 2020 election. By proposing the Green New Deal, copying the New Deal of FDR, they hope to regain power and continue down the road of progressivism started by Barack Obama. Unfortunately for your side, the American public are not buying it. Capitalism may have its faults, but going back to failed socialism policies is not the answer.

The Trump phenomenon is very interesting. Here you have an outsider to politics beating the hell out of traditional politicians of both parties. In addition, he has taken on the powerful main stream media and turn their world upside down. The label of “fake news” has taken hold and they are also besides themselves and don’t know how to deal with Trump and his tweets.

For a Conservative, this is the best of both world.

Draining the swamp of DC and the media is exactly what is needed. It took a Trump, who is not a Conservative, to bring this about.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 10, 2019:


You just did it again. As a skeptic, I am not saying there is no global warming. I have said so in many past posts.

The debate is on how much and how fast and what best way to mitigate adapt to Climate Change.

Also, central to this debate is how much is man-made AGW, and how much is due to natural events such as the sunspots cycles...which we humans have no control over.

Don’t you agree? Or is that not science?

As an engineer, I am a skeptic at this point in time.

If events and data changes and when our climate models are better, I can be convinced.

However, as far as fossil fuel and renewable energy, that is another can of worms.

If and when solar and wind or another source...can be produced reliably and cheaper, I would be all in. Until then, we are stuck with oil and gas and coal.

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on June 10, 2019:

But Jack, the analogy is identical. There was overwhelming scientific evidence that the Earth was round, yet the flat-earthers claimed the scientific evidence was bogus and based on faulty data, just like your side today. They said it is obvious that the earth is flat, otherwise when you stand on the beach, you could see it curve (actually my wife says that today even though she knows better). That is indicative of the myopic vision your side has today. Turns out after much so-called "debate" the Earth was really round and almost everybody today believes it.

If the science about global warming was not so overwhelming and maybe if this were the 1950s, then you might be a legitimate skeptic. But this is 2019 and you are in a very small minority of educated humans who deny global warming and will latch on to the tiniest piece of contrary evidence (most of which is out of context and very misleading or a diversion

) to prove their "skepticism". We are long, long past the point where skeptics can exist; you either believe the science or you deny it.

The science, as a whole, is very strong and unequivocal.

Of course we can control the climate. We started doing it in the 1880s with the industrial revolution and piss-poor environmental polices. And look where that has gotten us, on the brink of disaster were we are already paying terrible consequences for past bad judgement.

When we actually started trying to prevent disaster under Bush, the rate of CO2 emissions began declining in America until Trump was elected. A year and a have later, they are on an upward trend again and has put us at 2010 levels. Given we are the second biggest polluters, that is a terrible thing Trump is doing.

I am happy to hear you are living green and that certain helps. But that is offset by the doubt you sow such that others won't do the same thing.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 10, 2019:


Comparing skeptics to flat earth society is another classic way of how your side politicized this important issue.

We, skeptics, have a legitimate concern about this one size fits all solution to climate change.

Even the premise that we humans can control climate is ludicrous.

Climate and weather is such a huge undertaking that any attempt to make changes will have unintended consequences. It reminds me of the butterfly effect.

The skeptics are not advocating doing nothing. Just not buying the solution of eliminating all fossil fuel.

As a skeptic, I am doing my part to help.

1. Living green as much as I can and economically viable.

2. Protect the environment, clean air, clean water...

3. Promote more study and improving our understanding of climate and modeling...

4. Doing my part of exposing the agenda of extremists...who wants to control human activities to push for a one world order and social engineering.

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on June 09, 2019:

"For something that is supposedly based on science... Why is it so politicized?"

Because people on your side of the aisle make it that way by refusing to believe what is right in front of your eyes. For the same reason those who fought so hard against a round earth politicized it. For the same reason the Church politicized the science about a non-Earth centric universe.

The earth was not flat, but many people with your mind-set said it was and kept fabricating false evidence to support their view.

The earth is not the center of the earth even though experts like the Catholic Church said it was and burned you at the sake if you disagreed (see Bruno).

As to cost-benefit analysis, I agree, it is not being done by your side. Your side only looks at the cost of implementation. Your side ignores the much greater cost of not doing anything to stop global warming.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 09, 2019:

"...we have subsidies going to green energy that has failed..."

From my perspective, green energy has been an amazing and heartening success story, in ways and for reasons that I've already discussed at, er, considerable length.

"...income inequality and environment protection, and big brother watching over everything we do... The soviets tried this in the 1950s and Red China tried it under Mao..."

They certainly did Big Brother--in fact, Stalinism was the basis for Orwell's classic novel--and there were at least some efforts at reducing income inequality (even if, as Orwell put it in his other classic, Animal Farm, "some were more equal than others.")

However, environmental protection wasn't even a priority. Hideous environmental damage characterized both Soviet and Maoist industrialization. And IMO, the environment is in dire need of protection from our uncontrolled and too often unconsidered actions.

While I'm opining, let me add that I don't think the Green New Deal is any threat to liberty whatsoever. Nothing in it would abrogate any Constitutional protection whatever.

"If we want to mix world views and politics... Here are some topics-"

Let's maintain some semblance of focus, shall we?

"For something that is supposedly based on science... Why is it so politicized? You just have to wonder..."

I think the economic interests at risk provide ample explanation for the politicization of the issue--a view amply supported by the documented role of Exxon, Murray Energy, the Koch Corporation, and such in nurturing, amplifying, and even creating ex nihilo, doubts about the mainstream science.

In that, I think they are morally highly culpable. It's one thing to argue policy; to promote demonstrable and demonstrated falsehood in a matter of essential public policy, quite another.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 09, 2019:

For something that is supposedly based on science...

Why is it so politicized? You just have to wonder...

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 09, 2019:

If we want to mix world views and politics...

Here are some topics-

1. illegal immigration

2. UN

3. Arab Israeli conflict

4. Nuclear Iran

5. China trade

6. Abortion

7. Universal healthcare

8. Minimum wage

9. Taxation

10. Deficit spending and debt

I am sure we will be on opposite side of those issues.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 09, 2019:

Scott, cost benefit analysis is exactly what should be done here which is not being done. In the climate change debate, we have subsidies going to green energy that has failed... where is the cost benefit there?

What about the miss opportunities that could be achieved? With our tax dollars.

The green new deal is not only about climate change. That is another huge problem with this. It is social engineering at the highest level. It is exactly what our founders and our Constitution warn against. The takeover of commerce by the federal government. It is socialism on steroids...

If they just stick to fighting climate change, I may be ok with it. Instead, it is about income inequality and environment protection, and big brother watching over everything we do...

It is the difference between liberty and tyranny.

The soviets tried this in the 1950s and Red China tried it under Mao...all failed miserably.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 08, 2019:

On EVs, a good source is the IEA, which does an annual EV outlook. Unfortunately, we're just on the verge now (one presumes) of the 2019 edition, so the available data is year old.

But it's quite clear that EVs are making good headway in the marketplace:

"Also current all electric cars account for only 1% of all cars sold."

It depends where you live. In Norway, it was 39% by the end of 2017, and I think from other reports that it's now closer to 60%. Here in the US, it looks as though it was 1% or a bit higher in 2017, but with the runaway success of the Model 3 here, that would be higher now.

The bottom line number for 2017, though, is this: "The total number of electric cars on the road surpassed 3 million worldwide, an expansion of over 50% from 2016."

That's a doubling time of less than a year and a half. Of course exponential growth won't continue indefinitely, but it should have a good long run still ahead before the trend flattens out to linear growth, and then eventually slows further as market saturation approaches.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 08, 2019:

Jack, I can't read the WSJ article as it is paywalled. From the Forbes piece:

"Until that committee forms and puts specifics to AOC’s dreams, if it ever does, none of the usual government services have a way to estimate costs. Still, There is enough to attach broad estimates on the expenses involved in AOC’s “Green New Deal.”

Which echoes what I said. I would say, first, that the estimates are *very* broad at this point; and second, would echo Scott's point: it's not as if we are going to simply not spend the money. Climate change has large price tags attached, and so does excessive inequity in society. In the case of health care, the US already pays far more per capita than just about anybody.

So, in short, benefits and avoided costs need to be considered, not just GND costs--or putative GND costs.

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on June 08, 2019:

Jack, here is how you do a proper cost-benefit analysis, albeit a very simple one. Your guy says the global warming part of the GND would cost around $600 billion a year for ten years. Ok, let's assume that is correct.

Now compare it the cost of doing it your way. That would be $1.9 trillion per year in reduced GDP plus an additional $440 billion per year for heat and air-quality related deaths, coastal property damage, and lost wages. That is a total of $2.34 trillion per year (and save for the coastal property damage) each and every year (no 10 year limit here).

So, subtract out the cost of the GND and you get a net loss of $1.54 trillion per year for 10 years and then $2.34 trillion a year thereafter.

It appears to me you are on the wrong side of history Jack.

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on June 08, 2019:

Jack, isn't the cost of the GND sort of pointless? It is never going to pass in its current form anyway. Now, if you could foresee the parts likely to pass and get a cost estimate for that, then compare it with the cost of NOT doing it, then you will have something.

Again, so what if the percent of electric cars is only 1% right at this moment in time, the goal is to make it 50%. BTW, the charging station near my house in rural FL is used a lot. So that cancels your anecdote.

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on June 08, 2019:

Hey Jack, even Trump's State Dept, much to Trump's embarrassment says the impact of global warming will be catastrophic!! Guess what Trump tried to hide this report - WHY?

"Climate change will have wide-ranging implications for US national security over the next 20 years through global perturbations, increased risk of political instability, heightened tensions between countries for resources, a growing number of climate-linked humanitarian crises, emergent geostrategic competitive domains and adverse effects on militaries," the blocked testimony stated.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 08, 2019:

Here are some cost estimates as proposed by the Green New Deal -

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 08, 2019:

We seem to have two very different perceptions...

Here is another article on how much Americans are unwilling to pay to combat climate change...

Also current all electric cars account for only 1% of all cars sold.

The charging stations that were put in place near my house are sitting empty...

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 08, 2019:

"This Green New deal is not the answer, it is too costly, and too ambitious and probably a failure at reaching the objectives."

The Green New Deal can't be costed, because it doesn't contain any specific measures yet; it's all large strategies and goals. Specific policy choices are needed before we make cost estimates.

As to ambition, I think it's a bogus argument, because failure to reach a too-ambitious target may still result in more achievement than settling for a target that's achievable but not meaningful.

Consider the French nuclear building program: it failed drastically in terms of its stated targets, building, IIRC, less than half the capacity the plan called for. But nuclear fans such as yourself correctly point out that it gave France nearly 80% of its electricity for decades in a manner that avoided importing enormous amounts of expensive foreign fossil fuels, and also (I would stress) the carbon emissions consequent to burning said fuels.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 08, 2019:

"As seen in the past, most projections for renewable energy has falled short."

Actually, the exact reverse is true. If you go back and look at projections of past years for deployment of RE, you'll find that the reality has far outstripped the projections. For instance, in 2009 the EIA projected:

"The renewable share in 2030 is nearly the same in all the cases, from14 percent to 15 percent..."

That's page 46, here:

But what happened, per the most recent EIA energy outlook? Well if you go to the 2019 Energy Outlook Report, you can get the data the years up to 2018, as well as the projections looking forward. The report is here:

So, for 2017, renewables generated 648 billion KWh of a total of 3,722 billion KWh, or about 17%. Now, that's not apples-to-apples; the projection was for generation capacity, while the result was for actual generation. But that would likely actually be to the detriment of RE, because capacity factors are lower, so 17% generation in 2017 could well imply a larger capacity yet.

Checking myself, I searched a little further and found the tables breaking down generation capacity. Per those, in 2017 total capacity was 1012 GW, while renewables accounted for 201 GW, which is ~19.8%.

Either way, though, a max of 15% had already been exceeded by a considerable margin already in 2017.

"Doc, those are impressive numbers but projections are not necessarily followed by fulfillment."

Which is why the great majority of what I said was *not* projection, but current data.

The first item did talk about projections, although it also included current data showing what Australia is building now. However, after that everything I said is not projection but history--hard data up to the end of 2017.

And what it shows is that:

1) More money than ever is going into wind and solar;

2) More countries are committing to wind and solar;

3) More countries are building wind and solar capacity, and doing so at a very rapid clip;

4) Global wind and solar capacity is increasing much faster than any other technology. In fact, solar by itself is increasing faster than fossil fuel and nuclear capacity put together.

So, no, neither wind nor solar is "hitting a wall." They are expanding by leaps and bounds. I can't comment on the experience of your neighbors, but I do know that residential solar is a small part of the picture (and is also far more expensive than utility-scale solar--see the Lazard's report I linked below.) So you aren't looking in the right places to get an accurate picture. Utility-scale is where the growth is.

It's about the data!

You are also wrong about the electric car phenomenon. Yes, it's a small percentage still--I think the Chinese market has the most penetration at about 5%, IIRC. But to fixate on that is to miss the growth rates. The Tesla Model 3, for instance, has become a top-10 selling car in the US market since its launch (and the #1 car by revenue, since it costs more than the mass market vehicles like the Accord or Corolla that populate the rest of the list).

Meanwhile, mainline manufacturers, following enormous amounts of sunk investments in battery cars, are now starting to expand their EV offerings--for instance, I'm continually bombarded by ads for the new Audi E-tron. Another notable model that's newly available is the Hyundai Kona Electric, which CR reviewed in April:

Cars like this--and also *not* like this, as EVs need to diversify model offerings--will help ensure that electrics maintain their growth trajectory.

So, to use your metaphor, there is a small but ever-growing 'dent' in the total car market.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 08, 2019:

"He is saying Al Gore talks a good game but is not a real believer in the sense of some of the Jim Hansen..."

I think that's absurd. Jesus said "By their fruits ye shall know them," and the 'fruit' of Gore's expenditure of time, money and energy since he failed to win the Presidency has been the creation of an international organization able to mount climate actions on a global scale. He's more than put his money where his mouth is.

And an indirect proof of his success is the continued attention of outlets like investor' which continue to take every opportunity to smear him. If it weren't perceived to be worth their while, they wouldn't bother.

Now, if you say he's less pessimistic than Kevin Anderson, you'll get no argument from me; I've often called Gore a "techno-optimist." After all, he's said repeatedly that we largely have all the resources we need to solve the climate crisis.

But if you say that, then I think logically you also have to stop going on about how "extreme" he is.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 08, 2019:

Doc, those are impressive numbers but projections are not necessarily followed by fulfillment.

As seen in the past, most projections for renewable energy has falled short.

Including the electric car phenomenon.

Despite of years of tax credit incentives, electric cars has not made a dent on the auto industry.

By percentage wise, it is so small, it is hardly worth mentioning.

The wind power I visited in palm Springs is example of a niche market. It could not be duplicated in too many places around the country.

The solar industry is also hitting a wall.

In my own community, approx. 5% of the houses has converted to solar due to a free no up-front cost offer. However, speaking to some of these home owners, they have not reap the benefits they were promised. It would be hard to see how more people would follow in their foot steps.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 08, 2019:

Jack, I still disagree with the accuracy of many of the points you allege against Mr. Gore, but as I've answered them all previously, I see no point in doing so yet again--or at least, not just now.

Besides, I've already spent more time on debating Al Gore's rectitude than someone should who has also repeatedly decried the obsession that right wing media seem to have with him and his personal life. As I've said before, it's the ultimate instance of ad hominem argument. Al Gore does not eat babies for breakfast--not in the vegan diet, after all--but if he did, it would still have no bearing on whether or not what he says is true.

So, moving on, I'd like to address another comment you made, which in my opinion is also stunningly wrong. I have real difficulty understanding, after all the conversation we've had in which I've been pointing this out, how you could for a moment think this is true:

"In the few incidences where the country actually tried renewable energies, they found it to be less satisfying both in cost and reliability. Check out Australian’s brownout and blackouts after they decided to go solar..."

Let's start small, with the Australian case. First, we discussed previously the fact that the grid issues experienced in Australia were not, as alleged by some politicians, due to renewable energy. They were proximately due to transmission grid problems, and, dare I say, indirectly due to climate change via increasing heatwave, storm and bushfire severity.

For example:

And what is Australia, allegedly so "disappointed" in renewable energy, doing today?

"The Australian renewable energy industry will install more than 10 gigawatts of new solar and wind power during 2018 and 2019. If that rate is maintained, Australia would reach 50% renewables in 2025."

That means that Australia will add capacity roughly equal to California's existing solar fleet (as of 2017), even though California's economy is considerably larger. And what will that mean for Australia's emissions targets?

"On this basis, emissions in the electricity sector will decline by more than 26% in 2020-21, and will meet Australia’s entire Paris target of 26% reduction across all sectors of the economy (not just “electricity’s fair share”) in 2024-25."

So, if that's "disappointment" in solar power, I'd like to see more of it.

Conservative politicians in Australia may praise coal, but they've not managed to slow the advance of renewable energy in their own backyard. And with the economics ever more favorable for RE, that's not going to change.

Turning to the global picture, what has deployment of RE on the world scale have to tell us about 'disappointment' with the technology?

The most comprehensive report I know of is that of IRENA, which does an annual review. The most recent is 2018, which deals with events to the end of 2017. The front page is here:

But let me highlight a few infographics, as these enable a quick grasp of what is really going on in the world. The infographic page is here:

First, the number of countries with pro-RE policies. It's figure #10--sorry, you just have to count them! (It's #2 in Row #3.) It shows that here's been steady growth since 2004, with the number of countries promoting RE in the electric grid more than tripling to 128.

I think you'd have to agree that that's more than a "few instances."

Now look at chart #5; it shows the growth of RE since 2007, and reveals that global capacity roughly doubled from 2007 to 2016. And that's understating the case, because in 2007 nearly all RE was hydropower, which has increased only slightly, which means that doubling times for wind and solar (which are accounting for the major proportion of the growth) must therefore be much shorter. Indeed, in 2017 wind and solar together were roughly equal to the 2007 capacity for hydro.

Does this suggest that countries trying RE have backed away from it, "disappointed" in its performance?

To a similar point, note chart #8, which lists the top countries for variable RE grid penetration. They are:

Denmark: ~55%

Uruguay: ~30%

Germany: ~28%

Ireland: ~26% (remarkable by being nearly all wind)

Portugal: ~24%

Spain: ~22%

UK: ~20%

Greece, Honduras and Nicaragua round out the top 10, with shares in the 15-20% range.

Of those 10 nations, all but Honduras and Nicaragua spent decades building up their capacity (and all of them are on trajectories to increase renewables penetration yet further).

Finally, I'd point to chart #25--1st chart in row #7--which shows the growth of solar PV specifically. It is, of course, the fastest growing energy technology bar none on the planet. This chart illustrates its growth from 2007, when all of 8 GW capacity existed globally, to 2017, when the total reached 402 GW--obviously, a 50-fold increase.

Does that speak to you of "disappointment?" It sure doesn't to me.

And looking at the growth rates, I'd note that the chart shows doubling times of 2-3 years. Naturally, given that pattern, the biggest increase came in 2017, when 99 GW capacity was added.

I'll close by quoting a few tidbits from the Executive Summary of the same report, found here:

"As of 2016, renewable energy accounted for an estimated 18.2% of global total final energy consumption, with modern renewables representing 10.4%."

"The electricity transition is well under way, due mostly to increases in installed capacity and in the cost-competitiveness of solar PV and wind power. Renewable power generating capacity saw its largest annual increase ever in 2017, raising total capacity by almost 9% over 2016. Overall, renewables accounted for an estimated 70% of net additions to global power capacity in 2017, due in large part to continued improvements in the cost-competitiveness of solar PV and wind power.

"Solar PV led the way, accounting for nearly 55% of newly installed renewable power capacity in 2017. More solar PV capacity was added than the net additions of fossil fuels and nuclear power combined. Wind (29%) and hydropower (11%) accounted for most of the remaining capacity additions. Several countries are successfully integrating increasingly larger shares of variable renewable power into electricity systems."

"Although solar PV capacity is concentrated in a short list of countries, by year’s end every continent had installed at least 1 GW of capacity, and at least 29 countries had 1 GW or more. Solar PV is playing an increasingly important role in electricity generation, accounting for over 10% of generation in Honduras in 2017 and for significant shares in Italy, Greece, Germany and Japan.

"Globally, market expansion is due largely to the increasing competitiveness of solar PV, combined with growing demand for electricity in developing countries and rising awareness of the technology’s potential to alleviate pollution, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and provide energy access."

"Prices fell rapidly for both onshore and offshore wind power, and the offshore sector had its best year yet. The year 2017 brought tumbling bid prices for both onshore and offshore wind power capacity in auctions around the world. Bid prices were down due to technology innovation and scale, expectations of continued technology advances, reduced financing costs due to lower perceived risk, and fierce competition in the industry. Electric utilities and large oil and gas companies continued to move further into the industry.

"Wind power had its third strongest year ever, with more than 52 GW added (about 4% less than in 2016) for a total of 539 GW."

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 08, 2019:

I think our country needs to have a real conversation and discussion about climate change. This political back and forth does no one any good.

By demonizing the skeptics, the climate science community are missing a real opportunity. Skeptics are not deniers.

We just want to understand the real long range implications of climate change and find the best solution to mitigate it.

This Green New deal is not the answer, it is too costly, and too ambitious and probably a failure at reaching the objectives.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 08, 2019:


I think you miss the point of the article.

He is saying Al Gore talks a good game but is not a real believer in the sense of some of the Jim Hansen...

Why defend someone who is not a real true believer, or at least does not act like a true believer?

Al Gore is a fraud. He should put his money where his mouth is.

He should also run for president against Trump, if he believe Trump is a disaster for the climate change agenda.

That will do more than anything else he try to do in the private sector.

The same goes for President Obama. In his 8 years as President, has he done as much as could to support climate change?

I don’t think so. If he really believe this stuff, he would have done more than just sign on to the Paris Accord.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 08, 2019:

That Investor' piece was itself an astounding piece of hypocrisy--so much so that I literally laughed out loud. The sole piece of actual fact that they cited was that the Nashville building uses more energy now than previously. *But it is not just--or, I would suggest, even *primarily*--a home.* It's Al Gore's personal headquarters, and sees intensive business usage, which means that it's functioning first and foremost as an office building.

But the hypocrisy comes in when investor's quotes Kevin Anderson as an authority: among the scientific community, he's probably the biggest climate hawk of them all, including Jim Hansen.

So investor's rejects the heart and essence of Dr. Anderson's message, but mysteriously think he's reliable when criticizing Mr. Gore? Come on!

For a taste of the real Kevin Anderson:

""Put bluntly, while the rhetoric of policy is to reduce emissions in line with avoiding dangerous climate change, most policy advice is to accept a high probability of extremely dangerous climate change rather than propose radical and immediate emission reductions."

"The analysis within this paper offers a stark and unremitting assessment of the climate change challenge facing the global community. There is now little to no chance of maintaining the rise in global mean surface temperature at below 2°C, despite repeated high-level statements to the contrary. Moreover, the impacts associated with 2°C have been revised upwards (e.g. [20,21]), sufficiently so that 2°C now more appropriately represents the threshold between dangerous and extremely dangerous climate change. Consequently, and with tentative signs of global emissions returning to their earlier levels of growth, 2010 represents a political tipping point. The science of climate change allied with emission pathways for Annex 1 and non-Annex 1 nations suggests a profound departure in the scale and scope of the mitigation and adaption challenge from that detailed in many other analyses, particularly those directly informing policy."

"However, this paper is not intended as a message of futility, but rather a bare and perhaps brutal assessment of where our 'rose-tinted' and well intentioned (though ultimately ineffective) approach to climate change has brought us. Real hope and opportunity, if it is to arise at all, will do so from a raw and dispassionate assessment of the scale of the challenge faced by the global community. This paper is intended as a small contribution to such a vision and future of hope."[

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 08, 2019:

Check this out...

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 08, 2019:

Doc, thanks for the detail information on Al Gore. Some of the items are news to me.

However, he has profited handsomely from carbon credits which he pushes as part of the climate change agenda. Some people have lost financially due to the carbon credit fiasco.

The hypocrisy I see with many on the climate change train is this. He is basically saying do as I say but ignore what I do personally.

He exploits the worst fears of young children and scare them in believing the world is about to end...

Same goes with polar bears which he claim will be extinct in a few years while just the opposite is true.

He lectures about people with their SUV and carbon footprint but has one of the largest footprint personally.

He is the definitive personification of a “limousine liberal”.

He exaggerates the worst of climate change but does little to respond to critics. His statement that the science is settled is a farce. The science is not settled. That is why we need to understand and improve our models because they will have real implications for many people around the world. Those people don’t have the wealth or the luxury of people like Al Gore to live as they please...

It is life or death for some if fossil fuel is eliminated from the resources of choice.

Al Gore would have done much more as President to affect climate change. Yet, he chose to sit on the sideline and reap huge profits and lecture us on our excesses. Gimme a break.

People like you, should call him out instead of making excuses for him. You would have more credibility in my eyes...

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 08, 2019:

Jack, I will jump in again on your questions about Al Gore.

"Do you think Al Gore is doing all he can to fight climate change?"

Yes, I do. Although his lifestyle has obviously been the focus of controversy, and although he clearly is very wealthy and enjoys some of the perks (specifically multiple large homes in attractive locations) he has also attempted to mitigate the worst of the carbon impact this has by taking steps to use energy efficiency, to use renewable energy (solar panels at his Tennessee home, for example) and by the use of carbon offsets.

But that 'personal purity' test is to me not the main point, because personal carbon rectitude, however desirable, can never be sufficient without systemic social change. So the bigger question is, what does the man devote his energy and talents to doing? Here's the chronology as I can speak to it.

1) After losing to Bush in 2000, Gore researched and began presenting his famous slideshow. It wasn't a money maker, and it didn't garner any attention for years. It's hard to resist the conclusion that he did it because he believed in the truth and importance of what he was saying. He also advocated for climate action among his wide circle of connections. By 2006, he had founded the Alliance for Climate Protection, a registered non-profit. He is known to have largely bankrolled it himself:

"The organization was partially funded by proceeds donated from Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth, as well as profits from the book of the same name. Gore also donated his salary from his work for the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers and prize money from his 2007 Nobel Peace prize for a total of more than $2.7 million."

So, that's quite a contrast to the oft-presented (but totally unsupported) allegation that Mr. Gore exploits climate change concern for profit.

2) The slideshow led to AIT in 2007, and thereby to the Nobel just mentioned, as well as much-increased media attention. He used this not only to help bankroll the ACP, but to increase outreach events, such as the Live Earth concerts, the bi-partisan "We" campaign, the "Repower America" campaign ("one of the farthest reaching public advocacy initiatives in recent history"), and the Reality Coalition. Partners in these initiatives included the Girl Scouts, the United Steelworkers of America, the Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation, the League of Conservation Voters, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club.

3) As revealed in the second "Inconvenient Truth" movie, Mr. Gore has attended COP conferences, including the 2015 Paris meeting, exerting his efforts to bring together developed and developing nations. (AIT2 documents his efforts to bring India on board, for example.)

4) In 2011, Mr. Gore folded the ACP and its sister organization, the Climate Project, into a new umbrella organization, Climate Reality. He continues to serve CR as chairman of the board and a frequent spokesman. For example, the annual 24 Hours of Reality webcasts have become a tradition, bringing together people from around the world generating enormous amounts of social media attention (eg.,

135 Tweets for the 2012 version). Mr. Gore, in addition to all the organizational work making this happen, stays up for the whole 24 hours in order to act as an 'anchor' with new spots each hour.

5) In 2013, Mr. Gore became vegan. He has spoken to both environmental and health benefits:

""it's absolutely correct that the growing meat intensity of diets across the world is one of the issues connected to this global crisis – not only because of the [carbon dioxide] involved, but also because of the water consumed in the process"


"Over a year ago I changed my diet to a vegan diet, really just to experiment to see what it was like. ... I felt better, so I've continued with it and I'm likely to continue it for the rest of my life."

(He continues to follow a vegan diet at last word.)

I'd also note that CR events follow high standards for sustainability in catering: no single-use water bottles, no disposable plastic, and a vegetarian menu with (of course) vegan options. Ample recycling service. They also use the most energy-efficient buildings possible.

For example, I attended the 2019 training, held in Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center there. The GWCC takes considerable pride in their sustainability efforts, as you can read here, starting with their LEED Gold recertification (2017):

A big feature of the conference was the partnering with the Poor People's Campaign of Reverend William Barber Jr. (which arose out of the Moral Monday actions in North Carolina). As in the Green New Deal, the sessions considered in depth the connections between climate protection and social justice.

As I've argued below, these are not arbitrary, but inherent in the reality.

So, yes, while there may be criticisms of Mr. Gore that can be made, he has for decades now devoted incredible amounts of time, energy and money to fighting climate change. I don't know how much of his time goes into the organizing, supervision, and direction of Climate Reality, but logic dictates that it must be very considerable.

It seems clear to me that the short answer to your question--"What specific steps has he taken personally?"--is that he's giving the bulk of his life to it.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 07, 2019:

Scott, this is a serious question and I hope you will answer it. Do you think Al Gore is doing all he can to fight climate change?

What specific steps has he taken personally?

If you can’t be honest about this, how will others take you seriously?

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 07, 2019:

Scott, saying one thing and doing something are two different acts. Many world leaders will say they support climate change but does very little to actually solving it.

In the few incidences where the country actually tried renewable energies, they found it to be less satisfying both in cost and reliability. Check out Australian’s brownout and blackouts after they decided to go solar...

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on June 07, 2019:

Actually Jack, "I suspect, most of the world leaders are in that same boat. That is also what many informed public believes" is just the opposite of being true. The fact is only a minority of what the world's populous thinks the way you do and no world leaders, other than Trump, think your way either. Remember the rest of the world signed on to the Paris Accord - that was not a coincidence.

Why is that?

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 07, 2019:

Meanwhile, the cost advantage of solar and wind continues to grow, with notable decreases also for battery storage and offshore wind.

From the former (and more recent) link:

"Since 2010, the benchmark price for solar has dropped 84%, offshore wind by more than half and onshore wind by 49%. The price of lithium-ion battery storage has dropped by more than three quarters since 2012."

"For lithium-ion batteries, the ‘levelized cost of electricity’ (LCOE) – the total cost of building and operating an electricity-generating plant – has fallen by 35% since the first half of 2018, analysis by research company BloombergNEF (BNEF) shows. At the same time, the LCOE for offshore wind has dropped by 24%. Onshore wind and solar’s benchmark costs fell 10% and 18% respectively from last year."

"“Solar and onshore wind have won the race to be the cheapest sources of new ‘bulk generation’ in most countries,” says Tifenn Brandily, energy economics analyst at BNEF. “But the encroachment of clean technologies is now going well beyond that, threatening the balancing role that gas-fired plant operators, in particular, have been hoping to play.”"

Offshore wind is about to be a big deal in the Northeast, with New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts together planning to add 12.6 GW capacity in the near future. Why? Because it will save money compared with alternatives.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 07, 2019:

"If you look at the scale of the chart, we are talking about a fraction of a degree over decades...this is in the noise of any data recordings. Especially considering we are talking about hundreds of independent human recorders spanning a long time frame."

Er, no--because repeated measurement of the same quantity increases accuracy and decreases "noise".

But if what you said *were* correct, then you'd also be saying that the adjustments allegedly "fudged" don't matter.

"The “error” is in the noise."

No. The cumulative results of the adjustments (which is what the charts give) may lie within the error range of an individual instrument, but it doesn't follow that each adjustment individually did.

"When you have a fudge factor built into a model that can be tweaked by the designer, a small change can have a large effect especially when projected 30 years into the future."

But they are primarily 'tweaked" in order to reproduce known (past) outcomes (ie., "hindcasting") or to avoid violating known physical constraints such as conservation laws--that is, to make sure that the parameters that must be used computationally are as accurate as possible.

"...oscillations. That is approx. what is happening with these models."

No model is allowed to 'oscillate.' That's one reason that they normally have a 'spin up' period in the simulation prior to the actual experimental period.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 07, 2019:


I read the long article on data adjustment and it is not convincing. If you look at the scale of the chart, we are talking about a fraction of a degree over decades...this is in the noise of any data recordings. Especially considering we are talking about hundreds of independent human recorders spanning a long time frame.

The “error” is in the noise. Therefore, any adjustments made, whether intentional or not, is prone to the same error.

This is similar to the whole climate models that we discussed in the past. When you have a fudge factor built into a model that can be tweaked by the designer, a small change can have a large effect especially when projected 30 years into the future. That is why these models cannot be trusted for accuracy.

In engineering, there is something called system stability. When you have a system that is unstable, it is prone to oscillations. That is approx. what is happening with these models. They can oscillate depending what initial conditions are fed.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 07, 2019:

Doc, that is true...there are both sides in a complex issue such as climate change. I respect your opinion but disagree with your conclusions. As a skeptic, I don’t see the dire nature of climate change as presented by your side. I also consider the down side of some proposed solutions at mitigation. I prefer a slow approach and one that includes further understanding of the science and the long term effects of climate change. When the time comes, we will deal with this problem in the proper perspective.

I suspect, most of the world leaders are in that same boat. That is also what many informed public believes.

Like it or not, we are hooked on fossil fuel for the most part and it will not change drastically in the next few decades.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 07, 2019:

"I attend many talks...not just read websites and blogs..."

But what you put forward most often is the latter--WUWT and the like. Perhaps it misrepresents the totality of your experience.

"If you’ve been paying attention...I actually attempt to get at the truth by asking basic questions..."

True, as do I. And I've certainly spent a lot of time responding to your questions as best as I could, so I would say I'm well aware that you do ask them. I appreciate the curiosity involved, and I suspect that if we both didn't have that in common, our conversation would have collapsed long ago under the weight of our continuing disagreements.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 07, 2019:

Here's a good account of how data adjustments are actually done:

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 07, 2019:

I attend many talks...not just read websites and blogs...

If you’ve been paying attention...I actually attempt to get at the truth by asking basic questions...

I can tell if I’ve been lied to by all sides.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 07, 2019:

"Scott, right wing people do not fudge data."

Sure they do. But they are more likely to misrepresent, deflect, or flat-out make stuff up.

"It is the people at NOAA that went back and and “adjust raw data” to demonstrate a warming trend."

I've said it before, but apparently I have to say it again. No, they don't adjust data in order to reach any preconceived result. They adjust data to compensate for demonstrated biases in that data.

These arise mainly from the fact that the data has historically never been intended for the study of climate, but rather for operational weather forecasting. Thus, for instance, when ships stopped measuring sea surface temps by throwing a bucket overside and measuring the temperature of the water they hauled up, this had the effect of a) improving measurements, and b) introducing a bias in the record. Similarly for site changes of weather stations, urbanization around stations, the introduction of Stevenson screens, and changes in observation times, and so on.

Some people fetishize "raw data" as if "raw" meant "pristine", but that is either naive or disingenuous. As a computer engineer, I suspect you know perfectly well that data often require quality control processing in order to become useful.

"You can claim it is conspiracy but it doesn’t change the fact."

And you can call it a 'fact', but that doesn't make it so.

"The whole Climategate email scandal, exposed by a whistleblower demonstrates the internal going on among scientists..."

Have you read the Climategate emails? I have, and they don't show any such thing.

"Don’t tell me it is a right wing conspiracy."

I don't think it is. I think it's primarily a conspiracy of economic interests, which has unfortunately succeeded in making the right wing its tool. In other words, Jack, you've been lied to. A lot.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 07, 2019:

Hi, guys--

On glaciers: I don't know whether, as Jack's story suggests, the GNP glaciers have 'apparently stabilized and recovered,' or whether as Scott suggests, Park management is responding to shifting political winds. It's conceivable that there's a bit of truth in both; glacier retreat isn't a straightforward linear affair from year to year--for one thing, precipitation is highly relevant, not just temperature--and bureaucrats really try to protect their funding by not ticking of the 'suits.'

What I do know is that in general glacial retreat is very much both a real phenomenon and a *successful* prediction:

"The average mass balance of the glaciers with available long-term observation series around the world continues to be negative, with tentative figures indicating a further thickness reduction of 1.0 meters water equivalent (m w.e.) during the hydrological year 2016/17. The new data continues the global trend in strong ice loss over the past few decades and brings the cumulative average thickness loss of the reference glaciers since 1980 at almost 20 m w.e."

Browsing the data shows that the overwhelming majority of measurements show decreasing mass balances, as the summary indicates. There are some exceptions--Argentinean glaciers seem to be doing about the best of any nation's, with about half the measurements showing growth--but the overall pattern is more than clear.

For example, there are 48 US glaciers with reports listed so far. (Glacial MB tend to be reported with long time lags, I find.) Of these, only 5 measurements show mass balance gain, and of those, three glaciers show sizable net losses over the 3-year reporting window. (The remaining two only have reports for the one year.)

That means that 46 of 48 US glaciers in this data set shrank from 2015 to 2018, and that the remaining two have incomplete data. (Though to be fair, quite a few of the glaciers don't have observations for all 3 years, and so could also be called 'incomplete.')

I did find this graph for Silver, one of the "growing" glaciers, using the browser.

Clearly, NOT growing--in fact, quite the opposite.

So: regardless of what is or is not happening at GNP, worldwide glacier retreat continues to be a reality.

If anyone wants to play with the glacier observation browser, it's here:

Note that it's a little twitchy, with longish load times whenever you change scale or location, so be patient!

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 07, 2019:

Scott, right wing people do not fudge data. It is the people at NOAA that went back and and “adjust raw data” to demonstrate a warming trend. You can claim it is conspiracy but it doesn’t change the fact.

The whole Climategate email scandal, exposed by a whistleblower demonstrates the internal going on among scientists...

Don’t tell me it is a right wing conspiracy.

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on June 07, 2019:

Why would we want to disavow people who tell the truth? Telling the truth may be extremism to you, but it isn't to me.

Isn't it interesting Doc that no matter how many times that we provide Jack with DEFINITIVE PROOF that predictions ARE coming true, he calls us liars.

The glaciers are Growing???? Are you on Mars or something, Jack. Yes, Gore's projections probably were based on a linear slope. What they are finding out now is that the slope is positive and exponential.

Your claim of data fudging is just a right-wing myth based on faulty evidence that has been debunked many times over. Why do you keep believing these lies, Jack?

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 07, 2019:

Here is the thing. If Scott and Doc, would disavow people like Al Gore and other climate extremists, they would have more credibility. Instead, they go just the opposite and double down on failed predictions. science has a mind of its own. No amount of data fudging and model tweaking will change the out come.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 07, 2019:

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 07, 2019:

The glaciers are goes up and down based on climate...

Focusing on a few hot years and projecting forward is not science.

That was the problem with Al Gore. All his projections are based on a linear slope...

I suspect the recent solar low sunspot activities is precipitating the growth of glaciers...

By the way, as good as Trump is in handling the economy, he does not have a magic wand that he can’t wave it to make climate change go away...he is human like the rest of us. What ever will be will be...

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on June 07, 2019:

I have been there, Jack, about 5 or 6 years ago, flew over the park by helicopter - hardly any glaciers left then. I can't imagine how bare it is today.

BTW, unsaid in your almost FAKE NEWS website is that Trump appointees are having the signs removed to agree with Trump's false narrative of no global warming.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 07, 2019:

Talk about failed predictions...

Here is another one -

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 06, 2019:

Yeah, very interesting, Scott. Picked that up at Realclimate, which you'd probably enjoy, too--though perhaps you're already aware of it.

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on June 06, 2019:

Powerful stuff, Doc; the Carbon Brief

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 06, 2019:

I also wanted to link to this report about the growth of the US battery storage market last year:

The growth is meteoritic--232% above the corresponding number for 2018. Of particular interest to me was the forecast the consultants made:

"Wood Mackenzie and the ESA expect US energy storage annual deployments to reach over 4.3 gigawatts (GW) by 2024 with utility procurements, changing tariffs, and grid service opportunities serving to drive the market forward. In 2019, energy storage deployed is expected to double compared to the previous year, and a major increase will follow in 2020 as several large front-of-the-meter projects come online, leading 300% growth over 2019."

So, if I'm reading that correctly, they expect US storage deployments to increase by a factor of 6 over the next 2 years.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 06, 2019:

Thanks for clarifying, Jack. That's a description of a "gas peaker" plant. They basically exist to back up all sorts of other plants, whether it be coal, nuclear, or gas combined cycle, or wind or solar. They are relatively expensive to run, but are quick to fire up.

"Because of the cost of building an efficient power plant, if a peaker plant is only going to be run for a short or highly variable time, it does not make economic sense to make it as efficient as a base load power plant. In addition, the equipment and fuels used in base load plants are often unsuitable for use in peaker plants because the fluctuating conditions would severely strain the equipment. For these reasons, nuclear, geothermal, waste-to-energy, coal and biomass are rarely, if ever, operated as peaker plants."

And yes, they have been much used to back up renewable energy, too:

"For countries that are trending away from coal-fired base load plants and towards intermittent energy sources such as wind and solar, there is a corresponding increase in the need for peaking or load following power plants and the use of a grid intertie."

However, that is also precisely the application that solar-plus has begun to outcompete on economic grounds, as the FP & L guy was discussing in the story I've been talking about. Here's another good discussion:

Starting with the decision not to build a planned gas peaker, but instead a battery storage project, the story goes on to consider the wider context:

"When it comes to peakers, as a result, the crossover point between batteries and gas-fired generation has arrived.

""These peaker plants are the bridge to renewables," says Scott Smith, leader of the U.S. Power and Utilities National Sector at Deloitte. "'Should we build that new peaker?' The answer is going to be no, we have another option.""

And note that battery storage is superior in other respects, too:

"The environmental benefits, plus improvements to grid efficiency – batteries can dispatch electricity faster than even a gas peaker plant – are added bonuses, Manghani says." ("Faster", as in "seconds.")

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 06, 2019:

Doc, I may have forgotten to mention this. I was very busy...I recently has an opportunity to visit Palm Springs Ca. and decided to take the wind farm tour. I learned quite a bit about the history of wind power and the many failed models and lessons learned. Anyway, part of the tour took us to a nearby power plant. It was fairly new and it is run by natural gas. The tour guide told us it is used as a backup. It can be fired up in half an hour in case the wind dies. That is how they address the reliability issue at Palm Springs.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 06, 2019:

Another related matter: since we periodically discuss the matter of attribution of observed trends, here's a new study which finds that they can reproduce observed marine and terrestrial temperature trends with known forcings, leaving very little room for the 'unforced variability' of oceanic cycles. (Or, for that matter, unknown 'x-factors'.)

I think graphs 3 & 4 would be of the most interest to you, Jack; #3 decomposes the forcings, illustrating the effects of GHGs, aerosols, volcanic eruptions, and ENSO cycles, while #4 shows that the model can do a pretty good job of explaining the record back 1500 CE.

I'm not claiming that this is necessarily the last word on the subject, but it is an interesting milestone. As always, it will be interesting to see what the scientific reception to this study is; surely, there will be some vigorous responses.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 06, 2019:

"Solar with battery backup is not good enough reliability for the long haul."

Then why, per the FP & L exec I cited below, is it becoming--his words--"the new norm" *in commercial application?

"The wind farm I visited settled for a traditional gas power plant as reliable backup."

When was this? The energy scene is changing very rapidly. If it was even 5 years ago, that's practically an eternity in this context.

Plus, in most places--as in "about every place I've ever heard about, other than isolated communities"--wind farms (or solar parks, or gas CC plants, or nuclear reactors) aren't built with dedicated backup; rather, they are backed up by other resources on the grid, which are dispatched according to economic and commercial logic. So the situation you describe would be quite unusual.

"I remember in my own area of the Northeast, there are days when it was cloudy continuously for a week..."

Solar panels still produce power under such conditions, although output is naturally reduced.

"No amount of battery backup can store that much power and be financially sound."

Numerous quantitative analyses say otherwise (although that's partly because your assessment includes a false assumption about solar). Here are a couple:

The state of 100% renewable research:

In reality, of course, there will be other forms of backup, such as nuclear power, biomass, waste, and geothermal--not to mention good old hydropower. Wind and solar will be the backbone of the power grid, but they will be well-supported by other 'sinews.'

And interestingly, here's a discussion from California, where in 2018 renewable energy accounted for 34% of grid power. They are aiming for 60% by 2030. One group feels that solar has become so cheap that the most economic thing to do is just to massively overbuild solar capacity, which would be curtailed as necessary. Another feels that that underestimates the future economic viability of storage:

"You are so biased in your belief that common sense just don’t figure."

Again, I think your open-mindedness is slipping. Remember: it's about data, not preconceptions. And the most dangerous preconceptions are the ones that seem the most intuitively reasonable, because those are the ones you are slow to question.

"The truth of the matter is, solar and wind power will never replace the cost and convenience and reliability of fossil fuel including natural gas, coal and petrolium..."

The truth of the matter is, they are doing so *now*, right in front of your eyes, and you can't bring yourself to look.

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on June 05, 2019:

Doc, yes wind shear is a double edged sword.

Unfortunately, the technology is apparently not good enough to get reliable tornado counts earlier than 1950. Because EF-5 tornadoes are so violent, they probably were reported reliably; I have counts back to 1880.

I would think EF-4s would qualify as well, but I couldn't find a historical record on my first run through.

It is a shame though, because 68 years isn't enough of a baseline and only certain inferences can be drawn.

Because total tornadoes, as well as EF-0, and EF-1s have an unbroken upward trend you can infer it may very well be with the unbroken (in statistical terms) increase in global temperature over the same time period.

Also, because EF-5 tornadoes look roughly the same from 1880 to 1950 as they do from 1950 to today, you can infer there were no drastic environmental changes seriously disrupts the pattern of the other tornadoes that we have today.

One thing I bet you would find is that as we look back from 1950 to 1880 and beyond, the current upward trend would flatten out to some steady state number of tornadoes.

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on June 05, 2019:

On, Jack, I thought you said you were an engineer. There are always more ways to skin a cat than just battery back-up.

You back-up both solar and wind with much cleaner burning natural gas; or do you think gas burns as dirty as coal and oil?

My believe is based on good science, yours is myopic and based on a hope and prayer.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 05, 2019:

Meanwhile our sun is going to sleep...

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 05, 2019:

Solar with battery backup is not good enough reliability for the long haul.

The wind farm I visited settled for a traditional gas power plant as reliable backup.

I remember in my own area of the Northeast, there are days when it was cloudy continuously for a week...

No amount of battery backup can store that much power and be financially sound.

You are so biased in your belief that common sense just don’t figure.

The truth of the matter is, solar and wind power will never replace the cost and convenience and reliability of fossil fuel including natural gas, coal and petrolium...

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 05, 2019:

Scott, again, thanks for your tornado work. It makes a lot more sense that the EF0s are the ones increasing.

As I understand it, wind shear is increasing under warming--though I say that with low confidence, as it's based on discussions about hurricanes, and increasing wind shear over the world's great ocean basins doesn't necessarily mean that wind shear is also increasing over continental interiors.

But, if wind shear *is* increasing, it could lead to more tornado formation. It's the contrary with hurricanes; what I've read is that vertical wind shear tends to disrupt cyclonic storms as they 'try' to organize. That's thought to be why weaker hurricanes will become less frequent as stronger ones increase--the stronger ones don't get disrupted, and thrive on the warmer SSTs.

For tornadoes, though, some folks at least think that vertical wind shear is precisely what may initiate the rotation of a storm cell. And if so, you'd think that many weaker tornados might form, not all of which, however, would survive. So that idea might be consistent with what you saw.

A question, though: is it right, as I think, that you don't have any way of correcting for possible observational biases over time in the tornado record? I know such are a bit of a concern in that regard.

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on June 05, 2019:

BTW, that "solar company" you relied on to prove a point was a Ponzi scheme that collapsed and not what you thought it was. And when are you going to realize Solyndra was just one failure out of many successes of that program. Bottom line, the sum of those programs did what they were originally designed to do.

That is just another example of the extreme Right using one bad apple to call the whole barrel rotten, isn't it. It is just like me painting all conservatives bad just because Trump is.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 05, 2019:

Jack, again, look at the larger picture. The RE loan program of which Solyndra was a part ended up *making* money for the taxpayer. And Solyndra didn't fail because solar wasn't "ripe"; it failed because it couldn't compete with lower-quality 'commodity' panels produced in enormous volumes by Chinese companies (and subsidized to some degree by the Chinese government.)

I've posted this before, but it bears repeating: solar-plus-storage is now outcompeting natural gas in the southern tier of the US in commercial utility-scale operations.

"Gigawatt-scale solar-plus-storage facilities are quickly becoming the "new norm," following similar announcements out of Arizona and Puerto Rico this year, Finn-Foley said.

""Based on what we are seeing out of Arizona, Florida, Puerto Rico and Hawaii, you can draw a line across the sunniest parts of the U.S. and find where solar-plus-storage has begun to outcompete natural-gas peakers," he said. "As battery costs continue to drop and incentives are rolled out, expect that line to creep farther and farther north.""

Oh, and note in the same story that Next Era Energy, parent of FP & L, is buying "nearly 3 GW" of solar modules--from Chinese maker JinkoSolar. Could have been American-sourced, had we been as far-sighted as the Chinese government was. But we didn't want to "pick winners."

Oh, well, at least the panels are being made in Jinko's Jacksonville factory. So there's that.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 05, 2019:


Not dodging. Just pointing out how policies are related.

When you push an extreme agenda, and governments buy into the non sense, and offer tax credit incentives to push a green energy that is not ripe, you end up with failed companies like Solyndra and this solar company and numerous others which in turn cost tax payers big $$$. These are real economic impacts...

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on June 04, 2019:

The number of EF-0 tornadoes through May of 2019 is 227 and the season is just beginning.

FINALLY, let's get to the totals.

Surprisingly, when you add it all up, the trend in the number of tornadoes has been steady over the 68 years. There was a slight slowdown in growth between 1978 and 1987. It has quieted down in 2012 but has steadily increased again after that.

On average, there are 13.3 more tornadoes each year, with an average of 928 with a median of 919 per year. The Min is 203 (1950) and a Max of 1841 (2004).

It is clear from the data that at the same time (at least for the last 68 years) the increase in global temperature is matched by the increase in the annual number of tornadoes. Is that "proof"? No. But it is strongly circumstantial given the known connection with the frequency of tornadoes with the frequency of storms and the fact the frequency of storms is dependent upon the amount of water vapor in the air and finally, the established link between global warming and the increase in water vapor in the atmosphere.

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on June 04, 2019:

EF-0 Tornadoes

First let me correct a mistake I made below concerning EF-1 tornadoes. I said that the frequency of the stronger EF-1 tornadoes surpassed those of the weaker EF-0. That isn't correct. My excuse is the chart I created played tricks on me and the line I thought was the EF-1 line, was actually the EF-0.

What reality is is the number of EF-1 tornadoes exceeded those of EF-0s from 1950 through 1991. Then there was a massive increase in EF-0s from then on out.

Consequently, the trend is sharply upward to the tune of 12.1 more EF-0 tornadoes each year, on average. The shape isn't that simple, however. There was a steady increase, maybe about 8 additional tornadoes per year, from 1950 through 1990. Then boom, they take off for the next 13 years. After that, the frequency has been decreasing, but still remaining at levels above the first 30 years.

The average number of tornadoes is 428 while the median is 348. The Min is 16 (1950) and the Max so far is 1224 (2004).

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on June 04, 2019:

You dodged, Jack.

And what has a failed solar company have to do with anything? That is called deflection.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 04, 2019:

"Meanwhile another solar company goes bust..."

Per the story, that wasn't a 'solar company', it was a Ponzi scheme *pretending* to be a solar company.

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 04, 2019:

"I guess I am close minded too when I believe fossil fuel is still the energy source that is superior to renewable such as solar and wind power."

Well, that whole 'wrecking the environment' thing that fossil fuels have going is kind of a turn-off for some of us. It's not just climate change, it's rampant air pollution, economic distortion due to subsidies, and widespread energy dependence.

I think when you've got a bit more used to the new energy economy, you'll come to love it!

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 04, 2019:

Meanwhile another solar company goes bust...

I guess I am close minded too when I believe fossil fuel is still the energy source that is superior to renewable such as solar and wind power.

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on June 04, 2019:

Jack, am I being closed minded when I insist that the probability of the sun coming up tomorrow is very high? What do you think of the person who keeps saying we don't know that for sure and I won't believe it until I see it?

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on June 04, 2019:

All you have to do is read the literature, they already tell you. The question isn't when will they all melt (which could be what you imply) but when will they melt enough to cause significant damage to the worlds coastal cities.

The current estimates are before 2100 at the current rate and it is accelerating. They are already in the process of moving one town in LA to higher ground. There is another in Alaska that will be under water well before 2100 and they are already planning to relocate (this town has never had the sea ever threaten them before.

National Geographic has a good article

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 04, 2019:

Interestingly, as we were talking about models and complexity, a German team has shown that they can improve the modeled response of the Arctic to warming and especially sea ice loss by incorporating stratospheric ozone chemistry into the model:

So there's an example of a complex feedback loop, as well as its successful modeling. It links the jet stream, sea ice, and the stratospheric chemistry mentioned--not to mention temperature change.

Some press coverage here:

Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 04, 2019:

Just checking in quickly... y'all have been active!

Jack said:

"If I am not mistaken, we were on a normal path to a cooling into the next ice age, before the climate change debate started in the 1990...This slow process is what governs the earth for millions of years."

You are not mistaken. That's one reason we know that "ice age recovery" is not a viable explanation for observed warming.

"The causes are not well understood by scientists...various cycles and precession of the earth and the planets and...other natural phenomenon are some of the explanations."

True as far as that goes, but you left out the crucial role of CO2 as climate feedback, which is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle according to paleoclimatologists.

"The point being, even if we were to warm the earth by a few degrees, it will take thousand of years to see significant effects...not the 30-50 years claimed."

Sorry, that doesn't follow. The natural glaciations and deglaciations were driven by slowly changing factors, like the cyclical orbital shifts, which then drove CO2 increases in a feedback cycle.

Today, though, we're driving CO2 directly, and also to a much higher value than we observed during those natural cycles. That's the real significance of that Al Gore graph you are resisting: the process today is very, very different than the process then, even if the basic physics are related in significant ways. Hence, that precedent does not constrain present rates of change.

"The socialism pushed by AOC is contrary to our Constitution."

In my opinion, there's nothing in the Constitution proscribing states of affairs reasonably termed "democratic socialism." Certainly not its guarantees of individual freedom, which would not be infringed by many of the sorts of measures we have been discussing.

And nobody is suggesting "free everything." There'd still be the freedom to risk and to fail. It's just that the collateral damage would be lessened.

For instance, how many Americans do you think are today constrained from pursuing an entrepreneurial idea they may have, by the consideration that if they lost their health insurance, their families could face devastating consequences?

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 04, 2019:

Scott, I want you to do an experiment and ask a climate scientist the simple question. Assuming a worse case scenario and the earth is warmer by 2 degrees C tomorrow, how long will it take for the glaciers to melt? Or Antartica, or Greenland, or the North pole?

You pick and I will await your answer...

The problem is a matter of rate of change. They cannot give a straight answer. That is why they always predict events in 30 they will not be around to answer any errors.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 04, 2019:

Doc, sure you are excused. We all have other life...

Just a quick response.

It is funny how you claim I am close minded and yet, the left and people who subscribe to big government are equally close minded. They think the state has the answers to all our social and economic ills. Yet, they ignore the facts. The state and its bureaucracy, along with the waste and fraud...have not been the utopia you seek.

Their tax and spend policies is what created some of the mess in the first place. Moreover, some of their entitlement policies is what created a generation of dependents who are slaves to these welfare society.

The socialism pushed by AOC is contrary to our Constitution. We are founded on individual liberty and the freedom to risk and fail and succeed... not a guaranteed free everything...

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 04, 2019:

Scott, what is a few degrees? The earth has naturally change its average temperature by a few degrees every 100,000 years or so. That is the ice age repeated cycle.

Go look it up...

Who is to decide that 1970 was the “perfect” average temperature the earth should be?

If I am not mistaken, we were on a normal path to a cooling into the next ice age, before the climate change debate started in the 1990.

This slow process is what governs the earth for millions of years.

The causes are not well understood by scientists...various cycles and precession of the earth and the planets and...other natural phenomenon are some of the explanations.

The point being, even if we were to warm the earth by a few degrees, it will take thousand of years to see significant effects...not the 30-50 years claimed.

Related Articles