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  1. Tool tip: SkepticalScience has complemented the excellent with another online trend grapher/calculator. This one does confidence intervals, taking autocorrelation into account. A handy reference for online discussions with flat-trenders.

    Comment by CM — 2 Apr 2012 @ 3:43 AM

  2. While we argue over this and that, seemingly going around in circles, but also getting somewhere, step by step, I am launching my new sci fi book about POLAR CITIES that everyone here dismissed so vehemently three years ago. Remember how you mocked me, reviled me, dissed me? Well, read the novel now, it’s mere fiction, nothing to be afraid of.

    TRAILER VIDEO for “POLAR CITY RED ” – sci fi novel by Jim Laughter

    POLAR CITY RED info link:

    Comment by Danny BLoom — 2 Apr 2012 @ 6:17 AM

  3. Svensmark effect confirmed by the latest ‘Forbush decrease’

    Comment by vukcevic — 2 Apr 2012 @ 7:22 AM

  4. We keep seeing the Silurian CO2 levels being used notably by WSJ again recently.

    Question: Does the fact that most of the land in the Silurian was centered around the South Pole make any difference? I cannot find refs on that.

    Certainly I have found refs that the equatorial seas were nearly hot water heater hot at times then.

    Comment by jgnfld — 2 Apr 2012 @ 7:25 AM

  5. I apologize that this question is a off-topic for this post. It occurred to me when the high winds predicted for this morning woke me up. We are seeing data on record temperatures. Is there a count of the number of winds above 30 mph, 50 mph, 60 mph, 70 mph, 80 mph, etc. for an area per year? That metric may correlate with CO2 and temperature. We should be able to begin gathering that data what with the growing number of wind farms worldwide. It would also add to the data concerning number of hurricanes per year, etc. That number of high winds at the hurricane level may not show as much as winds in other levels if it is at the tail of a bell curve, but an increase in higher winds in the 50 mph to 80 mph level may reveal something more. A 70 mph wind in eastern Colorado recently blew over a power pole that sparked a 30+ square mile prairie wild fire that burned a couple of homes, closed a highway, killed livestock, and caused 1000 to evacuate.

    Comment by Russ Doty — 2 Apr 2012 @ 9:44 AM

  6. For Russ Doty: wind speed mentioned, this should lead to what you’re looking for:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Apr 2012 @ 11:18 AM

  7. for Russ Doty, try these for starters:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Apr 2012 @ 11:19 AM

  8. jgnfld

    There is pretty good evidence that the late Ordovician-early Silurian glacial times resulted from CO2 drawdown due to increased silicate weathering from emerging orogenies (not too dissimilar from the much more recent Cenozoic transition from greenhouse to icehouse climate); similarly, deglaciation episodes probably resulted from decreased weathering as expanding ice reduced the fraction of continental silicates available for weathering.

    There are a couple of episodes embedded within that time period though, and the geologists are always trying to get better at refining the temporal resolution to improve correlations. There’s some other factors going on too (e.g., a few percent decrease in solar brightness, and possible influences from volcanic eruptions or superplumes). Some papers by Saltzmann and Seth Young are good starts for reviewing this subject.

    Continental positions are important for ocean circulation (poleward heat transport, upwelling regions, strength of a possible THC, and where cold water might be invading) and there are a number of hypotheses that involve the ocean circulation in a number of deep-time climate problems, though personally I tend to view this as secondary to the radiation in the global mean for most episodes I can think of in the past. Continental positions matter as well for the albedo, but perhaps more importantly it also matters for the relative strength of weathering of silicates/carbonate relative to the input of CO2 by volcanoes. If you can concentrate a lot of freshly exposed rock in the tropics where you have high temperatures and precipitation, you can trigger a cooling episode by taking CO2 out of the air, but there are also limitations on weathering rates due to the amount of freshly exposed rocks, or in further extremes (like a post-snowball deglaciation) energetic limits on the amount of precipitation that you get.

    (someone like raypierre can give you more insight on this, though I still think a number of interpretations can be had for the isotopic excursions seen as the Ordovician-Silurian boundary, but I doubt the general picture above will be shown to be deeply flawed in the future)

    Comment by Chris Colose — 2 Apr 2012 @ 1:11 PM

  9. @ #8 Chris Colose
    There’s some other factors going on too (e.g., a few percent decrease in solar brightness…..)

    I am sure you (as a scientist) know that the above is not correct.
    Historical TSI (max)varies from 1360-1362 W/m2
    and that makes it ~ 0.15%.
    1% would be 13.6 W/m2, and ‘a few percent decrease in solar brightness’ would be a bit more than 1%.
    What varies more than few %-age points is heliosphere – geomagnetic coupling, with available evidence pointing to the response by oceanic currents strength.
    If more of the absorbed heat energy is transported from tropics poleward less is re-radiated back to space (and vice versa); result is global warming/cooling, as shown here:

    Comment by vukcevic — 2 Apr 2012 @ 4:26 PM

  10. vukcevic

    I’m sorry but it is correct, all based on standard stellar evolution theory, and not related to the 11-year solar cycle. The sun brightens at a rate of ~7% per billion years (due to the change in mean molecular weight in the stellar interior as hydrogen fuses into helium).

    I took the equation found in Gough (1981), “Solar interior structure and luminosity variations”; if we go back 500 million years ago (roughly to the Ordovician), the luminosity would be 96% of its modern value. That makes it easier to fall into glaciation relative to today, but there’s a negative carbon cycle feedback (silicate weathering) which tends to adjust CO2 on timescales much shorter than that of stellar evolution, so it’s possible to still stabilize the climate above freezing even for fainter stars.

    This stellar evolution (and the possible existence of plate tectonics) is also vitally important for the prospect of habitability on extrasolar worlds, though the rate at which the star brightens is also a function of star type/mass. Low-luminosity stars that make up most of the galaxy don’t evolve in time as much as our own sun, and the water ice-albedo feedback would also be weaker on planets around such stars. It also helps to have working plate tectonics to keep this weathering feedback working, and Mars/Venus are good examples where that broke down.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 2 Apr 2012 @ 5:13 PM

  11. Anybody here know who Martin Hoerling’s PhD thesis advisor was at UW Madison?

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 2 Apr 2012 @ 6:49 PM

  12. I put up a post on my home-town newspaper’s message board with some material that might be handy [edit – too potentially literal]

    The post shows how to confirm NASA/GISS global-average temperature results by computing straightforward temperature-anomaly averages using raw data taken from just a few dozen rural GHCN stations (aka “sparse rural stations”) scattered around the world.

    The results are similar to what I have posted here previously, but this time I also generated .kml files that permit the visualization of station locations with GoogleEarth.

    I put up a couple of plots of my “sparse rural stations” results along with the NASA/GISS “meteorological stations” temperature index.

    Also put up a couple of .kml files (as attachments) that allow folks to use GoogleEarth to view the station locations on the globe.

    For scientists and others who have actually worked with global temperature data, this is all pretty much “been there, done that, wore out the t-shirt”. But the material hopefully is something that some people here could use to convince fence-sitters or even “lukewarm” skeptics that attacks by Watts and others on NASA/NOAA/etc. are completely bogus.

    IMO, the results there do a nice job of debunking Watts’ UHI *and* dropped-stations claims. (After all, if you get nearly the same results after dropping 98+ percent of the stations, what does that say about all of Watts’ fussing over a much smaller number of “dropped stations”?)

    Here’s a link to the post:

    (One nice thing about the UTSanDiego board is that you don’t have to register to download message-board post attachments.)

    Comment by caerbannog — 2 Apr 2012 @ 10:10 PM

  13. Its about time! Dr Masters brings out Arctic causations in our recent warm winters:
    Fabulously citing Recent publications ringing familiarly like my own musings, including from our best Friend Dr Curry the anti-tribal professor. Actually she almost gets it right, despite my misgivings, Dr Curry at least brought out the Arctic as a serious factor in recent warm or colder winters. So cheers Dr Curry, I appreciate the Arctic taking front stage as it should be when relating to winters.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 2 Apr 2012 @ 11:02 PM

  14. @ #10 Chris Colose
    There is lot of difference between ‘correct’ and someone’s opinion.
    Scientists have difficulty agreeing about insolation levels during the Maunder minimum, mere 350 years ago, let alone 350 thousand or 350 million years ago.
    As you have said elsewhere it is a bit like ‘counting cows of Idaho’, pure speculation.

    Comment by vukcevic — 3 Apr 2012 @ 1:43 AM

  15. @ #13 wayne davidson
    Current epoch of instant communications expects ‘instant science’ and instant solutions. However, often a natural change takes some time to manifest its consequences.
    In the Atlantic side of the hemisphere (area of my interest) there is an apparent Arctic –Equator connection, which even at the most sceptic goes beyond simple coincidence.
    Explaining causes and consequences of such links if confirmed as true, it may not be as easy as some of the ‘instant science’ pronouncements would imply.

    Comment by vukcevic — 3 Apr 2012 @ 3:11 AM

  16. Polar ice is likely to be a pretty active topic in the near term (with interest and attention inversely proportional to changes in volume and extent). This resource may be useful for people living far from cold country.

    Comment by Phil Mattheis — 3 Apr 2012 @ 7:03 AM

  17. I hope the RealClimate team will not mind me using this space to advertise a meeting that could be of interest. On 19th April, the final meeting of the GILDED project ( will take place at the Club University Foundation, rue d’Egmont 11, 1000 Brussels. GILDED is funded under the EC Framework Seven theme ‘Socio-economic factors and actors that shape
    the “post-carbon” society’. It has studied the determinants of domestic energy demand across five case-study areas in Europe. If anyone might be interested in attending, please contact me at nickgottshuttonacuk. Funding for travel and accommodation expenses may be available.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 3 Apr 2012 @ 11:08 AM

  18. Um. I see my email address has been mangled. There shuold be dots between “nick” and “gotts”, and between “hutton” and “ac”, and “ac” and “uk”, and an “at” sign between “gotts” and “hutton”.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 3 Apr 2012 @ 11:10 AM

  19. Vukevich, you’re confusing climate and weather — this time with respect to the output from stars including our sun.

    The main sequence change over time for stars is ‘climate’ — well known.
    That’s what Chris Colose has pointed you to above, with references.

    The exact amount of energy from our sun reaching Earth 350 years ago is ‘weather’ — of various sorts.

    Variability from year to year is what you’re talking about.

    Change over long time is what he’s talking about.

    The long time scale can be well understood and documented while the short term variability remains hard to get exact.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Apr 2012 @ 12:30 PM

  20. Jgnfld # 4
    As usual I’m not sure where the WSJ is going with a discussion of temperatures in the geologic past. As I geologist I can certainly verify that temperatures have fluctuated throughout the geologic past. If you watch Richard Alley’s AGU presentation from a couple years ago, he makes a strong case for CO2 as the control knob. Chris makes some good points regarding aspects of the science above as well.
    Here’s the problem with whatever argument the WSJ thinks they’re making: We don’t live in the Silurian or the PETM, we live here, now.

    Comment by Tokodave — 3 Apr 2012 @ 12:40 PM

  21. Vukcevic — 3 Apr 2012 @ 1:43 AM (~#14).

    Differing conclusions in several peer reviewed research articles on the same topic that are based on different data, or interpretations of data, is not “pure speculation.” The fact that you think this displays such a lack of understanding of how science progresses that I would never go to your website for accurate information. Never.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 3 Apr 2012 @ 1:29 PM

  22. vuckavic. $15, Its by no means instant, science papers such as those published are formed after long and arduous process. My own prognostications come from a mere 30 years of observing. No instantaneous edicts, but from rather a great deal of Arctic and temperate knowledge acquired.
    There is always connections, every weather system is linked in many ways, PCB’s burned in south-east Asia
    end up in the Arctic as fallout. Weather chaos rules in unison humming away sounds and tunes, the instrument most out of whack changes the sound of the entire planets orchestra. In Earth’s case the most transformed area is the Arctic, so now Earth climate is playing a different tune, all regions contribute, but adjusting to the meltdown. I have no problems with your connection, it should be significant, except the big change stems by the silence of ice fusing to water or a torrent of water drops falling from floating sea ice.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 3 Apr 2012 @ 1:42 PM

  23. Another cosmic ray paper. This one starts from lower stratospheric ozone levels modulated by cosmic ray fluxes.
    Climate sensitivity to the lower stratospheric ozone
    N.A. Kilifarska
    PII: S1364-6826(12)00086-7
    DOI: doi:10.1016/j.jastp.2012.03.002
    Reference: ATP3593
    To appear in: Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics

    Comment by mark48 — 3 Apr 2012 @ 2:55 PM

  24. If anyone has the time and energy, there’s a new thing on DotEarth that looks a bit off to me. No doubt it will offend deniers equally, but it seems to be an attack on those who would bring the state of the world and science to people’s attention.

    Sorry to bother y’all with this bunkum …

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 3 Apr 2012 @ 7:36 PM

  25. Vukcevic,
    It is well understood that the suns brightness has increased over the last billion years. When you argue with someone (like Chris) who obviously knows more than you do, you lose any credibility you might have had. Limit yourself to commenting on things you know something about. If you continue to comment on things you know nothing about no-one will listen to anything you say. If you wish to claim that the brightness has not changed you must have a peer reviewed reference to back your claims.

    Comment by michael sweet — 3 Apr 2012 @ 8:45 PM

  26. @ #22 wayne davidson
    My apology, the comment was directed not at your views (perhaps I should have made that clear) but at the recent climate science’s tendency.

    @ #25 michael sweet
    Any variable with no data is speculation which may be correct or equally may be wrong. On the solar iradiance there are only data for the last few decades, and a back extrapolation from the SSN to 1650. When scientists agree about those, then it would be possible to go a bit further back in time, one step at the time, with more certainty.
    I concern myself only with matters where there is at least some data available.
    No data no certainty.
    What I find in data I make available to others, and there is a lot in there that even the ‘most learned’ and ‘peer reviewed’ often not only do not know about, but by denying expose their true lack of knowledge, as these two examples have shown:
    (C.C evaluated it as good as counting the cows of Idaho) or
    causing some consternation to one or two experts; perhaps someone may be interested in this one:

    Comment by vukcevic — 4 Apr 2012 @ 3:13 AM

  27. Perhaps relevant to the query at #5:

    “Tornado risk is growing and spreading, study shows”

    (To ms, I don’t think v needs to continue to comment on things he knows nothing about to prompt many of us to stop listening to anything he has to say–he’s pretty well proved his cluelessness already.)

    Comment by wili — 4 Apr 2012 @ 10:12 AM

  28. Study suggests rising CO2 in the past caused global warming

    A paper in Nature shows how increased CO2 in the atmosphere led to warming – rather than the other way round
    Previously, researchers thought that the source of the extra carbon was the oceans, in the form of frozen methane gas in ocean-floor sediments, but from this research they conclude that the carbon came from the polar regions.

    Andrew Watson, a fellow of the Royal Society and professor at the University of East Anglia, said: “The paper shows that the increase in atmospheric CO2 was very important and drove the global temperature rise, but it also suggests that the initial trigger for the deglaciation was something different – a slight warming and associated slow-down of the Atlantic Ocean circulation. This caused carbon dioxide to start being degassed from the deep oceans, and that in turn drove the global change

    Comment by J Bowers — 4 Apr 2012 @ 12:45 PM

  29. RE:@24
    Ack, blah. Oh, the environmental movement myth is demolished because Thoreau’s mother did his laundry, and Abbey simultaneously reveled in the solitude and wrote “Christ, I am lonely!”. Well.
    Why is it so wrong to want sustainability? Corporations to not push external costs off onto the general public (pollution, resource extraction, etc.)? People to act responsibly toward the environment instead of selfishly and greedily? I think these are some of the core environmental beliefs, whatever DotJunk wants to argue. And that new “vital voice” of Emma Marris, I read an interview where she seemed both clueless and contradictory, perfect for bending into any shape by those with an agenda.

    Comment by Jathanon — 4 Apr 2012 @ 2:22 PM

  30. > dot earth
    As a commenter points out:

    “… let’s talk Thoreau! How can a scientist of Kareiva’s caliber not check his facts before going public?”

    Kareiva’s mistakes are the basis for his entire essay.

    Did nobody at the NYT check Kareiva’s ‘facts’ before praised him?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Apr 2012 @ 2:35 PM

  31. @24 link to
    I did skim through the video linked by which was as said (but they were referring to something else) “…far too long.
    The message which couldn’t be fagged to give is that some fella called Kareiva says environmentalists are seen increasingly as hypocritical extremists who should change their ways by ’embracing’ technology & business and realising that ‘wilderness’ must be seen in the context of a human-dominated/manipulated world.
    The video was far too long and I never got to the end. So it may have turned full circle & ended by advocating the spraying of DDT into every crevice available. Then maybe it didn’t.

    Comment by MARodger — 4 Apr 2012 @ 4:34 PM


    “‘Past Extreme Warming Events Linked To Massive Carbon Release From Thawing Permafrost’”

    Comment by wili — 4 Apr 2012 @ 7:31 PM

  33. It’s probably a tad late for the earthquake news of the year, but it’s sure to be the coming attraction at just about every climate blog on the planet within a few days. The notorious ‘800-year-CO2-lag’ may have just a disparu.


    Article recap:

    Basically, antarctic temperature rise preceded CO2 rise BUT CO2 rise preceded global warming out of the Ice Age.

    “Ladies and Gentlemen, please fasten your seat-belts. There’s a thunderblog ahead.”

    Comment by owl905 — 4 Apr 2012 @ 7:33 PM

  34. Poor Joe Bast. First GM pull the plug on Heartland, now his other op takes a hit…

    Coke Pulls the Plug on Anti-Climate Change ALEC Lobby.

    Comment by J Bowers — 5 Apr 2012 @ 9:07 AM


    “… As temperature rises, so too will the quantity of water vapor in the atmosphere, and this gas, in turn, will drive further warming. The result is a positive feedback that will have to be factored into estimates of future climate.

    Held’s studies hold out a particular warning for the Mediterranean. According to his forecasts, if CO2 emissions are not curtailed, temperatures in the region could increase by 3ºC in the course of a century. This would mean a major reduction in rainfall levels (in the interval of 15% to 30%): “We expect precipitation to decrease maybe 5% to 10% for every degree of warming,” Held affirms….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Apr 2012 @ 10:28 AM

  36. Carbon bomb go, “BOOM!”


    I don’t hate to say, “I told you so,” but it does frustrate and anger me a bit that I am able to. It comes down to having or not having pattern literacy. Patterns in nature teach us how to do things right, but they also have other uses, such as warnings.

    I hope you are convinced now if you are one of those who has not been before. It may seem, on human time scales, to be a slow motion explosion, but as Joe’s article points out, even on human time scales, this is actually happening very quickly. Tipping points are a…

    Comment by Killian — 5 Apr 2012 @ 12:25 PM

  37. Free articles at Nature Climate Change, usually paywalled:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Apr 2012 @ 12:38 PM

  38. RE #31, I’m hoping RealClimate will do a post on this. A couple of months ago David Archer did a post on how we need to be more worried about CO2 than CH4 (which degrades to CO2 + within about 10 years) due to CH4s shorter time in the atmosphere — see ).

    I think the idea also was that most of the CH4 is in the ocean hydrates (most of which are deep enough in the ocean for the warming not to be a big issue now).

    However, if the bigger worry is CH4 from permafrost as the study linked in #31 suggests, it seems this might be a somewhat more volatile issue. I’m thinkng permafrost CH4 may be more easily warmed and released than ocean hydrate CH4 (but I don’t know).

    I also read a study some years back about how the CH4 rich permafrost goes a lot deeper than earlier thought (don’t have that reference here).

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 5 Apr 2012 @ 2:01 PM

  39. Susan: Re: #24.

    This may be slightly OT.
    I haven’t read it all, but this bit caught my attention:

    which Matt Ridley recently gushed about and which I’ll be praising soon here

    I wonder which part of M.R.’s experience best qualifies him to judge climate science and environmentalism? Is it gambling with other people’s welfare?

    Is it gambling with other people’s welfare?

    [The UK’s crisis began with Northern Rock.]

    Comment by deconvoluter — 5 Apr 2012 @ 2:47 PM

  40. This may be worth a look:

    “Thunderstorms, heavy rain, snow, floods and mudslides are not exactly what one would expect to see in the driest place on Earth, the Atacama Desert in Chile.

    But for the past two months, these were the working conditions of the team of scientists at one of the world’s biggest astronomy projects, the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (Alma).

    A striking contrast from the usual sunshine and clear skies …

    …Extreme weather

    The main reason for choosing Atacama – and Chajnantor in particular – was the altitude, the extreme dryness of the air and very clear skies. Clouds appear here on average only 30 days a year.

    And although some rain in the area is not unusual in February and March, no one had quite expected the latest weather.

    There has not been this much water in the desert for decades, and the downpours have pushed the deadline for the project’s completion back by two to three weeks, says Richard Hills, one of the astronomers on the site.
    Chajnantor plateau, Chile Chajnantor plateau is the so-called “high site”; even in summer time it snows up there

    “It’s impossible to make any observations in such conditions,” he says.

    “Water in the air just absorbs the astronomical signals that we’re trying to observe – they simply do not make it through the atmosphere.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Apr 2012 @ 5:14 PM

  41. Owl,

    I am not sure that the article presents anything new. The claim all along has been that the changing orbit resulting in warming which released CO2, which led to more warming. I would be surprised if this paper caused such an earthquake.

    Comment by Dan H. — 5 Apr 2012 @ 5:17 PM

  42. Here’s the link I tried to provide earlier:

    The thing that I noted in re-reading it is that it states the expectation that the Arctic may become a carbon sink in the 2020’s, but even that is an underestimate because all the Arctic feedbacks aren’t included in even that pessimistic scenario.

    Lynn, the danger of the clathrates is massive. While “most” clathrates are in deeper water, the clathrate deposits on the East Siberian continental shelf are large enough to cause more warming than we want to think about. Wasn’t it reported that just 1 or 2% of them are enough to cause serious problems? Part of that danger stems from the initial localized effects of a the methane and because the clathrates have fewer mechanisms to prevent disintegration once they reach a given temperature at a given depth. it’s a much more on-off system than the permafrost.

    Comment by Killian — 5 Apr 2012 @ 7:22 PM

  43. Dan,

    It certainly does present a seismic shift. Your comment illustrates it – claiming the orbital forcing was the prime driver is off the table. At best it’s a trigger or catalyst; at worst it’s an Antarctic co-incidence.

    The new research says it wasn’t. The new research says the centuries ‘lag’ is an artifact of Loehle-type reliance on too few measurement points that did not, in fact, represent the global picture. The new research adds global data spread. The new research says CO2 drives the end of Ice Ages. That links up with earlier studies about the Southern Ocean old-carbon release, the lack of a similar outpouring in the northern Pacific; and a re-arrangement of the ocean currents.

    This ’cause-and-effect’ tempest has been in the teapot all the way back to black flag debates in alt.globalwarming in the late 90s. It’s the foundation of the pro-pollutionist bleat about ‘temperatures leads CO2’. And this just drove an overhand smash-shot at it.

    Anyway, the headline spread has gone viral.

    Comment by owl905 — 5 Apr 2012 @ 8:45 PM

  44. Hank Roberts @40 — Hadley cell expansion.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 5 Apr 2012 @ 10:23 PM

  45. Deconvoluter et al.

    Thanks for the help about DotEarth. Most of you know the story pretty well – seems to be looking for authority in all the wrong places, and Karieva seems to be just such another. I was so taken aback by the personal tone of the attack on “environmentalists” (whatever and whoever they might be – a heterogeneous wide-ranging group of people in search of ways to actively promote a better future, with a few nutcases but nothing like those on the phony skeptic end) that I couldn’t quite face it, but was hoping a knowledgeable person or two would call it like it was. It used to be a nice place for an amateur to lurk, but now it has an agenda one can’t support, Pielke, Breakthrough, and the lukewarmer/technocrat/apologist du jour.

    Commentariat did very well there, more informative than the article.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 6 Apr 2012 @ 12:52 AM

  46. For visual types and others, HotTopic has a neat concatenation of graphics:

    All kinds of circulation in motion.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 6 Apr 2012 @ 12:55 AM

  47. The Guardian launches a formal home for the Newton science channel.

    Comment by J Bowers — 6 Apr 2012 @ 2:45 AM

  48. @ Steve Fish & others
    Proxy is a metrics of one physical quantity used as a probable indicator of another with no particular degree of certainty.
    There is difference between information regarding data and information based on an opinion.
    Data I use is from half a dozen of world renowned institutions; if you have doubt about the accuracy, I decline any responsibility in that matter.
    If my opinions are what you do reject, you are cordially invited to continue to do so.

    Comment by vukcevic — 6 Apr 2012 @ 4:12 AM

  49. > Proxy is a metrics of one physical quantity used as a probable
    > indicator of another with no particular degree of certainty.

    You’re following Pat Frank’s approach published at Wattsupwiththat?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Apr 2012 @ 9:24 AM

  50. vukcevic — 6 Apr 2012 @ 4:12 AM ~#48.

    Thank you for the invitation. I cordially suggest that your repeated unscientific speculation and strongly stated lack of understanding of how the scientific process works is disruptive and not cordial at all! The fact that you confidently assert that differences between research papers indicates speculation (@#14) and that proxy data has so little certainty that it is just opinion (@~#48) makes you an excellent example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 6 Apr 2012 @ 10:42 AM

  51. David B. Benson says: @40 — Hadley cell expansion.
    David, do you know if this is an outlier or a change more likely to be permanent?
    After all the effort to build that new observatory in what has almost always been a clear cold dry location, I wonder how many days of the desired conditions they’ll get.

    It’s a location that might be quite well instrumented for detecting change over time, as the astronomical work needs the cold dry air.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Apr 2012 @ 12:31 PM

  52. Less government.
    Less business.
    Less wealth.
    Less power.

    Less roads.
    Less buildings.
    Less food.
    Less people.

    Less is coming.
    Less is already here in many places.
    Less is licking our ankles.
    Less is rising up to meet us.

    How fast should we be going when we hit it?
    Some say if we go faster, we won’t hit it.
    Some say there’s nothing to hit.
    Do you believe them?

    Humans will be here for a while yet.
    How much should they suffer?
    Future generations.
    Your children.

    Should they pick through the rubble?
    Should they eat slime?
    Should they die like ants?
    Is that what you want?

    Here in the empire, it’s a soft life.
    It’s easy to forget the Holocaust.
    It could be like that again.
    It could be sooner than you think.

    Less can no longer be avoided.
    Less could be gradual, or sudden.
    Less will hurt, either way.
    Sudden will break more bones.

    You could admit you were wrong.
    You could apologize to your children.
    You could slow down.
    You could fasten your seat belt.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 7 Apr 2012 @ 3:22 AM

  53. Following on the thread of #36, 38, and 42: Semiletov has something just out in “Environmental Research Web”:

    (Thanks to Newfie at Malthusia for pointing it out.)

    “The highest concentrations of atmospheric methane and carbon dioxide are found in the Arctic, north of the areas where the most man-made methane and carbon dioxide are created. Our recent analyses suggest that during the Holocene and previous “warm stages”, thawing of subsea permafrost (including disturbance of gas hydrates and bottom erosion), degradation of onshore permafrost (caused by coastal erosion, for example), and the formation and evolution of thawing lakes are also responsible for the Arctic increase in these gases.”

    This seems to be a summary of an earlier article, so nothing since the famous emergency excursion to the Arctic last September. If anyone does come across an update on that, please do bring it to our attention.

    It does seem as though extremes are getting rapidly more extreme all around.

    I think I had mentioned that, though in a stable climate they should be equal, heat records have outpaced cold records for the last couple decades at a ratio of 2 to 1.

    In 2010 that went up to about 3 to 1

    2011: 8 to 1

    Early 2012: 13 to 1

    March 2012: 35 to 1

    Things seem to be flying wildly out of whack at an accelerating pace. Anyone care to guess what the next set of ratios might be in that sequence. One hopes its a blip that will settle down to the more gradual increase of the last few decades. But one also wonders if it is an indication that, having passed certain tipping points, we are now very rapidly moving into a very different and far hotter state.

    Comment by wili — 7 Apr 2012 @ 8:14 AM

  54. Recent technical advances in lasers make an energy project that dates back to the late 60s an economical way to displace fossil fuels in a decade.

    Proposal is to use conventional rockets to place a seed propulsion laser at GEO followed by a rapid buildup to in excess of 2 GW. That’s enough to support a 100 GW per year power satellite construction project and a rapid build up to 1-2 TW per year rate. That rate gets humanity off fossil fuels in a decade.

    The bootstrapping reduces the cost to the point that the initial investment pays off in about 3 years.

    The new factor is the realization that even one power satellite used for propulsion reduces the cost of space transport to well under $100/kg and the cost of electric power from space to 2 cents per kWh or less.

    Comment by Keith Henson — 7 Apr 2012 @ 12:17 PM

  55. Hank Roberts @51 — As I understand it, as the ghlobe becomes warmer the Hadley cell expands. In the southern hemisphere that will shove the descending portion with its atendant dry air further to the south. So, for example, Central Chile is predicted to become quite dry.

    But further north the expaned Hadley cell still has some moisture, tending to decrease the quality of astronomical observations at the Atacama site.

    I opine (quite strongly) that poor seeing will become more frequent there.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 7 Apr 2012 @ 11:53 PM

  56. > power satellite … rectennas … suggests you’ll want some circuit breakers added

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Apr 2012 @ 9:56 AM

  57. Hansen on Climate Dice at DotEarth: juxtaposed with Michael Wallace of last month’s thread. Darn, I hoped for something straight up but we have on the one hand, on the other … again!

    I hope you all will forgive me for lifting my earlier check on Dr. Wallace more or less verbatim from “Extremely Hot” in case you haven’t heard of him; It is painful to see him equated with Dr. Hansen, one of the giants of our time:

    “one of the country’s most eminent climatologists, John M. Wallace” (publications date from 1964), via Wikipedia:

    John Michael Wallace is a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, as well as the former director of the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO)–a joint research venture between the University of Washington and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). His research concerns understanding global climate and its variations using observations and covers the quasi biennial oscillation, Pacific decadal oscillation and the annular modes of the Arctic oscillation and the Antarctic oscillation, and the dominant spatial patterns in month-to-month and year-to-year climate variability, including the one through which El Niño phenomenon in the tropical Pacific influences climate over North America. He is also the coauthor with Peter V. Hobbs of what is generally considered the standard introductory textbook in the field: Atmospheric Science: An Introductory Survey. He was the third most cited geoscientist during the period 1973-2007.

    Dr. Wallace’s positions on energy exploration include extreme fossil fuels.

    His textbook, written in 1977 and revised in 2006 (Amazon) is said to be one of the best on meteorology around. He appears to encourage an energy quest.

    The conversation continued in comments for a bit here towards the end of the first page of comments and the next page:

    Some of you applied your excellent abilities to finding out more, for which thanks.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 8 Apr 2012 @ 3:08 PM

  58. Oops! That’s John Michael Wallace! (news today makes it confusing)

    recaptcha: suffering ecalibl (ecological libel?)

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 8 Apr 2012 @ 6:33 PM

  59. I’ve been trying to put together a simple, easy to understand visual summary of the global-temperature results I posted about earlier here. That is, a nice visual demonstration of the reliability/robustness of the global temperature record that is also refutation of most of the claims that denialists have made about the global temperature record, in an easy-to-digest “eye candy” format (something that won’t make non-technical folks’ eyes glaze over…)

    I’ve put together 3 images.

    1) The first is a plot of what I call the “Sparse Rural Stations” index (i.e. global-average temperatures computed from a very small number of scattered rural stations), compared with the official NASA/GISS “Meteorological Stations” temperature index. Image here:

    2) A Google Earth visualization of stations used to compute the NASA/GISS “Meteorological Stations” index. Image here:

    3) A Google Earth visualization of stations used to compute the “Sparse Rural Stations” temperature index. Image here:

    The “Sparse Rural Stations” procedure is extremely simple. Divide up the globe into 20 degrees x 20 degrees grid-elements (at the Equator; longitude dimensions adjusted as you go N/S to keep grid-element areas approximately constant). Search each grid-element for the station with the longest temperature record. Use one and only station for each grid element. Compute the year/month temperature anomalies for the selected stations, and just straight average them all together for each year.

    Comment by caerbannog — 8 Apr 2012 @ 6:48 PM

  60. Caerbannog:


    Comment by Susan Anderson — 8 Apr 2012 @ 8:03 PM

  61. On Kareiva,

    I disagree with previous commenters in that I find Kareiva’s points extremely valuable, especially when talking about the future and the actions we should take to prepare for it. For example, attempts to keep the Arctic’s and Antarctica’s ecosystems intact are futile wastes of time and money. You like polar bears on ice floes? Too bad. There is ZERO chance to preserve that. Polar bears will learn to live solely on land, hybridize with grizzlies, or go extinct. Same stuff goes for most ecosystems around the planet. Things will change radically and far faster than nature is “used” to changing. We’re going to have to make decisions about which species from around the world to introduce to new ecosystems as the old ones collapse. What plants and animals will we choose to introduce to the ex-taiga? Antarctica? The ex-tundra? Will we do it accidentally and haphazardly (like releasing pet boas in Florida) or with intelligence and purpose?

    Mankind used to just live here. Traditional environmentalism worked in the Holocene. Guard/fence the Amazon, and the Amazon lives on. But now that we’ve entered the Anthropocene, like it or not, we’re in the terraforming business. Fence the Amazon, and it will probably die anyway.

    So, Kareiva’s point is clear and correct – traditional environmentalism wants to return large areas of the planet to pre-human conditions, but those conditions aren’t supportable anymore. The climate is changing too rapidly and the planet is becoming too crowded. Traditional environmentalism is doomed to failure because saving the current environment is no longer possible. We’ve got to build a new one, perhaps with palm trees in Boston. And since most ecosystems will be brand new, their species will be selected either randomly (i.e., weeds and pests will flourish), or for human benefit. It’s our choice, but we CAN’T choose “what was there before”.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 9 Apr 2012 @ 12:23 AM

  62. Many RC posters have realised that Captcha words are like tealeaves with hidden messages. Today at 09:56 UTC mine are “labors Undedue”. An unfavourable omen, or not? I shall wonder about it all day.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 9 Apr 2012 @ 5:00 AM

  63. Jim Larsen @ 61

    “traditional environmentalism wants to return large areas of the planet to pre-human conditions”

    Traditional environmentalism? What is this, Punch a Dirty Hippie after Easter Day? Environmental thinking is much more subtle than that. I will agree though, that climate change is hard to work into planning. Heh. I just heard NYC Mayor Bloomberg make some good noises on NPR about the environment then turn around and say that there’s no point trying to do anything about it until mid century. (And on that same day an NPR newscaster mentioned in passing that “some” scientists are concerned about global warming. Guess that means no big deal for now.)

    Comment by Radge Havers — 9 Apr 2012 @ 10:10 AM

  64. Jim Larsen: “saving the current environment is no longer possible. We’ve got to build a new one … It’s our choice, but we CAN’T choose ‘what was there before’ …”

    And what evidence supports your apparent belief that human beings have the knowledge, understanding and capability to “build a new” biosphere?

    Sure, we have amply demonstrated — and continue to demonstrate — that we have the capacity to DESTROY rich, diverse, robust ecosystems that have taken many millions of years to evolve. And we are currently in the process of demonstrating our ability to massively degrade and perhaps even mostly destroy the entire Earth’s biosphere. We are very, very powerful indeed — when it comes to the power to destroy.

    But to imagine that ignorant, rapacious mass destruction is evidence of the ability to create “brand new ecosystems” for “human benefit” is nothing but delusion and hubris.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 9 Apr 2012 @ 10:55 AM

  65. Jim,
    I find it interesting that you seem willing to speak for what “traditional environmentalists” might seek. Are you a traditional environmentalist? Have they vouchsafed their deerest desires to you? Have you polled them? Oh, and last but not least, WTF is a traditional environmentalist…one who only becomes one with the environment after marriage?

    The issue is not that we are changing the environmental. Most environmentalists accept this as an inevitablility. Their concern arises from the fact that we are changing the environment in an uncontrolled fashion–in a fashion that increases the odds that the environment will not support us when our population reaches 10 billion or so by mid century.

    When the car is careening out of control under conditions of low visibility and hazardous driving, I don’t think it is an extreme position to want to apply the brake.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Apr 2012 @ 2:18 PM

  66. Another milestone–1000 page views for this article on the (simplified physical basis for) the greenhouse effect:

    Thanks as always to RC readers for past support.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 Apr 2012 @ 2:39 PM

  67. #64–

    “But to imagine that ignorant, rapacious mass destruction is evidence of the ability to create “brand new ecosystems” for “human benefit” is nothing but delusion and hubris.”

    Maybe. But we manifestly do have the power to make choices that fundamentally alter the conditions of life for the entire planet.

    Therefore, we have the responsibility to use that power in an intentional manner–and hopefully the wisdom to do so in a benign manner as well. (That part looks far from self-evident just now, to be sure.) And if we are part of a larger whole, doing so will indeed be “for human benefit.”

    Making sure that self-interest is sufficiently enlightened always seems to be the hard part, somehow.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 Apr 2012 @ 2:44 PM

  68. SecularAnimist, it’s just positivist thinking at work. We’re not destroying existing ecosystems (a bad thing), we’re creating new ones (a good thing!). Of course this must be combined with the strawman view of conservationists wanting “to return large areas of the planet to pre-human conditions”. This statement demostrates ignorance … and not on the part of conservationists.

    In the same sense that cigarette manufacturers are creating business for doctors, and morticians.

    Comment by dhogaza — 9 Apr 2012 @ 2:45 PM

  69. #60–Yes, as Susan said, very nice!

    My only thought: how about the other (‘Eastern’) hemisphere as well in the second and third images? It’s sufficiently illustrative as is, but would be yet more intuitively convincing if ‘complete.’ Besides, folks will always want to look at their own backyard, and the politics of CO2 are very much in play in Oz right now…

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 Apr 2012 @ 2:48 PM

  70. > traditional environmentalism …
    > we CAN’T choose “what was there before”….

    And that’s Kareiva’s strawman argument.

    Kareiva misquoted a familiar quote.

    It’s about wildness, not wilderness.

    Sure, there are nuts at the fringe on all branches of the tree.

    Ask any wildland firefighter about the places where “environmentalists” live right next to wildland but over and over defeat prescribed burning, so the next wildfire will be horrendous.

    Those are ‘not in my back yard, peace in our time’ fools.

    Look for the pampas grass in their tasteful gardens maintained by people they pay under the table, most likely. Same ones who patronize the nurseries selling stuff that’s invasive, too.

    The ecologists condemn those nitwits — “right” or “left” or “conservative” or “liberal” as they may want to be called, from an ecology viewpoint they’re stupid shortsighted selfish rich people.

    If Kareiva focused on that rich stupid fringe he’d be focusing correctly, but he’d have to condemn people he agrees with otherwise politically, I’d imagine. So he tries to make argue a left-right divide.

    He’s confused his argument beyond remedy, and confused typically.

    Read someone sensible instead. Try this:

    Leopold’s Challenge
    18 June, 2009 | Stephen Bocking

    “… These struggles come to the fore whenever ecologists urge new ideas about ecosystems. One such idea has been to discard the notion of ecosystems as stable or finely balanced…. destabilizing forces (say, a forest fire) maintain diversity and resilience. A view of nature as predictable has been replaced by one that accepts uncertainty and the likelihood of surprise. This implies a new goal for management: not control for maximum production, but resilience in the face of disturbance, which thereby embraces natural variation over an artificial and unsustainable stability….”

    [Response:Yes, a lot of this thing stems from Kareiva confusing the issue frankly. First of all, environmentalism is not ecology, as Peter Kareiva well knows, yet he writes in his essay about how “environmentalists” have this preservationist mentality for conservation, which even among them, is a case he vastly oversimplifies. He even cites as one of his main references for this, an article (a bad article no less!) in Mother Jones magazine! He should be discussing the views that various ecologists have toward restoration and conservation, which are wide and varied. Much of his language strikes me as designed to promote controversy, perhaps to bring attention to himself. I think he has a lot of explaining to do to clarify where he’s coming from, and why.–Jim]

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Apr 2012 @ 3:32 PM

  71. Kevin McKinney wrote: “But we manifestly do have the power to make choices that fundamentally alter the conditions of life for the entire planet.”

    So far, we have only demonstrated that we have the manifest power to “fundamentally alter conditions of life for the entire planet” for the worse — as evidenced by extinctions of species, gross degradation of entire ecosystems, and now the threat of the gross degradation of the entire Earth’s biosphere with AGW.

    Kevin McKinney wrote: “Therefore, we have the responsibility to use that power in an intentional manner –- and hopefully the wisdom to do so in a benign manner as well.”

    Given the overwhelming evidence that we utterly lack the “wisdom” to alter ecosystems — let alone the entire Earth’s biosphere — “in a benign manner”, it would seem that our main “responsibility” is to use our “power” to restrain ourselves from ignorant and destructive actions.

    What I see is an alcoholic diagnosed with terminal cirrhosis of the liver, boasting of his “power” to “fundamentally alter conditions of life for his entire body”.

    Or a guy walking into a china shop and wildly swinging a baseball bat until he has destroyed thousands of dollars and centuries worth of irreplaceable artistic artifacts, boasting of his “responsibility” to “use his power in an intentional manner” that will “hopefully” be “benign”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 9 Apr 2012 @ 3:33 PM

  72. Jim Larsen wrote: “like it or not, we’re in the terraforming business”

    Um, no.

    Converting a barren planet, like perhaps Mars, and transforming it into a rich, diverse, thriving and robust biosphere like that of the Earth, would be “terraforming”.

    Transforming the Earth’s rich, diverse, thriving and robust biosphere into a poisoned, ecologically impoverished wasteland is not “terraforming”. It’s just ignorant, arrogant stupidity.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 9 Apr 2012 @ 3:40 PM

  73. Maybe @61 Jim Larsen has some points, but I agree, “traditional environmentalism wants to return large areas of the planet to pre-human condition” is a complete straw man, and to me signals a particular ideological argument. I’ve never met anyone expressing those sentiments. I know lots of environmentalists, and though I will absolutely not try to speak for them as a group, I think most would not be opposed to my earlier points (sustainability, corporate abuse, environmental responsibility), as well as wanting to “preserve” or conserve many still-existing natural areas.

    Comment by Jathanon — 9 Apr 2012 @ 3:59 PM

  74. Hank Roberts wrote: “This implies a new goal for management …”

    May I humbly suggest as a “new goal for management”, that a species that aspires to “manage” entire ecosystems and indeed the entire Earth’s biosphere, might first consider learning to manage itself.

    The delusional anthropocentric hubris that created the problem is not the solution to the problem.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 9 Apr 2012 @ 4:19 PM

  75. SA, try these references.
    I’m speaking about how it’s being done, not what I’d do if I were God.

    A perennial caution: not to let the best be the enemy of the good.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Apr 2012 @ 4:47 PM

  76. 64 SA said, “And what evidence supports your apparent belief that human beings have the knowledge, understanding and capability to “build a new” biosphere?”

    Really? Apparent belief? I didn’t mention capability and have no evidence that we’ll do a good job. Lots of invasive species were introduced in an attempt to improve things. Kudzu comes to mind. And that’s a single species. Trying to populate, say, a new desert from scratch will provide plenty of opportunities to screw things up.

    It isn’t delusion nor hubris, but plain necessity. We can leave that new desert essentially devoid of life, or we can introduce species. We can let species go extinct as their range moves faster than they can migrate, or we can help them move. Traditional environmentalism focuses on “let it be”. Well, previous extinction events took millions of years to heal, and that isn’t an acceptable timeline. As I said, LIKE IT OR NOT, we’re in the terraforming business. I’m surprised you took that as confident optimism. In fact, the opposite is true.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 9 Apr 2012 @ 5:04 PM

  77. like it or not, we’re in the terraforming business

    I believe the correct term is ‘sterilizing’.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 9 Apr 2012 @ 5:15 PM

  78. Er, communication again.

    Hank, SER readers: “Valuable Tools and Resources” with a big ol’ cycle and hammer thingy on it? Heavens to Murgatroyd.

    And today on NPR the Tennessee monkey business, I couldn’t even listen. Had to go breathe in a paper bag. Teaching the controversy because, for instance, climate scientists used to think the science was settled, but now they don’t.

    For pity’s sake, try not to set yourselves up.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 9 Apr 2012 @ 5:53 PM

  79. Gah. I should talk. Make that ‘sickle’ not ‘cycle’.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 9 Apr 2012 @ 5:58 PM

  80. Kevin McKinney,
    Thus far, I’ve seen precious little evidence of “choice”–rather the evidence of several billion small choices, each on of little consequence, that together are wrecking the planet for human habitation. No raindrop thinks it is the cause of the flood. So the rich can blame the problem on the fecundity of the poor, while the poor blame it on the avarice of the rich. And nothing improves.

    I am beginning to believe that the only “choices” that are going to matter are the ones scientists make in developing a new and better infrastructure. And it will have to be better, or humanity will stay on the course it is on until it kills us.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Apr 2012 @ 7:13 PM

  81. > Radge Havers

    You call this a hammer and sickle?
    Your eyes are fooled by your prejudices, or you’ve never dug a ditch.

    Do you imagine this proves they’re all secretly Masons?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Apr 2012 @ 8:00 PM

  82. Read the puff piece on Kareiva. I have to say it’s alarming that the Nature Conservancy would keep such a clearly corporate compromiser on board. Maybe they should adopt a policy from Catholicism: excommunication. Here are some quotes:

    “Quietly, these massive funds — nicknamed the BINGOs, for “big nongovernmental organizations” — have utterly revamped their missions, trumpeting conservation for the good it does people, rather than the other way around. “Biodiversity” is out; “clean air” is in.”

    “Beyond fears of corporate abuse — nothing new at the Nature Conservancy — Kareiva is asking members to adopt a different moral system. Gone is the bright line saying that all species must be saved. It’s replaced by acceptance that some species will go extinct, said Michael Nelson, an environmental philosopher at Michigan State University.”

    “A generational dynamic is being played out. Kareiva’s team seems to be winning. Team Biodiversity may soon leave the court … Let Thoreau go. ‘Broaden the constituency to those loggers,’ he said.”

    So Kareiva joins other notorious compromisers like Patrick Moore and Bjorn Lomborg. People first. If some conservation accidentally happens along the way, then fine. Good for PR. But do it for people.

    It seems that when some environmentalists reach a certain age they grow tired of the fight, and when they’ve gotten comfortable and used to luxury, an internal struggle, perhaps quelled for decades, begins to boil to the top. You see it in Kareiva’s comments about the loggers bars his dad used to go to, “I felt aligned with it” he says. And, disappointed, not having realized their original goal of a world saved, they begin to rationalize, to wonder if perhaps they’d made a mistake, if the world actually needs saving. Maybe it’s not so bad after all. When they were younger and their future less certain they wanted change, they cared for all. But later when they’ve gotten used to the finer things their priorities begin to change. They turn inwards. It’s hard to see the need for change when personally you’re doing well. Luxury (look at Kareiva’s girth) is a potent contender.

    Then there’s the need to stay relevant, important, to grab some limelight before you go, to make a mark on history. Ego comes into play. Perhaps the aging of the environmental movement will be it’s doom (as the article seems to be saying).

    Problem is, this is certainly bad for the earth. Every inch that is surrendered is an inch we can’t get back. Extinction is forever. There’s an old Italian saying that goes: “feather by feather the goose is plucked”. The end of Kareiva’s philosophy is a world with nothing left but man, his pets and the animals he eats. His postage stamp sized yard and a city park here and there. There is no difference between Kareiva and Creationists who insist that Genesis 1:28 shows that the earth was made for man and is ours to do with as we want. The other 99% of species have no inherent right to life, not without our permission. It’s the same philosophy that allows dead hearted people to use chimps and puppies for all kinds of horrific laboratory experimentation. They are not beings with feelings but machines for our use, whatever that nay be.

    Stop fighting and throw in the towel. If you can’t beat ’em join ’em. Right. We see it in the subtle argument from dirty energy funded rightwing think tanks that rather than mitigate carbon dioxide emissions we should all just adapt.

    The conservative National Center for Policy Analysis whose “Environmental Task Force” contains a number of climate change skeptics including Sherwood Idso and S. Fred Singer[210] says, “The growing consensus on climate change policies is that adaptation will protect present and future generations from climate-sensitive risks far more than efforts to restrict CO 2 emissions”

    Despite conceding that our consumption of fossil fuels is causing serious damage and despite implying that current policy is inadequate, the Report fails to take the next step and recommend serious alternatives. Rather, it suggests that we simply need to accommodate to the coming changes. For example, reminiscent of former Interior Secretary Hodel’s proposal that the government address the hole in the ozone layer by encouraging Americans to make better use of sunglasses, suntan lotion and broad-brimmed hats, the Report suggests that we can deal with heat-related health impacts by increased use of air-conditioning … Far from proposing solutions to the climate change problem, the Administration has been adopting energy policies that would actually increase greenhouse gas emissions. Notably, even as the Report identifies increased air conditioner use as one of the ‘solutions’ to climate change impacts, the Department of Energy has decided to roll back energy efficiency standards for air conditioners.[219] Letter from 11 State Attorneys General to George W. Bush.

    In essence this is shorter Kareiva:

    Comment by Ron R. — 9 Apr 2012 @ 8:27 PM

  83. Hank,

    OK, very funny. To be precise, it’s a visual pun on a hammer and sickle motif.

    Look at this:

    And then look at this:

    I assure you I’ve done plenty of digging (and heavy lifting) in my time, and I have the back and bad temper to prove it. I’ve also trained and worked as a graphic designer and been around art and artists all my life, six decades now. So speaking from that perspective listen up; you’re not well served by turning a deaf ear on this issue. This is exactly the association that would be trapped in a typical design critique.

    It’s not a question of my prejudice or even necessarily how it was intended. It is certainly a question of how your audience will receive it. Make sense?

    Comment by Radge Havers — 9 Apr 2012 @ 9:29 PM

  84. Found this link that discusses “Breakthrough Institute” of which Kareiva is a Senior Fellow.

    Check links in criticism section for sources.

    Comment by Ron R. — 9 Apr 2012 @ 9:33 PM

  85. #71–SA: “What I see is an alcoholic diagnosed with terminal cirrhosis of the liver, boasting of his “power” to “fundamentally alter conditions of life for his entire body”.”

    Right. We have a problem. We aren’t dealing with it well.

    Does it help more to believe that we have the potential ability to deal with it, or the reverse? ‘Cause it ain’t going away. We have the drink (to adopt your metaphor), we have the dough to buy more. So we have the choice what we will do with that dough. We can’t duck it by saying, “Oh, we are not worthy to choose.”

    We damn well better learn to be worthy, or we’re going down. And yes, that involves humility–but it’s false humility to pretend we don’t have powers that we do, and thus to continue to misuse them. Some castigate it as ‘playing God.’ I say we don’t have to do that–but we do urgently need to do a better job of ‘playing human.’

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 Apr 2012 @ 10:32 PM

  86. We are not trying to “save the earth”. The earth after humans do our worst will be in no worse shape than it was after the last big asteroid hit. We are trying to save civilization. I for one hope that we be able to perform Bach, ski the Grinnell Glacier, watch elephants, sit around drinking beer and doing the myriad other things that make a civilized life for many more millenia.

    Comment by don gisselbeck — 9 Apr 2012 @ 11:42 PM

  87. Radge Havers #78 – you must be from Scotland. Or have totally insane parents.

    (Yes this comment is well off topic, but I find it amusing)

    Comment by guthrie — 10 Apr 2012 @ 5:28 AM

  88. guthrie @ 87

    Good catch!
    Part Scottish, and the insanity is all my own!

    Comment by Radge Havers — 10 Apr 2012 @ 9:53 AM

  89. Good point Don,

    Barring a Dr. Strangelove or Martian Chronicles scenario, the earth will go on. Unfortunately, we seem to be doing our best to minimize the number of species with which we share this planet, mostly by forcing them out of their natural habitats or overhunting (rather illogical to quote Spock). If we wish to continue watchin elephants (and other species) in nature, then we had better do our best to preserve their natural environment.

    Comment by Dan H. — 10 Apr 2012 @ 9:58 AM

  90. “Teaching the controversy because, for instance, climate scientists used to think the science was settled, but now they don’t.”

    Realclimate 2009: Unsettled Science.

    Comment by J Bowers — 10 Apr 2012 @ 10:08 AM

  91. don gisselbeck — @ 11:42 said The earth after humans do our worst will be in no worse shape than it was after the last big asteroid hit.

    Well that makes me feels SO much better! Thanks.

    Comment by Ron R. — 10 Apr 2012 @ 10:23 AM

  92. Kevin McKinney wrote: “Does it help more to believe that we have the potential ability to deal with it, or the reverse?”

    I not only “believe”, but I KNOW, that we have the actual ability to phase out virtually all anthropogenic GHG emissions by replacing fossil fuels with solar, wind and other renewable energy sources, and to begin drawing down the already dangerous anthropogenic excess of atmospheric GHGs with reforestation and organic agriculture — within a decade or less.

    IF we choose to do so. And I am not at all certain that we will choose to do so. Indeed, it appears that we are collectively making the choice NOT to do so.

    In light of this — and in light of our ongoing degradation of ecosystems all over the planet, in addition to AGW — the notion that humanity will “terraform” the Earth, creating some sort of “brave new biosphere” out of the ruined, biologically impoverished wastelands and acidic oceans of a globally-warmed planet, is simply insane. It’s just nonsense.

    Don Gisselbeck wrote: “We are not trying to ‘save the earth’. The earth after humans do our worst will be in no worse shape than it was after the last big asteroid hit. We are trying to save civilization.”

    Actually, as unbelievable as this may be to the pathologically anthropocentric psychology that is at the root of the crisis we face today, some of us would like to “save the earth” — which is to say, we would like to save at least some of what remains of the rich, diverse, resilient, unimaginably complex and beautiful and creative Holocene biosphere from being utterly rubbed out by an anthropogenic catastrophe.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 10 Apr 2012 @ 10:24 AM

  93. SA, are you saying in post 91 that you KNOW [emphasis yours] we can entirely replace fossil fuels with alternatives in the next ten years or start to replace fossil fuels during that decade? I suspect the former, as the latter is a trivial statement. If it is the former, do you actually have a plan for how this herculean (but entirely laudable) feet is to be accomplished?

    Comment by MartinJB — 10 Apr 2012 @ 11:02 AM

  94. Hank @ 70:
    >Ask any(sic) wildland firefighter about (evil) “environmentalists” ….

    Or: you heard some one firefighter on complicit media, one who has learned from talk radio how to assign labels and blame for his frustrations ….

    There are some individuals who oppose prescribed fire that might cause them smoke for a day or two. It’s political to declare these the environmentalists and to blame them for insufficient prescribed fire.

    Prescribed fire issues:
    Serious concern with smoke reducing roadway visibility
    many other regulations for good reasons …
    certain conditions are required – not too wet, dry, or windy for starters
    ** Not enough resources and trained personnel to burn all the places that need it when conditions are good **

    Prime responsibility for putting out wildfire often rests with a state’s Division of Forestry (DoF). Some of their personnel may be conservative. Quite a few people from other agencies and NGOs have fire training and may help put fires out. All of the above are the same ones who carry out prescribed burns. Their main frustration is

    ** Not enough resources and trained personnel to burn all the places that need it when conditions are good **.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 10 Apr 2012 @ 11:13 AM

  95. Funny how Kareiva thinks he can do away with environmental icons like Thoreau, Muir, and Abbey simply by finding imperfections. So Thoreau’s mother did his laundry, Apparently that shocking revelation proves that Thoreau was wrong. No doubt Galileo had his imperfections as well. Pretty soon Kareiva will be saying that he was wrong too, which only goes to prove that the sun does indeed revolve around the earth and man really is the center of creation.

    It’s like a baseball game where one side secretly hires a “motivational speaker” and sends him into the locker room of the opposing team before the World Series. There he tells the team that, hey, you’re not likely to win anyway so relax and stop knocking yourself out. He knows that once he can get them to accept that it’s game over, the other side has already won.

    Of course he’s right that we need to talk to the other side. But just because the pillagers are people with human needs too doesn’t make the pillaging right. Kareiva says that he was moved by the loggers holding their children on their shoulders in the back of the room. Fine. No doubt slave holders had families to feed as well. No doubt they loved their kids too. But the institution of slavery was wrong all the same.

    What’s at stake? RIght now we have a rapidly increasing population on a finite world. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the logical conclusion here. Eventually even the postage stamp sized yards and city parks will give way to the inexorable crush of humanity and we’ll have to build up. The surface of the globe covered in highrises. A Julian Simonesque dream. All our food synthetically derived, pets replaced with robots. Maintenance-free plants in place of real ones. Wilderness a thing of the past. Utopia. But look at the bright side: we’ll have all kinds of cool gadgets lying around.

    It’s sad that so many city bound people today are growing up without little appreciation for nature. No knowledge of it’s beauty, it’s subtleties. No memory of what the world once was. No understanding of our connection to and need for it. No comprehension of the suite of serious threats it faces thanks to one species. So how can they care for it? This planet with a razor thin biosphere clinging impossibly to its surface surrounded by the freezing vacuum of space, all of it’s sister worlds dead.

    Someone mentioned to me in passing the other day that he saw a beaver that had been living a tentative existence in a little stream hemmed in by apartment complexes on one side and a busy street on the other, had finally run out of luck. It had been run over. He thought it remarkable that a beaver had been living in that tiny stream. There was a pause like a elegy, one less beaver in the world, a little less wildlife. And then it was onto other news.

    Comment by Ron R. — 10 Apr 2012 @ 11:26 AM

  96. > restore a pre-human condition

    There is not much interest in setting the clock back millions of years.
    In North America, pre-Colombian is sometimes a desired standard.
    More specifically: to restore an ecosystem, restore its natural drainage and hydrology and its natural fire frequency and seasonality (both with appropriate variability) and control or eliminate invasive species. Then be patient with time & nature.

    This usually improves regional water resources while making the preserved area a resource for everyone from hunters to Lepidoptera lovers.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 10 Apr 2012 @ 11:49 AM

  97. Hank on another thread:

    “Ok, that ends _this_ exchange, I trust.”

    Well almost, except to point out that this illustrates a difference in the way that artists and scientists communicate. If literal concrete analysis of the image applied, it wouldn’t be a question of art, or metaphor. Nor is it a question of the technical use of symbols. I know scientists sometimes find the dreamlike, illusory world of visual artists hard to come to terms with– occasionally with good reason. I once worked with an artist who changed obscure map boundaries in order to make them more visually satisfying.

    However, artists try to develop a feel for how images go into peoples heads and what they do once they’re in there. They should know that what’s appropriate for one audience may not fly in a different or broader venue. That cover looks professionally designed, and therefore I think it highly unlikely that the use of that particular image in that particular way was unintentional. The people who designed and vetted it no doubt knew exactly what it looked like. I happen to think it was a naive move.

    Ok, that ends _this_ exchange…
    I trust.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 10 Apr 2012 @ 12:05 PM

  98. Kevin says:
    Some castigate it as ‘playing God.’ I say we don’t have to do that–but we do urgently need to do a better job of ‘playing human.’

    Gotta love it. I am so stealing this quote.

    Comment by David Miller — 10 Apr 2012 @ 12:06 PM

  99. Is it corporations all the down? or up?

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 10 Apr 2012 @ 12:17 PM

  100. March 28, 2012

    The Honorable Charles Bolden, Jr.

    NASA Administrator

    NASA Headquarters

    Washington, D.C. 20546-0001

    Dear Charlie,

    We, the undersigned, respectfully request that NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) refrain from including unproven remarks in public releases and websites. We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data. With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from the GISS leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled.

    The unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA’s history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decisions or public statements.

    As former NASA employees, we feel that NASA’s advocacy of an extreme position, prior to a thorough study of the possible overwhelming impact of natural climate drivers is inappropriate. We request that NASA refrain from including unproven and unsupported remarks in its future releases and websites on this subject. At risk is damage to the exemplary reputation of NASA, NASA’s current or former scientists and employees, and even the reputation of science itself.

    For additional information regarding the science behind our concern, we recommend that you contact Harrison Schmitt or Walter Cunningham, or others they can recommend to you.

    Thank you for considering this request.



    [Response: This is pure politics. As former employees of NASA they should know full well that NASA doesn’t take official positions on scientific issues. I note that they provide no references for the ‘unsupported’ statements that think NASA has made. Scientists who work for NASA are however expected to talk about their results, write about them and submit them for peer review. What these letter writers are asking for is for the administration to curtail the free speech rights of NASA employees that they disagree with and that is just wrong. If I asked Bolden to tell Cunningham et al to to stop spouting nonsense, I would be instantly criticised for trying to quash dissent, but these guys have no qualms about it whatsoever. The only response needed is to point these people to the NASA statement on scientific openness that was made the last time people tried to politicise discussions of NASA science. Didn’t work then, won’t work now. – gavin]

    Comment by Stephan — 10 Apr 2012 @ 1:06 PM

  101. “With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief ….”
    Invoking the ‘Oregon petition’? BS, pure and quite wet.

    Comment by flxible — 10 Apr 2012 @ 2:35 PM

  102. For additional information regarding the science behind our concern, we recommend that you contact Harrison Schmitt or Walter Cunningham, or others they can recommend to you.

    I’d like to see SkS pull on that thread.

    Comment by ThePowerofX — 10 Apr 2012 @ 3:23 PM

  103. Schmitt @ DeSmog blog and at Source Watch . . . . Cunningham @ Source Watch and on Wikipedia . . . not great recommendations.

    Comment by flxible — 10 Apr 2012 @ 4:30 PM

  104. “Invoking the ‘Oregon petition’?”

    Oh good, an opportunity to mention notable signatories including Ginger Spice (twice), the doctors from M*A*S*H, and dead people.

    Comment by J Bowers — 10 Apr 2012 @ 4:46 PM


    “How 50-year-old carbon emissions came back to ravage Northwest shellfish, how scientists and hatcheries unraveled the mystery of acid upwellings, and how a clam farmer persuaded Gov. Gregoire and the Obama administration to take action, with a little help from Ron Sims.”

    “… The scientists explained what they’d uncovered about a threat that is both oceanic in scale and uniquely regional in character, which threatens the Northwest’s cherished shellfish industry in the short run and the survival of the marine biosphere and all the terrestrial life that depends on it in the longer run.

    “Okay, you’ve laid out the problem,” exclaimed Sims, the former King County executive, who’d washed up back in Seattle after a stint in D.C. and resurfaced as a marine environmental statesman. “Now tell me what we can do!” Boil it down, he pled in his most plaintive preacher tones. Cut the fancy explanations and give us political and policy types concrete steps we can take to correct it.

    Last Friday, an answer arrived. A who’s who of state, federal, tribal, commercial, and scientific actors (and Ron Sims) gathered to begin hashing out a defense against an emerging threat most Americans probably haven’t even heard of: global warming’s evil twin, ocean acidification, OA for short. Gov. Chris Gregoire had chartered a new Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification to sift a flood of new scientific data and real-world experience and distill a suite of concrete policy recommendations for surviving, mitigating, and preventing acidification….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Apr 2012 @ 6:05 PM

  106. And for those who want to react without reading the full article linked above, a bit more from further down the page:

    “… In recent years, scientists from UW, Oregon State University, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration have shown that the upwelled waters off the Pacific Coast have grown increasingly acidic (or decreasingly alkaline, another way of saying the same thing, since both are relative terms for the same pH scale we all learned about in school). The reason, it seems: The ocean’s rhythms are such that it takes about 50 years for carbon dioxide absorbed from the air to circulate through the deep and well back up to the surface.

    Fifty years ago, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations had already risen around 15 percent from preindustrial levels, thanks to fossil-fuel burning and other human activities. Sunlight-blocking air pollutants — remember the haze over cities in those days? — forestalled the warming effect, but as that pollution gets cleaned up, the greenhouse effect ramps up. Atmospheric CO2 has since risen another 15 to 20 percent, foretelling even sourer upwellings in decades to come. As Oregon State oceanographer Burke Hales, one of the researchers who uncovered the acidifying upwellings, says, “We’ve mailed ourselves a package, and it’s hard to call off delivery.”

    Meanwhile, something very strange and very scary has been unfolding at the Northwest’s shellfish farms and hatcheries….”


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Apr 2012 @ 6:07 PM

  107. and more:

    “… UW marine scientist Terrie Klinger noted at last week’s session, “the current rate of change has not been seen in at least 300 million years, since the dawn of the fishes.” And as in atmospheric warming, it’s the pace of change that overwhelms organisms’ and natural systems’ ability to adapt. Not to mention human systems’. Fish, too, are vulnerable to dropping pH; they don’t melt away like oyster larvae, but they grow less and die sooner. Sayonara, salmon.

    Stopping acidification will require the same simple, devilishly difficult measure as limiting greenhouse warming: rolling back carbon emissions, and then waiting a century or two for those already released to work their way through the upwelling cycle. But while upwellings are the largest source of coastal acidification (contributing an estimated 60 to 75 percent at various spots on the Pacific Coast), they aren’t the only source. The growth and decomposition of plankton and seaweed contribute about 20 percent in Puget Sound and up to 26 percent along the Washington Coast.

    They’re also the main source along the Eastern seaboard, where upwellings aren’t a factor but shellfish growers are starting to suffer dieoffs. After unlocking the mystery at Whiskey Creek, Alan Barton decided to get as far from acidic upwellings as he could. He returned to North Carolina and started an oyster hatchery. Bad timing: pH started dropping, and larvae started dying….”


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Apr 2012 @ 6:09 PM

  108. #92–“the notion that humanity will “terraform” the Earth, creating some sort of “brave new biosphere” out of the ruined, biologically impoverished wastelands and acidic oceans of a globally-warmed planet, is simply insane.”

    SA, I didn’t get any such picture from Jim’s original remarks–FWIW. My impression was rather more of conservation professionals desperately trying to save what they could by deploying the ecological equivalents of duct tape and baling wire.

    #98–David, thanks and welcome.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 10 Apr 2012 @ 10:06 PM

  109. Well, Colonel Cunningham’s grasp of the history of climate science/politics is quite deficient, according to some of his past writings, at least. A specific comment/correction to that portion of his ideology here:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 10 Apr 2012 @ 10:22 PM

  110. Stephan, like Gavin, I fully support the right of those who wrote that letter to do so. But they might gain a bit more traction if they backed up their claims. To wit:

    “We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data.”

    Show us where NASA or GISS says CO2 “is having a catastrophic impact” on global climate change. Show us that there is no evidence of increased levels of CO2 not impacting global climate. Show us the “thousands of years of empirical data” that back up your claims here.

    “With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts …”

    And from where do you glean these hundreds of well-known climate scientists and thousands of other scientists? Show us your data.

    “…coming particularly from the GISS leadership.”

    Show us these catastrophic forecasts coming from GISS and show us how all these scientists are expressing concern about the GISS data and forecasts.

    “The unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA’s history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decisions or public statements.”

    The term “unbridled advocacy” is an interesting phrase. Hard to objectively measure that. What I observe from NASA’s climate scientists is what I observe from other climate scientists around the world: they do the research and the data chips fall where they fall. When a lot of the chips fall in the same place and the theoretical and empirical work is found to have been sound, should we be that surprised?

    If you have a better model and the data to support it, let’s see evidence. Thus far, I have yet to see those who are skeptical of the consensus models and evidence come up with models and the data to support them that are either valid or reliable; to boot, there is very little consensus among the skeptics!

    “… we feel that NASA’s advocacy of an extreme position …”

    You mean what *you/they* interpret as an extreme position.

    “… prior to a thorough study of the possible overwhelming impact of natural climate drivers is inappropriate.”

    Oh, please. This is silly and suggests an ignorance of decades of published research on climate and the influence of “natural climate drivers.”

    “We request that NASA refrain from including unproven and unsupported remarks in its future releases and websites on this subject.”

    I would suggest that the claims made on NASA’s website have plenty of empirical support.

    “At risk is damage to the exemplary reputation of NASA, NASA’s current or former scientists and employees, and even the reputation of science itself.”

    More silliness. Talk about overstating the case! This sentence alone suggests the letter was penned by those who have little expertise in the subject. This claim becomes even sillier when one considers that just about every scientific body on the planet supports the consensus view to which NASA climate research has contributed.

    “… contact Harrison Schmitt or Walter Cunningham.”

    Huh? For expertise in climate science, Mr. Bolden is supposed to contact astronauts and engineers? Rather like asking him to contact Gavin or James Hansen for expertise on astronautics. I saw brief statements in the media from four of these former astronauts. I’d like to see them defend the claims they make with evidence from the peer reviewed literature.

    Sorry, but from where I sit this letter, signed by these 49 former NASA engineers and astronauts, is sadly embarrassing.

    Comment by Charles — 10 Apr 2012 @ 11:23 PM

  111. from a blogger:
    Climate Change Offers a Sharp Test of the Predictive Power of Behavioral Economics (blog by Matthew E. Kahn)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Apr 2012 @ 1:24 AM

  112. 92 SA, ten years to not just replace essentially everything but also draw down CO2? I dunno. Here’s an article suggesting that 20-50 years is doable.

    Of course, even your scenario might leave us with carbon feedbacks that drive temperatures high enough to kill off most species. Busy beetles in the taiga, failing rains in the Amazon, and melting permafrost and clathrates could combine to spike GHGs over the next few decades. You claim that trying to save doomed species by helping them migrate is “insane”. I assume delayed migrations, such as provided by seed vaults, tissue samples, zoos, and aquariums are even worse in your mind. Could you explain why we should watch passively as the biosphere implodes should your plan result in massive extinction? If 90% of species are destined to go extinct under your plan, wouldn’t actions to reduce that to 89% be a good thing?

    Your use of the phrase “brave new biosphere” indicates you don’t care to understand what I’m talking about. It’s triage, not a lark. To use your words, “we would like to save at least some of what remains of the rich, diverse, resilient, unimaginably complex and beautiful and creative Holocene biosphere from being utterly rubbed out by an anthropogenic catastrophe.”

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 11 Apr 2012 @ 1:40 AM

  113. Gavin, why not propose a seminar at NASA where those that signed the letter can come and provide you the evidence they have?

    I think you will get a lot of crickets when you propose such a seminar; and if not, there’s a good chance you will show them for what they are: spluttering ideologues, who claim you ignore evidence, but cannot provide said evidence.

    Do make sure they define “catastrophic” first, or they’ll have plausible deniability (e.g., they may consider a 1 meter sea level rise, requiring millions of people to move, as “not catastrophic”).

    Comment by Marco — 11 Apr 2012 @ 2:12 AM

  114. hank, thanks for the article. I would assume that this new increase in surface acidity will mean that the oceans will be less able to absorb atmospheric CO2. Would that assumption be flawed?

    Comment by wili — 11 Apr 2012 @ 2:25 PM

  115. Jim Larsen wrote: “You claim that trying to save doomed species by helping them migrate is ‘insane’.”

    Yes, it is insane, because it’s a fantasy. We have absolutely no idea how to do such a thing. Just to start with, where are we going to “help” these “doomed species” migrate TO?

    To whatever entirely different ecosystems may happen to not yet be degraded? In which context they may become alien invasive species that further degrade and destabilize the ecosystems to which we have transplanted them?

    There is a reason that trying to protect even ONE endangered species, such as the spotted owl, requires placing very large areas of its habitat off-limits to logging: without that vast range of habitat, that species does not exist.

    Jim Larsen wrote: “I assume delayed migrations, such as provided by seed vaults, tissue samples, zoos, and aquariums are even worse in your mind.”

    It’s “worse” in the sense of being even more delusional.

    Jim Larsen wrote: “even your scenario might leave us with carbon feedbacks that drive temperatures high enough to kill off most species”

    True. For all I know, such feedbacks may already have started, and may already be unstoppable and irreversible, and a global ecological collapse may already be unpreventable even if we stopped all GHG emissions tomorrow.

    And if that’s the case, keeping a few sickly polar bears in a zoo isn’t going to prevent the vast ecosystems of the Arctic from disappearing, and keeping some freeze-dried tree frog DNA in a jar isn’t going to keep the unimaginably rich life of the Amazon from disappearing.

    Jim Larsen wrote: “ten years to not just replace essentially everything but also draw down CO2? I dunno.”

    I said within 10 years we could start to draw down the excess CO2 by sequestering it in the biosphere with reforestation and organic agriculture. How long it would take to get us back to 350 ppm, and how long it would take for that reduction to begin reversing the dangerous warming that has already occurred, I don’t know.

    Replacing fossil fuels with solar, wind and other renewable energy is actually easy — technologically and economically — IF we decide to do it with the serious effort that is needed.

    What we are doing now is as though after Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt had said that we needed a 20-year plan to convert the automobile factories to making tanks and planes, based on market incentives that would encourage the automobile manufacturers to gradually shift in that direction, so that hopefully within a couple of decades we’d be in a position to respond to the Japanese attack. But of course any such plan would be contingent on the auto manufacturers’ lobbyists allowing Congress to pass the bill.

    Instead, Roosevelt summoned the CEOs of the auto manufacturers to the White House and told them, “Gentlemen, there isn’t going to be any 1942 model year for Detroit. And you aren’t going to build any more cars for the duration. Starting tomorrow you don’t build cars — you build tanks and planes.”

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 11 Apr 2012 @ 3:27 PM

  116. > I would assume …. Would that assumption be flawed?

    I would assume so.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Apr 2012 @ 4:24 PM

  117. To check your assumptions, I’d suggest

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Apr 2012 @ 4:37 PM

  118. SecularAnimist — @ 3:27 PM The last two paragraphs.

    Well said!

    I think what’s so frustrating is that we know this downward spiral is not inevitable. All we need is the will and we could probably do it or at least make a big dent in our ecological problems. We haven’t really even tried, not on a collective national or global scale, e.g. clean alternative energies. Diverting money from the war machine to them for a couple of years would be a big step. Not likey though. Having a national discussion about overpopulation and limited resources starting with the presidents of first world countries on down to the classroom could wake people up to the issue. Again, not likely. Too controversial, and the economic growthers wouldn’t like it.

    The opposition continues to paint our choices as either their lameo, self-enriching “solutions” or the end of the world. And we as a people continue to buy it.

    Comment by Ron R. — 11 Apr 2012 @ 8:25 PM

  119. #115, #118–And yet assisted migration is not only being actively considered and debated–it is a controversial notion, for good reasons, some of which have been stated in the comments I just cited–it has already begun to be practiced:

    (This last, contrary to the claim in the Wikipedia piece, details what may be the first-ever assisted migrations in adaptation to climate change.)

    So, whether it is or is not a good idea, assisted migration is clearly more than a ‘fantasy.’

    And just to be clear about my attitude, I find it another very disquieting straw in the wind. It’s very much against the grain for biologists and ecologists, who have had their noses rubbed in the dangers of invasive exotic species for a couple of generations at least. Yet here they are, debating this desperation tactic quite seriously, and even implementing it.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 11 Apr 2012 @ 10:39 PM

  120. Hank, thanks again for another informative link. I probably missed it, but I didn’t see a clear answer from it to my question. (And your snarky answer was clever and humorous but not very helpful.)

    As the oceans get more and more acidic from absorbed CO2, at some point it must become so saturated that its ability to absorb more CO2 will first become limited, then vanish altogether. Since the oceans have been absorbing about half of our CO2, iirc, I must assume that this will eventually double the amount of new CO2 that stays in the atmosphere.

    Anything that hastens that day would seem to be seriously troubling. Am I missing something?

    Comment by wili — 12 Apr 2012 @ 4:50 AM

  121. #120 and previous–

    Wili, I think the situation is more complicated than to allow for a simple answer to your initial question. Related thoughts that occur to me (disclaiming, as usual, any real expertise):

    –The reported upwellings are local/regional scale, so on the face of it should not be assumed to have a strong direct effect on a global property. Of course, it’s quite possible that ‘upwelled waters’ are more acidic elsewhere, also, but to understand the magnitude of the effect on CO2 absorption, you–well, not you and not me either, but someone–would need to do a lot more work.

    –In general, as I understand it, the problem of ocean acidification is not so much one of the total buffering capacity of the oceans, which is very large compared to the size of the atmospheric carbon reservoir, but of the turnover time of the surface waters, which are the ones that interact with the atmosphere on shorter time scales. That was the crucial question in 1958 for decided whether humans could really ‘carbonize’ the atmosphere: if turnover times were short, the oceans could absorb whatever we could emit, but if not, then CO2 would be sticking around in the atmosphere for quite a while. Bolin and Eriksson showed that it was the latter:

    (Note that you can link to the original paper from the summary essay, if you wish.)

    Acidification is (I think it is fair to say) another facet of the same chemistry and oceanographic dynamic.

    –In terms of prognosticating the future acidification, you must account not only for the chemistry of the ocean water, but also its temperature, and the partial pressure of CO2 in the air. If we keep adding CO2 to the air, we will keep acidifying the ocean for quite a while, despite ‘sourer’ waters. On the other hand, as global temperatures rise, the capacity of seawater to dissolve and hold CO2 decreases. Warm the oceans enough, and they will actually start to outgas CO2, rather as observed in a warming glass of soda. Then we are in big, big trouble–though my seat-of-the-pants guess is that we’ll already be in big trouble before that because of increasing biological and geochemical fluxes of GHGs.

    And actually, I think we’re in trouble now: although it has not been rigorously demonstrated to my knowledge, it seems likely to me–again, seat-of-the-pants–that Arctic amplification is currently causing some amount of ‘feedback’ warming on a global scale. Certainly, Francis and Vavrus present some pretty good evidence that it’s affecting hemispheric circulation:

    Well, semi-informed thoughts. Hope that’s helpful…

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 12 Apr 2012 @ 7:57 AM

  122. Wili,
    It’s not quite so simple. The absorption of CO2 by the oceans is a complicated process. To first order, absorption will “saturate” when the chemical potential equalizes between the atmosphere and the water at the interface. However, if we further raise the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, that raises the chemical potential, and so the oceans will absorb more to equalize it.

    Note that this is a purely 2-dimensional look at the problem. In reality, surface water is continually mixing with subsurface water down to at least 100 m or so, and CO2 rich water will tend to be denser than CO2 poor water of the same salinity and temperature. This means that it is not merely an issue of solubility, but also of ocean/atmosphere dynamics.

    Short answer: It’s complicated.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Apr 2012 @ 7:57 AM

  123. “Assisted migration” . . . like with cats and dogs and farm animals?
    In all the history of the planet, the single most “invasive” species is Homo Sap. Regardless of whether that species is technically capable of modifying it’s current unsustainable lifestyle, the cancerous characteristics it’s demonstrated for all of it’s history preclude any likelihood of anything short of massive population reduction having any efficacy. There’s no place left to “migrate”.
    We’ve “terra-formed” ourselves right out of a future. :(

    Comment by flxible — 12 Apr 2012 @ 9:43 AM

  124. wili says: … I didn’t see a clear answer

    Precisely correct. The article is about what’s needed to reach an answer.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Apr 2012 @ 10:31 AM

  125. For Wili:

    Science 2 March 2012: Vol. 335 no. 6072 pp. 1058-1063
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1208277
    The Geological Record of Ocean Acidification

    “… today’s rate of acidification is 10 times that of the most comparable surge in atmospheric carbon in the last 300 million years, Barbel Honisch, a scientist involved in the study, tentatively estimates.

    Scientists cannot and need not be definitive about exactly what will happen and when all over the earth. As ever with climate change, there is a range of risks involving mind-bogglingly complex planetary systems that scientists can attempt to anticipate, and probably many they have not considered. The point is there are enough dangers of such magnitude and probability that humans should invest in reasonable policies to avoid them.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Apr 2012 @ 11:17 AM

  126. (PS for Wili — the Science article is paywalled, of course).
    Note there’s an item in Corrections and Clarifications Science 16 March 2012: 1302.DOI:10.1126/science.335.6074.1302-b

    I do wonder how bad the news has to get before the publishers of Science, Nature etc. decide to make it free and urge voters to read.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Apr 2012 @ 11:30 AM

  127. #126, Hank Roberts,

    Would that really help? There’s already plenty of good, authoritative, approachable stuff out there to read, there’s just few people willing to read it. Op-eds from ex-astronauts are more comforting.

    For the matter of that, the IPCC report isn’t difficult to read, accessible for free to anyone with internet access and, as far as I can tell, it’s fairly comprehensive.

    I had to click the reCAPTCHA recycle button three times before I got something I could read. Is reCAPTCHA set on “extra-strength?”

    Comment by Charlie H — 12 Apr 2012 @ 12:41 PM

  128. > IPCC Report

    It’s a summary every five years or so; reviews like that in Science on ocean acidification bring readers up to date. Scholar searches often reward, though in this case I found an older text without supplements and corrections: ; it
    mentions both “acidification (and deoxygenation) events” of concern.

    Kevin McKinney and Ray Ladbury gave excellent pointers above to more.

    > reCaptcha difficulty
    I’d guess we see what OCR couldn’t interpret, not pre-screened other than by failing OCR. Presuming the OCR improves steadily, the samples presented will get correspondingly tougher. (See the “?” for their info–in each pair, one item is a repeat, the other is new.)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Apr 2012 @ 4:41 PM

  129. #123–““Assisted migration” . . . like with cats and dogs and farm animals?”

    No, not quite like that–this version is intended for the good of the ‘migrated,’ not the ‘migrator.’

    I grant you, it’s pretty novel, going on form.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 12 Apr 2012 @ 10:07 PM

  130. My deepest thanks to kevin, ray and hank for illuminating comments and helpful links. These kinds of comments and references are what makes this site great!

    So I get that it’s all horribly complicated, but do we have any kind of idea how hot the ocean surface would have to get before it stopped absorbing CO2 and when SST might reach those levels? That would seem to me to be an important date to try to determine (and avoid).

    Comment by wili — 13 Apr 2012 @ 2:41 AM

  131. 115 SA, Assisted migration works. Wolves in Yellowstone, for example. Delayed migrations work. The California condor was extinct in the wild, and now lives in California, Mexico and Arizona. Apparently, the fantasy is a proven reality.

    You asked where to. It’s not to pristine and robust ecosystems (did you really think that’s what I meant?), but to dead areas where the previous ecosystem has been destroyed and the climate is not appropriate for the return of native species. Some might consider helping a species get past human blocks, such as a city, or helping a species which has climbed a mountain reach the next mountain poleward. That’s a potential can of worms, so let’s only consider the first case, where there is no functional ecosystem in the receiving area. That’s the new desert I mentioned in my initial comment. It would also apply to the tundra transforming to taiga. Some species in the taiga might get left behind without help. Helping them move along with their neighbors is not potentially invasive, as it’s still the exact same set of species and variants. The tundra in this case would all go extinct in the receiving area no matter what we do. Keeping some coral and fish species alive for many years as the oceans de-acidify could be another scenario.

    I’m intrigued by your 10 year plan. Sort of the cost is no object, suck it up and just do it plan. Have you done an analysis? Is there enough money in the world? Enough rare earths? Enough fossil fuel energy? (renewables only have ~10:1 EROEI) Have you considered that electric cars cost $35k and in a high demand low supply market that price will inevitably spike? How about that there are no used electric cars? Do only the rich drive in your scenario?

    For comparison, here’s my plan: No new fossil fuel wells or power plants. Existing plants can complete their life cycle, with 40 years being the maximum definition of life cycle. We slowly ramp up production of renewables while intensively researching better techniques, with the intention of big increases in output in five to ten years. (Using your WW2 analogy, if Germany had delayed the war until after she had developed the jet airplane, things would have gone much better for them, don’t you think?) We also use that time to build the grid needed to carry the load, and to increase energy efficiency. Negawatts are far cheaper than renewable watts. Consumer goods will convert via market mechanisms as well as by fiat, such as requiring smart appliances, with taxes switched from income or other sources to carbon emissions as needed (or tax and refund a la James Hansen). To make it work world-wide, “we” (the US and Europe?) will not engage in trade with any country which violates these principles.

    I avoid the perils of your plan. The poor can still drive. Brand new billion dollar power plants aren’t bulldozed. About the only thing dust-binned is drilling equipment. Everything else gets most or all of its normal use. Solar and wind power can evolve and drop in price instead of spiking from the low-supply, high-demand scenario you’d create.

    My plan would save untold trillions over yours and we wouldn’t be stuck with by then obsolete stuff, such as wind turbines with rare-earth intensive gear boxes. Batteries perhaps 10 times better than today’s will likely come online in a decade. Wouldn’t it suck to have a billion new lithium ion batteries on the road right when lithium air comes on line? (Note that a billion lithium ion batteries would take all of the world’s lithium reserves, even though lithium has many other uses, including ceramics and electronics’ batteries. That’s a certain recipe for disastrous price hikes, eh?) There’s lots of other problems. Your plan would result in environmental devastation from mining rare earths and lithium, for example.

    My plan would take 30 years or so and would result in a higher CO2 level than yours, but probably not by much because working over 30 years would be way more efficient. I share your desire to make the conversion quickly, but I’m for doing it intelligently and without environmental destruction and incredible costs. Of course, my way could be the straw that breaks the climate’s stability. In that case, oops, geo-engineering here we come!

    (Neither of our plans has a hope in Hades. We’ll burn through the fossil fuels, and the wholesale destruction of ecosystems is our future – and then it’s back to debating how to try to salvage something of the current biosphere!)

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 13 Apr 2012 @ 5:52 AM

  132. Early this AM, I was watching a NOVA documentary about tornadoes. One of the financial sponsors is David Koch, so I listened to see if NOVA would discuss the possible role of climate change and tornadoes.

    At the very end, there was a short mention that a warming planet could be expected to bring more serious problems from tornadoes. What wasn’t mentioned was why the planet was warming. At least, I don’t think they said this. It was early, but I was listening carefully. Does anyone know about this documentary? It was annoying that David Koch was identified as someone who is supporting science.

    Comment by Snapple — 13 Apr 2012 @ 7:03 AM

  133. Jim Larsen:

    115 SA, Assisted migration works. Wolves in Yellowstone, for example. Delayed migrations work. The California condor was extinct in the wild, and now lives in California, Mexico and Arizona. Apparently, the fantasy is a proven reality.

    Neither of these cases is “assisted migration”, but rather reintroduction into their historical range.

    Comment by dhogaza — 13 Apr 2012 @ 8:48 AM


    “Barlow: If one adopts an end-Pleistocene benchmark, then it is time to bring back the American cheetah, the American camel, the American plains lion, the American mastodons and mammoths, and other species by using proxies from the Old World to restart their evolution in the New, and to restore their vital roles as shapers of ecological landscapes.”

    Feasible on land.

    Harder to do for the ocean, unfortunately:
    Predicting ecological consequences of marine top predator declines

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Apr 2012 @ 12:55 PM

  135. Also:

    “Let me give you an example of an elephant because an elephant is considered the most outrageous …. The mammoths that we had in North America, including in Florida, are more closely related to the Indian [Asian] elephant than the Indian elephant is related to the African elephant.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Apr 2012 @ 12:58 PM

  136. Snapple @ 132

    I saw it too. I didn’t catch any reference to AGW specifically. From what I’m told here at RC, the connection to increased tornado activity hasn’t been made in any case.

    There are several dodgy foundations/organizations/oligarchs that regularly fund PBS programming. I admit this makes me queasy, but I’m more concerned about the systemic pressure that’s applied behind the scenes, particularly in DC.

    While we’re on the subject of public broadcasting, what I’d like to see is Charlie Rose do a series on climate that’s at least as good as his brain series, one with no denialist types on it. (He has apparently done a couple of interviews with climatologists, which naturally I missed.)

    Comment by Radge Havers — 13 Apr 2012 @ 4:30 PM

  137. #134-5:

    Yes, I heard Connie Barlow speak a few years back. Fascinating.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 Apr 2012 @ 10:37 PM

  138. JL and SA, if we are proposing plans that have no hope in Hades of being adopted, may I point out that a rapid transition away from ff and to renewable becomes much more do-able if we reduce our demand drastically. Some of that could be in the efficiency ‘negawatts’ that Jim referred to.

    But really, we have to start asking which watts and btu’s really improve our lives substantially and which are only marginally connected to our well being, if at all. Most of Latin America operates on about a quarter of the energy per capita that the US does, yet reports find their rates of feelings of happiness and well being match or exceed ours. So in theory we could cut our use by a quarter and be just as happy if not happier.

    But seriously, if we’re talking about a threat to our very existence, as GW is, we should be thinking about going beyond this to making actual sacrifices for the cause, as most people did in WWII. Making deeper cuts that may sometimes inconvenience us (but may still make us healthier on average, as they tended to do in WWII), we could cut energy (and most other consumption) down to an eighth or even a tenth of current rates. At those rates, conversion to renewables suddenly seems much more achievable in a reasonable time frame and within the limits on things like rare earth metals we have to deal with (though I’m told that there are ways around the use of some of these in turbines).

    As Jim said, not likely to happen. But we should know that it was not because it was impossible in principle. Only because we lacked the insight, will, determination, imagination, love…what have you to do it. (And of course we have had sand constantly kicked into our collective eyes by the well funded and well organized denialosphere.)

    Comment by wili — 14 Apr 2012 @ 6:20 AM

  139. Can anyone tell me where to find the forcing data used in Hansen 1988, including all forcings? I have found a datafile here:

    that gives the nonvolcanic forcings only. I would like to compare the net forcing estimates from Hansen 1988 with the most recent observed net forcings.
    I have made a first attempt at this by digitizing figure 2 in Hansen 1988. To convert the numbers for the forcings scenarios in Hansen 1988 to W/m2 I multiply with 3.35, as explained here at Climate Audit:

    But it would be nice to have this data directly from an file if possible.

    Comment by SRJ — 17 Apr 2012 @ 11:56 AM

  140. NCDC March data is out.

    Despite the extreme heat in most of North America, and in Western Europe, it was a relatively cool month by recent standards. To me, most interesting is the very cool stratosphere–coolest ever in RSS, 2nd in UAH:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 17 Apr 2012 @ 4:09 PM

  141. For non-scientists like me it can be difficult to determine the validity of various comments. It would be a great help if there were a simple vetting process for knowledgeable posters. Those few(?) who qualify could have a star or some other indicator on their posts which indicates that their opinions generally have merit (though of course even the most illustrious poster could make a flawed comment.)

    More controversial perhaps, posters who are usually off base could have a caution triangle by their name.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 18 Apr 2012 @ 10:08 PM

  142. I had to return Ray Pierrehumbert’s “Principles of Planetary Climate” to the lending library as someone else wanted to peruse it. Great book.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 18 Apr 2012 @ 11:39 PM

  143. Δ

    Comment by Radge Havers — 19 Apr 2012 @ 10:43 AM

  144. For Snapple

    On the reliability of reporting on science and the ongoing systemic vulnerability of PBS, now this:

    A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about how the media giants who own your local commercial television and radio stations have been striking like startled rattlesnakes at an FCC proposal that would shed a light on who’s buying our elections…

    …As Jeffrey Rosen of The New Republic magazine wrote:
    “The arguments against transparency offered by the networks show that, having experienced the windfall of advertising dollars that Citizens United unleashed, they have little interest in meeting their legal and ethical responsibility to serve the public interest.”…

    …But now there’s something new in the mix, especially appalling to anyone who truly cares about public broadcasting. On April 12, by a vote of 2-1 two of three judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of KMTP, a small public station in San Francisco, and struck down the federal ban against political and issue advertising on public TV and radio…

    …The current public system was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967. “It will get part of its support from our government,” Johnson said, “but it will be carefully guarded from Government or from party control. It will be free, and it will be independent — and it will belong to all of our people.”…

    Bill Moyer and Michael Winship at Common Dreams

    “Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing wrong with this, except that it ain’t so.” -Mark Twain

    Comment by Radge Havers — 19 Apr 2012 @ 10:45 AM

  145. This is a unique time to inform people about the causes of climate change and what they can do about it. That is because only very recently have many more people started to believe that the climate is changing-at least here in the U.S. We need to reach them now, while their minds are open, before they settle on false beliefs. I make it a point when I talk with people to tell them that 98% of active climate scientist’s believe that the warming is from greenhouse gases. I also tell them that some measures they take in their lives have far greater impact on emissions than others-ie reducing driving as compared with turning of lights when leaving a room. Many of these new converts who believe the climate is changing, really do not understand what is causing the warming, nor what measures they can take. We need to reach them now. I cannot emphasize this point enough. Their minds will not be open forever.

    Comment by Doug — 19 Apr 2012 @ 11:55 AM

  146. For those who may have missed my Skeptical Science piece on, William Charles Wells, who made observations of radiational exchanges between ground and surface between 1811 and 1817 during his researches into dew, there is now an expanded version published here:

    If only G & T had known…

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 19 Apr 2012 @ 12:45 PM

    “the negative radiative forcing (cooling) associated with net carbon storage over the life of the peatland (approximately 2200 years) was at least twice the value of positive radiative forcing (warming) caused by net CH4 emission over the last 50 years.”

    Hm. 2200 years vs. 50 years — so where’s that going?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Apr 2012 @ 8:39 PM

  148. Greetings experts. Forgive me if this question has been asked before. I am looking for a detailed description of calculations of climate sensitivity to CO2 concentration in some simple, tractable scenarios. Ideally, the calculation would be closed form and exact, but short of that, reasonable approximations and simple simulation (e.g., ODEs) would be fine. Also, it’s very important: no calibration. All the parameters of the model should be independently and accurately measurable, e.g., solar luminosity, earth’s radius, etc. I just want a rough, order of magnitude calculation, based on first principles, of just the effect of CO2 concentration changes. If anyone has a specific reference they can point to, I’d be grateful. Thanks.

    Comment by Walt Finerman — 20 Apr 2012 @ 12:53 AM

  149. Walt Finerman,
    Ah, so you want the solution for the “spherical cow”? Perhaps you should listen to Einstein, who told us to make a problem as simple as possible–and no simpler.

    If you are sincere in your expressed desire to understand climate sensitivity, you will find some good links here:

    I also recommend the review by Knutti and Hegerl in Nature Geo.

    Also, a caveat. A lot depends on the definition you use for sensitivity–particularly timescale. Physically, what matters is that the system has to return to equilibrium. If you assume this happens quickly, you tend to get a low sensitivity (Schwarz and Lindzen among others). If you assume it takes considerable time to return to equilibrium, the sensitivity will be much higher. Technically, even the Charney sensitivity is not a true “equilibrium” sensitivity.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Apr 2012 @ 8:08 AM

  150. Mr. Finerman asks for a reference. I suggest Principles of Planetary Climate by Ray Pierrehumbert, which I believe is available online.


    Comment by sidd — 20 Apr 2012 @ 11:05 AM


    The last pre-publication draft was online for a while, only before the book came out; the online supplements are still available. Those and a link to the published book is here.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Apr 2012 @ 12:29 PM

  152. Greetings once again. Very simple question: why does atmospheric temperature decline with altitude? I seem to remember once seeing a statistical mechanical calculation demonstrating that in thermodynamic equilibrium, an ideal gas subjected to a constant gravitational force would be isothermal. (Of course, the pressure/density decreases exponentially with altitude.) If I had to guess a cause: the greenhouse effect. Sunlight absorbed by the earth’s surface is re-radiated into the atmosphere at much lower (average) frequencies than incoming sunlight, and greenhouse gases near the surface absorb these lower freqs before they rise enough to warm the upper atmosphere. Is that about right? Thanks…

    [Response: No. It is simple the expansion of air as it rises (and pressure decreases). In a dry atmosphere, this is easy to calculate and leads to a cooling of about 10ºC per km. In a moist atmosphere where you have convection, you get condensation and cloud formation as the air parcel rises, and this releases energy and so moderates the cooling rate a little (implying about 6ºC/km cooling). Note that these rates are the maximum rates – anything steeper would be unstable, but smaller rates are possible in observations. None of this has anything much to do with the greenhouse effect or radiation. – gavin]

    Comment by Walt Finerman — 20 Apr 2012 @ 1:28 PM

  153. And one more question, if you don’t mind. Can anyone explain a little bit about how contemporary climate models model scattering in the atmosphere? Taking a very first principles/conceptual approach, imagine the earth is a non-rotating ball with an ideal gas atmosphere at rest, though the atmosphere is not in thermal equilibrium (obviously, different parts of the atmosphere are exposed to very different incident radiation). In theory, to compute the steady-state temperature at each point in the atmosphere, one would need to model scattering at each point in the atmosphere (with different behavior for different wavelengths). One would need to model the incident power at each point for each frequency and each direction. That’s no easy task, it seems to me. As a byproduct, such a model would yield predictions of the color and brightness of the sky at any point and in any given direction. If one ignores scattering, one will ultimately compute a wrong value of albedo, it seems to me. For example, it seems to me, the more scattering, the more chance for radiation to be absorbed as it takes longer trajectories through the atmosphere. Or it may be backscattered into space before it is absorbed.

    How do climate models deal with this? Do they generally assume simple (presumably adequate) scattering models? Is scattering just not very important for most wavelengths (e.g., infrared), and for shorter wavelengths, scattering only matters to the extent that incident radiation is backscattered into space? In short, how can climate models get away with NOT computing the full radiation incidence at each point and direction?

    Comment by Walt Finerman — 20 Apr 2012 @ 3:08 PM

  154. Is it true that the average climate model for the most recent CMIP-5 RCP4.5 result has a calculated tropospheric trend of +0.22 C/decade for 1979-2012 and +0.29 C/decade for 1996-2012?

    Comment by Jody — 20 Apr 2012 @ 3:43 PM

  155. The user “adelady” mentioned in some other thread, that there are projects online where volunteers can help digitize historical meteorology data .
    What I have sen so far is datarescue@home from the Oeschger Centre (

    My question is if there are other projects of this kind online that are explicitly recommended by climate scientists, for instance because the historical data records they provide are of special interest. Are there sites out that have dubious reputation? Is there already any known scientific progress drawn from projects like these.


    Comment by Marcus — 21 Apr 2012 @ 2:01 AM

  156. This is borderline for RealClimate but so important it seemed worth trying to get the news out. There is a plan for Enbridge to bring a tar sands pipeline across Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine to a new port near Portland. My friend won’t mind this unattributed quote:

    a regional plan by bigshots in New England and the Maritimes to consolidate energy stuff throughout this region including “energy corridors”, an new east-west turnpike across central and northern Maine, new deep water port terminals, etc, all for for “efficient” extraction of New England timber, water, and minerals.

    For more information, this website:

    The topography west of Lake Winnepesaukee seems daunting, but money seems no object when it comes to exploitation.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 21 Apr 2012 @ 10:26 AM

  157. There is a plan for Enbridge to bring a tar sands pipeline across Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine to a new port near Portland.

    A better examination of the situation is available here.

    Comment by flxible — 21 Apr 2012 @ 12:39 PM

  158. For Walt Finerman — I know nothing about this personally, but find quite a bit is available, e.g.
    finds (first hit of many search results)

    Tenth ARM Science Team Meeting Proceedings, San Antonio, Texas, March 13-17, 2000
    Radiation Parameterization for Three-Dimensional Inhomogeneous Cirrus Clouds: Application to Climate Models

    “… Potential effects of the cloud geometry and inhomogeneity on the transfer of radiation must be carefully studied to understand their impact on the radiative properties of the atmosphere as well as to perform proper interpretations of radiometric measurements from the ground, the air, and space. Most of the approaches to three-dimensional (3D) radiative transfer employ the Monte Carlo method. For application to cirrus clouds, Liou and Rao (1996) have used the successive orders of scattering (SOS) approach, which can be directly applied to specific geometry and inhomogeneous structure of a medium. Ou and Liou (1982) presented a spherical harmonic method in multiple dimensions, based on which the diffusion approximation for 3D radiative transfer can be developed (Liou 1992). However, the requirement of computer resources remains the primary obstacle in the modeling of 3D radiative transfer. In conjunction with our objective of understanding the effects of 3D inhomogeneous cirrus on radiative flux and heating rate profiles in the atmosphere and of providing a physical basis for parameterization in climate models, we have developed a 3D inhomogeneous radiative transfer model based on a modified diffusion approximation employing Cartesian coordinates.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Apr 2012 @ 1:33 PM

  159. New OHC paper by Levitus, no leveling off in OHC, juicy data to 2000m, deep ocean warming. That’s where the heat goes. Read all about it.


    Comment by sidd — 21 Apr 2012 @ 1:59 PM

  160. From “Before Believing” by Danny Flowers

    … Told you everything I could
    How would you feel if the world was
    falling apart around you

    Pieces of the sky were falling
    in your neighbor’s yard
    But not on you
    Wouldn’t you feel
    just a little bit funny
    Think maybe there’s something you oughta do

    Solutions that never lay down before you
    the answers are all around ….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Apr 2012 @ 3:06 PM

  161. Thanks flxible (@~157). That is indeed more complete information, if no less appalling.

    I would recommend interested parties to look at that link.

    I continue to feel that if tar sands must be transported, they should be looking at rail lines instead of pipelines. This may be air dreaming of me – and I’ve never heard that anyone else had this idea. It would convey additional benefits in facilitating improved transit in the US, which has degraded itself to third-world status on railroads, which are both more efficient and safer. I’ve been given to understand the material is rather like asphalt and requires heavy treatment to move in pipelines.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 21 Apr 2012 @ 5:15 PM

  162. Richard Alley’s “Earth the operators manual”

    Comment by John E Pearson — 21 Apr 2012 @ 10:52 PM

  163. Higher-than-expected levels of methane found over open water and cracks in arctic sea-ice.

    CAPTCHA: soil inharTi

    Comment by Meow — 22 Apr 2012 @ 5:33 PM

  164. Walt @ 153 “…If one ignores scattering…

    I, for one, was exposed to the principles of scattering of radiation in the atmosphere about 30 years ago, in an undergraduate Physical Geography course. Active area of research then, so I think the chances of it being “ignored” now are pretty small.

    Will you forgive me for thinking that the way that you are posing these “questions” is, um, “ignorant”???

    Comment by Bob Loblaw — 22 Apr 2012 @ 6:05 PM


    Is this as bad as I think it is?

    Comment by Killian — 22 Apr 2012 @ 11:18 PM

  166. I happened upon a land precipitation dataset from

    and i compare to the global precip from

    for the period 1970 through roughly the present

    treating the data as in Hansen’s climate dice paper,
    dividing local deviation from average by local std deviation
    (using avg and std dev for each month, lat, long)

    global precip distribution is at

    land only is at

    dry months are increasing over the last 4 decades


    Comment by sidd — 23 Apr 2012 @ 12:59 AM

  167. My understanding is that the error concerning the Himalayan glaciers in the IPPC report was discovered it was immediately noted. I’ve heard critics claim that the authors were repeatedly warned about the flaw but they published it anyway. I find that hard to believe. I couldn’t find anything on that aspect of the controversy.

    Comment by Stranger — 23 Apr 2012 @ 6:50 AM

  168. Stranger,

    Many websites have covered this controversy. Here is one:

    [Response: Though few covered it accurately. The Raina report was rather weak tea – and very poor on climate impacts in the Himalayas and didn’t bring up the 2035 error at all. – gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 23 Apr 2012 @ 1:09 PM

  169. More evidence against the YD impact hypothesis:

    “Accumulation of impact markers in desert wetlands and implications for the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis”

    Comment by SteveF — 23 Apr 2012 @ 2:24 PM

  170. > suggesting that elevated concentrations of these markers
    > arise from processes common to wetland systems,

    Reasonable that a marsh/peat bog would concentrate such fallout, assuming it falls out generally and sheet erosion (wind and water) carries small particles downhill.

    > and not a catastrophic extraterrestrial impact event.

    How would one distinguish a deposit occurring from a single large fallout episode — are they assuming that would befollowed by dieoff of the marsh? But marshes survive fire quite well generally

    Can they distinguish an input from a single large event, versus normal accumulation over time, if both are collected by a living marsh/bog?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Apr 2012 @ 3:19 PM

  171. Lovelock apparently now says a climate model from 20 years ago was the basis for his book projecting rapid collapse, and he was misinformed — but did he ever say what model he was relying on? None that I knew back then or now were as apocalyptic as Lovelock became for a while there.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Apr 2012 @ 1:05 AM

  172. Interesting–SkS noted this new study:

    It looks at sea ice loss & the “Atlantification” of the Barents–rather along the lines of the Bengtsson 2004 paper we were talking about. Sounds like it supports the earlier paper, actually–though I’m going by the abstract only (paywall!)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 25 Apr 2012 @ 8:29 AM

  173. Ann. Geophys., 30, 9–19, 2012
    Cosmic rays and space weather: effects on global climate change

    This is a discussion of very small effects that people are trying to discover statistically.

    “… the main factors influencing climate are meteorological processes: cyclones and anticyclones; air mass moving in vertical and horizontal directions; precipitation of ice and snow (which changes the planetary radiation balance, see Waliser et al., 2011); and so on. Only after averaging for long periods (from one-ten years up to 100–1000 yr and even million of years) did it become possible to determine much smaller factors that influence the climate, such as cosmic rays, dust, solar irradiation, and so on. For example, Zecca and Chiari (2009) show that the dust from comet 1P/Halley, according to data of about the last 2000 yr, produces periodic variations in planetary surface temperature (an average cooling of about 0.08 ◦C) with a period 72 ± 5 yr. Cosmic dust of interplanetary and interstellar origin, as well as galactic cosmic rays entering the Earth’s atmosphere, have an impact on the Earth’s climate (Ermakov et al., 2006, 2007, 2009; Kasatkina et al., 2007a, b). Ermakov et al. (2006, 2009) hypothesized that the particles of extraterrestrial origin residing in the atmosphere may serve as condensation nuclei and, thereby, may affect the cloud cover. Kasatkina et al. (2007a, b) conjectured that interstellar dust particles may serve as atmospheric condensation nuclei, change atmospheric transparency and, as a consequence, affect the radiation balance. Ogurtsov and Raspopov (2011) show that the meteoric dust in the Earth’s atmosphere is potentially one of the important climate forming agents in two ways: (i) particles of meteoric haze may serve as condensation nuclei in the troposphere and stratosphere; (ii) charged meteor particles residing in the mesosphere may markedly change (by a few percent) the total atmospheric resistance and thereby, affect the global current circuit. Changes in the global electric circuit, in turn, may influence cloud formation processes.

    Let me underline that there is also one additional mechanism by which cosmic rays influence lower cloud formation, precipitation, and climate change: the nucleation by cosmic energetic particles of aerosol and dust, and through aerosol and dust-increasing of cloudiness. It was shown by Enghoff et al. (2011) in the frame of the CLOUD experiment at CERN ….”

    Aside — I always wonder, when I see “global electrical circuit” and photographs from space of the aurora — whether Tesla wasn’t right to think we should divert some zillionth of a percent of all those electrons to flow through our electrical grid on their way to wherever they’re going, instead of burning carbon to boil water to spin magnets to move electrons (sigh).

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Apr 2012 @ 9:50 AM

  174. Hank, I’ve been disappointed with Lovelock in recent years; I saw video of him at a book signing last year, claiming that there were no effects from Chernobyl fallout. His new claim that warming has stopped is particularly unfortunate:

    The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time. … It (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising — carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 25 Apr 2012 @ 10:52 AM

  175. Killian at 165 cited:

    Yes, I think this is a significant development. They claim that the very high levels of methane on the ocean surface are from methanogens blooming there under conditions of increasingly open water. Does this seem likely to others?

    “Atmospheric observations of Arctic Ocean methane emissions up to 82° north”

    “the surface waters of the Arctic Ocean are supersaturated with respect to methane”

    Comment by wili — 25 Apr 2012 @ 12:31 PM

  176. A new paper was just published in Nature:

    Antarctic ice-sheet loss driven by basal melting of ice shelves
    H. D. Pritchard et al

    The abstract concludes with:

    The highest thinning rates occur where warm water at depth can access thick ice shelves via submarine troughs crossing the continental shelf. Wind forcing could explain the dominant patterns of both basal melting and the surface melting and collapse of Antarctic ice shelves, through ocean upwelling in the Amundsen6 and Bellingshausen7 seas, and atmospheric warming on the Antarctic Peninsula8. This implies that climate forcing through changing winds influences Antarctic ice-sheet mass balance, and hence global sea level, on annual to decadal timescales.

    I have been wondering for some time how much is attributable to ‘old’ heat stored in the deep ocean versus ‘newer’ heat in the higher levels.

    TIA …

    Comment by EOttawa — 25 Apr 2012 @ 2:09 PM

  177. Antarctic ice shelves are melting from underneath. :

    …Here we use satellite laser altimetry and modelling of the surface firn layer to reveal the circum-Antarctic pattern of ice-shelf thinning through increased basal melt. We deduce that this increased melt is the primary control of Antarctic ice-sheet loss, through a reduction in buttressing of the adjacent ice sheet leading to accelerated glacier flow.

    Comment by Meow — 25 Apr 2012 @ 3:30 PM

  178. Hank Roberts, referring to “Cosmic rays and space weather: effects on global climate change” by L I Dorman:

    “This is a discussion of very small effects that people are trying to discover statistically.”

    Not trying very hard, if they are relying on Svensmark’s work.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 25 Apr 2012 @ 3:31 PM

  179. A brief look at Lovelock’s bio shows he is close to age 92. He was a chemist specializing in tropical medicine.”Medicine, Biology, Instrument Science and Geophysiology. He has filed more than 50 patents, mostly for detectors for use in chemical analysis.” This looks like someone who shares the engineering type of bias, thinking they know about stuff they don’t because they can solve problems in their own subject very well.

    I wrote him off a couple of years back when the BBC published his statements, sloppily paraphrased by yours truly as eat drink and be merry because it’s too late to do anything and all hopeless. For him to continue to court the limelight borders on criminal and he should be ashamed of himself.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 25 Apr 2012 @ 5:28 PM

  180. As all too often, I failed to make part of my point about Lovelock, which is that if he is scaling back his more recent statements that would be appropriate, but since time has passed things are closer to his previous warnings than they were when he said all was lost. What *is* it with people that can’t resist fame at the expense of their souls (metaphorically speaking, not mentioning religion here, please)?

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 25 Apr 2012 @ 5:32 PM

  181. The British Antarctic Survey paper agrees well with GRACE, even (and i note this with increasing discomfort) in East Antarctica.


    Comment by sidd — 25 Apr 2012 @ 5:57 PM

  182. “He claimed a university or government scientist might fear an admission of a mistake would lead to the loss of funding.”

    An asinine thing to say. No direct quote though, so I wonder if he really said it. If so sounds like the skeptics have been working overtime on his 92 year old mind.

    Comment by Ron R. — 25 Apr 2012 @ 8:05 PM

  183. Re James Lovelock.
    His talk of AGW catastrophe began in 2004 when such things as ‘Global Dimming’ and a new chinese coal-fuelled power station every week and large annual increases in atmospheric CO2 all got mainstream news coverage in rather close proximity. And the basis for his belief was as shallow as that.
    He is certainly more commentator than scientist although he has maintained a level of loyalty over the years for some of his more sparky comments.

    The ‘Chernobyl fallout’ thing was used in some quarters to clobber his credibility although they did tend to ignore the actual message he was making which was that, hurrah!! in the zone round the powerstation now human-free, nature is burgeoning. It was again a ‘shallow’ message beacuse nobody ever expected the radiation to result in some blasted lifeless landscape, just as nobody expects it to be overrun by herds of two-heaed feral dogs, or whatever.

    Comment by MARodger — 26 Apr 2012 @ 4:35 AM

  184. Susan, as the son of a beloved father near Lovelock’s age, I would ask you not to judge an old man too harshly merely by some ill chosen words of his dotage. His insights into how the entire planet works as a system have been, as I understand it, an important advance, called by some the greatest advance in biological thinking since Darwin, iirc.

    Unfortunately, once people have been in the limelight, their words continue to be cited even after they may have lost their way a bit. And we males rarely have the self-knowledge and humility to realize when we are making asses of ourselves. Also, as Ron says, who knows what kinds of folks have been pressing their pet ideas on him?

    (reCaptcha: son, fructede !)

    Comment by wili — 26 Apr 2012 @ 4:51 AM

  185. I’m afraid I always thought Lovelock was a loon. The whole Gaia thing just sounded like another tired incarnation of the anthropic principle–somewhere between the weak and strong versions.

    Lovelock always relied on intuition over evidence. Intuition fails us as we age. We saw the same thing in Dirac and we see it in Dyson. Evidence trumps all, and it is utterly indifferent to what it implies for all the wonderful theories we construct in our youth.

    [Response:You do a disservice to Lovelock. He did some very innovative work on difficult measurements of sulfate in the atmosphere, leading to the modern understanding of the role of ocean chemistry and biology in cloud condensation. And the original Homeostasis paper does not say what most people assume it says; it’s purely scientific. I do agree that Gaia strayed way out of science, and that Lovelock has “gone emeritus”. But to say the Lovelock “always” relied on intuition rather than evidence is historically incorrect.–eric]

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 26 Apr 2012 @ 8:36 AM

  186. Here’s Lovelock and Margulis 1974, Atmospheric homeostasis by and for the biosphere: the gaia hypothesis

    Comment by dhogaza — 26 Apr 2012 @ 9:18 AM

  187. Eric, I’ll agree I was harsh. However, there is a certain approach to science that we see in some of its most brilliant practitioners that simply doesn’t work as the brain ages and becomes less adroit and flexible.

    When we are young, we are more capable of accommodating and integrating new evidence into our theories–the evidence is the framework on which we build our intuition. In our dotage, the very “intuition” we relied on starts to lead us astray. We often start to ignore or down-weight inconvenient facts. Our ideas of “what must be true” start to become more real to us than what is true.

    Lovelock seems to be in this mold–likewise Dirac and Dyson. Regardless of his early contributions, what he’s done since the mid-80s isn’t significant.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 26 Apr 2012 @ 9:52 AM

  188. > Lovelock

    Thank you Eric for an appropriate and thoughtful inline reply to Ray there.

    If we’re smart and lucky, we go emeritus.

    Further on that and worth a read (and reread from time to time): Brand’s ongoing revision of his recent book, in which he quotes email from Lovelock about why he’s been changing his mind.

    I don’t agree with their conclusions. I have a hunch I see why they don’t worry now as much as they did when their last books came out: Both now think that “something” may be reducing the rate of change. Without having an idea what that could be, it’s easy to imagine the short term variation is a change in the trend — and so to worry less about what factors persist over the long term.

    We get old, and find our time horizon creeping very close as we get older. The future we thought about a few years ago may be lost beyond that horizon, as it creeps toward us. Our later years go by very fast.

    Lovelock (and Brand) haven’t had time to read Foster & Rahmstorf. It’s been blogged about here .

    That paper makes progress toward weighing the influences to sourt out what “accounts for some of those other factors, and by removing their influence from the temperature record makes the progress of global warming much more clear.”

    And, kids, you can do it at home and see how it works for yourselves.

    That’s a gift to the future. Tools they can use.

    We old folks can wish’em luck.

    Smart opinions are the best gift most of us can hope to leave the future, poor as they often are. Good tools and smart analysis go further.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Apr 2012 @ 10:07 AM

  189. I love how Lovelock throws Al Gore in as being whatever, too alarmist, but gives no examples. Has Al Gore ever made a prediction of the future that is similar to the predictions Lovelock was making?

    It looks more like Lovelock just likes to write books that glom onto fads.

    Comment by JCH — 26 Apr 2012 @ 10:22 AM

  190. Don’t forget the CLAW hypothesis (where the L stands for Lovelock), published in 1987. Perhaps it hasn’t born out to be as stated in that paper (the ‘geophysiological link’ between sulfur emissions by marine phytoplankton and climate regulation) but it was a landmark scientific paper.

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 26 Apr 2012 @ 10:28 AM

  191. See also:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Apr 2012 @ 10:32 AM

  192. Aside (tasty herring):

    Is Al Gore still revising and giving a presentation along the lines of the book and movie?

    Both the book and the movie were — like the IPCC documents, or any consensus
    statement or review in any field — snapshots in time.

    Gore’s, Lovelock’s, and Brand’s last climate books came out long, long ago (in dog-on-the-Internet years).

    Brand (link above) revises his online, sometimes. He has at least the option and site to extend, revise, and change his mind publicly and repeatly, and cite sources for readers to think about on their own — commendable. Lack of followup doesn’t mean there’s no more to say, just that he hasn’t written more there yet, of course.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Apr 2012 @ 11:14 AM

  193. Gaia theory is actually very well supported and has had many many papers published about it. It is closely tied to evolution. The basic principle makes perfect sense when you think about it. Changes in the environment stimulate and precipitate changes in the biosphere. Why? Because life, or its many forms, do what they can to survive.

    For example, an increase in carbon dioxide eventually leads to an increase in carbon eating vegetation (a complex process acknowledged). That continues until the carbon levels out, then plant growth levels out as well. A sudden ice age forces changes in nature that eventually bring the earth back out of it. Areas of devastation for one reason or another are usually reclaimed. After a fire fireweed will spread acting as a precursor and even conditioner for other plants to follow.

    There is a constant push/pull action, nature ever responding to the unavoidable environmental changes around it. And that keeps it within homeostasis. That which cannot tolerate a particular environmental change and modify itself in time or does not change adequately in response goes extinct and another comes to fill the void.

    Think of all the devastating things that have occurred to this planet, all the asteroid blasts, volcanic eruptions, hot houses, ice houses etc, and yet somehow the earth has managed each time to return to a roughly homeostatic temperature and balance well suited for the majority of biota within. So the earth as a whole, all of the interconnected species together, unconsciously acts as a self-regulating unit, and the biota within naturally, by the mechanism of natural selection, keep the whole operating in a balanced way.

    What saddled it with the feel of woo was the name Gaia and New Ageists. Though some people, myself included, believe, without evidence (so far) that the earth may have acquired a certain almost Jungian self-awareness Gaia theory does not require it. Evolution and natural selection are all that is necessary.

    [Response: It’s actually quite helpful to distinguish the ‘weak Gaia’ theory (that biological activity affects climate and vice versa) which is uncontroversial, with a ‘strong Gaia’ theory (that evolution works to maintain climate stability), which is far less well supported. David’s post on Lovelock from 2006 discusses this. – gavin]

    Comment by Ron R. — 26 Apr 2012 @ 11:29 AM

  194. Wili@~184, I totally agree that not all emeriti are out of whack. My Dad (pw) is 88 and in full possession of his faculties (if, as he was in his younger days as well, a bit absent-minded at times, being entranced by science; he says he had to train himself not to think about physics while driving). Therefore, he refuses to pronounce on climate change; he did take a hard look at the physics in the mid-70s and hasn’t wavered on it since. He’s willing to hold my coat but not to take a public stance other than signing any petition or letter that comes his way and sharing my concern about the anti-science coalition and its dangers and a personal dislike of some who have gone from issue to issue on the dangerous side of things.

    My sympathies on the beloved part – yes indeed!

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 26 Apr 2012 @ 11:45 AM

  195. Um, the Gaia Hypothesis has nothing whatever to do with the Earth’s biosphere acquiring “self-awareness” (Jungian or otherwise).

    Fundamentally, the Gaia Hypothesis says that the Earth’s biosphere is an integral part of the Earth system which also comprises the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, etc. and that all of these taken together as an indivisible whole, must be regarded as a living entity which is in a sense, and to a degree to be determined by observation, self-regulating.

    Fundamentally, the Gaia Hypothesis is about wholeness. Oddly enough, I think the spirit of the Gaia Hypothesis may have been best expressed not by Lovelock or Margulis but by Lewis Thomas:

    “I have been trying to think of the earth as a kind of organism, but it is no go. I cannot think of it this way. It is too big, too complex, with too many working parts lacking visible connections. The other night, driving through a hilly, wooded part of New England, I wondered about this. If not like an organism, what is it like, what is it most like? Then, satisfactorily for that moment, it came to me: it is most like a single cell.”

    It is Lovelock’s perhaps “intuitive” appreciation of wholeness that made his earlier “alarmism” (or as Joe Romm calls it, “doomism”) very compelling, IMHO. Many scientific discussions about the likely outcomes of AGW seem to take various aspects of global warming and its effects in isolation, while Lovelock seemed to better appreciate that the synergistic result of all of those effects on Gaia (the whole Earth system) could be far worse than the sum of the parts.

    As for his recent comments, it would appear that he is simply not keeping up with the current science.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 26 Apr 2012 @ 12:05 PM

  196. Hank Roberts @~173

    I love it!:

    Aside — I always wonder, when I see “global electrical circuit” and photographs from space of the aurora — whether Tesla wasn’t right to think we should divert some zillionth of a percent of all those electrons to flow through our electrical grid on their way to wherever they’re going, instead of burning carbon to boil water to spin magnets to move electrons (sigh).

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 26 Apr 2012 @ 12:23 PM

  197. ‘weak Gaia’ theory (biological activity affects climate and vice versa)

    ‘strong Gaia’ notion (group selection at the planetary level, sorta)
    ‘bipolar Terra’ analogy (Gaia complexifies for a while, then Medea cleans house; more lithium please)

    Did anyone see anything new from Peter Ward after he made that trip on that icebreaker a few years ago, to go revisit some remote island rock outcrop looking for more signs of Medea’s past appearances?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Apr 2012 @ 12:39 PM

  198. Thanks Eric for the update on what Lovelock did that was of value and others who have moved forward on that discussion, truly interesting and illustrative of what is great about RC.

    [… Lovelock … did some very innovative work on difficult measurements of sulfate in the atmosphere, leading to the modern understanding of the role of ocean chemistry and biology in cloud condensation. And the original Homeostasis paper does not say what most people assume it says; it’s purely scientific. I do agree that Gaia strayed way out of science, and that Lovelock has “gone emeritus”. But to say the Lovelock “always” relied on intuition rather than evidence is historically incorrect.–eric]

    On Gore, I thought his book “Our Choice” was a logical progression. AIT did everything it could, and the kill the messenger campaign indicates how valuable that was. Using his tremendous access he summed up the state of the art in every related subject possible, and I thought it was invaluable. Sadly, an internet look found under the “book” a link to a Wiki and within that I found Chevron. Corruption is endemic.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 26 Apr 2012 @ 12:52 PM

  199. Hank Roberts wrote: “Is Al Gore still revising and giving a presentation along the lines of the book and movie?”

    AIT evolved into the Climate Reality Project:

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 26 Apr 2012 @ 1:05 PM

  200. Susan Anderson says:
    25 Apr 2012 at 5:28 PM

    This looks like someone who shares the engineering type of bias, thinking they know about stuff they don’t because they can solve problems in their own subject very well.

    Please do not lump all engineers into a single group. Yes, training in the applied sciences focuses mostly on what it already known, and often fails to place enough emphasis on some important aspects of the scientific process. That can sometimes create a false sense of ones own knowledge and limitations. This is common in engineering. But no field is immune to it, and there are also those in the engineering field who do understand both the complexity of climate science, the value that this work has, and the dedication and integrity of those who perform it.

    Comment by Tom — 26 Apr 2012 @ 2:47 PM

  201. Thanks for the link Gavin. I think while I could disagree a bit with some of what David said I’ll not.

    We shouldn’t forget though that everything within the thin sphere of life upon this planet is interconnected and that to every action there is a reaction. Everything has an effect, even if tiny. We’ve all evolved together and though there is lots of wiggle room for individual variation there is also a pretty clear range of motion (e.g. homeothermy and poikilothermy). It may look, and even be, rough on casual observation, still there is a balance there. When things suddenly get out of that rough balance, that range of motion, is when the trouble starts. But life wants to be, and somehow those conditions which are most beneficial to the majority have dominated in earth’s history.

    SecularAnimist – Um, the Gaia Hypothesis has nothing whatever to do with the Earth’s biosphere acquiring “self-awareness” (Jungian or otherwise).

    I didn’t say it did.

    Comment by Ron R. — 26 Apr 2012 @ 4:03 PM

  202. Perhaps the question is, when you consider all the many many catastrophic natural disasters which have happened on and to this earth throughout the last 3 billion years of life, what is the likelihood that we would still be comfortably here on a lovely planet without the stubborn insistence of the biosphere on continuing? All those individual parts, each looking out for it’s own best interests yet somehow, because of evolution and natural selection, all fitting together into the whole like pieces of a puzzle? Look at earth’s sister planets, the odds were certainly against it.

    Well, that is until we showed up, perhaps the greatest natural disaster the earth has had to face.

    Comment by Ron R. — 26 Apr 2012 @ 4:39 PM

  203. Of interest:

    @richardabetts Spoke to him [Lovelock] today as it happens and he said he’s v miffed with way that interview is being spun/misrepresented by others

    Comment by J Bowers — 26 Apr 2012 @ 4:44 PM

  204. The link
    is getting a HTTP 404?

    Comment by vince — 26 Apr 2012 @ 4:53 PM

  205. re Lovelock:

    That’s more or less what I had imagined he said. He should have realized that his stance would cause exactly the opposite of what he seems to have intended, which is very sad but leaves the less than optimal fallout of being usable by the unimaginably well organized denial machine and its also-rans.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 26 Apr 2012 @ 5:29 PM

  206. The more i look at the latest BAS paper (Pritchard, Nature 2012) and the 2009 paper by the same, i think i want to add the East Antarctica glaciers into the Pfeffer estimate. I wonder what that does to upper bound, considering that Totten, Amery etc have speeded up, Totten by a lot. Theres a bunch of ice around there grounded submarine.


    [Response:Pfeffer’s upper bound, of course, was already very liberal. Link to Pfeffer’s work here: here[fixed]. –eric]

    Comment by sidd — 26 Apr 2012 @ 6:08 PM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Apr 2012 @ 8:02 PM

  208. Catlin 2011:

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 26 Apr 2012 @ 8:07 PM

  209. Hank at 171 said:
    “Lovelock apparently now says a climate model from 20 years ago was the basis for his book projecting rapid collapse, and he was misinformed — but did he ever say what model he was relying on?”

    A lot of what I read goes in one eye and out the other but… I read The Vanishing Face of Gaia and my memory of it is that he dissed climate models in general and implied that he had a sort of received wisdom that was more trustworthy than the models. I think the cartoon version of his claim is that the earth system has intricacies beyond the ability of mere models to capture. I won’t be reading that book again. if you want it you can e-mail me a USPS PDF mailing label to your place (one for a flat rate envelope) and I’ll send it to you. It’s occupying valuable real estate on my bookshelf.

    Comment by John E Pearson — 26 Apr 2012 @ 10:19 PM

  210. 1) any addition from East Antarctica will raise Pfeffer estimate. I am looking at the supplementary spreadsheet from Pritchard, Nature 2012, and i see no E or W indication on the longitude figures. Most irritating, but I will gnaw on it.

    2) Pfeffer estimate for West Antarctica is actually on low side of the Conti/Pollard ANDRILL results ?


    Comment by sidd — 27 Apr 2012 @ 12:00 AM

  211. Chuckle. I’ll pass, thanks; but most public libraries can find a use for most any book donated; try’em. (The annual surplus sale, if nothing else) You could paste a copy of, oh, the URL for some recent commentary inside the back flyleaf ….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Apr 2012 @ 1:01 AM

  212. Link in the response to Sidd (#206) is wrong: it contains a spelling error (an x in “straw” which shouldn’t be there).

    Comment by Marco — 27 Apr 2012 @ 1:25 AM

  213. World’s glaciers ‘out of balance’

    “When we look at the data, we can see that the glaciers are out of balance, meaning the climate has actually changed faster than the changes we’ve seen in ice area and volume,” explained Sebastian Mernild from Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, US.

    “Our data suggests the glaciers will commit about 30% of their area and about 38% of their volume to global sea level rise.”

    Dr Mernild’s group calculates this figure to be on the order of 22cm.

    “This will happen in the next decades to centuries,” he told BBC News.
    If the models are correct and further warming is seen during the next several decades and longer, the study projects that the Earth’s glaciers could ultimately lose more than half their mass.

    Comment by J Bowers — 27 Apr 2012 @ 5:40 AM

  214. Sea change in salinity heralds shift in rainfall

    (Reuters) – Scientists have detected a clear change in salinity of the world’s oceans and have found that the cycle that drives rainfall and evaporation has intensified more than thought because of global warming.
    Durack and team, in a study published in the journal Science, found that the water cycle intensified 4 percent from 1950-2000, twice as much as projected by climate models.
    “Once we developed the relationship between salinity and evaporation-rainfall change in models, we could then use this relationship to scale our observed salinity change estimate to provide an inferred evaporation-rainfall change estimate.”

    Comment by J Bowers — 27 Apr 2012 @ 5:47 AM

  215. Whoops. Link for last comment.

    Comment by J Bowers — 27 Apr 2012 @ 7:01 AM

  216. Interesting paper–a ‘cooling hole’ over the Eastern US:

    I’d speculate that this also affected the US ‘street view’ on GW around the turn of the millennium. But be that as it may…

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 27 Apr 2012 @ 4:35 PM

  217. Thanks Kevin — that’s
    Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 3349-3362, 2012
    © Author(s) 2012. … Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

    Climatic effects of 1950–2050 changes in US anthropogenic aerosols – Part 2: Climate response

    E.M. Leibensperger,*, L.J. Mickley, D.J. Jacob, W.-T. Chen, J.H. Seinfeld, A. Nenes, P.J. Adams, D.G. Streets, N. Kumar, and D. Rind

    “… using the NASA GISS general circulation model (GCM) and comparing to observed US temperature trends. Time-dependent aerosol distributions are generated from the GEOS-Chem chemical transport model applied to historical emission inventories and future projections. Radiative forcing from US anthropogenic aerosols peaked in 1970–1990 and has strongly declined since due to air quality regulations….”

    I wonder if this wording will confuse some readers:

    “forcing … peaked … and has strongly declined”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Apr 2012 @ 6:32 PM

  218. Re:Salinity change paper

    Didn’t Ruth Curry see this in the Atlantic some years ago ?


    Comment by sidd — 27 Apr 2012 @ 8:52 PM

  219. See also:

    Science 27 April 2012:
    Vol. 336 no. 6080 pp. 455-458
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1212222

    Ocean Salinities Reveal Strong Global Water Cycle Intensification During 1950 to 2000

    “… robust evidence of an intensified global water cycle at a rate of 8 ± 5% per degree of surface warming. This rate is double the response projected by current-generation climate models and suggests that a substantial (16 to 24%) intensification of the global water cycle will occur in a future 2° to 3° warmer world.”

    This fits the paleo evidence for increased extreme erosion events, e.g. see generally articles citing Schmitz: Abrupt increase in seasonal extreme precipitation at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary

    Also, see

    Increased terrestrial methane cycling at the Palaeocene–Eocene thermal maximum

    Nature 449, 332-335 (20 September 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature06012

    “… The Cobham Lignite, a recently characterized expanded lacustrine/mire deposit in England, spans the onset of the PETM5 and therefore provides an opportunity to examine the biogeochemical response of wetland-type ecosystems at that time. Here we report the occurrence of hopanoids, biomarkers derived from bacteria, in the mire sediments from Cobham. We measure a decrease in the carbon isotope values of the hopanoids at the onset of the PETM interval, which suggests an increase in the methanotroph population. We propose that this reflects an increase in methane production potentially driven by changes to a warmer1, 6 and wetter climate7, 8. Our data suggest that the release of methane from the terrestrial biosphere increased and possibly acted as a positive feedback mechanism to global warming.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Apr 2012 @ 7:23 AM

  220. #220–Hank, thanks in turn. That Durack et al (2012)–the first link–seems interesting. I wonder what the ‘back-implications’ are for theory-oriented types?

    The ‘forward-implications’ seem at first blush somewhat more straightforward–or so I’d think, anyway. We’ve got stronger hydrological impacts than expected–I’m connecting this in my mind with papers like Dai 2010 on drought–and a stronger hydrological response to be considered as a signal in the overall assessment of climate change patterns. (Though I’d guess it has little to say about the causation of the warming in the first instance.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 28 Apr 2012 @ 8:26 AM

  221. Well, perhaps cautionary as a possible analogy:

    Black-Scholes: The maths formula linked to the financial crash

    “…. The equation is based on the idea that big movements are actually very, very rare. The problem is that real markets have these big changes much more often that this model predicts …. “

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Apr 2012 @ 9:49 AM

  222. sidd, did you mean Judith?

    I don’t think it’s quite the same thing. Take a look. We laypeople may have a bit of trouble assimilating the actual science, but the substance, that the increase is closer to 8% than 4%, and the new method of measurement, is new.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 28 Apr 2012 @ 9:56 AM

  223. “… robust evidence of an intensified global water cycle at a rate of 8 ± 5% per degree of surface warming. This rate is double the response projected by current-generation climate models and suggests that a substantial (16 to 24%) intensification of the global water cycle will occur in a future 2° to 3° warmer world.”

    Well, I’d have said 6 to 39%, not 16 to 24%, given the 3% * 2 degrees or 13% * 3 degrees mentioned. Changing error bounds to zero midstream seems wrong to me.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 28 Apr 2012 @ 11:13 AM

  224. So what’s the albedo effect of all the plastic floating in the ocean now?


    The effect of wind mixing on the vertical distribution of buoyant plastic debris

    What if all plastic from now on were required by some United Nations mandate to be made high-emissivity and highly reflective — so when our trash goes out to sea, it reduces the planet’s albedo?

    Oh, wait, it’ll still kill everything that eats it. Unless ….
    Nah. Fail. Nevermind.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Apr 2012 @ 2:30 PM

  225. Hank,
    This is probably off topic. However, I think the basic problem with Black-Scholes–or indeed any model–occurs when people who do not understand the model and its proper use try to apply it outside its realm of validity. In finance this is exacerbated by the fact that traders are emotional beings. Another problem with Black-Scholes is that it assumes the volitility is essentially Normal–that is why it fails for large swings.

    Frankly, I think Stewart’s criticism is unfounded. You get similar criticism any time you try to make risk calculus more analytical and evidence based.

    In climate science, we are well aware that models are imperfect. We also know that those imperfections do not preclude the usefulness–indeed, the necessity–of using those models to bound risk. If someone could teach Aunt Judy that, I might not find her blog quite such an emetic.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 28 Apr 2012 @ 3:10 PM

  226. Jim, did you read the whole paper? Are you sure that’s what they did?

    I see only the abstract, quoted from that, and I didn’t read what you requoted as meaning the way you read it (a precise statement indicating a change in their analysis).

    I read that bit you quoted from the abstract as terse wording for

    [intensification somewhere in this range] for a forcing [somewhere in the 2-3 degree range]

    But the actual text would answer.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Apr 2012 @ 6:28 PM

  227. 226 Hank asks, “Jim, did you read the whole paper? Are you sure that’s what they did?”

    Nope. I only have access to the abstract. Perhaps I’m simple-minded, but I think that the math should “work” in any short synopsis, and deviations from that should be explained. I read it as {intensification in this range} for a {forcing of 2-3 degrees} equals _____, which is a simple mathematical result. Error bars in the first number have to be carried to the final result, or there needs to be an explanation as to why it’s 8% EXACTLY, as opposed to 8 +-5.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 28 Apr 2012 @ 8:09 PM

  228. Chuckle. In a perfect world, indeed, the abstract should explain everything.

    April 27 Science,
    Ocean Salinities Reveal Strong Global Water Cycle Intensification During 1950 to 2000

    Earlier papers are online — quite statistics-heavy, beyond me. You can probably assess their math looking at those.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Apr 2012 @ 9:04 AM

  229. Jim, Hank – From the concluding paragraph of Durack et al.:

    Our results support a water cycle intensification rate consistent with the CC relationship under fixed relative humidity. In a future GHG-forced 2° to 3°C warmer world (31), this implies a 16 to 24% amplification of the global water cycle will occur, nearly double the CMIP3 response.

    That is, the 16 – 24% range is based on the idea that Clausius-Clapeyron controls, and not on the estimated observational/model error range.

    Comment by Pat Cassen — 29 Apr 2012 @ 10:33 AM

  230. Thank you!

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Apr 2012 @ 1:06 PM

  231. @ Hank re modified plastic ocean junk

    The first few hundred microns of water in the ocean are essentially a black body in the infrared, and the emissivity of plastics is >0.8 for all the types I could google quickly, so wet small plastic particles are already good emitters – they just need to be reflective in the visible. It would probably be more effective to make the plastic junk biodegradeable, and contain iron, silica, phosphorus, and maybe nitrogen which would fertilize the surface to increase the carbon sequestration by diatoms.

    Looking at the geological carbon cycle, weathering of alkaline basalts which contain calcium silicates results in conversion to calcium carbonates and silica; this would lead me to suggest the use of wollastonite(calcium silicate), perhaps post wastewater phosphorus removal use at a sewer treatment plant – see
    Or maybe not – “Compared with asbestos, wollastonite fibers produced higher ROS[Reactive Oxygen Species] levels both in the PMN suspensions and in the cell-free reactive mixtures. A large amount of these ROS were not hydroxyl radicals.”
    I wonder if jellyfish get cancer?

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 29 Apr 2012 @ 5:30 PM

  232. Always a shame to put a link on the open thread just before the end of the month, but what the heck. This is an interesting study in a couple of ways. First, the headline concept, the authors find localized cooling feedback which may function to provide a ‘refuge’ helping coral and other marine species to adapt to the warming environment. Second, from a ‘methods’ point of view, this is a neat example of combining GCMs with regional hi-res modeling.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 30 Apr 2012 @ 2:02 PM

  233. I usually watch CNBC in morning because I like the music, I confess the Daily Show being my main American news source, because the science is much better on a Comedy show, but also I am keen on listening to what big business does about green industries. Unfortunately for the nth time they had a guess downplaying Global Warming, saying it was just as warm 2000 years ago then now. Yikes,many in the business world are pro ignorant statements . Like the internet is made of ether. I would like to point out many many times that there would be a wide array of pristine abandoned settlements in the Canadian Arctic not placed where Inuit usually are living now a days. There is nothing North of Ellesmere and NW Archipelago islands where the ice shelves older than 2000 years are disappearing And yes Bowhead whale species are genetically distinct from Atlantic to Pacific , separated by ice for a much longer period of time, and now they are waving fins at each other. Hope a guess from RC would simply invite himself on the set and give a lashing of good science.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 1 May 2012 @ 8:29 AM

  234. Wayne,
    Do you remember when you were in college? On Friday afternoons (hell, sometimes Thursday afternoons), which schools were tapping kegs out on the lawn. I’m willing to bet it wasn’t the Engineering or physics buildings.

    I remember walking by the business school and seeing all the sh*tfaced MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE as I trudged over to the physics building for another long evening of analyzing data. The MBAs learned about what you’d expect from folks willing to work more or less 3 days a week so as not to interfere with their partying schedule. As Roy Schwitters said–the revenge of the C students.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 1 May 2012 @ 9:41 AM

  235. Interesting article in today’s NYTimes.

    Funny towards the end where Lindzen admits that a recent paper of his was full of stupid errors, uncovered by critics after it was published, while in the next paragraph he complains that he has trouble getting published because of the mainstream cabal controlling the major journals. His troubles couldn’t be due to his errors, apparently …

    Comment by dhogaza — 1 May 2012 @ 11:54 AM

  236. Hi Ray,

    Yes I remember, so true, these were the days, of party first worry about universe later. But, there was optimism then, If they are still partying today It must be for “the world will end” rock’m before you get socked soirees. I think grandly of young people, except they are so preoccupied with everything their positive outlook gets diluted, their energy scattered and the larger issues which will concern them mostly trudge along with growing momentum. So its up to some of us to remind them, the world will not get far worse if you care. I believe that the business world has a lot to offer in response to AGW, huge potential there, lots of profits to make from clean energy, so I hope engineers will see better through clear air rather than polluted horizons.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 1 May 2012 @ 1:05 PM

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