Thursday, September 22, 2011

Gerry Nicholls: Full Metal Wingnut?

All that matters [to David Suzuki] is his almost mystical need to stop climate change, even if that’s an impossible task.

And this perhaps is why Suzuki is endorsing McGuinty. It actually has nothing to do with those giant wind-turbines ( McGuinty’s Mechanical Monsters) which blight the rural landscape.

Suzuki simply realizes that McGuinty is to Ontario’s economy what Arnold Schwarzenegger is to wedding vows.

And by that I mean McGuinty’s policies of high taxes, excessive regulation and massive deficits will ultimately cripple Ontario’s economy.

This will increase Ontario’s poverty and unemployment and economic misery, but on the green bright side it will also result in a lessening of industrial activity which might slightly reduce the province’s greenhouse gas emissions.

This is the future Suzuki is applauding.

OK.  So this appears in the Canada Free Press, so Gerry probably doesn't believe any of this horseshit, he's probably just pandering to the "turbine truthers" in his audience.  But if he does actually think that David Suzuki wants to increase "poverty" and "economic misery" in Ontario, and that's why he's supporting the McGuinty Green Energy legislation...if he actually believes that Mr. Suzuki is evil, in other words, then Gerry Nicholls is a kook.  I truly hope, therefore, that Gerry is being entirely cynical, shovelling boob-bait to the yokels that frequent CFP.  The alternative is frightening to contemplate.

That is all.

33 comments:

Jerome Bastien said...

I dont think Suzuki wants poverty and misery. But he advocates policies that will lead directly to that, and he either does not care, or he actually believes that we can run Ontario without coal, nuclear power and gasoline powered vehicles.

That's where the line between evil and ignorance is pretty thin. If you advocate for policies, its no defense once these policies have a deleterious effect to say "but but but, i had an expert tell me green energy was the future".

On that point, I will be 100% in favour of green energy when I see a technology which is both environmentally friendly and cost effective (wind and solar are neither, not even close).

liberal supporter said...

JB:
How do we get that environmentally friendly and cost effective technology? Do you expect "the market" to do it? The market will not do it alone until it has an incentive, such as fossil fuels becoming prohibitively expensive. Various tax schemes could do that, but if done abruptly will cause economic problems. The best solution is some taxation, and government support for developing these new technologies.

As has been argued before, government support got an atomic bomb in 5 years and a man on the moon in 10 years, each from virtually a standing start.

Our current fossil fuel economy was kick started by government support. Britain's courts abolished slavery in 1772, and the Industrial Revolution followed in the ensuing decades.

The technology that powered the Industrial Revolution, the steam engine, was actually invented in Bible times. After 1700 years, "the market" had done nothing because there was no incentive to do so. Removing human power as competition changed the economic equation.

I'd like my green car, for which wind and solar's problem of being intermittent is not an issue for charging the car or making hydrogen for it, in a few years, not 1700 years.

Jerome Bastien said...

LS:

Yes, I expect the "market" to do it. The "market" for clean and cost-efficient energy is limitless, and that's plenty of incentive for companies and researchers to focus their efforts on a new energy source. Check out the US patent database for all the innovations coming out in clean energy. Most of these people are not subsidized. Besides, subsidies did not help Solyndra, although they did help enrich the shareholders of Solyndra, who by coincidence had donated to Obama's campaign.

Man on the moon, atomic bomb, cost was no object. The issue is not to transform solar energy, its to do it in a cost-effective way, and to do it preferably without the need for very-dirty-to-mine "rare earth minerals". Same type of issues with wind, and to a much greater extent, nuclear fusion.

Oh, and Im very curious to see a reference for that steam engine from biblical times. Maybe Jesus invented it.

Lars said...

He's probably talking about Hero of Alexandria's steam engine - Hero was a contemporary of Christ.

Not even as efficient as the Newcomen engine, but it could have been harnessed to do work.

As LS says, the market twiddled its thumbs over this one for almost 2000 years.

sharonapple88 said...

Check out the US patent database for all the innovations coming out in clean energy. Most of these people are not subsidized.

U.S. patent database isn't necessarily a good way to judge development in the US, especially with the development of patent trolls. In the case of Enercon, they found a US company, Kentech, had patented their designs for a windmill before the had a chance to.

Also, the US isn't the leader in clean energy development. China made huge investments in solar and windmill construction and now leads.As for whether something like this -- government investment -- slows development, here's the first chapter of "Bad Samartarians" which deals with government intervension in the development of Toyota.

The issue is not to transform solar energy, its to do it in a cost-effective way, and to do it preferably without the need for very-dirty-to-mine "rare earth minerals". Same type of issues with wind, and to a much greater extent, nuclear fusion.

Speaking of safer nuclear energy, we're seeing the development of thorium nuclear reactors. India invested heavily in this area and used to lead, but it looks like e they sponsered research in this area. China's increased the money in Thorium research. (Sadly, there was a working thorium reactor created in the 1960's, which was abandoned in the US.)

sharonapple88 said...

Just wanted to add this from the article on thorium reactors:

"The plans were shelved because thorium does not produce plutonium for bombs. As a happy bonus, it can burn up plutonium and toxic waste from old reactors, reducing radio-toxicity and acting as an eco-cleaner."

Jerome Bastien said...

thorium reactors are a very exciting and promising technology. and if someone develops a safe and cost-effective one, they will be very rich.

as for the US patent database, the point is that there is plenty of innovation in alternative energy, although true breakthroughs are exceedingly difficult to reach and thus rare. but the broader point is that people are already looking at this problem and innovating not because of gov. subsidies but because of the enormous market potential.

your point about patent trolls and the fraudulently obtained patent is neither here nor there. im not saying that every patent in the US patent database is a potential solution, but that people are looking for a solution, and doing so without subsidies. also, you should know that US patent database includes patents from inventors of every country in the world.

the bigger point, the one which addresses BCL's post, is that to force immature technologies on us will necessarily lead to more poverty and misery. you cant make energy more expensive without having these consequences, and that is what mcguinty is doing.

sharonapple88 said...

your point about patent trolls and the fraudulently obtained patent is neither here nor there. im not saying that every patent in the US patent database is a potential solution, but that people are looking for a solution, and doing so without subsidies. also, you should know that US patent database includes patents from inventors of every country in the world.

The increase in green tech patents could be the result of the push fast-track green technology and might not show an explosion in development as much as a clearing of a backlog. As well, unless you investigate each case, it's impossible to know whether government funding was involved.

(The point about patent trolls is that there are companies out there who hold patents with the intent not to use them, but to sue people. An increase in patents may indicate development, or people preparing for patent wars, and are trying to nail everything down that could be of use to anyone. We've seen this already with Toyota's hybrid car. According to the car companies, the patents they violated were basic ideas that they ended discovering on their own. That's one of the things about science. There's the idea that an Ayn Randian hero is the source of development, but a lot of times multiple people are coming up with the same ideas -- one just gets there before everyone else. This isn't to argue against patents, or that people can't create breakthroughs no one else would have thought of, but the patent situation isn't a simple one of a company or person creating a truly original idea and then patenting it with the intent of using it.)

Jerome Bastien said...

Ah yes, the push to "fast track green technology" patents. We have a similar thing in Canada. This is a pointless gimmick.

That just relates to whether your patent application will be put at the top of an examiner's desk or at the bottom.

But more importantly, how do you define "green technology"? If you invent a piece of machinery used in oil sands which goes from consuming 30 gallons of gas per minute to 25 gallons of gas per minute, is that green technology? According to the patent office, it is.

You keep going way off track with patent trolls. Patent trolls are not necessarily evil. If they invent something first and disclose it to the public, they have a right to be compensated. If a "patent troll" invents the next big energy breakthrough, we will still benefit from it.

And you dont need to educate me about patent trolls or what they are. Im a patent lawyer and I am very familiar with all these things.

Im not familiar with the Toyota case, but your general point about every innovation relying on the previous innovations of others is exactly correct. Most patents are granted for tiny improvements of existing things.

My only point about the US Patent database was to show that there is tons of research and innovation going on in green technology. Dont go and "investigate each case", but i can guarantee you that only a tiny majority (well connected people, campaign donors) are subsidized.

Lenny said...

"I dont think Suzuki wants poverty and misery. But he advocates policies that will lead directly to that"

You're projecting. It's those who deny science who are advocating policies that will lead to poverty and misery.

"On that point, I will be 100% in favour of green energy when I see a technology which is both environmentally friendly and cost effective (wind and solar are neither, not even close)."

Fossil fuels are only competitive with renewables because they externalize huge amounts of their costs. In effect, subsidies that dwarf anything available to wind energy producers.

Jerome Bastien said...

Fossil fuels are only competitive with renewables because they externalize huge amounts of their costs

so what is this externalized cost for the gazillions of tons of fossil fuels we burned since the industrial revolution?

who do we pay it too?

i know of course what you mean. you mean the slight warming we've experienced since the industrial revolution. this is not a cost under any reasonable definition of cost. otherwise we'd be owing someone alot of money for all the fossil fuels we've already burned. but we dont.

Also, please inform me of what piece of empirical evidence convinced you that AGW is such a big problem. I rather suspect (but would be pleasantly surprised if you prove otherwise) that you're simply parroting the IPCC line. In and of itself, that's fine, but if you're unable to defend your beliefs using empirical data, you should perhaps refrain from accusing others of "denying the science".

sharonapple88 said...

You keep going way off track with patent trolls. Patent trolls are not necessarily evil. If they invent something first and disclose it to the public, they have a right to be compensated. If a "patent troll" invents the next big energy breakthrough, we will still benefit from it.

I have a computer programmer friend who's slanted my view on patents with articles like this one, which tries to link low-quality patents with a serge in patent lawsuits. Hearing about an increase in patents doesn't equate innovation, but patent trolling. It's a knee-jerk reaction to the situation (and hey, it's easier to patent troll software than physical designs). Knowing this, I'm open to other argument.

sharonapple88 said...

Also, please inform me of what piece of empirical evidence convinced you that AGW is such a big problem

1. AGW is predicted an increase in flooding and perceiptation in some areas.

Have we seen increased snowfall and perciptation lately? Yes.

Masters said that in each of the past two winters the northeastern United States has had three snowstorms of Category 3 or higher on the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale, which happened only once before in the past 50 years, during the winter of 1960-1961.

Snow storm in New York City, January 26, 2011 (Photo by Juan Jose Richards Echeverria)
This winter and last, New York City experienced its two snowiest months on record - February 2010 (36.9 inches) and January 2011 (36 inches) - and Philadelphia had four of the top 10 snowstorms in its history.

In the Midwest, Chicago was hit by its third biggest snowstorm on record in February, while Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota all have had near-record snows this winter.

While sections of the United States have experienced stretches of unusually cold weather this winter, temperatures have not been much below average. That, too, provides an explanation for the heavy snowfalls.

"The old adage? It's too cold to snow,' has some truth to it," said Masters. "A colder atmosphere holds less moisture, limiting the snowfall that can occur.

He cited a study documenting that 80 percent of all snowstorms in the United States of more than six inches during the 20th century occurred during winters with above average temperatures.

"If the climate continues to warm we should expect an increase in heavy snowstorms for a few decades," Masters said. "But eventually, with winters getting shorter, we may reach the point where it's too warm to snow heavily."

sharonapple88 said...

2. Decreased crop yields because of strange weather patterns, some of which is the result of global warming:

And erratic weather began eating into yields. A 2003 heat wave in Europe that some researchers believe was worsened by human-induced global warming slashed agricultural output in some countries by as much as 30 percent. A long drought in Australia, also possibly linked to climate change, cut wheat and rice production.

In 2007 and 2008, with grain stockpiles low, prices doubled and in some cases tripled. Whole countries began hoarding food, and panic buying ensued in some markets, notably for rice. Food riots broke out in more than 30 countries. Farmers responded to the high prices by planting as much as possible, and healthy harvests in 2008 and 2009 helped rebuild stocks, to a degree. That factor, plus the global recession, drove prices down in 2009. But by last year, more weather-related harvest failures sent them soaring again. This year, rice supplies are adequate, but with bad weather threatening the wheat and corn crops in some areas, markets remain jittery.
....
The farmers of the Yaqui Valley grow their wheat in a near-desert, relying on irrigation. Their water comes by aqueduct from nearby mountains, but for parts of the past decade, rainfall was below normal. Scientists do not know if this has been a consequence of climate change, but Northern Mexico falls squarely within a global belt that is expected to dry further because of human emissions of greenhouse gases.

sharonapple88 said...

3. Even if you don't care about AGW, there's the acidification of the oceans with all the increased CO2. The result of this is troubling.

Scientists estimate that oceans absorb around a million tonnes of carbon dioxide every hour and our seas are 30% more acidic than they were last century. This increased acidity plays havoc with levels of calcium carbonate, which forms the shells and skeletons of many sea creatures, and also disrupts reproductive activity.

Among the warning signs recently noted have been the failures of commercial oyster and other shellfish beds on the Pacific coasts of the US and Canada. In addition, coral reefs – already bleached by rising global temperatures – have suffered calamitous disintegration in many regions. And at the poles and high latitudes, where the impact of ocean acidification is particularly serious, tiny shellfish called pteropods – the basic foodstuff of fish, whales and seabirds in those regions – have suffered noticeable drops in numbers. In each case, ocean acidification is thought to be involved.

sharonapple88 said...

Hearing about an increase in patents doesn't equate innovation, but patent trolling.

To clarify, "Hearing about an increase in patents doesn't equate innovation, but patent trolling to me." :P

Lenny said...

A whole body of evidence published in journals and compiled by the IPCC describes fossil fuels role in climate change.

The costs have been estimated as high as 5% of global GDP already, and that's only the warming. Never mind the billions in health costs from ground level ozone and particulate matter, spills, and ocean acidification.

"...perhaps refrain from accusing others of "denying the science"."

I won't refrain from calling you a denier. More than once you've made standard denier assertions here, and when presented with their refutation you've always slunk away without response.
You're an idealogue who rejects reality when it conflicts with your ideology.

sunsin said...

the slight warming we've experienced since the industrial revolution

Hooboy. Denying global climate change is by now about as defensible as Holocaust denial. Both depend on willfully closing one's eyes to masses of evidence. The difference is that we can still do something about climate change.

Frankly, I can't stand Suzuki. He's an obnoxious egotist whose perpetual hair-on-fire running around about anything whatsoever has damaged the credibility of the environmental movement and made it more difficult to argue the case for global climate change. But to say that he's in some sort of dark conspiracy to destroy the economy is simply lunatic. He may be more than a bit of a drama queen, but sooner or later we're going to have to run Ontario, and everywhere else, without coal, oil, and nuclear power, because those are all non-renewable resources. They'll become uneconomical to use long before they run out, because the prices will skyrocket. And that's not even considering the enormous negative externalities of things like coal, with regard to climate change and other forms of pollution.

You didn't even seem to comprehend this point in your replies, that fossil fuels are cheap because they are dumping off a huge proportion of their total costs onto society. Given this inexplicable incomprehension, I can't help wondering if you really are a lawyer or whether instead you're some Cheetos-dusted troll sitting at a computer in his mother's basement, penny a lining for the oil industry.

Lenny said...

A lawyer?
I thought fer shur he's gotta be a climate scientist.

liberal supporter said...

A lawyer?
I thought fer shur he's gotta be a climate scientist
.
No, he isn't.

Jerome Bastien said...

Sorry for the delay in responding. Turns out I had better things to do during the weekend.

sharonapple88:

Nice job showing evidence that the world is warming. That does NOT show that human emissions of CO2 are to blame, just that the world is warming. that's not surprising at all, the world is usually either warming or cooling, it very rarely stays constant. But still, it's a good start. You should now familiarize yourself with "signature studies", namely studies which try to attribute the warming to one cause or another. Evidence of warming is just that: evidence that the world is getting warmer, it says nothing as to why.

Jerome Bastien said...

LennY: A whole body of evidence published in journals and compiled by the IPCC describes fossil fuels role in climate change.

Really? A "whole body"? Wow. And I thought that you didnt know what you were talking about and was just going to rely on the authority of others in order to avoid exposing your ignorance.

I won't refrain from calling you a denier

That really hurts. I mean, some anonymous pussy calling me some bullsh1t insult about how Im stupid because Im not convinced by his "whole body" of evidence. How can I ever go on? How, please tell me.

Care to discuss what is in this "whole body"? What is this extraordinarily convincing evidence of which you speak? What has been measured? What is the significance of these measurements? How do these measurements rule out other potential causes of warming?

Im sure you have all these answers at your fingertips, because otherwise you would have no moral basis from being high and mighty and self-righteous.

Jerome Bastien said...

sunsin: Denying global climate change is by now about as defensible as Holocaust denial.

This maybe so with your hippy friends, but in the real world, climate change denial is the new cool thing. Check out the latest polls.


You didn't even seem to comprehend this point in your replies, that fossil fuels are cheap because they are dumping off a huge proportion of their total costs onto society.


Unfortunately for you, I comprehend this very well. But I call bullsh1t on it. That's all. Just give it a 2 second sanity check: this "huge proportion of their total costs" has been borne by society for 150 years. The result is worldwide prosperity that would have been unthinkable even 100 years ago.

I can't help wondering if you really are a lawyer or whether instead you're some Cheetos-dusted troll sitting at a computer in his mother's basement, penny a lining for the oil industry.

Really following your "Climate Advocacy for Dummies" guide book on how to respond to a denier I see. Good job. You wouldnt want to stray from the script - that requires some thinking, and you have clearly outsourced your thinking to others.

I need to set the record straight though. Im a cheetos-dusted lawyer.

Also, a word of advice: in the real world, people will be more impressed if you can actually formulate arguments in support of your position instead of insulting your opponent. I've made it easier for you to grasp this last point with the following example.

Hippy No. 1: "hey man, yeah, like, you're totally a stooge of big oil maaaaaan"

Not convincing. Hippy No. 1 has not made the slightest argument in favour of his position.

Hippy No. 2: I believe global warming is like, totally reeaaaal maaaaaaan, because like, it's so hot today it's like 100 degrees, maaaaaaaan.

Hippy No. 2 is not convincing to those who escaped the sixties with most of their brain cells intact. But, he is more convincing than Hippy No. 1 because he at least provides a factual basis for his beliefs.

So please try to be more like Hippy No. 2 in the future. You will be a better person for it. It may require some hard work, like learning about science, which is alot more difficult than simply proclaiming to be talking in Science's name, but most worthwhile things do.

Jerome Bastien said...

Last post for today:

This clip, while hilarious and silly, contains a hint of truth, a truth which is missed by most alarmists.

Science as a method, is unimpeachable. But different sciences have different levels of maturity. not only that, some sciences, like geology and climate science (who are intimately related, hence the relevance of Sheldon Cooper's heroics), may ask questions which are not only very difficult, but actually unknowable.

This distinction seems lost on the alarmists, who seem to think that the mantle of science gives their claims some kind of immunity. Perhaps not surprisingly, these alarmists who misconstrue and misunderstand science were more often than not enrolled in social sciences or arts at university. In fact, I wouldnt be surprised if all of you were either social science or art grads.

Liberal supporter?
Sharonapple88?
Lenny?
Sunsin?
BCL?

If you were an actual science grad (environmental studies dont count, sorry), I apologize profusely.

But I can see no other explanation for the claim that climate science is able to predict earth's climate in 100 years time.

Lenny said...

"...just going to rely on the authority of others in order to avoid exposing your ignorance."

Absolutely. I don't chronically suffer the effects of Dunning-Kruger, so I also won't be self-diagnosing and treating should I develop symptoms of serious illness.



Which part of your tired nonsense would you like to rehash and have debunked again?

Jerome Bastien said...

Lenny: It is unfortunate that your contributions are limited to insults and that you are unable to formulate actual reasons why your position should be considered. But thanks for that old BCL link, I had forgotten that even in December of 09, I was tearing you a new one on this issue. Clearly you havent learned.

Even back then, none of your posts provide a single piece of evidence. It's all name calling and other crap, nothing substantive.

BTW, could you please respond to my little informal survey:
Your degree was in:
a) social sciences
b) arts
c) real sciences (excluding 'environmental sciences'
d) environmental sciences
e) no degree

Thanks.

Lenny said...

Sorry, I can't increase the font size for you. Do you have reading glasses?

Do you need your climate sensitivity nonsense debunked again?
http://www.iac.ethz.ch/people/knuttir/papers/knutti08natgeo.pdf

Or do you have "new" nonsense you'd like debunked? Would you like to deny the radiative properties of co2? Maybe you'd like to deny humans' responsibility for increases in atmospheric co2? How 'bout denying that the earth is warming at all?

Jerome Bastien said...

http://www.iac.ethz.ch/people/knuttir/papers/knutti08natgeo.pdf

provides the following error : "Expecting a dict object".

Is this how you debunk things? By giving a link to some paper? Colour me impressed. A great scienticizer such as you can surely tell me how this paper determines climate sensitivity and what its results are.

Besides, the climate sensitivity is still very much unknown. All the recent hooplah over Lindzen-Choi and Spencer-Braswell, Remote Sensing, and the most recent Dessler paper is all about climate sensitivity and estimates thereof. But they should have consulted you all along because you have a (broken) link to some paper which settles the question once and for all. These poor fools of Lindzen, Choi, Braswell, Spencer and Dessler, all working for nothing while "Lenny" had the answer.

Oh the irony.

Jerome Bastien said...

And you still havent answered my informal survey. I surmise that this is due to some shame on your part. Let me assure you that the results of the survey will be confidential (easy, I have no clue what your real name is).

Lenny said...

Two years later and you still can't read a PDF with your computer?

As I told you (apparently you were lying when you implied you had read my posts in the old thread) the paper is a review of published work relating to sensitivity referencing 100-odd papers.

Certainly scientists aren't "working for nothing" on the topic. Estimates are within a range of 2c - 4.5c. There's still lots of room to narrow the range and improve the estimate, as science is wont to do.

You, however, are "working for nothing" if you think you have a contribution to make. Although stranger things have happened and you are always free to submit

Lenny said...

I flattered that you're more interested in me than the topic, but I'm not interested in changing the channel.

Jerome Bastien said...

I dont know why i cant open that pdf. I open tons of PDFs from all sorts of sources and they all work, except this one. No matter though, I'll take your word for whatever is in there.

apparently you were lying when you implied you had read my posts in the old thread

Yes, i was LYING, in fact today I had only skimmed through these posts. It's all part of my evil plan.

Oh, and I got your attempted joke of the Duninng-Kruger effect the first time around. Im sure though, it'll be really funny at the 3d attempt. Keep on trying tiger!

As it turns out I am not making any contributions to climate science, but Im able to understand and evaluate the contributions of others. You on the other hand, are limited to knowing which side is the 'official line' and which side isnt, picking the 'official line' and slandering anyone who disagrees. Not exactly a feat of intellectual prowess, even if you were only an amoeba.

So you're willing to accept that sensitivity is anywhere between 2 and 4.5 deg C, but you consider it inconceivable that it is outside that range? Such certainty in uncertainty can only be the product of a great mind. I am but a fool to have ever doubted you. The notion that we dont really understand climate sensitivity, despite not having improved the precision of our estimates for > 20 years and billions in research is denialist nonsense! We understand it perfectly and our estimates only vary by 300%!!

And dont feel bad if you have a social sciences degree. McDonalds is always in need of new employees.

Lenny said...

"So you're willing to accept that sensitivity is anywhere between 2 and 4.5 deg C, but you consider it inconceivable that it is outside that range? "

Of course not. It could be higher or lower, but it's unlikely to be.

"not having improved the precision of our estimates for > 20 years and billions in research is denialist nonsense!"

It's improved in as much as more and more evidence has been accumulated pointing to a likely sensitivity close to 3c, while the extremes of that range have become more unlikely.
However, I agree that it would be comforting if we could rule out the higher end of the range.