Emissions Trading Scheme appears to be dying along with hundreds of thousands of pine tree seedlings

The Emissions Trading Scheme which is supposed to do the 'heavy lifting' in our climate policy "could not lift one dry Weet-Bix out of its box".

This is the view of University of Canterbury forestry expert Professor Euan Mason who sees New Zealand’s initial attempt to mitigate the problem of climate change as being “on its last legs”.

At least a million pine and fir tree seedlings, which had been grown in response to the ETS scheme, were recently destroyed with herbicide or mulched and ploughed into the soil because they were unsold in the 2013 planting season.

As the price of carbon credits has dropped, planting forests followed suit.

“These two-year-old seedlings were grown in anticipation of a well functioning emissions trading scheme,” Mason said. “Forestry could make us fully carbon neutral while solving erosion problems and improving profitability of our hill country farms.”

Planting radiata on around 2.4 million ha, which is 9% of the country’s land area, or more than doubling our current plantation area on marginal lands could make the country fully carbon neutral over time.

What was needed was a rational approach and commitment from New Zealanders.

“Our emissions trading scheme is failing to change behaviour, partly because of low credit prices, and partly because we have taken a piecemeal approach to implementing it,” he said.

Mason said by excluding agriculture from the scheme totally the very sector that produced more greenhouse gas than any other sector was getting a free ride.

“The piecemeal approach to our emissions trading scheme, in particular the total exclusion of our agricultural sector, has further reduced its effectiveness and its credibility.”

Unrestricted imports of credits had flooded the market driving prices down.

Nurseries had cultivated the seedlings when the government indicated it was expecting increased planting.

Competing land use, particularly dairying, has also had an affect on demand.

Global carbon markets have shrunk by 60% since 2011 and by 38% last year alone.

Without meaningful emission reductions targets, the price of carbon will remain low, as Anders Nordeng, a senior US carbon analyst, said  this month.

“The main explanation for the falling prices in carbon markets around the world is the very modest emission reduction targets adopted for the period up to 2020. Without ambitious climate targets, there is no need for deep emission reductions and carbon prices will remain at low levels," he said.

“However, if the goal to limit global warming to two degrees is to be met, more dramatic cuts are needed over the next decades. The international negotiations towards a new climate agreement scheduled to be adopted in Paris in 2015 will be a litmus test on the political willingness among large emitters to make the required emission reductions.”

In overall global market trading value in 2013 only €40 billion of carbon credits changed hands, and that is less than half of the peak in 2011 when the trading value was about €100 billion and about a third less than it was in 2012.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment or click on the "Register" link below a comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current Comment policy is here.


Just dump the whle thing. Not needed at all and GW is hardly roaring ahead as there has been no warming for 15 years now.

a) Picking an exceptionally hot 1998 and working off that is cherry picking and not sound science, math or risk amnagement.
b) 0.12Deg C in the last decade is not "no warming"

a) 1998 is a perfectly legitimate date to choose - it was the last time there was any significant warming. From the Nature link you read yesterday : "Average global temperatures hit a record high in 1998 — and then the warming stalled." Good enough from Nature - not good enough for Steven. Don't scold people for using 1998 when Nature is happy enough to use it.
b) 0.12 is from the Cowtan and Way paper and is a "hybrid" number based on an "optimal interpretation algorithm". Even Cowtan warns about focusing on this single paper.
Also from the January Nature piece.
“Simulations conducted in advance of the 2013–14 assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggest that the warming should have continued at an average rate of 0.21 °C per decade from 1998 to 2012. Instead, the observed warming during that period was just 0.04 °C per decade, as measured by the UK Met Office in Exeter and the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK.” 

I don't think you understood the nature article you keep referencing.   

All I understand is that the models are all wrong and the Hockey Stick was shattered 10 years ago.
Rampant GW ain't happening despite the best efforts of the pollies and other left wing organisations.

You understand wrong, hockey stick stands up and in fact Mann is currently sueing a libertarian website for defamation....
That will be interesting to say the least.

The hockey stick HA HA HA HA HA - what a piece of propaganda that was!

Nope, its standing up and Mann is currently sueing for defamation...
Now that will be interesting...because the "deniers" will have to stand up in court and justify their position, fat chance.

No he doesnt, but then he chooses to not understand even more.

No because 1998 is an outlier, really you know nothing or choose not to know about trend and curve fitting to data.
Try reading what nature is saying, its actually explaning where the heat is going, but it seems you are not capable of understanding that.
So what you are really doing is holding up a piece that supports AGW.

Most of the warming recently has been in sparsely populated areas with few weather stations like Greenland and central Australia. Cowtan and Way developed a methodology to allow for this. It's a very nice piece of science. http://tamino.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/cowtan-way/#more-7024
I read Tamino's blog (Grant Foster, a real statistician who frequently works with climate data) who effectively skewers a lot of BS propogated by vested interests.

It is funny to see NZ GOVT (Labour mainly) jump on the issue and act swiftly without even giving a second thought whether the 'man-made-global-warm' stack up or not at the first place.
Science is a process of seeking truth not based on consensus.

The truth has been "seeked", it stacks up, we are warming, and its human induced.
Now its time to take responsibility for that and solve it.

That is simply not true.  Even the IPCC, who has a vested interested in a political outcome, makes its claim as a percentage probability.
In two years it will obvious and apparent Al Gore was wrong in his "10 years and disaster will not be reversible claim".
If the science was over (does that sentiment even make rational sense?) then there would be no more failed attempts at climate modeling becuase they would all be perfect.
The truth is we still don't yet understand how the planet climate system works let alone have a system for predicting its future.  It's a bitch but there it is.

The % confidence is something like 95%...really at that % its as close to a fact as we'll see.
Easily enough to satisfy risk management and act.

Obviously if you don't believe any action at all is needed on climate change, then you'll have no time for the ETS or indeed any other mechanism, market-based or otherwise, that seeks to reduce carbon emissions. 
However, for those who are interested in developing viable ways of tackling climate change, I would take issue with those who think the only valid action by New Zealand is to reduce carbon emissions here.  If it's cheaper to buy reductions in carbon emissions overseas, then that is a better use of the resource than trying to achieve reductions here.  The global climate doesn't care where the emissions reductions take place.  

"here" well Im for standing up and saying reduce in NZ what NZ puts out.

If the same amount of NZ$ will reduce carbon emissions from NZ by (let us say) 1000 tonnes, but would reduce carbon emissions from somewhere else by (let us say) 5000 tonnes - which do you think is the better use of the money?

Here....as its leadership and doing our part, and there ie both.

Given that you can't spend the same money twice, do you mean spend half the money in one place and half in another, or spend twice as much money? 
Neither would be as effective for the environment - which is supposed to be the main concern here - as spending all the money, however much it is, wherever it will buy the most carbon reductions.  The environment doesn't care where the carbon reductions are made.

Not being disrespectful to POWERDOWNKIWI, PEAK EVERYTHING  and others , this scheme was based on the hysterical pronouncements of the very dark Greens, environmental  academics, funny girls  who hug trees and dont shave their legs and people who want us to live in a vegan utopia .
There were other simpler and less complicated ways of controling polluters and big emitters of carbon than this utterly ridicuous and costly scheme.
Why New Zealand got involved in this is beyond me , especially when our biggest  trade partner China, who really do need to curb pollution , simply smiled wryly and took no notice .
When the world woke up to a singlle ICELANDIC volcano, which you cant spell and Newsreaders cant pronounce , sending the equivalent of  100 years of human carbon generation into the skies over Europe in a week  , with no end to the world , it was game over for these doom peddlars. 
Markets are not stupid
When markets realised it was all a scam , produced no value add, and was just an unenforceable tax adding costs to consumers  ,  it was bound to collapse.
And good riddance when it finally ends.

Boatman - bullshit.
Calling people names is classic 'denigrate the mesenger' denial. Too obvious - try being a bit more subtle.
What 'other ways' were there? Firstly, ytou have do sequester carbob in real terms. Paying doesn't do that, whether it's local or overseas. There is forest sequestration - which is slow, a one-off, and takes land.  There is nothing else; in-ground sequestration takes too much of the energy.
Just realise that 'financial growth' is what makes most folk bleat like you and another above, but that it is doomed anyway. On energy-supply grounds, regardless of the stupid G20 (and stupid media - have you seen the statement critiqued in energy terms?) announcement.
I suggest the either/or question is whether you feel you have an obligation to those who come later, and currently have no vote - or not. If you feel you don't, then I guess you go right ahead using-up and failing to mitigate.
If you feel you have an obligation - as I do - then the only valid yardstick is to hand on the planet on as-good-or-better condition. Anything less is just a matter of time before you alter the habitat to the point it's not life-sustaining.
If we put enough energy at the physical problem - and pollution is not just greehouse gasses - you'd be looking at a bigger recession than has ever been experienced - and it would get worse  That's why politicians have to continue the lie.

Oh, and Boatman, have you any idea why those folk choose to be vegan?
It's because they thought it through. They realise how much land meat requires, they realise how much it takes in the way of fossil fuels, and they realise there are too many people on the planet to feed that way.
In short, they investigated the problem, then took some action.
They didn't knock people for taking an action, without asking why. Spot the difference? Your approach may well be more common, but it's the one which is flawed.

Actually more than a few of the vegans Ive met (and Im married to one) dont know about peak oil for instance, deny population is a problem and cant do math (try engaging with the Green's or their supporters on  these, denial and name calling result). They think of it as a "moral choice" and terrible that we eat soft cuddly animals.
In fact Ive not met a vegan yet that has told me anything different (I'll admit Ive met few and generally try and avoid them) but its morally wrong as they are cute animals gets shoved my way frequently.

PDK - if people want to be vegan that is their personal choice. However I do hope they considered the effects of B12  deficiency. Remember B12 is essential to the production of red blood cell production which help carry the oxygen through the blood to the bodies tissues.
B12 deficiency causes many health problems. So sometimes the investigation and action  that one undertakes is not always the best.
Now would you like to discuss why beans cause more wind? And what's in this flatulence?

PDK - the soil is a carbon sink and quite frankly I cannot understand why you can't get your head around this. I have told you before about Calcium and magnesium ratios but you just don't seem to listen.  There is an enormous amount of science and information running around on the benefits of Dolomite and other fine particle lime and getting the ratio's right for carbon sequestration. Start reading the Albrehct papers for a kick off. 
You cannot afford to study one small area and then profess to have knowledge of the entire system and how it interacts.

Yes the soil is a carbon sink so is the ocean.  Obviously we are producing more co2 than the soil and ocean can sink as the ppm of Co2 keeps going up.  As far as possible improvements sure, but it makes more sence to simply not burn the Co2 in the first place. It reminds me of the lady who swallowed a fly so she ate the spider etc etc. 

PeakEverything - you are another person who is missing the point and not understanding the science. How can you make a statement "that obviously we are producing more CO2 than the soil can sink" without understanding the principles behind Calcium and magnesium ratios? Have you thought about the implications when these ratios are out of kilter?
The lady who swallowed the fly might have been better to keep her mouth closed in the first place. Maybe she had followers too.

If the CO2 ppm is rising then whatever "systems" or nature that are in place obviously cannot absorb it naturally, or in the case of the oceans cannot do it without consquence eg acidification.
Therefore you dont need to know whatever fanciful item you come up with on a micro level as we can see its in-adeqaute effect at a macro level.
Lets go one step further and humour you, and so what to the "Calcium and magnesium ratios?"  ie why does that matter or of significance? to absorbing CO2 ad infinitum?

Because it has limits and the fact that the PPM is still increasing should tell you its not enough

Are you saying that:

  •  NZ should try to reduce carbon emissions, but the ETS is the wrong way of doing it - in which case please set out what are these "simpler and less complicated ways of controlling polluters and big emitters of carbon" which would be more effective and less costly than a market-based mechanism;

or that

  • NZ should not do anything because anthropogenic climate change isn't real?


Personally I think the ETS is a sick joke, end result diddly effect and should be scrapped, or significantly changed. ie no more buying credits off dubious sources as a wet flop to AGW.
Simple, start legislating on savings, if someone/thing saves more well that is a gain for the environment and not for some company  to cheaply buy its way out  rather than fix.
Now should animals be included is another matter, if they are pasture fed then probably not and if organic definately not.

There's no doubt that some carbon credits available on the international market don't have much, if any, actual carbon reduction behind them, but that is an argument for getting more international buy-in to making the ETS work better, not for ditching the whole concept of a market approach based on attaching a price to carbon emissions.  And if you can't get international buy-in to that, then you certainly won't get international buy-in to a more regulatory approach.
Why would you not include organic or pasture fed animals?  Are they or are they not sources of greenhouse gas?

You mean a fart tax? But that sounds silly.  I reccomend a cap and dividend scheme with the cap reducing and price increasing every year but like all schemes getting buy in is the problem

The fact that something can be given a name which sounds silly, doesn't make it a bad idea.
If cows and sheep f-ting (sorry, my computer seems very sensitive to such rude words) is a source of greenhouse gas emissions, then it should be included in schemes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  
The fact that farmers cannot prevent their cows and sheep from f-ting does not mean they cannot do anything to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.  They can pay some other person who is able to take some other action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from some other source.  Same overall benefit to the environment and at less economic cost, compared to forcing farmers to kill their livestock so as to stop it from f-ting.  What's not to like? 
Totally agree that carbon credits should be subject to a challenging cap which should be reduced over time.  Subject to that, what is the differnce between a "cap and dividend scheme" and a trading scheme?

I completely agree, I was making a point about the political spin involved in the issue.  If you make something sound silly people won't take it seriously.  
As far a  cap and dividendend scheme goes it is a policy that auctions carbon permits and rebates the revenue to the public on an equal per capita basis.  Any actions to put a price on carbon will of course increase the cost.  The consumer will ulitimately pay the cost at the pump but by receiving the dividend people who consume less carbon will gain financially. 
It is important that the cap is reduced yearly and that no credits are given for existing use.

Here is a link for further information




edit:  I only pushed save once not sure why I have three posts the same?

So it's an emissions trading scheme with the design detail that credits are not handed out free in the first place - fine with that.  
As for what you do with the money paid by carbon emitters, it's not obvious that the best thing is to hand it out indiscriminately.   If you're going to do that with revenue from this source, why not for revenue raised by any other method?

Well I can think of a couple of reasons. Firstly it puts a price on carbon production but also provides a financial incentive to reduce carbon.  Currently if we don't drive our cars we only benefit from not paying for pertol or disel.  If we don't drive our cars in this seneraio then we benefit by the dividend payment we receive which gets larger each year.  
It also is not really open to abuse.  There is a set fee for carbon, what the market things carbon is worth really depends on current economic activity.  We know this becasue the price of carbon dropped after the 2008 recession.  Having a set fee per unit of carbon that increases per year along with a cap of total carbon emissions each year means we actually can control the level of carbon released into the atmosphere. 

I completely agree, I was making a point about the political spin involved in the issue.  If you make something sound silly people won't take it seriously.  
As far a  cap and dividendend scheme goes it is a policy that auctions carbon permits and rebates the revenue to the public on an equal per capita basis.  Any actions to put a price on carbon will of course increase the cost.  The consumer will ulitimately pay the cost at the pump but by receiving the dividend people who consume less carbon will gain financially. 
It is important that the cap is reduced yearly and that no credits are given for existing use.

Here is a link for further information



As I understand it, as a rule of thumb, any organic or pasture fed animal is going to produce a good with the minimal climate impact. 
So a barn housed corn or palm oil kernel fed animal has a far higher ecological impact than the afore mentioned.  So really we want to avoid a perverse outcomes of "taxing" NZ's pasture output (say) making it more expensive/damaging than barn housed, corn grain fed US cattle who wont pay any tax (say)  mean that is plain silly.

If it's true that such animals don't produce much by way of greenhouse gas emissions, then their farmers wouldn't be required to buy very many permits.   The whole point is that you have to obtain permits in proportion to the amount of greenhouse gas your activities are producing.
Now it is certainly true that a trading scheme becomes problematic, and economically distortionary, if some producers of greenhouse gas aren't included in it. 
But that is true of any approach to greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

They produce emisions and I assume just the same amount, more or less, its the "exernalities" that are less. The problem with a generic permit per cow (say) is, is that permit covering all the "extras"?  and what about if a country declines to by permits? their goods will therefore be cheaper than a country who's farmers are forced to and hence penalised.
Really I think the option to buy un-used credits (outsiide of a Nation's shores anyway) etc is a con...it makes no real correction in CO2 output and is open to fraud...

If there are other "externalities" - other than greenhouse gas emissions - they should be dealt with through different economic or regulatory instruments.
Yes, there will be problems and inequities and unfairnesses if one country decides to force its producers to buy permits to cover their greenhouse gas emissions and another doesn't.  I repeat, that is true for any approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  It's also true of approaches to labour standards, animal welfare standards, environmental standards etc etc etc - if one country decides to do it and another doesn't, then the first country's producers will be placed at a competitive disadvantage.  This is not a problem specific to emissions trading. 
Certainly, there should not be any un-used credits.   If there are, then that shows that the cap on total emissions has been set too high and there are therefore too many credits in circulation.  That is a question of finding the political will to constrain the total number of carbon credits available at a level which will force actual reductions, and to reduce it year-on-year.  If the political will cannot be found to do that, then the political will cannot be found to do anything, for all other approaches are likely to be more economically expensive and less efficient.

Your claim that volcanoes or in particular  one volcano produces 100 years of human carbon is  totally incorrect.  Even Profile wouldn't try and claim that.

Volcanoes emit around 0.3 billion tonnes of CO2 per year. This is about 1% of human CO2 emissions which is around 29 billion tonnes per year.  

Also if markets are not stupid why do we keep having asset bubbles ?  

Sorry to disappoint PE but Boatman does have a point.
Like for instance someone had a look at the CO2 emitted from some volcanoes in Italy in 2011.
"Quantitative estimates provided a regional CO2 flux of about 9 Gt/y affecting the region (62000 km2), an amount globally relevant, being ~ 10% of the present-day global CO2 discharge from subaerial volcanoes."
"Specific surveys on the Campanian volcanoes pointed out the relevance of this process that in the case of Solfatara of Pozzuoli volcano, provide a CO2 flux comparable to an erupting volcano.

The estimations of the fluxes of deep CO2 in Italy points out the relevance of non-volcanic CO2 degassing and of soil diffuse degassing from volcanoes, suggesting the actual underestimation of the Earth degassing process at global scale, arising from the lack of specific and systematic studies in the numerous “degassing areas” of the world."


But hey it is just one paper.



They are talking about regional soil flux not Nett emissions. It says so in the article. It even says so in the bit of the abstract you copy/pasted. You seem to be confusing soil flux with total emmissions. It is also talking about the CO2 flux of the soil in a 62000 km area (also in the abstract) not a volcano. Now let's take a look at the maths if it was emissions:
The molar mass of CO2 is is 44.00964 ± 0.00003 g/mol, While the molar mass of atmospheris air is 28.97. At about 400ppm by volume in the atmosphere, this is about 608 ppm by weight. the mean weight of the atmosphere is around 5.148 * 10^18kg, so the CO2 weighs about 3130 Gigatonnes. If this region was regularly adding nett total emission of 9 Gigatonnes, then how many years ago was there no carbon in the atmosphere? For a bonus question which English monarch was on the throne.
I suppose that does explain the Great Fire of London though, with the earth having a pretty much pure oxygen atmosphere, the place must have gone up like a torch.

LOL....par for the course though.

On the down side, tax departments have a disturbing habit of getting the last word...

ETS was always going to end in farce. Bureaucrats could not be told the obvious. Good Kiwi money  sent overseas to criminals. And no carbon captured.

The reason for it not working as intended, more or less boils down to:
NZ accepts international carbon credits (a perfectly reasonable thing, as MdM pointed out carbon is carbon when it comes to the globe).
Europe uses a cap and trade system, so up to the cap you don't need to buy carbon credits.
The Cap levels were set before the economy crashed in 2008.
Ecomony levels have been so low, people have not been exceeding the cap.
No one needs to buy carbon credits so the price craters.
From the point of view of the amount of carbon emissions, Europe's nett output is about the same of a good economy making use of carbon credits. It is just not so good if you invested in carbon credits thinking econmic output was going to keep increasing and your money would as a consequence grow on trees.

The opportunity to charge the population for naturally occuring intangibles is stock in trade for all governments. Think radio spectrum, water rights, fishing quota etc.. The hysteria over global warming, regardless of effect and outcome, fell so gloriously into their lap they must have wept quietly with joy. Imagine being able to charge for access to air itself, CO2 is just one component of air, hands up who knew that; Bueller?,Beuller?,Beuller?.
The omly effective preventative measures are very simple, shut down the causes. (note the full stop).
Cue whingers citing worldwide economic distress.

My old Dad used to say "One day they'll even work out how to tax air."

and some corporations would like to charge for all water at a far rate they'd like to determine, which seems to be at about the rate of a can of coke.
Kind of think this is way worse than a "tax"

Tune into Oz Parlimint sometime Boatperson et al,  and hear PM  Tony Abbott deal to the carbon tax, union mafioso,Labour and the Greens- boy it makes me jealous. Nothing like him in govt over here,sadly. NZ could be a seriously wealthy country without all the handbrakes...or vegan,loons and cave turkeys

and once all our natural resources are used up? then what?
We'd be like the UK, nothing left but over-population, polution and huge debt that they cant pay off.
Great legacy for our kids that one.

Well on the bright side that attitude will fix itself in the next 10-15 years.  Those selfish babyboomers can only live so long.

Businesses warned the govt at the ETS select committee years ago it wuz gonna be a hoolie big rort - and it is.

Lets say you abandoned the ETS and simply decided that any difference NZ could make to global carbon emissions wouldn't matter so why bother. Would it not be prudent to hedge the other way? Does anyone know of any studies on the effect of even modest climate change would have on NZ? Are there resources we could allocate to preparing for it? What would we be faced with if the country had to deal with a 1m rise in sea levels? Has anyone been doing work on things like that? I'd love to know.

Most reasonable sized councils have done some planning, as they have to think about long term infrastructure. Christchurch for example is taking the fairly standard conservative model of about a meter or so of sea level rise this century.
Short answer, don't make long term investments in coastal areas built on drained swamps (sorry Christchurch East).

Hey, I live there.  On good, well-packed marine sand which had the exact effect of reducing all of our quakes to around 15% of the shaking experienced elsewhere.  My note at the time refers. And this one, a day later.
And I'm at least 3 metres above MHWS, so I figure s'ok till 2300 or so.  If me and ma hoose survive till then...
Local knowledge is indeed a dangerous thing....

I used to think Waymad was smarter than average.
But if that is so, the above suggests the average are well below average.
Waymad shoud ask himself about the increased storm-surges and increased fetch. Linear thinking is fatally flawed - the sea doesn't just conveniently rise x amount, it ain't a swimming-pool.

If he's at three metres he sounds like a pretty good spot*, it is the lower lying properties near the various Chch rivers that are problematic, a bit like most of South Dunedin in Dunedin or or the Petone/ Kilbirnie area in Wellington
*Assuming your infrastructure isn't dependent on connections that go through the low lying areas.

It kind of depends if Waymad is on an island of packed sand or a solid plain of packed sand that extends back to the mainland.
If the 'pack sand' is anywhere near the route of potential storm surges Waymad might find over time it is not so 'packed'. Depending on tide and river conditions and with predicted sea level rises surges could travel through gaps and behind previous safe barriers, such as the New Brighton sand dunes.

Fundimentalist/extremist political blinkers,
If A is true then B has to happen and I dont want B to happen as its "socialist", hence A cannot be true.
Really you are arguing with a fanatic/extremist. That wont get you anywhere in terms of convincing them, however for the more balanced ppl reading refuting the fanatics claims/lies/cherry picking herein at least gives a rational person the info to arrive at a sound decision,  I hope.

"At least 18-59 cm rise (New Zealand average) between 1990 and 2100"

Interesting replies: in, that we have:

  • ad-hominem (PDK, very disappointing)
  • overstatement (storm surges rarely exceed 0.75m)
  • speculation (the 'island in the Pacific' notion)
  • ignorance of local geography ("connections that go through the low lying areas") - well, that covers all of Christchurch sewer treatment (Google Maps is yer friend, here), so a lotta folks in That boat...

And of course, all missing the main danger (which cannot reasonably be predicted, mitigated, or otherwise pored over by the Plannerista):  an near tsunami, caused by a km's-long rupture in an offshore fault.  Minutes-only warning, probably a 10-15m surge which if the PNG one was any guide, will run 2-5 km's inland.
After all, the 4/9/11 event was a once in x-thousand-years, and wasn't on the Planning Horizon....
But then, Gaia-belches are not on the Approved Hymn List, are they?

How can anyone beleive Niwa ,what a joke the crap that they spew out """
oh yes 2100 ...well hello whos gonna be here to say we got that prediction wrong
the biggest folly is these Goverment funded fakes are paid for by hard working new zealanders through taxes...
Prime Minister Key has a science advisor Dr Gluckman ...he has informed the the prime minister that the GW is really happening ,,oh he is a medical doctor.....
he is the science advisor on all matters ....nuts
This man made Global Warming crap is the biggest scam ever invented,,nobody fully understands the planet and whats going on under and above us. all we ever here is oh the sea level is rising aaaaahhhhhh....well ive been surfing around nz for over 30 years and ive seen no visible change ,,,,i walk on the same rocks ,paddle past the same rocks and guess what no change,,,,because in the real world its not some model on a computer thats had wrong information programmed into it...

I don't know this needs a lot of response, but I'll go with what the tide gauges say the change has been.
Measuring historical sea level with the tide gauge data is something you need to be a bit careful about, it is something it is easy to see it is increasing but it is also easy to make mistakes with handling data that has natural cycles (this doesn't change the answer, but it does greatly weaken the conclusions). For a rather nice discussion featuring Australian and Auckland data see

Even Dr Patrick Moore one of the founders of Greenpeace doesn't believe in Global warming. He recently testified before Congress and here is a link.
I want any monies I have been enforced to pay via fuel etc given back to me.

Even? He separated from Greenpeace in the mid 80s and has more recently been involved in PR for companies clearfelling tropical rainforests. 
Anyway aside from what is being a founder member of Greenpeace 30 years ago is supposed to give in his credibility on the matter (I'm not seeing it) his criticism, as reported seems to have been "There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth's atmosphere over the past 100 years," he told a US Senate Committee "If there were such a proof, it would be written down for all to see.” Can anyone actually explain to me what he thinks proof entails?

Aside from 'this' cause or 'that' cause there is always the possibility we don't yet know.

Reading on with his testimony, and quoting from the Telegraph, "He also criticised the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for claiming "it is extremely likely" that human activity is the "dominant cause" for global warning, noting that "extremely likely" is not a scientific term."
Fact checking him, "Extremely likely" crops up in things like paragraph 2 of this IPCC press release
"It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. The evidence for this has grown, thanks to more and better observations, an improved understanding of the climate system response and improved climate models"
but if you actually read the press release as I just did, it says in easy to read words
"In this IPCC assessment report, specific terms are used to indicate the assessed likelihood of an outcome or a result. For those terms used above: virtually certain means 99–100% probability, extremely likely: 95–100%, very likely: 90–100%, likely: 66–100%. For more information see the IPCC uncertainty guidance note: https://www.ipcc-wg1.unibe.ch/guidancepaper/ar5_uncertainty-guidance-not...
Can anyone come up with any explanation for his testimony where he is not misrepresenting the IPCC position in this, because that seems to be a pretty specific, scientific, use of language to me.

The very nature of probability must include the unknown.  If the knowing was certain there wouldn't be any probabilities to speak of - just one certain outcome.  Within this context certainty and probability are mutually exclusive outcomes.
To say it another way, when Archimedes disocvered water displacement worked in a very particular way that act discovery, by definition, eliminated all other possibilities, explanations and probabilities.
We might even take that certain knowing and make it into what we describe as a scientific law.  
I would suggest the very use of probability reveals that although we are on the road to discovery we have not yet arrived at it's destination - certainty.
So in one sense what he says is scientific because it describes the process in action, but one needs to take on board the use of probability implies the current theories could be right, partly, substantially or even completely wrong.

Thanks for the response. Now, unsurprisingly I don't altogether agree, but I'll absolutely repsect anyone engaging thoughtfully about the evidence.
There is always going to be uncertainty about the degree to which human activity has contributed to global warming, simply because we are not measuring every atom in the world (nor ever will be able to). We have to get a sample of all the possible places and times for measuring temperature and from that work out things like the average temperature. But science acknowledges an error range- when it is described as x + or - y it is a shorthand for saying we are 95% confident that the true value of x is in the range (x-y) to (x+y). Now it could be outside that, and the more outside that it is the more unlikely and surprising it is (this drawing on a more recent branch of statistics called Bayesian (which only became easy to do the maths side in recent years due to the power of modern computers), where if something keeps happening you change your certainty of it happening again. It is like the weight of the atmosphere- the dry air mass of the world is 5.1352 +/- 0.0003 * 10^18 kg, and that uncertainty is not likely to go away as can't count every atom, but we can be 95% confident that it is 5.1349 and 5.1355 quintillion kgs. It might be outside of that, but the further outside of that range it is the more unlikely it is.
Even Archimedes principle, if you actually do an experiment to measure it, would not have produced exactly correct results as it ignores the effects of surface tension (for which the first scientific theories were developed in the 1750s), but the experimental results would give a pretty good guide to what was going on along with an error range.
Gravity is actually pretty poorly understood at a fundamental level. there is a lot of uncertainty there as well.
If Moore meant his criticism that it was not a scientific term about it being an expression of uncertainty, then I think he was misrepresenting science. Because expressing your uncertainty accurately is fundamental to good science.

Good thoughts all.
There is always going to be uncertainty about the degree to which human activity has contributed to global warming, simply because we are not measuring every atom in the world (nor ever will be able to).
I suspect this is a somewhat dangerous rational to go down.  It assumes we need to measure every atom to "know", which is highly likely to be not the case (an incorrect assumption).  And further it might then be proposed that assuming we can't ever really "know" it is okay to either give up researching (the science is over argument) and/or accept incomplete science.
Perhaps you are suggesting because bayesian probability theory is applicable with some areas of science (air mass example) it is reasonable to apply it to the research for causal link(s) to global warming.  I would have to take a very close look to see if that is in fact reasonable or misapplied.
Or perhaps you were just pointing out there are, at the very least, some places in science were probability is used.

I was really trying to get at that science is actually all about probablities- when you get down to it the idea of atoms with these nicely separate electrons in orbit people were taught in school is a myth. It is actually all probability fields, but as myths go it works well enough for most people to do most things, and the errors are to small to matter (In this my daughter has the advantage over me for even at school she is at least familiar with the more accurate concepts, even if it isn't much part of the NCEA curriculum).

And.., given the impact on billions of the changes demanded by the global warming lobby I don't think it unreasonable to expect a high level of proof.

Ralph - absolute math says not.
If you work it from first principles (rather than from the stand-point of here and now and small) then any trend, if continued, must result in major change. Eventually, any change will go outside our particular habitat-requirement parameters.
So the only default, long-term, sustainable approach, is not to pollute. It makes social sense too - polluting is merely putting the cost onto future generations - fraud, in other words. Doesn't matter which pollution.
Procrastination is merely selfish denial. I've lost tolerance for that.     :)

Truth is always worth the wait.

This isnt that situation. 

As the very patient dh has explained already.  The truth is the world is heating the "doubt" is to how fast the heating is happening.
Do you really not cringe at some of things you have to say to defend your ridiculous position? 

Also, trends only last as long as they last, a past trend if no guarantee of the future.  You need more than mathematics alone to discover if a climate trend is likely to continue, what the root causes are and why.
And I agree, pollution at every level is not a good thing.  Back in the day being an environmentalist meant being against pollution, but sadly these days to often means "saving the planet" through taxation of cow farts.

Really this is the best you can come out with?
The effect of CO2 is known, its PPM trend is upwards, and there is a substantial delay on its effect, ie what we dump today has the impact some years in the future and will remain, impacting us. 
In terms of business risk process there is enough evidence of substantial impact to mitigate.

How exactly is " "saving the planet" through taxation of cow f*rts"  (sorry, my computer cannot handle rude words) different from and inferior to "being against pollution"? 
Anybody can "be against pollution"; in fact, pretty much everybody is, in that you won't find anybody saying they are "for" it.   
If you want to go beyond simply holding the correct attitude and actually do something about it, there are more and less effective things you can do.  And internalising the external cost of polluting activity, by attaching a financial penalty to it, is one of the more effective ones.

Except, we seem to have made a game out of getting around it, net result not enough effect.
It seems a decent % accepts AGW, but most of those and the rest that dont are not prepared to accept the negative impacts of dealing with it now on their lifestyle.

"People won't like it and will try to get around it" is an argument against any and all regulatory activity.  So what?

Ralph, you're in good company.  Judith Curry, one of the sober geophys types Stateside, has her own list of the Uncertainties that abound in climate modelling (models are what drive the ETS and other assorted tax troughs of our wicked old world).
Her short list:
Summary of major uncertainties

  • Deep ocean heat content variations and mechanisms of vertical heat transfer between the surface and deep ocean
  •  Uncertainties associated with external forcing data and implications for attribution analysis and future projections
  •  Sensitivity of the climate system to external forcing
  •  Clouds:  trends, forcing, feedbacks, and aerosol – cloud interactions
  •  Nature and mechanisms of multidecadal natural ‘internal’ variability
  •  Unknowns – solar indirect effects, magnetic and electric field effects, orbital (tidal and other) effects, core-mantle interactions, etc.

Long list here.  Enjoy.

The thing is relationship between carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and temperature is a pretty well know one. And you can do experiments like look back through the geological record and confirm there was this relationship in the past (though you will get into a few arguements about how to most accurately measure it once you get 75000 years back, the general pattern is pretty consistant).
In the recorded history of measuring weather temperatures, we can also see the same fundamental principles of carbon dioxide playing out. There is a clear relationship between geological carbon converted to atmospheric carbon dioxide and increases in temperature. We can even calculate the amount- with a degree of uncertainty because temperature is also influenced by other things so some years it warms a bit more than expected, in other years it warms a bit less, but this gives us an average rate of warming with an error range.
Where the people who criticise global warming because of the uncertainty are going wrong is by assuming that because we are uncertain of the exact amount we reject the idea that there is warming. The specific mistake is assuming the starting point is that the climate is unaffected by CO2. The conservative place to start, and the thing that needs to actively disproven in order to reject it, is that the climate will keep doing what it always does in relation to added CO2, and so keep warming. This is the null hypothesis "that everything will behave as it always has" and those seeking to come up with a way to prove it is not the case, and saying the exact amount is uncertain doesn't do that. 
It is like if I drop an apple, the normal course of observed behaviour is that it is going to move towards the centre of the earth (fall). Someone could say that because I cannot perfectly measure my distance from the centre of mass of the earth (particularly as it is a blob of liquid Iron squishing around) and the changing influence of things like the moon in it's relationship to the earth, if I measured the the time the apple took to fall in an accurate enough way there would be uncertainty because I would get different results in different times and places. But the starting point should be that gravity will cause the apple to fall in much the same way it always has, not that because we are uncertain about the exact rate of falling the apple will not fall. In much the same way, the starting point is that CO2 leads to warming not that is doesn't, because now that this basic fact as been established in lots of different ways if you want to establish something different this basic fact needs to be disproven.

Great work dh.  I suspect that those arguing the wait and see approach are really just trying to justify to themselves that they can keep living the lives they are with no consequence.

.. assuming that because we are uncertain of the exact amount we reject the idea that there is warming..
.. assuming the starting point is that the climate is unaffected by CO2..
Neither of these are my assumptions.  The fact stands that in Feb 2014 the lower tropospheric temperature is up .17 degrees above the average (from 1981-2010).  
We can work the proof from the opposite end if we like.  The claim has been made we understand the planetary climate system to the extend we can give a 98% guaranteed prediction of it's temperature in the future.
Models were (and continue to be) constructed on the basis of all the available theories, facts, sciences and using these assumptions (or "certain knowledge" as some would have us believe) to show what the reality of this new science meant.
So if we were to take these models, starting from 1983, and map the predictions that were made against the reality of what actually happened I contend that would provide a meaningful indidcator as to the accuracy of the state of our understanding/assumptions/proven science (pick your option) that was used to create these models.
If the model misses the reality, by more than a statistical anomaly and assuming measurement is accurate, the obvious conclusion is the science/assumptions/certain knowledge isn't as certain as they would have you believe.

To start with, the heat is going into the ocean and hence looking at air temperature is "unsafe" even then teh decade rise its little below trend.
Lets look at some supporting evidence of AGW,
a) we are seeing ocean acidification that is even destroying business models.  So if your business model relies on this not happening, eg scallop farming, well frankly its buggered.
b) An ever increasing number of temperature records broken, extended droughts and severe floods, ie extremes
c) The [re-]insurance industry rocking on its beams and looking to offload risk elsewhere. Why? because 1 in 100 year events are happening as 1 in 20 and even 1 in 5.
d) Crop devistation/failure due these extreme events
f) Crop damage as bugs are not killed off in mild winters.
When we get to 95%~98% certain, plus all this supporting evidence, then frankly only the hard core deniers and political extremists can say no...

Thanks for that reply of randomness but it doesn't address anything in my point.
It remains contradictory to take the position that we 95-98% know how the system works and ignore the models created with this knowledge are not accurate to recorded fact (even outside statistical anomaly).
That's a rational position that could apply to any branch of science.

It is that we know that 95%(+) of the time the true value is going to be with the confidence interval.
Now, error ranges are also an expression of what is the zone where values are behaving as expected. And, because pictures work better for this kind of thing, I have tried to do a walkthough of using confidence intervals here:

Good little graphs, thanks.
Here's a picture of the predictions of 90 global models since 1983 versus the observations:

My immediate thought in looking at that, is (and it was one of the points I was trying to get at with the graphs I made) is that the confidence intervals are important, and leaving them off that graph makes it almost useless- no one who makes a model is saying this line is the exact correct value, the model line is the centre of the likely range and the confidence interval shows the range the true value is within (like I was putting the 95% range on the lines in the graphs I made. Now, if those graph lines included the confidence intervals of the lines, there would be a zone of agreement among the models- the areas of a lot (and I'm going to speculate most) of the intervals would overlap. By not showing that zone the person that made the graph is claiming the models are showing something they don't and have gotten something wrong that they didn't say (and at a 95% level a model will get it wrong 1 time in 20, so some of the models will be wrong some of the time, if you go to a 99% range the models will be wrong less often! and there would be a lot more overlap).

I appreciate the theory, however, any honest look at the numbers can see this is beyond normal confidence allowance.
The top forecasts at 2013 over stated by~ 200%.
The average at 2013 over stated by ~100%.
95.6% of all models over stated and not by +/- 5%.

Since you say 200% it sounds to me like there is some confusion creeping in and you are interpreting the lines as a percentage of the height above zero rather than the range of value that the true value would be within in a percentage of the time. 
Here is something you can do even in Excel to kind of see this. If, in box A1 in Excel, you put in the formula =RANDBETWEEN(0,1) and hit the enter key, you have just tossed a coin and gotten either a head (0) or tail(1). Now if you repeat that calculation down 1000 rows you get a whole bunch of zeros and ones. Now, in row 1001 I am going to calculate the sum with the formula =SUM(A1:A1000).
Now, the expected number of heads is 500, but any particular time you try this you are not likely to get exactly 500 (I got 507 when I did that). And if I normalise both numbers making 0 the starting point I get 7 vs 0 which seems like a lot more. This is like your description of 200%. The thing is our result (507 in my case) is only approximately going to match the true expected value. The confidence interval is the range that 95% of the time the true value will be within (for the RANDBETWEEN example the 95% range is about + or - 32.
So lets imagine you go through the Excel steps above and get 516. That seems to be a lot more than what I got in a how far from expected kind of way (16 is a lot more than 7) but the 95% range is +/- 32 so the difference between those numbers is actually not at all unusual. That is what I am talking about with error ranges, that is what that graph is not showing, and that is why it is misleading.

Also, thanks for the sensible discussion.

In short:
When CO2 from the atmosphere reacts with seawater, it immediately forms carbonic acid
(H2CO3), which in itself is unstable. This further dissociates to form bicarbonate and
carbonate ions. The bicarbonate and carbonate ions are responsible for the buffering capacity of seawater, i.e. seawater can resist drastic pH changes even after the addition of weak bases and acids. The carbonate ion can react with calcium ions (Ca), which are in excess in seawater, to form calcium carbonate (CaCO3), the material out of which the shells of mussels, the skeleton of corals and the exoskeleton of some microalgae is made of.
Geochemical Cycling from Wikipedia

  • Calcium provides an important link between tectonics, climate and the carbon cycle. In the simplest terms, uplift of mountains exposes Ca-bearing rocks to chemical weathering and releases Ca2+ into surface water. This Ca2+ eventually is transported to the ocean where it reacts with dissolved CO2 to form limestone. Some of this limestone settles to the sea floor where it is incorporated into new rocks. Dissolved CO2, along with carbonate and bicarbonate ions, are referred to as dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC).

The actual reaction is more complicated and involves the bicarbonate ion (HCO3−) that forms when CO2 reacts with water at seawater pH:

Ca2++ 2HCO−
3 → CaCO3 (limestone) + CO2 + H2O

  • Note that at ocean pH most of the CO2 produced in this reaction is immediately converted back into HCO−3. The reaction results in a net transport of one molecule of CO2 from the ocean/atmosphere into the lithosphere.[14]

The result is that each Ca2+ ion released by chemical weathering ultimately removes one CO2 molecule from the surficial system (atmosphere, ocean, soils and living organisms), storing it in carbonate rocks where it is likely to stay for hundreds of millions of years. The weathering of calcium from rocks thus scrubs CO2 from the ocean and atmosphere, exerting a strong long-term effect on climate.[15] Analogous cycles involving magnesium, and to a much smaller extent strontium and barium, have the same effect.
As the weathering of limestone (CaCO3) liberates equimolar amounts of Ca2+ and CO2, it has no net effect on the CO2 content of the atmosphere and ocean. The weathering of silicate rocks like granite, on the other hand, is a net CO2 sink because it produces abundant Ca2+ but very little CO2.
No one can talk about climate change and temperature issues without understanding some of the basic science of the carbon cycle. ETS and supporters are ignoring vast areas of science - WHY? There are far more important issues which are directly affecting human health right now which people should be putting their energy into.
Sorry about the format above it's fine in edit but when I hit save it puts into print with issues.

I am very well aware of the ocean, and consider what is going on there far more important than in the air. The effects of CO2 in the atmosphere are trivial by comparison. The thing is, as you noted, it is the weathering of calcium from rocks the places the upper limit on availability of calcium for the reaction of sequestering carbon into the lithosphere, and weathering takes place at a constant rate unlike the release of geological carbon into the atmosphere. As a result the rate of ocean acidicification (surplus hydrogen ions due to the chemical reactions involved) looks more than a little like the Paleocene–Eocene marine life extinction event. The oceans have been acidifying at a really rapid rate.
If anyone finds thinking about the possible effects of CO2 on land dwellers leaves them feeling too mellow and happy, do some reading on Ocean Acidification to get back that feeling of oncoming doom for the food web.

If 99 doctors said you had cancer and we need to operate now and one witch doctor said na, its no biggee, take this ground rat poop as a cure, what would you do?
I'd make sure my will is up to date and go with the 99 doctors myself....
Really PDK credited you with a functional IQ, I can see he was wrong on that, your politics has smothered it.

In your example you have become your own witch doctor.  You propose we should base our decisions on numbers or voters.
What you are failing to appreciete is the number of doctors involved does not make one difference to the reality of the situation.  Reality is not made stronger or changed in any way simply because you put a bigger number in your sentence - why not 99999 doctors.  
Advertising jingles are not facts.
What is at stake in your example is the scientific evidence that exists to *proof* the existence of the cancer.  If scientific evidence exists only a single doctor is required.

No I am trusting the experts backed by a mountain of evidence because that is the only sane strategy.
Scientifc evidence of the effect of CO2 on infra red has been in place and understood since the 1800s.
I quote numbers because some seem to think the literally very few deniers V 10s of thousands of climate scientists "prove" there is no need to worry and act.
Its simply loopy to think along those lines.

To be accurate you trusted in the voting experts.

A medical operation has a percentage risk, unless it happens to you then it's 100%.

Sometimes the witchdoctors are right.
Sometimes the scientists get it right.
Sometimes a second, third or even fourth opinion is required to find someone that is willing to look at the evidence close enough to read the individual unique case.  Science tends towards statistical decision making.

So keep your doctor. Give me a professional engineer....

Great comment Baz!  Who the hell cares whats happening in 85 years.  Up until your comment I was under the impression that sea levels were rising, but now I know you have been surfing for 30 years and it looks about the same I can rest easy.
Come on Baz are you taking the piss?  

Peakeverything...i am very concered about the false information being passed off as fact.
can you show me where and how much  the mean sea level risen in NZ
not errosion due to shifting sands and storms etc..,...or sinking land around the shore
how much in real meaningful terms has the sea risen.
My second question is how can you know that mankind is stuffing the planet
I wish the green Nazi nutters would make a stand against , toxic waste , GMO, flouride in the water , chemicals in the food etc...real issues..
we are posioning the planet in very real ways...

It is data from the tide gauges- the equipment in every major harbour that measures how high was the tide, and have been measuring since the early 1900s. You know when there is a Tsunami somewhere and they say something like "but by the time it reached New Zealand it was only 12cm tall"- that's the tide gauges at work. Anyway, New Zealand tide gauges, like others around the world show the oceans have been rising. It is not just New Zealand's ones, so we are not special and sinking, it is the same pattern everywhere.

thanks dh...could you please tell me how much it would help...
as in year by year etc..it would be good to know because then both sides of the debate
can have information to compare...the people that say the see levels are rising so fast
its going to change the way we live,,,i just wonder if its that bad ..in practical terms it just doesent seem to change much..i agree that storms and crazy weather are taking place more
so if you can post a few figures say wellington ,auckland etc it would help.

There is quite a big range on this- part of the reason is the the sea level has been rising faster recently (between 7 and 9 cm over the last decade) and the question is how much should you assume the future is going to be at that rate, or is this just a short term faster rise. People can be almost certain it will be between 30 cm and 2.2m of rise in the next hundred years (but neither of those end values are very likely), but it is considered most likely to be between 50 and 80cm. So by the time you add storm surges on to that most councils are planning for a metre.
For most local areas the councils have done some estimates. Googling at random I find a Thames Coromandel one, which glancing at it I think has rather good generally readible discussion of estimate the range of estimates on pages 3-5 (pages 4-6 of the electronic pdf).
It also helps that it is from late 2012, so can draw on the latest research.

Here is the site which has the past few years data for a number of places around the country. Unfortunately this is the raw "one reading per minute" data with one file per day (and there are quite a lot of minutes per day), so people are going to have to do a bit of work with it to bring it all together.
The site with the longer term monthly average summaries seems to be down this evening. But here is the auckland summary from the NOAA
You do need to be a little careful with individual stations- Wellington for example is one where tectonic activity has had a bit of an effect (by comparing tide gauges it becomes clear Wellington is gradually subsiding). But then if the big one hits in the next century, that will likely have more of an effect on the height of the land above the sea than global warming will.
Since the mid 1990s there have also be satellites that bounce a radar signal of the surface of the earth and so, among other things, measure sea levels. Their figure of the sea levels rising somewhere near 3mm a year in recent years agrees with the land based tide gauges.

Thanks DH ..i will read up on these links