Deniers finally concede that “the rate of atmospheric CO2 growth has been increasing.”

But in a callous, error-riddled post, WattsUpWithThat cheers on the preventable calamity.

Mauna Loa rate

Annual growth in atmospheric CO2. Data from Mauna Loa.”

Finally, the anti-science crowd at WattsUpWithThat and I finally agree on something:  “The rate of atmospheric CO2 growth has been increasing,” as WUWT writes in a post Thursday accompanying the above graph.   But in a bizarre, error-riddled, and callous piece even by WUWT standards, they insist that this is a good thing.

Indeed, these two sentences by Willis Eschenbach that Anthony “shout them down” Watts posted may be the single most uninformed assertion ever made on WattsUpWithThat [put on your head vises]:

The claim is often made that the poor will be the hardest hit by warming. As someone who has never been poor, but often broke, I can assure you that’s nonsense.

Claim?  Nonsense?

I realize that Watts and Eschenbach reject the 99.9% of the scientific literature that disproves pretty much everything they post on a daily basis.  But I think you’d be hard pressed to find even “mainstream” deniers who’d agree with that assertion.

Obviously the poor have the fewest resources with which to adapt to the multiple catastrophes from unrestricted CO2 emissions — catastrophes that Watts and Eschenbach are cheering on in this ill-informed post.  The poor often live in the places that are most vulnerable to warming.  Bangladesh, anyone?  (See JPL bombshell: Polar ice sheet mass loss is speeding up, on pace for 1 foot sea level rise by 2050).

And the poor lead the most marginal,  undernourished existence that is vulnerable to probably the biggest threat of climate change for most of humanity — food insecurity (see Half of world’s population could face climate-driven food crisis and S. Korean President: “There is an increasing likelihood of a food crisis globally due to climate change”).

But it’s not enough for the extremists of WUWT to deny climate science, now they have to deny the suffering of its largest group of victims.

Memo to Eschenbach and Watts:  Being occasionally “broke” in a rich country ain’t nothing like being poor in a poor one.

Why would Watts publish a piece agreeing with a central scientific point I’ve been making only to make such an absurd argument?

By way of brief background, I just ran a post on a new draft analysis not written by climate scientists, “Evidence for super-exponentially accelerating atmospheric carbon dioxide growth.”  At first WUWT tried to ignore the central point of the analysis and focus on some sloppy wording about population trends and an error in a footnote, none of which were germane to the CO2 conclusion.

But I spoke to a co-author who explained to me it was a first draft and was happy to make some fixes, so I updated my post (courtesy of the “anti-science crowd,” as I noted — that was WUWT).  And there was a sort of positive outcome in that WUWT finally felt obliged to examine and concede the whole point of the post and the original analysis.

To understand their basic thesis, we have to get past their terminology. What does “super-exponentially accelerating” mean?

Well, it means that the growth rate is increasing. Why didn’t they say that? Hey, they’re climate scientists. Their motto seems to be “don’t educate, obfuscate”.

Uhh, no, the authors aren’t climate scientists.  That was clear from my post, had WUWT read it, or the masthead of the study itself, had WUWT bothered to look, “A.D. Husler and D. Sornette Department of Management, Technology and Economics.”

So finally, WUWT posted the top figure above and admitted, “yes, the rate of atmospheric CO2 growth has been increasing.”  Now here is where WUWT makes its biggest blunder (emphasis in the original):

Both Joe Romm and the authors of the paper seem to think that this is a Very Bad Thing„¢. Let’s stop a moment and consider what the numbers really mean. We know what the population numbers mean. But what does a “super-exponential acceleration” in CO2 growth mean in the real world?

Consider that at some point not long after 2050 the world population will stabilize. The population of a number of countries has already stabilized (or is dropping). Suppose (as seems quite possible) that atmospheric CO2 rates continue to rise after the population has stabilized. What would that mean, rising atmospheric CO2 growth rates at a time of stable population? What would be happening in the real world to cause that?

Simply put, it would mean that the growth rate of energy use per capita was increasing. Whoa, can’t have that, speeding up the rate at which people get more energy.

Ahh, how the master anti-science rhetoricians like to immediately equate CO2 with energy.

Actually this WUWT post contains two major blunders.  First, of course, CO2 isn’t energy.

Second, the CO2 growth rate can rise faster even if the growth rate of CO2 per capita was not increasing.  How?  The CO2 sinks could saturate, of course, land and/or ocean — potentially even turning into sources.  And, relatedly the carbon-cycle amplifying feedbacks could accelerate.

Of course, it’s not like there’s any evidence that could be happening now or anytime soon — assuming you don’t believe in science that is:

And of course we have these:

And let’s not even worry about this at all:

So it is entirely possible that the CO2 growth rate in the coming decades will rise faster than the growth rate of energy or CO2 per capita.

And so WUWT’s false choice is debunked:  “Joe Romm and the authors of the paper think that’s a bad thing. They think the unknown distant future dangers of CO2 outweigh today’s desperate need for energy for the poor people of the planet “¦ which means most of the people of the planet.”  Not.

Sadly, the dangers of CO2 aren’t unknown nor are they distant.  And every major independent study — including a big one by the once-staid and conservative International Energy Agency — shows that one can stabilize atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide while the poor countries develop (see “Introduction to climate economics: Why even strong climate action has such a low total cost” and Must read IEA report: Act now with clean energy or face 6°C warming. Cost is NOT high).

For Watts and Eschenbach, the only thing the poor need is energy, no matter how much pollution is generated, because for them, like so many anti-science, pro-pollution advocates in rich countries, pollution has no cost.  It does not harm and might even be good for the poor.

The poor, however, need much more than energy — they need food, and potable water, an ocean without ever widening dead zones, and land that isn’t flooded or parched.  In short, they need a livable climate, as do we all.

By rejecting that truth, the extremist deniers would seek to destroy even the basic consensus that if we callously keep doing little or no mitigation at least we must provide adaptation support for the poor (since presumably that money to would come at the expense of delivering more CO2-spewing energy).

WattsUpWithThat wants to condemn countless future generations to needless impoverishment.  Well, they’ve made a small first step into reality by conceding that “The rate of atmospheric CO2 growth has been increasing.”  Someday they’ll acknowledge that humans are warming the planet, that failing to act risks multiple catastrophic impacts, and “the poor will be the hardest hit by warming.”

Of course, by then it will probably be too late to help hundreds of millions of the poorest, most vulnerable people.  But hey, WUWT can sympathize, since they’ve been broke a few times.

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Those who contribute the least greenhouse gases will be most impacted by climate change

53 Responses to Deniers finally concede that “the rate of atmospheric CO2 growth has been increasing.”

  1. jcwinnie says:

    I sense a change in strategy. Having moved ahead on their agenda, the pollutocrats are switching from contradiction to co-opting.

    “The most violent element in society is ignorance.”
    Emma Goldman

  2. Cody says:

    Is the first graph “year-over-year growth” *by month*?? There’s far too much wiggling in that line to simply be some sort of annual difference.

    I don’t think this makes the graph misleading–the lack of a decrease in any month in the last 35 years is striking–but as Ricky Ricardo said, you’ve got a little more ‘splaining to do.

  3. LP says:

    I think we’ve all known for a long time now that as the science becomes harder and harder to deny these shills would begin falling back onto phase 2:

    – Ok fine global warming IS happening, but CO2 is good for plants, wheee!
    – Who doesn’t like warmer weather?
    – Year round opening of the Northwest Passage will save us billions in shipping costs: duh, winning!
    – And now apparently global warming is synonymous with poor people becoming rich.

    When Willis Eschenbach talks about often being broke he means morally and intellectually right?

  4. Scrooge says:

    Geez a little rationalization maybe. Its sad and they are just digging their hole deeper. I wonder if these people have ever even visited a third world country. I am not surprised at the tactic though. Why else would they send to a congressional hearing to talk about DDT and to say poverty causes asthma not all the poison we put in the air.

  5. Don A in Pennsyltucky says:

    That reminds me of the graph at some coal-industry funded site back in the 1990’s that showed “prosperity” on the X-axis and CO2% on the Y-axis then tried to claim that increasing CO2 CAUSED greater prosperity.

  6. J Bowers says:

    Is there a list of how slowly, but surely, deniers are conceding “Yes, okay, that’s happening”, or “Yes, that’s higher than I previously said”?

    For instance, Roy Spencer upping his estimate of climate sensitivity to the lower bounds of IPCC estimates.

  7. Mark says:

    Moderatpr, There’s no need to publish this…. I just wanted to say I wish I could write that well, and there’s a teensy typo right at the moment of crescendo at the end of the piece

    “But hey, WUWT can sympathize, since they’ve been broke a few time”

    someone forgot the “s” at the end of the sentence. Awesome piece though.

  8. Mark S says:

    This would be funny if it weren’t so sad…and didn’t have real ramifications. People read Watts stuff and repeat it likes it’s the truth. That junk makes its way to even the highest levels of government (see the recent congressional testimony, covered at CP) and influences actual policy. Unbelievable. We’ve become the country where opinion counts for more than science.

  9. Colorado Bob says:

    Meanwhile the first new “All Time High” of the year was recorded this week :

    Mumbai hits its hottest temperature of all-time
    The temperature in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India skyrocketed to an all-time high of 107°F (41.6°C) yesterday, March 16, at the downtown Colaba observatory. Records at the observatory go back to 1847, which may be the longest time series of temperature observations at any location in Asia. Mumbai’s previous all-time record temperature was 105°F (40.6°C) recorded on April 19, 1955. Mumbai’s Santacruz Airport, located in the suburbs several miles inland, did not set an all-time high yesterday, hitting 41.3°C (all-time record: 42.2°C on April 14, 1952.) The record heat yesterday was due to an unusually hot and dry northeasterly flow of air from the center of India that kept the usual cooling sea breeze from establishing itself along the coast. Hot weather continued in Mumbai today, with the mercury hitting 102°F (39°C.) Thanks go to weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera for supplying these statistics for me.

    No doubt the poor of Mumbia were enjoying the 107°F (41.6°C) temps.

  10. Lou Grinzo says:

    I’ve said for some time that we should be on the lookout for the next major shift in the deniers’ arguments, and as LP and others have pointed out in various places, this seems to be happening.

    They have no choice, of course. They’re already perilously close to sounding like Saddam Hussein’s press secretary or Minister of Information or whatever he was, saying the Americans are nowhere near Baghdad when you could see US tanks over his shoulder in the distance.

    The step after “it’s too expensive, and golly gee, the climate sensitivity is too low to warrant action anyway” will be “it’s too late to do anything, and blast those scientists for not warning us sooner”. When we get there, it’s really time to worry.

  11. MarkB says:

    CO2 and energy usage are not the same thing. A 6-year-old could understand that. Ideology seems to make some people incredibly stupid. Deniers like to claim that reducing fossil fuel usage means going back to horse/buggy days and thus plunging population into poverty. Since fossil fuels were important in creating an advanced society, they claim any pullback from their usage will result in economic catastrophe. They don’t have an ability to see the world beyond the 1920’s.

  12. John Mason says:

    I saw similar things last year when Monckton posted on WUWT that the GHE is real, we were adding to it via CO2 emissions BUT the magnitude of the effect was overestimated. The regulars on there did not like it one bit, (howls of derision even – you can imagine) but it struck me as a strong sign of a game-change in their cheer-leaders’ argument.

    AKA – goalposts, movement of. It’s what they excel at!

    It pays to watch them and follow the fluctuations in their policies – if policies they can accurately be called!

    Cheers – John

  13. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    In my opinion this is one of the Right’s most despicable hypocrisies. The pretense that they care about the poor. In reality the denialist industry, representing the ideology and psychology of the masters of global capitalism, and the lumpen rabble of the Right, everywhere and always hold positions that exacerbate global inequality and poverty. They fanatically support the unfair global economic order, the mass impoverishing economic terrorism of the IMF, World Bank and WTO through the infamous ‘Structural Adjustment Plans’, the generally unfair terms of trade, the still extant negative effects of colonialism, the rule of kleptocratic Rightwing despots etc. Indeed one of their favourite diatribes is to abuse the ‘Left’ for pointing out the rich West’s responsibility for global poverty and they instead place the blame squarely on the poor countries, and their ‘culture’ and do so in the most contemptuous, racist, xenophobic and callous manner. Then, suddenly, these very same ideologues are suddenly so concerned about their poor brothers and sisters in the Third World. It’s not a head vise you need when dealing with these creatures, it’s a vomit bag.

  14. climate undergrad says:

    Fix the last sentence! It’s a great punchline – just a small typo.

    [JR: Thanks. Darn voice dictation software :) ]

  15. Daniel Bailey says:

    >”The claim is often made that the poor will be the hardest hit by warming.”

    Gee, hmm, sounds familiar…where have I heard that one before?

    (Mock) Gasp! WUWT is quoting Skeptical Science? The Horror!

    In WUWT-speak, ridicule is showing flattery.

    The Yooper

  16. Barry says:

    Professor Steven Pacala (Princeton & climate stabilization wedges fame) did research on carbon emissions by wealth worldwide. Here is a quote from his talk:

    “The 3 billion poorest people is who these are, and they emit essentially nothing. The take-home message here is that you could increase the emissions of all of those people by putting diesel generators or anything you wanted into their lives and it would not materially affect anything I’m going to say for the rest of this talk. In other words, the development of the desperately poor is not in conflict with solving the climate problem, which is a problem of the very rich. This is very, very important to understand. In contrast, the rich are really spectacular emitters.”

  17. MapleLeaf says:

    LP @2,

    “When Willis Eschenbach talks about often being broke he means morally and intellectually right?”

    That would be quite correct LP.

    Joe, talking of how the poor will be negatively affected by AGW, John Cook at SkepticalScience has just posted a piece on this which would tie in nicely with your post. John summarizes the(worrying) findings from a recent paper by Samson et a. (2011).

    [JR: Thanks!]

  18. Colorado Bob says:

    ScienceDaily (Mar. 18, 2011) — An international research team involving ETH Zurich has compared the hot summers of 2003 and 2010 in detail for the first time. Last year’s heatwave across Eastern Europe and Russia was unprecedented in every respect: Europe has never experienced so large summer temperature anomalies in the last 500 years.

  19. Gordon says:

    You have the wrong link for “evidence for…”

  20. W Scott Lincoln says:

    Colorado Bob: Didn’t some other agency like the WMO or NOAA put out a report saying that the heatwave in Europe/Russia last year wasn’t all that abnormal but was just from climate variability?

  21. MapleLeaf says:

    Colorado Bob,

    From the science paper that you linked us to @19:

    “The summer of 2010 was exceptionally warm in eastern Europe and large parts of Russia. We provide evidence that the anomalous 2010 warmth that caused adverse impacts exceeded the amplitude and spatial extent of the previous hottest summer of 2003. “Mega-heatwaves” such as the 2003 and 2010 events broke the 500-year-long seasonal temperature records over approximately 50% of Europe. According to regional multi-model experiments, the probability of a summer experiencing “mega-heatwaves” will increase by a factor of 5 to 10 within the next 40 years. However, the magnitude of the 2010 event was so extreme that despite this increase, the occurrence of an analogue over the same region remains fairly unlikely until the second half of the 21st century.

    I’m sure the poverty-stricken people of the world can’t wait for the next mega heat wave.

    Readers may recall that Monckton and his pals (including Loehle, a devote McIntyre fan) were recently trying to claim that the increase in CO2 was not super-exponential (a stats/math term) and/or that the predictions for exponential increase in CO2 were too aggressive. Well, Husler and Sornette have shown that the “skeptics” were wrong, again.

  22. Joan Savage says:

    Taking MarkB’s (#11) comment a bit further.

    Increased energy use can occur just to sustain crop yields and drill for ever more difficult sources of water supply in a hotter world. As such, it does not have to correlate to improvement in quality of life or the rise of a middle class.

    The massive pipe from southern China to northern China does not guarantee the development of a middle class. It will be a success if it prevents total desertification, famine and death.

  23. Bob Wallace says:

    Personally I view ““The rate of atmospheric CO2 growth has been increasing,” as WUWT writes ” as a huge victory.

    The deniers are gradually admitting that the planet is warming and that CO2 has been increasing in the atmosphere. They seem to be morphing from deniers to ‘last to acknowledge’ people. The next, and final, step they need to make is to admit that atmospheric CO2 traps heat and that there is no other valid explanation for observed global warming.

    Societal change happens very slowly for some. We’re finally seeing the most resistant to change begin to shift their position. Expect them to make some ridiculous arguments during their transformation, they will want to save face.

  24. Eric Edlund says:

    This is a small but important step by WUWT. For years I’ve argued to deniers that there are a range of possible responses to AGW, many of which are not necessarily “green” hippy-type back-to-nature behavioral changes. For example, even in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, I think nuclear power should play an increasing role in global electrical generation, albeit with better design and stronger regulation/enforcement. But political left and right (and middle) need to agree on the same basic scientific facts to have any kind of useful dialog.

    Cody @ #2, I don’t know if anyone addressed your critique of the–since CO2 is measured at least monthly, the graph can show multiple “year over year” data points in a single year, e.g. February 2011 vs February 2010. Total atmospheric CO2 actually declines slightly during the northern hemisphere growing season, but as the graph shows it’s never gone down over the course of any one-year interval since the early 1970s. (Without anthropogenic GH gasses there’d be equal numbers of values above and below zero with a long term mean of zero).

  25. Green Caboose says:

    We’ve seen this before. They have three main classes of argument:

    1) It is NOT warming.
    2) OK, it is warming, but it’s not due to CO2
    3) OK the warming is due to CO2, but it’s a good thing.

    And, amazingly next week they’ll post (1) again.

    The only consistent thing in their arguments is that the conclusion is always to keep burning carbon.

  26. MarkB says:

    I agree with Green Caboose. No need to buy in to any illusion that deniers have actually learned anything. Watts will be back to highlighting cold weather somewhere and using ENSO to obfuscate in little time, while recycling the same “it’s not really greenhouse gases” “explanations” for observed warming. Other than the cult-like ideological opposition to greenhouse gas emissions reductions, consistency isn’t really their bag.

  27. MapleLeaf says:

    W Scott Lincoln @21,

    The russian heat wave and drought of 2010 was certainly highly abnormal, there seems to be broad agreement on that The part that is not clear right now is exactly how much global warming played exacerbating this event. So far there have been conflicting claims– but a proper attribution study has yet to be conducted. An attribution study into the 2003 European heat wave found that AGW had indeed increased the likelihood of such a heat wave, and that AGW had also contributed to its severity.

    Research has found that the frequency of heat waves around the globe is increasing as the planet continues to warm, and that we should expect more frequent and worse heat waves and droughts down the road.

  28. Deborah Stark says:

    Post #1 | jcwinnie says:
    March 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm
    …..I sense a change in strategy. Having moved ahead on their agenda, the pollutocrats are switching from contradiction to co-opting…..


    Not kidding.

  29. Deborah Stark says:

    Bottom line:

    These [expletive deleted] are 100% committed to controlling public discourse on this issue whatever tactic they may be utilizing at any given time.

    Keyword: Control.

  30. Steve L says:

    1. CO2 isn’t energy. Right.
    2. Natural feedbacks can increase atmospheric CO2 even if population is stable and anthropogenic CO2 production is stable. Right again.
    **Joe pointed these out, but I see #2 as a subset of #1**
    3. Stable population and increasing energy use doesn’t mean that the poor have increased access to energy (per capita or even in total) — the rich could be appropriating an even larger fraction of that pie, especially as energy requirements increase to squeeze the last drops of oil from tar sands, shale, and deepwaters.
    **I think #3 here says their argument is stupid even if we could equate CO2 with energy.**

  31. LP says:

    I thought it would be appropriate to post this here:

    While the regular denialists are turning up the “more CO2 is good for us” thermostat, Ann Coulter wants to remind everyone the Queen of Spinning Bullsh** still reigns supreme.

    She’s jumping on the coat tails of a nuclear tragedy to champion the apparently misunderstood positive effects of being exposed to more radiation:

    Honestly, there just aren’t enough head vises…

  32. Everett Rowdy says:

    I think the only reason WUWT admits CO2 is increasing is that it is Spring and getting warmer. Next Fall when it cools down, the Earth will be cooling again and Global Warming will be a myth all over again.

  33. LP says:

    UPDATE I found her article here:

    Pretty amazing stuff –

    “With the terrible earthquake and resulting tsunami that have devastated Japan, the only good news is that anyone exposed to excess radiation from the nuclear power plants is now probably much less likely to get cancer.

    This only seems counterintuitive because of media hysteria for the past 20 years trying to convince Americans that radiation at any dose is bad. There is, however, burgeoning evidence that excess radiation operates as a sort of cancer vaccine.”

    My favorite is the last paragraph though:

    “Although reporters love to issue sensationalized reports about the danger from Japan’s nuclear reactors, remember that, so far, thousands have died only because of Mother Nature. And the survivors may outlive all of us over here in hermetically sealed, radiation-free America.”

    You hear that guys? Mother Nature is the one always trying to kill us. If we weren’t so brainwashed by sensationalistic liberal media we’d realize this and fight back! Pump more CO2 into the atmosphere, open up those reactors and sprinkle that stuff around – it’s totally like, good for us and stuff, and it’d show that mean old Mother Earth exactly who’s boss.

  34. Joan Savage says:

    “Beware of meat twice boil’d, and an old foe reconcil’d.”

    “There is no little enemy.”

    “How few there are who have courage enough to own their Faults, or resolution enough to mend them!”

    — Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack

  35. jyyh says:

    Some theological issues ensue, atheists beware.

    IMHO, they’re becoming nearly blasphemous in their denial. Gen 2:7 “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” The fact that (Gen.1:9) “And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.”” clearly indicates that the Grand God of All Things Considered created Earth, which commonly is personified as ‘Mother Earth’ among the non-christian heathen, pagans and some christians alike, tells us God intended Earth to become, and it looks as if they’re demonizing the God’s creation.

    The personified Famine is another misrepresentaition IMHO, rather the appearance of Famine would be a signal from God that “Mankind has increased in number; filled the earth and subdued it.”(Gen 1:28)

    Yours in faith, jyyh

  36. “Memo to Eschenbach and Watts: Being occasionally “broke” in a rich country ain’t nothing like being poor in a poor one.”

    Well said Joe!

  37. fred edison says:

    When the glaciers and fresh water have all but disappeared because of GW, the deniers will be there to capitalize on it by selling bottled water to the poor. They’re like that.

  38. J Bowers says:

    10 Lou Grinzo — “They’re already perilously close to sounding like Saddam Hussein’s press secretary or Minister of Information or whatever he was”

    Watts is already sometimes referred to as ‘Comical Anthony’.

  39. Keystone Poster says:

    I have a question about the possibility of a tactical shift by the deniers. If that’s so, why did every Republican on the House Energy and Commerce committee vote against a motion that climate change is even occurring? Did they not get the memo? Here are the specifics from

    “Henry Waxman, D-Calif., asked Congress to concede that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.”

    Diana DeGette, D-Colo.’s, amendment asked Congress to accept “the scientific finding of the Environmental Protection Agency that the ‘scientific evidence is compelling’ that elevated concentrations of greenhouse gases resulting from anthropogenic emissions ‘are the root cause of recently observed climate change.'”

    Jay Inslee, D-Wash., asked Congress to accept that “the public health of current generations is endangered and that the threat to public health for both current and future generations will likely mount over time as greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere and result in ever greater rates of climate change.”

    Every single Republican on the committee voted against all three amendments, with the sole exception of Tennessee’s Martha Blackburn, who declined to vote on DeGette’s amendment.”

    So how is it that EVERY Republican on the committee could vote against Waxman’s amendment if there’s some “shift” occurring? His amendment doesn’t even say WHY it’s occurring, just that it’s occurring. Maybe Congresspeople are the last to know, but my money is this being a feint by Watts et al.

  40. Joan Savage says:

    WUWT mis-lead their readers about the term “super-exponential.”

    Correctly used, “super-exponential” means an observed pattern that resembles an exponential, but without necessarily having the components of an exponential equation. The word “super” means “above,” as in, laid on top of.

    Super-exponential does not necessarily mean simply that, “the growth rate is increasing,” as WUWT claimed. There are dynamic conditions that can result in a phenomenon that ends up looking like an exponential, but includes combination of several other rates. Careful use of the term ‘super-exponential” refers to such a complex phenomenon.

    WUWT had said, “Well, it means that the growth rate is increasing. Why didn’t they say that? Hey, they’re climate scientists. Their motto seems to be “don’t educate, obfuscate”.

    Isn’t that what they did in this instance?

  41. Kumar says:

    Coming from India,s poorest state – I don’t think people often get how the poorer half of the world lives, and the tremendous disaster that even small climate shifts can mean for their lives. One failed crop because of unseasonal rainfall means losing everything. The callousness of the elites (the 500 million emitters) on climate change is immoral and unethical, and may I say downright obscene.

    One reflects back on the past records (the Great Victorian Holocausts, the potato famine, the 1943 famine of India) and see what faces us – Joe often uses the very polite term “triage”, though I would just use the term “genocide”.

  42. Susan says:

    I work for one of the agencies that produces a great deal of the science related to climate change. Given that the evidence is clear that climate change is real and that the acceleration is due to human activities, it is obvious that the Republicans care about nothing but money. If they cared about their children or grandchildren, they would wake up and accept the well-documented science. If we don’t stand up and fight together, there is no hope for the planet earth.

  43. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Kumar #42, I could not agree more. For quite some time I have no longer thought that the masters’ action can any more be explained just by greed and indifference to what happens after they are dead. I am now pretty convinced that they believe that climate destabilisation will fall most heavily on the poor world and will work to eliminate billions of ‘useless eaters’ that they despise for racist, xenophobic and class reasons. As anyone familiar with English attitudes during the Great Indian Famines (including the Bengal Famine of the 1940s that killed 6-10 million)of the 19th and 20th centuries, the ruling classes do not care if the rest of humanity lives or dies. Genocide has so often been the response to problems represented by other people who get in the way, that it is almost the masters’ default response.
    I think that they actually believe that they can hunker down in fortified redoubts as climate destabilisation and the resultant natural disasters, droughts, famines, disease and war reduce humanity by 90% or so. I see a preparation of Western publics for this eventuality not just in the upsurge in brutal neo-imperialist wars but in the increasing spread of a form of ‘Malthusian denialism’, where the ecological crisis is dumped firmly on the poor’s supposed ‘over-population’. This is often accompanied by vicious misanthropy, the Rightwinger in question ‘looking forward’ to the disappearance of humanity. If you respond by pointing out that it is, in fact, the over-consumption of the rich world doing the damage, I have found that the response is often viciously vituperative and hysterical-in other words ‘A palpable hit, Sir!’.

  44. Richard Brenne says:

    Kumar (#42) – Yours is the most unique and valuable perspective I’ve seen here, and I completely agree with you, although the number of those elites in all countries over-consuming might be approaching more like a billion now.

    According to statistics found by expert CP commenters Barry and Sailesh Rao, the richest 15% (or 1/7 of the world’s population, or around a billion) consume 75% of all resources.

    In addition to having the effect of genocide (slightly different than planned, willful and wanton genocide, although to the victims the results are similar), it gives the most powerful and least caring among those the world’s worst karma.

    I look at climate change (and species loss, resource depletion, ozone pollution, ocean acidification, etc) as the karmic price for the class warfare of the rich against the poor for the last 10,000 years or so. And some Buddhists feel that this can take 10,000 or more lifetimes to sort out without complete repentance and change.

    What I can’t figure out is why the most innocent suffer first, most and always.

  45. Kumar says:

    Metabolic rift meets class emergence

    Mulga, Students in my class are surprised at Saitterwaithe’s analysis which shows how “population increase” is not the critcial factor contributing to global warming- it comes as news to them having been brought up on the “population bogie”. For instance,in India, the increasing carbon footprint of the nation is caused by the consumption of the richest 10%, rather than the poorest 80% (Greenpeace did a nice study on this – and it is a topic which is ripe for more rigorous analysis by researchers). Unfortunately it is this small elite which drives the nations policy. In India the hysterical response of the elites is in form of bullets for those who oppose coal based power plants or GHG spewing steel mills. As one of my students pointed out – a favorite investment destination for elites of India and China is in the condos of Vancouver and Toronto – so they have their escape routes ready.

    Richard, I agree, climate change is “class warfarism” on a global scale, only it hasn’t been generally articulated in that fashion. We have to get over the nation based game theoretic neo-realist politics of climate change and see it as it really is – a war of the world’s rich minority against the poor majority- it is not nation based; it scales up from communities to global level. Or in other words, the marginal people of the world have a new identity- that of victims of climate injustice. This holds as much for New Orleans/Canadian inuits as it does in drowning Bangladesh or the favelas of Rio.

  46. Richard Brenne says:

    Kumar (#46) – Thanks for another of the best paragraphs ever written here (Mulga owns many of the others along similar lines).

    If you care to share, I’d love to know where and what you teach. If you visit the “What is the future of nuclear power in this country?” post just three posts above, my comment #86, while too long as always, depicts some of how I try to work with teachers.

    If you prefer you can e-mail me at, as can anyone else.

    Thanks again for your amazingly clear and concise insights. We lived briefly in neighboring Nepal, and we trekked with our then four-year-old daughter for 38 days including in places rarely visited by Westerners. Some of the time we had porters that became friends (hanging out socially after the treks were over), and my wife and I joked that if a porter fell off a thousand-foot high cliff carrying one of our backpacks a typical American response would be, “Our stuff!”

    Interestingly our daughter at four wanted to walk rather than be carried, so she’d walk (all day for a week and up to 14,000 feet, surprising us) through the high Himalayas holding the hand of her porter as equals regardless of age, size, gender, nationality or class. As a result of that and many other similar experiences she gets what you’re saying and would love, I’m sure, to be one of your students (she’s now at Quest College in Canada – they use visiting tutors and I’d love to have them consider you).

    Also as a fan of Indian history I find it interesting to ask about social injustice, climate change, all pollution and resource depletion, “What would Asoka do?” Answers?

  47. Kumar says:

    Richard (#47) – I teach at UofT in Toronto- one of the seminar courses that I teach is called “Sustainable and Just Futures: Environmental Politics in an Age of Global Warming”.My research as well as my work is focussed in South Asia. The wonderful ability of children to transcend race/class and recognize love/humanity is something that has always given me hope.

    Joe’s website is one of the locations where I get my daily updates on the latest on CC. I have been visiting it almost daily for more than a year, and listening to the discussions/ comments – which open a fascinating window for me into both the science and politics of climate change. I will get in touch with you over email.

  48. Richard Brenne says:

    Kumar (#48) – Thanks! Quest operates on blocks of 3 and 1/2 weeks, so maybe they could consider you during one of your breaks from the University of Toronto.

    Ever work with or run into Thomas Homer-Dixon?

  49. oso says:

    droughts could happen and worse

  50. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Joe, I apologize for the lack of clarity in my writing. I wrote “The claim is often made that the poor will be the hardest hit by warming.” I went on to explain that cold is a much greater threat to the poor than warmth, which was my meaning. The poor wouldn’t be hardest hit by warming, they’d be hardest hit by cooling.

    You seem to have misinterpreted that as saying that the poor will be hit harder than the rich because they have less money. While this is also true, if you re-read my post you’ll see that that is not what I said.

    Finally, although you keep saying that I was nitpicking (using various ways to say it), my nitpicking caused both you and the authors to radically alter your work, your words, and your conclusions. Somehow, that seems like more than a minor thing …


    [JR: Uhh, no. There was no radical change. The author says he made a small mistake, using 1.8% instead of 1% in a footnote (and the subsequent erroneous calculation just in the footnote) — and then changed the wording of a few sentences. The main conclusions that the authors said they were making were not substantially changed. You simply misread what I wrote, intentionally or not.

    As for lack of clarity, well, you keep misrepresenting what a wrote, even though it is now pretty clear.]

  51. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Joe, many thanks for your response. After I wrote my comment, you pulled out the entire first section of your conclusions and replaced it with the statement that “Overall, the evidence presented here does not augur well for the future.” How is pulling out your entire first section of your conclusions not a radical change?

    It’s true that it looks like there was no radical change if you look at the post today, but that’s because you didn’t note that you pulled out that whole section of your conclusions. You took out the section that claimed the population growth rate was constant, not dropping.

    [JR: Ahh, I see how you got confused. I left out the ellipsis, so since you apparently didn’t bother reading the whole revised post, you were confused into thinking the authors removed their population conclusions. In this revision, mostly a reorganization to emphasize the climate conclusion, I simply moved the population discussion, which is tangential to the climate conclusion, to the end.

    Obviously, I didn’t take the section out. I just moved it a few inches down. Seriously, Willis, this is the best you can do?]

    Following up on the topic I had raised, you also went back and talked to the authors, asking them why they claimed that the growth rate is not falling. You still haven’t said why they made that claim, except that their wording was “inapt” … a curious description for a claim that population growth rate is not dropping, when every authority I know of says it is dropping. That’s not “inapt”. They specifically said that population growth was “constant” several times in their study, including in the footnote even after correction. They also made calculations (including in the footnote) assuming that growth rate was “constant”. In other words, the question that you asked the authors still hasn’t been explained.

    But in any case, my question is:

    Do you still claim (as you did before I posted) that the population growth rate is “constant” and not dropping?

    Because if you do still claim that, then you are in disagreement with every single authority I know of in the field, and you haven’t provided a shred of evidence for the claim.

    On the other hand, if you agree that the population growth rate is falling, well, then that’s a radical change from before, when you said it was “constant” …

    I appreciate continuing the discussion,


    [JR: Uhh, I’d say “nice try” but it is absurd that you write all this stuff without actually reading what I wrote. Why do you insist on ignoring the entire second half of my post. As I wrote, “He was referring to the seeming slowdown very recently in the rate of decrease of population growth.” As the figure shows, in the last few years, the rate of decrease has seemingly slowdown. If it were temperature data, you deniers would be screaming “the warming has stopped.” Anyway, as I also wrote, “It is, of course, widely believed world population will stabilize by mid-century.” The issue isn’t germane to the climate conclusions, but you can continue to misrepresent what I wrote, as I expect you will.

    Willis, all of your and Anthony’s climate lies “are in disagreement with every single authority I know of in the field, and you haven’t provided a shred of evidence for the claims” you keep making.]

    PS – I don’t recall Anthony or I ever saying that the CO2 growth rate wasn’t rising … so I’m not clear why you think I “conceded” something, as you state in your post title. Perhaps you could point out where either one of us actually made that claim, to refresh my memory?

    [JR: You have written a whole post dedicated to acknowledging the CO2 growth rate is accelerating and why you are (bizarrely) cheering it on. That’s a big deal in my book. If you can point to some high profile place where you acknowledged that in the past, as the central point of a post (not buried in it), then let me know.]

  52. Willis Eschenbach says:

    [JR: Thanks for your reply, Willis. I was hoping for an answer to my question. I’m surprised you wrote, “The claim is often made that the poor will be the hardest hit by warming. As someone who has never been poor, but often broke, I can assure you that’s nonsense.” That statement is obviously false. Oh, wait, you think you responded to me. Like you, I can’t be bothered to read such things.

    Seriously, the comment below sets a world record for ignoring my reply, my re-reply, and my explanation of the reply that you missed. I know you are just repeating the same questions over and over again in hopes I answer them differently and you can pounce. That’s quite tedious.]

    Thanks for your reply, Joe. I was hoping for an answer to my question. The problem is that the paper contradicts itself, and at this point it seems you have supported both sides of the contradiction. Let me try to rephrase the question:

    Do you think the population growth rate is “constant”, as you had claimed before, and as the paper you cited continues to claim?

    [JR: Asked and answered. Seriously. Do you still believe, “The claim is often made that the poor will be the hardest hit by warming. As someone who has never been poor, but often broke, I can assure you that’s nonsense.”]

    Or do you think that the population growth rate is continuing to drop, as is clearly shown in Figure 7 of their paper, and as is generally believed?

    Because in your original post, you highlighted their claim that the population growth was constant by putting it first, as what you said was the most important conclusion of the paper. Then when I queried your support of that claim, you removed it as your first conclusion, and asked the authors about it.

    [JR: No, that isn’t what happened. Nice try. Or, rather, not at all a nice try. Go back and read the post. I run a climate blog, the title of the post was >>Analysis: “The content of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is accelerating super-exponentially.”< < I posted their entire conclusion. The population conclusion was obviously not the focus of the post (hence the headline) or even relevant to the climate conclusion, much as you try to spin things otherwise. Now you did make a huge blunder in your post suggesting that the population conclusion was inherently related to the CO2 conclusion, but I conclusively showed that you were dead wrong.]

    I see that as a reasonable response, and yours was a very reasonable question to the authors, because several places in the paper they explicitly state that the population growth rate is constant, and use that constant in their mathematical calculations … but their Figure 7 clearly shows otherwise, as did part of the text.

    Which is why you asked them about it – because as you pointed out, the paper contradicts itself.

    So I’m still in mystery here. The authors made a very specific claim that the growth rate is constant. They did very specific calculations, based on a constant growth rate. For example, they say:
    As a matter of fact, the growth rate of human population has peaked in the late 1960s and although population is still growing, it is no longer the prime concern of policy leaders. This may be ill-advised as we show below that population growth is not decelerating anymore, being on a stable exponential (proportional) growth trajectory.

    Clearly, they are saying that the population growth rate is constant (stable growth), and no longer decreasing.

    You said that they claimed their wording was “inapt”, but that seems perfectly clear to me. They repeated that exact same claim, that population growth was no longer dropping, several times in the paper.

    So when you report them as saying their wording was “inapt”, are they saying that their claims of constant growth rate, and their calculations which are based on those constant growth rates, are wrong?

    Because if so, that’s more than “inapt wording”, that’s incorrect math. I note that they use that mathematical assumption of constant growth rate a couple of places in the paper.

    Is that what they meant by “inapt”? Or am I not understanding their meaning? Because from their Figure 7 is quite clear that the rate is dropping, so I don’t understand which claim they (or you) are supporting at this point.

    [JR: I have answered all of these questions in the post. “I asked Sornette about the inconsistency, and he realized that their use of language was inapt and needed to be changed slightly. He was referring to the seeming slowdown very recently in the rate of decrease of population growth.” I provided the graphic evidence for that. You may continue to ignore it.]

    If (as you say) they’re really talking about a “recent slowdown” in the growth rate, then the rate is not constant … but that means that they have to redo the math in the entire paper, which is based on constant population growth rates, and rewrite the paper to remove the claims of constant growth rates.

    [JR: Actually they don’t “have to redo the math in the entire paper.” Indeed, the entire CO2 analysis, which was the point of my paper, relies not at all on the population growth rates, notwithstanding your blunder to the contrary.]

    Is that what they mean?

    [JR: Since you continue to ignore what I write I would suggest that you pester them and then ignore or misrepresent what they say.]

    Many thanks,


    PS – The title of the post claims that I have “finally conceded” that the CO2 growth rate is increasing. However, I have never claimed the CO2 growth rate wasn’t increasing. For me to “concede” that point means that you think I must have argued against it in the past. However, I have never argued against it, so perhaps you were thinking of someone else … which seems especially likely given that to date you haven’t found any place I argued against it either.

    [JR: Incorrect. I thought it was rather obvious why I used the phrase “finally conceded.” I run a climate blog, the title of the post was >>Analysis: “The content of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is accelerating super-exponentially.” Your response ignored the whole point of my post and attempted to discredit the central climate conclusion without even reading that part of the paper by attacking the population analysis, upon which the CO2 conclusion did not rely in the least bit.

    This is a classic avoidance technique. So yes, it looked very much like you were unwilling to concede the central point of my post. Your second post “finally conceded” that I was right all along in the headline and the climate conclusion.]

    When I asked you for a citation to either Anthony or I making that claim, you countered by saying I should show you that I had publicly supported the claim, saying:

    If you can point to some high profile place where you acknowledged that in the past, as the central point of a post (not buried in it), then let me know.

    I don’t need to show I argued for it, Joe. For me to “concede” the point, that means I would have had to actively argue against it in the past. And that you’ll need to show, because I don’t believe I have done so.

    [JR: Wait, you do actually selectively read my responses? Impressive. Anyway, as I have now explained, it looked to the whole world like you were ducking the main point of my post and focusing on something tangential in order to undermine it. That’s why I ask for some high profile place where you acknowledged that in the past. Who knew you’d duck something entirely you say you believe?]

    I discuss atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa here. I have argued forcefully, both there and elsewhere, that the Mauna Loa record is valid and accurate. I use the Mauna Loa data for all my CO2 calculations, including the graph at the top of the page. The CO2 growth rate is clearly visible in that data. I’ve never denied that.

    So no, I haven’t “conceded” anything because there’s nothing to concede. I’ve never denied any aspect of the Mauna Loa CO2 data, so I don’t even have the power to “concede” anything at all. Because as far as I know, you and I have agreed on the validity of the Mauna Loa data since day one, and the CO2 growth is part and parcel of the Mauna Loa data. So what’s to concede?

    [JR: Again, as I’ve explained, the key phrase is “finally conceded” since it appeared as if you were ducking the central point of my original post, and then “finally” got around to admitting I was right all along. Hope that clears things up. Now can you explain how you ever could have believed, “The claim is often made that the poor will be the hardest hit by warming. As someone who has never been poor, but often broke, I can assure you that’s nonsense.” I can assure you that’s nonsense.]