Carlos Rymer

Sustainability, Life, and More…

“Unworkable” Climate Treaty Not An Option

With all the news about President Obama’s deal to reduce this year’s federal budget by $38 billion and his proposal to reduce total deficits by $4 trillion over the next 12 years, it is easy to bypass the Administration’s promise to finally act boldly on climate change and help the U.S. unleash a wave of innovation in clean energy, smarter transportation, and energy efficiency. The budget deal alone signals that the U.S. will reduce its investments in clean energy, high-speed rail, and energy efficiency at a time when countries like China and Germany are moving ahead at full speed to capture a market that will be worth trillions of dollars in the next several years.

Today, the Obama Administration’s commitment became even clearer when Todd Stern, the Administration’s climate envoy to the United Nations climate negotiations, declared that a climate treaty was “unworkable.” In Stern’s own words, “it’s [not] necessary that there be [an] internationally binding emission caps as long as you’ve got national laws and regulations. What I am saying is it’s not doable.” In effect, Stern is stating the Obama Administration’s position is that to move forward on climate change, countries will have to simply do whatever they can on their own. This clearly shows the level of urgency the Obama administration has placed on climate change, basically declaring that solving climate change is a luxury rather than a real global emergency similar to nuclear proliferation.

If it were true that we could solve climate change and avoid the trillions in costs it will bring by the end of the century by simply allowing countries to draw up their own plans (by the way, this is not very different from what the Bush administration proposed in their “voluntary scheme”), then it would also be true that we did not need the New START or any other non-proliferation treaties because countries could draw up their own plans voluntarily and address the issue the best way they could (regardless of how long it would take them or how much they could do).

This approach is well-known to be a recipe for failure, and if as a society we believe that risking failure to act boldly on climate change is an acceptable result, then we are accepting endangering future generations’ livelihoods and creating conditions that will be catastrophically damaging to the global environment and economy. I agree that circumstance is causing the Obama administration to put a lot of important issues aside, but how can anybody who understands climate change agree that a President who has so frequently called for bold action now sends his climate envoy to negotiations saying that a treaty is not and will not be possible?

If Obama was really committed, he would come out and set the record straight to let the world know that a treaty is not only still possible, but that it is in fact a requirement to ensuring that we will not give future generations a planet that is so damaged that it can no longer support productive economies. What we saw today from Todd Stern is just another sign that Obama is now less willing to stand strongly for anything, much less employ his political capital to get things done. I hope the President knows what he’s doing and won’t end up being ashamed of not acting when he could years down the road.


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29 thoughts on ““Unworkable” Climate Treaty Not An Option

  1. rogerthesurf on said:

    Do you know, according to the IPCC, how soon will it be before we are fully effected by the 7 meter sea level rise caused by the melting of the Greenland ice cap then?



    • The middle of the road estimate is 1 meter this century. IPCC does not mention 7 meter sea level rise to my knowledge. However, independent scientists like James Hansen predict this may happen if greenland or west antarctica melting rapidly accelerates.

      • rogerthesurf on said:


        I think you should read more closely about the “evidence” and “consequences” of adhering to the “Anthropogenic CO2 causes Global Warming” hypothesis.

        According to the IPCC, that epitome of exaggeration, the answer is more than 2000 years. I kid you not.

        Note the use of the word “millennia”.

        This is the official “opinion” but how many times do we hear scare mongering stories about our cities being inundated by the end of the century. In my country we even had a news story examining one of our cities and pointing out which parts would be soon inundated from the forthcoming 15 metre inundation.



      • Remember, the IPCC is middle of the road and uses data up to 2005 or so. Since then, we’ve learned a lot about ice sheets to know that more than a meter of sea level rise is likely this century. And the entire melting of Greenland is possible within a few centuries if we do BAU.

  2. rogerthesurf on said:


    You should believe what you like, but when you make an assertion on a public forum such as this, I think it is advisable that you provide some sort of authority in support.

    Otherwise, why should anyone even consider listening to what you say?

    Did you actually read the link I gave you?



    • Roger,

      These days people listen a lot more to speculators than they do to an authority on a subject. Think there would be any skeptics if that was not the case?

      And by the way, James Hansen is in fact an authority. That’s why Congress asks him to come in and brief them on the possibilities of extreme climate change, and it’s why he is so well recognized in the climate science community.

      In any case, i think my post had less to do with the science than with the current administration’s stance. I don’t think it is wise to debate the science any longer given how conclusive it already is.

  3. rogerthesurf on said:


    You obviously have no idea what is meant by “providing some sort of authority in support of your statements.”

    Here is an example.

    Dr Richard Litzen testified at a US Congressional House Sub-committee on Science and Technology. Here are the slides and notes he used.



    • I did mention a couple of authorities. One is well recognized (ipcc) and the other is peer reviewed and published. What you gave me is an oil industry funded “scientist” who has nothing worthy of publishing and is therefore NOT an authority.

      Anyways, Roger, i would love to give you a 101 on climate science, but i can see why you would reject any actual facts by pointing to fossil-funded individuals. Im not interested in debating the science because thats what creates confusion in spite of the science being clear.

      Lets discuss policy and how to tackle the problem, but not foolish arguments over what’s well-known.

      • rogerthesurf on said:

        Once again you have demonstrated that you have no idea about supplying authority about your assertions.

        “spite of the science being clear”

        There is another unsupported assertion and yet you feel you have the authority to preach AGW to the world on what is actually hearsay.

        Here are some scientific, peer reviewed published papers that contradict the “science” that the IPCC uses. This shows clearly, not where the truth lies neccesarily, but definitely that yhe science is NOT clear.

        These are a few references out of many. Papers that are floating around that contradict every facit of climate science, and yet they are ignored by people who are feeding you your half truths and fabrications.
        Why are they not also considered by the IPCC? Could it be that the IPCC cherry picks just like many accuse people, who are actually searching for truth and facts, of doing.

        An assessment of validation experiments conducted on computer models of global climate using the general circulation model of the UK’s Hadley Centre
        (Energy & Environment, Volume 10, Number 5, pp. 491-502, September 1999)
        – Richard S. Courtney

        An Alternative Explanation for Differential Temperature Trends at the Surface and in the Lower Troposphere (PDF)
        (Journal of Geophysical Research, Volume 114, November 2009)
        – Philip J. Klotzbach, Roger A. Pielke Sr., Roger A. Pielke Jr., John R. Christy, Richard T. McNider

        Altitude dependence of atmospheric temperature trends: Climate models versus observation (PDF)
        (Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 31, Issue 13, July 2004)
        – David H. Douglass, Benjamin D. Pearson, S. Fred Singer

        A test of corrections for extraneous signals in gridded surface temperature data (PDF)
        (Climate Research, Volume 26, Number 2, pp. 159-173, May 2004)
        – Ross McKitrick, Patrick J. Michaels

        – Are temperature trends affected by economic activity? Reply to Benestad (2004) (PDF)
        (Climate Research, Volume 27, Number 2, pp. 175–176, October 2004)
        – Ross McKitrick, Patrick J. Michaels

        A null hypothesis for CO2 (PDF)
        (Energy & Environment, Volume 21, Number 4, pp. 171-200, August 2010)
        – Roy Clark

        A natural constraint to anthropogenic global warming
        (Energy & Environment, Volume 21, Number 4, pp. 225-236, August 2010)
        – William Kininmonth

        A comparison of tropical temperature trends with model predictions (PDF)
        (International Journal of Climatology, Volume 28, Issue 13, pp. 1693-1701, December 2007)
        – David H. Douglass, John R. Christy, Benjamin D. Pearson, S. Fred Singer

        A Climate of Doubt about Global Warming
        (Environmental Geosciences, Volume 7, Issue 4, December 2000)
        – Robert C. Balling Jr.

        A 2000-year global temperature reconstruction based on non-treering proxies (PDF)
        (Energy & Environment, Volume 18, Numbers 7-8, pp. 1049-1058, December 2007)
        – Craig Loehle

        An empirical evaluation of earth’s surface air temperature response to radiative forcing, including feedback, as applied to the CO2-climate problem
        (Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, Volume 34, Numbers 1-2, pp. 1-19, March, 1984)
        – Sherwood B. Idso

        An upper limit to global surface air temperature
        (Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, Volume 34, Number 2, pp. 141-144, June 1985)
        – Sherwood B. Idso

        If you wish to explore a particular subject within AGW I am sure I can find you a paper or two that refute the official AGW line.

        Oh by the way Dr Richard S Lindzen has a remarkable CV.

        All you are doing is repeating attempted smears made by people who do not like what he is saying. Look at the facts! Not the smear campaign.



      • Thanks Roger.

      • By the way, even some previous skeptics are now admitting the reality we can all witness, and even companies like Exxon and BP have TV ads that admit that carbon emissions heat up the planet. But keep believing the 1% of scientists who publish papers with the intention of discrediting the facts. You should follow if you want to read about how each of those papers you mention are debunked.


  4. rogerthesurf on said:

    Really? Once again you are not able to refer to any authority except a biased blog to support your comments. Even then you seem unable to refer to a particular paragraph or chapter.

    The blog you mention, as far as I can tell, does not seem to refer to any scientific papers either.

    Perhaps you need to study science 101 before you continue preaching AGW.

    Faith will not save the world but foolhardy decisions may destroy it.

    How old are you anyway?



    • Roger,

      The reason I don’t point out any authorities other than the ones I’ve already pointed out is because of what I’ve already said, which is that I’m not interested in debating the science with you because you seem to be stuck in the 20th century. For your information, I have a BS and a Master’s from two Ivy League schools. To add to that, each of my degrees are in environmental science, and I’ve had the honor of working with top-level scientists who have been instrumental in adding real substance to the climate science literature. I know what I’m talking about, and if I were to point you to authorities, it would be a very long list (in fact, you can probably just browse through my past blog posts to find out some). Again, I’m not interested in discussing the science with you as you are stuck on the 21st century. This will be my last comment regarding this issue. If you want to have a real discussion, let’s have it on arguments of the 21st century rather than the 20th century. Do you have kids?

  5. rogerthesurf on said:


    Then you will be able to help me with the following, instead of avoiding my questions.

    From other comments of mine, on your blog you must already know my views on the economic cost of following the IPCC emission reduction demands and therefore you will understand my insistance on having reasonable proof for the “Anthropogenic CO2 causes Global Warming” hypothesis before we starve ourselves.

    Reasonable proof would be a paper along the lines of at least one of the following.

    1 Empirical proof that shows the causation factor of CO2 with respect of Global Warming.

    2. Statistical proof of Anthropogenic CO2. In case you dont know it, correlations are never proof.

    3. Evidence for the “Anthropogenic CO2 causes Global Warming” hypothesis to be adopted over the null hypothesis.

    If you are so well educated from such distinguished colleges as you claim and consorting with the worlds best as you further mention, you should not have any trouble finding at least one appropriate academic paper.

    Of course there is no consensus among scientists as you claim, possibly a little confines among the contributors of the IPCC (and who is paying them?).

    Lindzen and Co illustrate the lack of consensus very well, and all you can do is question who is paying them. A disapointing argument from an academic.

    Yes I do have children.



    • You know, i would spend the time debunking your ideas if i thought the time invested would be worth it, but it’s not. I’m just not going to waste my time arguing over something like this with just one person. I like to debate with communities. But Roger, believe what you would like to. That’s fine with me. 🙂

      • rogerthesurf on said:


        You most certainly do not have to discuss these important thing with me if you do not want to, however it is my intention to publish our conversation on my other blog where my readers will judge the depth of your blogging, no doubt somewhat negatively. This will most like be because of on one hand you profess deep and authorative knowledge and understanding, but on the other hand you avoid every question asked of you.

        I will also agree with them, why should anyone take you seriously when all you do in fact is pass on unsubstantiated rumours?



      • Go for it dude…

  6. Alejandro Gomez Palma on said:


    The answer your provide to your very first question is plainly wrong – I kid you not. Where do you get that it will take “2000 years” as you supposedly cite? I am left wondering if you read your own references or if you are not a careful reader:

    “Contraction of the Greenland Ice Sheet is projected to continue to contribute to sea level rise after 2100. Current models suggest that ice mass losses increase with temperature more rapidly than gains due to precipitation and that the surface mass balance becomes negative at a global average warming (relative to pre-industrial values) in excess of 1.9°C to 4.6°C. If a negative surface mass balance were sustained for millennia, that would lead to virtually complete elimination of the Greenland Ice Sheet and a resulting contribution to sea level rise of about 7 m.”

    Also, one of the references the IPCC report makes to millennia has to do with how long CO2 persists in the atmosphere:

    “Both past and future anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions will continue to contribute to warming and sea level rise for more than a millennium, due to the time scales required for removal of this gas from the atmosphere.”

    As far as your pseudo-scientific challenge to identify a paper with “proof”… that is for my next comment.



    • rogerthesurf on said:


      Your point is?

      Perhaps you do not understand the meaning of the word “millennia” in english?

      The point being that if the Greenland Ice sheet is going to take more than 2,000 years,(and the term could mean anything from 2,000 years to 10,000 years or more), as well as being subject to some conditions – do you not agree that the contribution to sea levels is therefore, by the IPCC’s own admission, is likely to be negligible.
      Therefore, to even mention it in this obscure way, is simply scaremongering.

      “Affect and Effect”- I suggest you check your own understanding of english.



      • Roger,

        Can you look at vulnerable coastal communities in the eye and tell them that 1m sea level rise in the next 90 years is negligible? To answer “yes” is to be seriously inhumane and even radical.

      • Alejandro Gomez Palma on said:


        Before moving on to more important points, I wanted to attempt to disabuse you regarding “effect” and “affect”. Your text:

        Do you know, according to the IPCC, how soon will it be before we are fully effected by the 7 meter sea level rise caused by the melting of the Greenland ice cap then?

        You cannot use “effect” and “affect” interchangeably, Roger. “We” cannot be effected, as your sentence purports, because effect means “to cause” or “bring about”; it certainly does not mean to “affect”. Please check a good dictionary.

        Certainly, an error of this type is to be expected in the comments section of a relatively obscure blog. However, the reason I am wasting my time with this is because your comments to the blogger regarding Spanish and English have unsettling undertones of bigotry. My name is very much a Spanish-language sounding one – would you suggest that therefore my writing in English is somehow of lesser quality than any other language I may also know (e.g. Spanish)?

        Lastly, regarding the request for causal evidence, there are only two possibilities that I see:

        Allow me, if you will, to disabuse you once again:

        By definition the only true causal proof can only be obtained through a carefully conducted randomized trial. This is of course impossible because we are dealing with global climate – randomized trials are just not possible. What is left is statistical analysis that attempts to establish causal linkages through other methods. Correlation or basic OLS/regressions are the basic way, but probably the best statistical method we have to try to suggest causal links is regressional discontinuity and, perhaps, a form of instrumental variables.

        In sum, we will never find the standard causal proof because we are dealing with climate: we will have statistical likelihoods, always.

        So I am left to wonder why you make that challenge:

        A. You are unaware of the true nature of causal proof and statistical analysis, as most people are, and so you are searching for a type of “proof” that is not possible with our current methods.

        B. You are well aware of the points I mention but because you realize most people are not, you use this as a claim that AGW is not “proven” in the hopes it will convince unsuspecting readers.

        I will assume the former, to give you the benefit of the doubt.



  7. Alejandro Gomez Palma on said:

    P.S. 1 Roger – by the way, no one is claiming that the real impacts, damage and costs from AGW are from the melting of the Greenland Ice Cap. It would take much less – .9m, for example – to cause severe impacts on coastal regions, including in the U.S.

    P.S. 2 Please learn to distinguish the difference between “affect” and “effect”:

    Do you know, according to the IPCC, how soon will it be before we are fully effected by the 7 meter sea level rise caused by the melting of the Greenland ice cap then?



    • Thanks for your comments Alejandro. I think it’s important for people to understand the science as agreed upon by a majority of scientists from many countries. I think it is all too clear that climate change is already having a big impact bases on what we are seeing (which by the way excludes what we are not seeing).

      To deny our children that reality and do nothing about it on their behalf would be a real shame.

  8. rogerthesurf on said:

    “Can you look at vulnerable coastal communities in the eye and tell them that 1m sea level rise in the next 90 years is negligible? To answer “yes” is to be seriously inhumane and even radical.”

    I can look anyone in the eye and tell them that any sea level rise from the GREENLAND ICE CAP MELTING will be negligible.

    The worst possible scenario contribution from the Greenland ice cap according to the IPCC would be 315mm if my arithmetic is correct and that has a great big IF on it. If the ice cap take 10,000 years to melt the contribution would be 63mm. But what the IPCC is really saying is that they do not know. So even to mention it in such an obtuse way is scaremongering.

    In my country we have journalists running around some of our cities making stories about how much city will be inundated with a sea level rise of 14 meters!

    Where do they get this scare mongering from? Well it is apparent that someone has factored in the 7 meters from Greenland without reading the obscure IPCC references properly.

    This is what I mean about the irresponsibility of the IPCC.
    And where is their analysis of the cost of meeting their CO2 emission targets? It is definitely within their mandate.



    • rogerthesurf on said:

      PS you might be interested to read this transcript.
      Notice that current and historical real sea level changes can be measured by variations in the spinning of the earth.



      • FYI Here is IPCC’s analysis as to why moving towards clean energy is feasible:

        FYI Ice cap and ice sheet are two DIFFERENT things. An ice cap floats, while an ice sheet does not. Greenland is an ice sheet, not an ice cap. No credible scientist will tell you that Greenland only holds 300mm of sea level rise. If that ice sheet melt, sea level would rise dramatically. Look at the historical record and you will know that sea level at times has been higher than now just as it has been much lower than now.

  9. rogerthesurf on said:

    Your link is useless.
    Try to find a better one and read it first.

    In english, the terms, ice cap and ice sheet are used interchangeably. Can be either a reference to ice floating on water or ice on land. In this conversation we are talking about the ice on the land of Greenland.

    “No credible scientist will tell you that Greenland only holds 300mm of sea level rise.”


    You asked the question? I think you have a problem with understanding english.
    No criticism implied though. I scarcely know more than two words of spanish.



  10. rogerthesurf on said:

    Whatever, but how about publishing my last comment?



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