RealClimate

Comments

RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Extreme Ice Survey makes a good case that we do not need to be film makers and that collaboration between the scientists in this case people like Jason Box, OSU and Tad Pfeffer at CU help James Balog place cameras that do not just inform people of the dynamic nature of glaciers responding to climate change, but also in acquiring the time lapse images capture data that is useful. One of my favorite videos of the program ishttp://www.vimeo.com/2637775 at vimeo they have good footage, that is easier to view I think than at their website
    http://www.vimeo.com/2637775
    This work can be viewed in contrast to time lapse I have acquired over the last 26 years, which certainly lacks the impact and does not convey motion. http://glacierchange.wordpress.com/

    Comment by mauri pelto — 16 Sep 2009 @ 7:59 AM

  2. What an important issue. I am an engineer by trade so only indirectly can relate.

    As many in science and application fields can atest – America has a distaste for
    things intellectual. Just as the A-student is mocked in high school, the scientist
    is mocked by Joe 6-pack. Add to that the fact that science has some pretty
    disconcerting news for those who don’t want their lives to change (drive a big
    truck, eat steaks, etc).

    There are ways to get to many of these people, except the ones who deny on
    religious grounds. Scientists study fields like climate change because of its
    implications, at least in part. So if science wants to participate in
    mitigation, then it follows that effective communication to those who need to
    know (i.e. those who vote) is a paramount set in the process.

    This site plays a part in the process – a very important part. But it
    will not attract Joe 6-pack.

    Comment by james wheaton — 16 Sep 2009 @ 8:27 AM

  3. James Wheaton
    I think you would lose most of the American public if you are going to tell them
    that they cannot drive a big truck or eat steaks anymore. I think there is room
    to sell environmentally friendly improvements in lifestyle without mandating
    everyone be a vegan and drive a two seat electric car.

    Keep in mind that those that are older are a very large group of voters and
    they are most reticent to make changes. People still smoke cigarettes despite
    all the evidence, getting someone to give up steak will fall on a lot of
    deaf ears.
    Thanks
    William

    Comment by William — 16 Sep 2009 @ 9:12 AM

  4. Glad to see you give a nod to Greg Craven, I have often used his videos to counter the argument that there are no good science teacher’s left in american schools.

    Comment by Alan of Oz — 16 Sep 2009 @ 9:17 AM

  5. Fwiw, I published my educational Spore Galactic Adventure, Global Warming Fix last month (low-res trailer here). Haven’t had a lot of plays, though, so can’t judge its effectiveness yet.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 16 Sep 2009 @ 9:19 AM

  6. Thanks for posting this. I think the communication gap between scientists and mainstream voters and consumers is an immense problem, and we need to find ways to close it, ASAP.

    I agree that the solution is NOT to try to turn every scientist into a top-notch writer or video director or combination researcher/stand up comedian. Speaking as a long-time writer who’s tried to reach that same audience in science and technical fields for decades, I think that that approach would make no more sense than trying to turn tech writers, like me, into true scientists. It might be entertaining, in a “driving by the car wreck” sort of way, but it wouldn’t be productive.

    The solution is in collaboration. I routinely did this kind of thing when I worked for various computer magazines. Company X comes out with a Belchfire 9000 model in their line of gizmos, and it’s my job to write a short “explainer” article about it. So X puts me in touch with (you guessed it) one of the engineers who developed the product, and I have to ask a lot of questions, take copious notes, and then translate it into mainstream English and also bridge the features/benefits gap. In other words, I had to explain to my readers why the Belchfire 9000 was not just New and Improved, but what the technical changes meant to them in the real world. (In some cases, the answer to that last part was “a lot”, and in others it was “not at all, ignore this product”.)

    I’m not sure how we pursue this approach. Do we need the equivalent of an online dating service that matches up writers (or directors or …) and scientists for one-off projects or ongoing work? I think something like that could actually work, as long as the whole process was sufficiently transparent and accountable.

    Comment by Lou Grinzo — 16 Sep 2009 @ 9:23 AM

  7. “…this points to enhanced cooperation among communicators and scientists as the dominant model we should be following.” Exactly. I’m co-founder of artistascitizen.org; we direct creative students and recent graduates to real world issues, in the brief period of their lives before they get paying jobs where they largely learn how to sell you sneakers and other items. As a group, they are the fastest to develop new ideas, and of course the most invested in the future.

    Recently we set creative students the task of describing the risk from climate change, as framed in IPCC and MIT reports. Four finalists were selected by Ji Lee, creative director at Google Creative Lab, and they are now up on Dot Earth, where readers can vote for the winner. (The prize, from us, is $2000.)

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/14/vote-on-climate-art-beyond-embers/

    Here’s one entry for review, a short film from an NYU undergrad who chose MIT projections as his resource:

    http://www.vimeo.com/6241551

    Thoughts and comments from scientists and researchers very much appreciated. If the NYT comments system is jammed, comments can be sent directly to Dot Earth: dotearth@nytimes.com

    (Our contact info: contact-aac@artistascitizen.org)

    Comment by Richard Reiss — 16 Sep 2009 @ 9:40 AM

  8. I think the exchange between William and James Wheaton just demonstrated some of the challenges in communicating science.

    James is right about the examples he gave – “driving big trucks” and “eating steaks.” The meat industry actually generates more greenhouse gases than personal transportation. It was poorly communicated, but people don’t need to give up eating steak (beef). What needs to be given up is the notion that meat is an every-meal sort of food. We should probably set a goal to cut back to 1 to 3 times per week. (My opinion: best way to do it is via carbon cap and trade, let the market price sort out people’s eating habits.)

    As for “driving a big truck,” William immediately jumps to two-seat electric car as the alternative. However, this is really a fallacy of the forgotten middle. We have the technology for decently sized, useful cars that achieve much better mileage and emissions performance. We can also invest in public transportation, helping reduce SOV (single occupancy vehicle) transportation use of cars, which really is pretty wasteful.

    What should hopefully be visible is that the politicization of climate science has made people jump on sound bites. One person hears “no more steak” and the debate shuts down. We have to better communicators, but we can’t keep blaming the mouth. We need to be better listeners as well.

    Comment by Greg — 16 Sep 2009 @ 9:46 AM

  9. As many in science and application fields can atest – America has a distaste for things intellectual. Just as the A-student is mocked in high school, the scientist is mocked by Joe 6-pack.

    Yes, I moved away from the state in which I was born because education wasn’t valued if it wasn’t an MBA.

    And James Wheaton makes a good point. You can’t take something away from humans. They don’t like it. This is the crux of the problem, as we run up against the wall and earth’s resources stop giving freely. Wilson’s ‘bottleneck’, if you will.

    Best,

    D

    Comment by Dano — 16 Sep 2009 @ 9:53 AM

  10. It’s such a treat to see Greg Craven getting the attention that he deserves. I’m pursuing a doctorate in marketing and take it from me, there are a lot of scientists that should read his book. The basic thing that most scientists tend to overlook is that if you teach people HOW to think instead of WHAT to think (eg. “Don’t drive big trucks…”) they will figure things out for themselves.

    Comment by Mats Frick — 16 Sep 2009 @ 10:09 AM

  11. FTFA: “Don’t be so unlikeable (i.e. don’t play to the stereotype of the arrogant, dismissive academic or the nerdy absent-minded scientist). ”

    How about the dismissive stereotype of the denialist?

    FAR worse than even me.

    Comment by Mark — 16 Sep 2009 @ 10:37 AM

  12. So, what, should we do what the medical profession has done for years, and now mathematicians (“Numb3rs”) and have a TV weekly called “geophyz1ci5ts”?

    Comment by Jan Theodore Galkowski — 16 Sep 2009 @ 11:04 AM

  13. Mike, Gavin:

    Excellent review, thanks for the heads up on these books. And a big tip o’ the cap for having the machse to own up to past instances of being “such a scientist”, something most of us trying to engage the public have done to various degrees in the past, notwithstanding the conscious desire not to.

    “But as our friends and colleagues are all too painfully aware, ‘tell us all you know’ is another request one should never make of a scientist.”

    :) I can see that mannequin look now..

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 16 Sep 2009 @ 11:07 AM

  14. I can sympathise with your dilemma. However, if you go solely down the ‘mockumentary’ route, you might destroy much of your value. I value Realclimate precisely because it is ‘cerebral’ in that in that you do set out to give a good explanation of the basic science and provide signposts to more advanced sources (such as Ray Pierrehumbert’s book on climate science and Spencer Weart’s site on the history of global warming).

    The Al Gores of this world do a good job at the ‘popular’ level. I think you should stick to your ‘niche’ market. Nobody else does the job as well as you do.

    Best Wishes
    Rod

    Comment by Rod Evans — 16 Sep 2009 @ 11:18 AM

  15. “he basic thing that most scientists tend to overlook is that if you teach people HOW to think instead of WHAT to think (eg. “Don’t drive big trucks…”) they will figure things out for themselves.”

    Nope, when teaching science, it’s important to teach people how to think.

    But the national curriculum in the UK is all “how to pass exams in five easy lessons”. And the US has similar problems with their targets for “no child left behind”.

    And, to be honest, neither the government nor the movers-and-shakers in commerce want people to know HOW to think, they want people who can be TOLD what to think.

    And Faux News is a brilliant example of that in action.

    Marketing want dumber customers.

    A great example of how marketing MAKES dumb is the film “Mission Impossible”. MI2 was COMPLETELY different in tone. Why? One of the complaints for the first film was “It’s too hard to follow”. I.e. you didn’t know who the bad guy was until the movie was more than half over. So in MI2, you know the bad guy before the credits roll.

    Dumbed down because they don’t want to alienate the dumb among the populate.

    Hit the lowest common denominator and you get the best ROI.

    Hit slightly above that and you lose more people than you gain. That this method RAISES the general intelligence doesn’t register: there’s no profit line entry for it.

    Comment by Mark — 16 Sep 2009 @ 11:19 AM

  16. > The solution is in collaboration

    Yes. Through the layman’s eyes, what’s important is knowing (being readily able to distinguish) which sites reflect expert opinion vs which are disinformation – and when Climate Central and Heartland use nearly the same words to describe their offerings, words won’t cut it. And just being a communicator won’t either, since anyone with deep pockets can hire a herd of them.
    But if a communicator _is_ allied with folks who _are_ empirically-verifiable experts, and can show it, that will enable the audience to grant them credibility.

    We need to saturate the country with Craven’s work – show it on community TV stations and in other places where it’ll reach beyond the choir. I’ve ordered the DVD (via manpollo.org), but it’d be nice if it were already chopped up into community-TV-friendly 58 minute segments.

    I’d also like to see a site giving a taxonomy of tactics used for disinformation – it’d help to immunize the audience.

    Comment by Anna Haynes — 16 Sep 2009 @ 11:24 AM

  17. So far, this brief note on how climate denialists are similar in their denial to how the people during
    WWII denied anything untoward was happening to the Jewish people in Europe at that time has caused a fuss among the denialists, of course. But Marc Morano was kind enough and just enough to post it on his
    website and here:

    http://northwardho.blogspot.com/2009/09/how-climate-denialists-like-marc-morano.html

    How Climate Denialists Like Marc Morano and Anthony Watts, Jeff Jacoby, too, among other
    well-intentioned by seriously misguided people, See Climate Change
    Evidence and Continue to Deny It is Happening, Inspite of it all

    Comment by Danny Bloom — 16 Sep 2009 @ 11:39 AM

  18. a better link to our experiment:

    http://www.artistascitizen.org/#/burning_embers_competition/

    Suggestions on this or for future collaborations are welcome; contact-aac@artistascitizen.org

    Comment by Richard Reiss — 16 Sep 2009 @ 11:39 AM

  19. Interestingly, in its review of Sizzle, Variety found Pat Michaels to be among films highlights. Perhaps there is something to Pat’s style after all!

    -Chip

    Comment by Chip Knappenberger — 16 Sep 2009 @ 11:46 AM

  20. The posts so far have hinted at the crux of the problem: people don’t change destructive behaviors until they’re hurt. The “Mission Impossible” aspect of AGW is that the point at which we’re all hurt enough to change willingly might not come until the climate system has passed one (or more) tipping points.

    We can communicate cunningly and fetchingly or we can scream until steam vents through a hole at the base of our skulls, but we won’t be able to change human nature.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 16 Sep 2009 @ 11:48 AM

  21. More wisdom from Randy here:
    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/15/a-climate-communication-crisis/

    One bottom line is that the Walter Cronkite norm of journalists handing down news to a passive public is history, and in a world with imploding journalism resources, scientists and their institutions have no choice but to get more engaged in the communications cloud (would be nice to see a “realenergy.org” blog, for instance… : ) Some more on this from Nat Academies meeting: http://j.mp/NASmediaCO2

    Comment by Andy Revkin — 16 Sep 2009 @ 11:55 AM

  22. Well said, Jeffrey Davis, sir!!!!!! [Post no. 17.]

    Exactly,

    Comment by Danny Bloom — 16 Sep 2009 @ 11:56 AM

  23. James Wheaton,
    You know, I’ve gotten into some fairly interesting discussions with Joe Six-pack about science in the past. Yes, there are some who are ineducable. However, there are others who still have curiosity. Look for teachable moments–the halo around the plane as it flies over the clouds, odd weather, the appearance of a blue heron overhead. People love to understand unless they’ve managed to kill off their soul.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Sep 2009 @ 12:28 PM

  24. Scientists are losing the communications battle with the forces of militant ignorance (faith), not just on “climate change” but on pollution issues in general. When the public hears about “climate change” allegedly due to CO2 emissions from their cars and their electric power plants, they are not impressed.

    It is not just the counter-arguments of the denialists that are responsible for the decreasing alarm. The denialists are not winning — the scientists are blowing it with their disdainful attitude and their inept (though accurate) terminology. What better illustration can there be than the term “climate change” itself? The climate is always changing. So what if the average temperature goes up another few degrees? Hair-on-fire retorts about ice ages and other scary results of non-linear dynamics in the atmosphere just don’t motivate like they used to, according to recent poll data.

    The bearer of bad news must accept that his audience will not be pleased to hear what he has to say, so the message must be persuasive as well as merely informative.

    The green team is also failing because they come across as a bunch of unrealistic lunatics. Wind, solar, biofuels, hydrogen, conservation, smart grid, etc. etc. just cannot make a significant impact within the 20 years we have left to bend the curve enough to prevent catastrophe. India and China (and the US) will not give up electric power, which depends, like it or not, on coal.

    Comment by Wilmot McCutchen — 16 Sep 2009 @ 12:43 PM

  25. I am a laymen and I speak to lay people about climate change. I find that “telling a story” is essential to good communication about climate change. I am one of the Al Gore cavalry, but for the last two years I have been telling stories about (a) the history of the people who first theorized about the greenhouse effect, the role of CO2 and the enhancement of that effect due to burning of fossil fuel to create a warming world – and that was just the 19th century! – and (b) that climate change is not a problem, not a fact, and not predictable – that certainly gets people’s attention when they’re expecting to hear from a Gore disciple. (It’s not a problem, because it is a symptom, it’s not a fact as much as a theory – and all the knowledge in human civilization has been built on theory (Newton, Darwin, Einstein – all theorists), and it’s not predictable because what many now think will happen in 2013 was just 10 years ago expected to happen in
    2070 – i.e. the disappearance of ice at the north pole in summer.

    So telling a story in a way that gets people listening is what I have found to be helpful.

    Comment by Andrew McKeon, carbonRational — 16 Sep 2009 @ 12:48 PM

  26. Chip K 11:46 am claims that Variety “found Pat Michaels to be among films highlights.”

    Check what Chip thought he read against what you see for yourself– look at the source. I commend him for citing his source, so people can see for themselves.

    Here’s what I see:

    Variety says:

    “… sound man …. Marion, loudly doubtful about … warming … a real irritant … habitually interrupts … hugely impressed by the assertive, authoritative Patrick J. Michaels ….”

    and

    “skeptics actually begin to win the day, at least onscreen”

    Variety is describing a _character_ in the film who is playing the part of a skeptic, and part of the plot.

    See what you think, when you read it for yourself. Spin?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Sep 2009 @ 12:53 PM

  27. I profoundly disagree with the underlying direction of some of the arguments here. I think we have a culture that seriously understates the importance of science and engineering, right from the very start of sending our children to school.

    Part of this, I fear, is a form of envy; part is a form of inverse snobbery; many just don’t want to accept how vital and basic engineers and scientists are to our modern way of life, and how this is just going to grow and grow. Popularisation and improving communication skills will therefore not – alone – be anything like enough to change this; rather we need a complete cultural shift, that explains from the earliest age how important good science is, how important it is to be sensibly critical, how important it is to understand what is a good argument rather than sophistry or mendacious polemic, and so on.

    I have to be deeply critical about my own work all the time, every damn’ day, about theory, data, algorithms, model simplifications, you name it, in a way most people, in most walks of life, don’t even have to begin to consider, let alone set about devising a method to handle and communicate. The problem is not therefore that scientists are too much like scientists; on the contrary, the problem is much more that it is very, very hard to be a good scientist or engineer, and most people don’t want to expend that effort to get into the mindset that is required, let alone do the basic learning, or acquire the skills to do it.

    Apologies for the rant, please accept that this is only my view – which must also be flawed and incomplete – and that I will accept criticism from all comers on how I could view things more soundly …

    Comment by Nick O. — 16 Sep 2009 @ 1:32 PM

  28. I don’t know how to thank you enough for the link to “Climate Denial Crock of the Week”. The videos are spectacularly good. Watched one, and I just couldn’t stop. Short, focused, content-rich, easy to understand. Wonderful. My church has been looking for some avenue to get the attention of the congregation on this issue. (Because, basically, if you’re not scared spitless about the consequences for our grandchildren’s generation, you’re just not paying attention.) We’ve had little success so far. I believe playing these on a PC stationed in the commons area would not at all be a bad idea, and I will now go pursue that with the author.

    Thank you again RealClimate.

    Comment by Christopher Hogan — 16 Sep 2009 @ 1:36 PM

  29. I’d definitely recommend Greg Craven’s book to younger audiences (maybe also because I had a chance to act as a reviewer on some of the more science-based chapters). He has a clever way of communicating the issues in a way that is accessible, entertaining, and doesn’t lose accuracy.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 16 Sep 2009 @ 1:52 PM

  30. Excellent points Nick (27). Doesn’t matter how slick the message is if the public wants not to care, or to hold on to their preconceptions of the role and nature of science/scientists, or just generally be lazy. We should do our best to communicate well, but it’s hard enough just to do good science (far harder than is recognized by non-scientists) and that is priority #1.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 16 Sep 2009 @ 2:11 PM

  31. You know what’s worse than being arrogant? Being arrogant, right, and willing to rub it in.

    I must say that I have become a little more philosophical lately about the apparent inability of climate scientists to get their message across. I mean, is it really their task to convince those that will not see? Isn’t their task just to lay out the science as plainly as their professional skills allow them to do — and yes, that includes such things as popular writing and summaries for policy makers etc. –, and leave journalism and policy making to those who can fairly be blamed for messing those jobs up? We all know that the real reason why scientists acquire communication skills is in order to write more successful funding applications; nothing as banale as informing the public or influence policy ;-)

    Sure, it must feel bad not being able to get others to do what is clearly necessary. When dealing, e.g., with island nations and all you can do is tell the representatives that, yes, your nation is going to drown, and no, I don’t have the leverage to prevent it. That is the stuff that sleepless nights are made of. But — it’s not your fault. You cannot be blamed. Do what is within your power, lean back and enjoy the ride.

    There’s enough Dr Strangelove in me to look forward to our tribe being proudly vindicated, even by disaster. Around 2040 it should be abundantly clear. My fellow inhabitants of the old folks’ home are going to hear about it!

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 16 Sep 2009 @ 2:13 PM

  32. Mark, just for the record, don’t confuse marketing with public relations. Another thing is that once there’s a pricetag on CO2 marketing will be the strongest ally of the climate cause. I’m not taking offence, I just wanted to get that of my chest. Another good source for the stories that are needed to get the point over is this brilliant article written in 1973:

    http://www.botanischergarten.ch/Discourse/Rittel-Dilemmas-2005.pdf

    I’m doing my bit passing it on to my students.

    Comment by Mats Frick — 16 Sep 2009 @ 2:27 PM

  33. The problem (well, part of anyway) is not with Joe Sixpack.

    The part I will focus on is the scientific culture. I am (was) part of it; I think I have the credentials to speak. Your milage may differ of course.

    The scientific culture has evolved over many years to being one where people with scientific knowledge of something are not usually people who have learned to communicate well. As a result, Joe Sixpack perceives an atttitude of arrogance, of “I’m smarter than you are so shut up and listen.” Go figure. Why do you think he will listen to you? He will, indeed, follow those people who speak his language. Unfortunately many of those voices are on Rage Radio and the Faux News network.

    What can RealClimate.org do about this. For a start — the short article that begins this section and the book references given are very useful.

    But what is also needed is a toning down by some commenters on this site. It costs nothing to be civil — even to one who has posted for the 47th times an old argument long ago refutted. A person convinced against his will — remains of the same opinion still. (name of author not at hand – sorry).

    So when the next person posts here that AGW is a hoax because crows fly west in the winter, give him a civil answer. DON’T answer him by a demand that he produce data to verify his claim. Be more subtle. Hook his adult reasoning power. For instance, you might post “Gee — that’s certainly an argument I’ve not heard before. Tell me more about it.” Or, probably better “I don’t understand your argumant.”

    There are all sorts of variations. It does take more time to compose a civil answer to a poster who you think just doesn’t get it. There are probably those who say it isn’t worth the time. If so, why respond at all? But IF you have time, take it to point him to some relevant data on this site — or others. Gently, with respect.

    I’m sermonizing. I know. But I’m not sorry. Your milage may differ.

    Burgy

    Comment by John (Burgy) Burgeson — 16 Sep 2009 @ 2:40 PM

  34. Then there’s this interesting approach:

    The Climate Mystery

    Four young people arriving in town to report on preparations for a major climate summit in December have disappeared.

    Although it isn’t an actual news story, for young computer users from around the world, the made up story of the four friends will keep them glued to their monitors for the next sixteen weeks as they try to solve ‘The Climate Mystery’ while at the same time learning about climate change and the environment.

    ‘The Climate Mystery’ is a new computer game available for free on the internet as teaching aid for teens in the weeks leading up to the December climate summit in Copenhagen. ‘We wanted to use an engrossing story to capture and maintain interest in on climate issues,’ Christian Fonnesbech, creative director of Congin, the game’s designer, said during its launch yesterday.Each week players will be presented with a new problem they need to deal with in order to solve the mystery. The problems, such as floods and forest fires, should also help them to find the four main characters.
    ‘The Climate Mystery’ draws on ‘altered reality’ – reporting the game’s developments as if they were actual news – to draw players in and hold their attention, according to Fonnesbech. …

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 16 Sep 2009 @ 2:50 PM

  35. #31 Martin
    Very keen insight.
    The great joy of science is to have the best number – first. I think that makes Science a sport.

    Do you ever think we will get science on ESPN?

    Comment by aaron Lewis — 16 Sep 2009 @ 3:09 PM

  36. I’ve been bitching about the scientific delivery of information on global warming for years. In truth, the entire message has been flawed. Instead of preaching sacrifice, the message should have been about progress, and fallacies in writing should have been avoided even though the opposition has been using them. The scientific community allowed itself to be drawn into an old political art. The opposition creates myths and shock comments so that scientists end up spending their time debunking myths instead of talking about the science. Now, scientists have completely taken off their white coats to play in the muddy fallacies alongside the opposition.

    In addition, the entire global warming campaign has been flawed from the beginning. The idea of regulating conduct was doomed to fail, and scientists of all people should have foreseen it. Scientists should have been pushing for progress in technology as the solution instead of the regulation of conduct. People should not have been told to stop driving their v8 car; instead, they should have been told about a new car that is better. Instead of launching a campaign against oil companies, scientists should have promoted a new technology with a message of progress and a better future. People will resist a forced change, but they will embrace a change if they believe it makes their lives more comfortable.

    Comment by EL — 16 Sep 2009 @ 3:27 PM

  37. Amen to what John (Burgy) Burgeson says (#34), but I’d offer some addition to his points. I’m not the Joe Sixpack type (but rather a laywer of 30 years) and I’ve responded on this site (which I read regularly) with the suggestion that there be more debate among those “responsible” persons on both sides of the issue so that non-scientists can see constructive dialogue (argument) for themselves. The last time I posted, my post didn’t make it to the list — hope this one does.

    I realize there are lots of easy targets on the skeptic side (who can be picked apart thoroughly by Real Climate contributors), although the same can be said of the alarmist side (who can be picked apart thoroughly by reputable — yes they exist — representatives of the skeptical side). The problem is the responsibles on each side don’t directly confront in the presence of the non-Joe Sixpack segment of the population who want to see a genuine and constructive confrontation of arguments.

    Frankly, I’m not interested in a comical presentation, nor a re-re-re-rendition of the “basic science of global warming.” I’ve seen enough of that to put me to sleep for a year. What I haven’t seen is something like Gavin Schmidt and John Christy in a well structured (and it can be) debate (or call it something else if you like) about key disagreements that go well beyond the “basic science of global warming.”

    Of course, each representative would do well to consider communicating in an effective way with the audience (not scientists, but not Joe Sixpacks either), but the more important outcome is that responsible people on each side would be respectfully (presumably) confronting the positions of the other in a public forum.

    Side note: I did a find for “Christy” on Real Climate, just to see how much Real Climate contributors had directly dealt with the statements/positions of someone like John Christy. Not much it seems, which suggests Real Climate contributors prefer to deal with quack claims from the skeptic side, just like the most skeptic siders prefer dealing with quack claims from the alarmist side.

    Comment by DVG — 16 Sep 2009 @ 3:29 PM

  38. I enjoyed Olsen’s book, too, but as much for the hubris of Hollywood types as for the foibles of scientists. Hollywood is not nearly as good at storytelling as film industry people seem to think.

    George

    Comment by George Musser — 16 Sep 2009 @ 3:34 PM

  39. What’s actually needed most is not even explaining the science but telling a human story about the expected impacts. In my study of the history of nuclear war images, it became clear that what really made a difference was fictional books, and especially movies and TV productions, that followed a normal family into the catastrophe of a nuclear war. The most brilliant scientific explanation can’t hold a candle to a child dying of radiation…

    When will somebody write a gripping book, movie, etc. that follows an ordinary family into the heat waves, agricultural collapse, swarms of environmental refugees, floods etc. that scientists predict for the late 21st century? Not nearly as easy as it was for nuclear war, since (a) it’s not as spectacular & gruesome, and (b) you’ve got to run the social/technological clock forward into science-fiction-land rather than depicting a contemporary family. Still, that’s the kind of thing that would have genuine meaning for most people.

    Comment by Spencer — 16 Sep 2009 @ 3:43 PM

  40. These books are long overdue as part of the solution to the communication problem that scientists face. I am glad to see that Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt were willing to write this review and take a long hard look at why they and other scientists are losing the battle to the scientific illiterates who are pushing the denialist arguments. But even communication isn’t the whole problem, though it is a big problem. Scientists are dealing with some profound psychological and sociological issues that are keeping them from getting the truth out to the bulk of the population, particularly in the U.S. There are strong psychological blocks to facing the truth on global warming and unfortunately all the rational arguments in the world don’t deal with that psychological reality.

    Lately I have been reading a book called Ecotherapy: Healing With Nature in Mind (Buzzell and Chalquist) that deals with a portion of the psychological issues that affect human responses to global warming. I have come to realize how profoundly many of our psyches are disconnected from the natural world around us.

    Comment by Larry Saltzman — 16 Sep 2009 @ 3:49 PM

  41. I’m not quite sure what you mean by “work” – are you trying to convince people that the past hundred years or so of climate science development is reliable and robust? Or are you pointing to solutions? If the former, they all work a little – but if the latter, they all fail spectacularly.

    Stephen Chu made an interesting point on Jon Stewart when he said that industrialists and environmentalists tend not to work together very well – and the solution to the continuing alteration of our atmosphere is going to have to be a technical solution, in that it will require energy-generating technology on a similar scale to that of the global fossil fuel infrastructure. This will require industrialists, not environmentalists.

    Environmentalists seem to run into a brick wall when it comes to proposing realistic solutions to the fossil fuel problem. The above-mentioned films don’t cover modern solar energy technology in any detail – long scientific explanations about climate change are concluded with a few comments on the need to reform the energy system in some way or other, which is never practically explained.

    What would work is a program for building fossil-fuel free cities and agricultural systems, starting with one as a demonstration project. Make a film about that, and show how each fossil fuel-based process can be replaced by a renewable energy-based process, and you have a convincing film that actually provides a long-term solution to the problem.

    However, due to the fossil fuel industry’s economic and political power, renewable energy has remained largely underdeveloped and progress in energy technology development has been held up overall. For fossil fuel sales-dependent nations and businesses, all that efficiency and renewables do is undercut demand for fossil fuels and drive down prices. Electric cars have a 500% efficiency edge over internal combustion engines, and that means less power used per mile traveled – and assuming energy prices remain constant, that alone would result in an 80% reduction in transportation energy sales.

    For some reason, celebrity filmmakers don’t bother to explain this basic economic fact of life. Even worse, many claim that coal-burning combined with a CO2 capture and sequestration is something other than a fraudulent greenwashing program run by the fossil fuel industry. That leaves them with nothing but a doom-and-gloom story followed up with references to implausible solutions and pleas to “do something.”

    In reality, governments will have to devote as many resources to renewable energy development as they did to fighting World War II if a timely transition is to be achieved, and that will still require a good deal of adaptation to a permanently altered climate.

    For what looks like an example of this altered climate (unusual, at least), see:

    http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/

    “Tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures remain warmer than average in all of the key El Niño monitoring regions and continue to exceed thresholds considered typical of an El Niño event. These conditions are forecast to persist until at least year’s end by most leading climate models.”

    “However unlike previous El Niño events, conditions are also warmer than average in the Coral Sea, off Australia’s northern coasts and in the far western Tropical Pacific, although some cooling has occurred in this latter region over the past fortnight. These regions are typically average to cooler than average during an El Niño event.”

    How is this supposed to fit in with all the curious predictions about “global cooling” based on “negative phases” of, let’s see, the North Atlantic Oscillation (Latif etc.) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (Easterbrook & NASA JPL)?

    Comment by Ike Solem — 16 Sep 2009 @ 3:57 PM

  42. DVG, try this online debate — that what you’re looking for?
    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitalweathergang/2009/03/bob_ryan_earns_praise_debate_c.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Sep 2009 @ 5:05 PM

  43. I’ve got a few thoughts in response to some of the comments here (and thanks to Mike and Gavin for the review of my book, and to all the RealClimate folks for running this very effective blog).

    VARIETY REVIEW WAS BY A SKEPTIC
    I completely agree with Hank Robert’s (Comment #26 above) speculation that the Variety review of my movie, “Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy,” was probably written by a skeptic. It was sort of the good news/bad news for me — “you got a good review in Variety (yay!) but it was written by a skeptic (ugh)”. Its not hard to spot the telltale signs, as you note.

    But that said, I cite the Variety review because it is reflective of the overall sentiments I received from the film world, with the website Cinemasource calling the movie, “Brilliant filmmaking,” and the American Cinematheque inviting me to be on a panel last fall that complimented the movie for managing to hybridize three genres (documentary, mockumentary, and reality). It was an experimental film inspired by “Borat” which even we were surprised with in the beginning when we did an initial experimental shoot to see if the technique of interrupting interviews would work. It did, and that is one of the major novelties of the movie.

    So it doesn’t bother me to cite the Variety review (it would if the film world had been as harsh on the movie as the science world was), and the fact is we’ve had about a dozen university screenings over the past year that have all produced a great deal of laughter followed by excellent panel discussions. And nobody has walked away somehow thinking the movie is an endorsement of skeptics. In fact, one of the lead skeptics in the movie, Dr. George Chillingarian (a.k.a. “Dr. Chill”) stormed out of the premiere at the Outfest Film Festival last summer because he felt the movie was too biased against skeptics.

    More importantly, the film serves a number of purposes. It puts a human face on the potential effects of major climate disaster by SHOWING a sample of the human suffering from Hurricane Katrina rather than just telling, and it puts a human face on six major climate skeptics. You may hate their guts and never want to see who these people are, but for the general public it is a useful thing to present a more three dimensional image of them and let the viewer decide, “Would you buy a used car from these guys?” (you have no reason to fear the answer to this question)

    Lastly, the film ends with a solid pro-climate science and pro-climate action message. But I would also hope that the viewer can pick up on my personal disappointment with the science community and their inability communicate powerfully and effectively the seriousness of the issue. Many of you may answer this with, “Al Gore already did it,” but the fact is, he didn’t. He had two goals — awareness and persuasion. Last fall, quoted in the NY Times he very admirably owned up to what he has accomplished when he said, “I feel, in a sense, I’ve failed badly, because even though there’s a greater sense of awareness, there is not anything anywhere close to an appropriate sense of urgency.”

    STORYTELLING
    If you are interested in the effective communication of climate science I would encourage you to read the third chapter of my book, titled, “Don’t Be Such a Poor Storyteller.” I didn’t target it at the Al Gore movie, but I could have. There was a great story that could have been told with that movie, but perhaps because it was rushed into production (with a feeling of urgency by the filmmakers) it failed to tell a good story. Instead, they resorted to drawing on the character elements of Al Gore, whether or not they related to the story of climate change.

    I may sound like some sort of religious zealot with what I wrote in the third chapter, but the fact is I have had life-altering experiences in realizing the importance of telling a good story in order to communicate to broad audiences, and more importantly in realizing how incredibly difficult and elusive it can be.

    And if you want to get a sense of how important storytelling is, just read the comment above by Andrew McKeon (#25). He is right on the money with what he says. In the second chapter of my book (“Don’t Be So Literal Minded”) I cite a communications theorist who told me the simple principle of, “Arouse and fulfill.” That is exactly what Mr. McKeon is doing when he begins his presentation with what seems to be a pro-skeptic statement. What better technique for arousal. This is the way you begin a good story — with some means of arousal, rather than just launching a cascade of information.

    There is much of the same philosophy in “Sizzle.” It’s a film that is both broad and simple enough to play as a fun comedy for college students, but also very complex at a deeper level in terms of examining how hard it is to communicate information in an age of information overload.

    We will be having the New York City premiere of “Sizzle” on Friday night October 23 as the Closing Night Film of the Imagine Science Film Festival, held in Tishman Auditorium at The New School. I will be there along with three of the cast members. It would be great if all of you can join us and we can discuss this stuff for hours afterwards in some dive bar nearby.

    Comment by Randy Olson — 16 Sep 2009 @ 5:13 PM

  44. 5@Jim, sorry but this movie is way to abstract to base any conclusion about the goal you suggest.

    I don’t know the best way but, you could create your own MMORPG style adventure with something along the lines of this tool http://www.garagegames.com/products/torque-3d

    (let me know if you look for support and ideas) :)

    Best Regards

    Comment by 1234567890 — 16 Sep 2009 @ 5:45 PM

  45. The point of makeing people aware of our climate system is to make them aware of nature – the planet.

    We lost the connection to the soil. This article gives a brief conclusion, why it is so hard to understand for many people, living in todays citys.
    Culture Shock: Living in Ecuador, then visiting an American city
    http://www.naturalnews.com/027016_Ecuador_Vilcabamba_nature.html

    This movie does a great job … as any picture does.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqxENMKaeCU

    It’s stuff like this compared with experience of natures anomalys what change people minds.

    Comment by 1234567890 — 16 Sep 2009 @ 5:59 PM

  46. re 21: “realenergy.org”
    http://www.theoildrum.com

    re 39:
    Someone has apparently made such a movie, premiering next Monday:
    The Age of Stupid
    http://www.ageofstupid.net/

    I’d also recommend a book and a paper:
    C.P. Snow’s _Two_Cultures_
    http://www.amazon.com/Two-Cultures-Canto-C-Snow/dp/0521457300

    Unskilled and Unaware
    http://www.apa.org/journals/features/psp7761121.pdf
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning-Kruger_effect

    My commentary on some factors in the divide:
    1 – the rise of adolescence in grownup years.
    Pre Industrial Revolution, children apprenticed to adults (often their parents at home), and so saw and modeled adult behaviour between real adults in all situations. There were also rituals of adulthood, e.g. now you’re a journeyman, therefore an adult and responsible for your life. Post Industrial Revolution, children went off to school, where the only “grown ups” around are teachers, in a contrived situation. Student cliques spend their time (value) in petty politics, hating the “adults” and other “other’s”, disparaging anything “responsible” and valuing the “bad as I wanna be”. Poof – at age 18 the adolescent is “set free”, with a bit of book learning, but no understanding, and no model of real adult responsibility, no ritual of “you are now responsible (period)”, and thus remains childish/adolescent long after/far more than people used to.
    All the while the sub-adult is distracted by materialist baubles and clinging in the adolescent absolute way to either a fervent dogmatic religion or the counter-phobic reaction to it. So resolving hard issues is as simple as resolving whether it’s better to be a cowboy or a surfer (two high-school cliques) ;-) (e.g. impossible without loss of identity…)

    2 – complexity
    In concert with childishness/adolescence, the complexity of modern life seems too daunting. Rather than see what’s there, it is easier (especially if a clique leader is saying “here, I/we have all the answers”) to ignore the uncertainty/doubt of complexity and blindly follow the simplistic, instead of dealing with a lifetime of always learning (would take some humility, maturity to deal with uncertainty, …).
    That includes many scientists unfortunately.
    http://www.amazon.com/End-Materialism-Evidence-Paranormal-Harbinger/dp/1572246456

    3 – chauvinism
    When agriculture developed, there was now stuff to steal, crime began to pay, and armies eventually evolved to defend/overcome those defenses. Empirical observation: armies work best with one, single point of command, control & authority -> _the_ warrior king. (tactical authority of sub-units aside). _The_ warrior king struggles to deal with emerging complexity, with inefficiencies of non-standardization, with doubts about loyalty, etc. – and so _the_ warrior king promulgates _the_ way of doing things, and so people get used to _the_ singular correct way (period) – or else!. Also, the hierarchical model of management gets entrenched, as does the notion that “if you ain’t fer me, yer agin’ me” -> oversimplified issues: one way or _the_ other. Ultimately, we have today, the “Captains” of industry, fighting a war against the environment and its proponents. A war that in the polemics of war fighting, simply _must_ be fought, to loose is to die horribly, there can be no retreat. “The American way of life is non-negotiable”. Damn the peak oil, full SUV ahead.
    The counter-phobic “no nukes, no windmills, no …” is the same sort of zealotry.

    4 – connection to nature
    As someone else mentioned, people are so removed from nature. Both in the appreciation of the ecological services it provides us, and in the beauty and other non-tangibles such as a sense of interconnectedness.
    Besides, the _Captains_ of industry, in their business as war model, take from nature as cheaply as they can (including using dump space) and try to convince us their baubles are better, and failing that, appropriate nature and charge for access. So many in the consensus have the belief/attitude that nature is yucky, dirty and ought to be conquered/controlled.

    5. Victimism, entitlement
    Having lived in a fool’s paradise powered by cheap fossil fuels, with massive wealth, the incompetent/adolescent have found that by whining and claiming victimization, they can get politicians (adolescent clique meisters) to hand out favours (farm subsidies, cheap gasoline, etc.). To be a victim, one has to convince oneself/others that one really is powerless/hurt to be deserving, so people have intentionally dumbed themselves down as a way of passive-aggressive extortion. The sense of entitlement becomes such a part of identity that anyone talking about climate change/peak oil/population (and thence inferring that the free ride is coming to an end) is deemed a threat to the “victim’s” identity, and thus a dangerous person/enemy/kook.

    Comment by Gary Owens — 16 Sep 2009 @ 6:26 PM

  47. Andy Revkin says

    … would be nice to see a “realenergy.org” blog, for instance… : )

    It exists, and, astonishingly, it and the book have got the author an influential job.

    (Secrets for sale)

    Comment by G.R.L. Cowan, H2 energy fan until ~1996 — 16 Sep 2009 @ 7:22 PM

  48. Hey Randy — re

    Randy Olson says:
    16 September 2009 at 5:13 PM

    Actually you misread what I wrote (grin). This ain’t easy.

    I dunno if the Variety reviewer is a skeptic. Maybe so.

    Chip Knappenberger misstated what was in the review — he made it sound like the reviewer admired Chip’s coworker Pat Michaels — but as I read the review, the reviewer was describing how one of the characters in the movie, played by an actor, was _acting_ impressed.

    At least some of the people on the screen were paid actors acting out a script — we know this. Were they all paid as actors for this, by the way? Who had control over the script?

    http://www.google.com/search?q=Knappenberger+Michaels+“New+Hope”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Sep 2009 @ 7:26 PM

  49. Gavin and Michael, thanks for the nod.

    This is my third attempt at composing a comment here. The first two were way overwritten, so I’ll cut to the chase here.

    The book was my attempt at a game-changing idea that would breakthrough to the unengaged majority of Americans, which is where the game will be won or lost. Over the last two years of obsessive effort (starting with “The Most Terrifying Video,” going through the 7-hour “How It All Ends” video series, and ending with “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?”), I have inadvertently become an expert on Joe Sixpack’s view of the global warming debate.

    You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. So in designing a tool for prying open that 80% of Americans who are disengaged (or skeptical but reachable), I started from “How can I make the water more tempting?” and worked backwards. The book is the very carefully crafted result. It attempts to first engage (“arouse” as Mr. Olson says), then defuse the skeptical reader’s hot buttons, then prepare the reader for being willing to change their mind, then equip them for sorting through the shouting match, then value their own experiences and values, and then give them a template for making their own decision (the last chapter is “Reader’s Conclusion: Some Assembly Required”). In the Appendix, for the reader who has drawn the conclusion that massive action is needed, I give a vision for personal action which Bill McKibben generously praised by writing “the author has actually figured out what actions make sense.”

    I elicited and received feedback in refining the ideas not just from the thousands of comments on my videos, but in varying degrees from James Hansen, Richard Lindzen (in fact, I’m sure our long email conversation was the catalyst for his subsequent article slamming NAS et al. http://arxiv.org/abs/0809.3762 ), Steve McIntyre, Ross McKitrick, Bill McKibben, Joe Romm, Donald Langenberg, Ross Gelbspan, Roger Pielke (both Jr. and Sr.), Mark Lynas, Sir Robert May, Terry Goodkind (his six-page letter would blister your ears!), Richard Muller, Patrick Moore, John Sterman, Chris Colose, and Spencer Weart (both have commented in this thread).

    The result may or may not be effective, but I gave it everything I had, and I’m pretty sure I’ve produced something unique, and of quality.

    I now realize that my big mistake has been in pitching the book wrong.

    All along, I had a very tangible target reader in mind: people who aren’t interested in reading a book about climate change. Soccer moms and NASCAR dads. They are inclined to be skeptical (they’re tired of being told they’re the problem, hostile to intellectuals, and immune from calls of doomsday because they’ve heard them their whole life and they’re still here, right?), but are reachable. They are the 80% of Americans who remain disengaged, but are where the battle—perhaps humanity’s Final Exam—will either be won or lost.

    I knew all along that my target demographic was a lousy marketing choice. (A book on climate change for people who don’t want to read a book on climate change? WTF?) But because it contained the grid, I’d hoped it would hit a nerve and self-propagate, as my “Most Terrifying Video” did. I mean, 7.2 million views of a 10 minute whiteboard lecture on climate change has to be a proof-of-concept for something, right?

    But when I told Michael Tobis (of “Only In It For the Gold”) how puzzled and disappointed I was that nothing had come of me giving copies to several prominent people who’d already been very helpful to me and who had tremendous audiences (such as Bill McKibben and James Hansen), Tobis replied: “It’s an odd book…. I’m not surprised Hansen didn’t know what to do with it.” That’s when I realized my marketing mistake, and finally saw where my book fits in.

    I realize now that the target marketing audience is YOU. The engaged minority. You read it, realize it is a unique tool with the potential to puncture the membrane of indifference that sheaths the unengaged minority, and then you spread its ideas like crazy because you see there’s an outside chance it may blow the whole logjam apart. Maybe you buy tons of copies and hand them out to everyone you know. Maybe you blog about it, and badger every other blogger you know to do the same. Maybe you take the ideas, modifying them, and use them however you best see fit in your own channels. Maybe you use your clout to get the ear of someone in power or with media influence (same thing, on this issue) and get *them* to read it. Or maybe you don’t have access to the heavyweights, so you use your clout to just bump it one level up, and tell them to bump it another level up. Maybe you photocopy it and hand it out on street corners. (Don’t tell my publishers I said that.) I don’t care about sales or attribution or money. Just. Get. The Ideas. Out.

    Having read all the comments above, I sincerely think that the vision of you guys spreading the ideas in the book to break through to the unengaged majority answers all of the concerns and “what to do” questions raised. (But then, maybe I’m just the proverbial guy with a hammer, looking at a world of nails.)

    I’ve got nothing left in terms of energy, will power, or life force from the last two years of sleep deprivation, family deprivation, and Red Bull consumption (two trips to the ER for chest pains is enough—I’m done). My publisher dropped the ball on publicity, and at this point my wife and kids get all of what little life force I have left. I can’t chase this quest any farther. Bluntly put, the book needs a champion. Or, a whole lot of champions.

    So tag. You’re it.

    Gotta go photocopy a test for tomorrow’s class, then get home and feed the kids.

    Hope I didn’t offend with my self-aggrandizing earnestness.

    Cheers,
    Greg Craven

    Comment by Greg Craven — 16 Sep 2009 @ 7:33 PM

  50. Greg Craven’s video series is truly amazing in that it is low-tech and highly engaging. He reframes the question “Are we certain we’re responsible for global warming?” to “Given the risks and uncertainties of global warming, what is the best action to take?” Brilliant. (I can relate to him because I am far from being an expert. I am an avid reader on the subject so I feel I can represent the science that many of you are actively doing in this field.)

    No good can come from finger-pointing away from ourselves. If we do not get the message across to Joe-Six Pack who will be voting for our policy-makers, then all the science in the world may not make a difference (Think the last 8 years in America). WE are responsible for the message and WE must do whatever it takes to communicate.

    When we engage those that are misinformed, we must be courteous and respectful and try to bring the science to the level of the other party. We can do this and still show the data and journal citations.

    WUWT won the Best Science Blog of the Year in 2008. Why? It is flashy, several articles are posted daily so there is always fresh content, and there is a sense of collegiality among the regulars. I post there as one of the few member of the Loyal Opposition and am often a target. Some folks get personal in their replies to my comments. However, there are a few there that are very intelligent, very courteous, and they have data and the occasional journal article to back up their arguments. Many times I take a deep breath before I reply and remember that I must “represent”. If my replies are professional and courteous, I believe the average person will give them the weight that they deserve, even on a site such as WUWT.

    Why do I post there? If this is the most popular place for people to go to get their information, then WE NEED TO BE THERE.

    My favorite blogs are Realclimate, Open Mind (http://tamino.wordpress.com/), and ClimateSight (http://climatesight.org)

    We all know why Realclimate is arguably the best climate blog out there but, as I have said on other blogs, the discussions can be a bit much for the non-scientist. As an example, my wife has an MA History and is a part-time college professor. She would probably have trouble following many threads. Where does that leave Joe Six Pack?

    I love Open Mind for the data analysis but the tone on that site can be harsh. Tamino has no love for ignorance. I cannot fault him on this because it is very frustrating to hear the same lame arguments over and over again. Having said that, Open Mind probably loses some credibility with Joe Six Pack just because of that tone. It is a shame because Tamino is a wizard.

    If you haven’t visited ClimateSight please do so. Kate, a HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT, runs that blog and she is truly amazing! She is a shining example of how the message can be reached by a non-scientist and how this non-scientist can then turn around and educate the rest of the world.

    Stepping down from the soapbox……

    Comment by Scott A. Mandia — 16 Sep 2009 @ 7:52 PM

  51. Gary Owens, in comment #46, has most certainly posed the most succinct and comprehensive assessment of the “problem.” I have yet to read the entire study he links in, “Unskilled and Unaware,” but have seen more than a few articles related to it, some with excerpts. It should be required reading for everyone and I can’t wait to thoroughly examine its content. So, thank you very much Mr. Owen for your comment and conscientious references. However, I must add that those who manage to acquire even the most advanced degrees available in our educational system can find themselves so inculcated into such a narrowly focused specialty as to be equally ignorant of many other facets of life, even those that may be extremely relevant to a more comprehensive understanding of their niche pursuits. Alas, as Mr. Owen seems to allude, our religious, corporate and political “leaders” prefer an ignorant, irrational and highly distractible constituency to manipulate and fleece as they please.

    Comment by Colin Crawford — 16 Sep 2009 @ 7:58 PM

  52. 37 DVG: The legal model is obsolete. Scientists are their own opposition. NATURE is the only authority. Your wish for courtroom drama is not a good idea. What is needed is for everybody to be shown, rather than hearing, experiments rather than arguments.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 16 Sep 2009 @ 8:34 PM

  53. I agree with this article. Science communication is all too often the poor relation to the science itself.

    It’s all about perception, not reality. Politicians, companies and media understand this, scientists often do not. They are, quite rightly, more occuppied with the business of research. The skills in communicating an idea in smple language is the preserve, often, of the salesman.

    Research has shown that telling people to change and why they have to change is not going to get you success. Removing the barriers to change will give you a better chance. To do this you need to convince the decision-makers who can provide incentives for behaviour change.

    Basically, the role of the salesman needs to taken on by someone who has the presence and charisma to charm. Employ an advertsising agency to sell the idea. It all sounds a bit shallow, but its unfortunately the way to spread your message. It is unlikley that scientific integrity will succeed in the time needed, when it’s up against professionals who know how to manipulate the general public’s way of thinking.

    Perhaps this is a bit harsh, but I get fed up with scientists bleating that too few people are listening to them when they can only talk in terms that 80% of the population are unlikely to understand. Engage with communications professionals and learn about the art of selling a message.

    Comment by Phil Matimein — 16 Sep 2009 @ 8:44 PM

  54. Spencer says:
    16 September 2009 at 3:43 PM

    Not nearly as easy as it was for nuclear war, since (a) it’s not as spectacular & gruesome, and (b) you’ve got to run the social/technological clock forward into science-fiction-land rather than depicting a contemporary family. Still, that’s the kind of thing that would have genuine meaning for most people.

    The European heat wave of 2003 is at least partially attributable to global warming. The droughts and fires of Australia are also at least partially attributable to global warming. The fires of southern California and the Rocky Mountains are also partially attributed to global warming. The droughts in Darfur may be partially attributed to global warming.
    All of the above have killed whole families. Any could provide a strong foundation for a narrative about the dangers of global warming.

    Comment by llewelly — 16 Sep 2009 @ 8:55 PM

  55. Gavin, thanks, I’ve added the book to my reading list.

    I wanted to respond a bit to number (10), I think that people learning about science learning how to think not what to think is the key. And of course our fast paced, prepare for as many tests as possible way of teaching simply has no time for this. Another thing I’ve had recommeneded to me, but haven’t yet checked out:
    http://wffnproof.com/inc/sdetail/127
    which is supposed to be a game about propaganda. Supposedly players learn to recognize it, and to become relatively immune. If it can actually accomplish that it would work wonders. I fear that the science of persuasion, as used by the professional spinmeisters has been advancing faster than the realists attempts to combat it. Perhaps this could be one tool for the counterattack?

    Comment by Thomas — 16 Sep 2009 @ 10:09 PM

  56. #12 Jan Theodore Galkowski

    So, what, should we do what the medical profession has done for years, and now mathematicians (”Numb3rs”) and have a TV weekly called “geophyz1ci5ts”?

    LOL. But yeah, why not that too? I hear scientists deprecate science fiction all the time, but personally I wish they’d commandeer that art form and make it their own. What does it say about our culture that it’s becoming increasing difficult to tell the difference between the genres of science fiction and magical fantasy?

    #27 Nick O.

    The problem is not therefore that scientists are too much like scientists; on the contrary, the problem is much more that it is very, very hard to be a good scientist or engineer, and most people don’t want to expend that effort to get into the mindset that is required, let alone do the basic learning, or acquire the skills to do it.

    It would be nice if Americans could appreciate scientists the way that they love ball players or the way that Italians appreciate opera singers. Neither of these areas of expertise, or many others that people revere, are easy either.

    Education is part of the problem. The reality is, though, that many people (and numbers matter here politically) are more in touch with their sensory input channels than they are with the minutiae of mathematics. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is wrong to ignore it.

    PZ Myers had a quote from Feynman not long ago, in part:

    The faith in the value of the subject matter must be sincere and show through clearly.

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/09/how_long_has_this_argument_bee.php

    There was a lot of back and forth on various aspects of his quote. Regardless, it really is important while you’re doing what you do to communicate your love of your subject to your peers, to your superiors (if you have them) and to lay people especially.

    By way of example, Myers’ take on “The Book of Kells” was that the doodads, while interesting, had nothing to do with anything, and so he completely missed the cumulative impact of sumptuous devotion that the book would have had when displayed to an illiterate congregation. I’m not advocating bad PowerPoint presentations, merely suggesting that communication occurs on a number of levels because everything we do is complex and layered. (The Kells text would have been perfectly legible to the readers of the time, BTW.)

    Comment by Radge Havers — 16 Sep 2009 @ 11:07 PM

  57. “Perhaps this is a bit harsh, but I get fed up with scientists bleating that too few people are listening to them when they can only talk in terms that 80% of the population are unlikely to understand. Engage with communications professionals and learn about the art of selling a message.”

    And I get fed up with people who think science is supposed to be delivered to them, by us, like a pizza at halftime of a football game. We can’t make people who don’t care and don’t want to learn, care and learn. And it ain’t in our job description anyway.

    There seems to be a contingent out there who think scientists are obligated to do public educatiion. We ain’t.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 17 Sep 2009 @ 1:32 AM

  58. Pity that humans require such a comfortable level of story-telling and marketing in order to receive the well massaged message of danger ahead.

    And too bad that we have such poor leadership – or perhaps it is our carbon kleptocracy …in any case we lack leaders who can hear science and recognize danger and charge toward solutions.

    Our story could be that of the species that had fun, but failed to awaken to the danger – and then went extinct. We are writing our own drama, and there is no rule that says we will prevail.

    I won’t say that we are doomed by global warming, but science says it is possible and so now it is the global human species that will decide whether to survive.

    Anyway, that makes for a much more interesting story.

    Comment by Richard Pauli — 17 Sep 2009 @ 1:44 AM

  59. Aaron Lewis #35

    The great joy of science is to have the best number – first. I think that makes Science a sport.

    Not the best number necessarily, but understanding. The exhilaration of grasping how something really works. Like predicting, when I was a teen, satellite passes: “it will appear from behind that chimney, in about… ten seconds” — family watching. Predictions made with cardboard nomograms from equator crossing tables. Or, asserting ahead of time that one Richard M. Nixon was a crook. My mother still remembers that…

    Actually science is very competitive. But a sport?

    Hmmm, yes, perhaps… a spectator sport, still during this century.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 17 Sep 2009 @ 2:13 AM

  60. 17Danny Bloom says:
    16 September 2009 at 11:39 AM

    “So far, this brief note on how climate denialists are similar in their denial to how the people during
    WWII denied anything untoward was happening to the Jewish people in Europe at that time has caused a fuss among the denialists, of course.”

    You have automatically lost your argument once you play the “holocaust card”.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 17 Sep 2009 @ 3:13 AM

  61. Greg Craven, you’re an inspiration. Thank you. I’m making a list and checking it twice for people I’ll get your book this year.

    Comment by CM — 17 Sep 2009 @ 3:14 AM

  62. 54llewelly says:
    16 September 2009 at 8:55 PM

    “The European heat wave of 2003 is at least partially attributable to global warming. The droughts and fires of Australia are also at least partially attributable to global warming. The fires of southern California and the Rocky Mountains are also partially attributed to global warming. The droughts in Darfur may be partially attributed to global warming”

    Where is your proof? In fact. Where is there even minimal evidence of what you say? No weather events can be attributed to global warming.

    [Response: Don't be so dogmatic. For very large extremes, it can be shown sometimes (and was for the 2003 drought) that the likelihood of such an event can change radically under climate change - going from extremely unlikely to much more probable. If the odds double or triple then it makes sense to state that you can partially attribute (50 or 67% in those cases) the event to climate change on a statistical basis. Read Stott et al (2005), and the commentary by Allen in the same issue. This doesn't work for weather events (such as single hurricanes) that are much more common and where any expected change is relatively small compared to the normal frequency. - gavin]

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 17 Sep 2009 @ 3:31 AM

  63. Deniers are deniers and in the USA its appears that Fox News is the achilles heel of all things on the popular right. On the left humour is used via the Daily Show and the Colbert Report and AGW is made fun of there so its a big problem all over the USA.

    Glenn Beck and O’Reilly on the right along with Hanity all on Fox against such people as Jon Stewart and Colbert all can make a mockery of scientists and science. One man who stands above the bar every time is this man:

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-january-28-2009/neil-degrasse-tyson

    Very funny and enlightening.

    Comment by pete best — 17 Sep 2009 @ 3:32 AM

  64. “But if a communicator _is_ allied with folks who _are_ empirically-verifiable experts, and can show it, that will enable the audience to grant them credibilit”

    You mean like Al Gore, Anne?

    “It is not just the counter-arguments of the denialists that are responsible for the decreasing alarm. The denialists are not winning — the scientists are blowing it with their disdainful attitude and their inept (though accurate) terminology.”

    Nope, that’s just your bias trying to get denialists some proper screen time. The disdain for denialists is no more than flat earthers get, or 911 conspiracy theorists. No great outrage or “losing it” against those ideas by treating THEM with disdain.

    Denialists WANT credibility. Even if they can’t get a coherent argument, they can use “there’s still a lot to discuss: just look at all the unanswered questions. We should wait until they are worked out”.

    That’s scuppered if the layman can see the response “Yeah, and maybe martian heat rays are the cause…”.

    Comment by Mark — 17 Sep 2009 @ 4:09 AM

  65. Nick, I don’t think it’s reverse snobbery but a culture of immediacy.

    Investments that don’t return profits in a year are ignored.

    Entertainment that doesn’t give all it can in the first five minutes is sidelined or cast as “highbrow”.

    And education that doesn’t show immediate and easy progress is avoided (both by the students and the teachers who want their school to pass exams, not have taught children).

    Maths and science are not easy except for a very few people. For those few, their interest and ability align and they find those subjects easy. For the rest, most (not all, but a large majority I reckon) can become as good or near enough in these subjects but their interest and ability don’t align, so they have to work at it.

    And rather than put hard work into it (which doesn’t pay, unlike hard work in a paper round or for adults, hard work in creating their own business), the culture of immediacy has them going for something easier.

    And rather than find out how good they COULD be at maths or science, they explain away the problem as “maths and science is hard”. So may find it “hard” that those who are good at it are a minority.

    And you know what happens to minorities in a school.

    And that early learning of segregation carries on into adult life and into society.

    Comment by Mark — 17 Sep 2009 @ 4:29 AM

  66. Dr Jeff’s blog is worth highlighting again http://blogontheuniverse.org/2009/06/13/a-day-in-the-life-of-the-earth/ He tells a compelling story.
    I happened on this in New Scientist 22 Sept 1990, pg 18 by Jerry Ravetz “Science cannot deliver certainty on the global environmental issues, any more than it can deliver certainty on the moral issues of reproduction engineering. If we are to have the broad social commitment that will be necessary for people in our societies to adjust their lifestyles, the governing of these problems cannot be done in the absence of public consent. The management of scientific uncertainty has become too big a task for technical experts alone.”
    Jerry turned 80 June 2009. His work can be found on http://www.jerryravetz.co.uk/ .
    His NUSAP idea is being continued on http://www.nusap.net/.
    [edit]
    The need for changes in lifestyle, demanded not only by climate impacts but resource depletion and limits to growth, has been known for a long time. It’s ultimately a moral/ethical issue. The formation of organisations such as http://www.globalethics.org/ is a small light in a dark world.
    Best we can each do is try and practice caring for others – with that guideline our actions will not be far wrong. Use head and heart. Like Jim Hnasen, we should give more thought of the consequences of our actions on our children and grandchildren – and this includes the consequences of denial in all its forms.

    Comment by Hugh Laue — 17 Sep 2009 @ 4:37 AM

  67. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/michaeltomasky/2009/sep/15/creation-darwin-evolution-usa

    One other comment is a film that cannot get released in the USA about Charles Darwin which has been released everywhere else in the world except the USA. Some might suggest that some parts of the USA cannot be convinced of anything unless it is on Fox News and probably not even then.

    Communicating science is a two way street, the listeners have to listen.

    Comment by pete best — 17 Sep 2009 @ 4:43 AM

  68. Meant to link to globethics.net (see previous post) instead of globalethics.org . But both provide a useful service.

    Comment by Hugh Laue — 17 Sep 2009 @ 6:26 AM

  69. Richard Pauli says, “Our story could be that of the species that had fun, but failed to awaken to the danger – and then went extinct.”

    Well, the 1 billion in the world who are hungry probably aren’t having much fun. Nor are the 40 million poor in the US. The world is still divided among haves and have-nots, and it still sucks to be a have-not.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Sep 2009 @ 7:00 AM

  70. Joe-Six Packs, Soccer Moms, Nascar Dads, are there any other terms you can invent to describe the low life people who do not get your message? The arrogance of some of the commentators on this blog is just amazing. Hostile to intellectuals? And you still wonder why your message does not get through?

    [Response: ??? All of these terms are common currency in US politics and are used by all sides to describe segments of the electorate. I doubt that any term used both by Sarah Palin and Barack Obama has any of the connotations you imply. Rather you appear to be assuming that people here are hostile to non-scientists, and then interpreting their statements as condescending, in which case, nothing much that can be said will affect your opinion. You are however wrong on both counts. - gavin]

    Comment by Jari — 17 Sep 2009 @ 9:19 AM

  71. Re # 67 – Pete Best – I just checked, and Darwin is available on Netflix.I just added it to my list.

    Comment by Randy Ross — 17 Sep 2009 @ 9:25 AM

  72. Regarding Richard Steckis’s #62

    In addition to what Gavin pointed out (the technically correct answer), I’d like to point out that Richard’s comment is exactly the defense used by the tobacco companies in denying liability for the effects of tobacco:

    “Yes, this person smoked. This person got lung cancer. Yes, we can corroborate that most people who smoke regularly get lung cancer. Now, prove beyond a reasonable doubt that THIS case of lung cancer was caused by smoking our cigarettes”

    Gavin cited references to statistical analyses that are the equivalent of statistical proof that smoking causes lung cancer. I just wanted to point out the tactic Mr. Steckis used because we’ve seen some already (PROVE that global warming caused this drought) and are sure to see lots more in the years ahead.

    — David

    Comment by David Miller — 17 Sep 2009 @ 9:34 AM

  73. A key point is not to play to the dismissive, arrogant academic.

    Yet, there are numerous posts about American disinterest in substance, of deniers, etc. In other words, the responses have been, in general, those of the dismissive, arrogant academics.

    That the point of the original post can be lost so quickly is saddening.

    Comment by jerry — 17 Sep 2009 @ 9:34 AM

  74. Gavin says:

    “If the odds double or triple then it makes sense to state that you can partially attribute (50 or 67% in those cases) the event to climate change on a statistical basis.”

    Have the odds doubled or tripled? Have the odds changed at all? I do not think that Stott et. al. have adequately answered that question.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 17 Sep 2009 @ 9:38 AM

  75. @Jari #70: I struggled long and hard for neutral but accessible (i.e. informal, everyday language) terms to describe the demographic that you think I am demeaning. I deliberately didn’t use any of the the terms in the book, in order to be safest in not offending anyone. (The one time I used “Joe Schmo”–which is what I’d used in drafts until someone thought you might take offense–I used it to refer to myself.) It was painfully p.c.

    You can see I’ve put a lot of thought into this, and think it’s a critical issue. So, since my use of such triggered a reaction in you, could you help all of us out, and provide an alternative? What terms would be descriptive of the demographic, short, informal, everyday language, and non-judgemental?

    Thanks for the help.

    Greg

    Comment by Greg Craven — 17 Sep 2009 @ 9:52 AM

  76. I love the comments of Jim Bouldin (#57). They exemplify much of what I talk about in the book, especially when he seems to equate “the art of selling a message” with the idea of communicating effectively.

    Let me ask you this — when you write a research paper, how many times do you rewrite and revise it? And why do you do that? Why isn’t it good enough to just write a first draft, send it off, and let other people make sense of the inevitable rambling mess of a first draft? Why not do that and shout at the editor, “I’m not hired to be a science communicator — I’m not gonna waste my time with the art of selling my message!”

    And when you do those rewrites, are you engaging in some dishonest practice the way public relations firms do? Of course not. What you’re doing is the same thing I write about at length in the third chapter of my book — you’re engaging in “storytelling.” It’s the same basic process. The only difference is the term “storytelling” terrifies scientists as it sounds like the start of the slippery slope towards dishonesty. But it’s not. It’s simply a process of taking information that makes sense to you and putting THE SAME INFORMATION into a form that will be digestable by a broader audience.

    It all comes down to this — who is going to “bear the burden of communication” in today’s world? Once upon a time scientists had the luxury of standing up in public and rambling in the same disorganized manner as you get with a first draft. The public was so lacking in information, so desperate to hear what they had to say, and so willing to respect the authority of scientists that they would listen, then be willing to set to work rearranging the disorganized information in their heads until it made some sort of sense, usually in the form of a story.

    But we have a problem now. The audience has changed. We’ve had a massive information explosion in our society accompanied by a communications revolution. And now the audience is no longer as eager to bear the burden of communication.

    So what are you gonna do — get mad at the public (as seems to be the case in your comments), or develop a willingness to do multiple drafts of what you were going to say until you’ve crafted it into something that still has the same substance as you started with, but has been brought around to a style that will be more effective. Which is the subtitle of my book, “Talking substance in an age of style.”

    Comment by Randy Olson — 17 Sep 2009 @ 10:00 AM

  77. Also Gavin,

    My reading of Stott et. al. is that their predictions of an increased likelihood of such an event happening is bases solely on Climate Modelling and not on any robust statistical analysis. The only reference to statistical method that I could see from their methods is a spectral analysis. There is no robust parametric statistical analysis that supports their contention. Therefore, the whole hypothesis succeeds or fails based on:

    1. The models being an accurate representation of the climate variability over the next 90 years.

    2. That HadCM3 at that time (2004) gives a close reflection of actual climate variability.

    An assessment of the likelihood of more events like 2003 being based solely on ensemble runs of a single GCM is, in my view, not sufficient evidence for attribution to global warming.

    [Response: Not sure what you think you are claiming here. All studies on attribution need to use a model (of some sort or another). All such studies need to test the validity of that model. And all conclusions are caveated by the realism of that model. This is as true for a statistical attribution as it is for a GCM-based case. But you will find that statistical models have a particularly hard time when you have a singular event that has never happened before in the instrumental record. Are you therefore claiming that no attribution is possible for any magnitude of extreme event? - gavin]

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 17 Sep 2009 @ 10:05 AM

  78. I am a historian now. But in a former life, I was an editor in the daily press and other print media. I still practise that trade occasionally, but mainly just for friends who find themselves in trouble.

    A few years ago, I edited a book written by several environmental scientists and economists. The thing was a mess when I first saw it, and it took me a great deal of labor to fix it to the extent I was able. I told the principal author of that collaboration that if he had hired me six months before the work went to the publisher, rather than six weeks, the product would have been a great deal better and more effective.

    My advice to you scientists is to hire an expert editor (or website designer, etc.) at the beginning of the project. Don’t leave it until the end and expect the experts in those other fields to perform miracles for you.

    Comment by Bob Beal — 17 Sep 2009 @ 10:07 AM

  79. Jerry, While I agree that one should never dismiss a novice who is actually seeking understanding, there comes a point when a commenter has established himself as either a troll, a crank or an ignoramus. What is there to do then but dismiss them as such. Some people are ineducable

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Sep 2009 @ 10:27 AM

  80. “Joe-Six Packs, Soccer Moms, Nascar Dads, are there any other terms you can invent to describe the low life people who do not get your message?.”

    How about overly-sensitive? Nobody but you threw the term “low-life” in there my friend. We’re not allowed to use the term ‘soccer mom’ or talk about Americans’ disinterest and ignorance of science and nature now because you consider it arrogant? I think there are more than a few people out there, like you and jerry, who imagine insults and put-downs that aren’t really there, and frankly that isn’t our problem.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 17 Sep 2009 @ 10:41 AM

  81. A place to watch — carefully: http://www.stats.org

    Look at the site, then look them up in Sourcewatch.

    Were you fooled? You’re one of the smart people, right?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Sep 2009 @ 10:50 AM

  82. Interested in securing a grant related to this thread?

    The Education and Human Resources Directorate (EHR) is augmenting funding to support emerging areas of climate change education, with a focus on development of the climate science professional workforce, public understanding and engagement on climate change issues, and informed decision-making associated with adaptation to and mitigation of climate change impacts. These emerging priorities lie at the intersection of social/behavioral/economic, and global Earth system science, as well as educational, research.

    Climate Change Education seeks to ensure that individuals and communities understand the essential principles of Earth’s climate system and the impacts of climate change, and are able to make informed and responsible decisions with regard to actions that may affect climate. (Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science, March 2009, available at http://www.globalchange.gov/ ). NSF supports substantial investment in basic research that informs what we know about Earth’s changing climate and can guide decisions about how best to respond to change. (Solving the Puzzle: Researching the Impacts of Climate Change Around the World, NSF report, 2009, available at http://www.nsf.gov/news/nsf09202/index.jsp ). It is critical that climate scientists play an active role in the dissemination of their findings and that students at all levels, and in formal and informal learning settings, and the general public have access to data in ways that facilitate climate literacy and informed decision making. What are the most effective ways to communicate to students and the general public about how the Earth is changing in response to human activities? How can they have meaningful access to data collected at large observatory networks, for example, the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) networks, the National Ecological Network (NEON,) and the data bases to be coordinated under the Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON) initiative, see http://www.arcticobserving.org )? How can local high impact activities be scaled up and serve as national models? What are effective climate change literacy professional development opportunities for policy decision makers at all levels? How do we assess changes in individual’s understanding of the Earth’s climate system and the decisions they make about their actions?
    Priority will be given to projects that address preparing innovators for the workforce, and fundamental topics in Climate Change Education (CCE) including: strategies for scaling up and widely disseminating effective curricula and instructional resources, assessment of student learning of complex climate issues as it translates into action, addressing local and national STEM educational standards and policy for teaching CCE, and professional development in climate change literacy for policy decision makers at all levels (local to national). We are especially interested in projects that would lead to the adoption of models that support synergistic activities among large-scale NSF research programs that support the integration of research into effective and high impact education and outreach efforts. Projects should fully incorporate current understandings of how people learn. Pilot efforts intended to track the longer-term impact of NSF investments in climate change education are encouraged.

    We seek to foster transformative advances within and among programmatic areas that integrate concepts and observations across diverse fields of scholarship relevant to Climate Change Education. We are particularly interested in multi-disciplinary proposals that address the aforementioned topics and result in a variety of partnerships, including those among K-12 education, higher education, the private sector, and related non-profit organizations, in both formal and informal settings, as well as climate-related policymakers. The most competitive proposals will integrate questions and approaches across disciplines. We expect to support individual investigators as well as multidisciplinary teams of STEM researchers and educators in a range of activities, including those local, regional, and/or global in scope.

    This is not a special competition or new program. Relevant proposals submitted to one of the following programs within EHR will be supported:

    • In the Division of Graduate Education – NSF Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 (GK-12); and Integrative Graduate Education and Traineeship (IGERT)
    • In the Division of Undergraduate Education – Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI); Advanced Technological Education (ATE); and National STEM Distributed Learning (NSDL)
    • In the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings – Discovery Research K-12 (DRK-12); Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering (REESE); and Informal Science Education (ISE)
    • In the Division of Human Resource Development – Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) and Tribal Colleges and Universities Program (TCUP)

    Investigators who have appropriate proposals already submitted to one of the programs above that are still under review for FY09 funding should request that they be identified now as CCE, by notifying the cognizant program officer for the program by July 24, 2009. Some of the programs noted above also accept submissions outside their ordinary timelines, especially for support of meetings or other activities designed to build communities of scholars around common interests. Before submitting a proposal outside the regular program cycle, proposers should consult with a program officer. Titles of new proposals that respond to this call now or in subsequent submissions to the regular cycles of the programs above should be prefaced with “CCE:” For full proposals submitted via FastLane, standard Grant Proposal Guidelines apply.

    This Dear Colleague Letter is in effect for FY 2009. It is expected that this letter will be replaced by a multi-directorate formal solicitation in FY 2010. We anticipate awarding at least $10 million for CCE in FY 2009. Investigators are strongly encouraged to contact the EHR Climate Change Education Working Group (EHR-CCE@nsf.gov) to determine if their proposed ideas respond to the CCE goals, and to discuss relevant topics of interest. We look forward to discussing your ideas.

    Wanda E. Ward
    Acting Assistant Director for Education and Human Resources

    Comment by Scott A. Mandia — 17 Sep 2009 @ 11:09 AM

  83. “Why isn’t it good enough to just write a first draft, send it off, and let other people make sense of the inevitable rambling mess of a first draft?”

    Is something the knee-jerk denialists should consider far more carefully.

    Funny how their antics doesn’t harm their work, though…

    Comment by Mark — 17 Sep 2009 @ 11:31 AM

  84. re: #70

    If there is anything that can be said about communications, it is that the message that is received is far more remarkable than the message than was sent. These terms are “common currency” of US politics. Use of these terms can reasonably be understood by the hearer to mean that the scientist is not promoting science but a political viewpoint.

    If a scientist is called an ivory tower arrogant ass, the scientist would reasonably be expected to feel offense. Any discussion is polluted. It works all ways.

    Post after post on these forums throughout the years have indicated that a person is “not qualified” to comment. Or, a suggestion is “boring.” Etc. These are inherently suggestions that elevate the speaker in relation to another. There is simply no way to elevate oneself without another person feeling condescended.

    Deniers have reasons for the denial – perhaps totally unrelated to the science but to the suggested policy responses. What are their reasons? What are their interests? That dairy farmer in Wisconsin? He feels under attack. Accept it. Then manage it. Help the opposition identify with us – identifiy their interests and yours. This is not accomplished by insults, but by patience and empathy. “Joe six pack” doesn’t get it? He may. But he has other interests that override it. Well, what does Joe six pack have to lose with what you are suggesting? That’s the underlying battle you face with them.

    To disregard that they have legitimate concerns is dismissive. They WILL feel insulted. They will feel disregarded.

    re: #80 – Again, you suggest that imagined insults and put-downs aren’t really there, and that “frankly that isn’t our problem.” This is being dismissive – exactly what the original post mentioned needs improvement. I don’t expect you to understand it. Merely that you accept that it is what it is. To better connect, it takes patience. It IS a problem. The deniers ARE a problem. And the firt post provides suggestions on managing the problem.

    I’d suggest a read of “Taking the War out of Our Words” by Sharon Ellison. I think it’s pretty insightful.

    Comment by jerry — 17 Sep 2009 @ 11:37 AM

  85. As David Miller points out, Steckis’s approach is an old familiar one from the industry PR for tobacco and other problem materials sold in the markets, as well as for coal.

    That argument should have a place in the list. I don’t know that it has been boiled down clearly enough. Someone should study his writing for a pithy presentation worth quoting.

    I’d suggest “Denial of Epidemiology” as a placeholder — the argument that nobody can prove anything from general knowledge (kerosene accelerates fires; tobacco increases cancer; burning coal increases CO2 increasing warming) but rather that each individual measure has to be proved independently of all the others.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Sep 2009 @ 12:47 PM

  86. Re George Mason University, that graphic of the Uruk-hai grabbing the child is hair-raising! Fear appeal much?

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 17 Sep 2009 @ 12:55 PM

  87. re:62

    I saw the European heat wave referred to as a “5 Sigma”
    event. (3 in 100,000, I believe. Well rounded.) A little outside our 200-300 year detailed temp record.

    I’ve seen references to statistical rules of thumb that say that for events outside of “2 sigma” you really want to look outside normal variance for a cause.

    [Response: I think it was 3 sigma event over a patch in Western Europe, but a 5 sigma event in Switzerland. Either way - rather unusual, I would say. - gavin]

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 17 Sep 2009 @ 1:02 PM

  88. Re: 39, 56 Global Warming in popular media.

    Global Warming has been a regular theme in Science Fiction. It has been so for quite a few years now. New series like Kim Stanley Robinson’s Forty Signs of Rain/ Forty Degrees Below/ Six Days and Counting are built around the Earth’s equilibrium change. Anime series like Ghost in the Shell – Stand Alone Complex feature mass migration of refugees as a subtext which bubbles up into major political problems.

    It’s out there in the media, but not in the Prime Time series. I don’t even recall hearing about it in ABC’s Defying Gravity – and they certainly could have built coastal city changes into the story, centered around Nasa etc. in Florida. How much sea level rise would cause us to move the Kennedy Space Center?

    Comment by Terry Miesle — 17 Sep 2009 @ 1:27 PM

  89. Andy (#21),

    I tried to fill the Real Energy void for a bit: http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/
    and may get back to it. Had a good run of discussions but in the end found that larger blogs had a wider readership while the physics was pushing us towards renewables in any case. http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2008/01/eroie.html

    Perhaps the difference is, once a practical problem is solved, a scientist wants to move on to another problem while a story teller is happy to tell the same story over again in a different way. In some ways, there is only one story (conflict then resolution) with may forms so the enjoyment comes in the elaboration. The audience is ready to hear the story again and again but the scientist is off looking for the next problem and figures the story of the last problem is told and finished. Problem solving is conflict and resolution as well, but one is living it, not recounting it.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 17 Sep 2009 @ 1:53 PM

  90. An important discussion and one that in itself demonstrates the scale of the problem.

    The spread of opinion e.g. Jim Bouldin (57) and Randy Olsen (76) and the different perspectives adopted and argued demonstrate the nature of the challenge. The gaps between those who feel that assertion of the facts regarding AGW (as they know them to be) is itself sufficient, those who feel the need for more effective communication, persuasion and ‘marketing’ by scientists v’s those who suggest that perhaps the central debate is not yet closed, is clear to see.

    However, the implications of Prof. Mandia’s comment (50) seems most critical; the key target groups for all sides in the debate are those who care enough to access the blogs, read the books and consider the evidence. Many/most of these will not be climate scientists, or indeed scientists of any type, nor will they be equipped to evaluate the technical (and sometimes conflicting) evidence presented. However, they will tend to be educated, intelligent and most importantly, engaged ……. They do give a damm, for both selfish and altruistic reasons ….. and they dislike being hectored or talked down to.
    As said by Randy (76) the challenge for all scientists is ‘putting the same (high quality) information into a form that will be digestible by a broader audience’ ….. telling the same story in a way that has meaning to the audience. Communication matters; the most convincing story will carry the day.

    TGO’D

    Comment by TG O'Donnell — 17 Sep 2009 @ 1:53 PM

  91. Could it be the ‘product’ that’s the problem?

    I’m not a marketing pro but have worked as a product manager.

    Marketing is not needed for a good product. Just cheapo packaging and then gear up manufacturing and distribution for the long haul.

    You may be expending effort on flogging a dead horse.

    Definitely worth taking a look.

    Comment by TimJ — 17 Sep 2009 @ 2:04 PM

  92. I saw those Greg Craven YouTube videos over a year ago and loved them. It’s a much better presentation of what I’ve been trying to say over & over on this site re false positives and false negatives.

    If that doesn’t work with people, then nothing will. We already know that making an argument about how much $$$ one can save by doing the EC (environmentally correct) thing without lowering living standards doesn’t work, bec there’s no such thing as an economic rational man (or woman, for that matter), but there is such a thing as a free lunch, many many free lunches paid for by all those $$$ one could be saving by doing the EC thing.

    Well, anyway we really do learn a lot about human nature — not thru scientists’ failure at communication so much as thru people’s unwillingness to figure out what scientists are saying. I mean parents can figure out baby talk; we should be able to figure out science talk.

    At least I’ve never had much problem with scientists or their lingo/presentation. I just listen to the media’s often bungled accounts of their findings, sometimes going to the sources in scientific journals, where I read the abstract and perhaps conclusions with all their caveats, where I figure if scientists are talking mildly & cautiously about having reached sci confidence about such&such a problem, or even think it might be proven in the future bec the laws of physics indicate it might, it must be really really bad.

    The public has nearly always been on the alarmist side of environmental hazards, beyond the scientists….until now when (perhaps) the greatest enviro problem we’ve ever faced — AGW — is confronting us.

    There is just no level of cajoling, humoring, enthralling with stories, or scaring to death & alarming that seems to work in this the most serious issue. It’s really too bad. It was such a good world to live in.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 17 Sep 2009 @ 2:56 PM

  93. This is interesting, from the Guardian UK:

    US planning to weaken Copenhagen climate deal, Europe warns
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/sep/15/europe-us-copenhagen

    The dispute between the US and Europe is over the way national carbon reduction targets would be counted. Europe has been pushing to retain structures and systems set up under the Kyoto protocol, the existing global treaty on climate change. US negotiators have told European counterparts that the Obama administration intends to sweep away almost all of the Kyoto architecture and replace it with a system of its own design.

    The issue is highly sensitive and European officials are reluctant to be seen to openly criticise the Obama administration, which they acknowledge has engaged with climate change in a way that President Bush refused to. But they fear the US move could sink efforts to agree a robust new treaty in Copenhagen.

    Similarly, in California our governor is threatening to veto our latest renewable energy standard attempt, while also signing an executive order to boost renewable energy – that’s odd, isn’t it? It only makes sense if the two politicians are simply doing what Exelon and Chevron (respectively) want them to do with respect to energy and climate policy – support the status quo.

    However, this creates problems with the public, who typically poll very high in support of renewable energy and against relying on energy imports. Thus, we have weak proposals floated that will do little if anything to change matters, but which do allow politicians and compliant press outlets to pretend that “something is being done.”

    In reality, very little is being done – go ask your local university if they’ve suddenly received funding for any solar or wind research institutions – the answer will be no. However, federal money is flowing for ‘clean coal’ research at the university level, which is a continuation of the policies of the last government, isn’t it?

    It’s astonishing that the whole issue of “clean coal” and carbon capture and sequestration hasn’t been submitted to some independent entity for scientific analysis – the National Academy of Sciences should be given the job.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 17 Sep 2009 @ 3:18 PM

  94. > stats.org
    > George Mason

    check it out:

    #
    STATS:
    Based on current trends, 41% of scientists believe global climate change will … Overall, only 5% describe the study of global climate change as a “fully …
    stats.org/stories/2008/global_warming_survey_apr23_08.html
    #
    STATS: We Check Out the Numbers Behind the News
    Climate scientists agree on warming, disagree on dangers, and don’t trust the media’s coverage of climate change. S. Robert Lichter, Ph.D, April 24, 2008 …
    stats.org/
    #
    STATS: Cooking the books on global warming- or overheating a bad …
    The report was based on a mail survey of government scientists dealing with climate change. The heart of the survey asked scientists about a dozen “types of …
    stats.org/stories/2007/cooking_global_warm_survey_feb05_07.htm
    #
    STATS:
    Hearing a statement like that, we might find ourselves sympathizing with climate change skeptic Steven Milloy, who asked August 9 on Fox News: …
    stats.org/stories/2008/can_trust_climate_models_apr23_08.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Sep 2009 @ 3:29 PM

  95. Wow! So many good posts have followed my suggestion for civility.

    A couple of posters don’t understand my argument, though. In sum: Civility is better than sarcasm because sarcasm DOES NOT WORK. Neither does arrogance, dismissiveness, telling somebody else to “read the science.” Etc.

    No, civility does not ALWAYS work either. My claim is, however, that it has a better chance of working.

    Jim someone wrote that clear communications was “not his job.” I think him to be wrong; it is everyone’s job.

    None of us will likely leave a letter for our great grandchildren saying, in effect, “Yeah, I saw all this coming but I didn’t think it was my job to tell people about it. It was my job, however, to laugh at them sarcastically.”

    Ray made a good point — some of the persons are trolls and deserve the scathing remarks they get. That’s true — BUT IT IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE to do so.

    Anyway, that’s my message. Your mileage (finally spelled that right!) may differ.

    BTW, The Craven and Olsen books are on my next “buy list.” I appreciate a lot that these good people stopped by to chat and I found their remarks to be spot on.

    Comment by John (Burgy) Burgeson — 17 Sep 2009 @ 3:44 PM

  96. The need for accurate communication about complex climate topics is often at odds with the desire to make it understandable to broader audiences. Scientists are credible sources of scientific information, but they often have trouble adapting that information for public audiences. As has been mentioned, they also fight the public stereotype of scientists. And although communicators have the “language” skills, they may not have the perceived credibility of a climate scientist. Additionally, some communicators may also come with baggage that automatically generates distrust among large segments of some desired audiences.

    One approach to resolving this issue is climate extension, which is a relatively new concept for bridging the science/practice divide. The idea is to bring climate extension agents ¬¬— scientists with backgrounds in both the physical and human dimensions of climate change — together with stakeholders to develop ways to apply information about climate change, its impacts, and adaptation options to decision-making. Climate extension agents focus on presenting climate information to policymakers and the public in ways that address stakeholder needs, accommodate regional and local contexts, and fit into the planning and decision-making processes that stakeholders are familiar with using.

    I am the regional climate extension agent (my actual title contains a word that won’t get through the spam filter) for the SC Sea Grant Consortium and NC Sea Grant, which are both part of NOAA’s National Sea Grant College program. As part of my job, I work with other Sea Grant extension agents from a variety of disciplines. Together, we help citizens and policymakers in the Carolinas apply climate information to important community and policy decisions pertaining to the impacts of climate variability and long-term climate change. We at Sea Grant are committed to being “honest brokers” of scientific information – we stick to the best available science, acknowledge uncertainties, and help decision makers weigh their options without advocating particular solutions.

    In addition, through our initiative’s partnership with the Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessment center (NOAA’s Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment center, or RISA, for the Carolinas), I frequently collaborate with university scientists and government agencies on research aimed at overcoming risk perception barriers and developing ways to make climate information relevant to decision-makers. Consequently, I serve as a bridge between scientists and stakeholders, relieving some of the pressure on scientists to be perfect communicators while providing stakeholders with the source credibility they need.

    I’ve been in my current position just over a year, and our program is still developing. I encourage folks to visit the Oregon Sea Grant, Maine Sea Grant, and Rhode Island Sea Grant Web sites to see how some of our programs have already made strides in effective climate communication and in making climate information relevant for policy-making.

    In addition to Sea Grant programs, there are other ongoing climate extension efforts out there. Climate extension agents are part of the RISAs in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama (Southeastern Climate Consortium, SECC) and Arizona and New Mexico (Climate Assessment of the Southwest, CLIMAS). There also are climate extension agents in cooperative extension that deal with agricultural issues. National Weather Service forecast offices have forecasters who are designated “climate focal points” and are trained to assist with short-term climate variability data and issues. These focal points are beginning to branch into longer-term climate problems as well. Finally, there are many other NOAA organizations and RISAs, other universities, and NGOs who are doing climate outreach that may not specifically follow an extension model.

    In conclusion, if you’re in the United States and you need assistance reaching out to decision-makers on coastal climate change issues, such as explaining basic science or using information for adaptation, try contacting your state’s Sea Grant program. You can also contact the National Estuarine Research Reserves, as well as your regional RISAs, and NWS forecast offices, and local cooperative extension offices.

    Comment by Jessica Whitehead — 17 Sep 2009 @ 4:08 PM

  97. Joe, you are going to lose your six pack.
    Mom, you are going to lose your soccer ball.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 17 Sep 2009 @ 4:17 PM

  98. Well Randy (76) it’s hard to know what to make of this whole post and thread, like wrestling phantoms in the dark. Not unusual for these kind of topics, so I’ll just try to clarify my points.

    A main point is that there is a contingent that seems more than ready to blame scientists for the fact that not everyone in the world is convinced of the evidence in favor of topics a, b, or c. I’m not buying it. Has it never occurred to them that perhaps the educational system, various socio-cultural sanctions and mores, and (gasp!) the effort expended by the unconvinced themselves, may perhaps have some role in this sorry state of affairs?? Moreover, has it not occurred to them that that group known as the media has the primary responsibility for informing the public of what happens in the world?

    As to your example of revising a manuscript, there are significant differences between that and what you call “story-telling”. I don’t consider that I’m telling a story when I write a paper. The much better analogy is that of a newsman describing what he found about the natural world, how he went about finding it, and what context or relevance the study has. A beat reporter, not a writer of novels, if you will. Good reviewers’ revision requests, as you know, are focused mainly–or entirely–on making sure you in fact actually have real legitimacy to your principal claims, not that you presented it in a way that even Shakespeare might be tempted to plagiarize it. If one can do both (and get it past the reviewers), well damn, then one is certainly awesome! To the contrary, your “story-telling” is apparently focused instead on finding the lingo, style, etc., that somehow flips the correct psychic/emotive light switch inside the reader/listener/watcher. Fine, a great and needed skill for certain audiences, but not the same thing as getting one’s story right, and not going to work with our primary audience.

    Notwithstanding this point, scientists have, in my experience, a much better ability to communicate with the general public than you and others seem to acknowledge, or is generally appreciated in this thread. You can’t teach a general education class without some ability to relate all across the spectrum. Your caricature of the former scientist rambling without coherence–I really don’t know where you got that or why you think it still holds.

    Lastly, there is in fact a huge amount of information on climate change and other scientific topics out there that the average person can understand if they make the effort, Wikipedia being just one obvious example.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 17 Sep 2009 @ 4:51 PM

  99. Jim someone wrote that clear communications was “not his job.” I think him to be wrong; it is everyone’s job.

    No he didn’t say that. He was trying to make the point that, for whatever reason, there seem to be people who feel that scientists are supposed to not only do good science in the daytime (which they apparently are pretty mediocre at), and are also supposed to be terrific “story-tellers” able to relate to everyone in society (better than that schmoe Al Gore did at least, notwithstanding that we have a part of society known as the media who have that specific assignment), and perhaps, I don’t know, do stand up comedy on the weekends and at least occasionally take LeBron in a slam dunk competition. Oh my God, that was sarcasm wasn’t it?

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 17 Sep 2009 @ 5:15 PM

  100. I think this thread is total garbage. You’re talking as if there were one semi-incomprehensible story. That’s simply false. The average guy is confronted with two stories, not one. One story says “There’s no problem. This is exactly like the rants of the eco-wacko movement which has ALWAYS taken minor issues and reported, “We’re all going to die.” Well, it is TRUE that the environmental movement has done that in the past, and it is TRUE that it is doing it today. Anybody who says that there is NO WAY to prevent the warming is simply a liar. We know that stopping the warming is simple – just add a little sulphur to the stratosphere at a piddling cost and global warming WILL, not might, WILL be stopped in its tracks. That it will take a bit of learning and trial to do it correctly is just a big duh. So what? Of course, there is that piddly side-effect, the death of the oceans, which will continue unabated in that scenario. Thus, eco-wackos such as those who run and frequent this site do their cause GREAT HARM by not admitting that global warming is NOT a problem – that the problem is the death of the oceans.

    This whole argument is silly at best. We already know when the general public will be convinced that the issue is serious. That’s when the coral reefs start to die off in earnest and the arctic ice all melts in summer. Both are going to happen within a few years, which is the blink of an eye as far as global CO2 concentrations is concerned. Books, sites, and other such attempts to convince the masses to change anything physical about how the world is run are a BIG WASTE OF TIME. We MUST wait until the physical world states the case. Until then, the Deniers vs the Alarmists is just a side show to let folks scream “I’M RIGHT AND YOU’RE DELIBERATELY DESTROYING THE (WORLD/ECONOMY)”

    Comment by RichardC — 17 Sep 2009 @ 6:14 PM

  101. > “We’re all going to die.” Well, it is TRUE …

    Citation needed, but please don’t bother.

    Good grief, you list two — of several– results that follow rapidly burning lots of fossil fuel, and you say only one of them is the real problem. Hint, history is always opaque to those living in it. Likely there are other problems to find; ocean pH change was a recent surprise.

    But we know the cause already.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Sep 2009 @ 6:56 PM

  102. Gavin says:

    “Are you therefore claiming that no attribution is possible for any magnitude of extreme event?”

    Essentially yes. Unless the event is a direct response to a perturbation that can be measured, you cannot attribute a weather event no matter how extreme (with any degree of confidence) to global warming based on model assessments alone. Despite what you say about the limitations of statistical attribution, I would back that over model attributions.

    [Response: Well in that case we are done. The seas could boil, Greenland slide into the sea and the Amazon catch fire - and regardless of how well predicted any of those things were, you won't accept that we can attribute cause and effect. But frankly, I don't believe you (or rather, I don't believe that you are being serious). - gavin]

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 17 Sep 2009 @ 8:00 PM

  103. Gregg Easterbrook, TMQ on ESPN, is global warming denialist v2.0, oh so reasonable type. Easterbrook writes:

    “Professional doomsayer Al Gore endlessly declares that the last two decades have been “the warmest on record” — he doesn’t add that the “record” of reliable temperature data begins in the late 19th century, just when prolonged solar minima were ending and Earth entered a period of recovery from cool centuries. (Meaning temperatures likely would have risen in the 20th century whether man existed or not; I believe greenhouse gases should be regulated, it’s just that it would be nice if Gore were honest about the evidence.)”

    Do you guys have a blogpost on temperature records that shows temps from all sources — tree rings, polar ice cores, etc? Hopefully with graphs?

    Michael

    Comment by Michael Turton — 17 Sep 2009 @ 8:10 PM

  104. Burgie,
    Anyone who follows this blog will know that I am quick to try and answer sincere questions if they are within my ken. However, when all a poster wants to do is impugn the collective integrity of climate scientists and the scientific community in general, the only appropriate attitude is contempt.
    Even Jesus only asked us to forgive our brothers “seventy times seven” times, and some denialists are way past that. One becomes a scientist because one is interested in understanding the truth. That necessitates having contempt for lies.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Sep 2009 @ 8:14 PM

  105. Gavin says:

    “Response: Well in that case we are done. The seas could boil, Greenland slide into the sea and the Amazon catch fire – and regardless of how well predicted any of those things were, you won’t accept that we can attribute cause and effect. But frankly, I don’t believe you (or rather, I don’t believe that you are being serious). – gavin”

    No. We are not done. Your examples are basically appealing to catastrophe. Attribution of cause and effect in science can only be done statistically and empirically and not through model simulation. Model simulation can give us a anecdotal view but not predictive view. Using models for prediction falls into the realms of forecasting and therefore must comply with established forecasting principles for them to be accepted for that purpose.

    [Response: Then you didn't understand my question. I asked if an event of any magnitude was attributable- because if it is then we are talking about signal/noise ratios as opposed to dogmatism. So let's start over. - gavin]

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 17 Sep 2009 @ 9:09 PM

  106. Do you guys have a blogpost on temperature records that shows temps from all sources — tree rings, polar ice cores, etc? Hopefully with graphs?

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/09/progress-in-millennial-reconstructions/
    See also: http://globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Temperature_Gallery
    RC has posted many articles about paleoclimate reconstructions. Try google with “site:realclimate.org hockey stick” for the posts about all the myriad controversies.

    Comment by llewelly — 17 Sep 2009 @ 11:27 PM

  107. #98

    A main point is that there is a contingent that seems more than ready to blame scientists for the fact that not everyone in the world is convinced of the evidence in favor of topics a, b, or c.

    Not sure I see that. More like irritation that some scientists seem reluctant to rise to a challenge not of their own making and that isn’t being addressed adequately in the rest of society. You say “wrestling phantoms in the dark.” Hank Roberts says “history is always opaque to those living in it.” There’s the frustration.

    Anyway story-telling may not be the exact right term. But as was pointed out, scientists are very often quite good with words, carefully structuring arguments and crafting an artfully dry and concise professional tone. I’d go so far as to say that some become so singularly oriented in that respect that they turn into word-use bigots; to the point that they may eschew visual literacy, for instance. I’m not pointing any fingers, just saying that exhortations to open out an expanded repertoire on various levels are to be expected if there’s a sense that the profession is under valued and even under threat. If you think it isn’t, I’d naturally wonder why and whether you have a valuable insight or are just sheltered.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 17 Sep 2009 @ 11:32 PM

  108. When teaching maths at any level in schools I learned to always begin with a few minutes on numeration, or is it numeracy – aiding children to attach understandings to the numbers we are using. Some children from quantity rich cultures arrive at shool already advanced in this, frequent reference at home to the analogue clock for instance (I know! – only those who are vision impaired use analogue these days), The point is that without this numeracy there will come a point where it is useless to try to teach that child any more maths. They will only have rote ways to calculate and will be unaware of alternative approaches. Thus we all probably know people who are highly intelligent but claim from some time in their early years that they are no good at maths.

    Communicating climate science suffers the same problem. Highly verbal argument or explanation gets little traction without graphics, the best being animations. If I want to point to something on the web that will “prove” that CO2 does what is claimed I find myself in a weak position, and having to rely on weight of evidence. I have read long verbal explanations of the history connected with this question, there are books going on about radiative transfer or radiative forcing that no enquirer is even going to look at. But where in the online stories are accounts of the actual experiments done (apart from one in a tube by Koch that resulted in a denialist argument), where are the graphical representations of results, where the animations showing in principle the processes of radiative forcing, even just the CO2 molecule releasing a photon of IR in any direction including back to where it came from? (To get over misuse of the second law of thermaldynamics).

    Denialists have become expert at exploiting these gaps. A case concerns a paper using the term “Ice sheet collapse” or similar in its title. Another paper citing this and another as representative, proceeded then to explain simply and elegantly with lots of graphics that ‘if you put a lump of ice in a bowl it is not going to slide over the edge, and we all know that ice caps are sitting in depressions and they are not going to slide over the rims into the sea, well yes, there are some breaks in the rims through which glaciers exit but that is a different story. Clearly these scientists don’t know what they are talking about.’ I obtained the papers and found that they were being completely misrepresented, one did not discuss ice sheet collapse at all and the other just touched on the notion it might take a few thousand years. It was a strawman argument. My point is it exploited a simple image, the bowl, that anyone could understand, to make an effective point in the eyes of people who could not obtain the papers concerned to check up, I had some difficulty doing so being now a pensioner. Only from a science journalist who had raised the point with Antarctic researchers did I get a half-pie explanation of what (unstoppable) ice-sheet collapse might mean. An animation making use of the kind of footage the “Extreme Ice” video displays might convincingly display the idea while also showing that most of the current research is about mass balance etc.

    So the public needs the equivalent of numeracy, using imagery, with respect to climate science and the biosphere. I recently saw a BBC series on forces that have made the planet – 5 episodes. A friend surprised me by saying the case for anthropogenic global warming via CO2 had been proven for him by the series. As I read it the graphic visual presentation had communicated and connected a weight of evidence so he now accepted the case. He had been able to relate what he heard to what he knew through the imagery.

    Anyone who has seen the Peter Jackson version of the Lord of the Rings or watched America’s Cup races where realtime animations of yachts, winds currents, courses, interference, the rules, and adavantage, are interspersed moment by moment with direct video of the action. should know how powerful these animations can be. Give them something useful to do like presenting the findings of climate science to the public.

    Comment by Noel Fuller — 18 Sep 2009 @ 12:00 AM

  109. A very nice talk relevant to the subject of the post: Tell Me a Story”.

    BTW there is a clear and present danger to the implicit message of Randy’s book: “Don’t be such a scientist” could easily be taken as delegitimizing scientists, science, and scientific attitudes. Latching onto and reinforcing already rampant anti-intellectualism, with an undertone of blaming the victim. Not nice.

    I’m trying to imagine a cookbook style manual aimed at gays, how to modify their behaviour so they will cause less offence to and find more acceptance in the rest of society… doesn’t feel right, does it. Or jews, negroes, females… nobody would dare to sling the kind of insult and accusations at those people that climatologists have had to routinely endure.

    But then, scientists have never been eager to take their insulters to court. They aren’t the litigious kind, and anyway don’t have the money. Should that change?

    Being a scientist is a defining thing, much more than just a job. I am “such a scientist”, have been since age four, and will be forever. And proud of it too. Anyone having a problem with that?

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 18 Sep 2009 @ 1:15 AM

  110. To All:

    I feel strongly enough that the ideas and approach in my book will *bypass* most of the thorny issues being discussed on this thread that I’m going to be blunt, and risky.

    I can’t give the text away, since that would breach my contract with my publisher and land me in serious trouble. But I’m positively desperate for everyone here to read the book and consider the chance that it may just be the sword to cut through this Gordian Knot of the popular debate. So I’m going to go out on a limb.

    Buy the book on Amazon (it’s ten bucks). Read it. And then, if you think it was not worth your time and money, contact me through gregcraven.org and tell me how much you thought it WAS worth.

    I will pay the difference to you out of my own pocket.

    I can’t say I’ll “refund the purchase price,” since I don’t get the revenue from the book (I get 76 cents in royalties per book), but if you thought it was a total waste of your time and money, I’ll pay you the $10.17 Amazon charged you plus the shipping.

    So I’ve taken away the financial risk to you. Perhaps you’re willing to risk wasting a few hours of your time reading it, on the off chance that it may just be the new idea that could change the whole game. Millions of people forwarded my boring “The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See,” not because I’m a really entertaining guy, but because that silly little grid hit a nerve with a hell of a lot of people who didn’t give a shit about climate change, or were simply paralyzed by the contradictory voices in the shouting match. There must be something to that grid.

    It is new. It is different. And it reached a lot of people that haven’t been reached by any other strategies or appeals.

    Many many authors, speakers, bloggers, scientists, journalists, and activists have done amazing things in the fight to wake up the majority. Real Climate is at the top echelon of that group deserving praise and thanks for their tireless work.

    But all the approaches to now have not yet gotten us where we need to be. I’m no megalomaniac, and I’m pretty sure I’m not delusional, but I think I’ve come up with an entirely new approach, whose basic premise has been demonstrated to have promise (in the success of the video). Can we really afford to not give it a shot?

    So please buy, beg, borrow, or steal the book, read it, consider it’s potential as a tool to break through to those who are reachable but unreached, and then if you decide it wasn’t worth the money, contact me. Tell me how much you paid, how much you think it was worth, and the name and address to send the check to. All I ask is that you give me a reasonably detailed critique of where you think the book fails, so that I can refine the message and make it better. In fact, that’s how the tools in the book came about, through two years of asking people on the internet to critique what I proposed. That’s why I’m pretty damn proud and hopeful for what I’ve produced.

    It is a book addressed to people who are on the fence or slightly skeptical about climate change (i.e. the great majority of Americans). So you might think “What value is that to me? *I* don’t need to make up my mind.” The reason I’m asking YOU to read the book is so that you can use the ideas and approaches in it as a TOOL to accomplish what you want most–a wholesale shift in the national culture regarding climate change. That is how policy makers can have the space to make significant enough policy changes to have a reasonable chance of safeguarding our kids. It is the can opener. It is the search engine. It is the MSG that unlocks the huge potential sitting right there all along, but heretofore inaccessible.

    For what it’s worth, Bill McKibben wrote of the book: “This book trumps most of our accounts of the global warming crisis, partly for its good humor and straightforward logic, and partly because the author has actually figured out what actions make sense.”

    Chris Mooney wrote in the New Scientist: ” In the climate debate, I would rather trust Craven than industrial lobbyists or environmental groups, and I doubt I am alone…. I learned something from it – an achievement I might have thought impossible given my lengthy immersion in the climate debate…. If Craven could get everybody who has weighed in on this debate to go through the exercises in the book, Al Gore should share his Nobel peace prize.”

    Ross Gelbspan wrote “This is a terrifically thoughtful book. Given the discouraging history of antagonism, denial and indifference to the heating of the planet, Greg Craven’s book shines an illuminating floodlight on how we think about global warming.”

    And General Anthony Zinni (former Commander in Chief of U.S. Central Command) wrote “Greg Craven has written a brilliant and unique work on global warming. His innovative and intelligent approach to this controversial issue is superbly crafted. It is an important book that is a must read for those who care about our planet and future generations.”

    (Terry Goodkind, on the other hand, said that I was “evil,” and that what I’m doing is “no better than the terrorists.” So…there’s that.)

    So please. Give it a shot. I’m entirely sincere in my offer. And, as you might sense, increasingly desperate.

    Thanks so much for your consideration, and for all the time and energy that you all have already spent on this issue.

    Sincerely,
    Greg Craven

    Comment by Greg Craven — 18 Sep 2009 @ 2:04 AM

  111. I do not know whether Mr. Olsons book is thought solely in a US context, but as someone trying to raise peoples awareness about the issue in Europe, it appears to me that there may be some transatlantic differences in the way you need to frame the debate if you want scepticals to listen to you.

    I am not too familiar with the sociology of the US, but it appears to me that science is perceived by the “Joe sixpacks” you mention as being a generally left-wing excercise, which is rejected with reference to “common sense”.

    In Denmark (and at least in the Germany and the other scandinavian countries as well), science is traditionally perceived more as a right-wing domain. Here, the usual denialist framing of the debate is painting denialists as rational, clear-headed, scientifically thinking more-intelligent-than-average people against ill-informed, well-meaning but naive activists who do not understand the science they think is supporting their cause – helped by smart, cynical PR folks always looking for a fashionable and profitable cause to exploit.

    And it works. In Denmark, almost 40% of the propulation remain sceptical towards AGW (a fact that might be of interest to Marc Morano and his ilk for the purpose of making cheap denialist points during the summit in Copenhagen!).

    Maybe Denmark has a particularly difficult problem hosting a disproportionately large number of the very few serious sceptics from the cosmic ray school (Svensmark, Friis-Christensen and their coworkers) along with some very vocal outright denialists with seeming credentials (Bjarne Andresen with the “no global temperature”, Ole Humlum who wastes no time supporting Segalstad and Jaworowskis exotic claims about the CO2 rise not being anthropogenic) – and, of course, Bjørn Lomborg. Especially Lomborg has made it his main line of argument that his opponents are irrational activists who are afraid of numbers, and, as you know well, he has unfortunately been quite effective also abroad.

    But my experience from here is, actually, that the most effective way to get our sceptics to listen is indeed to focus on substance rather than style, precisely because the latter is all too easily rejected as being the product of emotions or PR wanting in hard facts. Not being a climate scientist (but a science teacher), I have often found it quite an effective strategy making the point that the science is so clear that I, being a rational, interested and normally gifted person, can go check it, and that any person considering himself in possession of the same average qualities can do the same.

    I understand perfectly that the idea of refuting nonsense firmly by simply presenting cool facts will hardly sound original to you people at Realclimate, but this is often exactly what is necessary here.
    Of course, being arrogant and unlikable is not popular here, either, but the surest way to lose a debate against a classical North European denialist firmly convinced that he represents reason and coolheadedness is, to my mind, definitely to present yourself and your argument as full of style rather than substance.

    I have not yet read Mr. Olson´s book, and I am sure there is much to learn for me in it, but from Mr. Schmidt´s review here, it appeared to me, prima facie, that there might be important cultural cross-country differences to the problem of how best to overcome climate denialism. I could be wrong.

    I am hoping that other European and US commenters could elaborate this question and enlighten me further about their experience with communicating science in different countries.

    Best regards – and thank you at Realclimate for providing a cornucopious source of information and refutations! You are a gift that keeps giving.

    Comment by Christoffer Bugge Harder — 18 Sep 2009 @ 5:19 AM

  112. “The average guy is confronted with two stories, not one.”

    He’s not. He may be told to confuse the thousands of anti-AGW stories with being one story, but it isn’t.

    Pro AGW: One story, with different emphasis, but basically “CO2 is a problem and we’re warming far too fast for anything other than our fossil fuel use to be the cause”

    Anti AGW: It’s the sun.
    Anti AGW: It’s not happening.
    Anti AGW: It’s too late.
    Anti AGW: It’s too early to tell.
    Anti AGW: It’s a conspiracy.
    Anti AGW: It’s GCRs.
    Anti AGW: It’s cooling.
    Anti AGW: It’s always doing this.
    Anti AGW: etc….. ad nauseum.

    Media help confuse this by saying “we have to show both sides”, but there’s far far more sides than that.

    Comment by Mark — 18 Sep 2009 @ 5:51 AM

  113. “In sum: Civility is better than sarcasm because sarcasm DOES NOT WORK. Neither does arrogance, dismissiveness, telling somebody else to “read the science.” Etc.”

    Civility only works when ALL SIDES are civil and want to discuss or argue the facts or interpretation.

    However, denialists aren’t civil. They aren’t looking to make a case for what IS going on, just want it not to be AGW. They change their tune, their evidence and their criteria for accepting evidence. Like a tide of floating jobbies in the Thames Estuary, they hide when you whack them or try to grasp their point and another little richard-the-third rises up to become prominent in its place. Later to rise up again just the same as before.

    In short, it requires that all sides to be honest in their arguments.

    Denialists aren’t.

    Therefore civility DOES NOT WORK.

    And at least with sarcasm, they don’t get the appearance of validity they so sorely desire (since they don’t have anything else: not facts, not theory, not evidence, not anything. Just “there’s still too much discussion to do something yet”).

    Comment by Mark — 18 Sep 2009 @ 5:57 AM

  114. “re: #80 – Again, you suggest that imagined insults and put-downs aren’t really there, and that “frankly that isn’t our problem.” This is being dismissive”

    Now compare with your earlier words:

    “What are their reasons? What are their interests? That dairy farmer in Wisconsin? He feels under attack. Accept it.”

    Isn’t that being dismissive of the harm such wanton disavowal of the intelligence the human is supposed to display as a member of homo sapiens sapiens? Is it not dismissive of the horror that such unthinking denial be allowed to doom so many? Is it not dismissive of the very valid concerns that real people who have looked into this who are, for reasons unconnected with the FACTS, but with the result that this Wisconsin Dairy Farmer is no longer on easy street and may have to find a new job and so accuses these scientists who are not even as well paid as his regular workhands “ivory tower egotists” or worse, just riding that gravy train and lying deliberately to do so?

    That pain is real yet you dismiss it cavalierly.

    The risk to others is real you dismiss it too.

    In fact, it’s all the scientists faults and THEY are the ones who have to “deal with it”.

    The Wisconsin Dairy Farmer is in a job that will be hurt by the fact of fossil fuel abuse in the past. It’s a fact. Deal with it.

    Oh, I can’t say that, can I? That’s being dismissive.

    Why then is it OK for you??

    Comment by Mark — 18 Sep 2009 @ 6:05 AM

  115. Richard Steckis says “Attribution of cause and effect in science can only be done statistically and empirically and not through model simulation.”

    Lord, Steckis, don’t you realize that even statistical analysis–hell even by nonparametric methods–requires a model to draw conclusions? There are no conclusions that are model independent, though some are robust across many different models. Do you also refuse to drive automobiles or fly on airplanes or ride in elevators, too?
    Again, you sure you don’t want to reconsider your position about conducting dubious experiments on the only habitable planet we know?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Sep 2009 @ 6:47 AM

  116. If we had the mojo of the Apostles we could look Ananais and Sapphria (the denialists) in the eye and ask them to repeat what they just said.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 18 Sep 2009 @ 8:00 AM

  117. When it comes to science presentations/documentaries, these are the things I like to see the fingerprints of in the presentation/doco:

    Know your intended audience.

    If you aren’t experienced at skillful communication to your intended audience, get linked up with someone that does it as their day job.

    If the scientists in question (unfortunately) look like nerdy scientists in real life, avoid having them on camera.

    Don’t patronise with fairy floss explanations – keep as close to the facts as possible when simplifying the message for the audience. An example of fairy floss explanation is the fascile one used by doctors to explain how antidepressants help the depressed patient, namely that they correct a chemical imbalance in the brain. Well, duh!

    Show how scientists do their jobs in climate science, maybe even some of the more challenging parts. For example, fieldwork in nasty places like Bowen’s book on Lonnie Thompson’s teams ice coring at high altitude in the mountains. It makes people appreciate the effort involved in getting hold of the data, as it were.

    Convey a sense of history and context: for example, Imbrie & Imbrie “Ice Ages: Solving the Mystery”, Harvard (1979) pp 98–99, Ch 8, by way of introducing Milankovitch’s mathematical objective of developing a mathematical theory able to describe the climates of Earth, Venus, and Mars, far into the future or distant past, Imbrie and Imbrie use Milankovitch’s own memoirs with this excerpt:
    When Milankovitch discussed his new ambition at the university, he found that his colleagues were puzzled.

    Our great geographer stared at me with an astonished look on his face when I told him of my intention to calculate the temperature of the parallels of latitude on the Earth…
    Have we not built thousands of meteorological stations on Earth that inform us more reliably and accurately about…
    temperature than the most perfect theory?

    Don’t weigh into debunking sceptics and denialists because that immediately polarises an audience into for or against, and risks putting off the audience. Stick to a neutral stance when it comes to policy.

    Ask your intended audience what science programs or documentaries resonated, and why – and then watch those programs.

    Comment by Donald Oats — 18 Sep 2009 @ 8:01 AM

  118. Stick to a neutral stance when it comes to policy.

    And thus play into the hands of those who claim no credible solutions are being offered.

    Comment by llewelly — 18 Sep 2009 @ 8:43 AM

  119. I recently read the book ‘Unscientific America’, it was bit of a random pick from Amazon, the title looked interesting. I thought it was a bit weak and I wondered where the authors were going and how they were going to get there. I was astonished when the author appeared on a high profile political current affairs program here in Australia, on the National Broadcast free to air channel. I think Chris Mooney managed to stand his ground and escaped being mauled. I say this because Australia pretty much has this same problem of illiteracy regarding scientific knowledge, processes and critical thinking.

    I expect that here on RealClimate it is to be expected that the debate quickly focused to how to communicate the science of Climate Change. However, curiously the debate seems to focus on a magic bullet approach – if only the communication was done ‘this way’, then everyone would see and understand.

    Unfortunately most people wont, or refuse to think critically when assessing scientific content and it will make no difference how the information is presented.

    Here’s a link to Chris Mooney’s interview, sorry I can’t link direct you’ll need to sift though the site to find it.
    http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/

    Comment by Mike Chapman — 18 Sep 2009 @ 8:59 AM

  120. Re: 118, if a scientist tries to convey solutions as part of a presentation or doco on the topic of solutions, then all well and good. But be prepared for being pidgeonholed as a commie, greenie, or whatever the latest term is for someone on the political left. This may well happen even if the scientist is a Liberal voter (in Australia) or a Republican voter in the USA. Unless the solutions are nuclear and hands-off leave it to voluntary changes in consumer behaviour, the risk is very real that the scientist will be deliberately portrayed as leftwing/green. And from that point on, everything that scientist says is viewed through that prism, including the science!

    Some scientists are great at policy stuff, some are great at the science communicator role, and some are best kept far away from popular science presentations and left to doing the science, IMHO. Very few are great at all three, and in today’s environment, to be great at all three without being tarred as partisan is pretty challenging.

    Just my thoughts on the challenges of science communication.

    Comment by Donald Oats — 18 Sep 2009 @ 9:52 AM

  121. Dear Greg Craven,

    I will give it a shot. I am sort of sitting on the fence and maybe a bit more than slightly skeptical about climate change, so I am your target audience. I will order the book.

    However, I will not ask for a refund, you have convinced me that you are sincere in your concern about our planet. I am also sure you have not written the book in order to make money, it would not be fair to ask the money back. I am concerned about our planet too, maybe because of different reasons.

    If I have the time I will try to post a comment on your web site.

    Sincerely,

    Jari

    Comment by Jari — 18 Sep 2009 @ 11:18 AM

  122. A follow-up recommendation on communication. A helpful perspective on this entire thread — maybe an essential perspective — can be found in a book by Jim Webb, “Born Fighting.” It explains, in detail, some of the geographic and demographic quirks of the US; Webb is the Senator from Virginia, who served in President Reagan’s cabinet as Secretary of the Navy.

    There are historical reasons the US is not the UK, when it comes to the role of science, government and policy, though it was settled by English speaking peoples.

    Webb’s book is partly based on a book by the historian David Hackett Fischer, “Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America.” But Webb’s book carries the role of history into the present, and he adds his own life story for depth.

    If Greg Craven (btw, huge fan of your work) is still reading these comments: take a look at Webb’s book, maybe even reach out to him for advice. (A blend of your thoughts, perspectives and experiences would be ideal — even if someone else needs to carry the torch now in your stead.) My own conclusions after reading Webb’s book is that for the people that matter, the voices that matter will come from the military and the church.

    Comment by Richard Reiss — 18 Sep 2009 @ 11:32 AM

  123. Speaking of attempts to communicate the science, I’ve just published a new Hubpage on classic GW science–specifically Arrhenius and his life, work and times. Like the preceding three articles, it takes a personal approach to the historical science, putting the science in context. (And like Gavin’s “Climate Change”, I try to include lots of pictures–though I can’t claim mine are quite that cool, or quite that specifically relevant!)

    Short URL:

    http://hubpages.com/t/b958e

    And thanks once again to those from this community who have taken the time to peruse previous installments in the series!

    (BTW, you can buy Greg Craven’s book from that page, too!) ;-)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Sep 2009 @ 11:56 AM

  124. Advocacy is the slipperiest slope in science, and it’s best avoided by “real” scientists. In fact my biggest beef with climate science is how often the good science is enlisted in support of bad or questionable mitigation action. Leave the propaganda to the documentary filmmakers!

    Comment by Joe Hunkins — 18 Sep 2009 @ 12:04 PM

  125. Richard Steckis says:
    “Your examples are basically appealing to catastrophe. Attribution of cause and effect in science can only be done statistically and empirically and not through model simulation. Model simulation can give us a anecdotal view but not predictive view. Using models for prediction falls into the realms of forecasting and therefore must comply with established forecasting principles for them to be accepted for that purpose.”

    What in the heck are you talking about? Where do you think the concept that one is statistically evaluating, using the empirical evidence, comes from? And your statements and dichotomy regarding models are simplistic and wrong. Models can most certainly predict, they do it all the time. And we evaluate those predictions with empirical data.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 18 Sep 2009 @ 12:37 PM

  126. Jari (re #121): Thank you so much for the response. I am sincere in the refund offer. Perhaps, if I never actually write a check to anyone, my offer will be dismissed as another disingenuous marketing ploy (see the 1-star review on my book’s Amazon page). So I encourage you to actually ask for it if you are at _all_ inclined! :-)

    And what I really, really, really ask of you is that you share your thoughts with me and others when you’re done. Positive reviews from people already sympathetic to climate change action is great for warm fuzzies, but doesn’t help me evaluate my work and improve it. I’ve only gotten one negative review, and as you can see from the comment thread following that (on the Amazon page), the reviewer stopped answering the questions I was asking in trying to understand what I could have done differently.

    Share your thoughts on Amazon, here, or on the discussion pages set up for just that through manpollo.org (via gregraven.org).

    Cheers.

    Comment by Greg Craven — 18 Sep 2009 @ 12:38 PM

  127. Regarding the tone of posts, let me reiterate that the target audience should not be the denialist with whom you are engaged, but the third-party reader who may be more open to reason.

    Therefore, you don’t want to blow your own credibility by coming across as just snarky. A balance between sweet reason and wit seems indicated–to me, at least. Hopefully that lets you avoid being a jerk on the one hand, or boring on the other. And of course, accuracy and specificity are essentials. And, cite–!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Sep 2009 @ 12:43 PM

  128. The solution to the problem is to pass a robust healthcare reform bill such as one currently proposed in the House or by the Senate HELP Committee. This will provide an enormous morale boost to those who see society as a community within which we share an obligation to care about each other. That enthusiasm will translate, with luck and skill, into effective advocacy for a communal response to the even gtreater challenge of climate change.

    My claim, while not intended in a literal sense, may be less irrelevant than first sppears. Much of the foregoing commentary, in my view, has tended to confuse the United States with the entirety of the civilized world, but in fact, a sense of communal responsibilty for our environment is generally greater in Europe and elsewhere than it is here, despite the reality that these other societies bear far less responsibility for creating the problem in the first place. To my mind, therefore, the need here is less for an approach targeted specifically to science, than for a politial and cultural transformation that reduces our emphasis on selfish individualism and recognizes our shared responsibility for each other as humans, as well as for other species who share this planet with us, and are less capable of looking out for themselves.

    To some extent this can be accomplished in the political sphere, as the current Administration is attempting, but I believe that it will ultimately depend more on a generational shift, as those with the entrenched mindset – anti-intellectual and suspicious of reformers – disappear through attrition (sooner rather than later if we don’t pass healthcare) and are replaced by younger individuals who retain some of the idealism of youth even as they age.

    In the meantime, we can profit from guidance offered above on how better to communicate, but until those we talk to are more sympathetic to the message, what we say and what they hear will continue to occupy separate wavelengths.

    Comment by Fred Moolten — 18 Sep 2009 @ 12:59 PM

  129. Re: 118, if a scientist tries to convey solutions as part of a presentation or doco on the topic of solutions, then all well and good. But be prepared for being pidgeonholed as a commie, greenie, or whatever the latest term is for someone on the political left.

    I guess my comment is more US-centric than I thought. In America, everyone who agrees with the evidence is branded a greenie and a communist, whether they speak about solutions or no. Silence is not a defense here.

    Comment by llewelly — 18 Sep 2009 @ 1:23 PM

  130. Michael Turton (103) — Its probably not wise to think of the climate as “recovering”. The climate simply responds to the forcings and is most unlike the mass-spring analogy.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 18 Sep 2009 @ 2:08 PM

  131. I think many scientists could benefit from becoming members of Toastmasters, as a simple, effective way to improve their oral presentation skills.

    Comment by Geno Canto del Halcon — 18 Sep 2009 @ 2:12 PM

  132. I’m an electrical power systems engineer. I sympathize with the challenge scientists have in communicating their findings to a skeptical public. But not all of the problems are in convincing denialists. There is also a need to better educate those who support climate change mitigation measures. For example, because such a large percentage of our electrical power comes from burning fossil fuels, I cannot figure out why otherwise smart people think they will save the world with electric cars. Much of the energy to charge their car batteries is going to come from the local power grid, and therefore comes from the burning of fossil fuels (at least, in the USA that is still true), with a premium added: generating plant and electrical system losses. True, a growing percentage of our electrical energy is generated by wind and solar – but a massive program to force us into electric cars will delay the retirement of fossil fuel plants, because of increased system demand, and the demand on an already over-stretched transmission & distribution infrastructure. In the near-term, at least, electric cars are not only not a solution, they likely will contribute to the problem. (I drive a Prius.)

    Comment by Geno Canto del Halcon — 18 Sep 2009 @ 2:27 PM

  133. To Ray, Mark and Jim:

    I understand your comments. Obviously we disagree on the effectiveness of civility. Thank you for replying (with civility)

    My claims about the effectiveness of civility are based largely on my father, (Mr. Civility) and also on Stephen Carter’s book CIVILITY. My dad has gone on now, but Carter’s book is still around.

    Burgy

    Comment by John (Burgy) Burgeson — 18 Sep 2009 @ 4:00 PM

  134. Kevin McKinney says, “…you don’t want to blow your own credibility by coming across as just snarky”

    Kevin,
    Snark is a scientific tradition. What is more, science requires not just adherence to but devotion to the truth. What approach would you suggest for those who repeatedly lie or who repeat a lie out of ignorance? Do you think the scientists below harmed their credibility?

    Wolfgang Pauli:

    “I don’t mind your thinking slowly; I mind your publishing faster than you think.”

    “If I understand Dirac correctly, his meaning is this: there is no God, and Dirac is his Prophet.”

    “This paper is so bad it is not even wrong.”

    Niels Bohr:

    “Your theory is crazy, but it’s not crazy enough to be true.”

    “Stop telling God what to do with his dice.”

    Thomas Huxley:
    “If the question is put to me would I rather have a miserable ape for a grandfather or a man highly endowed by nature and possessed of great means of influence and yet who employs these faculties and that influence for the mere purpose of introducing ridicule into a grave scientific discussion, I unhesitatingly affirm my preference for the ape.”

    Richard Phillips Feynman:
    “If I could explain it to the average person, I wouldn’t have been worth the Nobel Prize.”

    John von Neumann:

    “With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.”

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Sep 2009 @ 5:55 PM

  135. Ray, I appreciate the wit you’ve anthologized–it’s a good deal more than “just snark.”

    However, you yourself have made a clear distinction between science and the blogs, no?

    What I usually do with those who repeatedly utter falsehoods is write “Once again, your opinion that (fill in the blank) is at odds with the great bulk of the actual evidence.” Then I’ll give examples of the evidence, since the main point of being on the blog is to get that evidence out to those who may be open to it. By uttering the falsehood, Joe Denialist has just given me another opportunity to get the truth out.

    If I can get some wit in there, so much the better. It’s not half as good as your examples, but as a recent example I wrote something like: “I’m reasonably sure that AGW is neither a plot to enrich the developed world at the expense of the developing world, nor vice versa; but I’m quite sure it can’t be both at once!”

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Sep 2009 @ 10:10 PM

  136. Richard Steckis #105

    “Attribution of cause and effect in science can only be done statistically and empirically and not through model simulation. Model simulation can give us a anecdotal view but not predictive view.”

    You are wrong because you have it almost exactly reversed. Empirical evidence by itself (and the associated statistics) can only determine correlation. It will never allow attribution of cause and effect. To allow attribution of cause and effect you need predictive theories or models, to test which fits the circumstances best. We may dispense with such a pedantic approach in everyday trivial cases but even here we sometimes end up with the wrong conclusions.

    Comment by Andrew Hobbs — 19 Sep 2009 @ 4:38 AM

  137. @Geno Canto del Halcon
    That`s why we need to change the way how we generate energy. Renewable is the key to solve this. Another effect of cleaner air means less health issues.

    The time of fossil fuels is over, every approach into tar-sands, mountaintop removal, coal or methane gas is doomed.

    Comment by 1234567890 — 19 Sep 2009 @ 8:12 AM

  138. #62 Richard Steckis

    Actually I would argue that all weather now has the global warming signature in it, around it, or on it depending on your point of view. We are on a different path with AGW. Take another look at the attribution assessment:

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/natural-variability

    It’s simple, since the climate is on a different path, and since weather is a sub-system of climate, all weather is under the umbrella of the parent system, and thereby subject to its influence to various degrees. The new path, AGW, is the parent system with natural variability (weather) occurring inside of it. So essentially it breaks down to weather occurring on a different path, that of warming.

    As far as signal to noise, that will get better over time, but the hurricane strength is a pretty solid indicator

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/images/hurricanes/hurricane_category.png/view

    The number of acres burned in contrast to the number of fires is also a good indicator

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/images/fire/us-wildfires-1960to2007-pg.gif/view

    Context is Key.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 19 Sep 2009 @ 9:25 AM

  139. #64 Mark

    Oh yeah, Martian heat rays… I forgot all about those ;)

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 19 Sep 2009 @ 9:25 AM

  140. #95, #133 John (Burgy) Burgeson

    I don’t think there are any civility haters here. But my point still stands to reason as far as I can tell.

    If Jesus had read Stephen Carters book, would he have ‘not’ turned over the tables in the temple?

    The other little problem with civility is ‘feigned civility’ to present an argument that is, by its construct, designed to solicit an answer that can then later be called uncivil, is more uncivil than the solicited response, imo.

    In other words, what is more uncivil, the responder to the silly attack, or the one who picked the fight in the first place by creating a false argument that is instigative in nature. Judges tend to rule against the guy that started the fight in this type of case.

    Also, I don’t believe you are responsible for the level of civility in this thread, though you may have had some influence on some posters. It’s a bit of a stretch for you to claim “So many good posts have followed my suggestion for civility.” Most people here are generally quite civil.

    Also, I do not believe Ray, Mark and Jim are saying civility is ineffective, but rather giving examples of other means that also have value in the communications stream.

    And for third party readers, quelling (squashing) a silly point succinctly (sarcastically) can certainly be a valid (valuable) form of argument in order to drive the message home.

    Climate communication is tough and there are many ways to make a point. We as a community need to keep doing our best to get the relevant information across.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 19 Sep 2009 @ 10:40 AM

  141. #100 RichardC

    I think you do not understand the problem(s) very well at all.

    “eco-wackos such as those who run and frequent this site”.

    hmm… well…

    In general, it is important to understand that if we wait that long then we may no longer have the luxury of doing something safe and meaningful to protect the human race from the impacts of the inertia and feedbacks that are reasonably expected.

    So, no. Waiting is not an option. If it all happens that way, then such is life and death in the fast lane, to the degree applicable.

    I for one am going to continue to WASTE MY TIME on trying to create more relevant education.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 19 Sep 2009 @ 10:41 AM

  142. #113 Mark

    And at least with sarcasm, they don’t get the appearance of validity they so sorely desire (since they don’t have anything else: not facts, not theory, not evidence, not anything.

    Here, here.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 19 Sep 2009 @ 10:43 AM

  143. #127 Kevin McKinney

    The target is both the denialist and the third party reader. Eventually the denialists will learn also.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 19 Sep 2009 @ 10:44 AM

  144. Re: Ray’s nice compendium of scientific snarkieness.

    Ray approves of these remarks. I do not. To me, they ridiculed a person and so demeaned themselves.

    Comment by John (Burgy) Burgeson — 19 Sep 2009 @ 11:26 AM

  145. Regarding 136 and 105, I believe it’s an overgeneralization to claim that empirical evidence can’t determine causality but only correlation. That is correct when one has no control over the variables, but a controlled experiment can derive causality from empirical data.

    For an example relevant to climate science, it’s reasonable to claim that the correlation between rising CO2 and rising global temperatures is correlative only, and that the causal relationship can be strongly inferred, although not conclusively proved, by excluding reasonable alternative explanations. (In another arena of science, the same principle applies to human data on the relationship between smoking and cancer).

    On the other hand, if one fills a tube with air, adds varying amounts of CO2, and measures changes in infrared absorption while keeping all other variables fixed*, it is possible to use the evidence as proof of a causal relationship between CO2 concentrations and absorption.

    *Technically, one can’t increase CO2 concentration without reducing the concentration of O2, N2, etc., but these latter changes will be too insubstantial to matter significantly, and their role can be excluded by other experiments.

    Comment by Fred Moolten — 19 Sep 2009 @ 12:08 PM

  146. One can perform attribution by comparing spatio-temporal patterns between observations and models. In this sense formal attribution is moreso based on spatio-temporal patterns and the underlying physics rather than the simulated response amplitude to a given forcing. Theoretically then, one can perform attribution even when subtracting off a trend induced by some forcing.

    For comment 105, attribution is not the same thing as prediction, so using models in itself is not the equivalent of forecasting. This depends on the purpose of using the model.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 19 Sep 2009 @ 1:29 PM

  147. I think scientists are too hesitant to connect real world, empirical evidence with climate change. They also need to be told that the same greenhouse gasses causing climate change also produce pollution that is killing people and plants, now. That’s something the public might care about, if they ever stopped watching the teevee long enough to notice. Today I read a local horticultural magazine and was astonished to see that professional nurserymen are bemoaning the condition of trees and other plants, but haven’t put it together. Atmospheric physicists and botanists should start having conversations over the water cooler.

    Here’s what I sent the writers, and the NJ Department of Agriculture:

    Dear Sirs:

    I picked up a copy of Gardener News and notice that many articles are unwittingly describing the effects of carbon emission poisoning on vegetation. These effects mimic the symptoms of drought, blight, excess rainfall and fungus but are in fact also well-documented to be produced by exposure to atmospheric toxins.

    Just because the gasses produced by burning coal, gasoline and ethanol are invisible, it does not mean they are not deadly. The scorched and falling leaves, thin tree crowns and forest canopies, bare branches, and dropping pine needles are ubiquitous in New Jersey and up and down the Eastern Seaboard. The hundreds of trees that were damaged in a thunderstorm in Central Park was not from mere weather – the trees are weak, and they are covered with lichen, a harbinger of death.

    It’s quite likely that the relatively sudden and dramatic decline in trees is a result of the mandated addition of ethanol to gasoline.

    It’s well known that burning gasoline emits CO2, which reacts to UV radiation, creating ozone. It’s less well recognized that ozone is very detrimental to plants – and even less discussed is that the damage from ethanol may be worse. Ethanol emits acetaldehyde which is the precursor to peroxyacetyl nitrates (PANS), that are highly dangerous to vegetation (and people: see http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/ClimateHealth4.pdf)

    Before attributing this widespread and universal damage to individual diseases, excessive rain, pests, previous drought, and other blights on vegetation, which is what foresters, ecologists, and conservationists usually do, please consider this fact: the leaves of plants in ponds show the identical process of chloration – a loss of the ability to create chlorophyll. In the classic response to ozone and PANS, the leaves close their stomata, basically causing the organism to suffocate.

    I would like to direct you to this report http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/430/430-022/430-022.html which describes exactly the condition of vegetation in New Jersey. I would question two statements that I believe may be out of date – one is that some species are more susceptible than others. Currently, it’s impossible to find any species that isn’t affected. The other is that PANS are less of a problem than ozone.

    The evidence of this phenomena is readily detectable in an objective, cursory inventory of any woods, park, back yard, farm, arboretum, mall parking lot, pond, or nursery. It is irrefutable that the composition of the atmosphere is the primary causative agent for what is rapidly becoming an existential threat. Note that there is not one species that normally photosynthesizes that is immune, and that trees of every spectrum of age, and plants in every situation, whether wild or in nurseries, in pots or ponds or in the ground, share the same degree of impact.

    If we do not stop squandering fuel we are headed straight for ecosystem collapse and mass extinctions, not to mention crop losses.

    I am not a chemist but if it could be determined to be primarily linked to ethanol, we can consider ourselves lucky. We could stop this wholesale slaughter of trees and go back to the slower path of destruction through climate change.

    You who are directly involved in agriculture and landscaping should be in the forefront demanding that the government take swift and strong action to enact clean energy legislation, because it is your livelihood that is at stake. Of course everybody who eats, and every species that depends on trees for fruit, nuts, shelter, and shade has everything to lose as well. But you will be the first to be impacted when your crops fail to produce adequate income for you, and people and businesses give up purchasing and planting shrubs and saplings in their landscapes because it will be a waste of money. Eventually they will notice that nothing they install will thrive.

    Please fell free to write or call if there is anything I can clarify; and/or visit http://www.witsendnj.blogspot.com where there are many links to scientific research, and photos documenting the carnage.

    Sincerely,

    Gail Zawacki
    Oldwick, NJ

    Comment by Gail Z — 19 Sep 2009 @ 4:46 PM

  148. Re #147 Gail Z:
    I had a look at your site, regarding the condition of the trees. By the way, for background I do understand the reality of AGW, and how serious it is. Proudly maybe even an “Eco Wacko”!

    I doubt that the problem that you are observing in the trees can be attributed (at least directly) to greenhouse gasses. The situation looks a lot more like the disease that here in Australia we call “dieback”. Primarily due to fungus infection of the roots. In nature many pathogens tend to be localized, or move very slowly. Humans are spreading all sorts of pathogens affecting plants and animals very quickly very far, pathogens that many organisms have no immunity to. Sadly in the case you witness there is no cure. You just have to plant new trees, in some cases the same species can survive if exposure to the pathogen is present from germination.

    Comment by Lawrence McLean — 19 Sep 2009 @ 5:41 PM

  149. 141 John said, “In general, it is important to understand that if we wait that long then we may no longer have the luxury of doing something safe and meaningful”

    Already been done. The time for that argument was decades ago. Humanity waited until now, and waiting a few more years won’t change the equation. Basically, I’m saying we already missed the boat. Since we have very powerful people spending serious bucks ensuring that any doubt at all will be magnified into a 50-50 “debate”, the gain to be had by arguing is nil. We’re at the point where the next warm phase in weather (we’re deep in the bottom of a cool phase now) will tell the tale. Until then, nothing will be done. The current obsession with global warming instead of oceanic death is part of the problem. It begs people to go with the obvious solution of sulphating the stratosphere. You’re playing right into the deniers’ hand. Global warming MUST be abandoned as a talking point. It is far too easily solved, so harping on it just makes “us” look dishonest and/or stupid. Think about it. Global warming is debatable and easily solved even “if” true, but oceanic death is NOT debatable and NOT solvable other than by curtailing fossil fuel usage.

    Comment by RichardC — 19 Sep 2009 @ 6:49 PM

  150. To Lawrence McLean,

    Thank you for your interest. No doubt there are pathogens rotting roots of trees. However, this does not explain the observed decline of annuals in pots and water plants in ponds. And planting new trees is no solution, since young saplings are suffering just as visibly as middle aged and old trees. I might add that this blight is moving extremely quickly, amongst every species that depends upon photosynthesis. If you read the report from Virginia, linked in the letter, it becomes quite obvious that it is greenhouse gasses polluting the air that are causing wholesale vegetative loss.

    Comment by Gail Z — 19 Sep 2009 @ 6:52 PM

  151. Somehow a number of Minnesota politicians are not listening to the story:

    Comment by Bob Sell — 19 Sep 2009 @ 6:59 PM

  152. Burgy #144:

    Ray approves of these remarks. I do not. To me, they ridiculed a person and so demeaned themselves.

    _

    I know for a fact that Einstein didn’t take Bohr’s remark badly, even while disagreeing (he had great difficulty with the probabilistic interpretation of QM). Both were immersed in a tight-knit subculture with its own ‘robust’ communication style.

    Burgy, I give you that you’re misreading just about everything about how scientists communicate ;-)

    And with Huxley, Wilberforce had it coming: remember he resorted to cheap points-scoring ridicule first. So little has changed.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 19 Sep 2009 @ 7:11 PM

  153. Burgie, Are you suggesting that we treat liars and poseurs with courtesy? I do not see how this moves things forward. I view the purpose of this blog as education, and we should jealously guard that educational resource.

    The truth cannot defend itself. If we do not rise to its defense, it perishes under lies.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Sep 2009 @ 8:52 PM

  154. #145

    In one sense I would suggest you just confirmed my point. In your thought experiment you constructed a theory or model (that CO2 absorbed infrared radiation) and tested it to see whether the results would fit that or another model or theory. Not that it happened quite like that of course since that thought experiment would be more of a demonstration now. Presumably you were operating with prior knowledge of Beer-Lambert’s law and the absorbance profile of carbon dioxide which have been confirmed innumerable times since their initial discovery.

    In a rather more esoteric sense I would even argue that observations in experiments are still subject to the same standard. Even in the case you describe there may still be ways of explaining your observations which did not involve CO2 causing absorption of infrared radiation (More so if this was in the absence of the huge body of basic scientific knowledge surrounding the subject which supports your model, and which it is hard to imagine being without.) If you could think of such effects, whether it is related to other gases, the treatment of the glass vessels, even equipment failure, you would design experiments to decide which is correct. Even if you can’t think of other effects, they may still be there. The result is that you accept the cause and effect based upon your theory or model. Your model makes other predictions which you can then try to verify (or not) and these provide further support for your model. But I still say that in a complete fundamental analysis, simple observations will not prove cause and effect.

    Comment by Andrew Hobbs — 19 Sep 2009 @ 10:56 PM

  155. In answer to Ray Ladbury (#115), Jim Bouldin (#125) and Andrew Hobbs (#136),

    In my post I should have outlined the difference between statistical and dynamical models.

    Yes, statistical models are an essential part of the scientific method (e.g. Linear and multiple linear regression, ANOVA, MANOVA etc.). However what all of you seem to be arguing (correct me if I am wrong) is that the model stage is at the beginning of the process of scientific method. Well it isn’t. the scientific method essentially is this process (from wikipedia could be better):

    1. Define the question
    2. Gather information and resources (observe)
    3. Form hypothesis
    4. Perform experiment and collect data
    5. Analyze data
    6. Interpret data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis
    7. Publish results
    8. Retest (frequently done by other scientists)

    The modelling process does not come into the method until about stages 5 and 6. Dynamical models cannot be developed until after stage 7 as they rely on established science for their development. Andrew Hobbs suggests that all statistics is correlation. This is not true. Cause and effect is determined statistically by using statistical modelling (such as those outlined above).

    As for prediction. I was a little lax in not distinguishing between prediction and forecasting. What I meant is that for dynamical models to have forecasting capability, they must comply with established forecasting principles. No GCM would pass a forecast audit as defined by the International Institute of Forecasters. Therefore, no GCM would be robust in forecasting the climate 100 years into the future.

    I suggest we use dynamical models for their actual intended purpose. That is to test our knowledge of a system and then define where that knowledge is lacking so that we can better understand the dynamics of that system.

    [Response: I love it when people tell scientists what they think they should be doing and then conclude simply by assertion that they are wasting their time. First off, modelling comes in to every single stage of your idealised method. They are used for coming up with questions in the first place, they are used for assessing what can usefully be observed and indeed what any observation of a particular quantity is actually related to. Hypotheses are certainly informed by their results, and model experiments (simulations) are done to test them (i.e. can the aerosol layer seen in the stratosphere after Mt. Pinatubo explain the subsequent cooling, changes in radiation, dynamical shift and rainfall anomalies?). Etc. etc. In a complex system like the Earth's climate, it is almost impossible to come up with hypotheses that don't require a model of some sort to quantify their effects. And as for the "International Institute of Forecasters" - what you are really referring to is Green and Armstrong's ridiculous political posturing in the guise of 'objective' assessment. Something we examined (and found wanting) years ago. Unsurprisingly, some of their colleagues at IIF concluded that the G&A approach of simply listing apparent failings without quantifying their impact (or even checking to see whether they've even understood "fails to contribute to the public policy debate, it is because it fails on quality grounds." I suggest that you stay on topic of attribution - which is quite distinct from forecasting in any case. - gavin]

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 19 Sep 2009 @ 11:18 PM

  156. #149 RichardC

    In you post #100 you state:

    “We know that stopping the warming is simple – just add a little sulfur to the stratosphere at a piddling cost and global warming WILL, not might, WILL be stopped in its tracks.”

    At what cost to human and related bio-chemical earth systems, and socio-economic systems? I’d like to understand you suggestion in more detail. “add a little sulfur to the stratosphere” Can you outline generally your plan and its costs/effects in the earth biosphere and human population?

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 20 Sep 2009 @ 12:55 AM

  157. Scott Mandia [50]:

    WUWT won the Best Science Blog of the Year in 2008. Why? It is flashy, several articles are posted daily so there is always fresh content, and there is a sense of collegiality among the regulars. I post there as one of the few member of the Loyal Opposition and am often a target. Some folks get personal in their replies to my comments. However, there are a few there that are very intelligent, very courteous, and they have data and the occasional journal article to back up their arguments. Many times I take a deep breath before I reply and remember that I must “represent”. If my replies are professional and courteous, I believe the average person will give them the weight that they deserve, even on a site such as WUWT.

    Why do I post there? If this is the most popular place for people to go to get their information, then WE NEED TO BE THERE.

    Hi Scott, I’ve seen some of your posts at Mr Watts’ place and I admire your persistence, however I seriously wonder how many people still regard it as a source of ‘reliable information’, given the laughably transparent bias, selective editing, the outrageous ad hominems permitted in the comments and cherry-picks? Sure a lot of people seem to drop by, but then people will slow down to see the aftermath of a car crash on the motorway [highway]. I boost the traffic there occassionally with a visit just to see if standards are being maintained and to check out if any real science supporting the denial case has surfaced. I am rarely disappointed, most recently a Treasury document was described as showing Cap and Trade would ‘cost’ $1760 annually per family, an analysis the Treasury described as being based on the principle that ‘the math ignores the redistribution of revenue back to consumers. It only looks at one side of the balance sheet. It would only be true if you think the Administration was going to pile all the cash on the White House lawn and set it on fire. , naturally this rebuttal appeared nowhere on WUWT and the $1760 figure is being touted as the reality….

    The fact that WUWT won the weblog award for Best Science Blog, should give us pause for thought however. And that thought should be this: from the milions of WWW users, the winning site received just over 14,000 votes, in a poll that allowed individuals to vote multiple times. Admittedly this is about 10 times the number of votes received by RC, but a small number of voters with access to multiple PCs could easily distort the oucome, this was more a niche popularity contest decided by a completely unscientific method, than a way of determining the relative educational merit of the various science blogs.

    Civility, politeness and sticking to the arguments rather than the personalities are hallmarks of a good scientific debate; When Professor Mann’s paper on hurricane frequency was published, the WUWT response carried precious little comment on the science of the paper (other than a link to Steve McIntyre’s predictably lame comments, the same Mr McIntyre who described Gavin as ‘full of sh*t’ for the simple act of telling the truth, and who has a video clip of Professor Mann on his site captioned ‘try not to puke’, so much for civility). Mr Watts did however consider these comments fit for his audience …

    [edit--folks get the picture, no need to repeat the words of the charlatans here]

    So, as I say I admire your persistence, but I do wonder how many visitors truly regard such a site as reliable…

    Phil Clarke

    Comment by pjclarke — 20 Sep 2009 @ 5:29 AM

  158. John P. Reisman, if you really are out to convince the denialist him- or herself, I would think that snark becomes still less effective. I can’t think of one occasion ever when someone was convinced by being made the butt of personal ridicule.

    Sadly, I have not yet found empirical support for the non-zero AGW learning curve postulated for denialists. (Although one might not notice–if I had been proclaiming “cooling since 1998″ or some such, I’d've quietly slunk away, hoping no-one noticed my absence.) It won’t be argument that convinces the die-hards, it will be physical reality.

    I’m hoping enough of the reasonable are convinced by December.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 20 Sep 2009 @ 6:06 AM

  159. Gavin says:

    “I love it when people tell scientists what they think they should be doing and then conclude simply by assertion that they are wasting their time. First off, modelling comes in to every single stage of your idealised method.”

    1. I am a published scientist.

    2. I did not say you were wasting your time doing science with modelling. I said you are wasting your time trying to forecast climate decades into the future.

    3. You are an applied mathematician. Of course you would argue that modelling comes into every stage of the scientific method. The simple fact is it doesn’t.

    4. You say they are used for coming up with questions in the first place. No. They are used for coming up with questions when they fail to reproduce the prevailing system being modelled.

    5. You say “In a complex system like the Earth’s climate, it is almost impossible to come up with hypotheses that don’t require a model of some sort to quantify their effects.” I agree. And that is usually statistical modelling arising from empirical research.

    6. Green and who?

    ’nuff said.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 20 Sep 2009 @ 8:54 AM

  160. #158 Kevin McKinney

    Third Party and denialist, not just denialist. Context is key.

    If you have some favorite quotes where you see me being snarky, please do post the links. I would love to refresh my memory and it might be entertaining.

    I think one of my personal favorite stories was when I said to someone regarding understanding risk and time factors, what if you were tied to a table and a big ax was swinging back and forth over you and, and, and… Sort of a Damocles moment.

    As to convincing the die-hards. I have about a 99% to 100% turnaround rate. That’s my experience lately. That of course can fade when someone goes and finds all new fresh denialist arguments but this can be quelled too with follow up and I always invite people to drop me a line if they see something they don’t understand.

    So, I don’t think we need to wait for physical reality.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 20 Sep 2009 @ 9:15 AM

  161. # 157 pjclarke @ 20 September 2009 at 5:29 AM

    I hope you are wrong or I am certainly wasting much time! I agree that if one looks at the comments, one does get the impression that the few of us trying to correct the misinformation are wasting our time. However, I imagine that there are quite a few lurkers who never post. Those are the people I am trying to reach.

    Comment by Scott A. Mandia — 20 Sep 2009 @ 9:20 AM

  162. Surely trying to “convince the denialist” is futility bordering on madness. Who imagines them to be sincere in their position?

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 20 Sep 2009 @ 9:45 AM

  163. #162 Jeffrey Davis

    Of those I have met, most if not nearly all are sincere.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 20 Sep 2009 @ 10:21 AM

  164. There seems to be some misapprehension that denialists are all simply well intentioned people who somehow managed to get their wires crossed on a particular topic. While that may be true for some, there are others for whom AGW is merely an element of the “culture wars” which in turn come under the umbrella of a larger political agenda. I’d go so far as to say that, although they may attempt to argue science, at the end of the day they don’t really give a damn one way or the other about whether AGW is real or not. They’ve got more glorious ambitions to indulge, and as far as they’re concerned scientists are just bit players in need of a good mugging –unless of course they’re making themselves useful by coming up with bigger flat screen TVs and more deadly weapons. Civility, always a thing to be cherished, protected, and nurtured just isn’t adequate for every task.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 20 Sep 2009 @ 10:30 AM

  165. 156 John asked, “At what cost to human and related bio-chemical earth systems, and socio-economic systems? I’d like to understand you suggestion in more detail. “add a little sulfur to the stratosphere” Can you outline generally your plan and its costs/effects in the earth biosphere and human population?”

    Sorry for not being clear – it isn’t my suggestion, but my prediction of the result of the current focus on global warming instead of oceanic death. A dead ocean and a climate system on life support isn’t exactly a good thing.

    Comment by RichardC — 20 Sep 2009 @ 10:41 AM

  166. #159 Richard Steckis

    Well, being a published scientist is not the end all be all of holistic reasoning capacity. And of course one can have sound published work in one area and still not understand the relevant contexts in another area.

    Just for the sake of clarity Richard, at this point in time, what is your forecast for climate in the future, let’s say in 2100

    a. Generally Warmer
    b. Generally About the Same
    c. Generally Cooler
    d. None of the Above because…

    If your answer is d. Why?

    Also, at this point in time, what percentage or percentage range would you give to anthropogenic influence on the current climate, and why?

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 20 Sep 2009 @ 10:48 AM

  167. This wasn’t in refutation of Richard Steckis’ nonsense, but it could have been.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 20 Sep 2009 @ 11:42 AM

  168. Steckis, Statistical modeling IS modeling. It would seem that your objection is to introducing actual physics into the models. I ask you, how scientific is that? Do you always object to that which you don’t understand?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Sep 2009 @ 12:26 PM

  169. RichardC

    Global warming and oceanic demise are connected. It is too bad the ocean is not getting more press though as it is certainly a critical issue.

    The reason I addressed the ‘add a little sulfur’ suggestion in your post is that it is also a bad idea and your saying it the way you did might give others a false impression.

    I know it is frustrating. For me, sometimes I just look at it and say to myself, we’re not going fast enough and people don’t get it yet (actually I say other things). Usually I can shake it off pretty quick, or in a day, and move on with the work of education and progress as it may be achievable.

    It’s not always the goal that is most important but the path as well. And in the case of AGW, it is also important to have courage and fortitude no matter how dim the chances may seem, or the weight of loss, which can burden even the stout of heart. In this sense, those fighting this battle are soldiers for reason and though there will be casualties, it does not mean we stop fighting. We soldier on, because that is the duty we choose.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 20 Sep 2009 @ 1:29 PM

  170. Of all the weeks to have limited internet access! (People who follow my writing will understand.)

    I believe that the present topic is the keystone issue of the survival of civilization. I believe that the increased alienation between experts and the public during the past generation, notably in America but also elsewhere, is the single greatest threat humanity faces. It subsumes not just climate, but also food security, energy security, health, war and peace, and ultimately the preservation of any human accomplishment worth preserving. If we accept that humanity freely chooses its destiny, we had damned well better improve our competence.

    From the point of view of the scientifically advanced reader likely to be found here, the crucial error is that made by Jim Bouldin in #58:

    “I get fed up with people who think science is supposed to be delivered to them, by us, like a pizza at halftime of a football game. We can’t make people who don’t care and don’t want to learn, care and learn. And it ain’t in our job description anyway.”

    While literally true, this is the key to the problem. It ain’t nobody’s job description, and that is a crucial gap in how we organize ourselves.

    In areas where there is little risk of social controversy, science can perhaps proceed well enough with the traditional division of labor among faculty, postdoc and grad student apprentices, and lab assistants.

    Traditionally in science, modest attention is paid to “outreach”, but this is mostly intended to increase the likelihood that suitably talented children will be inclined to pursue scientific endeavors. Most of the public is served by science in ways they don’t directly grasp, and concrete and relatively modest engineering achievements are offered as a proxy. (The bus driver who takes you on the tour of the Kennedy Space Center is likely to wax rhapsodic about dessicated orange juice and ball point pens which write upside down.) Perhaps this is good enough.

    Where controversy arises, though, the problem of outreach is dramatically different. In those cases, there will inevitably be constituencies arrayed about the science wishing to emphasize certain facts, hypotheses, and patterns of thought (e.g., “it’s the sun, stupid”) at the expense of others. This essentially introduces noise into the feedback control system of democratic governance, making society ever harder to manage.

    In the face of this behavior, essentially opposition to clear communication of facts, the traditional outreach mechanisms of science have proven utterly powerless, and this is the problem we need to solve. It’s by no means going to be everybody’s job, but it should not be nobody’s job. The traditional divided loyalties of the scientist, between advance of science, advance of self, and advance of institution, hardly needs stretching in yet another direction. RealClimate, for which I have the greatest respect and gratitude, is about the best one could conceivably expect under the circumstances. RealClimate is a remarkable and invaluable contribution, but it’s obviously not enough.

    That there are amateurs like Craven and Sinclair is wonderful. They are starting to show up on the radar, and have been grossly underappreciated by the scientific community. I’ve been doing my best to call attention to their achievements, and I greatly welcome this burst of publicity from RC.

    But none of this is enough. At best as individuals we can match each bit of nonsense with a comparably accessible bit of sense. Fairminded but busy people will continue to split the difference. In stead of realism, we get a public and a politics carrying a strange muddled average of confusions and misapprehensions. The idea of acting as a counter to organized disinformation too often devolves into counter-disinformation.

    We need not just new communication techniques but new institutions. Organizing and presenting information credibly requires professionals whose primary responsibility is to convey existing information, and not to advance some point of view.

    It is time to create a profession of advocating for truth, rather than advocating for policy.

    “Not being such a scientist” is not by any means a job for all or even most scientists, but it isn’t a job for nonscientists either. Fundamentally Lou Grinzo’s comment early in this thread has it right. We need networks of collaboration between professional communicators and informed scientists.

    In some ways this is a perverse turn of events. The decisions we need to make are not about climatology. They are about energy policy, infrastructure, international relations, and fiscal policy. And traditionally, the public hasn’t had much patience for these things either. The problems there are the same, even though the predictability of those disciplines is much weaker than in climate physics. What we know and how well we know it needs to be made clear and credible at whatever level of interest and effort an individual chooses to bring to bear.

    It’s at root a problem in pedagogy. Pedagogy in turn is a problem in media. We have new ways of presenting information. Given new information technologies, the gap between what can be done and what is being done is huge. What can be done itself is an enormous project. This is not a problem for a few individuals writing blogs or making low budget videos, though that will have to serve in the short run. We need to create institutions that can make the difference in conveying the nature of the world we are facing.

    Comment by Michael Tobis — 20 Sep 2009 @ 2:14 PM

  171. Steckis,
    In your cartoon scientific method, for the first step:
    1. Define the question

    How do you determine which questions are interesting?

    For step 2, how do you determine which resources and information will be useful for you?

    For step 3, is every hypothesis about the phenomenon equally interesting?

    For step 4, how do you decide what experiments to perform to test a hypothesis? What data must you gather?

    Step 5–what sorts of analysis do you perform and how do you decide? How do you decide what conclusions your results allow?

    And so on. I know how real scientists approach this. But what is your answer?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Sep 2009 @ 2:23 PM

  172. Quote:

    “More seriously, the premise of the book is rooted in perhaps somewhat of a caricature of what a scientist is (you know, cerebral, boring, arrogant and probably unkempt).”

    Ummm. The only working scientist I know is cerebral and unkempt. He went off the other day to give the congratulatory speech at a dinner to celebrate his scientific society’s 150 year anniversary. Only a professor of (I won’t say his area of expertise, he sometimes reads RC) could dress in a suit that may have been fashionable thirty years ago, a tie that “just didn’t go” and – yes – mismatched socks.

    But he is not boring.

    Comment by Theo Hopkins — 20 Sep 2009 @ 3:06 PM

  173. Michael Tobis (170) — I do not agree that it is nobdy’s job description.

    Scientific American
    Popular Science
    American Scientist
    Popular Mechanics
    Science News

    Comment by David B. Benson — 20 Sep 2009 @ 3:13 PM

  174. NASA is funding these types of issues. Several of my colleagues and I have submitted a proposal in response to the following solicitation:

    Global Climate Change Education (GCCE): Research Experiences, Teaching & Learning
    Announcement No. NNL09ZB1005C

    If we are awarded this grant, I amy be looking to some of you for advice. :) Below is the Executive Summary:

    The proposed project will allow Suffolk County Community College (SCCC) to establish an Institute for Climate Education (I.C.E.) that will provide professional development opportunities in climate change to current and future secondary school science teachers. The five main objectives of the project are to 1) train in- and pre-service secondary school teachers to develop curriculum using NASA global climate data and models, 2) train these teachers in methods of guided inquiry learning, 3) support the
    development of a local community of climate change educators, 4) provide pre-service teachers with authentic global climate change research experiences, and 5) increase diversity among both global climate change educators and secondary school students entering science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) career paths. The I.C.E. will achieve its professional development objectives in cooperation with Brookhaven
    National Laboratory (BNL), Stony Brook University, and the Science Teacher
    Association of New York.

    A holistic approach to teacher training distinguishes the I.C.E from other professional development activities. The I.C.E will increase teacher competence and provide the skills necessary to engage and encourage secondary students in STEM fields by combining in-depth instruction in the subject matter with training in student learning styles, methods of guided inquiry learning, and peer mentoring. Through internship opportunities with BNL, the I.C.E will provide pre-service teachers with opportunities to
    participate in on-going climate change research where they will gain the skills and knowledge base required of both a scientist and an educator.

    As a direct result of participation in the I.C.E., guided inquiry learning exercises that incorporate NASA climate data and models will be implemented in secondary school science classes. These exercises will engage students by introducing them to state of the art science through hands on interaction with data and models. Consequently both
    student and teacher will have a greater understanding of climate science as well as a greater appreciation of the significant contributions made by NASA.

    The success of this institute will be monitored through formative and summative evaluations using both quantitative and qualitative methods that measure effectiveness among in-service and pre-service teachers, and among their students. The results of the formative evaluation component will provide feedback after each I.C.E. module that will be used to revamp and fine-tune the curriculum before the module is offered again. The summative evaluation will measure the success of the I.C.E. grant-funded project at reaching its five primary objectives.

    The I.C.E personnel consist of diverse team that have a history of working together in science education. Each co-investigator brings the necessary professional experience and discipline expertise to coordinate and assist individual elements of the program. In addition, the relationships with partnering institutions are already established and the I.C.E. project will build on and strengthen these contacts, furthering both the mission of
    the I.C.E. and that of the partnering organizations.

    Comment by Scott A. Mandia — 20 Sep 2009 @ 3:31 PM

  175. Michael Tobis, my statement back there was mainly a reaction to those who are ready to blame society’s scientific ignorance problems on scientists of all people (and even do so on the very blog where a number of scientists have been going out of their way for five years now to inform the public on climate change issues!). The other point, that for the life of me I cannot understand why people are just completely blowing off, is that we already have a societal component whose sole function is to inform the public, known as the media. And a whole ‘nother component involved in informing people, known as teachers. And a whole ‘nother component involved in instilling scientific curiosity in children, known as parents. It’s a bit of a joke frankly. My statement was a shorthand way of saying, sorry, the problem with the public not getting it isn’t because scientists aren’t slick enough with their message and need to take acting lessons. Nevertheless, I agree with a lot of what you say, especially about collaboration between scientists and communicators.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 20 Sep 2009 @ 5:16 PM

  176. John (Burgy) Burgeson says: 19 September 2009 at 11:26 AM

    > Re: … approves of these remarks. I do not. To me, they ridiculed
    > a person and so demeaned themselves.

    Nope, they ridiculed the _WORK_. I’d suggest revising your own criteria of human behavior to include how scientists handle hard argument.

    It’s a new thing in the world, and very few cultures either invent or maintain anything like science.

    Examples abound.

    Gail writes:

    > lichen, a harbinger of death.
    > burning gasoline emits CO2, which reacts to UV radiation, creating ozone.

    See? You can look this stuff up.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Sep 2009 @ 6:21 PM

  177. #170, Tobis

    We need to create institutions that can make the difference in conveying the nature of the world we are facing.

    Yes, but it’s hard to imagine what that would look like. I occasionally try to think of an ideal mechanism and work backward from there. Frankly, I don’t do very well with it — as though some scientists could get together and buy out one of the global media and entertainment companies that have a near monopoly on radio content. In this fictional scenario they could broadcast science news and affairs programming 24/7 instead of the denialist dreck to be found almost everywhere on the dial whenever the subject is addressed.

    It’s a daunting challenge. If you doubt it, I present as exhibit A one of our local radio jocks who sponsored a rally to **encourage** wasting as much gas and energy as possible. The idea was to protest a supposed assault on “freedom” posed by an awareness campaign to turn off the lights for an evening. And it’s not just radio of course. There’s CNN’s Glenn Beck for example, who has an inflammatory “global warming hysteria list” posted on his website that, among other things, does a lot of sneering about African circumcision.

    It’s crazy out there.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 20 Sep 2009 @ 6:49 PM

  178. #163 John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation)

    It is good to actually see someone on this page express this sentiment.

    I am frankly too tired to get into a debate about this at this point, so to the rest of you, feel free to jump. I am unlikely to respond.

    However, I have read much of this blog for a number of years now. Reading this to see what you folks think, and studying on my own has helped me to form my current opinions.

    I tend heavily toward the skeptical in everything I do. One of my favorite books is “Science is a Sacred Cow” by Anthony Standen. (A scientist, by the way.)

    I am almost certainly what most of you folks would call a full blown contrarian. However, I can tell you in all honesty that with the information I have currently, and with my present grasp thereof, I quite simply and honestly do not believe it likely that an increase in current CO2 levels will precipitate a measurable change in global temperatures.

    I realize this an old saw, and I understand that it will not be accepted by this community, really under any circumstance. I have my discussions elsewhere, generally face-to-face with those who know me. I still believe that there is much to learn in this area. I do not fully accept the arguments of Plass. I have yet to be convinced of the efficacy of applying LTE to the atmosphere. I am most disenchanted with the treatment provided on page 2 of Goody and Yung. I prefer the explanation by Houghton in his book in the late ’90s, but disagree with his conclusions as well. I strongly suspect that radiation transport calculations are actually not the correct approach. I would like to see considerably more interest paid to scattering.

    Like I said, I probably will not respond to the myriad criticisms to come. Of course, possessing simple human curiosity, I expect I shall read them.

    Regardless,thank you Mr. Reisman for your comment. There may be other contrarians who frequent this board, and will be glad to see it. Naturally, most of the readers will remain unhappy, because your comment has of course done nothing to convince me of your arguments, but it has convinced me of your humanity. On some things, we simply disagree. Still, I wonder if within ten years there may be many more of you agreeing with me than there are now.

    Comment by Owen — 20 Sep 2009 @ 9:24 PM

  179. I wrote a long comment earlier that never appeared, long for me anyway because I detest typing, so I’ll give a Reader’s Digest version and see if that survives the trip through cyberspace. I don’t think the public has as low opinion of scientists as many of you seem to believe. A Harris Interactive poll dated 8 August 2006 on the most trusted professions puts scientists at 3rd with only doctors and teachers being more trusted. People tend to not trust those they don’t like so my interpretation is scientists are also well liked. My further comments were based on the doctor-patient relationship and how doctors have been communicating complex issues to people who have a stake in the issue for a long time. I don’t recall what specific literature we read but it would probably be out of date now anyway. May I suggest calling your nearest medical school to see what they would recommend.

    Comment by stevenc — 20 Sep 2009 @ 9:25 PM

  180. Scientists, of all people, should realise that they need to deal with reality. I think Jim Bouldin (57) needs to understand this.

    Newspapers write, depending on their readership for, on average, 12 year olds. Some write for a younger reading age. This is because they know how to get through to their readers. Some scientists may not want to engage with this idea, but it is the reality of mass communication, and is also practiced by the visual media.

    Spending a few hours sitting down and coming to an agreement on how to draft a scientific discovery / message / theory with someone who can write or speak in this way is well worth the effort.

    The reality is that a huge proportion of the population are not going to be able to be communicated to in scientific or technical terms. There is no mileage in complaining about this. Whose fault it is does not matter when urgent issues, such as climate change, are being discussed. What matters is getting the message across when there are others are powerfully lobbying an opposing view due their self-interest.

    Appeal to people’s self-interest. Like it or not, it’s what will get through to the greatest number of people. They vote out of self-interest, buy products out of self-interest, and their views on global warming are often coloured by self-interest and not wanting to change.

    High moral or scientific ground often counts for nothing unless you can convince people why change is in their interests, primarily in the short-term. And the change has to be made relatively easy by the governments and regulators.

    Comment by Phil Matimein — 20 Sep 2009 @ 9:30 PM

  181. Phil Matimein wrote:
    >Appeal to people’s self-interest. Like it or not, it’s what will get >through to the greatest number of people. They vote out of self-interest, >buy products out of self-interest, and their views on global warming are >often coloured by self-interest and not wanting to change.

    >High moral or scientific ground often counts for nothing unless you can >convince people why change is in their interests, primarily in the short->term. And the change has to be made relatively easy by the governments >and regulators.

    And how would You like Your bad news, or rather, “a Working Opportunity that Includes Travelling Northwards, a real Fighting Chance for Permanent Employment With no Benefits, Apartment, and Food Security”, to be served? Oops, flipped to sarcasm there. I should really try to be more constructive and stop talking about disturbing things, appeal only to self-interests, so people could take it easily in… Have A Pleasant Monday.

    Comment by jyyh — 20 Sep 2009 @ 11:39 PM

  182. I was about to write in defense of Jim Bouldin, who was being unfairly attacked (as scientists usually are), but Jim #175 can take care of himself. Hear, hear.
    Michael Tobin, the kind of institution you envisage is (1) not the responsibility of scientists to establish, and (2) impossible to exist or be successful in our current society.
    The problem is one of credibility with the target audience. You say ‘…a profession of advocating for truth, rather than advocating for policy.’ OK. Let’s say, an outreach arm of the IPCC. Do you seriously believe that those already rejecting anything coming from there would suddenly change their minds?
    Or take Sinclair and Craven, who you (and I) admire. But isn’t this admiration largely a function of them being amateurs working with limited resources? Say they had the resources of an Al Gore to work with — would they be any more successful than Gore? Get real.

    The problem is that slinging mud is so much more successful per dollar spent — the generic weakness of the defence. Suspicion is easier to spread than knowledge by a margin. That’s why an institution that would be really useful, is a legal defense fund for climate (and other) scientists. Hansen would have needed this when he was being gagged. Michael Mann should have sued the pants off his libelers. That’s the way to establish a tradition that attacking science comes with a price tag. Consider it a dress rehearsal for when the shit hits the fan, and scientists are getting attacked (as they will!) for failing to effectively communicate the full scope of the disaster.

    Well-intended writers like Mooney & Kirschenbaum and Olsen are part of the problem. Participating in the ‘blame the scientists’ game, however obliquely, may be a cute literary device, but is not a good way of hanging on to your target audience.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 21 Sep 2009 @ 12:11 AM

  183. John Reisman #166,

    My answer is all of the above or none of the above. The simple fact is I do not know. Nor does any scientist who uses GCMs to forecast climate that far ahead.

    5% Anthropogenic CO2
    20-25% Anthropogenic land use changes. And that is an out of my ass guess.

    Ray Ladbury #171,

    Your so-called cartoon method is the accepted general scientific method. Of course it has many embellishments. The rest of your post is just an attempt to belittle.

    Ray Ladbury #168,

    I have no objection to the use of physics in dynamical models. I object to those models used for forecasting decades into the future as if those forecasts are real and un-challengeable. By the way Ray, where are the biologics and the chemistry in the models. There is more to climate dynamics than just physics (about time you accepted that).

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 21 Sep 2009 @ 1:13 AM

  184. I can’t believe people are arguing about who’s job description *anything* is. When water is pouring in the side of your boat, you don’t stand around arguing about who’s job it is to plug the hole. YOU do whatever you can. And if you don’t think there’s quite likely a very large a hole in the side of the boat, then why are you here?

    Sorry to get snarky, but it seems very much like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic while you let the ship’s crew argue about whether the water will breach the bulkheads, or not. Shouldn’t we each be asking “What can I do to help?” and if no one is around to answer, start looking for helpful things to do ourselves?

    Comment by Greg Craven — 21 Sep 2009 @ 1:24 AM

  185. It amazes me that science has managed to communicate every science available over the years since principia mathematica in 1672 but for some reason AGW is not being communicated properly because nothing constructive is being done about it at the moment.

    This is of course not the case, I am sure that medical and social sciences always meet with this kind of political interference but not economic so much as charity often funds medical science. AGW is a valid well communicated science both in books and on the WWW and even in video (RC agrees with Al Gore in AIT) but nothing is quite so refuted by the public at large as much as AGW is. Politicians, economists and media commentators all have an opinion on what AGW is and means even if they are mostly incorrect technically.

    No one who agrees with the science and wants us to do something about AGW can really expectus to suddenly turn of the carbon taps or even agree on what to do just yet. It has been such a shock to most people that it could take decades before we do anything serious about the situation. I mean nothing is as tightly ingrained in our culture as fossil fuels are. We have let some terrible company decisions go unmolested and still do. We may have even gone to war to get oil.

    In scientific terms quantum physics and climate science and no different and adhere to the same methods of proof and verification. That does not mean that everyone is going to agree especially if its time to give up SUVs and flying and eating loads of nice food from far away places.

    Comment by pete best — 21 Sep 2009 @ 3:36 AM

  186. Re: 137 by 1234567890.

    “That`s why we need to change the way how we generate energy. Renewable is the key to solve this. Another effect of cleaner air means less health issues.

    The time of fossil fuels is over, every approach into tar-sands, mountaintop removal, coal or methane gas is doomed.”

    But what if detailed economic analysis were to show that the power bill for every American family would go up fourfold if your recommendations were implemented? Would you still hold the same position? Do you really think that ‘We the People’ will agree with you??

    Comment by mondo — 21 Sep 2009 @ 4:17 AM

  187. Greg, what I have a problem with is people blaming me for not plugging the hole with my bare hands, when there is this guy holding the tools who even refuses to look if there is a hole :-(

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 21 Sep 2009 @ 7:51 AM

  188. The denialist crazies are actually our friends, in the sense that they are recognizably cuckoo to a goodly number of folks who are otherwise uncertain about the merits of the arguments made on each side.

    There are still “smoking denialists”, but they have definitively lost the debate. The same will be true for the issue of climate change. Right now, IMO, it speaks very loudly to the “normals” when Joe Denialist says “It’s been cooling for the last 15 years,” and you say, “Well, actually, oceanic temperatures have been at their highest level ever, and last month was the second-warmest August ever seen. What do you mean by “cooling,” exactly, that it includes such facts?” He’s not phased, but the drive-by reader will get it.

    I think, FWIW, that the dominant emotion on the part of the majority vis a vis AGW is not skepticism but weariness. I don’t think that the denialists are actually winning–I think they are loud, but their credibility is not increasing in the mainstream. If anything, the reverse.

    What’s really scary is how slow effective action is proving to be.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 21 Sep 2009 @ 8:28 AM

  189. It may be that what’s ignored is that the US was consuming a relatively untouched continent over the past couple of centuries. The whole gamut of new technology, new science, fast food, and other inventions came from the culture evolved while digesting that free lunch. That free lunch has been eaten.

    Nothing will ever be as cheap again.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Sep 2009 @ 9:40 AM

  190. > whose job description

    A teacher who tells you it’s not in his job description to go out and educate the wilfully ignorant isn’t saying it’s not worth doing, he’s saying he’s already fullly busy by definition trying to teach those actually willing to at least show up in class.

    People have limits.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Sep 2009 @ 9:43 AM

  191. Steckis,
    Determining what questions are worth asking is one of the crucial differences between science and mere empirical inquiry as practiced by the ancient Greeks. It is also necessarily model dependent. Nothing in science is model independent. Your failure to understand this is one of the reasons why you don’t understand the science of climate.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 Sep 2009 @ 10:11 AM

  192. #179 stevenc
    People are a mixed bag. It’s hard to deny that society is shot through with anti-science sentiment, enough that it’s a political problem. I think people like the idea of scientists on one level and mistrust them on another.

    #187 MV

    this guy holding the tools who even refuses to look if there is a hole :-(

    Well yeah, but after a certain point you’d probably just shove him overboard and do the job yourself. Or maybe that’s just me. I’m excitable.

    =8-O

    I like the idea of a legal defense fund. It’s one of the best I’ve heard though probably not a stand alone solution. Once something like that becomes effective, it too will come under attack.

    #190 HR
    Good so long as the able bodied don’t hide behind it as an excuse.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 21 Sep 2009 @ 11:06 AM

  193. Greg Craven (#184) hits the nail on the head. There’s a big leak in the boat, let’s stop arguing about who’s supposed to plug the hole and who’s supposed to bail.

    Pete Best (#185) also hits a nail with his amazement that the general public is not so convinced of AGW that some of us are climbing over each other to get to the hole first, and others are grabbing buckets and bailing as fast as we can.

    What I think the readership here hasn’t fully appreciated is that the reason the public isn’t convinced has nothing to do with inadequacy of scientific explanation. It has to do with a “swift boat” campaign by denialists. Pure and simple. It took the presidency away from John Kerry, it similarly derailed Mike Dukakis (replace “swift boat” with “Willie Horton”), and it has so far derailed climate action in the U.S.

    The swift boat campaign, the Willie Horton ads, and everything that Marc Morano does, are brutally dishonest and tremendously effective. The fact that Morano, Inhofe and their ilk believe what they say doesn’t diminish their dishonesty, any more than it does for Ian Plimer, Martin Durkin, or the tobacco company execs who claim smoke isn’t harmful with a straight face.

    We’re in a fight for our lives and I’m no longer interested in being a nice guy about it.

    Comment by tamino — 21 Sep 2009 @ 11:28 AM

  194. I guess the likes of Richard Feynman are just not that cool anymore.

    http://pretendbiologist.blogspot.com/2009/09/are-scientists-entertaining.html

    Or maybe the public at large is just too darn ignorant nowadays to be able to participate in any serious discussion that assumes a grounding in the basics?

    As a layperson, I just don’t buy that and have little patience with having science dumbed down for me by trying to make it “entertaining”.

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 21 Sep 2009 @ 11:52 AM

  195. Mondo @ 186,

    But what if detailed economic analysis were to show that the power bill for every American family would go up fourfold if your recommendations were implemented? Would you still hold the same position? Do you really think that ‘We the People’ will agree with you??

    What if the true external costs for environmental degradation were added to your current fossil fuel energy bill and you found that it was much more than the fourfold increase for renewables?

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 21 Sep 2009 @ 12:16 PM

  196. “I object to those models used for forecasting decades into the future as if those forecasts are real and un-challengeable.”

    Okay, but it certainly makes sense to rely on those models for guidance. The models are challengeable and incomplete, certainly, but they are useful. Nobody is pretending biology, etc. don’t play some role (and I’m not so sure that some models don’t include a bit more than just abiotic atmospheric and oceanic physics (?)). But if a model doesn’t include, for example, CO2 and CH4 feedbacks, we can still say that according to the model, ___ is what would happen if we don’t have those particular feedbacks; with that we can consider what might happen with those particular feedbacks, etc. In as far as challenging that a model or model ensemble is ‘wrong’ without qualification (wrong how?, why? by how much?, in what direction or shape?) is not particularly productive, and specifying the proposed error carries some burden of proof if it is new to the best body of knowledge available (if it isn’t or can’t already expected based on knowns and known unknowns…).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 21 Sep 2009 @ 12:52 PM

  197. ” Michael Mann should have sued the pants off his libelers. ”

    Maybe, but I don’t see that winning over any denialists, who will defend the libelers with ‘freedom of speech’.

    I imagine myself on the Hannity show trying to illustrate the problem of denialists. I say, “lend me $1 and I’ll pay it back with 10 % interest”. I take the dollar. Hannity asks for it back. I say “What money? Prove it! Video tapes can be faked; your people should send blueprints of all equipment used to my people. You can’t trust your memory. I have a right to my opinion and I don’t think I took any money from you.” (PS and on a show with an evolution denier, I would get up, walk behind the person and sit down again. “What just happened?”, I ask. “You went behind me”, s/he says. I say “That’s just a theory. You don’t know that God destroyed me and recreated me in a different place.”).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 21 Sep 2009 @ 1:06 PM

  198. Re mondo – “But what if detailed economic analysis were to show that the power bill for every American family would go up fourfold if your recommendations were implemented? Would you still hold the same position? Do you really think that ‘We the People’ will agree with you??”

    What if the power bill went up a few percent for a few decades and then went down two-fold?

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 21 Sep 2009 @ 1:10 PM

  199. Tamino – 193, I’ve got to disagree. I would say the reason the public isn’t convinced is because mass media journalists and editors don’t understand science, (that’s TV and newspapers, not science journals). Rather than understanding the science and then publishing the story, they broadcast both “sides” as valid, not matter how wrong the argument.

    Comment by Richard C — 21 Sep 2009 @ 1:11 PM

  200. #178 Owen

    Most of my acquaintances are conservative. They still listen to their favorite information sources. I unplugged from US news media a long time ago just because if I want to see a circus, I will go to one. At least there I can order footlongs and eat cotton candy.

    I too am skeptical by nature. The more I heard about how much of a problem global warming might be, the more curious I became.

    I am a generalist also by nature. I try not to get lost in the details but tie together all the different pieces of the puzzle in order to see the bigger picture.

    have you have a chance to browse around my site?

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming

    I have done everything I could to treat the science and the arguments as well as its participants fairly. There is a contact link if you have any questions that I might at least try to answer.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 21 Sep 2009 @ 1:18 PM

  201. #183 Richard Steckis

    Well, I’m not a scientist like you, but I think the models are looking pretty good at this point. Did you read the list that Barton Paul Levinson did on tamino site? That does not impress you at all? BTW BPL I copied it and linked to source on the OSS site. It’s a great perspective on climate model capacities thus far.

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/models/climate-modeling

    Your guessing warming is 25 to 30% anthropogenic. That would mean that if you are reasonably correct, 70 to 75% of it is natural cycle warming. On what basis is your guess?

    The current estimate of the low end of the Milankovitch cycle is around -3.4W/m2. The pre-industrial forcing estimate is right around 0.0 W/m2 or thermal equilibrium. We are moving negative in the Milankovitch cycle and instead of seeing lower numbers like say -0.1 W/m2 we have an estimate of 1.6 W/m2 ‘all in’ (so 1.6 is the mean estimate) on positive and negative forcing (anthropogenic forcing has both components on top of the natural forcing).

    I suppose my primary question to you is do you have a reasonable understanding of the inertia’s and feedbacks involved here?

    I suppose you can remain stuck in the mud of models are not always right till you die, or you can tie together all the pieces of the puzzle and look at the evidence and models in together and get the picture.

    If you don’t, the I would have to say you are not being reasonable. If you do, and you come to a conclusion that is not warmer by 2100, then I’d say you have an impediment in your view or some other logic problem.

    Or you can just continue on the meme that we will never know really until 2100.

    Even though I can not prove it, even if I repeat the experiment 100 times and it works every time, if I roll a ball down a hill and there are no impediments large enough to stop the ball. I can say with confidence that the ball will roll down the hill. All I can say is in my experience and mathematically, the ball should go down the hill every time I roll it.

    You can’t really prove it in each test because you don’t really know until the ball gets to the bottom of the hill, each time.

    But then, saying you can’t prove it really is just childish, isn’t it.

    How is it unreasonable to not recognize, in consideration of the change in forcing, the atmospheric lifetime of Co2, the fact that warmer oceans will evaporate more H2o (also a GHG) and all the associated details that reasonably clearly show that we have changed the angle of the hill. Except in this case the ball does not roll down, the climate warms.

    Your post just shows me that you are not well studied in the area of climate and not learning from all the great guidance you are getting here in this site. And if that is true, as you illustrate in your posts, then what reason would you have to be in here posting other than obstructionism, or you are bored, you like wasting other peoples time.

    As to your statement:

    “I have no objection to the use of physics in dynamical models. I object to those models used for forecasting decades into the future as if those forecasts are real and un-challengeable. By the way Ray, where are the biologics and the chemistry in the models. There is more to climate dynamics than just physics (about time you accepted that).”

    This is the classic we don’t know everything therefore we might know nothing argument. You need to look deeper into the signal to noise ratio on the attribution. While the S/N ratio can always be improved, the signal is already showing us that this new warming path is not natural cycle.

    There are some things that can be stated with high confidence and some with less, we do not know nothing. The models match the observations, logic and reason alone tell the rest of the story, we don’t need to know everything to know something, or enough to make a decision.

    Leaders need to make decisions, folks like you can enjoy the luxury of yelling from the sidelines and heckling the referee. But that is just your choice. From what I can see, you simply have not learned enough to speak intelligently on the subject of climate and your personal bias may be getting in the way of honest scientific inquiry on your part.

    As far as forecasting, no one is saying exactly what the temp will be at a precise point in time, only that all things considered it is clear we are warming and will continue to do so in the long run. That much is clear. It is important to recognize that natural variation does not go away with global warming, it just happens on a different path.

    I’m sorry if I’m a little snarky too (hope I used that correctly) but from my perspective, you are not trying to understand this earnestly, or you have a blindside that you may not be aware of.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 21 Sep 2009 @ 1:29 PM

  202. Richard #198, what you describe makes what tamino #193 describes possible. You don’t actually disagree.
    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
    The real reason is of course that the media aren’t in the business of informing the public, but in that of selling eyeballs to advertisers. You’re not the customer, you’re the product.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 21 Sep 2009 @ 2:18 PM

  203. Getting off fossil fuels is not going to cost anyone any money, except for the oil industry. Electric cars are way cheaper to run than gasoline cars and cost competitive ones will be out within 2 years.

    Comment by Mark Cunnington — 21 Sep 2009 @ 2:24 PM

  204. Mark Cunnington, it’d help if you’d give a source for what you say about electric cars (or anything else) — where did you read it? Why do you consider it such reliable information that you repeat it under your own name? When you make yourself the source of information for others it always helps if you give the source you’re relying on.

    When checking, don’t forget to check where the electricity comes from for the electric cars — the source and associated problems varies by state or country. Also don’t forget transmission losses, again specific to your location.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Sep 2009 @ 2:39 PM

  205. Re: #199 (Richard C)

    Tamino – 193, I’ve got to disagree. I would say the reason the public isn’t convinced is because mass media journalists and editors don’t understand science, (that’s TV and newspapers, not science journals). Rather than understanding the science and then publishing the story, they broadcast both “sides” as valid, not matter how wrong the argument.

    But the only reason they do that is the swift-boat campaign of Marc Morano, Senator Inhofe, Bob Carter, Ian Plimer, the Heartland Institute, etc.

    Otherwise the mass media would long ago have made all those mistakes and gotten over them. They’d now be reporting correctly about fundamental knowledge while sensationalizing cutting-edge science as they usually do. Instead we’re subjected to a perpetual “debate” over the basics, not because of the media but because of the “swift boat veterans” for climate dishonesty.

    Stop blaming the scientists, stop blaming the media. Blame the lies, and the lying liars who tell them.

    Comment by tamino — 21 Sep 2009 @ 2:47 PM

  206. Gail Z’s, and presumably the State of Virginia’s assertion (147 & 150) is completely out of sync with what I have ever learned, though it’s been sometime ago. Is the current level of CO2 troposphere concentration high enough that it is actually ‘burning’ and killing off the trees and vegetation? Is H2O doing the same? When did CO2 become the precursor of ground level ozone? Is it only happening around the Eastern coast? No one, except for a quicky from Lawrence McLean (148), has even raised an eyebrow over this seemingly incredulous position. Or have I just been out to lunch while this was going on?

    Comment by Rod B — 21 Sep 2009 @ 3:19 PM

  207. Rod, check what Virginia actually says.
    Check lichen’s usefulness as a clean-air measure.
    Check the chemical reactions.
    Eschew. Back away, slowly. Don’t feed …..

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Sep 2009 @ 3:50 PM

  208. Tamino 205 , “Stop blaming the scientists, stop blaming the media. Blame the lies, and the lying liars who tell them.” and grab a bucket.

    Urgent request to all the scientists in the world: Please design a simple Declaration of Peril, one paragraph or so, and have everyone sign it, and start mailing, faxing, emailing, phoning it everywhere.

    One simple Declaration of Peril. Let Hansen write it. But get unified, and communicate.

    I would think the world will listen.

    Comment by Mike#22 — 21 Sep 2009 @ 4:06 PM

  209. Rod, you must have missed Hank’s subtle comment @176, but I am also surprised that almost no one else has challenged Gail Z’s assertion.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 21 Sep 2009 @ 4:08 PM

  210. Jim — see the last line of 207.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Sep 2009 @ 5:18 PM

  211. It’s always been a matter of education to me – I had a horrible science upbringing based on a lot of garbage and faulty premises – it took a lot of catch up in college and since graduation to drill in scientific principles – some kids just aren’t given the opportunity to think scientifically.

    Robb Hughes
    Head of Sales & Marketing
    Green Meetup
    Find Green Eco-Friendly Products Here

    Comment by Robb — 21 Sep 2009 @ 5:22 PM

  212. Gail Z., if you’re still reading this, you should note that it’s not the CO2 (carbon dioxide) from fuel that reacts to form low-level ozone, and that CO2 is not toxic, rather, plants need it for photosynthesis. You may have got CO2 mixed up with CO (carbon monoxide), which does take part in those reactions. This is not the only problem with the reasoning you set out (the role of lichens; local air pollution vs. the composition of the whole atmosphere, the possibility of multiple causes/stresses). But this site probably is not the best place to discuss it further. Since you have your own blog, perhaps Rod B, Jim Eager, or some other helpful soul — perhaps even someone from your area — will take the time to visit there and help you frame your inquiry more effectively.

    Comment by CM — 21 Sep 2009 @ 5:22 PM

  213. Richard Steckis:

    1. I am a published scientist.

    Keep in mind that Steckis has an undergraduate degree, no doctorate, when he tries to pull rank on people such as he did with Gavin (“I am a published scientist, you’re an applied mathematician”).

    His research work, done with others, doesn’t pertain to climate science at all:

    “Stock delineation of pink snapper Pagrus auratus and tailor Pomatomus saltatrix from Western Australia by analysis of stable isotope and strontium/calcium ratios in otolith carbonate”

    etc.

    Nothing to indicate that he knows diddly about modeling, the physics of climate science, etc – not that there’s any evidence in his posts, either.

    Comment by dhogaza — 21 Sep 2009 @ 6:38 PM

  214. #208 And then the Heritage Foundation, et al, would set up another petition, with their tame fools, and the media would treat the two petitions as of equal weight. And who could possibly know the truth?

    Comment by David Horton — 21 Sep 2009 @ 6:53 PM

  215. “Scientists, of all people, should realise that they need to deal with reality. I think Jim Bouldin (57) needs to understand this.”

    That’s a pretty radical concept for us delusionaries, but I’ll give it a shot.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 21 Sep 2009 @ 6:57 PM

  216. What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?

    – Nobel Laureate Sherwood Rowland (referring then to ozone depletion)

    * Quote taken from Gavin’s book. :)

    Comment by Scott A. Mandia — 21 Sep 2009 @ 6:59 PM

  217. re: 215,

    Sorry Jim,

    Got a bit frustrated yesterday reading all of this thread and it was unfair to single you out.

    I’ll keep taking the pills and see I can maintain MY grip on reality!.

    Comment by Phil Matimein — 21 Sep 2009 @ 9:50 PM

  218. Just for the record, tamino (193), the tobacco execs testified that tobacco wasn’t addictive, not harmful, though admittedly some had trouble with “harmful”. And the so-called swift boat campaign was carried out by guys who actually served with the exploitive Kerry.

    Comment by Rod B — 21 Sep 2009 @ 10:08 PM

  219. Perhaps Richard Steckis can tell us something about his agency’s work, as he’s named among the longterm staff. The agency’s program includes:

    “In the 2007/08 financial year, the Research Division is intending to achieve the following:….
    –establishment of long-term monitoring sites for climate change (Project 4.2)”

    http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/publications/tabledpapers.nsf/displaypaper/3713165a611636b3878657dac8257387002385ba/$file/fisheries+ar+2006-07.pdf

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Sep 2009 @ 10:22 PM

  220. 218Hank Roberts says:
    21 September 2009 at 10:22 PM
    “Perhaps Richard Steckis can tell us something about his agency’s work, as he’s named among the longterm staff.”

    Hank,

    Perhaps this web site will answer some of your questions:

    http://www.wamsi.org.au/2008/sustainable-ecosystems-sustainable-fisheries-node-4

    I am not actually permitted to comment on agency policy etc.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 21 Sep 2009 @ 11:30 PM

  221. 191 Ray Ladbury says:
    21 September 2009 at 10:11 AM
    “Steckis,
    Determining what questions are worth asking is one of the crucial differences between science and mere empirical inquiry as practiced by the ancient Greeks. It is also necessarily model dependent. Nothing in science is model independent. Your failure to understand this is one of the reasons why you don’t understand the science of climate.”

    Rubbish. I just did not bother to answer your go nowhere question. That is a far cry from failing to understand.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 21 Sep 2009 @ 11:40 PM

  222. Pushing the communication envelope, a prank NY Post climate issue from the Yes Men:
    http://nypost-se.com/

    Comment by Radge Havers — 21 Sep 2009 @ 11:45 PM

  223. Rod B #206, yes I also was surprised at Gail’s assertions, which sound unlike anything I learned… here in Finland, lichen on trees (“naava”) is a sign of clean air.
    But not being an expert, I waited for someone who is to speak out. What took you so long?

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 22 Sep 2009 @ 12:15 AM

  224. #208: “Petition”

    I find the fact that the “great AGW scientist conspiracy” ™ can’t get its act together to rustle up a petition to challenge the Inhofe or orgone lists somewhat ironic.

    Comment by Chris S. — 22 Sep 2009 @ 1:44 AM

  225. 213 dhogaza says:
    21 September 2009 at 6:38 PM
    “Richard Steckis:

    1. I am a published scientist.

    Keep in mind that Steckis has an undergraduate degree, no doctorate, when he tries to pull rank on people such as he did with Gavin (”I am a published scientist, you’re an applied mathematician”).

    His research work, done with others, doesn’t pertain to climate science at all:

    “Stock delineation of pink snapper Pagrus auratus and tailor Pomatomus saltatrix from Western Australia by analysis of stable isotope and strontium/calcium ratios in otolith carbonate”

    etc.

    Nothing to indicate that he knows diddly about modeling, the physics of climate science, etc – not that there’s any evidence in his posts, either.”

    When will you get over the fact that a doctorate degree is NOT a requirement for the title scientist.

    I did not try to pull rank on Gavin (that is YOUR interpretation). There is no ranking system involved here.

    You are right. My work so far has not been in the area of climate science. That does not mean that one cannot, as a scientist, comment on it and understand it and indeed learn about it.

    And I have been involved in dynamical modelling in fisheries systems. I co-developed an egg and yield per recruit model for bluefish and have been involved in biomass dynamics modelling. Not as fancy or complicated as a GCM mind you, but modelling in any case.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 22 Sep 2009 @ 2:17 AM

  226. I have been a long-time reader of this site, and of scientific journals generally on this subject. I would call myself a climate “agnostic”, looking for sensible rational argument such as this excellent post from your early history:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/01/what-if-the-hockey-stick-were-wrong/

    However I have been increasingly alarmed at the polarization of views. There has been a descent into emotional anger, political ranting and an almost religious tone coming from the AGW camp. Likewise the Denial camp has been taken over by rabid right wing libertarian, gun-totin shock-jocks blaming Obama for all the world’s ills.

    As a quiet, liberal, non-religious person who loves science and the search for truth this is very disheartening. In particular this blog has become very “defensive” when confronted with evidence that things might not actually be quite as bad as we feared. In particular many AGW proponents seem to be postively unhappy that the earth has not warmed more in the last 10 years. They take no joy in the fact that the Arctic ice seems to be staging a remarkable recovery from the awful melting of 2007. Is it not possible to accept good news at face value? Or do we have to change “summer ice in Arctic recovers 1m sq km since 2007″ into “Arctic ice suffers third worst summer loss in living memory”. Pessimism is not good for science!

    As a scientist (not in climate science I hasten to add) I like to see empirical evidence and am generally distrustful of models dealing with chaotic systems. I also know that succesfully predicting the past is absolutely no guarantee – or even a reasonable pointer to – prediction of the future, particularly in systems with so many variables that are set by the model maker, buffers and unquantifiable positive and negative feedback affects.

    Ho hum. I suspect I will now be pilloried by other commentators for daring to question the “consensus”. I get particularly worried when scientists seem so certain about such an obviously vast, chaotic and uncertain system as the Earth’s climate. I will not let the bullies on either side of this argument push me into one camp or the other. Likewise as true sceintists you should be prepared to investigate why every scientist predicting this year’s Arctic summer ice melt got it wrong, or why the earth has not warmed more in the last 10 years.

    A good scientist would not simply dismiss contrary evidence as “noise” in a long term trend. It smackes of “Cognitive Bias” – something all good scientists should strive to avoid.

    Comment by Matthew L. — 22 Sep 2009 @ 4:09 AM

  227. One paragraph:

    In light of the facts that 1) increased levels of greenhouse gases are definitely warming the climate, 2) the fraction of Earth’s land surface that is “severely dry” by the Palmer Drought Severity Index has increased from 12% in 1970 to 30% in 2002, 3) one billion people depend on glacier melt for fresh water, and 4) India and Pakistan, both of which possess nuclear weapons, have already exchanged fire and had troops killed over which side owns a glacier, it is likely (perhaps 67% probability) that, in the absence of changes in humanity’s fossil fuel use and the rate of deforestation, the human civilization we are used to will collapse within the next 40 years. Social collapse due to climate change has happened several times before, as with ancient Mesopotamia or the Mayan Empire; in each case drought damage to the agricultural base and the availability of fresh water was involved. We therefore recommend that all nations implement strict measures to conserve energy, switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and preserve forests, as quickly as possible.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 22 Sep 2009 @ 5:06 AM

  228. Matthew L., You will excuse my own “agnosticism” as to whether you are in fact what you claim–e.g. a scientist and a long-time reader of climate science literature. My skepticism arises from your mischaracterization of that science. Indeed, the current decade is well on track to be the warmest ever. Every year this decade is on track to be one of the ten warmest on record, including 2008, a La Nina year, and a year coming at the end of the deepest solar Minimum of the past century.
    Recent pattern of warming are perfectly consistent with expected behavior given a greenhouse mechanism.

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/07/14/warming-interrupted/

    Your characterization of the models is also incorrect. First, climate is probably not chaotic. Second, there is a lot of evidence supporting the models. See Barton Paul Levenson’s recent post:
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/09/15/seasons/#comment-35668

    So while I cannot disprove your assertion that you have read the literature, it is certainly clear that you’ve learned nothing from it.

    You

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Sep 2009 @ 7:05 AM

  229. Steckis, and you have still failed to answer my question, which despite your dismissive attitude is actually very important. The question of how one directs inquiry is one of the crucial differences between modern science (since ~1600) and mere empirical study, which has been with us since the Ancient Greeks. Failure to recognize the importance of models at all stages of scientific inquiry suggests that you don’t fully understand the scientific method. You may understand it sufficiently to get by in your own specialty (and I concur that lack of a PhD is not a barrier), but you will undoubtedly be lost when you venture outside of your specialty.

    So, I ask again: How do you decide what questions are interesting without reference to a model?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Sep 2009 @ 7:17 AM

  230. Matthew L. writes @226, among other things:
    “…almost religious tone coming from the AGW camp…”
    “…the earth has not warmed more in the last 10 years…”
    “…the Arctic ice seems to be staging a remarkable recovery from the awful melting of 2007…”
    “…scientists seem so certain about such an obviously vast, chaotic and uncertain system as the Earth’s climate…”

    Which are all common, run-of-the-mill denier memes that completely undermine his “as a scientist” self-descriptor.

    And this [edit] is what we are meant to respond to with civility?

    Comment by Jim Eager — 22 Sep 2009 @ 7:28 AM

  231. Hank @210, roger that.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 22 Sep 2009 @ 7:29 AM

  232. Re: #226 (Matthew L)

    Likewise as true sceintists you should be prepared to investigate why every scientist predicting this year’s Arctic summer ice melt got it wrong, or why the earth has not warmed more in the last 10 years.

    A good scientist would not simply dismiss contrary evidence as “noise” in a long term trend. It smackes of “Cognitive Bias” – something all good scientists should strive to avoid.

    A real scientist wouldn’t repeat falsehoods without checking the data first.

    A real scientist would know that noise is inevitable, it can’t be hand-waved away, and if he didn’t have the mathematical skill to determine the significance level of conclusions he’d consult someone who does.

    Permit me to doubt that you’re a real scientist, while I also doubt that you care about empirical evidence as much as you claim.

    Comment by tamino — 22 Sep 2009 @ 7:53 AM

  233. Matthew L.,

    I have observed a similar pattern as you described, one of polarization. I think it is due to the much more intense use of blogs in the public discourse. Look at the average amount of comments on a current RC thread versus on a thread from 4 years ago, such as the one you quoted (35 comments). The vast majority of commenters, both here and on contrarian blogs, come from people who are quite engrained in their opinions (though the extent to which their opinions are based on scientific facts and insight differs). They tend to voice their opinions quite strongly, even more so when faced with contrary opinions. However, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts. That’s why scientifically minded folk get increasingly frustrated when faced with yet the same meaningless or long-ago answered objections. That’s something else than dismissing “evidence”. It’s as if we are continuously forced to explain that observing a bird in the sky doesn’t mean that gravity doesn’t exist. I don’t say this to diminish you or your observations of the debate, but merely to explain where I (and probably many others here) am coming from.

    I’m also met with a defensive (if not outright attack-mode) attitude if I engage at websites such as WUWT (as I’ve done in recent days). It’s quite disheartening indeed. I happened to have entered the conversation at WUWT where the Arctic sea ice situation was trumpeted as a recovery (as you claim in your comment). As NSIDC noted: “While this year’s September minimum extent was greater than each of the past two record-setting and near-record-setting low years, it is still significantly below the long-term average and well outside the range of natural climate variability, said NSIDC Research Scientist Walt Meier.” The downward trend from 1978 to 2009 Arctic sea ice minima is steeper than that from 1978 to 2006. Whether this signifies a real change in the long term trend, or whether these were just 3 anomalous years (with very little ice), is hard to tell for sure. That observation has nothing to do with pessimism. I don’t see how the past two years are a sign of recovery to the climatologically normal state (i.e. a 30 year average). Timescales are key. Same goes for the last decade. Cognitive bias? I can’t help it that there is a lot of weather variability.

    Perhaps this list is useful as a rough guide on which sources to trust:
    http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/who-to-believe/

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 22 Sep 2009 @ 8:27 AM

  234. When will you get over the fact that a doctorate degree is NOT a requirement for the title scientist.

    I did not try to pull rank on Gavin (that is YOUR interpretation). There is no ranking system involved here.

    Your “I’m a scientist, you’re an applied mathematician” statement was meant to establish yourself as being qualified to judge – dismiss, actually – the modeling work done by folks like Gavin. You’re trying to prop yourself up as an expert.

    I’m sorry, but there’s nothing in your educational or professional background that would lead me to believe that you’re qualified to make a sound, professional judgement of the value of GCM or anything else in climate science. Yes, plenty of folks with a mere BS work as fisheries biologists, just as you do. Few of them claim to be capable of tearing down the work of world experts in totally unrelated fields, however.

    You are right. My work so far has not been in the area of climate science. That does not mean that one cannot, as a scientist, comment on it and understand it and indeed learn about it.

    Your minor work delineating fish stocks using stable isotope ratios in otoliths gives you no more knowledge about the work you dismiss than that of any other interested layperson. When it comes to climate science, that’s what you are – a layperson.

    Comment by dhogaza — 22 Sep 2009 @ 8:36 AM

  235. Matthew L:

    They take no joy in the fact that the Arctic ice seems to be staging a remarkable recovery from the awful melting of 2007.

    Let’s see … early in the melt season arctic ice extent was just about at the 1979-2000 average, and by the end of the melt season arctic ice extent was at the third lowest minimum, far below two standard deviations from the 1979-2000 average. While NSIDC hasn’t published their summary yet, it’s clear that the summer melt was extremely high, even though melting slowed in August (yet was still dead-on the long-term trend of increasing August melt).

    Perhaps the “no joy” you witness is due to the fact that your definition of “remarkable recovery” isn’t shared by all? For instance, those who actually study the Arctic?

    Comment by dhogaza — 22 Sep 2009 @ 8:45 AM

  236. “So, I ask again: How do you decide what questions are interesting without reference to a model?”

    Those which interest me enough to learn the process that is going on. Simple as that. No models. Just human curiosity. You know, the sort of human curiosity that gave us a whole swag of science before and since mathematical models were ever invented.

    But I guess you are now going to try and argue that models are not just mathematical. Well that may be true but here we are exclusively debating about mathematical models.

    [Response: You might want to consider that many questions that people are interested in - including almost anything to do with the climate - are just not amenable to being solved by just thinking about them. Your horizons may indeed be limited by what you can discover with a pen, paper and a pair of binoculars, but don't assume that is a a general trait. - gavin]

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 22 Sep 2009 @ 8:56 AM

  237. “Failure to recognize the importance of models at all stages of scientific inquiry suggests that you don’t fully understand the scientific method.”

    Poppycock!

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 22 Sep 2009 @ 9:00 AM

  238. Ray,

    I do not fail to recognise the importance of models. I have, as stated earlier, been involved in mathematical modelling in a limited capacity. Mathematical modelling is a great boon to my profession (fisheries biology) as a tool (get that word?) in managing natural resources. I just do not place the central importance to them that you seem to.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 22 Sep 2009 @ 9:03 AM

  239. Hi Jim,
    sorry you seem to think me a “denier”, nothing could be further from the truth. To be a denier I would have to ignore all the evidence. My problem is that “cognitive bias” is leading the deniers to disregard evidence in favour of AGW, and the other side to disregard evidence against it.

    I am convinced that global warming is taking place, but like many bemused citizens find the evidence for CO2 as the primary cause to be patchy at best.

    However I am fervently in favour of reducing our dependence on burning fossil fuels (I hate waste), I am an advocate of solar energy and impatient for governments to get more committed to alternative energy sources.

    However I see much bigger threats to our environment from deforestation and over-cultivation. If anything gets me angry it is the US subsidy of the utilisation of good agricultural and forest lands to grow bio-fuel crops to feed their addiction to the motor car. If I lived in the USA I would have voted for Obama, so my political leanings are definitely towards the liberal, and certainly not conservative and I would hate to be lumped in with the “denialist” camp.

    I received a scientific education and am from a scientific family (my father is an retired research engineer with a chemistry PHD – obtained in the ’50s when a PHD really meant something) and, like many with that background, I am a sceptical “non-believer” by nature. I need to be convinced – merely believing what I am told is not an option. I want to see evidence.

    First of all, a couple of my favourite web sites:
    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/

    Notice anything? Both purely factual. No comment, just evidence. I wish there were more like them.

    On your various points:

    Matthew L. writes @226, among other things:
    “…almost religious tone coming from the AGW camp…”
    Sorry you don’t see it that way, but that is honestly how it comes over to many of us of an atheist bent. I have been asked so many times whether I “believe” in global warming and if I have “faith” in the scientists.

    Sorry? What’s to believe? Either it is happening or it isn’t. It clearly is, that is a matter of fact. Belief is inextricably linked with faith. Both concepts are alien to me. I have no more “faith” in any scientists than I do in my local priest.

    “…the earth has not warmed more in the last 10 years…”
    Well is that not a provable fact? Looking at HadCrut3v, the average temp. variance for the 5 years 1999-2003 (inclusive) is 0.381, and for 2005-2008 is 0.414. Just look at the graph on the Hadley centre site, it has gone distinctly flat since 2001. I want to know why this is happening. Surely somebody in the scientific community can point me to some evidence rather than dismissing me as a “denialist”?

    It is not just me, you need to convince the rest of the public. If you don’t then the denialists will be able to cite facts and all you will have to counter them is insults. That does not make you look good.

    “…the Arctic ice seems to be staging a remarkable recovery from the awful melting of 2007…”
    Again this is a fact. In 2007 the sea ice minimum was 3m sq km below the long term average, in 2008 it was 2m sq km below it and in 2009 it fell to about 1.6m below it. In 2008 and 2009 the winter sea ice maximum was only about 0.5m sq km below the long term average – a distinct improvement on 2004 and 2005. The proportion of multi-year sea ice is increasing and the build up of ice has started earlier in 2009 than in any year since 2005.

    The signals look good that the most extreme predictions of Arctic sea ice loss may be mistaken. Certainly all but one of the scientists in the field got it wrong this year.
    http://nsidc.org/images/arcticseaicenews/20090722_Figure4.png
    The actual minimum was 5.1m square kilometers.

    The NSIDC is an execellent organisation, even if they do seem to have a tendancy to interpret all the data negatively. Antarctic sea ice has never had a problem and has reached a record winter maximum this year.

    Now cannot we cheer a bit of good news without being growled at by those who in some perverse way seem to wish things were worse as that would prove they were right all along.

    “…scientists seem so certain about such an obviously vast, chaotic and uncertain system as the Earth’s climate…”

    Well you are aren’t you? Certain, that is. I am sorry that you think this is a “denialist meme” (no idea what a “meme” is, will have to consult my dictionary). In 2001, all the climate change models pointed to catastrophic global warming this century. So far this has not happened (it might yet of course). Surely the “story so far” is good news?

    [Response: What is being objected to is your caricature of what "scientists" think. Perhaps you'd care to point to anything written by a principal on this site that declares certainty of the science? Why would we even be scientists if we thought everything interesting was already known? It is indeed a standard (and false) 'meme' that all of us scientists are going around saying there is no uncertainty, but this is absolutely, fundamentally, and blatantly untrue. Unfortunately, the story so far is not good news - despite a welcome lack of record breaking sea ice loses this year. Just look at the long term trends. Someone who takes comfort in a single wave receding while the tide is still rising is not thinking very far ahead. - gavin]

    “And this is what we are meant to respond to with civility?”

    I think that is my main beef – the simple lack of civility. The population need to be convinced. We are after all being asked to pay big bucks in increased energy and transportation costs. And all we see is the two sides in their entrenched camps chucking brick-bats and being rude to each other. And when we politely ask for evidence we get insulted. You need to treat your audience with more respect. We are not idiots.

    I feel like an innocent bystander stepping into a fight. Both the participants stop beating each other up and beat up the bystander instead!

    Now try to your best to be civil. I am honestly a pushover, an easy target, my bias is to your side if anything. If you can’t convince me you won’t convince anyone.

    By the way, I should not have said I was a scientist. I received a scientific education and retain a strong interest in scientific issues. I build complex financial models for a living, so I know what it feels like to be wrong!

    Comment by Matthew L. — 22 Sep 2009 @ 9:09 AM

  240. Gavin says:

    “You might want to consider that many questions that people are interested in – including almost anything to do with the climate – are just not amenable to being solved by just thinking about them.”

    I never said that Gavin. I merely said that the question can come from curiosity and interest, not the solution to the question. The solution requires empirical investigation, data gathering and analysis. Sometimes using established models as a guide, sometimes not.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 22 Sep 2009 @ 9:23 AM

  241. Jim Eager (230), does the fact that Matthew L’s “…common, run-of-the-mill denier memes…” have an element of truth make him more, or less, a scientist? Just curious.

    [Response: What truth? Repeating things you've heard without checking their veracity very clearly makes you less of a scientist. Perhaps you would care to read our posting on the sea ice minimum predictions a couple of months back? Last lines: "Arctic ice cover is not just a number, but rather a metric of a profound and disruptive change in an important ecosystem and element of the climate. While it doesn’t look at all likely, the best outcome would be for all the estimates to be too low." - where is the "joy" in that? - gavin]

    Comment by Rod B — 22 Sep 2009 @ 9:25 AM

  242. The PDF file from WAMSI indicates some people at the agency do. Perhaps looking at their published work will give a clearer idea of what the current science is. For example from the link given above
    http://www.wamsi.org.au/2008/sustainable-ecosystems-sustainable-fisheries-node-4
    look down to:

    WAMSI 4.2.3
    Establishment of fishery-dependent indicators of climate change
    Nick Caputi Alan Pearce, Ming Feng & Rod Lenanton
    November 2008

    Google their names. It appears we’re dealing with an outlier here.

    It probably makes more sense to focus on the work being done by the scientists actually involved in the climate change area.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Sep 2009 @ 9:47 AM

  243. #226 Matthew L.

    What is your last name? I’d like to look at your work.

    Ho hum?

    Actually the earth has warmed in the last 10 years… or were you talking about a different set of cherry picked dates?

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/global-warming-stopped

    How is Arctic ice loss that is “the third-lowest extent since the start of satellite measurements in 1979″ good news?

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    Following Ray, how is climate chaotic? Weather is certainly chaotic. Climate is more about trend.

    By the way, I love that set up you did:

    “As a quiet, liberal, non-religious person who loves science and the search for truth this is very disheartening.”

    A contrarian might suspect the opposite to be true.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 22 Sep 2009 @ 9:49 AM

  244. #233 Bart

    Well said!

    I especially like:

    It’s as if we are continuously forced to explain that observing a bird in the sky doesn’t mean that gravity doesn’t exist.

    What a nice way to sum up the feelings of many of us, especially the few of us that spend time at WUWT. Do not quit posting there.

    Comment by Scott A. Mandia — 22 Sep 2009 @ 9:57 AM

  245. Compared to 1997 a weak summer El-Nino is ongoing

    http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ensoyears.shtml

    I have not seen this in a while

    http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/map/images/rnl/sfctmpmer_30b.rnl.html

    Warm all over the world in September, also August ranked second warmest:

    http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/index.php?report=global&year=2009&month=aug

    What would be the other explanation for this aside from AGW? The spotless sun? :)

    Comment by Wayne Davidson — 22 Sep 2009 @ 10:36 AM

  246. “What is being objected to is your caricature of what “scientists” think. Perhaps you’d care to point to anything written by a principal on this site that declares certainty of the science? Why would we even be scientists if we thought everything interesting was already known? It is indeed a standard (and false) ‘meme’ that all of us scientists are going around saying there is no uncertainty, but this is absolutely, fundamentally, and blatantly untrue. ”

    Yes, you guys are a model of how to do it that is why I am an avid reader, of this blog. I, however, am a member of the general public with a job in financial services and limited time to read the literature. I claim no expertise in climate science. I get my information predominantly from the media. Over here (UK) the media brooks no uncertainty when it comes to climate change.

    Apparently, according to “The Metro” (the most widely read paper in London) by 2080 we are going to suffer 8 deg C of temperature rise, London will be underwater and daffodils will bloom in December. However when I look at the actual figures, I see flat temperatures, doubts over sea level rise and a growing Arctic ice cap. Can you not see why we are all getting very confused out here?

    [Response: Yes. You are confusing something predicted for 70 years in the future with something that happened last week. No doubt an easy mistake to make. - gavin]

    You guys should be countering this kind of pro AGW extremist nonsense as well as that from the denialists. Otherwise the denialists will tar you all with the same brush.

    “Unfortunately, the story so far is not good news – despite a welcome lack of record breaking sea ice loses this year. Just look at the long term trends. Someone who takes comfort in a single wave receding while the tide is still rising is not thinking very far ahead”

    If it were a single wave I would agree, but this is the second wave in a row and it looks like a third may be on the way because the se ice has started to grow unusually early and pretty rapidly too.

    What do you call a “long term trend”? From 1973 until 1993 there is no trend, the ice just seems to fluctuate randomly around the mean. From 1994 to 2007 there was a gradual decline in sea ice. However that is only 13 years – not really that long in the whole history of the Arctic ice cap. In 2007 the sea ice grew back very quickly and has been on an upward path since. Try joining the winter peaks together and the summer troughs together on the following graph:
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/sea.ice.anomaly.timeseries.jpg

    But as you say, it is only two years of data. We will see. If I were a betting man (which I am!) I would put quite a lot of money on the summer minimum in 2010 being greater than 2009. Know any gullible bookies?

    Comment by Matthew L. — 22 Sep 2009 @ 10:37 AM

  247. When NOAA publishes a report stating the ENSO adjusted trend for the last decade was 0.00 +/- 0.05C per decade then it doesn’t seem fair to critisize laymen, or perhaps even scientists, for repeating them.

    The trend in Arctic sea ice is down and I see no reason to believe this long term trend won’t continue. The idea that a rebound has become a point of interest for so many I suspect can be taken back to how the media reported it. This is why I suspect counting on the media regardless of their position is a risky business.

    I don’t want to give the wrong impression. I still lean towards the skeptical point of view. I would just prefer to not see you lose the argument until the warming continues or the models are shown to be statistically unlikely.

    Comment by stevenc — 22 Sep 2009 @ 10:39 AM

  248. Mathew L , “If it were a single wave I would agree, but this is the second wave in a row and it looks like a third may be on the way because the se ice has started to grow unusually early and pretty rapidly too.”

    Amateurish statements presage bad prognosis. Arctic summer solstice clouds played a major role in averting a 2007 like melt. You claim a recovery? I saw the same type of strong recent melt. Even when clouds increased albedo. The right way to interpret current ice conditions is to consider all weather factors leading up to sea ice minima.

    Comment by Wayne Davidson — 22 Sep 2009 @ 10:59 AM

  249. “Yes. You are confusing something predicted for 70 years in the future with something that happened last week. No doubt an easy mistake to make.”

    No need to be sarcastic Gavin ;-)

    Actually I am reading a prediction of 8 deg C by 2080, which requires over 1 deg C a decade. I then look back over the last decade and see barely any change at all, and if I look back 30 years a change of just +0.39 degrees. I am not saying it is necessarily a change in the trend, I just think this kind of scare mongering does not do genuine climate scientists any faovours.

    Do you subscribe to the 8 dec C prediction, or anything close to it?

    In case anyone thinks I am cherry picking I get the following from HadCrut3v:
    (Period, Total change, Change per decade)
    10 years; -0.198; -0.198
    20 years; +0.155; +0.077
    30 years; +0.388; +0.129
    40 years; +0.488; +0.122
    50 years; +0.455; +0.089

    This is a very obvious, and worrying, trend. It is not, however, supportive of an 8 deg change in 70 years. As I have stated myself, history is no predictor of the future. However, it would need a pretty extreme set of positive feedback assumptions in a model, and a very brave scientist, to predict much more than a degree or so of warming in the next 70 years against taht kind of trend.

    [Response: First off, by not providing an actual reference or link, no-one is in a position to know what you are talking about. Is that a local number? for the summer? a maximum or a mean? what are the error bars? with respect to pre-industrial or present day? under what kind of scenario? Whether the underlying data is valid and whether whatever you are reading is properly contextualised remains a mystery. Second, you appear to think that projections of climate are derived using the Excel linear regression routine. I'm sure that this functionality has many uses, but for calculating the impact of multi-thousand Gigatonnes of CO2 entering the climate system, it probably lacks a certain something. Like physics. - gavin]

    Comment by Matthew L. — 22 Sep 2009 @ 11:09 AM

  250. Wayne (#248)

    “Arctic summer solstice clouds played a major role in averting a 2007 like melt. You claim a recovery? I saw the same type of strong recent melt. Even when clouds increased albedo. The right way to interpret current ice conditions is to consider all weather factors leading up to sea ice minima.”

    Yes, weather played its part, as it always will. It was extreme warm weather and unusual wind patterns that caused the 2007 melt in the first place, and the subsequent loss of multi-year sea ice that has increased the vulnerability of the ice to melting.

    However, the probability is that the weather in 2010 will not be that different from the “average” weather you get in the Arctic Summer – which in the past has supported a sea ice extent of around 6-8m sq km. The chances are that it will gradually return closer to that level over time, even if you assume a gradual decline is the long run trend. You would have to assume that Arctic weather patterns have significantly shifted long term for this not to be the case.

    If I am wrong I will lose my bet (if I can find a bookie to take it) and you can feel smug ;-)

    Guys, if you keep on like this you will turn be into a denier!
    (joke)

    All I am trying to say is that not sufficiently countering the extremists in your midst, leaves you open to being tarred with the same brush. If you were in the Britsh Labour party in the 1970′s and 1980′s you would understand what I am talking about.

    Also, if you let reality drift too far away from your prediction without either explaining it or modifying it (the prediction that is) then you are in danger that your prediction will lose credibility.

    Comment by Matthew L. — 22 Sep 2009 @ 11:37 AM

  251. #246 Matthew L.

    There is a graph of the last 10 years on this page (scroll down)

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/global-warming-stopped

    Take a look at this and then repeat to us how the temperatures are flat

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A2.lrg.gif

    As far as doubts over sea level rise, read up on Lord Monckton (scroll down)

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/christopher-monckton

    As far as 8C, that has not been ruled out, read the MIT report (scroll down)

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/summary-docs/2009-may-leading-edge

    As far as your ice trend chart you gave a link for, global ice extent is used by denialists to show no trend. It is used be cause the graph contains the ice extent growth in Antarctica, which by the way was predicted in a global warming scenario. Here is Arctic sea ice trend

    http://nsidc.org/images/arcticseaicenews/20090603_Figure3.png

    And stop listening to the media.

    After you read the pages and reports linked I would like to here your thoughts on these matters again.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 22 Sep 2009 @ 11:38 AM

  252. Matthew L.,

    Numbers of sea ice extent are facts; the interpretation however is less so. You call it a recovery. I explained above (233) why I don’t: we’re still on a decrfeasing long term (20-30 year) trend. Timescales matter.

    I agree with your call for civility, and that we’d be wise to not make this appear a fighting match. OTOH, as a layperson (which you say you are), it’d be wise not to make all too profound statements about the state of science.

    You state that “faith” is an alien concept to you. What about “trust”? Don’t you go to the doctor when you’re seriously ill? Isn’t that partly based on trust that (s)he knows more about it than yourself or your neighbor?

    As “skeptico” puts it:
    “It isn’t necessarily fallacious to consider that thousands of climate scientists writing in peer reviewed journals might know more than you do about such a complex subject.”
    “What we have here is trust in the scientific method. And we trust it because we have reason to believe it works – just look around you. (You’re reading this on a computer aren’t you?)”
    (http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2009/02/global-warming-denial.html)

    Finally, some people who may take you up on a reasonable bet:
    http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2005/06/betting-summary.html
    http://backseatdriving.blogspot.com/
    http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/

    Good luck. I hope you win.

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 22 Sep 2009 @ 11:45 AM

  253. If it were a single wave I would agree, but this is the second wave in a row and it looks like a third may be on the way because the se ice has started to grow unusually early and pretty rapidly too.

    Since you seem bound and determined to focus on the last three years, it’s worth noting that according to JAXA, the end of the melt season came later this year than in 2008.

    If you suddenly find interest in longer-term data, you’ll see that there’s nothing particularly early about the end of the melt season this year.

    If you’re interested in trends, august melt slowed down significantly compared to july, yet as I mentioned above it’s right on trend.

    An increasing melt trend, that is. Note that the figures for individual years jag up-and-down regularly, there’s nothing unusual about that, nothing that would lead a sane person to talk about a “remarkable recovery” in ice.

    Now look at July.

    I do hope – in a spirit of consistency – that when you learned that more ice melted this July than in 2008, you were running around screaming about the “remarkable collapse” of the arctic ice cap just as you’re touting the “remarkable recovery” today?

    Or do you only ignore trends when it serves you to do so?

    Comment by dhogaza — 22 Sep 2009 @ 11:45 AM

  254. “Someone who takes comfort in a single wave receding while the tide is still rising is not thinking very far ahead.”

    Nice analogy, Gavin, I must remember that one!

    Comment by Nick O. — 22 Sep 2009 @ 11:57 AM

  255. Matthew L. (239) — I urge reading “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart:
    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html

    Andy Revkin’s review:
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F04E7DF153DF936A35753C1A9659C8B63

    Wearth’s on-line book is also the first link in the Science section of the sidebar here.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 22 Sep 2009 @ 12:13 PM

  256. re: 247

    How can 2 years be a trend in climate?

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 22 Sep 2009 @ 12:22 PM

  257. Well, you can look this stuff up. It’s always worth seeing what’s in the media, particularly when they’re reprinting press releases you can track back to the source.

    I’d guess in financial modeling you also would develop the habit of citing sources? It’s a good habit in science too.

    USAToday–the most widely read paper in the USA–prints what’s likely the same press releases you found in the London Observer:
    http://www.usatoday.com/weather/climate/globalwarming/2007-03-27-sea-level-rise_N.htm

    “LONDON — More than two-thirds of the world’s large cities are in areas vulnerable to global warming and rising sea levels, and millions of people are at risk of being swamped by flooding and intense storms, according to a new study released Wednesday…. in the journal Environment and Urbanization…. said Gordon McGranahan of the International Institute for Environment and Development in London, a co-author…. The other two co-authors of the study are Deborah Balk of the City University of New York and Bridget Anderson of Columbia University.

    Separately, the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in a draft copy of a report expected to be released next week that coastlines are already showing the impact of sea-level rise. The draft copy, which was obtained by the Associated Press, said about 100 million people each year could be flooded by rising seas by 2080.”

    You know how to find this stuff.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Sep 2009 @ 12:27 PM

  258. The contributions of “Matthew L” are indistinguishable from trolling.

    Comment by Ric Merritt — 22 Sep 2009 @ 12:28 PM

  259. Matthew, check out this interview with Dr. Mark Serreze, director of The National Snow and Ice Data Center: New NSIDC director on “death spiral” Arctic ice.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 22 Sep 2009 @ 12:36 PM

  260. #249
    Hi John, thanks for your time. I really like your polite and dignified approach. I feel we could have a proper debate. Honestly, we are actually on the same side – although I know you don’t believe that. My problem is I hate the way the debate has been hijacked by the media and political interests, and that predictions of extreme climate change do not seem to be the subject to the proper peer review they deserve.

    “There is a graph of the last 10 years on this page (scroll down)

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/global-warming-stopped

    I can’t really argue or disagree with this. However, your data is from NASA, over here the Hadley centre is the more respected time series, (probably for no better reason than that they are British!) and this is their graph:

    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/nhshgl.gif

    I have done my own graph of the more recent time periods, and it definitely shows a flat spot (for want of a better word) since around 2001, earlier if you count the El-nino year of 1998 – but that would be cherry picking!

    “As far as doubts over sea level rise, read up on Lord Monckton (scroll down)

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/christopher-monckton

    I was not thinking of that, I was thinking of this:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/08/ups-and-downs-of-sea-level-projections/#more-969

    I did not say “denial”, I said “doubts”. Whether you think they are mistaken or not, clearly there are genuine scientists out there who dispute the predicted extent of sea level rise. The jury is certainly still out on the subject. If you read the media you would think that we were all about to be swamped by a 20m tidal wave!

    “As far as 8C, that has not been ruled out, read the MIT report (scroll down)

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/summary-docs/2009-may-leading-edge

    Well if it hasn’t been ruled out, it should be!

    Pity there is not more detail on the assumptions made to arrive at such an alarming set of conclusions. Do you have a link to the source of these predictions?

    “As far as your ice trend chart you gave a link for, global ice extent is used by denialists to show no trend.”

    The chart I gave a link to relates to the Arctic only, and is the Anomaly from the 1979-2000 mean on any particular day. It is not the global ice extent.

    You need to look here
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/
    The first set of charts at the top relate to the Arctic only. The Antarctic is at the bottom.

    Sorry, I should have provided this link earlier. This site uses the same sources of data as NSIDC but interprets it slightly differently. They calculate the total sea ice area, NSIDC calculate the “extent” that is the area marked out by the boundary of the sea ice, which is generally a larger number. The trend is similar though.

    Personally I think the “Cryosphere Today” information is more detailed and informative. The use of anomalies rather than absolute figures magnifies changes and trends and makes them easier to spot.

    “And stop listening to the media.”

    Sure, happy to do this – almost there already. Your problem in the scientific community is that the media is the only source of information that 99% of the population have about global warming. They may be ignorant, but they are not stupid, and when all they read is claptrap about December daffodils and London under 20m of water in their lifetime, is it any wonder they snort sceptically and turn the page!

    Real scientists need to get out more, the people need you to be more public – and less willing to adopt extreme positions for dramatic effect.

    [Response: Again, more unfounded statements about what "real scientists" are doing. Perhaps you can point us to the "real scientists" adopting extreme positions for dramatic effect you are referring to? - gavin]

    Comment by Matthew L. — 22 Sep 2009 @ 12:48 PM

  261. MATTHEW L posted:

    “Apparently, according to “The Metro” (the most widely read paper in London) by 2080 we are going to suffer 8 deg C of temperature rise, London will be underwater and daffodils will bloom in December.”

    For non-Londoners: The “Metro” is a free-sheet give-away advertiser “newspaper”. It may be the most read, but looking at the litter/trash on London’s streets, it is also the most thrown away newspaper. Articles are written to be read in the three minutes a passenger may spend between tube station stops. It is also written assuming a reading age of twelve years, so as to reach a maximum audience.

    Comment by Theo Hopkins — 22 Sep 2009 @ 1:27 PM

  262. #250
    Hi Bart,

    “Numbers of sea ice extent are facts; the interpretation however is less so. You call it a recovery. I explained above (233) why I don’t: we’re still on a decrfeasing long term (20-30 year) trend. Timescales matter.”

    Well, I plot trends for a living, and looking at the graphs on Cryosphere today I cannot see any significant downward trend much before 1993, which is 16 years. Not that it matters much. You are probably right, the trend will continue, but whether the 2007, 2008 and 2009 melts were “anomalies” or part of that trend can be reasonably disputed.

    “I agree with your call for civility, and that we’d be wise to not make this appear a fighting match.”
    Thanks, appreciated.

    “OTOH, as a layperson (which you say you are)”
    I am sure there are plenty here who think I could not possibly be anything else! I am clearly not a climate scientist, and if I were a “denialist”, I would be a pretty crap one too.

    “it’d be wise not to make all too profound statements about the state of science.”
    Hopefully I am not making too profound a statement. Science apears very healthy, it is the relationship of science to the media that seems disfunctional. That is why I am posting on this particular part of the blog. I think the article makes a lot of sense.

    “You state that “faith” is an alien concept to you. What about “trust”? Don’t you go to the doctor when you’re seriously ill? Isn’t that partly based on trust that (s)he knows more about it than yourself or your neighbor?”

    I am married to a Doctor, and I never believe a word she says! Of course, she has forgotten far more than I will ever know about medicine. However, she is also the most incredible hypochondriac – both of herself and by proxy of her husband and children. It is lucky my employer has free health insurance – otherwise all the tests we’ve had would have cost me a fortune (or many a long wait in an NHS queue). And you should see our medicine cabinet! Needless to say we have ample stocks of Tamiflu.

    I can see something of the same problem in some of the climate science I read. Everybody seems all too ready to believe the worst. Sometimes too much knowledge is as dangerous as too little.

    You make a very good point about “trust” and “faith”, and one that I will take some time to consider. As a first stab at it I would say you generally trust those who have proven worthy of it in some way, or who have a proven track record (airline pilots, train drivers, computer engineers). If the air accident rates were to rise significantly, how long woud that trust last?

    As “skeptico” puts it:
    “It isn’t necessarily fallacious to consider that thousands of climate scientists writing in peer reviewed journals might know more than you do about such a complex subject.”

    Of course. A pity they don’t write more for the daily papers or pitch up in our TV studios more.

    “What we have here is trust in the scientific method. And we trust it because we have reason to believe it works – just look around you. (You’re reading this on a computer aren’t you?)”

    Computers are not the creation of “scientists” in the sense we are talking about here, they are the product of engineers. They take scientific rules and turn them into concrete objects. If the science were dodgy the computer would not be possible. by that token I am bound to trust a computer engineer more than I would a research scientist, simply because the former has demonstrated what he can do in a very concrete way, whereas the latter is necessarily dealing in unknowns and uncertainty. Sorry guys!

    “Finally, some people who may take you up on a reasonable bet:
    http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2005/06/betting-summary.html
    http://backseatdriving.blogspot.com/
    http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/

    Thanks for the links…

    To the guy who suspected me of being a troll, that breed of sprite generally arrives, makes a rude or provocotive post and then disappears again. Hopefully I have demonstrated that I am prepard to stick around long enough to trade a few punches.

    I think I have made my point sufficiently. I will go back to being a quiet lurker here, keep up the good work guys.

    Matt.

    “Good luck. I hope you win.”
    Thanks. You seem a nice guy, I actually believe you do. I regret many here probably hope I will lose.

    Comment by Matthew L. — 22 Sep 2009 @ 1:40 PM

  263. Possibly this is the Metro story being referred to above. The actual quote is “With temperatures expected to rise by 5ºC (9ºF) by 2080, plants could bloom nearly two months early.” So, a quick bit of checking shows that the grandstanding person making up numbers is in fact the person complaining, and not an actual scientist at all. Quel surprise. – gavin

    Comment by gavin — 22 Sep 2009 @ 1:41 PM

  264. This site uses the same sources of data as NSIDC but interprets it slightly differently. They calculate the total sea ice area, NSIDC calculate the “extent” that is the area marked out by the boundary of the sea ice, which is generally a larger number. The trend is similar though.

    Personally I think the “Cryosphere Today” information is more detailed and informative.

    Here’s why folks like NSIDC and IARC-JAXA use extent, rather than area:

    The area of sea-ice cover is often defined in two ways, i.e., sea-ice “extent” and sea-ice “area.” These multiple definitions of sea-ice cover may sometimes confuse data users. The former is defined as the areal sum of sea ice covering the ocean (sea ice + open ocean), whereas the latter “area” definition counts only sea ice covering a fraction of the ocean (sea ice only). Thus, the sea-ice extent is always larger than the sea-ice area. Because of the possible errors in SIC mentioned above, satellite-derived sea-ice concentration can be underestimated, particularly in summer. In such a case, the sea-ice area is more susceptible to errors than the sea-ice extent. Thus, we adopt the definition of sea-ice extent to monitor the variation of the Arctic sea ice on this site.

    This is from the IARC-JAXA site.

    Comment by dhogaza — 22 Sep 2009 @ 1:55 PM

  265. You are probably right, the trend will continue, but whether the 2007, 2008 and 2009 melts were “anomalies” or part of that trend can be reasonably disputed.

    “We don’t know so it can be argued” is a heck of a lot weaker than “remarkable recovery” … “You’re probably right, the trend will continue” isn’t even close to your first statement claiming a “remarkable recovery”.

    I guess that’s progress – actually, it’s a “remarkable recovery”!

    Comment by dhogaza — 22 Sep 2009 @ 1:58 PM

  266. A good example:

    http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/47382/title/FOR_KIDS_A_gassy_threat_from_above

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Sep 2009 @ 2:15 PM

  267. #263
    You got me! Yes this was the report. Sorry for the inaccuracies. I am afraid, as conjectured in another post, I read it in a couple of minutes on the way to work and then threw it in the recycling bins thoughtfully provided at the tube station exits.

    My memory clearly mixed up the C and F figures. I still stand by my general point though. This is the most widely read newspaper in London (Gaea help us!).

    “With temperartures expected to rise by 5 deg C… by 2080.”
    Expected by whom, on what basis, in what model and with what inputs and assumptions?

    Of course it is common sense that if you warm the climate 5 degrees this will have devastating consequences for every living thing on this planet. That is hardly news.

    We need fewer press reports of models of what will happen *if* global warming continues, and more reports of models trying to find out *whether* and *how much*. This is up to you guys.

    You cannot expect to confine your writings to the likes of Nature, or even New Scientist, and then expect the population of the World to give up their cars, air conditioning, foreign holidays and multi media entertainment centres. If you don’t get out there in the mass media then you are leaving it to the journalists and politicians. The former will spin it for sensation, and the latter will spin it to garner the most votes.

    However, you may want your work spun for sensation and votes. In which case don’t be surprised if there is a backlash when the sensational result does not come about, or the politician who you helped vote in adopts ill informed policies – such as subsidising bio-ethanol to devastating effect on the cost of maize flour for the poor of mexico – or the building of lots of new nuclear power stations.

    We need more real climate and less badly reported and sensationalist science.

    I’ll get me coat…

    Comment by Matthew L. — 22 Sep 2009 @ 2:50 PM

  268. Gavin, I said “an element of truth,” not “truth” in what Matthew L said. And he justified my assertion far better than I could in 239. But the real point is focused on demeanor. When someone makes a claim from the evidence that, for example, arctic sea ice is getting better, or not as bad a almost everyone predicted, that has an element of truth. The proper retort, IMO, is in the vein that the long-term trend is none-the-less bad, or maybe short-term anomalies are not indicative, or maybe our (climatologists) overall judgement is it still looks like “…a profound and disruptive change in an important ecosystem and element of the climate…” (your words). However, more often than not, the retort is something like “you’re a denialist goofball idiot with no acceptable scientific credentials and are just parroting the stupid memes of your reprobate group. And your mother eats grass.” That’s the problem.

    When these complaints are directed to RC, all participants are included. While these complaints often (usually, IMO) do not fit the moderators personally, rejecting the complaints simply because it is not applicable to you few is a non sequitur. Though it is proper for you to defend yourself.

    [Response: I find it bizarre that people come on to a website run by scientists, make general and unfounded statements about 'scientists', and then when asked to point out an actual example, the answer is always "Oh not you, I meant the 'other' scientists" (who conveniently don't have a website). Well, I call BS. The scientists here aren't particularly exceptional with respect to their opinions, statements or press releases and we have a documented history of calling others on statements that do sometimes go too far. So it's completely legitimate to ask people to justify such statements... which as you saw here, actually aren't justified at all. So honest mistake or cut-and-paste disinformation? You decide. - gavin]

    Comment by Rod B — 22 Sep 2009 @ 2:51 PM

  269. #265 Dhogaza,
    “We don’t know so it can be argued” is a heck of a lot weaker than “remarkable recovery” … “You’re probably right, the trend will continue” isn’t even close to your first statement claiming a “remarkable recovery”.

    I guess that’s progress – actually, it’s a “remarkable recovery”!

    I told you I was a pushover :-)

    See, with a bit of rational debate you lot can modify and moderate views. You should try a bit harder where it really matters, in the “real media”.

    Comment by Matthew L. — 22 Sep 2009 @ 2:57 PM

  270. > I plot trends for a living, and looking
    > at the graphs on Cryosphere today I cannot see ….

    What business are you in where you “plot trends for a living” by “looking at the graphs” — and how has this industry survived such careless innumeracy?

    Oh, wait. You said you’re in finance, right?

    Never mind.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Sep 2009 @ 3:02 PM

  271. Tamino at 205 said:
    “Stop blaming the scientists, stop blaming the media. Blame the lies, and the lying liars who tell them.”

    I agree with this, with the caveat that among the consistent “liars” *are* certain media outlets (Fox News, the National Post).

    But certainly the liars include “scientists” like Monckton, “astroturf” organizations and think tanks like Friends of Science, the Frontier Centre and the Fraser Institute, duplicitous foundations like the Calgary Foundation, and of course the hidden corporate interests funding the liars.

    All of this can be seen in Lord Monckton’s upcoming tour of Canada, as seen here:

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/09/22/friends-of-science-behind-moncktons-magical-mystery-tour/

    I first blogged about this back in July – not that too many were paying attention then:
    http://deepclimate.org/2009/07/16/friends-of-science-theyre-back/

    Comment by Deep Climate — 22 Sep 2009 @ 3:18 PM

  272. Matthew L. #262:

    by that token I am bound to trust a computer engineer more than I would a
    research scientist, simply because the former has demonstrated what
    he can do in a very concrete way, whereas the latter is necessarily
    dealing in unknowns and uncertainty.

    Actually not true, if you consider that the “engine” of a GCM is very similar to that used in numerical weather prediction models — which definitely do work in the real world as you can observe first hand as a user of three-day-plus weather predictions… specifically, runs of climate models are done as “weather runs” generating members of an ensemble, over which then averaging is performed. And there are many ways to real-life test a GCM.

    That’s just GCMs… more generally, your distinction between engineers and scientists is, frankly, unreal as both are judged by getting things (models/devices) to work, and to be seen to work, in the real world. Hey, I am an engineer by training and do science for a job!

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 22 Sep 2009 @ 3:42 PM

  273. John P. Reisman (251), I looked at your graphs and it looked pretty flat to me: minus about 0.015 degrees over one ten-year period, plus about 0.025 degrees over another, maybe really flat over the combined 11-year period.

    So are you predicting the 8 degree rise by 2080? Or when Matthew L strongly doubts it, and you reply “it can’t be ruled out”, is that a refutation of Matthew’s doubts??

    Comment by Rod B — 22 Sep 2009 @ 3:47 PM

  274. #260 Matthew L.

    My mistake, actually, the MIT report range was 3.5 to 7.4 with BAU giving us a mean target of 5.2C

    Matthew, where did the 8C number originate? Do you have a source link?

    I not qualified to get between the Hadley Center and NASA on who is more respected, I think they are both quite respectable. Just that I know NASA has a greater amount of resources.

    The debate has been hijacked because controversy sells.

    As far as the data in the section of the page

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/global-warming-stopped

    Do 10 years really make a difference?

    That is hadcrut data, not NASA. The source links are below the graph images, just follow the links.

    The amount of sea level rise in the future will remain disputed, but there is no doubt it will rise due to the warming. Of course i don’t read the general media I stick to sources as best I can.

    I dont’ think 8C can be absolutely ruled out but neither can 2C, however both numbers are on the fringe as far as I can tell. But you can’t rule them out.

    If you follow the source links on the MIT report you can get more detail.

    I looked at the link you gave again and my mistake, I did not zoom in on it. It just reminded me of the global chart, my bad. Zooming in, I can see that the ice extent did drop quite a bit but what I try to point out to people is that ice extent does not tell you the story as well as ice mass loss. Which is a much more dramatic story.

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/images/arctic/20070822_oldice.gif/view

    It’s also important to understand that ice area and ice extent are pretty much the same thing.

    Gavin’s point is important. Real scientists are not making extreme predictions. The predictions are in ranges with probabilities. The fact that media picks up on the extremes of the ranges or uses false data, or makes something up has many reasons but none in those cases are helping get to the reasonable explanations.

    I have not heard any extreme positions from the relevant science community. Do you have examples?

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 22 Sep 2009 @ 4:06 PM

  275. Gavin, none-the-less there are a pile of scientifically minded people posting on RC. When those are sometimes called out for being terribly uncivil it’s not appropriate to holler “KINGS-X. THEY DON’T COUNT.”

    [Response: Don't know that reference, but I was not uncivil. Arguably, making sweeping and unfounded statements about 'scientists' is. - gavin]

    Comment by Rod B — 22 Sep 2009 @ 4:07 PM

  276. #273 Rod B

    Why would you say I am predicting 8C?

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 22 Sep 2009 @ 4:31 PM

  277. John P. wrote

    “t’s also important to understand that ice area and ice extent are pretty much the same thing.”

    Not really. Some periods of the year the ratio Area/Extent is below 70%, the lowest I’ve computed was under 62%. 5 million km^2 extent then means in summer time, 24/7 daylight, that ~2 million km^2 is open ocean.

    Comment by Sekerob — 22 Sep 2009 @ 4:43 PM

  278. PS, add to my previous note that in last few years with predominantly first year ice, there’s lot’s more real flat and that causing melt ponds to spread out much wider… helping more melt from above. Mind you, this years NP webcam barely showed any compared to the 2008 summer cycle.

    Comment by Sekerob — 22 Sep 2009 @ 4:47 PM

  279. John, he says it so you’ll reply to him. The pattern is:
    Misstate something said by someone who was confused;
    insist that someone else justify it. Gets everyone going at each other sometimes for days trying to untangle the mess.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Sep 2009 @ 5:05 PM

  280. Quotations in context, please, or we’ll be going in circles.

    At #230, Matthew L. was charged with spreading the “denier meme” that “…the earth has not warmed more in the last 10 years…” [i.e. not at all]. Actually, his claim (#226) was not about temps but about “AGW supporters’” attitudes to them, namely that they “seem positively unhappy that the earth has not warmed more in the last 10 years” [i.e. not more than it did].

    Then came #247, probably in support of the point Matthew hadn’t actually made:

    When NOAA publishes a report stating the ENSO adjusted trend for the last decade was 0.00 +/- 0.05C per decade then it doesn’t seem fair to critisize laymen, or perhaps even scientists, for repeating them.

    The reference is to the NOAA State of the Climate report, pp. 22-23, big PDF:
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/2008/ann/bams/full-report.pdf

    They note that Hadcrut3 data for 1999-2008 shows pretty slow warming — 0.07±0.07°C over that decade — and then they subtract the ENSO contribution to get a flat decade. The fairly relevant context to that quote is that they go on demonstrate how a decade like that is well within the variability simulated by climate models and consistent with a 2°C/century warming.

    Comment by CM — 22 Sep 2009 @ 5:20 PM

  281. Not sure how to do the quote thing in this blog. Anybody help here? Pity there is no preview function. I will use the “>” convention.

    Back again Gavin I am afraid. A glutton for punishment…

    >[Response: First off, by not providing an actual reference or link, no-one is in a position to know what you are talking about. Is that a local number?
    No, it is the mean annual Global Temperature Anomaly (deg C) from their "base period" 1961-90.
    The data set is here:
    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/hadcrut3vgl.txt

    [edit - I am aware of what the current temperature datasets are, thanks. The question was about your mysterious 8 deg which we have now found to only be "up to 5 deg C".]

    >Second, you appear to think that projections of climate are derived using the Excel linear regression routine.

    Sorry? Where did I say that? I am not projecting anything, simply comparing the past as described in this data set with the future as projected by climate prediction models and reported on sites such as this.

    > I’m sure that this functionality has many uses, but for calculating the impact of multi-thousand Gigatonnes of CO2 entering the climate system, it probably lacks a certain something. Like physics.

    I would agree wholeheartedly if I were attempting any such projection, which I am not.

    The numbers are simply the Mean Global Temperature Variance for 2008 (the last complete year) compared to the equivalent figure 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years earlier. I am aware that the El-nino year of 1998 falls into this list. That is just co-incidence and not deliberate. I am happy to do the averages over 15 years if you wish, but they are not significantly different once you get beyond the immediate past.

    I am not positing any alternative hypothesis, I am just trying to make it clear how incongruous a (now corrected) 5 degree C change in temperature in the next 70 years looks compared to a roughly 0.5 degree C change in the past 50 years.

    [Response: "See the stock market has gone up every year for a decade. I just don't see how it could suddenly change and lose 50% in a month" or "See our fish catches have gone up every year for a decade, what do you mean their closing the fishery because there are none left". - gavin]

    The models may be right, but is it not obvious that the scientific community will have its work cut out trying to convince the unwashed masses that this is actually what is going to happen? Because it will need to if it wants us all to change our behaviour in the sorts of radical ways being put forward.

    A simple statement of “Trust me, I am a scientist and here is my CV” will not do the job. Neither will “go away little man this is far to complicated for you to understand – leave this to us real scientists”.

    [Response: Curious. I don't recall ever having said any such things. This can't possibly be another strawman caricature masquerading as concern for our well being can it? - gavin]

    It is obvious to anybody who cares to look that global warming is happening, and has happened. It is not obvious that this trend will accelerate in the dramatic fashion described by some models. Scientists need to find a new language to describe complex models to the general public.

    On a final note, can i remind you of a statement in the above post:
    “Don’t be so unlikeable (i.e. don’t play to the stereotype of the arrogant, dismissive academic)”. Be nice. We the general public respond better to nice people than nasty people who sneer at us. Funny is good too, in fact funny probably trumps nice. Sneering sarcasm does not get a look in.

    [Response: Yeah... but while this is true in general, it doesn't give people the right to expect that mindless repetition of half-digested talking points will not get called on them. Genuine interest and real questions from lay people are to be welcomed and should be (and are) dealt with nicely. People pretending to be concerned about the image of scientists while ladeling on contrarian talking points are in another class altogether. - gavin]

    Comment by Matthew L. — 22 Sep 2009 @ 5:56 PM

  282. CM, yes they did state it was within the variability of the climate models. I never intended to suggest they said anything different. It would be huge news if they had, hardly worth mentioning if they hadn’t since nothing major had changed. Now as far as what point Matthew was making, he said the Earth hadn’t warmed for ten years. If he read the Earth hadn’t warmed for ten years after ENSO had been adjusted for then what is the possibility he remembered it has having not warmed for ten years? I don’t think I’d discount this possibility would you? Besides, what would you consider a more accurate temperature trend: one that has or has not been adjusted for ENSO?

    Comment by stevenc — 22 Sep 2009 @ 6:24 PM

  283. That NOAA/NCDC report at p23 has three charts;
    the middle chart has the time increasing from right to left.
    Odd?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Sep 2009 @ 6:41 PM

  284. CW, I’m sorry I had missed your primary point. Yes, I agree it is unjustified to try to place emotional tags on people you don’t even know.

    Comment by stevenc — 22 Sep 2009 @ 6:41 PM

  285. > Computers are not the creation of “scientists” in the
    > sense we are talking about here, they are the product of
    > engineers.

    We have climate models — based on radiation physics models — because we have computers that use semiconductors. It wasn’t engineers who figured out quantum physics, though they built devices. The old analog computers, and the ones built with physical relays, never would have sufficed to do any of that kind of work.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Sep 2009 @ 7:26 PM

  286. Deep Climate, One of the good Viscount’s biggest lies is saying he’s a scientist at all. His degree is journalism and he lists his profession as “business consultant,” rather than the more honest “professional liar”.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Sep 2009 @ 8:15 PM

  287. Ocean temps are at the warmest ever recorded. It’s insane to say that the Earth hasn’t warmed in 10 years: the chief repository of heat in the climate system is the warmest it’s ever been.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 22 Sep 2009 @ 8:52 PM

  288. Well, Ray, if Monckton were honest about being a professional liar, he’d be letting down the side, wouldn’t he?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 22 Sep 2009 @ 10:08 PM

  289. John P. Reisman (276), I was asking if you were, not claiming such.

    Comment by Rod B — 22 Sep 2009 @ 10:13 PM

  290. #287 Well of course Monckton’s not a scientist. That’s why I put in quotes :)

    But certainly the liars include “scientists” like Monckton …

    As I mention in my post on Monckton’s tour of the colonies (um, I mean Canada), one of the lies that Monckton used to tell was that he was a “scientific advisor” to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. That whopper got laughed down a long time ago and was dropped from the official c.v., but it lives on in some of the PR being put out by one of his hosts, the Frontier Centre.

    Comment by Deep Climate — 22 Sep 2009 @ 10:29 PM

  291. Matthew L. #284

    A simple statement of “Trust me, I am a scientist and here is my
    CV” will not do the job. Neither will “go away little man this is
    far to complicated for you to understand – leave this to us real
    scientists”.

    (using a blockquote…/blockquote pair in angle brackets)
    Now that we have out of the way what doesn’t work, what would you suggest we do to convince members of the general public? Step them line-by-line through the computer code?
    Do you think you’re saying something new? Heck, already the MIT Limits to Growth report from 1972 expended pages on the counterintuitiveness of their finding, the logic of exponential growth within a finite system, overshoot and collapse, and the difficulty of making non-scientists appreciate this. Is any of this a surprise to you?

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 22 Sep 2009 @ 11:52 PM

  292. I stand corrected to those who write from 206 to 212! I do understand (sort of, barely) that ozone is the result of complicated reactions of CO2 created volatile organic compounds mixing with UV radiation. I can’t claim any sort of chemical or physics expertise, whatsoever.

    But I can attest to one certain fact, because I can see it. The vegetation on the East Coast of the US is dying at a dizzyingly rapid rate. Croaking, wholesale, every single species of every single age is dying.

    You tell me why, smartypantz! I would love to know!

    Comment by Gail Z — 23 Sep 2009 @ 12:35 AM

  293. Kevin #288, philosophers would have something to say about that.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 23 Sep 2009 @ 1:31 AM

  294. #234 Dhogaza says:

    “Your minor work delineating fish stocks using stable isotope ratios in otoliths gives you no more knowledge about the work you dismiss than that of any other interested layperson. When it comes to climate science, that’s what you are – a layperson.”

    Dismiss what? I dismissed nothing except the use of GCMs for forecasting climate decades into the future. That is all. You can insult all you like (e.g. MINOR research on stable isotopes), it does not change the fact that, as a scientist, I can comment and criticise (constructively of course), because I do have the training. If I, as a fishery biologist, cannot comment outside my field of expertise then why are you even engaging in this debate at all as you have no scientific training?

    You (Dhogaza) debate because you are entitled to and you are entitled to be listened to.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 23 Sep 2009 @ 2:09 AM

  295. Richard Steckis

    Just shopping around for your comments on the web. For the most part, your arguments are soundly put down in pretty much every instance. You take other peoples comments out of context, or just add your own twist and in some cases call others ignorant even though it’s a pot meet kettle moment.

    One of my favorites is when you say Gavin Schmidt, James Hansen, Stefan Rahmstorf, Michael Mann are not climatologists. It seems relevance context is not a capacity you entertain, or currently possess on the subject at hand.

    http://www.desmogblog.com/user/richard-steckis/track

    http://www.desmogblog.com/glacial-melting-redraws-italian-swiss-border-hints-future-water-wars

    http://www.desmogblog.com/climate-denial-crock-week1998-revisited

    http://www.desmogblog.com/30000-global-warming-petition-easily-debunked-propaganda

    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=3270

    http://climateprogress.org/2009/08/08/de-icer-usgs-report-details-%e2%80%9crecent-dramatic-shrinkage-in-u-s-glaciers-matching-global-decline/comment-page-1/#comment-102105

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2008/12/02/western-sizzlin/

    http://climateprogress.org/2009/07/31/for-slimehead-orange-roughy-goosefish-monkfish-toothfish-chilean-sea-bass-overfishing/comment-page-1/#comment-100808

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2008/10/05/australias-new-chief-scientist/#comment-123394

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2008/11/23/open-thread-8/#comment-24197

    Not do you not understand climate, you do not understand web email either

    http://www.desmogblog.com/george-monbiots-troll-problem-and-ours

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Sep 2009 @ 2:09 AM

  296. Richard Steckis

    Richard, it is clear that you do not have adequate understanding on the subject of climate. But you have already pointed that out. What is also clear is that you do not seem to be learning.

    The models are matching the observations on the major part of the signal. The fact that you ignore that does not change the fact that ‘this’ global warming event is human caused.

    Study the Milankovitch Cycles to get an idea of what natural cycle is in the long run. Then study TSI and forcing. Understand the difference between the signal and the noise. It’s not all about a single type of statistical analysis:

    http://ossfoundation.com/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/the-copenhagen-distraction

    If you actually care about learning climate science you would ‘choose’ to look at the big picture. You seem to choose a myopic view. That is your choice, but it brands you.

    If you have children and grandchildren, they will likely live long enough to say, without doubt, you were foolish in your assertions. Do you really want to have that as how they remember you.

    Just because you don’t understand it does not mean that thousands of scientists that work in the field of climate don’t understand that the main signal above the noise of internal variability.

    Does this chart look familiar to you:

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A2.lrg.gif

    If it’s only 25 to 30% anthropogenic, how do you attribute the rest of the warming, the change in radiative forcing from pre-industrial natural cycle? The the models match the observations for the most part right now.

    - GCR’s don’t correlate.
    - Solar only adds 0.2 W/m2 on the surface at solar max (not enough to get 1.6 or 3.6 W/m2 on the top end minus the industrial negative albedo input).
    - et cetera

    You are obviously not looking at something important. Is it only that you are not really studying climate, or is it that you are ignoring things on purpose? What is causing the other 70 to 75% of the warming if it’s not anthropogenic in origin?

    If you have no alternative sound theory, why are you so unsure?

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Sep 2009 @ 2:22 AM

  297. Matthew L.,

    You wrote:
    “I am just trying to make it clear how incongruous a (now corrected) 5 degree C change in temperature in the next 70 years looks compared to a roughly 0.5 degree C change in the past 50 years.”

    There is a reason to expect that the warming trend may accelerate (I’m not defending the 5 degrees number however). Aerosol cooling has masked about 50% of the greenhouse warming so far. The aerosols (or particulate matter pollution) will very likely be cleaned up (their sources have already been substantially decreased over Europe and North America, for some badly needed good news), because they are a health hazard (ask your wife). The unmasking of this aerosol cooling will unleash the full extent of the greenhouse warming. The same process is thought to be responsible for the change in warming trend from 1940-1975 (strong aerosol cooling) compared to 1975-current warming. If globally aerosol sources will be cleaned up further, the warming trend may accelerate.

    Here is a nice short summary paper on this topic:
    http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1352231009004920

    More general, the amount of future climate change depends first and foremost on the further development of emissions (primarily greenhouse gases but also aerosols), and on the climate sensitivity. The former is inherently unknown, and up to what society at large decides. The latter is inherently uncertain, though taking all constraints together it’s been pinned down at ~3 degrees per doubling of CO2 (http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2006/03/climate-sensitivity-is-3c.html).

    Good to see that your views are amenable to change.

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 23 Sep 2009 @ 2:26 AM

  298. Perhaps the whole premise of the post is misconceived, and we should not be agonising so much about the public at large:

    http://climateprogress.org/2009/09/21/federal-court-says-states-may-sue-utilities-over-greenhouse-gas-emissions-climate/

    http://www.unepfi.org/fileadmin/documents/need_agreement.pdf

    Judges are smart people, and they have a deep appreciation for this thing called evidence, i.e., the stuff that makes you believe in things you don’t want to believe in. And investors — well, there’s a reason they’re trusted with other people’s money. Smart cookies too.

    It’s at times like this one should be grateful for not living in an actually functioning democracy ;-)

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 23 Sep 2009 @ 2:43 AM

  299. stevenc,

    re #282, you cite a source noting the (adjusted) trend was flat, but you think the context that this doesn’t falsify climate predictions is too trivial to cite. Matthew L. seems to be one of many people to whom this is not at all obvious, and your source addresses the question he raises, hence it’s worth referencing in full.

    As for what is “a more accurate temperature trend: one that has or has not been adjusted for ENSO?”: The more accurate temperature trend is, well, the temperature trend. You want the unadjusted trend if you just want to know if the world warmed or not. (If there’s more crime now than ten years ago, and the whole increase can be explained by the rise in unemployment, does that make it more accurate to say that the crime rate has been flat?) You may want the ENSO-adjusted one to take a stab at how much of that might be man-made.

    re #284 (if meant for me), thanks but that wasn’t my main point.

    Comment by CM — 23 Sep 2009 @ 3:48 AM

  300. #262 Matthew L.

    Well, I plot trends for a living, and looking at the graphs on Cryosphere today I cannot see any significant downward trend much before 1993, which is 16 years. Not that it matters much. You are probably right, the trend will continue, but whether the 2007, 2008 and 2009 melts were “anomalies” or part of that trend can be reasonably disputed.

    Concentrating on flat parts can be of course misleading. Add the forcing component and the atmospheric lifetime of Co2 along with feedbacks that are certainly reasonably expected.

    Thus it is easy to see where it will go. It is a non linear acceleration but will have a component that acts like compounding interest, but with a twist.

    A good way to look at it would be the current situation with banks. The CEO’s and executives don’t want to reduce their salaries, so since they figure the spigots are closed on bailout money, as their profits get squeezed, on top of the interest on debt they charge their customers, they are starting to lop in extra fees. To maintain their desired profit, they would need to continue throwing fees at customers and changing the rules until of course the bank fails or the government says, here’s more bailout money.

    That is pretty much what will happen with sea level rise (SLR) and AGW, in general, except there is no bailout for climate other than human action. The feedbacks will most likely magnify in response to the continued warming and thus push the numbers up at various tipping points.

    The main difference being that climate is not a fictitious business entity that can go bankrupt and walk away to get another job somewhere else.

    When AGW reaches a certain point, we pay the price. Not doing anything meaningful about it is similar in effect. Humans still have a chance to try to control it. The real question is when will human, in general, reach a level of understanding to avoid such bankruptcy of our resource capacity and sustainability?

    If the science were dodgy the computer would not be possible. by that token I am bound to trust a computer engineer more than I would a research scientist, simply because the former has demonstrated what he can do in a very concrete way, whereas the latter is necessarily dealing in unknowns and uncertainty. Sorry guys!

    Yes, I recall how reliably all those computer engineers predicted the downfall of civilization the the months leading up to Jan. 1, 2000. Those guys are so reliable???

    What is your last name, please?

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Sep 2009 @ 3:52 AM

  301. #267 Matthew L.

    If you don’t get out there in the mass media then you are leaving it to the journalists and politicians. The former will spin it for sensation, and the latter will spin it to garner the most votes.

    I have a climate communication plan, and have been looking for a budget for years now. I have had no luck as yet in finding that budget.

    I think we can end the argument in 6 months to a year (arrogant as that may seem) in the public debate given the needed budget. But without a communication budget that will do the trick, this will not happen.

    If you happen to know some wealthy person or organization that is willing to endow such a project, please do let me know.

    http://ossfoundation.com/contact-info

    And no, I will not reveal the methodology of the plan as that would reduce the effect of the plan implementation. Loose lips sink ships. It is a good plan though.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Sep 2009 @ 3:58 AM

  302. #273 Rod B

    I looked at your graphs and it looked pretty flat to me: minus about 0.015 degrees over one ten-year period, plus about 0.025 degrees over another, maybe really flat over the combined 11-year period.

    Why are you still hung up on the short term and looking at things out of context?

    The graphs were there exclusively to point out why you should not look at trends under 30 years.

    And btw, even when looking at trends that are 30+ years, you must have consideration of the attribution.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Sep 2009 @ 4:04 AM

  303. Hank #283, the chart has temp change to 2008 expressed as a function of starting year; expressed as a function of the length of the time series, the x axis would increase from 0 to 24 years to the right. I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets vertigo from charts like that, though.

    Comment by CM — 23 Sep 2009 @ 4:06 AM

  304. I know this is your blog, and therefore you can do what you like, but snipping large chunks from posts during “moderation” is a bit unfair. I am sure *you* know all about the data sets, obviously, but not every other reader of these comments does, and your original resonse to my post seemed to suggest that *I* didn’t. I see now that I misunderstood your questions, for which I apologise. You could simply have left the original post as it was and made the comment without the snips.

    [Response: "See the stock market has gone up every year for a decade. I just don't see how it could suddenly change and lose 50% in a month" or "See our fish catches have gone up every year for a decade, what do you mean their closing the fishery because there are none left". - gavin]

    Spot on. These examples are classic cases of academics and scientists failing to communicate the risks associated with the current behaviour of ther subjects. This is not a failing of science, it is a failing of communication. I am not saying it is their fault, but maybe scientists need to concentrate more on communication now if these kinds of mistakes are to be avoided? Is that not the message of the article we are commenting on?

    As someone carrying out valuations of financial and real estate investments for the last 30 years I am fully aware of how models that “project the past” can go horribly wrong. In the UK we also have to stand helplessly by while huge Spanish trawllers, sanctioned by the EU “common fisheries policy”, scour the seabed around our shores for every last scrap of marine life.

    [not that you are interested - but others might be] I am a conservationist at heart, and have been since being a member of the “Young Naturalists” (patron Gavin Maxwell – author of Ring of Bright Water) 1970 – 74. I have crawled on my belly across sand dunes on the Scilly Isles with a Kodak Instamatic to get a glimpse of a stray Snowy Owl. I have helped clear ditches and plant trees. I am a member of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (founder Sir Peter Scott, who also founded WWF) and the Royal Society for the Protction of Birds – the biggest conservation group in the UK. I sit by muddy ponds at 5 in the morning taking pictures of Kingfishers with big lenses as a hobby. My favourite charity is the UK Woodland Trust.

    I have replaced every lightbulb in our house with hideous energy saving ones (much to my wife’s chagrin). I have installed at vast and uneconomic expense a solar hot water heating system (my pride and joy!). Lagged the loft with so much irritating fibreglass that it is unusable as storage. I have got rid of one of our two cars, and replaced the other, 25mpg, model with a diesel that averages 45mpg. I keep talking about cycling to work.. but never actually get round to it, unlike many of my friends.

    I am a concerned member of the public, I carry no denialist agenda and I slightly resent the charge that I “ladel out contrarian talking points”. Any talking points I have raised have been my own observations on published data. I am on your side Gavin, stop trying to turn me to the “dark side”.

    [Response: Curious. I don't recall ever having said any such things. This can't possibly be another strawman caricature masquerading as concern for our well being can it? - gavin]

    Hmm… maybe not you Gavin, but that is the overwhelming impression from the comments on this blog. You need to have a pretty thick skin to dare to question a scientist here.

    [Response: You are completely missing the point. There are indeed many scientists here you can question. But you are best off doing that by actually asking questions rather than by making insinuations. If we didn't want to engage with people, we wouldn't bother to have to a blog. - gavin]

    Comment by Matthew L. — 23 Sep 2009 @ 4:21 AM

  305. CM, my recollection is that ENSO adjustments for temperature trends is rather common regardless of if being used for attribution or not. I am, as always, willing to be corrected.

    CM, if you weren’t complaining about how he said it then you were complaining about what he said. I don’t see a third choice available. The statement “it has not warmed in the last ten years” seems a fairly legitimate one to me at this point. It has a reference from a reputable source. The argument would have to be over the accuracy of the source not the accuracy of the people making the comment based on the source.

    Perhaps within the context of the entire conversation it may have been helpful to stipulate that it was within the variations of climate models. Typically I would not have felt the need to do so, did not see the need to do so, and so didn’t.

    Comment by stevenc — 23 Sep 2009 @ 6:32 AM

  306. #300 John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation)

    “Add the forcing component and the atmospheric lifetime of Co2″. So, what is the atmospheric lifetime of CO2? How do you know this?

    “The feedbacks will most likely magnify in response to the continued warming and thus push the numbers up at various tipping points.” What numbers? What various tipping points?

    “When AGW reaches a certain point, we pay the price”. What certain point?

    Comment by simon abingdon — 23 Sep 2009 @ 6:34 AM

  307. #304 Matthew L.

    Hmm… maybe not you Gavin, but that is the overwhelming impression from the comments on this blog. You need to have a pretty thick skin to dare to question a scientist here.

    You have been making more statements that have been obtuse “insinuations” in nature if not outright bizarre in form, or largely off base. It may be your writing style but you can clean that up.

    Maybe you should start asking more questions rather than claims based on, something you read on the internets.

    And in reality, this is going to get more difficult and expensive to manage the longer we wait. 20% by 2020 has not even been agreed upon and it is not going to be enough, though a step in the right direction.

    Any and all delays make it more challenging. Get up to speed and help. You don’t want to hear drama and you say drama is getting in the way?

    President Obama:

    That so many of us are here today is a recognition that the threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing.  Our generation’s response to this challenge will be judged by history, for if we fail to meet it—boldly, swiftly, and together—we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe.

    So, time is money; chop, chop; let’s get moving; hurry now, we’re gonna be late…

    There are nearly 6.8 billion people on this planet. As it unfolds, we will all be affected by this. People will die, people will starve, there will be conflicts over resources, there will be more floods, droughts, fires, heavy snow storms burying towns, there is already an increase in hurricane strength, and due to mans interest in living near the ocean, so has been raised the cost of such disasters.

    So I’m curious, where are the scientists being overly dramatic with their predictions of a possible 5 C temperature rise? Anyone that understands what that means, understands that it translates to all of the above, over time, unless meaningful mitigation and adaptation measures are put in place. And even then, we don’t get out of this unscathed.

    Yes it needs to be communicated, but it needs an organized mechanism if we are to achieve meaningful penetration of the public mind. Let’s just keep hoping that happens, though as I have said, I have not been able to achieve it and I’m trying pretty darn hard.

    As far as thick skin, you don’t have to have thick skin if you are anonymous, as you are. Your words don’t reflect on you because you are anonymous, so what are you worried about.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Sep 2009 @ 7:01 AM

  308. CM, to illustrate the use of correcting for ENSO. If someone came on here and had prepared a graph drawing a line from the top of the 98 el nino to the bottom of the 08 la nina and claiming this represented the change in the temperature, how many people would they have yelling at them?

    Comment by stevenc — 23 Sep 2009 @ 7:04 AM

  309. If you go back and look at my original post (#226) I really don’t think I am accusing anybody of anything very much other than despairng of the “tone” of the debate, the polariztion of views and the defensive stance of many commentators on this, and other, blogs. By commentators I mean the people posting comments, not necessarily the owners of the blog. Sorry if I gave any other impression.

    The questions I did have relating to both the recent flatter trend in temperatures and the apparent “recovery” (for want of a better word) in sea ice, have been very well answered here, particularly by the very polite and tolerant Messers Reisman and Verheggen. Thanks for listening and bothering to reply with civility guys. Your web site is now in my favourites list Mr R. Sorry I have not had time to answer all your very pertinent questions – just take it that I have read (most of) the links you posted, thanks.

    I still think these two apparently “contrarian” indicators need to be properly addressed by scientists in the media. They are obvious to anybody who cares to look at the data sources, and simply ignoring them or dismissing them in a few words as statistical noise just leaves the field open to the deniers to jump on them as evidence that AGW is somehow disproved.

    The general public are not as stupid as you might think. Most of us are more than capable of understanding error bars and ranges of uncertainty in a trend.

    I am ashamed of my half-hearted attempt at claiming to be a scientist [blush]. I suppose all I wanted to do was not be talked down to, or patronised, and I rescinded the claim at the earliest opportunity.

    I think as an ordinary member of the public asking honest questions I should be entitled to remain anonymous. If I pretended any expertise in this field, or had written papers that needed peer review, then I would do so. If you Googled my surname it would throw up nothing more interesting than my biography on my employer’s web site and some inane comments on sites dealing with my main hobby – photography. My wife, however, would not be pleased to see the characterisation of her I have posted here. For that reason alone I won’t be posting my surname!

    Anyway, I have given enough biographical detail here that anybody reading this who knows me would realise who I am. Matthew is my real first name and L is the first initial of my real surname.

    Comment by Matthew L. — 23 Sep 2009 @ 7:19 AM

  310. I’m “skeptical” of the denialist claims that they are “winning the debate,” and feel that we tend to over-estimate their influence because we consistently expose ourselves to it. And there’s certainly some evidence to support this idea, for example:

    http://www.pewtrusts.org/news_room_detail.aspx?id=52044

    Don’t know how much this was a “push poll,” but then you don’t know that about contrary results, either.

    Anecdotally, it seems to me that “non-enthusiasts” of AGW are often more tired of the clamor than anything else. Many are well aware of the Faux-news nutsiness, and turned off by it–even if they are to some extent influenced by Faux-news content. They end up as soft supporters of mitigation action, if only because they rely on the commonsensical notion that pumping a bunch of anything into the atmosphere is probably not a good idea.

    Bottom line, I think we need to keep putting the facts out there, and avoid useless hand-wringing.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 23 Sep 2009 @ 7:33 AM

  311. Matthew L.,

    There are plenty of us who are willing to try and help you understand.

    You mention the risks of trying to “project the past”. That is one of the reasons why climate modeling is done with so-called “dynamic models”. That means that the researchers actually put in the physics rather than doing statistical models based on past performance. Dynamical models are much less likely to go drastically wrong, because it is unlikely that future climates will be dominated by physical mechanisms not experienced in the past.

    Please realize, Matthew, that you are not stepping onto virgin territory. Climate change has been a war zone for over 20 years now–with the scientists firmly on one side and the energy interests opposing them. And many on the pro-science side are veterans of the campaign against creationism and Big Tobacco, too. Whether it is fair or not, it is not unnatural to make assumptions about a poster’s allegiances (science vs. anti-science) based on the tenor of his posts.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Sep 2009 @ 8:22 AM

  312. #310
    Kevin McKinney raises an interesting point concerning the “winning” of the debate by “skeptics”.

    I’m interested in doing a post on this subject, in the form of a competition between the leading PR spin doctors, i.e. Marc Morano for the U.S., Tom Harris for Canada and Max Rheese for Australia.

    So far, when I’ve looked at polls longitudinally (i.e. the same question and methodology over the last few years), I see a decline in public support for the AGW scientific consensus, and also a decline in support for government regulation of greenhouse gases, since the peak in 2007. (Sorry don’t have the refs immediately at hand).

    That doesn’t mean the contrarians are “winning” in terms of garnering majority support for their position, but they may be making enough progress to forestall meaningful action.

    Comment by Deep Climate — 23 Sep 2009 @ 9:43 AM

  313. Matthew L: I am convinced that global warming is taking place, but like many bemused citizens find the evidence for CO2 as the primary cause to be patchy at best.

    BPL: Which of the following do you dispute?

    1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
    2. CO2 is rising.
    3. The increase is mainly from burning fossil fuels.
    4. Climate feedbacks amplify the warming from CO2.
    5. No other source of the warming is plausible.

    If it’s #5 you’re embracing, please give the evidence behind the mechanism you favor. And explain why the greenhouse effect stops working when CO2 increases.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 23 Sep 2009 @ 9:54 AM

  314. #313 Barton, why wouldn’t your 3 just say “The increase is mainly from natural warming”?

    Comment by simon abingdon — 23 Sep 2009 @ 10:10 AM

  315. stevenc: The statement “it has not warmed in the last ten years” seems a fairly legitimate one to me at this point.

    BPL: What part of “the World Meteorological Organization defines climate as mean regional or global temperature over a period of 30 years or more” do you not understand?

    Ten years tells you nothing about climate change. Zip. Nada.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 23 Sep 2009 @ 10:12 AM

  316. Deep Climate,
    Keep in mind that the economic turmoil has people more focused on pocketbook issues. We in the reality-based community have to keep emphasizing the science, which, despite the opinions of many politicians, does not change with public opinion.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Sep 2009 @ 10:23 AM

  317. Simon
    Barton is referring to the increase in CO2, not temperature in #3, which is undeniably due to fossil fuel consumption.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Sep 2009 @ 10:24 AM

  318. It is impossible to educate with facts a person, whose conviction is based on faith. This is evident with the creationists, but also with the climate change deniers. In this thread we have good examples of such deniers, who have learned nothing during recent years inspite of thousands of attemps. Same inane denier opinions are repeated again and again and again.

    In blogs, which are moderated by the scientists (Real Climate, Open Mind etc.) such claims are are promptly corrected and the untrue view will not prevail. Here it is possible to learn new scientific facts on climate. On the other hand, those blogs, where comments are not moderated or the moderation is done by other criteria, are rapidly flooded by crap comments. Those blogs no more educate, but turn into just another denier site.

    Keep up good work, guys!

    Comment by Petro — 23 Sep 2009 @ 10:26 AM

  319. Barton, there is a difference between accurate and meaningful. I would be unlikely to be on the meaningful side of the ten year discussion should that have been the discussion’s topic. Not based on the 30 year definition of climate however since the NOAA states that 15 years of no warming would place the models in a difficult statistical position. My argument would be that with a prolonged solar minimum and a cooling PDO it is only logical the lower limit of the models would be tested. I understand there is some dispute if 15 years is long enough or not and I am not prepared to argue for or against this time period. That is for the experts to argue out.

    Comment by stevenc — 23 Sep 2009 @ 10:41 AM

  320. # 306 J. Reisman

    “there is already an increase in hurricane strength”

    Is this now a fact?

    Comment by Rando — 23 Sep 2009 @ 10:52 AM

  321. #314 simon monckton

    Because there is no attribution or mechanism to explain the warming without GHG’s…

    … or did you find one? if so please do explain the warming with what you have found?

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Sep 2009 @ 11:07 AM

  322. #316 Rando

    You tell me?

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=140

    The data set is referenced on the bottom of the image.
    http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/hurdat/hurdatTAB.txt

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Sep 2009 @ 11:10 AM

  323. #313 BPL
    Noting previous comments on my posting style, and accepting that my grasp of the science is “patch at best”, perhaps you would not mind me responding to some of your questions with some of my own. I know this is all stuff science has covered before, so by all means answer by pointing me at appropriate studies / sources if you don’t have the time to answer directly.

    >1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
    No dispute there. Somebody has already pointed to a source stating that circa 3 deg of warming comes from a doubling of CO2. Unfortunately the link posted was broken. Is this verified anywhere else?

    >2. CO2 is rising.

    Obvious from measurements.

    >3. The increase is mainly from burning fossil fuels.

    I declare serious ignorance here, and have read much conflicting information. So perhaps you can help me understand;

    – What is the total stock of CO2 in the atmosphere?

    – How much as a percentage of this each year do the total emissions from human sources represent?

    – How much CO2 each year is “recycled” in the carbon cycle?

    – Are we sure that human sources adding CO2 to the atmosphere is a directly additive process? In other words what is the annual increase in total atmospheric CO2, and how does this compare with the total human emissions?

    – Is it possible that human sources are swamped / absorbed / mitigated by the natural cycle of carbon into and out of the sea and terrestrial life forms?

    4. Climate feedbacks amplify the warming from CO2.

    – I understand that there are positive feedback mechanisms (warm seas emitting more CO2 etc). However, can we completely discount that there may be negative feedbacks too? A common one cited is increased cloud cover as the warm seas evaporate more water.

    5. No other source of the warming is plausible.

    – All heat in our climate (barring a tiny contribution from the earth’s core) comes from the sun. How much effect on the earth’s climate comes from variations in the output of the sun?

    – How does this compare with the forcing effect from changes in CO2?

    Looking at the graph on the following site:
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/guide/bigpicture/fact4.html
    There does seem to be some correlation between the warming of the sun since 1900 and the warming of the earth over the same time period. Is that just my imagination?

    The sun seems to be declining in output;
    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2009/03sep_sunspots.htm
    is this significant to global warming?

    Thanks for your help.

    Comment by Matthew L. — 23 Sep 2009 @ 11:22 AM

  324. #313 Barton, why wouldn’t your 3 just say “The increase is mainly from natural warming”?

    Because that would be a false statement, clearly CO2 is rising primarily due to our massive burning of fossil fuels.

    Comment by dhogaza — 23 Sep 2009 @ 11:26 AM

  325. re #316,

    Re increase in hurricane strength. Yes that’s what the evidence indicates Rando. Specifically the numbers of high category tropical storms has increased according to quite a few analyses published in the last few years:

    e.g.:

    Elsner, JB et al (2008) The increasing intensity of the strongest tropical cyclones. Nature 455, 92-95.

    Emanual K (2005) Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the last 30 years Nature 436, 696-688.

    S. B. Goldenberg, C. W. Landsea, A. M. Mestas-Nuñez, W. M. Gray (2001) The Recent Increase in Atlantic Hurricane Activity: Causes and Implications
    Science 293, 474 – 479

    C. D. Hoyos et al. (2006) Deconvolution of the Factors Contributing to the Increase in Global Hurricane Intensity Science 312 94 – 97.

    Barnett, T. P. et al (2005) Penetration of human-induced warming into the world’s oceans Science, 309, 284–287.

    Elsner JB (2006) Evidence in support of the climate change – Atlantic hurricane hypothesis Geophysical Research Letters 33 L16705

    K. E. Trenberth and D. J. Shea (2006) Atlantic hurricanes and natural variability in 2005 Geophysical Research Letters, VOL. 33, L12704

    Comment by chris — 23 Sep 2009 @ 11:30 AM

  326. #321 John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation)

    John – you might like to comment on the following – simon

    (Perhaps it can be dismissed out of hand as Big Oil propaganda).

    “In this study, using the combustion/chemical-engineering perfectly stirred reactor (PSR) mixing structure to define and determine the RT (Residency Time) in the atmosphere and then using data from the IPCC and other sources for model validation and numerical determination, the data support the validity of the PSR model application in this context and, from the analysis, provide (quasi-equilibrium) RTs for CO2 of 5 years carrying C12 and 16 years carrying C14, with both values essentially in agreement with the IPCC short-term (4 year) value and, separately, in agreement with most other data sources, notably, a 1998 listing by Segalstad of 36 other published values, also in the range of 5−15 years. With the short RT results shown to be in quasi-equilibrium, this then supports the conclusion that the long-term (100 year) rising atmospheric CO2 concentration is not from anthropogenic sources, but is due to natural factors. This supports the conclusion that global warming is not anthropogenically driven.

    Quoted from: climateresearchnews.com/…/atmospheric-residence-time-of-man-made-co2/

    Comment by simon abingdon — 23 Sep 2009 @ 11:48 AM

  327. Sorry, my mistake. I see it´s dated 1 April.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 23 Sep 2009 @ 12:17 PM

  328. I assume you will be posting soon on the new ice melt readings published in Nature.

    The British estimate that Antarctica is losing 30 feet PER YEAR since 2003 in some places, which by my estimate means that we lose all of that ice within 150 to 200 years. Since there is little to no hope that we can actually cause the planet to cool in that time frame, and thermal inertia being what it is, this seems to indicate that the massive sea level rises suggest by AIT are quite real and will be upon us quite soon, with no – I repeat, no – mechanism for halting or reversing the event. In fact, I’m sure we would all agree that the rate of ice loss will only accelerate in the decades ahead.

    This would seem to mean that adaptation must be the primary focus of any efforts to deal with AGW, and it would seem to mean that we have a generation or two, at most, to come up with viable options.

    That’s like the day after tomorrow, when you think about it.

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 23 Sep 2009 @ 12:54 PM

  329. I declare serious ignorance here, and have read much conflicting information

    The CO2 issue can serve as a litmus test for the sources you read, because any source that claims that observed CO2 increases aren’t due to our massive burning of fossil fuels is being outright dishonest.

    And therefore safely ignored.

    If you’re interested in the scientific argument, read this Real Climate piece from four years ago.

    It’s not in doubt. Not in the least. Those who claim it is are simply lying to you.

    Comment by dhogaza — 23 Sep 2009 @ 12:55 PM

  330. Matthew L., have you clicked the “Start Here” button at the top of the page? Have you read Spencer Weart’s history — the first link under Science on the right sidebar?

    If so, you can refer to specific points in those that you don’t understand. That would help greatly.

    If you haven’t read the basics, then you are asking people to retype material well covered in those FAQ answers — answers that have been carefully worked over to get them right and clear. None of us can retype the very clearest answer off the top of our heads to the basic frequently asked questions and do as well for you as you can do for yourself by reading the FAQ files.

    If you want the very shortest summary, you could read the list here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php
    and then refer to the FAQs.

    Or just google “John Mashey” +climate (grin) and he’ll lead you to the nearest source of water that can slake your thirst.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Sep 2009 @ 1:02 PM

  331. Matthew L. #323, I suggest you have a good hard look at the IPCC report, WG1, to be found at http://www.ipcc.ch . It’s a big read so be selective at first read, but the kind of questions you’re asking tells me that you might be ready for it.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 23 Sep 2009 @ 1:30 PM

  332. Simon #326-7, Aprils’ Fools would be a nice explanation but sadly the track record suggests he actually means it. It’s been discussed before. It’s a silly place – let’s not go there.

    Comment by CM — 23 Sep 2009 @ 1:35 PM

  333. Matthew L. — At the top of the page is a “Start Here” button. Click it to start there regarding basic climatology. That too will lead you to “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart, which once again I encourage you to read.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 23 Sep 2009 @ 1:44 PM

  334. Matthew L.,

    The link I gave earlier for climate sensitivity being 3 deg is
    http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2006/03/climate-sensitivity-is-3c.html

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 23 Sep 2009 @ 2:03 PM

  335. simon solicits comments on a paper: “In this study, using the combustion/chemical-engineering perfectly stirred reactor (PSR) mixing structure to define and determine the RT (Residency Time) in the atmosphere and then using data from the IPCC and other sources for model validation and numerical determination, the data support the validity of the PSR model application in this context and, from the analysis, provide (quasi-equilibrium) RTs for CO2 of 5 years carrying C12 and 16 years carrying C14, with both values essentially in agreement with the IPCC short-term (4 year) value and, separately, in agreement with most other data sources, notably, a 1998 listing by Segalstad of 36 other published values, also in the range of 5−15 years. With the short RT results shown to be in quasi-equilibrium, this then supports the conclusion that the long-term (100 year) rising atmospheric CO2 concentration is not from anthropogenic sources, but is due to natural factors. This supports the conclusion that global warming is not anthropogenically driven.”

    The last two statements are a nonsequitur. The referee of the paper was not competent enough to catch it, or careless.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 23 Sep 2009 @ 2:35 PM

  336. #327 simon monckton

    How apropos.

    http://climateresearchnews.com/2009/08/atmospheric-residence-time-of-man-made-co2/

    As I understand it, that is big coal paying for that one, not big oil, but I could be wrong. It had been discussed though and I doubt anyone wants to backtrack.

    I go along with CM in #332. It may be a truly ironic coincidence but I do think they want people to believe it. At least here on RealClimate, they play it up on April 1.

    I had a guy at a power company repeat it to me this year. I almost would believe that they did on April 1 just so they could say later, if anyone called them on it, April Fools.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Sep 2009 @ 2:38 PM

  337. #323 Matthew L.

    Also, the isotopic signature is different for natural Co2 v. fossil fuels.

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/human-caused

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Sep 2009 @ 2:41 PM

  338. Beware when the Belligerent Troll becomes a Concern Troll.

    There be hippogriffs.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 23 Sep 2009 @ 2:51 PM

  339. Reference 316:
    “BPL: What part of “the World Meteorological Organization defines climate as mean regional or global temperature over a period of 30 years or more” do you not understand?

    Ten years tells you nothing about climate change. Zip. Nada.”

    I find BPL to be unnecessarily snarky. I think the statement “it has not warmed more in the last 10 years” is perfectly reasonable because global temperatures have been nearly flat within error bars for the last 10 years.

    Furthermore, if 10 years tells you nothing about climate change, how do we know that 30 years does? Why not 100 or 1000 years as some others have claimed? What justification does BPL have that 30 years is the right time “scale” with which to look at climate? Can someone illuminate me on this using scientific evidence, rather than just saying it is based upon some society’s “authoritative” statement?

    Comment by Dan Wang — 23 Sep 2009 @ 2:56 PM

  340. #323 Matthew L.

    I provided some links below re. your inquiries. Pages on the OSS site have links in the text and usually ref links at the bottom of the page:
    3. The increase is mainly from burning fossil fuels.
    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/index.html

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/greenhouse-gases

    Humans add around 7 to 8 billion tons of Co2 to the atmosphere each year.

    The recycled carbon is around 4ppm breathed in and out each year.

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/keeling-curves

    The amount of fossil fuel burned generally correlates with the Co2 increase.

    On negative feedbacks, there is the iris hypothesis, you can read a bit about it here

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/richard-lindzen

    there is a link to the Lindzen home page with his publications there also.

    The output of the sun adds and takes away .2 W/m2

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/solar

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/its-the-sun

    But the forcing is 1.6W/m2 above natural cycle (IPCC), which once you understand the reference point and the difference between that and an ice age gives you perspective. An ice age is around -3.4 W/m2 and an interglacial is around thermal equilibrium or 0.0 W/m2 give or take a .1 or .2 depending on the cycle. But in reality the positive forcing could be around 3.6 W/m2 positive because mad made aerosol pollutants are causing a negative forcing. SO we are pretty out of whack.

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/forcing-levels

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/milankovitch-cycles

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/natural-cycle

    This chart I believe is from NASA GISS and is one of my favorites to see the variance of forcing from natural cycle. I will have to relocate the source though as I just noticed I don’t have the source link in the ref.

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/images/natural-cycle/Forcing-Temp_1.9wm2.png/image_view_fullscreen

    As far as solar output affecting warming you need to understand how much forcing you get from that variance. The ref links above will give you the context. A drop in solar output would be wonderful so let’s hope it happens, but it only takes away. 0.2 W/m2 so it’s not enough to stop the warming. It would help though so I’m keeping my fingers crossed since there is no real way to predict that behavior.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Sep 2009 @ 3:33 PM

  341. Dan Wang (339) — Thirty or more years comes from statistical analysis of the historical records. There is more about this over at Tamino’s “Open Mind” blog.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 23 Sep 2009 @ 3:45 PM

  342. #339 Dan Wang

    I find posts that say BPL is unnecessarily snarky, to be snarky.

    Furthermore, the reason 30 years tells you more that 10 years is because the science can separate the signal form the noise on longer time scales.

    Some society??? The World Meteorological Organization/OMM. Some Society???

    http://www.wmo.int

    Look before you leap.

    and the WMO is not the only ‘some society’ that looks at climate generally as 30+ years

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/noaa-n/climate/climate_weather.html

    And of course you have not been following the conversation and just dropped by to say 10 years are important

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/global-warming-stopped

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Sep 2009 @ 3:51 PM

  343. Dan Wang’s question is asymmetric:”Furthermore, if 10 years tells you nothing about climate change, how do we know that 30 years does? Why not 100 or 1000 years as some others have claimed? What justification does BPL have that 30 years is the right time “scale” with which to look at climate? Can someone illuminate me on this using scientific evidence, rather than just saying it is based upon some society’s “authoritative” statement?”

    Are you also asking those who claim 10 or 100 or 1000 years (whoever they are)?

    “http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2009/01/results-on-deciding-trends.html” gives an excellent explanation.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 23 Sep 2009 @ 3:51 PM

  344. > how do we know that 30 years does?

    Good question — one that has been frequently asked (and answered). The answer is in doing the math, which is taught in Statistics 101 and also online, e.g. here:

    http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/search?q=trends

    http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2009/01/results-on-deciding-trends.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Sep 2009 @ 3:53 PM

  345. #339 Dan Wang

    I suggest you play around with the graphs at Wood For Trees so you can see for yourself.

    Start with mean annual temperatures from the two main temperature records. Notice that there is a lot of noise about the overall trend.

    Now compare that with 10-year averages. There is a lot less noise in this graph, so you can start to say something about the longer term trends.

    Now look at the 30-year averages.

    Push that out to 100-year averages, and you now have eliminated almost all of the noise, and approximate the linear trend (although note how you reduce the time series in doing so).

    So you can see, there has to be a balance between eliminating inter-annual noise and showing trends. This topic has been discussed on this site many times in the past, for example here, so have a read, and if you still have questions come back later.

    Comment by CTG — 23 Sep 2009 @ 4:31 PM

  346. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) (340) — Oops! Humans burn about 7 billion tonnes of carbon per year, resulting in (44/12)*7 = 25.7 billion tonnes of CO2.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 23 Sep 2009 @ 4:50 PM

  347. #246 David B. Benson

    Oops. I will have to dig more into the industrial carbon output data and sinks anyway. It’s always a learning experience and I’m always looking for input…

    …and links are always appreciated ;)

    Use the source Luke…

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Sep 2009 @ 5:37 PM

  348. Study: ‘Runaway’ melt on Antarctica, Greenland:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32985250/ns/us_news-environment/

    Comment by David B. Benson — 23 Sep 2009 @ 5:50 PM

  349. To add to Mr. Benson’s reference on thinning ice in Antarctica, here is a reference to the British Antarctic Survey press release:
    http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/press/press_releases/press_release.php?id=989

    I have spent the last half and hour staring at side by side images from

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b7/AntarcticBedrock.jpg

    and from the BAS:

    http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/images/press/989/pritchard_etal_antarc_plus_.jpg

    Comment by sidd — 23 Sep 2009 @ 7:11 PM

  350. The “Runaway” story is probably referring to:

    Letter

    Nature 461, 385-388 (17 September 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature08355; Received 5 January 2009; Accepted 24 July 2009

    Holocene thinning of the Greenland ice sheet

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v461/n7262
    /abs/nature08355.html

    The abstract there ends “… our new temperature history reveals a pronounced Holocene climatic optimum in Greenland coinciding with maximum thinning near the GIS margins…. corroborated by the air content of ice cores, a proxy for surface elevation7. State-of-the-art ice sheet models are generally found to be underestimating the extent and changes in GIS elevation and area; our findings may help to improve the ability of models to reproduce the GIS response to Holocene climate.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Sep 2009 @ 7:15 PM

  351. PS, click the link on the Nature page for the “Supplementary Information” — that’s 17 pages and not paywalled, well worth reading. It’d sure be nice to talk about the journal article instead of the newspaper headlines, especially since Nature has been reviewing that Letter since January.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Sep 2009 @ 7:19 PM

  352. More from our friends at climate progress.

    P,G & E Corp quits US Chamber of Commerce over climate change denialism:

    http://climateprogress.org/2009/09/22/utility-pge-quits-us-chamber-of-commerces-extreme-position-on-climate-change/

    Comment by catman306 — 23 Sep 2009 @ 7:35 PM

  353. Dan Wang,
    First, consider the variability in the major forcings. CO2 forcing increases monotonically–that is the lont-term trend. The solar cycle is 11 (really 9-14) years, so certainly we can tell little or nothing on timescales shorter than that. And you would probably want to look at multiple solar cycles to get a clear picture of the trend (3 is the minimum to get an estimate of standar deviation cycle to cycle)–On that basis alone, 30 years ought to work.

    Note that NAO, PDO and ENSO, while not actually cyclic, have comparable quasi-periodicities. And after 30 years, a monotonic forcing stands out like a sore thumb against these oscillatory forcings.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Sep 2009 @ 7:42 PM

  354. Matthew wrote @246:
    What do you call a “long term trend”? From 1973 until 1993 there is no trend, the ice just seems to fluctuate randomly around the mean. From 1994 to 2007 there was a gradual decline in sea ice. However that is only 13 years – not really that long in the whole history of the Arctic ice cap.

    and @262:
    I plot trends for a living, and looking at the graphs on Cryosphere today I cannot see any significant downward trend much before 1993

    Why don’t you try looking over a longer period, say 1969 to 2009:
    http://nsidc.org/sotc/images/mean_anomaly_1953-2009.png
    Is that 40-year downward trend long enough for you?

    There is is a very good data record of Arctic sea ice extent and thickness starting long before 1973, thanks to the fact that US Navy nuclear submarines have been operating beneath the Arctic ice cap since 1958.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 23 Sep 2009 @ 9:00 PM

  355. Matthew L:

    Well, I plot trends for a living, and looking at the graphs on Cryosphere today I cannot see any significant downward trend much before 1993, which is 16 years.

    I do statistical analysis of time series. For a living. To my very experienced eye the trend is obvious before 1993. But I know better than to trust visual impressions so I run the numbers. The trend is statistically significant before 1993, in fact it’s statistically significant by 1990. After that it’s so obvious even you can see it.

    So when it comes to detecting and verifying the reality of trends, I doubt that you know what you’re doing. In this particular case it’s certain that you didn’t.

    But did you ask, did you wonder “out loud” whether or not there’s a trend detectable before 1993? Did you say “it looks like no trend to me, but I can’t really say ’cause I’m no expert”? No. Instead you pronounce that you “cannot see” it and attempt to make that opinion authoritative by claiming that you “plot trends for a living.” Which I doubt.

    If you want to learn then you’re at the right place. If you want to continue to make false statements, support them by claiming some expertise which you obviously lack, then get all huffy and talk about how rude we are when your fraud is exposed — then you’re definitely in the wrong place.

    Comment by tamino — 23 Sep 2009 @ 10:27 PM

  356. Does this count as not talking like a scientist? “Saying that there’s been global cooling since 1998 is like saying Peyton Manning’s been in steep decline since his 49 TD season in 2004.”

    http://akwag.blogspot.com/2009/09/how-is-peyton-manning-like-global.html

    Comment by Andrew — 23 Sep 2009 @ 10:49 PM

  357. Re recycling of CO2:

    In terms of the C content, atmospheric CO2 ~ 750 Gt (gigatons) – well it but it’s around that area.

    (roughly, proportionality between mass and ppm: Atmospheric mass is roughly 10 tons / m2 * 500 trillion m2 = 5 million Gt. CO2 molecular mass is roughly 1.5 times average air molecular mass; C in CO2 about 12/29 ~= 0.4 times average air molecular mass; 100 Gt of C in CO2 is the number of molecules in roughly 250 Gt of air, and 250 Gt of air is roughly 50 ppm. Thus 100 Gt C as CO2 is 50 ppm atmospheric CO2; preindustrial CO2 near 600 Gt or 300 ppm.)

    About 190 Gt of C as CO2 is taken out from the atmosphere and put back into the atmosphere each year (not always at different times, although there is some seasonality that results in an annual cycle in atmospheric CO2 that is relatively small except in northern high latitudes) (about 100 Gt exchange through land biota (some of which goes into soil before going back into the atmosphere), and about 90 with the ocean, which I think is mostly abiotic; there is a very small geologic emission (average approx. 0.2 Gt per year) which is balanced by chemical weathering (abiotic, although biology can affect it) and organic carbon burial (my understanding is that, at least in recent geologic times, oceanic burial of C dominates, even though the photosynthesis rate in the ocean is much smaller than on land – although a small amount of organic C does wash into the ocean from land) (PS the organic C burial tends to be around (if I remember this right) 20 % of the total geologic C storage, so I would guess oxydation of organic C in sediments/rocks contributes about 20 % of the total geologic emissions (although some of that CO2 could be reincorporated into rock as carbonate minerals and be released as CO2 later)- although these proportions can vary, and large deviations have occured at times in the geologic past as indicated by C isotope ratios – see “Snowball Earth”, Hoffman, Schrag :

    http://www.eps.harvard.edu/people/faculty/hoffman/snowball_paper.html
    (“Today (and over most of the last 500 million years), approximately 20% of the carbon entering the ocean is removed as organic matter” – presumably this is 20 % of the net flux of C into the ocean from the atmosphere and through water flow (much much smaller than 190 Gt per year), plus direct geologic emission into the ocean)) .

    (There is a way to bury C in the deep ocean that does not actually result in geologic sequestration – some organic C and inorganic C bearing material produced in the surface ocean can sink into the deep ocean, where it may oxydize or dissolve and turn back into CO2, but it will generally be trapped in the deep ocean until currents bring it back up.)

    The residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere is thus only around 3 to 4 years. However, this does not mean a perturbation to the amount will decay on such a time scale, and the evidence strongly indicates that a small steady perturbation to the C cycle will result in accumulations over time that do not decay anywhere nearly as fast as a decade. (As I understand it, thus far into anthropogenic CO2 emissions, of a given additional emission of CO2 into the atmosphere, some fraction (typically 40 % ?) is quickly removed; this might be due to the equilibration of atmospheric CO2 concentration with surface ocean CO2 concentration and with land vegetation – this is a temporary equilibration, however. Given sufficient time, one might expect most of the additional CO2 amount (not individual molecules, which mix into the whole C cycle, but the amount added) to end up in the oceans if the relative proportions stay the same – if the ocean has 50 times the CO2 as the atmosphere, then the amount remaining in the atmosphere might be 1/50 of that which goes into the ocean (but I don’t know if the proportions would stay constant even given sufficient time) (biomass + soil is around 3 times atmopsheric C content, but there are limitations to how much that could increase – ie imagine all land covered with thick forest of tall trees above a temperate forest soil – and consider how likely that would ever be). The remainder (the amount, not the exact same molecules) persists for some time, however, because there are limits to increases in biomass and oceanic uptake is limited by the relatively slow rate of exchange between upper ocean and deep ocean water, and upper oceanic uptake is limited by chemical conditions. Climate change itself will affect uptake of CO2. I don’t see a return to the swamps of the Carboniferous period in the near future, and net organic burial takes time even on land; enhanced chemical weathering in a warmer climate with higher CO2 (assuming same correlation between climate and topography and minerology, etc.) will remove CO2 from the atmosphere and ocean but this will be slow (this, and carbonate mineral dissolution, buffer ocean pH, but these also take time to act). I would imagine rapid climate change will tend to cause deforestation and desertification faster than aforestation (migration of boreal forests into the present-day tundra, for example), so there could be a net release of CO2 at least at first. Higher temperature tends to reduce the equilibrium CO2 concentration in the ocean. Climate change plus CO2 might increase photosynthesis in some conditions, but climate change could also increase decomposition of organic matter in soil (and there are other issues – plants respire, too). That’s aside from methane feedbacks.

    As I recall from “AIP:Discovery of Glob. Warm.” (see “Science Links” on the upper right hand side of this page), two early reasons for dismissing anthropogenic global warming were 1. misunderstandings of how the greenhouse effect actually works, and 2. the idea that natural processes strongly and quickly (on human timescales) regulate the atmospheric CO2 level. The later was plausable at the time, but evidence since then indicates otherwise. I’m not sure if isotopic studies and their contributions to studies of C fluxes alone could definitively rule this out – it is possible to imagine that, sure, there has actually been a net gain of C in the oceans, etc, but perhaps the reason why the oceans have not taken up more C from the air is due to some natural fluctuation (as opposed to a behavior that would generally act the same way if we went back to another interglacial and repeated the experiment, etc.) – but other evidence and theory aside (I wouldn’t claim to know all the important points), it just seems too coincidental that CO2 levels remained so steady for thousands of years and would just happen to increase to far outside the range of hundreds of thousands of years of previous glacial-intergacial fluctuations (was solar forcing never 0.3 or less W/m2 greater than preindustrial values in all that time; and theres’ orbital forcing, even a magnetic field reversal within the last million years) when human industry comes along to emit it.

    Maybe there’s a negative cloud feedback in some tropical regions – there may also be a positive cloud feedback in subtropical regions and another associated with midlatitude storm tracks. Some feedbacks are better established than others (water vapor, sea ice and snow, convective lapse rates), and so there is uncertainty but the best information indicates around 2 to 4+ K warming per doubling of CO2 or equivalent radiative forcing (that includes CO2 and methane feedbacks, so is not automatically equal to anthropogenic forcing) – I would say a burden of proof tends to be more on any proposed changes to expectations than on our best-supported expectations.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 23 Sep 2009 @ 11:29 PM

  358. “but other evidence and theory aside (I wouldn’t claim to know all the important points)”

    (ie the physics, chemistry, biology, ecology, and geology that could be used in a model, such as the effect of dissolved CaCO3 on oceanic CO2 uptake, etc.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 23 Sep 2009 @ 11:37 PM

  359. (a challenge to denialists – show me the CO2 peak during the MWP!)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 24 Sep 2009 @ 12:03 AM

  360. stevenc (#305, 308), an error message ate my reply last night. New try: Yes, I see your point about correcting for ENSO, and I shouldn’t have answered so glibly above (but it doesn’t bear on my preceding argument). Come to think of it, Gavin discussed this last year.

    So: When looking at a short time scale, like here, where year-to-year internal variability makes a big difference, the ENSO-adjusted trend may prove less misleading (for what that’s worth — a “ten-year trend” still doesn’t signify in climate, but we agree on that, I think). That about right?

    As for the rest of #305, it’s clear from the thread what M.L. said, what source he referred to, what source you said he could have meant by what you thought he said, and what I said about this, so I beg leave not to argue about what you think I said and meant. Life’s short.

    Comment by CM — 24 Sep 2009 @ 2:57 AM

  361. # (too numerous to mention)
    but particularly
    #340 JPR, your tireless patience is much appreciated.

    Wow! More useful stuff here than I have found in a couple of months general browsing. I had not noticed the “Start Here” button before, maybe because it is at the “end” of the list of links.

    Being a Blog, and therefore inviting access from the general public, can I politely suggest that you put the “start here” at the “start”. Or at least in a more prominent position? Perhaps a link at the top of your home page with a note that before posting in the comments section it would be appreciated if you could at least read the contents of the “start here” and FAQ pages?

    That is probably more important than an apology for the poor functioning of your blog software ;-)

    I have spent nearly a whole working day posting here this week. And I now have a serious backlog of financial models to build and run… and of course a great deal of reading to do in what little time I have to myself when I am not taking the boys to football or sitting by a muddy pond with a camera.

    Don’t expect me back here much before Christmas. At which point I might have garnered a sufficient grasp of the science to ask some slightly more challenging questions. I will, of course, be back anyway in a year’s time to report the result of my Arctic sea ice summer minimum bet!

    One final comment (and please take this as constructive criticism, there is no personal slight intended). Try to be a bit nicer to each other guys, it would make us lay people more inclined to listen to what you have to say. I *strongly* recommend you avoid sarcasm in comments. It is the lowest form of wit and really does make you come over as “arrogant and dismissive”. Roll with the punches and fight nasty with nice.

    Be more like Mr Verheggen in particular.

    Recently one of my favourite “Greens”, Jonathan Porritt, a veteran of the movement over here, was interviewed on the most listened to morning radio news programme (The Today Programme, BBC Radio 4) alongside a “denialist” (forget his name I’m afraid). Sad to say JP did not acquit himself well. He got progressively angrier and ended up shouting, and was even forced to back-track at one point. In contrast the denialist remained very level headed.

    Anybody listening to the interview and not familiar with either person, or the positions they represented, would have scored a definite win for the denialist camp.

    Maybe you *should* take lessons in acting and comedy. It might make the reading / viewing / listening public more inclined to stick around to hear what you have to say. A few more media-savvy scientists will get the public’s attention. And it is the public you now need on your side if anything is to change.

    TTFN. “Keep calm and carry on.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keep_Calm_and_Carry_On

    Comment by Matthew L. — 24 Sep 2009 @ 4:34 AM

  362. simon abingdon: #313 Barton, why wouldn’t your 3 just say “The increase is mainly from natural warming”?

    BPL: Because it’s not. The radioisotope signature of the new CO2 confirms that it’s coming mainly from burning fossil fuels. Hans Suess discovered that signature in am-bi-ent air in 1955 and it was confirmed by Roger Revelle and Suess in 1957.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 24 Sep 2009 @ 4:46 AM

  363. Matthew L:

    >1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
    No dispute there. Somebody has already pointed to a source stating that circa 3 deg of warming comes from a doubling of CO2. Unfortunately the link posted was broken. Is this verified anywhere else?

    Try here:

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/1998/98GL01908.shtml

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiative_forcing

    The Myhre et al. equation for radiative forcing due to increased carbon dioxide is:

    RF = 5.35 ln (C/Co)

    where RF is in watts per square meter, CO2 concentration C is in parts per million by volume, and reference concentration Co is also in ppmv. Clearly, doubling CO2 leads to a 3.7 W/m^2 increase in forcing. With a climate sensitivity of 0.75 K/W/m^2, this translates to a 2.8 K increase in surface temperature.

    – What is the total stock of CO2 in the atmosphere?

    It’s presently 387 ppmv, representing 3.01 x 10^15 kilograms, or about 5.9 kg for each square meter of Earth’s surface. The preindustrial level was about 280 ppmv, so this represents a 38% increase since about 1750.

    – How much as a percentage of this each year do the total emissions from human sources represent?

    About 1% per year.

    – How much CO2 each year is “recycled” in the carbon cycle?

    Of the new CO2, about 60% goes into natural sinks, mostly the ocean, and the other 40% stays in the atmosphere and builds up.

    – Are we sure that human sources adding CO2 to the atmosphere is a directly additive process? In other words what is the annual increase in total atmospheric CO2, and how does this compare with the total human emissions?

    See above.

    – Is it possible that human sources are swamped / absorbed / mitigated by the natural cycle of carbon into and out of the sea and terrestrial life forms?

    Natural sources and sinks are in balance on a human or historical time scale. Artificial sources aren’t.

    4. Climate feedbacks amplify the warming from CO2.

    – I understand that there are positive feedback mechanisms (warm seas emitting more CO2 etc). However, can we completely discount that there may be negative feedbacks too? A common one cited is increased cloud cover as the warm seas evaporate more water.

    Nobody can pinpoint whether more water vapor in a warmer atmosphere means more or less cloud cover. If it exists it’s a minor effect. My own RCMs run with a 1% increase in cloud cover decrease the surface temperature by 0.2 K. I think some more sophisticated models find a larger effect.

    The most recent analysis of cloud feedback finds that it’s positive; i.e., amplifies rather than reducing warming:

    Clement, A.C., Burgman R., and J.R. Norris 2009. “Observational and Model Evidence for Positive Low-Level Cloud Feedback.” Science 325, 460-464.

    5. No other source of the warming is plausible.

    – All heat in our climate (barring a tiny contribution from the earth’s core) comes from the sun. How much effect on the earth’s climate comes from variations in the output of the sun?

    Over the very long term, quite a lot. Recently, not so much, since solar flux hasn’t gone appreciably up or down in 50 years. More here:

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Sun.html

    – How does this compare with the forcing effect from changes in CO2?

    My RCM runs with 1% greater solar constant–a bigger increase than we’ve ever seen in historical times–raises the Earth’s surface temperature 0.7 K. Compare that to 2.0-4.5 K from doubling CO2.

    Looking at the graph on the following site:
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/guide/bigpicture/fact4.html
    There does seem to be some correlation between the warming of the sun since 1900 and the warming of the earth over the same time period. Is that just my imagination?

    Nope. Variations in sunlight account for about 2.5% of the variance of NASA GISS temperature anomalies from 1880 to 2007. Ln CO2 accounts for 76%, however.

    The sun seems to be declining in output;
    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2009/03sep_sunspots.htm
    is this significant to global warming?

    Not really.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 24 Sep 2009 @ 5:06 AM

  364. Dan Wang: I find BPL to be unnecessarily snarky.

    BPL: Sorry. But after having to answer this stupid “no warming for ten years!” meme again and again and again and again and again until my head wants to explode, it’s very hard for me to be polite about this these days.

    JW: I think the statement “it has not warmed more in the last 10 years” is perfectly reasonable because global temperatures have been nearly flat within error bars for the last 10 years.

    BPL: That’s funny. When I regress NASA GISS temperature anomalies against elapsed time for 1999-2008, I get a RISING trend of 0.22 K per decade, significant at the 95% confidence level.

    JW: Furthermore, if 10 years tells you nothing about climate change, how do we know that 30 years does? Why not 100 or 1000 years as some others have claimed? What justification does BPL have that 30 years is the right time “scale” with which to look at climate?

    BPL: You plot the standard deviation against the sample size. What you get is a “horn” shape decreasing in width as the sample size increases. For most climate phenomena, the inflection in the curve is sufficient to indicate you’re getting signal rather than noise at 30 years.

    It’s not a guess. It’s a calculation.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 24 Sep 2009 @ 5:36 AM

  365. #363 BPL
    Thanks!

    I feel guilty now for making spend so much time. However your precise, succinct and convincing answers are welcome. I shall also try and read the background information in links posted elsewhere.

    Hopefully the information will be useful to others as well.

    Comment by Matthew L. — 24 Sep 2009 @ 7:36 AM

  366. #355 Tamino
    The only reason I did not do a proper statistical analysis of the trend is that I did not have a source for the underlying numbers, the time to look for one, or the time and means to interpret them even if I had found one. I have a day job, and am skiving from that to post here.

    The best I could do in the time available was to do a visual inspection of the graph and to give my impression based on that. You are, of course, perfectly free to criticise that impression and to give your own.

    The numbers and graphs I study as part of my job are financial and economic. Obviously, others study climate information for a living, and I would be (genuinely) very interested to hear from you what the trend 1990-1993 is. You could simply have done that.

    I have a wife and three very demanding and time consuming children at home. I barely get an hour a day to do anything for myself, and of that I spend more than I should trying to read and understand the science of climate change – because I know it is important.

    Last night I got home at 9:30 after a meeting at a Bank in the City of London. I then had to cook my own supper (Mrs L. had retired to bed – she is on call from 7am today), clear up the kitchen, iron a shirt and then screw together a flat-pack guinea pig (cavie) run to go in the garden for the kids new pets. After that, at about 11:00 I started to read some of the interesting links posted here. I fell asleep at the keyboard at around 11:30. This stuff is not easy to take in when you are tired.

    I am not asking for sympathy, just understanding.

    Why do you feel it necessary to waste your time accusing me of being a fraud and a liar? It adds nothing to the debate and only sours the tone.

    I could just go away and forget about climate change, like 90% of the rest of the population. Posts like yours are not encouraging me to pursue my interest.

    I am ignorant, not stupid. I need enlightening not insulting.

    Comment by Matthew L. — 24 Sep 2009 @ 8:57 AM

  367. #363 Barton Paul
    I think you minimize the impact of clouds. The effect as a negative feedback can be large enough to negate the warming GCM’s predict and it’s an area where there is a lot of uncertainty and a great need for much further research.
    Thanks
    William

    Comment by William — 24 Sep 2009 @ 9:02 AM

  368. I am a professor of ecology at a small state school in Connecticut. My school is considered “second-tier” because the faculty are primarily teachers and we don’t grant PhDs. I think that those of us who are faculty in second-tier universities are in a particularly good position to educate the public on climate change. We have done scientific research. We know the process and lingo. For most of us there is less pressure to publish or perish, so we may have more time for public service. And we have a LOT of experience explaining science to non-scientists (our students). I do my part in a couple of ways. I give a fair number of public talks on climate change. At least half of these are guest lectures at local high schools. My school educates a large number of secondary teachers, both on the grad and undergrad level. The future biology teachers all come through my courses and I try to impress on them the urgency of the present situation and give them the best information to pass on to their future students.

    As far as the tone to take when speaking to the public, I think that a lot of people will accept the science if we treat them as intelligent people. No one wants to be treated by a rube. A lot of the people I talk to have only really heard about climate change as part of a partisan political discussion. If you explain the science of what we know and how we know it,–leaving the politics aside– many will accept it.

    Comment by Mitch Wagener — 24 Sep 2009 @ 9:53 AM

  369. > I had not noticed the “Start Here” button ….

    Gavin, you know that “blink” tag in HTML? There may actually be one, and only one, appropriate use for it anywhere on the planet — the Start Here button.

    Or a color bar, or one of those stupid floaty windows that hovers in your face til you dismiss it the first time you visit a site ….

    Oh well, it’s been a lot of recreational typing, but not an awful lot.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Sep 2009 @ 10:04 AM

  370. Re #357

    Its simpler than that. 2009=20 billion tonnes and the recession aside where global emissions have falled by 2% they usuall grow by 2% os in the next decade (2010-2019) thats another 330 billion tonnes and the decade after that (2020-2029) another 400 billion and the decade after that (2030-2039) around 480 billion tonnes making around 1.2 trillion tonnes in total and a annual release come 2040 of around 57 billion tonnes.

    Of that 1.2 trillion tonnes around 50% of it will stay in the atmosphere but sinks might be faltering convincingly by that time and hence more and more is left in the atmosphere. So 600 billion tonnes equates to around a 300 ppmv increase.

    SCARY !!!!!

    Comment by pete best — 24 Sep 2009 @ 10:24 AM

  371. CM, no we have difference of opinion of the lack of importance of the 10 year time period. My comments on both the temperature trend and on the sea ice were meant as subjects of this post: the topic of communication.

    Matthew, if you are honest, objective and polite in person then be the same way here. You weren’t to start out with. Sorry, just an objective appraisal. Until such time as you have rehabilitated your first impression you probably should avoid complaining about how you treated too much. Just my honest opinion.

    Comment by stevenc — 24 Sep 2009 @ 11:49 AM

  372. A day or two ago, I briefly opined that the writings of “Matthew L” are indisguishable from trolling. That leaves open a gray area he might inhabit, which we might call inadvertant trolling. In a charitable mood today, after ML’s description of his limited time and experience, I’ll expatiate a bit. Matthew, the most favorable possible interpretation of this thread is that you are blundering around wasting people’s time for no reason whatever. All, repeat all, the answers you seek, if you sincerely seek them, can be had by silent perusal of this blog, its archives, and a sample of its links, with perhaps a occasional short, unloaded question, which I for one look on more favorably if it’s under your full name. (I give Tamino a pass on this point, because of his blindingly obvious experience, accuracy, relevance, and value. See for yourself on the Open Mind blog linked to the right. Tamino was a little harsh on you today, if you consider the exchange narrowly, but in the larger sense he’s very right.) Stop wasting our time. I’ve spent several years reading this sort of stuff, enough to see that you are nearly clueless, and I never needed to flail around like this with questions already answered all over the place. You don’t either.

    Nuff said. I’m already feeding the troll if that’s what you are. The ONLY grownup response would be brief and humble, and refer more to your future reading than anything else.

    Comment by Ric Merritt — 24 Sep 2009 @ 12:02 PM

  373. Matthew, Tamino teaches time series to many of us who are just amateur readers here. He’s very patient with us.

    He’s sounding impatient, I’d suggest, because you presented yourself as an expert, after making an amateur’s observation. In a financial business you’d know better than to opine from eyeballing charts — especially after the past year’s experience with that method — and expect numbers for the asking. So, asking would get that respect.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Sep 2009 @ 12:30 PM

  374. PS, Matthew asked
    “I would put quite a lot of money on the summer minimum in 2010 being greater than 2009. Know any gullible bookies?”

    Er, “quite a lot”? At what odds?

    Try here, for a start, and ask for pointers:
    http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2009/09/sea-ice-bet-status.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Sep 2009 @ 12:48 PM

  375. “start here”

    To be fair, people don’t necessarily do a visual scan in a meditative, scientific manner. The eye is guided by visual elements of implied direction and weighting and is directed by the interest of the viewer.

    RC has a fairly good design; it’s responsive, to the point, and inoffensive. That said, the treatment of “start here” may indeed render it innocuous for some, an issue if you need to redirect the disoriented and uninitiated right off the bat.

    I don’t have an answer to that, but just as an thought experiment in communication (and blinking aside) what if “start here” were rendered as in a slightly lighter shade of ochre and maybe even in small caps and italics? The placement already seems good–top center.

    I also notice that among the keys “start here” is filed under is “FAQ,” and I can’t help wondering if the two categories shouldn’t be more closely associated.

    And yes, this is the kind of boring stuff designers fuss with all day.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 24 Sep 2009 @ 1:11 PM

  376. #374 Hank Roberts
    If no odds are stated, it must be 50-50. I’d take that in a heart beat, as long as the bet is for the month of September average.

    Comment by Deep Climate — 24 Sep 2009 @ 1:24 PM

  377. PS, I dug up some references to Jonathon Porritt, who’s just left a government position to become an activist about climate I gather.

    E.g.: http://www.wind-watch.org/news/2009/08/29/questions-remain-in-wind-power-debate/

    There’s quite a muddle there — people who don’t believe in climate change opposing tidal and wind power in their neighborhoods, particularly.

    Reminds me of Marin County, California, where forty years of attempts by the ecologists and foresters to address the fire risk on Mt. Tamilpais by clearing brush and doing prescribed burns has been completely defeated year after year by people for whom “protecting the environment” means “peace in my time.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Sep 2009 @ 1:26 PM

  378. #316, Ray Ladbury says:

    We in the reality-based community have to keep emphasizing the science, which, despite the opinions of many politicians, does not change with public opinion.

    But without a strong public opinion mandate, the politicians are less likely to act effectively. The contrarians understand this very well, and that’s also why they hide their sources of funding so assiduously, as that awareness would discredit their arguments further.

    That’s why I’ve always favoured a double-pronged approach: “follow the money” and “follow the science”. Admittedly, I’m better at the former.

    Comment by Deep Climate — 24 Sep 2009 @ 1:41 PM

  379. And speaking of “following the money”, Lord Monckton has deigned to grace my humble blog with his presence. I can only hope I am worthy.

    See here for his comment and my reply:

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/09/22/friends-of-science-behind-moncktons-magical-mystery-tour/#comment-407

    Comment by Deep Climate — 24 Sep 2009 @ 1:48 PM

  380. William (367) — Cloud negativ feedback, if any, did not prevent the Eemian (interglacial 2) from bing about 2 K warmer than present. Some data suggests interglacial 4 was 3–4 K warmer than present. Somehow I cna’t take claims of important cloud negative feedback very seriously in light of the evidence.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 24 Sep 2009 @ 2:12 PM

  381. Re: the etiquette of anonymity on this site (for Ric M., John P. R., and a few others). Some of us prefer in time-hallowed Internet tradition not to post our full names. The possible reasons are many and various, rarely admirable, often sensible, and mostly harmless. Most often we’re not challenged on it, even though we lack Tamino’s well-deserved cachet. Please keep it so, except if we make nasty personal attacks on named persons.

    Comment by CM — 24 Sep 2009 @ 2:42 PM

  382. CM, oops, meant to say we have no difference of opinion

    Comment by stevenc — 24 Sep 2009 @ 2:46 PM

  383. Matthew L.,
    I had crafted a nice, helpful response to your queries of yesterday directed at BPL. The spam filter ate it–that’ll teach me to post without first copying what I wrote. I see that Barton and others have answered you in detail, so I will merely ask a question that has been bothering me.

    First let me emphasize that I mean no offense. I ask out of true curiosity. When you arrived on the scene a few days ago, you seemed fairly confident that concern over climate change had been overblown. You seemed to feel confident in your ability to draw conclusions from the plots and data. As it turned out, you had made only a cursory scan of the plots, had conducted no statistical analysis, had little if any familiarity with the underlying science and little familiarity with the history of climate science. So, if you don’t mind a sincere question, what was the basis for your confident, sanguinity toward the risks posed by climate change? This is important, because many others are probably relying on the same sources of info as you–and they are clearly unreliable on this topic.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Sep 2009 @ 3:30 PM

  384. Congrats guys. You made Geitner’s speech. You have the US gov’t officially tilting at wind mills. Let’s hope that climate scientists are the first to feel the pinch. [edit]

    Comment by anon — 24 Sep 2009 @ 4:17 PM

  385. So, I went to this event a couple of days ago where a network news anchor talked about the challenges involved in reporting on global climate destabilization. He made two basic points:

    * we need more, much, much more coverage; and

    * the little coverage (relative to the significance of the issues) there is does not draw a large enough audience

    So, there’s a problem. We need to cover this more, but how can we cover it more when “no one” watches the coverage we already provide?

    The first point one qualifies for incontrovertible truth status. The second one? I’ll take his word for it, for the sake of exploring his point of view. But I’m always uneasy whenever anyone tells me “people just aren’t interested in X,” no matter what X is.

    Then he offered a caveat:

    * the cutesy, endangered animal global climate destabilization stories do attract a lot of viewers.

    One solution seems to be to simply explore more, many, many more such stories. While there probably is room for more such stories, there are two main reasons why this simple approach might not/probably wouldn’t(?) solve the problem. One, presumably you couldn’t simply increase the number of such stories indefinitely and still have a good enough audience for each. On the other hand, do we know how much more could be done, profitably, so to speak? Why isn’t the first line of approach simply to hit the level of saturation, for this kind of story? Did anyone try this? Do we know what would happen? Who knows this? How? Based on what parameters?

    The second main reason why this surely would not solve the problem (wait, what’s the problem, again? too little coverage? is that the main problem, or is there another problem that providing more coverage is supposed to solve? what is *that* problem and how is the coverage supposed to solve it?) is that such a one-sided approach focused on a single impossibly thin slice of the issue threatens to trivialize the issue or at least grossly misrepresent global climate destabilization.

    For instance, such a focus would serve to implicitly define GCS as an environmental/animal issue, and a narrow one at that, rather than the mother of all issues, at the intersection of, and critically important to, economics, national and global security, health, and life anything remotely like how we conceive of it today.

    In fact, the more I think about that consequence of the cutesy (if tragic) stories, the more I wonder if doing those, while not getting audiences for stories on other aspects, is worse than doing nothing? If you represent global climate destabilization as a problem in the domain of environmentalism, are you doing more or less to tell the story of climate change than if you say nothing at all?

    Comment by paulina — 24 Sep 2009 @ 5:12 PM

  386. # 372 Ric,
    “Inadvertent Troll” is probably a good description. If I had any idea of the reaction my (I still contend fairly innocuous, albeit naive) post would elicit, I would not have posted. If I have offended anybody, my apologies – that was never my intention. If you feel I have wasted your time, my apologies also. Suffice to say I am very grateful for the time of those who answered my innocent inquiries in the spirit they were meant. I hope that the time has not just been wasted on me, but on other ignoramuses reading this blog too.

    # 383 Ray
    There is a huge amount of conflicting information out there on the web and blogosphere. Those of us with limited time find it very hard to filter out the “noise”. I drop in here to read the interesting articles on the blog from time to time. I do not have time to click on every link or trawl through the usually huge number of comments.

    I will take you through the process that led me to post (I would also make it clear that I have learnt a lot since):

    – I read in some trashy (and some not so trashy) newspapers that it is “expected” that we will suffer a 5 deg C rise in temps “by 2080″ (actually I mis-remembered a figure of 8 deg C, but that was a simple mistake – my reaction would have been the same either way). The reports never specify when from, by whom and on what assumptions. They concentrate on the alarming consequences, not on the basis of the rise. This is very frustrating, I want to know why such a dramatic rise. Any fool could guess the consequences!

    – I then try and find some sources of data and (because of my nationality) I go to the UK Met office Climate Change guide and thence to the Hadley centre. I am surprised to find that, despite the above mentioned expectation of a huge rise in just 70 years, that temps have been “flattish” since 2001, and that the hottest year ever is now nearly 11 years ago (I have since found out that the NASA figures that are cited most commonly here do not show quite the same levelling off). I wonder why this is not seen as good news.

    – I looked back over 50 years of the Hadley Centre data and found a fairly consistent 0.15(ish) deg C change each decade. I also found that the IPCC mid-range “expectation” is nearer 3 deg C for the 100 years between 2001 and 2100, 0.3 C a decade. That is a huge difference from the “extreme” figure I thought I had read and I wondered where the papers got this figure from, and why nobody seems to be questioning it (in the light of the more moderate, but still alarming enough, IPCC number).

    – I think to myself how can anybody possibly predict a rise in temperature of this magnitude. The temperature graph would have to take off like a rocket from this point. Surely this is the work of climate change “extremists” being jumped on by the papers to make sensational reading (such is my high opinion of the press).

    – Somewhat earlier than all this, around the time of the dramatic ice loss in 2007, I found “The Cryosphere Today” from a Google search. For each of the last two years I have watched the Arctic ice coverage increase again, but I read nothing about this in the press – only continued statements about the imminent disappearance of the Arctic Ice cap. Again apparent good news ignored.

    – I turn to the web for education and find huge numbers of blogs and sites all stating totally conflicting information and views. The blogs seem to be full of childish yah-booh name calling, ranting, sarcasm and downright abuse. This makes my head spin. I want to hear from the scientists themselves what they think of this apparent (to me at least) conflict between the global warming to date and this extreme measure of global warming predicted in the press.

    – I come to Real Climate. I have been here before because the articles are always intelligently written by people who seem to know what they are talking about, even if a lot of it sails over my head – with plenty of clearance! I read the above article about how scientists need to communicate better in the media – which rings a great big bell.

    I then make the fateful decision to air my frustration with the awful tone of the debate and what I perceived to be negative spin put on apparently positive news. The rest is history.

    It is midnight here, time to sign off. I have to get up early tomorrow to clean out the Guinea Pig hutch before leaving for work.

    Comment by Matthew L. — 24 Sep 2009 @ 6:17 PM

  387. Guys,
    First I appreciate this site and I learn a lot reading it. Thanks.
    I don’t want to do like Matthew, but I have a question.
    The models, do they still use the results of C.Lorius (Nature 1990)?
    These results are in a nutshell, deltaT=0.3deltaQ where deltaT is the increase of Temperature and deltaQ the forcing (of CO2), and then leading to an increase of 1,2 °C with a forcing of 4 W/m2.
    I read some discussion about this and some people (skeptics of course) say the relation should be more deltaT=0.2 or 0.18 deltaQ. And would lead to a deltaT of “only” 0.7.

    I apology if it is a question answered hundreds of times, but I really could not find any answer yet.
    Thank you for your help.
    Naindj

    Comment by Naindj — 24 Sep 2009 @ 6:49 PM

  388. This might be worth a look by the RC contributors who like science fiction — it’s a good piece about what’s being done effectively now to teach skepticism, in an interesting forum:

    http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/09-09-16#feature

    “… his mission to the land of the nerds worked. I am a professional skeptic and activist today because Barry Beyerstein took time from his research to speak to paranormal fans at a science fiction convention — and because he approached that task with warmth and enthusiasm. As the audience pelted him with our naïve questions (surely science couldn’t explain the miracle of fire-walking?), he respectfully treated each question as a genuine search for knowledge. There in that beige room, he made us feel that we were all partners in turning the lens of science toward the mysteries of the universe….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Sep 2009 @ 7:06 PM

  389. Bravo on the post! I just want to day it can be difficult communicating desnity altitude, temperature effects on pressure, and in turn the change in vapor pressure and saturation/condensation, to the non-scientist (natural sciences/environmental) since it all seems so contradictory to the lay person. Speaking of the size of an atmospheric column and little to no water vapor in the stratosphere and how C02 holds in more IFR as a result of increased amounts thereof, and how C02 absorbs at different bands than H20 and the exact IFR absorbance range varies with altitude conditions, well, most people have a hard time seeing how and why these are all true.
    Statistical signifcance/correlation/curves too, are something lay people cannot seem to grasp either. It does not make them stupid or denialists, it is just that they do not understand. (Sighs) I once again commend RC on their great and far reaching efforts as evidenced by the heavy traffic and postings.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 24 Sep 2009 @ 7:46 PM

  390. PS, for the above, hat tip as due to Ken MacLeod’s invaluable weblog:
    http://kenmacleod.blogspot.com/2009/09/skiffy-skeptics.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Sep 2009 @ 7:49 PM

  391. Matthew L.,

    I think that the problem you and many others have is that because science is a process for continual improvement of understanding, it doesn’t translate well as “news”. Only rarely is any single paper or result of such significance that it stands out as a discontinuous leap in understanding. Yes, there are some scenarios under which we could see 5 degrees warming in 70 years. However, unless you have read the paper and know the context of why the authors are considering this scenario, it is very easy to get a misimpression of the state of our knowledge. You would do much better to read summaries of the broad state of theory and evidence–of the type you would find in Scientific American or similar respectable science magazines that present science for the Layman. The Economist also occasionally has good coverage.

    And of course, Realclimate is an invaluable resource. Just be aware that there is a history–science has been facing down denialists for nearly two decades now. It is science vs. anti-science. There is no middle ground.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Sep 2009 @ 8:09 PM

  392. While expertise has to be respected by lay people, experts need to keep in mind that they are communicating across a huge gulf that even to be met half way would require years of study on the receiving end.

    Assuming that magic will happen when well intentioned pointers are extended to native intelligence is probably unrealistic unless the pointers are both exceedingly well structured and comprehensive, especially in this noisy environment. Random walks through massive wikis, and occasional handfuls of helpful bread crumbs demand more passion and synthesis of the user than many people or even dedicated explainers can budget for. Such devices may well just serve to raise expectations and wind up adding to people’s frustrations.

    It’s a problem that shouldn’t be ignored lightly if, as I fear might be the case, our society in general is beginning to devalue reason.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 24 Sep 2009 @ 8:21 PM

  393. Naindj, look the paper up in Google Scholar to begin, just to know for sure which paper you’re talking about.

    This one?

    http://www.daycreek.com/dc/images/1999.pdf

    Or this one?
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v345/n6271/abs/345127a0.html

    The first has been cited by over 1900 subsequent papers:
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?cites=3527518606595616320&hl=en

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Sep 2009 @ 8:24 PM

  394. Another kind of education:

    “… most existing green rankings are flawed in several respects. They count the promises companies make about green plans rather than actual achievements. And most focus on the environmental impact of a company’s operations, but exclude that of its products.

    Apple argues that broader, more comprehensive figures for carbon emissions should be used—for everything from materials mined for its products to the electricity used to power them—and it’s offering up its own data to make the case…. consumers’ use of Apple products accounts for 53% of the company’s total 10.2 million tons of carbon emissions annually. That’s more than the 38% that occurs as the products are manufactured in Asia or the 3% that comes from Apple’s own operations. “A lot of companies publish how green their building is, but it doesn’t matter if you’re shipping millions of power-hungry products with toxic chemicals in them,” says CEO Steve Jobs in an interview. “It’s like asking a cigarette company how green their office is…”

    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_40/b4149068698190.htm

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Sep 2009 @ 11:53 PM

  395. I saw an article briefly and can’t find it now. Help would be appreciated. Somebody’s finding acidic upwellings of 50? year old deep water. Current thoughts on ocean acidification didn’t predict it yet. More bad news.

    Anyway, the news which shapes public opinion is filtered through very few men. To convince the part of the public which follows Watts, you must convince Watts. Watts won for Best Science Blog.

    It might take a serious tipping point, such as the arctic sea ice going seasonal…

    ” WASHINGTON — Arctic sea ice thinned dramatically between the winters of 2004 and 2008, with thin seasonal ice replacing thick older ice as the dominant type for the first time on record. The new results, based on data from a NASA Earth-orbiting spacecraft, provide further evidence for the rapid, ongoing transformation of the Arctic’s ice cover. ”

    http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2009/jul/HQ_09-155_Thin_Sea_Ice.html

    I wonder what the thickness numbers will be. Anyone know when they’re expected?

    Comment by RichardC — 25 Sep 2009 @ 1:42 AM

  396. I guess you are familiar with the new Rockström et.al. paper about planetary boundaries:

    However at the nature blog Myles Allen seam to think that the paper is not peer reviewed? Which it is?

    I tried to post at their blog but it don’t seam to aper… so this kind of fits nicely in to communicating science…

    http://www.stockholmresilience.org

    Comment by Magnus Westerstrand — 25 Sep 2009 @ 1:49 AM

  397. http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/365869main_earth2-20090707-full.jpg

    Creepily cool images of ice thickness 2004-2008. They made the thickest ice blood red draining out of the arctic. The graph below it show a decline of the overall ice thickness towards that of first year ice, at which point the arctic will have an ice-free period in a typical year. Extrapolating that short trend gives an initial first-order guess of 2012 or 2013 for a typical minimum being 0.

    Some would say it has to do with the Mayans.

    Comment by RichardC — 25 Sep 2009 @ 2:20 AM

  398. #366 Matthew L.

    1990 to 1993 is not a climate trend.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 25 Sep 2009 @ 3:59 AM

  399. #369 Hank Roberts, Gavin

    I have not checked in word press, but in most CMS systems you can move a folder to change its order in the nav. Placing it first, before the Home tab, would give it recognition from a usability perspective.

    And I agree with Hank, I have never seen a place on the web where the blink tab was appropriate, but maybe this is the one, “and only one, appropriate use for it anywhere on the planet — the Start Here button.”

    It would also send a message to Tim Berners Lee, that its creation was not in vain.

    However, I think changing the placement will improve the likelihood of entry by placing it to the far left, then home, then the other tabs.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 25 Sep 2009 @ 4:08 AM

  400. william: I think you minimize the impact of clouds. The effect as a negative feedback can be large enough to negate the warming GCM’s predict

    BPL: Really? Completely negate it?

    Why did we have ice ages? Shouldn’t the cloud feedback have prevented the drop in temperature?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 25 Sep 2009 @ 4:12 AM

  401. Hank,

    Thank you for your reply.
    I am talking about this article, published in Nature.
    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/1990/1990_Lorius_etal.pdf

    And the calculation I am talking about is in the box 1.
    This is very simple “cross product” calculation (that seems to be wrong) but it seems that a lot of studies made since then are using this coefficient 0.3.
    This is the point I wanted to ask here. Are contemporary scientists really relying on it or not?
    And second point, linked to it: do models use at some point these kind of very simple equation? (they must have a way to link CO2 concentration and temperature increase, because I think you can’t model CO2 absorption in such big scales (both time and space)…

    [Response: This is just a heuristic - an approximation that gives the right order of magnitude and as such it's fine. All current models do very much more complicated calculations in order to get the full climate sensitivity (i.e. 2.5 to 4 deg C for a doubling of CO2) which of course include feedback terms. - gavin]

    Many thanks again.
    (a few words about me: I am neither “skeptic” neither “warmist”, I am in a process of reviewing where we are now, I finish my first review, and I am realy “in the middle” because 1-I think there is a global warming and of course human C02 is for a big part of it but 2-It seems to me models are overestimating the trend, so I am now trying to investigate how the models really work and it is a difficult job!)

    Comment by Naindj — 25 Sep 2009 @ 4:30 AM

  402. #381 CM

    I understand net time is perceived as faster than historical perspective traditionally assumes but still, time-hallowed? You mean the last 15 years of the www history? Unless of course you are stretching back into the TCP/IP days and BB’s.

    And besides, the net time-hollowed tradition on this site was set from the beginning by the RealClimate team 5 years ago. All their full names are available as well as background information on who they are and what they do.

    I do understand that some might lose their jobs or have possibly other legitimate reasons not to use their full names, but be it otherwise, for the sake of honor and integrity, posters should show some spine and not hide in the shadows of cyberspace posting such silliness as is befitting the level of argument traditionally found on a 3rd grade playground.

    Of course, that’s just my opinion.

    People that post offensive things, knowingly or unknowingly should post their full names along with it.

    Here is what I consider offensive. Any post that ignores the context of data or its relevance in consideration of the deterioration of the global economic system, the destruction of ocean, land and atmospheric habitats, the cause effect relationship on species, human populations especially/primarily (due to order of precedence of expected ramifications) the third world that will be put in a position of primarily paying the highest price because of the avarice of those that clearly don’t see (or don’t care to see) the connection between their actions and the resultant damage caused by such actions, as it pertains to the effects of human caused global warming on the living system of earth. Or any post that originates in confirmation bias (whether originated in science or public opinion) of information gleaned from those so willing to repeat a mantra that has its origin in naiveté, ignorance, political bias, the generally uninformed media, or from some talking head or just a guy on the ‘internets’.

    Since denialists, or denialist skeptics, are not climate scientists, and therefore coming form a point of naiveté (such as myself), ignorance, or are only here to spout through copy and paste arguments that are neither original, nor founded in reason or the scientific method, they should post their full name.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 25 Sep 2009 @ 6:19 AM

  403. If anyone is still reading this thread, a good example of either poor communication or perhaps the difficulties of presenting complex and changing information can be found in this post by someone who is generally well informed (in the lay sense):

    http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2009/09/climate-change-even-worse-you-think

    Comment by jhm — 25 Sep 2009 @ 6:42 AM

  404. “…he respectfully treated each question as a genuine search for knowledge.” (Hank, 388)

    I think that is the best way to get people to accept the science. It is easy for us who are deeply entrenched in the on-line debate to forget how a newcomer perceives the issues. There is a lesson in the perspective of Matthew L (386 and earlier posts). His first comment was filled more with statements than with questions, but even then, it’s still possible to treat them as genuine questions and concerns. Which I think they were, based on his subsequent posts. Someone who comes to this issue like Matthew does, trying to make sense of news stories while browsing the internet, has a very different perspective on it than those of us who have been following the debate for years. I think he exemplifies the kind of person we need to –and can- convince of the strength of the scientific evidence. We should be thinking carefully about how to best do so.

    I think the tone of the response is important. Even if he were just repeating claims picked up from some anti-scientific website, what would do more good for him and for the numerous people reading (but not participating in) the comments: A sarcastic reply calling him out on his denialist talking points or a patient explaining of the issues? And what if he indeed were sincere in his concerns and (perhaps misguided) questions?

    When dealing with the hard-line Morano’s of this world, it may be different. But otherwise, a calm and collected attitude is important. And even with the likes of Morano, it is not clearcut that abusive language is the way to go. Keith Kloor writes: “If I was stranded on a desert island because of global warming and I had a choice to live out my days with either Morano or Joe Romm, it’s no contest.” (http://www.collide-a-scape.com/2009/09/15/the-problem-with-morano/) That’s what we should avoid. Perhaps being nice is a better strategy. For Joe Public, it matters a helluva lot who is the nicest guy. They don’t know who is right or who is wrong. They decide based on their gut feeling.

    This quote from Matthew (361) is an example of what should be avoided: “Sad to say JP (a climate activist) did not acquit himself well. He got progressively angrier and ended up shouting, and was even forced to back-track at one point. In contrast the denialist remained very level headed. Anybody listening to the interview and not familiar with either person, or the positions they represented, would have scored a definite win for the denialist camp.”
    To the quiet, infrequent readers here, the tone of the conversation matters a lot.

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 25 Sep 2009 @ 6:47 AM

  405. Gavin, instead of shifting placement of the “start here” tab or making it blink (groan), how about just changing its type color, say to red?

    Comment by Jim Eager — 25 Sep 2009 @ 8:56 AM

  406. #404 Bart Verheggen

    You are making some good points here. Maybe treat the initial statements as questions or innocent until proven guilty. Though sometimes it just looks so darn run of the mill…

    On the other hand, a quick context response that says, look it’s all been argued into oblivion and beyond, gives them a fast context on the idea that what they may be presenting as statements are actually run of the mill, rehashed, burnt out denialist talking points.

    That can also be helpful. I always try to approach with a professional attitude as best I can and then see where it goes form there, but then sometimes I also am frustrated…

    So maybe, be nice, until given reason to approach from another angle, may be justified.

    As to tone, nice and/or direct is still my (general) motto.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 25 Sep 2009 @ 8:59 AM

  407. This is not going to get any easier. Just when you think the science is finally getting through, along come new denialist PR groups spouting the oldest, most thoroughly debunked talking points. See:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/24/AR2009092404797.html?hpid=sec-business

    There are many parallels with the tobacco issue, but it would be a mistake to assume that because science prevailed in that case, it will do so here. Most people knew someone who had died of heart disease, lung cancer or emphysema. There is nothing remotely as immediate and personal as that to link to the consequences of global warming. It remains pretty much an abstraction for most people.

    In fact, opponents of climate action have the advantage in arguing that action will cost money and jobs. That is immediate and personal. I do not think it is true, at least where jobs are concerned, but it makes a plausible and threatening argument.

    The only hope is to keep patiently explaining the science – to the public and to members of Congress. It is also necessary to keep explaining how peer review works in science and why it is so important. I had a friend tell me about a scientist who is a skeptic, and who could not get his ideas published in the peer-reviewed literature. He assumed that meant the scientist was being muzzled.

    Comment by Ron Taylor — 25 Sep 2009 @ 9:51 AM

  408. One big problem with global warming is that it concerns a change in a probability distribution. The human mind has trouble appreciating something like that.

    By the way, I agree strongly with Bart Verheggen in post 404. It is very easy to perceive a skeptical layman as someone who does not want to learn, when in fact he is simply misinformed. Needlessly offending people is easy, repairing the damage this does is not.

    Comment by Vincent van der Goes — 25 Sep 2009 @ 10:29 AM

  409. It seems that scientists have an additional burden
    which doesn’t apply to other fields of endeavor. No one says ‘don’t be such a dentist, or carpenter,or poet.Nobody says don’t be such an artist of librarian or whatever’.
    Scientists do have a responsibility to explain their work to non scientists, however there should be some expection that the general public keep themselves minimally informed.Is it too much to ask that that for instance in the equation E=mc^2, that c squared is such a large number that even the tiniest mass can be converted to enormous amounts of energy?
    In the end scientists should be themselves.In the words of Popeye(the don’t be such a) sailor man-”I am what I am,what I am”.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 25 Sep 2009 @ 10:58 AM

  410. In evaluating sincerity of questions, one tip-off is the relevance of the question or comment to the topic at hand. For instance, someone who raises the MWP in the midst of a discussion of so-called “global cooling since 1998″ is most likely insincere and merely parroting contrarian talking points. Still, I usually tend to give people the benefit of the doubt until they show their true colours.

    Comment by Deep Climate — 25 Sep 2009 @ 11:02 AM

  411. Magnus, try here:
    http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/2009/09/planetary_boundaries.html
    which points to
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v461/n7263/full/461472a.html
    http://www.nature.com/news/specials/planetaryboundaries/index.html

    I’d speculate that when Gavin refers to “Earth Systems” he may be talking about the same body of research that leads to the paper; I wonder whether any model can encompass what’s involved in watching the boundary measures.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Sep 2009 @ 11:18 AM

  412. An ongoing problem in the communication of science is the muddle from sincere, but confused, science and environmental reporters.

    Case in point: Andrew Revkin’s incoherent piece entitled “Momentum on Climate Pact Is Elusive” which begins:

    The world leaders who met at the United Nations to discuss climate change on Tuesday are faced with an intricate challenge: building momentum for an international climate treaty at a time when global temperatures have been relatively stable for a decade and may even drop in the next few years.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/23/science/earth/23cool.html?_r=3

    Joe Romm has a scathing rebuttal and finds two egregious errors (since corrected by Revkin):
    http://climateprogress.org/2009/09/22/new-york-times-andrew-revkin-suckered-by-deniers-to-push-global-cooling-myt/

    Apart from the now corrected errors, Revkin never gets around to mentioning that global average temperature in the 2000s is significantly higher than the 1990s (up 0.19C in NASA GISS, 0.17C in HadCRU). In fact, there is much to cheer “skeptics” in his exposition.

    All this is discussed here in a post entitled “NYT’s Andy Revkin backtracks (but not nearly enough)”:

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/09/25/nyts-andy-revkin-backtracks-but-not-nearly-enough/

    The conclusion:

    Andy Revkin, wake up. It’s time to start exposing the spin instead of succumbing to it.

    Of course, the reference to temperatures that “may even drop” relies on an interview with Mojib Latif, but Revkin’s exposition doesn’t really jibe with my understanding of the Keenlyside et al 2008 paper in Nature (on which Latif was co-author). I know RC has posted in the past on this, and I understand a new post on the subject of natural variations due to oceanic cycles in the works, given the wide dissemination (and misunderstanding and/or distortion) of Latif’s recent remarks in Geneva.

    The sooner the better.

    Comment by Deep Climate — 25 Sep 2009 @ 11:31 AM

  413. Another angle on teaching — of a kind that’s already important and will be more so as climate changes:

    “He is a gardener like many gardeners, but three things set him apart: He has a remarkable depth of knowledge about native and drought-resistant plants. He can talk about them non-stop with apparently little need for breath. And the gardens he tends are, technically, illegal, built into abandoned city medians and embankments.

    ‘I guess I am a guerrilla gardener,’ Snapp says …. ‘… I actually had to bring soil in. All that soil you see there was either trucked in or else I borrowed a friend’s truck to bring it in myself.’

    Snapp uses abandoned public spaces to create demonstration gardens of what he calls “appropriate plants.” These are nearly all drought-resistant and non-invasive varieties that, to the trained eye, reveal a storied landscape rich in Oakland’s past, present and potential future. …”

    http://oaklandnorth.net/2009/09/21/frank-snapp-and-the-not-so-secret-garden/

    The website a test/example of an innovation in journalism by the UC Berkeley Journalism school, local NPR radio station KQED, and others. They’re actually hiring journalists, trying to model what the future of the best in fact-based local news can be. Poke around and see what you think of their science. http://oaklandnorth.net/about/

    Gavin — y’all might consider doing a ‘column’ on not the hot-new-dubious but the established climate research, for the folks behind this (or vetting such if others do the drafting).

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Sep 2009 @ 11:56 AM

  414. Bart (404):

    Outstanding post, great points, vitally important.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 25 Sep 2009 @ 12:21 PM

  415. One way to communicate science is to just be clear and direct. This recent compendium seems to take that approach: http://www.unep.org/compendium2009/

    Discussion of sea level rise seems to be up-to-date and the last chapter on Systems Management is an interesting read.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 25 Sep 2009 @ 12:26 PM

  416. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation)
    25 September 2009 at 6:19 AM:

    You mean the last 15 years of the www history? Unless of course you are stretching back into the TCP/IP days and BB’s.

    Uh, what? BBs are long gone (other than a few museum pieces), but TCP/IP is still with us. Every web page is transmitted over TCP/IP.

    Comment by llewelly — 25 Sep 2009 @ 12:39 PM

  417. I notice the NYT now has moved DotEarth up to the top spot “above the fold” and moved Tierney out of that top spot on their Science front page.

    My opinion — Revkin is one of the best; that doesn’t mean he’s not still subject to editors.

    The newspaper business sells advertising space, and delivers readers to the advertisers; I would not assume fault found with what the paper publishes is the fault of Andy Revkin personally. Remember when he was among those suddenly on unpaid ‘vacation’ recently?

    Try turning off your AdBlock long enough to look at the advertising around the science pages, see what you think.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Sep 2009 @ 12:51 PM

  418. Arrrrgh.
    “… temperatures have been flat globally …”
    http://video.nytimes.com/video/2009/09/22/science/1247464767694/the-debate-on-climate-change.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Sep 2009 @ 1:22 PM

  419. Well, the NYT got this right, belatedly:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/25/science/earth/25epa.html?_r=1&ref=science

    “… the newly obtained documents show that Dr. Carlin’s highly skeptical views on global warming, which have been known for more than a decade within the small unit where he works, have been repeatedly challenged by scientists inside and outside the E.P.A.; that he holds a doctorate in economics, not in atmospheric science or climatology; that he has never been assigned to work on climate change; and that his comments on the endangerment finding were a product of rushed and at times shoddy scholarship, as he acknowledged Thursday in an interview.

    Dr. Carlin remains on the job and free to talk to the news media ….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Sep 2009 @ 1:25 PM

  420. > Start Here …. color … red

    Not red! View websites as do a significant number people (mostly male) with color-blindness, and design for the limits of vision. Blink …

    http://colorfilter.wickline.org/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Sep 2009 @ 1:29 PM

  421. @ Lawrence Brown

    “Scientists do have a responsibility to explain their work to non scientists, however there should be some expection that the general public keep themselves minimally informed.Is it too much to ask that that for instance in the equation E=mc^2, that c squared is such a large number that even the tiniest mass can be converted to enormous amounts of energy?”

    It’s not a big number to mathematically ignorant folk like me. Depends on the units that light speed is measured in. Millimeters/year? Inches/second? after all light year(as distance)is 1 multiplied by speed of light per light year is (am I right?) a rather unimpressive 1 (number one). Sorry, but any formula leaves me cold, even though I know that is how scientists talk to each other. As for C^2 being a “big number”, all numbers beyond a million are “big” to me, so I see little difference between 10^10 and 10^1000. They are just all “bloody big”. Right now I am trying to understand the culling of the European badger as a control for bovine TB in cattle. It is a wildlife conservation issue in England. The research uses mathematical modeling; I get lost. All those researchers, even in the “fluffy” sciences of mammal ecology, use bloody maths.

    (The only thing I was good at at school in maths was three dimentional geometry, where I could beat the teacher … but now I am (sometimes) a sculptor)

    Comment by Theo Hopkins — 25 Sep 2009 @ 2:54 PM

  422. Hank, red was just a suggestion, suggest a better color.

    The point was to make the “start here” tab a different color than the other tabs.

    Heck, even reversing the same existing colors to blue-grey text on gold would to that.

    But a blinking tab, that would be annoying as heck!

    Comment by Jim Eager — 25 Sep 2009 @ 3:05 PM

  423. Instead of start here make it START HERE and enlarge it to fill the space available. Keep it in the same color as all the other command buttons.

    Alternatively, make a link to Start Here permanently first on the list of threads. The description could be shortened to “a one stop link for resources that people can use to get up to speed on the issue of climate change”

    Comment by RichardC — 25 Sep 2009 @ 3:57 PM

  424. #419 Hank Roberts

    Yes, the NY Times has done a pretty good job in examining the so-called “suppression” of Alan Carlin by the EPA, although I think they could have done more to pin down Carlin.

    As some of you know, I blogged a lot on the Carlin report and its sources.

    I now cover the NYT story here, and link back to my previous exposes:

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/09/25/john-broder-of-nyt-the-epa-fights-back-on-carlin-suppression/

    Concluding paragraphs:

    In short, Carlin’s excuses simply don’t add up. In fact, on top of the shoddy “scholarship” relying on highly dubious sources, it is increasingly difficult to avoid the looming issue of plagiarism. much as Carlin would like to.

    And if that is not enough, the growing pile of coincidental links between Carlin and the Competitive Enterprise Institute raise concerns about the think tank’s role in the whole affair, especially its possible support for Carlin’s appearances on Fox News. That’s a subject I hope to return to soon.

    This story’s not over yet. Not by a long shot.

    Comment by Deep Climate — 25 Sep 2009 @ 4:09 PM

  425. #416 llewelly

    I obviously did not give enough context. Of course the transmission control protocol/internet protocol is still with us. What I was referring to is that back then, as I recall, those I hung out with at sdsc called it the net or the internet, or technically referred to it as the tcp/ip. just as now it is referred to as the net or the internet or the web and www. So what I was inferring is that what we once called the tcp/ip is now referred to as the www (world wide web). But that’s just a perception thing. It is what it is.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 25 Sep 2009 @ 4:57 PM

  426. 424 Deep Climate said, “This story’s not over yet.”

    Yes, that’s another possible way — instead of convincing them, skewer them. Unfortunately, they tend to martyr on

    Comment by RichardC — 25 Sep 2009 @ 5:07 PM

  427. #426 RichardC said:

    Yes, that’s another possible way — instead of convincing them, skewer them. Unfortunately, they tend to martyr on

    Who exactly do you think could or should be “convinced” instead of “skewered”? Alan Carlin? CEI? Glenn Beck? James Inhofe? All of the above?

    Or perhaps we should try and convince those who are earning a great living by spouting nonsense about the climate, like Marc Morano and Tom Harris?

    In my opinion that’s an unrealistic hope. Better to “follow the science” and “follow the money”.

    Comment by Deep Climate — 25 Sep 2009 @ 5:50 PM

  428. Gavin, Hank

    Thanks to consider my questions and sorry if it is a little bit out of the subject. Even if it shows the difficulties to understand climate simulations; leading to difficulties to explain it to the public.

    I will try to clarify my concern.
    The radiation modelling needs to be simplified, because of computation limits.
    So the models use simple relation between flux and CO2 (or greenhouse gas mixture) concentration.
    Which relation do they use and how they tune it? The IPCC reports are not so clear on that, or not detailed.
    And I read from a skeptic, mister Andre Legendre to be precise, that this tuning might be done with overestimated data for CO2 forcing and associated temperature (the 1.2 C used in the article I was talking about before)
    As I am skeptic about this skeptic statement ;-), I want to investigate myself. But not easy to find the equations and parameters used to model radiative processes.
    So I repeat my question: which simplified relations are used in the model and moreover how are they tuned?

    Many thanks again, from all the sites I’ve been through these last months, this one is the most intelligent.

    [Response: None of these simplified expressions are used in the GCMs. Instead, they take the results from line-by-line calculations (i.e. ones where you separately calculate the radiative transfer at each individual wavelength, taking into account all of the absorbers and scattering) and group that into a slightly less complex calculation using a few tens of correlated bands (the GISS GCM uses 33). The forcing from CO2 comes from the line-by-line models and is accurate to about 10% (depending on uncertainties in the background climate state rather than the radiative transfer). - gavin]

    Comment by Naindj — 25 Sep 2009 @ 7:29 PM

  429. I take your point Theo.Yet going to a basic textbook on physics you’ll find that the speed of light is a few hundred thousand kilometers per second(300,000, or 186,000 miles per second).
    http://lamar.colostate.edu/~hillger/numbers.htm
    That’s fast enough to travel around the Earth seven times in one second! So c squared in these same metric units is is 90,000,000,000.
    The main point is, to see that a tiny amount of mass yields huge amounts of energy.The bombs used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki converted less than ounce of matter into energy.BTW, I also enjoyed solid geometry.
    I was not attempting to be smug. There are many fields where my kmowledge is far from perfect.Though I still fervently hope that many non scientists wound stop being such non scientists if only to a small degree.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 25 Sep 2009 @ 7:58 PM

  430. I think, alas, this is how we often communicate:

    http://www.unshelved.com/archive.aspx?strip=20090829

    Comment by Marion Delgado — 25 Sep 2009 @ 8:38 PM

  431. #417 Hank Roberts

    My opinion — Revkin is one of the best; that doesn’t mean he’s not still subject to editors.

    #418 Hank Roberts

    Arrrrgh.
    “… temperatures have been flat globally …”

    That’s what I’m talking about … Don’t blame the editors, or even Revkin himself. He’s is sincere, but terribly confused. Clearly, he’s been spun pretty badly. And he makes mistakes. It’s too bad.

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/09/25/nyts-andy-revkin-backtracks-but-not-nearly-enough/

    Comment by Deep Climate — 25 Sep 2009 @ 9:30 PM

  432. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/opinion/ssi/images/Toles/s_09252009_520.gif

    Remember, these are the sketches for the ideas that don’t get into actual print

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Sep 2009 @ 10:12 PM

  433. 427 Deep asked, “Who exactly do you think could or should be “convinced” instead of “skewered”?”

    The least skeptical of the influential. Any nominees?

    Comment by RichardC — 25 Sep 2009 @ 10:26 PM

  434. Good cop, bad cop?

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 25 Sep 2009 @ 10:35 PM

  435. There are occasions for being stern and scolding; it looks like I got Gord to shut up (1 down, 10^6 to go): http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php?p=11&t=532&&a=18

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 25 Sep 2009 @ 11:31 PM

  436. Jim Bouldin, I have been having this argument with significant other for ages. He thinks scientists should be screaming from the rooftops and blames them that the public isn’t better informed. It reminds me of when my children were growing up and they would say, we didn’t do the dishes because we didn’t like the way you asked us to wash them. And I would say, it doesn’t make any difference HOW I ask you, you just don’t WANT to wash them!

    The public and policy makers don’t want to know about climate change. The implications of the known facts are too frightening, and so vast, that most people – even people who acknowledge that climate change is happening – refuse to see its effects.

    I rather doubt any amount or type of education is going to help, until individuals are personally affected – if then. The California farmers are blaming the government for their water problems, rather than climate change induced drought.

    Comment by Gail Z — 26 Sep 2009 @ 8:01 AM

  437. According to the met office,which has a highly respected reputation.They state in part:
    “temperature change over the latest decade (1998-2007) alone shows a continued warming of 0.1 °C per
    decade.”
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/myths/2.html

    This is straight forward, and negates any attribution by anyone citing this source, of cooling over this time period.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 26 Sep 2009 @ 10:15 AM

  438. There is something to be learned in this exchange
    @ Lawrence Brown

    “Is it too much to ask that that for instance in the equation E=mc^2, that c squared is such a large number that even the tiniest mass can be converted to enormous amounts of energy?”

    @ Theo Hopkins
    It’s not a big number to mathematically ignorant folk like me. Depends on the units that light speed is measured in. Millimeters/year?

    Theo makes a category error. The numerical expression, and the units are irrelevant. What is important is the comparison with other energy sources which is what Lawrence was saying. Anyone who has ever taught sees this a lot, which is why teachers are always asking questions of their students to check that they are getting through and why the good ones are always swapping stories about the truly eerie interpretations they get back from their class. It is literally impossible to figure out all of the “crooked” ways that people can think, but if you have heard about them, you can head some of them off at the pass.

    Communication has to be two way

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 26 Sep 2009 @ 10:19 AM

  439. John P. Reisman (302), it’s not important, but is annoying. I was responding to the charts you recommended in the context of your response. You said ‘you “flatliners” should look at these charts.” I looked, and they seemed pretty flat to me, and said so. Now you say I’m looking at the wrong charts in a wrong way??!!?

    Sorry for the delay. My internet link has been on the fritz.

    Comment by Rod B — 26 Sep 2009 @ 11:21 AM

  440. A neophyte to the global warming discussion gets told by a skeptic the world hasn’t warmed in 10 years. He comes here and repeats it. The reaction is the argument that it has warmed. The neophyte has seen the documentation from the NOAA stating that once ENSO is included it hasn’t. The neophyte now concludes: they can’t even agree on if the Earth is warming or not.

    A neophyte to the discussion comes here and repeats it hasn’t warmed in ten years. He is told that’s true according to one data set but not others and everyone agrees that the results are still within the modeled variations. The neophyte thinks: well I guess it might be true or maybe it isn’t but either way it hasn’t changed anything.

    My conclusion is that sometimes it is better to avoid arguing over things that are both disputed and unimportant.

    Comment by stevenc — 26 Sep 2009 @ 12:20 PM

  441. I think BLINK was tossed out of the W3C specification for HTML, although you can do a CSS version that annoyed users can dump with a user style sheet.

    That and accessablily issues made me think that maybe the original blink comment was sarcastic.

    Logical changes in placement for “start here” were suggested, and in that vein a visual reorientation could be considered too. For instance, the area now used for administrivia (that contains the Technical Note) is prime real estate. The eye pretty much lands there when the site is first entered. A brief sentence at that spot with a link each to “start here” and “FAQ” would be hard to miss.

    BTW, suggesting changes to artists after a design has been finalized may cause much darting of eyes and some sweating to occur as they try to figure out whether the change will necessitate a chain of adjustments that end up in a redesign of the whole site.

    [Response: Thanks. But don't confuse our site designer with an artist. Real artists are likely to take offense. - gavin]

    Comment by Radge Havers — 26 Sep 2009 @ 12:33 PM

  442. Re 438 Eli Rabett:
    ” but if you have heard about them, you can head some of them off at the pass. ”

    Cirrus clouds are ‘high in the sky’ (phrase used when I was in fourth grade – I knew better even at the time but didn’t bother to explain it to the rest of the class and the teacher) – some would take this to mean you never see cirrus clouds near the horizon. Etc.

    Lift on a wing occurs because the air has to flow faster over the top of a wing to keep up over the bottom – Nope; air flowing over a wing is deflected downward by the shape of the wing and angle of attack; for steady flow, this requires cross-flow pressure gradients which require pressure anomalies that require along-flow pressure gradients that result in the acceleration of the flow … pressure perturbations themselves result from the wing moving through air that resists deflection via inertia, thus causing changes in density, thus causing changes in pressure, thus causing changes in flow.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 26 Sep 2009 @ 12:43 PM

  443. #439 Rob Black

    You are referring to the 10 year charts derived from the hadcrut data, charted on the woodfortrees site?

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1880/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1880/trend

    The whole point of the article was to show that 10 years is not enough to separate the long term climate signal from the short term natural variability.

    So, are you still hung up on the short term?

    This is a climate trend chart that has attribution well defined for it.

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A2.lrg.gif

    The 10 year charts are not climate charts. I hope I’m understanding your argument properly, and I don’t think I have ever used the term ‘flatliners’? Did I?

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 26 Sep 2009 @ 3:18 PM

  444. Eli is on target when he says:
    ” The numerical expression, and the units are irrelevant. What is important is the comparison with other energy sources….”
    An example is a power plant in Kansas which requires 14, 110 car coal trainloads each week!
    (from “Energy, Environment and Climate” By Professor Richard Wolfson,Norton and Company 2008,page 117 figure 5-10).Burning coal is,of course, a chemical reaction.Nuclear reactions provide roughly 10 million times the energy of chemical reactions.(same source as above p.184).A nuclear plant refuels about once a year with a single truckload of uranium fuel.

    This not an endorsement of or opposition to either form of energy. It’s an attempt to corroborate what Eli so rightly said about comparisons,in this case between chemical and nuclear reactions.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 26 Sep 2009 @ 7:45 PM

  445. ” Nope; air flowing over a wing is deflected downward by the shape of the wing and angle of attack; for steady flow, this requires cross-flow pressure gradients which require pressure anomalies that require along-flow pressure gradients that result in the acceleration of the flow ”

    Well, the cross-flow pressure gradient supports streamline curvature; the along-streamline gradient supports variations in speed, and the later gradient is associated with conversion from potential to kinetic energy as in Bernoulli (sp?).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 26 Sep 2009 @ 9:53 PM

  446. While I agree that Greg Craven is a fabulous communicator and his resoprt to the Venn Diagram was a useful approach the problem with this approach was to effectively avoid looking at the prospect that the downside risk in the opposite columns would occur. Yes he suggested you could attach values to each but the reality is that while catastrophe through inaction is a distinct possibility, the probability that the regulatory impost of robust action on climate change could trigger a depression on a world scale can be almost completely discounted. Moreover, while a depression *might* last five years, a roiling climate-driven catastrophe makes a five year depression look laughable.

    Craven’s diagram also attaches no positve values to action taken if the assumptions about AGW-driven climate change are wrong. In that case, we only get a better environment and more liveable cioties. Gosh

    Comment by Fran Barlow — 27 Sep 2009 @ 2:24 AM

  447. #444 Lawrence Brown “A nuclear plant refuels about once a year with a single truckload of uranium fuel”. The proposed IFR (which would breed its own fuel on-site) doesn´t even need that.

    Moreover, “The available fuel metals were never separated from the plutonium, and therefore there was no direct way to use the fuel metals in nuclear weapons. Also, plutonium never had to leave the site, and thus was far less open to unauthorized diversion” (Wikipedia).

    The IFR project was cancelled in 1994 by Bill Clinton as being unnecessary!

    Comment by simon abingdon — 27 Sep 2009 @ 3:47 AM

  448. Lawrence, solar power gets the raw material delivered directly there, no need for any cars. Same with wind, tidal and geothermal.

    Comment by Mark — 27 Sep 2009 @ 5:14 AM

  449. “A neophyte to the global warming discussion gets told by a skeptic the world hasn’t warmed in 10 years.”

    You’re out of date: it’s 11 years now. You have to include the 1998 figure, remember!

    Over the last 10 years, it hasn’t cooled, it HAS gotten warmer.

    What’s happening is that an idiot forgot all his maths and was told it has been cooling, when in fact all that has happened is that one year is colder than another year in the past.

    Which isn’t the same thing.

    Draw a best fit to the data.

    It’s basic statistics that anyone who’s done a higher mathematics or physics course (a levels) know to do.

    But this neophyte either hasn’t done it (and ignores that they don’t know what they are talking about: Dunning Kruger), or doesn’t care that the analysis is done incorrectly (and won’t do it themselves) because they aren’t just a neophyte, they are a neophyte and don’t want AGW to be real.

    Comment by Mark — 27 Sep 2009 @ 5:19 AM

  450. Mitch says: “No one wants to be treated by a rube”

    And to them I say: so stop acting like one.

    If I were to walk in to an office and start ordering the nearest woman to “get me a coffee, luv”, would I be treated like a misogynist?

    Now what if it’s just because that person was nearest me and I wanted a coffee.

    But if I continue to do this sort of thing when I walk in to an office, do you think they’ll stop treating me as a misoginist?

    No.

    I’d have to change my attitude before they would consider that, and they would be wary for some time after that until I proved myself.

    So to those who don’t like being treated like a rube, I say “educate thyself and act not like the rube and you shall have what you want”.

    Comment by Mark — 27 Sep 2009 @ 5:31 AM

  451. Simon monkton asks: “Add the forcing component and the atmospheric lifetime of Co2″. So, what is the atmospheric lifetime of CO2? How do you know this?

    +++
    Are you saying that it is impossible to see how something is removed when added to a system?
    This is how they “know this”: evidence (means “that which is seen”).
    +++

    SM asks: “The feedbacks will most likely magnify in response to the continued warming and thus push the numbers up at various tipping points.” What numbers? What various tipping points?

    +++
    are you saying that the climate system is non-chaotic and reacts linearly?

    Because you seem to be implying that there would be no tipping points. If there were, then you would be unable to use this query, since not knowing when the point occurs doesn’t mean you can ignore changes that bring such a point closer
    +++

    SM asks: “When AGW reaches a certain point, we pay the price”. What certain point?

    +++
    The point at which we start paying the price.

    You don’t pay the price of smoking immediately. You start off with no ill effects. Then your lungs aren’t working as well any more. Then you may get cancer.

    Or do you deny that smoking causes cancer?

    Comment by Mark — 27 Sep 2009 @ 5:36 AM

  452. Skeksis says: “Dismiss what? I dismissed nothing except the use of GCMs for forecasting climate decades into the future. That is all”

    That’s like saying “I didn’t dismiss your religion, I just dismissed any religious texts as being legitimate. That is all”.

    GCMs are and can be used for forecasting climate decades into the future. How? By the same method Military Supplies Officers ensure the lines of supply are adequate, even though one day a solider may eat much more than normal, or skip meals, etc.:

    The Fuzzy Law Of Large Numbers.

    Climate is “how hot will summer be?” not “what will the temperature 14th August, 2070 be?”. The latter one is weather.

    And climate is “what is the average over 30 years going to be?”.

    I can use simulations to show what the chances of any number coming up in the lottery. And whether I’m right isn’t done by asking “which number will be 154th shown?”. You take an average of a series and see whether my average agrees.

    Just like you would do for climate.

    And GCM’s CAN DO THAT.

    But you don’t want to ask questions, do you. You just want to ignore science and avoid your errors so you deny, deny, deny. In order to do so, you refuse to learn and repeat again and again the same old bile-led exhortations of your own nurtured incredulity.

    Comment by Mark — 27 Sep 2009 @ 5:52 AM

  453. “Yes, I recall how reliably all those computer engineers predicted the downfall of civilization the the months leading up to Jan. 1, 2000. Those guys are so reliable???”

    Yup, if they hadn’t spent so much time and money fixing the problem, there would have been problems.

    When you’ve paid for your expensive heart surgery, do you demand your money back because you didn’t have the heart attack that the doctor said you needed the operation to avoid???

    You let this pile of droppings:

    ++++
    If the science were dodgy the computer would not be possible. by that token I am bound to trust a computer engineer more than I would a research scientist, simply because the former has demonstrated what he can do in a very concrete way, whereas the latter is necessarily dealing in unknowns and uncertainty. Sorry guys!
    ++++

    drag you off into fairy land.

    What ***IS*** wrong here is that this is a complete non-sequitor.

    Would you trust open heart surgery to your plumber because

    a) he’s never had an accident in a surgery in 30 years of working as a plumber
    b) he’s a darn good plumber
    c) you’ve heard about doctor shipman

    ???

    So what does making a computer tell you about their ability to predict science?

    Nothing.

    And the computer engineer has used what the research scientist did to do his work in a very concrete way. Thus the researcher is proven right in a very concrete way by the working product someone else made.

    Or does this moron dismiss the engineers who built the shuttle because the astronaut is the one proving the rocket works in a very concrete way?

    Comment by Mark — 27 Sep 2009 @ 5:58 AM

  454. Skeksis opines “A good scientist would not simply dismiss contrary evidence as “noise” in a long term trend”

    And this explains why you do just this: you are not a good scientist.

    Brother working in the coal industry?

    Comment by Mark — 27 Sep 2009 @ 6:03 AM

  455. Rod B. says, “…they seemed pretty flat to me”

    Did you do a linear regression? Any other statistical analysis? Then what basis do you have for your your opinion.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 27 Sep 2009 @ 9:17 AM

  456. In many discussions, there is a choice: You can either stress the disagreements and
    differences, or you can search for common ground. Greg Craven does the
    latter very well, see eg this video of his:
    http://www.manpollo.org/education/videos/get_what_you_want/get_what_you_want.html
    where he sais for example: “… it’s just way more productive for each
    side to refer to the other as that side prefers” and later “I point
    out that my motivations are simply pragmatic, because in my
    experience, that’s the case for a lot of you, as well, so it’s common
    ground for us. (…)What I’m concerned about is me and mine, and our
    lifestyle.” Terrific. That hits home, it hits a nerve, and more
    importantly, it hits quite a strong nerve especially with those that
    are not convinced of the urgency of the problem.

    Greg has some terrific videos, and I’m looking forward to read his
    book when I find the time. I’m a little puzzled though about suddenly
    being in the target audience whereas initially I wasn’t. Other
    science-minded people like Kate (climatesight) and Michael Tobis
    (initforthegold) both expressed a feeling of not being the target audience. It seems counterintuitive.

    Even when two people disagree (e.g. Jim Bouldin and Randy Olsen earlier in this thread), I think they can both make valid points. Most scientists are good at doing science, and are not great storytellers (with, of course, many exceptions). So they naturally resent being told to go and tell a story, especially so when they feel that they’re being (partly) blamed
    for the public confusion about the issue. OTOH, Olsen is right, that the nature of the game has changed, and that scientists who do communicate to the public better be aware of how the public filters and digests information these days.

    And highlighting one factor in the problematic chain from scientific understanding to public (mis-)understanding doesn’t necessarily mean that there are not more (important factors as well. Think of the role of the media, of politics, of the school system. And in most of these, it is the institutions that are somehow failing more so than the individuals.

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 27 Sep 2009 @ 9:38 AM

  457. Mark, I’m with you 100 percent on renewables.
    You say:
    “… solar power gets the raw material delivered directly there, no need for any cars. Same with wind, tidal and geothermal.”
    Amen to that! You’ll get no quarrel from me on this.

    My initial point is that the onus shouldn’t totally be on the scientists, but that non scientists might keep themselves minimally aware of some scientific knowledge such as, in this case, the differences between several currently used means of generating electricity.
    (BTW I’m not a scientist,my field is civil engineering,and not research but as a working engineer. I’ve worked on studies involving hydopower and pumped storage, which are also an arguably(depends on who you’re speaking to :)) benign means of delivering power.)

    The better informed that the general public keep themselves, the better they can communicate with their representatives, the decision makers in Washington, and some of the effort should be made on their part

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 27 Sep 2009 @ 10:11 AM

  458. Wholly appropriate for the topic:
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2009/09/25/notes092509.DTL

    How to talk to complete idiots
    Three basic options. Choose wisely, lest you go totally insane

    By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
    Friday, September 25, 2009

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Sep 2009 @ 10:59 AM

  459. Re #326 Simon confuses the residency time, the average time any single CO2 molecule remains in the air, with the time an increase of CO2 atmospheric concentration lasts.

    Clearly the bit about the lifetime of CO2 is a head banger which could be avoided by talking a bit of care. This confusion is exploited by the denialists.

    Say things like, increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations last centuries. Add, CO2 molecules exchange quickly with the ocean and plants, but an exchange, is not an increase or decrease.

    That’s 25 words. Anyone able to do less?

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 27 Sep 2009 @ 11:40 AM

  460. I assume the scientists at NOAA are better trained then I in statistical methods so I won’t bother trying to check their math. I will be delighted to hear the response after you have corrected them though. I’m sure they will be quite embarrassed.

    Comment by stevenc — 27 Sep 2009 @ 12:09 PM

  461. Hank,”Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience”–Mark Twain

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 27 Sep 2009 @ 12:32 PM

  462. Lawrence, there’s always SOME downsides to any form of power extraction.

    Heck the very basic form us humans have requires the deaths of thousands of other lives to maintain each year.

    So all options are balances of how much bad there is and how much good. But before all that, if it must be done at all.

    Could we use less power more intelligently?

    Comment by Mark — 27 Sep 2009 @ 12:35 PM

  463. #450 Mark

    Thanks, I missed SM’s post.

    #452 Mark

    Quite correct. In the reality I was not writing about the various fixes to the software to manage the ## v. #### year. So my post was not really about the computer engineers, but rather the medias irresponsible handling of the rumors and myths that were flying about (including that the poles were going to flip that night (someone told me that would cause earthquakes and tidal-waves)…

    [fade-in, mysterious background music, the sound of wind and a porch mobile chiming in the distance... visual effect misty mix/wipe ...fade to past...]

    SCENE

    We just left our downtown office building and stepped onto the icy streets of downtown Detroit. It was cold. We start walking toward the parking lot…

    NARRATOR

    I was in Detroit that year. The Chairman of the Board from the company I was working at as CEO came and asked me prior to the looming specter of new years eve 1999, if I had prepared? I tilted my head with a puzzled look and pondered the meaning of his question.

    SCENE

    He leaned toward me with a serious and concerned expression. Cut to overhead shot, black and white. We pulled our coats tighter around us and a chill wind stirred…

    NARRATOR

    He told me he had filled all his bathtubs with water (scene note for reaction: I am assuming some were expecting gravity to no longer work from the water towers to the houses), purchased a gas generator, stored months of food, etc., and then asked me if I had prepared.

    I told him I had purchased a half gallon of milk as we had run out back at my place on 17 Mile…

    - Okay, enough of that. True story though, sorry for the stylization.

    I did call a couple of the Detroit papers and one TV station in the two weeks prior to the new year and asked why they were not trying to alleviate fears of all these rumors and tell the truth rather than merely reporting the myths as they found them. I don’t recall exactly what the responses were but I remember getting the feeling that they didn’t care about trying to dispel anything, but rather were just reporting what was going on from the people ‘they’ interviewed…

    hmmm…. sounds familiar…

    another day, same old silliness.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 27 Sep 2009 @ 12:47 PM

  464. Thanks agan to be patient with me Gavin,
    So ok let’s say it is not so simplified and they use the data of Hytran (let’s be honest, I just read about it after your answer), calculating layer by layer, and with 33 wavelengths ( !! I’m impressed by the computers of today). Still, the conditions in the atmosphere are very different from the ones in laboratory (I’m thinking about the water for example), so how do you know you have 10% of accuracy ? I also read that there is controversy on the absorption of CO2 in presence of water…some say 3 W/m2, others 2 or 4…and IPCC said finally 3.7.

    They have to compare with reality at some point no?
    The problem is that the reality includes all interactions. So they compare the full model with reality, and not just the radiative process. So how do they isolate radiative process to check it?
    Is there documents on the web, talking about tuning of models? I did not find any.
    Naindj

    Comment by Naindj — 27 Sep 2009 @ 1:02 PM

  465. Oh and Mark, when you tell the scientists at the NOAA why they are idiots, make sure you use “HAS warmed” and not “has warmed” or they may not see exactly where they made their neophyte mistake.

    Comment by stevenc — 27 Sep 2009 @ 1:07 PM

  466. Hello everyone;

    Looking for a little help understanding why CO2 levels go up and down as they have in the past during glacial and interglacial periods. In particular it varies between about 180 to 280 ppm.

    I believe it’s because during warm periods, global precipitation is enough sequester CO2 from the atmosphere by weathering until global temperatures fall off enough so that the planet become significantly more arid.

    Then it takes 30,000+ years for the oceans to come into equilibrium with the CO2. Then a change in the earths orbit causes a slight warming which in turn reduces the oceans solubility for CO2 sufficiently so that there is a feedback mechanism and a period of global warming occurs feed by the new orbit and rising CO2 levels until temperatures rise enough to increase precipitation and start the cycle again.

    Methane is another cyclic greenhouse gas, but the mechanism is not the same since methane is not sequestered by weathering of rocks.

    I believe methane has a much shorter lifetime in the atmosphere and it’s concentration is more Dependant on production than anything else. So, as the globe warms from the orbital changes and CO2, methane is released from warming permafrost and more active bogs. As the globe cools, methane production is reduced and atmospheric concentrations simply follow.

    Anyhow, appreciate any correction to the above or better yet reference to a reputable source.

    Thanks!

    Comment by Andrew — 27 Sep 2009 @ 2:05 PM

  467. #458 Eli Rabett

    20 words :)

    Excess atmospheric CO2 can last centuries and exchange quickly with oceans and plants. Exchange does not mean increase or decrease.

    That’s a good exercise. That’s what I tried to do on the OSS site, but I also try to say things a couple different ways and try to balance between to simple and overkill (Ockhams razor meets Einsteins limiter).

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 27 Sep 2009 @ 3:56 PM

  468. Andrew (464) — Not the way I learned it; weathering is too slow. As the globe cools a little due to change in orbital forcing, the vast oceans are able to absorb more CO2, so the CO2 in the atmosphere is lowered. Reverse during warming.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 27 Sep 2009 @ 5:07 PM

  469. Andrew — 27 September 2009 at 2:05 PM

    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/cycles.htm

    From the first link under Science, in the right hand sidebar.
    See also the little rectangle with the words “Start Here” at the top of the page; that’s a link you can click to open another page.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Sep 2009 @ 6:24 PM

  470. Mark in 462.
    I agree again that no form of energy use is completely benign, but some are surely more environmentally friendly than others. You named some of the better alternatives in one of your previous posts.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 27 Sep 2009 @ 7:53 PM

  471. As a follow up to this piece, Gavin or someone else might look at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-shermer/chill-out-an-economic-tri_b_301229.html, which is a Lomborg support act, with nonsense such as “Lomborg sites data from the World Wildlife Fund that at most we will lose 15 polar bears a year due to global warming” and “there will be 400,000 more heat-related [human] deaths annually; there will also be 1.8 million fewer cold-related deaths, for a net gain of 1.4 million lives”. When you read this stuff it seems clear that no amount of improving our collective ability to communicate science is going to overcome the forces against action on global warming.

    Comment by David Horton — 27 Sep 2009 @ 11:44 PM

  472. Side bar regarding the Y2K computer bug…

    I was the lead mainframe programmer on the Y2K software project team for the mid-size insurance company I work for. The problem would have caused this corporation to fail if it had been ignored. But it was not ignored because we knew what was at stake. The problem did not only affect us on 1/1/2000, but also on several other important dates. For instance on 1/1/1998 some of our computer systems that need to look 2 years into the future were affected. Other systems only needed to look at historical data and were not affected until 1/1/2001 and beyond.

    Many smart minds were put to work on it. I did nothing but work on this issue for about 3 years of my life. We reviewed every one of our computer systems and every program, determined exactly when each one would break, estimated how much work each one would require, decided which technical solution should be used for each system, and laid out time tables for what needed to be worked on when. Since the actual software repair task was menial, we hired outside contractors to do this work while our own programmers could continue developing new systems.

    This is like night and day however when talking about climate systems. We had a very high confidence level that we knew exactly what we were doing. Business software behaviors are 100% predictable and testable.

    One of my favorite memories was watching an Apple PC computer support guy on a local TV station advising everyone to just move to an Apple and their Y2K problems would magically disappear. I called him that evening and tried to have a frank discussion with him that went no where. He couldn’t believe that any Apple software could have such a bug in it. But just a few days into January 2000 and he started posting apologies and repair advice on his web site for the multiple vendor software packages that had been installed on Apple computers that he supported. – I think the lesson learned here is a very old one; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

    Pete

    Comment by Pete W — 28 Sep 2009 @ 1:01 AM

  473. Re 411, Thank you Hank, however I still think he missed that it was peered for another journal?

    Comment by Magnus Westerstrand — 28 Sep 2009 @ 2:52 AM

  474. Eli, John, (re #458, 467), I don’t have a better short formulation to get across the point about atmospheric residence time. But to drive the point home, I’m wondering if a juggling metaphor could work?

    The ball (CO2 molecule) doesn’t stay more than a second in the air (~ 5 years) before it’s taken up by a hand (vegetation, ocean), but the juggling (carbon cycle) still keeps the balls constantly passing through the air for minutes (centuries) on end before they get dropped on the floor (weathering, deep ocean).

    Now, your beautiful assistant (those lovely fossil fuels) tosses you a couple more balls. With a three-ball cascade you had two balls in the air simultaneously, with a five-ball one you have three or four. The increased number of balls juggled (carbon in the cycle) means more balls in the air (atmospheric CO2) at any time, for as long as the juggler can manage, despite the fact that they all still all get caught in a second as soon as they’re tossed.

    Personally, I don’t know how to do atmospheric science, nor how to juggle more than two balls, but for those who do, here’s a YouTube opportunity to “not be such a scientist”…

    Comment by CM — 28 Sep 2009 @ 4:02 AM

  475. #459 Eli Rabett

    ER: “Excess atmospheric CO2 can last centuries and exchange quickly with oceans and plants. Exchange does not mean increase or decrease”

    SA: “Atmospheric CO2 can increase or decrease by exchanging quickly with oceans and plants.” (13 words)

    Comment by simon abingdon — 28 Sep 2009 @ 4:42 AM

  476. #453 Mark
    Sorry, can’t let this one go by uncommented on:

    ++++
    If the science were dodgy the computer would not be possible. by that token I am bound to trust a computer engineer more than I would a research scientist, simply because the former has demonstrated what he can do in a very concrete way, whereas the latter is necessarily dealing in unknowns and uncertainty. Sorry guys!
    ++++

    drag you off into fairy land.

    What ***IS*** wrong here is that this is a complete non-sequitor.

    Would you trust open heart surgery to your plumber because

    a) he’s never had an accident in a surgery in 30 years of working as a plumber
    b) he’s a darn good plumber
    c) you’ve heard about doctor shipman

    This comment was made simply to illustrate the difference between “trust” and “faith”. We tend to “trust” those individuals or groups who have a track record of success [b]in their chosen field of endeavour[/b].

    Some people are able to have “faith” in somebody even though that person has no track record. For instance people have “faith” in religion, because the priest is a nice guy and he wouldn’t lie to them would he?

    Or it would be nice if there was a heaven, so I will have “faith” that I am going there because I can believe “six impossible things before breakfast” (Lewis Carrol, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, comic reference to the Christian Creed” – from an ordained priest no less!).

    Without a very good understanding of the science, a belief that the scientists are right [b]or wrong[/b] on AGW is tantamount to “faith” because nobody has a good track record (yet) in predicting what will happen if we (for instance) double the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    This is a big problem for me and many other non-religious people who are happy to “trust” but disinclined to have “faith”. That is why I am trying to understand all this – and struggling.

    I have almost as much idea about how a computer works as I do of the science of global warming. However I build my own home computers from components and they work. My employer has several thousand computers and they work fine. So when I buy a computer I have reasonable grounds to “trust” that it will work.

    In answer to your particular questions;

    Would I trust open heart surgery to my plumber? No, because he has never done any open heart surgery and has no track record in open heart surgery. Likewise, I know of no open heart surgeons who I would trust to do my plumbing.

    We recently employed a plumber. He came well recommended by a friend of mine who used him to repair their bathroom and heating. We went round to the friends house and saw this all functioning well. So I got the plumber to fix up a couple of radiators and two toilets in our house and he did a good job. My trust in him was well founded.

    After Dr Shipman, there was a real crisis of “trust” in our medical profession here. It took a lot of repair work on the part of the National Health Service to put it right. As a consequence, my wife (a doctor) now has annual peer review appraisals, has to do about 100 hours a year of compulsory education update courses (on top of working a 40 hour week and caring for 3 children) and next year she will have to undergo annual “re-validation” exams. None of this would have happened if Shipman had not undermined our “trust” in Doctors.

    What will happen to all the climate scientists if, in 50 years time, it turns out that global warming did not happen in the way, or to the extent, they predicted?

    Probably not a lot, because all we are asking to do is conserve resources, something that is pretty sensible regardless of whether you believe AGW is taking place.

    Comment by Matthew L. — 28 Sep 2009 @ 5:23 AM

  477. OT but a question:

    It seems to me that the two biggest “smoking guns” for AGW are 1) models cannot hindcast accurately without AGW and 2) the stratosphere is cooling as the troposphere warms. I know that ozone loss also results in stratospheric cooling but not at 40-50 km so much as CO2.

    Why aren’t we shouting from the tree tops about stratospheric cooling?

    Comment by Scott A. Mandia — 28 Sep 2009 @ 6:14 AM

  478. Matthew,

    I trust the science (in its sphere of applicability) because it’s been proven to be succesful.
    If the scientists by and large work according to scientific standards, I think this trust is warranted.

    It’s hard to gauge scientific work based on correct predictions, as it is primarily concerned with coming up with ever better explanations for the unknown. But even then, global warming was predicted to happen before it actually did (eg by Arrhenius, 1896). In a way, it is a prediction come true. That doesn’t happen all that often in science.

    Oreskes has investigated the question of “how do we know we’re not wrong?” Excellent reading (first) or viewing (second):
    http://www.ametsoc.org/atmospolicy/Presentations/Oreskes%20Presentation%20for%20Web.pdf
    and
    http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/resources/globalwarming/documents/oreskes-chapter-4.pdf

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 28 Sep 2009 @ 7:40 AM

  479. Further to Bart’s point, Arrhenius also correctly forecast the pattern of warming that we observe–generally greater warming nighttime than daytime, greater winter than summer, greater toward poles.

    http://wiki.nsdl.org/index.php/PALE:ClassicArticles/GlobalWarming/Article4

    (See original page 265.)

    http://hubpages.com/hub/Global-Warming-Science-And-The-Dawn-Of-Flight

    (Context and human interest.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 28 Sep 2009 @ 8:10 AM

  480. Simon Abingdon, The equilibrium amount of CO2 in the oceans is a complicated question. However, it is basically governed by the chemical potential for dissolution and the rate of overturn in the oceans. The latter is a fairly slow process. Thus, CO2 continues to rise. However, if we were to stop producing CO2 tomorrow, the oceans would continue to be a CO2 reservoir, keeping levels high for centuries. CO2 is an Millennial problem.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 28 Sep 2009 @ 9:41 AM

  481. Matthew,
    Faith is foreign to my nature, as it is to the natures of most scientists. Unfortunately, as a layman, you have two choices: Find out what the vast majority of experts (that is, those actively publishing in the field) believe, or learn enough of the sciene that you can assess the relative merits of the different SCIENTIFIC POSITIONS. I stress scientific, because it is utterly irrelevant what the Chamber of Commerce or the Senate or the Commons thinks about climate change. It is either real or it isn’t and science is your guide.

    If you look into this issue to any reasonable depth, one thing will become obvious: the climate scientists publish; the so-called skeptics don’t. That ought to tell you all you need to know.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 28 Sep 2009 @ 9:49 AM

  482. Simon A. above posts a statement of faith lacking any basis in observation.

    Eli above has stated clearly how the observed world has been found to work.

    Simon A. probably doesn’t see the difference.

    Now there’s nothing wrong with wishing. Even climatologists can wish.

    Birger Schmitz wished to know the same thing Simon A asserts from faith — how fast carbon dioxide can be cycled biogeochemically.

    But there are differences between Simon A — who just makes up the answer and proclaims it because he wishes it were so, without a time scale — and Birger Schmitz, who looked into the record of what we know about how the world works, found a time of extremely high CO2, and published a paper describing how long it took to remove it.

    You can look this stuff up. Hint: don’t rely on Simon A for any answers.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v407/n6801/full/407143a0.html
    Global change: Plankton cooled a greenhouse

    “Scientists who can perform laboratory experiments are lucky — a megalomaniac climatologist can only dream of putting an Earth-like planet in a giant test tube, pumping billions of tonnes of CO2 into its atmosphere, and registering the effects on life and climate. Fortunately, there are other approaches…..”

    He studied “the period of ‘superwarm’ conditions at the Palaeocene/Eocene boundary”

    Oh, there’s another difference between wishful thinkers and scientists. Both make errors, scientists publish corrections; see the third page here:

    http://docs.google.com/gview?a=v&q=cache:YJ3oQ9MTf7AJ:courses.washington.edu/ocean450/Discussion_Topics_Papers/Schmitz_et_al.pdf+plankton+cooled+greenhouse+Schmitz&hl=en&gl=us&sig=AFQjCNEQv5LaCX45XzFPFcwjpjijg9-Z9w

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Sep 2009 @ 10:01 AM

  483. Oh, here’s the other abstract on the subject.
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v407/n6801/abs/407171a0.html

    Anyone who reads the science and understands how long it was hot and how long it took for biology to reverse the greenhouse will understand that the problem won’t go away quickly. CO2 doesn’t change fast in nature. We’re changing it far faster than nature does short of an asteroid impact.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Sep 2009 @ 10:08 AM

  484. #480 Ray, what if the oceans cooled?

    Comment by simon abingdon — 28 Sep 2009 @ 10:11 AM

  485. #482 Hank, perhaps I misunderstood Eli because he did not say what he meant by “excess” and “exchange”.

    Here are some follow-up questions which may help me to understand:

    In the context of exchanging molecules, can two isotopically identical molecules be distinguished?

    Is there a difference between the 13C/12C ratios of CO2 produced by plant (or animal) respiration and that produced by fossil fuel burning?

    13C is about 1% of the Earth’s carbon.
    CO2 is about 0.04% of the atmosphere (400 ppm).
    So the amount of 13C in the atmosphere is about 0.0004% (4 ppm).
    The total decrease in the 13C/12C ratio of the atmosphere since 1850 is reported as being about 0.15% (which I take to mean a decrease of 0.15% of a ratio which is itself only about 1%). So the decrease in the amount of 13C in the atmosphere since 1850 is about 0.15% of 4ppm (= 0.0015 x 0.000004 = 0.000000006) or 6 parts per billion.

    Leaving aside the apparent insignificance of this number, what is the justification of attributing it wholly to fossil fuel burning?

    Many thanks, Simon

    Comment by simon abingdon — 28 Sep 2009 @ 10:17 AM

  486. Simon #485,

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/how-do-we-know-that-recent-cosub2sub-increases-are-due-to-human-activities-updated/

    BTW the amount of 13C in the atmosphere is not decreasing… just its concentration is. It’s being diluted by 13C-depleted fossil-fuel CO2.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 28 Sep 2009 @ 11:03 AM

  487. #486 Martin, thanks. The link is where I got my information in the first place. It doesn’t seem to mention plants or animals. Is their/our (respiratory) contribution significant? And what is 13C-depleted fossil-fuel CO2? How is it distinguishable from “normal” atmospheric CO2?

    Comment by simon abingdon — 28 Sep 2009 @ 11:43 AM

  488. Simon, you need to understand the difference between the isotopes of carbon, and how carbon dating works. This is basic high school physics. Can you find a textbook?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Sep 2009 @ 12:49 PM

  489. #486 Martin, while waiting for your possible response I Googled “13C-depleted fossil-fuel CO2″ and was immediately presented with [Engelbeen to Spencer] “I think we agree that the influence of the increase [of CO2] itself on temperature/climate is limited, if observable at all”(!)

    Comment by simon abingdon — 28 Sep 2009 @ 1:01 PM

  490. More for Simon:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/2619512/An-Inconvenient-Truth-Study-Guide-All-3-Tiers

    Put “burning fossil fuel” into the Search box on that page.

    And if you want to do the math, here’s an example:

    http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=GtfKG8XVyqkC&oi=fnd&pg=PA7&dq=what+is+13C-depleted+fossil-fuel+CO2&ots=e1Dg_ZGHXv&sig=vQswfD_FNw_y8v1GfUfb_VvICfI#v=onepage&q=what%20is%2013C-depleted%20fossil-fuel%20CO2&f=false

    Note these are not the very best answers, these are a couple of quick search results using your own question pasted into Google and Google Scholar.

    You know how to find this stuff.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Sep 2009 @ 1:07 PM

  491. Oh, you scientists! Apparently this issue has roots. I just ran across this. Marcus du Sautoy in Symmetry pulls a quote from the 1800s and Felix Klein:

    The mathematical community in Germany was not particularly keen on Klein’s rather discursive style, believing it lacked the steely exactness that is so valued in mathematics. Klein disagreed. He believed that

    “The presentation of mathematics in school should be psychological and not systematic. The teacher, so to speak, should be a diplomat. He must take account of the psychic processes in the boy in order to grip his interest, and he will succeed only if he presents things in a form intuitively comprehensible.”

    He took much the same approach to mathematics in the academic arena.

    Du Sautoy then covers a bit on the differences in style in the mathematical communities of France and Germany of the time and their attitudes–i.e., French clarity vs the “rather unreadable, telescopic accounts that German mathematicians produced.” It’s a good book written for a lay audience. He tells a good story and, unlike so many others in the genre, manages to avoid being deadly.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 28 Sep 2009 @ 1:28 PM

  492. Ray(455), It’s neither difficult nor obscure. Look at the two charts (and their linear regressed (I assume) lines) and you see one goes up a little over two-hundreds of a degree, the other, with its 10-year period shifted by a year, goes down a little over one-hundreds of a degree. Put the two together and it looks like very little change over that 11-year period. Just looks pretty flat. All of which I said in 273. Of course I didn’t do my own linear regression; why would I spend time doing that? Like in another thread some time ago, I look at a red wagon and say, “looks pretty red to me!”

    Comment by Rod B — 28 Sep 2009 @ 2:05 PM

  493. Simon, when you state CO2 content in percent by volume, it does seem tiny, doesn’t it. However, consider that the changes we are talking about represent huge masses–much to large to be explained by changes in vegetation, etc. The amount of change in CO2 content in the atmosphere is actually only about half of the carbon released by burning fossil fuels–that is, the burning of fossil fuels is more than adequate to explain it. This, plus the isotopic signature (note there’s no C-14 in the new carbon, though that signature is obscured by the atomic era). This is very old carbon.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 28 Sep 2009 @ 2:14 PM

  494. Simon, the CO2 released by animals or decaying plants has the same 13C/12C ratio as that from fossil fuel burning. However, it is insignificant for the change in C13 content that is observed, as the biological carbon cycle is approximately in equilibrium (more precisely, it seems to be net absorbing carbon from the atmosphere).
    How we know that it’s fossil fuels and not the biosphere that is the source? The third carbon isotope, 14C, which is radioactive with a half-life of 5730 years. It is continually being formed high in the atmosphere by cosmic ray bombardment, and spreads rapidly through the biological cycle. Any biomass younger than a few thousand years thus contains 14C not much below atmospheric concentration (and the precise concentration is a means of “dating” it). Fossil fuels however have spent millions of years underground and thus contain almost no C14 — just traces formed under the influence of natural radioactivity.
    BTW “depleted” means “having a lower concentration of”. Like (235-)depleted uranium. So 13C-depleted fossil-fuel is what is produced by burning the stuff, containing less of the 13 isotope than the atmosphere at large. One can measure this with a mass spectrograph. 14C again is observed by its radioactivity.

    About Engelbeen and Spencer, what can I say? It is possible for two people to agree and be wrong together, as in not getting a consistent story along these lines past reviewers…

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 28 Sep 2009 @ 2:28 PM

  495. Thanks to all for your considered replies to my questions. Sorry if the topics have been well-rehearsed long since.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 28 Sep 2009 @ 2:58 PM

  496. #476 Matthew L.: “Without a very good understanding of the science, a belief that the scientists are right [b]or wrong[/b] on AGW is tantamount to “faith” because nobody has a good track record (yet) in predicting what will happen if we (for instance) double the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.”

    Nobody? Really?

    Arrhenius predicted in 1896 that global temperatures would rise if CO2 atmospheric concentration rose.
    Since 1896, CO2 concentration has risen by around 100 ppm, and global temperatures have risen by about 0.7°C.

    I don’t know what you consider a good track record, Matthew, but that seems pretty good to me.

    Comment by CTG — 28 Sep 2009 @ 3:55 PM

  497. > nobody has a good track record (yet)

    There are already several such records in the paleo record.
    It’s happened several times, several different ways.
    What’s happening now
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0306-4565(94)00043-I
    can be compared to the fossil record.

    Notably, each time thus far, climate has behaved as the basic physics says it is going to do.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Sep 2009 @ 5:38 PM

  498. For a good example of how to talk about science and technology and positive climate solutions (and let’s include technology, because all plausible climate solutions involve widespread adoption of cutting-edge renewable energy technology):

    Potential for Wind-Generated Electricity in China
    Michael B. McElroy, Xi Lu, Chris P. Nielsen, Yuxuan Wang, Science 11 September 2009:

    Wind offers an important alternative to coal as a source of energy for generation of electricity in China with the potential for substantial savings in carbon dioxide emissions. Wind fields derived from assimilated meteorological data are used to assess the potential for wind-generated electricity in China subject to the existing government-approved bidding process for new wind farms. Assuming a guaranteed price of 0.516 RMB (7.6 U.S. cents) per kilowatt-hour for delivery of electricity to the grid over an agreed initial average period of 10 years, it is concluded that wind could accommodate all of the demand for electricity projected for 2030, about twice current consumption. Electricity available at a concession price as low as 0.4 RMB per kilowatt-hour would be sufficient to displace 23% of electricity generated from coal.

    To repeat, “…it is concluded that wind could accommodate all of the demand for electricity projected for 2030, about twice current consumption.”

    Similar arguments based on solar potential apply to the American Southwest and North Africa and the Gobi Desert, and a similar wind study has been completed for the U.S. – likewise, it shows that wind-generated electricity can replace coal, as long as transmission is in place. Those are scientific arguments based on studies, not off-the-cuff assertions – so much area, so much conversion efficiency – it’s all pretty straightforward.

    The solutions should really be presented before the problem is – because it is a serious communication mistake to inform people of the looming climate crisis without also informing them that renewables can entirely replace fossil fuels with no loss in comfort or economic productivity – indeed, cleaner air and fewer resource wars mean that the long-term result of abandoning fossil fuels will be a great improvement in global living conditions.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 28 Sep 2009 @ 7:53 PM

  499. I’m tempted to stop there – but that would mean glossing over some serious problems, I’m afraid. So, stop reading now if you want to keep that warm rosy glow.

    No? Then compare and contrast those scientific arguments with the statements made by Stephen Chu in the latest Science issue:

    Coal accounts for roughly 25% of the world energy supply and 40% of the carbon emissions. It is highly unlikely that any of these countries will turn their back on coal any time soon, and for this reason, the capture and storage of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel power plants must be aggressively pursued…

    Here we have a political argument – countries will not stop using coal, so we need to invent an unspecified and unproven technological solution. (Crbon capture and sequestration is not very specific – that’s what every green plant does, for example). However, the editorial does spell out the energy agenda of the administration in some detail:

    No matter which technology ultimately proves best for new plants, we will still need to retrofit existing plants and new plants that will be built before CCS is routinely deployed. Each new 1-gigawatt coal plant is a billion-dollar investment and, once built, will be used for decades.

    Again, let’s repeat the plan: “Each new 1-gigawatt coal plant… – but no mention of any gigawatt solar or wind plants, or of the plans to build such plants in Australia and China.

    Never mind the fact that none of the “new carbon capture technology” even works, or the fact that it would have to be applied to oil and and natural gas combustion as well as to coal in order to stabilize atmospheric CO2 levels. Where is the prototype? Where are the performance characteristics? I’m guessing a minimum 50% power loss to capture 50% of the emissions – which would turn gas into a clear economic loser relative to solar and wind. Except CCS is not for gas-powered power plants, just for coal-fired powerplants – and if you want to talk about CCS for gasoline-powered vehicles, well, don’t – the engineers will roll on the ground laughing when you ask them to build a Ford Explorer with onboard CCS.

    All in all, it appears to be nothing but another delaying tactic:

    There are many hurdles to making CCS a reality, but none appear insurmountable. The DOE goal is to support R&D, as well as pilot CCS projects so that widespread deployment of CCS can begin in 8 to 10 years.

    What are the hurdles, and why are they surmountable? This is one of the most information-devoid sentences I’ve ever seen on the subject – bland assurances unsubstantiated by any scientific data – and this is the United States Secretary of Energy! What about the past eight years of ‘efforts to build pilot plants’? Where is the scientific review of that effort?

    Translation: The DOE plans to continue with business as usual, and they don’t plan to invest in large scale solar and wind projects, but rather, in coal and oil shale and other CO2-intensive projects, i.e. tar sands. Like Bush, this Administration has also rejected Kyoto and has signaled to world leaders that no binding agreements will be accepted at the Copenhagen climate summit.

    Interesting, isn’t it? Texas and Saudi oil interests have been replaced by Midwestern coal interests and Canadian tar sand developers in the corridors of Washington – but to the atmosphere, it’s just the same old game. Fossil CO2 is fossil CO2 – coal, oil or gas, it just doesn’t matter.

    It is sad to see the renewable energy in the U.S. being sabotaged once again, however. The pro-coal agenda is clearly committing the country to economic and environmental devastation – and the CCS claims are nonsensical on basic scientific grounds.

    This behavior by the current government is not exactly as advertised (promised?) in the last election, I must say.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 28 Sep 2009 @ 7:59 PM

  500. I agree with Ike.

    Nobody has come up with a plan that will preserve the value of coal, for those who currently own it or the rights to dig it up and burn it.

    It’s kind of odd.

    Someone who owns an acre of old trees can get paid for money as a carbon offset. But someone who owns the comparable amount of coal, apparently, can’t be paid.

    Both would be making the deal — to simply leave the carbon where it is, and it’s be easier to leave a coal seam untouched for millenia than to maintain a given amount of living timber.

    And it’s not like the people who invested in all that coal are going to give up their “rights” to its “value”

    All I can say is, it’s a good thing there was no commercial use for smallpox, or we’d never have seen it eradicated, because the people with rights to the virus would have insisted on keeping it around.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Sep 2009 @ 8:42 PM

  501. P.S. — yes, I know that it would be stupid, and would take more money than there is in the world, to pay companies or countries for not digging up the fossil fuel. Just like it would be stupid to have to pay people not to pollute, pay people not to shit upstream of where people drink, pay people not to transmit diseases and so forth. But I know the proposal has been made by some third world countries that they be paid not to dig up the coal.

    We need economists with more than two arms, because there are too many different angles on this to handle with the simple economics we have now. How do you handle the change in value of something that goes from being a benefit to being a liability — for others?

    Yeah, yeah, free market would just bankrupt them, but fat chance that’ll happen.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Sep 2009 @ 8:48 PM

  502. In attempting to communicate with the public on the issue of climate change, one can write a book that might potentially reach many, but how does one get that book before the public. As can be seen at ericgrimsrud.com, I am trying to do this in my own personal and self-funded manner and would appreciate any advice concerning this question via my Web site.

    Comment by Eric Grimsrud — 28 Sep 2009 @ 10:10 PM

  503. Re Naindj 464
    - There really should not be a problem with reality being much different from the lab in so far as radiative properties are concerned. I don’t know how elaborate all experiments have been, but one can vary the composition and temperature and pressure within a chamber and take measurements.

    My impression is that much of the uncertainty, which is not large for radiative forcings by gases (anthropogenic aerosol forcings are a different matter, unfortunately), is from potential error in conditions as they are (different from how conditions will change – that is feedback and that is where the big (but not unbounded) uncertainties come in) – climate cloud and humidity distributions, temperature, etc.

    Within the LW portion of the spectrum (wavelengths dominated by terrestrial/atmospheric emissions, as opposed to SW, dominated by solar radiation), clouds absorb at all relevant wavelengths (at sufficiently long wavelengths, there is little radiant power left to consider, so it is not necessary to deal with, for example, microwaves, when computing climate system energy budgets), so far as I know. Water vapor absorbs over much of the relevant LW band, but except near the surface at sufficiently high temperature and relative humidity, water vapor is significantly transparent between about 8 and roughly 18 microns, give or take (there isn’t a single sharp cutoff), while CO2 dominates between about 12 and 18 microns in the absence of clouds and high humidity. Radiative forcing is not just about what is blocked from reaching space from the surface, because the atmosphere can also emit to space; but greater opacity concentrates the source of that emission into higher levels which are generally colder (within the troposphere) and so emit less; thus the effect of overlap of CO2 with clouds and humidity depends on the altitude of clouds and humidity as well as the temperature profile. Generally, low-level clouds and humidity will not reduce the effect of increasing CO2 by much, and by themselves have less effect than higher altitude agents of the same opacity (it is even possible that in the condition of a near-surface inversion capped by clouds, the clouds would have a negative greenhouse effect – they would increase the LW emission to space. This is not representative of the global time average effect of clouds, of course).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Sep 2009 @ 12:04 AM

  504. “Radiative forcing is not just about what is blocked from reaching space from the surface, because the atmosphere can also emit to space; but greater opacity concentrates the source of that emission into higher levels which are generally colder (within the troposphere) and so emit less;”

    This matters for surface conditions because warming or cooling at any level within the troposphere tends to change covective transport of heat in such a way as to spread the heating or cooling out over the vertical interval between the surface and the tropopause; hence, tropospheric and surface temperatures are expected with good reason to follow the radiative forcing at the tropopause level (a measure of the total radiant energy going into the climate system beneath that level, minus that coming out). There is little vertical nonradiant energy flux above the troposphere, at least in the global time average (regional conditions will be different, and there is some rather small flux of kinetic energy from the troposphere that can provide heat to upper layers – this can be neglected for some purposes, as I understand it). Stratospheric warming or cooling changes the radiative flux at the tropopause level, thus affecting tropopause level forcing – this effect is taken into account when an equilibrated stratosphere is used to calculate tropopause level forcing. (This does not include the radiative feedback from the stratosphere when it fully adjusts to changing tropospheric and surface conditions – that is taken into account in the response to tropopause level forcing.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Sep 2009 @ 12:18 AM

  505. “regional conditions will be different”

    There is large scale overturning of the upper atmosphere driven by kinetic energy from below, but this is usually a slow process (especially in the time-average) that probably has little time-average vertical heat flux relative to radiative processes, so far as I know, even regionally and seasonally (but daily may be a different matter sometimes ??).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Sep 2009 @ 12:21 AM

  506. CTG #496, it is also important to point out that sensitivity is an equal-opportunity employer ;-)

    The primary forcing by CO2 is very well known, exactly computable and well observable (as already Samuel Langley did on thermal infrared radiation from the Moon traversing the Earth’s atmosphere under different incidence angles; this was the data Arrhenius used for deriving his famous relationship). It’s the total feedback acting on this primary forcing that remains somewhat uncertain; but it is the same no matter what the forcing is.

    If you want to explain the temperature swing between glaciations and interglacials, you need to amplify the original effect, mainly of ice sheet albedo and smaller contributions from primary GHG concentration variations, aerosols etc. — by a substantially positive feedback factor. See Section 6.4.1 in the IPCC WG1 report.

    So yes, there is a track record, in spite of the obvious difficulty of having only one, non-expendable, planet to experiment on.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 29 Sep 2009 @ 1:39 AM

  507. In the spirit of communicating science, what is Real Climate’s response to the Lindzen and Choi paper published in the Geophysical Research Letters, about a month ago?

    The claim in the paper is that the earth’s climate sensitivity has a value that is about one sixth (0.5C versus 3c) than the IPCC’s “best estimate”. As I understand it, Lindzen and Choi derived their estimate from incoming and outgoing radiation data gathered by satellites, and comparing the variation of radiation with the variations in the earth’s tropical ocean temperatures.

    If true, this overturns all the conventional GCMs, doesn’t it? And if it’s not true, why haven’t we heard about it? I’m very surprised at the lack of coverage of this story; it should be loudly denounced if it’s invalid …. and if it is valid, why haven’t the sceptics been loudly trumpeting it as the end of AGW?

    So – puzzling. As RC is the authoritive source of climate information, I’d be very glad to hear your opinion of the paper.

    [Response: First off, there is plenty of evidence that climate sensitivity is in the ballpark of what the models suggest. That implies straightaway that the L&C analysis is going to be flawed or incomplete in some way. Second, the comparison they have made is a little odd - it is with the real world and a set of model runs using the observed ocean temperatures as forcing (so-called 'AMIP' runs). These runs have some very subtle issues associated with them, and so it is more usual to look at the fully coupled versions of these models (since they are the ones that are projecting the future in any case). Now both sets of models are archived in the same place, and in the same format, and yet only the AMIP results are shown. I'm curious to see what you would get with the full models. Third, the data analysis itself relies on stringing together different satellites that might have non-negligible offsets and so trends are probably not robust. As usual, one paper does not negate the whole of the science. - gavin]

    Comment by Recycler — 29 Sep 2009 @ 12:01 PM

  508. #476 Matthew L.

    I agree that it should not be about faith (which is why so many are dedicated here), but you seem to be missing some key points which Barton Paul Levinson so eloquently pointed out regarding your concern:

    “…nobody has a good track record (yet) in predicting what will happen if we (for instance) double the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.”

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/09/15/seasons/#comment-35668

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/models

    and there are a boat load of real climate links on modeling

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/index/

    See also

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/05/11/dangerous-curves/

    Since you are still presenting the question “if, in 50 years time, it turns out that global warming did not happen” ti tells me you have not figured out some key elements in your understanding of AGW.

    What are the missing things? Knowing the right answers are not as important as knowing the right questions. Maybe you simply are not asking the right questions yet?

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 29 Sep 2009 @ 12:06 PM

  509. #477 Scott A. Mandia

    Probably because it needs contextual visualization and a relevant platform (pertaining to the target audience) from which to effectively shout, which in turn needs a meaningful budget.

    #492 Rod Black

    Why are you still hung up on short periods of time such as 11 years, or 10 years?

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 29 Sep 2009 @ 12:08 PM

  510. > Why are you still hung up on short periods of time

    The argument is always that something we desire to happen must be happening in any gray area where science says nothing can be determined. Since it must be happening, it must be happening _there_. Little red wagon indeed.

    Similar arguments are made to quantify how the tooth fairy works and the economic details of the transactions. Collect data on teeth put under pillows at bedtime; count the amount of money found under the same pillows the next morning. From this we can say with certainty a variety of things about the economic system that includes the tooth fairy. And her little red wagon.

    You know how he does it.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Sep 2009 @ 12:47 PM

  511. Gavin, At one point L&C used satellite data uncorrected for orbital decay, and if you used the corrected data, their “signal” evaporated. Do they use corrected data in the published analysis?

    [Response: I think so, but it might be worth checking with Norman Loeb or someone similar to be sure. - gavin]

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 29 Sep 2009 @ 1:00 PM

  512. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/09/28/BU3019SV07.DTL

    That’s another good example of how to communicate science to the masses:

    China leads way for solar energy
    Andrew S. Ross, SFChron
    Tuesday, September 29, 2009

    Next month, Santa Clara’s Applied Materials Inc. is scheduled to open a giant solar energy R&D center. The company is investing up to $300 million in the facility. It will not be situated in California, nor in the United States, but in Xian, China. Because China’s where the action is.

    “If the U.S. doesn’t get serious, China’s going to own this industry,” said Applied Materials spokesman David Miller. He points to the Manhattan Project-like push for alternative energy adopted by Chinese officials, which includes up to $60 billion annually in government investment.

    I think that the various economists (such as Jeffrey Sachs) who claim that “China will not abandon coal” have very little understanding of modern energy technology – but then, neither does the leading source for U.S. reporters on electricity generation, the fossil fuel-financed EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute). The fact is that as the global markets collapsed, the Chinese domestic market for solar was encouraged – they understand that relying on energy imports is a problem, and they also know that coal is a problem – and in that situation, the pragmatic decision is to go for large-scale renewable energy development, which is precisely what we should be doing!

    Instead, we are saddled with an astonishing lack of vision and initiative at every level – U.S. financial, government & academic institutions are simply refusing to consider getting off fossil fuels.

    Here’s what Sachs has said, repeatedly and loudly in all manner of forums:

    “Either we figure out to live with coal, or we figure out how to live with climate change,” he said. “And the latter will not be pretty.”

    It’s a ridiculous assertion – there’s no doubt that if all fossil fuels were to vanish from the Earth, we’d be able to get along even better than before by switching to renewables. Oh, it would be a lot of work – but who’s lazy? Secondly, Sach’s preferred CCS solution is technological drivel – even the Secretary of Energy says that it’ll take ten more years before a prototype can be exhibited to the public, and that’s a wildly optimistic outlook.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 29 Sep 2009 @ 1:22 PM

  513. … (cont. from 503 – 505) Of course, there are regional and diurnal and seasonal and internal-variability related variations from the overall tendency for surface and tropospheric temperatures to shift together. For example, in low latitudes, surface warming tends to be less than mid-to-upper tropospheric warming because of a lapse-rate feedback (the “moist adiabatic lapse rate” (If you can’t find it elsewhere, try searching this site – I’ve covered it before) is temperature dependent), while the polar regions are more stable to convection (in winter in particular), allowing surface warming enhanced by surface albedo feedback without the same warming higher in the troposphere. Such patterns of change have important effects on circulation patterns and the water cycle and clouds precipitation, etc, and associated advective/convective, latent and radiative heating/cooling changes (and salinity in the ocean) and feedback on themselves to produce the total response.

    After stratospheric equilibration (cooling for GHG increase, warming for solar forcing), the TOA radiative forcing will be equal to tropopause level forcing (the radiative forcing of the stratosphere is equal to the difference in the radiative forcings of the top and bottom of the stratosphere before stratospheric equilibration). The stratospheric temperature response to surface/tropospheric equilibration will tend to be in the same direction as surface and tropospheric temperature change in so far as the changes in radiative fluxes due to temperature change – however, positive greenhouse feedback from water vapor and, if/when it occurs, from clouds, will have the opposite effect on the stratosphere.

    ——

    Re 476 Matthew L.

    “Or it would be nice if there was a heaven, so I will have “faith” that I am going there because I can believe “six impossible things before breakfast” (Lewis Carrol, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, comic reference to the Christian Creed” – from an ordained priest no less!).”

    Impossible? Depends on what ‘heaven’ is. I’ve heard that there tends to be an increase in dopamine in the process of death. I suspect that at some point in the process of brain death, the ability to be aware of the passage of time dissapears, so the remainder of conscious experience might seem to be eternal in some way (my own speculation). Unfortunately, this might not occur in all deaths, for example, death by close-range nuclear weapon (?although the last moment of brain activity might not have a chance to assess it’s own temporal limitation?). Aside from that, if the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics is true, surely there is a version of the universe (1 in 10^x^y^z…?) in which you will in 1000 years time still find yourself apparently miraculously alive, though your quality of life is another question. Given the Everett interpretation and/or the apparent infinite expanse of this universe, and that if each neuron were replaced with a synthetic neuron with identical cause-effect relationships with other neurons, you should still feel like you, then after your death there is some probability that you will wake up embodied in a bionic being in an alien world which by shear chance just happened to have a bionic brain wired up and with the same neurotransmitter activity and sensitivity as your own brain had been… but I digress.

    “Without a very good understanding of the science,”…”I have almost as much idea about how a computer works as I do of the science of global warming. However” …

    see others’ responses.

    “Dr Shipman” – I am unfamiliar with that reference.

    “What will happen to all the climate scientists if, in 50 years time, it turns out that global warming did not happen in the way, or to the extent, they predicted?”

    Almost certainly it will still have happened in some way to some extent and we will have been better off for realizing there was an issue and taking appropriate measures. The uncertainty in AGW, including regional uncertainties, is itself a cost of AGW, as it limits our ability to optimize our future trajectory (the uncertainty and range of internal variability and natural forcings does not saturate the potential for uncertainty and the range of effects).

    Besides that, even if we were to get AGW wrong, consider that there may be other issues to deal with. If we act according to our best knowledge with each issue we may get most of them right, whereas if we do not we may not get any right. Not that it is all linearly superimposed…

    “Probably not a lot, because all we are asking to do is conserve resources, something that is pretty sensible regardless of whether you believe AGW is taking place.”

    Actually that is just a part of it; we need to encourage technlogical and strategic changes to increase benifits per emission, to adapt to changes, and we should have policy to address inequities in climate change.

    498,499 Ike Solem

    “the engineers will roll on the ground laughing when you ask them to build a Ford Explorer with onboard CCS.”

    What about an enzyme that converts hydrocarbons to H2 + C?

    Re 500,501 Hank Roberts – “Someone who owns an acre of old trees can get paid for money as a carbon offset. But someone who owns the comparable amount of coal, apparently, can’t be paid.”

    … oops, have to get back to that.

    506 Martin Vermeer… “It’s the total feedback acting on this primary forcing that remains somewhat uncertain; but it is the same no matter what the forcing is.”

    That’s a good first assumption but it’s probably not precisely true even if it is almost true. There is no snow and ice albedo feedback outside the temperature range where the Earth is partially snow/ice covered. Cloud feedbacks could change depending on what the climate is. Hence the uncertainty range with climate sensitivity. Also, (somewhat seperate but related point) for very large changes (removing all CO2, for example), the reverse change won’t even have the same radiative forcing magnitude, but the change in feedback magnitude compensates if equilibrium is fully attained (starting from equilibrium states, and for sake of illustration, setting all other feedbacks besides water vapor aside, including lapse rate feedback (?)), removing all CO2 may have a smaller cooling effect than otherwise because of overlaps with water vapor, while the water vapor feedback will be greater by the same amount, because the same change in water vapor in the absence of CO2 will have greater effect.)

    “If you want to explain the temperature swing between glaciations and interglacials, you need to amplify the original effect”

    Actually, you need to react to the original effect, which is not necessarily in the same global average direction. Orbital forcing by itself does not cause much global-annual average radiative forcing changes, at least in terms of TOA incoming solar radiation (redistribution of solar radiation could change the effective albedo…), but it can specifically cause warming or cooling at some times of year at some latitudes, which can then initiate glacial growth or melt, which then has a global annual average effect.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Sep 2009 @ 1:48 PM

  514. Ray Ladbury, gavin

    Lindzen uses Edition 3 this time but I can’t find anything in their paper to show they applied the rev1 correction which changes the LW and SW flux components (but not the net) relative to Edition3. This is also described in the Wong et al paper which was discussed on my site and the RC piece on the older WUWT article, and basically amounts to accounting for the non-uniform SW dome degradation of the instrument.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 29 Sep 2009 @ 2:06 PM

  515. “What about an enzyme that converts hydrocarbons to H2 + C?”

    Formation of CH4 is exothermic, so the reverse is endothermic. This means it requires energy input.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 29 Sep 2009 @ 2:23 PM

  516. > What about an enzyme that converts hydrocarbons to H2 + C?

    You’re throwing up huge posts full of words and they almost, at least some of them, seem like they make sense, but without any citation I can’t tell for sure if you’re just tossing out things you imagine would be nice, or actually referring to something real.

    But then you mention

    “What about an enzyme that converts hydrocarbons to H2 + C?”

    And the only answer is, where are you getting these ideas?

    Please, cite your sources, don’t just tell us what you think would be nice to have.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Sep 2009 @ 3:01 PM

  517. John P. Reisman (508), I’m not hung up on 10-11 year periods. I don’t even like them very much! I was simply responding to the suggested reference charts.

    Hank, if my commenting on red wagons is bothersome, tell them to quit showing me red wagons!

    Comment by Rod B — 29 Sep 2009 @ 3:50 PM

  518. “And the only answer is, where are you getting these ideas?”

    For the enzyme idea, that’s just my idea. If I were an inventor I might try to find it. It would generally require energy input but I think the overall reaction hydrocarbon -> water + C is still product favored.

    I was going to lead into a further discussion but I ran out of time and just posted what I had…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Sep 2009 @ 4:59 PM

  519. Rod, it’s only red on the side you’re imagining.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Sep 2009 @ 5:22 PM

  520. Hank Roberts – as for where I’m getting the other ideas from –

    heaven – well that was off on a tangent, mainly a chance to demonstrate my imaginative side, though note that it was still guided by reason; very OT by itself but sometimes a distraction can be useful – once recorded it may act as a milemarker for neighboring on-topic discussion.

    As for the Earth sciences, I am often going by memory, and much of it is common knowledge or easily derived from that, so citations are not so necessary. I didn’t say anything controversial, like that climate sensitivity changes in some particularly dramatic way across some particular threshold at x degrees. Of course a citation can help the reader, in particular in giving a source of additional information and helping to boost trust in my statements; however, I am also interested in temporal efficiency, and tend to be more interested in explaining the subject matter rather than only saying ‘go here’. And as you like to point out, people can look things up for themselves. (Interesting double edge-sword there, as this both reduces the need for me to provide citations, and also suggests that I should spend less time explaining things. But what would be the point of commenting if I didn’t explain things.)

    But on that point (of variable climate sensitivity) – depending on meridional heat fluxes as a function of temperature gradients and tropospheric thickness, geographical arrangments, the coriolis effect, etc, there can be a threshold at which the climate sensitivity goes to infinity – the threshold going towards a Snowball Earth state – and in that particular case, there is dramatic hysteresis in cycling back and forth, at least in the idealized theory (I’m less familiar with the implications of a ‘Slushball Earth’).

    More accurately, so long as each forced change is allowed to progress to equilibrium and there is not hysteresis, the reactions to a forward and reverse forcing such as adding CO2 and then taking the same amount away will be equal and opposite, but the radiative forcings will be different, though the sum of forcings and feedbacks will be the same, but the differences are small when using small increments of change (this is more of an issue when comparing climate sensitivity to an incremental radiative forcing to the current total greenhouse effect).

    And the same sensitivity need not apply to all forcings of equal global-time average tropopause level equilibrated stratosphere value (see work on efficacies of forcings, by Hansen if not by others), and the spatial and temporal patterns of the total climate change (including changes in internal variability patterns) can be different. The variations in forcings might be drowned out by similiarities in feedbacks (water vapor, low level polar amplification) for forcings that are not too idiosyncatic. A forcing that is idiosyncratic is anthropogenic aerosols. Orbital forcing is extremely idiosyncratic – the non-Charney climate sensitivity defined in terms of global-time averages can be extremely large and even negative. It is possible to imagine that changes in … (to be continued)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Sep 2009 @ 9:27 PM

  521. > people can look things up for themselves. (Interesting double edge-sword
    > there, as this both reduces the need for me to provide citations

    Er, no. You’re holding onto the sharp end and banging with the handle.

    When someone _asks_a_question_ it’s easy enough to paste that into Google, or Scholar, and point out that there’s a wealth of information available from which one can start, and ask a question that’s smarter* and likely to attract an expert willing to help someone who’s made that effort.
    _____________
    * http://catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

    But on the other end of the pointy thing, when someone claims to teach, but doesn’t cite sources, the test is to paste their claims in and search as well. If those turn up a clear source, well and good. Test yourself. If what you write doesn’t turn up a good place to start, you, I submit, owe your readers the help of saying why you believe what you claim.

    This isn’t for readers right here right now who can ask; it’s for readers later on who come across what you write — because you mix things like that science-fiction enzyme and other things you say are so well known they need no cite, and you don’t distinguish. The reader thus may wonder “WTF?”

    Just suggesting that testing your own writing by trying to cite it — the infamous “reverse citation” so beloved of college students — is at least a worthwhile exercise. State your belief, fine, but at least _try_ for a cite.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Sep 2009 @ 10:09 PM

  522. Even the Charney sensitivity might concievably be infinite or negative for orbital forcings. (The reason it is possible for orbital forcings to have negative efficacy is, for example, that a redistribution of solar radiation toward higher could result in negative forcing via increased effective albedo (more light reflected by snow and ice), but ultimately cause an increase in global average temperature via loss of snow and ice cover, depending on thresholds and current states).

    It is possible to imagine that the varying spatio-temporal patterns in forcing between solar and GHG forcing may have some different effects even beneath the tropopause (changes in temperature as a function of day, maybe season and latitude – although the difference in forcing between clear sky regions of low albedo and regions with high cloud tops may be similar because cirrus clouds would locally reduce the effect of additional GHGs and the albedo variation would similiarly locally moderate solar forcing), though my impression is that the similiarities in feedbacks (moist convective lapse rate changes, regional variations in snow/ice albedo feedbacks, more water vapor and its radiative forcing, including a diurnal pattern (greater SW heating of the troposphere and reduced SW heating of the surface in daytime), and compositional feedback and temperature change effects on net radiative fluxes and the corresponding changes in convection) to the global average change will result in a more similar overall pattern of change by many measures (changes in seasonal meridional temperature gradients, changes in convective heat fluxes, storm track shifts, redistribution of precipitation in space and time, sea level rise – and – this is speculation on my part, but the water vapor feedback might redistribute some cumulus convection from daytime to evening and night time, based on the vertical distribution of radiative ‘forcing’ of the water vapor feedback).

    One thing though, is that stratospheric changes could alter stratospheric circulation and this can affect tropospheric circulation. Circulation patterns could redistribute cloud cover, etc. However, while surface-troposphere warming GHG forcing and solar forcing have opposite effects on the stratosphere on average, they, and volcanic *cooling*(?) and ozone depletion have similar effects on annual average meridional temperature gradients in the stratosphere at least according to models (see Chapter 9 IPCC AR4 WGI plots of temperature change for different forcings over height and latitude). Anyway, solar forcing efficacy would have to be several times CO2 forcing efficacy in order for solar forcing to account for a significant chunk of global average changes (minus anthropogenic aerosol forcing, or maybe even including that) over the last couple centuries or so, and I don’t expect this to be the case, so that’s not why I bring it up. I bring it up because it’s interesting to consider and I’m curious about troposphere-stratosphere-mesosphere etc circulation interactions.

    (Also, one can imagine that changes in solar heating even above the ozone layer, and the magnetic field (via the E-region dynamo in particular) could somehow affect the surface and tropospheric climate via some net downward propagation of circulation changes. But there could be theoretical arguments that strongly argue against this being anything sizable even in the absence of any data or even complex modeling, though I don’t know. I would point out that it is possible to imagine many things and interesting though the possibilities may be, it doesn’t make sense to assert that unknowns are likely responsible for what knowns can already account for, hence the wisdom of Occam’s razor (otherwise we could just propose just about anything that hasn’t yet been proven false and run with it into textbooks and policy changes rather than leaving it at the edge of science, an avenue for future exploration).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Sep 2009 @ 10:31 PM

  523. “The reader thus may wonder “WTF?””

    Okay, point taken; I’ll try to be more careful.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Sep 2009 @ 10:34 PM

  524. Back to the issue of the enzyme that helps convert hyrocarbons to hydrogen and carbon, which may or may not exist and may or may not be found:

    Ike Solem

    – I agree that the Obama administration could be better (why don’t they issue an executive order to halt firing of skilled military personnel due to s.o. (OT), why don’t they reverse the Orwellian changes of the Bush administration regarding mining waste, why don’t they phase out mountaintop-removal coal mining starting NOW, etc.) However, they’re trying to do A LOT, and I am still hopeful.

    Regarding CCS –

    1. Politics. It doesn’t generally do good to demand 100 % and then get 0 % if we could have settled for 50 %. Not to say we shouldn’t try (as I do when I argue in support of an emissions tax). Even if Obama wants to do 90 %, he or someone similar needs to stay in office in order to prevent us not reaching even 20% in a timely fashion, and so may strategically settle for pushing for 60 %, etc.

    2. It isn’t like they are not supportive of solar and wind. There was an article on Ken Salazar (Secretary of the Interior) and management of public lands for solar and wind power. Unfortunately I don’t want to spend the time to track it down just now. I am hopeful for increases in government support for R&D and clean energy and efficiency policies.

    3. A good cap-and-trade or tax system would encourage efficiency and clean energy R&D and use via market response.

    4. What if CCS or other sequestration pathways could work effectively. I’m not arguing to rely on this possibility as perhaps some hope to do, but why not continue at least some work on it, so long as it doesn’t distract those who *matter* (setting aside whereever media emphasis lies) from other avenues, some of which are more promising?

    Hank Roberts – paying for not using coal -

    In some ways, subsidies for limits on deforestation and other land-use CO2/CH4 sources may be better than a tax on the related emissions, because a tax unfairly lets those who have already cut down their trees off the hook.

    However, the subsidy/payment is unfair to those who never had trees to cut down.

    I think it would be better to have the tax (tariffs on imports, subsidies on exports(?) in proportion to variations in policy between trading partners, perhaps refereed by the WTO to avoid escalating retributions), and apply some backtaxes to past emissions. On that point:

    1. backtaxes might only apply among nations in what they owe to each other, as in many places it would be illegal (aside from technically difficult) to actually apply backtaxes to the emitters.

    2. in fairness to the innocence of those who did know of AGW, discount emissions according to the age of those emissions. (There might not be a discount for the biological and oceanic uptake of the amount emitted over time, since past uptake may get in the way of future uptake (there is a shared responsibility among emissions), and even if uptake continued, all emitted amounts would be drawn down in the same way).

    3. Because wealth migrates and accumulates or decays, there might be an additional discount rate on backtaxes and also a changing proportion between that which is owed by the source nation and that which is owed according to present wealth, the later dominating assigned responsibility for the oldest emissions.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Sep 2009 @ 11:06 PM

  525. Correction:

    2. in fairness to the innocence of those who did *NOT* know of AGW …

    Although that deserves some clarification and adjustment – 1. of course many of the past individual emitters are now gone, so it doesn’t direcly affect them. However, many nations last, and even when national borders change or contract to zero area, wealth has accumulated. Wealth is where it is, people are where they are now, socities and economies have been built up in some way and we can’t change the past. In the future, enaction of taxes/caps would send market signals that could among other things restructure infrastructure and trade patterns, and even drive some migration (toward areas with clean energy and efficiency (as in reduced energy expended in heating/cooling and transportation, etc, and/or to places where there is greater opportunity to have fun that is less energy intensive (ie walk to the beach).

    The taxes among nations would tend to take the form of a net payment (made over time, paying perhas zero inflation-adjusted interest) from rich nations to poor nations. In order to qualify for receiving the difference between what is owed to and what is owed by a country, the country would have to agree to some international policies. This would be a way to get nations onto a level playing field without being unfair to the poor nations.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Sep 2009 @ 11:16 PM

  526. Correction:

    (The reason it is possible for orbital forcings to have negative efficacy is, for example, that a redistribution of solar radiation toward higher **LATITUDES** could result in negative forcing via increased effective albedo (more light reflected by snow and ice),

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Sep 2009 @ 11:20 PM

  527. Ike Solem –

    And yes, in the long term, even without the AGW externality, clean energy including much solar and wind may/could be less expensive then fossil fuels, EVEN WITH CURRENT PRICES.

    Without the future price reductions in clean energy technology and likely increases in fossil fuel costs owing to scarcity (aside from political ramifications), however, there is a problem in that, using solar as an example, having solar energy being less expensive then fossil fuels (assuming a sufficient portion of replaced fossil fuels is petroleum) may require already having a sizable solar power infrastructure in place, so that most of the cost is maintanence, replacement, and operations. It is the up front investment that is the problem. If these investments are paid with debt with interest, this increases the time-average expense for at least an initial period. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be done, but there are additional reasons (besides the limits of human rationality) why it hasn’t already gone full speed ahead (though there are hopeful sprouts). A possible role for government subsidy would be to offer extremely low-inflation adjusted interest rates for lo-ans to solar power companies. Such measures and other subsidies can be rationalized on the basis of economic benifit to future generations who will be dealing with the costs of climate change (in addition to the kink in the supply-demand relationship caused by mass market advantages).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Sep 2009 @ 11:36 PM

  528. About sources – see http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/an-update-to-kiehl-and-trenberth-1997/#comment-1122
    (Not that I can claim to have read through all of those books, etc, but I have used most of them).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Sep 2009 @ 11:52 PM

  529. #517 Rob Black

    Then place your considerations in context of the bigger picture and stop presenting notions as if they are meaningful:

    #492 “…it looks like very little change over that 11-year period. Just looks pretty flat.”

    #273 “I looked at your graphs and it looked pretty flat to me: minus about 0.015 degrees over one ten-year period, plus about 0.025 degrees over another, maybe really flat over the combined 11-year period.”

    From my perspective, you really are sort of just playing around in here. Hey, this 11-year period looks flat.

    In other words you’re like the kid in class who likes to point out something just to get his voice heard, no matter how far out of context the statement is.

    Just because you want to say it, not because it has any relevance. Sort of like trying to show off how much you think you know, but only revealing how much you don’t know, because everyone else in the class actually read that chapter.

    I wonder how long it will take you to realize that while most are trying to educate here, you are acting up like the distracting kid in the class that somehow just keeps missing the point. And you are presenting notions that could mislead others.

    How long will it take before you and others start to realize that this all translates to economic costs and human lives right now. and the longer we wait to take meaningful action, the higher the cost will be.

    The multi-year ice mass loss is 10% per year!!! The Arctic really could be virtually ice free by 2013-2016 (and most certainly by 2030-2040). I’m betting we are closer to the first scenario though.

    Good food is going to get really expensive, the poor might be stuck with protein cookies and paste. Inflation will eat away at discretionary spending. The economy as we know it will fade into memory… It’s not some far away future notion, this all starts now.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 30 Sep 2009 @ 1:13 AM

  530. Patrick027 #513:

    > That’s [no hair on a forcing] a good first assumption but it’s probably not precisely true even if it is almost true.

    Yep.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 30 Sep 2009 @ 1:31 AM

  531. I can’t let this one go either:

    “This comment was made simply to illustrate the difference between “trust” and “faith”. We tend to “trust” those individuals or groups who have a track record of success [b]in their chosen field of endeavour.”

    Nope, it’s about trust in one endeavour making you trust THOSE SAME PEOPLE in a different endeavour.

    I.e. “I trust computer engineers in their climate expertise because they’ve shown ability in making CPUs”.

    A load of bovine excreta and NAFF ALL to do with what you say you want it to mean.

    Comment by Mark — 30 Sep 2009 @ 5:56 AM

  532. Simon Monkton shows his lack of education:

    “In the context of exchanging molecules, can two isotopically identical molecules be distinguished?”

    Uh, two isotopically identical molecules cannot be distinguished. They don’t come with names, you know. C12 and C13 are not isotopically identical.

    “Is there a difference between the 13C/12C ratios of CO2 produced by plant (or animal) respiration and that produced by fossil fuel burning?”

    Yes, there is.

    http://environmentalchemistry.com/yogi/environmental/200611CO2globalwarming.html

    Because fossil fuels are not biologically active, whereas trees are.

    Comment by Mark — 30 Sep 2009 @ 6:02 AM

  533. simon monkton: “Leaving aside the apparent insignificance of this number, what is the justification of attributing it wholly to fossil fuel burning?”

    Apparent?

    YOU try picking up 16 billion tons of carbon.

    Might as well say “Ignoring the fact that I’m talking bollocks…”.

    Comment by Mark — 30 Sep 2009 @ 6:05 AM

  534. I’d like to thank RC’s editors, contributors, the regular posters, and those whose topic specific posts are less frequent, but so important to understanding.

    Inspired by a denialist brother-in –law, I, (scientifically illiterate), have been reading RC for nearly three years. I feel indebted to all of you who take the time to fill these pages with knowledge, logic, reference, nuance, experience, intimacy, humor, frustration, calculation, etc.

    Occasionally, I feel a need to defend Patrick 027. Yea, yea, length, paragraph breaks, cites, he’s not perfect. But most recently he did dispatch Max. And he did single-handedly end the Ground Hog Day cycle. And… he showed the good sense not to do it twice!

    Patrick 027, your words and posts appear greased with a (perfect?) touch of mania. Your writing style, combined with a tendency to think and explain in context, (however informally nuanced), communicates both information and a structure in which to think. That ability is rare and I appreciate your posting here. I’ve let my wife know that I want one of you for Christmas.

    Thanks again, everyone.
    hf

    Comment by hf — 30 Sep 2009 @ 9:12 AM

  535. #531 mark

    Nope, it’s about trust in one endeavour making you trust THOSE SAME PEOPLE in a different endeavour

    I.e. “I trust computer engineers in their climate expertise because they’ve shown ability in making CPUs”.

    That is not what I said and it is not what I meant.

    I stated in post #476 that it was not what I meant and explained, with examples, exactly what I did mean.

    You hint in #531 that you understood what I meant.

    So why are you getting so hot under the collar?

    Mark:

    A load of bovine excreta and NAFF ALL to do with what you say you want it to mean

    Humpty Dumpty:

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

    (p.s. if we are going to start being picky, the spelling in your post #453 should be “non sequitur”)

    Comment by Matthew L. — 30 Sep 2009 @ 12:02 PM

  536. Please don’t get into a digression with Mark about who said what, who meant what, and how words should be spelled.
    That’s likely to be endlessly diverting.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Sep 2009 @ 12:45 PM

  537. Hank and Matthew L., I second that emotion.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 30 Sep 2009 @ 1:02 PM

  538. Sorry Hank and Ray, but when somebody goes out of their way to write such a rude and pointless post, it is difficult to bite one’s lip.

    Bart and others made it clear from their (intelligent) replies that they understood what I meant, so it can’t have been that difficult to understand.

    Again, my apologies for diverting the thread.

    Comment by Matthew L. — 30 Sep 2009 @ 2:10 PM

  539. It’s good practice at the topic:

    “communicating-science-not-just-talking …”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Sep 2009 @ 2:23 PM

  540. Off-topic, I suppose, but its about communicating immediate (partial) solutions:

    Recently a utility in South Carolina decided to convert a coal burner to a wood burner, avoiding the costly pollution abatement equipment otherwise required for relicensing. Even more recenty TVA decided to shut down four coal plants and convert a fifth to a wood burner for the same reasons. (Is this an EPA requirement or are these state requirements?) Probably TVA will replace the shut down plants with combined cycle gas turbines (CCGTs), producing the same electricity with only 40% of the carbon dioxide emissions. Of coure the wood burners have no fossil carbon dioxide emissions. Just replacing all the USA’s about 670 coal burners by CCGTs would lower the nation’s excess carbon dioxide emissions by 24%; converting some to burn wood lowers the total even more.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 30 Sep 2009 @ 4:03 PM

  541. Re 534 hf – Wow, Thanks!

    Climate sensitivity for large changes – actually it occured to me that when all feedbacks are included, adding CO2 to a situation with zero greenhouse effect could result in zero or negative forcing (at the top of the atmosphere – read on) with infinite or negative efficacy. With zero greenhouse effect, the atmosphere could not radiate any thermal energy and could not radiatively cool, while any direct solar heating of the air would make it hotter than the surface, as heat would have to flow down to the surface before emission to space. Adding any greenhouse effect to such a situation would initially increase radiation to space. Feedbacks would however end up resulting in a surface temperature increase. **HOWEVER**, in such an initial situation, the entire atmosphere is above the tropopause, so the tropopause level forcing with an equilibrated stratosphere would still be positive, thus making the situation less ‘weird’. (Also, there would actually be a residual greenhouse effect if there is any moisture source, since equilibrium vapor pressure gets very small at cold temperatures but would not actually go to zero.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 30 Sep 2009 @ 4:25 PM

  542. Hank says in #500:
    I agree with Ike.

    Nobody has come up with a plan that will preserve the value of coal, for those who currently own it or the rights to dig it up and burn it.

    I’m lost.

    Where do the owners of a toxic product get the right to poison us all with it?

    It’s one thing to assume the right when there are fairly few people and the consequences are not known. That’s no longer the case.

    Comment by David Miller — 30 Sep 2009 @ 4:36 PM

  543. David, it happens that people or countries own something that’s newly discovered to have some major downside not currently reflected in the market value for it.

    I know some developing countries have already made this argument, and it needs to be addressed.

    Look at the current effort to phase out HCFC refrigerants earlier than originally scheduled for an example.

    Yes, you can say they have “no right” to burn coal. That won’t suffice to actually solve the problem though.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Sep 2009 @ 5:19 PM

  544. … but I should mention that I cannot take credit for “single-handedly end the Ground Hog Day cycle” – that was done by a moderator; I actually continued with Bob FJ for a brief while here: http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/an-update-to-kiehl-and-trenberth-1997/

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 30 Sep 2009 @ 5:59 PM

  545. Matthew L., You evidently don’t know what “bait” looks like. Biting your lip is the best way not to wind up with a hook through it. Some folks like to stir the pot.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 30 Sep 2009 @ 6:54 PM

  546. Paul Krugman’s take on the problem of global warming communication – at least he is aware of it.
    “The result of all this is that climate scientists have, en masse, become Cassandras — gifted with the ability to prophesy future disasters, but cursed with the inability to get anyone to believe them.”
    “In a rational world, then, the looming climate disaster would be our dominant political and policy concern. But it manifestly isn’t. Why not?”
    “Nor is it just a matter of vested interests. It’s also a matter of vested ideas. For three decades the dominant political ideology in America has extolled private enterprise and denigrated government, but climate change … can only be addressed through government action. And rather than concede the limits of their philosophy, many on the right have chosen to deny that the problem exists.”

    http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2009/09/paul-krugman-cassandras-of-climate.html

    Not that Krugman is exactly a darling of the right, what with that Nobel Prize and liberal viewpoint. But then, neither are those hippy liberals at the Pentagon who looked at the future security impacts on the US with global warming, and decided that likely consequences ranged from best case “serious” to worst case “dire”.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 30 Sep 2009 @ 8:09 PM

  547. Hank Roberts – What do you think of my proposal (the tax/cap + trade + backtaxes policy)?

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 30 Sep 2009 @ 8:18 PM

  548. John P. R. (529), To simply review the bidding, Matthew L (246, 249) doubted an 8-degree increase projection for 2080 and cited recent flat trends as partial support of that. (He later specified 10 years and 30 years.) You then responded (251) and told him to look at your graphs and challenged his “flat” assessment. I looked at your graphs and observed (273) they in fact were pretty flat, and asked why you implied they were not. You got huffy; I got puffy.

    Now in retrospect and in going back to the source it seems (at least I guess or infer) you meant for us to scroll down PAST “…the graph[s] of the last 10 years on this page…” to the chart of 130 years even though that was not Matthew L’s question and not what you said. And I guess you expected us (me) to recognize your brilliance and respond to what we ought to be smart enough to intuit what you meant and to not bother the class with any clarification questions over what you said. Or accept whatever you say (mean) because you’re ‘one of the good guys’.

    They’re your graphs. You asserted they, of “the last 10 years on this page”, are not flat. But, in fact, they are. Live with it. Or throw them away.

    This thread has long ago worn out its welcome here. Hell, even Matthew L is clearly bored with it. I’m done (hold the applause…). You can have the last word if you like.

    Comment by Rod B — 30 Sep 2009 @ 8:48 PM

  549. Patrick asks
    > What do you think of my proposal (the tax/cap + trade + backtaxes policy)?
    See if you can find an appropriate topic for policy; might try here for one:
    http://realclimateeconomics.org/

    Rod says:
    what he believes he sees is real; statistics isn’t.

    Good one, Rod. Your confidence level in yourself seems unshakeable.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Sep 2009 @ 10:32 PM

  550. #548 Rod Black

    Check the premise.

    The premise is not to challenge whether or not something is flat, but to challenge the cherry picked data. You can pick time ranges across the spectrum since 1880 and find flat parts. Did any of those flat parts stop the long term uptrend? NO.

    If you really want to get specific, the premise of the assertions also revolved around ’10 years’ not ’11 years’, which of course is still a cherry pick. Your pointing out that 1998 to 2009 is flat is a cherry pick. Hence my question, why are you still hung up on short term?

    I can huff, and you can puff, but neither of us will blow down the fact that cherry picked time scales are irrelevant.

    And Rod, you’ve been around long enough to know the long term temperature trend and its attribution. If you still have to be reminded, that is telling.

    As to “the last 10 years on this page” (the Trend 1999-2009) it is not flat, it goes up… or is your monitor tilted?

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/global-warming-stopped

    Here:

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/wti/from:1999/to:2009/plot/wti/from:1999/trend

    No go out and pick some cherries, we’ll make a nice pie later and you can invite some of your friends.

    Oh, and no applause necessary, I’m not that brilliant, my understanding is founded on the shoulders of others… hold your applause for the wonderful work of the scientists that are the real hero’s that give us all the foundation for better understanding.

    Context, relevance, premise… three keys that are handy to have on your key chain.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 1 Oct 2009 @ 2:23 AM

  551. “Sorry Hank and Ray, but when somebody goes out of their way to write such a rude and pointless post, it is difficult to bite one’s lip.”

    Why are you talking about yourself like that Matt?

    Your post about how you trust computer engineers, and you’re sorry was either pointless or horrendously wrong.

    Pick one.

    Comment by Mark — 1 Oct 2009 @ 6:35 AM

  552. I’m watching the TV show “Bones” while perusing RC. The character “Dr. Brennan” just said, in response to initial misidentification of human remains as a deer, “Yet another example of the sad state of science education in this country.” If science illiteracy is making it into pop culture, maybe there’s hope that climate science won’t get completely buried by fossil fuel disinformation.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 1 Oct 2009 @ 7:19 PM

  553. Brian Dodge – did you see the episode in season 1 in which Brennan was up against her former professor as expert witnesses (spoiler alert!)? A potential metaphor for the politics of AGW – her former professor was working for Exxon et al. (PS I love the episodes where she’s interacting with babies – it’s so funny).

    Hank Roberts – yes, a very good website ( I just read through http://realclimateeconomics.org/policy_mechanisms.html, though I haven’t clicked on the links to the (full?) articles yet), but no place to post an opinion. Do you remember when I posted some policy ideas a few months ago? (starting in particular at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/04/aerosol-effects-and-climate-part-ii-the-role-of-nucleation-and-cosmic-rays/comment-page-5/#comment-120878 ) – there were some more details.

    I wasn’t working on numbers there, just a structure, and I was curious what you thought of it since you discussed the issue briefly in a couple of comments above. (The original part is the idea of an effect backtax.) (spending category C, mentioned in the comment to which I just linked, would include some payment or counteroffer (wind turbines, etc.) to people who had some investments in coal or deforestation who will now take a loss on that investment – of course, at least in an industrialized country, an argument to keep this to a minimum is that (many) people should have seen the policy coming; if they were betting on us never having a climate emissions regulation policy, tough cookies.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 1 Oct 2009 @ 8:42 PM

  554. Patrick, I hope you can find a climate policy blog for discussion of your ideas that aren’t about the science. I’m here trying to learn the physics and climate science stuff.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Oct 2009 @ 9:44 PM

  555. Here’s where they interact — Copenhagen. This model or something like it is
    ( according to Nature’s science blog,
    http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/2009/10/a_simple_climate_model_to_the.html
    “A simple model to the rescue” )

    being used by most or all the parties to Copenhagen.

    http://forio.com/simulation/climate-development/index.htm

    I hope to see more discussion about this; it’d be a great chance to explain the innards of it.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Oct 2009 @ 11:09 AM

  556. Awww, would you look at the crap the timber industry is getting away with? This is very bad news:

    http://www.uniondemocrat.com/2009092997947/News/Local-News/Carbon-swap-plan-draws-mixed-reviews

    —-excerpt follows—-

    In the new wording, according to a handful of environment groups, the baseline is being set so low that SPI will be monetarily rewarded for its standard 17- to 20-acre clearcuts.

    “It seems to be a very similar type of logging,” said Josh Buswell, Sierra campaigner for ForestEthics, of what the report defines as “natural forest management” compared to SPI’s current clearcut methods.

    “If you can essentially do business as usual and say you are sequestering carbon, and getting rewarded for it, given that this is going to be a model for the world … I think it seems a little bit hypocritical,” he said.

    Last year, SPI and environment groups ForestEthics and Ebbetts Pass Forest Watch unleashed contradictory reports detailing how SPI’s timber-harvest practices affected carbon sequestering.

    According to the environment groups’ report, deforestation is second only to fossil fuel emissions in causing greenhouse gas emissions.

    “A clearcut is about as beneficial to the climate as a new coal-fired power plant,” said Brian Nowicki, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity.

    But SPI’s report concluded that “intense forest management” stored carbon at almost twice the rate of an unmanaged forest.

    “They are extremely wrong,” Pawlicki said at the time of the report. “We will offset 877,000 automobiles because of our forest practices.”

    Meanwhile, the air board is claiming a widely-approved victory with the new program’s unveiling. …

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Oct 2009 @ 2:32 PM

  557. Matthew, google

    sea ice bet

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Oct 2009 @ 2:55 PM

  558. Speaking of effective communication on the GW issue, I thought this essay did rather well:

    http://blogs.edf.org/personalnature/

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 5 Oct 2009 @ 3:22 PM

  559. Mark, thanks for stepping up to support my points about the hockey sticks at Dot Earth. Your comment was precise and accurate. It won’t shut them up, but at least you defeated them for the real record.

    Comment by mike roddy — 6 Oct 2009 @ 8:25 AM

  560. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/10/05/a-skeptical-talk-at-gnomedex/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Oct 2009 @ 5:34 PM

  561. Re my comments 357 – 359: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/09/communicating-science-not-just-talking-the-talk/comment-page-8/#comment-136201

    Of course, ice-age to interglacial variations in CO2, and CH4, N2O (is that the correct nitrogen oxide – I’m afraid I could get them mixed up), as well as aerosol forcing, vegetation albedo and ice albedo feedbacks

    (the feedbacks not included in Charney sensitivity for the reason that they usually have long response times (or otherwise have more complex behavior – aerosol, vegetation (which modulates seasonal snow and cloud albedo feedbacks), and CH4 and CO2 feedback (potentially) depending on the extant mix of species and their initial distribution (potential for hysteresis), initial conditions in the ocean (potential for hysteresis), locations and potentially the minerology of mountain ranges and also the distribution of continents, etc. – well some of that might go for the snow and sea-ice, water vapor and cloud feedbacks too, but anyway… ) and so for some purposes/contexts can be approximated or are usefully treated as boundary conditions instead of variables (note that in some contexts water vapor is ascribed a radiative forcing, even though it is generally a radiative feedback on timescales much longer than a week.)
    (PS is sea ice included in the Charney sensitivity?)

    are feedbacks, generally of positive sign, for the interglacial-glacial variations in climate, at least for the most recent glaciations (the Pleistocene) – although on even longer timescales, the chemical weathering feedback is negative
    —(it may be, averaged over glacial-deglacial fluctuations, less negative or maybe(?) positive, however, when ice ages are pulsed, because each period of deglaciation leaves behind mechanically-weathered material with greater surface area, which can enhance chemical weathering; even without fluctuation, glaciers can provide sediment to rivers which can carry minerals to warmer and still wet places more favorable to chemical weathering – hence the likely role of the Himalayas (and maybe the Tibetan plateau by shaping the Asian monsoon so as to enhance precipitation on the Himalayas, etc (?)) in helping bring down atmospheric CO2 concentration over the Cenozoic Era). Also, exposure of continental shelves due to lowered sea level might enhance chemical weathering, although I wonder if it would also enhance geologic emissions (oxydation of sedimentary organic carbon). When chemical weathering is not directly forced by changes in geography, evolution, etc, then in general, an increase in geologic emission or decrease in net organic C burial would allow CO2 to accumulate SLOWLY in the atmosphere, and warming and increased CO2 would tend to enhance chemical weathering, so that a new equilibrium climate is reached when chemical weathering again balances geologic emissions minus organic C burial (however the later responds to the changes). For other forcing of climate over very long time periods, chemical weathering tends to act as a negative feedback, whose strength is modulated by geography and minerology, vegetation, etc.

    Well of course, but I wanted to be complete. And also point out:

    I have read that methane also correlates with the ~ 20,000 year precession cycle (more than the glacial-interglacial variations??) – which makes sense because, even without glacial-interglacial variations, the precession and obliquity cycles affect low-latitude monsoons (hence the wetter conditions in the Sahara desert several thousands of years ago) (See “Earth’s Climate Past and Future” by William Ruddiman (the orbital forcing also affects tropical mountain glaciation).

    Besides already going outside the range of atmospheric CO2 concentration over at least the last 600,000 or 700,000 years and likely considerably longer, the anthropogenic rate of increase in CO2 has surpassed anything seen in at least the last deglaciation (see graph in Chapter 6 of IPCC AR4 WGI).

    The positive CO2 feedback … out of time

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 7 Oct 2009 @ 11:25 PM

  562. > (PS is sea ice included in the
    > Charney sensitivity?)

    I doubt there’s one single answer, and I didn’t find an original Charney paper; I did look a bit
    http://www.google.com/search?q=“charney+sensitivity”+components

    and looking through those articles quickly, I don’t see sea ice listed apart from albedo generally, while land ice sheets are discussed.

    Chris Colose’s piece is good, and he links to a recent Knutti article on the subject.

    [Response: Yes it is. Only the extent and height of the land ice sheets is not. -gavin]

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Oct 2009 @ 6:15 PM

  563. I really enjoy reading RealClimate: Communicating Science: Not Just Talking the Talk . It’s very interesting. Hope you will post something like this again.

    Comment by Caricature Jobs — 9 Oct 2009 @ 12:03 AM

  564. I am so glad to have read this article on science understanding. I m just now completing my thesis on how TV affects science understanding, with global warming as a case study. It will be completed this fall and a book will follow with my publisher. My academic background is meteorology and physics and I have been a science documentary film maker for the better part of 25 years. The divergence between science and the media especially TV, has at times stretched me so thin I thought I was going to snap. This thesis is a direct result of my trying to reconcile that disconnect. Most if not all broadcasters/producers/reporters have zero interest and backgrounds in science other than for the spectacle or for anthropogenic reasons and would happier chasing ambulances than understanding science. While I do agree scientists could perhaps do a better job communicating science to the public, by far, the weight of responsibility rests on those who say they are they are in the business of informing the public, the media. In order to represent science issues and science related stories, it is ludicrous to think you can do it without understanding science, science terminology and scientific peer review. The current climate of sound bites, short pithy comments and cliches, as well as assuming journalistic method is a substitute for scientific method is plain wrong. TV is cutting science content all over the place and the current run of reality science shows masquerading as science is the equivalent of MacDonalds pretending to be health food. Most people get their science information from TV and most science on TV is over generalized and over simplified. The solution is not as simple as the criticisms. Scientists have to begin to regain control over the science content TV and the other electronic media say represents science to the masses. Leaving people who don’t care about the science in control of communicating the science message is not a good plan.

    Comment by Richard Zurawski — 9 Oct 2009 @ 1:20 PM

  565. On the positive CO2 feedback for glacial-interglacial variations:

    It’s actually a tricky problem. It has to be a lot more than the simple temperature dependence of the amount of CO2 that water can hold for a given partial pressure, because that alone is a weak feedback. In order for the atmospheric CO2 to decrease as much as it did during glaciations, the CO2 of the upper mixed ocean would also have had to decline in concentration.

    As water has been removed from the ocean to form ice sheets, there is a smaller volume of water with higher salinity (over geologic time, oceanic composition would be affected by cycling through hydrothermal vents, etc, but that’s a slow process).

    The salinity increase would by itself tend to put a little CO2 back into the atmosphere.

    I’m not sure how the smaller ocean volume would affect things (The modern ocean has about 39,000 Gt of CO2 with an average depth near 4 km; a 120 m drop in sea level would reduce volume by 3 %, so if the average concentration of CO2 in the ocean were the same (setting aside the variation between upper mixed layer, which presumably would shrink in volume mainly by the increase in land area and not by a decrease in depth (would the average depth increase in an ice age due to greater winds or…?), and the rest of the ocean, though that shouldn’t through this calculation off by much), the shrinking ocean volume would put 1170 Gt of CO2 into the atmosphere, which is more that what is even there now.

    There may also be a net loss in the organic carbon stored on land in vegetation and soil (although one thing which occured to me is that when glaciers initially form, they may form on top of some vegetation and soil and lock those away until exposed at a moraine, where some might remain in place until warming, at which point some remaining moraine carbon and newly exposed carbon might be released ?? – this particular process, if it exists, would tend to become less important over a series of glaciations due to soil loss).

    So there would be a net loss of C from the atmosphere, land, and upper ocean, that all has to be packed into the deep ocean or sediments*, with the volume of the deep ocean having shrunk (though the deep ocean’s volume may not be much of an issue?).

    The C contents of these reservoirs according to Ruddiman, “Earth’s Climate Past and Future”, p.241, 2001 (an excellent place to go to learn some paleoclimatology, by the way):

    Gt, preindustrial amount, last glacial maximum amount (20,000 years ago), change (for going back to a glacial state), % change

    Atmosphere …………… 600 …… 420 ….. -180 ……. -30
    Vegetation and Soil ….. 2160 ….. 1630 ….. -530 ……. -25
    Ocean mixed layer ……. 1000 …… 700 ….. -300 ……. -30

    Deep ocean …………. 38000 …. 39010 …. +1010 …….. +2.7

    (* geologic emissions of C ~ 0.2 Gt / year , over 10,000 years, this would be 2000 Gt; typically nearly balanced by chemical weathering and organic C burial, where organic C burial is typically ~ 20 % of the 0.2 Gt /year, or 400 Gt over 10,000 years. A speed up or slowdown in the rate of organic C burial into sediments could play some role).

    What put all that C in the deep ocean? From Ruddiman p.245-

    1. (biological pump) “ocean carbon pump hypothesis” – greater nutrients in some places = greater photosynthesis in the surface ocean = more falling organic C (maybe also some inorganic C in shells?) into the deep ocean, most of which will be oxydized (some of the inorganic C could dissolve, too), but will not escape the water until the water mass cycles back through the upper mixed ocean = net removal of C from the upper mixed ocean and net accumulation of C in the deeper ocean.

    (Actually, though, the sinking of carbonate shells would have other effects. If carbonate shells dissolved when remaining in the surface ocean, removal of carbonate shells would reduce the ability of the surface ocean to hold CO2. However, carbonate shells might not dissolve in the surface ocean (or else we wouldn’t have coral reefs – PS can organisms build carbonate shells when they are not in chemical equilibrium, provided dissolution is slow enough? I’m really not familiar with that process.)… Anyway, though, removal of CaCO3, (or MgCO3, although that tends to form more by alteration of existing CaCO3 rock/sediment (to produce CaMg(CO3)2) so far as I know) by removing Ca(+2) along with CO3(-2), would (if my understanding is correct) leave behind whatever is left of dissolved CaCO3, bicarbonate ions and CO2 and wouldn’t pull more CO2 from the air; the act of forming solid CaCO3 from solution would tend to drive the reaction of combining bicarbonate ions to produce carbonate ions + CO2, and tend to put CO2 back in the air or reduce the ability to pull more CO2 from the air. If, however, there is a source of Ca ions such as dissolved (Ca, …)SiOx from chemical weathering, then the removal of CaCO3 from solution would ultimately be necessary to make room for the Ca ion influx, and the net process would still allow the water to continually pull CO2 from the air (although some of that would take place in the rainfall, ground moisture, and river flow); and influx of dissolved CaCO3 would allow carbonate ions to combine with dissolved CO2 to form bicarbonate and allow the water to pull more CO2 from the air, but there would be no net effect upon formation fo solid CaCO3) , and the process fhe effect of inorganic C fluxes is tricky)

    Possible causes:

    a. increased upwelling of nutrient-rich water (? wouldn’t that reduce the residence time of the C in the deep ocean, though? Well, if the organic carbon ends up sinking deeper on average than the phosphorus and nitrogen, then the P and N could be returned from upwelling of intermediate water while the the C falls into deeper water (do proteins and nucleic acids decay faster than carbohydrates and fats?) that may not even be part of that upwelling… ???; if the nutrient rich water spreads out laterally away from the upwelling then the C and nutrients could sink into water that is not soon brought back to the same upwelling region, although any increase in upwelling could still return CO2 to the air faster regardless of where the ocean flow takes the resulting organic C, so there’s a give-and-take, I’d think).

    b. upwelling of water with higher nutrient content (From Ruddiman, p.246: “Most low-latitude upwelling draws on waters from several hundred meters deep that form in the middle latitudes of the Southern Ocean. If these waters carried more nutrients during glaciations, low-latitude upwelling could tap into a larger source of nutrients.”) (But I wonder again – to the extent those nutrients came from sinking biomass, this could be (partly?) counteracted by an increased return of CO2 to the air.) (This could also be caused by upwelling drawn from different masses of water).

    c. increased delivery of dust (with Fe (if not P,N ?)) from land (by wind) to regions where biological productivity would benifit from it. This option wouldn’t require an increased rate of CO2 return to the air.

    d. (not mentioned in Ruddiman) – river nutrient supply changes ?

    2. (perhaps a variant of 1, not mentioned explicitly in Ruddiman unless I missed it; hinted at above in my elaborations): Modulation of the effect of the biological pump by changes in circulation:

    2a. same total amount of C from the surface ocean could sink into lower layers, but a change in the distribution of marine photosynthesis and food chains and/or in ocean currents, including deep currents, might allow more C to sink into regions of water that have a longer time to return to the surface, thus increasing the residence time of the C in the deep oceans.

    2b – see 3. A decrease in the sinking of surface water with lower C contents and an increase in sinking of of water with higher C contents. The C content of surface water is affected by both biotic and abiotic conditions. However, if biological activity takes CO2 and exports organic C, the water will then tend to take more CO2 from the air, so my half-educated guess is that the distribution of photosynthesis relative to where surface water is sinking into the deep ocean wouldn’t matter so much; abiotic factors, like dissolved CaCO3 (or MgCO3, etc.), salinity, and temperature, would have greater effect (and maybe seasonal timing of the sinking at high northern latitudes given the annual cycle of atmospheric concentration of CO2 – for that matter, if you could somehow get deep water formation underneath a swamp (groundwater to ocean – seems unlikely to make a big dent in anything but an interesting thought), diurnal timing could affect the net C flux.

    Past changes in biological pumping of organic C from the surface to the deep ocean can be studied using C isotopes (C-13) (see Ruddiman, pp.247-248, and for some background, pp.242 – 245). Changes in oceanic circulation can also affect the isotopes, though (see Ruddiman pp.248 – 253).

    3. Changes in oceanic circulation (see 2b.) – (see Ruddiman pp.251 – 253)

    If the water that reaches the seafloor and returns to the surface before sinking again has more dissolved CO2 or is otherwise more corrosive to carbonate minerals, it can dissolve more CaCO3, etc, which can react with the CO2 to produce bicarbonate ions, thus when the water returns to the surface, it can take more CO2 from the air before sinking again.

    Regional variations may have partly or largely canceled out, except that there is an idea that the chemistry of Antarctic water was/is particularly important. North Atlantic deep water is relatively less corrosive than some other water masses; during glaciations, the sinking water of the North Atlantic did not go so much all the way to the sea floor as it spread south, so that sources of surface Antarctic water had more dissolved CaCO3.

    What else determines the corrosiveness of the water besides CO2? (Salinity, temperature, pressure?) Would regional seafloor composition variations have an effect or would water corrosiveness have been the limiting factor? (PS if a carbonate mineral layer were sufficiently thin, one could imagine such processes eventually exhausting CaCO3 sources on a regional basis while increasing CaCO3 on the sea floor elsewhere – but perhaps that is unlikely to be significant. I wonder about direct leaching of Ca ions from silicaeous (sp?) sediments and silicate minerals…?)

    In the Cretaceous (another part of the same book), sinking of warm salty water from low latitudes may have made a larger contribution to bottom water formation than now (at present it’s actually zero contribution so far as I know).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 Oct 2009 @ 12:05 AM

  566. Patrick, when sea level drops, the water is normally going into the cryosphere, not the atmosphere.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Oct 2009 @ 5:01 AM

  567. “Patrick, when sea level drops, the water is normally going into the cryosphere, not the atmosphere.”

    Yes. Where did I imply otherwise? (Ice formation from compression of snow wouldn’t store much CO2 within it’s air bubbles, except for some amount that thankfully gives us information about a history of atmospheric CO2 variations, etc.).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 Oct 2009 @ 12:53 PM

  568. Snow formed by deposition would trap air bubbles with a composition of the atmosphere; gas release upone freezing of liquid water would probably be enriched in CO2 relative to N2 and O2 … But I don’t think there was a large volume of bubbles trapped in the cryosphere. In so far as organic and mineral carbon trapped in the cryosphere, that was implicitly included in what I previously wrote (moraines, glacial debris, soil (permafrost is a type of soil, is it not?).

    PS When I wrote that the obliquity and precession cycles affected low-latitude monsoons, I was being very general – of course, obliquity affects seasonal monsoons, and there would be no precession effect without obliquity, but the variations in obliquity the Earth regularly experiences are small enough that precession (modulated by eccentricity) dominates in the orbital forcing of low-latitude monsoons; obliquity having greater effect at high latitudes. Some methane feedback could be associated with higher latitude ecosystems.

    I once read of a rather interesting hypothesis about bog-albedo feedback…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 Oct 2009 @ 1:30 PM

  569. A fourier analysis would reveal clusterings of periods near the nominal periods of the orbital (Milankovitch) cycles; another way to think of it is that the three cycles’ frequencies are modulated by astronomical conditions.

    (Precession and obliquity – the sun and moon, via tidal acceleration, apply torques on the Earth via it’s equatorial bulge. The torque on the Earth caused by object x causes precession of the Earth’s axis about the normal of the plane of the orbit of Earth and x. The torque itself cycles in strength over the course of a single orbit and goes to zero as x crosses Earth’s equatorial plane. The effect depends on the Earth’s tilt relative to the orbital plane, the mass of x, the mass of equatorial bulge of the Earth (thus the rotation rate and variation of density with depth); effect might be modulated by alignment of Earth’s obliquity with respect to orbit with x and the semimajor axis of the orbit, so eccentricity could be an effect; the moon and sun are not in the same orbital plane with the Earth so each can alter the obliquity of the Earth relative to the other via precession effect relative to itself; which can then affect the rate of precession, etc, and then there is the issue of the alignment of the semimajor axes of each orbit. The climatological precession cycle depends on the direction of tilt with respect to the orbital plane about the sun and the orientation of aphelion and perihelion, which themselves regress about the sun more slowly; the effect is modulated by eccentricity; Earth’s orbital eccentricity and orientation (including the tilt of the orbit with respect to the solar system, etc., which would affect the obliquity cycle) are changed by relativistic effects and gravitational interactions among planets)…

    But the effect of the precession cycle can be potentially modulated by obliquity; either zero obliquity or zero eccentricity would remove the precession effect entirely. For large enough eccentricity, the seasons might be dominated by the eccentric orbit, so that summer and winter would occur at the same time in each hemisphere if there were zero obliquity, and then the effect of precession might be seen as being modulated by obliquity…

    If the Earth were perfectly symmetric about the equator, then the effect of precession on global averages would be a ~10,000 year cycle, analogous to the 11-year sunspot cycle, which is the half period of a full magnetic reversal cycle.

    ——

    In brief – bog albedo feedback idea: when water supply is sufficient, the climax community is not a forest but a bog; bog plants create acidity that reduces tree survival; bogs can spread and displace forest; effect of snow on surface albedo is reduced by tall plants (trees) that stick up through the snow or effectively roughen the top surface of snow; a bog forms a surface that enhances the effect of snow, thus having a cooling effect.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 Oct 2009 @ 2:48 PM

  570. Patrick 027, a couple of quick questions on your interesting post (565): 1.) I calculate about 5.15 x 10^18 kg x 0.058% (by mass) = 3,000,000 Gt of CO2 in the atmosphere — considerably more than 1200 Gt your retracting ocean would add in your scenario. Is your projection way wrong? Or is my math and assumptions way wrong?

    2.) When sea water freezes does it really lose all or even much of its dissolved salinity? Is sea ice the equivalent of fresh water ice?

    Comment by Rod B — 10 Oct 2009 @ 3:55 PM

  571. Rod,

    Sea water does lose almost all of its salt when it freezes.

    http://nsidc.org/seaice/characteristics/formation.html

    Comment by Jim Eaton — 10 Oct 2009 @ 5:28 PM

  572. Institute of Museum and Library Services. ,

    Comment by Coder43 — 10 Oct 2009 @ 5:38 PM

  573. When sea water freezes does it really lose all or even much of its dissolved salinity? Is sea ice the equivalent of fresh water ice?

    The ice crystals, yes, they’re fresh. But the total picture’s more complex (the salt has to go somewhere, after all)…

    Typing “sea ice salinity” at Google yields a good NSIDC page on sea ice salinity.

    Comment by dhogaza — 10 Oct 2009 @ 5:53 PM

  574. >2.)
    Eventually, Rod

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Oct 2009 @ 5:55 PM

  575. http://www.google.com/search?q=does+sea+ice+lose+salt%3F

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Oct 2009 @ 5:56 PM

  576. Rod B says:
    10 October 2009 at 3:55 PM
    2.) When sea water freezes does it really lose all or even much of its dissolved salinity? Is sea ice the equivalent of fresh water ice?

    Eventually, after a couple of years it’s fresh enough to drink.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 10 Oct 2009 @ 6:17 PM

  577. First hand information–a lot here worth reading
    http://forums.steves-digicams.com/landscape-photos/139226-high-arctic-eskimo.html

    “… The ice is all around us.. take any large piece of ice and stand it up.. brush all the snow off the sides and the top.. now wait! watch. learn the Eskimo way.. that sun will beat down on that ice and you can actually WATCH the salt settle in that piece of ice !!!!!!! It doesn’t take long. then walk over to that ice with your kettle and chip that ice horizontally and fill your kettle. When melted it is the most delicious fresh water you have ever tasted”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Oct 2009 @ 7:25 PM

  578. Oh, RobB, since you still claim to be a “skeptic”, why aren’t you capable of doing the google “sea ice salinty” search on your own, rather than bother us, making clear your lack of knowledge?

    Given the kinda superior denialist airs you put on hear, I really have to wonder.

    Comment by dhogaza — 10 Oct 2009 @ 10:57 PM

  579. Richard Zurawski #564

    by far, the weight of responsibility rests on those who say they are they are in the business of informing the public, the media.

    Yes, but:

    Scientists have to begin to regain control over the science content TV and the other electronic media say represents science to the masses. Leaving people who don’t care about the science in control of communicating the science message is not a good plan.

    What do you see as the best way to do that? Maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be a sort of media glass ceiling when it comes to scientists (and some other demographics as well).

    I recently saw a guy (on TV where else?) comparing TV in India and the US. His comment was that Indian programming was some times rough but widely varying, while American TV was more homogenous and tightly targeted.

    I can’t help thinking the whole business model has to change and imagine that resistance to that would be very intense. It would involve busting up massive conglomerates, perhaps? Or maybe the paradigm-bizspeak-focus-group-genie is out of the bottle, and it’s too late for that? Maybe a remaking of Business Schools or some sort of structural academic reform (put business and journalism departments under the watchful eyes of scientists)? What?

    Comment by Radge Havers — 11 Oct 2009 @ 10:14 AM

  580. Jim Eaton, thanks. I didn’t know that. I suspected the salt stayed in the ice since my highly softened water makes completely solid ice cubes. But now on close inspection they are also more “cloudy” which I deduce is caused by nano salt particles coming out of solution.

    Comment by Rod B — 11 Oct 2009 @ 6:57 PM

  581. Thanks too, to dhogaza.

    Comment by Rod B — 11 Oct 2009 @ 6:59 PM

  582. Wow! Hank and Phil. too.

    dhogaza, my thanks was for the answer of course, not the shot ;-)

    Comment by Rod B — 11 Oct 2009 @ 7:04 PM

  583. http://www.google.com/search?q=how+does+sea+ice+form%3F
    http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/essay_wadhams.html

    “How ice forms in calm water
    In quiet conditions the first sea ice to form on the surface is a skim of separate crystals which initially are in the form of tiny discs, floating flat on the surface and of diameter less than 2-3 mm. Each disc has its c-axis vertical and grows outwards laterally. At a certain point such a disc shape becomes unstable, and the growing isolated crystals take on a hexagonal, stellar form, with long fragile arms stretching out over the surface. These crystals also have their c-axis vertical. The dendritic arms are very fragile, and soon break off, leaving a mixture of discs and arm fragments. With any kind of turbulence in the water, these fragments break up further into random-shaped small crystals which form a suspension of increasing density in the surface water, an ice type called frazil or grease ice. In quiet conditions the frazil crystals soon freeze together to form a continuous thin sheet of young ice; in its early stages, when it is still transparent, it is called nilas. When only a few centimetres thick this is transparent (dark nilas) but as the ice grows thicker the nilas takes on a grey and finally a white appearance. Once nilas has formed, a quite different growth process occurs, in which water molecules freeze on to the bottom of the existing ice sheet, a process called congelation growth. This growth process yields first-year ice, which in a single season in the Arctic reaches a thickness of 1.5-2 m.

    How ice forms in rough water
    If the initial ice formation occurs in rough water, for instance at the extreme ice edge in rough seas such as the Greenland or Bering Seas, then the high energy and turbulence in the wave field maintains the new ice as a dense suspension of frazil, rather than forming nilas. This suspension undergoes cyclic compression because of the particle orbits in the wave field, and during the compression phase the crystals can freeze together to form small coherent cakes of slush which grow larger by accretion from the frazil ice and more solid through continued freezing between the crystals. This becomes known as pancake ice because collisions between the cakes pump frazil ice suspension onto the edges of the cakes, then the water drains away to leave a raised rim of ice which gives each cake the appearance of a pancake. At the ice edge the pancakes are only a few cm in diameter, but they gradually grow in diameter and thickness with increasing distance from the ice edge, until they may reach 3-5 m diameter and 50-70 cm thickness. The surrounding frazil continues to grow and supply material to the growing pancakes.

    At greater distances inside the ice edge, where the wave field is calmed, the pancakes may begin to freeze together in groups and eventually coalesce to form first large floes, then finally a continuous sheet of first-year ice known as consolidated pancake ice. Such ice has a different bottom morphology from normal sea ice. The pancakes at the time of consolidation are jumbled together and rafted over one another, and freeze together in this way with the frazil acting as “glue”. The result is a very rough, jagged bottom, with rafted cakes doubling or tripling the normal ice thickness, and with the edges of pancakes protruding upwards to give a surface topography resembling a “stony field”. The rough bottom is an excellent substrate for algal growth and a refuge for krill. The thin ice permits much light to penetrate, and the result is a fertile winter ice ecosystem. …”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Oct 2009 @ 8:58 PM

  584. Re Rod – (as others contributed more about sea ice above and beyond what I could’ve, about your C math):

    1.) I calculate about 5.15 x 10^18 kg x 0.058% (by mass) = 3,000,000 Gt of CO2 in the atmosphere ”

    From p. 8 of “Global Physical Climatology” by Hartmann (1994) (Excellent book, by the way), the total mass of the atmosphere is 5.136 e18 kg, so your 5.15 e18 kg figure is close enough.

    (e18 = 10^18 = million trillion = million billion thousands)
    (e15 = thousand billion thousands)

    5.15 million billion thousand kg = 5.15 million billion metric tons = 5.15 million Gt.

    Molar mass of CO2 is about 44.01 g , molar mass of C is 12.011 g, average molar mass of air is about 28.97 g or 28.96 g (Hartmann lists 28.964 g for dry air and 28.97 g for all air, but the 17 e15 kg of water vapor has a smaller molar mass (18.015 g from Hartmann – I know offhand it is very close to 18 g) and so the average molar mass of all air should be LESS than that of dry air, so for the rest I’ll just use the dry air value).

    44.01/28.964 ~= 1.519
    12.011/28.964 ~= 0.4147
    12.011/44.01 ~= 0.2729 ~= 1 / 3.664

    mass fraction CO2 ~= molar fraction CO2 * 1.519
    mass C (in CO2) ~= molar fraction CO2 * 0.4147
    mass CO2 / mass C in CO2 ~= 3.664 ~= 1/0.2729

    0.058 mass % / (1.519 mass fraction/molar fraction) ~= 0.038 mole % = 380 ppm(v). So your percentage was correct for around the present time.

    But 0.058 % * 5.15 million Gt ~= 0.003 million Gt = 3000 Gt. So 380 ppm CO2 is about 3000 Gt of CO2 in the atmosphere. (Aside, if I hadn’t gone by ‘sig figs’, that final calculation gives, in Gt, 2987, which is also the constant from Wein’s displacement law :) .)

    I like to go by Gt C; 2987 Gt CO2 is about 815 Gt C. (by molecules or by mass, there is so much less methane than CO2 that the total atmospheric C content is approximately that in the form of CO2; back in the Archean eon this approximation wouldn’t work so well.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 11 Oct 2009 @ 11:10 PM

  585. Aside from changes in the amount of biological pumping and the organization of that relative to oceanic circulations, it occurs to me that an increase in bottom water CO2 from biological C sinking would then tend to dissolve CaCO3, etc, off the sea floor, so that upon upwelling, either less CO2 would be emitted or more CO2 would be taken up by the water; in that way it would be easier for the biological pump to sequester C below the upper ocean without so much of a compensating effect of increased CO2 release upon upwelling.

    Of course, depending on the residence time of the C, even if upwelling returned CO2 at the same rate biological pumping removed it when in equilibrium, there would be some lag time between changes in biological removal of CO2 and any return by upwelling.

    ———-

    PS of course, there is conservation of angular momentum; if an object x exerts a tidal torque on the Earth then the opposite torque must be exerted on the orbit of Earth and x.

    Since the angular momentum and energy of the Earth-moon system are quite small compared to their orbit about the sun, solar tidal torques on the Earth’s deviations from a perfect sphere and the solar tidal torque on the Earth-moon orbit would have little consequence on the eccentricity, orbital inclination, and semimajor axis of the Earth’s orbit about the sun. However, that does not preclude an effect on the orientation of the semimajor axis within the orbital plane (for the same distance from the sun to the Earth-moon barycenter (center of mass), the acceleration toward the sun will be greater when the Earth and moon are closer to alignment with the sun, and the effect would be greatest at perihelion, so there could be an accumulation of deviations over multiple orbits as the alignments shift without quite repeating…? – but I don’t know any specifics of this.)

    The sun’s tide on the Earth-moon orbit does cause the orbital plane of the Earth-moon system to wobble with a period a bit under 20 years (18.something), so to a first approximation, the long-term average effect of the moon’s torque on the Earth’s equatorial buldge should not cause a change in obliquity relative to the orbit about the sun.

    However, the Earth’s own equatorial bulge, other deviations, and the planets, and the tidal bulges, all also act to modify the moon’s orbit over time …
    —-
    (the most basic role of the tidal bulges is that the tidal torques of the moon and sun each act on the tides raised by the respective objects acts to slow the Earth’s rotation as the tides are pulled out of equilibrium by the Earth’s rotation (significant over geologic time), with some kinetic energy of rotation converted to heat and a remainder of that as well as some angular momentum of rotation being transfered to the energy and angular momentum of the orbits (each object also exerts a torque on the tide raised by the other, but at least to a first approximation the effect of that interaction averages to zero as sometimes this acts to speed up rotation and sometimes to slow it down) – however, the tilt of the Earth relative to the object causing the tide will cause the rotation to pull the tidal bulges out of the orbital plane, and the oceanic geometry and coriolis force will further affect it, and so there could be changes in obliquity, etc.))
    —–
    … and even without that, the orbits involved have nonzero eccentricies. The changes in obliquity caused by the moon may not cancel out after a single cycle in lunar orbit inclination, and may accumulate over mulitiple cycles, and unless all the ratios of all the cycles (ie precession/regression of perihelion, perigee, orbital inclination of Earth, etc.) form perfect rational numbers, there won’t be any perfect repitition, …. etc. It’s complicated and there’s a lot I don’t know about it, but it’s interesting.

    (PS the lunar orbit eccentricity also varies over time; I saw a paper that suggested changes in the tidal mixing of the oceans (significant along with winds and biological activity) could affect climate, but 1. on the longer timescales these are very small effects (or one would think?, even if there are a lot of nonlinearities), and 2. I never saw any mention of the changing eccentricity in that paper (it was on PNAS – don’t have time to find it just now, though).)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 11 Oct 2009 @ 11:48 PM

  586. “It’s complicated and there’s a lot I don’t know about it, but it’s interesting.”

    ie Jupiter and Venus and the changing of the orientation of the orbital plane of the Earth itself might be more important than the moon in shaping the obliquity variation, for all I know – although counter to that, I have read that the presence of the moon shields the Earth from more wild obliquity variations such as those experienced by Mars (but this is not a generalizable effect – ie it is contingent on other things about the solar system – see disagreement on likelihood of habitable planets between James Kasting and … I want to say Peter Ward??, maybe somebody else too ???)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 11 Oct 2009 @ 11:53 PM

  587. “between James Kasting and “…

    It may have been Kasting’s book review of “Rare Earth”

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 11 Oct 2009 @ 11:57 PM

  588. Patrick 027, thanks. Those damn decimal points get me every time. Still the 3000Gt is greater then the 1170 Gt you said the ocean would release, though it does make your point. Interesting. Does none of the dissolved CO2 (Carbonic acid) stay within the ice?

    Comment by Rod B — 12 Oct 2009 @ 11:51 AM

  589. Rod B., I suggest using engineering or scientific notation–it makes it easier to check your math in some ways.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Oct 2009 @ 3:13 PM

  590. Re Rod B – just to clarify, I was going through a reasoning process when I wrote that the oceans would have to release 1170 Gt C (which is, after multiplying by 3.664 mass CO2/mass C, greater than the ~ 3000 Gt present at this point into the AGW experiment) IF the concentration were to remain constant. The point being the average concentration of the ocean has to increase even more to compensate. That isn’t necessarily a problem, but I thought it was an interesting point to bring up.

    Solid carbonate minerals and organic carbon material, as well as gases and brine, can be trapped within a body of ice (but mostly outside the individual crystal grains of ice; freezing tends to purify the H2O). But the volume of sea ice was not so great and even if it were it probably wouldn’t have been so contaminated/impure; the land ice was formed by falling snow and after compaction, the volume fraction of gas would have been small. I suppose maybe some gas enriched in CO2 could have been stored within snow due to riming (supercooled water droplets freezing onto snow as it falls) or freeze-thaw cycles, in particular if there was CaCO3 dissolved in the water from aerosols, which could react with CO2 dissolved in water and would release it upon coming out of solution during freezing – but this just wouldn’t make a significant impact on the C budgets. Although some aspect of that could be a concern for ice core records – Ruddiman’s book does state that CaCO3 aerosols can affect the CO2 record from Greenland ice cores, making Antarctic ice (farther downstream from any mineral dust sources) a better source for CO2 concentration – although I would think measurements of Ca, etc, along with other information and maybe some modeling could correct for this…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 12 Oct 2009 @ 3:38 PM

  591. “but this just wouldn’t make a significant impact on the C budgets” And the effect on the ice core record would be limited by diffusion through porous riming and diffusion through snow before compaction …?????

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 12 Oct 2009 @ 3:40 PM

  592. In other words, I’ll assume it’s a minor effect until I find out otherwise from somebody who’s studied it.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 12 Oct 2009 @ 3:41 PM

  593. RodB, someone else used the 3000Gt figures.

    It’s a long thread:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2009/04/sometimes_on_reading_comments.html#P78682921

    Which then went on to “It’s Wikipedia’s figures, not mine!”.

    Then when that didn’t work, “OK, the figures weren’t from there, but they are consistent with them”.

    Then when THAT didn’t work, silence.

    Comment by Mark — 12 Oct 2009 @ 5:38 PM

  594. Thanks for the tip, Ray; but I did! It seems I not only have a problem with decimals but also with subtraction. :-)

    Comment by Rod B — 12 Oct 2009 @ 5:46 PM

  595. Ruddiman, p.239: Greenland ice sheet: “Unfortunately, the windblown dust that helps define these annual ice layers is rich in fine CaCO3 particles eroded from northern hemisphere continents adn blown to the ice sheet by high-level winds. If even a small amount of the old carbon in this CaCO3 dust reacts chemically with the CO2 bubbles in the cores, it will contaminate the air bubbles and produce artificially high CO2 values.”

    (Now I would need to go back and learn how CO2 is actually measured in ice cores – I suppose isotopic analyses could be used to distinguish between atmospheric and mineral C given additional information or assumptions (about the C-13 from that time period in the atmosphere and the C-13 abundance from the source rocks, etc…; but without that I’m still not sure why the problem would occur unless the CaCO3 reacted with other mineral grains and CO2 to become indistinguishable from Ca-bearing silicates, but that doesn’t seem likely at cold temperatures so far as I know… anyway, the concern doesn’t seem to be with CaCO3 in CCN or IN (cloud condensation nuclei, ice nuclei), and I suspect the problem is not with a net CO2 uptake by the ice caused by some liquid water with CaCO3 … I’m guessing these are very small effects (what is the concentration of CO2 in rainwater, typically? If the riming occured at higher altitude (probably not a big factor except where the ice sheet surface was high enough), there would be less gas to escape from the water because of the lower pressure.) Also, in order for a rimed snow crystal to hold onto gas enriched in CO2 from the riming process, it would have to be encased inside the riming particles, which, unless my visualization is incorrect, implies CO2 escaping into a gas bubble inside an enclosed space with liquid water enveloped by ice, which might fracture when the inside expands upon freezing, breaking it open … etc. And CO2 could diffuse in between ice crystal grains (but how fast?). )

    Ruddiman p. 236

    “At depths of 50 meters or more below the surface of the ice sheet, air no longer circulates. Air that had been slowly diffusing down to these depths is sealed off as small bubbles and trapped in the ice, a process called sintering. Air sealed in ice forms a permanent record of the atmosphere at the time the sintering occured.” … “The difference in age between the air bubbles and the surrounding ice varies with the rate at which ice accumulates.”

    … for fast accumulation of 0.5 to 1 m/year, age difference of “only a few hundred years.”; slow accumulation of 0.05 to 0.1 m/year, age difference “can be as large as 1000 to 2000 years.”

    Lest I leave anyone feeling doubtful about the ice core data:

    “Before interpreting records of greenhouse gases trapped in ice cores, scientists first need to verify that the techniques they use to extract and measure the gas concentrations are reliable. To do so, they measure gas bubbles deposited in the upper layers of ice in cores taken from sheltered pockets on ice sheets where snow accumulates more rapidly than in other regions. Short ice cores taekn from these sites provide measurements of CO2 and methane values from recent centuries”…”accelerating trend in the ice core CO2 measurements merges smoothly with a record of atmospheric CO2 based on instrumental analyses of actual samples of air taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii by the atmospheric chemist David Keeling since 1958.” … [which, over time, also lines up well with other instrumental records from several other sites that start later.]

    —————

    Obliquity variation – actually, even if the orbits were perfect circles and the Sun, Earth, and Moon were the only objects involved, ignoring tides and other deviations from sphericity except for the equatorial bulge, ignoring relativistic effects, and setting aside the reaction of the Earth-moon orbital plane to the torque by the moon on the Earth’s equatorial bulge, it might still be possible for the moon to modify the Earth’s obliquity. Up to a point that is either 45 degrees …

    (I think that’s the angle at which an object exerts the greatest torque on a prolate or oblate spheroid, as defined by the princple axis of the spheroid and the direction to the object)

    … or larger …

    (the angle varies over the course of an orbit with extrema equal to the orbital inclination relative to the the spheroid – although only the component of the torque that is parallel to the intersection of the orbital plane and the symmetry (equatorial) plane of the spheroid will average to nonzero over a whole orbit assuming variations of the orbit and spheroid orientation are insignificant over only one orbit** … I haven’t really gone through the math)

    … the average torque will be stronger when the moon’s orbit is tilted farther from the Earth’s equatorial plane; thus, as the moon’s orbit wobbles due to the sun, the average torque could be skewed from what it would be if both orbits were coplanar; as a vector, the moon’s torque on the Earth could be outside the plane of the Earth-moon system’s orbit about the sun, thus changing the obliquity relative to the sun. But I haven’t yet factored in how the direction of torque changes as the moon’s orbit wobbles. Well, someone out there obviously already worked all this out so I’ll let the matter be.

    —-

    James Kasting’s work (an excellent reading list – not that I’ve gotten around to reading most of it!):

    http://www.geosc.psu.edu/~kasting/PersonalPage/Biblio.htm
    with links:
    http://www.geosc.psu.edu/~kasting/PersonalPage/PDFs.htm

    from that:

    Essay about Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee’s “Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe”
    http://www.geosc.psu.edu/~kasting/PersonalPage/Pdf/Persp_Biol_Med_01.pdf

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 12 Oct 2009 @ 9:50 PM

  596. Other interesting tangents from the main discussion:

    “Possible forcing of global temperature by the oceanic tides”
    Charles D. Keeling, Timothy P. Whorf
    http://www.pnas.org/content/94/16/8321.full

    “Long Term Evolution of the Solar Insolation Variation over 4Ga” [evolution of Milankovitch cycles over 4 billion years] – Takashi Ito, Mineo Kumazawa, Yozo Hamano, Takafumi Matsui, Kooiti Masuda
    http://www.journalarchive.jst.go.jp/jnlpdf.php?cdjournal=pjab1977&cdvol=69&noissue=9&startpage=233&lang=en&from=jnlabstract

    “Numerical modelling of the paleotidal evolution of the Earth-Moon System”
    Eugene Poliakow
    http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FIAU%2FIAU2004_IAUC197%2FS174392130400897Xa.pdf&code=41ce103453270e61e5fb4dfe7e2a40f0

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 12 Oct 2009 @ 11:50 PM

  597. From Ruddiman – p. 218 – isostatic adjustment:

    A 3 km ice sheet would cause bedrock depression of about 1 km from isostatic adjustment, which is important in part because this tends to warm the ice sheet surface by about 6.5 K, give or take (typical atmospheric lapse rate is 6.5 K per km – it varies, though).

    About 30 % of isostatic adjustment is an immediate elastic response.

    About 70 % is a viscous response that approaches equilibrium with a ‘half life’ of about 3000 years.

    Also from Ruddiman; see also Hartmann, “Global Physical Climatology”:

    When deglaciation (which is not limited by the rate of snowfall) happens fast enough, the lowering ice surface adds to the tendency of deglaciation more than it would if isostatic adjustment kept up with the deglaciation.

    It’s possible that repeated scraping away of soil over multiple ice ages eventually (around 900,000 to 700,000 years ago) removed enough of the lubricating effect (under pressure, the base of an ice sheet may have liquid water, wet soil can slide, etc.) of the soil that would allow ice sheets to spread out more rapidly, so that ice sheets would instead build up greater thickness, thus surviving conditions that could otherwise cause deglaciation except when strong enough, so that the eccentricity cycle’s modulation of the precession cycle became more prominent in the glacial-interglacial variations; another possibal contribution to an increase in the eccentricity cycle’s prominence is longer term cooling having a similar effect on shifting the threshold for deglaciation.

    Note that the threshold for initiating a glaciation can be different than the threshold for initiating a deglaciation (hysteresis).

    There is also threshold behavior associated with precession cycle effects on monsoons – the Sahara won’t get wet every cycle, as I understand it.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 13 Oct 2009 @ 12:04 AM

  598. “possibal”

    Well, I’ve gotta get some rest.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 13 Oct 2009 @ 12:06 AM

  599. Rod, others – CO2 levels and unit conversions, nice graph found here:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Comparing-CO2-emissions-to-CO2-levels.html

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 14 Oct 2009 @ 1:08 PM

  600. A final point about Earth-moon-sun stuff:

    Consider the precession of the moon’s orbital plane caused by solar tidal torque – that torque will be strongest when:

    1. Earth-moon system is at perihelion (effect greater at greater eccentricity)
    2. Moon is at apogee (effect greater at greater eccentricity)
    3. The tilt of the moon’s orbit is ‘toward or away from’ the sun – analogous to the tilt of Earth at the solstices.
    4. As seen from above or below the Earth’s orbital plane about the sun, the Earth, moon, and sun are aligned.

    Which means that the moon’s orbit precession cycle can be lopsided, spending more time at one phase than another, etc, and that, as well as variations in the magnitude and direction of the torque the moon exerts on the Earth, can/might (haven’t done the math yet, only the qualitative ideas which would guide the math) result in some net effect over complete cycles. Etc.

    —-

    If it were only the Earth and the moon, the orbital plane and the Earth’s axis would precess at the same rate from the torque on the equatorial bulge and the equal and opposite torque on the orbit. The total angular momentum would remain fixed (as a vector), so the angular momentum vectors of the Earth’s spin and of the orbit would both revolve around their vector sum. Note however, that unless the two component vectors are equal in magnitude, the component of greater magnitude will make a smaller angle with the total. The orbital angular momentum of the Earth-moon system is a few times larger (but not by a whole order of magnitude) than the spin of the Earth, so the axis of the Earth shifts around more than the plane of the Earth-moon (in terms of angles, it makes a wider circle).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 14 Oct 2009 @ 1:25 PM

  601. On the other hand, David Archer’s “The Long Thaw” shows him to be “such a scientist” in a good way, communicating the science clearly in what I called “The plain style” (after Robertson Davies.)

    My essay on the book can be seen here:

    http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Long-Thaw-A-Review

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 14 Oct 2009 @ 2:06 PM

  602. Kevin McKinney (~601, 14 October 2009 @ 2:06 PM):

    Thank you for a “plain style” piece. It makes a great contrast for the end of this topic. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 14 Oct 2009 @ 8:19 PM

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Close this window.

1.539 Powered by WordPress