It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wherein Mr Fuller Calls Me Out as a Kook

If you enjoy that sort of thing, go have a look.

32 comments:

Neven said...

I noticed in the closed thread that Tom did a nice tour de mensonge by saying that Professor Rabett accused the Breakthrough ecomodernist folks of being industrial Marxists, or some such.

Of course, this is a strawman, as the Professor doesn't accuse anyone of anything, but merely points out that if you follow the ideas through to their logical conclusions, ecomodernism will lead to something very akin to a Stalinist Big Brotherian situation.

Eli follows up with an even better article. Conclusion:

"The reliance of the ecomodernist city state on complex technologies requires strong central control to keep the machine running, leaving little room for individuality. City states may occupy not much land, but they require a great deal of land and resources from that land to provide all that the people living in them need. Urban organization and governance is complex. As Izen points out at ATTP, the ecomodern city state requires a social monoculture with no room for dissent and that monoculture is enforced by the power of the state."

Tom probably likes the idea of monoculture and state control, as long as it his vision of how culture should be. After all, hardcore, commie-hating libertarians are most of the time closet dictators.

Tom said...

There are two given examples of centralized megacities, Singapore and Doha, although the list could be expanded.

There are a couple of dozen megacities out there that do not conform to Rabett's theory of strong central control, from Sao Paolo to London. Tokyo is almost anarchic.

Most Romantic expression (using the classic definition of the term, individualistic expression of perceptions) comes from large cities, from James Joyce in Dublin, Trieste and London to Tolstoy and Pasternak in Moscow.

Individualism is better protected and more fiercely defended in megacities than in small towns. Just ask Sinclair Lewis about how individualism is treated in small towns.

Rabett is just reaching for a reason, any reason, to trash EcoModernism because some of the writers of its manifesto are part of the Breakthrough Institute. If they advocated going back to the farm he would find a reason to praise megacities.

Anonymous said...

Am I reading Mr. Fuller right? He believes the Keeling Curve can be flattened without leaving most of the FF in the ground?

If so, I am most eager to hear how this feat may be accomplished. We could all certainly use a reason to hope global warming might be arrested painlessly.
-
Adam R.

Tom said...

"Am I reading Mr. Fuller right? He believes the Keeling Curve can be flattened without leaving most of the FF in the ground?"

Citation, please?

Anonymous said...

"Citation, please?"

Your replies to Dr. Tobis in the post he linked above.
-
Adam R.

andthentheresphysics said...

It does seem that Tom Fuller really does enjoy the whole name-calling aspect of this debate.

Tom said...

ATTP, feel free to refer to this website to see the names I have been called here.

Michael Tobis said...

Tom, the peculiar thing is that despite all your disrespect for me, which seems something of a cause for you, I continue to believe that you mean well. WHich means you are genuinely convinced that I don't.

However, I must insist you are confused - as Adam R asks, you seem to indicate we can stabilize the Keeling curve without leaving fossil fuels in the ground.

Failing an actual substantive explanation that mentions sources and sinks and rates, and which explains why the consensus is wrong, it is hard to credit this opinion.

The time scale of fossil carbon injection into the atmosphere/ocean system is much faster than the natural time scales of removal. Whichever country adds the carbon, it stays there for us to deal with, for practical purposes indefinitely. (The only alternative is actual removal of the carbon by artifice, which is likely to be expensive enough that adding the carbon in the first place is a bad move anyway.)

Controlling the concentration is identical to limiting the emissions to near-zero or negative. Your complaints about the political difficulty of this strategy are, sadly, perfectly sound. But no plausible workaround is available.

Florifulgurator said...

Some people prefer being confused over engaging with a reality that conflicts with their preferred world view. The symptoms of this self-actived confusion often border to mental illness. If you aren't a professional psychotherapist it's a waste of time and communication bandwidth to engage with such patients. You won't heal them. There's also considerable risk you just harden their condition.

Michael Tobis said...

I think that we all do that, Flor. Tom is nothing special in that regard.

I think paying attention only to people who agree with you is a guaranteed way to get things wrong in the end.

Reading what people who disagree with you are saying with attention and sympathy is the best way to refine your thoughts.

The trouble is that Tom is so fascinated with his dislike of me that he wants the conversation to be ABOUT me, and I am just not vain enough to think my readers would find that interesting. But if he wants to discuss whether I am a Bad Person on his site, well, whatever.

andthentheresphysics said...

Tom,
I don't quite understand the relevance of your response. Most of my encounters with you were not related at all to MT, and yet my impression is still that you are more than happy to use name-calling (almost at will). If you're suggesting that someone else having called you a name at some point in the past justifies your use of name-calling, then I think that is a remarkably poor excuse,

Mal Adapted said...

In the closed thread, Fuller said: "It is finally clear (if it wasn't before) what the term 'denial' refers to in climate conversations. The 'denial' has nothing at all to do with science. People are labeled 'denier' because they reject a limited set of policy proposals offered by people like Greg Laden and to an extent yourself. I guess it sounds sexier than 'opponent'."

MT's reply was "We are using 'denial' in the medical sense: 'psychology : a condition in which someone will not admit that something sad, painful, etc., is true or real'."

By his own words, Fuller makes it clear he doesn't substantively deny any of the scientific consensus on AGW. What he appears to deny is that there are still many people who loudly and publicly deny part or all of the consensus, and who will go way out on a logical limb to defend their denial. Why does he object so strenuously to calling such people AGW-deniers, in the sense MT cites? Does he really think "AGW-denier" always implies "Holocaust-denier" just because a few loudmouths have made explicit comparisons?

When he takes that tack it's not clear to me that he's arguing in good faith, but rather trying to pick a fight. His tone is overtly truculent, as if he's trying to goad his opponents into an escalating war of words. What is his game? It can't have escaped notice that his comments frequently include the link to his own blog. Is everything he says here just click-bait?

Tom said...

ATTP: "Most of my encounters with you were not related at all to MT, and yet my impression is still that you are more than happy to use name-calling (almost at will)."

Poor Will.

Michael Tobis: "However, I must insist you are confused - as Adam R asks, you seem to indicate we can stabilize the Keeling curve without leaving fossil fuels in the ground."

Again, I have never said and do not think any such thing. I maintain (and explain on another thread on this site) that using it as a metric or a goal is a horrible idea. I don't want to write the same stuff twice.

Florifulgurator: "Some people prefer being confused over engaging with a reality that conflicts with their preferred world view. The symptoms of this self-actived confusion often border to mental illness." You don't make it clear who you are calling mentally ill, but I assume it isn't Tobis. Thanks for the compliment and I hope ATTP is paying attention to who is calling who names. Crazy is as crazy does. But I think you mean it 'borders on mental illness, not to. Some people write their preferred boring schtick in such a hurry that they don't really realize what they're saying.

ATTP: "If you're suggesting that someone else having called you a name at some point in the past justifies your use of name-calling, then I think that is a remarkably poor excuse."

You're welcome to your opinion of me and of what I write. As I don't expect you to follow me around the intertubes, you are not expected to understand that I respond in kind and do not initiate personal characterizations. An example is our host here. I was extremely polite to him at the beginning of our various correspondences. I invited him to participate in an interview for Examiner.com. I invited him to do a guest post. I addressed him by the appropriate honorific. He responded by saying I was stupid and pulling things 'out of my... hat.' In blog comment threads I adopt a mirror approach. If you insult me I will respond in kind. Otherwise I try to be as polite as the next fellow.

MalAdapted, citation please? I can point you to numerous posts and comments I have made that acknowledge that skeptics are often in error. What I refuse to do is take the loathsome terminology that compares them to skinhead thugs that deny the Holocaust occurred and apply it to them. There are numerous skeptics who are fixated on the wrong thing, something that is also true of members of your tribe. There are also Nobel prize winners who are skeptics. Your meta-classification of your opponents is uninteresting and unhelpful. Except politically, which is obviously the only thing that matters to people like yourself. Sadly, your team has debased the language so much that McKibben can call Obama a 'denier' and Laden can call Revkin a 'denier.'

Oops.

Neven said...

Hey look, I have 2 cents in my pocket:

The denial we're talking about here is climate risk denial. That's the belief that AGW can't possibly lead to the problems that 'alarmists' fear, or scientists say are possible. Denial of climate science is just a consequence of this root denial.

Once you start to see it that way, denial is not only attributable because of what you say, but also because of what you do. In other words, if you really believe AGW poses risks, you act accordingly. On the individual level you start reducing your footprint, you discuss it with people around you, you may become an activist, etc.

This also goes for public figures, people with power, people who have a voice in the media. I don't know about Obama, there are certain things he can't do, politics being about the possible, but obviously his actions do not reflect his statements about AGW being a real risk.

The same goes for a journalist like Andy Revkin (whose music I like BTW, and he did some great stuff regarding Arctic sea ice). He's been saying for years that AGW involves serious risks, but his actions often seemed to indicate he didn't really believe it, by pushing false balance, by being extremely reticent (he once went out of his way to explain how it would take millennia for the Greenland Ice Sheet to completely melt, where it's only about the contribution to the first 1-3 metres, of courses), by refusing to take the cow by the horns (as that Gellman guy asked him repeatedly about) and saying that he tries to change something by not talking about it, which is nonsensical.

So, in that sense, you can call those people (climate risk) deniers. Because they may not talk like one, but boy, do they act like one. The Ecomodernists are a prime example of this. It's easy to talk for me, as I'm not a president, or a journalist, or a pundit who has to make a living and can not get by on only presenting the evidence that AGW poses real risks.

As for Tom, it's clear that he's a climate risk denier of the most hypocritical kind, worse than the outright climate risk (and thus climate science) deniers. He'll go and explain that, yes, he believes in AGW, and yes, there may be risks involved. But is this reflected by his actions? Not in the least. If he really believes what he's saying, he wouldn't be here and on other blogs attacking people, pulling all kinds of (concern) troll tactics. For instance, I also disagree on many points with my fellow 'alarmists', but I'm not wasting time debating about details as long as there is no global agreement to walk the walk, and not just talk the talk.

End of part 1...

Neven said...

Part 2...

And of course, Tom played a role in and tried to make a profit from the Climategate non-scandal, by writing a book about it. I quote from Amazon:

"For those who have heard that this is a tempest in a teacup--we show why it will swamp the conventional wisdom on climate change.

And for those who have heard that this scandal is just 'boys being boys'--well, boy. It's as seamy as what happened on Wall Street."

So, how can someone who doesn't deny the potential risks of AGW, act like this? Or not ever apologize for it later and say it was the wrong thing to do, given the potential risks of AGW? If you really believe AGW poses potential dangers, you don't write a book that will give people the impression that AGW isn't a threat whatsoever. It makes no sense. It simply makes no sense.

From this I can only conclude that Tom may have changed his tune, but the goal is still policy paralysis. He talks like an alarmist, but acts like a denier. And so it makes sense to troll and attack people like mt, because they say many sensible things that convince people and motivate them to do more than just say 'yeah, AGW could be a problem'.

I speak from experience. It's reading people like mt and Eli Rabett (and others) that made me decide to blog about Arctic sea ice and explain the risks involved with its AGW-induced loss. I may be wrong and a bungler, but I try to do what I say, and vice versa.

Tom said...

Neven, much like our host here, you've never read the book. What kind of lame brain numbskull criticizes a book he hasn't read? I'm very proud of that book. So proud that I'm coming out with another book you can burn before reading. It will be called The Lukewarmer's Way. It will have three sections: Why I am not an Alarmist, Why I am not a Skeptic and The Lukewarmer's Way. It will have 323 pages for you to rant about.

As for advocating policy paralysis, again--not true. I am very prescriptive in what I think should be done. The last list I published had a dozen items on it, starting with a carbon tax. What kind of lame brain just makes stuff up about their opponents? If I was really all that wrong you could find stuff that... I don't know... I've actually written to call me on.

Your blog on Arctic sea ice is excellent. Thank you for all the work you do to keep it going. It's a pity that away from the blog you write comments that are racist, ageist and classist. Work on that, won't you?

Tom said...

One of the reasons your tribe is failing to convince the world of your point of view is that you don't call out the alarmists you think are wrong.

Of course, another reason is that you just make stuff up.

Tom said...

Hey, Neven: If you want to yell at me for stuff I've actually written, here's page 66 of my new book. It was also in my old book. It is also posted in the archives here at Only In It For the Gold, I think and I'm sure it's on Bart Verheggen's site from 2010, where I originally put it in as a comment.

"But even though I believe sensitivity is lower than what Alarmists claim, it is scant comfort when I have also projected that our planet will consume six times more energy in 2075 than it did in 2010. The brute force emissions of both CO2 and conventional pollution are almost certain to cause significant problems for regions of the world that don’t have the resiliency to prepare for it and adapt to it.

One of the common criticisms of Lukewarmers is that we advocate doing nothing, that we are delayers. It isn’t true. So here is what I think we should do while waiting for clarity regarding sensitivity and other unresolved issues with the science:

1. Tax CO2 at a starting rate of $12/ton and revisit the rate every 10 years, adjusting the rate to reflect changes in CO2 concentrations and a pre-agreed metric for observed climate change that has occurred in the interim. Where possible (especially in the U.S., to offer some hope that conservatives may eventually support the concept) the carbon tax should be arranged so as to be revenue neutral. In the U.S. that might involve reductions in Social Security taxes for both employers and employees.

2. Spend a global total of $100 billion for the transfer of technology to the developing world for the purpose of reducing the impact of development technologies, in hopes that they can leapfrog one or two generations of energy development. If nothing else, donating scrubbers for Asian coal-fired power plants will reduce conventional pollution and black soot that degrades the Arctic snows.

3. Commit to spending over the course of this century on moving roads inland, removing permission for construction on threatened coasts and flood plains. The EPA found that this would cost about $400 billion for the United States about 20 years ago–adjust for inflation. But that’s a one-time cost.

4. Continue Steven Chu’s investment strategy for reducing costs in renewable energy, storage and transmission. Continue with ARPA-E at full funding. Institute high value X Prizes to reward innovation in these areas.

5. Encourage the U.S. EPA to continue to regulate CO2 emissions from large emitters.

6. Accelerate permitting for new nuclear power plants to restore nuclear power’s percentage of electricity to 20% in the U.S.

7. Uprate existing hydroelectric plants to take advantage of advances in turbine technology.

8. Mandate uptake of GPS within the air traffic control infrastructure and controlled and one-step descent on landing.

9. Homogenize permitting and regulation for installation of solar and wind power to make it easier to gain approval. Maintain current levels of subsidies and RPS.

10. Increase utilization of Combined Heat and Power facilities in the U.S. from its current 7% of primary energy production to the world average of 9% and then by steps in northern regions to benchmark levels found in Denmark, Holland and other northern European countries.

11. Support introduction of charging stations for electric vehicles.

12. Force existing coal power plants to meet best available technology standards or close."

Tom said...

Whoops~ I hate that. I just remembered that that list didn't make it into the first book. Left on the cutting room floor, sadly. I regret the error.

Whoops 2! I thought I had commented on leaving fuel in the ground here, but it was at my blog. I reproduce it here.

I understand your argument in this case. Perhaps you do not understand mine.

I do not object to leaving fossil fuel in the ground. I object to using it as a metric or as a goal in its own right.

Consider arguments about biodiversity. We understand that our actions threaten biodiversity. But because we are incapable of quantifying the threat the argument cannot be resolved. When I (or Matt Ridley) say the principal threats are over hunting, pollution, habitat loss and introduction of alien species and Konsensus people say it’s global warming, we just spout at each other as we do on so many other climate related subjects.

How many species are there? How many species have we actually witnessed go extinct since 1945? How many species existed in the period to which you wish to compare the present? How many species went extinct in a similar 70-year period. We cannot answer any one of those questions. At all. We do not know. Hence the conversation founders.

The atmosphere is a common good. Fossil fuels are owned, 70% by governments. With some of these governments we cannot even agree that nuclear arms are not a good thing. With others we cannot even agree that invading your next door neighbor is not a good thing.

These countries cannot even agree amongst themselves on how much to produce.They secretly produce more than their OPEC allotment and sell it clandestinely.

Your plan, if it can actually be called a plan, would crown as winners those countries who did not follow its dictates. You would create the greatest black market the world has ever seen. You have nothing to offer the developing world as a ready replacement. You have not yet written of how you would ease the blow for industrial use of petrochemicals.

We do not know how much fossil fuel lies in the ground. There is more than one type and they are used for more than one application. We do not know how much fossil fuel is required to increase the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere by 1 part per million. We are emerging from a historical period of extremely low concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere. There are many who are not yet happy at the idea of stopping, let alone reducing those concentrations.

As with biodiversity, we do not know the denominator. We do not know the numerator. We do not know the rate of change. As a metric, (as with biodiversity) it will only be a partisan political tool.

And you will not measure success by the amount of fossil fuel that gets burned nor by how much lies in the ground. Some of you will measure success or failure by global average surface temperature. Some of you will measure it by CO2 concentrations. Some of you will measure it by impacts on human health and well-being. And you will disagree with each other on these metrics and on our progress towards the several different goals that exist.

We are all better off focusing on the Keeling Curve. It is the only metric in the climate conversation that both sides trust.

Mal Adapted said...

What "tribe", what "team", Tom? The science-denying tribe, the science-accepting team? Do those who accept the reality of AGW comprise just another interest group?

You cite Nobel prize winners who are AGW "skeptics", as if the prize is a license to dismiss the evidence. You ignore the mercenary obstructionism of professional disinformers on behalf of the people whose private fortunes depend on socializing the climate costs of fossil fuel production. You allow cynical doubt merchants to hijack a word with centuries of common English usage, and with a psychological denotation coined well before the Nazis built their first extermination camp. If you're not in denial about AGW-denial in the original psychological meaning of that word, what game are you playing?

andthentheresphysics said...

Yes, I'd also like to know what tribe Tom is referring to. I'd also like to know what this means
We are all better off focusing on the Keeling Curve. It is the only metric in the climate conversation that both sides trust.
What do you mean by the Keeling curve being a "metric"? It's based on actual measurements and tells us how CO2 concentrations have risen. How does focussing on that help? Certainly the Keeling curve will, in future, tell us if what we have done has had any impact on CO2 concentrations, but I don't see how it - alone - can tell us anything of what we should atually do.

Michael Tobis said...

Tom, if you want to have a conversation and not just get people mad, please let's focus on this:

"And you will not measure success by the amount of fossil fuel that gets burned nor by how much lies in the ground. Some of you will measure success or failure by global average surface temperature. Some of you will measure it by CO2 concentrations. Some of you will measure it by impacts on human health and well-being. And you will disagree with each other on these metrics and on our progress towards the several different goals that exist."

"We are all better off focusing on the Keeling Curve. It is the only metric in the climate conversation that both sides trust."

I don;t necessarily speak for anyone else, but claims in this regard are:

1) "keeping fuel in the ground" is a shorthand for the mouthful that we need zero or negative emissions net of sequestration, not a literal goal in itself

2) measuring via concentrations, which is one of the possibilities you suggest, is identical to watching the Keeling curve. I can't imagine disagreeing with that one.

3) if the Keeling curve grows without bounds on a historical time scale, the natural environment at least will be in ruins; it doesn't really matter ethically whether that happens in a century or ten. Therefore the curve has to bend toward horizontal at least. That means at least near-zero net emissions (there's some complication regarding the ocean when we get down to the last few per cent that *may* cut us some slack depending on how you feel about ocean chemistry, but from our present perspective that is not worth too many brain cells; an 80 per cent cut is a long way form the rapid growth we are seeing now).

4) In actual practice, this means that the fossil fuel interests are grossly overvalued at the expense of everybody else on earth. Which means that their line of business must be so seriously curtailed that it's close enough to say that their business model is killing us and they have to stop.

5) The oil industry counters with a vision of very large scale CCS. We should allow that vision to compete with other carbon zero technologies. But in a sense, while the energy is being pumped up in such a scenario, the carbon does stay in the ground, so it leaves the shorthand intact.

I am not clear on whether you fail to understand this argument or whether you are not paying it any mind or whether you think you actually see a flaw in it. I am hoping (against hope) that it is the last, and I can learn something from you. I am happy to engage on substance regardless of our past history.

(it should go without saying, but since it doesn't: If you keep wailing about how terrible it is WITHOUT explaining what is wrong with it, you start to get quite dull, and in danger of violating the "rude, excessively contentious, repetitive, or spammy" constraint.)

So, please make things interesting. I understand there is something you dislike about my five points, but I don't understand what of substance you disagree with and why. Can you explain?

Florifulgurator said...

One of the reasons your tribe is failing to convince the world of your point of view is that you don't call out the alarmists you think are wrong.

For a counterexample google McPherson + planet3

Tom said...

I will not comment on a site that censors and then makes shit up about the comment that was censored. You are also no longer welcome at my site and I have removed your recent comments. You may continue playing in your sandbox with your soulmates here without the unwanted distraction of opposition.

Mal Adapted said...

Tom: "I will not comment on a site that censors and then makes shit up about the comment that was censored. You are also no longer welcome at my site and I have removed your recent comments. You may continue playing in your sandbox with your soulmates here without the unwanted distraction of opposition."

How many times has Tom promised not to comment on your site anymore, Michael? Think he'll stick the flounce this time?

Tom said...

Sorry, Mal. Tobis posted my comment, so I'm back.

Willard said...

> [The site's owner, whom Groundskeeper Willie referred to as a kook] posted my comment, so I'm back.

MT makes Groundskeeper Willie do it.

Tom said...

The issue is that MT capriciously and arbitrarily deletes comments, not because they are rude, not because they are not relevant to the topic, but because he doesn't like the content. I have said for five years that if he wants me to leave this site all he has to do is ask. He hasn't asked. I am clearly filling the role of hairshirt for MT. So until he boots me or censors me again, I will continue in my assigned task.

Tom said...

[The site's owner, whom Groundskeeper Willie referred to as a kook]

Citation please.

Tom said...

Both you and willard claim that I called you a kook. You claim that Mosher and I engaged in character assassination.

Kind of a thing for you two, isn't it?

Willard, maybe you and Brandon can borrow some colored pens from John Mashey and publish the definitive rebuttal to our book. Just a suggestion.

My favorite non-comma comment from Brandon: "Side note, I need to get raging drunk. I don’t have any alcohol, and I have responsibilities this evening. The next eight hours are going to be torture. It’s official. I hate Steven Mosher and Thomas Fuller."

EliRabett said...

If anybunny thinks that Singapore and Doha are not a) social monocultures b) dependent on large regions outside the cities to provide for the people living there and c) see ATTP on this, dependent on a large underclass to maintain the standards of living of the nomenklatura, well Eli would recommend they stop visiting those smoke shops out in Colorado.

Perhaps Brave New World is a better vision of the ecomodernist outcome, but tastes vary

EliRabett said...


FWIW, #ecomodernism is a direct rejection of suburban sprawl, green lawns, etc. Thus Singapore and Doha are much more to the point than Sao Paulo or New York,