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  1. Someone quoted to me the following statement from:

    “No climate model currently incorporates the amplifying feedback from methane released by a defrosting tundra.”

    Could someone intimately familar with the models verify whether it’s true or not?

    [Response: Yes, it’s true. But most climate models don’t have a prognostic methane cycle at all (only one in the CMIP5 archive AFAIK). Future methane levels are most often set via offline models that have many different factors included and span a wide range of future methane levels. Current methane is well below that envisaged in the CMIP3 simulations for instance. So while true, it isn’t as significant as one might think. – gavin]

    Comment by Grumalg — 1 May 2012 @ 4:04 PM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 May 2012 @ 4:35 PM

  3. This recent paper in Climate Change is relevant to the NY Times article:
    In essence, the paper says that non-climate scientists don’t think like others, who are more prone to doubt and uncertainty, and who judge more by immediate experiences. If that’s true, it’s not to be expected that the public is persuaded by the near unanimity among climate scientists, and it is to be expected that one Harvard professor can foster doubt.

    [Response: You are significantly overinterpreting the findings. Since the study didn’t look at any other group of early career scientists, the differences are most likely due to the generic differences between people who take science PhDs vs the general public, rather than anything related to the field itself. And secondly, the idea that the (true) observation that there is a consensus among climate scientists is necessarily supposed to be persuasive is a strawman. Find one statement on this site where that argument is made. The fact of consensus is merely a counterpoint to the incorrect statement that the basics of climate science are somehow subject to great controversy in the field (which they aren’t). – gavin]

    Comment by t marvell — 1 May 2012 @ 4:57 PM

  4. Whether a consensus exists or not is irrelevant to the climate discussion. This appeal to authority is a fallacy dating to the ancient Greeks. The debate will be won by research and data, and not the opinion of a certain group. Also, I think you are overstating the supposed unanimity among climate scientists. Saying it is so, does not make it so.

    [Response: If you think it is irrelevant, why do you keep disputing it? – gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 1 May 2012 @ 5:34 PM

  5. Liming Zhou, the author of the wind farm study, is in fact one of my current professors in a remote sensing course.

    He seemed completely stunned this week when his inbox was getting filled up with messages questioning how wind farms could cause “global warming” or “climate change,” which of course completely misses the point of the Nature Clim. Change. article. It’s a shame when it’s almost a bad thing for your scientific work to get media attention these days.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 1 May 2012 @ 6:21 PM

  6. For those of not as informed, is Henrik Svensmark’s latest paper entitled “Evidence of nearby supernovae affecting life on Earth,” new? Or is this simply more of the same, which RC has already answered in earlier posts?

    [Response: It’s new-ish. More of a variation on a theme. The novelty is his estimate of the million-year average ‘supernovae activity’, which he correlates to a selected bunch of things. The validity of this estimate is very unclear (since it is built from multiple assumptions and models), and someone who knows something about this kind of stuff should probably look into it. But it is worth noting that the results are completely inconsistent with the Shaviv+Veizer attempt to do a similar thing, and that was highly correlated to everything too (apparently). Relevance to modern climate change? Zero. – gavin]

    Comment by David — 1 May 2012 @ 6:32 PM

  7. Gavin. Thanks for answering my post (#3). You’re probably right that the Climate Change paper might tap a general difference beween young scientists and the general public. The paper’s contention, then, would be that there is a general mismatch between the thinking process of the public and scientists, but that can still apply to climate scientists generally, as the authors contend. Other fields have the same problem, where consensus among scientists is at odds with much of the public, such as biologists and eveolution. Climate change, however, has bigger policy implications, and the difference is more important. There used to be such a standoff with respect to doctors and smoking, another area with obvious policy implications, but the doctors were able to provide information that hit home, and persuaded the public in the face of powerful interests.

    The NY Times, and many others, emphasize the consensus among climate scientists, even if you don’t. I think you imply, correctly, that a complete consensus can be dangerous because it hinders challenges.

    [Response: Nonsense. The is a pretty complete consensus on geocentrism, but I don’t see it holding back research into cosmology. Please talk about something interesting. – gavin]

    Comment by t marvell — 1 May 2012 @ 6:34 PM

  8. @4: Humbug. Appeal to knowledgeable authority is not a fallacy, and you know it. You yourself appeal to knowledgeable authority everytime you hire a doctor to treat your cough, or an accountant to prepare your tax returns.

    And the knowledgeable authorities get that way exactly through diligent effort to research the relevant data.

    Finally, saying whatever it is you say is so, does not make it so.

    CAPTCHA: doctrine ersaff

    Comment by Meow — 1 May 2012 @ 6:52 PM

  9. There was an interesting recent CC doco and public discussion on australian TV called = *I can change your mind on Climate Change*

    I bring it up, as it seems to be more confirmation over the last 5 years a shift in public opinion & political will about CC, and that despite the increasing studies and knowledge *climate skeptics* are still able to influence public opinion and spread debunked myths as if they are true… and without being called on it.

    Last year there was some talk about the need for the science and *its meaning/implications* to be better communicated to the public, and politicians business leaders etc. Given the following I am inclined to think that the science/common sense side isn’t succeeding yet.

    Climate Skeptic & ex-Politician Nick Minchin:
    – not all sceptics are mad, bad and dangerous;
    – there remains a lively scientific debate about the drivers of climate change,
    – scaremongering about global warming is backfiring on the warmists.
    – reality has got in the way of the theory
    – absence of warming since 1998 – despite rising CO2 levels and contrary to IPCC predictions
    – Lovelock ”the great climate centres around the world are more than well aware how weak their science is”
    – public concern about global warming peaked in 2007 and has been in decline ever since
    – neither polar ice cap is disappearing
    – human emissions of CO2 are (NOT) causing global warming
    – demonstrates how much we don’t yet know about what drives our climate
    – to claim ”the science is settled” is simply a lie.
    – (none) could convince me that human emissions of CO2 are driving dangerous global warming
    – much that we don’t know about the Earth’s climate. May the debate continue.

    IOW this politician/public figure is saying that he’s entitled to his opinion and all the scientists have yet to convince him there’s a problem. Not only that but your own *evidence* proves the claims of the IPCC consensus as plain wrong. What do you think?

    If more journalists were educated about the *facts* by climate scientists; would they be more successful in being aware of such gross errors and misrepresentations?

    just thinking out loud.

    Comment by Sean — 1 May 2012 @ 7:48 PM

  10. re: 4. Wow, what pure rubbish. However, what is most telling about your absurd comment is that it shows without a shadow of a doubt that you have no clue about how science is conducted via the scientific method. As it has been done for centuries through hypotheses, data collection, testing, analyses, repeatability, peer-review, and more hypotheses. Which exactly describes the strong science behind global warming research. The debate has been conducted through peer-review journals and conferences. As all strong science is done. The idea that you think you somehow know something about climate science that literally thousands of peer-reviewed climate researchers across the world and yes every major professional climate science organization across the globe do not is the absolute height of scientific ignorance and arrogance. The overwhelming consensus of scientific research indicates that human activity is exacerbating climate change. Here is a partial list of scientific institutions that have all concluded there is a real danger:
    UK RS–summary-science/ and
    Every major scientific institute dealing with climate, ocean, and the atmosphere agrees that the evidence says the climate is warming rapidly and the primary cause is human CO2. That includes the Australian Academy of Sciences, Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts, Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Royal Society of Canada, Caribbean Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, French Academy of Sciences, German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina, Indian National Science Academy, Indonesian Academy of Sciences, Royal Irish Academy, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Italy), Academy of Sciences Malaysia, Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and Royal Society (UK).

    The core of the “debate” re: global warming is long over. Read the peer-reviewed science. There really is no excuse for intellectual laziness when you have access to the science at your fingertips.

    Any medication or drug you ever take is based on scientific research. Which in very many cases has actually less certainty than the science behind global warming.

    You might also read the peer-reviewed science on meteorological blocking systems and their causes.

    Comment by Dan — 1 May 2012 @ 9:08 PM

  11. Sean @9

    What a gallimaufry of denier points. I viewed the documentary, and aside from being shocked that Marc Morano’s distorted but carefully rehearsed talking points (climate science is “subprime” – nonsense and then some!) were regarded as an appropriate station on the journey, it was indeed sad that real science looks so pale against the desire to be deceived. That pleasant girl took the only path, refusing to engage, but she was right to be shocked as he should not be welcome in any polite discussion of climate change given his history (Limbaugh, Inhofe, huh?!). He was scathing about tobacco denial, but that’s nothing to be proud of. I found myself wishing she was Katherine Hayhoe, who I thought might have provided some clarity there.

    One could take any of those points and demonstrate clearly its falsity, but the one about 1998 is particularly old. The new normal is beginning to go beyond that old peak that self-styled skeptics (who are anything but, being closed minded to a fault) designated a minimum. We are facing a host of new problems evidenced by billion dollar disasters, an acidifying ocean, and a variety of other knock-on consequences. Perspective is lacking in those who choose to highlight isolated periods in the continuum of historical records, which exist in some degree of accuracy since the 1800s. These quibbles about how long is climate miss the point that even the longer 30 years is still only a part of a longer record. And while I maunder on about the increase in extremes over time, which some find a bit risky, science is also moving on with, for example, the new ocean measurements that demonstrate that increased water vapor is more than we thought (roughly, 8% instead of 4%).

    However, the synopsis you provide does not accurately convey the substance of the presentation. It sounds more like you are using it as a platform to present your views here.

    It is an old fake skeptic trick to find someone unprepared and deluge them with fake facts that they are not prepared to answer all at once.

    The point of the documentary wasn’t all your denier points, but that people could come together to work on solutions despite the disagreements.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 1 May 2012 @ 11:17 PM

  12. Is our friend Dan H. aware of the recent study that showed that 98% of active Climate Scientists believe the warming is man made? dan h.? Dan H.? DAN H.?

    Comment by Doug — 2 May 2012 @ 12:01 AM

  13. In what ways could an amateur scientist contribute to the study of climate, and assist the professionals? I don’t mean advocacy, but assist in actual research. As an example in a different field of study, amateur astronomers are playing key roles by looking for supernovae and then alerting professionals when one is first found so that the far more powerful telescopes can be directed towards the exploding star to collect data. And amateur astronomers also look at things like the SOHO imagery and have discovered numerous comets, as this was not something the professionals were using the data to find. Planet hunting is an area where humans searching the data are better than computer programs, so again the more eyes the better.

    Naturally amateur scientists generally need a strong foundation of understanding to be of assistance. How to operate telescopes and analyze the images are required knowledge and skills to be a supernova hunter. I imagine people who have undergrad degrees in physics, chemistry, mathematics, etc. would be candidates for becoming productive amateur climatologists. They would need to study up on the foundations of climate science, and the specifics of whatever projects they wanted to help. However, I’m not sure where to start find this kind of thing. I’m not talking about making a graph or two and posting in the comments of a blog, I’m talking about doing real work and passing it up the chain to professionals who can take it, quickly verify it, and use it to enhance their own work.

    Due to the highly politicized nature of this field, it may not exist. I know that some people build weather stations and collect that data as a hobby, but I’m not sure if that ever gets tied into data products climate researchers would use. Just like there are certain tasks that professional astronomers “downsource”, so to speak, to amateurs, I am curious if there are certain tasks that professional climatologists are looking to downsource. The tasks that astronomers downsource are ones that are better served by amateurs, like looking for secondary uses for data collected to serve a primary purpose, or expanded coverage of the night sky.

    [Response: Some of the most active ‘citizen science’ projects related to climate are focused on the digitisation of old weather records (here and here), and phenology projects (for instance, here or here). – gavin]

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 2 May 2012 @ 3:01 AM

  14. Dan H

    You make the common mistake amongst skeptics of confusing the notion of “scientific consensus” with an opinion poll on people’s voting intentions or their views on the best kind of dog food. You say “The debate will be won by research and data, and not the opinion of a certain group.” But the point is that the scientific consensus emerges as a result of the research and data and its existence is an indication that the debate, while not actually over (nor will it ever be), is at least heavily leaning towards a particular set of conclusions. And whilst we should be naturally vigilant for false appeals to authority in any debate that doesn’t give us license to dismiss the views of those who have more knowlege and practical experience of a particular subject just because they happen to be inconvenient.

    On a more general note I do think the existence of a scientific consensus is meaningful for the wider public which does not have the ability to make an independent judgement on the scientific issues. Which is precisely why skeptics make such efforts to either deny its existence or dismiss the concept outright. Even non-scientists like me who do take an active interest and try to understand the science as far as possible ultimate have to rely on the scientific community to understand which issues are (to use the dreaded word) “settled” and which are more uncertain. I suspect that this actually also applies to those who are scientists but in fields unrelated to climate science. And how does scientific knowledge get passed down through generations if not through the dissemination of established “consensus” principles throuigh our schools, universities etc?

    Comment by andrew adams — 2 May 2012 @ 3:42 AM

  15. Dan H

    You make the common mistake amongst skeptics of confusing the notion of “scientific consensus” with an opinion poll on people’s voting intentions or their views on,say, the best kind of dog food. You say “The debate will be won by research and data, and not the opinion of a certain group.” But the point is that the scientific consensus emerges as a result of the research and data and its existence is an indication that the debate, while not actually over (nor will it ever be), is at least heavily leaning towards a particular set of conclusions. And whilst we should be naturally vigilant for false appeals to authority in any debate that doesn’t give us license to dismiss the views of those who have more knowlege and practical experience of a particular subject just because they happen to be inconvenient.

    On a more general note I do think the existence of a scientific consensus is meaningful for the wider public which does not have the ability to make an independent judgement on the scientific issues. Which is precisely why skeptics make such efforts to either deny its existence or dismiss the concept outright. Even non-scientists like me who do take an active interest and try to understand the science as far as possible ultimate have to rely on the scientific community to understand which issues are (to use the dreaded word) “settled” and which are more uncertain. I suspect that this actually also applies to those who are scientists but in fields unrelated to climate science. And how does scientific knowledge get passed down through generations if not through the dissemination of established “consensus” principles throuigh our schools, universities etc?

    Comment by andrew adams — 2 May 2012 @ 3:45 AM

  16. Real Wacky Science

    Too late for a 1st April joke by a long way, but since this was picked up by a press-cuttings service yesterday I thought I should have a closer look. The Fox News article “Proof global warming isn’t making weather wackier?” (30 Apr 2012), URL cites “Real Science” site (URL ) and in particular “Sea Level Junk Science In California” (URL )

    I was intrigued by a particular graph on sea level at Monterey, URL and since there was a link to the data (URL ) I thought I try to recreate the graph (complete with a linear regression). On the “Real Science” graph there is a completely flat red line through the scatter data, which I guess is meant to show that there is no sea level rise at that station. I’ve applied a linear regression both in Linux and using Excel (which looks like the software used for the original graph) for the monthly data and I get a trendline with slope 0.92 mm/year, resulting in a line from approx 7000mm in 1980 to about 7030mm in 2010 (annually smoothed data gives less of a slope, albeit still positive: 0.86 mm/year). [Sorry, can’t include a graph in this reply].

    So what has been going on with the “trend line” on the graph on the “Real Science” site ? – I suspect it was just drawn in as a straight line, slightly above the average value of the whole time series. I guess there’s no point pointing this out to Steven Goddard who seems to lack any real scientific rigour and is happier picking cherries.

    But I wonder how many people will look at such graphs and believe them ?

    Comment by B Eggen — 2 May 2012 @ 4:56 AM

  17. 4 Dan H says, “Whether a consensus exists or not is irrelevant to the climate discussion. This appeal to authority is a fallacy dating to the ancient Greeks. The debate will be won by research and data, and not the opinion of a certain group. Also, I think you are overstating the supposed unanimity among climate scientists.”

    You don’t know what the fallacy of appeal to authority means. Here’s a definition:
    “Often we add strength to our arguments by referring to respected sources or authorities and explaining their positions on the issues we’re discussing. If, however, we try to get readers to agree with us simply by impressing them with a famous name or by appealing to a supposed authority who really isn’t much of an expert, we commit the fallacy of appeal to authority.”

    When 97-98% of publishing climate scientists hold a view on climate science, it is a consensus which can be used as one very strong part of an argument in support of that view. In fact, the consensus is what makes the appeal to authority valid. If a fairly equal number of experts held opposing views, then no reasonable appeal to authority could be made, as any appeal could be countered by an opposing example; but “39 out of 40 experts agree that…” is quite a powerful argument. Or do you disagree with the 97-98% figures from Doran 2009 and Anderegg 2010?

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 2 May 2012 @ 6:48 AM

  18. Andrew,
    Scientific theories do arise out of research and data. The validity of the theory is dependent on the strength of the work. A vast majority of scientists may support a particular hypothesis, because it reasonably describes the event, but until sufficient data confirms the hypothesis, the support will be weak. Wide, but shallow.
    The main problem with the climate debate, is that many people confuse the general agreement that the earth has warmed with belief that man has caused the warming. There is a disconnect between the two. For example, see the recent poll conducted for the AMS, where 89% responded that the globe has warmed, but only 59% responded that it was mostly caused by human activities. Many people are assuming global warming means anthropogenic global warming, and you know what happens when you assume.

    Comment by Dan H. — 2 May 2012 @ 7:07 AM

  19. “I know that some people build weather stations and collect that data as a hobby, but I’m not sure if that ever gets tied into data products climate researchers would use.”

    Which Guy Callendar used to do, in fact–his whole career as a climatologist was carried out on an amateur basis, supported by careers as steam technologist and (somewhat reluctant) military technology researcher.

    It would be easy (and maybe true) to say that it couldn’t happen today. But it was remarkable and quite unexpected during his career (1930s-1960s), too:

    A particularly interesting feature of Callendar (1938) is that it was published with a “Discussion”—one which reads rather like a transcript of a Doctoral dissertation Defense. (This ritual ‘trial by fire’ forms a normal part of the Doctoral process today.) Callendar apparently faced a committee of leading meteorologists.

    To begin with, there was L.H.G. Dines, whom we have already encountered, and Sir David Brunt, who Guy may well have known through mutual connections with the Imperial College. (At that time it was still simply ‘Professor Brunt’–he would only be knighted for his contributions to meteorology in 1949.)

    Also present were Mr. J.H. Coste, Drs. C.E.P. Brooks and F.J.W. Whipple, and Sir George Simpson, who was perhaps the most famous of all–he had worked in places as diverse as India and Antarctica, and had acquired tragico-romantic luster as a surviving member of the Scott expedition.

    All in all, the committee must have been highly intimidating: Whipple had only recently completed his term as President of the Royal Meteorological Society; Simpson’s presidency was just a couple of years in the future; and Brunt would, as it turned out, succeed Simpson.

    Their questions seem a mix of admiration, condescension toward an outsider (albeit an outsider who was the son of one of England’s leading physicists), and proper scientific skepticism:

    Sir George Simpson expressed his admiration of the amount of work which Mr. Callendar had put into his paper. It was excellent work. . . [But Simpson] thought it was not sufficiently realized by non-meteorologists who came for the first time to help the Society in its study, that it was impossible to solve the problem of the temperature distribution in the atmosphere by working out the radiation. The atmosphere was not in a state of radiative equilibrium. . . temperature distribution in the atmosphere was determined almost entirely by the movement of the air up and down. . . One could not, therefore, calculate the effect of changing any one factor. . .

    Callendar’s life and work:

    All of which aside, I do recall one contribution that’s been discussed on RC in the past–there are opportunities for amateurs to transcribe old met observations, thus bringing them into useful life again. Perhaps someone has links for that handy?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 2 May 2012 @ 7:55 AM

  20. Dan H., First, you don’t understand what scientific consensus is. It is not a simple vote. A single scientist like, say, Fermi carries much more weight than 100 average physicists. That is anything but democratic. A better measure of consensus is found in publications and citations. If a scientist’s beliefs about his subject area are correct they will lead him to greater insight–and hence more publications. The explanatory power of these insights will in turn be helpful to other scientists, who will cite the work in their own. If on the other hand, the beliefs of a scientist are incorrect, they will prevent him from understanding his subject matter, leading to fewer publications, each with lesser influence.

    This is precisely what we see wrt climate science. The reason why denialist scientists are unproductive has nothing to do with their skill–it is rather that their failure to accept significant positive feedback in the climate system prevents them from understanding the climate.

    The other thing you seem to fail to understand is that scientists who do not publish in a given field have virtually no influence on scientific consensus. As a physicist, I can look at the consensus in climate science, and I can say whether it is physically reasonable–that is, I can validate the science–but unless I publish, my opinions have precious little weight.

    You no play the game, you no make the rules.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 2 May 2012 @ 8:05 AM

  21. Shorter Dan H.:

    A consensus among climate scientists doesn’t matter because “only” 59% of non-climate scientists who read the weather on the news believe in AGW.

    So now he’s lowered himself to cherry-picking polls that suit his taste …

    Comment by dhogaza — 2 May 2012 @ 8:08 AM

  22. Dan H. wrote:

    “A vast majority of scientists may support a particular hypothesis, because it reasonably describes the event, but until sufficient data confirms the hypothesis, the support will be weak. Wide, but shallow.”

    I must disagree. You’ll never get a “vast majority” ‘supporting’ an hypothesis simply because it’s plausible. What you’ll get are lots of folks figuring out ways to test it.

    That is exactly what happened with the the various ideas making up the mainstream view today, which is why we can be confident that:

    –The warming trend is robust.
    –The rise in GHG concentrations is robust.
    –The experimental and observational evidence (and the physical theoretical understanding) linking the two is robust.
    –The evidence that the rise in GHGs is due to human activity is robust.

    All of which is why we saw the kinds of numbers in the Doran and Anderegg studies that we did. Perhaps some of the AMS members were less familiar with points #2 and (especially) #4 than climate scientists are?

    Attribution is one of the toughest pieces of the puzzle, no doubt. But the professional assessment that observed climate change is most likely due to human activity is much more than an ‘assumption.’

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 2 May 2012 @ 8:14 AM

  23. Dan H., you omitted the facts that:

    1) another 11% of AMS respondents thought that the warming was from both human and natural causes in roughly equal measure, for a total of 70% who thought human contributions to climate change significant, and that

    2) the reference period defined by the survey was “the past 150 years.” Given that the anthropogenic signal has only been emergent since the early 1970’s, I think it’s remarkable that the percentage attributing climate change to human causes primarily was as high as it was. The survey investigators note that they received 6 emails from respondents strongly objecting to this definition.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 2 May 2012 @ 8:29 AM

  24. Watch Arctic sea ice drop extent from now, -11 C was exceeded over the Arctic ocean,
    a few years ago a scuba team found that the ice starts disintegrating from under when surface temperatures were at -11 C or warmer. Although sea ice extent seems high at this time, it largely consists of first year ice. When tthe sun is high enough, ice gets bombarded by heat from top and bottom. It literally becomes warmer, easier to drill.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 2 May 2012 @ 9:03 AM

  25. Gavin: I have the impression that General Circulation Models [GCMs] are less able to predict agricultural collapse due to desertification than Aiguo Dai’s data on the history of the extent of deserts. Is this correct? Will this problem with GCMs be fixed soon? Will climate modelers look at Aiguo Dai’s data?

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 2 May 2012 @ 9:04 AM

  26. Focus on the news story — you can’t explain facts by discussing pretense.

    Discussing fake claims fills the comments, but doesn’t educate much.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 May 2012 @ 9:42 AM

  27. Dan H wrote: “Whether a consensus exists or not is irrelevant to the climate discussion. This appeal to authority is a fallacy dating to the ancient Greeks. The debate will be won by research and data, and not the opinion of a certain group.”

    This is offensive and puerile nonsense. The overwhelming majority — indeed, virtually ALL — of the scientists who have actually gathered and studied the data and actually conducted the research agree on the reality and the serious danger of anthropogenic global warming.

    The scientific “debate” HAS BEEN WON by research and data.

    To state that plain fact is not in any way an “appeal to authority” and your pretentious misuse of that classical rhetorical fallacy is just plain stupid and ignorant.

    Please, moderators. Send Dan H’s garbage to the Bore Hole where it belongs. Whatever meager entertainment value it may once have had for those who enjoy laughing at the feeble-minded, has long since been exhausted.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 2 May 2012 @ 9:49 AM

  28. andrew adams wrote to Dan H: “You make the common mistake amongst skeptics of confusing the notion of ‘scientific consensus’ with an opinion poll …”

    Dan H is not making “mistakes” and he is not a “skeptic”. He is a troll who is knowingly and deliberately wasting people’s time with rote regurgitation of repetitive, scripted bullshit.

    He gets a lot of mileage here. For some reason, people seem to enjoy endlessly posting the exact same responses (e.g. “scientific consensus is not an opinion poll”) to his millionth repetition of the exact same bogus talking points (e.g. “scientific consensus is an appeal to authority fallacy”).

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 2 May 2012 @ 10:26 AM

  29. “A vast majority of scientists may support a particular hypothesis, because it reasonably describes the event, but until sufficient data confirms the hypothesis, the support will be weak. Wide, but shallow.”

    So Dan H has surveyed the field with his all encompassing, rhetorical eye and found in his depths that you are shallow. Apparently you Human hating scientists just want to go around blaming Humans. Bad scientists. And the proof is: Dan H sez so. Sounds like an appeal to false authority to me.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 2 May 2012 @ 10:29 AM

  30. I’m trying to more fully understand how Earth’s energy imbalance is determined from measured changes in Earth’s heat content – for instance, the derivation of a fairly precise estimate from ARGO data (mainly) in Hansen et al. 2011.

    My understanding is that the energy imbalance represents the amount of energy which the Earth’s temperature has not yet responded to – extra heating “in the pipeline.” That is: the sum of forcings minus the warming response thus far.

    Specifically how are measurements of heat uptake like ARGO data employed to determine Earth’s energy imbalance? Is the imbalance inferred from the rate of heating? Or is total warming simply subtracted from total forcing?

    Comment by Daniel C Goodwin — 2 May 2012 @ 10:39 AM

  31. [Enter Chorus as Clouds]

    Strepsiades: Yes, by Jupiter! O highly honoured Clouds, for now they cover all things.
    Socrates: Did you not, however, know, nor yet consider, these to be goddesses?
    Strepsiades: No, by Jupiter! But I thought them to be mist, and dew, and smoke.
    Socrates: For you do not know, by Jupiter! that these feed very many sophists, Thurian soothsayers, practisers of medicine, lazy-long-haired-onxy-ring-wearers, song-twisters for the cyclic dances, and meteorological quacks.
    — Aristophanes, “The Clouds”

    Comment by Jeremy — 2 May 2012 @ 10:58 AM

  32. The NY Times piece about the contrarians and clouds would have one believe that if somehow things work out so that warming is mitigated, we have nothing to worry about. It completely ignores the ocean acidification problem of CO2 – and there is no contrarian theory to mitigate that. The collapse of ocean ecosystems could be similar to the Permian extinction, which may well have been caused by a rapid rise in atmospheric CO2.

    Comment by David — 2 May 2012 @ 11:23 AM

  33. #6 David

    I have done a rapid reading of the Svensmark paper. This is remake of an old idea that when Earth pass trough a spiral arm, there is much more nearby supernovae, which threaten life. This topic has been brought many time in the field of astrobiology (search Galactic Belt of life). However, the mechanism was nearby supernova that produced severe cosmic rays that destroyed the ozone layer by a large production of NOx. Svensmark propose (again) that cosmic rays affect climate. However, the smoothed fluctuation in flux (necessary to match the CO2 temperature record) only present a small variation (less than a factor 3). This means that atmosphere should be highly sensitive to cosmic rays. By the way, Svensmark note that tectonic is a very large factor, which if far from being surprising since this is the mechanism that drive CO2 level ;)

    Comment by Yvan Dutil — 2 May 2012 @ 11:43 AM

  34. Unsettled Scientist,
    I’d agree with Gavin that entering data is quite important work that needs to be done, and there is a shortage of people doing it. However it’s also pretty tedious for most people–not terribly interesting work, and if you already sit behind a desk all day, not something that’s likely to turn the ol’ crank. I have a large pile of interesting and important historic forest data that just sits there for exactly these reasons. The phenology observations can be much more interesting for many, and are important because they represent a sort of bridge connecting climate change with climate change effects, that is the data is potentially useful for both. Climate change effects in general is an area with a lot of potential for citizen help, because many of these are biological and at a scale in which only on-the-ground observations really do the job (as opposed to remotely sensed data). I think what’s needed is a coordinated and funded effort that connects non-professionals with professionals in doing different types of important work. Part of that would involve education also, showing people exactly why the work in question is important in the larger scheme of things. Also, many people are willing to volunteer their time, which is terrific, but in the end, this stuff is real work, and people need to be paid for it. Anyway, thanks for your post, you’ve gotten me thinking.–Jim

    Comment by Jim — 2 May 2012 @ 12:25 PM

  35. @DanH “Whether a consensus exists or not is irrelevant to the climate discussion. This appeal to authority is a fallacy dating to the ancient Greeks.”

    That would be true if it were a debate. It is not, it is a prediction and a requirement to know, about what is happening to and going to happen to, the real world. We have found that the best way to answer such questions is to apply scientific methods and it is no different this time… that is the best way to get answers about the real world. In such a situation, when 95% of the science points in one direction only, it is not irrelevant, nor a logical fallacy, to refer to it. The opinions of the scientists involved in gathering and analyzing the data follow those results.

    The attempts by denialists to describe this as a logical fallacy need to be understood in the same context as their constant insistence that we provide “proof” in the legal and logical sense of the word. One should better turn this on its head, and ask them where is THEIR proof that releasing the same amount of CO2 that was sequestered in the last 3+ million years… in the last 150, and continuing to release it 50 times faster than any known natural process… will NOT lead to harmful effects. That IS their theory… in a nutshell. They can’t possibly defend it… which is why they attack everything else.

    Comment by BJ Chippindale — 2 May 2012 @ 1:16 PM

  36. I thought CO2 couldn’t be sucked from the atmosphere, but I’ve just bumped into this paper (via BNC):

    “The analysis indicates that CO2 capture from air for climate change mitigation is technically feasible using off-the-shelf technology.”

    Stolaroff, Keith & Lowry 2008. Carbon dioxide capture from atmospheric air using sodium hydroxide spray. Environ Sci Technol. 2008 Apr 15;42(8):2728-35. (SI)

    I’d be interested in reading your views on this, especially since, in my view, people tend to be very techno-optimist, in the case of climate change usually making a parallelism with the Malthusian predictions and the Green Revolution.

    [Response: There’s a big difference between technically feasible and cost effective. If it costs $400/ton Carbon, then there are a lot of other things that one would do first with the money that would be more effective. – gavin]

    Comment by Jesús R. — 2 May 2012 @ 2:22 PM

  37. Re: #2 and the New York Times

    Whoever came up with the lead to this article clearly hasn’t been paying attention if they think that clouds will be the “last bastion for dissenters”. The devote “dissenters” will come up with some new correlation/causality scenario if clouds fail them. It’s hard to imagine what it might be — the sheep-albedo effect? Meteor showers? Continental drift? Planetary alignment? Dark matter? Plutocracies pollute less? Climate hysteresis?

    See for a list of previous bastions.

    Comment by BillS — 2 May 2012 @ 2:31 PM

  38. BillS:

    Whoever came up with the lead to this article clearly hasn’t been paying attention if they think that clouds will be the “last bastion for dissenters”.

    The article was clearly speaking of those few dissenters within the climate science community who actually do scientific work and are trying to build a credible alternative to the mainstream scientific view.

    Not anti-science denialists who insist that CO2 isn’t a GHG or that its warming effect violates the second law of thermodynamics or …

    Comment by dhogaza — 2 May 2012 @ 3:07 PM

  39. BJ,
    If 95% (or 90% ,or even 80%) of the data pointed in one direction, then I would accept it as near a fact as possible. However, since the data varies considerably from your statement, my acceptance varies accordingly. There are several predictions, only one of which can come true. Several people here seem, to prefer to shout down anyone with which they disagree, rather than argue scientifically. In that sense, you are right, there is no debate here, only shouting. In the real scientific world, there is a significant debate occurring. I was hoping it would occur here also.

    Comment by Dan H. — 2 May 2012 @ 3:10 PM

  40. Dan H wrote: “Several people here seem, to prefer to shout down anyone with which they disagree …”

    Pointing out that you repetitively post blatant falsehoods, ignorant nonsense and laughable sophistry, that you continually misrepresent other commenter’s posts, and otherwise behave like a sneeringly dishonest and boorish troll, is not “shouting you down”. It is simply stating facts.

    Your name is Rumpelstiltskin, troll. Now begone.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 2 May 2012 @ 3:42 PM

  41. Dan H wrote: “In the real scientific world, there is a significant debate occurring.”

    There is no “debate” in the “scientific world” about the sort of garbage that you post here. Scientists don’t “debate” the bogus talking points that Koch Industries pays Fox News to spoon-feed to trolls.

    Which is, of course, exactly the reason that you have to resort to puerile gibberish about “appeals to authority” whenever someone here discusses real climate science.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 2 May 2012 @ 3:46 PM

  42. @39: Be the scientific debate you say you desire.

    Pick an unresolved climate science topic (say, what’s the sign and magnitude of the cloud feedback given the most-likely CO2 emissions scenarios), construct a testable hypothesis, gather the data needed to test it, crunch it all, and publish your results. Whatever you conclude, you’ll get plenty of solid scientific debate.

    Or just waste everyone’s time by, for example, asserting that drought has decreased worldwide since 1900 because the global PDSI has become more negative.

    Your choice.

    Comment by Meow — 2 May 2012 @ 4:01 PM


    Warming experiments underpredict plant phenological responses to climate change

    “… We compared phenology (the timing of recurring life history events) in observational studies and warming experiments spanning four continents and 1,634 plant species using a common measure of temperature sensitivity (change in days per degree Celsius). We show that warming experiments underpredict advances in the timing of flowering and leafing by 8.5-fold and 4.0-fold, respectively, compared with long-term observations….”

    Nature (2012)
    02 May 2012

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 May 2012 @ 4:09 PM

  44. This case of nocturnal warming associated with the installation of windfarms is not surprising. But it can hardly be expected to be associated with wind farms in general. The rotors induce mixing and affect various boundary layer properties. How and to what extent depends on the boundary layer. A nice example of mixing fog associated with the rotating blades can be seen in the famous Horns Rev photo ( ). In Texas, the most likely explanation for the warming observed involves a near surface night time inversion (probably as a result of radiative ground level cooling), which is mixed away near windfarms. The end result is that near a wind farm the ground does not cool as much at night. Net effect on global climate? None.

    I know of a study where ground temperatures were measured in a meadow surrounded by trees and in another where there where no trees. In the first case, due to shelter from the wind, a shallow night time inversion formed and night-time ground temperatures were lower as a result. During daytime, however, the shelter from the trees lead to higher temperatures at the ground level. There are plenty of such effects, and in the large scheme of things they do not matter much. I am sure there are cases where windfarms cool the area downstream and plenty of cases where they have no effect on temperatures. These effects are situation dependent and hence differ from place to place and time to time.

    Of course, to those who like the idea of ignorant environmentalists warming the planet while trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, – this story was just too good to pass. Don´t let the facts spoil a good story.

    Comment by Halldór Björnsson — 2 May 2012 @ 4:39 PM

  45. “Also, many people are willing to volunteer their time, which is terrific, but in the end, this stuff is real work, and people need to be paid for it.”

    Jim, there is more ‘real work’ to be done in the world than can be paid for. And most of us do volunteer to greater or lesser extent. There are many partly or fully retired people like me who are willing to do data entry/transcription or other routine work for nothing – who would never, ever, not in a million years, dream of taking on such a task as a paid job. I couldn’t think of anything worse.

    Doing it at home in your own time at your own pace, on the other hand, is quite satisfying. Probably _because_ you can walk away from it any time you like, for as long as you like. Exactly the reason why the idea of such work is so unattractive as a paid job where walking away amounts to getting fired.

    [Response:That’s great and we need people like you. Unfortunately there is an element of society that doesn’t want to pay for the things that society should be paying for, and I would argue that there’s more than enough money to pay for these things if the attitudes and priorities were right, which they are not.–Jim]

    Comment by adeady — 2 May 2012 @ 5:02 PM

  46. Folk @40-42 inclusive.
    It appears plain to me that Dan H. has set out a very simple test for his argument @39. He asserts he is being “shout(ed) down” by us while “in the real scientific world, there is a significant debate occurring.
    If such a “significant debate” exists, it will surely be evident because “real science,” is not secretive.

    So where is it?

    Dan H. surely has crazy ideas about the power of AGW, or more correctly the lack of power of AGW. His pet belief is more extreme even that Lindzen’s who as climatelogist fails to convince any of his scientific colleagues that climate seinsitivity is less than one.
    If the nonsense Dan H. argues is true, there will be scientific papers being published that present evidence for what I, for what even Lindzen considers absurdly low climate sensitivity, perhaps even a negative sensitivity; papers which would (a) constitute a debate & (b) justify the ridiculous position that Dan H. argues.

    So can anybody see such a debate? Can such scientific papers be referenced?

    Comment by MARodger — 2 May 2012 @ 5:12 PM

  47. Dan H wrote: “In the real scientific world, there is a significant debate occurring.”

    Please read for comprehension: The real scientific debate re: man-made greenhouse gases and global warming *has* occurred. Note the tense. It occurred through peer-review journals and scientific conferences. Attend the AGU, for example.

    Can you explain without violating law of conservation of energy why stratospheric temperatures are cooling ? They ought to be warming if natural effects were the cause. Oh, you can’t? What a surprise. Not. Because you have not read the science. Or understand it. You simply regurgitate what others have told you or what you want to believe without any scientific basis what so ever. The scientific method: read it and understand it. Because you have no clue about it.

    Comment by Dan — 2 May 2012 @ 5:16 PM

  48. I don’t like to think I might be shouting anyone down but may I (quietly, politely) suggest that Dan H. be consigned to the Bore Hole, on the grounds that he has wasted more than half the bandwidth of this discussion so far and shows no sign of either stopping or learning?

    Comment by MalcolmT — 2 May 2012 @ 5:54 PM

  49. Re #9, ABC TV Climate change programme:
    Here are some other bloggers’ comments and a priceless clip of Oreskes demolishing Minchin which was cut from the programme but posted to Youtube.

    Comment by MalcolmT — 2 May 2012 @ 6:00 PM

  50. “No climate model currently incorporates the amplifying feedback from methane released by a defrosting tundra.”

    Well… depends on what you define as a “climate model”. The MIT IGSM has a module that has methane release estimates from northern tundra.

    Comment by MMM — 2 May 2012 @ 6:05 PM

  51. Sean #9 “I can change your mind about Climate Change”

    The show left me with the impression that the protagonists had negligible understanding of the details of the science. Nick Minchin parroted zombie arguments from beginning to end. In the main, it was not apparent that AGW-concerned Anna Rose understood where the fallacies lay in Nick’s points, though to be fair most discussion of the science ended on the cutting room floor. Scientific content rarely reached the level of anaemic.

    What the show did serve was to illuminate the manner in which the general population makes decisions when ignorant, incapable or lacking time to understanding a complex scientific investigation. They fall back on what has served them in other situations – political ideology, religious thought, optimism/pessimism, peer response, gut reaction, suspicion of manipulation, impassioned appeal… My mother is a firm believer in AGW and has the science wrong on every point. My boss is deeply suspicious, applying elements of chaos theory and economic thinking to arrive at a position unsupportable by current data.

    +3C, lock it in.

    Comment by Ammonite — 2 May 2012 @ 6:21 PM

  52. Dan H.: “In the real scientific world, there is a significant debate occurring.”

    Do tell, Dan. And where would this “real scientific world” be located? Certainly not that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Certainly not that it has been warming? Near certainly (e.g. 90% confidence) not that doubling CO2 will increase temperatures between 2 and 4.5 degrees. None of these things are open to serious debate among reasonable scientists. And much more is pretty certain–that we are seeing increasing severe weather and drought, that ice is melting at a prodigious rate, that oceans are acidifying…

    There is lots of lively and interesting debate in climate science. WRT climate change, the only open question seems to be just how bad things will get.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 2 May 2012 @ 8:11 PM

  53. Can someone convince me that Dan H. is not a troll and is worth the time? Am I missing something? I have to agree with SecularAnimist here: send his stuff to the Bore Hole. People have patiently engaged him for months and yet he still persistently posts stuff that is mostly nonsense while also failing to engage others meaningfully and responsively.

    Comment by Charles — 2 May 2012 @ 9:13 PM

  54. Hello, have been talking with some of our friends over a Climate Skeptic and one posted this little bon-bon: “A 1-2% change in average global cloud cover, caused say by chaotic atmospheric circulation changes, could potentially explain all of the global warming since 1950.”

    He believes he took this paraphrase from Roy Spencer’s website. I was wondering what the actual science community would say to this.

    Thanks, W.

    Comment by Waldo — 2 May 2012 @ 10:30 PM

  55. Research Question: Dan H, have you actually learned anything from responses to your comments over the years? Or do you actually ignore everything, as the evidence strongly suggests? If you have learned anything, could I get some evidence, because you seem remarkably similar to a brick wall with a bunch of sciency stuff written on it in permanent spray-paint. I just keep imagining a world in which you actually engaged to learn, a world in which your understanding began to take more and more of the science into account, a world in which your questions became better and better, a world where people enjoyed responding to you (and not with a sadistic sort of pleasure). In short, a happier world.

    Your comments are an open book on a closed mind.

    Comment by DSL — 2 May 2012 @ 10:51 PM

  56. dhogaza “A consensus among climate scientists doesn’t matter because “only” 59% of non-climate scientists who read the weather on the news believe in AGW.

    So now he’s lowered himself to cherry-picking polls that suit his taste …”
    I guess that depends upon what we think the subject (of matter to) is. Clearly if we are thinking about a good faith attempt to ascertain the condition of the natural world, your dismissal is correct. If we are discussing the probable future course of public opinion, then all the debate points, both good, bad, and atrocious come into play.

    Comment by Thomas — 2 May 2012 @ 10:52 PM

  57. @ Jesús R. — 2 May 2012 @ 2:22 PM re NaOH CCS

    From Stolaroff, Keith & Lowry 2008. Carbon dioxide capture from atmospheric air using sodium hydroxide spray. Environ Sci Technol. 2008 Apr 15;42(8):2728-35.
    “The cost of CO2 capture using NaOH spray (excluding solution recovery and CO2 sequestration, which may be comparable) in the full-scale system is 96 $/ton-CO2 in the base case…”

    1 mole of NaOH weighs ~40 g; 1 mole of CO2 is ~44g – so it takes ~1.8 tonnes of sodium hydroxide to sequester 1 ton of CO2(2 NaOH + CO2 → Na2CO3 + H2O). Googling around a bit, it seems that NaOH costs about $125 per ton in bulk –$File/NaOH+Practicality+Study.pdf. I would say ~$200/ton to (re)generate NaOH, not including CO2 sequestration costs, isn’t exactly “comparable”, unless one means you can compare the costs and come to the conclusion that “solution recovery and CO2 sequestration” costs make the process prohibitively expensive.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 2 May 2012 @ 11:43 PM

  58. Yvan Dutil re: Svensmark Paper…
    Thank you for your reply.

    Comment by David — 3 May 2012 @ 1:14 AM

  59. RE: Global temperature signal & real warming

    In Foster & Rahmstorf ( ), the authors neatly remove various short term influences on global temperature, so the trend becomes very clear.

    Still they do not end up with a smooth signal, there is a lot of noise, and for example in their fig. 8, the measured temperature goes down from 1999 to 2001, by 0.1 deg.

    How can this be? Because of the large inertias involved I would think that the real global temperature MUST be smooth. Is this the case, or can (say) a change in heat transport from sea to air cause so much cooling of the atmosphere in a particular year?

    (Not that it does us any good of course, it does not change the larger pipcture one bit. Even 1 year average weather is not climate.)

    [Response: there is no requirement for perfect smoothness at the annual mean level. ENSO is certainly not the only ‘weather’ element that can cause differences of the mean (though it is the biggest). – gavin]

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 3 May 2012 @ 2:11 AM

  60. It seems that Dan H. and his comments are becoming a text book case in the development of a consensus within the climate science community, or the community on this site at any rate. Keep commenting Dan H. and watch the consensus develop.

    Comment by Rob Sidelong — 3 May 2012 @ 2:48 AM

  61. Ray,
    You say you are a physicist. Then how can you not see the debate that is currently raging within the American Physics Society. The APS statement on climate change mentions that natural forcings, as well as manmade have contributed to the observed warming, and the climate sensitivity range is 1-3 C/doubling. You state a near certainty that it is 2-4.5. Some members of the APS resigned in protest, because they thought this was too high. Maybe MARogers is one of them, as he mentions climate sensitivities of less than 1, or possibly negative. Granted, there are some publications that have argued for these very low sensitivites, but they seem to be in the vast minority.

    What arguement(s) can you present for your higher sensitivity range?

    [Response: Oh please. You say that you are against argument from authority, yet you quote (again) an unsourced (and misleading) statement from the APS like it was gospel. You pretend you haven’t read or seen the mainstream arguments for climate sensitivity despite having participated on multiple threads discussing exactly that. Enough is enough. Either engage in actual dialog or go somewhere else. – gavin]

    [Update: The APS statement makes no such claim (h/t MarkB). The 1-3 deg C is the uncertainty in the sensitivity, not the sensitivity itself! – gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 3 May 2012 @ 5:43 AM

  62. While I do not share Dan H.’s views on climate change, I do feel that there is some merrit to the ‘appeal to authority’ argument of his. Defence of ‘authority’ is shaky, unless someone claims there is great controversy, but that itself is, in a way, an ‘appeal to authority’.
    Scientific data, in the end, should be discussed, the rest is irrelevant. Justification of ‘appeal to authority’ rests mostly constrained situations e.g. I do not have time to figure it out myself so I will follow Dyson or 98% of the climate scientists. But in such a case one should forfeit mentioning arguments made by the authority, as they are not the determinant of your decision.

    Comment by Relucticant — 3 May 2012 @ 6:05 AM

  63. Some of the more plausible-sounding objections to AGW involve arguing that the warming of the last century or so can be wholly or largely attributed to unforced natural variability (Spencer makes this argument, IIRC). What’s the best evidence we have for quantifying unforced natural variability, and distinguishing it from changes due to external forcings? Cheers…

    [Response: Internal variability is invariably associated with dynamical changes that move heat around (and that can have a small net residual warming or cooling effect). The uptake of heat in the ocean doesn’t fit any of the modes of internal variability and implies that there has been a large (and increasing) net heat input into the system over multiple decades. Since the time-scales for variability on that scale reside in the ocean (not in the atmosphere), you would have the bizarre circumstance of warming ocean causing a net heat input into the system – which would clearly be unstable. Instead, the warming of the ocean implies that there has been a shift in the radiative balance – and that shift is dominated by the increase of greenhouse gases, whose radiative impact can be clearly seen in stratospheric cooling that has accompanied all of this. – gavin]

    Comment by Icarus — 3 May 2012 @ 6:21 AM

  64. Thought this might be of interest to some people here. Records go back to 1393! (that’s not a typo!) ‘The first cygnet of the year at Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset is the earliest since records began in 1393.’Was this in the ‘Medieval Warm Period’ :-)

    Comment by Louise Doughty — 3 May 2012 @ 8:05 AM

  65. Charles @52
    Whether Dan H. is a troll or not depends on how much troll-like behaviour is acceptable. A fair amount of his behaviour here is certainly troll-like but not all.
    As an example, his reference to me within his comment @60 has all the symptoms of a troll. Yet the substance of his comment @60 is a response to Ray @51. It is of course a poor response as it is nonsense to suggest that “…the debate that is currently raging within the American Physics Society” is in any way science-based, significant or for that matter ‘within the APS’, although the ruccus does still carry on (e.g. in the press.).
    Indeed, it is very questionable whether the reactions of the denialist APS members could ever have been considered as science or as significant if the likes of William Happer’s grasp of AGW science ( or should I say ‘lack of grasp’ ) is representative of their position, he being one of the ‘petitioners’.

    For the record, I do not see the contributions of Dan H. as being positive for the RealClimate site & would myself terminate them.

    Comment by MARodger — 3 May 2012 @ 8:24 AM

  66. Dan H.,
    I see no big debate in the physics community. The overwhelming majority of physicists accept the summary of the consensus represented by the IPCC. There are a few loudmouths sounding off and trying to grab attention and sympathy from the membership of APS, but they haven’t gotten anywhere.

    As to the range quoted in the APS declarification, it is pretty clear that the writers of the summary (none of whom have any special expertise in climate science) simply got it wrong. I am currently looking into how this happened.

    As to the currently accepted 90% CI for climate sensitivity, perhaps the best quasi-layman summary is the Nature Geo paper by Knutti and Hegerl. This site gives a pretty throrough summary of research on the subject:

    The overwhelming majority of papers fall within the 90% CI. The basic reason for this is that it is virtually impossible to get an Earthlike climate with a low (<2 degrees per doubling). There are several independent lines of evidence that are all telling you the same thing here. It's not a matter of tweaking a parameter or two in a model and Earth emerges despite low sensitivity.

    Ironically, given the way denialists decry climate models, it is the models that provide some of the most effective constaints on the high end of climate sensitivity. However, they also put a pretty good clamp on probability below 2 degrees C.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 May 2012 @ 9:07 AM

  67. Gavin replied to Dan H: “You pretend …”

    That says it all.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 3 May 2012 @ 9:36 AM

  68. Sean @9:

    It appears I was too hasty in reading your comment about the ABC piece (a more complete version than that which was aired which included Naomi Oreskes), and misconstrued your position. I hope a late apology is better than none. It is a frightful bore going over the same arguments hundreds and thousands of times; my impression of it was different from your laundry list of stale arguments.

    re Dan H.

    A simple count of responses to Dan H in this and other threads seems to me to support the conclusion that (a) people’s time is being wasted going over the same material over and over, and (b) he is being trained in how to be clever with his arguments.

    Svensmark seems to be appearing everywhere, the latest unskeptic fashion – if he’s not mentioned, that means people aren’t doing their homework?! Go figure. (anything complicated but nothing useful)

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 3 May 2012 @ 9:43 AM

  69. Gavin: Many thanks for the answer about internal variability – that makes sense to me.

    Comment by Icarus — 3 May 2012 @ 9:44 AM

  70. @ t marvell — 1 May 2012 @ 4:57 PM
    “Consistent with hypothesized relationships, people classified as Intuitive earned higher KAIT Composite IQs than those classified as Sensing.” – S vs N is the biggest difference found by , and it’s not a surprise that Phd’s in a complex and difficult discipline would differ from the general population.
    (what Gavin said, but with a reference &;>)

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 3 May 2012 @ 9:51 AM

  71. Relucticant,
    Appeal to authority is NOT in and of itself a fallacy. The fallacy of appeal to authority occurs when the said authority is not an expert on the question being considered. We would not consult Stephen Hawking on jumpshot technique, for instance.

    The fact of the matter is that an expert’s opinion of the evidence is more likely to have value than that of a layman. Appealing to valid authority is a perfectly valid technique in rhetoric.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 May 2012 @ 10:07 AM

  72. Late to the discussion, but I’m motivated to attempt a more succinct rebuttal to Dan H.’s (#4) perennial “appeal to authority” argument that is so frequently misapplied by his tribe. As it turns out, things have change considerably since the ancient Greeks dominated our understanding of nature.

    In modern times, citing of massive consensus of the scientific community is not an appeal to authority; rather, it is an appeal the very “research and data” he claims to cherish. It is an appeal to observation and analysis that has withstood the rigors of the modern scientific enterprise. Conversely, citing a single scientist — Richard Lindzen, say — is an appeal to authority. This is the beauty of our modern enterprise of science: it doesn’t rely on the interpretations or opinions of any single researcher, but rather the obserations and interpretations of entire communities of researchers, whose attempts to reproduce, verify and build upon each other’s work drives our progress of knowledge.

    Comment by robert — 3 May 2012 @ 10:17 AM

  73. > a poor response as it is nonsense

    The very definition! Flame him, call names, and by definition, you’re hooked. Read the FAQ, grasshopper

    “The well-constructed troll is a post that induces lots of newbies and flamers to make themselves look even more clueless than they already do, while subtly conveying to the more savvy and experienced that it is in fact a deliberate troll. If you don’t fall for the joke, you get to be in on it…. categorized by containing some assertion that is wrong but not overtly controversial.”.

    Any true believer will be perceived as trolling though he sees himself as restating the truth in hope his sincere witness is seen by new readers, no matter how much he suffers the abuse of those who will not see his truth.

    A trolling campaign will, while successful, not be recognized, and some of its members will be pretending to attack not defend the lead writer.

    A Turing Test has much in common with trolling.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 May 2012 @ 10:25 AM

  74. Relucticant (#61): Dan H’s “appeal to authority” argument is misapplied. Citing the overwhelming consensus of a rather large expert community is not an appeal to authority — it is an “appeal to the conclusions of a rather large expert community.”

    Scientific data, as you request,is discussed — by the rather large expert community. But detailed discussion of this data among the lay public is pointless. We have expert communities because they are needed. Can you imagine Ed Witten and Steven Weinberg having a detailed discussion of the ins and outs of string theory with the lay public (policymakers, the Heartland Institute, your skeptical uncle)? An “appeal to the overwhelming consensus of a rather large expert community” is entirely appropriate for complex topics, and is not equivalent to an “appeal to authority” as envisaged by our beleaguered Dan H.

    Comment by robert — 3 May 2012 @ 10:30 AM

  75. The way I see it is this. I always try to make it simple as possible and basics.
    To me it’s how much heat/energy the earth gets from sun and how much heat/energy of the warmed up surface would radiate/disipate out to space. Rest stays in/on the earth or be delayed to dispate/radiate out. There is one question in my mind though. To dispate, it has to radiate out because space is vacuum so it can’t be by conduction? I don’t know.
    To me it doesn’t really matter in what form the energy stay around here. Of course it may matter in terms of temperature rise or climate change but that’s beyond me.

    As for wind farms, I don’t know how they would affect locally but it is using winds (kenetic energy of air?) which is the part of the energy ataying around in the atomsphere? So isn’t that kind of the same as renewable energy, like growing corn or suger cane and use their carbon?
    Am I too simplistic, of course?

    Comment by CRV9 — 3 May 2012 @ 10:53 AM

  76. DanH writes:

    “The APS statement on climate change mentions that natural forcings, as well as manmade have contributed to the observed warming, and the climate sensitivity range is 1-3 C/doubling. You state a near certainty that it is 2-4.5.”

    Here is the APS statement on climate change and commentary.

    1-3 C range is not a climate sensitivity estimate itself but the range of the uncertainty. 2-4.5 would have a range of 2.5, consistent with this.

    The APS statement says nothing about natural contributions to observed warming.

    Some APS members don’t like the statement, and they’ve spent a few years gathing signatures protesting it. They constitute less than 1 percent of APS membership. I would not call that much of a “raging debate”, just a few loud fringe individuals shouting from the rooftops to a receptive portion of the public who want to believe there’s a raging debate.

    DanH, some useful discussion

    Less noise, DanH. More signal.

    [Response: Oh my! I read the APS statement completely incorrectly too. Let that be a lesson to me! I should have simply relied on by Bayesian priors related to the veracity of anything Dan H says. … I will correct my previous statements to be clearer. – gavin]

    Comment by MarkB — 3 May 2012 @ 11:30 AM

  77. Ray, you don’t “say” you are a physicist. You ARE a physicist. Unlike some, I have looked at your bio and seen that you have both and undergrad degree and PhD in physics. I too have an undergrad degree in physics, which I received a year after you joined NASA GSFC Radiation Effects Group. Unlike you, I didn’t continue my education and my career has been in a (somewhat) related field of computer science. Unlike you, I am not willing to post my real name here because I fear political vitriol. From one (trained) physicist to another (working) and much better trained physicist, I say thank you.

    This thanks extends to the RC contributors and all the working scientists who are posting here, many with their real names, and helping us to learn about climate science. You all stand in front of metaphorical bullets every day, and I for one am grateful. I hope you all know that there are reasonable people out there, with scientific backgrounds, learning from your efforts here and elsewhere. I imagine many are learning, but never commenting. I hope that by us learning, and having calm and rational discussions with those in our common lives about this subject serve to thicken your metaphorical kevlar vests. Thanks to Gavin, Archer, Rasmus, Eric, Chris, Mike, Ray, Hank, and the late Stephen Schneider who was the first guy I began to learn from via online videos. If I didn’t mention someone’s name, it’s only because I am writing this from the train (slow connection) and am tired. If you’re a contributing scientist, you’re included in this public thanks.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 3 May 2012 @ 11:55 AM

  78. Ray and Robert,
    The appeal to authority, or argumentum ad verecundiam, can take on many forms. W.T. Parry has an excellent summary in his book, Aristotelian Logic, where he lists four criteria for acceptance of an expert opinion, the failure to meet any one of them results in an illicit appeal to authority.
    The first criterion states that the authority must be an expert on the subject (post #72); that is not the case here (although this argument has been used to discredit Monckton, Gore, etc.). The second is objectivity. I see no reason why this may not be met (I presume Crichton and Cameron are out). The third is accurate context or quotation. The use of the Doran survey fails on this matter, as extending affirmative responses to the survey questions does not constitute acceptance of AGW theory. The claims are being made out of context. The fourth concerns the probable accuracy of the authority, or overestimate of authority. Most of the evidence for “consensus” presented here consists of small groups of similar thinking, being representative of a larger community. Had the previous statement, “the overwhelming consensus of a rather large expert community,” been true, then this condition would have been satisfied. A disputed or unconfirmed authority is a condition for failure.

    Currently, the conditions are not being met. That is not to say that they will not be met in the future.

    [Response: You are fooling yourself. Where are these hordes of silent sceptics you imagine? where are their posters at AGU? EGU? their papers on arxiv? why don’t they respond to any of the credible surveys on scientific opinion within the field? Are they just shy? They are the climate science fairies at the bottom of your garden. – gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 3 May 2012 @ 11:55 AM

  79. Gavin,
    My apologies. If the statement was meant to be read as MarkB states, then I admit my error. The wording is such that it could be interpreted either way, and I have requested a clarification from APS. There is no mention of a climate sensitivity of 2-4.5 in the statement. Natural contributions are mentioned several times in the statement.

    Comment by Dan H. — 3 May 2012 @ 12:14 PM

  80. Dan H wrote: “Currently, the conditions are not being met.”

    Currently, you are posting incoherent, irrelevant nonsense and blatant falsehoods in yet another attempt to waste people’s time with stupid bullshit.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 3 May 2012 @ 12:21 PM

  81. I should have simply relied on by Bayesian priors related to the veracity of anything Dan H says

    How about a bayesian filter that just chucks Dan H to the borehole automatically?

    Comment by dhogaza — 3 May 2012 @ 12:39 PM

  82. DanH writes

    “Natural contributions are mentioned several times in the statement.”

    DanH, your claim was that “natural forcings…contributed to the observed warming”. Again, this is not in the APS statement.

    I do think the statement on uncertainty in climate sensitivity is ambiguous, but not in the way you imagine. Likely in the interests of brevity, we aren’t given a clear definition of “uncertainty” in model estimates. My best interpretation, based on what I understand of the models, 1 C might be 1 sigma, 3 C being 2 sigma with the long tail extending to the right. Mentioning the uncertainty estimates in the models without mentioning the best estimate and estimated range of climate sensitivity is less than ideal, and could cause confusion on a hasty reading when one has been lead to believe the 1-3 C means something different. It’s not difficult to look it up, though.

    If some blog or other source has mislead you, DanH, you should go back to the source and correct them. The interaction here is a lesson in how contrarians can fool people just by changing a few words or putting forth seemingly innocent but wrong assumptions.

    The existence of general consensus is a product of the evidence. The claims of the small minority don’t stand up to basic or rigorous scrutiny.

    Comment by MarkB — 3 May 2012 @ 1:26 PM


    “… Growth is then the basis for interest rates, loans, and the finance industry.
    … growth is central to our narrative of who we are and what we do. We therefore have a difficult time imagining a different trajectory.
    This post provides a striking example of the impossibility of continued growth at current rates—even within familiar timescales….”

    Hat tip to: Casaubon’s Book

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 May 2012 @ 1:31 PM

  84. CRV9,
    I think that is basically correct. It is Energy_in – Energy_out, and how the system responds to this quantity being nonzero.

    WRT windfarms, I understand the result as being the conversion of wind energy, which transits a region, to mechanical and electrical energy, which warm the area around the turbines. I don’t think the result is significant.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 May 2012 @ 1:54 PM

  85. 58 Dick asks, “How can this be? Because of the large inertias involved I would think that the real global temperature MUST be smooth.”

    Sure, that’s reasonable. A non-scientist, I think of it as such: There are a million(random number) different things moving the theoretically smooth increase in temperature both up and down. Remove the dominant one, say ENSO, and that leaves 999,999 smaller things. Remove volcanoes and solar, and you’ve still got 999,997. Once you work your way down enough, the remaining influences will be smaller than the errors involved in the ones you did take account of. As science and monitoring improves, the “CO2-only” temperature plot will get smoother and smoother, but it will never become a trend line, so to speak. This is complicated further in that many things are both forcing and feedback.

    F&R2011 showed that by backing out a mere 3 things, the resulting temperature plot is clear enough to show CO2s effects in a dominant fashion even in a decade such as the 2000s.

    This begs the question, “Are errors the dominant reason F&R2011’s plot isn’t straight, or is the next biggest “natural” factor the big spoiler?” I look forward to seeing the next paper to further this line of work.

    Also, since CO2 has a big annual cycle, I’d like to see an analysis that tracks temperature differences seasonally. I wish GISS (and others) would provide an average at the end of their series, so we could see how January usually stacks up compared to July, for example. Take that, back out the elliptical orbit of the Earth and a few other things, and you’d get another way to compliment F&R’s work.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 3 May 2012 @ 2:23 PM

  86. “…as extending affirmative responses to the survey questions does not constitute acceptance of AGW theory.” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Q – “have mean global temperatures risen compared to pre-1800s levels” A – “yes” (90 percent – Perhaps that should be “F&*^K YES!”) Which pretty well nails the “GW” part.
    Q – “has human activity been a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures.” A – “yes” – Only a weak 86 percent “YES” for all scientists, but 97% of climatologists – “human activity” correlates pretty well with “A” for Anthropogenic.

    If you get your view from skeptic sites like

    “The major problem with this study is the second question. It is not phrased properly. In fact, the phrasing is so poor that I consider the entire study flawed because of it. There are multiple problems with the phrasing, so let me break them down.

    1. The phrase “human activity”

    Human activity comprises numerous actions which can affect the climate other than greenhouse gases. Agricultural changes and deforestation are two influences that come to mind. Now, any respondent who believes that ANY human activity can change the climate must answer yes to this question.

    A better phrasing would be:

    Do you think anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”

    – you might believe what DanH says about “constituting acceptance” of AGW.

    If you go to the science instead of the spin doctors, you might find that –

    “Asked what they ‘consider[ed] to be the most compelling argument’ for their position, over 70% of those who thought human activity ‘a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures’ nominated ‘CO2’. Of the relatively small number who thought human activity not ‘a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures’, over 50% nominated ‘natural climate cycles’ and nearly 30% said ‘increased solar output’ (Zimmerman 2008, 27-28).” Clearly, thirty percent of skeptics aren’t paying attention.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 3 May 2012 @ 2:39 PM

  87. #84–

    “I wish GISS (and others) would provide an average at the end of their series, so we could see how January usually stacks up compared to July, for example. Take that, back out the elliptical orbit of the Earth and a few other things, and you’d get another way to compliment F&R’s work.”

    It’s pretty easy to do this for yourself. The data is online–I don’t have the link handy, but I think it’s on the sidebar here, and if not, then there’s a pretty prominent link at Tamino’s “Open Mind” blog. Download into Excel or whatever you prefer, then have at the data. I have rather weak chops with spreadsheets and I’ve still done this for more or less similar analyses in under an hour.

    Let us know what you find out!

    (BTW, a small irony is that that is the way sea ice data is always presented–Jan to Jan, June to June. For that data, you might have to do a download-and-spreadsheet number to get the annual means.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 3 May 2012 @ 2:51 PM

  88. #85–Thanks! I’d add that it’s pretty outstandingly naive to think that the top experts in any given field need more context…

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 3 May 2012 @ 2:54 PM

  89. The obvious thing to do with Dan H is to play tag. Only one person can answer his screeds, until they say ‘tag’ at which point someone else can answer, perhaps the first person to see the tag and wish to answer Dan.
    That way we might keep the signal to noise ratio down.

    Comment by guthrie — 3 May 2012 @ 3:24 PM

  90. someone told me to post my question here but im not sure if this is the right place. if not… sorry!

    What are some careers that have to do with global warming and the environment?
    im only a sophomore in highschool but i really want to do something with the environment when i grow up. im passionate about global warming and trying to reverse its effects. In chemistry, we had a unit where we studied climate change and environmental protection and i really liked it. What are some examples of jobs that i could do after college? what about a major in college? thank you!

    Comment by Lucy Lacie — 3 May 2012 @ 3:37 PM

  91. > wording is such that it could be interpreted either way

    Misread and misinterpreted by you, Dan. H.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 May 2012 @ 3:44 PM

  92. Since I am a gullible public layman, I’d like to interject.
    I usually look at things and simplify it to basics. Isn’t it that energy the earth gets from Sun and heat/energy radiating/dissipating out to space, the net energy that stays/delayed to stay around because of greenhouse gases is all that matters? It doesn’t really matter in what form the energy is, as long as they’re here on earth? It eventually works/affects itself out?
    There is one question in my mind though. It only radiate/dissipate out to space because space is empty vacuum so heat can’t dissipate out by conduction?
    The way I look at this wind farms is that they are using energy/kenetic energy of air/winds which is the part of energy/heat we receive from Sun, to harness energy. So is it kind of the same as renewable energy like corn or suger cane? You grow them to gather carbon from nature and reuse them? I really don’t know how it would affect locally though. Am I too simplisitc?

    Comment by CRV9 — 3 May 2012 @ 4:04 PM

  93. Lucy Lacie, I am looking forward to the responses you are going to get. I apologize for butting in without answering your query; I am probably one of the less scientifically qualified here, though not delusional like some. It is important to stick with what you know and read carefully – lots of people will be eager to help you.

    Meanwhile, you might enjoy the blog of a youngster who started out not much older than you and is now an undergraduate and still brilliant, a bit intimidating … don’t let it stop you!
    her bio at the site:

    Kate is a B.Sc. student and aspiring climatologist from the Canadian prairies. She started writing this blog when she was sixteen, simply to keep herself sane, but hopes that she’ll be able to spread accurate information about climate change far and wide while she does so.

    Nice tabs at the top over there.

    Also, you might enjoy Earth Observatory and water vapor animations:
    (this last – look at menu at top – animation a bit too fast but still – fascinating from the POV of the North Pole)

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 3 May 2012 @ 4:28 PM

  94. Re: #89 (Lucy Lacie)

    This is the right place to ask.

    If you’re interested in the science, there are careers as a scientist. You could become an actual climate scientist, in which case studying physics, or geophysics, or chemistry in college would be a good way to go. You could become an environmental scientist, in which case biology, or chemistry, ecology, or even environmental science. You might be especially interested in the oceans, in which case marine biology or oceanography.

    Alternatively, you might want to focus on getting society and government actually to *do* something. In that case, political science, perhaps journalism or communications, maybe even law (the planet needs some damn good lawyers right now).

    There are also groups and organizations where the young can learn more and volunteer their efforts to do worthwhile things even before they finish their education.

    Your question reminds me of a young lady whose blog I found by accident a few years ago. She was a high school student interested in global warming. Now she’s a college student studying to be a climate scientist. And she’s a class act. You could visit her blog and ask the same question — I’ll bet she would have excellent advice to offer. It’s here:

    Her name is Kate, and she’s one of my heroes. Maybe soon, you will be too.

    P.S. for all the crusty old farts like me: Relevant to this thread, if any of your are doubting whether our efforts are worthwhile, you just got taken to school.

    Comment by tamino — 3 May 2012 @ 4:32 PM

  95. Lucy Lacie,

    The directions you could follow are near limitless. If you want to deal specifically with climate change and environmental protection, a career path might include advocacy, in which you would be playing a political role trying to breach the gap between the general public and politicians and the scientific researchers and engineers who are studying the mechanisms and building tools. My suggestion if this is more along the lines of what you are thinking is the same as if you want to go on to do scientific research… study science in college. If you’re a people person, enjoy lively (but honest) debate, having a degree in science not only will lend credibility to you, but more importantly it will give you the foundational understanding of at least one field of science and firm grasp of the lexicon used. For example, you won’t think it nefarious when you see two nerds use the word “trick” to describe a neat solution to a problem, but again, more importantly you’ll be better able to digest the discussions in scientific research. If this is the path you seek, studying science at a Liberal Arts school maybe your best bet. Your education will not be as science focused as it would be a large technical university; the core cirriculum will likley force you study a certain amount of humanities and social studies in addition to your major. This will be of great benefit if you plan to be a science writer, speaker or work in public policy.

    If you want to be involved the science work of climate change my take on it is to not think of it as climate change, but just climate. Studying the world is just plain fascinating. There is no end to your continuing discovery if you approach science with an open mind. Chemistry as you brought up is one of many general fields of science that apply, atmospheric chemistry being a prime example. Physics, of course, also applies. Just look at how many scientists involved have physics degrees or -physics attached to their fields like geophysics, atmospheric physics, etc. What’s cool about planetary science is that it just doesn’t happen here, it happens on every planet. Astronomers play a role in our understanding of what’s going on here, we’ve learned about how planets evolve through the study of our neighbors in the solar system.

    Aeronautics engineers are crucial, our satelites provide us with a much deeper understanding. Not just in providing us with complete global observations, but understanding how the measurements work, such as fixing the error with orbital decay that threw off temperature measurements initially. It would be fair to say that satelites are responsible for making the 5 day forecast as accurate as the 1 day forecast used to be.

    Nearly all fields of science can be applied to problem of climate change. Study biology, get into genetics and find ways to improve our crops so they are better yeilding on the same amount of land. Check out Norman Borlaug’s “dwarf wheat” for an example of how GM food can save a billion lives from the darkness of starvation.

    Mathematics applies to pretty much everything. If you get a degree in math you’ll have filled your toolbox with the basic hammers, saws and screwdrivers used throughout every field of inquiry. From there you can learn how to the “powertools” if you choose to continue forward in that direction.

    Finally, you’re just a sophomore, you probably still have 4 years before you even need to choose a major. The key thing to remember is to always be curious. This world is enormous and fascinating. There is no end to learning for an open mind seeking discovery and understanding. For inspiration, check out some youtube videos starring the likes of Richard Feynman (nearly every scientist’s hero), or Neil deGrasse Tyson.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 3 May 2012 @ 4:40 PM

  96. Lucy,
    I was going to return and enter a rather in depht post, but I see that Unsettled has covered that. Another potential career is in environmental chemistry. While this may pull you further from global warming, the carrer options are broader. There are many paths from which to choose, but I would recommend focusing on what you enjoy most and your talents lie.

    Comment by Dan H. — 3 May 2012 @ 6:33 PM

  97. Lucy Lacie, this is the right place to ask:

    I’m a graduate student in atmospheric sciences and I’d be happy to chat with you about my undergrad experiences. Of course, you may well change your mind about what interests you at this stage in your life (I did a couple times in late high school and early college before deciding to get into an atmospheric science program. Within a few years I suspect you will be exposed to things you never knew even existed as careers, but I like that you are being introduced to some background material in climate right now; I suspect other high schools could take a lesson from your program).

    If you do end up deciding to go into science as you enter college, my suggestion is to build up your math and physics background once you get that option (or even choose those electives in high school, and first two years of college). It might sound difficult, but it’s really not that bad once you dive into it, and it will give you tremendous flexibility to branch off into virtually any area in science that you like. Most of the time you won’t really have to choose what you want to do until your third year in college (at least in the U.S.) but you need to develop the core background in your first two years.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 3 May 2012 @ 6:46 PM

  98. what tamino said.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 May 2012 @ 6:52 PM

  99. Ammonite #51 et al,

    One very important point for non-Australians is that the Australian Liberal Party is the main RIGHT-wing party, in coalition with the Country Party. US folks can think of Nick Minchin as somewhat equivalent to a Republican ex-Senator.

    Australia also has a MASSIVE coal export trade, mostly to Japan and China, and some people who have made fortunes out of coal (and iron ore, for that matter) mining actively fund denialism here.

    Comment by ozajh — 3 May 2012 @ 7:48 PM

  100. ENSO conditions are now neutral.

    Comment by Meow — 3 May 2012 @ 8:29 PM

  101. #90 (Lucy Lacie)

    If you want to go into advocacy where your primary job is doing something about global warming and trying to reverse its effects you could focus on getting a job with an advocacy group.

    One path you could take is getting a a BS in science, going to law school then working with an environmental protection group. Lawyers play a very important part in the effort to protect the environment. Another is getting a PhD and becoming a scientist then working with an environmental group. Scientists also play a very important part.

    It is hard to get a full-time paying job with an enironmental group though. There is lots of work to do, but not lots of money to pay people to do it.

    One option is to do what I do, have a job where you make your living at and spend a few hours a week volunteering for a group that works on making a change.

    Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 3 May 2012 @ 8:34 PM

  102. Lucie Lacey,

    I would strongly second the advice to master basic math, particularly calculus as advanced as you can get it, no matter how difficult it might seem at your level, advanced placement if you can get it, and the physical sciences available to you.

    One of the reasons I falter with science now is that I didn’t continue with calculus after the first part, which was easy. No matter what subject you pursue, it will be of great value to master maths. I don’t know what kind of statistics are available, but that too might be useful. You will have a head start with this and will be able to spend more time with the fascinating ramifications if the math does not get in the way.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 3 May 2012 @ 8:37 PM

  103. sorry about misspelling your name, Lucy … my bad.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 3 May 2012 @ 8:38 PM

  104. Dedicated to certain persistent posters here:

    Comment by David B. Benson — 3 May 2012 @ 9:15 PM

  105. Hey, Lucy! You’ve received some great advice. As Chris and others have said, you may well change your mind about where you want to go, but even then there will be many options open to you.

    One additional piece of advice. As you move along in your academic career, you may find yourself attracted to the work of certain scientists (or environmentalists, journalists, etc.). Follow their work. When it comes time to go to grad school–especially at the doctoral level–pick a school because you want to work with a certain person or people. Get in touch with them before you apply. That’s what I did, and it was the smartest thing I’ve ever done. That person became my mentor and shepherded me through the trials and tribulations, the joys and ecstasies of grad school. We have published together, gone to conferences together, she helped me get an academic position when I graduated, and we still work together.

    Look at Kate–she is now working in Andrew Weaver’s lab at UVic!

    Comment by Charles — 3 May 2012 @ 10:15 PM

  106. Lucy – I will offer my personal perspective which I think highlights points made by many above. I am a Grad student working on lake sediment records looking at relationships between climate and Holocene sediment and carbon flux and extreme events. I studied environmental science and geography at Undergraduate level which was thoroughly enjoyable and extremely interesting, but I made limited effort to focus on maths and physics. That is now coming back to bite me in the behind bigtime… I now emphasise to all UG’s I teach who are looking to select future modules that, at the very least make a committed effort to include maths OR physics in their future learning. Such efforts will certainly be rewarded many times over in a career path which evolves along any branch of earth science.

    Best of luck!

    Comment by Dan Schillereff — 4 May 2012 @ 4:06 AM

  107. According to Heartland, the WMO and every national science academy in the world are, “…murderers, tyrants, and madmen…”, on a par with the Unabomber and Osama bin Laden. Who pulls out of the Heartland Conference and who doesn’t will be a very good filter of who’s grounded in reality and who signs on to crazy think.

    “4. But isn’t it true that 98 percent of climate scientists believe in global warming?
    No, this is just a myth that gets repeated over and over by global warming advocates. The alleged sources of this claim are two studies. “

    Oh, really? Surveys of scientists’ views on climate change

    Comment by J Bowers — 4 May 2012 @ 4:31 AM

  108. Appeal to authority is always a fallacy in scientific pursuit. I think we all agree that in the end the scientific merit of a theory or fact, that is its predictive power or agreement with observations, and what can be inferred from them are what matters. If an authority’s claims are based on ‘true’ premises his expertise is not needed, otherwise it is fallacious. Wikipedia’s definition might not agree, but that article is bad (and an authority ;-)), just read the “talk” page for some convincing arguments. Appeal to authority can be justified under strained circumstances e.g. if there is no time to evaluate the arguments. In such cases, the argumentative portion should be forfeited and the appeal to authority made clear.

    @Ray Ladbury (#71):
    “Appeal to authority is NOT in and of itself a fallacy. The fallacy of appeal to authority occurs when the said authority is not an expert on the question being considered. We would not consult Stephen Hawking on jumpshot technique, for instance.”

    I argue that it is. Expertise is irrelevant when the facts themselves can be examined.

    “The fact of the matter is that an expert’s opinion of the evidence is more likely to have value than that of a layman. Appealing to valid authority is a perfectly valid technique in rhetoric.

    I doubt most people would proscribe to the view that a layman’s opinion is more likely to have value. However, why do statistics with perceived truthiness of opinions instead of the factuality of the claims themselves? If you take rhetoric to be the art of convincing then sure it is allowed, however, so would be ad hominem and the straw man.

    @robert (#74):
    “Relucticant (#61): Dan H’s “appeal to authority” argument is misapplied. Citing the overwhelming consensus of a rather large expert community is not an appeal to authority — it is an “appeal to the conclusions of a rather large expert community.”

    This is semantic juggling; it is a very clear case of appeal to authority. The point of “appeal to authority” being a fallacy is that by doing so you devaluate the absolute importance of facts if you proscribe to expertise itself as being important.

    Scientific data, as you request,is discussed — by the rather large expert community. But detailed discussion of this data among the lay public is pointless. We have expert communities because they are needed. Can you imagine Ed Witten and Steven Weinberg having a detailed discussion of the ins and outs of string theory with the lay public (policymakers, the Heartland Institute, your skeptical uncle)? An “appeal to the overwhelming consensus of a rather large expert community” is entirely appropriate for complex topics, and is not equivalent to an “appeal to authority” as envisaged by our beleaguered Dan H.

    That the “general public” does not have the time or capacity to evaluate the facts does not make it less of a fallacy. They can decide based on authority, but then lose the claim to truth. The only way of using “appeal to authority” to critize Dan H. would be if he said something along the lines of: “Not counteracting climate change is the best policy option because Freeman Dyson says so”, you could use even grander authorities to counteract but even then, without examining the facts, can you really weight experts?

    Comment by Relucticant — 4 May 2012 @ 7:14 AM

  109. The latest Heartland madness is indeed beyond the pale. Billboards up, have to admit any requirement to be civil pales in the face of this treasonous poisonous dangerous stuff.

    Tenney Naumer has posted this and an interesting item about how Mark Boslough “abused” Harrison Schmidt because he pointed out a few scientific facts about his supposed “work”:
    substance from:

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 4 May 2012 @ 7:28 AM

  110. Relucticant: “Appeal to authority is always a fallacy in scientific pursuit.”

    I am sorry, but this is just dumb. Science is more than a simple dry recitation of evidence. It is a creative process of weaving the evidence into an understanding of the underlying system. You can even have two different scientists presented with the same evidence and giving identical interpretations of it, but one scientist’s opinion will be of greater worth than that of his colleague because it is based on deeper understanding.

    Case in point: The seeming nonconservation of energy and momentum in beta decay of nuclei. Bohr and Heisenberg were advocating abandonment of strict conservation of energy and momentum, contending instead that they held “on average”. Pauli posited the existence of third particle in the decay process–which unfortunately had neither charge nor mass, and therefore was undetectable according to the physics of the day. Both positions could account for the observations, but both positions coming from lesser physicists would have been dismissed as absurd. In the end, Pauli won out, and some 20 years later, the neutrino was discovered.

    Another case: Dirac developed a truly beautiful relativistic theory of quantum mechanics–only one problem: it posited that every electron ought to have a shadow particle with opposite charge, etc. Initially Dirac thought the positive counterpart was the proton, but unfortunately the masses were wrong. So Dirac did something unthinkable–he contended that the “antiparticles” were real. He was right because he went beyond what the evidence would support.

    Science is about predictive power even more than it is about observation. To contend that all that matters is evidence and that all the scientists are mere cogs betrays a deep misunderstanding of how science actually works.

    [Response:I’d have to say that I agree with Relucticant on this. He’s basically just saying that relying on authority, per se, potentially gets you into real trouble. And it does. We rely on experts because we can’t all be experts in everything ourselves, i.e. for practical reasons. But such experts are still fully capable of making mistakes, even big ones.–Jim]

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 May 2012 @ 8:45 AM

  111. I would like to know of any current research related to heat flux across the ocean skin layer that anyone knows about. In particular I’m interested in looking at what might be suggested by the affect of increasing downwelling LW on the top of the ocean skin layer in affecting the thermal gradient across that layer. I know there was some research done several years ago, but I can find no real followup to this. Given that the majority of the energy from the imbalance caused by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations appears to be going into the oceans, it seems a mechanism to explain how this energy is getting into the oceans is critical. One could posit that it is not so much that downwelling LW is the actual mechanism warming the ocean, but rather, it is acting as a control knob of sorts, dictating the rate of of flow of energy from ocean to atmosphere. Most of the energy getting into the oceans comes from direct solar SW, but downwelling LW increasing at the top of the oean skin layer might be the regulator for how rapidly this heat flows back from ocean to atmopshere. Any suggested research on this?

    Comment by R. Gates — 4 May 2012 @ 8:59 AM

  112. 107 — “Appeal to authority is always a fallacy in scientific pursuit.”

    But appeal to expert authority in making policy decisions and while assessing risks is the wiser person’s path to take.

    Comment by J Bowers — 4 May 2012 @ 9:44 AM

  113. @110: “Why greenhouse gases heat the ocean” (from 2006) describes an experiment on this topic. Others here will certainly know of more-recent work.

    Comment by Meow — 4 May 2012 @ 11:38 AM

  114. Further to the comment @107 & the Heartland Conference with its posters & bizarre comments. “This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.
    I was surprised to see the Heartland Institute listing a British MP as a speaker at its conference. Even the most right-wing Tory MP would be hard-pressed to get away with a stint like that without severe repremand & press attention.
    However, the Heartland’s speaker, Roger Helmer, is not an MP but an MEP which is a very different kettle of fish. Until recent weeks Roger Helmer MEP was a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group, “a shoddy and shaming alliance,” according to the Economist & “a bunch of nutters, anti-Semites, homophobes and climate-change deniers,” according to the present UK Deputy Prime Minsiter.
    Helmer felt increasingly uncomfortable even within this grouping as the UK Consiervative Party’s policies (he had to sort of pay lip service to) were not to his liking.
    So he jumped ship and joined the even more extreme and less relevant UKIP. On that basis he will probably enjoy his trip to Chicago and not have the worry of returning to a political storm.

    Comment by MARodger — 4 May 2012 @ 1:00 PM

  115. Jim,
    My problem with Relucticant’s argument is that he is saying that appeal to authority is a fallacy. It is not. Certainly appeal to authority is not infallible, but neither is evidence. In reality, evidence is rarely ever 100% definitive.

    There is the evidence and then there is what the evidence allows you to say–complete with probabilities and confidence levels. I have little confidence in the analysis of evidence by a neophyte. In the hands of an expert, the same evidence can tell us a lot. Now granted, the analysis of the expert should be replicated independently–but again, that is not simply empirical evidence. A strong, independent consensus of experts provides confidence that the interpretation of the evidence is unambiguous. Varying opinion among experts highlights ambiguity–and those are important conclusions.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 May 2012 @ 1:37 PM

  116. I just got my copy of the Skeptic and it has a pretty decent article, Climate Change Q&A, with a section on denial by Donald R. Prothero. Skeptic Magazine vol. 17, #2, 1012, pg. 14. It starts with the recent Wall Street Journal Opinion Editorial.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 4 May 2012 @ 1:41 PM

  117. MARodger@~114: The Guardian (Leo Hickman) contacted Helmer who had this to say:

    You also have to wonder if any of the scheduled conference speakers are now having doubts about whether they want to be associated with Heartland. One person who is on the list to speak is Roger Helmer, a British politician who has attended previous conferences. Having recently left the Conservative party as an MEP, the prominent climate sceptic is now the UK Independence Party’s spokesperson on industry and energy.
    Earlier, I sent him an email with a link to Heartland’s poster campaign press release and asked him: “Will you now be reconsidering attending in light of this new poster campaign for the conference? Do you approve of or condemn the poster campaign?”

    He confirmed he was still attending, adding:

    I am delighted that the Heartland campaign for the Chicago climate conference has succeeded in its purpose and attracted the attention of the Guardian. I urge Guardian readers to attend the conference if they can, but failing that, to follow it on the web.

    Since they refused Mark Boslough because he dared to point out science to Harrison Schmidt on the basis that he was unfair, .if we want the one true word we have to follow but not critique. So much for skepticism.

    This also speaks to the problem with not acknowledging any level of authority. We can’t go on forever building from the ground up. At some point there has to be a baseline of agreed reality until somebody actually proves it is not so.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 4 May 2012 @ 2:32 PM

  118. @108

    “Expertise is irrelevant when the facts themselves can be examined.”

    Don’t you often need expertise simply to examine the facts? And in assessing the information don’t you by definition gain expertise?

    Isn’t it impossible to function in life without holding opinions on subjects in which we are not expert? Should we not then be judicious in terms of whose opinion we trust with respect to topics in which we are not expert? And is it not best that such judgement be based on the level of expertise exhibited by the source of that opinion?

    I agree that blind appeal to authority makes no sense, but surely the denial of any role of expertise is just a form of naive intellectual nihilism.

    Comment by Stephen Baines — 4 May 2012 @ 4:34 PM

  119. @116:

    [Heartland’s latest actions] also speak[] to the problem with not acknowledging any level of authority. We can’t go on forever building from the ground up. At some point there has to be a baseline of agreed reality until somebody actually proves it is not so.

    You have unearthed denialism’s philosophical root, which is to cast doubt on the concept that we can know anything at all. It’s nihilism all the way down.

    CAPTCHA: Orleans rveingu

    Comment by Meow — 4 May 2012 @ 4:53 PM

  120. RE: “A Fresh Look at Clouds, and Heat, in the Greenhouse”
    Searching RealClimate for “cloud” gets about 1,130 results. WOW! That is too much for me to summarize.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 4 May 2012 @ 4:54 PM

  121. Boundary layer mixing can cool as well as warm

    Sometimes with spectacular effect- like creating a fogbank downwind and on shore.

    Comment by Russell — 4 May 2012 @ 6:57 PM

  122. “Jesús R. says:2 May 2012 at 2:22 PM

    I thought CO2 couldn’t be sucked from the atmosphere, but I’ve just bumped into this paper (via BNC):

    “The analysis indicates that CO2 capture from air for climate change mitigation is technically feasible using off-the-shelf technology.”

    Stolaroff, Keith & Lowry 2008. Carbon dioxide capture from atmospheric air using sodium hydroxide spray. Environ Sci Technol. 2008 Apr 15;42(8):2728-35. (SI)

    I’d be interested in reading your views on this, especially since, in my view, people tend to be very techno-optimist, in the case of climate change usually making a parallelism with the Malthusian predictions and the Green Revolution.

    [Response: There’s a big difference between technically feasible and cost effective. If it costs $400/ton Carbon, then there are a lot of other things that one would do first with the money that would be more effective. – gavin]”

    The solutions are simple: Plant forests, grow food via carbon farming/regenerative/natural farming. Go ahead, keep debating things that *might* work or that *might* be cost effective and keep ignoring those that already do work and are already cost effective. Lots of other things *can* be considered, but why not start with those things that need no further consideration?

    Natural/Carbon/Regenerative farming:

    Regrowing forest systems:

    From Wiki:

    “A recent report by the Australian CSIRO found that forestry and forest-related options are the most significant and most easily achieved carbon sink making up 105 Mt per year CO2-e or about 75 per cent of the total figure attainable for the Australian state of Queensland from 2010-2050. Among the forestry options, the CSIRO report announced, forestry with the primary aim of carbon storage (called carbon forestry) clearly has the highest attainable carbon storage capacity (77 Mt CO2-e/yr) and is one of the easiest options to implement compared with biodiversity plantings, pre-1990 eucalypts, post 1990 plantations and managed regrowth.[6]”

    Stopping desertification, growing food in the desert:

    Comment by Killian — 4 May 2012 @ 8:09 PM

  123. Lucy Lacie,

    We are well past the point where understanding the science is the most integral aspect of change, though I am not intending to dissuade from that path. We are moving into the “doing” phase, however, and it is there that the next round of heroes will be coming from.

    While still in school, get your head full of systems theory, non-linear and chaotic systems, and get to know how the world works – really works – in all phases. When you have an understanding of the underlying structure of the world, develop your climate knowledge, put energy, population, environment and social change into the equation, you’ll then be in better position to decide whether your gifts are best applied to developing the science, social change, activism, or simply building the necessary future.

    You may decide to study science and climate, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go on to do science. It might be that you use that background in political or social activism, or community-building, etc. I.e., if you’re not sure by the time you start university, that’s OK. Most of us figure that out *in* university… then 50% of us end up not working in the filed our degree is in! Let yourself explore until the light bulb goes on.

    Maybe you love science (I loved biology!), but is science where your gifts lie? You have to know yourself somewhat and be honest about yourself so you don’t try to shoehorn yourself into something that doesn’t fit you.

    My 2 cents.

    BTW, another relatively young, female scientists who is doing important climate work is Katey Walter Anthony. Don’t know her at all, but she’s one of those doing work on the Arctic methane issue. Maybe she’d be responsive to inquiries.

    “what would you tell a young person who says science isn’t interesting?

    “I would say come with me, and we’ll jump around in the lake and watch as our clothes fill up with methane gas like a balloon.”

    Comment by Killian — 4 May 2012 @ 8:40 PM

  124. I would think that consensus has more than a simple rhetorical function. Does it not determine the direction and speed of research? When is enough enough when working on some element of a theory? To use a far away example, how many more papers do we need on the Shakespeare authorship question (don’t say we didn’t need any to begin with; it’s just a harmless example . . . sort of). Consensus, in this way, works very practically through program directors, journal editors, peer reviewers, and grant providers. It’s a hypothesis, anyway. Have at it.

    Comment by DSL — 4 May 2012 @ 10:48 PM

  125. “I’d have to say that I agree with Relucticant on this. He’s basically just saying that relying on authority, per se, potentially gets you into real trouble. And it does. We rely on experts because we can’t all be experts in everything ourselves, i.e. for practical reasons. But such experts are still fully capable of making mistakes, even big ones.–Jim”

    Yep, appeals to authority don’t belong in scientific papers in the field being appealed to (though citations can perform a similar function), but that’s non-contested and obvious. Indeed, the concept of appeal to authority is foreign inside a field’s scientific loop, but Relucticant’s point is somewhat off-topic in that the rest of us are only talking about outside of science, so to speak, by defining appropriate appeals to authority as within non-expert discussions. In that situation, appeal to authority is not just appropriate, but mandatory. If appeal to authority is wrong in all cases, then science is a fairly useless endeavour, as the rest of the planet would have to ignore the results. Your point, that experts can be wrong, is obvious and uncontested as well (Lindzen and The Team can’t both be right), but to have a productive point, you’d have to provide an alternative for the 99.99+% of humanity who currently rely on appeal to authority.

    I wonder how many climate science papers have been published that don’t rely on stated or unstated geological, biological, chemistry, engineering, or computer science, etcetera appeals to authority. As you inferred, without appeals to authority, advancement would continually slow and eventually hit a wall at the limits of individual lifespan (perhaps 50 years ago?). Calling an absolutely critical component of both advancement and the use of advances a fallacy is an abuse of the word.

    [Response:Yeah sure, but that isn’t even remotely what I said.–Jim]

    That’s probably why Denialists adore the phrase. This reminds me of the “It’s just a theory” argument. Mixing non-expert and expert expectations and appropriate actions and words just destroys discussion.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 5 May 2012 @ 1:39 AM

  126. “But such experts are still fully capable of making mistakes, even big ones.–Jim”

    97% of them? 3% seems a bit of an outlier, to me, Jim. Possible, but a slim chance, and one that should only be kept in the back of the mind when assessing risks for policy. Otherwise, we may as well take fifty different theories no matter how bizarre and apply 2% credibility, resources and funding to each, irrespective of the weight of expert opinions.

    [Response:The discussion there was a general one, on the principle of appeals to authority. Relucticant wasn’t specifically referring to views on AGW and neither was I. The more general point is that scientists are not perfect; they can make mistakes, and to the degree possible, one always wants to understand as fully as possible the principles one is relying on when doing whatever one is doing, and not to just take them as some kind of automatic black box. If you do that, you’re asking for trouble, especially in any complex science where there are many variables–and interactions between such–going on. This stuff is rarely if ever cookbook–Jim]

    Comment by J Bowers — 5 May 2012 @ 5:43 AM

  127. Responding to 122, grabbing CO2 from any gas stream is a problem of kinetics and thermodynamics. While I haven’t reviewed this lately, industrial processes that I’m aware of do not use sodium hydroxide to grab CO2 because the energy required to regenerate the sodium hydroxide is large compared to using amine compounds. According to Stolaroff’s abstract the cost of regenerating the capturing solution (solution recovery) is not included in the costs. For industrial recovery of CO2 this is where the critical costs occur. Thus the reason for trying sodium hydroxide is one of the kinetics of working with a low concentration source of CO2. Here also, Stollarof encounters costs due to evaporation of water in the contactor. I suspect that working with amines in high concentration in something like ethylene glycol or an ionic liquid would despite having higher capital costs have significantly lower overall operating costs.

    A new article has just been e-published on recovery of CO2 from the atmosphere by RD Schuiling from the Institute of Geosciences, Utrecht University. Unfortunately I’m away from my library connection or I’d look this up (and I don’t have my corporate SCOPUS access yet) (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April 25th, 2012)

    Comment by Dave123 — 5 May 2012 @ 5:46 AM

  128. I think that appeal to authority is inevitable in science. Jim Larsen notes the role citations can play. The role of “expert opinion” in developing a Bayesian Prior probability distribution is also reliant on the authority of the expert(s). However, even in frequentist statistics, we rely on expertise every time we use a Student’s t distribution or F distribution or decide to treat data as normal. That we can justify the authority and trace it back to evidence does not diminish the role that authority plays.

    There is also the review process, where peer review represents an “expert opinion” that the research is worth considering. It is imperfect, but I’m a lot more likely to read a peer-reviewed article claiming Einstein was wrong than I am a dog-eared manuscript written in crayon.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 May 2012 @ 7:08 AM

  129. I must say that it is quite sad to watch this thread fill up with discussion of Dan H’s blatantly disingenuous “appeal to authority fallacy” nonsense.

    To begin with, classical rhetorical fallacies are relevant to formal debates conducted according to the rules of classical rhetoric.

    Science is not such a debate. Neither is the public discourse about anthropogenic global warming.

    However, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that we are in high school debate club, where such fallacies are relevant. The proposition before us is then:

    “The scientific consensus, as represented by the views of the overwhelming majority of climate scientists who have actually conducted research, and who actually have deep knowledge and understanding of the scientific evidence, is that global warming is real, is caused by human activities, and represents a very real and increasing threat of severely destructive consequences.”

    Arguing FOR this proposition, we point to various polls of scientists, and to surveys of the published literature, and to public statements by a multitude of national scientific academies and international scientific organizations, ALL of which comprise actual data about what the scientific consensus actually is. All of our evidence strongly supports this proposition about the nature of that consensus.

    Arguing AGAINST this proposition, Dan H — who claims that “there is no scientific consensus” but rather “a raging debate” about the existence, causation and danger of AGW — offers NO FACTS, AND NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER to support his claim. Instead, he asserts that by pointing to this wealth of actual data about the actual scientific consensus, we are engaging in the “fallacy” of “appeal to authority”.

    But the proposition being “debated” is not about the reality, causation and danger of AGW. The proposition is about what the scientific consensus on those matters is. We are not presenting our evidence of the overwhelming scientific consensus as an appeal to the authority of that consensus to support any claims about AGW itself — but simply as direct, factual evidence that there IS such a consensus, and that its content is what we say it is.

    In short, the question being debated is “Is there a scientific consensus on AGW, and if so what is that consensus, and how strong is that consensus?” So, Dan H’s assertion that direct factual evidence of such a consensus is an “appeal to authority” is nonsense.

    Someone is engaging in a “fallacy” here — Dan H. Indeed, what he is doing is one of the most primitive and dishonest fallacies of all: changing the subject.

    Of course, since this is not a formal debate, but merely a discussion thread on a blog, complaints about classical rhetorical fallacies are irrelevant and, with all due respect, rather silly.

    And Dan H. is free to change the subject, or to engage in the various other forms of dishonesty which characterize his posts, since he is not engaged in a formal debate, but is merely trying to waste people’s time with BS.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 May 2012 @ 9:24 AM

  130. > Schuiling

    The answer to climate change is “go pound sand” it seems:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 May 2012 @ 10:48 AM

  131. Well, a bit more from Schuiling (

    “The strategy for enhanced weathering relies for a large part upon olivine mined in the wet tropics. This material is milled and the grains are spread over the surrounding area. With large olivine mines that are strategically distributed to limit transport distances, the whole operation (mining, milling and transport) will cost around 10 Euro/ton of captured CO2 (Steen and Borg, 2002). Negative effects on the environment are unlikely, because the same process has operated without a hitch throughout geological time.

    Every mine has an impact on the local environment. For olivine mines, this impact can be considerably reduced in the following way. Most dunite complexes in the tropical zone are deeply weathered, and covered with a thick lateritic residual soil, from which major elements like magnesium or silicon are almost completely leached. Iron is relatively immobile, and so is nickel, causing these immobile elements to become enriched in the residual soil. The nickel content may rise to several %, making these laterites rich nickel ores which are mined or explored in a number of countries (a.o. Australia, New Caledonia, Indonesia, Philippines, Madagascar, Malawi, Cuba, Brazil). These nickel-rich weathering crusts are underlain by fresh dunite. This makes them favorable locations for olivine mining as well. No need to clear a new site, the infrastructure for mining is in place, and there is a population that depends on mining for their livelihood. Environmental damage is reduced, the lead time to start an olivine mine is shortened, mining costs are less and the miners can keep their job.


    There is a clear case for enhanced weathering as the most cost-effective strategy for the removal of large quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere. This mineral carbonation process should not be burdened by needless additional technologies to speed up the reaction. One should adhere to the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid) because additional technologies cost energy, and add to the costs.

    Enhanced weathering can be applied on farmland, plantations and forests, on beaches as well as on tidal flats. Collateral benefits are the addition of mineral nutrients to poor soils, increasing the productivity of acid soils, and helping to restore the pH of ocean water threatened by ocean acidification.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 May 2012 @ 10:51 AM

  132. Ray makes a point that occurred to me, too: the peer review system. The question in mind is “what gives that person ‘authority’?”

    Using climate as the example, is a person an authority because:

    – he/she has written and published many peer reviewed papers on that particular aspect of climate?
    – he/she has received many research grants for that aspect of climate?
    – he/she has written a book on the subject, used as a text in many university courses?
    – he/she has written a book published in the vanity press?
    – he/she did excellent research in particle physics?
    – he/she studied geology?
    – he/she studied economics?
    – he/she inherited a peerage?
    – he/she wrote hundreds of “letters to the editor”?
    – he/she had the courage to let others strap a rocket to his/her butt and and fly into space?
    – he/she did “weather” on TV?
    – he/she has a blog?

    Some of the above would carry a lot of weight. Others, not so much (when it comes to climatology – they may very well be “authorities” on some other subject). You can’t look at an “appeal to authority” without looking at what it is that the “authority” actually brings to the table.

    Authorities have opinions. As is often said “opinions are like sphincter muscles – every @$$hole has one”. Is it an “opinion”, or is it an “informed opinion”?

    Comment by Bob Loblaw — 5 May 2012 @ 11:44 AM

  133. Certainly appeal to authority is not infallible, but neither is evidence.

    Ray, testimony by presumed authorities is evidence. Of a different kind. The problem of judging what it’s worth is the same.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 5 May 2012 @ 12:09 PM

  134. Bob Loblaw,
    Back when I was writing for a certain quasi-popularized physics magazine, we had to assess expertise when evaluating whether a publication merited a news story or who to ask for an article or whether a particular topic was worth an article.

    Certainly one thing we looked at was peer-reviewed articles, but we also looked at citations. Also, over time you discuss scientist’s reputations and start to understand their agendas and whether they can put their agenda aside long enough to give a semi-objective view. There were always a few names in every subfield of physics that came to the top. They were not necessarily Nobel Laureates, but they had a strong record, a broad scope, knew the people in the field and could be relied upon to try to be objective. That is what I still look for today. The opiniions of uch people carry considerable weight, and they can have a significant influence on the consensus.

    OTOH, if a researcher is always pushing an agenda, no matter how good he is, people tend to downweight his opinion.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 May 2012 @ 1:17 PM

  135. Announcing CG (“Climate Guardian”) Detective…

    I put together a search tool for the Chrome browser a little while ago that some may like. On any webpage highlight the text you wish to search for, right-click and select the search. Options include the ability to add and remove searches, but the default set is for searches that may be of value to those interested in climatology. This should be of value to those who participate in online discussions or who are looking for background material on articles they are writing.

    CG Detective:

    There is a video of my using an earlier version on the other side the link. The most recent version of CG Detective includes over 30 different searches with the top search being of over 100 different websites and blogs. Instructions on how to add searches and other tools are included in the extension itself.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 5 May 2012 @ 1:46 PM

  136. James Hansen isn’t quite the same authority on climate as the Pope is on Catholic doctrine. Hansen is (generally) right, because he has a command of the science. The Pope is (always) right because he’s the Pope, and in command of the church.

    There’s also a statistical aspect of authority(I would say “expertise”) and consensus. If n people look at a problem, and the chance that any one of them will make a mistake in solving it is x, the probability that the consensus is mistaken is x^n if their mistakes are uncorrelated. In large groups, even when there are correlations, the statistics still make mistakes much less likely. Suppose that the probability of a mistake is 1%, but all 33 Democrats make the same mistake, all 33 Republicans make the same mistake, different from the Democrats, and the 33 Independents consistently make a third mistake. The chances of the group being mistaken on consensus by majority vote is 1/100*1/100*1/100 – one in a million.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 5 May 2012 @ 2:30 PM

  137. Secular,
    Who ask what is the scientific consensus. Simple, that the Earth has warmed and the humans has contributed significantly. Your jump to severely destructive consequences is not supported.

    Comment by Dan H. — 5 May 2012 @ 6:53 PM

  138. There seems to be confusion here between authority and expert.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 5 May 2012 @ 7:55 PM

  139. The stuff on Schuiling and KISS is fascinating, and one can hope it’s true.

    On authority, the physicist I know best checks references first and if they’re no good he isn’t very interested. Works for him, which to me is a good ref.

    Ray Ladbury puts it well: “The role of “expert opinion” in developing a Bayesian Prior probability distribution is also reliant on the authority of the expert(s).” To me (with my limited understanding of Bayesian statistics thanks to above physicist who took me through it but got a little impatient) that makes a lot of sense. We have to have a baseline or we start over each time, and can use general credibility as a place to start.

    You scientists are so used to being able to judge for yourselves, you haven’t had the experience I have in looking at stuff you aren’t able to completely understand and kicking the tires in other ways. You mustn’t assume that only scientists can think, or you’ve lost before you begin. Someone who has demonstrated themselves blatantly partisan and opaque to truth is less credible. For example, to me Morano’s association with Limbaugh and the Swift boat campaign precedes his Inhofe years, and leaves his work with zero credibility. That helps, because things that arise from that root are not useful, and I don’t have to waste further time on it unless something startling and new changes the background. People who choose to get their info from that corner are dubious at best. Judith Curry I saw fudging and attacking her interlocutors, who were being excessively fair, here, and I’ve been suspicious of her ever since. But that doesn’t mean I won’t look at her stuff if she comes up with something credible. Same with Monckton – he is condemned out his own mouth, but I looked hard at (1) duae quartunciae, (2) Abrahams and more recently (3) t Potholer54. His Nazi accusations and weird attacks make it clear to anyone with an open ear. We have to have these kinds of filters if we are to do anything at all. Otherwise, we’re just babes in the woods.

    And totally OT, just for fun, this on the Pacific garbage patch, apt alliterations artful aid:

    This patch of putrid polymers, plastic pollutants, and processed petroleum products profoundly permeates a plethora of pelagic phyla, particularly Pacific plankton which populate the periphery, and whose present “plastification” produces a pernicious portent, placing them in preeminent peril of poisoning the primary consumers who prey upon them.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 5 May 2012 @ 9:04 PM

  140. Appealing to the scientific consensus is neither an instance of appealing to an unqualified authority nor appeal to a simple majority but a recognition that science rests on a division of cognitive labor among experts in their fields whose opinions are weighted according to the degree of their expertise in the area under consideration, and that when experts participate in the scientific enterprise, collectively they are capable of far more than any one individual mind in isolation. This cognitive division of labor is necessitated by the interdependence between various scientific theories and disciplines and what it makes possible in the realm of knowledge is lies as far beyond what any one individual is capable of by himself as a nuclear magnetic imaging device. The scientific consensus on climate change and its causes is based on well-supported scientific observations and principles, and both broad enough and, in their estimation, significant enough that on numerous occasions a fair number of scientific bodies have chosen to make this consensus explicit, and outside of a disinformation campaign driven by financial and ideological interests, the science one which it is based is generally taken for granted even by those who oppose it whenever they use the microwave oven or acknowledge the destructive power of a nuclear bomb.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 5 May 2012 @ 9:47 PM

  141. > The Pope is (always) right because …

    Nope. Almost never

    “ex cathedra” is what you’re thinking of; very limited.
    Extensive argument on the subject; one example:

    Sorry for the digression.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 May 2012 @ 1:32 AM

  142. Timothy Chase @~140

    Wow, lots of links. I think coherentialism is a bridge too far, but the rest will require thought. On the whole, clear and cogent to this reader.

    However, I’m wondering if the list of 32 organizations might need updating. It really is surprising that the same bad actors persist decade after decade, but I do think they morph. They have, however, gotten very skilled at misdirection and metastasized all over the intertubes, politics, the press, etc.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 6 May 2012 @ 5:45 AM

  143. Dan H., the ‘jump to severe harm’ is not unsupported.

    A quick and messy search, but one no doubt supplying many instances of potential ‘severe harms’:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 6 May 2012 @ 7:17 AM

  144. Susan,
    I’m in the same boat as you every time I look at research in biology, chemistry, astronomy… I have some basics, but no special expertise. I rely on experts, but if something seems amiss or interesting, I look into it deeper. If I follow a field for awhile, it becomes clear who has a consistent story, who has a deeper understanding, etc.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 May 2012 @ 7:41 AM

  145. David,
    In science, expertise determines authority.

    [Response:In a perfect world, yes. In the real world, not necessarily (see here, here, here, here and here) although the assessment of whether or how well this condition holds in particular situations depends on exactly what we mean by the two terms. But I think David’s main point was that the two concepts are getting used inter-changeably here.–Jim]

    Timothy Chase,
    I have maintained that a better metric for scientific consensus is some sort of combined publication + citations thereof. Polls weigh all scientists equally–and science ain’t a democracy.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 May 2012 @ 8:45 AM

  146. What’s happened to the Cryosphere Today website as they haven’t updated for a week?

    Comment by DP — 6 May 2012 @ 10:04 AM

  147. Dan H wrote: “Your jump to severely destructive consequences is not supported”

    That’s a blatant falsehood, Dan H.

    But of course, you know that.

    [Response:Let’s bring some science into this discussion please.–Jim]

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 May 2012 @ 11:09 AM

  148. MIT analysis said wind could warm the Earth ( Ditto David Keith, et al in PNAS ( What is the difference between what was predicted and what was observed?

    Comment by Karen Street — 6 May 2012 @ 11:34 AM

  149. Susan Anderson wrote in 142:

    I think coherentialism is a bridge too far, …

    In my view, science requires elements of both foundationalism and coherentialism along the lines of Robert Audi’s “Fallibilist Foundationalism and Holistic Coherentism,” an essay found in the 1993 edition of The Theory of Knowledge: Classic and Contemporary Readings, edited by Louis P. Pojman. My own view extends to what I refer to as “Dual Foundationalism,” which rests on both an empirical foundation and a minimal metaphysical foundation of sorts, the latter of which is implicitly required for a concept of “knowledge,” but the objective of the chapter you read was more simply that of critiquing Karl Popper’s principle of falsifiability in order to show that actual positive justification is transmitted from an empirical foundation, while at the same time showing that there exists an element of interdependence between scientific theories. Ultimately, à la Pierre Duhem, the unit of induction is scientific knowledge as a whole. However, some elements of coherentialism are already implicit in the recognition that competing theories may both receive some justification from different bodies of evidence, and even that the story told by any theory must at the very least be non self-contradictory.

    Susan continues:

    … but the rest will require thought. On the whole, clear and cogent to this reader.

    Thank you. I try to add to it as I can, but in my view, not anywhere near as often as I should. The most recent additions were on metaphor and disease, respectively.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 6 May 2012 @ 11:36 AM

  150. Ray Ladbury wrote in 145:

    I have maintained that a better metric for scientific consensus is some sort of combined publication + citations thereof. Polls weigh all scientists equally–and science ain’t a democracy.

    Agreed. Based on our previous discussions, I hope to expand on the piece on scientific consensus at some point. Unfortunately I always seem to have too many projects that I would like to work on. I haven’t been able to get to that one as of yet, but I have found and saved all of the material for it. Time permitting, I will get to it, sooner rather than later.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 6 May 2012 @ 11:47 AM

  151. Messaging and Appeals to Authority

    I believe it is important to get messaging matched to the level of the people who will end up making the changes and making he changes happen. Ultimately, that is average folks. Common wisdom is valuable. It can cut through the complex at times to reveal the the germane. Besides, if the discussions of climate are always over the heads of the average person – not because of stupidity, but because of a lack of familiarity – then we all lose in the end. Besides, I’m not convinced all these theoretical discussions are all that accurate a reflection of how people think and/or how our minds/brains work. Much in psychology and sociology is a bare step above opinion once we move beyond the purely behavioral (operant conditioning) and physical aspects (chemical imbalances, etc.). (Speaking as a Psych major; no insult intended.)

    The average person understands that when you name-drop (appeal to authority), the person will either be germane or will not be. They may not know if the name dropped is germane, but they will know it either is or isn’t. They will decide if the person is germane based on biases from prior knowledge and ideologies (see: The Authoritarians), primarily. What, then, do they need to know from those of us who think we have some knowledge or insight, really?

    First, our world is so specialized, we really can’t expect everyone to educate themselves on these issues. There is no way I could have spent the last six years learning all I could about systems, climate, energy, and sustainable design AND become an expert in philosophy, practiced guitar enough to become a rock guitarist, etc. There is only so much time in the day.

    Second, there is only so much time before the proverbial top is spinning so out of control the crash down to the table can no longer be stopped. And none of us know what that time frame is. We have to prioritize our studies and our actions. Do we have time to get everyone on board with understanding name dropping at the level it is being discussed here? What, then is our messaging? Particularly when we are discussing it because one poster has, for years now, raised irrelevant issue after irrelevant issue, and done so in a manner that shows they are not here to learn, but to obfuscate. I believe it was three or four years ago that I outlined the evolution of the on-line denialists. The final version were those who made pretense at rational, level-headed discussion and accepting some basic points (warming is occurring), but ultimately changed nothing about their underlying understanding. Their consistency is the big tip-off: the data never changes their stance. Dan H. is one of these. Why, then, are we still humoring such people? Their appeals to authority, and claims against authority on the consensus, are bogus for one simple reason: There is absolutely nothing to support these appeals/claims against authority. Yet, he is able to make his claims month after month, year after year though his claims have zero merit.

    We cannot expect the average person to take the time to sort through the false equivalence. We have to move past such debates at some point. Engaging in them is, itself, acquiescence to the false equivalence. Anne Leonard was right when she spoke to Bioneers a couple of years ago: it is time to simply move past these people. They are not interested in the facts, the truth, solutioneering. They are defenders of ideology, power bases and intentional ignorance – though I am certain many of them are pawns rather than promulgators. We all know who the promulgators are. However, many of them know exactly what they do. They cannot but know given their obvious familiarity with the information. We need not sort out which among them is which, however.

    We have to, at some point, treat denialism as what it is: junk/crimes against humanity (again, we need not sort out which it is for any given person; we all recognize some is intentional, some is straight out of The Authoritarians). We must do this not because it is “wrong”, per se, but because the average person is pretty easily confused and we’re running out of time.

    We have to message effectively. Debating the nature of appeals to authority? Where is that getting us? We *all* understand that name-dropping is often BS. We are skeptical of it on its face. That’s really all we need to communicate. But, we need to defend the use of authority by connecting it to real world and clearly and unambiguously naming appeals to authority as BS when they are. I have a love/hate relationship with congressional testimony. How I long to hear scientists flat out state: “He’s lying. He’s in the pockets of big business. This is documented. The claims he is making have exactly zero merit and are taking small facts that are accurate and twisting them to make his arguments seem valid. They are not. There is no research that supports his stance.”

    But this never happens. So, our battle with claims of authority or against claims of authority is simple: we are not willing to call BS in an unambiguous way. That is what the public needs to hear. They cannot parse, due to lack of knowledge and time to gain that knowledge, polite debates about climate science where one side is clearly more valid than the other. The question is not about the nature of appeals to authority, but about making clear when invalid appeals are made and when invalid science is invoked.

    It simply is not enough to say you disagree with what a purported/actual expert has said, it is now necessary to call them out completely: They are not of a different opinion, they are, in fact, bending the data to suit a message, and that is not good science and is not legitimate.

    So, who cares what Dan H. has to say? Is he an honest actor? Maybe. Do his comments reflect the science accurately? No. Has he demonstrated an ability and/or willingness to let the data speak? No. Is he, then, a valid contributor to the discussion? No. Should this false equivalence be allowed to go on given the nature of the general public’s reliance on their own ideologies to make decisions? No. Does he virtually always belong in the Bore Hole? Yes.

    What the public needs is exposure to real, valid debate. Any suggestion warming is non-anthropogenic flies in the face of all the science. False equivalence is literally killing us. People are dying, crops are being lost, commodity prices are rising.

    What we need to do is stop supporting the anti-science message by affording it platforms to present a falsely equivalent message. One appeal to authority is legit: it’s backed by the facts. The other appeal is not: it is backed by nothing but hot air and ideology.

    Isn’t that the message? That the science is what it is, and solutioneering is decades behind where it needs to be? That claims against the science are simply not valid at all, and are not worthy of our time? That debating Santa Claus is a deleterious activity given conditions and the inertia of society? Is debating Dan’s false appeals to authority and his false claims against legitimate authority really something we need to present to the general public?

    Comment by Killian — 6 May 2012 @ 1:09 PM

  152. Killian wrote in 151:

    What we need to do is stop supporting the anti-science message by affording it platforms to present a falsely equivalent message.

    Bravo. When someone is consistently derailing a conversation and otherwise not making a positive contribution, the best solution is often to talk around him. The conversation moves on even if he does not.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 6 May 2012 @ 1:38 PM

  153. In response to Jim’s comment (#34) on citizen science projects and to follow up to my reply to Lucy Lacie (#101), there have been published studies that used data gathered by non-scientists.

    One example is the bird watching projects, Christmas Bird Counts, sponsored by the Audubon Society where the data gathered was analyzed to assess and project the effects of climate change.

    A popular press story:
    Study: Birds adjusting slowly to climate change

    The paper:
    Tracking of climatic niche boundaries under recent climate change

    [Response:Yes, the Christmas Bird Counts are an outstanding example. Thanks Joseph.–Jim]

    Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 6 May 2012 @ 1:41 PM

  154. Timothy Chase:

    It’s not the concept, but the polysyllabic jargon. Surely coherentialism and/or coherentism can be put in plain direct English. It doesn’t mean anything to anybody not clued in.

    Ray, it’s not just specific science but the habit of thought that goes with examining evidence. Reaching over the footlights requires putting science in terms that do not require special knowledge in any scientific field. The closest I’ve been able to come is critical thinking, and, of course, telling the truth which I’ve talked about in the context of teaching people how to draw. The ones not hanging on to looking “smart”, trying to discover the “secret”, and interested in finding things out get it very quickly.

    Others, my apologies, am going to desist for a bit in hopes “science” will return to the discussion.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 6 May 2012 @ 1:56 PM

  155. Secular,
    While surveys show that a large majority (consensus, if you wish) acknowledge that the Earth has warmed, and most scientists contend that humans have contributed significantly, I find no survey showing that scientists agree (or even come close) on what warming effects will be generated by the increasing atmocpheric CO2. This is the disconnect. While many of us would agree with the first two premises, we disagree on the third. Name calling does not garner much respect in the scientific world.

    [Response: ‘what warming effect’? Warming is the effect, and yes that is pretty widely agreed on. If you want to discuss impacts of that on other systems – ice sheets, ecosystems, ocean circulation, etc – please do so. Stop claiming to want to discuss real issues, and just actually do so. You might find the response more congenial. – gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 6 May 2012 @ 2:28 PM

  156. Susan Anderson wrote in 154:

    It’s not the concept, but the polysyllabic jargon. Surely coherentialism and/or coherentism can be put in plain direct English. It doesn’t mean anything to anybody not clued in.

    Sorry. There had been a long-standing debate in the theory of knowledge in which those who argue that what knowledge is structured like a pyramid, where one level acts as a foundation for the next (the foundationalists) and those who argue that what matters most is overall coherence or unity of explanation, that is, how things hang together, like pieces of a raft (the coherentialists) talked past one-another almost to the point that each was arguing against a straw man in place of the other. Neither group could learn from the insights of the other, and even when they arrived at some of the same insights in their more moderate forms, they couldn’t recognize that people on the other side of the divide were seeing the same thing. I had assumed you had been brought up in the moderate foundationalist camp.

    In any case, although you should try to speak to as many as possible, you won’t always be able to speak to everyone, with luck someone will always find something of value in what you have to say.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 6 May 2012 @ 2:35 PM

  157. So there’s this: Why I Won’t Be Speaking at the Heartland Conference

    From Donna Laframboise, of and The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert. Apparently, Ross McKitrick haz a sad, too.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 6 May 2012 @ 5:01 PM

  158. Name calling does not garner much respect in the scientific world.

    Since you aren’t a part of the scientific world, and your claims are fallacious and repetitious, it’s more acceptable than usual.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 6 May 2012 @ 5:58 PM

  159. Australian Govt. Dept. of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency: Responses to Professor Ian Plimer’s 101 climate questions

    I quite like the subtle phrasing.

    Comment by J Bowers — 6 May 2012 @ 6:21 PM

  160. well, broken promise about shutting up and letting the scientists talk, but a link to supporters of Heartland for those who want to follow through. Scott Mandia has also shown the way (h/t Tenney Naumer):

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 6 May 2012 @ 8:49 PM

  161. The morning paper had a story, to be published in Nature Geoscience today, claiming that solar influence on climate is much bigger than thought, through UV and ozone. Based on research in Meerfelder Maar on climate 800 BC. Sounds somewhat improbable; any comment already?

    Comment by Kees van der Leun — 6 May 2012 @ 11:49 PM

  162. “I find no survey showing that scientists agree (or even come close) on what warming effects will be generated by the increasing atmocpheric CO2. This is the disconnect.”

    The scientists, policymakers and general public are all engaged in forward-looking scenarios, not certainties. This in no way supports your denialism. What you are doing is insisting on predictions rather than what you are, appropriately, given: scenarios. That should not require further explanation, so I offer none. That you are still making the same mistake shows that your comments belong, appropriately, in the Bore Hole.

    Your second error is to fail to admit that there is pretty strong consensus regarding the minimum changes we should expect, that there is a minimum of 2C over pre-industrial times coming. That 2C is more than enough to launch extensive global mediation efforts. Are you merely being dishonest here, or…?

    Your third error is to completely ignore risk assessment. The issue of climate change is only important if it affects society. If it were something we could safely observe nobody but scientists would have a *need* to be aware. but it has the potential to completely destabilize globally. The risk assessment says that a risk that large must be mitigated against. it’s not worth ANY savings since the lack of mitigation *can* end in the end of civilization as we now know it.

    This stuff is child’s play. That you continuously engage in pretense that the science isn’t certain and the risks are basically unknown is all anyone needs to know about your posts.

    Bore Hole, says I!

    Comment by Killian — 7 May 2012 @ 12:22 AM

  163. 157 Jim G linked Donna Laframboise, ” In my view, the more people who hear about my book, the more likely it is that governments will start making more informed decisions.”

    All I can say is “Wow.”

    160 Susan A, the one that strikes me is USAA, which is the co-op style insurance agency for the armed forces and their families. One of the most honorable and level-headed organizations in the world gave $45k to Heartland. I wonder what percentage of Heartland is engaged in climate change denial in one form or another.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 7 May 2012 @ 2:48 AM

  164. Lucy Lacie (sorry to be so late to comment):
    Studying issues of global warming science, such as are discussed on this blog, is a good thing to do, and we need to somehow forge a community (global) consensus that anthropogenic global warming is a major problem in order for our civilization to effectively address it.
    However, I hope that by the time you graduate from college, that will be accomplished. To my mind, it it time to move on to actual measures to stop emissions of greenhouse gases. Energy efficiency and renewable energy. That will take engineering as much as pure science. The high school courses you need to take are still the same as others have advised: Math, chemistry, physics, biology. I would also add history, government, sociology, english, and a foreign language. Technical skills can only take you so far, and after that people skills and the ability to communicate become important. In college, try taking one or two engineering courses and see whether you like designing and building, or prefer more pure science.

    Comment by AIC — 7 May 2012 @ 3:47 AM

  165. Would it be possible to have an posting on increased likelihood of drought, particularly with reference to Dai’s work. I find the maps posted here to be frightening and compelling:

    While a number of sources suggest the US Southwest will get dryer this century, the projected “dust-bowlification” of the US interior seems to me to be the most compelling near-term impact of climate change. But I think there is significant disagreement across climate models on the distribution of rainfall, and I would appreciate some informed discussion of the uncertainties around these projections, particularly Dai’s.

    Comment by Christopher Hogan — 7 May 2012 @ 8:34 AM

  166. Killian,
    Your minimum value is contradicted in several recent papers. Here is a sample of recent work and their climate sensitivity ranges:
    2.1 – 4.7
    1.8 – 4.9.
    1.1 – 4.3
    1.3 – 2.6
    1.3 – 1.8

    Some are much higher:

    Is this your idea of a consensus? It certainly is not mine.

    [Response: Is this your idea of a coherent comment? It is not mine. You deliberately confuse multiple concepts in order to paint a picture of greater uncertainty. For instance, your 5th link is to Gillett et al, and is for TCR, not ECS – an error that has been pointed out to you multiple times before. The 4th link is the same thing. The sixth link is not original research and is discussing Earth System Sensitivity – again not the same quantity. I mean, really, did you not think people would click on the links? – gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 7 May 2012 @ 8:59 AM

  167. re 166 and inline:
    The recent trend in artificial skeptic promotion is to provide massive links and pseudoscientific bafflegab. Unfortunately, those who wish to be convinced will buy it. It is surprising to find it on RealClimate where you’d think the punter would know they’d be exposed, but of course once provided it can be cut and pasted elsewhere – another argument for the borehole. Sort of like those reviews that extract one phrase and use the integrity of the medium to give it credibility.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 7 May 2012 @ 9:52 AM

  168. Dan H.,
    Do you really think “transient sensitivity” is the same as expected warming during this century? Really? If so, why are we listening to you? It is no wonder you are so confused.

    OTOH, are you hoping people on a climate blog are so dim that we will conflate these concepts? Isn’t that a little bit like trying to rob a police headquarters?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 May 2012 @ 10:13 AM

  169. More data… must have… more data:

    Seriously, a 500,000-year sediment record with decadal resolution ain’t chopped liver.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 7 May 2012 @ 10:23 AM

  170. DanH,

    Gavin’s point leaves us with the first 3 studies you referenced. The first 2 are consistent with existing estimates. The 3rd is slightly lower, but the conclusion notes that their estimate is a likely underestimate.

    “The resulting estimate of the climate sensitivity is slightly smaller than the best estimate given in IPCC (2007) and could be compared with
    other estimates as well. However, we underscore that our results are sensitive to the indirect aerosol effects, which have a large uncertainty.

    In this study, the cloud-albedo effect is treated as a radiative forcing mechanism in the main part of the study, whereas other indirect aerosol
    effects will be parts of the climate feedbacks.

    Therefore, the estimate of S presented here is likely to be underestimated because the net
    forcing of the other indirect effects are likely to be negative (Forster et al., 2007).”

    Comment by MarkB — 7 May 2012 @ 5:07 PM

  171. Kees van der Leun wrote in 161:

    The morning paper had a story, to be published in Nature Geoscience today, claiming that solar influence on climate is much bigger than thought, through UV and ozone.

    Not able to find an actual copy of the article. However, the title is:

    Regional atmospheric circulation shifts induced by a grand solar minimum

    I seem to remember an article a few months back that argued for something similar. What is important in this context is the word “regional.” You get this from the press release here:

    Climatic effects of a solar minimum, May 6, 2012 – 16:31 in Earth & Climate

    The heat (or lack thereof, since we are dealing with a solar minimum) gets redistributed, but the redistribution itself doesn’t mean there is any greater sensitivity of the system as a whole to solar forcing.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 7 May 2012 @ 9:06 PM

  172. PS Sorry for the formatting. The line breaks showed up in the preview but not in the final copy.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 7 May 2012 @ 9:07 PM

  173. Timothy,
    Are you referring to this paper?

    Comment by Dan H. — 7 May 2012 @ 9:15 PM

  174. Kees van der Leun, regarding regional sensitivity to solar forcing, I found something from an older paper. From Skeptical Science, reference to an older paper:

    It has also been proposed that ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which varies more than other solar irradiance wavelengths, could amplify the solar influence on the global climate through interactions with the stratosphere and atmospheric ozone. Shindell et al. (1999) examined this possibility, but found that while this UV variability has a significant influence over regional temperatures, it has little effect on global surface temperatures.

    “Solar cycle variability may therefore play a significant role in regional surface temperatures, even though its influence on the global mean surface temperature is small (0.07 K for December–February).”

    Incidentally, Shindell et al. (1998) predicted that there would be an ozone hole some years from 2010-2019.

    Please see:

    Radiative cooling by increasing greenhouse gases by itself causes area-weighted temperature decreases of ~1-2 K poleward of 70° from altitudes of 200 to 50 mb during 2010-2019 in the winter in both hemispheres, relative to the control run. In the Northern Hemisphere, the reduced frequency of stratospheric warmings adds to the radiative cooling, resulting in total temperature decreases within the enhanced Arctic vortex of 5-7 K during December and January. Large ozone losses in February and March exert a sizeable positive feedback, so that modeled temperatures are 8-10 K colder in the greenhouse run owing to combined radiative, dynamical, and chemical influences.

    Shindell, D.T., D. Rind, and P. Lonergan, 1998: Increased polar stratospheric ozone losses and delayed eventual recovery owing to increasing greenhouse-gas concentrations. Nature, 392, 589-592, doi:10.1038/33385.

    They seemed to do rather well there, too.

    Please see:

    Although the Arctic polar vortex is smaller than its Antarctic counterpart, it is also much more mobile, often moving over densely populated lower latitudes, where UV radiation is more intense than near the pole. By mid-April 2011, the lower stratospheric vortex had shifted off the pole and sat over central Russia, remaining intact and enclosing total ozone values less than 275 DU through late April (Figure 5). Significant increases in surface UV radiation were associated with these low ozone levels. For example, under a lobe of the vortex extending south over Mongolia on 22 April, the clear sky UV index (UVI, a commonly used metric for gauging the impact of surface UV radiation on human skin) at 48°N, 98°E was 8.60, compared to the long-term average of 5.36, an anomaly roughly seven times the standard deviation. The 22 April value was close to the highest UVI at that location in mid-summer. On 17 April, a tongue of vortex air extended over the Alps. Even though this tongue had experienced some in-mixing of extra-vortex air, the UVI at Arosa (46.8°N, 9.7°E) increased to 7.4, about four standard deviations above the long-term mean. UVIs exceeding 7 can cause sunburn within minutes.

    Manney, G.L., et al. (2011) Unprecedented Arctic ozone loss in 2011, Nature (Subscription Required)

    Sometimes those models do pretty good, don’t they? ;-)

    Hope this helps.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 7 May 2012 @ 9:37 PM

  175. Kevin McKinney @169 — Its only about 130,000 years at decadal resolution, but that certainly is still not chopped liver.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 7 May 2012 @ 10:09 PM

  176. I’m a little surprised there isn’t any discussion of the UWashington paper announced today covering corrections to the UAH temperature data from satellites. Maybe this is because the paper isn’t formally out yet.

    I will check back periodically to see when the discussion on this begins.

    Comment by Paul K2 — 8 May 2012 @ 1:26 AM

  177. #177–Right you are, DBB. Thanks for catching my conflation of the total span with the continuous record.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 8 May 2012 @ 6:23 AM

  178. For Paul K2, watch the journal; if they do an early online release it will be here, I think:
    That’s got papers up through May 4th as of right now, and the UW press release is dated May 7th. Note the press release anticipates a response from UAH.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 May 2012 @ 6:46 AM

  179. Dan H wrote in 173:

    Are you referring to this paper?

    No, Dan. The paper I was thinking of had nothing to do with galactic cosmic rays. Neither does the paper that Kees van der Leun brought up.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 8 May 2012 @ 9:57 AM

  180. Re pounding sand, or rather olivine, to draw down CO2, there are mountains of peridotite in Oman (dry) and in Newfoundland (anything but dry), and not just in Gros Morne National Park.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 8 May 2012 @ 1:42 PM

  181. Here’s an Unforced Variation for you: I have noticed a certain skeptic meme that seems to pop up again and again, which is the idea that the CO2 increase is natural and not anthropogenic. This is such a ridiculous meme that it seems almost not worth addressing (and indeed, some skeptics like Englebeen and, gasp, Singer, have explicitly rejected it): and yet, some partly competent scientists fall for this too (eg Spencer) and even publish papers on it in legitimate journals (see Essenhigh, Energy & Fuels) (ok, the journal isn’t a _climate_ journal, but still). Most recently it has been Mr. Eschenbach and his issue with the Bern cycle approximation at WTFUWT (not a good sign that he, and many commenters, didn’t grasp the difference between an approximation designed for use with a pulse of emissions against an equilibrium background, and an actual model, but that’s neither here nor there).

    I keep theorizing that an on-line carbon cycle model that is fairly transparent about the carbon stocks, flows, and assumptions, that is complex enough to capture the seasonal cycle and the response to annual global mean temperature, including isotopic tracers. This would allow those skeptics who do not instantly associate “computer model” with “the root of all evil” to play with the numbers and convince themselves that things like the association of yearly variations of CO2 and yearly variations of temperature can be consistent with the attribution of more than 90 percent of the CO2 increase since pre-industrial to anthropogenic emissions.

    Does such an on-line model exist? If not, is there a textbook or paper which describes such a set-up in sufficient detail to allow a half-way competent programmer to put such a model together?

    Comment by MMM — 8 May 2012 @ 1:49 PM

  182. Microsoft to go carbon neutral: Microsoft and climate science, part 2.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 8 May 2012 @ 3:08 PM

  183. Dinosaur farts may have helped drive Mesozoic warming

    I saw this on Colbert last night, so I had to look it up. I haven’t dug into the paper.

    Could methane produced by sauropod dinosaurs have helped drive Mesozoic climate warmth?

    Mesozoic sauropods, like many modern herbivores, are likely to have hosted microbial methanogenic symbionts for the fermentative digestion of their plant food [1]. Today methane from livestock is a significant component of the global methane budget [2]. Sauropod methane emission would probably also have been considerable. Here, we use a simple quantitative approach to estimate the magnitude of such methane production and show that the production of the ‘greenhouse’ gas methane by sauropods could have been an important factor in warm Mesozoic climates.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 8 May 2012 @ 3:09 PM

  184. See:

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 8 May 2012 @ 3:27 PM

  185. MMM, you want Clear Climate Code.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 8 May 2012 @ 3:43 PM

  186. Unsettled Scientist: This probably qualifies me for a “Don’t be SUCH a scientist” rebuke from Randy Olson, but… are we talking farts or belches? I guess the paper claims that dinosaurs were non-ruminants, so unlike cows, it may really be fart-based methane here…

    Comment by MMM — 8 May 2012 @ 4:07 PM

  187. There’s a weird thing happening in our subtropical weather here in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Could it be due to GW, which I understand is cooling higher parts of the atmosphere above the GHG “belt.”

    We in Edinburg/McAllen — about 26°N latitude and about 100 feet above sealevel — have been having severe hailstorms this year (during warm, short-sleeve weather) that have damaged a lot of property. Also during Hurricane Emily in 2005 Brownsville a bit farther south and closer to sealevel got a severe hailstorm in July during the hurricane. Our local weatherman said these are unheard of.

    I don’t really have much idea how high the “cooling” area above the GHG belt is, or whether extreme updrafts could take the moisture up there to form hailstones. I was reading that typical areas from hailstones were in the interior and mid-latitudes, or if in the tropics, then in high altitudes (and that hail general formed in cumulonimbi thunderclouds about an altitude of 11,000 feet (3.400 m).

    There are many factors that lead to hailstones, but could GW be one of them — maybe by providing a cooler atmosphere above the GHG belt and/or making other extremes more likely, like severe updrafts?

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 8 May 2012 @ 4:43 PM

  188. Lynn Vincentnathan Re Texas hail (187)

    The cooling due to the greenhouse effect itself takes place in the stratosphere, so there won’t be much moisture there for the hail you are experiencing. However, according to a recent paper arctic amplification reduces the North/South temperature gradient, slowing down the jet stream, and simultaneously increasing the North/South amplitude of Rossby waves. Cold air makes further incursions to the South, warm air to the North and weather patterns stall out, all resulting in greater extremes.

    Please see:

    Jennifer A. Francis and Stephen J. Vavrus (2012 Mar 17) Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 39, L06801, doi:10.1029/2012GL051000

    I suppose that could be what you are seeing, but I’m no expert.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 8 May 2012 @ 5:41 PM

  189. @Triple M,
    I dunno if its farts or burps, but the joke was funny.

    Yeah, looks like your assumption is right, just dug up this quote from the paper. “To estimate methane production we follow the relationship derived by Franz et al.[7] for modern non-ruminant herbivores, where Methane (litres per day) = 0.18 (body mass in kg)^0.97.”

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 8 May 2012 @ 6:03 PM

  190. Lynn Vincentnathan @187 — I opine more severe updrafts. The clouds do usually extend above the tropopause.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 8 May 2012 @ 7:34 PM

  191. #186 et seq.–Well, a cooling stratosphere and warming troposphere have to meet in the middle somewhere–which implies a sharper temperature gradient than previously in a zone extending for some distance above and below the tropopause. Could be relevant, perhaps–you can imagine more rapid chilling and congelation as proto-hailstones ascend in those updrafts David mentions.

    Mere hand-waving, of course, but an interesting idea nevertheless.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 8 May 2012 @ 10:47 PM

  192. WUWT, Bishop Hill, Tallbloke, The Air Vent, etc have all focused on the recent post by Steve McIntyre with respect to the data he has been working on since its recent release (i.e. with respect to Yamal and the Hockey Stick).

    Upon reading the post (and another explanation at Bishop Hill) one can’t help but be left with the feeling that there has been some obfuscation surrounding the data that was used, and its relevance thereof, to the creation of the Hockey Stick graph.

    As a layman, I can follow the logic of the points as they are being made by McIntyre et al and, on the face of it, there would appear to be some issues. What do other contributors think?

    [Response: This is more of the usual obfuscation – they are confusing the raw data (available online for years), with as yet unpublished analyses of that data, which McIntyre feels he is entitled to for unclear reasons. They are conflating work by mann and colleagues (which didn’t include Yamal) with work from briffa’s group that did. We’ll have more to say on this soon. – gavin]

    Comment by Dave — 9 May 2012 @ 3:12 AM

  193. Even a winter without winter didn’t remove their head from their anus.

    Support for climate change action drops, Stanford poll finds

    The drop was concentrated among Americans who distrust climate scientists.

    Comment by Vendicar Decaruan — 9 May 2012 @ 4:32 AM

  194. And then there’s this:U.S. completes warmest 12-month period in 117 years. Even the thermometers are in on the conspiracy.

    Comment by Tokodave — 9 May 2012 @ 7:52 AM

  195. Dave @191
    Watts was certainly getting more than a little exercised over this Yamal data. I looked into WUWT a couple of days back looking for news of April’s UAH (as the RSS temp shows significant rise for April but no sign of UAH) & Watts had one of his “sticky” posts calling somebody (at CRU?) a “liar” in the headline. The text began explaining that calling folk a liar in the headline was a new phenomenon at WUWT because, unlike those rascally warmists, WUWT is careful with its use of ad hominem attacks. Mind, there’s no sign of that headline now.

    Comment by MARodger — 9 May 2012 @ 7:53 AM

  196. Vendicular,
    While the survey showed a graphic depicting the decline in scientific trust, this number was extrapolated from other surveys, as the question was not asked in the 2010 Stanford survey. Support for electric vehicles may have been adversely affected by recent news coverage of poor performance. Analysis of the survey could also be construed as a general distrust of government, as all the questions concerned governmental taxes or regulations.

    Comment by Dan H. — 9 May 2012 @ 8:02 AM

  197. “Support for climate change action drops, Stanford poll finds”

    Not seeing that in New Hampshire, where we’re polling statewide four times a year — most recently last month. Belief in the reality of ACC has been remarkably steady among Republicans (low) and Democrats (high), and recently appears rising among Independents in the middle. Next survey in June.

    Comment by L. Hamilton — 9 May 2012 @ 8:31 AM

  198. On our polls we’re also starting to ask climate-science knowledge questions regarding e.g. volcanoes, sea ice, sea level, CO2. Also evolution and a trust-scientists item. These correlate with ACC beliefs pretty much as you’d expect, but it appears that for some items it’s the belief that drives the knowledge answers rather than vice versa.

    Comment by L. Hamilton — 9 May 2012 @ 8:58 AM

  199. McIntyre appears to believe that the information in this Climategate 1.0 email reveals that “CRU had, after all, calculated a Yamal-Urals regional chronology as early as April 2006”. To me, it appears his entire argument and subsequent accusations hinge on such a premise. It leads him to state that he is “completely convinced that they would have used it in Briffa et al 2008 and/or their October 2009 online article without a second thought. My surmise is that the apparent failure of the (still withheld) Yamal-Urals regional chronology to accord with their expectations caused CRU not to use it in Briffa et al 2008.”

    Comment by grypo — 9 May 2012 @ 9:10 AM

  200. And this email as well.

    Comment by grypo — 9 May 2012 @ 9:24 AM

  201. Dan H wrote: “Support for electric vehicles may have been adversely affected by recent news coverage of poor performance.”

    There is no “news coverage of poor performance” of electric cars, because all of the electric and hybrid cars on the market perform just fine, and drivers who actually own or lease them all express high degrees of satisfaction.

    What there is — as with the deceitful denial of anthropogenic global warming — is a steady stream of anti-EV propaganda, much of it consisting of outright, blatant lies, funded by the fossil fuel corporations and cranked out through phony “conservative” media outlets like Fox News. When you compare their so-called “news coverage” of EVs with the actual news coverage in the automotive industry and technology press, the goofy cartoonish nonsense that Fox (and Rush Limbaugh and on and on) are peddling is truly laughable. Or would be, if it were not such despicable slander.

    And of course, it’s not at all surprising to find Dan H. regurgitating such dishonest propaganda. It’s all of a piece with the denialist bunk that he posts here.

    What is the Bore Hole for, after all?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 9 May 2012 @ 10:06 AM

  202. Gavin 155: Warming is a good thing in the minds of most people. The “Effect” has to be something more vital, or victual, like no groceries. Warming IS the effect to you, a climate scientist. Sorry to disagree with you. Talking about the price of groceries gets the message across that GW is important. Talking about warming is just telling them that the weather is going to be “nicer.”

    Remember, the average person has an IQ of 100. And a very limited education. They are at the level of “dinner.”

    I have told you that you need to make predictions about the price and availability of food before. FOOD is the effect of a good climate. NO FOOD is the effect of a bad climate. If you don’t talk about food, you may as well save your breath.

    If you want average people to pay attention to you, another thing you have to do is clobber them with it. They just aren’t going to understand if you continue to speak the scientific language.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 9 May 2012 @ 10:55 AM

  203. Here’s another attack on science. Bill Sweet regularly writes on energy and environment for IEEE Spectrum and as regularly gets pilloried in reade comments. In his latest article he summarises an issue of Science including an article that lowers worst-case estimates of sea level rise. As usual comments are attacking, one almst threatening to get him fired. I try to counter this but a few more voices would help. Go there if you would like to help turn the tide.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 9 May 2012 @ 11:48 AM

  204. #202 “need to make predictions about the price and availability of food…” This is as bad as anything coming out of Dan H’s, uh, mouth.

    Think about what you just said. We have commodities markets where amateurs regularly turn large fortunes into small ones, and now you want climate scientists trying their hands?

    More importantly, you’re falling into the trap of adding yet more facets to what ought to be a straightforward proposition — why muddy the waters further with a metric that is subject to more factors than simply the climate?

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 9 May 2012 @ 12:43 PM

  205. Secular,
    You appear to be in denial here. Consider these reports which appeared in major publications:

    Not all reports are negative, and each of these publications has also printed positive articles. The thinking that people are not concerned about the costs of an electric vehicle, or the limited driving range is absurd. You may not like this or the articles written, but sticking your head in the sand about them is not going to change anything.

    Comment by Dan H. — 9 May 2012 @ 12:52 PM

  206. “Remember, the average person has an IQ of 100.”
    The important part of that to remember is, on average, half the population is below 100 . . . and some of them are wealthy regardless.

    Comment by flxible — 9 May 2012 @ 1:00 PM

  207. 204 Walter Pearce: 206 flxible is correct. Just try your argument out on some really average or below average ordinary laboring poor type people. Get out into the country and small towns or manufacturing towns far from a university. [If they have jobs, they will claim to be rich.] What you will get is probably anger if you stick to what RC says. They will angrily tell you that they are Republican. I hope you can de-fuse it and not get into a physical fight. They will assume that you are an Al Gore Democrat. What ever you do, don’t tell them that you are a Democrat and do say something negative about Al Gore. [Amazingly, the poorest vote for the billionaires’ candidate. Figure that one out.]

    You will get nowhere even faster with rich fossil fuel stockholders, or even middle class people who read the WSJ.

    What I am saying is nothing like what Dan H. is saying. I am on RC’s side. Dan H. is against RC. I am telling you how to win. Dan H. is trying to get you to loose.

    Wmar copied an anti-Levenson [green text] reply to me from RC to
    Why? Because the food issue works.
    If you follow dotearth at all, you know who wmar is.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 9 May 2012 @ 2:33 PM

  208. #207… Neither you, nor me, nor anyone at RC can predict food prices with any reliability, let alone in a manner that’s meaningful for the average person. One of those ideas that might sound good to you “in theory” but is impossible to effect.

    Also, food prices aren’t determined solely via climate — so you wouldn’t even be proving what you think you are proving.

    I live in a rural area, btw, among the “average,” and most folks here accept that we’re changing the climate. We see it in the plants, animals, seasons, storms, etc. I’m inclined to think maybe you should get out more… :)

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 9 May 2012 @ 3:15 PM

  209. Dan H wrote: “Consider these reports which appeared in major publications:”

    Fact-free, dishonest opinion pieces by right-wing propagandists are not “reports”.

    But you know that. And we know to expect such clownish dishonesty in your comments.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 9 May 2012 @ 4:26 PM

  210. George Carlin: “The average person is an idiot, and 50% are stupider than that…”

    Given my generally sunny position, it may surprise some that I do not necessarily agree with Carlin (well, except when I’m driving) nor with Edward Greisch. I know a lot of very intelligent people who reject climate science. I know some people of average or below intelligence who do not presume to question the experts or who have actually drawn some perceptive conclusions based on their own observations.

    The enemy here is not lack of intelligence, but rather stupidity–the use of our intelligence to fool ourselves. Climate change has some unpleasant implications and no clear solutions that do not involve significant sacrifice. Argument from consequences is a favorite logical fallacy among the intelligent. I think many (e.g. Freeman Dyson) feel that if climate change is true that we may not have the unlimited future they envision…and therefore it must be false. In Dyson’s case, he feels that even if the experts are right that some magical technology that will make everything all right must be just around the corner, and all the emphasis on climate change will have been a distraction.

    Of course there are ideologically blinkered idjits who make anti-science a matter of pride, but they come from all portions of the intelligence bell curve. I think that the aspect of this problem that engenders false skepticism and self delusion more than any other is the paucity of solutions. If we propose solutions that seem feasible without draconian reduction in living standards, we will likely see increased support.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 May 2012 @ 4:49 PM

  211. Correcting my #190: do not

    Comment by David B. Benson — 9 May 2012 @ 5:50 PM

  212. Re. Responses by ‘Gavin’
    Is there some reason why you are so rude to people?

    [Response: I prefer to think of myself as simply being frank. I am happy to answer questions and discuss with people who are genuinely interested in having a conversation, but I don’t have any time for people who want to play games. People who repeat nonsense after having been shown repeatedly that their claim is mistaken are not here looking for answers. People who misrepresent papers or results can be gently corrected once or twice, but not forever. Science makes no progress if you have to start at zero every single day, and so scientists learn that to be effective, conversations/discussions etc. need to move forward. That doesn’t happen if every stray thought or contrarian meme is indulged over and over. If you come here wanting to have your ego stroked and told how interesting your point is, you’d better make sure that your point is, in fact, interesting (to someone other than yourself). There are plenty of venues where people can muse away to their heart’s content and never be challenged on their misunderstandings. But not here. – gavin]

    Comment by Steph — 9 May 2012 @ 6:00 PM

  213. #210–Thank you, Ray, for a thoughtful response to some comments that were (IMO) unpleasantly simplistic and elitist.

    IQ is but one component of the thinking mind, and we associate it with our own conclusions, political parties, etc., at our own peril–or so it seems to me. (And actually, it’s a bit of an artifact–it has never been shown that the results of IQ tests actually correlate with any one mental ‘thing.’ IQ test results appear to depend upon a whole grab bag of different cognitive abilities, not to mention lots and lots of specific knowledge.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 May 2012 @ 6:34 PM

  214. Conservative thinktanks step up attacks against U.S. clean energy strategy, plan ‘subversion’ and ‘dummy businesses’

    A network of ultra-conservative groups is ramping up an offensive on multiple fronts to turn the American public against wind farms and Barack Obama’s energy agenda.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 9 May 2012 @ 6:34 PM

  215. From the Guardian story quoted at the link Jim Galasyn posted:

    “The strategy proposal was prepared by a fellow of the American Tradition Institute (ATI) – although the thinktank has formally disavowed the project.”

    That sounds oddly familiar somehow. Did that same fellow write Heartland memos?

    Astroturfing history:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 May 2012 @ 6:49 PM

  216. Steph@~212

    Huh? Rude? On the whole, I find Gavin to be excessively polite and patient. You must have really bust the bank of rank falsity promotion if he actually bothered to be rude with you. Intelligent people, on the whole, are pretty impatient with nonsense, especially those well informed on a subject on which the uninformed person is bloviating without justification.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 9 May 2012 @ 7:32 PM

  217. Steph, OK, let’s see. In your eyes, deliberately wasting the time of a professional scientist who is donating his time to educate the public…well, that’s just fine. Repeatedly bringing up the same discredited zombie arguments and interfering with the blog’s stated aim of educating the public…hunky dory! Putting up billboards equating professional scientists to terrorists…Oh, those pesky Heartland types.

    But pointing out to a clueless troll that he is in fact a clueless troll, well that is just plain rude! OK. I think we understand each other now.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 May 2012 @ 7:35 PM

  218. Re: #212 (Steph)

    Gavin has bent over backwards to be polite to as many people as possible, including many who don’t return the favor. I have never witnessed him being rude. In fact, you have to step way over the line — multiple times — before he’ll go so far as to be “frank.”

    Your accusation that he is rude, therefore, makes me suspect that you’re projecting your own behavior.

    Comment by tamino — 9 May 2012 @ 8:04 PM

  219. Steph is just concern trolling. And it worked, eliciting Gavin’s in-line response plus four reader replies, including this one. It’s an effective tactic only if we play along.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 9 May 2012 @ 9:24 PM

  220. Steph, I can see why just looking at a couple of responses might make you think “rude.”. But I agree with others that Gavin is the last one I’d call rude. Remember there are hundreds of posts by some commenters where disinformation is the rule. When you get to number 50 or so, I suppose, polite fades to frank, and rarely I suppose could bE construed as rude. But what is more rude, a direct inline response, or hundreds of time wasting posts?

    Comment by Utahn — 9 May 2012 @ 9:48 PM

  221. For Steph: (collected among 2009’s best online science writing at Seriously, read that.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 May 2012 @ 9:59 PM

  222. Edward Criesch @ 202,

    “Warming is a good thing in the minds of most people.”

    That may be true in the US, but ‘most people’ do not actually live in the US. India/Pakistan/Bangladesh have 4 times as many people as the US, and I suspect most of THEM would prefer things a few degrees cooler.

    Comment by ozajh — 9 May 2012 @ 10:02 PM

  223. For Susan 9 may 2012 at, for the moment, #216, Ray same date # 217, Tamino #218, and, of course Steph. I am a biomedical scientist (emeritus) and I was always amazed by Evolution deniers who made outrageous claims regarding the science, but accused me of Christian bashing when I told them what the science was. This behavior has to do with perspective taking that my wife, a child development scientist, says is an important component of intelligence.

    Many folks have no idea how offensive they are being when they tell a scientist, who has devoted his/her life to studying some component of the real world, how they should adjust their thinking. This is especially the case when the motivation is obviously not fact based but comes from a religious, political, cultural, economic, or whatever non-scientific perspective.

    I am building a house and when talking to the solar guy, the plumbers, the insulation contractor, and so on, I always defer to their expertise but ask question to clarify what they are telling me. I almost always learn something new and this is my favorite thing. I only wish I could get the same respect for my expertise. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 9 May 2012 @ 10:46 PM

  224. Meanwhile, down in Antarctica:

    New Antarctic ice shelf threatened by warming
    By Chris Wickham

    LONDON | Wed May 9, 2012 1:02pm EDT

    (Reuters) – Scientists are predicting the disappearance of another vast ice shelf in Antarctica by the end of the century that will accelerate rising sea levels.

    The Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf fringing the Weddell Sea on the eastern side of Antarctica has so far not seen ice loss from global warming and much of the observation of melting has focused on the western side of the continent around the Amundsen Sea. But new research from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany says the 450,000-sq-km ice shelf is under threat.

    "According to our calculations, this protective barrier will disintegrate by the end of this century," said Dr Harmut Hellmer, lead author of the study, published in the journal Nature this week."

    Story at this link

    Comment by Ken Feldman — 9 May 2012 @ 10:55 PM

  225. If I could make a little observation, I’ve noticed that Heartland Dan (Dan H.) never gets pinned down here with one of his virginic falsehoods, and I’d recommend that tactic in dealing with him. What I mean is when he says one of his falsehoods, the commenters that disagree with him should only focus on this virginic point until he virginically answers. (He may never) He may never do a lot of things, but, it will be a lot harder for him to ignore people if they *make* him deal with his virginic falsehood. Heartland Dan is never pinned down and thus always escapes (sex). Let’s pin him down. (In a nice way of course) So, ALL of the commenters should focus on only only point, until Dan deals with that, and his other issues. And boy, are they issues. And by the way, Dan Heartland hates, I mean hates, the movie Forty Year Old Virgin.

    Comment by doug — 9 May 2012 @ 11:49 PM

  226. 208 Walter Pearce: Of course I do not try to predict prices for food, except that if there is no food, that is the same as an infinite price.

    210 Ray Ladbury: OK. You never know about people. And I should not have used the “IQ” word anyway. 213 Kevin McKinney is correct. I should be more careful. How should I express my frustration? There is a problem with the human brain? There is a problem with education? People make assumptions? Trying to talk about GW is difficult. I keep finding out that what I meant wasn’t what they heard. People make wrong assumptions. The architecture of the human brain has a lot of flaws or really sucks. To what do you attribute the lack of action on GW? What are You going to do to solve the problem?

    There is no the paucity of solutions. But they are off limits on RC.

    I am half way through “The Beginning of Infinity” by David Deutsch. Deutsch talks about The Enlightenment and Enlightenments plural. Will we fall into a new Dark Age? Dark Ages seem to be the standard. Staying enlightened is the goal. The difference between Athens and Sparta was that Athenians constantly tried to improve things and Spartans tried to prevent change. The human brain hasn’t changed. Part of defeating GW is to stay enlightened.

    212 Steph: I think Gavin is amazingly polite and diplomatic. All RC staff are very good at diplomacy from my point of view. I am amazed at how un-angry they stay some times.

    Somewhere else I saw something saying that some RC person was changing from saying GW is a bullet to saying GW is an H bomb. What is wrong with that is that we never had enough bombs to make ourselves extinct. At most [60,000 bombs] we had 1 part in 10,000 of an Extinction Level Event [ELE] because an ELE is defined as 100 million megatons. Example: the Cretaceous–Paleocene extinction event caused by a 100 million megaton explosion due to impact. The sun can easily provide that much energy, so I conclude that GW could be an ELE. A “general exchange” [all out nuclear war] between the US and the USSR would do a lot of killing, but it wouldn’t make Homo Sap extinct.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 9 May 2012 @ 11:57 PM

  227. Thank you Gavin for what was indeed a very polite response. Perhaps, for the sake of your own well-being, it might be best to simply ignore those you find needlessly repeating themselves. My question was merely the result of idle observation; it had no hidden agenda and was not intended to provoke anyone. I feel as though I have inadvertently strayed into an unexpected war zone and will quickly retire forthwith!

    Comment by Steph — 10 May 2012 @ 12:55 AM

  228. Steph, Gavin is an extraordinary climate science teacher. Be quiet or ask good questions in his classroom.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 10 May 2012 @ 1:28 AM

  229. doug @225
    Unlike the Heartland Institute, the comments of Dan H. here at RealClimate do point to him believing a fixed heterodoxy of AGW – perhaps in his view a Great Truth. (Imagine Akasofu but with the 0.6 deg C/century rise driven by CO2 not cosmic rays, implying a TCR of some 0.9 giving a sensitivity of some 1.3.) However his Great Truth remains a crypto-theory that can only be surmised from his comments – it would certainly not survive long if it was proposed openly.

    Most of the stuff Dan H. chucks into the RealClimate comment threads here are possibly meant to prepare the way for his Great Truth but, if so, it is evidently not yet the time for his revalation to be made known.

    I’m not sure how we would go about ‘pinning’ Dan H. down. He wriggles excessively & when things get too poignant, he exits stage right for a few scenes until the coast is clear, then resumes afresh. Any ‘pinning’ exercise would be exceedingly tedious for most commenters. Indeed, my own attempt at ‘pinning’ a while ago drew calls of “don’t feed the troll”

    Comment by MARodger — 10 May 2012 @ 6:27 AM

  230. Steph, I think it’s unfortunate but appropriate that it seems like a war zone. I have a recollection of feeling something similar a few years ago when I started looking into climate science. For me it was something like, why are these people getting so upset? I soon realized that in large part I realized I couldn’t understand why they were so upset because I couldn’t understand what they were talking about.

    Not sure how much looking into climate science you have done, but there a lot of great links under the “start here” tab top left of the main page. I particularly enjoyed Spencer Weart’s history of global warming, and the IPCC FAQ pages, and still enjoy the website skeptical science.

    It may still look like a war zone to me, but at least I now feel like I understand the conflict, and feel like I am comfortable with who “the good guys” are, and to me, Gavin is one of the best.

    Comment by Utahn — 10 May 2012 @ 7:43 AM

  231. Steph, this is a war, or rather a front in a war. Other fronts include evolution/creationism, medical science/antivax, and so on. What is to be resolved in this war is whether humanity will be governed by science and reason, or whether we will continue to wallow in self delusion. I think that is important.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 May 2012 @ 8:17 AM

  232. James Hansen tries again, including the food price reference Edward wishes for.

    Comment by flxible — 10 May 2012 @ 9:29 AM

  233. MARodger wrote: “I’m not sure how we would go about ‘pinning’ Dan H. down.”

    I’m not sure either.

    But I am sure the moderators know how to send his repetitive dishonesty to the Bore Hole.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 10 May 2012 @ 10:35 AM

  234. Steph, also take a look at Brin on what he also calls a war against “… The notion that assertions can trump facts…. completely untethered from any need for consistency or reference to evidence….”
    and his posts on climate change:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 May 2012 @ 12:53 PM

  235. Edward Greisch

    Yeah, “Speaking one’s mind” is over rated.

    It helps to both identify and identify with your audience. That way you can better modulate your message and think a few steps ahead to anticipate responses. You have to be a bit of a player, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. At least target precisely and focus. Personally, I try to save the raging core dumps for special occasions.

    If you’re stuck, you can always ask yourself WWGS (What Would Gavin Say?).

    Comment by Radge Havers — 10 May 2012 @ 1:41 PM

  236. Just how did this piece of nonsense make it into what is claimed to be a peer reviewed journal.


    Comment by john byatt — 10 May 2012 @ 7:39 PM

  237. Clearly a sensitive subject, but one has to ask how you feel about your boss’s recent op-ed in the NYT?

    To me, it is almost like he is screaming to be fired as a PR stunt. 50% extinction rates, 50 foot SLR? All stated as scientific fact and signed with his official title at NASA.

    I can imagine the only response at this point would be “no comment”. But is this really the proper scientific response?

    Comment by Tom Scharf — 10 May 2012 @ 7:56 PM

  238. > tswj

    Funny you should ask. It’s apparently quite a force for, er, something.

    The Emergence of a Citation Cartel
    Posted by Phil Davis ⋅ Apr 10, 2012

    “… these data exist only in their aggregate and are not linked to specific articles. It was only seeing very large numbers amidst a long string of zeros that I was alerted to something odd going on — that and a tip from a concerned scientist. Identifying these papers required me to do some fancy cited-by searching in the Web of Science. The data are there, but they are far from transparent.

    The ease to which members of an editorial board were able to use a cartel of journals to influence their journal’s impact factor concerns me greatly because the cost to do so is very low, the rewards are astonishingly high, it is difficult to detect, and the practice can be facilitated very easily by overlapping editorial boards or through cooperative agreements between them. What’s more, editors can protect these “reviews” from peer review if they are labeled as “editorial material,” as some are. It’s the perfect strategy for gaming the system.

    For all these reasons, I’m particularly concerned that of all the strategies unscrupulous editors employ to boost their journal rankings, the formation of citation cartels is the one that could do the most harm to the citation as a scientific indicator. Because of the way it operates, it has the potential of creating a citation bubble very, very quickly. If you don’t agree with how some editors are using citation cartels, you may change your mind in a year or two as your own title languishes behind that of your competitors.

    Unlike self-citation, which is very easy to detect, Thomson Reuters has no algorithm to detect citation cartels, nor a stated policy to help keep this shady behavior at bay.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 May 2012 @ 9:39 PM

  239. John Byatt wrote in 236:

    Just how did this piece of nonsense make it into what is claimed to be a peer reviewed journal.

    The Scientific World Journal? My, that is about as focused as The Journal of Scientific Exploration. TSWJ charges a $1000 to publish your article. The Journal of Scientific Exploration doesn’t charge you a dime. An issue of the latter peer-reviewed journal included an article on transient weight gain experiments upon the moment of death by suffocation:

    Twelve animals (one ram, seven ewes, three lambs and one goat) were studied. At the moment of death an unexplained weight gain transient of 18 to 780 grams for 1 to 6 seconds was observed with seven adult sheep but not with the lambs or goat. The transients occurred in a quiet time at the moment of death when all breathing and movement had ceased. These transient gains are anomalous in that there is no compensating weight loss as required by Newton’s Third Law. There was no permanent weight change at death. Dynamic weight measurements may present a fruitful area of investigation.

    LE Hollander Jr (2001) Unexplained Weight Gain Transients at the Moment of Death, Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 15, No. 4, pp. 495–500

    … but it is also a venue for those whose ideas are decidedly outside the mainstream when it comes to climate science, e.g.,

    David Deming (2005) Global Warming, the Politicization of Science, and Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol 19, Number 2, pg. 247

    Joel M. Kauffman (2007) Climate Change Reexamined, Vol 21, No. 4, pp. 723-749

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 10 May 2012 @ 9:44 PM

  240. Timothy Chase,

    Yes, TSWJ had a distinct “pay to play” flavor about it. Some of the open access journals do have standards (the various PLoS journals come to mind) but there are a large number of them which are published by companies which have no standards and are just there to help incompetents get their publication count up.

    Comment by Rattus Norvegicus — 10 May 2012 @ 10:59 PM

  241. Climate models do clouds:

    Comment by David B. Benson — 10 May 2012 @ 11:25 PM

  242. Tom Scharf asks:

    To me, it is almost like he is screaming to be fired as a PR stunt. 50% extinction rates, 50 foot SLR? All stated as scientific fact and signed with his official title at NASA.

    I can imagine the only response at this point would be “no comment”. But is this really the proper scientific response?

    He made clear that he was talking about very long timescales.

    He put it into context thusly:

    That is the long-term outlook. But near-term, things will be bad enough. Over the next several decades

    The “next several decades” roughly corresponds with the current century.

    Hansen says this:

    If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now.

    On what basis do you disagree, Scharf?

    Obviously to fully exploit the resource would take a very, very long time but if we do, do you argue that:

    concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era

    This is false? On what physical basis?

    When he says this:

    when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now.

    Are you arguing that sea level wasn’t about 50 feet higher in the Pliocene?’

    Hansen’s a bit over the top, but not nearly as over the top as those who deny what he’s saying is “obviously false”.

    Comment by dhogaza — 10 May 2012 @ 11:32 PM

  243. @John Byatt #236 – that would be an interesting question to put to Donald H. Stedman, the ‘academic editor’. As I understand it from reading the editorial workflow, he approved the article for publication and maybe even ‘reviewed’ it. (Much of Stedman’s work seems to be on motor vehicle emissions.)

    Comment by Sou — 11 May 2012 @ 1:26 AM

  244. I was tempted to weigh in about the World Scientific Journal because even a brief mildly skeptical (by which I mean open-minded) look at their website (and I’m not a scientist) made me wonder about it. The majority of their work appears to be in health sciences (including nutrition. Glad to see you guys are on the case.

    The author processing charge coupled with open access makes profits dependent on volume rather than integrity and spreads any foolishness to the broadest possible audience.

    I am reading the current New Yorker article on geoengineering.* I know there are likely better technical sources on the information, but good reporting and very readable. I don’t know if to laugh or to weep (for all “sides”). For once, not behind a paywall:

    Anyone with a visual sense of humor might be entertained by Russell’s prolific collages on recent developments:

    *Author: “Specter has twice received the Global Health Council’s annual Excellence in Media Award, first for his 2001 article about AIDS, “India’s Plague,” and secondly for his 2004 article “The Devastation,” about the ethics of testing H.I.V. vaccines in Africa. He also received the 2002 AAAS Science Journalism Award, for his 2001 article, “Rethinking the Brain,” on the scientific basis of how we learn. His most recent book, “Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives,” was published in October of 2009.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 11 May 2012 @ 6:54 AM

  245. #237–“50% extinction rates?”

    Actually, “20-50% rates” (which is what Dr. Hansen said) are projected at 3 C warming, according to AR4 (WG II report.) That’s an amount of warming which could well occur by the end of this century, and which might not even require full exploitation of the oil sands. (Although we–“we” meaning the Federal government of Canada and Syncrude–are currently on the path to as full an exploitation of them as technically possible.)

    So there is nothing ‘fringe’ about this claim. It may seem so, since people in general don’t like to hear about it, but that does not alter the fact that the possibility is well-supported in the literature.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 11 May 2012 @ 6:56 AM

  246. IMO, Tom Scharf is a skilled iconoclast when it comes to the preferred messengers to kill. Not sure any of you can make much progress pointing out facts and truths there. However, it might be worth considering the possibility that on Dr. Hansen’s past record, he might be right about how bad things are going to get if we continue headlong down our heedless path.

    FWIW, it is interesting that Dr. Hansen was a good enough scientist in the Bush days to survive the politically thorough purges of real science and honest opinion throughout the government. It is also interesting that he like Dr. Emanuel was a staunch conservative.

    Now the budget-based attrition of programs with true value is depleting our observational capability and making us second-class world citizens (satellites in particular). Do we really think we can bully our way through planetary mayhem – whether slow or fast – rather than using our minds and hearts?

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 11 May 2012 @ 7:11 AM

  247. Following up on my #245, there is a very accessible (and succinct) discussion in Wikipedia:

    (Spoiler: The latest paper was from this year, and concluded that previous estimates of extinction rates may be too low.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 11 May 2012 @ 7:14 AM

  248. Have anyone read this paper:
    Climate sensitivity to the lower stratospheric ozone variations
    N.A. Kilifarska

    As I see it is a pretty bad attempt in statistical analysis.
    The relation between land temperature and ozone appears to be based on an arbitrary functional form that fits the data nicely, rather than physics.
    And total ozone level, TOZ, as well as 11 years running averages are used as regressors, eg. in the fourth term of equation 1:

    Using smoothed variables(from running averages) in a regression is bad practice, see e.g. Tamino here:

    Other comments on the paper?

    Comment by SRJ — 11 May 2012 @ 7:25 AM

  249. @238 As usual, Hank cuts through the BS to the main issue. TWSJ is another front in the fake-sceince/fake-skeptic/vanity-journal war. It shows that the anti-science idjits are becoming much more sophisticated in their attempts to undermine science.

    I don’t see an third alternative to people either becoming more science literate or descending into a new Dark Age of self delusion. The Enlightenment was fun while it lasted.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 May 2012 @ 8:13 AM

  250. @247 – I’m not disputing whether someone in fact made a claim of 20% to 50% extinctions rates, clearly they did.

    There is a very large gap between a scientist making this estimate in a study, and Dr. Hansen’s phrasing it in the NYT as a known scientific fact, without even qualifying it as an estimate with a very high degree of uncertainty.

    Arguing Dr. Hansen is wrong and arguing Dr. Hansen does not know the answers to the degree he himself states, are separate topics. I am arguing the latter.

    Comment by Tom Scharf — 11 May 2012 @ 12:36 PM

  251. Tom Scharf is arguing Dr. Hansen does not know the answers to the degree he himself states
    As indicated in the Wiki article linked above, The scientific consensus in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report is:
    “Anthropogenic warming could lead to some impacts that are abrupt or irreversible, depending upon the rate and magnitude of the climate change. There is medium confidence that approximately 20-30% of species assessed so far are likely to be at increased risk of extinction if increases in global average warming exceed 1.5-2.5 °C (relative to 1980-1999). As global average temperature increase exceeds about 3.5 °C, model projections suggest significant extinctions (40-70% of species assessed) around the globe.”

    Sounds like Mr Hanson is more familiar with the science than Tom?

    Comment by flxible — 11 May 2012 @ 2:01 PM

  252. Sou, I asked the editor of WSJ (email) about that crap paper before posting here, no response as yet. I was not very polite,


    Comment by john byatt — 11 May 2012 @ 2:48 PM

  253. sorry the journal is TSWJ not WSJ . sent off Tamino’s response, to the editor as a peer review,

    claims to be peer reviewed

    Comment by john byatt — 11 May 2012 @ 3:34 PM

  254. Tom Scharf,
    For policy decisions, it is customary to use an upper bound for Cost or Loss. That is what Hansen did, is it not? He is following pretty standard procedure or risk analysis. Don’t like the upper bound? Great. Produce a better one and get it through peer review.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 May 2012 @ 5:33 PM

  255. Gavin, Joseph and Others,
    Thanks for the pointers to where informed citizens can actively assist scientific progress in this area. I’ve been digging through the links you all provided. I am trying to spend less of my time behind a desk or at a computer these days, so personally I think I’ll pass on the data digitization/rescue, which is cool but I can’t sit in a chair this much. I was hoping there was an activity I could combine with wildlife photography which I am trying to learn, and helping with phenology looks to be a perfect fit. I’ll be moving to another part of the country this Summer, which gives me time to start learning what species of plants and animals native to that area need data. Hopefully by the Fall I can be providing data on at least a calibration species in my new locale. This is a perfect activity to layer: photography for fun, exploring my new home and added on top of that I get to contribute to distributed data collection from a small town.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 11 May 2012 @ 8:12 PM

  256. Questions about severe weather events:
    Today Andy Revkin put up a Dot Earth post entitled “Varied Views on Extreme Weather in a Warming Climate”, quoting from Dr. Martin Hoerling, Dr. Kerry Emanuel, and excerpting from Dr. Hansen’s Op Ed in the NY Times.

    Looking at coverage of some prior work from Hoerling related to the Russian heat wave, NOAA scientist: natural phenomenon principal cause; no link found to global warming, I was struck by his differentiating between the “atmospheric block” that he claimed responsible for the heat wave, and climate change impact, which he claimed was limited to a small underlying temperature rise.

    Here are some of Hoerling’s comments in an excerpt from the link:
    What is this blocking phenomenon?

    “It puts the kabosh on the normal west to east movement of storms,” Hoerling said. In summer, those storms typically bring cool air to western Russian. With an atmospheric block, the storms become less frequent. “So the air becomes stagnant. If you’re underneath the block, it progressively becomes drier and warmer.”

    Typically, a block like this last 10 days or so. But this one lasted much longer — basically from early July until middle of August. “It was very unusual for its persistence,” Hoerling said. “On top of it, it was strong, so it was very effective in shunting storms away.”

    The CSI group reached its conclusions about the principal role of the block in causing the Russian heat wave by examining weather data going back 100 years. With this data they were able to establish a relationship between the intensity of blocks and temperature. And with that relationship in turn, they could ask a simple question: Given the observed intensity of the block that formed over Russia, what temperature does the relationship predict?It turns out that this number concurs quite closely to what actually happened.

    In other words, what Hoerling and his CSI colleagues found is that the relationship actually predicted almost all of the heating that occurred. And that means no other possible cause was needed to explain most of what actually happened in Russia.

    “The blocking explains a significant fraction of the temperature conditions that occurred consistent with the historical relationship of blocks and warm temperatures over this region,” Hoerling concluded.

    But could global warming have made such an event more likely or more intense? Here was Hoerling’s answer:

    The short answer is we actual don’t know whether blocks are expected to increase in their frequency in concert with the increasing burden of CO2. But what we do have are time series of blocking for the last 100 years. And constructing those times series like we have done reveals no evident trend in the frequency or intensity of blocks.

    In other words, the 2010 situation isn’t following on the heels of a progression of more and more of these things happening ether over Russia, or frankly over any other place that we can see over the Northern Hemisphere. So it stands out as a . . . black swan. It comes out of the blue in terms of its severity. It does not follow on the heels of a progressive increased frequency.

    Recently Peter Sinclair had a video up talking about a connection between sea ice and jet stream patterns. In essence, polar amplification effects caused by climate change is reducing Arctic ice cover, which in turn causes a weakening of the jet stream, leading to a meandering jet stream, that in turn is more susceptible to stalling into a blocking pattern.

    My questions: Do climate scientists (or meterologists) track severe blocking pattern events? How many severe blocking events have occurred since the summer ice minimum in 2007? And how does this compare with previous historical records on severe blocking events?

    Hoerling states the blocking event in Russia was the longest summer block in the records for that region. Since then, it seems we have had several severe blocking events in Europe, a blocking event last summer in the US, and the March blocking event this year. And likely I missed some severe blocking events in the NH. So in only 4+ years since the 2007 ice pack melt, we have had at least five severe, and unlikely unprecedented, regional blocking events in the NH.

    Is this historically unusual?

    Comment by Paul K2 — 11 May 2012 @ 8:16 PM

    A possible plan?
    “entering fictional worlds “radically alters the way information is processed.””

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 11 May 2012 @ 11:03 PM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 May 2012 @ 11:21 PM

  259. The Mauna Loa CO2 measurements exceed 396 ppm for the first time:

    April 2012: 396.18 ppm

    Why 396?
    396.0 = 280 sqrt(2)

    280 ppm is often quoted as the pre-industrial CO2 level.

    CO2 forcing is now half-way the amount of that of a CO2 doubling, compared to pre-industrial.

    Comment by Wipneus — 12 May 2012 @ 1:12 AM

  260. Request for an updating thread on the topic of geoengineering — there’s a good summary article by Michael Specter in current New Yorker. Should the social engineering fail, which it has for the most part even as the wind and solar power (the artificial leaf!) creep into the mix, it might be a good RealClimate discussion to explore climate scientists’ thoughts on the issue these days.

    Comment by Mertonian Norm — 12 May 2012 @ 9:36 AM

  261. Unsettled Scientist (#255)

    If you want to combine wildlife photography and helping with phenology, you might want to check out ebird. Ebird is a citizen science project where you enter your bird watching results into an online database.

    If you have an unusual sighting of a bird, like an early spring arrival or a species outside it normal range, you are requested to enter extra information to confirm your unusual sighting. The ideal information is photographs of the bird.

    Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 12 May 2012 @ 10:38 AM


    “… global model simulations predict that nucleation in photo-chemically aging fire plumes produces dramatically higher CCN concentrations over widespread areas of the southern hemisphere during the dry, burning season (Sept.–Oct.), improving model predictions of surface CCN concentrations. The annual indirect forcing from CCN resulting from nucleation and growth in biomass burning plumes is predicted to be −0.2 W m−2, demonstrating that this effect has a significant impact on climate that has not been previously considered.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 May 2012 @ 12:21 PM

  263. and more — local not hemispheric, quite large numbers:

    Strong radiative heating due to wintertime black carbon aerosols in the Brahmaputra River Valley

    “The Brahmaputra River Valley (BRV) of Southeast Asia recently has been experiencing extreme regional climate change. A week-long study using a micro-Aethalometer was conducted during January–February 2011 to measure black carbon (BC) aerosol mass concentrations in Guwahati (India), the largest city in the BRV region. Daily median values of BC mass concentration were 9–41 μgm−3, with maxima over 50 μgm−3 during evenings and early mornings. Median BC concentrations were higher than in mega cities of India and China, and significantly higher than in urban locations of Europe and USA. The corresponding mean cloud-free aerosol radiative forcing is −63.4 Wm−2 at the surface and +11.1 Wm−2 at the top of the atmosphere with the difference giving the net atmospheric BC solar absorption, which translates to a lower atmospheric heating rate of ∼2 K/d. Potential regional climatic impacts associated with large surface cooling and high lower-atmospheric heating are discussed.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 May 2012 @ 12:26 PM

  264. La Niña seems to be over. Global temperatures are at record level now and are likely to stay there for the next week.

    Daily global temperature, Reanalysis 2 (blue: mean 1979–2011, green: mean of last 6 years; more recent years darker, 2012 thick line)

    GFS forecast (past values are based 6h-forecasts of previous runs)

    During the next week the heat will also reach the Arctic (particulary the Pacific side) that has been very cold recently (the North Pole reached a daily record low since 1979 this week, but may reach 0 °C next week).

    Comment by Andreas — 12 May 2012 @ 3:04 PM

  265. > Daily global temperature, Reanalysis 2
    > What’s the original source for those pictures?

    I don’t know how to decode the ‘tiny url’ short forms, sorry.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 May 2012 @ 8:15 PM

  266. Mertonian Norm, Great! So we opt not to control temperature by the knob we understand best (CO2) and opt to try and control it via the knob we understand least (aerosols). Methinks somebody out there doesn’t understand control theory.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 May 2012 @ 9:00 PM

  267. Ray Ladbury, the article is about getting that least-understood knob ready just in case, eh, hoping not to have to use it? Convincing people to use the right knob, to change their lifestyles in deference to future generations, is a laudable goal, but a tough sell in the U.S. I love the article’s conclusion from the point of view of the Maldives!

    Comment by Mertonian Norm — 12 May 2012 @ 11:55 PM

  268. Mertonian Norm, I don’t know of any real alternatives to aerosols (probably of the stratospheric sort) other than drawing down carbon dioxide or orbiting mirrors, each of which seems even less likely, so looking at aerosols…

    They wouldn’t cancel out the effects of greenhouse gases, but, in the attempt to cancel them out as nearly as we could, would involve significant side effects. At a time when the global population is increasing we would be decreasing the amount of solar radiation that would be reaching the surface, and therefore decreasing photosynthesis and thus adversely affecting the food supply. We would be shifting weather patterns, bringing drought to some areas, flooding to others so that people living in still other areas would be able to continue to pollute. Those who pay the price would not be those who would reaping the benefits or making the decisions. And who is to say that different countries wouldn’t choose to geoengineer the world differently, that is, in a way that would benefit their nations at the expense of the rest?

    Furthermore, as we continue to increasing the level of greenhouse gases we would have to increase the level of aerosols to compensate, making those side effects ever more severe. And what happens if at some point, perhaps due to some economic downturn, our deliberate emission of aerosols is unable to keep up with the cumulative effect of carbon emissions? Tropospheric aerosols stay in the atmosphere for a couple of weeks. Stratospheric aerosols stay in the atmosphere for a few years. But much of the carbon dioxide we emit will still be there thousands of years from now. All of the warming that we had been avoiding like so many unpaid bills would suddenly come due and would condemn countless generations to a nightmarish existence.

    In my view, if we start down that path, it may very well be game over. If not for the species, then at least for modern civilization. I would prefer to see the global warming such geoengineering is intended to avoid, since at some point the effects of such warming on the global economy would be self-limiting.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 13 May 2012 @ 1:11 AM

  269. @244 etc re TSWJ: searching for info on the author is … informative? The *best* I could find was!search/profile/person?personId=376860529&targetid=profile
    Searching the ANU site for “Tim Curtin” or “Timothy Curtin” got me “No ANU Phone Directory Listing has been found to match Name: Timothy Curtin”
    Go figure.

    Comment by MalcolmT — 13 May 2012 @ 3:31 AM

  270. Re #265, Hank Roberts:

    I made the pictures myself, using data from and

    Comment by Andreas — 13 May 2012 @ 8:04 AM

  271. Timothy Chase, thanks and you make good sense, though I would add to the mix that we are already geoengineering the heck out of the atmosphere with our emissions. I surmise taht you are not of the catastrophic school, that you aren’t worried warming alone will tip us into an unrecoverable state, whereas an over-engineered response might?

    Comment by Mertonian Norm — 13 May 2012 @ 11:16 AM

  272. Timothy Chase wrote: “… other than drawing down carbon dioxide or orbiting mirrors, each of which seems even less likely …”

    We can draw down the already dangerous anthropogenic excess of CO2 with organic agriculture and reforestation.

    And given the effects that we are already seeing from that excess, it is urgent that we do so in addition to ending all anthropogenic GHG emissions as quickly as possible.

    I am more than skeptical of techno-fantasy smoke & mirrors “geoengineering” schemes — and more than optimistic about the potential of working with natural processes using organic agriculture and reforestation to restore the health of the biosphere and draw down GHGs.

    But whatever anyone thinks of any of those approaches, it must always be emphasized that they are NOT an alternative to rapidly phasing out GHG emissions, and should not be thought of as “buying time” to do so. Rather, drawing down excess CO2 is needed in addition to eliminating emissions.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 May 2012 @ 11:57 AM

  273. The FBI has reportedly issued a statement about Dr. Gleick:

    “No arrests have been made nor have any criminal charges been filed in the Northern District of Illinois against Peter Gleick,” Chicago FBI Special Agent Ross Rice reportedly told Big City Lib (5-10-12).

    Hopefully, that’s the end of it, but who knows from the way it is worded. I also wrote to ask for a first-hand statement.

    That lunatic John O’Sullivan put Steve McIntyre’s words in S.A. Rice’s mouth a few months ago.

    According to Heartland, the FBI are like terrorists. After all, they belong to the National Intelligence Council, which writes about the national security dangers of climate change.

    Comment by Snapple — 13 May 2012 @ 12:43 PM

  274. Mertonian Norm wrote:

    I surmise taht you are not of the catastrophic school, that you aren’t worried warming alone will tip us into an unrecoverable state, whereas an over-engineered response might?

    I am of the view that what we do in the next decade or two will have consequences for the next 100,000 years. That is more than ten times the length of time that anything we might choose to call human civilization has existed on the face of the Earth. This would not be the direct result of what we do. But if we choose to invest in non-traditional fossil fuels we will put in place an infrastructure that will make it politically and economically almost impossible to switch away from fossil fuel due to vested interests.

    Without geoengineering we stand a very good chance of crippling modern civilization for the foreseeable future. With geoengineering we might very well destroy it altogether.

    We need to heavily invest in a variety of renewable energy sources, but at the very top of the list I would put solar and wind. And we need to do so while we still have the means. With sufficient energy you can power desalinization, recycling, the production of chemicals for agriculture, what have you. Rapid development of renewables would make this possible.
    But continuing along our current path will result in extensive severe endemic drought and consequent food shortages. It will destabilize the climate system and result in widespread war. What resources we would otherwise have will be eaten up dealing with the consequences, including a densely populated coastline that recedes from encroaching waters for centuries, with all the costs that that would entail, long after the temperature ceases to rise.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 13 May 2012 @ 1:22 PM

  275. Mertonian Norm,
    The problem I have with this approach is that it gives the illusion that “a solution exists” that allows BAU to continue. BAU cannot continue. We will run out of fossil fuels and destroy our environment trying to suck the last, little sips out of straws stuck into 2 miles of water, spending the last of our aquifers to suck petroleum out of shale and tar sands and generally trying to preserve an inherently unsustainable lifestyle.

    It is time to face reality–long past time, really.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 May 2012 @ 1:34 PM

  276. #264 Andreas, Naa, North Pole area was at or is near the Cold Temperature North Pole, the coldest place in the Northern Hemisphere which always moves around during fall to spring.,,, But really:

    It was a quite warm winter up here in the Arctic.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 13 May 2012 @ 1:45 PM

  277. to the illusion that “a solution exists”, it’s a bind all right. If it’s long past time to face the obvious reality, it’s approaching past time to acknowledge the other, attached reality that societies haven’t responded to what is, after all, accepted climate science. As the average Joe inaccurately but insistently notes that despite the drumbeat of alarm nothing bad has happened yet, he grows increasingly difficult to convince. It may become easier for governments (the Maldives’ in the extreme example) to engineer the atmosphere than its citizens’ behavior.

    Comment by Mertonian Norm — 13 May 2012 @ 6:08 PM

  278. Mertonian Norm,
    Climate engineering will have unintended and undesirable consequences–and we will not even be able to adequately model these. At the very least, the solutions I’ve seen proposed are short-term fixes that I would want to see tried only to buy time when the situation became dire.

    Most important, they do not address the root problem–humans must learn to live withing the resources of their own tiny planet without depleting, degrading or destroying them. Until we learn that skill, extinction is a probable outcome.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 May 2012 @ 8:21 PM

  279. Paul Krugman meets Michael Tobis:
    (Tobis schematic of media coverage vs. scientific understanding which Krugman found on at ClimateProgress)

    Tobis has a few good items at:

    Apparently before knowing his work was going to be featured by Krugman, Tobis pointed out this cogent article about Solyndra and Chase bank:
    (and as long as I’m there, there was a nice tweak in one of the comments:

    Silly you: he’s filthy rich so obviously he’s very, very smart. This ignorance comes from your Econ program wasting its time studying Keynes while neglecting Darwin

    Krugman’s attention seems helpful to me, despite the hatred he attracts – or perhaps because of it.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 13 May 2012 @ 9:27 PM

  280. “And who is to say that different countries wouldn’t choose to geoengineer the world differently, that is, in a way that would benefit their nations at the expense of the rest?”
    “With geoengineering we might very well destroy it altogether.”

    There are no doubt politicians who are taking those two statements to mean that with the “right” geoengineering, “we” will be able to selectively destroy certain other nations; of course, some of “them” are thinking exactly the same thing. Others no doubt will claim we need to proceed with geoengineering apace, not because we plan to use it, but to keep others from using it against us – protection by Mutually Assured Destruction. Plus, there’s all those nuclear weapons that “we”, uhm, “they”, uhm, some of “us” and some of “them” have, making the world such a safer and more peaceful place.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 13 May 2012 @ 10:00 PM

  281. Please read the following as a request for further information and correction. (In other words, I’ve got just enough information to point down what is probably the wrong path):

    Geoengineering doesn’t completely solve the temperature issue either. Greenhouse gases affect the poles more than the equator while sulphur aerosols affect the equator more. Thus, if you want to keep the poles from melting, you’d have to drop temperatures elsewhere as compared to pre-industrial. Since the rule of thumb is triple the effect at the poles, to counter a 6 degree polar warming, you’d end up with a planet perhaps 4 degrees cooler than you began with, that is outside the polar regions.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 13 May 2012 @ 10:21 PM

  282. “280”–Yes; Gwynne Dyer’s “Climate Wars” looks at couple of ways in which geo-engineering can go badly wrong, geopolitically speaking. There’s clearly a lot of potential for it to do so.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 May 2012 @ 11:03 PM

  283. Wipneus @ 259,

    That appears to be a relatively large jump from both April 2011 and March 2012, enough so that a reading starting with a 4 now looks entirely possible on current trends for April 2014 (and almost certain for April 2015).

    Humans are known to react disproportionately to the first significant digit of numerical values (which is why so many prices have 9’s as second/third/etc digits). So folks, is there any chance that 400+ ppm is going to be a wake-up call?

    Comment by ozajh — 13 May 2012 @ 11:50 PM

  284. @255 Unsettled Scientist: If you want to get a bit more leverage and a bit more fun out of your photography/phenology/exploration activities, you could consider a writing a blog like mine, , which is a wildlife photo diary plus gleanings from environmentally-related daily news and blogs, etc.

    Comment by MalcolmT — 14 May 2012 @ 12:14 AM

  285. > … agriculture and reforestation.

    “Woody agriculture is an intensive system of production that establishes permanent stands of the woody crop through coppicing. Nuts are gathered annually, and the wood is typically harvested for biofuel or charcoal production once every 5-10 years. The plant regenerates from the roots and returns to food production the following year.

    Woody agriculture has many benefits over traditional annual-based agriculture, including:

    == Reduced erosion. Once the stand of trees or shrubs is established, no tillage is necessary, greatly reducing wind and water erosion. The deep root systems of woody perennials also help hold the soil in place.
    == Reduced agricultural runoff. The deep root system of perennial woody crops uses soil nutrients more effectively, requiring less fertilizer, and utilizes fertilizer more efficiently when it is applied, reducing runoff. Herbicide and pesticide needs are also reduced.
    == Reduced water needs. Established perennial crops are also far more drought-resistant than annual crops and require little or no extra water in most regions.
    == Improved wildlife habitat. Woody trees and shrubs provide food and shelter for many animal species in addition to the food and fuel they produce for humans.

    Contrary to popular belief, tree crops, especially improved hybrids, can produce as much or more per acre than traditional annual crops, and some hybrid varieties have been bred for precocious production, reducing the amount of time between stand establishment and income generation.

    Woody agriculture has also been gaining attention from the scientific community due to its carbon sequestration capabilities. Woody plants fix three times as much carbon dioxide as annual crops per year, and it is estimated that converting 1/4th of current agricultural land to an intensive woody agriculture system would completely counteract the excess carbon dioxide emissions produced by fossil fuel burning and other human activities, while providing large amounts of food and fuel for human consumption in the process.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 May 2012 @ 12:42 AM

  286. Kevin McKinney wrote in 282:

    Gwynne Dyer’s “Climate Wars” looks at couple of ways in which geo-engineering can go badly wrong, geopolitically speaking. There’s clearly a lot of potential for it to do so.

    I haven’t seen Dyer’s book yet, although I hope to soon. However, in my view, on the scale implied by the use of aerosols, ethically, geoengineering itself would represent the destruction of civilization in the sense of its corruption and almost irreversible breakdown. To control the climate system by that means would imply that some countries would be for all intents and purposes destroyed, likely due to drought. This would no doubt be something that they would be opposed to. Their sacrifice would be against their will.

    We would make a sacrifice of them precisely because we could and it would be in our interest. Might makes right, not as the deliberate destruction of their nation for its own sake, but merely as a matter of utter indifference in the pursuit of our own narrowly conceived interests. That there would be retaliation of one form or another (likely military or terrorist by those who recognized that their countries were being made sacrificial lambs on the altar to someone else’s affluent lifestyle) is simply laying bare the principle that was already in play.

    But beyond a certain point, the continuance of geoengineering would become unavoidable. At the same time, those who would have the ability as well as the will (given what would be at stake for their countries) would pursue geoengineering solutions with equal indifference to our interests. Then the big question would become how long will it be before we become obvious about our indifference to the interests of others, that our actions aren’t being guided by any principle other than that of pure self-interest.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 14 May 2012 @ 12:47 AM

  287. re Malcolm T at #269.

    The ANU’s Emeritus Faculty is a club for its retired academics, and I retired a long time ago, hence I have no phone number at ANU.

    Comment by Timothy Curtin — 14 May 2012 @ 2:52 AM

  288. Geoengineering?!

    Here at (in my opinion) the premier scientific website on climate, with some of the best-credentialled climate scientists in the world, experts in climatology patiently spend hours arguing with a barrage of willfully ignorant anthropogenic global climate change deniers who, nevertheless, REFUSE TO BELIEVE the scientific information already learned about the earth’s climate system. So who really thinks that it is a viable strategy to try and convince these same people that we really know enough about climate geoengineering to safely dump millions of tons of aerosols into the atmosphere to undo what they CONTINUE TO DENY is happening in the first place?

    I am not a scientist. Still, I don’t believe we know enough about climate science to safely indulge in climate geoengineering. (Please, experts, correct me if you believe this statement is wrong!) If we can’t overcome the ignorance of AGCC deniers to make real change in human behavior soon, I think we are just stuck with the climate that we have ALREADY very ignorantly geoengineered!

    It’s kind of like weight loss = does anyone really think that surgical fat tissue removal is a viable alternative to ingesting fewer calories in the first place?

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 14 May 2012 @ 3:14 AM

  289. Timothy Chase@~274:

    Stark but true. Time to stop temporizing.

    I tend to think of it as troubles with the water supply, which is a bit broader than drought and covers almost all of earth’s geography. Flooding and poisoning of the water supply are just as bad.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 14 May 2012 @ 5:44 AM

  290. I think that deniers, skeptics, warmists, alarmists, critics, dyspeptics, contrarians, believers, and most other categories that people like to call others, think that geoengineering is a bad idea. Until the time (if ever) that we can truly make well-established changes, without unintended consequences, we should avoid the potential of making a bad situation worse.

    Comment by Dan H. — 14 May 2012 @ 7:38 AM

  291. Craig Nazor: “… who really thinks that it is a viable strategy to try and convince these same people that we really know enough about climate geoengineering …”

    It will be very easy to convince them, as long as geoengineering can be viewed as a strategy for postponing the phaseout of fossil fuels.

    That’s the bottom line of the deniers. Always.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 May 2012 @ 11:20 AM

  292. Climate Change Believers Split from Heartland Institute

    “There is one thing that will certainly change from ending our association with Heartland: R Street will not promote climate change skepticism.”

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 14 May 2012 @ 5:08 PM

  293. #292–Ha! Opines Mr. Bast: “The computer models upon which the United Nations’ IPCC and other climate alarmists have relied for decades don’t match observable data.”

    The unobservable data, now… ;-)

    OK, that was a cheap shot… but Mr. Bast appears not to be a very good observer.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 14 May 2012 @ 5:58 PM

  294. Heartland Gold Sponsors:

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 14 May 2012 @ 7:50 PM

  295. I think that deniers, skeptics, warmists, alarmists, critics, dyspeptics, contrarians, believers, and most other categories that people like to call others, think that geoengineering is a bad idea.

    I wonder what Dan H. himself thinks of geoengineering when he gets around to thinking for, himself and not claiming to think he knows what ‘others’ think.

    Oh, forget it. Who cares what Dan H. thinks? Any takers?

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 14 May 2012 @ 9:50 PM

  296. Timothy Curtin re #287: Thanks for dropping in and explaining the null result. I visited your ‘cyber-home’ but I’m afraid it didn’t resolve my doubts. Can you tell us something of your qualifications in climate science? And the ‘peer review’ process at TSWJ?

    Comment by MalcolmT — 14 May 2012 @ 11:16 PM

  297. SecularAnimist,

    I see your point, but the dirty carbon industry is NEVER going to want to pay for it, and if things continue the way they are, no one else will be able to afford it, either.

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 15 May 2012 @ 12:59 AM

  298. “Convincing people to use the right knob, to change their lifestyles in deference to future generations, is a laudable goal, but a tough sell in the U.S.” – Mertonian Norm

    True, reality denial is strongly entrenched in the US, where it has the enthusiastic support of a major political party, and only somewhat less so elsewhere. But geoengineering not only has the drawbacks others have already mentioned; unless it takes a form that draws carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, it would do nothing about the acidification of the oceans, which may be as bad as rising temperatures (except perhaps reducing positive feedbacks from increased temperature that would raise carbon dioxide levels even faster).

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 15 May 2012 @ 6:57 AM

  299. 242 dhogaza says: Hansen’s a bit over the top, but not nearly as over the top as those who deny what he’s saying is “obviously false”.

    No, Hansen isn’t. It’s pretty impossible to be “over the top” when the worst case scenario is an existential threat to humanity/civilization/a large percentage of all biota on the planet.

    And he’s not the only one worried:

    Please note those comments and results are from three years ago; the news has only gotten worse since then. I wish more people understood risk assessment.

    As for messaging “over the top”, hug the monster.

    While the vast majority seem to be content with a slow suicide – not hyperbole or “over the top”, so please bear with me – via nicely asking people to understand the science and to stop denying the science and “meet people where they are”, finally someone comes up with the right framing for facing the dangers we have created head on: Hug the flippin’ monster.

    “A few years ago, this reporter heard a prominent climate and environment scientist… …told us that he and most other climate scientists often simply didn’t want to speak openly about what they were learning about how disruptive and frightening the changes of manmade global warming were clearly going to be for “fear of paralyzing the public.”

    “Why then are climatologists speaking out about the dangers of global warming? The answer is that virtually all of us are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization.”

    “‘The big damages come if the climate sensitivity to greenhouse gases turns out to be high,’ said Raymond T. Pierre-humbert, a climate scientist at the University of Chicago. ‘Then it’s not a bullet headed at us, but a thermonuclear warhead.’” (Recent scientific studies report the climate’s sensitivity to greenhouse gases is proving to be higher than expected.)

    “Ultimately, as the climate continues warming and more data accumulate, it will become obvious how clouds are reacting. But that could take decades, scientists say, and if the answer turns out to be that catastrophe looms, it would most likely be too late.”
    “‘Even if there were no political implications, it just seems deeply unprofessional and irresponsible to look at this and say, “We’re sure it’s not a problem,” ‘ said Kerry A. Emanuel, another M.I.T. scientist. ‘It’s a special kind of risk, because it’s a risk to the collective civilization.’“

    ““Hug the monster” is a metaphor taught by U.S. Air Force trainers to those headed into harm’s way.

    The monster is your fear in a sudden crisis — as when you find yourself trapped in a downed plane or a burning house.

    If you freeze or panic — if you go into merely reactive “brainlock” — you’re lost.

    But if your mind has been prepared in advance to recognize the psychological grip of fear, focus on it, and then transform its intense energy into action — sometimes even by changing it into anger — and by also engaging the thinking part of your brain to work the problem, your chances of survival go way up.”

    It is quite literally impossible to be “over the top” with climate.

    Do the math. Don’t discount the risks. Hug the monster.

    Comment by Killian — 15 May 2012 @ 7:40 AM

  300. The objective of arguing for geoengineering isn’t necessarily geoengineering.

    You may simply want to “split the vote,” getting some of the people that are arguing for a price on carbon (South Africa, known for coal liquifaction, has implemented one and the European Union will be imposing a tax on aviation) to argue for the “more realistic” goal of putting giant mirrors into orbit while we continue to subsidize fossil fuel rather than tax it. Or the objective may be simply one of distraction. Or it may be one of postponement, simply to squeeze a few more dollars out of an industry whose time should be past, or to buy the time to put in place the infrastructure for a non-traditional fossil fuel that should be avoided. One thing it is not, though, is an attempt to impose a cost on the fossil fuel industry in the here and now as a way of moving us away from fossil fuel. For many I suspect that is a good enough reason for arguing for it.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 15 May 2012 @ 10:03 AM

  301. For another perspective on relationships between climate sensitivity and world-wide water distribution:

    The ice fields of Greenland and Antarctica are not just drops in the ocean – the oceans are just a drop on Earth.

    Comment by Phil Mattheis — 15 May 2012 @ 10:10 AM

  302. dhogaza wrote (#242): “Hansen’s a bit over the top”

    There is nothing “over the top” about Hansen’s recent New York Times op-ed in which he discusses the probability of catastrophic drought:

    “Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California’s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.”

    As Joe Romm has documented, Hansen’s assertions are strongly supported by the scientific literature.

    What he describes is not “over the top” — it’s mainstream climate science.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 15 May 2012 @ 10:15 AM

  303. Previous multi-year mega droughts in North America appear to be tied to ENSO, particularly La Nina conditions. Of course, the 20th century was a much wetter epoch in North American history, and the American West experienced its wettest epoch during the earliest part of the century. This may just be a return to a more normal period of the past millennium.

    Comment by Dan H. — 15 May 2012 @ 12:45 PM

  304. Dan H: “This may just be a return to a more normal period of the past millennium.”

    This is the standard denialist line each and every time the predictions of climate models come true.

    Bore hole.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 15 May 2012 @ 3:30 PM

  305. The concluding sentence in the Cook, Seager, Cane abstract reads:

    “Whether or not this [La Niña] process will lead to a greater prevalence of drought in the future as the world warms due to accumulating greenhouse gases is unclear at this time.”

    It’s a long read, but I did not find in it any inference of a return to a “more normal period”. The paper does not appear to provoke controversy — the closest it comes to that appears in the conclusion:

    “It may well be that the West will luck out as rising greenhouse gases induce an equatorial warming, or an El Niño-like response, and the resulting circulation changes increase precipitation across the mid-latitudes.”

    That reference to possible good fortune aside, it would seem that the paper seeks to promote a better scientific understanding of megadrought formation.

    Comment by Mertonian Norm — 15 May 2012 @ 4:33 PM

  306. Mertonian Norm wrote: “It’s a long read, but I did not find in it any inference of a return to a ‘more normal period’.”

    You will find that Dan H. consistently misrepresents the material that he links to, even after his misrepresentations have been repeatedly pointed out to him.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 15 May 2012 @ 5:02 PM

  307. Forgive Dan H, he’s just regurgitating the dog food he’s been fed.

    Comment by J Bowers — 15 May 2012 @ 7:16 PM

  308. Apologies if this has been mentioned already, but apparently one of the latest ‘knickers in a knot’ incidents in denialworld is the alleged ‘debunking’ of the ‘Australian National University death threats’ story from last year.

    An intrepid faux skeptic FOI’d 11 emails from ANU’s climate unit, and, lo! only one contains an actual threat. (The others were abusive in widely varying degrees.) Therefore, no threats were issued to any climate scientists anywhere, anytime… and ANU’s climate unit moved to a more secure facility as a ploy to smear honest skeptics everywhere.

    I’ve summarized it in the “6th update” to this article:

    A couple of links to Australian comment are included.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 15 May 2012 @ 11:30 PM

  309. Mertonian Norm,
    Regarding past droughts, the article states, “The easiest way to characterize the medieval drought record is as one with variability much like today but around a mean climate that was drier. All in all this suggests that whatever currently forces intermittent droughts in the West and Plains was simply the normal state of affairs during the medieval period.” The mean drought area for the West during the years 900-1300 was 42.3% , compared to 30.0% for the 20th century, with 1915 being the low (~20%).

    In short, the American West has experienced a period of relative rainfall abundance compared to past epochs. This trend is also evident in the Mississippi River valley.

    I see no controversy in this paper. Rather, it gives a detailed history of drought in North America over the past millennium. The conclusion that past megadroughts dwarf the Dust Bowl of the 1930s indicates just how dependent the area relies on weather patterns. The article stated that “high positive radiative forcing … was associated with colder tropical Pacific SSTs (La Nina), and epic droughts across the West.” These past megadroughts led to the disappearance of entire cultures. You may want to compare articles such as these with various off-the-cuff remarks.

    Comment by Dan H. — 16 May 2012 @ 6:21 AM

  310. Thanks Dan H. for the [medieval period] clarification and the links to the other two items. I had not caught that particular sentence, and now I know what you meant to begin with. I’m not sure what off-the-cuff remarks you are referring to — do you mean Cook or Seager? Anyway, I’m not as well-read on drought science as I’d like to be, so good stuff.

    Comment by Mertonian Norm — 16 May 2012 @ 12:16 PM

  311. > whatever currently forces intermittent droughts in the West and Plains
    > was simply the normal state of affairs during the medieval period.

    Interpreted, short form: “anything but the IPCC”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 May 2012 @ 1:10 PM

  312. two new satellite modules, “Suomi NPP: A New Generation of Environmental Monitoring Satellites”

    “Imaging with VIIRS: A Convergence of Technologies and Experience, 2nd Edition.”

    “Both modules are intended for operational forecasters, students, climate scientists, and other environmental scientists who use data from polar-orbiting satellites. Since the Suomi NPP module is a broad overview, it should also appeal to members of the general public with an interest in remote sensing, weather forecasting, and climate monitoring.”

    Registration and Support FAQs at

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 May 2012 @ 2:24 PM

  313. “anything but the IPCC” seems a bit hyperbolic in response to the paper cited. Even, in which Cook et al caution against over-reading some IPCC drought findings, hardly presents itself as some sort of incendiary item. I don’t think Cook himself (Columbia dendro. researcher) is some sort of denier; maybe I’m wrong about that.

    Comment by Mertonian Norm — 16 May 2012 @ 6:34 PM

  314. #314–

    I think Hank was referring to Dan H.’s probable attitude. There’s history here that you are stepping into.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 16 May 2012 @ 6:48 PM

  315. Apparently I cannot get the captcha right. Third time trying (I tried just a few minutes ago and once this morning too).

    Speaking of geoengineering, I am wondering if anyone at RC is aware of an ongoing or future program to seed the sky with aluminum other sort of particles to reflect sunlight?

    Comment by Ron R. — 16 May 2012 @ 7:34 PM

  316. > drought
    remember as with all of this, _rate_of_change_ is the problem.
    Rate of change of CO2, and rate of change of all that follows.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 May 2012 @ 7:39 PM

  317. Joseph O’Sullivan,

    Thanks for the ebird link. This site also looks cool. I’ve always been more of a mammals man than birds, but as I age I realize that anything one can study is fascinating if you’re open to learning. The ebird site looks like it could be useful and I may even get my mother to start submitting photos, she does a bit of bird watching.


    Nice photo of that butterfly! Love the bokeh, so smooth. 300mm on a crop body is like a 480mm perspective. Mind if I ask what lens that was? If there was a touch more DOF you’d have that other antenna in focus and less blur on the far wing’s back edge. (I hope my unsolicited C&C isn’t received negatively, I like the image! It shows skill.) I am building my photography blog now. In the past I used gallery software I wrote from scratch, and it served its purpose well, but I want something a bit more flexible and I am sick of coding things. Mixing in some science is probably a good idea, it’s such a deep part of my personality.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 16 May 2012 @ 9:11 PM

  318. Hehe, did this make any other readers chuckle?

    Mertonian Norm (to Dan H.): “Anyway, I’m not as well-read on drought science as I’d like to be, so good stuff.”

    Don’t sweat it Norm. Neither am I, and neither is Dan H. as evidenced by a glaring mistake recently (which explains the tone you see from others). You’re not alone wading through the mountains of information trying to learn about climate science, but hang around here and you’ll have access to a lot of great scientific minds which lead us in the right direction.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 16 May 2012 @ 9:32 PM

  319. Mertonian Norm,
    You may be interested in the new thread started today entitled, “Plugging the leake.” The article focuses on the various climate models concerning the Earth’s water budget, but also touches on the “dry zones.” Here is a link to the paper being discussed:

    Comment by Dan H. — 17 May 2012 @ 8:37 AM

  320. Wow! Above -11 C surface temperature threshold melting the ice from under coincides with a great drop in ice extent:

    thin Arctic Ocean ice indeed.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 17 May 2012 @ 2:37 PM

  321. Unsettled @317: Thanks for the compliments and advice. The lens is an image-stabilised 70-300mm Canon zoom and can do better than that shot … but this is a climate blog, so if you want to keep talking wildlife photography (and I’m perfectly happy to do that), it’s probably better if we do it via my blog.
    – Malcolm

    Comment by MalcolmT — 17 May 2012 @ 5:04 PM

  322. Will 3D printers make food sustainable?

    Producing beef this way results in a 96% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to rearing animals, and uses 45% of the energy, 1% of the land and 4% of the water associated with conventional beef production.

    A very interesting read.

    Comment by J Bowers — 18 May 2012 @ 5:22 AM

  323. Some of your readers may be interested at a new reconstruction of the AMO going back to early 1700s
    based on natural variability, resulting in values different to the reconstructions by Mann or Grey. Outstanding is a possible anomaly in the current data in early decades of 20th century.

    Comment by vukcevic — 18 May 2012 @ 10:47 AM

  324. Lucy,

    Sorry I am very late to respond. The discussion here is so lively that I don’t usually have time to read it :) Someone pointed me to this thread, and I thought I would offer my two cents, since my name has come up a few times.

    I became interested in climate change when I was a high school sophomore just like you. Now I am 19 and beginning my career as a climate scientist, by working as a summer student for professors. If you’re leaning towards law or policy, I’m not much help. Even developing technological solutions, like engineering solar panels, is very different from what I do. But for a long time in high school I assumed that I had to have an applied job which was “useful” in some tangible way. The day that I realized that I could just be a scientist, and get paid to discover interesting things about whatever I found most fascinating about the world, I knew that was the path for me.

    So if you’re considering a career as a scientist (which, in my opinion, is the best job ever), I can definitely give you some advice. Here are tips from my own experience:

    1) Learn as much as you can about the issue. Read books, watch documentaries, and attend public presentations by scientists. This will allow you to figure out what part of the field interests you most. Science today is incredibly specialized, and climate science has so many sub-fields and little niches you can study, that you have to narrow it down.

    2) Figure out what areas of science interest you most at school, and which you don’t like. For example, I wasn’t a big fan of chemistry, so I ruled out fields such as the impact of climate change on mercury cycling in the Arctic. Similarly, a lot of people dislike computer programming, and a lot of people (myself included) love it. Programming is vital for the physics-oriented fields of climate science, so be sure to give it a try. (Even if your school doesn’t offer computer science, you can learn programming languages online.) Also figure out if math is your thing. For me, I didn’t realize that I liked math until I started doing advanced math, so if you find it boring, don’t give up.

    3) When you have a better idea of what general area you’re interested in, try to puzzle through scientific studies about it. If all you can understand are the abstracts, that’s all right. (Unless you have some kind of special library subscription, that’s all you’ll be able to access most of the time anyway!) If after a lot of puzzling you start to understand what’s going on, and there’s a moment when you say to yourself, “This is the most fascinating thing ever” and you feel like a superhero, you’re on the right track.

    4) Some authors will come up over and over again, and you’ll find out who the top scientists in the field are. Go to their websites and find out what they studied in university. I clearly remember being unsure as to whether I should study geography or math, and coming to RealClimate to find out what Gavin Schmidt majored in. Turns out that he did applied math all along – same with many of the other top climate modellers. So I decided to major in math and I’m very glad that I did. (Look Gavin, you’re corrupting young minds!) Even though I’m not learning about climate change in my courses, it’s worth it, because it gives me the tools to apply to the parts of climate science I like the most.

    5) Above all, enjoy the experience, and follow your curiosity. Enthusiasm makes everything easier and more fun.

    Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have more questions. You can find my email through my blog ClimateSight.

    Comment by Kate — 18 May 2012 @ 4:03 PM

  325. > (Unless you have some kind of special library subscription,

    with the older form of Google Scholar, you could find non-paywalled copies, for example that scientists had put on their own web pages.
    Do ask — a librarian may know how to make that search still work

    > that’s all you’ll be able to access most of the time anyway!)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 May 2012 @ 4:32 PM

  326. Yet another positive feedback with the Arctic Sea Ice.

    Albedo and melt ponds on 1-year vs. multi-year Arctic Sea Ice:

    I don’t typically like to post on sea ice till July or so… but has anyone else noticed the shattered egg shell nature of the ice this season? Seems, less a detailed examination, this “broken egg shell” condition is more widespread and extends deeper into the ice pack than last year at this time. Yet, we seem to have been having pretty favorable conditions with the temps a bit cooler than usual, e.g.

    Hmmm…. I think we have reached that point where the ice is so thin in general that it will take an unusually cold and calm summer any given summer to not hit or exceed record melt.

    Comment by Killian — 18 May 2012 @ 11:39 PM

  327. Bad news for fertilizer-intense agriculture — it damages the ozone layer due to excess nitrogen compounds going into the stratosphere. That’s written up as bad news for biofuels:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 May 2012 @ 8:46 AM

  328. NPR is doing a good, thorough, ongoing job looking at fracking both for health issues and for methane leakage:
    —excerpt follows—-

    “May 17, 2012

    Gaby Petron didn’t set out to challenge industry and government assumptions about how much pollution comes from natural gas drilling.

    She was just doing what she always does as an air pollution data sleuth for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    “I look for a story in the data,” says Petron. “You give me a data set, I will study it back and forth and left and right for weeks, and I will find something to tell about it.”

    Petron saw high levels of methane in readings from a NOAA observation tower north of Denver. And through painstaking, on-the-ground detective work, she tied that pollution to the sprawling oil and gas fields in northeastern Colorado.

    The story she stumbled into suggests that government may be far underestimating air pollution from natural gas production. Her measurements, which were published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, suggest that methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is leaking at at least twice the rate reported by the industry.

    Coal Vs. Natural Gas: Which Is Cleaner?

    Her paper was the latest volley in an intense estimate war under way in the scientific community about whether natural gas really is cleaner than the coal it’s already starting to replace on the electric grid….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 May 2012 @ 9:27 AM

  329. Here’s a “truth stranger than fiction” item, from the Northern-most notional democracy in the Americas:

    Good morning,

    You are one of approximately fifty EC [Environment Canada] speciali-sts that have been identified as participating in the final International Polar Year conference. Media will be present, and all presentations are open to media. Media interest in EC science is expected.

    If you are approached by the media, ask them for their business card and tell them that you will get back to them with a time for interview. Send a message to your media relations contact with the media contact information and they will organize the interview. They will most probably be with you during the interview to assist and record. For anything outside of your area of expertise, including other research or policy issues, refer the journalist to the media relations contact.

    Once your interview is completed, please provide a recording to Media Relations. If a recording is unavailable, you can complete a media interview form and submit to Media Relations.

    Enjoy the conference!

    “Enjoy the conference.” Was that sarcastic, or just a refection of the generally self-oblivious tone of the message?

    ‘[the “media relations contact”] will most probably be with you during the interview to assist and record.’

    So, working for Environment Canada is now akin to being a sailor in the old Soviet navy; a political officer oversees everything, is endowed with ultimate authority exceeding that of normally commissioned officers no matter their rank.

    The political officers (aka “media relations contacts”) must surely know that grinding temporal friction of the style they insist is necessary will essentially shut off journalist access to Canadian scientists. Presumably that’s seen as a feature, not a bug.

    Why does unchecked capitalism so often end up resembling the classic totalitarian state, the “invisible hand” turning into an iron fist sans velvet glove whenever it feels threatened by new information?

    There’s been little heed paid to this remarkable state of affairs in Canada. Read the whole thing at Planet3.0

    The takeaway message is familiar: scientists should surely hang together lest they be hanged separately.

    Comment by dbostrom — 19 May 2012 @ 3:24 PM


    on methane hydrates under the Alaska seabed:

    “… A team from the United States and Japan has just completed a month-long experiment aimed at extracting the methane using potentially commercially viable technology.

    Engineers injected carbon dioxide and nitrogen into the hydrate formations, and then lowered the pressure in the drill well…. releasing their methane for collection.

    According to the team, further tests are planned to build on the success of the experiment ….

    … In the tests, carbon dioxide was used to replace the methane trapped in icy cages. This raises the possibility of a chemical “prisoner exchange” in which we swap the carbon dioxide we don’t want for the methane we do ….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 May 2012 @ 4:09 PM

  331. #328–The Harper government is doing a very good imitation of the Tea Party, in terms of environmental policy. They shut down the ozone monitoring experiment, appear to be gutting the Fisheries Act, have been (as doug points out) ‘managing’ scientists’ contacts with media–“muzzling” is a word that has been used more than once–and just shut down another important research facility with little or no justification:

    Their environmental policy (so-called) appears to center firmly on the exploitation of non-renewable resources. (Including, it would appear, making sure that as many resources as possible fall into the ‘non-renewable’ category.)

    Oh, and they appear not to be wild about the Parks Service, either.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 19 May 2012 @ 6:14 PM

  332. That link just goes to some fuzzy picture.

    Comment by Snapple — 19 May 2012 @ 6:16 PM

  333. Try it again, it works for me — the article begins

    “Budget cuts claim famed freshwater research facility
    By Margo McDiarmid, Environment Unit, CBC News
    Posted: May 17, 2012 6:12 PM ET
    Last Updated: May 18, 2012 7:50 AM ET

    A famous research facility in Ontario that pioneered investigations into acid rain is the latest victim of federal budget cuts.

    The Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario is being closed at end of the fiscal year, March 2013.

    Sources told CBC News that staff were told on Thursday that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans would no longer run the facility and all staff associated with the ELA will receive ‘affected letters’, and no new experiments will be initiated.

    —-image caption—-
    Lake 239, one of 58 lakes that make up the Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario, is seen in a webcam photo taken May 17. Funding for the research facility will end next March, the federal government has announced.Lake 239, one of 58 lakes that make up the Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario, is seen in a webcam photo taken May 17. Funding for the research facility will end next March, the federal government has announced. (

    The Environmental Lakes Area was started in 1968. It’s a series of 58 pristine lakes that have been used for ground breaking research.

    This is where scientists, led by Dr. David Schindler, discovered that phosphates in detergents and household products were causing lakes to turn green with algae. It led to international changes in ingredients for those products.

    The ELA is also internationally known for research into everything from acid rain to climate change to fish farming — essentially, all the ways that human activity can affect freshwater systems….”


    “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 May 2012 @ 7:00 PM

  334. The Environmental Lakes Area was started in 1968.

    Subsequently spanning eleven changes of Parliament, multiple PMs and their foibles.

    They were all wrong, it turns out, while Harper’s crew remarkably enough are the first Canadian pols in decades to finally notice that the ELA is a silly waste and must be cut. Harper’s sane, all the prior crew were just plain crazy, or stupid. Gosh, Canada must be embarrassed at being mired in incompetence for so long, eh?

    Or could it possibly be that the majority rules here, that Harper and his bunch are simple-minded wreckers? Maybe Canada has a newer, more current reason for shame.

    The greater the longitudinal heft of a data set slated for termination– the bigger the implicit accusation that all their antecedents were somehow wrong– the more politicians with the same deep sense of history as fruit flies embarrass themselves and their constituents as they wade in with blunt instruments and get down to smashing.

    Comment by dbostrom — 19 May 2012 @ 9:14 PM


    —excerpt follows—
    researchers on the new Arctic project, led by Katey Walter Anthony from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks (UAF), were able to identify long-stored gas by the ratio of different isotopes of carbon in the methane molecules.

    Using aerial and ground-based surveys, the team identified about 150,000 methane seeps in Alaska and Greenland in lakes along the margins of ice cover.

    Local sampling showed that some of these are releasing the ancient methane, perhaps from natural gas or coal deposits underneath the lakes, whereas others are emitting much younger gas, presumably formed through decay of plant material in the lakes.

    “We observed most of these cryosphere-cap seeps in lakes along the boundaries of permafrost thaw and in moraines and fjords of retreating glaciers,” they write, emphasising the point that warming in the Arctic is releasing this long-stored carbon.

    “If this relationship holds true for other regions where sedimentary basins are at present capped by permafrost, glaciers and ice sheets, such as northern West Siberia, rich in natural gas and partially underlain by thin permafrost predicted to degrade substantially by 2100, a very strong increase in methane carbon cycling will result, with potential implications for climate warming feedbacks.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 May 2012 @ 2:09 PM

  336. dbostrom — “So, working for Environment Canada is now akin to being a sailor in the old Soviet navy; a political officer oversees everything, is endowed with ultimate authority exceeding that of normally commissioned officers no matter their rank.”

    Mind if I frame that and put it on the wall?

    Comment by J Bowers — 20 May 2012 @ 6:49 PM

  337. This is the current nail in the Australian news

    based on a paper in Nature Geoscience

    see ref to Wada 2011 at bottom which seems to support Church 2011

    has anyone read the paper to ascertain the reference for SLR contribution from thermal expansion?

    how does it hold up against Church et al 2011 ?


    Comment by john byatt — 21 May 2012 @ 3:49 AM

  338. Apologies for that url , did not notice till it hit the screen


    Comment by john byatt — 21 May 2012 @ 5:17 AM

  339. Gleick Cleared

    Comment by grypo — 21 May 2012 @ 2:48 PM

  340. > cleared

    The Guardian has one paragraph of news, not cited to a source:

    “A review has cleared the scientist Peter Gleick of forging any documents in his expose of the rightwing Heartland Institute’s strategy and finances, the Guardian has learned.”

    The rest is rehash.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 May 2012 @ 2:55 PM

  341. Heartland’s Joe Bast claims:

    Heartland released a computer forensics report, conducted by Protek International, which states: “We conclude that the Memo did not originate on the Heartland System. It was not created on the Heartland System and was never present there prior to its February 14 posting online.”

    Technically, Protek’s claim is probably true; however, DeSmogBlog’s Richard Littlemore (2-16-12) never said the Climate Strategy memo was on the “Heartland System.” He hinted that it was “written on Joe Bast’s laptop”:

    The DeSmogBlog is committed to accuracy. Joe Bast says the document is a fake, a statement we take with a grain of salt given the Heartland Institute’s previous dissembling on the subject of climate change and its discredited position on the safety of second hand smoke. In the circumstances, if the Heartland Institute can offer any specific criticism of the Climate Strategy or any evidence that it was faked and not, actually, written on Joe Bast’s laptop, printed out and scanned, we would be pleased to consider that evidence.
    I thought that point about the Climate Strategy memo being written on Joe Bast’s laptop was pretty interesting. Mr. Littlemore seemed very sure of himself. Perhaps someone should ask Mr. Bast if the controversial strategy memo was on his laptop. It would also be interesting to know why Richard Littlemore seemed to think that the Climate Strategy memo was “written on Joe Bast’s laptop.”

    Links to quotes:

    I wrote to the Chicago FBI spokesman Royden “Ross” Rice, to ask about Dr. Gleick’s situation, and Agent Rice said: “No arrests have been made and no charges filed in connection with the Heartland Institute incident” (5-14-12). Of couse, something might happen later, but probably the federal government will not charge Dr. Gleick with any crime. I doubt that the Heartland Institute will sue Dr. Gleick, because a trial might reveal that the climate strategy memo is on Joe Bast’s laptop. Hopefully, Dr. Gleick has dodged the bullet, but tricking the Heartland Institute into mailing him their internal documents made scientists look dishonest, which is what denialists are always saying.

    Still, because of Dr. Gleick, teachers don’t have to lie to the kids.

    Comment by Snapple — 21 May 2012 @ 8:49 PM

  342. The Guardian says that the results of the investigation will be made public. That kind of news is not released on the weekend. This is just the heads-up. I think a big story is coming.

    Comment by Snapple — 21 May 2012 @ 9:17 PM

  343. Snapple: I think a big story is coming.

    Heaping dishes of crow for preening self-proclaimed semantics experts are being prepared even now.

    Which transgressions cannot be condoned? Would those be false accusations, or self-righteous sermonizing?

    Will punters get their answers, too?

    Comment by dbostrom — 21 May 2012 @ 10:25 PM

  344. Hank @ 335–Did you see the NYT coverage of that paper/story? I think they did a bit better at presenting the science.

    Both seem relevant to the Greenland discussion. If you don’t, I’ll probably post them over there (if folks can stop feeding trolls and making personal comments over there for a few moments.)

    Comment by wili — 22 May 2012 @ 1:41 PM

  345. Highly recommended: the story of the graph that would not die, the graph that launched a thousand misbegotten letters-to-the-editors, the graph that was repeatedly killed only to be resurrected (under the care of actual medical surgeons, no kidding!) and again sent shambling into the public square to delude and deceive the unsuspecting citizenry.

    Even today it lurks and waits, protected by increasingly notorious outcast “researchers” operating from their their sooty Chicago aerie:

    Dear Heartland, Stop using Arthur Robinson’s Trick to Hide the Incline.

    Bunk that has lived and died and then been jolted back to life, for over a decade, with body parts removed and stitched on willy-(Soon)-nilly. Wouldn’t it be merciful let it go to its grave in peace, at long last?

    Comment by dbostrom — 22 May 2012 @ 2:12 PM

  346. wili, good NYT pointer on the Alaska methane study.

    I see no reason to double-post the Alaska methane story in the Greenland glacier speed topic, tho’. This is plenty.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 May 2012 @ 2:36 PM

  347. A couple of items of interest.

    From Reuters:

    Club of Rome sees 2 degree Celsius rise in 40 years

    Rising carbon dioxide emissions will cause a global average temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius by 2052 and a 2.8 degree rise by 2080, as governments and markets are unlikely to do enough against climate change, the Club of Rome think tank said.

    From Smithsonian Magazine:

    Looking Back on the Limits of Growth

    Recent research supports the conclusions of a controversial environmental study released 40 years ago: The world is on track for disaster. So says Australian physicist Graham Turner, who revisited perhaps the most groundbreaking academic work of the 1970s, The Limits to Growth

    Turner compared real-world data from 1970 to 2000 with the business-as-usual scenario. He found the predictions nearly matched the facts. “There is a very clear warning bell being rung here,” he says. “We are not on a sustainable trajectory.”

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 23 May 2012 @ 4:29 PM

  348. SA; Perfect storm if correct, and not just with climate. Very disturbing notion.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 23 May 2012 @ 6:48 PM

  349. Heartland Institute on life support, asks for donations from ‘rich uncle’

    After losing major sponsors for this year’s ICCC, HI turned to coal lobby groups and fringe bloggers for “sponsorship”. Their “Unabomber” bill board campaign was so offensive that speakers deserted the conference and staff from the Washington office resigned in protest.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 23 May 2012 @ 8:45 PM

  350. Purely an aside, but cautionary — ‘Dunning Krueger’ (the inability to realize one’s lack of ability) isn’t “them” — it’s everyone, under some conditions.

    Are you mildly sleep deprived? Like less than 8 hours of sleep a night?

    You’re not as smart as you think you are, if you’re not sleeping that much.

    Amazing, huh? But — DK to the rescue — nobody believes that of himself or herself.

    “a key finding from Van Dongen and Dinges’s study: after just a few days, the four- and six-hour group reported that, yes, they were slightly sleepy. But they insisted they had adjusted to their new state. Even 14 days into the study, they said sleepiness was not affecting them. In fact, their performance had tanked. In other words, the sleep-deprived among us are lousy judges of our own sleep needs. We are not nearly as sharp as we think we are.”

    I try to remember this (obviously not with complete success) when I find that I am growing more critical of others.

    It’s so tempting to think my critical sharp edge is improved as I feel more critical of everyone else’s work.

    But, alas, I probably need to sleep more when I’m feeling that way.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 May 2012 @ 10:11 PM

  351. Heartland Institute on life support, asks for donations…

    Send canned food. We’ve got some extra beans here; Heartland is lacking in moral fiber so beans will be perfect.

    Comment by dbostrom — 23 May 2012 @ 11:44 PM

  352. Hank @ 350

    DK and sleep deprivation. You can monitor your acuity somewhat, for instance, by working a daily puzzle during an early portion of your morning routine.

    Something else to consider, we sometimes loose a little mental flexibility as we get older and the arteries harden. Me, I’m at the point where I’m cranky with or without my nap. I’ve also discovered that commenting while drunk leads to predictably sorry results.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 24 May 2012 @ 12:40 AM

  353. Scott Denning has a fantastic piece at Yale CMF:

    It’s thought provoking for the climate concerned, to actually engage with skeptics.

    And it’s thought provoking for the political right, to actually propose solutions to the energy and climate challenge.

    The comments section is also well worth reading. Denning tries to reach the reachable middle of the Six Americas, while also appealing to -while at the same time challenging- the political right.

    He is merciless in distinghuishing science from politics.

    We need more people like him.

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 24 May 2012 @ 7:25 AM

  354. Bart Verheggen wrote: “And it’s thought provoking for the political right, to actually propose solutions to the energy and climate challenge.”

    The so-called “political right” has long since been bought out by the fossil fuel corporations, and as such has no interest in “solutions to the energy and climate challenge”, but only in advancing the narrow financial interests of the fossil fuel corporations at the expense of everyone else.

    Which pretty much requires denial that any “energy and climate challenge” exists.

    Which is why we see the utter absurdity of global warming denial and opposition to renewable energy being proclaimed as core “ideological” issues for the so-called “right”.

    The Heartland Institute’s so-called “libertarianism” is as bogus as its pseudo-scientific denialist malarkey.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 24 May 2012 @ 9:46 AM

  355. Thanks for the Denning link @~353BartVerheggen – still reading. On the whole, I believe it’s time to face the music, but how to do so eludes us, doesn’t it?

    and dbostrom@~351: and providing lots of gas (giggle, should behave myself)

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 24 May 2012 @ 10:08 AM

  356. Bart — “He is merciless in distinghuishing science from politics.
    We need more people like him.”

    We sure do. Put your coffee down…

    State Legislature Gets Into Act

    So impressed with the ability of NC-20 to put an end to sea-level rise single-handedly, the North Carolina Senate decided to go one step further and legislate it away….

    [Response:I put my coffee down first as you suggested. Good thing too! Here’s some more text from that article:
    “In late April a revised version of a bill from the state House surfaced in the Senate that would enshrine NC-20’s view. This new bill would:
    *limit sea-level rise to historical rates circa 1900,
    *specify that sea-level rise may be extrapolated linearly to estimate future rates of rise, and
    *disallow consideration of scenarios with accelerated rates of sea-level rise.

    Comment by J Bowers — 24 May 2012 @ 10:30 AM

  357. Bert, while I applaud Denning’s willingness to engage, I have to say that I don’t see the merit in awarding a “Good boy” to denialists who have deigned to accept the basic physics of the greenhouse effect while rejecting all of paleoclimatology, geology, and the rest of the evidence for anthropogenic climate change.

    Science either works or it doesn’t. If you accept a scientific conclusion valid with 90% confidence in physics, you cannot turn around and reject a conclusion validated with equal or greater confidence in geology or biology.

    Ultimately, the science has to be decided by the scientists–the ones who play the game. It is not sufficient to simply gish gallop from issue to issue, highlighting the uncertainties (which will always be there) while ignoring the explanatory and predictive power of the theory. You have to present a theory with equal or greater explanatory and predictive power.

    I agree with Denning that the place for debate is in the response to climate change, but the responses have to be based on a common stock of accepted science. Otherwise we will get nowhere.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 May 2012 @ 11:12 AM

  358. > Science either works or it doesn’t

    but, Ray, we only know which in hindsight. Like evolutionary fitness, scientific ideas succeed to the extent they produce ‘grandchildren’
    (cited by later interesting work).

    Nobody’s smart enough to know it all.
    Any of us will cherish some wrong ideas we never tested since we learned them.

    This year — the scientists can either do science and focus on the work to be considered by the next IPCC, or engage actively with the denier crowd.

    The denier crowd lost their forum at Heartland by self-immolation.

    They want an audience and a forum.

    Wouldn’t this be a really _good_ time to take a break from drawing lines in and fighting over them?

    Think in a historical perspective.
    This is all old past history to our grandchildren.

    How does it look from that point of view?

    Who’s important? None of us.
    What’s important? What we do, and what they get.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 May 2012 @ 11:37 AM

  359. Denning’s piece is pathbreaking work.
    Thanks Bart for the pointer.


    “… a lot of pleasant, decent people are predisposed to doubt the science. They’re not evil. They care deeply about their children’s and grand children’s’ futures, and genuinely want to do what’s right. These people are reachable, there are thousands of times more of them than there are climate scientists, and a lot of them vote. Not surprisingly, they often find unpersuasive an arrogant attitude that dismisses them as anti-intellectual fools.
    … “Scientists are necessary, but not sufficient to solve the climate problem.”

    Focus on this:
    “… an arrogant attitude that dismisses them …”

    That’s a diagnostic trait.

    Am I feeling arrogant?
    Am I surrounded by people who just don’t get it?
    Am I the smartest person in the room?

    Uh … oh … D-K buzzer just went off.

    –> Hardest damn thing to do <—
    is to pause at that point and wonder
    is it just possible I'm not entirely
    in the right here?

    Megalomania — it's fun while it lasts.
    But not for the people around us.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 May 2012 @ 11:45 AM

  360. (Reminder — Denning is not Dunning; similar names, and in some ways similar points made about how we think and how our thinking isn’t reliably correct)


    Often missed — we’re all ignorant, outside our areas of expertise.
    At best we have habits that protect us from overconfidence, sometimes.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 May 2012 @ 11:48 AM

  361. The emergence of HB819 into the NC Senate means that it’s not one of those quaint, amusing fizzles stillborn without emerging even from a committee. Rather, careful reading of the bill’s language suggests it’s a fully-funded creature of commercial interests, bought and paid for and presumably carrying a financial obligation to be passed.

    There’s some excellently crafted double-talk in HB819:

    (d) The General Assembly does not intend to mandate the development of sea-level rise policy or rates of sea-level rise. If, however, the Coastal Resources Commission decides to develop rates of sea-level rise, the Commission may do so, but only by instructing the Division of Coastal Management to calculate the rates.

    (e) The Division of Coastal Management shall be the only State agency authorized to develop rates of sea-level rise and shall do so only at the request of the Commission. These rates shall only be determined using historical data, and these data shall be limited to the time period following the year 1900. Rates of sea-level rise may be extrapolated linearly to estimate future rates of rise but shall not include scenarios of accelerated rates of sea-level rise.

    The GA doesn’t mandate the policy but does mandate that the policy shall be blind to reality. North Carolina citizens are having mud stuffed into their metaphorical eyes, are being willfully blinded for the benefit of developers.

    It’s sad that the outcome of this fiasco will hinge on a struggle between physics and truth versus romantic fiction sold to gullible NC lawmakers, as proxied in a fight between developers and the insurance industry. Assuming the bill goes through the NC Senate, NC citizens will end up paying indefinitely for the developer’s grab-and-go approach, as will federal taxpayers. More money is going to paid from somewhere for insurance fees and loss restoration but that won’t bother long-vanished carpetbaggers.

    Comment by dbostrom — 24 May 2012 @ 11:49 AM

  362. And D-K isn’t the last word, it’s an important paper because it has engendered many subsequent interesting publications. Don’t treat it as the one simple explanation for how people think (or don’t).
    turns up gems on the subject.
    Males appear more subject to the problem (gasp!)

    “Narcissism, not actual competence, predicts self-estimated ability”

    “Dunning, Kruger and their collaborators argued that the unskilled lack the metacognitive ability to realize their incompetence. We propose that the alleged unskilled-and-unaware problem – rather than being one of biased judgements – is a signal extraction problem that differs for the skilled and the unskilled. Specifically, the unskilled face a tougher inference problem than the skilled.”

    All this to point out it’s not simple.
    You can’t draw lines in the sand and fight over them.

    Denning’s right. Thoughtful presentation to individuals works.
    Confrontation fails. Namecalling fails. Impatience … fails.

    When you most want to fight — that’s the time to think instead.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 May 2012 @ 11:55 AM

  363. On Denning, realized Yale subsequently posted the superb Margaret Thatcher (Un speech 1989) et al. mashup:

    as well as Abraham’s skilled piece, both of which update the issues:

    Denning’s link to Monckton severely diminished the usefulness of the argument; commenters decided to deprive it of oxygen – good idea.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 24 May 2012 @ 12:29 PM

  364. Hank Roberts quoted: “… a lot of pleasant, decent people are predisposed to doubt the science. …”

    Which did not come about by accident.

    That “predisposition” is the direct result of a generation-long, massively funded, carefully crafted, well-coordinated, far-reaching campaign of deceit, denial, obfuscation, conspiracy-theorizing, and increasingly aggressive and hateful slandering of climate scientists — all designed precisely to turn “pleasant, decent people” into the (dare I say it) arrogant “anti-intellectual fools” who flood blog comment pages everywhere with the scripted denialist talking points that are spoon-fed to them.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 24 May 2012 @ 1:37 PM

  365. Sea level rise is changing where the 3-mile and 200-mile limits fall, by exactly the same _horizontal_ amount, isn’t it?

    In for example North Carolina, with an almost flat coastal plain — and the Outer Banks marking the current national shoreline — losing the Outer Banks and having the tidal marshes become open ocean, way inland, is going to move the protected fishing and drilling area limit inland by quite a few miles.


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 May 2012 @ 1:50 PM

  366. SA, seriously, you’re right AND wrong about that.

    This ain’t new. This is human nature, up against the walls of our little island planet for the first time. Old problem, new constraint.

    Cassandra wasn’t cursed by
    the fossil fuel industry,
    or by capitalism,
    or by commie-nism,
    or by massively funded coordinated obfuscation conspir …

    …. excuse me, got to wipe the splatter off the screen here

    The problem isn’t someone else.
    The problem is _how_we_think_.
    We. People. Like us.
    It’s very hard to believe what’s not comfortable.
    It’s only recently we haven’t been able to pick up
    and move somewhere fresh and new when we ruined
    the place we lived for a few years or a few generations.

    Us. All of us.
    Each of us has some area we’re blind in.

    MOST of the people you have trouble convincing are good decent ordinary human beings, without a background in science, but with some common sense.

    Yes it gets buried — whether by a Greek god’s curse or PR and propaganda.

    Two bits from a wise man I keep handy for reference:

    I don’t consider myself a pessimist. I think of a pessimist as someone who is waiting for it to rain. And I feel soaked to the skin.


    “… this hero that you’re trying to maintain as the central figure in the drama of your life— this hero is not enjoying the life of a hero.

    You’re exerting a tremendous maintenance to keep this heroic stance available to you, and the hero is suffering defeat after defeat.

    And they’re not heroic defeats; they’re ignoble defeats.

    Finally, one day you say, ‘Let him die— I can’t invest any more in this heroic position.’

    From there, you just live your life as if it’s real— as if you have to make decisions even though you have absolutely no guarantee of any of the consequences of your decisions.”


    (Leonard Cohen)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 May 2012 @ 2:28 PM

  367. > flood the blogs

    That’s an important point. Much of blogging is fighting with tar babies set up to attract you, grab you, get you riled up and angry and — caught.

    The real people you need to talk to aren’t on the blogs.

    I suspect a lot of the AlbertA-to-ZuzuZ accounts are bots anyhow.
    Somebody’s going to get a great PhD thesis out of tracking that crap down.

    Be wary what you choose to fight — often it’s set up to capture you online.


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 May 2012 @ 2:31 PM

  368. Hank, when I say that science either works or it doesn’t, I mean the scientific method. I would contend that there’s pretty strong evidence that it works. The firmest denialist affirms faith that it works every time he uses a wonder of modern technology (a computer attached to the intertubes) to proclaim that the scientists don’t know what they’re talking about.

    When I encounter denialists–of either the climate or evolution flavor–they usually take one of 3 tactics:
    1)that the scientists don’t know what they’re talking about (anti-science nutjobs)
    2)that Climate science is somehow different in methodology from the rest of science (conspiracy nutjobs)
    3)That the “real scientists” support their point of view (the reality-has-a-liberal-bias nutjobs)

    All three are demonstrably false if you can get them to actually look at evidence. The lukewarmers tend to span 2 and 3, and in some ways they are the worst of all, since their arguments tent to rely on a hefty dose of brown organic matter that is the product of bovine metabolism and so is difficult to pin down sufficeintly to pith.

    Denning’s approach only works when all participants are interested in ascertaining the truth.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 May 2012 @ 2:37 PM

  369. > when all participants are interested in ascertaining the truth

    Politics would be impossible if you insist on those perfect conditions.

    Few of our friends and neighbors are as pure as we’d wish, and neither are we, in fact, on our own blind spots.

    Regrettably, politics isn’t as effective as science is at reaching truth.
    That’s because scientists don’t have to stay friends to do science.

    Neighbors have to stay neighbors to do politics, at the local level.

    >> Science is so powerful that it drags us kicking and screaming
    >> towards the truth despite our best efforts to avoid it. And it
    >> does that at least partly fueled by our pettiness and our rivalries.
    >> Science is alchemy: it turns shit into gold. — Peter Watts

    No answer here. Just sayin’, I’m humbled every time I come up against this stuff. I’m soooooo sure of myself, then I realize, oops, that’s a red flag.


    Which direction were we headed?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 May 2012 @ 3:06 PM

  370. Hank Roberts wrote: “This is human nature …”

    It’s certainly true that the fossil fuel industry’s deceive-deny-delay-obstruct propaganda campaign has exploited every possible weakness and vulnerability of “human nature”. That’s why it has been so successful.

    And that’s to be expected, given that it’s the product of the most insidious and manipulative minds of Madison Avenue, using the most effective propaganda and brainwashing techniques ever devised, and the most powerful and far-reaching technologies of mass communication ever invented.

    But, look — the idea that the IPCC is part of a global conspiracy to destroy capitalism, the idea that thousands of scientists from every nation on Earth are perpetrating a vast “hoax” as part of that conspiracy, the idea that climate scientists are money-grubbing frauds, and all the various pseudo-scientific and pseudo-ideological malarkey recited verbatim by “pleasant, decent people” for no better reason than that they heard it on Fox News or Rush Limbaugh — NONE of that just spontaneously arose out of “human nature”.

    The reason that those “pleasant, decent people” are busily denying the science and slandering climate scientists instead of demanding action to solve the problem is not because of “human nature” and not because of the supposed “arrogance” of scientists.

    It is because they have been DECEIVED — deliberately, aggressively, systematically and elaborately DECEIVED — by those with trillions of dollars in wealth depending on inaction.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 24 May 2012 @ 4:25 PM

  371. Hank: The real people you need to talk to aren’t on the blogs.

    Quite right; try instead such as ALEC. The ridiculous history of climate science and public policy is fundamentally about putting a better gloss on P&L statements, has nothing to do with political principles or genuine discomfiture with science. Contrarians on blogs with their pastiche jackalope theories of climate and libertarian naifs dreaming of a fantasy frontier lifestyle are volunteer chumps, important friction but not the hand on the brake handle.

    Does anybody really believe the aforementioned NC HB819 is fundamentally about politics or science? Enablers on blogs create the atmosphere necessary for ignorant legislators to feel comfortably supported as they ignore facts but the impetus for their mistakes is at root financially driven.

    The example of Heartland’s supporters– who dropped away like pallid creatures clinging to the bottom of a rock turned upward to the light– is highly instructive. Look at history and see how transparency solves the problem of the invisible hand.

    Comment by dbostrom — 24 May 2012 @ 4:35 PM

  372. Hank Roberts @365 — With SLR inter wave action will push the outer banks further east, along with the other barrier islands further north.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 24 May 2012 @ 7:08 PM

  373. SA, Hank and dbostrum,
    If the public has been deceived, it is because they have chosen to believe lies over science–and feeble lies at that. I see nothing honorable about their position, so I am not surprised when they act dishonorably as well. They do not even have faith in free enterprise, since they seem to feel it must be defended by lies against the truth.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 May 2012 @ 7:21 PM

  374. New from Peter Watts

    “BLAMING THE VICTIM: Why It’s Our Fault That Science Sucks

    except it doesn’t really work because we’re not actually being victimized, except maybe by one scientist who (according to Neal Stephenson) attributes a perceived dearth of scientific innovation to a lack of sufficiently inspirational SF. (I myself might be more inclined to attribute that to the fact that science is increasingly funded by corporate interests rather than public ones, but whatever.) So the actual title they went with — Is SF Still the “Big Idea” Genre? — probably makes more sense, even if it isn’t quite so inflammatory.

    Anyhow, my answer’s in there along with those of Alexis Latner, Allen Steele, Charlie Stross, Daniel Abraham, Maurizio Manzieri, and Alastair Reynolds. Have fun.

    Now I have to go and hunt a poltergeist in the basement litter box. It only shows up in infrared.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 May 2012 @ 8:17 PM

  375. > Outer Banks
    Worth reading:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 May 2012 @ 11:36 PM

  376. Ray: If the public has been deceived, it is because they have chosen to believe lies over science…

    How are they to choose? Here in the United States– at the epicenter of climate-related public policy dementia– we’ve got a problem with education that makes “choosing” a matter of throwing darts over the shoulders for many. The very fact we must invent the acronym STEM to describe what used to be routine and unremarkable while we continue to enthusiastically gut out our educational system tells us we’re in trouble when it comes to useful public participation in science-related policy.

    Eloi are eaten by Morlocks far too late to have any say in the matter.

    Comment by dbostrom — 24 May 2012 @ 11:45 PM

  377. 296MalcolmT said on 14 May 2012 at 11:16 PM
    “Timothy Curtin re #287: Thanks for dropping in and explaining the null result. I visited your ‘cyber-home’ but I’m afraid it didn’t resolve my doubts. Can you tell us something of your qualifications in climate science? And the ‘peer review’ process at TSWJ?”

    Thanks, Malcolm, my website details my academic and professional career, showing that I am an economist who has published quite widely on a range of topics, including latterly on climate change (e.g. Climate Change and Food Production, and “Nature’s New Theory of Climate Change”, both in E&E 2009). Nature absurdly adopted the Meinshausen claim that temperature change is the result of cumulative emissions, not the current atmospheric concentration, which has risen by about 40% since 1900 as a result of only 44% of those emissions remaining aloft (see Knorr 2009).

    [Response: Oh dear. Two things wrong here – first, just because Nature publishes something doesn’t mean that they ‘adopt’ it. As far as I know they have no ‘official’ line on papers they publish, though the editors have opinions (published as editorials). Second, the Meinsahausen et al result is neither absurd nor wrong. Given the rate at which CO2 is sequestered and the time scales for ‘long term’ climate change, it is a pretty good rule of thumb that the equilibrium temperature is more a function of total emissions than the path it takes to get there. – gavin]

    [edit – please stick to the point]

    BTW, what are Grant Foster’s science credentials? He is of course a very clever statistician, but even he makes mistakes, as in his latest attack on me, where in fact the D-W statistic he cited from my ACE2011 paper’s Table 1 is below the actual lower limit of that test (I admit I wrongly stated that it was enough to be below 2, when in fact at 1.31 for n=52 it is below the lower D-W of 1.5 so does show the autocorrelation I claimed).

    As for TSWJ, I was told my paper had had FOUR anonymous peer reviewers. But why not check out its Atmospheric Sciences Editorial Board? – it includes people like
    Cheng-Nan Chang, Princeton University, USA
    Fei Chen, The National Center for Atmospheric Research, USA
    L.-W. Antony Chen, Desert Research Institute, USA
    Hai Cheng, Xi’an Jiaotong University (China) and University of Minnesota (US), China
    Petr Chylek, Los Alamos National Laboratory, USA
    Mikka Dal Maso, University of Helsinki, Finland
    John Dodson, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, Australia

    [Response: Note that editorial boards do not assess each paper that is published (in fact most of the time they don’t do anything), and attempting to raise the profile of a paper using the reflected glory of the editorial board is a little weak. – gavin]

    For all your research into my credentials you keep your own under wraps, is that fair?

    Kind regards

    Comment by Timothy Curtin — 25 May 2012 @ 2:00 AM

  378. Eric — “put my coffee down first as you suggested.”

    If you go to the NC-20 website, to the left you can download the Oregon Petition, and Nicola Scafetta has his very own special button (H/T to a_ray_in_dilbert_space).

    Comment by J Bowers — 25 May 2012 @ 2:57 AM

  379. Ray, people believe all sorts of amazing stuff, when you get to know them. Some of it pretty strange indeed. But I think you’d like the Pilkey book.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 May 2012 @ 4:27 AM

  380. PS, this may be encouraging:
    ——–excerpt follows———

    “We wanted to understand Iowa farmers’ perspectives on this issue.”

    The 2011 poll measured beliefs about whether climate change is occurring, possible causes, potential impacts and appropriate responses from the private and public sectors. Farmers also were asked to rate their level of trust or distrust toward specific agencies, organizations or groups as sources of information on climate change. Arbuckle said 1,276 farmers participated in the poll.

    On average, the participating farmers were 65 years old, and 51 percent earned more than half of their income from farming.

    Beliefs and concerns about climate change. Overall, 68 percent of farmers indicated that they believe climate change is occurring …. Of those, 35 percent believed that climate change is caused by both natural variations in the environment and human activities. About a quarter of farmers attributed climate change to natural changes in the environment, and 10 percent believed that it is caused mostly by human activities.

    … Twenty-eight percent indicated that there is insufficient evidence to determine with certainty whether climate change is occurring or not. Five percent did not believe that climate change is occurring ….

    Farmers also were asked to rate a list of agencies, organizations and individuals regarding how much they did or did not trust them as sources of information about climate change and its potential impacts. “Of the groups listed, only university extension was trusted by a majority of farmers. At 54 percent, extension was a more trusted source of climate change information than any other individual or entity” ….

    The mainstream news media and radio talk show hosts were the least trusted groups: less than 10 percent of farmers trust them as sources of information about climate change, while about 60 percent distrust them ….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 May 2012 @ 5:34 AM

  381. About moving conversation and the audience forward on climate change, just a thought. Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m not seeing serious, coherent messaging on the consequences of inaction on AGW. For instance, could somebody point me to a site comparable to Skeptical Science that catalogues arguments about consequences?

    I would think a key element on the journey from science to policy would be an understanding of the price for inaction. And now, when the conversation is stagnating, might be a good time to be proactive and start shifting the focus out from under the deniers.

    Just thinking out loud here…

    Comment by Radge Havers — 25 May 2012 @ 10:46 AM

  382. Rabett Run highlights some breathtakingly nasty speech on Judith Curry’s site.

    [edit – anyone interested can discuss this elsewhere]

    Comment by dbostrom — 25 May 2012 @ 1:01 PM

  383. From the International Energy Agency:

    Global carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil-fuel combustion reached a record high of 31.6 gigatonnes (Gt) in 2011, according to preliminary estimates from the International Energy Agency (IEA). This represents an increase of 1.0 Gt on 2010, or 3.2%. Coal accounted for 45% of total energy-related CO2 emissions in 2011, followed by oil (35%) and natural gas (20%) …

    “The new data provide further evidence that the door to a 2°C trajectory is about to close,” said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol.

    Reuters adds:

    “When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (by 2050), which would have devastating consequences for the planet,” Fatih Birol, IEA’s chief economist told Reuters.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 25 May 2012 @ 2:16 PM

  384. dbostrom: “How are they to choose?”

    Well, I guess they could listen to the freakin’ experts–the ones who actually investigate climate science for a living? The issue is less that fossil fuel companies have flooded the media with falsehoods, but rather that the dienialists are telling the lies public want to believe. It is rather like the overweight person being told to diet by his doctor and instead deciding to buy a cream that promises weight loss on a commercial. If the American people have reached a collective level of stupidity that precludes their discerning the truth or realizing the value of expertise, then the country is finished. We’ll be Haiti with nukes in 10 years.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 25 May 2012 @ 7:32 PM

  385. Ray:Well, I guess they could listen to the freakin’ experts–the ones who actually investigate climate science for a living?

    Yes, they could listen to Richard Lindzen; he fits the specification exactly.

    I attended a talk by Richard Alley a couple nights ago. He’s a terrific communicator, did a great job of entertaining an audience that already knew everything he presented.

    During Q&A there was a bit of back-and-forth about Richard Lindzen. The curious thing is that nobody would actually utter Lindzen’s name. Alley’s audience of experts was so scrupulous about avoiding hurt feelings or perhaps shy about being too far in front of the issue that the Lindzen problem was treated only elliptically, without reference to a proper name. A neophyte would never learn the identity of the person in question, listening to this pantomime.

    Choose Lindzen. Who’s to tell the difference, or say the difference?

    Comment by dbostrom — 25 May 2012 @ 10:50 PM

  386. Ray Ladbury wrote: “The issue is less that fossil fuel companies have flooded the media with falsehoods, but rather that the denialists are telling the lies public want to believe.”

    Those are not two separate issues. They are in fact the same issue.

    A great deal of research goes into developing, crafting and scripting lies that the public in general will tend to believe, as well as lies that particular targeted segments of the public will tend to believe, before the media is flooded with those falsehoods.

    Some audiences are targeted with Rush Limbaugh bellowing about “liberals” and “hoaxes” and “eco-Nazis” — because research has shown that that’s an effective way of manipulating that audience.

    Other audiences are targeted with a “mainstream” news report that presents the views of Richard Lindzen as having validity and scientific acceptance equal to those of Gavin Schmidt, or that simply omits any mention of global warming in connection with extreme weather events of exactly the kind that climate models have long predicted would result from global warming — because research has shown that that’s an effective way of manipulating that audience.

    The people doing this stuff are not dummies. Many of them are, in fact, geniuses — the most insidiously brilliant minds that the advertising industry has ever produced, with access to the most in-depth and comprehensive scientific research on how to effectively manipulate and shape people’s views about AGW, with a deep understanding of powerful propaganda techniques and access to the most far-reaching tools of mass communication ever devised.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 26 May 2012 @ 7:59 AM

  387. RH at 381–Mark Lynas’s book “Six Degrees” does a nice job of spelling out the consequences of each degree increase. You are right, though, that more people need to have a clear idea of just how devastating each added degree is likely to be for civilization, for our children, and for most life on the planet.

    SA at 383–Having just mentioned “Six Degrees,” I, too, found this prediction by Birol quite striking. He has a better perch to judge just how much CO2 is likely to be produced from burning fossil fuels as anyone on the planet.

    Does anyone know of other prominent figures predicting such an extreme increase in such a short period?

    That book was intended mostly as a warning about what to avoid. It is looking more and more like a prediction of what will come and description of what is already underway.

    On another note, in his recent oped in the NYT, James Hansen said:

    “Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California’s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.”

    It looks to me as though we don’t have to wait ‘decades’ for these developments–they are happening right before our eyes.

    Check out the most recent Drought Monitor map of the US:

    Drying conditions and drought areas are now connected from coast to coast and from the Canadian to the Mexican border. It’s become easier to describe where drought/drying ISN’T than where it is.

    Perhaps this summer will see essentially non-stop rains all across the lower 48 that will eliminate all traces of yellow, orange and red from this map.

    But short of that kind of miracle, it looks to me as though that decades-away prediction is upon us now.

    Comment by wili — 26 May 2012 @ 10:01 AM

  388. “The mainstream news media and radio talk show hosts were the least trusted groups: less than 10 percent of farmers trust them as sources of information about climate change, while about 60 percent distrust them ….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 May 2012 @ 10:33 AM

  389. My two cents. People are first one thing then they’re another: good, bad, lazy, energetic, etc.,…

    Moving people en masse is a harder task for constructive purposes than it is for pissant deliquents who can exhaust people by stampeding them like wildebeast or scattering them like cats. Thats not to say that pissant deliquents can’t be smart or coordinated, just that their brilliance shouldn’t be exaggerated any more than it should be underestimated.

    They have the numbers, the organization and the easy tool of raw destructive power. But they also have ideology, which is both a crutch for their laziness and a blind spot when it comes to accurately assessing the situation. You however, have the edge on smarts and discipline if you’ve got the fortitude to use it. And you also have an ever fluctuating pool of good will if you can manage to tap into it and strengthen it. That’s how I see it.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 26 May 2012 @ 12:38 PM

  390. RH,
    In Albert Camus’ “The Plague,” the residents of the plague infested city all initially struggle in different directions but finally come together to triumph over adversity-albeit at great cost. It was Camus’ most mature statement of his philosophy, and reflected his ideas on the nature of man.

    Unfortunately, not all threats well present such obvious early warning signs (e.g. rats dying), nor will they be so forgving of delay and denial. At some point humans will have to learn to face reality or they will die out. We may as well start with this crisis and hope we are not too late.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 26 May 2012 @ 8:15 PM

  391. @ 387 >Drying conditions and drought areas are now connected from coast to coast and from the Canadian to the Mexican border. It’s become easier to describe where drought/drying ISN’T than where it is.

    News flash: it doesn’t stop at the border. Mexico has a serious drought problem.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 27 May 2012 @ 9:22 AM

  392. Ray,

    I agree. And as you say, humans will have to face reality or face the music (pay the piper?) so to speak. I just think it’s partly a matter of who does the prodding and how it’s done. Even so there are no guarantees, and nothing is certain about the outcome. All the more reason to stay focused and push hard is all.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 27 May 2012 @ 9:57 AM

  393. Apropos recognizing reality — another side thought. One issue that science (and scientists) deal with all the time is how well reality is recognized. We know we’re flawed as humans. Mistakes were and are made. Sometimes corrections are acknowledged, sometimes people just age out uncorrected.

    There’s decent science being done on this whole area of how we fool ourselves on the individual level — no doubt also on the group level.

    This is a recent newspaper article, about some of the research on how common the behavior is and how it happens: Why We Lie — and it’s behavior on a continuum — shades-of-gray — not right-or-wrong, black-or-white, pure-or-corrupt.

    Retraction Watch — Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process” — gives a new ongoing look at how the sciences handle error correction. It’s a welcome site because most retractions are paywalled.

    Regrettably even most _corrections_ are paywalled. For example the AGU’s Geophysical Abstracts, one of the few sources available inexpensively to the rest of us, mentions when a paper is corrected, but doesn’t provide a corrected abstract.

    Can we assume a correction didn’t change anything important in a paper’s conclusion, when no change to the published abstract occurs?

    I’ve appreciated how the scientists writing here have pointed out and corrected mistakes, and recognized how carefully that needs to be done to make sure the record is better rather than muddied.

    I’ve also mused a lot on how risky publicising one’s own errors and self-correction are — given that exposes the writer to the tactics of debate and of politics in general, which use assertions of mistake not to improve the record but to cloud it.

    This stuff ain’t easy. Thank you all.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 May 2012 @ 1:42 PM

  394. Light reading for the (US) Memorial Day weekend:

    “The Aerospace Corporation has been conducting environmental and climate-related research using internal funds. Efforts so far have established Aerospace as a clearinghouse for information on climate trends and impacts, specifically with regard to future military and national security space requirements.

    Some of these research initiatives are detailed in the Summer 2011 issue of the corporation’s biannual magazine of advances in aerospace technology, Crosslink. To access this issue, devoted entirely to climate science, click”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 May 2012 @ 6:39 PM

  395. Re:observations of arctic methane release

    Lotsa more CH4 coming outta arctic land and sea than previously thought. No concommittant increase in atmospheric CH4 measurement implies methane is being efficiently oxidized. So we expect to see drawdown of OH ion concentrations. Is this visible or too small to be seen ?


    Comment by sidd — 27 May 2012 @ 11:59 PM

  396. Promising idea (hat tip to David Brin):

    “… members of the Mars family (yes, the candy makers) who have developed processes to take sewage from farms and cities, combine it from CO2 from factories, mix it under copious free sunlight, and put out oxygen and” harvest algae: Heliae

    Why algae? I’d guess this is a way to get omega-3 fatty acids that are so badly lacking in procesed foods, removing the commercial pressure to wipe out the last ten percent of the big fish. With collateral benefits. Damn good home page, too.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 May 2012 @ 12:37 AM

  397. Words you shouldn’t use. Most surprising to me are the weather related ones.

    Comment by Ron R. — 28 May 2012 @ 9:48 AM

  398. The fire in NM is now the largest in that state’s history, some 170,000 acres so far, beating the record set just last year.

    And it’s expected to burn till July. Humidity in the area this afternoon will be 4% with winds gusting to 35 mph. This will get much larger, in spite of the 1200+ firefighters’ best efforts. It’s been so dry for so long, any spark is guaranteed to ignite the tinder.

    This is what global warming looks like. And is part of the feedback putting more and more carbon into the atmosphere.

    Since this area is predicted to get much drier than it already is with GW, it is unlikely that these forests, and those burnt in last year’s record burns in NM and AZ, will ever grow back to their former level.

    Comment by wili — 30 May 2012 @ 10:12 AM

  399. Live chat geoengineering at the science web site tomorrow at 3 p.m. EDT (on Thursday, 31 May).

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 30 May 2012 @ 11:11 AM

  400. We’re approaching the deadline for reviewing & submitting comments on the K-12 Next Generation Science Standards (link) (deadline sometime June 1, likely either 12:01 am or 11:59pm)

    Comment by Anna Haynes — 30 May 2012 @ 3:55 PM

  401. A report from the Union of Concerned Scientists is remindful of other meticulous studies of the obvious, along the lines of confirming that cockroaches spread disease.

    Leading Companies Contradict Own Actions on Climate Science, Policy
    Half of Reviewed Companies Misrepresented Climate Science Despite Publicly Expressing Concerns

    WASHINGTON (May 30, 2012) – Many of the country’s leading companies have taken contradictory actions when it comes to climate change science while pumping a tremendous amount of resources into influencing the discussion, according to an analysis released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

    The science advocacy group examined 28 companies in the S&P 500 that participated in climate policy debates over the past several years. All of them publicly expressed concern about climate change or a commitment to reducing emissions through websites and public statements, but half (14) also misrepresented climate science in their public communications. Many more contributed to the spread of misinformation about climate science in less direct ways, such as through political contributions, trade group memberships, and think tank funding.


    A Climate of Control: How Corporations Have Influenced the U.S. Dialogue on Climate Science and Policy

    Comment by dbostrom — 30 May 2012 @ 5:51 PM

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