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  1. Useful calibration for cynicism — the Retraction Watch blog:

    “… 2011 would have been a very good year for business.
    It was a year that will probably see close to 400 retractions, including a number of high-profile ones, once the dust settles. Those high numbers caught the attention of a lot of major media outlets, from Nature to NPR to the Wall Street Journal. Science publications, including LiveScience and The Scientist, have done their own end-of-year retraction lists.

    It was also a good year for us at Retraction Watch. Many news outlets featured us in their coverage, either picking up stories we’d broken or asking us for comment on big-picture issues. Three national NPR programs — Science Friday, On the Media, and All Things Considered — had us on air. We launched a column in LabTimes, and Nature asked us to write a year-end commentary. We even earned a Wikipedia entry. Read the rest of this entry »

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Jan 2012 @ 12:55 PM

  2. La nina on the wane so could 2012 be a record breaking year?

    Comment by Pete best — 2 Jan 2012 @ 3:35 PM

  3. Can anyone find an online version of Graham Adams’ article on environmentalism in the November 2011 issue of the New Zealand magazine North and South? I happened to read it while vacationing in New Zealand and was horrified to find it gormlessly repeating every climate skeptic talking point and crank ranging from the Oregon Petition to Christopher Monckton. I had to check the cover of the magazine again to make sure I was reading a serious publication.

    Comment by demonhauntedworld — 2 Jan 2012 @ 4:13 PM

  4. Here are two maps comparing methane levels above the Arctic in November 2010 and 2011:

    Comment by wili — 2 Jan 2012 @ 4:16 PM

  5. Two small milestones for 2011.

    July 27, 2011: The CRU releases the “climategate” raw temperature data that skeptics had been demanding.

    December 31, 2011: Still no sign that any of the skeptics who had been demanding access to the CRU raw data have done anything meaningful with it.

    Comment by caerbannog — 2 Jan 2012 @ 4:50 PM

  6. With the launch of the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 and the first detailed maps from it (Jan. and Feb.2011), the much needed data on sea ice thickness in the Arctic is now becoming available. When, where, and how much the ice thickness is changing has been an important missing piece in the Arctic climate puzzle.

    Comment by Bill — 2 Jan 2012 @ 5:01 PM

  7. Thanks wili; and searching on his name, he’s published quite a bit.

    One should be able to read his papers and find out how much variation occurs naturally (how noisy the data available is), how much data has been collected (how many years, how many satellites, how freqently), and with the observed noise level, he’s probably calculated how much data is needed for a reasonable chance to detect a trend statistically. That depends on the details, there’s no simple rule.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Jan 2012 @ 5:06 PM

  8. Here’s one:
    Reference : A new method to detect long term trends of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) total columns measured within the NDACC ground-based high resolution solar FTIR network

    “… a multiple regression model with anomalies of air pressure, total columns of hydrogen fluoride (HF) and carbon monoxide (CO) and tropopause height are used to reduce the variability in the methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) total columns to estimate reliable linear trends ….

    And more papers, looking up “solar FITR network” — new tool being described:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Jan 2012 @ 5:13 PM

  9. Highlights, lowlights, … oddlights?
    The Muller BEST affair had an odd start:
    “I’m a right wing physicist and I’m going to show those planet huggers how to do it. Grrrr!”
    This was a sort of a highlight of the Nixon going to China type. Of course Muller had to give in to arithmetic’s well known liberal bias.

    “But then how the lame herd hated him
    hated him
    As they shouted out with rage:
    Muller with your math so red,
    You’ll never be at our teams head.”

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 2 Jan 2012 @ 5:29 PM

  10. Follow-on question from last months Unforced Variation discussion of methane.

    As I understand it, airborne methane is broken down in the troposphere through a variety of reactions, starting with an OH- radical.

    If the methane concentration goes up sufficiently, the supply of OH- radicals goes down; won’t this lead to a longer residence time for methane?

    Wikipedia suggests here that methane which rises through the troposphere will be broken down by reacting with existing ozone.

    Can anyone bound the effect on ozone for me? If X (hundred) megatons of CH4 are released in the next 50 years what effect is it likely to have on stratospheric ozone? What is the likely residence time given that OH- radicals could become much scarcer?

    Comment by David Miller — 2 Jan 2012 @ 5:29 PM

  11. There some of the year’s extreme weather is reviewed at

    But my peeve of the year was the focus on extreme events instead of the global problem. I am very glad to see that Hansen et al. have a better approach:
    They look at the percent cover of earth with extreme heat. Now if climate scientists could learn to do this for floods and projected flooding by 2020, 2030, … to go along with the spread of drought we could begin to see how soon to expect a food crisis.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 2 Jan 2012 @ 5:42 PM

  12. The WunderBlog has more on extreme weather:

    A remarkable blitz of extreme weather events during 2011 caused a total of 32 weather disasters costing at least $1 billion worldwide. Five nations experienced their most expensive weather-related natural disasters on record during 2011–Thailand, Australia, Colombia, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia. According to insurance broker AON Benfield’s November Catastrophe Report, the U.S. was hit by no less than seventeen punishing multi-billion dollar extreme weather disasters in 2011; NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center official total is lower–twelve–but is likely to grow in number as additional damage statistics are tallied. Brazil experienced its deadliest weather-related natural disaster–a flash flood that killed 902 people in January, and the Philippines had its second deadliest flood ever, when Tropical Storm Washi killed over 1200 people in December.

    When all else fails, try singing in the rain.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 2 Jan 2012 @ 7:18 PM

  13. for David Miller:

    Eli discussed “… a new paper by Su and a list of co authors not long ago. Eli gave a clear illustrated explanation of the chemistry and photochemistry, and summed up:
    “… agriculture is increasingly acidifying and fertilizing soils …. It may also have maintained the oxidative capacity of the atmosphere ….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Jan 2012 @ 12:00 AM

  14. Newt Gingrich says he has killed a chapter on climate change in a post-election book of essays about the environment. But the intended author of the chapter, who supports the scientific consensus that humans contribute to climate change, says that’s news to her.

    Comment by vendicar decarian — 3 Jan 2012 @ 1:16 AM

  15. Yes, I guess a low point for 2011 is how quickly a politician’s quest for a powerful position changes his/her public opinion on science. Here is an interesting “debate” featuring Newt Gingrich:

    Here in Texas, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) got themselves into a bit of globally warmed water over the censorship of science in a report about Galveston Bay:

    We will see about the “compromise.”

    (Un)fortunately, the extreme heat and drought here in Texas also caused the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) to finally, and quitely, kill plans for a new coal-fired power plant because of the large amount of water it would use. They had insisted that the “drought of record” in the 1950s is as dry as it is ever going to get in Central Texas. I’m not making this stuff up!

    Keep your eyes on Texas. Even though it has cooled down and rained a little bit, the drought situation will not be pretty if we even come close to having as hot and dry a summer in 2012 as we had in 2011, based on the huge water deficit we are currently facing.

    What’s it going to take to get politicians base their actions on science?

    Gee, maybe Governor Perry will schedule another prayer meeting!

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 3 Jan 2012 @ 5:27 AM

  16. @#6 – Bill – arctic sea ice

    Right, the first arctic sea ice thickness data appeared in june 2011. Now there is the very considerable effort of University of Washington’s Polar Science Center to deliver best guesses of the thickness field and the total ice mass via a measurement backed numerical model (PIOMAS). Those data in turn allow to make assumptions on when we have to expect the first practically sea ice free September in the arctic. This is both scientifically an psychologically important.

    AFAIk there is up to now no check of PIOMAS – against CryoSat results. Is this just because of a lack of manpower to do the considerable work (so the work is beeing done, only not yet accomplished)? Or are there big unsolved discrepancies or CryoSat data interpretation problems?

    Comment by Dominik Lenné — 3 Jan 2012 @ 7:02 AM

  17. About “extreme” weather: Where I live it is now winter, but the average temperature on the first day of this year was above the average temperature of full 2011. (KNMI. DeBilt, The Netherlands). No, 2011 was not cold (ranking as nr3 in 110 years as a very warm year), but the first day of this year was warm. (The new years dive in the North Sea was not that terrible cold.)
    And no, this is not climate change but just cherry picking on the other side. ;-)

    Comment by Hans Kiesewetter — 3 Jan 2012 @ 8:06 AM

  18. A bit longer than a timescale of one year, but I’ll ask anyway. I’m not a climate scientist, so would appreciate any feedback on my attempt at a summary of my understanding of the big picture of advances in climate science for the last decade or so. I’m not trying to state what’s important in climate science, but where the progress has been in the last decade. In a statement as short as the one below, what have I missed out, wrongly included or got wrong?

    – The most notable new measurements are of the ocean (e.g. the Argo network, autonomous vehicles) and ice (e.g. through GRACE and recent comprehensive glacier inventory). Closing the water budget can now be done more realistically.

    – Lots of work has been done on the interrelated tangle of aerosols, chemistry and biology, but this remains the largest source of uncertainty, still lost in a maze of detail. A notable result is more warming from black carbon than previously thought.

    – Key improvements to models include the incorporation of the stratosphere and more ocean layers.

    – Plenty of indications that further improvements to models are possible simply by throwing in more computing resources e.g. higher resolution and more accurate radiative transfer code.

    – But new understanding is also required as parameterisation of subgrid processes is always necessary (turbulence, biology, clouds).

    – In paleoclimate the EPICA core (2004) remains a land mark. Speleothem measurements are a notable new proxy. Milankovitch theory has been strengthened. On the scale of the last few millennia incremental advances are allowing an attempt to move from global to local reconstructions and interpretation.

    Future challenges:

    – Critical measurement to refine climate sensitivity estimations from observed warming are aerosol forcing and ocean mixing. (More negative aerosol forcing and faster mixing both implying higher ultimate warming from existing greenhouse emissions.)

    – To refine climate sensitivity from modeling needs understanding of water vapor feedback and cloud feedback. Water vapor feedback is thought to be positive and cloud feedback to be mixed-to-positive, consistent with a sensitivity of 3 degrees, but both need pinning down.

    – Integration of climate models with numerical weather forecasting, which may provide a route to testing parameterisations.

    – More paleoclimate measurements are needed, especially in the tropics where traditional proxies such as tree rings and lake bed sediments are harder to come by.

    The overall picture of climate science over the last decade is incremental progress rather than revolution. The central estimate of climate sensitivity at 3 degrees C remains similar, with slightly smaller error bars in both directions.

    Comment by JK — 3 Jan 2012 @ 9:14 AM

  19. JK, not sure I can see how water vapor feedback can be negative without violiating known physics.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 Jan 2012 @ 9:22 AM

  20. 50 doomiest images of 2011

    50 doomiest graphs of 2011

    50 doomiest stories of 2011

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 3 Jan 2012 @ 9:50 AM

  21. In a remarkable case of reality out-satirizing satire, Judith Curry has apparently grown tired of being conflated with creationists and alt-med believers by others, and has therefore decided to do the conflating herself!

    [Response: Funny. The quoted Russell piece is from his 1928 book of course, but the exact quoting (including the ellipsis) is taken from my 2005 how to be a real sceptic post (no h/t of course ;-) ). But essentially Curry is claiming that the very existence of an agreement statement in science implies that the opposite is more likely to be true – this is the anti-thesis of what Russell was arguing (and indeed, to common sense). – gavin]

    Comment by toto — 3 Jan 2012 @ 10:41 AM

  22. Ray, that may be
    > without … known physics.
    Five Reasons Why Water Vapor Feedback Might Not Be Positive …

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Jan 2012 @ 11:22 AM

  23. JK,

    I think you hit the nail on the head with ARGO and GRACE measurements. Aerosols (coal burning emissions, volcanic activity, and cosmic rays) have received significant attention, but hard and fast numbers are still a long ways off. Even with all the research, clouds are still the largest uncertainty. While water vapor is generally thought to be positive, more research is showing a negative cloud effect.

    [Response:No, water vapor is known to be a positive feedback, and what is your source for the last statement?–Jim]

    Recent paleoclimatology measurements have generated lower climate sensitivities

    [Response:Such as?]

    and reduction of the high-end tail.
    Other than that, I am not sure that we can say that the error bars are slightly lower. One of the recent thoughts is that the climate sensitivity is more variable than originally believed, depending on the climate factors in place at the time.

    Another variable is the effect of plantlife, both changes that humans have impacted upon on the landscape,

    [Response:Care to explain that?]

    and those that will result from changing temperatures and atmospheric levels.

    Most of the advances have followed the computing technology, where data can be analyzed and compared at much faster rates. Smaller influences can be handled with today’s computing power, which cloud not with the computers of a decade ago.

    Comment by Dan H. — 3 Jan 2012 @ 12:26 PM

  24. Dan H., You seem to attach a lot of weight to single studies when they support your prejudices.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 Jan 2012 @ 1:49 PM

  25. Pete Dunkelberg wrote: “my peeve of the year was the focus on extreme events instead of the global problem”

    Ordinary people don’t experience “the global problem”. They experience the extreme events. And they are going to be experiencing more frequent, and more extreme, such events as global warming continues.

    This is why it is crucial for scientists and journalists to inform the public about the connection between “weather of mass destruction” and the “global problem”.

    And this is, of course, exactly why the fossil-fueled deniers are so aggressively attacking any suggestion of such connections.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 3 Jan 2012 @ 1:59 PM

  26. Ray @ 18

    I think that JK said that cloud feedback could be negative not water vapour. It is definitely possible for cloud feedback to be negative.

    Comment by David Harrington — 3 Jan 2012 @ 3:00 PM

  27. Time to nominate for the Bloggies 2012

    Comment by Louise — 3 Jan 2012 @ 3:02 PM

  28. Ray,
    As scientists, we try to be open-minded, and not stick to pre-conceived ideas.

    [Response:That’s a good idea, you ought to try that out instead of constantly looking for the angle or the subtle wording that casts doubt on the various findings of climate science.–Jim]

    If you feel that this study is prejudiced then I am open to your opinion as to why. To you have a better example to answer JK’s requests concerning more paleo data and climate sensitivity updates?

    Comment by Dan H. — 3 Jan 2012 @ 3:49 PM

  29. Denial Duds — the top 5 anticlimaxes for climate skeptics in 2011:

    1. BEST preliminary results pretty much what we already knew, disconfirm devoutly wished-for UHI bias
    2. Watts’ surfacestations project’s published results disconfirm devoutly wished-for “warm” siting bias
    3. CERN CLOUD project’s first paper firms up ionization/nucleation link, otherwise leaves devoutly wished-for vindication of GCR hypothesis still in limbo, instead turns up interesting science of no obvious political value
    4. Climategate 2: Son of Return of the Sequel Rides Again emails turn out to be filled with bombshells wet firecrackers
    5. [This space intentionally left blank for you to fill in — Suggestions?]

    Comment by CM — 3 Jan 2012 @ 3:54 PM

  30. While Curry et al. continue to impugn the integrity of climate scientists, Wegman swoops in and nabs a place in The Scientist list of Top Science Scandals of 2011 (see )

    Comment by Don Brookman — 3 Jan 2012 @ 4:19 PM

  31. Hansen still sees a 5 m rise in sea level as possible by the end of the century with doubling of rise amounts every ~10 years.

    Comment by wili — 3 Jan 2012 @ 4:20 PM

  32. @#16 — Dominik

    I am not familiar with PIOMAS but will look into it. Thanks.

    As far as checking PIOMAS against CryoSat-2, my guess is it is just a matter of time (and funding) before someone gets around to doing it.

    I am not an expert on CryoSat-2 but to my knowledge its validation studies were without problems and the data being returned exceeds all published expectations.

    Comment by Bill — 3 Jan 2012 @ 4:42 PM

  33. wili @ 31

    Sea level better get a move on then mate if it is going to hit those targets when you consider the IPCC worst case predictions are a fraction of that.

    [Response: There was no upper limit to the IPCC ‘worst case predictions’ for sea level – this was one of their major problems last time as we discussed at length. I personally don’t think that back-of-the-envelope estimates are particularly informative, but without more credible ice sheet modelling it’s hard to credibly dismiss these out-of-hand. (By the way, simple linear extrapolations for 100 years are not credible). – gavin]

    Comment by David Harrington — 3 Jan 2012 @ 5:47 PM

  34. Coldest time of year, traditionally. Last night clear enough to see not only Luna and Jupiter but also lotsa stars.

    Above freezing in the middle of the night.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 3 Jan 2012 @ 7:38 PM

  35. > IPCC ‘worst case’


    “… quoting the 18-59 cm range of sea level rise, as many media articles have done, is not telling the full story. 59 cm is unfortunately not the “worst case”. It does not include the full ice sheet uncertainty, which could add 20 cm or even more. It does not cover the full “likely” temperature range given in the AR4 (up to 6.4 ºC) …”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Jan 2012 @ 8:26 PM

  36. David Harrington says:
    “… I think that JK said that cloud feedback could be negative not water vapour.”

    You could check what you think,
    you could check what David H. says.
    In both situations, you’ll often find it’s wrong.

    It’s easy to do.

    JK, earlier, said:

    “Water vapor feedback is thought to be positive and cloud feedback to be mixed-to-positive …”

    Ray replied, dryly:

    “not sure I can see how water vapor feedback can be negative …”

    Get it?
    JK states a weak “is thought to be” claim, without citation, about a physically observed result — as though it’s a theory not an observation.

    Ray replied snarkily, or perhaps socratically*

    Dan H. misinterpreted what Ray asked, then misstated what JK said and suggested Ray had misread it.

    “… An enemy has planted things in your head. You need to know what those things are so you can trust yourselves and each other.” — Tagon, 2012/01/03
    * (are those the same thing? I’ve always wondered).

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Jan 2012 @ 9:19 PM

  37. Fully developed Kelvin-Helmhotz waves in clouds just at sunset. Better than
    with the glow behind the waves. Also some just in the process of breaking, rather like water waves approaching a beach; first time I’ve ever seen that.

    Don’t attribute any of the above to AGW, tho’.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 3 Jan 2012 @ 11:36 PM

  38. After reading Wili #4, I thought of Spike Milligan’s epitaph “I toldyou I was ill”.

    Should we begin to think of an epitaph for the human race?

    Any ideas?

    “So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish”?

    “We didn’t know the models were wrong”?

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 3 Jan 2012 @ 11:56 PM

  39. #6, Bill, 2 Jan 2012,
    #15, Dominik Lenné, 3 Jan 2012,

    Has something slipped by me? Extraordinarily easy for that to happen.

    The preliminary results released for CryoSat-2 during the Paris Air Show seemed off, showing a significantly grater then expected ice volume. PIOMAS results are from a model, but one that incorporates direct observations including the international Arctic Buoy Program run by the same U of W’s Polar Science Center that produces PIOMAS data.

    During this last spring, as there has been for a number of years, considerable effort was expended, in part, to produce validation data for the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2. Until that instrument program is producing, it’s difficult to see how the press release is particularly noteworthy given 2011 events are the suggested bounds.

    More noteworthy for the sea ice subject are the loss of the AMSR-E instrument in October; the publication of in Geophysical Research Letters paper by Tietsche et al and the subject of a most lucid post here at RealClimate

    by Dirk Notz, a contributor to the paper; or that the minimum for area is back to the 2007 value, without the radical set of conditions of that year occurring in the intervening 4 years.

    Comment by WhiteBeard — 4 Jan 2012 @ 2:13 AM

  40. Highlights include:
    1. Gavin’s award of the AGU Climate Communication Prize
    2. the BEST team acknowledging actual science rather than data-less denialism
    3. the successful launches of a number of new satellites (Aquarius, NPP) and getting data from Cryosat-2
    4. the small but hopeful deal reached in Durban (it’s not much but probably better than nothing)
    5. hearing Dr. Rajendra Pachauri deliver the commencement address at the NCSU fall graduation ceremony

    Comment by Ed Beroset — 4 Jan 2012 @ 9:33 AM

  41. Hank Roberts: “Ray replied snarkily, or perhaps socratically…”

    Ooh! I now have a new screen handle: Snarkrates?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Jan 2012 @ 10:01 AM

  42. Jim,

    In reply to your earlier questions:

    1. Cloud feedback source: There were several papers published last, here is one: (This paper agreed with some of the papers, but disagreed with others. There is still considerable uncertainty in this area.)
    2. The paleo data comes from the Schmittner study:

    3. Regarding plant life, I was referring partly to the recent RC thread about land-use changes.
    Secondly, trees have been shown to be capable of sequestering more carbon in elevated CO2 environments.

    [Response:This is your idea of a defense of your previous sweeping statements? Laughable.–Jim]

    Comment by Dan H. — 4 Jan 2012 @ 10:09 AM

  43. In other words, if you want cherries, you can get them picked and prepared from some people, who will tell you some favored notion, and pick a cite to suit if he has one.

    In college these days, I’m told, this method is called “reverse citation” — it comes with the availability of Google, since in the old paper era it would have been no extra effort to find good information.

    Nowadays, pick anything you’d like, and Google — someone will have said it somewhere, and you can call that your authority — that’s reverse citation.

    The tactic in a forum like this is to wear down the folks who mistrust and try to verify the claims; once they give up, the cherries are freely distributed in reply to new people’s questions, making the forum less than useless.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Jan 2012 @ 11:25 AM

  44. Humanity’s epitaph:
    We should have listened to the science.

    Top 5 articles I’d like to see in 2012 (in the Onion anyways)

    1. SCIENTISTS OVERESTIMATE URBAN HEAT ISLAND EFFECT: After the results of the BEST climate study, scientists realize that the UHI effect wasn’t as large as they thought.

    2. IPCC COVERS UP FUTURE SEA LEVEL RISE: Only in the margin is it noted that their prediction for sea level rise didn’t include ice-sheet uncertainty.

    3. SCIENTISTS USING MODELS ONLY GIVE “AVERAGE” RESULTS: Our reporters discovered that scientists use multiple model runs but only show the average, not the worst-case results.

    4. CLIMATE SCIENTISTS START MOVING OUT OF CERTAIN STATES: Scientists have started moving out of states they feel will be hit worst by climate change.


    Anyways, I can dream.

    Comment by Richard Hendricks — 4 Jan 2012 @ 11:27 AM

  45. Oh, and just for the record (dammit, why do I keep falling for the temptation to check claims I can be sure in advance are spinning dizzily?)

    > Dan H
    > trees have been shown to be capable of
    > sequestering more carbon in elevated CO2
    > environments.

    That’s cherries again.

    Actual quote from the source Dan H. misleads you to:

    ” … the N deficiency increased, forest response to eCO2 also declined (Norby et al. 2010). The experiment no longer supported the premise that the CO2 fertilization effect would be sustained.”

    We don’t know if Dan is misreading after finding his own sources or if he’s copypasting from some place like CO2Science that supplies cherries pre-spun.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Jan 2012 @ 11:35 AM

  46. There is absolutely no debate at this point concerning the robustness of a positive water vapor feedback, based on several decades done at the interface of modeling, observations, and theory. Some of the work of Brian Soden, Dessler, and others have cleared this up. There have been mechanisms proposed that could help de-moisten the upper troposphere (Lindzen has one in the early 90s, but has since abandoned that in favor of cloud feedbacks, namely his IRIS theory); I don’t really agree with Ray that it must necessarily be some violation of ‘known physics’ to have a weaker water vapor effect (in particular, there’s no grand unified theory linking changes in relative humidity in the upper atmosphere to temperature), but nothing supports a negative feedback, and it would be impossible to explain the paleo-record with a negative water vapor effect since that is the chief effect that amplifies sensitivity and reduces how well the Planck radiative restoring response brings back equilibrium.

    Clouds are a different story, and it’s useful to speak of water vapor and clouds separately. Most ideas discussing cloud feedbacks focus only on one of the two opposing aspects at a time (longwave vs. shortwave), such as Lindzen’s IRIS or Hartmann’s FAT hypothesis (Zelinka and Hartmann have some recent papers on this, Del Genio at GISS has done some work here as well), and the general idea is that longwave cloud feedbacks are positive, but shortwave effects are more uncertain. No one has succeeded in explaining a cloud feedback that is negative enough to reduce sensitivity well below the IPCC AR4 range.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 4 Jan 2012 @ 11:57 AM

  47. Hank, I really like the reverse citation bit. Can someone come up with a new word for this kind of trolling. We already have “tone” and “concern” and “drive by,” so what would a troll using reverse citation be called. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 4 Jan 2012 @ 12:04 PM

  48. > reverse citation

    It’s cherrypicking, aka “advocacy science”

    The Rise of the Dedicated Natural Science Think Tank (PDF)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Jan 2012 @ 1:38 PM

  49. Dan H.:

    Interesting – your “debate” tactics (posting research that doesn’t say what you claim it says, cherry-picking data, claiming posters have said things that they did not say, etc.) are about as popular here as they were on the now-defunct blog.

    Would you care to comment about this?

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 4 Jan 2012 @ 2:21 PM

  50. Hello folks

    A new topic perhaps.

    Here in England we had our upteenth poor to indifferent summer following a fine spring. The usual interpretation was given out by the Met office as being the result of the jet stream shifting further south. I was curious and contacted them and apparently this is not due to a expansion in the area of the polar air mass but was compensated by a northward shift in the Bering Sea area.

    It occurs to me that the Arctic melt pattern is gradually reducing to a core centred on Greenland (less the ‘obvious’ recovery of ice described by nutters like Nigel Lawson – the cheek of the man, dissing David Attenborough!).

    So does this mean that increasing ice melt is leading to a shift towards the Atlantic region of the thermal pole in summer, and that our naff summers will become a regular feature?

    Any thoughts?

    Comment by john mann — 4 Jan 2012 @ 2:31 PM

  51. Hank @ 43

    “The tactic in a forum like this is to wear down the folks who mistrust and try to verify the claims; once they give up, the cherries are freely distributed in reply to new people’s questions, making the forum less than useless.”

    Steve @ 47

    “…what would a troll using reverse citation be called.”

    Attrition Troll?
    Entropic Idiocy Troll?
    Gish Gallop Citation Troll?

    Oh damn. Now you’ve got me started…

    Comment by Radge Havers — 4 Jan 2012 @ 5:29 PM

  52. @39, Whitebeard
    Thanks for the hint to Notz’s contribution! I had in mind, that the airshow publication of CryoSat-2-results showed an ice volume larger than PIOMAS. I guess ‘they’ are struggeling since then to resolve that contradiction. Seems to be no easy task to track down the problem. I am really keen to read how it resolves.

    Comment by Dominik Lenné — 4 Jan 2012 @ 5:51 PM

  53. Just to tie up a few loose ends,

    Why did the researchers look at nitrogen along with CO2 and feature that in their summary? Is that cherrypicking, or was there a reason it’s important?

    This illustrates why reading footnotes and citing papers is needed to understand what’s being discussed and why in the paper.

    When CO2 becomes more available, nitrogen’s generally the next limit.

    What nitrogen oxides are in the atmosphere?

    How does nitrogen turn into nitrogen oxide?
    Did you assume nitrogen could not be burned?

    Nitrogen won’t burn at ordinary temperature and pressure.
    Inside internal combustion engines, at those pressures and temperatures, nitrogen burns along with the carbon and hydrogen (gasoline).

    Isn’t fertilizer always good?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Jan 2012 @ 7:12 PM

  54. > a troll using reverse citation be called.


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Jan 2012 @ 7:30 PM

  55. Craig,
    You are asking me to comment on a Democratic website attacking Republicans in an election year. It happens.

    You may want to read the summary of the FACE project, before you make those type of assumptions. I suugest you avoid the crowd mentality. There will always be those who attack those with whom they disagree, just like in the link you posted.

    My advice is stick with scientific reports, and not rhetoric.

    Comment by Dan H. — 4 Jan 2012 @ 7:48 PM

  56. Dan H., Actually, the question of legal responsibility is not a fatuous one. Scientists at Exx-Mob and the other fossil fuel companies counseled their employers against opposing the science way back in the ’90s. Arguably, they bear some responsibility for any damages incurred that could have been avoided by addressing the threats in a timely fashion. One needs to remember as well that by the time the worst effects of climate change manifest, fossil fuels will have decreased in importance due to increased scarcity. This is bound to decrease the influence of the big energy companies.

    It is not out of the realm of possibility that the fossil fuel companies face some legal jeopardy from future class action suits a la the tobacco companies, or perhaps even W. R. Grace. I fear this will happen too late to place the Koch brothers in the docket, but it should be something that anyone planning to hold Exx-Mob et al. in their profile over the long haul should keep in mind.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Jan 2012 @ 8:39 PM

  57. Reverse citation= Retroactive Prior Citation, so RPC Troll.

    Comment by Steve Fish — 4 Jan 2012 @ 10:47 PM

  58. Dan “H.”:

    Your gall is impressive! You have posted many links to completely biased websites to support your arguments. When I have commented on this, you have always insisted that the nature of the websites didn’t matter, that it was the quality of the “science” that was important.

    Well, backatcha. Republican or Democrat is not the point, it was not my point, and it is not the point of the article. To claim that it is avoids the question. Why would you avoid the question?

    As Ray pointed out, what about the issue itself that was discussed in that article? What do you think is the liability of those who have knowingly tried to confuse the debate concerning anthropogenic global climate change science for personal gain? In the past, civil (and even criminal) liability has been assigned to similar actions. Do you have any opinion whatsoever about that? Or are you just going to follow the “crowd mentality” of your employer?

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 5 Jan 2012 @ 1:23 AM

  59. Greetings all,

    I suspected that there would be a mild winter across the lower 48 states due to the persistence of the positive North Atlantic Oscillation in combination with anthropogenic global warming. It’s a tad too late this go around for anyone to play “The Climate Lottery” in my third blog post(since the deadline for picks was 1/1/12), but you can check out the blog on at:

    Boreal winter has certainly started out very warm in many areas of the country. Please leave a comment on my blog. I’ll endeavor to do a fourth post for boreal spring around March 10th.
    Everyone can play “The Climate Lottery” game for the three months of spring once the fourth post is done on For practice though, go ahead and post some numbers (including the winter Power Ball number) on the third post.

    I’m doing these climate blogs to prove that in a geographical area the size of the United States it is becoming increasingly less likely for colder than average temperatures to persist over a period as long as one season. I’m getting some nasty comments from contrarians, but that is to be expected with all climate related pieces these days; so, for those of you who think I’m on the right track, post some positive comments.

    My second post, in which I first mentioned “The Climate Lottery”, can be found at:

    Thanks again goes out to all those at the National Climatic Data Center for letting me use their monthly, seasonal and yearly rankings data.


    Guy Walton
    Lead Forecaster, The Weather Channel

    Comment by Guy Walton — 5 Jan 2012 @ 2:30 AM

  60. @ #50 john mann: 4 Jan 2012 at 2:31 PM

    Hi John
    Central England just had the second warmest year in its 350 year long record:
    The CET is closely linked to the AMO oscillations, which can be directly related to the summer atmospheric pressure in the Arctic, the principal component of the North Atlantic Oscillation
    Further more it can be shown that the AM Oscillations, initiated by subpolar gyre, leave direct imprint on the global temperature anomaly, as I show here:
    using NASA’s GISS data.
    In conclusion one could say that as the ice retreats further north, the interaction between the deep convection heat release and the polar jet-stream during summer months, contrary to the expectation, may not bring warmer summers to the UK.

    Comment by vukcevic — 5 Jan 2012 @ 7:45 AM

  61. I’d be interested in comments anyone may have on this new paper in Nature: Changing Arctic Ocean freshwater pathways, as described here in ScienceDaily. It’s about the source and distribution of fresh water in the arctic.

    From the abstract:

    Our results confirm that runoff is an important influence on the Arctic Ocean and establish that the spatial and temporal manifestations of the runoff pathways are modulated by the Arctic Oscillation, rather than the strength of the wind-driven Beaufort Gyre circulation.

    Does it have implications for projections of sea ice cover and ocean circulation?

    Comment by Sou — 5 Jan 2012 @ 8:27 AM

  62. Hi all,

    I have been reading the zero order drafts of AR5 Chapter 10 (detection and attribution).

    [Response: Please note that the ZODs are neither definitive nor reviewed and as such will contain many statements that will not make it into the final versions. Indeed, the first order drafts (which have now gone out for review are very different). Note also that RC will not be commenting on the draft texts (see the ‘Do not cite, quote or distribute’ tags?) because they are preliminary and have had little community input. For this comment, I will respond to the substance of your questions (which are general), rather than the specifics of the cited text. – gavin]


    Now, until recently I had laboured under a confusion that warming in the upper tropical troposphere was agreed to be a fingerprint of CO2 warming – as this text appears to say.

    However, I was corrected and told that warming in the upper free troposphere is not an “anthropogenic fingerprint” after all – but just a “fingerprint of warming”, regardless of cause.

    [Response: This would have been clearer to you if you had read the previous RC articles on tropical tropospheric trends where this has been frequently stated. – gavin]

    So if anyone could help me understand how many of the remaining “anthropogenic fingerprints” referred to in this executive summary are really just fingerprints of warming regardless of cause, like the tropospheric hotspot, I would be most grateful.

    For convenience I have itemised the “fingerprints” listed in the executive summary:

    – greater warming at high latitudes

    [Response: Expected for any externally imposed forcing. Similar amplification patterns for ice ages and very warm periods. – gavin]

    – greater warming over land areas

    [Response: Again expected for any externally imposed forcing. Similar amplification patterns for ice ages. – gavin]

    – cooling in the stratosphere

    [Response: In the mid-to-upper stratosphere this is uniquely a signal of CO2 forcing. In the lower stratosphere (MSU-TLS for instance), this is predominantly a signature of ozone depletion. – gavin]

    – ocean warming spreading from surface to depth

    [Response:This is a signal of an externally imposed forcing rather than internal variability. – gavin]


    Are any of the remaining “anthropogenic fingerprints” truly unique fingerprints of CO2-forced warming?

    Alex Harvey

    Comment by Alex Harvey — 5 Jan 2012 @ 9:07 AM

  63. Craig,
    You are missing the point. My claim was that using a biased website (whether pro- or anti-) to access a scientific paper was irrelevent. The website cannot change what was written in the published report. Editorials are a completely different issue. The bias of the particular website is evident in the print. The issue of the “quality of the science” becomes rather blurred in this case due to the prejudices of the author.

    If the Koch brothers knowingly distributed false information that resulted in harm to either people or the environment, then that is direct cause for legal action. Similarly, any other company that willfully distributes false information should be held accountable.

    I have no love for these companies either, and I have had many contacts with them. Many of the people with which I have dealt are arrogant and condescending. I would not lose a minutes of sleep if they went of out business. However, I have heard many claims of abuses by businesses from those who are “anti-business”, “anti-big business”, “anti big oil”, or anti- anything else which appear baseless. That is not to say that they are, but the source of the claims certainly is a red flag about their merit.

    BTW, my employer has taken no position on this issue, so it the “crowd mentality” is not applicable.

    Comment by Dan H. — 5 Jan 2012 @ 9:43 AM

  64. #72 and inline:

    – greater warming at high latitudes

    [Response: Expected for any externally imposed forcing. Similar amplification patterns for ice ages and very warm periods. – gavin]

    Gavin, can you expand upon this (or maybe give a pointer?) I’d thought that solar variability would have its greatest effect in the tropics. (Of course, presuming that TSI is the important metric, we already know that there isn’t a solar forcing sufficient to account for observed warming.)

    (I *am* presuming solar variability is ‘an externally imposed forcing’ in the sense you intend it above.)

    And what of the idea that, for example, winter warming in high latitudes is a GE signature? Valid/uncertain/wrong?

    Perhaps another approach to this issue of ‘fingerprints’ would be to ask “What are the *other* “externally imposed forcings?” To what extent are physically plausible/actually happening?” (I’m guessing there’s a pointer on this, perhaps?)

    [Response: Polar amplification is mostly driven by the greater amounts of the feedbacks in the polar regions (snow/ice albedo feedbacks, ice sheet/vegetation feedbacks. for instance). Over really long time scales, polar amplification is larger than we can currently explain (especially for the Eocene, Cretaceous etc.). – gavin]

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 5 Jan 2012 @ 11:07 AM

  65. > The website cannot change what was written in the published report.

    Nonsense. Reagan would be disappointed in you, Dan H. It’s “trust but verify” — not trust and swallow whatever they give you.

    I refute it thus:

    “CO2 Science twists the most recent science, ever so subtly, to suggest that there is no link between carbon dioxide levels and climate change….”

    They changed their name; they didn’t change their function as one of the more subtle twist-and-spin sources. That’s why, in fact, I’ve wondered if you’re relying on them; your comments often resemble their approach.

    Very professionally done — pseudoscience, advocacy science, cherrypitting.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Jan 2012 @ 11:42 AM

  66. #72 inline:


    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 5 Jan 2012 @ 12:15 PM

  67. Hank,
    You cannot possibly be implying that a website can change a report in its published version are you? I have never seen this done, but I am willing to accept it with an example. Your refutation merely confirms my comment about website editorials.

    [edit; original comment, and response to it here, both removed. Everybody stick strictly to the science please–Jim]

    Comment by Dan H. — 5 Jan 2012 @ 12:51 PM

  68. #65 Kevin McKinney says:
    I’d thought that solar variability would have its greatest effect in the tropics. (Of course, presuming that TSI is the important metric, we already know that there isn’t a solar forcing sufficient to account for observed warming.)

    That would be the case if the TSI was the driver of the temperature oscillations. This may not be entirely in line with current thinking (so it may get chopped by the moderator), but it appears that sun-earth link is electro & magnetic one (ionospheric currents inductions), making the effect far stronger at the poles then the equator. The Arctic is the geo-magnetically less stable than the Antarctica (due to bifurcation of the Earth’s magnetic field on the Hudson Bay-Central Siberia line, see map from NOAA: )
    as the result N. Hemisphere temperature may be somewhat more volatile.
    It appears that there is a geomagnetic link to the occasional splitting of the polar vortex (which is responsible for the winter weather over the N. Hemisphere (see the NASA’s article: ).
    Further more, the AMO is directly correlated to the Arctic temperatures; couple of years ago I written somewhat speculative article on the subject (approach it with large dose of scepticism), it can be found here:

    Comment by vukcevic — 5 Jan 2012 @ 1:28 PM

  69. In Manitoba, we have had a 700 year flood throughout the western part of the province, followed by 8 months of above normal temperatures (during a la nina year) in 2011. To cap it off, weather today in Winnipeg is 20C above normal at 7 degrees.
    Forget the 700 year flood, this warm spell is 1 in a million

    Comment by Josh Brandon — 5 Jan 2012 @ 1:43 PM

  70. No, Dan, I’m saying that putting frame and spin and interpretation between readers and the science that the readers clearly don’t understand. When someone shows up here and is consistently posting little snippets that twist the science — often much like those available at CO2Science — it shows how effectively they fool people.

    When someone keeps getting the details wrong, doesn’t bother digging at all beyond the superficial spin interpretation, and the superficial is consistently the kind of spin from sites like CO2science — one wonders.

    The only reason to keep pointing people to the septic sites as sources is for the spin and interpretation they present.

    An expert wouldn’t be fooled.
    An expert wouldn’t go to the septic site to get the paper, though.

    It’s an extra layer of delusion and deception provided to fool the amateur.

    Most of us are amateurs. You consistently send people bad information cited to sources that provide that kind of bad information, all spun for PR/policy reasons.

    They’re subtle at CO2science. They’re effective. And they’re misleading.

    Use Scholar. Point to primary sources — sources without the spin.

    Some years ago, after looking into CO2science for the first time, one scientist familiar with the actual science commented on it here:
    “Judith Curry Posted Sep 12, 2006 at 6:52 AM

    Re the CO2 site. I seem to have inadvertently stirred up a hornets nest on this one, apologies for previous flip posts but my “spin meter” on this particular topic is acutely sensitivity.

    The post on the CO2 site is “high class” spin, where factual info is presented without obvious errors and the motives of scientists aren’t attacked (this is in contrast to low class spin)….”

    Don’t cite to spin sites. There are spin sites on all spokes of the political wheel, there are nutbars and netwits out there in all directions.
    Point to the actual science, if you know how to find it.

    If you can’t find it, get help.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Jan 2012 @ 2:04 PM

  71. Favorites: (1) Nature paper presenting statistical analysis of changes in rainfall extremes in the U.S.

    (2) Padilla et al paper on estimating the short-term climate sensitivity to CO2 increase.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 5 Jan 2012 @ 3:07 PM

  72. Hank,

    I agree. That was my point to Craig earlier about spin (biased) sites. Oftentimes the website information is slanted by the opinions of the host. I presume that is the case at your CO2 site. Opinions here and at opposing sites are also strongly influenced by the hosts.
    The other point was that some people do not have access to certain papers (behind a paywall). Sometimes those papers are available at other websites, like here or opposing sites. The paper is the same whether it is accessed here or somewhere else. That is why I prefer to go to the source, rather than read about at one spin site or another.

    Comment by Dan H. — 5 Jan 2012 @ 9:37 PM

  73. Hank Roberts — 4 Jan 2012 @ 11:35 AM

    That’s cherries again

    Not to jump back into this debate (and not to defend Dan H. or the likes of CO2 Science) but it’s not quite as settled as that. There is no doubt nitrogen and carbon together are strongly tied to growth, still, after the quote you post if goes on to say:

    “An unanswered question has been why the negative feedback through the N cycle developed in ORNL-FACE and not in other forested FACE experiments. There may be a fundamental difference in the biology of the various systems, such as a reliance on ectomycorrhizae as opposed to arbuscular mycorrhizae (Drake et al. 2011). Another possibility is that downregulation of forest growth response would have occurred across all experiments given enough time. Tissue turnover times are faster in the ORNL sweetgum stand than in the Duke-FACE pine stand, which may have accelerated the development of N limitation. Although these questions cannot currently be answered, results from ORNL-FACE highlight the important need for models to represent the N cycle better if we are to have confidence in their predictions about the C cycle.”

    “The widespread expectation that N limitation will lead to a loss in the capacity of an ecosystem to sequester additional C in eCO2 was borne out in some experiments but not in others.”

    Nitrogen oxide does not result only from smog. It also comes from natural sources such as volcanoes, lightening, microorganisms, fires, and asteroid strikes. Yes this is currently much less than from smog however this makes my previous question about the growth of flora in the middle Miocene more interesting since there was a lot of volcanic activity in the MM. There were also two large asteroid strikes in Germany at 15 ma.

    Also the Miocene was a tropical world. This is just surmise but taking into account that plants close off stomata to prevent the loss of water in drought situations I wonder perhaps if in the Miocene, with its abundance of moisture, plants did not need to do this, thus allowing a greater uptake of carbon?

    Comment by Ron R. — 6 Jan 2012 @ 12:02 AM

  74. @ Josh Brandon, re: one in a million
    Someone at that site has made a grievous statistical error:
    1) The standard deviation of 3.9 that Environment Canada shows is for mean temperature, not maximum
    2) The deviation is for monthly mean, not daily
    3) If the forecast high of 7C is one in 1.7 million, where does that place the all-time January high recorded in 1942 at 7.8C?
    look for Wpg Richardson at
    Warm indeed, but hardly the 11.7 we recorded in Edmonton on Wednesday (average January daily max -7.3C, 1971-2000)

    Comment by b_nichol — 6 Jan 2012 @ 2:23 AM

  75. Hank,
    You seem to be confusing my previous assertions. Contrary to your assumptions, I do point to the actual science. As I mentioned to Craig, some people do not have access to the pay sites, and the papers are available from sveral websites.

    My comment was similar to yours about biases in websites. Every site has a bias based on the authors. The editorializing may be interesting to read, but it is just that, and not actual research. I presume that is what is happening in your CO2 site.

    The other problem people choose is to take a small quote from a report and post it with their own spin, which may well differ from the entire conclusion, as Ron mentions above.

    Comment by Dan H. — 6 Jan 2012 @ 6:51 AM

  76. Vukcevic: “…but it appears that sun-earth link is electro & magnetic one (ionospheric currents inductions), making the effect far stronger at the poles then the equator.”

    Sorry, this is horse puckey. There is simply no credible mechanism whereby such weak couplings could result in a significant forcing. Without a mechanism, you got bupkes.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Jan 2012 @ 8:44 AM

  77. Katharine Hayhoe becomes the latest American Tradition Institute target for university email FOI abuse.

    Now the American Tradition Institute is coming after Hayhoe. On 10 December the organisation wrote to Texas Tech asking the university to turn over all Hayhoe’s emails with even the most glancing reference to Gingrich or Maple.

    Texas Tech so far has released just one document: the 7 Dec email from Maple to Hayhoe confirming the chapter’s inclusion in [Gingrich’s] book.

    Comment by J Bowers — 6 Jan 2012 @ 9:24 AM

  78. Dan H. — 6 Jan 2012 @ 6:51 AM

    The other problem people choose is to take a small quote from a report and post it with their own spin, which may well differ from the entire conclusion, as Ron mentions above.

    No, you have it backwards. The point I brought out is not the entire conclusion. As I understand it the ORNL-FACE is an artifact in the general conclusion that C & N are strongly tied together.

    My take on “CO2 Science” is that they claim that rising carbon will be good for the world therefore there is no need to limit it. A very convenient conclusion for the fossil fuel industry. The worry of scientists is that because of that the earth is heating rapidly, a change that we are not prepared for. Well, people can find ways to adapt to just about anything but the rest of the living world will likely not be able to and it could well spell doom for many species. That in turn would be bad news for us.

    As I stated last month, I hope that the effects won’t be that bad, the earth has done well in situations of elevated atmospheric carbon in the past, but that likely took a long time to evolve to. We would do well to cut our emissions as quickly as possible. Walking down a blind alley with your fingers crossed is not a good idea.

    Comment by Ron R. — 6 Jan 2012 @ 10:36 AM

  79. I should say, walking down a blind alley with only your fingers crossed is not a good idea.

    Just saw this:

    Comment by Ron R. — 6 Jan 2012 @ 10:53 AM

  80. Ron,

    The ORNL-FACE results were an artifact in the conclusion, but it was the only one in which showed N-limitations. The hypothesis regarding the testing was, “increasing the CO2 concentration will have little effect [on photosynthesis and biomass production] if. . . the use of photosynthate is limited by lack of nitrogen.”

    “Down-regulation of tree growth responses will occur through long-term changes in theNcycle”(Norby et al. 1999). As FACE experiments proceeded, a new hypothesis was developed to describe the interaction between eCO2 and the N cycle in forests. The progressive nitrogen limitation(PNL) hypothesis proposes that plant growth in eCO2 sequestersNin wood or soil organicmatter(SOM), leading to reducedNavailability and negative feedback on growth (Luo et al. 2004). FACE experiments provided an opportunity to test this hypothesis, which requires observations over multiple years. Evidence supporting PNL emerged from FACE studies in grasslands (Hovenden et al. 2008, Reich et al. 2006). Initial analyses of forest FACE experiments, however, failed to show evidence for PNL. Although the forests were N limited, NPP remained enhanced in eCO2, and there was no indication of diminished N availability or uptake (Norby & Iversen 2006, Zak et al. 2007a). Finzi et al. (2007) concluded that forests in eCO2 compensated for limited N availability through various mechanisms that led to increased N uptake and continued response of NPP to
    eCO2. These mechanisms could include increased soil exploration by fine roots and stimulation of N mineralization by fungal activity. Ecosystem models were not representing C-N interactions well enough to simulate the observed responses of N uptake (Finzi et al. 2007).”

    This hypothesis that N-limitation suppressed growth was supported by ORNL-FACE, but not by other forest FACE experiments.

    I am not trying to support CO2-science’s position either. Rather, trying to counter the misinformation that increased levels of atmospheric CO2 will lead to decreased plant growth.

    Comment by Dan H. — 6 Jan 2012 @ 11:41 AM

  81. Dan, when you point to a copy, you can’t rely on it being complete, or current, and you can’t follow citing sources forward. Nor can readers here.

    When a paper that’s paywalled on the publisher’s site is given away free by a PR site — ask why.

    Usually because it’s older info and they’re spinning it.

    You are not pointing to the science when you refer to a PR site that has one paper up, amid spin, without links to footnotes and citing papers.

    The science is the process, not the individual papers taken alone.

    If you think you can’t find a copy of a scientific paper other than at one of the PR sites — ask here. Someone will help you.

    If you find something available publicly only through one of the PR sites, don’t trust what they tell you and don’t trust it’s current work in context.

    Dan H, when you point to papers on PR sites and post brief claims and quotes — usually misleading spin — you waste everyone’s time.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Jan 2012 @ 11:46 AM

  82. > the myth that …

    Aw crap. Look, put the exact phrase you used into Google:

    > increased levels of atmospheric CO2 will lead to decreased plant growth

    The first top two hits are indeed — “CO2Science”

    You’re pushing their line.

    That’s not a “myth” — it’s a oversimplified strawman PR talking point

    Page down further and you will find the nuanced answers.

    Better, use Scholar. And read.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Jan 2012 @ 12:20 PM

  83. Two more highlights

    3. Isaac Held’s blog, this gem in particular:

    4. D. M. Romps, “Response of tropical precipitation to global Warming”, Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, vol 68, January 2011, p 123

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 6 Jan 2012 @ 12:23 PM

  84. Dan H. — 6 Jan 2012 @ 11:41 AM

    I am not trying to support CO2-science’s position either. Rather, trying to counter the misinformation that increased levels of atmospheric CO2 will lead to decreased plant growth.

    It’s not misinformation. It could, and in fact in most FACE experiments (after an initial growth spurt lasting, I think six years) did without the proper nitrogen. I’m not willing to smogify the world to get it. It would also be stupid to take such a gamble with the biosphere.

    Comment by Ron R. — 6 Jan 2012 @ 12:37 PM

  85. highlight #5: Graeme Stephens, “Climate change: A very cloudy picture”, Charney Lecture at AGU Fall meeting, San Francisco, December 2011.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 6 Jan 2012 @ 12:57 PM

  86. New paper by Williams, Menne and Thorne on the US surface temperature record.

    blog post about it here:

    Comment by SteveF — 6 Jan 2012 @ 1:13 PM

  87. Mr. Ladbury
    Thanks for your comment. I assume you are Dr. Ray Ladbury of the Goddard Space Flight Center. I only can say that strength of your rejection is more than matched by my curiosity.
    The Earth’s magnetic field in the Arctic area is more than 100x stronger than most of the geomagnetic storms, and yet these little few hours long solar originated pulses do shift the mighty Earth’s field few notches.
    If I had your degree and resources I might have come with a little bit more of substance, but for now I am content with the results of my research be it ‘horse puckey’ or not.

    Comment by vukcevic — 6 Jan 2012 @ 2:33 PM

  88. “… around the globe, more than half of all the atoms of nitrogen and of phosphorus in green plant material that grew last year came from artificial fertilisers ….”,4.pdf#page=4

    Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales, vol. 144, nos. 3&4, pp. 50-57.
    ISSN 0035-9173/11/020050-8

    Science advice and policy making
    Robert M. May OM AC FRS FRSN
    Lord May of Oxford

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Jan 2012 @ 3:39 PM

  89. better link:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Jan 2012 @ 3:56 PM

  90. Hank replied:

    the myth that [edit] increased levels of atmospheric CO2 will lead to decreased plant growth

    The first top two hits are indeed — “CO2Science”

    Another reason not to peruse your CO2science site.

    And yes, the use of artificial fertilization has increased dramatically – for crops.

    Comment by Dan H. — 6 Jan 2012 @ 4:24 PM

  91. Dan H.

    I’m trying to follow this meta-dialogue between yourself and Hank, and it might just be me, but your comments have descended into the realm of bizarre.

    From what I understand, Hank was saying that you shouldn’t be pointing people to primary literature on (to me anyway) obviously ant-science sites like co2science, because behind the scenes they are putting their anti-science spin on everything. Presumably, when you direct people to a site, they might just stick around to read other stuff beyond the paper you pointed them to (your excuse was that it was pay-walled elsewhere).

    Then you keep referring to co2science as “Hank’s CO2 site”. What?! It’s you that is lending credence to this site, not Hank. Virtually the same thing happened on Pharyngula a few months ago when a person linked to an anti-AGW screed on WUWT, and then came over all innocent about just linking to a paper that they happened to find, and not knowing anything about the overt WUWT anti-science agenda.

    Given your previous posting history here, your claims ring rather hollow.

    Comment by Steve Metzler — 6 Jan 2012 @ 7:29 PM

  92. Steve,
    I have never visited the Co2 site, let alone linked to anything there. In fact, I was not aware that even existed until Hank mentioned it. I have no idea about the validity of this site.
    The claim that someone will stick around to read other stuff may be valid, but seems a little like blaming the bartender because someone got drunk. As a rule, I only direct people to the paper on the site when I (or they) cannot access it elsewhere. I stand by this practice.

    Comment by Dan H. — 6 Jan 2012 @ 9:03 PM

  93. That wasn’t for Dan, it’s an unforced variation hoping for comment by someone knowledgeable. I found it astounding.

    Quoting again, the source says:

    “more than half of all the atoms of nitrogen and of phosphorus in green plant material that grew last year came from artificial fertilisers ….”

    Dan, who doesn’t qualify, misstates that as:
    > artificial fertilization has increased dramatically – for crops

    I miss killfile. I really do.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Jan 2012 @ 9:15 PM

  94. Vukcevic, I am he. Look, there simply is no substitute for doing the math. Calclate the energy densities represented by the geomagnetic field, the heliomagnetic field at Earth, particle fluxes… Now compare them to TSI. Unless you have a mechanism that amplifies your favorite cause to at least 1% of TSI, then give it up. Life’s too short to chase your tail. Do the math first.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Jan 2012 @ 9:28 PM

  95. > I was not aware that even existed

    Well, where _are_ you getting these chunks you post?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Jan 2012 @ 11:48 PM

  96. news:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Jan 2012 @ 11:54 PM

  97. Dan H. @91:

    “I have never visited the Co2 site, let alone linked to anything there.”

    Under no provocation on my part, you have identified yourself to me as the “Dan Johnson” I had debated with at length about AGW at the now-defunct blog. There, under the name of “Dan Johnson,” you linked to this:

    Dan’s link can be found about three quarters of the way down on this blog, in his post starting with the sentence, “I have no problem with addressing many of the issues”:

    Anyone with enough time can read the whole discussion. It includes some revealing comments.

    I hesitated to bring this up, as it certainly has little to do with any science, and I am more of a reader than a poster here (there is a lot to learn!). But Dan, you are not treating the people here at RealClimate with the honesty and integrity that I believe they deserve. I, for one, find it offensive, so I guess I am just trying to keep you honest.

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 7 Jan 2012 @ 1:41 AM

  98. #93 Ray Ladbury says:
    …then give it up. Life’s too short to chase your tail. Do the math first.
    Dr. Ladbury
    Math has been done, and certainly by the more competent than myself.
    Neither the TSI is variable or the heliospheric magnetic field impact is energetic to a degree required to change global energy content, which I assume is more or less constant. I think it is the distribution of energy from the lower to higher latitudes that is at the root of the natural variations. There are causes, consequences & symptoms.
    There is editorial restriction of my comments, suffice to say some of my findings to an outsider may look trivial, but if there is a more fundamental implication, which appear to be evident, it is well worth my time and effort.

    Comment by vukcevic — 7 Jan 2012 @ 5:01 AM

  99. Steve Metzler @90
    You may well not be surprised if I say you have misrepresented the references to CO2 Science. (Likely I do myself, given the convoluted nature of all this.)
    As Dan H says @91, CO2 Science is here nothing to do with Dan H. CO2 Science appears in this thread through the following process (If you like soap operas, you’ll love this.):-

    @42 Dan H ‘helpfully’ references four items which are a reply to the Jim Response @23. (As the Jim Response @42 points out, they are a particularly poor set of references for the purpose used.)
    These four references involve no denialist websumps.
    () The first Dan H alleges is a source of info on cloud feedback. Allen 2011 actually says almost nothing on cloud feedback so is no help to man nor beast..( It does say that clouds have a net radiative cooling effect but what is important to feedback is whether that ‘net effect’ gets bigger or smaller with rising temperatures. A guide to casual readers of such literature – if the +/-W/sq m are big, it ain’t feedback under discussion.)
    () The second is to the abstract of Climate Sensitivity Estimated from Temperature Reconstructions of the Last Glacial Maximum Schmittner et al 2011. (The content of this paper has been kicked about a lot in recent weeks so the abstract is a pretty poor offering. And having been much hyped by denialists as proof of their cause, mention of Schmitter et al can be a bit of a provication for folk who take a wider view on climate seinsitivity, as this thread demonstrates @24.)
    () The third & fourth, presented to demonstrate the net uptake of carbon by plants, are also a bit odd. A RealClimate link discusses changed GHG due to pre-industrial man (which was not a geart amount). A link to Norby & Zak 2011 discusses only primary research, a small portion of which asks the question of carbon uptake and responds with an in-depth “yes, but…”

    It is this fourth link that ruffles Hank Roberts feathers, and (thus imparting a CO2 theme) @45 & @53. The denialist websump accusation evolved from a Craig Nazor/Dan H interplay @49/@55 with Dan H reintroducing Norby & Zak again @55 (resulting in a Ron R Dan H interplay @73/@78/@80). The (separate) denialist websump accusation was made by Craig Nazor @58 & Dan H reply @63.
    Following these Craig N./Dan H comments, at last the CO2 Science appears @65 where Hank R. suggests Dan H uses similar methods to the CO2 Science website as “your comments often resemble their approach.” This is repeated and the denialist websump accusation added to it by Hank R. @70.

    Dan H @72 defends saying paywalls can be a problem so secondary sources are useful but “I prefer to go to the source” & @75 “I do point to the actual science”

    Myself, I consider the Dan H defence particularly deficient. “Actual science” is not all that is required. “Relevance” is also an essential ingredient. Citing the third law of thermodynamics, leaving a system more chaotic than when you arrived is not just inhuman, it is unnatural.

    Comment by MARodger — 7 Jan 2012 @ 8:23 AM

  100. I hope everyone is having fun playing along with Dan H’s pretense of being confused and misguided, perhaps “fooled” by the denialist websites he links to, rather than a deliberately deceptive promoter of denialist propaganda.

    Because Dan H is clearly having fun wasting your time with it.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 7 Jan 2012 @ 10:31 AM

  101. Thanks for the play-by-play, MARodger. But I re-read the whole thread from the start before reading your last post, and found out where my brain had picked up on the Dan H./co2science connection:

    #45 Hank Roberts:

    We don’t know if Dan is misreading after finding his own sources or if he’s copypasting from some place like CO2Science that supplies cherries pre-spun.

    So it was a mistaken connection, and I was about to apologise… but now it looks like #97 Craig Nazor has caught Dan out. His true colours are shining through in that thread. Thanks for that, Craig. Explains a lot.

    Comment by Steve Metzler — 7 Jan 2012 @ 11:03 AM

  102. For those who’ve paid the minimal AGU annual dues, the AGU member newspaper EOS has a couple of excellent articles on misconceptions and how to teach science by correcting them.


    Improving Student Learning by Addressing Misconceptions
    Volume 92 number 50. 13 December 2011 pages 465–476. Students—and often those who teach ……/2011EO500001_brr.pdf

    What Do U.S. Students Know About Climate Change?
    Dec 20, 2011 … significant misconceptions about the fundamental science behind it.…/2011EO510001_brr.pdf

    These articles address basic misunderstandings, including denial PR — the same notions often rebunked here — as misconceptions, fundamentally wrong ideas about how the world works; teachers need to understand and address those directly.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Jan 2012 @ 12:19 PM

  103. AGU links, these are to abstracts everyone can look at:

    Improving student learning by addressing misconceptions – AGU

    What do U.S. students know about climate change? – AGU

    (searching on the names reveals that a Pielke has already attacked the AGU’s position on teaching the science. I didn’t check to see which Pielke)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Jan 2012 @ 12:39 PM

  104. Further on misconceptions, the AGU piece reminded me I liked Michael Doliner’s post at where he writes about the steps toward understanding as a nonscientist. Worth another look, I suggest — each of the items he lists could have a stack of footnotes supporting/correcting/explaining it, but getting down to a simple set of steps toward understanding is a contribution.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Jan 2012 @ 1:44 PM

  105. @ Pete D #11 Thanks for the Hansen link – good stuff! Hansen said (
    “The climate dice are now loaded to a degree that the perceptive person (old enough to remember the climate of 1951-1980) should be able to recognize the existence of climate change.”

    I happen to have been thinking about the membership of that group of people for a while and it is smaller than we might at first think. A quick estimate goes like this:
    Age group has to be 40+, since anyone under ten in the early 1980s won’t remember the old norms, and that rules out more than 50% of the world’s population and perhaps even more than 50% of the world’s voters.
    But also, those people have to have been living in the same general area for 40+ years, or have returned to it after some time away, because no-one in California will say, “It wasn’t like this when I was a kid,” if they grew up in Normandy, Quebec or even Virginia. How many of us are that stable? 50%?
    But also, the closer we live to nature, the more likely we are to notice its changes – but more and more of us are urbanised. How many of the 50% of 50% are therefore likely to qualify as “perceptive”? Less than 50% in the West, certainly; perhaps more than 50% in less urbanised countries.
    That leaves less than 10% of the world’s population in a position to recognise, from personal observation, climate change. And (unfortunately for the debate) most of those 10% are the rural poor of developing nations, the most frequent victims of climate change not the opinion-makers of industrialised nations.

    Comment by MalcolmT — 7 Jan 2012 @ 8:33 PM

  106. Canada after Kyoto

    “Canada’s message: The world and its climate be damned”. That headline on Jeffrey Simpson’s scathing commentary on Canada’s pending formal withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol said it all. …

    But I want to turn today to an analysis of the Conservative government’s putative alternative to Kyoto, namely the 2009 Copenhagen agreement, as well as the GHG reduction plans put forth in 2008 by Canada and the province Alberta (home to the oil sands and Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper). That analysis confirms the contention of Jeffrey Simpson and others that the government of Canada is “mocking” the 2020 target agreed to only two years ago; the promised 17% reduction in annual GHG emissions (relative to 2005) is already out of reach. A big reason for this is an Alberta target (itself very unlikely to be met) that calls for a rise in GHG emissions until 2020. Not only that, but Alberta’s 2050 target, predicated on massive expansion of oil sands operations, is only 14% below 2005 levels, and sets Canada on a path that can not possibly be reconciled with the Harper government’s own stated long-term target, let alone any reasonable goal compatible with Canada’s responsibilities.

    Comment by Deep Climate — 7 Jan 2012 @ 8:51 PM

  107. Einstein probably didn’t say that

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Jan 2012 @ 8:53 PM

  108. Humanity’s epitaph:
    1. Not Dead. Resting. (with apologies to Monty Python)
    2. I told you we should have evolved faster.
    3. We’ve all gone to Hell – it’s cooler there.
    4. The meek inherited the Earth they deserved.
    5. I hear Venus is pleasant at this time of year.
    6. So long, and thanks for all the fossils.
    7. So much plant food, so few plants …
    8. Look on our works, Ye mighty, and despair.

    Comment by Doug H — 8 Jan 2012 @ 12:03 AM

  109. @Hank Roberts#89
    Thanks for the link to Not being a scientist, I have never stumbled on it before. Looks like a good way for an amateur to ‘get to the source’ and I will be glad to use it.

    Comment by Doug H — 8 Jan 2012 @ 12:58 AM

  110. #106–Sadly, not a surprise. IMO, it’s been pretty clear for quite a while that the Harper government has a “good-faith” quotient on this issue that is indistinguishable from zero. They pay lip service to the importance of fighting climate change–‘lip service’ includes a few millions for arguably related measures–but play a role that is functionally highly obstructive. Just as sad, they are in this not that different from the preceding Liberal governments.

    And this despite a public that regularly reports itself to be relatively convinced of the seriousness of the problem.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 8 Jan 2012 @ 8:33 AM

  111. Ok, so just to ask the obvious question (someone has to): building on the FACE experiments and Hank’s comments about the fertilizer addition of nitrogen to the biosphere, if we were to, in a massive geoengineering experiment, artificially add N to the world’s forests (and possibly P & K), hopefully in an easy to breakdown, organic form, being careful to keep it away from waterways, might that allow those plant species within to increase their carbon intake and thus lower atmospheric CO2?

    I really hesitate to mention something like this as there always seems to be serious and unacceptable side effects to our grandiose tinkering. Maybe it’s already been thought of and dismissed (like the ocean fertilization plan was) and I just missed the boat. Again.

    Comment by Ron R. — 8 Jan 2012 @ 9:21 AM

  112. Surely in urban areas trees are exposed to higher levels of atmospheric CO2, and to nitrogen, etc. from lawn fertilizers. Are urban trees significantly larger?

    Comment by JCH — 8 Jan 2012 @ 11:29 AM

  113. > if we were to, in a massive geoengineering experiment,
    > artificially add N to the world’s forests (and possibly P & K)

    We did that!

    As Eli pointed out recently, Su et al. suggest that our nitrogen oxide pollution has so far had the collateral benefit that “the oxidative capacity of the atmosphere has remained constant ….”

    ” …. water aerosols where nitrogen dioxide has dissolved

    H2O(aq) + 2 NO2(aq)= HNO3(aq) + HONO (g)

    HONO is THE source of HO in the atmosphere ….”

    “… and we know that agriculture is increasingly acidifying and fertilizing soils which is degrading water quality and increasing eutrophication. It may also have maintained the oxidative capacity of the atmosphere, leaving us lagomorphs with the choice of dirty air or dirty water ….”


    As you said, geoengineering. It’s the sort of thing only a sociopath would have funded, fifty years ago.

    Oh, wait:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Jan 2012 @ 11:49 AM

  114. AGU Membership: $20/year

    Well worth $20.
    Membership is by calendar year.
    This is the time to join, to get all the 2010 info.

    That gets you abstracts and news (science journals cost more, but public libraries get them — if you know what to ask for. Basic membership info helps know what to ask).

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Jan 2012 @ 12:23 PM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Jan 2012 @ 12:39 PM

  116. For Dan H.

    Dr. Susan Prichard discusses the impact of bark beetles on western forests.

    Comment by J Bowers — 8 Jan 2012 @ 12:48 PM

  117. Also:

    * Carbon Dioxide Enrichment Inhibits Nitrate Assimilation in Wheat and Arabidopsis. Bloom et al (2010).
    * Sharply increased insect herbivory during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum. (Currano 2007)
    * Insects Will Feast, Plants Will Suffer: Ancient Leaves Show Affect Of Global Warming.
    * Grassland Responses to Global Environmental Changes Suppressed by Elevated CO2. (Shaw 2007)
    * Photosynthetic inhibition after long-term exposure to elevated levels of carbon dioxide. (DeLucia 1985)
    * Insects Take A Bigger Bite Out Of Plants In A Higher Carbon Dioxide World.
    * Crock of the Week – Don’t it make my Green World Brown

    Comment by J Bowers — 8 Jan 2012 @ 12:57 PM

  118. JCH @ 11:29 AM

    Are urban trees significantly larger?

    Interesting question. Problem is that urban areas tend to want to keep trees to and of a certain height. And nitrogen fertilizers are not evenly spread, just usually on grass and crops (though trees could probably pick some up in the water table).

    Comment by Ron R. — 8 Jan 2012 @ 12:58 PM

  119. Hmmm.

    “There are also implications for global change models, which are beginning to include nitrogen availability as a factor affecting the response of plants to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations,” said Turner. “Most models assume that higher nitrogen equals more plant growth, which would remove carbon from the atmosphere and offset future warming. However a challenge for the models is that there is no evidence that trees are growing faster in Panama, despite the long-term increases in nitrogen deposition and atmospheric carbon dioxide.”

    On the other hand

    Houlton noted that nitrogen is becoming increasingly important in climate-change studies and researchers have begun to incorporate nitrogen in their climate-change models. Some models indicate that the nutrient could cause an additional increase in global temperatures of up to one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2010, as it limits the amount of carbon dioxide that plants around the world can extract from the atmosphere. If more nitrogen is available than predicted from the traditional nitrogen-cycling pathways, as the UC Davis study suggests, it could lead to more carbon storage on land and less carbon remaining in the atmosphere.

    Just out of curiosity, does anyone know the nitrogen content of volcanic rock?

    Comment by Ron R. — 8 Jan 2012 @ 2:31 PM

  120. > volcanic rock
    Scholar finds many studies; here’s one review:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Jan 2012 @ 3:09 PM

  121. Jumping back, I quoted from
    Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales, vol. 144, nos. 3&4, pp. 50-57.Page 4, ISSN 0035-9173/11/020050-8

    Science advice and policy making
    Robert M. May OM AC FRS FRSN
    Lord May of Oxford
    Zoology Department, Oxford University, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK

    some of this bit:

    “more than half of all the atoms of nitrogen and of
    phosphorus in green plant material that grew
    last year came from artificial fertilisers, rather
    than the natural biogeochemical cycles”

    The paper attributes that to
    Conway, G.(1997) The Doubly Green Revolution;
    Penguin Books, London, UK

    *The original PDF seems unavailable; I read the Google cache, here:

    I’m curious whether the “green plant material” is terrestrial or includes eutrophication; looking for more info on this rather astonishing number for nitrogen — though we’ve been making nitrogen fertilizer out of air for a long while; there’s no artificial source for phosphorous fertilizer, which is expected to be scarce rather soon.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Jan 2012 @ 3:23 PM

  122. Ron R. @many. You might want to read

    Chmura et al. 2011. Forest responses to climate change in the northwestern United States: Ecophysiological foundations for adaptive management. Forest Ecology and Management 261:1121-1142.

    Conclusion of section on increased CO2:

    To summarize, increases in atmospheric [CO2] should be somewhat favorable for trees and forests, resulting in increased growth, vigor, regeneration, and survival. However, increases in [CO2] will
    not occur in isolation, but are expected to occur in combination with warmer temperatures and increased drought stress. Elevated [CO2] enhances WUE at the leaf level, but this is unlikely to translate into large increases at the tree or stand levels, or substantially increase drought hardiness. Consequently, the adverse effects of these other climatic changes will probably be much larger than the positive effects of higher [CO2]. Therefore, rather than focusing on the direct effects of CO2 alone, it is important to understand whether elevated [CO2] will mitigate the adverse effects of other climatic stressors. Unfortunately, we have only limited information on these interactions, and how they might differ by developmental stage or among species or functional groups. Ultimately, these interactions must be realistically integrated into physiological process models to confidently predict ecosystem responses to climate change.

    Comment by Rick Brown — 8 Jan 2012 @ 5:32 PM

  123. Ron R.,

    I am no scientist, but I have a bit of experience with horticulture, and here is my opinion concerning the FACE experiment.

    It was an experiment done on ONE species of angiosperm tree – the American sweet gum, Liquidambar styraciflua. This tree is a primitive angiosperm. To think that ALL other species of trees will behave the same as this one, and then plan a fix for anthropogenic global climate change (AGCC) based on the reaction of one species of tree is not advisable, to say the least.

    Also, as other posters have pointed out, CO2 levels are not the only limiting factor affecting plant growth. There are numerous experiments that show that, even if CO2 levels are high, plants cannot always take advantage of this because of limitations of water, nitrogen, and/or the availability of many trace elements. Nitrogen, in particular, is complicated when it comes to plants. Some species (with the aid of cyanobacteria) can essentially suck nitrogen out of the air. Most are not so lucky, and have to rely on all kinds of symbiotic relationships in the nitrogen cycle, which can be sensitive to all kinds of factors, including human tampering. AGCC could wreck havoc with any one of, or even all, of these plant needs. And different species out-competing each other for CO2 uptake and increased growth will drastically change whole ecosystems, with unknown consequences to carbon sequestration.

    I would not rely on some kind of geo-engineering with the ability of a species of plant to sequester CO2 to save us from the worst effects of AGCC.

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 9 Jan 2012 @ 3:45 AM

  124. I would like to take this time to apologize to Hank for my statement about not linking to co2science. It appears that I did copy a link from co2science that was posted here last year (response #43).

    I was unaware that the link was to co2science as opening the link only reveals the letter, and does not lead on to the website. However, the evidence shows that I did post a link to co2science, so I will recant my statement. Sorry, Hank.

    Comment by Dan H. — 9 Jan 2012 @ 9:14 AM

  125. Question for Gavin: As it is January, will there be another “How are the models doing” post this year?

    [Response: Yes. I’m waiting for some last minute updates (though the basic picture will not be different from last year, but I may have some new CMIP5 results to throw in the mix). – gavin]

    Comment by GSW — 9 Jan 2012 @ 9:52 AM

  126. Mr. Nazor @ 123

    Summarized by Liebig’s Law of the Minimum

    Comment by John — 9 Jan 2012 @ 9:52 AM

  127. @Gavin


    Comment by GSW — 9 Jan 2012 @ 10:10 AM

  128. Craig,
    The FACE experiments included aspens, birch, pine, poplars, and other hardwood trees also. The sweetgums were from the Oak Ridge tests (ORNL), which were the only species which showed a N-limitation.

    Yes, CO2 is but one limiter of plant growth. In areas where species are water-limited, temperature-limited, N-limited (such as the sweetgums mentioned previously), or other nutrient-limited, increases in atmospheric CO2 will have minimal effects.

    Comment by Dan H. — 9 Jan 2012 @ 11:27 AM

  129. Dan H.

    And of course we know climate change will also increase drought–implying by your own admission that atmospheric CO2 will have minimal fertilizing effects.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Jan 2012 @ 11:44 AM

  130. Dan H. misrepresents the paper _again_. They say they don’t know and suggest several possible explanations; Dan phrases his comment as though he knows the answer and it’s the one convenient for his talking point.

    He’s using debate tactics to mislead, over and over.

    “An unanswered question has been why the negative feedback through the N cycle developed in ORNL-FACE and not in other forested FACE experiments. There may be a fundamental difference in the biology of the various systems, such as a reliance on ectomycorrhizae as opposed to arbuscular mycorrhizae (Drake et al. 2011). Another possibility is that downregulation of forest growth response would have occurred across all experiments given enough time. Tissue turnover times are faster in the ORNL sweetgum stand than in the Duke-FACE pine stand, which may have accelerated the development of N limitation….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jan 2012 @ 12:06 PM

  131. Hank Roberts — 8 Jan 2012 @ 3:09 PM

    Thanks for that Hank.

    Craig Nazor — 9 Jan 2012 @ 3:45 AM

    Also, as other posters have pointed out, CO2 levels are not the only limiting factor affecting plant growth. There are numerous experiments that show that, even if CO2 levels are high, plants cannot always take advantage of this because of limitations of water, nitrogen, and/or the availability of many trace elements. Nitrogen, in particular, is complicated when it comes to plants.

    Hi Craig. Read my posts and you’ll find that I agree with you.

    Comment by Ron R. — 9 Jan 2012 @ 12:57 PM

  132. Somebody else take on chasing down stuff for a while, eh?
    I’m just tired of it.

    I want to learn about climate here from the scientists.

    Checking every damn thing from consistently unreliable sources does lead to good information, but only on the parts of the science they misstate. That’s a poor sample of the breadth of the science I want to learn.

    I’m increasingly fond of Deltoid’s approach to keeping conversations alive:

    Jonas Thread : Deltoid
    By popular request, here is the Jonas thread. All comments by Jonas and replies to his comments …

    Tim Curtin thread : Deltoid
    By request here is a new thread for folks to argue with Tim Curtin. Tim, this is the only thread you are allowed to post on….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jan 2012 @ 2:09 PM

  133. Hank,
    I believe you just confirmed my statement that only the ORNL-FACE experiments showed N-limitations.

    Comment by Dan H. — 9 Jan 2012 @ 2:22 PM

  134. I continue to be most grateful to others who chase down bunk and debunk.

    Belatedly, here’s one I recommend highly:

    “In this document, I have bundled, updated, and expanded my series of essays debunking the congressional testimony of Dr. John Everett regarding the environmental chemistry of carbon dioxide.
    … A part of my John Everett series – read more: 0/III.0II.5II.75III.0III.3IV.0IV.4IV.8VVIIVIIIFull Report

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jan 2012 @ 2:52 PM

  135. Dan, they tried to falsify a number of ideas. You point to one such result without context, and claim literal truth, making it sound like a generally applicable statement.

    You’re debating. I’m not.

    Read context, footnotes, citing papers.


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jan 2012 @ 7:55 PM

  136. Hank,
    Who tried to falsify a number of ideas? Are you claiming entire FACE or just ORNL? Please elaborate, otherwise the remainder of your post is lost.

    Comment by Dan H. — 9 Jan 2012 @ 9:28 PM

  137. Dan, you know what a hypothesis is?
    You know what a scientist does with a hypothesis?
    You know where in the FACE paper you’ve been citing the authors list a number of hypotheses, and discuss each one, saying it was accepted, or rejected, or something more complex?


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jan 2012 @ 10:50 PM

  138. For Dan.
    Doing Biology
    (a) “In science seldom does a single test provide results that clearly support or falsify an hypothesis. In most cases the evidence serves to modify the hypothesis …

    Good night.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jan 2012 @ 10:55 PM

  139. Stirring the methane pot has gotten boring, how about something more intriguing – like the magnetosphere. David Suzuki’s Nature of Things had a program on the overdue flip that made passing reference to it’s possible influence on [or correlation with] climate, even had a cameo appearance by Svensmark. Has there been any work with the ACE data relating the earths magnetic field [moving/weakening] to climate?

    [how the heck does CAPTCHA expect us to reproduce upside down words and arcane symbols??]

    [Response: If the Earth’s magnetic field had a significant impact on climate (via any mechanism), you’d see something associated with the Laschamp event (40,000 years ago), or any of the magnetic reversal boundaries (e.g. the Brunes Matayama – 700,000 years ago). You don’t. – gavin]

    Comment by flxible — 10 Jan 2012 @ 11:29 AM

  140. [Response: If the Earth’s magnetic field had a significant impact on climate (via any mechanism), you’d see something associated with the Laschamp event (40,000 years ago), or any of the magnetic reversal boundaries (e.g. the Brunes Matayama – 700,000 years ago). You don’t. – gavin]

    This also argues against cosmic ray intensity significantly affecting climate, doesn’t it, since cosmic rays intensity depends on the earth’s magnetic field. Maybe useful for an article if there is another denialist push of a “cosmic rays cause climate change” article.

    [Response: This is already well known, see Wagner et al (2001) for instance. – gavin]

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 10 Jan 2012 @ 2:52 PM

  141. [Response: If the Earth’s magnetic field had a significant impact on climate (via any mechanism), you’d see something associated with the Laschamp event (40,000 years ago), or any of the magnetic reversal boundaries (e.g. the Brunes Matayama – 700,000 years ago). You don’t. – gavin]

    There are number of misconceptions about possible Earth’s magnetic field – temperature relationship. As far as I understand it, the Earth’s MF is neither a cause or the consequence of the climate change, but happen to be a passenger on the same train, so on occasions may be a good proxy.

    The Earth’s dipole is the arithmetic sum of two poles intensity, currently both decay at similar rate, but the dipole changes are of no great consequence. For the MF-temps relationship the Antarctica hardly matters, but the Arctic’s pole (or to be more accurate the poles) location-time intensity distribution does.
    For those inclined to a more speculative excursion into the subject, here I show some of my own personal findings.
    Not everyone accepts Loehle or Ljungqvist temperature reconstructions as good, however there is an intriguing resemblance to the MF intensity sweep trough the Arctic Ocean.
    (delta t at 20, 30 or 40 years makes very little difference, see the inset)

    [Response: How is this responsive? If the climate is not impacted by the dipole going almost to zero, it is isn’t responsive to tiny meanders of the North Pole. Or do you have some magical mechanism that only works for tiny changes but not large ones – climate homeopathy perhaps? – gavin]

    Comment by vukcevic — 10 Jan 2012 @ 3:32 PM

  142. > intriguing resemblance
    phrenology, seems like

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Jan 2012 @ 9:16 PM

  143. 63 Dan H. “If the Koch brothers knowingly distributed false information that resulted in harm to either people or the environment, then that is direct cause for legal action.”

    Not only that, they and the rest of the fossil fuel industry spent $2 billion doing it. Documentation:
    “Climate Cover-Up” by James Hoggan.
    “Merchants of Doubt” by Oreskes and Conway
    “Denying Science” by John Grant

    And you can find a lot of damage reported in climateprogress. So why isn’t there a lawsuit already?

    Oh, yes, they can argue that in this or that one case, it could be weather. Wasn’t a connection proven in 1 or 2 cases? But the fossil fuel industry could litigate for ever? But the publicity? Make it a law school project?

    Would a small island nation that has been evacuated due to rising water have standing in some court? How about a country that has had a famine?

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 11 Jan 2012 @ 1:01 AM

  144. Gavin: climate homeopathy
    Hank R: phrenology
    Nothing as clever as the above. Higher order equations have more than solution, positive, negative, real or imaginary (i), all common in engineering, the imaginary solutions are bread and butter of the electrical and electronics world.
    Since this happens to be the ‘RealClimate’, no imaginary parts in the above, just simply a cause with more than one consequence.
    had to google both expressions, the ‘climate homeopathy’ is the absolute classic, sorry Frank phrenology doesn’t ‘cut the mustard’.

    Comment by vukcevic — 11 Jan 2012 @ 3:09 AM

  145. The Laschamp and other ‘event’ signals are detectable but just blips in the sedimentary record, right?

    Just looking at the bumps in the chart, there’s no way to say what should be read as a real distinct event — the variations are lost in the noise so far as analysis has gone, that I can see.

    Just for example (cited by many), which mentions “three intervals of highly increased (super 14) C concentrations coincident with low values of paleomagnetic field intensity, two of which are attributed to the geomagnetic Mono Lake and Laschamp excursions …. however, our Delta (super 14) C values seem to underestimate the atmospheric level, if compared to the (super 36) Cl flux measured in the GRIP ice core (Wagner et al. 2000) and other records. As this excursion coincides with a meltwater event in core PS2644, the underestimation is probably caused by an increased planktonic reservoir age. The same effect also occurs from 38.5 to 40 ka cal BP when the meltwater lid of Heinrich Event 4 affected the planktonic record.”

    Or this review as of 2008, which says

    “… This requires careful assessment of the fundamental issues of magnitude and phasing of global ice volume fluctuations within marine isotope stage 3 (MIS 3), which to date remain enigmatic …”

    You have to know there’s something under the bumps in the charts before declaring they represent something real.

    It’s worth remembering just what was living on Earth and where at the particular times involved, and what traces we can find.

    But I recall Gavin saying a few years back after a China meeting that most such work looks at its own core in detail but there needs to be a better worldwide collaboration to pull together more of a global picture from the relatively few scattered deep sediment/ice cores that have been drilled.

    The paleo folks are making rapid progress — as are the folks working with live plankton.

    Shotgun DNA PCR probes are turning up contemporary life forms we didn’t know existed because they wouldn’t grow in laboratories, all the time (that’s where you take a sample from an area, run it through a blender, then ‘probe’ with little segments of known DNA using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Whatever DNA in the mystery soup happens to correspond with the probe samples gets replicated (‘chain reaction’) approximately a zillion times, so there’s enough of it created to be actually identified. Piece _that_ information together and they can conclude from it that a particular kind of organism exists in the original site — then go look for the beastie knowing it has to be there somewhere.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jan 2012 @ 9:36 AM

  146. A bit of a lesson. Last month I mentioned that the Middle Miocene, with temperatures similar to that predicted for present day climate change, was a paradise for those animals evolved to it. That is undoubtedly true as evidenced by the Clarendonian Chronofauna.

    What is a chronofauna?:

    “Vertebrate paleontologists refer to persistent faunas of essentially uniform taxonomic composition and stable diversity as chronofaunas following Olsen (1952). In ecological terms, chronofaunas are thought to represent stable coadapted sets of species, and their detailed histories (under various perturbations) shed light on the theory of how communities or community complexes are structured (Olsen, 1983; Webb, 1987). – Effects of past global change on life

    The Clarendonian Chronofauna ran somewhat parallel to others in the world ). “They are recorded from localities all over Eurasia, including the famous bone beds in Spain, France, Germany, and Italy, in Pikermi and Samos in Greece, in Maragheh in Iran, in the Siwalik Hills of northern Pakistan (fig. 6.26A}, in the Tunggur beds in Mongolia (fig. 6.26B), and in many deposits in China”. – After the dinosaurs: the age of mammals by Donald Prothero

    What created the Clarendonian Chronofauna?

    “The most likely explanation for the observed species-rich browser palaeocommunities is an elevated level of primary productivity, relative to the present day, within (at least some) mid Miocene grassland habitats. Such an increase in productivity could possibly have been the result of higher-than-present levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide in the mid Miocene” – The species richness of Miocene browsers, and implications for habitat type and primary productivity in the North American grassland biome.

    “A moderate climate, sufficient precipitation, periodic deposits of volcanic ash, and the basaltic parent material combined to produce highly fertile soils, and from these soils arose lush, nutritious grasses and mixed hardwood forests, much like those found today in the eastern United States.”

    “Clarendonian Chronofauna: Grassland Savanna Land mammal diversity in North America reached its zenith during the Barstovian mammal age (Webb, 1989). Savage and Russell (1983) recognized 16 families with 60 genera and 141 nominal species of land mammals in the Barstovian. The next highest numbers occurred in the Clarendonian (the next mammal age), with 55 genera and 117 species. These mammal ages are thought to indicate a savanna optimum in North America, with a rich mosaic of trees, shrubs, and grasses supporting an extraordinary variety of large and small, grazing and browsing, ungulates. It is not uncommon during this savanna acme to collect in a single site 20 genera of ungulates of which half are Equidae (Webb, 1983a; Voorhies, 1990).” – Global Climatic Influence on Cenozoic Land Mammal Faunas

    “Further major shifts are evident in the Middle Miocene, but in North America, these do not include significant numbers of immigrants. Instead, the acme of land mammal diversity, dominated by horses and other savanna herbivores, is attained in the Barstovian…. the land mammal faunas experienced high diversity and long stable community development (chronofaunal evolution). This lends credence to the view that the ecosystem was near capacity during the Barstovian acme and perhaps during other chronofaunal intervals.” – Effects of Past Global Change on Life

    “The later Tertiary mammalian fauna of the World Continent was perhaps the richest that has ever existed on the face of the earth. It is as if mammalian life had been proliferating in ever increasing numbers, exploring every ecological nook and cranny that could be populated, testing how large or small you could get, how best to adorn yourself with tusks or horns, how to fly, swim, climb, run, dig, jump, hunt, eat, kill and defend yourself, better than ever before. All the manifestations have a single keyword:adaptation. Most of the evolutionary lines of the later Tertiary had a fairly long history behind them: they had got far enough to attain basic adaptation for a given way of life. What remained now was to perfect it. And so, in the late Tertiary, the mammals were increasing in efficiency, under the constant supervision of natural selection – a perfectionist potentate. And in general this would also involve an increase in beauty, in gracefulness, in elegance.” – The Age of Mammals, (chapter) The Miocene: Epoch of Revolutions by Björn Kurtén. Columbia University Press, 1971

    “Looking back the Pliocene [or a timeframe within the Pliocene now called the Miocene] is something of a paradise lost, a climax of the Age of Mammals before the coming of the cold; a time when life was richer, more exuberant than ever before or after.” – The Age of Mammals, (chapter) The Pliocene: Epoch of Climax. Björn Kurtén

    But then something changed. The climate, beginning around 14.5 ma. due to the opening of the Drake Passage, the creation of the Antarctic circumpolar current and the subsequent build up of the Antarctic ice sheet. It picked up speed at 13 ma. By the end of the Hemphillian around sixty two mammal genera had become extinct (corresponding to the Messinian Salinity Crisis around 6 Ma which created a drought-like condition worldwide ending in the Great Zanclean Flood).

    “At the end of the Early Hemphillian (about 6.0 mya) North America experienced both an abrupt increase in aridity and a sharp increase in seasonal temperature extremes…. By then these events evidently triggered the most extensive land-mammal extinction episode in the entire Neogene record, eliminating most of the prominent elements of the Clarendonian Chronofauna…. The mass land mammal extinctions of the Mid-Hemphillian were even larger than the mass extinctions of the latest Pleistocene. The major differences are that during the Miocene mammals of all sizes were eliminated and that the hand of human hunting could not be blamed”. “The mid-Hemphillian mass extinction was the most severe in the record of North American land-mammal genera (Webb, 1984a). Most browsing taxa went extinct, presumably because climatic conditions became cooler and drier. The diversity of grazing and mixed feeding was also decimated”. – Paleoclimate and evolution, with emphasis on human origins

    You can see a supporting graph here (Fig. 11.4):

    That tells us something about the sensitivity of animals to climate change. Long term they can adapt, but do we have that kind of time? Let’s not forget that we are all connected. What happens to them will impact us. I suspect that people can handle the temperature change itself (though all of the other attendant issues such as flooding, droughts etc. will be devastating) but will the majority of other species?

    Climate change models flawed, extinction rate likely higher than predicted

    Make no mistake, their loss will be particularly impactful to us down the road.

    Where do we stand in our efforts to achieve a sustainable world? Clearly, the past half century has been a traumatic one, as the collective impact of human numbers, affluence (consumption per individual) and our choices of technology continue to exploit rapidly an increasing proportion of the world’s resources at an unsustainable rate… during a remarkably short period of time, we have lost a quarter of the world’s topsoil and a fifth of its agricultural land, altered the composition of the atmosphere profoundly, and destroyed a major proportion of our forests and other natural habitats without replacing them. Worst of all, we have driven the rate of biological extinction, the permanent loss of species, up several hundred times beyond its historical levels, and are threatened with the loss of a majority of all species by the end of the 21st century.” – Peter Raven, then president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in AAAS Atlas of Population & Environment

    Comment by Ron R. — 11 Jan 2012 @ 10:31 AM

  147. #139 flxible
    # 141 vukcevic

    Interesting possible new line of silliness on the magnetic flip.

    Hint number one for me of relatively high levels of silliness is anything that has Svensmark in it. Yes, I am prejudiced by his past work.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 11 Jan 2012 @ 10:58 AM

  148. Dan H.

    Posting links to papers on the intertubes is often meaningless, unless those papers have survived both peer review and better yet peer response.

    Some guy wrote in a paper without having survived the aforementioned process is merely showing that you are willing to presenting unsubstantiated points as if they have substance, which has yet to be proven.

    Does that make sense to you?

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 11 Jan 2012 @ 11:00 AM

  149. Addressed to # 47 John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    I wrote in my post:
    “As far as I understand it, the Earth’s MF is neither a cause or the consequence of the climate change, but happen to be a passenger on the same train, so on occasions may be a good proxy.”
    Perhaps the above escaped your attention in the haste to attribute or imply what is not stated in my post.

    Comment by vukcevic — 11 Jan 2012 @ 12:05 PM

  150. Vukcevic,

    We understand the geomagnetic field–it is generated by convection of molten iron in the outer core and staibilized by the solid inner core, which acts as an inductor. It interacts with the heliomagnetic field, but those interactions are quite weak.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Jan 2012 @ 12:33 PM

  151. #149 vukcevic

    Correlation is not causation. With large data sets you can identify matching patterns easily that have not causal relationships. That does not mean there is not connection though.

    You have to add in all known relevant factors to identify more strongly relationship and then identify mechanism.

    Otherwise the work, in relation to climate change, is out of scope cherry picking until it can be substantiated by maths, models, mechanisms, and observations in consideration of all known forcings. That is of course if you are trying to make the case that a geomagnetic/solar relationship are significant factors in current and past climate change. Is that what you are trying to do?

    Otherwise it remains speculation in tentative hypothesis. Or as the Taco Bell chihuahua would say… You’re going to need a bigger (model) box.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 11 Jan 2012 @ 12:48 PM

  152. #150 Ray Ladbury says:
    We understand the geomagnetic field–it is generated by convection of molten iron in the outer core and staibilized by the solid inner core,…

    For more details see:
    If you whish to check out any locality there are data available here:
    in mean time you can look at secular variation at
    by increasing number 1900 in the above by 10. i.e. 1910, 1920 etc., you wouldn’t be blamed to conclude that the Earth’s core must be a very restless creature.

    Comment by vukcevic — 11 Jan 2012 @ 1:20 PM

  153. Vukcevic,
    From your own reference: “The strongest contribution, by far, is the magnetic field produced by the Earth’s liquid-iron outer core, called the “core field”.”

    It goes on to say that other factors (magnetic minerals in the crust or mantle, saline currents…) have only local influence. So, yes, the magnetic field is due to the convection of the core, and yes, the convection is relatviely vigorous.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Jan 2012 @ 1:43 PM

  154. #151 Reisman (OSS Foundation)
    No, that is not what I am trying to do
    Perhaps you should read my post again.
    Paleo “proxies” as tree rings, ice cores, sediments, coral reefs etc may record climate change, but they are unlikely to tell us why there are natural oscillations.
    From 1700 or so there are very extensive worldwide geomagnetic records see:
    Fig1. page 6/34 of
    Since the geomagnetic field is not affected by the climate, and looks like climate is not affected by the GMF and they are correlating to a satisfactory degree, than it is not unreasonable to assume a common cause. The science of the Earth magnetism is well advanced, so if the GMF on occasions can be used as proxy for the temperature, than it may be possible to identify cause of natural temperature variation.
    That is what I am trying to do

    Comment by vukcevic — 11 Jan 2012 @ 1:49 PM

  155. Doug @ 108

    Loved your epitaphs! Sent them off to friends with links to your blog and RC.

    Thought of a few of my own that aren’t nearly as elegant:
    Were we ever sentient?
    You mean that corporatizing our civilization was a maladaptation?
    Honey, we shrank the ecosystems!
    Whaddya mean Mother Nature doesn’t take American Express?
    I shorted O and went long CO2 and made a fortu….

    Comment by Gordon Cutler — 11 Jan 2012 @ 2:33 PM

  156. Dr. Ladbury
    I have read and understood my ‘own references’, and there is an important and applied in practice science, which is not covered by those references. Perhaps you should consider, however remote possibility, that I know what I am talking about.
    This is an example of original work (not available anywhere else) I did some time ago:
    So let’s give it a rest.

    Comment by vukcevic — 11 Jan 2012 @ 3:18 PM

  157. Vukcevic, just a hint. I and many other inexpert learners here don’t pay any attention to scientific information that is not published in a peer reviewed journal with a good reputation unless recommended by experts such as our generous hosts here. It is simply not worth my time. Please stop offering unsupported information and get busy and publish. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 11 Jan 2012 @ 4:10 PM

  158. #154 vukcevic

    Sorry, I have not read all your previous posts as I possibly foolishly just jumped right in to ask a few questions about what you are saying.

    That is an interesting line of inquiry though. Have you identified a mechanism or are the inferences as a proxy for temperature merely coincidental at this time?

    To be used as a proxy for temperature you would have to have more than coincidence, you would have to have mechanism and answer the ‘how much’ influence question. Any progress of substance?

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 11 Jan 2012 @ 5:05 PM

  159. Hi Steve
    The host/s of the website is/are generous indeed, and he/they has/have my thanks. I appreciate your freedom and the desire to ignore any post prefixed with my name, but even more I value my freedom of thought. Thanks for your kind advice.

    Comment by vukcevic — 11 Jan 2012 @ 5:39 PM

  160. The Cornell U study Methane and the Greenhouse-Gas Footprint of Natural Gas from Shale Formations (the subject of the “Fracking Methane” post from last April) has received criticism: they are preparing a response as outlined on the PSE Healthy Energy blog: – scroll down to read the statement.

    Any thoughts?

    Comment by On Anonymous Bloke — 11 Jan 2012 @ 5:57 PM

  161. Vukcevic @156
    You say “I have read and understood my ‘own references’,
    I should hope you have!
    ,and there is an important and applied in practice science, which is not covered by those references.
    Steady now! This is verging on the discourteous. Science expects its pratitioners to be open and not to hide “..important.. .. science.. ..which is not covered by the those refereneces.

    So when you say “Perhaps you (Ray Ladbury) should consider, however remote possibility, that I know what I am talking about.” you jump from science to homeopathy, phrenology or what ever bumpy nonsense you care to describe it as. At a stroke, consideration that ‘you know what you are talking about’ is dealt a final mortal blow.

    And in doing so, I feel that perhaps the phrase you use “So let’s give it a rest.” should then apply more to your own speculative theorising rather than those who criticise you for those overly-assertive speculations.

    Comment by MARodger — 11 Jan 2012 @ 6:43 PM

  162. “Just the melting of all the floating ice in the arctic ocean, will add as much heat to the earth, as all the Co-2 we put in the atmosphere to date.” Dr. James Lovelock

    [Response: This is an odd statement. First of all, these are both huge numbers – there is no ‘just’ about it. And the heating being caused by CO2 and the other Greenhouse gases is a continuing process and it will continue to add heat into the system regardless of whether some of that is used to melt ice (which in fact only a very small amount is). What is your point in posting this? – gavin]

    Comment by prokaryotes — 11 Jan 2012 @ 8:08 PM

  163. I post this because i did not read elsewhere about quantifying of sea ice albedo lose (except of one study, but which did not got very specific because it could not account for non-linear ice sheet behavior) and in general to learn more about sea ice lose global warming potential.

    Then this is a rather new interview with Lovelock (i just watched). Also i post it here to get feedback from climatologist to put things in better prospective. Also because sea ice lose is progressing faster than previously thought ( then a few years ago) so i guess other people like to know more too, when people like Lovelock say something impact wise.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 11 Jan 2012 @ 9:11 PM

  164. I don’t know what prok was getting at, but I have certainly wondered what happens to sea temperatures when essentially all the ice is melted. Melting is an endothermic process. So when there is no such process to absorb heat in the oceans, what then? Do we get some kind of super-heating? What are the consequences of that?

    A p says, no one thought this was possible as of a few years ago, but now we are looking down the barrel of a possible ice free Arctic ocean (or essentially ice free–does it really matter if there is a fjord somewhere with a bit of ice left in it?). So, what does the model say about this major planetary change in phase shift, where there is no more ice left in the NH to shift into water soaking up lots of heat in the process?

    Or is this yet another thing that we shouldn’t be worrying our pretty little heads about?

    Comment by wili — 11 Jan 2012 @ 10:23 PM

  165. #161 MARodger
    Thanks for the note, I had to google homeopathy the other day.

    The logarithmic potency scales are in regular use in homeopathy.– wikipedia
    Logarithmic laws are common through many branches of science including the climate.

    Comment by vukcevic — 12 Jan 2012 @ 4:13 AM

  166. Wili @164
    There are 2 things under discussion here. Lovelock (his quote out of context isn’t that clear) & Prokaryotes are talking about the extra energy absorbed by an ice-free Arctic Ocean which would otherwise be reflected into space by an ice-covered ocean. The technical description for this is ‘reduced albedo’. The other thing is the energy required to melt the ice which, as you say, when the ice is all gone will remain as ‘sensible’ heat and so add to global temperatures.

    The scale of the second one is small(ish) on a global scale but big regionally. So it is far from insignificant. From memory, the PIOMAS annual sea ice volumes shrank 600 cu km in recent few years (not this year though) which takes about 0.2 zetta-Joules of energy. (GRACE suggests similar levels of ice loss from Greenland & also from Antarctica.) The Earth’s annual increase in total energy is about 6 zetta-Joules.

    Also from memory (of back-of-fag-packet calcs – I’ve never seen it written), the warming due to reduced albedo from an ice-free Arctic Ocean is similar to the present forcing from CO2. But that would be the result of an ice-free ocean from March to September which is a very different prospect to the ice-free summer (ie ice free by September each year when the sun is about to set) which is predicted to happen in a few years/decades time.

    Comment by MARodger — 12 Jan 2012 @ 4:47 AM

  167. @ #158 158John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation)
    Have you identified a mechanism or are the inferences as a proxy for temperature merely coincidental at this time?

    Yes indeed I have (August 2010), and it is well known process (I referred in the earlier post #156 there is an important and applied in practice science, which is not covered by those references), there are data available, my processing may not be as rigorous as some perfectionists would desire, but it is good enough to give a clear idea what is happening in the North Atlantic, the area of my interest.
    You may also consider last graph in:
    Offered ‘mass of accumulated data and analysis’ publicly for a co-authorship to any renown university or climate research unit, but no serious takers. My offer still stands, but current ‘climate’ isn’t particularly benevolent.
    Advice: there is no point of asking what is NAP data.

    Comment by vukcevic — 12 Jan 2012 @ 7:50 AM

  168. #166–Some published numbers on the forcing due to sea ice loss:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 12 Jan 2012 @ 8:04 AM

  169. . . . and a PDF of the entire paper is available here:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 12 Jan 2012 @ 8:06 AM

  170. Vukcevic, As you seem to prefer to communicate by vague allusions rather than by stating your point clearly, I have little choice but to peruse the references you cite in search of clues to the point to which you may be trying to allude.

    As nearly as I can tell, you seem to be in love with finding correlations between diverse phenomena. Consider this, though: The number of possible correlations in a system of time series increases roughly quadratically with the number of series considered. The law of large numbers shows us that we are bound to find statistically significant correlations in the data–whether the correlations exist in nature or not. That is why it is so essential to have a mechanism in mind before blundering off into correlation land. The human brain loves correlations, and once a good one is found, it will imagine all sorts of mechanisms, fall in love with them and fight to preserve them regardless of how many epicycles it takes.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Jan 2012 @ 9:33 AM

  171. Ray Ladbury – The human brain loves correlations, and once a good one is found, it will imagine all sorts of mechanisms, fall in love with them and fight to preserve them regardless of how many epicycles it takes.

    That’s how we’ve leared to make sense of the world, by finding, or trying to find, patterns and connections. Sometimes it’s imaginary.

    Comment by Ron R. — 12 Jan 2012 @ 11:37 AM

  172. @ #170 R. Ladbury
    I have little choice but to peruse the references you cite in search of clues to the point to which you may be trying to allude.
    Dr. Ladbury
    Thanks for the comment and the brief but helpful personality assessment. Everything I graph is based on data from reliable sources, which you can reproduce yourself, except of course the NAP, which describes the mechanism linking the CET temperatures, the AMO, the NAO and partially the SSN. This is not strictly regional affair, as you know that the AMO also has a bit to do with the global temperature too:
    If you are more interested in science, and a fraction as inquisitive how nature works as I am, than running into ground any controversial but possible idea, I suggest you do a good look at
    (as I suspect you may have not looked as yet) and wish to know more my email address (inert) is on the top of the first graph.
    If you consider my ‘ideas’ irelevant or a ‘danger to society’ as ones described by a prominent top USA university scientist, you are welcome to do your worst, or as you may think the best to discredit what I do.

    Comment by vukcevic — 12 Jan 2012 @ 11:56 AM

  173. Google currently finds upwards of 9,000 links posted to v’s blog.

    Any bets on when he reaches 10K posts?
    (perhaps including mentions, did anyone else ever mention them)

    Has anyone got the numbers to see if there’s a trend detectable?

    “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” — Phineas T. Barnum

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Jan 2012 @ 12:45 PM

  174. Hank
    Google isn’t to be relied on, here is the correct stats to date:
    CET/LFC GRAPHS 76,745
    SELECTION FORMULAE 7,911 12,884
    VUKCEVIC .com 3,435
    Vukcevic.TT 410
    TOTAL 111,385

    Comment by vukcevic — 12 Jan 2012 @ 1:02 PM

  175. Well, speaking of stats and links, I want to celebrate a milestone–my article on Andrew Weaver’s “Keeping Our Cool” just passed its 500th page-view:

    The various pieces on climate science and the history thereof are now pushing 11,000 page views total. It’s not in Vukcevic’s league, but hey, I do what I can.

    Thanks to RC and readers for support and/or toleration. . . not to mention ‘eddication.’

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 12 Jan 2012 @ 3:09 PM

  176. Kevin McKinney @168/9
    Thank you for the links on melted sea ice forcing. My old back-of-the-fag-packet calculation turned out pretty close to the numbers in the study but what my calculation lacked was any confidence in its answer. As I recall the reason the calc was done was because of Lovelock making the same statement as he does now the clip linked @162 Although my memory of back then was him saying it would be more warming than CO2 to date (rather than today’s as much as), in both cases it appears he was less than accurate.

    Comment by MARodger — 12 Jan 2012 @ 3:24 PM


    free access (for a while) to these ‘Interdisciplinary Reviews’
    Content includes:

    “Article types are designed to cater to a variety of end users
    Editorial Commentaries provide an opportunity for WIREs Editors to offer their own syntheses of broad areas of research in a less formal and more flexible style.
    Opinions provide a forum for thought-leaders to offer a more individual perspective.
    Overviews provide a broad and non-technical treatment of important topics suitable for advanced students and for researchers without a strong background in the field…..”

    I can’t say anything about the content; happened on them while browsing.
    They’ve published:

    Climate models as a test bed for climate reconstruction methods: pseudoproxy experiments
    Focus Article
    Jason E. Smerdon
    Published Online: Dec 15 2011 DOI: 10.1002/wcc.149

    A noodle, hockey stick, and spaghetti plate: a perspective on high‐resolution paleoclimatology
    David Frank, Jan Esper, Eduardo Zorita, Rob Wilson
    Published Online: May 14 2010 DOI: 10.1002/wcc.53

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Jan 2012 @ 4:25 PM

  178. Most welcome, sir–glad to be of assistance.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 12 Jan 2012 @ 5:17 PM

  179. Romm hearts Archer.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 12 Jan 2012 @ 5:44 PM

  180. #167 vukcevic

    Okay, you’ve got some data. Now, what are you saying or inferring that data means in relation to the current increase in radiative forcing and current global warming trends in relation to that data?

    And, if you are inferring it is a major driver in current trends, do you have attribution and mechanism regarding it’s total contribution?

    In other words, I really want to know what you are trying to say by posting this data?

    Ah, I see Ray Ladbury (#170) is asking the same question I am asking. What are you trying to say and please speak very clearly without ambiguity.

    Re. your comment in #172 What I and Ray and possibly others would like to know is what does this have to do with current global warming? Have you actually got something or are you just inferring like so many other incredibly lame attempts (even when they originate form those whom should know better) to distract from the real problem of human induced climate change.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 12 Jan 2012 @ 10:27 PM

  181. @ #180
    There is no value in my opinion to you or to anyone else, without being in possession of all the relevant facts.

    Comment by vukcevic — 13 Jan 2012 @ 5:10 AM

  182. Addressed to #180 John P. Reisman
    John, hi again
    Central England Temperature (the CET) is correlated to the atmospheric pressure’s the North Atlantic Oscillation (the NAO), this broke down to a significant degree in the early 1990s. The index I devised (the NAP) for the North Atlantic non-temperature related oscillations correlates and advances the NAO by 8-9 years, as I referred to in the previous post addressed to you (post # 167:
    you may also consider last graph in: )

    then if you go back to the first graph titled the ‘CET anomaly’; the divergence between the CET and the NAO by 2010 of order 0.6C for 15 year period 1990-2010.
    You can look also at the second graph in
    but this may give misleading impression due to normalisation over very long period; there is a reasonable agreement from 1900 to the late 1980’s (blue line follows the CET’s ‘peak average’) and since then there is divergence of about 0.5C.
    I have no interest in one or the other side of the argument, leave that to those who are better informed on all the facts, or more passionate about the matter. I only look for the data imbedded information, and possible correlations.
    I am not really in position to make any judgments, the NAP index has not been verified by science, you might say I am overwhelmed with disinterest from all around the world, except for few cranks and occasional loony.

    Comment by vukcevic — 13 Jan 2012 @ 8:38 AM

  183. Vukcevic, I am not trying to discourage you. I’m really not. I am trying to tell you what you have to do to increase the viability of your work. In looking at historical it is very easy to get false correlations, and the more series you look at the more false correlations you will get. There are only 2 ways around this:
    1)consider mechanisms that are operant (preferably before you look at correlations, since a posteriori consideration is really just rationalization, not prediction)
    2)make clear falsifiable predictions based on your correlation–and wrt climate this takes years.

    The human brain spots patterns whether they are there or not. That is an advantage when those patterns may be caused by a hungry leopard. It is less advantageous in sceince.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Jan 2012 @ 9:29 AM

  184. Dr. David Whitehouse won the bet. I’m sure people will be none to pleased.

    Comment by John — 13 Jan 2012 @ 9:51 AM

  185. Dr. Ladbury
    Thanks for the note. Judging by current response the limes of viability of my work is zero.
    I do not dispute your assessment of the correlations addictive attractions, it may come to you as a surprise but I do it for fun, since currently I have nothing better to do.
    Some 6 year ago your and Dr. Schmidt’s colleague at the NASA, Dr. Hathaway and I had correspondence disagreement about the future course of the sunspot activity. You know of his prediction and the results, I used two simple equations (worked out in about a few days after reading my primary school daughter’s science project on the sunspots), the equations extrapolation and my result are here:
    Once one beat professionals at their own game, even by chance, the attraction to try to do it elsewhere appears to be irresistible.

    John says:
    Dr. David Whitehouse won the bet. I’m sure people will be none to pleased.
    Hmm. Perhaps I should have taken a with the NASA in 2004.

    Comment by vukcevic — 13 Jan 2012 @ 11:40 AM

  186. John, The real question is how stupid do you have to be to bet on the weather. It’s like buying lottery tickets for your retirement investment.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Jan 2012 @ 12:08 PM

  187. 184, vukcevic: I am not really in position to make any judgments, the NAP index has not been verified by science, you might say I am overwhelmed with disinterest from all around the world, except for few cranks and occasional loony.

    Speaking as a candidate for the title of occasional crank and loony, I’d like to suggest that you publish your work in a peer-reviewed journal. Even if the paper is not published at first, the reviewers are likely to give you helpful suggestions to improve the work.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 13 Jan 2012 @ 1:22 PM

  188. Hank Roberts, about your interchange with Dan H., is it fair to say that current research supports:

    1. where CO2 concentration is the limit to plant growth, doubling CO2 concentration will increase net primary productivity;
    2. where N, P, K or something else is the limit to growth, doubling CO2 concentration will have no effect;
    3. where H2O is the limiting factor, doubling CO2 concentration will improve drought tolerance and thereby increase net primary productivity;
    4. consistent evidence for a net negative effect of doubling CO2 concentration on plant growth has not been produced.

    [Response: (1) Depends on water and temperature regimes, will vary wildly among species and functional groupings, and must be qualified by a time scale. No flat summaries possible. (2) As with (1); too ill specified. (3) Not necessarily at all, because C uptake is typically reduced. It will however, likely be greater than had CO2 not increased, in many cases. But same contingencies as before. (4) Correct if you are referring strictly to the chemical effects of CO2 on photosynthesis and not including the indirect effects of climatic change. I’ll find a good open access article or two and links in a bit–Jim]

    [Response:These are open access and cover a lot of ground, have a look:
    Cao et al., 2010
    Lukac et al., 2009
    Leakey et al., 2009

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 13 Jan 2012 @ 1:33 PM

  189. 1, Hank Roberts,

    Retraction Watch turned out to be more interesting than I thought when I first read your post. Thank you for the link.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 13 Jan 2012 @ 1:36 PM

  190. SM, I doubt you can cite current research to support any of that list of vastly oversimplified general claims. Why do you imagine such could be true?

    “If you have the choice between a hypothetical situation and a real one, choose the real one.”
    – Joan Baez (to Michael Krasny, KQED radio, Feb. 4, 2003)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Jan 2012 @ 1:50 PM

  191. SM, the list you extracted from Dan H.’s line of argument resembles the propositions offered the charming and well-dressed people who knock on my door from time to time and want me to share their beliefs.

    It’s not science.

    Science isn’t single papers. Science is process.

    You know this, right? Haven’t you said that you’re a statistician yourself? Or something along those lines. How do you treat that list you posted?

    Hidden hypothetical constraints, right? “nothing else changes” “all else being equal”

    Not the real world.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Jan 2012 @ 2:24 PM

  192. To Jim’s inline list of open-access articles @ 188, I’ll repeat my pointer to

    Chmura et al. 2011. Forest responses to climate change in the northwestern United States: Ecophysiological foundations for adaptive management. Forest Ecology and Management 261:1121-1142.

    which I found to be a useful review of multiple factors, including increased CO2.

    Comment by Rick Brown — 13 Jan 2012 @ 3:52 PM

  193. How is a copepod like an avocado?
    (Full text available to the public)

    “… in a time when polar ecosystems are on the verge of large changes over an unprecedentedly short timescale (Moline et al., 2008), it is of paramount importance to understand how and why organisms in the system function and interact in order to be able to gain insight into how the system might change as a direct consequence of the ongoing climate change. During the times of the baleen whales, an estimated one to four million tons of these valuable [copepod] prey species were consumed each year by bowhead whales …. We argue that the predator perspective provided herein offers an analogy with other systems changed by anthropogenic removal of, for example, megafauna (Janzen and Martin 1982), key predators (Estes et al., 1998) or fish stocks (Jackson et al., 2001), and how selection pressure might change ….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Jan 2012 @ 3:53 PM

  194. “… the decline of phytoplankton standing stock has been greatest at high latitudes, in equatorial regions, in oceanic areas and in more recent years. Trends in most areas are correlated significantly to increasing ocean warming, and leading climate indices.” — editor’s summary for

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Jan 2012 @ 4:02 PM

  195. Jim, _thank_you_ for the inline response above to SM.

    SM, don’t miss Jim’s detailed answer, way better than my reply, which was mere skepticism.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Jan 2012 @ 5:28 PM

  196. #167 vukcevic

    As I had mentioned, you really only have some data, that shows some thing. The age old rule of correlation does not prove causation still stands.

    In the science papers I read there are always claims. Do you have any specific claims?

    I notice for example in the last graph on this page:

    You have a projection for cooling. Cooling of what?

    That actually looks like a claim. To get to that claim you must have a model of some sort, right? Have you had that model examined by qualified eyes?

    Rather than repeatedly linking us to your graphs, maybe you really should write your paper and submit it to a qualified journal with sufficient peer review process.

    You mentioned in your comment in #167 that you have no serious takers for co-authorship. It may be possible that your work is not mature enough in its development, or that those with more experience in whatever it is you are claiming, already see relevant holes in your thinking or work. But submitting your work to a solid peer review would likely help you in identifying any problems as may already exist. Give it a try.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 Jan 2012 @ 7:26 PM

  197. vukcevic,
    I, too would add my voice to John’s and suggest you publish. Publishing is a pain in the posterior, but it forces you to get your thoughts together to the point where someone else can understand them. Really, only then do you understand them fully. You might want to work with someone who knows the science, and that might help you develop a mechanism and some definitive predictions. Good luck.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Jan 2012 @ 10:24 PM

  198. SM,

    I have told this all to Dan before, and it is in addition to all the great information that Jim has provided.

    Individual species (and groups of related plants with similar photosynthetic pathways) will react differently to rising levels of atmospheric CO2. Since humans rely on just a relatively small number of species for our basic needs, it may seem that we might be able to understand the true ramifications of CO2 levels on the productive abilities of these species. But this is ignoring some very important information that we already have available to us.

    The monoculture on which humans increasingly rely already requires increasing amounts of physical resources, energy, and technology to keep increasing productivity to match increasing population, and the damage that all of this is doing to the environment is also increasing. And this is before the affects of CO2 and the changes these effects will have on our horticultural technologies are all taken into account.

    If we don’t rely on monoculture, then the changing relationships of species to each other becomes very important, and the possibility for severe problems increases dramatically.

    And since we also continue to rely on large areas of intact ecosystems to do such basic tasks as clean our air, clean our water, provide resevoirs for pollinators and beneficial predators, turn waste into useable material, protect biodiversity, and enrich our quality of life, and since there is no way to tell how increasing CO2 levels will change all of that except to say that it definitely WILL change all of that, are you really sure that you want to run such an experiment in real time on the only planet we have?

    I don’t.

    We haven’t even come close to being able to scientifically predict the full effects of rising atmospheric CO2 levels on the earth’s ecosystems for me to feel comfortable about continuing to do nothing about the problem of anthropogenic global warming, and neither you nor Dan “H.” have posted anything to challenge that.

    Claims that AGW “will be good” for human civilization are AT BEST extremely premature, and much more likely fall into the category of gross stupidity:

    (Have a stiff drink with you if you follow that link!)

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 14 Jan 2012 @ 4:03 AM

  199. Hi John
    You say: You have a projection for cooling. Cooling of what?
    Cooling in the North Atlantic; here is an example in the long term forecast for Reykjavik, Iceland, based on the NAO’s seasonal northern component :
    More details can be found in the article associated with:
    I currently concentrate on the North Atlantic, which may or not be of interest to the contributors and possibly to an inquisitive reader or poster of this blog.
    Peer review?
    Names appearing on this blog’s roll-call put in the shade any peer review, comments are public and instant; why would I bother with long drawn anonymous road to the recycling bin? Science publications are meant for the ‘brand names’, not for an ageing would-be know it all.

    Dr. Ladbury, thanks for the note, ‘forces you to get your thoughts together’ is more of an aspiration than achievable reality.
    Happy New Year’s day to all, celebrating or not, by the old Julian calendar.

    Comment by vukcevic — 14 Jan 2012 @ 5:16 AM

  200. SM,

    While Craig has mentioned that some species may not benefit from increases, the scientific literature supports your summaries. Similar to what Jim mentioned, an increase in the limiting factor, whether it be water, temperature, CO2, N, or any other ingredient, will promote growth. An ecellent modern day example is a typical greenhouse. Enter inside, and you enjoy a comfortable temperature (unless it is tropical, where it may be too hot and humid), ample water supply, plenty of fertilizer, and a high CO2 atmosphere (some at 1000 ppm).

    There are those here who wish to dismiss all these results, because they fear that people will then believe that AGW will be good for society. These are very one-sided views. However, they are as one-sided as those who only emphasize the negative. Then there are those who will refer to anyone who disagrees with them as either ignorant or stupid. This is usually done when they cannot refute their argument with reason or logic.

    Comment by Dan H. — 14 Jan 2012 @ 7:36 AM

  201. #199–“Names appearing on this blog’s roll-call put in the shade any peer review. . .”

    Hardly the point. It isn’t who does the looking, it’s the skill, talent and commitment with which the looking is done. In peer review, there is an implicit commitment to take the ideas seriously, and to examine (quite often in a mode rather like destructive testing) how ‘robust’ they are.

    It sounds to me as if what you are saying is that you have a hobby, and you like it the way it is. Nothing wrong with that. But it’s not likely to shake the world (or any subset thereof.)

    Just saying.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 14 Jan 2012 @ 8:43 AM

  202. Dan H. – what does it mean when you say a greenhouse has CO2 at 1000 ppm? In my experience it means CO2 will not, hopefully, drop to a limiting level ppm and suspend uptake. This is something that never happens, that I know of, in a cornfield – not in 1812, not in 1912, and not in 2012.

    Comment by JCH — 14 Jan 2012 @ 9:32 AM

  203. Dan H.,
    I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that you aren’t a gardener. If you were, you would realize that the important thing is NOT whether CO2 promotes growth of plants, but whether it promotes growth of the plants we need to support a population of 9-10 billion by 2050.

    All indications are that rising temperatures reduce grain yields–especially of rice and winter wheat.

    Do not confuse fetid with fertile.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Jan 2012 @ 9:39 AM

  204. Vukcevic,
    A blog post and comments cannot substitute for a detailed review by experts. As scientists, reviewing work within our expertise is part of our day job (albeit, usually an unpaid part). You simply will not get the sort of detail in a blog comment that you do in a peer review.

    Then, too, there is the problem of sorting the wheat from the chaff. How do you know the commenter could actually find his ass with both hands and a GPS on the subject matter? The intertubes are full of bullshitters and wannabes. An expert sees through them pretty easily, but they can do a convincing immitation if you are not expert inthe subject matter.

    This is not to say that peer review is perfect. The reviewers have the imprimatur of the editors, but both sometimes make mistakes. That is why the ultimate stamp of approval comes when your colleagues–even if they are brand new colleagues–realize the usefulness of the ideas, data or methods you introduce. This is my definition of scientific consensus. Scince–it works, and there is a reason why it works the way it does.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Jan 2012 @ 9:46 AM

  205. Dan rebunks.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Jan 2012 @ 10:24 AM

  206. # 199 vukcevic
    …Names appearing on this blog’s roll-call put in the shade any peer review,…..
    roll-call is on this page
    ….an inquisitive reader or poster of this blog.
    is occasionally but not too often found here

    Comment by vukcevic — 14 Jan 2012 @ 10:37 AM

  207. JCH,
    Here is just one example of greenhouse CO2 concentrations (some recommendation higher). greenhouse concentrations of CO2.

    Yes, I am a gardener, but only small time. My father grew up in Iowa, and I experienced many a farm there. Whether we can grow enought food to support the population of 2050 is a whole different question. Paul Ehrlich feared that mass starvation would occur starting in the 1970s due to overpopulation. Agricultural advances since then have increased food production to ease these fears. Feeding the future population may require further advances. Knowing how plants grow in an atmosphere with higher CO2 concentrations will certainly aid these developments. For examplee, see these experiments on wheat.

    [Response: Maybe it’s just me, but if I had an agenda I was trying to push when citing a scientific paper, I think I would at least read say, the abstract, so that I knew how representative it was, or at least what it’s major focus was, or failing those, that it at least didn’t contradict my position. Crazy eh?–Jim]

    Comment by Dan H. — 14 Jan 2012 @ 10:38 AM

  208. Here’s a new one denialists are using, with a horizontal sine wave of temps on into the future; what is the scientific response to this:

    “Testing an astronomically based decadal-scale empirical harmonic climate model versus the IPCC (2007) general circulation climate models,” Nicola Scafetta

    We compare the performance of a recently proposed empirical climate model based on astronomical harmonics against all CMIP3 available general circulation climate models (GCM) used by the IPCC (2007) to interpret the 20th century global surface temperature. The proposed astronomical empirical climate model assumes that the climate is resonating with, or synchronized to a set of natural harmonics that, in previous works (Scafetta, 2010b, 2011b), have been associated to the solar system planetary motion, which is mostly determined by Jupiter and Saturn. We show that the GCMs fail to reproduce the major decadal and multidecadal oscillations found in the global surface temperature record from 1850 to 2011. On the contrary, the proposed harmonic model (which herein uses cycles with 9.1, 10–10.5, 20–21, 60–62 year periods) is found to well reconstruct the observed climate oscillations from 1850 to 2011, and it is shown to be able to forecast the climate oscillations from 1950 to 2011 using the data covering the period 1850–1950, and vice versa. The 9.1-year cycle is shown to be likely related to a decadal Soli/Lunar tidal oscillation, while the 10–10.5, 20–21 and 60–62 year cycles are synchronous to solar and heliospheric planetary oscillations. We show that the IPCC GCM’s claim that all warming observed from 1970 to 2000 has been anthropogenically induced is erroneous because of the GCM failure in reconstructing the quasi 20-year and 60-year climatic cycles. Finally, we show how the presence of these large natural cycles can be used to correct the IPCC projected anthropogenic warming trend for the 21st century. By combining this corrected trend with the natural cycles, we show that the temperature may not significantly increase during the next 30 years mostly because of the negative phase of the 60-year cycle. If multisecular natural cycles (which according to some authors have significantly contributed to the observed 1700–2010 warming and may contribute to an additional natural cooling by 2100) are ignored, the same IPCC projected anthropogenic emissions would imply a global warming by about 0.3–1.2 °C by 2100, contrary to the IPCC 1.0–3.6 °C projected warming. The results of this paper reinforce previous claims that the relevant physical mechanisms that explain the detected climatic cycles are still missing in the current GCMs and that climate variations at the multidecadal scales are astronomically induced and, in first approximation, can be forecast.

    [Response: This is just another curve fit with no predictability. The analysis of the GCMs assumes (completely incorrectly) that all climate variability in them is forced and is misconceived from the get-go. Even volcanic impacts are ignored in favor of celestial forcings that are more akin to astrology than science. An embarrassment to the author and the journal. – gavin]

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 14 Jan 2012 @ 10:42 AM

  209. Dan H – greenhouses worked very well before enhanced CO2 fertilization. The sequence was not: we just invented this CO2 enhancement equipment, what we need now is some sort of glass enclosure.

    The site says that when windows are open, 390 ppm, the enhancement should be done for just two hours. Does this strike you as odd? When it’s 400 ppm outside, will the two hours drop to one and a half hours?

    Comment by JCH — 14 Jan 2012 @ 12:26 PM

  210. Doing an unscientific review of some of the many papers re: CO2 and N (some of which appear conflicting). Here’s a list authors I found.


    Only one name, Benjamin Z. Houlton, appeared twice. One wonders if these people talk to each other.

    Anyway, I wonder if it might be possible for RC to invite the lead authors of the FACE study to do a guest editorial. What they found and what still remains unknown. Might clear up some confusion.

    Comment by Ron R. — 14 Jan 2012 @ 12:34 PM

  211. Re:Boyce paper in Nature claiming phytoplankton decrease

    Please note the brief communications commenting on this paper. The finding does not appear to be robust.

    Comment by sidd — 14 Jan 2012 @ 1:01 PM

  212. Paul Ehrlich failed to anticipate that humans would learn to survive by eating petroleum–with the intermediate step of turning it into corn and soy, and in the process hastening the depletion of not just this one-time windfall, but also aquifers, water quality and soil fertility.

    As I have said before, there are two types of demographers–Malthusians and those who are bad at math.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Jan 2012 @ 1:18 PM

  213. #208 Lynn Vincentnathan

    I still can’t believe that no one has done a correlation study of earthquakes on Pluto to climate change on Earth.

    Just imagine, the magical wonders of curve fitting producing fanciful results to titillate the minds of those that don’t want to know…

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 14 Jan 2012 @ 1:23 PM

  214. RE #208, thanks for your response, Gavin — it was duly transmitted to the said skeptics.

    I pointed out before your response that if this were so — planetary harmonic impacts on climate — then that would not overturn the laws of physics on which the GH effect was based, so it would be similar to the solar irradiation cycles — in the troughs, we might expect some cooling or only slight warming, considering the impact of AGW, and in the peaks we would expect the AGW to piggy back on the other warming and really put us in deep do-do.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 14 Jan 2012 @ 1:29 PM

  215. #200 Dan H.

    To compliment #203 Ray Ladbury, crop yield production is already significant in the numbers in relation to thermal limits, and in context of increased RF/temp. Changes in atmospheric hydrology will increasingly to impact crop productivity as well as soil moisture drop and temperature will increase acres burned and result in increasing crop loss.

    AGU Fall Meeting Video Dec. 2011

    [When I tried clicking it it started in the middle ??? so if that happens just click in the timeline at the beginning. Chris Field does an excellent overview on these issues.]

    NPP data indicates that it really doesn’t matter that much though. What good does it do to have larger plants form increased CO2 if the plants burn up so you never even have a chance to eat them?

    ETH Zürich, 2010

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 14 Jan 2012 @ 1:40 PM

  216. Boyce article followup — three brief communication comments and reply (excerpts, Nature’s paywalled):

    This is science at work, comparing remote sensing of chlorophyll with onsite sampling and with secchi disk (how transparent the water is) records.

    Another recent paper:

    M Hofmann et al 2011 Environ. Res. Lett. 6 034035
    Declining ocean chlorophyll under unabated anthropogenic CO2 emissions

    “… numerical simulations reveal only weak reductions in chlorophyll(a) concentrations during the twentieth century, but project a 50% decline between 2000 and 2200. We identify a local and a remotely acting mechanism for this reduction in the North Atlantic …”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Jan 2012 @ 1:55 PM

  217. For Ray and Hank, more appropriate here than on the methane model thread, the always interesting CBC program Quirks and Quarks today had a piece with Dr Drew Shindell about human caused methane releases and black carbon/soot effects on climate [scroll to the bottom, should be able to listen]. The discussion concerned this study, a partial solution for society to try to limit the damage.

    Comment by flxible — 14 Jan 2012 @ 4:19 PM

  218. Re, Hank Roberts

    The study is related to this 2010 finding: Phytoplankton Population Drops 40 Percent Since 1950
    Researchers find trouble among phytoplankton, the base of the food chain, which has implications for the marine food web and the world’s carbon cycle

    And it appears that the new study is a bit too conservative? For instance no methane forcing and current emission scenario incorporated. So i don’t see why ocean chlorophyll and following phytoplankton decline should not go even lower.

    “We explore these questions using an ocean general circulation model forced with documented historic and projected future anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide according to the IPCC SRES A1FI emission scenario until the year 2100. We further extend the time period covered by the A1FI scenario by assuming a linear decline in emissions from 2100 to 2200 and keeping them at zero levels until 2400.”

    Comment by prokaryotes — 14 Jan 2012 @ 4:55 PM

  219. Dan@200:

    What the ˙©¥ƒ†∂®´∑≈ are you talking about?

    I have just completed building a $15,000+ greenhouse.

    One of the most important things about a greenhouse is how to accomplish air exchange without affecting the temperature or humidity too much (I used my own design, based on lots of input from knowledgeable friends, and the requirements of the species of plants I intend to grow). As plants metabolize CO2, they release oxygen. If this oxygen is not carried away and replaced by more CO2 at a sufficient rate (which varies substantially depending on species), the plants will suffer. Air circulation and exchange is vital. For this reason, greenhouses DO NOT have high levels of CO2, unless someone is intentionally injecting CO2 into them. They have at most the level of CO2 of the air that is being exchanged. How could they possibly have more? What would be generating the CO2?

    [Response:He’s talking about artificial enhancement to ~ doubled levels that some production greenhouses use to speed growth.–Jim]

    No one is dismissing anything except your faulty logic.

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 15 Jan 2012 @ 4:00 AM

  220. Top five climate science points for 2011:

    1. Dr Hansen says warming imbalance for the last 5-6 years is about +0.6W/m2.
    2. Dr Trenberth says that it is still about +0.9W/m2 confirmed by models.
    3. Dr Hansen says that the reduction is due to Chinese aerosols.
    4. Dr Trenberth says that he does not believe that for a minute and the missing heat is still to be found in the oceans.
    5. Professor CERES is still reading the imbalance at +6.4W/m2.

    Comment by Ken Lambert — 15 Jan 2012 @ 8:15 AM

  221. Well, I have been to A LOT of greenhouses, and the “typical greenhouse,” as Dan called it, does not inject CO2. CO2 injection will only work well in colder climates, as air exchange must be discontinued for CO2 injection to be beneficial. If there is no air exchange, then the cost of cooling the greenhouse increases substantially. Greenhouses are not closed systems.

    Here in Texas, a closed greenhouse during the day is extremely expensive to keep cool during much of the year. And since AGW is making temperatures warmer, that problem is getting worse, not better.

    [Response:Right, not an option in any warm climate, even with whitewash applied.]

    My point is that while CO2 has an effect on plants, and while that effect is worth understanding, there is no credible evidence that increased atmospheric CO2 will be beneficial for human societies on the whole, and there is plenty of credible evidence that just the opposite is most likely.

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 15 Jan 2012 @ 2:07 PM

  222. Craig,

    In your specific case, the practice may not be efficient. Here, in the “colder climates” it works quite well, as you maintain. No one ever implied that the greenhouse was a “closed system.”

    The whole previous discussion was about the CO2 effect upon plants. The effect upon human societies is a different story.

    Comment by Dan H. — 15 Jan 2012 @ 3:03 PM

  223. My question with CO2 injection is whether or not it is continuous ~2.6XCO2, or whether it bounces between a lower number, say 400 ppm, and 1,000 ppm?

    [Response:800 ppm or so is a typical target, don’t know about diurnal variation or regulation.]

    The advice on the site to which Dan H. linked recommends just 2 hours of CO2 injection on days when it’s okay to open the glass, so the economic value of the difference between 390 ppm and 1,000 ppm may not be very high.

    The difference between 390 ppm and ~150 ppm would have a significant economic benefit.

    Comment by JCH — 15 Jan 2012 @ 4:43 PM

  224. Here’s another supposed disproof of current AGW (tho I’m not sure how it disproves it):

    “Multiproxy summer and winter surface air temperature field reconstructions for southern South America covering
    the past centuries,” R. Neukom, et al. 2011. Climate Dynamics
    Volume 37, Numbers 1-2, 35-51.

    Abstract: We statistically reconstruct austral summer (winter) surface air temperature fields back to AD 900 (1706) using 22 (20) annually resolved predictors from natural and human archives from southern South America (SSA). This represents the first regional-scale climate field reconstruction for parts of the Southern Hemisphere at this high temporal resolution. We apply three different reconstruction techniques: multivariate principal component
    regression, composite plus scaling, and regularized expectation maximization. There is generally good agreement between the results of the three methods on interannual and decadal timescales. The field reconstructions allow us to describe differences and similarities in the temperature evolution of different sub-regions of SSA. The
    reconstructed SSA mean summer temperatures between 900 and 1350 are mostly above the 1901–1995 climatology. After 1350, we reconstruct a sharp transition to colder conditions, which last until approximately 1700. The summers in the eighteenth century are relatively warm with
    a subsequent cold relapse peaking around 1850. In the twentieth century, summer temperatures reach conditions similar to earlier warm periods. The winter temperatures in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were mostly below the twentieth century average. The uncertainties of our reconstructions are generally largest in the eastern lowlands of SSA, where the coverage with proxy data is
    poorest. Verifications with independent summer temperature proxies and instrumental measurements suggest that the interannual and multi-decadal variations of SSA temperatures are well captured by our reconstructions. This new dataset can be used for data/model comparison and data assimilation as well as for detection and attribution studies at sub-continental scales.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 15 Jan 2012 @ 5:46 PM

  225. RE the discussion about “CO2, we call it life,” – I studied it a bit & included something about it in a paper on food rights and climate change which will be coming out this year:

    First we need to address the argument that elevated carbon dioxide levels increase crop production. Aside from this being disingenuous because the CO2 is also causing warming and other effects that could be harmful to crops, there is evidence that increasing CO2 will not help crops as much as expected, and may even harm some crops and sea life, never mind the warming (Cline 2007: 23-26). While earlier enclosed studies showed increased growth with added CO2, recent open field studies show less increase and even a decline of some crops (Long, et al. 2006, Cruz, et al. 2007: 480). Furthermore, crops were found to be less nutritious (Högy, et al. 2009), and had greater pest damage (Hunter 2001). In the real world, crop growth is affected by many factors beyond CO2, including other nutrients, water supply, climate, extreme weather events, soil moisture, toxins expected to increase with global warming, and soil acidification from CO2 (Oh and Richter 2004). So while CO2 may moderately enhance crops up to a point, these other factors are expected to limit the potential enhancement and even lead to eventual declines. When the impact of warming is considered, a nonlinear relationship regarding crop productivity has been found for mid and high latitudes — the U.S., Canada, Europe, Russia, Japan and Northern China — with increased yields projected up to around 2050, after which the warming causes sharp decrease (Schlenker and Roberts 2009). A more recent study has found that climate change has already reduced some crops globally, despite CO2 fertilization and improved technology (Lobell, et al. 2011). As for sea life, an important human food supply, CO2-caused ocean acidification is having negative impacts on zooplankton (at the base of the food chain), shellfish, fish, and coral reefs, home to one-fourth of sealife (Rogers and Laffoley 2011; Doney, et al. 2009; Hoegh-Guldberg, et al. 2007; Munday, et al. 2010).

    – Cline, W. R. 2007. Global Warming and Agriculture. Washington, DC: Center for Global Development and the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    – Cruz, R. V., H. Harasawa, M. Lal, S. Wu, Y. Anokhin, B. Punsalmaa, Y. Honda, M. Jafari, C. Li, and N. Huu Ninh. 2007. “Asia.” Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contributions of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. M. L. Parry, O. F. Canziani, J. P. Palutikof, P. J. van der Linden, and C. E. Hanson (eds.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 469-506.
    – Doney, S. C., V. J. Fabry, R. A. Feely, and J. Kleypas. 2009. Ocean Acidification: The Other CO2 Problem. Annual Review of Marine Sciences 1: 169-192.
    – Hoegh-Guldberg, O., P. J. Mumby, A. J. Hooten, R. S. Steneck, and E. G. P. Greenfield, C. D. Harvell, P. F. Sale, A. J. Edwards, K. Caldeira, N. Knowlton, C. M. Eakin, R. Iglesias-Prieto, N. Muthiga, R. H. Bradbury, A. Dubi, M. E. Hatziolos. 2007. Coral reefs under rapid climate change and ocean acidification. Science 318(5857): 1737-1742.
    – Högy, P., H. Wieser, P. Köhler, K. Schwadorf , J. Breuer, J. Franzaring, R. Muntifering and A. Fangmeier. 2009. “Effects of elevated CO2 on grain yield and quality of wheat: results from a 3-year free-air CO2 enrichment experiment.” Plant Biology 11: 60-69.
    – Hunter, M. D. 2001. “Effects of Elevated Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide on Insect-Plant Interactions.” Agricultural and Forest Entomology 3: 153-159.
    – Lobell, D. B., W. Schlenker, and J. Costa-Roberts. 2011. “Climate Trends and Global Crop Production Since 1980.” Science 333(6042): 616-620.
    – Long, S. P., E. A. Ainsworth, A. D. B. Leakey, J. Nösberger, D. R. Ort. 2006. “Food for Thought: Lower-Than-Expected Crop Yield Stimulation with Rising CO2 Concentrations.” Science 312(5782): 1918-1921.
    – Munday, P. L., D. L. Dixson, M. I. McCormick, M. Meekan, M. C. O. Ferrari, and D. P. Chivers. 2010. “Replenishment of fish populations is threatened by ocean acidification.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107(29):12930-12934.
    – Oh, N-H., and D. D. Richter, Jr. 2004. “Soil acidification induced by elevated atmospheric CO2” Global Change Biology 10.11: 1936-1946.
    – Oschlies, A., K. Schulz, U. Riebesell, and A. Schmittner. 2008. “Simulated 21st century’s increase in oceanic suboxia by CO2-enhanced biotic carbon export” Global Biochemical Cycles 22: 1-10.
    – Schlenker, W., and M. Roberts. 2009. “Nonlinear Temperature Effects Indicate Severe Damages to U.S. Crop Yields under Climate Change.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. 106(37): 15594-15598.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 15 Jan 2012 @ 10:12 PM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Jan 2012 @ 1:35 AM

  227. “As I have said before, there are two types of demographers–Malthusians and those who are bad at math.” – Ray Labdury

    Yes, you’ve said it many times, and it’s been wrong every time you’ve said it. Malthus, unsurprisingly, did not know what the effects of urbanisation and improving the status and education of women would be, and he had a horror of contraception. He would find the rapid fall in birth rates over the past half-century astonishing.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 16 Jan 2012 @ 8:37 AM

  228. re: 227

    Malthus is the most patient of men.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 16 Jan 2012 @ 9:48 AM

  229. Re sea level rise: I’ve now finished my part of a coauthored book on this subject and think we have covered all the bases at an introductory level. I haven’t read anything radically new and dramatic on sea level rise for at least the last three months. If you have, please tell me what you found.

    Comment by Hunt Janin — 16 Jan 2012 @ 2:48 PM

  230. Hi Gavin, et al, I was having a discussion/altercation with one of those “experts” the internet alchemically generates (opinionated blowhard goes in, expert on everything comes out) who asserted that the amount of heat generated by the physical process of burning fossil fuels was “thousands of times greater” than that trapped by the resultant CO2-enhanced greenhouse effect. He was one of those bore who thinks that global warming violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics (and mass-energy conservation, somehow), but regardless, I was wondering if there was a way of calculating the effect, however insignificant, on the planet’s average temperature of such inputs? I imagine internal climate variability makes it impossible to directly observe, but maybe an equation?

    Comment by Hugh — 16 Jan 2012 @ 11:20 PM

  231. Re: population

    Population of world ‘could grow to 15bn by 2100’

    Comment by Ron R. — 17 Jan 2012 @ 12:20 AM

  232. Speaking of CO2, here is something that I would have never suspected:

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 17 Jan 2012 @ 2:37 AM

  233. Re Hunt Janin

    “At the end of the last Ice Age, there was a great increase in seismicity along the margins of the ice sheets in Scandinavia and places like this, and that triggered these huge submarine landsides which generated tsunamis,” McGuire said. “So you’ve got the whole range of geological hazards there that can result from if we see this big catastrophic melting.”

    McGuire conducted a study that was published in the journal Nature in 1997 that looked at the connection between the change in the rate of sea level rise and volcanic activity in the Mediterranean for the past 80,000 years and found that when sea level rose quickly, more volcanic eruptions occurred, increasing by a whopping 300 percent.

    and ofc

    Climate forcing of geological and geomorphological hazards

    Comment by prokaryotes — 17 Jan 2012 @ 3:29 AM

  234. [Climate Action] A great way to help bring awareness to the topic of climate change, to wear a Tshirt with related content.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 17 Jan 2012 @ 4:42 AM

  235. for Hugh:
    google: “waste heat”
    will find several of the places Gavin has answered that; try

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Jan 2012 @ 5:02 AM

  236. Jeffrey Davis,

    Malthus is dead, wrong, and dead wrong.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 17 Jan 2012 @ 5:38 AM

  237. Hugh @230
    Your question requires a calc that I have seen done before but I obviously wasn’t paying much attention because I don’t remember the answer at all. So I’ll tap out my workings here just in case I make a mistake (which is something I’m quite good at doing).

    Calorific value of a ton of carbon (ie anthracite =almost solid carbon) = 36 GJ. Natural gas would release about double that with its hydrogen content, so call it 72 GJ/tC
    Double atmospheric CO2 (giving forcing of 4 W/sq m of earth) requires 270ppm x 2.13 GtC in atmosphere. Emissions required would be double the atmospheric increase.
    So multiplying it out (72 x 270 x 2.13 x 2 x 10^18) and dividing by the 4 W/sq m gives energy release to raise global forcing 1 W/sq m = 2 x10^22 J The world is 510 million sq km so working that through you get ( / (5.1E14 x 60 x60 x24) = very approximately 470 days to trap the energy equal to that released by burning.
    If you want an answer in thousands, try 11,000 hours. It would be half that for coal & somewhere inbetween for oil.

    Hopefully, if I’ve divided by a numerator or stuck a decimal point upside down, someone will come to my rescue.

    Comment by MARodger — 17 Jan 2012 @ 6:14 AM

  238. #230, #237–

    Another comparison, based upon:

    “Annual global energy consumption is about .5 zettajoules. . .” (1 ZJ = 10e21 Joules.)

    However, a yottajoule is 10e24, and is approximately the amount of energy needed to warm all the planet’s water 1 degree C. Looks like direct heating is just way, way too small to account for observed warming–especially when you consider that absorbed solar energy is about 3.85 YJ.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 17 Jan 2012 @ 8:54 AM

  239. Nick Gotts, Malthus was a son of a bitch, a heartless apologist for privilege. However, his fundamental insight–that popultions cannot grow indefinitely without outstripping available resources–was correct. That there was much he did not understand about growth of human populations does not invalidate this insight.

    Human populations continued to grow in Europe largely as a result of new foodstuffs from the New World, increased mechanization and improved farming techniques, all of which increased calories per acre. We averted disaster again in the 50s and 60s when the green revolution discovered how we could eat petroleum by turning it into corn and soy. We may even avert disaster yet again by means of genetically modified crops. However, each of these circumventions depletes scarce, one-time windfalls–fossil fuels, soil fertility, aquifers that once dry will never flow again, and fisheries that are being turned to aquatic deserts. What do you think that does to the carrying capacity of the planet? How do you envision us moving from 9-10 billion in 2050 or even 15 billion in 2100 to a sustainable population of perhaps 1 billion (given the environmental damage we’ve done)?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Jan 2012 @ 9:20 AM

  240. Hugh@230,
    Your Internet correspondent is an idiot. Even the most cursory search of the web is sufficient to show him he is wrong.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Jan 2012 @ 9:59 AM

  241. Sorry to be OT on this thread but can you comment on yesterday’s NY Times article reviewing a proposal which appeared in SCIENCE which would 1) attack “black soot” and methane mainly 2) allegedly lower avg temp by 1 degree by 2050?

    Again, sorry to be OT on this particular thread. I think people take you as a very credible and sober voice in all this and look to you to help them parse the latest AGW headlines.

    Best wishes.

    Comment by Terry richardson — 17 Jan 2012 @ 10:10 AM

  242. I suggest that folks opining that Malthus was “wrong” might wish to be specific as to what they think Malthus was “wrong” about.

    It is hard to see how Malthus’s “fundamental insight”, to use Ray Ladbury’s words, that “populations cannot grow indefinitely without outstripping available resources” could be “wrong”.

    And the fact that the human species has been able to continue growing by exploiting fossil fuels certainly doesn’t invalidate that insight.

    On the other hand, to the extent that Malthus argued that populations WILL and MUST inevitably grow until they outstrip available resources and crash, MAY prove to be “wrong”, IF humans prove able to voluntarily reduce and maintain our population at a sustainable level — although that remains to be seen.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 17 Jan 2012 @ 10:28 AM

  243. Slight correction, Ray–“enough to show Hugh he is wrong.” For “him,” I’m not so sure that ‘enough’ exists.

    Yeah, I know–I was the one decrying snark, a while back. Sigh.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 17 Jan 2012 @ 1:17 PM

  244. “However, his fundamental insight–that popultions cannot grow indefinitely without outstripping available resources–was correct.” – Ray Ladbury

    His fundamental claims were that population increases geometrically while food supply increases arithmetically – both specifically mathematical claims which have up to now been quite wrong. This is what makes your claim that non-Malthusian demographers are “bad at math” so absurd.

    In his earlier work, he also claimed that population growth would only be checked by food shortage – also wrong. He later made a minor correction to this, allowing for the possibility of “moral restraint” i.e. that people would limit their families by not having sex. Wrong again. I don’t mean to disparage him as a social scientist – he was certainly the pioneer of demography; but like most scientific pioneers, he made a lot of mistakes.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 17 Jan 2012 @ 1:33 PM

  245. Nick,
    Has population growth been “checked”. Last I saw, we were on track for ~10 billion by 2050, and the research that claims that will be a maximum is pure extrapolation.

    Darwin made mistakes as well. And as demographers seem to fall into either Malthusians or Cornucopians, I leave it to you to decide which is worse at math.

    The fact remains, human population will not grow indefinitely. There is no convincing evidence that it will stop growing before it is forced to do so catastrophically.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Jan 2012 @ 2:19 PM

  246. SA,
    For all the gray matter we have in our heads, our demographics have been as unregulated and irrational as the population biology of a yeast colony in a bottle of beer. I rather doubt that the product our our demise will be nearly as useful.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Jan 2012 @ 2:24 PM

  247. Given that we live in a world where a man whose sole publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal is a decades old publication claiming that kissing spreads HIV ( is now taken, by the non-scientific public, seriously as a climate scientist and that, to leading order, we’ve done nothing to reduce emissions this rates as among the most hopeful news of the millennium for my grandchildren:

    Simultaneously Mitigating Near-Term Climate Change and Improving Human Health and Food Security

    Tropospheric ozone and black carbon (BC) contribute to both degraded air quality and global warming. We considered ~400 emission control measures to reduce these pollutants by using current technology and experience. We identified 14 measures targeting methane and BC emissions that reduce projected global mean warming ~0.5°C by 2050. This strategy avoids 0.7 to 4.7 million annual premature deaths from outdoor air pollution and increases annual crop yields by 30 to 135 million metric tons due to ozone reductions in 2030 and beyond. Benefits of methane emissions reductions are valued at $700 to $5000 per metric ton, which is well above typical marginal abatement costs (less than $250). The selected controls target different sources and influence climate on shorter time scales than those of carbon dioxide–reduction measures. Implementing both substantially reduces the risks of crossing the 2°C threshold.

    It’s pay-walled. Sorry about that. My recommendation? Pay for it. Or don’t. Your choice.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 17 Jan 2012 @ 9:58 PM

  248. “Has population growth been “checked”.” – Ray Ladbury

    Yes, in some countries it has. Worldwide, it has slowed very considerably.

    “as demographers seem to fall into either Malthusians or Cornucopians”

    No, they don’t. Most demographers do not actually spend their time making projections of global population growth at all, as you can readily confirm for yourself by putting “demography” into Google Scholar. Those who do, do not fall readily into your simplistic categories.

    “Darwin made mistakes as well.”

    As I said in the comment directly before yours, which you don’t appear to have read:
    “I don’t mean to disparage him [Malthus] as a social scientist – he was certainly the pioneer of demography; but like most scientific pioneers, he made a lot of mistakes.”

    “There is no convincing evidence that it will stop growing before it is forced to do so catastrophically.”

    Well no, provided you ignore half a century of falling growth rates worldwide, and the fact that quite a number of countries now have fertility rates that will lead to population decline in the near future. We also know the main factors that lead to declining birth rates: improving the status and education of women, greater availability of contraception, urbanization, and possibly rising real incomes. Mass urbanization is going to happen anyway; the other factors – particularly the first two – are what we should focus on. But declaring in advance, and in the face of the evidence, that we cannot succeed, is both completely unsupported by the evidence, and grossly irresponsible.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 18 Jan 2012 @ 6:30 AM

  249. Nick,
    I did read your post. What you ignore are the facts that causes of the falling birthrates all involve unsustainable increases in resource consumption or other trends that are unsustainabloe or that are doubtful in their application outside of the industrial portion of the globe.

    The religions of nearly half the planet’s population oppose contraception. We have a presidential candidate here in the US who has promised to greatly restrict if not end contraception in the us–and he has not been laughed off the stage. Education of women is absolutely essential to reduction of fertility rates, and yet it is stagnating in many of the countries with the fastest growing populations.

    How do you think aid programs will fare as the US and Europe tighten budgets? Frankly, I think we could stabilize global population and resolve climate change and develop a sustainable energy infrastructure before 2050 without any sort of draconian measures. I just think humans are too stupid to do so. The problem is that we are dependent on the bottom 50% of the IQ curve–The Revenge of the C Students.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Jan 2012 @ 9:41 AM

  250. On a seperate note, Judith Curry has started a discussion based on presenations given by Gavin Schmidt and Richard Betts.

    Comment by Dan H. — 18 Jan 2012 @ 12:23 PM

  251. Breaking: Obama Denies Keystone XL Permit, But Allows TransCanada to Reapply With Alternate Pipeline Route.

    President Obama’s press release:

    Earlier today, I received the Secretary of State’s recommendation on the pending application for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. As the State Department made clear last month, the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment. As a result, the Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied. And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree.

    This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people. I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it does not change my Administration’s commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil. Under my Administration, domestic oil and natural gas production is up, while imports of foreign oil are down. In the months ahead, we will continue to look for new ways to partner with the oil and gas industry to increase our energy security –including the potential development of an oil pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico – even as we set higher efficiency standards for cars and trucks and invest in alternatives like biofuels and natural gas. And we will do so in a way that benefits American workers and businesses without risking the health and safety of the American people and the environment.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 18 Jan 2012 @ 4:47 PM

  252. #251–I’m pleased–but it seems pretty clear that this skirmishing is almost entirely about political tactics, and very little about energy policy.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Jan 2012 @ 6:16 PM

  253. “Frankly, I think we could stabilize global population and resolve climate change and develop a sustainable energy infrastructure before 2050 without any sort of draconian measures. I just think humans are too stupid to do so.”

    That’s completely different from anything Malthus ever said, and quite different from what you have appeared to be saying.

    “The problem is that we are dependent on the bottom 50% of the IQ curve–The Revenge of the C Students.”

    Tosh. The problem is the greed and mendacity of ruling elites. It was “C students”, in your contemptuous phrase, who voted overwhelmingly for egalitarian policies in the post-WWII period.

    [edit – religious attitudes to contraception are completely off-topic here. Please no more on this]

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 19 Jan 2012 @ 8:30 AM

  254. Record snow in Seattle. The Arctic Oscillation has stopped being highly positive and has allowed some serious cold air to escape toward North America.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 19 Jan 2012 @ 12:46 PM

  255. The reason there is no debate!

    Mann wrote; Meanwhile, I suspect you’ve both seen the latest attack against his Yamal work by McIntyre. Gavin and I (having consulted also w/ Malcolm) are wondering what to make of this, and what sort of response—if any—is necessary and appropriate. So far, we’ve simply deleted all of the attempts by McIntyre and his minions to draw attention to this at RealClimate.

    [Response: Except that this was all debated and at length (over 600 comments). Sometimes responses take time (well, at least they do if you want to get it right). Scattering comments about this as off-topic diversions is not a useful way of archiving discussions. – gavin]

    Comment by realist — 19 Jan 2012 @ 1:17 PM

  256. A bit old but worth a look:

    “…. eminent climate scientists, social scientists and journalists assembled in SoCal this week, in part to ask the question: “What will it take to precipitate meaningful policy responses to climate change?” The answer from author Stewart Brand was succinct: “It takes warfare.” Brand was part of a panel at “Moving By Degrees,” a day-long forum hosted by American Public Media’s Marketplace program. Brand, who describes himself as an “ecopragmatist,” has concluded that when the planet’s “carrying capacity” is strained to the point where nations and peoples are fighting over dwindling resources, only then will coordinated international action begin in earnest.

    Brand’s dim view was shared by physicist-turned-blogger Joe Romm, who said that while current US policy is driven by “denial,” he sees a coming shift in which people move “from denial to desperation.” That, says Romm, will be the catalyst. “Denial makes easy things hard and desperation makes hard things easy,” he said. Romm says he expects the desperation phase to set in about a decade from now …

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Jan 2012 @ 1:45 PM

  257. Call for quick action: Elsevier trying to restrict open access to US-government-funded research!

    Most of you will know that the major US science-funding agencies require the work they fund (from the public purse) to be made available as open-access to the public that funded it. And it’s hard for me to imagine anyone sees that requirement as anything other than straightforwardly just.

    But you may not know about the Research Works Act (, a truly vile piece of legislation being proposed by two Elsevier-funded shills in the US Congress, which would make it illegal for funding bodies to impose this perfectly natural requirement….

    HT DML

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 19 Jan 2012 @ 4:07 PM

  258. Hank@235,
    Thanks! I had no idea Gavin had written about this before.
    Ray Ladbury@240,
    Oh, he wasn’t merely “an idiot”; he revealed a range of crank ideas that would make Christopher Monckton blush. As I said, he was an opinionated blowhard who’d jumped into the deep end of crankdom. He was also one of those dishonest people who will willingly embrace contradictory positions if they further their argument in the short-term (waxing lyrical about Segalstad’s analysis of ice cores, and then insisting that ice cores don’t tell us anything – the Jaworowski thesis – when I called him on it). I never for a moment entertained his notion – even a mathematical ignoramus like me could tell that waste heat was insignificant relative to the Earth’s surface area (and thus the area receiving solar radiation). I was just interested to know what the calculation was for its own sake.
    With someone like that, getting them to search the internet to prove themselves wrong is a vain hope.

    Comment by Hugh — 19 Jan 2012 @ 5:56 PM

  259. > to search the internet

    The way to start is to ask a librarian for help.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Jan 2012 @ 8:11 PM

  260. Somewhat off-topic but since it’s in the blogoshphere ans since it mentions ‘Real Climate’ by name;
    Email 2743, Sept 2009, Michael Mann: “So far, we’ve simply deleted all of the attempts by McIntyre and his minions to draw attention to this at RealClimate.”

    Is this true? And what were you trying to hide/delete? This looks just awful to the casual observer of the climate debate.

    [Response: Nothing was being hidden or deleted. The issue in question was McIntyre’s appalling post on the Yamal reconstruction (which caused a a bit of furore at the time because of his unfounded insinuations of scientific misconduct – where have we heard that before?). Rather than have comments on that be scattered around the site as off-topic digressions with rushed or unprepared responses, we waited until we had looked at the issues, and then had all comments (600+) and plenty of debate on a specific thread (which was here). Since people expect us (rather unreasonably) to be the automatic rebuttal to every new blogospheric eruption, we need to be sure of the issues before responding – that inevitably means a delay between the beginning of the excitement and the response. Keeping comments on-topic on other threads in the meantime is tricky, and if you run a blog you can make your choices on how to do that. – gavin]

    Comment by Henry — 19 Jan 2012 @ 10:06 PM

  261. NCDC has updated, and has the December and annual reports up. Kind of a “meh” year for temperature–tied for 11th-warmest ever, a bit warmer than 2008, and thus the warmest La Nina year on record. Second-highest global precipitation ever.

    Details here:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 20 Jan 2012 @ 8:36 AM

  262. Interesting, and they are flying hardware

    “Makani Power is developing Airborne Wind Turbines (AWT) to extract energy from the powerful, consistent winds at high altitudes. Makani’s AWT is a rigid wing that flies at altitudes between 300 and 600 meters. Turbines on the leading edge of the wing face into the wind as it flies and generate energy, which is transmitted to the ground along a tether. Makani AWTs will produce energy at an unsubsidized real cost competitive with coal-fired power plants, the current benchmark of the lowest cost source of power.”

    I wonder if their software could autopilot a hang glider….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Jan 2012 @ 12:20 PM

  263. ScienceOnline2012 is this week!

    Plenary Panel: Check, check, 1, 2…The sticky wicket of the scientist-journalist relationship

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Jan 2012 @ 2:35 PM

  264. “When will atmospheric CO2 exceed 550 ppm?”

    It won’t. I expect the revolt of the humans or as Romm puts it the shift from denial to desperation to occur with CO2 not far above 400 ppm. Then frenetic “mitigation” i.e. ceasing to burn carbon and both conserving and rapidly installing other energy sources will keep CO2 below 550.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 23 Jan 2012 @ 9:09 AM

  265. #4–“It won’t. I expect the revolt of the humans or as Romm puts it the shift from denial to desperation to occur with CO2 not far above 400 ppm.”

    Or about 3-4 years from now, given that we hit 392 ppm in 2011. You could be right; it would seem that a new ‘warmest year’ is reasonably likely during that span (cf. Dr. Hansen), along with a few more climate-related disasters, and possibly the first sub-1 million km2 Arctic sea ice minimum. (That’s presuming Dr. Maslowski was right, which I think quite possible.)

    None too soon, if so.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 23 Jan 2012 @ 12:08 PM

  266. > the shift from denial to desperation
    That’s part of Joe Romm’s observation that the public conversation is nowadays mostly between denial and exaggerated alarm

    (Yes, it’s possible to exaggerate the alarm — any alarmist lacking good science will be successful getting the media attention, because it prolongs the “debate” and “controversy” which serves our heat-loving reptilian secret masters …. oops, strike that last bit ….)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Jan 2012 @ 2:43 PM

  267. Hank Roberts wrote: “Joe Romm’s observation that the public conversation is nowadays mostly between denial and exaggerated alarm”

    Actually, Joe Romm and other writers at the ClimateProgress blog have noted that the public conversation mostly ignores the plausible worst-case scenarios, and ignores as well the growing evidence that actual climate change impacts are worse than predicted, with the result that the public conversation is mostly between denial and the most conservative underestimates of likely impacts.

    For example, an October 2011 article at ClimateProgress (by Douglas Fischer of DailyClimate, with supportive comments from Joe Romm) entitled “Evidence Builds That Scientists Underplay Climate Impacts”, asserts that “far from being ‘alarmist,’ predictions from climate scientists in many cases are proving to be more conservative than observed climate-induced impacts”, and quotes Naomi Oreskes thusly:

    “We’re seeing mounting evidence now that the scientific community, rather than overstating the claim or being alarmist, is the opposite. Scientists have been quite conservative … in a lot of important and different areas … Many people in the scientific community have felt that it’s important to be conservative – that it protects your credibility. There’s a low-end bias. It has led scientists to understate, rather than overstate, the impacts.”


    [Response:Unfortunately, Fischer states in that piece: “As for extinctions, earlier this year two scientists at the University of Exeter paired predicted versus observed annihilation rates. The real-world rates are more than double what the best computer modeling showed: While the studies, on average, warned of a 7 percent extinction rate, field observations suggested the rate was closer to 15 percent.”[my added italics] Aside from the critically problematic scientific issues with the content of this statement, using the word “annihilation” to describe extinction is, at best, a very careless use of words, and I would say, intentionally inflammatory and counterproductive. His piece has a number of other problems as well–Jim]

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 23 Jan 2012 @ 4:14 PM

  268. The public conversation being between denial and exaggerated alarmism seems to be the way the media likes to paint issues nowadays: black and white, and towards both poles. Most scientists will be likely be closer towards the middle.

    Comment by Dan H. — 23 Jan 2012 @ 6:22 PM

  269. The discussion of how scientists approach risk reminds me of a few stories.

    On the Manhattan project, when they had constructed the first nuclear pile under the stadium at U. of Chicago, the entire venture depended on being able to re-insert the control rods after observing criticality. One of Fermi’s grad students asked him what he would do if they couldn’t re-insert the rods. Fermi thought for awhile and then reminded his student that some of the U-235 fission events were delayed for up to a minute. “So,” Fermi said, “I would walk slowly and purposefully out that door and down the street.”

    Later, based on a calculation Teller had made, Fermi was taking bets on the whether the trinity blast might ignite a chain reaction and incnerate the state of New Mexico.

    I tell these stories to point out that physicists take a somewhat macabre interest in the risks their work entails, but it is not a cavalier attitude. It is informed by knowledge of the probabilities.

    So finally a joke:

    A chemist, a mathematician and a physicist are all sentenced to be guillotined during the French Revolution. The Captain who is in charge of the proceedings taunts them saying they can either be beheaded face down or face their death like a man and lie face up.

    The chemist has no desire to spend his last moments watching the instrument of his demise, so he opts for face down. The captain cuts the rope, and the blade doesn’t move. The captain says, “Mon Dieu, it is a miracle!” And he helps the chemist up, kisses him on both cheeks and tells him he is free to go.

    The mathematician also opts for the face down position. Again the rope is cut. Again the blade hangs and doesn’t fall. “Mon Dieu,” the captain cries again. “It is another miracle.” Agian with the kisses to the cheek, and the mathematician is set free.

    Finally, the physicist faces the blade, but being a curious sort, he opts to lie face up so he can see the mechanism at work. The rope is cut. The blade hangs. “Oh,” says the physicist. “I think I see your problem!”

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Jan 2012 @ 8:56 PM

  270. > Fermi

    maybe only apocryphal:

    “… when Fermi got his copy of Physical Review, he would first read the abstracts to see what the problems were. Then he worked out the solutions, and finally read the articles to see if the authors got it right….”

    Some of our skeptical brethren and cistern do that too — excepting the “worked out” part.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Jan 2012 @ 9:42 PM

  271. On the Manhattan project, when they had constructed the first nuclear pile under the stadium at U. of Chicago, the entire venture depended on being able to re-insert the control rods after observing criticality. One of Fermi’s grad students asked him what he would do if they couldn’t re-insert the rods. Fermi thought for awhile and then reminded his student that some of the U-235 fission events were delayed for up to a minute. “So,” Fermi said, “I would walk slowly and purposefully out that door and down the street.”

    Which, of course, is why many are happy that we have engineers who put together designs, including failure modes, that lead to evacuation plans so that more people than the chief scientist (Fermi) will survive …

    Comment by dhogaza — 23 Jan 2012 @ 11:25 PM

  272. > denial/alarmist polarity:

    This one:
    “… other areas of climate science, many of which are, for me, considerably more “alarming” ….
    The thing is, we don’t need no stinking methane bubbles to be …. Business as usual is beyond catastrophic …”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Jan 2012 @ 11:44 PM

  273. “Finally, the physicist faces the blade, but being a curious sort, he opts to lie face up so he can see the mechanism at work. The rope is cut. The blade hangs. “Oh,” says the physicist. “I think I see your problem!””


    But, having enjoyed the joke (and what it says about the physicist’s mindset), and just as an historical curiosity, the “mathematician” was almost Joseph Fourier. . . (And the chemist Lavoisier really *was* guillotined.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 24 Jan 2012 @ 7:34 AM

  274. Re comments 265-268.
    The denialist wing of the AGW debate is evidently away with the fairies. The alarmist wing featured in mainstream media are nothing like as extreme in their views. This very morning, I found myself listening to the BBC’s prestigious Today Programme featuring Baron Lawson of Blaby, founder of the GWPF (Is that the Gentlemen Who Prefer Fantacy? I can never remember!) and Tony Juniper of Friends of he Earth. I do not call that ‘balanced coverage’.

    Comment by MARodger — 24 Jan 2012 @ 8:45 AM

  275. Kevin@273,
    Note to self: It’s not good to be the King’s taxman in a revolution.

    Another mathematician (LaGrange) said: “It took them only an instant to cut off that head, but France may not produce another like it in a century.”

    Humans have always been idjits.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Jan 2012 @ 9:59 AM

  276. MA,
    Neither the denialist wing nor the alarmist wing are anywhere near what most scientists claim. The factions simply make for juicy media coverage. While scientists think that the difference between a 1 and 2 degree temperature rise is huge, the media pundits do not see it that way, and look for greater disparities. Those that show resulting disasters of the greatest magnitude, or conspiracies to the highest degree will get the most press. Two scientists aguing whether the climate sensitivity is 1.8 or 2.7 does not attract media headlines.

    Comment by Dan H. — 24 Jan 2012 @ 1:08 PM

  277. I hope the open thread is an appropriate place to ask this, but this is something that has confusing me for awhile: I gather the main effect of CO2 emissions is that it slightly warms the globe, increasing water vapor, which is a stronger greenhouse gas. But isn’t this a positive feedback cycle? If more water in the atmosphere increases the temperature, wouldn’t that increase the amount of water, and so on? What is the limiting factor here? -Thanks.

    Comment by D — 24 Jan 2012 @ 1:41 PM

  278. D (#277),
    Yes, there’s a feedback cycle. But every succeeding step is smaller so that you end up with a limited increase in temperatures after a while.
    The limiting factor is infrared radiation. The hotter stuff is, the more energy it sends away as infrared over time. Greenhouse gases cath some of these infrared rays but not all. So the hotter the Earth is, the more energy it loses to outerspace. That insures that the warming caused by greenhouse gases is limited.

    Comment by Anonymous Coward — 24 Jan 2012 @ 2:14 PM

  279. D – This article at Skeptical Science (a great resource for mainstream cilmate science) should answer your question.

    The short answer is no, it will not lead to ever-increasing temperatures (i.e. runaway feedback), the “why” is explained well at the link above.

    Comment by dhogaza — 24 Jan 2012 @ 2:48 PM

  280. D,
    Infinite sums can converge to finite results. As long as the subsequent terms to feedback converge to zero quickly enough you wind up with a finite result.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Jan 2012 @ 2:58 PM

  281. @#277 D;

    I’m a novice myself, but my understanding is that the main effect of CO2 is that it doesn’t allow as much heat to escape at night time.

    Comment by Pete Wirfs — 24 Jan 2012 @ 3:14 PM

  282. World harvests will all fail no later than 2056, according to my research. Unfortunately, I can’t get my paper on the subject published or even peer-reviewed, so it’s pointless to cite it.

    That assumes civilization doesn’t fall earlier, of course. The estimate above assumes drought is the only problem.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 24 Jan 2012 @ 4:31 PM

  283. D – Good question. Luckily a sum of infinitely positive terms can converge to a small result. The simplest case is a geometric series (you probably remember it from school now that I use the word) like one half + one fourth plus one eighth …

    And the big negative feedback (things radiate energy away in proportion to the fourth power of the temperature) really keep things under control.
    But the most interesting thought for you may be this: throughout earth’s history CO2 has gone down (to about 190 ppm at the last glacial maximum I think) and come up, and there has been no runaway. So positive feedbacks clearly do not just keep on growing.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 24 Jan 2012 @ 4:37 PM

  284. Thanks folks, I get it now. Much appreciated!

    Comment by D — 24 Jan 2012 @ 4:41 PM

  285. What organization in the U.S. (or site online) is devoted to identifying (and ideally, tracking the fixes to) roadblocks to effective climate communication?

    Some particular climate communication trouble spots now have orgs devoted to them – the NCSE for schools, the “forecast the facts” org for meteorologists – but shouldn’t there be an umbrella org or site, for reporting/addressing other roadblocks?

    It could just be something akin to, but for reporting & tracking structural problems – some of which are simple (the one I have in mind is) – that have hindered climate communication.

    (though it’s likely not everything will fit neatly into such a reportable format; but it’d be helpful to have a place to file such a “structural bug report”, that someone else would follow up on.)

    Comment by Anna Haynes — 24 Jan 2012 @ 5:25 PM

  286. (the case I have in mind involves a publicly-funded science org.)

    Comment by Anna Haynes — 24 Jan 2012 @ 5:28 PM

  287. for Anna
    turns up at the top of the first page of results the
    Climate Communication | Science & Outreach

    I also like Science Friday:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Jan 2012 @ 6:04 PM

  288. Hank #287, my communication skills aren’t up to par, sorry.

    Yes, I expect the entities you mentioned do good climate communication. But my comment was asking whether an org exists that’ll intervene, to address other entities’ patterns of (likely-unintended) misleading climate communication. These patterns could be improved if a dedicated org with a modicum of clout were to intervene – which would entail pointing out that a particular form of communication is misleading, advising the practitioner org on a simple fix, then seeing (& documenting) whether they do it.
    (This isn’t what CC or SciFri does.)

    I guess it’d help to provide the case in point. The NOAA/NWS Climate Prediction Center predicts “likely weather” (which they call climate) up to a few months out. Clearly, the stuff that influences what they predict will be natural cycles & other natural variability. Yet an interview with a C.P.C. rep. called what they’re predicting “climate”, talked about these natural influences on it, and (since climate-as-in-30+-years is not their purview, thus is likely not on their intellectual radar) made no mention (caveat: that I noticed) of GHGs or other human influences (or of the likely changes we should expect) on climate in the decades to come.

    So anyone casually listening just hears “climate” associated with “natural cycles, natural variability”.

    IMO this overloading of the term “climate”, without disambiguation, is a problem that needs addressing, at least in taxpayer-funded outreach. And while I can email the CPC folk (& have done so) asking what outreach policy they have that ensures they don’t create public confusion between short & long term climate change (and the different causes and magnitudes of the two), still I’m just one person. If they hear it from an organization, it’s more likely to have positive results.)

    (sorry for initial confusion; I hope that’s clearer)

    Comment by Anna Haynes — 24 Jan 2012 @ 7:08 PM

  289. BPL,
    For what reason(s) do you expect world harvests to fail by then? I am always suspect of this claim, as I have heard it many times in the past decades.

    Comment by Dan H. — 24 Jan 2012 @ 9:21 PM

  290. “religious attitudes to contraception are completely off-topic here. Please no more on this” – editorial response to my #253

    For future information, is human demography as a whole regarded as OT on the “Unforced Variations” threads? I realise it’s not climate science, but it is highly relevant both to projections of GHG emissions, and to climate change impacts.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 25 Jan 2012 @ 5:10 AM

  291. Dan H. @276
    I suggest you reappraise your understanding of “…what most scientists claim.” A difference in resultant warming (eg in climate sensitivity) of one degree celsius makes a big difference to climatic outcomes (and gives ample room for alarm). But your talk of a 1 or 2 degree “temperature rise” – that is denialist speak. And do remind me which are the scientists arguing for a sensitvity of 1.8 (assume dec C)?

    “Most scientists” can be equated to the IPCC which gives the headline sensitivity as 3 deg C with a likely range of 1.5-4.5 deg C and higher outcomes not ruled out.
    Thus, given that a 1 deg C difference in sensitivity makes a big difference, the ‘alarm’ engendered in the message of the IPCC (and thus “most scientists”) is considerable. Either Dan H. fails to appreciate this point or he is referring to media the likes of which is unknown to me.

    I gave an example of the media inbalance I experience @274. Baron Blaby is of the view that overall AGW is beneficial and where it does cause potential harm, adaption measures will prevail. Spending our hard-earned money cutting CO2 emissions will stop us spending money fighting terrorists and famine in Africa. And why should we spend our money when the future world will be so much richer than us and be well positioned to afford any expensive adaption measure that may turn out to be required. So says Blaby.
    That is the measure of the lunatic inviited onto a prestigious BBC radio programme. Dan H. – who (or what view) would you see as providing balance when Blaby (or some other GWPF creature) is in the studeo?

    Comment by MARodger — 25 Jan 2012 @ 5:26 AM

  292. MA

    Since I said that a 1 degree difference is “huge,” how does that fail to appreciate the difference? I do not know to what “denialist speak” you are referring.

    BPL has a list of publications concerning climate sensitivity. You can check it out:

    I disagree with your statement that most scientists can be equated with the IPCC, etc.

    Just like in politics, where many on the left and right think that most people think like they do, and therefore, do not consider themselves to be on the extreme, those scientists on either extreme, do not view themselves as such.

    Comment by Dan H. — 25 Jan 2012 @ 11:32 AM

  293. Just like in politics, where many on the left and right think that most people think like they do, and therefore, do not consider themselves to be on the extreme, those scientists on either extreme, do not view themselves as such.

    Just like in science, since you haven’t properly defined and quantified ‘left’, ‘right’ and ‘extreme’, I find it difficult to take you seriously.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 25 Jan 2012 @ 12:01 PM

  294. Dan H. @292
    You say @276 that “Neither the denialist wing nor the alarmist wing are anywhere near what most scientists claim.” and @292 “I disagree with your statement that most scientists can be equated with the IPCC, etc.

    These ‘most scientists’ of yours: far from the wings but not with the IPCC. So where are they all? Perhaps you could express your answer it terms of climate sensitivity (as that is easy to express succinctly and introduced into this topic by yourself @276).

    Comment by MARodger — 25 Jan 2012 @ 1:20 PM

  295. Thomas,
    The political left and right are already properly defined. However, if you need a refresher, here is a nice summary.

    Comment by Dan H. — 25 Jan 2012 @ 1:49 PM

  296. Dan H. says:

    For what reason(s) do you expect world harvests to fail by then? I am always suspect of this claim, as I have heard it many times in the past decades.

    Dan H.- that sounds like interesting reading. Can you link to any peer-reviewed papers from prior decades that predict world harvest failures because of climate change?

    New topic – why no comments on Observed changes in top-of-the-atmosphere radiation and upper-ocean heating consistent within uncertainty

    Comment by JCH — 25 Jan 2012 @ 1:55 PM

  297. Hmmm

    Comment by Ron R. — 25 Jan 2012 @ 2:21 PM

  298. Dan H:
    “… scientists think that the difference between a 1 and 2 degree temperature rise is huge …. whether the climate sensitivity is 1.8 or 2.7 ….”

    Dan H:
    “I said that a 1 degree difference is ‘huge,’ … I do not know to what ‘denialist speak’ you are referring.

    Yes, you do know. You’re getting smoother and slicker in presenting the talking points, the more people try to help you. Getting what you want here?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Jan 2012 @ 2:28 PM

  299. Very interesting paper, may be of interesting in light of Stefan’s work.

    “Reconciling two approaches to attribution of the 2010 Russian heat wave”

    Comment by SteveF — 25 Jan 2012 @ 5:27 PM

  300. Apologies for the slight incoherence in the above post. It’s late here!

    Comment by SteveF — 25 Jan 2012 @ 5:28 PM

  301. Oh and while I’m on a roll, from CRU:

    “Hemispheric and large-scale land surface air temperature variations: An extensive revision and an update to 2010”

    Comment by SteveF — 25 Jan 2012 @ 5:33 PM

  302. I am unable to find an explanation or get a response elsewhere. I have a “Greenhouse Effect 101” question.
    How can the Earth’s surface molecules absorb the short-wave insolation whilst the atmospheric gas molecules can’t?
    A reference would be excellent.
    Thanks, Mark

    Comment by mark conley — 25 Jan 2012 @ 6:10 PM

  303. Other than an unrevealing term ‘100%’ I can’t seen to find any quantities on the link you provided. Surely you understand how science works, right? Let me help – the statement you’ve made and the website you link to is best described as ‘nonsense’. Noise. But that’s what you are here for.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 25 Jan 2012 @ 9:04 PM

  304. Mark Conley,
    Basically, the answer to your question has to do with the energies that can be absorbed by gasses and solids. One of the main triumphs of early quantum mechanics was to explain these different absorption spectra. Consider a single atom–basically the only energy tranistions such a monoatomic molecule can make are electrical–so it can absorb light with energies of a vew electron-volts (eV).

    Now think about a diatomic molecule–we’ve introduced the possibility that it can rotate now. These rotational energies are also quantized, but with much lower energies.

    For a triatomic molecule, we’ve introduced the possibility of vibration of the individual atoms about their equilibrium positions. These energies are in the energy range of infrared light, so these are the greenhouse gasses–CO2, H2O, CH4…

    In a solid, the vibrations get a lot more complicated, and energy levels get so close together, they interact and blend, producing energy bands. This means that solids can absorb a broad range of energies, especially those in the visible range. Does that help? I’m afraid I don’t know of a good text that explains all this particularly well.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 25 Jan 2012 @ 9:11 PM

  305. Mark, there’s some technical stuff here:

    But in essence, you can think about the (fairly large) proportion of sunlight that is visible light: obviously, some materials pass it easily (air), with some attenuation (water) or hardly at all (rock). Different molecules absorb light of different frequencies in ways that are connected to their internal structure–rather as the note sounded by, say, a harp string will depend upon the length and mass of that string. The details are complicated, and I don’t pretend to understand them in much depth. But one clue is furnished by this fact:

    “In liquids and solids the rotational lines are broad and overlap so that no rotational structure is distinguishable.”

    (That’s from this site:

    In other words, gases, unlike other phases of matter, tend to absorb radiation in very narrow slices of the frequency spectrum. That means that lots of radiation tends to get through. Not so with most solids.

    There’s also some relevant info here:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 26 Jan 2012 @ 12:02 AM

  306. Meeting coming up for the engineers and those who like watching them:

    An attempt for Mark Conley:

    — it’s hard to know how to answer your question without knowing how much math to include, but fortunately I don’t have enough to matter. Any answer without the math is poetry trying to give the flavor of the answer.

    Gas molecules aren’t tightly connected to each other, so the atoms making up each molecule are pretty much shaped by their relationship just to each other, and the atoms can wiggle or spin or stretch a bit but in very specific limits of the way it’s put together. H2O and CH4 are greenhouse gases, when they’re gases. Picture them:

    This might help:

    “Chapter 4. Greenhouse Gases
    … Water, H2O, is a molecule that is bent in its lowest energy state (Figure 4-1)”

    Molecules in a solid aren’t cleanly separated, they don’t mix, they’re anchored where they sit. So the relation between the atoms gets stretched and tugged in every possible way because solids aren’t perfectly smooth.

    The energy from sunlight arrives as chunks of specific sizes (wavelength) called photons.

    A photon can transfer its energy to a molecule by interacting only with some part that is ‘in tune’ with it, and on a solid surface there will always be lots of stretches between atoms that happen to be in tune with any photon coming along in the sunlight. Most of the photons get soaked up, their energy going into whatever bond they were in tune with — which since the atoms in the solid are so tied together by other bonds, just spreads out into all the surrounding atoms/molecules, which spread it further — and it ends up as heat.

    A gas is different. Each bond between the atoms of a molecule has its own tuning possibilities, and only those.

    So a gas will absorb some wavelengths — those it happens to have some part in tune with. And then that energy goes into all possible ways that molecule can wiggle a bit more, spin a bit more, move a bit faster — and it interacts with all the surrounding air molecules in all those ways, heating them up by banging into them.

    The ‘greenhouse gases’ aren’t intercepting most of the sun’s energy, which goes straight through. When sunlight hits a solid, it mostly turns into heat in the solid.

    Now the solid is radiating — at the temperature it averaged out to. It’s not warm enough to radiate visible light, it’s radiating lower energy photons, infrared.

    The ‘greenhouse gases’ intercept infrared (and bang around warming up the air they’re in).

    I was too rushed to give you a well thought out explanation; that’s off the cuff and seriously gradeschool. I await correction from those who do better.

    Here’s a page that might help, found by pasting your question into Google:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Jan 2012 @ 12:07 AM

  307. but never mind what some guy on a blog says.

    Try a science teacher:

    “The figure (above, right) shows three different vibrational modes of a carbon dioxide (CO2) molecule. The first mode, (a), is symmetric; it is comparable to the vibrational mode of diatomic molecules. The center of mass, and of charge, of the system is not displaced during vibration. However, such is not the case for the other two modes, (b) and (c). In the latter two cases, the “center of charge” moves as the molecule vibrates, creating a “dipole moment”. As explained for the the case of water above, electrons are not shared equally between the atoms in the CO2 molecule, so the molecule is not electrically neutral in all places. As the molecule oscillates, the center of charge moves; from side to side in case (b), and up and down in case (c). A passing electromagnetic “disturbance” (wave, or IR photon) can “excite” such a molecule, causing it to vibrate and transferring energy from the photon to the molecule. This is the mechanism by which greenhouse gases absorb energy from infrared photons.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Jan 2012 @ 12:11 AM

  308. #306-7–I was tempted to write “Mmm, tasty!” but will go with “Nice job!” instead.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 26 Jan 2012 @ 12:37 PM

  309. DotEarth has a new article on the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund.

    Amongst the commenters is one Bob Austin:

    “What are the chances of Climate Science Defense Fund helping Dr. Tim Ball defend against the suits initiated by Dr. Mann and Dr. Andrew Weaver? Dr. Ball is a genuine climate scientist but I suspect his “denier” credentials will rule out any assistance. So lets be truthful, the fund is intended for assisting AGW proponents only.

    “It appears that the major part of the fund will be spent assisting public funded scientists to stymie freedom of information requests.”

    (my apologies – a long while back I heard Austin had been persuaded to reconsider but it turned out he did no such thing. Probably his cronies (Happer et al.) weaned him back.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 26 Jan 2012 @ 4:14 PM

  310. “Tim Ball is no climate expert, and this has been admitted in a court of law.”

    (with extensive citations) by David Appell at

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Jan 2012 @ 4:39 PM

  311. thanks RAY, KEVIN, and HANK, this is my 9th attempt at posting this!
    i have copied and pasted and am now doing my best with posts and references,
    all the best,

    Comment by mark conley — 26 Jan 2012 @ 8:56 PM

  312. those reCAPTCHA’s are extremely difficult to read, as frustrating as using O’s 0’s I’s and 1’s in passwords etc

    Comment by mark conley — 26 Jan 2012 @ 8:59 PM

  313. Keep clicking the little circling-arrows icon to get a fresh Captcha; one of them will be readable.

    (As to readability, my theory is that the poor AI tasked with displaying that stuff often can’t read it, and the OCR software couldn’t read it, and likely nobody human prescreens it for us (grin). And I could be imagining the AI.)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Jan 2012 @ 10:51 PM

  314. Mark Conley,

    suggest in future you save your material elsewhere (a text box works well and is easy, Wordpad on PC is around but you have to find it on later machines, Textedit on Mac, i think) when you post.

    You need only get one of the captcha words correct, and if there are symbols you shouldn’t try to type them, also forget about case. Needn’t make it any harder on yourself than necessary.
    Sorry about duplicating the link, typos as usual. My various rebuttals about Tim Ball and the rest of it are in moderation, which may take a while. That link is great, with specific court wording, may come in handy.
    On another topic, Neven has a copy of a lovely video from NASA on how northern ocean currents are being altered in this article:

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 26 Jan 2012 @ 11:06 PM

  315. #306-7 is the correct answer, but it might help to say the molecules are too tightly packed in solids until someone brings up mercury.

    Instead of thinking energy as frequencies one might say IR needs more wiggle room so it collides with gases. This works with X-rays that need so little wiggle room that they pass through solids. But then there are auroras. The excuse here would be they give out light so they must have another origin than the Greenhouse Effect.

    But really, #306-7 is what happens.

    Comment by jyyh — 26 Jan 2012 @ 11:46 PM

  316. #309–Mr. Austin really should try to keep up; the probability of assistance in the suit brought by Dr. Weaver is precisely zero, since as I wrote in November of 2010, Dr. Ball retracted his libelous statements, apologized to Dr. Weaver, and paid an undisclosed sum.

    Apparently he decided his statements were indefensible in court.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 27 Jan 2012 @ 8:09 AM

  317. #309, and my as-yet unmoderated response–

    Apparently, I’m the one who needs to keep up. I was referring to the 2010 lawsuit involving the Free Press, not this one:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 27 Jan 2012 @ 8:35 AM

  318. For Mark Conley
    An animated version here (choose “Photon absorption” sheet):
    But maybe it is too simple. Explanations given above are better.

    Comment by MS — 27 Jan 2012 @ 8:54 AM

  319. 315: Your remarks are unhelpful. Hank did a great job in 306-7. Why are they unhelpful? “IR needs more wiggle room so it collides with gases” is simply incoherent. It matters a great deal that IR excites specific (vibrational) modes of gases and that diatomic molecules like O2 and N2 do not possess these modes. Consequently IR would pass unhindered through an atmosphere consisting of only O2 and N2. It is this fact that makes CO2, an atmospheric “trace gas”, play a crucial role in setting atmospheric temperature. If CO2 were not a trace gas our puny releases of ~30GT (gigatons) per year would be irrelevant. For example, If instead of CO2 we released 30GT of N2 per year there would be no news, no denialists, no RC. If that were the case, after a thousand years we would have increased the concentration of atmospheric N2 by one part in 100,000. No such luck; we are increasing the concentration of CO2 at a rate of about .005 parts per year (and the rate is increasing).

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 27 Jan 2012 @ 10:44 AM

  320. #319–“If CO2 were not a trace gas our puny releases of ~30GT (gigatons) per year would be irrelevant. . .”

    Yep. Thank you.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 27 Jan 2012 @ 11:34 AM

  321. The Wall Street Journal walked this out in today’s paper. I follow you guys everyday and would like a short critique about the article. Some of them like Lidzen and Kininmonth have been mentioned from time to time but I’m not familiar with most.

    Comment by Dale — 27 Jan 2012 @ 12:16 PM

  322. Sorry, here is the link to what I was writing about.

    Comment by Dale — 27 Jan 2012 @ 12:24 PM

  323. Has anyone seen the op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today by “16 distinguished scientists”? What about their claims? Same old? I notice Richard Lindzen is among the signers.

    Comment by Dave Erickson — 27 Jan 2012 @ 1:09 PM

  324. Mark Conley,
    I found a reference in my library that does very nearly exactly what you want. Unfortunately, it is written at the level of a graduate text.

    It starts by treating atoms, then molecules, and then interacting molecules in a liquid or solid. It looks like a great book, but you’d need abut 4-6 semesters of quantum theory to comprehend it. I’ll keep looking

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 27 Jan 2012 @ 2:13 PM

  325. Dale, Yup, they got the whole chorus. Frankly, I wouldn’t train a puppy on the Wall Street Urinal any more.

    I see nothing new in the piece. No evidence. No facts. Just name dropping and baseless assertions–about what you’d expect from the denialati.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 27 Jan 2012 @ 2:16 PM

  326. #325–Hadn’t realized Burt Rutan was part of that crowd. . . oh well.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 27 Jan 2012 @ 3:09 PM

  327. About once a year or five, I happen to read extracts from WSJ editorial pages. Then I take a shower. This particular lump of excrement goes roughly like this:

    Para 1: It’s not bad. Nothing major needs be done.
    Para 2: Waa! How dare APS ignore us cranks ?!
    Para 3: We claim that the number of us cranks is growing.
    Para 4: No warming for 10 years, Trenberth said “travesty,” feedbacks don’t amplify.
    Para 5: Misinterpret 22 yr old model, claim that increasing numbers of extreme weather events are no cause for alarm.
    Para 6: CO2 is good for plants. Crop yeilds rose due to CO2.
    Para 7: The number of cranks is secretly growing. Climate cabal suppressing free speech.
    Para 8: Lysenko!
    Para 9: Lysenko, gulag, death !!!
    Para 10: We’re still mad about the APS attitude toward us cranks! They must be in it for the money and the cocaine and the strippers.
    Para 11: Huge bureaucracies, rising taxes. Lysenko!
    Para 12: We cranks can’t understand the science. Therefore nothing needs be done.
    Para 13: Misinterpret Nordhaus. Our free markets are glorious. And more CO2 might be good !
    Para 14: More research needed. Climate always changes. Nothing needs be done.
    Para 15: We don’t really hate the environment. APS are alarmists. We’re still mad at them.
    Para 16: We are unashamed enuf to list our names, together with affiliations.


    Comment by sidd — 27 Jan 2012 @ 3:52 PM

  328. A friend of mine told me that “a scientist who had come back from Russia” told her that fires are burning deep under the ground in Russian coal mines. She claimed that these fires give off more CO2 than all of China.

    I said I had never heard of that. I also asked how fires would burn deep in the ground without oxygen.

    This person is often telling me denialist talking points, but I had never heard this one before.

    Does anyone have a clue what she might be talking about?

    I know they had all the forest fires, and perhaps some peat was on fire, but were coal mines deep in the ground on fire?

    Comment by Snapple — 27 Jan 2012 @ 6:28 PM

  329. Here is a link about a cavern in Darvaz, (Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan depending on who you believe) that had gas in it so they set it on fire to keep gas from going into the air. It has been burning for decades.

    Supposedly it is in the Karakum desert.

    Comment by Snapple — 27 Jan 2012 @ 6:43 PM

  330. Here is something in Wikipedia.

    Comment by Snapple — 27 Jan 2012 @ 6:46 PM

  331. I know that Gavin et al at Real Climate have more interesting things to do than to respond to something like the WSJ op-ed. However, this one was addressed “to the candidates”. Although you can argue that it’s only throwing red meat to the base by WSJ and that there is no journalistic integrity whatever there, it might at least be interesting to see if they would publish a rebuttal. Just a thought.

    [Response: Anyone who thinks that the WSJ Op-ed page has any journalistic integrity simply hasn’t been paying attention. This goes way back before the Murdoch takeover. As a statement of science this letter is laughable, but as a study in denialist rhetoric it is worth looking at carefully. – gavin]

    Comment by Dave Erickson — 27 Jan 2012 @ 8:34 PM

  332. Snapple – Underground coal fires aren’t so unusual – there’s at least one in Pennsylvania, and one in Germany, and one in Canada, and in Australia one has burned for thousands of years, enough oxygen is always available. None of them makes human generated CO2 negligible regardless of denialation.

    Comment by flxible — 27 Jan 2012 @ 8:52 PM

  333. Dave Erickson : I don’t think this is one for RealClimate, more one for Climate Progress? There’s really no science in it, apart perhaps from the old “no warming recently” theme which they must know is in its final days.

    Comment by Cugel — 27 Jan 2012 @ 9:01 PM

  334. Snapple @ 328-29 Long-lived coal fires have also occurred at coal mines in Pennsylvania, and probably other places I don’t know about. However, they can only produce as much CO2 as there is oxygen to burn, and the supply is pretty limited underground with no mechanical ventilation. Contrast that to one coal-fired power plant fed a continuous diet of finely ground coal and sufficient air for (nearly) complete combustion, and it’s not hard to see that underground mines fires aren’t a big source of CO2. The big problems are after the coal is mined!

    Comment by John Pollack — 27 Jan 2012 @ 10:16 PM

  335. Snapple @328 — Coal seam fires, sometimes called coal field fires occur in many locations around the globe. Australia, China, Indonesia, India and the United States come immediately to mind. These are smoldering fires, somewhat similar to the still glowing coals in the ashes of a camp fire the next morning. Such fires can burn for many centuries as witnessed by a lightning(?) started fire in Australia. Coal seam fires are almost impossible to extinguish; the Chinese celebrated a great success in stopping one which had been bunring for well over a century in a coal mine, thought to have been accidently started by coal miners preparing their dinner,

    I suppose that dried peat can smolder in much the same manner, but I’ve seen no papers on that. In any case, China now consumes in excess of 2 gigatonnes of coal per annum and I doubt that peat fires in Russia are that extensive, although that is only opinion on my part.

    An estimate, from China, suggest that all the world’s coal seam fires contribute about 1–2% of the excess CO2 added to the atmosphere each year. That estimaete did not include peat fires.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 28 Jan 2012 @ 1:05 AM

  336. #331, I actually felt sorry for them, how embarrassing to sign your name to that load of drivel, and the old tasteless,odorless and weightless, according to our parliament opposition leader, irrelevance in 2012 is quite sad really.Dads army of denial.

    Comment by john byatt — 28 Jan 2012 @ 6:37 AM

  337. Snapple @328
    The famous coalmine fire (famous enough to have its own wiki page)is surely at Centralia, USA where they had to move the town because they couldn’t put it out. As for emissions from such fires exceeding China’s emissions, that’s just bar room hyperbolising.,_Pennsylvania

    Comment by MARodger — 28 Jan 2012 @ 6:54 AM

  338. #328-330–Snapple, coal seam fires are a real phenomenon, but hardly unique to Russia; there are estimated to be 200 burning in the US, the most famous of which, the Centralia fire, has been burning since 1962.

    “Global coal fire emission are estimated to include 40 tons of mercury going into the atmosphere annually, and three percent of the world’s annual CO2 emissions.”

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 28 Jan 2012 @ 7:05 AM

  339. @321-323 &@327.
    I note the two US Academic Advisors to the GWPF are among the 16 who signed the WSJ message. Having been in close proximity (too close probably) of GWPF pronouncements recently, this WSJ message does seem to be of the same ilk – brave words, zero substance.
    Note how they convert Kevin Trenberth’s “…lack of (measured) warming at the moment…” into “…well over 10 years…” Also they ignore C4 grasses that evolved when CO2 was lower than today, plants that are not a small part of the carbon cycle. So not bad. Two substantive comments in the same article, both dodgy.
    A first installment of my take on the truly incredible GWPF has bee posted up at:-

    Comment by MARodger — 28 Jan 2012 @ 7:10 AM

  340. Hadn’t realized Burt Rutan was part of that crowd

    Then I can safely guess you are not a hard core space cadet. They harder they come, the harder they fall. They are notoriously anti-science when it comes to global warming, climate change and the cost and realism of their space ideas. The part about carbon dioxide being a safe, colorless, odorless gas is particularly amusing considering Schmitt’s and Rutan’s experience with closed and cramped space capsules and cockpits flying in a vacuum.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 28 Jan 2012 @ 10:35 AM

  341. Big Oil’s lobbying dollars earn 5800%.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 28 Jan 2012 @ 4:30 PM

  342. Gavin et al, I understand your reticence to dignify drivel like the WSJ piece with a response. However, two considerations this year: 1) In Republican presidential politics, it has become a requirement to dismiss climate science as a hoax; 2) policy action on carbon emissions mitigation has come to a halt in the US because of the acceptability of above dismissal. I find this accusation by elected officials to be tantamount to a charge of scientific fraud against the research community that is taken seriously by the body politic. I think it would be interesting to take up this accusation, which is being abetted by the authors of the WSJ piece. I don’t think elected officials really understand how serious the charge of scientific fraud is. How do you, as a serious research scientist respond to such a charge? That response would be really interesting to see in the WSJ, or the NYT or the Wash Post. The purpose would be to show the general public how truly ludicrous the WSJ op-ed and its ilk really are.

    Comment by Dave Erickson — 28 Jan 2012 @ 9:46 PM

  343. #340–Rodger that.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 28 Jan 2012 @ 11:25 PM

  344. just looking at last year model update IPCC AR4 20C3M + SRES A1B

    worked out that SRES A1B, most likely special report emissions scenario A1B, what exactly does 20C3M translate to? tks

    Comment by john byatt — 28 Jan 2012 @ 11:39 PM

  345. I don’t think elected officials really understand how serious the charge of scientific fraud is.

    They (or at least those who are in the Majority in the House) don’t care.

    How do you, as a serious research scientist respond to such a charge?

    I’m not a serious research scientist, just a serious software engineer, but the answer is: you’ can’t, in any meaningful way. If you support mainstream science, you’re a “liberal” and that’s that. That’s the beauty of what has happened politically the last few years, it’s not science, but ideology that matters.

    That response would be really interesting to see in the WSJ

    Won’t happen, they have a history.

    , or the NYT or the Wash Post.

    The Republican Base won’t read either of these.

    Comment by dhogaza — 29 Jan 2012 @ 12:03 AM

  346. Here’s an alternative to Google Scholar — a bit slower, but it’s not Google:

    found here:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Jan 2012 @ 12:15 AM

  347. And it’s also a publishing tool for science data:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Jan 2012 @ 12:17 AM

  348. Study explains why it’s useless to argue with climate deniers

    Believing the impossible and conspiracy theories

    M. J. Wood, K. M. Douglas, R. M. Sutton. Dead and Alive: Beliefs in Contradictory Conspiracy Theories.Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2012; DOI:10.1177/1948550611434786

    Full PDF here:

    Comment by Rick Brown — 29 Jan 2012 @ 1:19 AM

  349. # 344 found it using science kit

    Comment by john byatt — 29 Jan 2012 @ 4:12 AM

  350. #348–a flash of humor from Science Daily: “Since Osama bin Laden is not Schrodinger’s cat, he cannot be simultaneously alive and dead.” (Wait, have we measured that?)

    But Mr. Monckton has expressed views implying that it is both warming and not-warming simultaneously on the same timescales, and that’s just the most obvious example of internal contradiction from Team Denialati. It does bring to mind the phrase “six impossible things before breakfast.”

    Fortunately, this does, over time, tend to invoke the Voltaire effect: “I prayed that my enemies be ridiculous, and my prayers were answered.”

    (Apologies for pervasive misquoting by memory.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 29 Jan 2012 @ 8:39 AM

  351. RickBrown @348 – I think this study points at a more “basic” reason that arguing with denialators is useless. Goes a long way toward explaining rebublicat attitudes towards science in general.

    Comment by flxible — 29 Jan 2012 @ 10:45 AM

  352. > the WSJ op-ed
    For Dave Erickson:
    “The Rise of the Dedicated Natural Science Think Tank …

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Jan 2012 @ 11:23 AM

  353. Coal seam fires are an ancient phenomenon, about which books have been written: Geology of coal fires: case studies from around the world

    Clinker beds, the hard-baked sedimentary layers adjacent to burned-out coal seams, can be seen in North Dakota’s badlands, among other places.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 29 Jan 2012 @ 12:27 PM

  354. If anyone has a link (or a file, email is on the graph’s link below) for the NOAA’s Atlantic Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index, which would help to evaluate the ‘Atlantic Hurricane probability index’. Currently the ‘probability index’ is only indicative and if evaluation is positive it may be of some value.

    Comment by vukcevic — 29 Jan 2012 @ 5:11 PM

  355. Was the Little Ice Age triggered by volcanoes? Abrupt onset of the Little Ice Age triggered by volcanism and sustained by sea-ice/ocean feedbacks.

    Press release.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 30 Jan 2012 @ 8:36 PM

  356. In the NASA report the other day they show a .71 degrees rise in temperature since 1880 with some degree of uncertaint­y in those temps. While listening to the radio I heard one of the deniers claim that it’s not enough to account for the elevated co2 levels.

    I’ve been searching this site and Skeptical Science on an article that would explain what the facts really are. Would anyone have a link?

    [Response: Not quite sure what you heard, or from who, but the elevated CO2 levels (40% increase over pre-industrial levels) are from anthropogenic burning of fossil fuels combined with mainly-tropical deforestation. They are not elevated because of the global temperature increase. There is long-term carbon cycle feedback to temperature seen in the ice core record but that is on the order of ~10-20 ppm/deg C over hundreds to thousands of years, so can’t possibly account for a 110 ppm rise in 150 years. – gavin]

    Comment by Dale — 31 Jan 2012 @ 7:32 AM

  357. Gavin, the point he was making was that with those elevated CO2 levels we should be hotter than we are now. He said something to the effect that something was mitigating the affects of the co2 or we don’t have a good understand­ing of the science.

    I had never heard this claim and was wondering if anybody else had.

    [Response: Ah.. that’s more standard. But the issue is that climate doesn’t only respond to CO2, and it doesn’t respond instantly. There are multiple drivers of climate change and particularly over the 20th Century, it gets complicated – there are other greenhouse gases (CH4, N2O, CFCs), ozone changes, solar changes and volcanoes. However, the most important in this question is the aerosol forcing which has been a net cooling over the 20th C. This is not as well understood as the greenhouse gases, so the net forcing is a more uncertain, but it is almost certainly true that the net forcing is less than the impact of the main greenhouse gases, and it may be true that net forcing is less than CO2 on it’s own (best guess is that they are comparable). But then you have to take the ocean inertia into account which means that planet takes decades to hundreds of years to reach equilibrium. So if someone claims that the temperature change from CO2 forcing (110ppm extra is around 1.7 W/m2) should have been 3 * 1.7/3.7 = 1.4ºC (estimated from the equilibrium climate sensitivity of 3ºC for a doubling of CO2 = 3.7 W/m2), then they are guilty of ignoring the interia and the additional forcings. – gavin]

    Comment by Dale — 31 Jan 2012 @ 8:23 AM

  358. A good reminder at Azimuth, John Baez’s blog: How to Cut Carbon Emissions and Save Money
    27 January, 2012

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 31 Jan 2012 @ 9:27 PM

  359. Nice to see the response to the WSJ’s previously noted goofiness – too bad that the comments make it clear that in large measure it was preaching to the unconvertible, but it might reach a few. Kudos to the RC contributors.

    Comment by flxible — 31 Jan 2012 @ 11:55 PM

  360. In

    Hansen et al. New Climate dice, Figure 4, exhibit distributions over 60 years of local temperature anomalies scaled by local standard deviation.

    the following URL

    contains precipitation data. I attempt the same analysis as in Fig 4. of Hansen, i attempt to calculate local precipitation anomaly scaled by local standard deviation.

    I get skewed distributions. Is this real or have i erred somewhere ?


    Comment by sidd — 1 Feb 2012 @ 1:24 AM

  361. Re sea level rise:

    My coauthor and I are now putting the finishing touches on our introductory survey of sea level rise. I’ve asked this question before but now it seems worthwile for me to ask it once again — one last time before the ms. goes off to the publisher —

    If anyone has any NEW thoughts about future black swan events causing sea level rise, I’d like to hear them.

    Comment by Hunt Janin — 1 Feb 2012 @ 1:59 PM

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