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  1. Open thread closed? Oh, well– ice cores are related to sea level!

    Terrific article on Lonnie Thompson at the NYT.

    Comment by dbostrom — 3 Jul 2012 @ 10:15 AM

  2. Fantastic sunsets recently. I suppose much of the aerosols are generated in the Puget Sound area; after all, Washington State’s population is now larger than that of the countries of Scotland and Norway (seperately); that is fairly recent.

    But I think a sizeable contribution is from east Asia. That used to be unnoticable in the previous century.

    Also, nights don’t cool down here in southeastern Washington state the way they used to in the 1970s.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 3 Jul 2012 @ 6:15 PM

  3. dbostrom beat me to the Lonnie Thompson article but there’s this from Bill McKibben

    Comment by Tokodave — 3 Jul 2012 @ 6:38 PM

  4. Joe Romm has some good posts over at CP in the last couple of days:

    “We’re all climate test dummies now”

    Could we devote some time here talking about recent weather events in the US and abroad? The recent dericho event in the East seemed rather extreme. Has that happened before? Have such events increased in frequency, intensity, size?

    (Cue hank to come and scold me in his charmingly school-marmish way for not searching google scholar before asking any question on this forum–but for some reason, I thought that this was a place to come and ask real questions about real events rather than just a place for troll feeding.)

    Comment by wili — 3 Jul 2012 @ 6:50 PM

  5. This article, notes that there are significant increases in wind storm related damage, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there are increases in the storms themselves.

    I call on hank, with his god-like web searching powers, to help me find even more relevant articles that address the question of how much have straight-line wind events increased in intensity, size and frequency in the last, say fifty years (and to spare poor me his withering ridicule at my obvious ineptitude).

    Comment by wili — 3 Jul 2012 @ 6:59 PM

  6. For wili: the science

    Comment by flxible — 3 Jul 2012 @ 8:13 PM

  7. The following is an excerpt from an article Andy Lacis published at Climate, Etc. that has caused a lot of confusion, some of it willful. Does anybody know the source for the 60C at 40,000 ppmv? I’ve searched on Scholar and haven’t found anything.

    In short, we need to start getting used to understanding the fact that atmospheric CO2 is the principal control knob (the solar luminosity remaining fixed) that governs the global surface temperature of the Earth. The present atmospheric concentration of CO2 stands at about 400 ppmv. With zero atmospheric CO2, the climate of Earth will plunge to a snowball Earth state (global annual-mean surface temperature of – 30 °C) and kill off most everything that is alive. (Something similar to this happened about 650 million years ago).

    With the atmospheric CO2 concentration increasing to about 4% (40,000 ppmv), the global annual-mean surface temperature will rise to about 60 °C, a temperature extreme that will very likely kill off most everything that is alive. (This has not happened in the geological past. But it could happen in the future if all the CO2 that is locked up in the carbon reservoirs was released into the atmosphere).

    Comment by JCH — 3 Jul 2012 @ 8:22 PM

  8. Sorry, I do homework help, with a note from a teacher for special needs.
    Call on your library, ask for help at the reference desk.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Jul 2012 @ 8:44 PM

  9. Re 7 – I don’t have specifics but:

    60 deg C – 15 deg C = 45 K = 15*3 K,
    15 doublings of CO2 from ~300 ppmv ~= 32,000*300 ppmv = 9,600,000 ppmv (in this case, parts per million of the original atmospheric amount).

    40,000 ppmv / 300 ppmv ~= 133, just over 2^7, or 7 doublings; 7 * 3 K = 21 K, from 15 deg C this would go to 36 deg C. However…

    While any ice/snow albedo feedback would essentially disappear beyond some limit, (and then there’d presumably be negative surface albedo feedback from death of surface vegetation), there is another CO2 band that starts to become important beyond some CO2 amount, making CO2 changes stronger than the logarithmic approximation that works for the ranges that are ‘more Earthly (for most of geologic time?)’. (Even without that, although I’m not sure, I wouldn’t assume the same logarithmic relationship holds for so long, because changes in temperatures change the Planck functions for different effective emitting levels, and overlaps with clouds and water vapor could shift, etc (changes the forcing per doubling), and then water vapor, cloud, and lapse rate feedbacks could be different…)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 3 Jul 2012 @ 9:40 PM

  10. wili: The recent dericho event in the East seemed rather extreme. Has that happened before?

    At Planet3.0 grypo pointed out this NOAA resource: About derechos

    Comment by dbostrom — 3 Jul 2012 @ 10:29 PM

  11. Thanks, flxible. A very informative site, even if it didn’t (as far as I could see) directly address the question. I’m sure hank could find an even better one if he put is mind to it, but sadly, he seems to have abandoned me in my hour of need. [Puts back of hand to forehead, sighs heavily, and nearly swoons.]

    Comment by wili — 3 Jul 2012 @ 11:49 PM

  12. This was brought up at the end of another thread just now, and I had never seen it. It’s awesome! No wonder 3 people provided the link. This is definitely something I’ll pass along, the presentation is awesome, and I love reading Science histories.

    The Discovery of Global Warming by Spencer Weart.

    Having just discovered this amazing site, I thought it deserved to be posted in the open thread where more eyes may see it. I’m enjoying the writing style, and the layout seems well thought out.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 4 Jul 2012 @ 12:40 AM

  13. 2 Major events are occurring at the same time, 1- all time sea ice extent is literally melting in place;

    Arctic warm temperatures amaze as usual.

    2) El Nino is back at an odd time of the year,

    and I literally saw it coming, on my blog and website I reveal yet again the strong possibility that lower stratospheric CCN’s are visible, they are strongly related with world wide Cumulonimbus activity, of which they are more frequent during El-NInos, leaving an overall mysterious sky print only visible during twilights. Check it out after your local more or less clear sky sunset. I filmed these dark streaks above High in the sky Cirrus, right above and joined with Cirrus, forming them, these are clouds which should also be more numerous during El-Ninos , exacerbating the overall heat injection from the Pacific to dizzying levels.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 4 Jul 2012 @ 2:27 AM

  14. [sarcasm] still waiting for the extensive analyssis of the effect of the discovery of the Higgs’ particle to GHG thoery. [/sarcasm]

    Comment by jyyh — 4 Jul 2012 @ 3:00 AM

  15. I have a question about solar irradience.
    I’m trying to understand the difference between the GISS forcings here and various other sources, including the CMIP5 recomended values. I’ve plotted a graph of various sources here.

    The PMOD satellite data shows a much deeper recent minima – I think this is the difference between PMOD and ACRIM?

    The Max-Plank and CMIP-5 data are similar in broad terms, especially in the sattelite era. I guess the differences are due to different models.

    The big discrepancy is between the early GISS data (black crosses) and the other sources. Obviously this has a significant impact on how much early 20thC warming is attributed to solar.

    Can anyone clarify what is going on or point me to a good source? (Alternatively if there is a better forum for dabblers in climate science to ask technical questions, that would be useful too. I’ve already mined the brains at SkS.)


    [Response:The GISS pages are relevant for what was used in CMIP3 and are based on Lean (2000) (+updates) whose calibration is a little obsolete (and the web pages should be updated to make this clear). The CMIP5 recommendations are based on Wang Lean and Sheeley (2005) which had less of a trend. The recommendations for the long term simulations were discussed in Schmidt et al, 2011;2012. – gavin]

    Comment by Kevin C — 4 Jul 2012 @ 3:50 AM

  16. I think the issue with Lacis’s comment is the question of whether CO2 could ever reach 40,000 ppmv rather than the amount of warming it would cause.

    Of course he wasn’t actually saying that CO2 would ever reach that level, only that it was a theoretical upper limit, but unsurprisingly he is being accused of fearmongering.

    Comment by andrew adams — 4 Jul 2012 @ 4:00 AM

  17. Re – Partrick 027 @9
    Would sensitivty remain anything like constant for such large changes in CO2 levels? “Climate Sensitivity Estimated From Earth’s Climate History” Hansen & Sato 2012 has a graph (their fig 7, fig 1 in the link below) showing sensitivity is far from constant but rises sharpely with increasing (& decreasing) forcing.

    I’m also a little surprised by the zero CO2 figure in the quote @7 – “global annual-mean surface temperature of – 30 °C.” This would be 45 °C below present. I thought the entire presenr day GHG effect was only some 35 °C.

    Comment by MARodger — 4 Jul 2012 @ 4:15 AM

  18. All rite. Extreme event #1:

    Chief executive Rod Quin says the conditions that killed the cows were unlike anything local farmers had experienced before.
    He says it was a very isolated case of a weather bomb and it wasn’t rain or sleet, but frozen ice going sideways.

    “It happened so quickly that these animals, and the herd was on the move, it literally stopped them in their tracks and the ones that stopped couldn’t be encouraged to move again and the situation escalated from there. And a number of the stock remained where they were and subsequently died”.

    Hokitika Valley, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand.

    Comment by Nigel Williams — 4 Jul 2012 @ 5:53 AM

  19. jyyh @ 14

    As if by magic:
    What Good is a Higgs Boson When the Planet is Burning?
    Probably not what you had in mind, but kind of a miss anyway.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 4 Jul 2012 @ 10:21 AM

  20. MARodger (#17)

    That’s only if you keep the albedo fixed. Remove the greenhouse effect, and you get a lot of ice…

    Comment by Chris Colose — 4 Jul 2012 @ 10:42 AM

  21. Skeptical Science are sending a letter of support to Prof Phil Jones (et al). You can add your signature there or at the email address they recommend.

    I’m guessing there’s only a day or two left before they send it.

    Comment by barry — 4 Jul 2012 @ 11:04 AM

  22. barry, thanks for the link to the Phil Jones letter of support. Reading the death threats PDF was emotional, it reveals a great darkness in the hearts of humanity.

    The irony, I think, of some of the slander directed at Phil Jones is stuff that identifies him as a data obstructionist. My understanding is that Phil is known amongst his colleagues as a man who works hard to open up proprietary data sets, to make stuff like National Met data products available to scientific researchers around the world. The complete opposite of his portrait in the news media. If anyone has a nice like on this topic, I’d appreciate it. I think I first came across that reputation of his during the CRU email hacking event. Later this week maybe I’ll be able to find something about his work in that area.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 4 Jul 2012 @ 4:22 PM

  23. #19 Radge Havers Thanks for that.

    Comment by jyyh — 4 Jul 2012 @ 4:22 PM

  24. Hey everyone,

    Please play “The Climate Lottery” from my latest post at:

    The individual lottery numbers for the spring were very toasty. Here’s a hint….June should be, at least, in the top 20 picks. You can play via facebook when making picks making comments.


    Guy Walton (That Climate Guy)
    Lead Forecaster
    The Weather Channel

    Comment by Guy Walton — 4 Jul 2012 @ 6:04 PM

  25. @David Benson, #2: You mentioned the nighttime temps going up in your state. How about this, for those temps in Ohio, between 1960, and 2007?

    I’m sure higher nighttime, rather than daytime temps were predicted many decades ago, due to global warming.

    Comment by Jack Roesler — 4 Jul 2012 @ 7:08 PM

  26. Unsettled Scientist,
    Open data is something that makes sense, but is very difficult to implement in practice. I work in a field where data are always scarce, but rarely shared. I’ve worked probably harder than anyone else to open up the data. However, you always face suspicion at first. They wonder what you will do with the data. They wonder if you understand its limitations. They worry that even if you know what yo are doing, the data may be misused by someone else, and they could face repurcussions.

    So far, when I’ve been successful, it has been because I could persuade the holder of the data that I could combine their datasets and present a fuller picture of performance than they could obtain otherwise. And even then, I face a lot of skepticism from members of my community who trust “engineering judgment” over statistics.

    So, what I am saying is that I imagine Phil gets it from both sides–from colleagues who don’t trust the public with the data and from the public who will never believe in the data no matter how open the scientists are. I suspect he only gets death threats from one side though.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Jul 2012 @ 7:24 PM

  27. We had derecho winds night before last here (Minneapolis)–many trees down, some on houses, and some power outages. I see that one is blowing across northern MN right now. I’m wondering if there are lots of these things going on around the country, but since they’re local, we’re not hearing about them.

    Has anyone else been having these (besides the big one we all hear about and that many are still recovering from)?

    Comment by wili — 4 Jul 2012 @ 8:39 PM

  28. Hi folks, I have a quick question: can anyone please tell me who first coined the term ‘forcing’? My research into its usage and definition hasn’t revealed the origin of the term, but I suspect the answer may well be part of the personal experience of people associated with this site.

    Many thanks

    Comment by Mark Ryan — 4 Jul 2012 @ 9:15 PM

  29. I came across some temperature information I would like to bounce off the board. After 9\11 planes were grounded for a while. I have been told that the temperature went up 1 degree during this period because the aerosols from the planes were not being added to the atmosphere and the temperature went back down after the planes started flying again, due to the increased aerosols from the now flying planes.

    Is that true?

    And, if so does that mean that we have altered the climate by 2 degrees with 1 degree being suppressed due to the aerosols from planes?

    Does anyone have the facts on this?

    Comment by Richard Hambright — 4 Jul 2012 @ 9:27 PM

  30. Re MARoger – about zero CO2 cooling (which technically isn’t zero greenhouse effect, although the water vapor feedback would bring you closer to that (and I’m guessing cloud height reductions would help (less difference between cloud and surface temperature, perhaps less cloud cover in general, but I’m not sure), there’d still be some CH4 (setting aside biological feedbacks) and ozone (not sure how much, and oxygen levels might change long-term) – I’m not sure about cloud albedo feedback but see what Chris Colose said about surface albedo – that’s the really important thing.

    The graph from
    – makes sense to me, not that I’m qualified to judge, but at least some of the reasons for the shape are given in the text – see the section “Earth System Sensitivity” in particular.

    I may not be up-to-date on the latest Snowball/Slushball(a near-snowball) science, but the evolution toward a Snowball as I have understood it involves crossing a threshold of infinite climate sensitivity, beyond which climate sensitivity is actually negative (1/0 can be be approached going toward either positive or negative infinity – picture the slope of a line as it rotates past this point) – which means equilibrium climate is unstable in that range. Equilibrium can be attained when the ice reaches the equator only because there is no more ocean left to freeze at that point.

    This is because, given (a certain parameterization for) the way heat is transported from low to high latitudes, there is some temperature gradient (for a given climate, at a given latitude), so that a given cooling results in a given shift in the boundary between water and ice, having some globally-averaged albedo feedback proportional to the area change, the difference in albedo between water and ice, and the surface insolation at that latitude. The albedo feedback increases as the ice line goes toward lower latitudes from midlatitudes (see the first figure at – if you use equilibrium ice line latitude as a measure of global climate, then the slope of the graph of that quantity in this figure is the equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS). While the ECS in terms of temperature would have a different slope (and a range of temperatures exist for which the ice line remains at 0 or 90 deg latitude), it would pass the 1/0 threshold at the same points. Because of the range of unstable equilibrium, cycling the forcing can produce hysteresis, where thawing initiates at a different forcing value than that which brought the ice line to the equator. The presence of continents adds some complexity – they reduce the area (in whatever latitudes they are found) where ocean can be replaced by ice. They may develop snow and glaciers/ice sheets – aside from mountains, this can take an extra-long time if near the equator as the global hydrologic cycle slows to a trickle in a snowball state (but how long does it take for the equatorial ocean to finally freeze and would the little area of cold but unfrozen water provide regionally-enhanced precipitation? – still, I’d think it wouldn’t be like the Gulf Stream/North Atlantic Drift providing moisture to eastern Canada and Europe – PS Earth system sensitivity might change with different arrangements of continents (and mountains), also the coriolis effect (which decreases over time as the spin of the Earth slow due to tidal interaction with the Moon).

    (Hysteresis may exist for glaciation-deglaciation of the more familiar Pleistocene kind – for example, a thick ice sheet’s surface elevation will make it colder than otherwise and so may remain in place for forcing that would otherwise not allow the formation of a new ice sheet — although the ice sheet could decay from loss at the edges, which could be at lower elevation due to isostatic adjustment (which also displays hysteresis) – at least if the ice sheet has recently retreated – and there’s probably other stuff to consider too.)

    Ecological successsion exhibits hysteresis. Evolution does too, and the evolution of land plants certainly has affected climate and could affect sensitivity (no vegetation feedback if no vegetation).

    At the hot end, there is no such obvious source of hysteresis that I know of (outside geologic processes; I’m assuming any remaining extremophiles are climatologically insignificant, but maybe that’s wrong) other than heat capacity (for climate change purposes I mean to include latent heat, and chemical heat if that ever matters, in the heat capacity); the water vapor feedback gets stronger and stronger approaching runaway, at which point there is a range of global temperatures that all support the same global OLR (outgoing longwave radiation) (setting aside some things not yet known well, like cloud behavior in this range? – Chris Colose could probably clarify that point), so if solar heating is even just a little above or a little below this value of OLR, a planet will continually heat up or cool down until it gets out of this range. The high end of the range occurs when the ocean has been entirely boiled – or at least reached the critical point?? – some things I don’t know there; therein lies an opportunity for hysteresis – net transfers of water between the surface and geologic reservoirs. Also there’s the matter of what happens to carbonate minerals.

    However, other GHGs have trouble providing the forcing that would put Earth into a runaway water vapor feedback state (I’m not sure if this is the correct way to explain that offhand, but it might be something like you’d have to dilute the concentration of water vapor to the point that you’re not near runaway in order for other GHGs to be sufficiently important(?)); it’s basically got to be stellar (solar) forcing or a matter of heating from impacts and other things related to the formation of planets – in which case, given a dim enough sun, cooling is inevitable (for example, see “Initiation of clement surface conditions on the earliest Earth” by Sleep et al. )

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 4 Jul 2012 @ 9:31 PM

  31. And now for something completely different – Fox News says ‘climate change’ without going all Fox News at it …

    Okay, that’s actually an AP that Fox let in the unlocked coop, and when heat came to burn they got back to being the Fox News we all know and love:

    But still, a brief sliver of intelligence did interrupt their spelunking. That’s … progress.

    Comment by owl905 — 4 Jul 2012 @ 11:28 PM

  32. Climate models don’t yet account for increased forest fires.

    Am I wrong?

    Are there any guesses about the consequences?

    [Response:Not sure if your concerns are with aerosol production, carbon cycling issues or biophysical feedbacks from vegetation such as albedo change or evapotranspiration, or some combination thereof.–Jim]

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 4 Jul 2012 @ 11:54 PM

  33. For Richard Hambright: I used your question to search in Scholar:

    That contrail effect was suggested from studies of several events
    but is still being looked into, e.g.

    The effort to sort out how much of what was noticed was happenstance, natural variability, and how much was directly related to contrails, is typical of the effort involved in this sort of study.

    Repeat that search yourself, follow the “cited by” links and you will get an idea of how the idea has been looked into; repeat the search next year and there will be more.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Jul 2012 @ 4:40 AM

  34. Richard Hambright,
    The situation is not clearcut–not surprising, since 9/11 was a one-off event. Researchers in a 2002 study (Travis et al., Nature, 2002) did see a significant increase in the diurnal range of temperatures. However, a 2008 (Hong et al. in GRL, 2008) study noted that the weather from 9/11-14 was exceptionally clear, and this could be sufficient to explain the difference.

    I would also note that many of those advocating contrails as an explanation of everything are frankly, wingnuts.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Jul 2012 @ 7:49 AM

  35. #29, Richard Hambright,

    I was thinking about that just the other day. If you use google on “global dimming” it will lead you right to an informative Wikipedia article and some other resources.

    Comment by Charlie H — 5 Jul 2012 @ 8:08 AM

  36. I notice Northern hemisphere snow cover hit a record low in June. Will this effect temperatures.

    Comment by DP — 5 Jul 2012 @ 8:34 AM

  37. I enjoy the inline responses, but don’t visit often enough to catch that many. Is there a way to see more than the five most recent?

    Comment by John Wilson — 5 Jul 2012 @ 9:06 AM

  38. Patrick 027 @30
    Agreed re my second point @17 which was really questioning the zero CO2 cooling figure and so, by association, draw into question the 4% CO2 warming figure. Chris Colose @20 has put me right on that line of argument. Thank you Chris.

    Of course, this still leaves the unknown source for the 4% CO2 warming JCH @7 was enquiring about. I noted in your last link @30 the quote “The length of time Earth spent with surface temperatures in the 60°C to 110°C range of thermophilic organisms would have been short. To maintain such temperatures required that 5–25 bars CO2 (600–2,900 × 1018 mol) were in the air (27).
    Note the “60°C” for “5 bar CO2” figures.
    This is, of course, the early earth. However (27) is Kasting & Ackerman 1986 that most helpfully has in its Fig 1A a trace for temp v. CO2 for present solar luminosity. And (if you don’t mind the results of scaling a graph the size of a postage stamp) the dT for 0.0006 bar to 0.06 bar (ie 400ppmv to 40,000ppmv) is something like 45°C.
    So I would suggest Kasting & Ackerman provides evidence to back up the assertion “With the atmospheric CO2 concentration increasing to about 4% (40,000 ppmv), the global annual-mean surface temperature will rise to about 60 °C.

    A final thought to share. One take-away I got from reading these accounts of ancient climates is the seriously dominant role played by CO2 at almost every turn.

    Comment by MARodger — 5 Jul 2012 @ 9:53 AM

  39. Re- Comment by John Wilson — 5 Jul 2012 @ 9:06 AM:

    What I do is open a topic thread, hit Ctrl + F (for find), type in the “[Response:” (without the quotes) that begins each inline, and then scroll down with the Next arrow in the find pop up to skip to each inline. For Mac users there is probably a similar search function. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 5 Jul 2012 @ 10:13 AM

  40. A tiny glimmer of sanity in DC regarding flood insurance reform:

    Comment by wili — 5 Jul 2012 @ 10:34 AM

  41. There is simply not enough of this kind of writing out there:

    “Extreme weather events forecast storm over climate change denial”

    Thank You Miss Goodman!

    Instead we have dumb dumbs at WUWT, climate Audit etc plugging politics , literally forcing right wing politics down climatologies throat by being trojan horses, so called experts made of hockey stick wood.
    I have always said that major weather events may sway, such as current US heat wave, but weather is fickle, it changes a lot, and so would a standard TV weatherman say, never really challenging thought, not inspiring people with the reasons fueling extreme weather. There has to be more exposure to contrarian garbage being wrong, that is something we can do here. So please post a contrarian dedication, a collage of all their predictions and misinterpretations, an edifice of statuesque grandeur showing their feet made of wet clay. Contrarian monsters belching lies roam the WWW streets, we yell out “shut up” towards the window of our computer apartments without really looking at them, it would be more effective if we would confront them by simply showing what fools they are by the failed predictions they have made and especially the erroneous science they advocate.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 5 Jul 2012 @ 11:58 AM

  42. This reminds me of Peter Ward’s Under A Green Sky:

    Global Warming Favors Proliferation of Toxic Cyanobacteria
    July 3, 2012


    Cyanobacterial populations, primitive aquatic microorganisms, are frequently-encountered in water bodies especially in summer. Their numbers have increased in recent decades and scientists suspect that global warming may be behind the phenomenon, and are particularly concerned by the increase in toxic cyanobacteria, which affect human and animal health.

    Cyanobacteria are among the most primitive living beings, aged over 3,500 million years old. These aquatic microorganisms helped to oxygenate Earth’s atmosphere. At present their populations are increasing in size without stopping. It appears that global warming may be behind the rise in their numbers and may also lead to an increase in the amount of toxins produced by some of these populations.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 Jul 2012 @ 12:04 PM

  43. wayne davidson wrote:

    There is simply not enough of this kind of writing out there:
    “Extreme weather events forecast storm over climate change denial”

    In light of the media controversy over the “weather of mass destruction” occurring not only in the USA but all over the world in 2012 (and 2011, and 2010 …), here’s another good article on the subject published in Science Daily — SIX YEARS AGO:

    Meteorologists See Future of Increasingly Extreme Weather Events
    Science Daily
    February 1, 2006


    While raising average global temperatures, climate change could also bring more snow, harder rain, or heat waves, meteorologists say. Computer models based on climate data from nine countries indicate every place on the planet will be hit with extreme weather events, including coastal storms and floods.

    Is it any wonder that the screeching of the deniers that there is NO LINK between global warming and the onslaught of dangerous and destructive weather events grows more hysterical every day?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 Jul 2012 @ 12:15 PM

  44. This may be the oldest proverb in the English language.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Jul 2012 @ 12:22 PM

  45. James Hansen, October 2010 (PDF) (emphasis added):

    “Given the association of extreme weather and climate events with rising global temperature, the expectation of new record high temperatures in 2012 also suggests that the frequency and magnitude of extreme events could reach a high level in 2012. Extreme events include not only high temperatures, but also indirect effects of a warming atmosphere including the impact of higher temperature on extreme rainfall and droughts. The greater water vapor content of a warmer atmosphere allows larger rainfall anomalies and provides the fuel for stronger storms driven by latent heat.”

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 Jul 2012 @ 12:28 PM

  46. Wayne Davidson,

    Excuse my amateurism, it’s chronic. Earth Observatory provided some materials in pyrocumulus clouds and there’s been a fair amount of material about fires in Siberia and elsewhere and how their smoke has been traveling. While I’m sure you are extremely better informed than I, it might be worth factoring in the worldwide smoke we’ve had lately:

    While to my eye some of this material is a bit strong (though nowhere near as strong as the polar opposite, the massive fake skeptic deceptions) the graphics don’t lie.

    Please feel free to ignore if this is irrelevant.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 5 Jul 2012 @ 1:32 PM

  47. Riffing off Geoff Beacon’s “Climate models don’t yet account for increased forest fires” reference/Q (link) above, I have a Q –

    Michael Tobis has said that the climate models “have a stodginess” about them, that they don’t show the variety of extremes that we’ve been seeing, because (I think he said) their parameters & tuning come from our (relatively-stable) past (and don’t include stuff that we don’t know how to model?) Is this discussed or quantified anywhere?

    It’s become fundamental to my view of the climate issue, so it’d help to know what its empirical & consensus basis is.

    Comment by Anna Haynes — 5 Jul 2012 @ 2:06 PM

  48. Riffing off Geoff Beacon’s “Climate models don’t yet account for increased forest fires” reference/Q (link) above, I have a Q –

    Michael Tobis has said that the climate models “have a stodginess” about them, that they don’t show the variety of extremes that we’ve been seeing, because (I think he said) their parameters & tuning come from our (relatively-stable) past (and don’t include stuff that we don’t know how to model?) Is this discussed or quantified anywhere?

    It’s become fundamental to my view of the climate issue, so I want to know what its empirical & consensus basis is.

    Comment by Anna Haynes — 5 Jul 2012 @ 2:09 PM

  49. Hank, I prefer the Dorothy Parker version, myself.

    Comment by Rattus Norvegicus — 5 Jul 2012 @ 2:50 PM

  50. > zero CO2 … “global annual-mean surface temperature of – 30 °C.”

    Without CO2, temperature starts to go down, and water starts to freeze and fall out. The drier the atmosphere gets, the easier heat is lost to space and the colder it gets.,5

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Jul 2012 @ 2:57 PM

  51. Jack Roesler @25 — Yes, less cold nights are a (readily calculated) prediction from increased so-called greenhouse gases.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 5 Jul 2012 @ 4:16 PM

  52. Anna Haynes @47 — Unfortunately your third paragraph is not sufficiently clear to attempt to formulate a reply.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 5 Jul 2012 @ 4:19 PM

  53. Re my 30: While the ECS in terms of temperature would have a different slope (and a range of temperatures exist for which the ice line remains at 0 or 90 deg latitude), it would pass the 1/0 threshold at the same points.

    Clarification: the equilibrium climate in terms of temperature would have a different slope, which would be the ECS.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 5 Jul 2012 @ 4:26 PM

  54. JCH, MARodger, Patrick:

    Regarding Andy Lacis’ discussions of the high CO2 limit, perhaps I can shed a little bit of light on this. I’m doing my PhD-related work at GISS over the summer (though on a different topic) but have had some private discussions with Dr. Lacis on this, and am trying to help piece together a side project on similar sorts of exploratory climate related topics, time-permitting.

    Some of the results referred to by Andy are based on so far unpublished work that was presented at the Bert Bolin Symposium in Sweden this year. I was not there, but I’ve seen the notes from his presentation (I believe Ray Pierrehumbert also gave a talk).

    Andy’s “Proto-runaway” results in the high-CO2 limit are based on Gary Russell’s model at GISS (see and see e.g., C480cR.S for the radiation code), which I guess you can think of as a simpler version of ModelE. Descriptions are available online, though someone like gavin will have to fill in the details.

    The radiation flux calculations based on the correlated k-distribution method (Lacis and Oinas, 1991) in the radiation codes of GISS are typically accurate to within a couple percent from line-by-line results, and accurate radiative transfer serves as the foundation for understanding the response to changes in CO2. Simple “logarithmic rules of thumb” work only in a narrow range.

    Gary’s model is a bit more accessible than a super-complex GCM in terms of going back and checking where things can be fixed if the model crashes. Once you get to climates far away from the present, you need to worry about the model blowing up if something weird happens. Andy’s Science paper that zeros out the non-condensing GHGs is based on the GISS 2×2.5 degree AR5 version of ModelE with a Q-Flux ocean; the experiment comes to halt eventually if increasing sea-ice thickness hits the ocean bottom, in which case you can get something like a divide-by-zero in the ocean heat transport somewhere in the fortran code. If you’re near something like a runaway greenhouse regime, a complex model like ModelE won’t be suitable because you’d need to start changing a bunch of fundamental things like the thermodynamic gas constants, and you’d need a bunch of people to modify their sub-routines in the model code, etc.

    There was an experiment performed with GCM-calculated 256xCO2, with an interactive 100m ocean for faster convergence to equilibrium. Global mean temperature becomes 70 C and cloud cover decreases, shifting predominately to high clouds, with surface air specific humidity increasing by nearly an order of magnitude. (As usual, clouds pose a large uncertainty in climate sensitivity, but on the cold end they have a pretty unambiguous warming effect since the albedo effect of clouds over ice is less important for climate than clouds over a relatively highly absorbing surface). Increasing cloud height generates a stronger greenhouse effect (Dennis Hartmann has some work on this relevant for the modern climate, which pretty well explains why the longwave component of cloud feedback tend to be positive).

    From more of a theoretical end, I’ve discussed climate feedbacks here and the snowball ice-albedo feedback here.

    The paper by Kasting and Ackerman also does a high-CO2 experiment, though it’s worth noting the limitations of radiative transfer modeling in dense-CO2 climates like might have occurred on early Earth or early Mars (e.g., Halevy et al., 2009, Radiative transfer in CO2-rich paleoatmospheres, JGR; Wordworth et al., 2010, Infrared collision-induced and far-line absorption in dense CO2 atmospheres, Icarus) due to uncertainties in collision-induced absorption and sub-Lorenzian behavior of spectral line away from the line center. 40,000 ppm is not too large in that sort of context though.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 5 Jul 2012 @ 5:06 PM

  55. Hello David B.B. #51, and apologies.

    #47 3rd para expansion: The impression I get from reading (a very few) “climate future” docs meant for planners, is that they take the climate models’ outputs as being what they need to plan for, in order to have a satisfactory outcome. But if Nature’s going to be making a habit of throwing things at us of a quality/quantity/intensity that the models didn’t warn us about, then “expect unpleasant surprises” should be (but isn’t yet?) part of their – and our – planning.

    Does that help?
    (so the Q is, is there a statistical way to compare models’ outputs against our wild/weird/”sticky” weather, & see if it’s “outside the bounds”, statistically speaking; which is the kind of thing I took Tobis to mean, by his “stodginess” comment (link); “models have always had kind of a stodginess to them; … they do not deliver extreme events at the rate and extent that the real system does”; and “At some level of climate change models look likely to fail to track the general weirdness level”)

    Comment by Anna Haynes — 5 Jul 2012 @ 5:20 PM

  56. 46 Susan, I welcome your insight, I rather challenge others to observe the same thing, its very hard to convince about a new (in this case old) phenomena. I suggest reading my blog and website on the subject. And unlike most, I hand wave not in frustration but pointing finger towards the sunset horizon. Tale a look, and make the necessary repetition, I cant convince any better than by making you look at the sky! There was no forest fires during winter when these streaks were observed.

    43 Secular, “Is it any wonder that the screeching of the deniers that there is NO LINK between global warming and the onslaught of dangerous and destructive weather events grows more hysterical every day?”

    No its not, politics has been infecting the Climate Change dialogue amongst the experts about the subject, for the intent of poisoning the field, rendering climate science unappealing to scientists and especially to the voter audience. To improve against this we must remove the politics, leave it to politicians, and shed light on those in error having influence over them. Contrarians love the confusion about AGW, but they are highly incapable climate experts, not in diagnosing. especially not in projecting future trends.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 5 Jul 2012 @ 6:08 PM

  57. Anna Haynes @54 — I generally believe that Michael Tobis knows what he is writing about. In any case the climate models model climate, not weather. So climate models alone are not going to be that helpful in predicting extreme weather events. For some aspects a paleoclimate prespective is useful; read “Six Degrees” by Mark Lynas:

    In general planners need to recognize that extreme weather events such as high winds and tremendous downpours will be more likely. Predictive studies of such do appear in the literature but possibly are not adequately drawn to the attention of the planners.

    Possibly worse are the northerly march of the arid zones. This is a prediction from climate models. We have seen the example of Texas and nearby areas from last summer; severe agricultural losses. This summer the drought zone appears to be much more extended. The climate models suggest such conditions will be much worse (and more northerly) in the future.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 5 Jul 2012 @ 6:47 PM

  58. #44 Hank Roberts says “This may be the oldest proverb in the English language”.

    “When the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch”. Good point Hank.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 5 Jul 2012 @ 6:52 PM

  59. Re 53 Chris Colose – thanks.

    Re my 30 – just noticed the snowball Earth link I gave earlier: “Molecule for molecule, CH4 is ~30 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2,” – this being the radiative forcing…

    (PS GWP is based on forcing over time, and so CH4’s oxidation reduces the ratio – although an individual CO2 molecule actually has a shorter atmospheric residence time, the lost molecules keep getting recycled back into the atmosphere so the perturbation lasts longer (the residence time of combined reservoirs is longer) – so I’m guessing the GWP ratio jumps to a higher value for a few years and then decreases below 30…? Whereas if there’s much less oxidation of CH4, the ratio stays higher for a long time?)

    This 30:1 ratio (or 24:1? – I’ve seen different values) is appropriate in the discussion of AGW or similar situations, but it depends on the amount of CO2 and CH4 – decreasing CO2 or increasing CH4 reduces the ratio. Very interestingly, if equal amounts (by volume or moles) of CH4 and CO2 are present, oxidizing CH4 to CO2 actually should cause warming because CO2 is stronger (for otherwise sufficiently familiar conditions, at least).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 5 Jul 2012 @ 9:31 PM

  60. oxidizing CH4 to CO2 actually should cause warming – well, that’s setting aside redistribution of that CO2 among the atmosphere and ocean, etc; thus depends on the time scale and just how much stronger a molecule of CO2 is compared to CH4 when they are present at equal amounts (which I don’t know offhand).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 5 Jul 2012 @ 9:34 PM

  61. Patrick- I’d check out Ray P’s Neoproterozoic review paper. He builds a rather convincing case that methane has a rather limited radiative role in the snowball Earth problem, for precisely the reasons you mention. It’s not very surprising, but a point that I don’t think is well appreciated by the community. It’s even worse in anoxic atmospheres, because you start to build up haze layers at high methane concentrations that produce an anti-greenhouse effect like on Titan.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 5 Jul 2012 @ 10:18 PM

  62. wili wrote in 4:

    Could we devote some time here talking about recent weather events in the US and abroad? The recent dericho event in the East seemed rather extreme. Has that happened before? Have such events increased in frequency, intensity, size?

    What we saw this weekend wasn’t simply a derecho but a super derecho, what you may see called a land hurricane by some.

    Please see:

    Touching upon the strength of the storm. Wind gusts were reported at up to 91 miles per hour – that’s equal to a category one hurricane. Most of the deaths caused from the super derecho were because of falling trees.

    Derechos usually strike the lower midwest every year, with the last major derecho occurring in May of 2009. In May of 2009 over 45 tornadoes were spotted due to the sustained wind gusts. During this storm, only one report of a tornado had been sighted.

    Super Derecho Photos: Land Hurricane Slams 700 Miles of the US, Leaving Path of Destruction
    by Gregory Gomer, 2 July 2012

    The May 2009 derecho was a super derecho, and it was the first.

    Please see:

    The May 8, 2009, derecho, however, was in a league of its own. An intense vortex and eye-like structure similar to what forms at the center of tropical cyclones (the generic name for tropical storms and hurricanes) appeared in the bow echo, said study team member Clark Evans of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder, Colo.

    The storm gained strength as it moved across Kansas in the early morning, spinning off 18 tornadoes and packing wind speeds from 70 to 90 mph (115 to 145 kph) when it hit Springfield, Mo. The super derecho plowed a path of destruction through the state about 100 miles (62 kilometers) wide, crossed the Mississippi River with 90 to 100 mph (145 to 160 kph) wind gusts and blew through Illinois before dissipating at that state’s eastern border.

    Huge Windstorm Spawns New Classification: ‘Super Derecho’
    by Brett Israel, 12 September 2010

    As such, there have been only two super derechos ever recorded, both of which occured since 2009.

    Derechos are warm weather storms. There was another recent, more or less unprecedented storm, but it was cold weather.

    Please see:

    But let’s start with meteorologist Jeff Masters, who puts this staggering superstorm in context and examines the climate change angle:
    The mega-storm reached peak intensity late yesterday afternoon over Minnesota, resulting in the lowest barometric pressure readings ever recorded in the continental United States, except for from hurricanes and nor’easters affecting the Atlantic seaboard. So far, it appears the lowest reading (not yet official) was a pressure of 28.20″ (954.9 mb) reduced to sea level reported from Bigfork, Minnesota at 5:13pm CDT.

    Masters: “Strongest storm ever recorded in the Midwest smashes all-time pressure records”, by Joe Romm, 27 October 2010

    Like the super derecho of 2009, the weather bomb of 2010 had a hurricane’s eye.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 5 Jul 2012 @ 10:21 PM

  63. Mark Ryan @ 28,

    I believe “forcing” might be a crossover term from agriculture. I’ve certainly seen it used as shorthand for “force-feeding” in a book published before 1970, and I have a vague memory of seeing it used with respect to using artificial means such as cloches to start a crop earlier than natural conditions allow.

    Comment by ozajh — 5 Jul 2012 @ 10:24 PM

  64. If CO2 reached 4%, the temperature would be the least of our worries. Don’t humans suffocate at levels lower than that?

    Comment by ozajh — 5 Jul 2012 @ 10:34 PM

  65. 32 Geoff linked to: Climate models don’t yet account for increased forest fires.

    From a scientific standpoint it makes perfect sense to work on the puzzle a piece at a time while leaving future work blank. The default is to replace “not well known” with 0 +- 0, with a caveat noting the hole in the model. This creates a problem when scientific results leave the purely scientific realm. Experience has shown that the caveat will be completely ignored, which means that pubic perceptions and policy have been misinformed in a systemic way. This is primarily important in communications which purport to sum things up, like sea level rise or global temperature. The classic example of this type of communication failure was the sea level rise estimate which left out ice melt completely.

    One solution would be to replace important “not well known”s with an estimate in any public communication, and nowadays that includes peer-reviewed papers. Keep the paper as is but add a bit afterwards about the biggest remaining unknowns and how they interact with the work. The level of detail and rigour could be very low and still accomplish the purpose.

    James Hansen has become a master of writing peer reviewed work for public consumption. He knows that the audience is no longer just other scientists. If I were to write a scientific paper, I’d try to incorporate many of his techniques.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 5 Jul 2012 @ 10:36 PM

  66. Hank

    I do appreciate your ability to search Google Scholar and find useful peer reviewed papers.

    Perhaps an important area missing from the peer-reviewed literature is negative results. Not many scientists publish papers saying, “I just don’t know” or” we can’t do that”

    Could you accept, as a challenge, my earlier comment #32? Can you find peer reviewed papera about the missing feedbacks in climate models, particularly forest fires?
    I would be happy, very happy, if you won this challenge.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 6 Jul 2012 @ 1:47 AM

  67. ozajh @63
    The 4% CO2 (40,000ppmv) level appears for a number of different reasons.
    The value was introduced into this threat @7, where 4% is described as the level resulting “if all the CO2 that is locked up in the carbon reservoirs was released into the atmosphere.” This presumably means all fossil fuels. All planetary carbon is 5,000 times that figure (see last link @30 above.)
    4% is also the level found in exhaled human breath.
    And 4% is the “Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health” (IDLH) concentration. (See Revised IDLH here. You would not suffocate until far higher levels. Below suffocating levels the CO2 will probably do for you by other means. According to here, Exposure to very high concentrations (e.g. exposure to 6% volume CO2 for several minutes or 30% volume CO2 for 20-30 seconds), has been linked to permanent heart damage, as evidenced by altered electrocardiograms. Concentrations greater than 10% are capable of causing loss of consciousness within 15 minutes or less.

    Comment by MARodger — 6 Jul 2012 @ 4:40 AM

  68. @Secularanimust #45

    The PDF link is dead… That is a great and timely quote and it would be nice to have the source….

    Comment by Flakmeister — 6 Jul 2012 @ 8:53 AM

  69. ‘Forcing’ does seem like an odd term. I checked my OED (not thoroughly–you need a microscope to read it) and there are extensive entries for ‘force’ and related variations. There does seem to be an agricultural connection, particularly in Australia and New Zealand (‘forcing dog’ in sheep herding, for instance). There is also mentioned a hydrostatic ‘forcing-pump’ from the 1700s. The term seems to have francophone overtones perhaps connected to the english use of the term ‘forcement’ with the sense of strengthening or encouragement.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 6 Jul 2012 @ 9:14 AM

  70. A [personal] example of damage from a derecho occurring in 2011:

    This wasn’t a super derecho, nor was it one of the worst ever, though in South Carolina it received the nickname “Great Derecho” for its severity at the state level. Costs were nevertheless quite significant; our insurer ended up paying more than $100k for our claim alone, for example. It changed our lives significantly; we were out of our house for about 9 months.

    BTW, the storm system’s rapid movement, described in the article–ca. 9 hours elapsed between striking Atlanta and Jacksonville–is typical of derechos.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 6 Jul 2012 @ 9:36 AM

  71. wili @ 5. That’s a good question. There is good evidence of a larger percentage of rain falling as intense precipitation but I haven’t found anything specific for associated increases in wind speed so I’ve relied on proxies; disruptions in the electrical grid and insurance claims. These are imperfect but tell us something….rain makes it wet, wind blows things over and in general its things getting blown over that disrupt the electrical grid. If anyone has a good reference on documented changes in wind speeds I’d be interested in seeing it.

    Comment by Tokodave — 6 Jul 2012 @ 9:48 AM

  72. Sorry, Geoff, I’ve been doing this wrong to the extent anyone learns to rely on me as one who points, rather than learning out how to do what I point out can be done. I never point to answers; I point to examples of what can be found by looking. Library reference desks are there to help people do what I point out people can learn how to do. Look beyond the pointer.


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Jul 2012 @ 11:09 AM

  73. forcing |ˈfôrsi ng |

    force |fôrs|


    1 strength or energy as an attribute of physical action or movement : he was thrown backward by the force of the explosion.

    • Physics an influence tending to change the motion of a body or produce motion or stress in a stationary body. The magnitude of such an influence is often calculated by multiplying the mass of the body by its acceleration.

    Climate Sensitivity
    In Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, equilibrium climate sensitivity refers to the equilibrium change in global mean surface temperature following a doubling of the atmospheric (equivalent) CO2 concentration. More generally, equilibrium climate sensitivity refers to the equilibrium change in surface air temperature following a unit change in radiative forcing (degrees Celsius, per watts per square meter, °C/Wm-2). One method of evaluating the equilibrium climate sensitivity requires very long simulations with Coupled General Circulation Models (Climate model). The effective climate sensitivity is a related measure that circumvents this requirement. It is evaluated from model output for evolving non-equilibrium conditions. It is a measure of the strengths of the feedbacks at a particular time and may vary with forcing history and climate state. See climate, radiative forcing. [1]

    Radiative Forcing
    A measure of the influence of a particular factor (e.g. greenhouse gas (GHG), aerosol, or land use change) on the net change in the Earths energy balance.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 6 Jul 2012 @ 11:18 AM

  74. Flakmeister: The PDF link is dead… That is a great and timely quote and it would be nice to have the source….

    2010 — How Warm Was This Summer?


    “Given the association of extreme weather and climate events with rising global temperature, the expectation of new record high temperatures in 2012 also suggests that the frequency and magnitude of extreme events could reach a high level in 2012. Extreme events include not only high temperatures, but also indirect effects of a warming atmosphere including the impact of higher temperature on extreme rainfall and droughts. The greater water vapor content of a warmer atmosphere allows larger rainfall anomalies and provides the fuel for stronger storms driven by latent heat.”

    Comment by dbostrom — 6 Jul 2012 @ 12:07 PM

  75. Jim

    The easiest way for me to comment on your response to my #32 is to say “all of the above” but I admit I didn’t have evapotranspiration in mind.

    But I’m surprised you didn’t get my drift, which was

    …should we worry that climate models have not got the pace of climate change right and are underestimating these future consequences…

    1. the average world temperatures
    2. the loss of sea ice
    3. melting of glaciers
    4. the increase in droughts
    5. the increase in storms
    6. the increase in wildfires
    7. the loss of biodiversity
    8. the frequency of heat waves
    9. insect infestations
    10. &ETC. & ETC. ????

    [Response:You specifically asked about fires, not all those other things. I’m not sure what you expect these models to do, but the answer appears to be “everything”. I mean it’s fairly unrealistic to expect a climate model to predict fire occurrence and biodiversity loss don’t you think?–Jim]

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 6 Jul 2012 @ 12:11 PM

  76. Thanks, tim and tok. I lived through the MN event–very weird and scary. I didn’t realize that there were no super derechos before 2009.

    Comment by wili — 6 Jul 2012 @ 12:27 PM

  77. Hank #71

    Thanks for responding but I don’t feel inclined to look for something that isn’t there. I was hoping to make the point that peer reviewed literature on the climate, whilst good, has significant holes.

    It would be helpful if we had more warning signs to warn us of the holes.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 6 Jul 2012 @ 12:32 PM

  78. Re: DP @ #36

    In their book “The Arctic Climate System” Serreze and Barry write (p.293), “It has long been known that variations in the onset and strength of the Asian summer monsoon are in part determined by Eurasian snow cover through impacts on albedo, soil moisture and large-scale ocean-land temperature contrasts…(citations)… . Significant correlations have been found between anomalies of snow cover and the sea level pressure and height fields over the Arctic and North Atlantic…(citations).”

    Here is a paper on this region, it’s a modeling exercise and maybe a bit dated but interesting nonetheless:

    [Response:Projections of changes in the Asian Summer Monsoon (ASM) are actually quite complicated. The South and East ASM are impacted by different climate dynamics, and there are competing mechanisms involving the role of latent & sensible heating, atmospheric stability, and dynamics related to e.g. ENSO. We recently published on this topic: Fan, F., Mann, M.E., Lee., S, Evans, J.L., Future Changes in the South Asian Summer Monsoon: An Analysis of the CMIP3 Multi-Model Projections, J. Climate, 25, 3909-3928, 2012. -Mike]

    Comment by BillS — 6 Jul 2012 @ 1:14 PM

  79. >peer reviewed papera about the missing feedbacks missing feedbacks in climate models?
    >I don’t feel inclined to look for something that isn’t there.

    The question doesn’t make sense. What models? Each model is different. Each model run is different, they are published with their assumptions, and you can read that to see what was and was not included. It simply doesn’t make any sense to say “climate models don’t included X”. Some do, some don’t. There are models for forest fires out there if you look. Not bothering to look doesn’t mean something doesn’t exist.

    I don’t feel inclined to do your work for you, but here is one model of the coupled physics of forest fires and the atmosphere. I think you simply aren’t sure of what question you seek to answer.

    T. L. Clark, M. A. Jenkins, J. Coen, and David Packham. A coupled atmospheric-fire model: Convective Froude number and dynamic fingering. Intl. J. of Wildland Fire, 6:177–190, 1996.

    More fire modeling:

    I don’t really know why I’m doing this, there isn’t a real question I’m trying to answer so I’ll stop.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 6 Jul 2012 @ 3:24 PM

  80. > I don’t feel inclined to look for something that isn’t there.

    Mhmm. And are you inclined to thank Unsettled, who found some for you?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Jul 2012 @ 4:44 PM

  81. Unsettled Scientist @78

    The message I get from the philosopher Wittgenstein is that for a conversation to work both parties have to guess what the other one means. I don’t think you are trying very hard to understand.

    The papers your cite concern individual fires and how they develop. They do not address the important issues I list in #74. They give no clue to world temperature rises or the frequency of droughts throughout the world – although they may be of use to the emergency services. They are weather not climate.

    If I were to say general climate model or Earth systems model instead of just ‘model’ would you understand better? Or did you understand in the first place and were refusing to engage in normal conversation?

    Just to be sure, I’ll answer “What models?” by saying “Those models that are useful in estimating the size of these future consequences…

    1. the average world temperatures
    2. the loss of sea ice
    3. melting of glaciers
    4. the increase in droughts
    5. the increase in storms
    6. the increase in wildfires
    7. the loss of biodiversity
    8. the frequency of heat waves
    9. insect infestations
    10. &ETC. & ETC. ????

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 6 Jul 2012 @ 5:36 PM

  82. Geoff Beacon,
    I think you are falling into a common trap of laymen when it comes to looking at models–that is, you want a model that will give you “the answer”. That’s now what what scientific models do. Scientific models are there give insight, and scientists, engineers and policy makers (if they are wise) use that insight to anticipate and plan for how bad things might get.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Jul 2012 @ 5:40 PM

  83. Thank you. Isn’t there moral hazard around “…how bad things might get”–namely, a tendency to conclude that if it’s not too bad then it must be o.k., or, on the other side, a tendency to exaggerate simply to gain attention?

    Isn’t the issue somewhat like the difference between health care and disease-care? How about talking about how good it could get if we went the other way?

    For instance, could somebody please tell me how much healthier I might be likely to be, and feel, if I had a few more ppm of oxygen to breathe? How many marginal ppm are significant–for me, and for human health in general? What’s my optimal oxygen horizon?

    Comment by Patrick — 6 Jul 2012 @ 8:29 PM

  84. Geoff,

    The quotes you use in your post in your blog are very short. It’s hard to figure out what the context is to even understand what exactly is being said. The second quote doesn’t appear to be a complete sentence even. Wittgenstein likely wouldn’t approve of posting quotes with so little context if mutual understanding is the goal, but if the goal was to make me guess then well done.

    Just to be clear, my “what models” question was asking specifically, which models. Your answer essentially means “all models.”

    If your question is simply what are forest fires in a GCM, Jim’s first reply is probably the best answer: aerosol production, carbon cycling issues or biophysical feedbacks from vegetation such as albedo change or evapotranspiration.

    BTW, are you sure John Mitchell meant Global Climate Model with GCM, or did he really mean General Circulation Model.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 6 Jul 2012 @ 8:49 PM

  85. > models that are useful in estimating the size of these future consequences

    You’re looking for a review of the literature, one putting models and studies together to sum up what’s known — a consensus statement

    (Scholar’s results will also turn up “advocacy science” PR work, of course.)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Jul 2012 @ 10:24 PM

  86. I have a dumb question but I have wondered about it for a few years. I would not be surprised if you blew me off:
    Mt. Pinutubo, in the early ’90s, exploded with a very large eruption. The resulting particulate matter in atmosphere cooled the planet for a few years. I understand this demonstrated that the best climate models predicted the cooling accurately. Yet I understand large eruptions like this add large amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere( I vaguely remember seeing charts of CO2 levels over the last few decades from Hawaii, that do not show a “blip” related to this but I am not sure). Excuse my ignorance.
    My question is, could this event have contributed to the 1998 el nino and record high temps of that year( I understand those temps have been surpassed since).

    [Response: Pinatubo did release a lot of sulfate aerosols which stayed in the stratosphere for a few years (mostly gone by 1994) and which had a direct cooling effect. The idea that Pinatubo released a climatically important amount of CO2 is however a myth – there is no evidence for this at all. While people have speculated on the impact of big volanoes and El Nino/La Nina responses (there is some evidence for an enhanced likellihood of an El Nino in the year following an eruption and there was one in 1991/1992), the effect (if there is one) is short-lived. 1998 is far enough past 1991 to discount any detectable influence. So, no. – gavin]

    Comment by thomas — 6 Jul 2012 @ 10:52 PM

  87. [Moderator/webmaster: Please adjust my comment to the following…]

    Isn’t there moral hazard there–namely, a tendency to conclude that if it’s not too bad then it must be o.k., or, on the other hand, a tendency to exaggerate simply to gain attention?

    Isn’t the issue somewhat like the difference between health care and disease-care? How about talking about how good it could get in an optimal scenario?

    And what does the science say about oxygen? What’s the industrial-era oxygen trend, or is the time-frame too short to be meaningful for oxygen?

    I want to know what’s optimal for human health.

    Comment by Patrick — 6 Jul 2012 @ 11:30 PM

  88. Geoff Beacon @various: I’m not sure I understand better than anyone else what you’re getting at and even if I have it right it’s not something I have any expertise in. However, you may want to look at the links below. (Fire may or may not be *in* GCMs but that doesn’t mean it can’t be assessed by climate modelers.)

    MC1 dynamic vegetation model, which includes a fire module and can be driven by the output of GCMs at global, regional or landscape scales.

    If you care to look through these articles and the articles that cite them,38 I expect you’ll find references to other climate-coupled vegetation models.

    Comment by Rick Brown — 7 Jul 2012 @ 12:03 AM

  89. owl905 — 4 Jul 2012 @ 11:28PM

    Actually, my understanding is that the term “Climate Change” was coined by Republican pollster and marketing whiz, Frank Luntz, in a memo to Reagan and was actually meant as an obfuscatory diversion from the more severe sounding “Global Warming”. So Fox News should embrace it.

    p.142 I think.

    Comment by Ron R. — 7 Jul 2012 @ 12:45 AM

  90. Jim

    Thanks for replying to my #74

    I don’t expect one model to predict everything but if all models have some missing feedbacks the ensemble of global climate models (GCMs) they will all be lacking and since the feedbacks are overwhelmingly positive. Forest fires are an interesting case because they seem to be missing as forcing agents in all GCMs.

    I’m sorry it come to this but I am criticising most of the community of climate scientists (CCS) for not warning us where the holes in their science are.

    There is a good example of the approach that might be taken to remedy some of these holes. The Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) had several scenarios of the emissions due to human activity.

    Many model runs have been completed using different scenarios, with different outcomes. Is there a similar approach to climate feedbacks? I don’t see why not.

    If it’s too difficult for a GCM to predict a particular feedback, like forest fires, and we know it might be significant then why not introduce it as a forcing scenario exogenous to the models. (Actually I would favour some measure of endogeny because higher temperatures may mean more fires.)

    You may have misunderstood my question. I wasn’t asking why GCMs don’t (usually?) predict forest fires but why they don’t take them (and other feedbacks) into account.

    Much more importantly. If your argument is “our GCMs can’t be expected to do that”, why don’t you tell us clearly so that our politicians can hear?

    I’m sure you know the Allen/Pierrehumbert line, which I understand as “We can put a trillion tonnes of carbon iin the atmosphere and keep within a 2 degree rise in global temperatures”. Wasn’t this approach reliant on GCMs that did not account for forest fires and many other feedbacks?

    I’m sure you will be aware that their approach puts less emphasis on short term forcing agents (e.g. black carbon and methane). My conversations with government officials (on whom politicians rely) tell me that only now are we getting a reluctant recognition that we need the time that a reduction of short term forcing agents will bring to begin to address the horrors of climate change.

    If the CCS warned us their GCMs were underestimating future problems we might also start to put some effort into geoengineering research and argue for an enormous carbon price.

    If you have been telling us, I didn’t hear. Is it time to take Rupert Murdoch’s advice and hire some real pros to get the message across. I could make some suggestions.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 7 Jul 2012 @ 6:06 AM

  91. Ray Ladbury #81

    Scientific models are there give insight, and scientists, engineers and policy makers (if they are wise) use that insight to anticipate and plan for how bad things might get.

    Without the missing feedbacks they can’t tell us how bad things might get.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 7 Jul 2012 @ 6:10 AM

  92. Ray @81

    But one should never lose sight of the famous adage attributed to Dr Box.

    Comment by Terry — 7 Jul 2012 @ 6:20 AM

  93. Unsettled scientist #81

    See the comments at the end of Climate officials and climate provisionals

    Note John Mitchell’s comment

    I would add that although these things may be important, they are not always easy to quantify, model, initialize and validate, especially 5-7. That is why is taking time ot implement them.

    Sometimes it is hard to get straight answers from climate scientists. John Mitchell has always answered my questions directly.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 7 Jul 2012 @ 6:29 AM

  94. Unsettled Scientist #81

    Global Climate Models or General Circulation Models? You are probably right. I also have Earth Systems Models ringing in my head. But do any of them have a decent set of feedbacks in them?

    I seem to read about new ones every day. e.g. Global warming turns tundra to forest-study. Even though watching climate science much more closely than anyone I know – but I may be bested by some RealClimate afficionados – I can’t remember them all.

    As an informed representative of the public who regularly doorsteps policymakers I would like some guidance that I can trust.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 7 Jul 2012 @ 6:47 AM

  95. Hank Roberts #84

    OK, I go to my MP and say “Climate change is very dangerous go an put ‘consensus statement’ into Google Scholar and you will find how bad it is”


    And when I followed your link the first paper cited was How to Manufacture a Climate Consensus by Patrick J Micheals (Cato Institute).

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 7 Jul 2012 @ 7:05 AM

  96. These perspective generally seem to reflect the high rte of change we’ve been seeing in the weather, land changes and sea ice since 2005.


    Comment by Killian — 7 Jul 2012 @ 9:23 AM

  97. Patrick@86: “I want to know what’s optimal for human health”
    Optimal health is dying at the slowest possible rate ;)

    Comment by flxible — 7 Jul 2012 @ 9:29 AM

  98. Geoff,
    I think you are missing the point–the models allow you to explore different feedback scenarios. None of these scenarios may be “real”. However, they will provide insight. This insight can be added to insights gleaned from other models. The point is that this is more of an engineering and planning issue than it is a scientific issue–and these fields too have their models. It is these models that try to “bound” how bad it can get (e.g. SLR, length of drought, flood magnitude…), based on input from scientists.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Jul 2012 @ 9:31 AM

  99. Geoff: what you got is just as I told ya!
    “(Scholar’s results will also turn up “advocacy science” PR work, of course.)”

    There is no substitute for actually searching, thinking, and making choices; when you take what others give you, you get fed what they knew and want you to have, and at best it is outdated by the time you read it.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Jul 2012 @ 10:16 AM

  100. I think the point that Geoff is missing is that climate modeling is a tool to aid the understanding of how the global system works, not to predict future weather in detail. Climatologists have shown us the changes taking place are largely a result of perturbations of the system caused by humanity. The answers to the questions of the specific size of the listed consequences are a matter for risk analysis best addressed to ecologists, social planners and … insurance companies.

    Comment by flxible — 7 Jul 2012 @ 10:35 AM

  101. Ray #96

    Exactly. Models can explore feedback scenarios. When are they going to explore the scenarios with increased forest fires, increased tree growth changing Artic albedo, methane clathrates disassociating, carbon released from melting tundra & etc.

    Did the Allen/Pierrehumbert model runs explore such scenarios?

    Should we look to cut short term forcing and stop eating beef and tax activities that cause wood smoke? Or should we ignore short term forcing until we are near peak CO2 emissions?

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 7 Jul 2012 @ 10:51 AM

  102. Thomas @85 (and Gavin inline)

    According to the USGS, Pinatubo’s eruption emitted about 0.05 Gt CO2. Which is about 0.1% of annual anthropogenic emissions.
    Link here:

    Comment by Marco — 7 Jul 2012 @ 11:14 AM

  103. Geoff,
    Unsettled Scientist has supplied two studies. They don’t indicate an overwhelmingly important effect–as would be expected from events that are Poisson and local. What evidence do you have that their effect is significant and that significant resources should be directed that way–rather than, say, toward understanding cloud feedbacks better?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Jul 2012 @ 11:26 AM

  104. Patrick @86
    By way of answer to your enquiry, let’s start by what Dr Keeling (the son of the famous one) has to say on the matter as given here.
    Dr Keeling has calculated than oxygen mass is lost from the atmosphere at a rate eight times faster than the rate our use of fossil fuels is adding carbon mass to the atmosphere.
    Now this sounds like really bad news. Forget AGW. At the present rate of oxygen loss from the atmosphere, O2 levels will be down to 6% and we will all be asphyxiated in 420,000 years.

    Of course, an alternate nemesis for mankind could be the rising sea levels due to the water that results from burning FFs and which is causing the oceans to rise at a whopping 0.015mm per year. Will even the citizens of La Paz be safe from such a mighty inundation?

    Then, we don’t have to take this O2 depletion lying down. Live at the lowest altitude that you can. Leave La Paz by the next bus. Go live by the sea. Or better still, try living in Death Valley (assuming it hasn’t flooded yet) where the atmosphere is thickest. Avoid sources of carbon monoxide which reduce your O2 intake. Breath deeply and don’t overload your kidney function.
    Alternatively, if this all seems a mite too extreme and you have more money than sense, there are food suppliments on the market that insist they oxygenate the body and promote well-being.
    However, I would be more mindful of that old adage – “Laughter is the best medicine.

    Comment by MARodger — 7 Jul 2012 @ 11:30 AM

  105. > When are they going to explore the scenarios with increased forest fires

    Well, I started asking about that in the 1980s, and when I got on to sci.ecology, several groups of Spanish and Portugese* forest ecologists had been working on the question for quite a while. They gave me the advice I needed to start trying to put topsoil back on 40 acres on a mountain that had had a huge forest fire (after 50 years of fire prevention fuel build-up). They advised terracing, telling me that with climate change warming things up, they expected both more and hotter fires and more intense rainfall events.

    See, the thing is, this isn’t new, and when someone comes along like Geoff who doesn’t believe the work is being done, so doesn’t bother to look for the answers, and poses the question as he said above just rhetorically or hoping to waste the time of people willing to help, and then utterly ignores the repeated attempts to point out that there are answers — one has to wonder if the whole point is simply to delay and befuddle.

    This is why Joe Romm says public discussions are often taken over by the extreme alarm and extreme delay proponents, crowding out those actually knowledgeable about what’s being done, what’s still needed, and how to learn.

    Anyone who believes this work isn’t being done _really_ doesn’t want to know.
    * They’re still at it:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Jul 2012 @ 1:07 PM

  106. As ice sheets thawed toward the end of the last ice age, Earth responded with a fit of volcanic eruptions – possibly as a result of the Earth’s mantle responding to the transfer of the weight of ice at the poles to a weight of water around the equator. Even if increased volcanism were to happen, I have the comfort of answers #72 ann #135 in Skeptical Science’s Global Warming & Climate Change Myths reinforced by Gavin’s earlier comment in #85

    The idea that Pinatubo released a climatically important amount of CO2 is however a myth – there is no evidence for this at all. 

    I read Gavin’s comment as a further cue that CO2 from volcanoes will a negligible effect compared to other climate forcing agents such as methane from cattle or diesel smoke from transport(are these added to the SRES scenarios?).

    The question I ask is “If forest fires (and other wildfires) increase will they be “climatically important’?”. It is not a question that your references address. They address the question “Can climate models be used to predict future frequency and size of wildfires?”.

    Who amongst you is willing to say “Don’t worry about increases in wildfires they will cause only negligible climate forcing”. Their effects need not be fed into the model runs for The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of IPCC.

    HadGEM2 seems to be important for AR5.

    Will it be run with wildfire forcing in it?

    Any advance on wildfires? Forest albedo? Clathrates?

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 7 Jul 2012 @ 3:33 PM

  107. Here’s a puzzler.

    Shell Alaska’s Arctic spill management barge has failed to gain US Coast Guard certification, a key step for Shell in proceeding with exploration/exploitation plans for Arctic seas.

    The main issue?

    Coast Guard officials said Shell Alaska had initially received approval for the vessel in December under a stringent set of structural standards based on the American Bureau of Shipping’s standards for floating production installations. Since then, they said, Shell engineers have said they believe the company should be held to the less rigorous standards for mobile offshore drilling units.

    The difference, said Coast Guard Cmdr. Christopher O’Neil, is in the strength of storms the vessel can withstand.

    “Because of the intended use of the Arctic Challenger and the harsh conditions experienced by maritime traffic in the Arctic, the Arctic Challenger is required to be able to withstand the forces generated by a 100-year storm. The operators of the Arctic Challenger contend that the 100-year standard is too stringent of a design standard, and that a 10-year (storm) standard is more aligned with historical conditions for the area of the Arctic they intend to operate (in) this summer,” O’Neil, who is chief of media relations for the Coast Guard, said in an email to the Los Angeles Times.

    Shell ready for Arctic, but oil-spill barge isn’t

    So at root we have Shell Alaska as an early player in leveraging persistent weather changes that are making Arctic waters more amenable to exploration and drilling, but Shell Alaska is hoping the USCG will approve equipment that is only designed to withstand short term weather behavior. This seems counterintuitive.

    As weather events come and go we stick with the story that massive amounts of extra energy in the atmosphere will remain mysteriously hidden, that no firm attribution can be be connected between a given event and our winding-up of the atmosphere. That fond hope is apparently what Shell Alaska believes should prevail in this case; should this equipment be held to a higher standard?

    Comment by dbostrom — 7 Jul 2012 @ 3:38 PM

  108. Kids! Need to write a school paper about climate change and you’re not sure where to start? Start by typing

    into your web browser, followed by the subject you’re interested in.

    Say you wanted to write about climate change and, oh, “wildfire” just to pick an idea of the air.

    So you type that word into your browser right after the site: limiter.

    That gets you any mention of that word at that site.

    Now this may be a lot more than you’re used to reading.

    Buck up. You can add more words to narrow the result, work it down to the amount of stuff you can read.

    Here’s the kind of thing you can find — great stuff, it’ll impress your teacher:

    “… Destruction of forest biomass by burning releases large quantities of CO2 and is estimated to create 10 percent of annual global methane emissions as well as 10-20 percent of global N2O emissions. Thus, fire can have a significant effect on atmospheric chemistry (IPCC, 1992). The process is well known in terms of general effects, but it has many uncertain parameters in relation to specific fire events because fire effects are related to fuel amounts, arrangements, and conditions as well as weather conditions at the time of combustion-all of which can be highly variable or unpredictable (Goldammer, 1990; Dixon and Krankina, 1993; Price et al., 1998; Neuenschwander et al., 2000).

    Monitoring, Verifiability, Transparency, and Permanence
    These factors are very difficult to achieve in relation to wildfires, which are such highly stochastic events that any estimate of the effect of management on actual changes in wildfire dynamics is likely to be speculative. Post-event monitoring, however, has begun to provide estimates that can be used to build predictive models (Neuenschwander and Sampson, 2000)….”

    You know how to find this stuff.

    Now stop and think. This is important: _don’t_ just use what I showed you in that example. That’s 12 years old!

    You can figure out how long the scientists have been thinking about a subject by noticing the dates on the citations (you know what a citation is, sometimes it’s called a “cite” or a “source”).

    You know how to find this stuff for yourself.


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Jul 2012 @ 4:09 PM

  109. “Destruction of forest biomass by burning releases large quantities of CO2 and is estimated to create 10 percent of annual global methane emissions as well as 10-20 percent of global N2O emissions. Thus, fire can have a significant effect on atmospheric chemistry (IPCC, 1992). The process is well known in terms of general effects, but it has many uncertain parameters in relation to specific fire events because fire effects are related to fuel amounts, arrangements, and conditions as well as weather conditions at the time of combustion-all of which can be highly variable or unpredictable (Goldammer, 1990; Dixon and Krankina, 1993; Price et al., 1998; Neuenschwander et al., 2000).

    Monitoring, Verifiability, Transparency, and Permanence
    These factors are very difficult to achieve in relation to wildfires, which are such highly stochastic events that any estimate of the effect of management on actual changes in wildfire dynamics is likely to be speculative. Post-event monitoring, however, has begun to provide estimates that can be used to build predictive models (Neuenschwander and Sampson, 2000).”

    That’s just an example, quite an old one.
    Search using this string: wildfire

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Jul 2012 @ 4:11 PM

  110. Geoff, after a certain point your continued requests become something akin to a child asking that its shoelaces be tied for it.

    What are -you- doing? Search your options and find a way to lend concrete support for your curiosity and concern.

    How about using that online startup funding thingamabob to pay for a chemical assay of the burgeoning smudge on Greenland’s ice sheet? Researcher Jason Box wonders if the smudge is soot from wildfires; you can help him find out. That would help to provide some data for modelers to plug into their systems.

    Comment by dbostrom — 7 Jul 2012 @ 4:11 PM


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

  112. I should add for Geoff…

    Box seems like a creative person when it comes to accessing his research subject. Talk to him, see if some extra money would help to answer the composition question of the dirty stuff infecting Greenland’s ice sheet. If he’s amenable, initiate a Kickstarter project. I’m sure I’m not the only person who’d be delighted to contribute money to such a tangible goal. Our “free lunch, low taxes” experiment here in the US is not working out to my satisfaction and I bet I’m not the only person willing to exploit another way to contribute.

    Comment by dbostrom — 7 Jul 2012 @ 4:20 PM

  113. Re Chris Colose 60 –
    Thanks for reminding me of that (you pointed it out to me here – (direct link: ) – I think I did skim it but then I put it aside for awhile…)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 7 Jul 2012 @ 4:50 PM

  114. We need some graphs to help in the battle against the denialists. It would be very valuable indeed if Real Climate had a prominent link on the home page to three UP-TO-DATE graphs of (i) actual temperature (GISS?) and variability-corrected temperature (, (ii) CO2 concentration, and (iii) sea level observations superimposed on the 95% CI of the IPCC4 projections – that is, updated versions of figure 1 in Science 2007;316:709 (plus variability-corrected temperature), but with just the overall IPCC 95% CI. If these graphs were updated every 6-12 months, they would be a very useful resource in the battle against the deniers.

    In addition, denialists often claim that the IPCC just changes its incorrect predictions to fit the data, so it would be helpful to have three other up-to-date graphs of actual and variability-corrected temperature plotted on the 95% CI of the IPCC1, IPCC2 and IPCC3 projections.

    As the authors of Real Climate are well aware, the political battle is almost as important as the actual scientific investigation, and these six graphs would be a great help in the political battle, as well as being a good summary of the scientific evidence.

    Comment by Frank Shann — 7 Jul 2012 @ 7:28 PM

  115. Wow. You have to wonder what is wrong with some people?

    “My colleagues and I have been talking about this quite a lot lately,” said Gorrie. “It’s either a vendetta and a total assault on the anything environmental or a total disinterest in the issue. Whatever it is, I don’t think we’ve seen anything quite like this in Canada.”

    Comment by Ron R. — 7 Jul 2012 @ 8:11 PM

  116. Hank #106

    As you say, climate forcings from wildfires are described by

    1)Goldammer, 1990;
    2)Dixon and Krankina, 1993;
    3)Price et al., 1998;
    4)Neuenschwander et al., 2000

    Will their findings be used to provide forcings for the CMIP5 models to be used for AR5?

    Dbostrom #106, #109

    You mention Jason D. Box’s blogpost Greenland ice sheet albedo continues dropping at highest elevations. He wonders

    1. Are the widespread wildfires, for example in Siberia or in Colorado adding to the albedo reduction?
    2. Or given that “Since 2000, global coal consumption has grown faster than any other fuel. ” … Is coal combustion part of the problem?

    Jason’s wonderings are not peer reviewed. So some here might dismiss them. I don’t because they are just the sort of obvious questions I am trying to ask. The next obvious question is …

    Will these effects be used to provide forcings for the CMIP5 models to be used for AR5?

    Hank #108.

    Does your IPCC link shed any light whether the CMIP5 models have wildfires as a forcing or feedback? I can’t see the connection myself but being an amateur and an outsider, I don’t have the inside knowledge of the professionals.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 7 Jul 2012 @ 8:13 PM

  117. #112–I’ve been saying for a while that the Harper government must be the envy of the Tea Party, in terms of anti-environment activism. (The main difference is that Harper and Co. follow the good old Canadian political tradition of not saying what you mean; the Tea Party, by contrast, is nothing if not candid. It’s probably a mistake.)

    And the Harper mandate runs for another 4 years, too.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 7 Jul 2012 @ 9:14 PM

  118. Geoff: Will these effects be used to provide forcings for the CMIP5 models to be used for AR5?

    If the material in question (crud on Greenland ice) is not identified, is temporally ambiguous and variously offers no presently tractable means for plugging into a climate model without a lot more legwork being done first, what do you think? Researchers should magic the numbers into models?

    Repetitious bitching about other people not doing enough work fast enough is not useful. Did you ping Jason Box to see if there’s some way you can help identify the material he mentions? Even an “amateur outsider” can help, by putting money where the mouth is; indeed the only useful role the vast majority of us on the planet can play in this research is to open our wallets.

    Which is flapping widest: your mouth or your wallet?

    Comment by dbostrom — 7 Jul 2012 @ 9:33 PM

  119. Re- Comment by Geoff Beacon — 7 Jul 2012 @ 10:51 AM:

    You say: “Should we look to cut short term forcing and stop eating beef and tax activities that cause wood smoke? Or should we ignore short term forcing until we are near peak CO2 emissions?”

    You seem to be having a problem with understanding physical reality. What we (especially here in the U.S.) should do is to reduce the release of fossil carbon CO2 from our homes, transportation, electrical generation, agriculture and industry. These activities are currently unsustainable and will be responsible for much more direct warming, and other problems, than that caused by feedback from wood smoke and eating beef that offering these before other primary measures is just plain silly.

    Let’s take your beef eating hobby horse as an example. If we make the assumption that beef production has remained relatively constant in the U.S. over more than the last 10 years, then the amount of methane in the atmosphere has not been increasing and will not increase if the industry continues at the current level indefinitely. In this thought experiment the methane derived from beef production has not increased global warming (or ocean acidification) at all over 10 years or so. In contrast, all of the fossil derived CO2 released by all of agricultural activities, including production and delivery of grains, fruits, and vegetables, or any plant product farmed for human consumption during this period, has greatly increased global warming and ocean acidification. Fossil carbon is the most significant problem.

    The problem of interest in your context is not beef, instead it is unsustainable agriculture. We need to find a way to feed the 7 billion (and counting) people in this world in a sustainable manner. This must be done quickly before there is too much atmospheric CO2 and the fossil fuels have run out. Currently fossil fuels are necessary for fertilizing, raising, and distributing agricultural products. What else do you propose?

    One excellent example of a way that sustainable agricultural practices need to be scaled up as quickly as possible, in order to make food production sustainable, is:

    Please tell me of another method that will work without fossil fuel, I will be very interested. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 7 Jul 2012 @ 9:42 PM

  120. Geoff, I pointed you to 12 year old (and older) information from the past. Were those used in the IPCC’s work at the time? Hint: where were they when you looked at them?

    Now, did you look at the citing papers for each of those, and see what subsequent research has been done that mentioned them?

    You seem to want guarantees of an outcome. If you’re a government, you’re expected to do that and you get to help write the result.

    If you’re a citizen, work on your government — not by asking some guy on a blog what they IPCC will do but by learning what the science is and who will be writing the next summary — look at the authors’ work.

    The exercise in rhetorical questions is really just recreational typing.
    I’m done with you.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Jul 2012 @ 10:26 PM

  121. Kevin McKinney: And the Harper mandate runs for another 4 years, too.

    A determined individual with the power wreak do a lot of havoc in four years. In the past no one wanted to be identified as anti-environmental; these days it’s a badge of honor (among thieves).

    Sadly this seems to be the Age of Outrage.

    Comment by Ron R. — 8 Jul 2012 @ 12:13 AM

  122. dbostrom #118

    Researchers should magic the numbers into models?

    That would be better than pretending that the models were producing reasonable results if they aren’t. I judge/guess that the trillion tonne scenario from Pierrehumbert/Allen did that. I know policy makers that this scenario affected.

    the only useful role the vast majority of us on the planet can play in this research is to open our wallets

    Most of my spare cash goes to the expenses involved in lobbying policy makers. Some key ones are waiting for the results of AR5. If those results are under cooked we’re in trouble.

    What you seem to be saying is the community of climate scientists (CCS) are wonderful people (agreed) and they are doing the best science they can (agreed) but I say they should state/shout clearly without prompting what they can’t yet do.

    I’m not ashamed to call myself an outsider and amateur. There are amateurs – better than me – who I trust more than official scientists. See: Climate officials and climate provisionals)

    Steve Fish #119

    Inside Polyface Farm, Mecca of Sustainable Agriculture. Joel Salatin sounds a worthy man but beef cannot be sustainable. If he claims sustainability, he may not have looked at the research. (See No Beef). Beef cannot feed the world (See It’s the poor that starve.)

    What else do you propose?

    See Food: Scientists vs amateurs and related Making planning work differently.

    Fossil carbon is the most significant problem.

    You might like to follow up Short Term Solution for Climate Change

    Hank Roberts #120.

    Now, did you look at the citing papers for each of those, and see what subsequent research has been done that mentioned them?

    No I prefer to ask the professionals if they have done their job properly – they are the ones that should know. But it pains me I am getting so few answers.

    The question for this week is “Will the AR5 use CMIP model runs with reasonable sets of climate feedbacks?”

    [Response:I’d recommend reading the CLIVAR newsletter on what’s planned for the CMIP5, and last year’s WMO report on black carbon issues, since that appears to be your main concern wrt fire effects/feedbacks.–Jim]

    If they can’t fit them in everybody should be warned.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 8 Jul 2012 @ 4:03 AM

  123. To make this clear I am sure Pierrehumbert/Allen did not ‘pretend’. I think their work was an important step forward. It does however need to be seen in the context of missing feedbacks.

    I do suspect there is pretending in certain government circles.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 8 Jul 2012 @ 4:29 AM

  124. Kevin McKinney@117, I’ve started refering to the Canadian Gummint as “the Harpercrites”.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Jul 2012 @ 6:03 AM

  125. Hey, just don’t blame Canadians for electing Harper. An overwhelming majority of us did not vote Conservative. A multi-party race in our antiquated first-past-the-post electoral system allowed him to win a majority of seats with a plurality of only 39.6%.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 8 Jul 2012 @ 9:58 AM

  126. Harper is a megalomaniac by inclination and an economist by training who is determined to see Canada be an economic superpower by leveraging the natural “resources” it has always used wantonly. In the next 4 years Canadian environmental oversight will be irretrievably dismantled. His position is heady stuff for an economist.
    “The megalomaniac differs from the narcissist by the fact that he wishes to be powerful rather than charming, and seeks to be feared rather than loved. To this type belong many lunatics and most of the great men of history.” Bertrand Russell

    Comment by flxible — 8 Jul 2012 @ 12:19 PM

  127. Geoff, it’s a dark and stormy night. The bus you’re riding has one broken headlight, is approaching a railroad grade crossing with broken signals. Some folks are standing next to the road almost invisible in the murk and rain, waving their arms, yelling “you probably won’t make it, stop the bus!” Unfortunately your driver is also drunk and myopic; some of the shouting bystanders have gotten too close to the bus and have already been run over.

    Fixing the broken headlight might help. Fixing the crossing signal might help. Screaming louder might help. Exaggerating the danger in the absence of supporting facts won’t help. Yelling to the bus driver that there might be a big dragon riding on top of the train that’s about to transect his bus won’t help his decision process or coordination.

    Let’s be clear that when the bus and its contents are are broken and spilled it won’t be the fault of bystanders next to the road who noticed the danger and pointed it out.

    Comment by dbostrom — 8 Jul 2012 @ 12:42 PM

  128. Jim

    Thanks to your response to #122. I will look at the CLIVAR newsletter to see if any of my concerns are met.

    I was aware of the WMO report on black carbon and was very interested to know it’s origins. I had hoped that it was aimed to be an urgent wake-up call for short-term forcing – haveing been aware of the views of Schindell aand Ramanathan. For Schindell see the New York Times A Second Front in the Climate War and for Ramanathan see The Copenhagen Accord for limiting global warming: Criteria, constraints, and available avenues

    I had also heard that Bob Watson was influential in getting this project started. This gave me the hope that there was some realisation of the urgency of the issue and that there was some serious behind-the-scenes political lobbying to get government to stand up to the terrifying reality.

    A conversation with Johan Kuylenstierna dashed my hopes. If I remember correctly, he just said that a few of them got together at a scientific conference and thought it was a good idea. I suppose I must take his low-key answer at face value. I have a vestige of hope because Johan has known me for a long time and seems to think very carefully before he tells me anything. I suppose I can’t blame him.

    This brings me back to your answer. You have responded with scientific references with not much comment on how you stand on the urgency (or otherwise) of tackling short term forcing agents.

    Any chance of your opinion?

    [Response:Sure. I’m 100% for reducing anthropogenically generated forcing agents whose dynamic varies on any time scale, short or long. The quickly responsive ones may well be the place that the most immediate benefits can be derived, a place to get started, get the first wedge in. But I have no special insight into it beyond that, that’s for sure–Jim]

    P.S. I’ve just remembered, back in 2010 I wrote Cooling and Supercooling. It could have been written better but you see where I stand on this issue. What about you?

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 8 Jul 2012 @ 1:33 PM

  129. dbostrum #127

    Thanks. Fantastic. My first smile in days.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 8 Jul 2012 @ 1:35 PM

  130. Jim

    I forgot to ask.

    Is there any planet-saving behind-the-scenes lobbying going on?

    [Response:No idea.–Jim]

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 8 Jul 2012 @ 1:39 PM

  131. Re- Comment by Geoff Beacon — 8 Jul 2012 @ 4:03 AM currently at #122:

    Your responses are getting very old. You apparently don’t understand what Joel Salatin actually does. With his experimental farm he has developed a method of sustainable agriculture that improves the carbon content and fertility of his land for growing food without having to use fertilizer from fossil fuels.

    I have looked at the No Beef advocacy website and it presents very little science and what is there is not balanced or complete. You just don’t seem to understand that agricultural methane derived from currently growing plants turns over in 10 years or so, while fossil derived CO2 builds up so that it is essentially permanent on the human civilization time scale.

    Your posts on your Brussels Blog just repeat more of your unsupported opinion. Here you disparage scientists and science and seem to think that food can be grown and harvested without maintaining the soil. Most scientists and amateurs gardeners know that this is impossible. You have no solutions and the short Public Radio International discussion of “Short Term Solution for Climate Change” doesn’t support anything you have been advocating.

    Finally, your response to Hank Roberts’ post at #120 is shameful. You are whining because the experts don’t seem to want to give you special attention instead of doing just a little work for yourself. You sound like the one or two students I had every year that didn’t like the textbook and/or want to come to lectures, but instead wanted me to explain all the material especially for them in my office. Lazy.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 8 Jul 2012 @ 1:43 PM

  132. Geoff Beacon,

    On the question of short-term forcings (such as black carbon, methane, ozone) vs long-term forcings (chiefly CO2) I wrote something at Planet3:

    The former have faster, but limited effect, the latter has effect for longer and is cummulative.

    So the question is: Are you more concerned about the short term or the long term effects of climate change?

    The most sensible answer to what we should focus on is of course both.

    Comment by Bart — 8 Jul 2012 @ 2:45 PM

  133. Jim Eager @ 9:58 AM.

    That’s more than Bush got in 2004 (just 30.8 percent of all eligible voters). And we know how well that turned out!

    Comment by Ron R. — 8 Jul 2012 @ 2:49 PM

  134. Steve Fish #131

    Ah, An academic that thinks I’m a student and should keep my place!

    The key work NoBeef references is Dr Adrian Williams of Cranfield University, paid for by our Defra (the “Farmers Department in Government”) and buried by them. I think they didn’t like the results. I’m sure you can find some students to look for similar work – it’s there. Try Donal Murphy-Bokern.

    “methane … turns over in 10 years or so”. True but forcing from short term agents is almost half the total – an issue I discuss at #128.

    “Unsupported opinion” in BrusselsBlog? Be specific. Get some of your students to add up the number of supporting references for each posting. Why not take the Cooling and Supercooling post mentioned in #128 and criticise that specifically?

    P.S. What do you think of Sepp Holzer and Geoff Lawton’s work on permaculture?

    P.P.S. I do admire what I’ve seen of Joel Salatin’s work but his cattle are a big problem.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 8 Jul 2012 @ 2:54 PM

  135. Bart 132

    As you say in you rather good piece, either/ or is a false dilemma.

    With the right economic incentives we could extract lots of CO2 from the atmosphere.

    I advocate a very high carbon price and counting methane as 105 times CO2 (i.e. 20year GWP + Shindell).

    Once we’re over the cliff of a serious tipping point there is no turning back.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 8 Jul 2012 @ 3:03 PM

  136. Steve Fish, some people appear to have the impression that the major, if not the only, GHG problem with beef is the methane emissions.

    That is not the case. Producing beef for human consumption is extremely fossil fuel intensive, and the resulting CO2 emissions are by some estimates (e.g. the FAO) comparable to the CO2 emissions from the entire transport sector.

    Small-scale boutique beef producers like Salatin are all well and good for those who insist on enjoying the nutritionally unnecessary taste of beef. But such methods cannot be scaled up anywhere near to producing the vast amounts of cheap beef that Americans commonly consume. That requires fossil-fueled industrial agriculture, which apart from the massive GHG impact is also the leading source of water pollution in the USA as well as the source of epidemics of entirely preventable degenerative disease.

    And it’s those methods — US-style fossil-fueled, chemical-fertilized industrial agriculture — not Salatin’s methods, that are rapidly expanding all over the world as increasingly affluent populations in the developing world move to adopt a US-style meat-heavy diet.

    Sure, for those who just cannot do without beef, and who have the time and money to seek out small-scale sources of “sustainable” beef, that’s a better choice than conventional factory-farmed beef. But it is far easier, cheaper, and healthier, and reduces your GHG impact more, to eliminate beef and other animal products from your diet entirely.

    “Going vegan” remains one of the easiest and best things that most Americans can choose to do to reduce their personal contribution to AGW.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 8 Jul 2012 @ 3:05 PM

  137. >Salatin
    On the much larger scale, the same approach replicates (and restores, to some extent) the natural grassland environment before selection by firearm hunting changed herd behavior.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Jul 2012 @ 4:23 PM

  138. I just finished reading RC contributor David Archer’s “The Long Thaw.” I highly recommend it. I am a pretty well-educated guy when it comes to the basics of climate, paleoclimate, and climate change (but I am no expert). That said, I learned a lot. I really appreciated the long view forward–that is, going beyond the 2XC02 and year 2100 to understand the very long-term implications of climate change.

    Comment by Tom Rooney — 8 Jul 2012 @ 6:53 PM

  139. Ron R. @ 2:49pm.

    Note that the 39.6% that Jim Eager referred to (Harper’s vote in the last Canadian federal election)), was 39.6% of the people that voted. Voter turnout was only 61.1%, so that means Harper was elected by 24.2% of the eligible voters…

    Personally, I’ve gotten rather tired of hearing cabinet ministers begin speeches with “the people gave us a mandate…” [apparently to do whatever they d@#& well please…]

    Comment by Bob Loblaw — 8 Jul 2012 @ 8:45 PM

  140. Bob Loblaw @ 8:45 PM.

    Ah yes, thank you for that. I see that he mentions that it was a multi-party race.

    Personally, I’ve gotten rather tired of hearing cabinet ministers begin speeches with “the people gave us a mandate…” [apparently to do whatever they d@#& well please…]

    I remember Bush said that very thing.

    Not that I’m any big fan of Obama anymore.

    [Response:Can we get back to science please? There are plenty of other places to discuss political preferences… Thanks – gavin]

    Comment by Ron R. — 9 Jul 2012 @ 12:39 AM

  141. “Can we get back to science please? There are plenty of other places to discuss political preferences… Thanks – gavin”

    Apparently, politics has some impact on science. The Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory was forced to close on account of politcs for example:

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 9 Jul 2012 @ 9:06 AM

  142. Right Gavin. Sorry about that.

    Comment by Ron R. — 9 Jul 2012 @ 9:38 AM

  143. Re- Comment by Geoff Beacon — 8 Jul 2012 @ 2:54 PM:

    As usual you are not trustworthy- You didn’t respond to the fact that I found that one of your references doesn’t support what you claim. Now you say that “Methane is almost half the total…” Total of what, and methane from what source? It certainly isn’t half of greenhouse forcing and the first reference in Google Scholar that I got for Donal Murphy-Bokem (your recommendation) shows greenhouse potential warming amounts of CO2, CH4, N2O, and refrigerants for the total UK food chain, and methane is about 15% of their total without breaking out that just from beef operations. You don’t seem to read what you recommend. I couldn’t find much of an academic nature in Scholar on Holzer and Lawton except commentaries, blogs, and books for sale. I like any ideas about permaculture, but I would like to see some numbers from a reliable source.

    You say that Salatin’s “cattle are a big problem.” They are not. You have failed to dispute the fact that methane forcing from beef operations will not increase any further than the present if the operations don’t increase in size. In fact, Salatin’s farm greatly reduces methane below that of big commercial operations and eliminates fossil CO2 additions to the atmosphere that is also a big problem for raising plant food for humans.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 9 Jul 2012 @ 10:01 AM

  144. Geoff, iirc, Lovelock in _Revenge of Gaia_ claimed that peat fires in SE Asia had contributed a significant portion of the total CO2 emissions one year. If you count these as wildfires, I would think that this would mean that wildfires could indeed make a significant contribution to GW. Those peat fires were the result of intentional clearing of land, as I recall, but the same could happen from GW (and has happened in the tundra, I believe).

    Your basic point is a good one–if various carbon (and probably other) feedbacks are being systematically excluded from all models that IPCC and others use, we inevitably have information that is systematically skewed toward a picture that is rosier than it should be. This may be an argument for putting a bit more weight on paleo-studies, as Mark Lynas has suggested.

    In any case, please keep asking questions, and just ignore the people who seem to think that no one should never ask any question on this thread unless they have spent hundreds of hours looking in all the right places for the answers first.

    (And of course you are right that the American commercial-meat-centered diet is a major part of how we contribute to global warming, among various other harms. And the spreading of that diet to the rest of the world is a further giant step in the wrong direction. The Salatin promoters have not read him very carefully–he doesn’t think his system can work unless almost all urban dwellers return to the land–probably a good idea, but not one that is going to happen any time soon. In the mean time, most of us should, as Michael Pollan says, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Those of us that choose to eat all plants leave more meat for the carnivores, so they should offer us their praise, rather than ridicule! ‘-)

    (reCaptch: capucines orshoil– a plant name! But I’m not sure it’s good sauted in ‘orsh oil’!)

    Comment by wili — 9 Jul 2012 @ 10:14 AM

  145. Re- Comment by SecularAnimist — 8 Jul 2012 @ 3:05 PM:

    I agree that CH4 is not nearly as important as fossil CO2, but in all agricultural operations. I have tried to keep mentioning the fossil CO2 as separate from CH4 in my comments above. However, I think that your dietary proclivity may be biasing your perceptions. Consider the following:

    On this forum we have seen many discussions about “the tragedy of the commons” and, so called, “economic externalities” in relation to everything from fisheries to transportation fuel. In this light you should be a major booster of Salatin’s sustainable agriculture. His methods eliminate the need for insecticides and fossil fuel derived manufactured fertilizers. Methane from the cattle gut is reduced because they eat food for which they are evolved and this is also much more humane than force feeding corn which both produces methane and makes them sick and then having to feed them antibiotics which can create resistant bacteria for human disease. Methane from cattle manure is also mostly eliminated because when spread on the range by the animals it doesn’t ferment anaerobically. The externalities are greatly reduced and the land is improved. As you say, this type of operation results in more expensive (but higher quality) beef, but this will reduce demand. This is exactly what we wish to see happen with fossil fuels, that is, we have to either eliminate or pay for the externalities. Check out this detailed economic analysis for scaling up Salatin’s methods-$FILE/2010-12.pdf

    Now, how do you propose to produce plant based food for us while eliminating most of the methane, pesticides, and all of the fossil carbon while also dealing with the species diversity problems caused by giant monocultures? We all have to get this figured out before too much fossil carbon is released and/or when it runs out.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 9 Jul 2012 @ 10:57 AM

  146. wili wrote: “The Salatin promoters have not read him very carefully …”

    If you read Salatin “very carefully” you will find that he makes many statements about vegetarian diets and human nutrition that have about the same relationship to actual science (represented for example by the American Dietetic Association) that Lord Monckton’s statements about global warming have to the IPCC.

    And some of his claims regarding the ecological efficiency of his methods have been questioned. For example one analysis on Michael Pollan’s blog found that the soy and corn that Palatin feeds to his “broiler” chickens would provide more calories for human consumption if eaten directly than the meat from the chickens.

    As far as I am concerned, anyone exploring alternatives to the mass destruction perpetrated by fossil-fueled, chemical-saturated industrial agriculture is worth listening to. But please keep in mind that Salatin has a product to sell — and to promote — and apply appropriate skepticism to his claims.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 9 Jul 2012 @ 11:39 AM

  147. #143 steve fish:

    Sepp Holzer is a self educated farmer who has developed interesting techniques that actually do work, as one can discover by visiting his farm in austria (one method of growing vegetables is at work in my garden, so I could convince myself :-). It is probably true that not much scientific work about it exists,
    but he is not a learned scientist and his first steps into permaculture were just about 20 years ago, I think


    Comment by Marcus — 9 Jul 2012 @ 1:22 PM

  148. 45.James Hansen, October 2010 (PDF) (emphasis added):

    [ … ]

    The greater water vapor content of a warmer atmosphere allows larger rainfall anomalies and provides the fuel for stronger storms driven by latent heat.”

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 Jul 2012 @ 12:28 PM

    Thank you SecularAnimist. That’s what I thought as the part of my big picture. I knew they knew because they always know whatever I come up with. But it made me feel good. Thanks. It is important to me to read details in context of the big picture becasue it’s so easy to get lost in technical talks and it’s way too difficult to me to understand them. And reading up on these things wouldn’t bring me any bacon home anyway.
    Thank you, SecularAnimist, again.
    (I said I was off. I lied. I cheat, steal and lie. What can I say?. But this is an open thread though.)

    Comment by CRV9 — 9 Jul 2012 @ 2:56 PM

  149. Pointer to affect politics:
    which points to
    which hosts

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jul 2012 @ 3:11 PM

  150. Steve Fish #143

    Thank you for pointing out my sloppiness. I had remembered a diagram I cannot now find showing non-CO2 greenhouse gasses having radiative forcing almost equal to that of CO2. Methane is the largest forcing agent of these but I was wrong when I meant to say it was half the total. In Box 2. of The Copenhagen Accord for limiting global warming:Criteria, constraints, and available avenues Ramanathan et. al. say this

    CO2 (1.65 Wm-2) and the non-CO2 GHGs (1.35 Wm-2) have added 3Wm-2 of radiant energy since preindustrial times.

    I find this paper an excellent one. It has a good sense of urgency in discussing how global average temperature increase should be kept below 2 °C

    Even if GHG emissions peak in 2015, the radiant energy barrier will be exceeded by 100%, requiring simultaneous pursuit of three avenues: (i) reduce the rate of thickening of the blanket by stabilizing CO2 concentration below 441 ppm during this century (a massive decarbonization of the energy sector is necessary to accomplish this Herculean task), (ii) ensure that air pollution laws that reduce the masking effect of cooling aerosols be made radiant energy-neutral by reductions in black carbon and ozone, and (iii) thin the blanket by reducing emissions of short-lived GHGs. Methane and hydrofluorocarbons emerge as the prime targets.

    They also say

    About 33–45% of the annual CH4 emission of 230–300 Mt is caused by livestock and the agriculture sector, 30% is caused by the energy sector, and 25% is caused by waste treatment and disposal

    I’d be interested to hear views on this paper.

    Unless comments get closed more later this week with a few comments on Google Scolar.

    P.S. You didn’t take up my challenge on my Cooling and Supercooling post.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 9 Jul 2012 @ 3:27 PM

  151. old info but useful for the relative proportion of forcing by various gases:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jul 2012 @ 4:32 PM

  152. Opinion from the

    We may also be betting too much on “scientific” agriculture. By “scientific” I mean agriculture that attracts research funding. I got caught between advocates of gardening, permaculture, horticulture recently and three “scientific” professors from the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. I characterise the gardeners as “the amateurs” and the professors as “the scientists”. Starting with claims the “gardening can’t feed the world” from one the professors I found none of the professors knew anything much on the topic.

    The “amateurs” knew about Sepp Holzer and Geoff Lawton the “scientific” professors knew nothing. Guess whom you can find in Google Scholar?

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 9 Jul 2012 @ 5:47 PM

  153. Given the length of the interchange down this thread on livestock methane emissions, I’m surprised the size of such emissions have not yet been nailed down satisfactorily. Wikipedia is often a good place to start. It gives the figure for livestock methane emissions as 35% of man’s total methane but this figure needs to be reduced as the anthropogenic total used does not include rice cultivation. From the lilely range of methane emissions from rice given here, this would put livestock methane as 27% – 33%.
    As a proportion of positive anthropogenic forcings Skeie et al 2011 graph methane as of 2010 at 15% (0.49 W/m^2 of 3.31 W/m^2). Adding the methane-derived stratospheric H2O would boost this to 17%, thus setting % forcing from livestock methane at a little under 6%.
    A graphical presentation of Skeie et al 2011’s 2000-2010 numbers linked here (usually two clicks to ‘download your attachment’

    Comment by MARodger — 9 Jul 2012 @ 5:56 PM

  154. Re 136 Secular Animist, Re 145 Steve Fish, Re 150 Geoff Beacon

    I want to second what Steve Fish said about increasing beef expense and the supply and demand relationship.

    I’m definitely not against anyone going vegan; it’s funny how it sometimes seems people think of milk/dairy as the source of Ca and meat/nuts/beans as the source for protein (too bad coffee, chocolate, and vanilla are not beans as such!), but there’s really protein and Ca distributed among food options.

    But different ways to get the same nutrition are more or less enjoyable to different people (and more or less good for them – not everyone can eat like everyone else, unfortunately) – food really ought to be more than just about physical sustenance; it is one of the ways we enjoy life (and one of the reasons for mitigating climate change), along with music, science blogs, and watching storm chasing videos.

    If people reduce their meat consumption, that should help. There are lands not so suitable for food crops but can produce feed for some animals (and not all of it is presently forested, etc.). Meat can be sustainable and help feed the world (and be healthy, assuming there’s exercise, etc.) if it is a small enough part of the average person’s diet, same with everything else (well, not everything, but you know…). If somebody would rather save money from not buying meat and spend it instead on chocolate and maple syrup (plants!) (another motivation for mitigating climate change), I’m fine with it (except then there’s less chocolate and maple syrup for me – oh, well).

    PS different forcing agents can have different efficacies because there are some subtleties about how they work; for example, black carbon deposited on ice/snow near freezing, by causing warming at the point where a positive feedback can work, may have greater global effect relative to it’s global average forcing. Aside from that sort of thing, CH4 emissions have greater effect than just through CH4 radiative forcing because they affect things like tropospheric ozone (although I’d have to get back to you on the numbers).

    But I’ve only read back to ~ comment 120-ish so maybe you’ve covered that already.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 9 Jul 2012 @ 6:20 PM

  155. @SecularAnimist, #136: I agree that going with a vegan diet is a very good way to got one’s carbon footprint down, but estimates I’ve found put it at about 1.5 tons of CO2 reduction per year. I’ve done that, but other measures, like putting in a high eff. furnace and windows, having my house fully insulated, using my AC on only the very warmest days (I use an exhaust fan on moderately warm days, to cool the house at night, then close it up in the morning), using my feet and bicycle for local trips whenever weather permits, consolidating my auto trips, etc. Overall, I’ve cut 7.5 tons of CO2 off my footprint, which includes the 1.5 for my mainly vegan diet. A huge side benefit is that I’m very healthy at 72, in spite of having a mild case of cystic fibrosis.

    Comment by Jack Roesler — 9 Jul 2012 @ 6:27 PM

  156. Does RealClimate take requests?

    Recently I have read a number of pop-sci type articles pointing to research on jet-stream weakening caused by a reduced North to South temp gradient thanks to sea ice loss. These articles suggest that a slower more meandering jetstream is responsible for some of the weather extremes seen in the Northern hemisphere in recent years (big droughts & heatwaves, and big freezes/floods) due to greater North/south excursions of hot/cold air and ‘blocking’ weather patterns caused by jet-stream meanders.

    I couldn’t find any recent RC articles on this topic using the search, and I would love to see the RC take on this. Is this research really solid yet or just in preliminary stages? It certainly sounds intriguing.

    [Response: It’s both intriguing and preliminary. The impact of climate change on winter-time jets has been a topic of research for a long time (for instance, a number of papers I co-authored looked at this – Shindell et al, 1999; 2003, Miller et al, 2006) – but the focus then was on whether changes near the tropopause (and/or stratosphere) contibuted to shifts in the NAO/AO. A +ve NAO is associated with zonal flow (i.e. not much meandering of the jet), while a -ve NAO is associated with a lot of meandering and a lot of cold air outbreaks. The indications at that time seemed to be that we would see a small +ve trend in the NAO (i.e. towards more zonal flow). The rapidity of the sea ice loss might be an additional factor though. Clara Deser did some work years ago suggesting that sea ice loss would give a small push towards negative NAO, but it wasn’t very conclusive. With the new input from the CMIP5 models – which have larger losses in sea ice, it might be that there is a different signal in the models – which would be interesting. Getting at this just from the observations is tricky because the year to year variability is very large, and we just went from a record minimum (in 2010/2011) to a record maximum (2011/2012). I doubt very much that any of the potential forced responses are anything like large enough to explain that. – gavin]

    Comment by SCM — 9 Jul 2012 @ 7:28 PM

  157. To calculate the carbon footprints of meats the Green Ration Book used the following Defra funded study of beef, tomatoes, etc by Williams, A.G., Audsley, E. and Sandars, D.L. (2006) Determining the environmental burdens and resource use in the production of agricultural and horticultural commodities. Main Report. Defra Research Project IS0205. Bedford: Cranfield University and Defra.

    Available on, and

    For methane rated over 100 years, the computer model by the lead author Adrian Williams gave carbon footprints for different meats expressed here for 1 tonne deadweight meat and the corresponding carbon footprint in CO2 equivalent.

    Using GWP100 for methane it gave….

    Beef……. 13.989 tonnes CO2e
    Pig meat… 5.380 tonnes CO2e
    Poultry…. 3.996 tonnes CO2e
    Sheep meat. 14.279 tonnes CO2e

    Using GWP (20years) for methane it gave….

    Beef……. 25.231 tonnes CO2e
    Pig meat… 7.249 tonnes CO2e
    Poultry…. 3.978 tonnes CO2e
    Sheep meat. 26.095 tonnes CO2e

    I don’t think this took into account the uprating of methane by Schindell in Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions

    I don’t think you will find the Williams report in Google Scholar.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 9 Jul 2012 @ 8:25 PM

  158. Re my 154 – see Hank Robert’s 151 link; it shows the attribution of forcing to emission of CH4.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 9 Jul 2012 @ 9:22 PM

  159. Re my 154 – see Hank Robert’s 151; link shows attribution of forcing to CH4 emission

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 9 Jul 2012 @ 9:23 PM

  160. Re 156 SCM – see also:

    Note – the reduction in temperature difference between pole and equator is not evenly distributed over latitude and reverses sign going up through the troposphere. Although the surface temperature gradient is of particular importance to baroclinic instability (mechanism for spin-up of midlatitude cyclones; although this doesn’t include the addition of latent heat).

    reminds me –
    (cont. later)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 Jul 2012 @ 12:13 AM

  161. Re #156
    Thanks very much for the detailed reply. I will await future developments with interest.

    BTW I tracked down the paper that prompted the recent pop sci articles I mentioned above:
    Francis, J. A., and S. J. Vavrus (2012), Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L06801, doi:10.1029/2012GL051000.

    Comment by SCM — 10 Jul 2012 @ 3:42 AM

  162. Geoff Bacon @157
    I feel your numbers err rather greatly on the high side. If you multiply your CO2e/ton(meat) numbers by world meat production figures 2010 , they total to 2 Gt CO2e (your upper table) or 3 Gt CO2e (lower table). To quickly convert this into the meat contribution to AGW, take recent anthropogenic forcings as 80% CO2 with emissions of 30 Gt CO2 and remembering 55% of our CO2 does not remain in the atmosphere, your tables would thus equate to saying meat production is responsible for 12% (lower table) or 18% (upper table) of present AGW. Even if you account for troposherical O3 (that was misplaced @153) and ignore a likely livestock contributon from dairy production, 12% still remains too high a figure.

    Comment by MARodger — 10 Jul 2012 @ 4:18 AM

  163. Earlier on this thread, we briefly discussed Canadian government’s appalling record of anti-science funding decisions. This morning I’m reminded that Mike Mann had written in “The Hockey Stick…” about denialism ‘awakening a sleeping bear.’ Seems that’s true in Canada:

    It’s going to take more than a rally or two, I’m afraid, but I sure hope this gets some political traction!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 10 Jul 2012 @ 9:08 AM

  164. MA Rogers @162

    Previously the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) had highlighted livestock’s impact on the environment in Livestock’s long shadow: environmental issues and options. This estimates that livestock causes 18% of total greenhouse gas emissions. But the World Bank people say:

    Livestock are already well-known to contribute to GHG emissions. Livestock’s Long Shadow, the widely-cited 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), estimates that 7,516 million metric tons per year of CO2 equivalents (CO2e), or 18 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions, are attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, horses, pigs, and poultry. That amount would easily qualify livestock for a hard look indeed in the search for ways to address climate change.

    But they continue:

    But our analysis shows that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32,564million tons of CO2e per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions.

    So the Times says 9%, the UN FAO says 18% and the World bank says 51%

    Reference links here: How long is livestock’s shadow?

    My guess is somewhere between the FAO and the “World Bank people”.

    Which of these can be found in Google Scholar?

    [Response: The report linked is nothing to do with the World Bank, rather it is a report from World Watch Institute – which I assume is some kind of NGO. Regardless, the reported numbers are nonsense – for instnace, they count respiration as emissions (which makes no sense at all), and make a lot of unsupported assumptions. The FAO figure it should be noted is not just methane, but includes all of the industrial activity attributed to argicultural activities. – gavin]

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 10 Jul 2012 @ 9:56 AM

  165. Geoff, what’s your problem with Google Scholar?

    Use any other search tool.
    It doesn’t matter which one.
    They all look at the same web.

    You seem not to understand
    the basics of searching, citing, and references.

    Those aren’t computer skills.
    They’re library skills.

    Asking others to do searches that you expect to be pointless,
    then ignoring the results people show you
    is not working well for you.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Jul 2012 @ 10:20 AM

  166. Gavin replied to Geoff Beacon: “The report linked is nothing to do with the World Bank, rather it is a report from World Watch Institute – which I assume is some kind of NGO.”

    Yes, the Livestock and Climate Change report (PDF) was published in 2009 by Worldwatch Institute, an NGO founded by Lester Brown, which does important work related to climate, energy and agriculture:

    “Through research and outreach that inspires action, the Worldwatch Institute works to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world that meets human needs. The Institute’s top mission objectives are universal access to renewable energy and nutritious food, expansion of environmentally sound jobs and development, transformation of cultures from consumerism to sustainability, and an early end to population growth through healthy and intentional childbearing.”

    For those who may be interested, Worldwatch has a “Sources and Resources” page for that report on their website, which includes a FAQ section.

    As for the NoBeef site’s references to “World Bank people” and what “the World bank says”, they attribute the report to Lord Stern’s “ex-colleagues at the World Bank”, which is an accurate characterization of the authors:

    “Robert Goodland retired as lead environmental adviser at the World Bank Group after serving there for 23 years. In 2008 he was awarded the first Coolidge Memorial Medal by the IUCN for outstanding contributions to environmental conservation. Jeff Anhang is a research officer and environmental special-ist at the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation, which provides private-sector financing and advice in developing countries.”

    However, it is not accurate, and indeed is misleading, to characterize the Worldwatch Institute report as “what the World Bank says”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 10 Jul 2012 @ 11:12 AM

  167. Gavin

    Thanks to your response to me @164.

    I’m having problems with the spam filter. This is truncated.

    According to Livestock and Climate Change by the Worldwatch Institute the two authors were WB employees.

    You may note the NoBeef piece said

    The Times interviewed Lord Stern recently (Barack Obama must attend Copenhagen climate summit, says Lord Stern). He was a bit controversial saying we should give up meat to save the planet from climate change. In the supporting diagrams the Times gave livestock’s footprint was 9% of total greenhouse gasses.

    Stern may have been influenced by a recent report by ex-colleagues at the WB…

    The NoBeef piece perhaps should have explicitly mentioned the Worldwatch Institute, rather than just linking to the report on their website but you cannot deny there is a WB connection which justifies the speculative “may have been influenced by”. That may be a bit limp but it is accurate. Additionally it does not say that the FAO figure was just counting methane.

    [Response: The World Bank is an authoratative institution. World Watch Institue does not have that authority regardless of who it’s authors used to work for. In either case, what matters is the analysis, not the source. And the analysis is wrong. – gavin]

    Livestocks long shadow says

    The livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The largest share of this derives from land-use changes – especially deforestation – caused by expansion of pastures and arable land for feedcrops. Livestock are responsible for much larger shares of some gases with far higher potential to warm the atmosphere. The sector emits 37 percent of anthropogenic methane (with 23 times the global warming potential (GWP) of CO2) most of that from enteric fermentation by ruminants. It emits 65 percent of anthropo-genic nitrous oxide (with 296 times the GWP of CO2), the great majority from manure. Live-stock are also responsible for almost two-thirds (64 percent) of anthropogenic ammonia emissions, which contribute significantly to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems.

    There are two methane issues here

    1) The selection of a GWP measure (100 years or 20 years). Livestock and Climate Change chooses 20 years and give their figure for GWP of methane as 72 rather than 25 times CO2.

    [Response: GWP is not the same as the attribution to current change. – gavin]

    2) You were one of the authors of Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions which uprates the GWP20 of methane to 105 times CO2. (Am I wrong? I’ve lost track of the copy I paid for).

    It seems to me there is no correct choice here without considering future scenarios of climate change – are we near one or multiple tipping points that must be avoided by short term actions while we work out how to cope in the longer term? If we are in this situation, it seems to me to be a possible choice to go for GWP20 rather than GWP100.

    I don’t understand why you say “they count respiration as emissions (which makes no sense at all)“. I wasn’t completely convinced by the Livestock and Climate Change argument but respiration is oxidation of biomass with roughly the same outcome as burning biomass. If the biomass that livestock eat were used in power stations, it could displace some fossil fuels … and burning biomass with carbon capture could actually extract CO2 from the atmosphere.

    [Response: Respiration is recycling the carbon that was extracted from the atmosphere very recently and stored in the biomass. As such it is carbon neutral and you could increase it as much as you want without directly impacting climate. Adding it the anthropogenic contribution to GHGs is just silly. It’s as silly as contrarians claiming that the EPA wants to regulate peoples’ breathing. – gavin]

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 10 Jul 2012 @ 1:11 PM

  168. Re: awakening bears @ 163

    Bears are generally ignored except as viral material for YouTube. Maybe some cute videos of befuddled scientists falling out of trees would draw some attention…

    The Silence on Global Warming

    …This phenomenon of silence – both in the political and journalistic realms – has not gone completely unnoticed. It’s just that those who make the point are ignored, too.

    “For instance, Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, gave a major speech on the Senate floor on June 19 lamenting the failure of the U.S. political system to address the global-warming crisis but the speech got little play…

    “…just as the U.S. news media failed the country in 2003 by caving to the Right’s pressure on the Iraq invasion, American journalism is now failing future generations by cowering in front of the loud voices of powerful climate-change deniers.”

    Comment by Radge Havers — 10 Jul 2012 @ 1:15 PM

  169. Secular Animist @166.

    Yes. Thanks

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 10 Jul 2012 @ 1:17 PM

  170. Geoff Beacon @164

    First my apologies for appelational error @162. I have to blame my converting you from source of enlightnement to smoked meat on mislayed glasses. Sorry.

    As the [Response] @164 states, your World Bank report is actually a Worldwatch Institute document who’s authors have links to the World Bank. I’m not at all impressed by its amending of the UN FAO report. Indeed, to my mind their amendments show such a poor grasp of the accounting problem they address, it isn’t really worthy of comment.

    The UN FAO report has a more reputable authorship and a lot more pages but happily only about 40 pages are about GHGs.
    However I am not very happy with its conclusions. These are that livestock is responsible for 9% CO2 emissions, 35-40% CH4 emissions & 65% Nitrous oxide emissions and that these equate to 18% of all anthropogenic GHG emissions.
    I would question these conclusions on a number of counts. Firstly the figure for annual CO2 FF/cement emissions are taken as 6.5 GtC pa, a value not seen since 1995 and low enough to greatly boost those percentages. Conversely annual CO2 from land-use change is taken as 1.9 GtC pa, an enormous value but given the vast majority of the CO2 emissions it attributes to livestock fall into this category, a large land-use value is probably easier to accept. Then I’m not sure such emissions should be so accounted as they are a product of change in livestock farming not the framing itself. (That means they are not annual emissions.)
    Their methane numbers also appear to be applied to a low total anthropogenic emission figure. N2O emission levels are not something I am immediately familiar with.
    All in all, the UNFAO report’s 18% I’d argue to be unrealistic with the actual figure for all GHGs probably less than 9%.

    Comment by MARodger — 10 Jul 2012 @ 1:26 PM

  171. Carnivores on the thread will be happy to learn that they will be able to cheaply gorge themselves on cheap meat as ranchers and farmers cannot afford to feed their herds at current and likely future crop prices (due to current and forecast near-universal drought:

    So they will be selling their calves and cattle cheap to avoid total loss. Bon appetite.

    Enjoy your feast while ye may (or stock up the freezer), since the temporary glut in cheap meat will most likely be quickly followed by a meat scarcity–hard to find at any price. (So maybe it would be better just to start getting used to bean burgers now?)

    Comment by wili — 10 Jul 2012 @ 1:53 PM

  172. Gavin, thanks for responding to me @167

    [Response: GWP is not the same as the attribution to current change. – gavin]

    Even if I understood that, don’t both publications use GWP’s in the same way?

    [Response: Respiration is recycling the carbon that was extracted from the atmosphere very recently and stored in the biomass. As such it is carbon neutral and you could increase it as much as you want without directly impacting climate. Adding it the anthropogenic contribution to GHGs is just silly. It’s as silly as contrarians claiming that the EPA wants to regulate peoples’ breathing. – gavin

    Burning biomass may cut total GHG emissions by displacing fossil fuel power generation. Cattle breathing by oxidising biomass does not. We should not aim at carbon neutral but at carbon negative activities now.

    I don’t particularly want to be stuck with defending this “breathing causes climate change” position but I do dislike the term “carbon neutral”. “I’m carbon neutral so I’m not to blame” is not a stance I admire if I could actually be carbon negative and correct some of the damage I’ve done.

    P.S. What do you think of Ramanathan’s The Copenhagen Accord for limiting global warming: Criteria, constraints, and available avenues.

    Is his urgency sensible?

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 10 Jul 2012 @ 2:03 PM

  173. As a cowboy, the numbers for sheep look suspect. I seldom sees those varmits out on the lonesome prairie. Maybe some of those strange countries have more of them than we do.

    One wonders, if those puny little ruminants can produce 26.095 tonnes CO2e, could their albedo feedback be a wild and wooly sum that also needs to be in them climate models.

    Comment by JCH — 10 Jul 2012 @ 2:25 PM

  174. MA Roger @170.

    I know GWP can be a difficult concept but it is in international treaties.

    What value for the GWP of methane would you use?

    And why?

    Is methane GWP an example of “a poor grasp of the accounting problem” in Livestock and Climate Change?

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 10 Jul 2012 @ 2:36 PM

  175. As regards beef:

    There is a new paper on all this in the most recent volume of Energy and Environmental Science (Powell, Lenton, ‘Future carbon dioxide removal via biomass energy constrained by agricultural efficiency and dietary trends’, 20 June 2012)

    I should note in passing, @66/95/152/157/164, and indeed @165: you can turf it up on Google Scholar.

    As far as an unlearned reader like me is concerned, it makes interesting reading. They’ve set out at a range of basic scenarios involving different habits of meat production to 2050 (when we’ll be feeding an estimated world population of 9.3 billion), based on dietary preference and agricultural efficiency, and taking into account the type of livestock (beef being the least energy-efficient) and how intensively animals are farmed. An important element is there account of the amount of waste and inefficiency in current practice. (By their reckoning only around 4% of crops grown for livestock currently turn into meat.)

    They conclude that a ‘low-meat, high-efficiency’ approach (e.g. focussing on poultry and pork instead of beef) could lead to a 25 ppm reduction in lower atmospheric CO2. On the other hand ‘A high-meat, low-efficiency future would be a catastrophe for natural ecosystems (and thus for the humans that depend on their services) with around 9.3 Gha under cultivation in 2050 and a net increase in atmospheric CO2 in 2050 by 55 ppm due to land use changes.’

    Comment by Jonathan — 10 Jul 2012 @ 2:55 PM

  176. Grasslands are a huge amount of natural area. Humans can derive benefit from them either by destroying them and planting monocultures, generally of incredibly bad for human health crops such as corn and wheat (bad omega6/3 ratios), or by grazing animals and then eating the resulting carbon neutral and incredibly environmentally friendly meat. In North America, the bison is the primary grass-eater. It is truly a climate-friendly and health-beneficial food. That folks have chosen to provide/eat toxic cows forced to eat toxic grain (OK, bad for you is probably a better phrase/word than toxic) in no way changes the fact that grasslands’ best and highest use for humans is to raise meat.

    I ask SecularAnimist (and other vegans), how the great plains should be used, if not for grass-fed bison? What ya gonna do? Grow more omega-6 corn using fossil fuel fertilizer, thereby adding to the ill-health of humanity and the degradation of the biosphere? I suspect not, but I sure don’t see a better use for the plains than to grow bison.

    And, SA, name ONE thing detrimental to ANYTHING, which is inherent in the production and consumption of bison meat. Grass-fed meat is the BEST environmental AND health answer.

    And remember, that sentient animal owes its LIFE to the fact that its gonna be eaten. Eliminating meat means the extinction of meat-producing domestic animals.

    The problem isn’t meat, but corn and wheat. Meat (and that includes YOU) needs to be grown with grass, not grain.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 10 Jul 2012 @ 3:28 PM

  177. > bison
    And elk.

    “… It’s 1795…. Kentucky. The landscape is a sea of chest-high grasses, dotted with clumps of oak and hickory trees. In the distance, a herd of bison graze, while elk nibble on woody shrubs.
    … in 1975, LBL biologists are excited to discover a small patch of native prairie …”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Jul 2012 @ 3:51 PM

  178. Geoff Beacon @174
    My objections to the Worldwatch Institute paper Livestock & Climate Change does not extend to GWP. Indeed, my many objections are more profound than mere conversion factors between the various GHGs & CO2e.

    As an example of these objections, consider their assertion that their claim “…is a strong claim that requires strong evidence.” This sounds encouraging yet a few paragraphs later their first amendment of the UN FAO findings is to include livestock respiration, a contribution (clumsily) dismissed by the UN FAO report. Worldwatch argue (unconvincingly) otherwise and quantify the contribution thus:-

    “Carbon dioxide from livestock respiration accounts for 21 percent of anthropogenic GHGs worldwide, according to a 2005 estimate by British physicist Alan Calverd. He did not provide the weight of this CO2, but it works out to about 8,769million tons.Calverd’s estimate is the only original estimate of its type, but because it involves only one variable (the total mass of all livestock, as all but cold-blooded farmed fish exhale roughly the same amount of CO2 per kilogram), all calculations of CO2 from the respiration of a given weight of livestock would be about the same.”

    What is objectionable here is that Worldwatch entirely fail to mention in their account the 3,161 million tons for this quantity that UN FAO arrived at. Not a squeak. And it is one hell of a big difference to go uncommented on. In my view, this lack of comment is quite unforgivable when somebody has just been telling me they are providing “strong evidence.”

    Comment by MARodger — 10 Jul 2012 @ 4:05 PM

  179. The problem isn’t meat, but corn and wheat. Meat (and that includes YOU) needs to be grown with grass, not grain.

    Bison feeds on grass, but is not grass …

    Comment by dhogaza — 10 Jul 2012 @ 4:09 PM

  180. Re 172 – Geoff Beacon – I lost track of who said what about % of anthropogenic CO2eq, but here’s the meat and potatoes of the issue:

    GWP vs attribution to present change vs forcing:

    Forcing is, in this context, an energy flux (per unit area, generally in the global annual average, although orbital forcing’s interesting aspects are seasonal and regional) into the climate system or the reduction in net outgoing energy flux from the the climate system (essentially all radiation – there’s just not much ‘evaporative cooling’ by Raleigh-Jeans H escape) – for Earth-like planets this is pretty-much equal to top-of-atmosphere (TOA) values – net downward solar, net upward longwave radiation, and changes in that – because the geothermal flux is (except locally) very small and don’t change much (in the large-scale) except over geologic time (and those changes are still very small except in such times as after large impacts, etc.).

    Present change in climate is the effect that changes in forcing from some baseline (preindustrial) have had, through time, up to this point – if not for heat capacity and assuming only rapid feedbacks, this would tend towards being equal with climate sensitivity * change in forcing, but the climate takes time to reach equilibrium (if behavior were linear, disequilibrium exponentially decays if forcing is held constant), so there will be some historical dependence.

    The present change in CO2 will also have greater dependence on the older emissions than CH4 does; CH4’s emission history ‘fades’ on a timescale of a decade (exponentially decays on that timescale), while CO2 initially (if I understand this correctly) decays even faster but then slows as the extra CO2’s redistribution approaches temporary equilibria with successive cominations of reservoirs, so there is a longer-lived remnant of the perturbation of atmospheric CO2 amount. So the oldest CH4 emissions may have very little direct impact on present equilibrium climate, though they have contributed to the warming that has brought the actual climate closer than otherwise to the present equilibrium value (ie take out the older CH4 emissions out and forcing would have had to increase more rapidly at some time after that, so the climate may have warmed less – this effect of course will also fade with time after that because the disequilibrium decays).

    GWP is proportional to the integration of forcing over time per a unit of emission, since the time of emission – see eq. 6.2 at . The present forcing includes remnants of emissions from many different times, and the forcing history … well, you can figure out one from the other but you’d probably need a spreadsheet.

    And why people have a beef with including respiration: generally, animals eating plants (or eating animals that ate plants, or fungi or bacteria that are eating whatever, except when they’re in an oil spill) are exhaling C that was just taken out of the atmosphere a short while ago. Granted, if you build up a stockpile of grain, or if you start eating the wood of an old tree, (or for carnivores and bacteria, if you’re eating an older animal – although most of what that animal had eaten will already have been emitted again – at least if it’s warm-blooded, so far as I know) than it’s not such a short while, but what remains important is the net effect – if trees or crops are growing at the same rate as the C is being oxidized, pretty much however that oxidation occurs (setting aside the other effects of fires, land albedo, temporary existance as CH4 or CO, etc. (although if as CH4, I suppose the C at first stays in the atmosphere longer because it doesn’t go into the ocean as much until it turns into CO2?)). While food and feed stockpiles and biomass don’t stay constant, they will average out to constant over time for a sustained operation where feed is grown at a sufficient rate for the animals to eat. So respiration as such, while not a solution, really isn’t part of the problem (if you incentive C uptake and tax CO2(eq) emission at the same rate, then one with no net emission or uptake is not directly impacted either way). What may be part of the problem is other aspects of land use – is the soil losing C over time, for example, or are you changing the type of vegetation, such as from forests to corn, reducing the stored C? (PS obviously you can’t count the same emission from a deforested acre each year after deforestation, except for any ongoing emissions due to the change, such as … whatever, you get the point).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 Jul 2012 @ 4:37 PM

  181. Jim Larsen wrote: “I ask SecularAnimist (and other vegans), how the great plains should be used … that sentient animal owes its LIFE to the fact that its gonna be eaten.”

    The idea that everything in the world consists of two things, (1) human beings and (2) “resources” to be used by human beings, is the very root of our “environmental” problems. The pathologically anthropocentric thinking that got us into this mess is not going to get us out of it.

    Jim Larsen wrote: “Eliminating meat means the extinction of meat-producing domestic animals.”

    I don’t see that as a problem. On the contrary, I see ending the mass production of “meat animals” as an essential step towards restoring some semblance of ecological balance and preventing the mass extinction of most species on this planet (including those not considered “useful resources” for human beings).

    More than NINE BILLION sentient animals are slaughtered for meat every year in the USA alone — the vast majority of them having endured unspeakable misery during their short, wretched lives and ultimate slaughter. That is what I see as the problem.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 10 Jul 2012 @ 4:42 PM

  182. Chris Horner and ATI are engaging in renewed degenerate behavior, now targeting Katherine Hayhoe, Andrew Dessler, various journalists.

    “The ultra-conservative American Tradition Institute has expanded its legal pursuit of climate scientists, using transparency laws to try to flush out potentially damaging emails.

    The strategy – used to seek records from prominent scientists such as Michael Mann – is seen by scientists as an excuse to try to dig up embarrassing or damaging communications that could be used to discredit climate science.

    Now for the first time the media is being drawn in as well, with ATI seeking the release of scientists’ communications with specific journalists. The list of news organisations targeted by the request includes the New York Times, the Associated Press, Frontline and the Guardian.

    Earlier requests focused on exchanges between scientists. “We view this as a new chapter,” said Jeff Ruch, a lawyer working with the Climate Science Legal Defence Fund. “Before they were going after interactions between individual scientists. This is basically a spying operation to see who are you talking to, but presumably the idea is the same: to find material that is potential of use in discrediting a scientist.”

    Christopher Horner, the director of ATI’s environmental law centre, deployed the new tactic for the first time last week, in a 5 July 2012 open records request to two scientists at public universities in Texas.

    Horner, who holds posts at the Competitive Enterprise Institute as well as ATI, has led the legal pursuit of climate scientists through open records laws.”

    More at Horner target

    If you find this annoying, don’t just whine and moan; productive catharsis may be found at the Climate Science Defense Fund. Engage in the ritual called “donate” and you’ll instantly feel more calm and happy.

    Comment by dbostrom — 10 Jul 2012 @ 4:42 PM

  183. …”So respiration as such, while not a solution, really isn’t part of the problem “… To put that another way, are you part of the problem because you are not mining dunite (a proposal to artificially accelerate chemical weathering)? And would we include a lack of such artificial chemical weathering as emissions?

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 Jul 2012 @ 4:47 PM

  184. After some quick calculations I was able to quantify my anger w/ATI and Horner: another 250 clams.

    How angry does it make you when the malicious litigators of ATI go after a nice person like Hayhoe? Report your results here.

    Make ATI into a fundraising machine for climate science defense.

    Comment by dbostrom — 10 Jul 2012 @ 5:06 PM

  185. “Eliminating meat means the extinction of meat-producing domestic animals.”

    This isn’t a Boolean problem. Has the near-elimination of horse-drawn transport eliminated horses? Just sayin’.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 10 Jul 2012 @ 5:15 PM

  186. >needs to be grown with grass, not grain.

    Huh? What? Grain *is* grass. Cereals *are* grasses. Barley, oats, wheat, maize, rice, rye, sorgham, millet, zoysia, bermuda, “Kentucky Bluegrass”… it’s all Poaceae.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 10 Jul 2012 @ 5:29 PM

  187. Re 177 Jim Larsen – I return to my point that food should be enjoyable, and while I would have cattle graze on the proper grassy perennials, I – no vegan (and no exercise fanatic), mind you – will feed myself with (not too much, I hope) wheat and corn (and oats) (no, not only those – fish, some beef, some chicken, blueberries, grapes, apples, almonds, chocolate, sugar maples, sweet potatoes, basil, cheese, and tomatoes too! – and maybe some apricots, a dash of salt, some fennel… but the point here isn’t to give you recipes :) ). (PS what is the fraction of cropland that is for feed vs for human food?) Of course if improvements can be made to how wheat and corn are grown, I’m all for that.

    Remember that even if (as I’d expect, based on the existence of crop residues and the times of year when crops’ leaves don’t fill in their alloted area, etc.) you can grow more grass per unit area with less additional resources (I believe), there is still that matter that you have to feed it to an animal to produce a smaller amount of food in the form of meat (I don’t know the conversion rates for dairy and eggs – presumably it depends on how old the animals get before they are used for meat?). So there’s give and take. And when we do (being optimistic sooner rather than later) get off fossil fuels (except for whatever dwindling trickle might be more than compensated by biochar and dunite dust, etc.), the life-cycle CO2(eq) emissions of agricultural products will look different.

    and re “Eliminating meat means the extinction of meat-producing domestic animals.” – um, not to get too deep into philosophical ‘potential beings’ stuff, but a brain that never existed doesn’t care. No matter how many animals are born, there will still be many combinations of parents’ genetics and environment that hasn’t been tried out.

    Re my own 160 – that reminded me of my comments 47,50:
    here (in particular, 47):

    3rd-to-last paragraph:

    Rossby waves can also occur at an IPV front between regions without IPV gradients – the combination of the two implies the possibility for Rossby waves to propagate along a line.
    – the idea of a line being a sharp surface potential-temperature front. Of course fronts at a surface don’t continue to exist without features existing away from the surface, but if you start without a front and then insert one only as required for the effective surface PV gradient (as a surface potential temperature gradient), then the concept should work so far as I know.

    I’ve read that all Rossby waves on a PV-front would have critical levels on either side, where the wave is not propagating through the fluid, so that continual displacement results in mixing, so that PV tends to become more homogeneous on either side. Jets on PV-fronts are also ‘flaccid’ as well as ‘elastic’ (there’s an article – don’t have the website offhand).
    – I think it was this article:
    M. E. McIntyre, “Potential-vorticity inversion and the wave-turbulence jigsaw: some recent clarifications”


    PS attempted start at redo of that comment (doesn’t cover all of it):

    The conservation of angular momentum in the absence of a torque (or change in it with a torque), along with some intellectual effort applied to Newton’s laws of motion (which actually describe the conservation of angular momentum, so that first part is redundant, although it deserves emphasis), shows that a quantity can be defined – (isentropic (or isopycnal)) potential vorticity, or (I)PV for short

    which is proportional to absolute vorticity (planetary vorticity (that of the rotation of the planet) + relative vorticity(that of the fluid motion relative to the planet)) divided by a fluid layer mass depth, or something analogous to that such as the mass per unit area per unit vertical difference in either potential temperature or potential density (constant values of which define isentropic surfaces or isopycnal surfaces, respectively, so that a difference defines a fluid layer of some thickness)

    which is conserved (at least approximately – I’m not sure how the ‘curvature terms’ in the momentum equations would alter this) following fluid motion for adiabatic inviscid processes and whose distribution can be used to derive the velocity at any location within the fluid if a balance assumption is made (such as geostrophic balance or gradient wind balance) – so that the winds are cyclonic around a cyclonic IPV anomaly, etc, and as such winds redistribute IPV, this allows one to visualize how a circulation pattern can evolve, and also in particular predicts and explains how a category of circulatory perturbations propagate through the fluid like waves when there is a ‘basic state’ quasi-horizontal (or isentropic/isopycnal) IPV gradient – in fact they are waves, with interesting phase propagation and group velocity behavior

    (phase propagation always has a component directed such that increasing positive IPV or decreasing negative IPV is to the right (increasing cyclonic PV is to the right in the Northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern hemisphere; note that PV includes the effect of planetary rotation and so cyclonic PV has a tendency to increase poleward – in particular it does this when there is no flow and no (quasi-)horizontal variation in fluid layer mass depth or analogous quantity (see above), while the group velocity can have a component in the opposite direction for sufficiently short wavelengths – PS this is in a frame of reference following the ‘basic state’ flow.)

    And also, it turns out the the horizontally-large-scale circulation of the atmosphere away from the ground and at sufficient distance from the equator does tend towards such a balance, and the viscous and diabatic processes that do occur modify the wave behavior but are not strong enough to mask it.

    Such waves propagate at a speed through the fluid that is dependent on wavelength, and so if such waves are forced by sea surface temperature anomalies or topography with just the right wavelength, then the waves can propagate at a speed that is equal to the speed of the more general wind, so that they become ‘quasi-stationary’. Thus SST anomalies may alter the global circulation (ENSO is a good example – PS I have read that SST anomalies at low latitudes should be much more effective because it is the latent heating (in this case) in the atmosphere above which perturbs the flow, and you get a greater difference in that for a given SST anomaly when the baseline SST is larger. On the other hand, I imagine the difference in sensible heat transfer and associated air temperature difference between ice-free and ice-covered ocean might be large enough to be important in this context(?)).

    While the pole-equator temperature difference will tend to be reduced at the surface (esp. in winter), this is not evenly distributed over latitude, and the reverse is expected in the upper troposphere.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 Jul 2012 @ 5:42 PM

  188. Re 185 Unsettled Scientist – thanks for that ! :)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 Jul 2012 @ 5:43 PM

  189. Hank Roberts #165

    What do I have against Google Scholar??

    That’s too difficult for a quick response but Wikipedia says

     the Google Scholar index includes most peer-reviewedonline journals of Europe and America’s largest scholarly publishers

    Peer-review is for professionals and as George Bernard Shaw said

    “All professions are conspiracies against the laity.”

    Jim Larsen @177

    I ask SecularAnimist (and other vegans), how the great plains should be used, if not for grass-fed bison?

    If you were serious about climate change you would advocate growing biomass to replace fossil fuels (to be burnt with carbon capture) or grow trees to make wooden buildings that store carbon in their structure or have human settlements with locally grown food or …

    MARodger @179

    I don’t want to be cornered into defending the Worldwatch Livestock and Climate Change. I wasn’t totally convinced myself. But

    1) I prefer the way they count the GWP of methane. Again, what about you?
    2) I think there is something in their respiration argument (see my post @172)

    Have you or anyone any views on Ramanathan et. al. The Copenhagen Accord for limiting global warming: Criteria, constraints, and available avenues?

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 10 Jul 2012 @ 5:55 PM

  190. Patrick 027 wrote: “(PS what is the fraction of cropland that is for feed vs for human food?)”

    The EPA’s page on “Major Crops Grown In The United States” has some information on this.

    Regarding corn, the EPA says “According to the National Corn Growers Association, about eighty percent of all corn grown in the U.S. is consumed by domestic and overseas livestock, poultry, and fish production.” (That may be out of date; if I recall correctly, the percentage of the US corn crop used to produce ethanol for fuel exceeded that used for animal feed for the first time in 2011.)

    Regarding soybeans, the EPA says “Over 30 million tons of soybean meal are consumed as livestock feed in a year.” The Encyclopedia Britannica Online states that “Ninety-eight percent of the U.S. crop is used for livestock feed.”

    Regarding the US wheat crop, the EPA states that “about 22% is used for animal feed and residuals”.

    Also, the National Barley Growers Association states that “Approximately 51 percent of the barley crop consumed in the US is used for animal feed.”

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 10 Jul 2012 @ 6:29 PM

  191. Geoff: … or grow trees to make wooden buildings that store carbon in their structure…

    Polyethylene buildings built with resin produced via solar-heated catalysis. Sequestration and happy plutocrats! Nirvana!

    “Polyethylene: Nature’s Plastic!”

    Of course the buildings would crumble when exposed to direct sunlight. Perhaps they could be shaded with trees?

    Comment by dbostrom — 10 Jul 2012 @ 6:38 PM

  192. Re- Comment by Jim Larsen — 10 Jul 2012 @ 3:28 PM, currently hovering around #176:

    I think this is just the sort of plan for both returning land to its natural state and making it productive for human food with environmental savings. We really need to switch red meat production to a natural model to reduce cruelty, bring back the fertility of the land (soil), and to reduce the large fossil CO2 footprint of current big agriculture. I also think that the natural browsers for a specific region should also be added.

    The point is that there is a very large part of the U.S. (and everywhere else) that used to consist of fertile soil and that supported large numbers of grazing and browsing critters. Large areas of these regions are not useful to us humin beans and are currently empty of big animals. It is not farmable because there is not enough water or fertilizer, it currently isn’t very fertile, and it is covered with invasive grasses and plants. If this area was repopulated with indigenous grazing and browsing prey animals and plants, we could derive low carbon footprint protein by replacing large predators that maintained balance in this ecosystem in the pre human past.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 10 Jul 2012 @ 7:53 PM

  193. Re my last comment – re 177, “Remember that even if“…”you can grow more grass per unit area“… …”And when we do“…”get off fossil fuels
    – The point was we might reduce the amount of land we use to produce food by relying less on animal products (although elimination of animal products would eliminate an options for food crop residues, although those could be used for energy … although there may be benifits from leaving them behind).

    Re “No matter how many animals are born, there will still be many combinations of parents’ genetics and environment that hasn’t been tried out.” … Of course there are stochastic processes in brain development too; outside quantum uncertainty that could be due to environment on a molecular/etc. level. But anyway, the point is that rescuing non-specified potential beings from nonexistence for their own sake may be futile and any reason for doing so is for another’s benifit.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 Jul 2012 @ 8:13 PM

  194. Re 190 SecularAnimist – Thanks.

    PS I’m thinking there actually might not be too many animals out there that don’t somehow someway benifit us. I enjoy seeing flocks of geese. What benifits geese? Etc.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 Jul 2012 @ 8:25 PM

  195. Patrick027 @ 187,

    “food should be enjoyable”

    Yes, indeed.

    I slightly startled myself when I calculated that when not eating out (which is once a fortnight at most) I have averaged well under an ounce of meat a day for the last year or so, plus maybe 1/2oz a day of fish. However, I’m not a vegetarian and don’t pretend to be, and I’ll freely confess that that last small amount would be hard to eliminate unless plant-based alternatives improve a lot.

    (To me, there’s quite a big difference between the taste of pea soup and pea AND HAM soup, even when I don’t use that much ham/bacon. Same goes for the small amount of beef mince I put into the vegetable/barley/legumes soup which is my other staple hot dish.)

    Comment by ozajh — 10 Jul 2012 @ 8:27 PM

  196. Patrick027, SecularAnimist, GeoffBeacon and all: Patrick’s comment at #154 and Jim’s at #176 hit about the right level. Yes, a lot of meat production is environmentally expensive but not all meat production is so, and grazing is the most environmentally benign use of some land.
    Steve Fish @192: There is a case study at and the factors applying there must also apply in parts of the US (and may apply to more parts with climate changing the way it is), South America and southern Africa.
    We need to be as smart about this aspect of the environmental debate as about all the others. A broad-brush “Meat is evil” approach is not smart.

    Comment by MalcolmT — 10 Jul 2012 @ 10:03 PM

  197. Re 195 ozajh – myself, I’ve gone through meat-eating and quasi-vegetarian phases. As a teenager I once had 3 1/4-lb’ers w/ cheese in one sitting (although I also had ~15 buttermilk pancakes for breakfast once. Youthful metabolism rocks!). I also went for a few years hardly ever having beef, and didn’t really miss it much for that time (because there is pizza and pasta … and cod and salmon etc.). But I’ve never actually been a big meat eater in a time-average sense.

    I’ve actually had some good veggie burgers (Amy’s brand – but your preferences may be different). One thing that helps is not to force it to be exactly a beef substitute in your mind; enjoy it for what it is, like any other food. There’s supposed to be a restaurant somewhere in the Pacific Northwest that makes a really really good veggie burger (saw it on the Food Network). I think some veggie burgers are made with nuts, which are healthy, but some people won’t be able to eat them; (?)they might also be too fibrous for some people(?). I’ve also enjoyed mac n’ cheese with small blocks of tofu in it (along with red bell peppers, potatoes, peas, carrots); liked the tofu. Unfortunately, I don’t know of anything vegan that’s good and like cheese. Is there any thermoplastic form of tofu with a similar melting point?

    Next week on cooking w/ Patrick… oops, this is a climate website.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 Jul 2012 @ 10:42 PM

  198. Re my 193 – “rescuing“…”potential beings from nonexistence for their own sake may be futile and any reason for doing so is for another’s benifit.

    While way out on a tangent, I just want to clarify that this is independent of moral duties regarding potential beings when given some probability of, plan, and/or desire for coming into existence. Ie we don’t owe it to any future person to bring them into being, but if we expect them to exist (as for our own sakes we may want them to exist for some substitute for immortality or…), we owe them some consideration. Which isn’t unrelated to climate change issues, but anyway, now I’m done with that subject here.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 Jul 2012 @ 11:04 PM

  199. Geoff Beacon @189
    What is your message in reply to me @179? I think I’ve got the gist of it.

    All that you write@179 is irrelevant as I do not want to defend the Worldwatch paper in its entirely.
    But (1) what do you think of their use of GWP? I prefer it for reasons I won’t mention.
    And (2) surely Worldwatch’s inclusion of livestock respiration in GHG has some sort of merit but I won’t explain why I say this (And @172 I did make clear I didn’t want to defend this either.)

    Doing you the courtesy of addressing your ambiguous questioning:-

    (1) Calculating GWP from the average impact of CH4 over 20 rather than 100 years triples the weighting of CH4 in terms of CO2e. Is this preferable? Or does it make yet more nonsense to introduce into the Worldwatch analysis? I say nonsense.
    The Worldwatch choice of CH4 GWP remains purely arbitrary, granting absolution to CH4 emissions prior to 1992. It is no more realistic than setting it at 1912. All it does is account CH4 emissions more heavily. Yet the CH4 forcing remains the same.
    Why 20 years? Worldwatch say it is because “a 20-year timeframe … is more appropriate because of both the large effect that methane reductions can have within 20 years and the serious climate disruption expected within 20 years if no significant reduction of GHGs is achieved.”
    By such reasoning, perhaps we should account more weight to future CH4 emissions which will be still full powered as GHGs in 2032, the year when AGW will be at its height according to Worldwatch. But then, CH4 only exists in the atmosphere a short while. It is gone before its forcing has a chance to have its full effect on climate. On that count we should be reducing the GWP of individual CH4 emissions.

    (2) The crux of the Worldwatch argument to include livestock respiration as a GHG source is that, like cars, cows are a non-essential “human invention.” Thus the CO2 they emit is just as much causing AGW as the exhaust from a car’s exhaust pipe.
    However, this central part of their argument is entirely nonsense.
    Yes, the oxygen comes from the same place in both instances but the carbon burnt to create the CO2 does not. If the cows do happen to act as a chimney for some quantity of FF derived carbon (or carbon obtained from changing land-use), if so then the carbon has already been accounted for in the carbon inputs into livestock farming.

    Geoff Beacon. Regarding your comments here:-
    Can I suggest to you less questioning & less ambiguity in your comments in future. If you cannot manage a reduction in both, a reduction in one would be a big step in the right direction.

    Comment by MARodger — 11 Jul 2012 @ 5:28 AM

  200. The inclusion of bovine respiration is on its face just flat stupid, unless you take into account the fossil-fuel intensive nature of modern agriculture. Livestock fed on grain grown with large input of fossil fuels will have a larger carbon footprint. This will not be true of grass-fed beef unless the grass were also fertilized with petroleum-based fertilizers.

    So there is a tiny grain of truth in the Worldwatch report. However, the general incompetence of the report is sufficient to make me wonder whether ol’ Lester has lost it.

    Note that there are still large numbers of pastoralists in the world for whom their animals are not just a source of sustenance, but also of deep spiritual meaning. You will not get far if you try to get a Masai or Pohl tribesman to give up his cows.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Jul 2012 @ 8:19 AM

  201. Can Enbridge be trusted on Northern Gateway … and Climate Change?

    Can Enbridge be trusted to build and operate the Northern Gateway oil sands pipeline in a safe and sustainable manner? Judging from today’s scathing National Transportation Safety Board report on Enbridge’s horrendous pipeline spill in Michigan two years ago, the answer would appear to be a resounding “No”! But that’s just one of the difficult questions faced by Enbridge today.

    [P]olicies enabling “meaningful reductions in GHG emissions” – meaningful in the sense of actually having a good chance of realizing the global 2C/450 ppm target to which all nations have agreed in principle – can not possibly be “tailored” to a Canadian economy that is becoming ever more dependent on the exploitation of fossil fuels. That is the simple, bald fact of the matter.

    Of course, this remarkable confluence of misleading government and industry rhetoric is hardly a coincidence.

    Which brings us back to the beginning. Can Enbridge – along with the rest of the oil industry and the Canadian government – be trusted to address the real implications of climate change?

    Once again, the answer is obvious.

    Comment by Deep Climate — 11 Jul 2012 @ 8:55 AM

  202. Ray Ladbury wrote: “So there is a tiny grain of truth in the Worldwatch report. However, the general incompetence of the report is sufficient to make me wonder whether ol’ Lester has lost it.”

    Lester Brown is not an author of that report. Moreover, he left Worldwatch Institute in 2001, to found the Earth Policy Institute.

    Brown’s books “World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse” and “Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization” are vital reading for anyone looking for solutions to the global warming problem.

    It’s interesting to note that according to Brown’s Wikipedia biography, he was “born and raised on a farm without running water or electricity … From his earliest years, he worked on the farm, milking cows, pulling weeds, and cleaning the stable … growing pheasants and chickens for sale.” And in the 1950s, “after earning a degree in agricultural science from Rutgers University in 1955, through the International Farm Youth Exchange Program, he spent six months living in rural India where he became intimately familiar with food and population issues.”

    Brown has said that “farming is all I ever wanted to do with all my life. You have to know soils, weather, plant pathology, entomology, management, even politics. It’s the ideal interdisciplinary profession.”

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 11 Jul 2012 @ 10:23 AM

  203. Ray Ladbury wrote: “You will not get far if you try to get a Masai or Pohl tribesman to give up his cows.”

    It’s a funny thing, but so often when I say something like “Going vegan remains one of the easiest and best things that most Americans can choose to do to reduce their personal contribution to AGW” (#136), the conversation turns to the problem of making indigenous people in Africa “give up their cows” … as though that’s an obstacle preventing US suburbanites from buying Boca Burgers at the supermarket.

    [Response: Indeed. I’m not sure that anyone has ever suggested that the Masai and their cows are the problem here. – gavin]

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 11 Jul 2012 @ 10:33 AM

  204. Re- Comment by MalcolmT — 10 Jul 2012 @ 10:03 PM:

    It looks to me that you folks are having the problem outlined in the economic analysis of scaling up Salatin’s Polyface methods that I linked to in my post #145. Your operation will be unable to compete very well with the big beef producers because they reduce costs by passing some of them on to the commons in the form of air and water pollution, depletion of soil quality, and increased human disease from resistant bacteria. (Insert your own off topic political rant here).

    Re- Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Jul 2012 @ 8:19 AM:

    Even in terms of just sustenance, subsistence farmers don’t usually cause any environmental degradation at all with their naturally fed animals and crops. Anybody, especially fat cat wastrels like us, who say these farmers have to stop should be taken out behind the woodshed. Or, in the words of my dead father-in-law cattle rancher, when referring to the parents of such bozos, “they should have just fed the milk to the hogs.”


    Comment by Steve Fish — 11 Jul 2012 @ 11:01 AM

  205. MA Rogers @199.

    You paraphrase me thus:

    But (1) what do you think of their use of GWP? I prefer it for reasons I won’t mention.
    And (2) surely Worldwatch’s inclusion of livestock respiration in GHG has some sort of merit but I won’t explain why I say this (And @172 I did make clear I didn’t want to defend this either.)

    (1)There’s a clue in my @150. We may have an immediate emergency to cope with while we think of something different. Cutting short term forcing agents is in giving a temporary respite to avoid multiple tipping points. So they should be given higher priority.

    (2)See my previous post, if it gets past moderation.

    Are you or anyone else prepared to say what they think of Ramanathan et. al. The Copenhagen Accord for limiting global warming: Criteria, constraints, and available avenues

    Do I presume you choose GWP100? If so, why?

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 11 Jul 2012 @ 11:13 AM

  206. > subsistence farmers don’t usually cause any environmental degradation

    But see Ruddiman. Most of the Europe, Asia, and the post-1492 North America shows what can be accomplished by subsistence farming over time. The native American “prescribed burn” approach to managing wildland for subsistence makes more sense, but it’s hard to go back to that approach except in areas like the “Buffalo Commons” where nothing else works.

    Nowadays, equipped with modern sharp steel tools and transportation, individual ‘subsistence’ farming is pretty aggressive if not educated about ecology.

    One of my longtime friends who’s a farmer/researcher says one of his great dreads is only two things are missing before individual “subsistence” agriculture can completely devastate what’s left of wildlands: the lack of permanently sharp diamond-coated/nanowhatsis tools, plus enzymes that degrade lignin.

    Given a biofuel generator plus lignin-breaking enzymes, and a machete that never dulls, any individual could turn a longterm stable subsistence forest into overpopulated bare eroding dirt in a few years, selling the surplus as money.

    Once they make edible money, this will all make sense.

    Oh, that’s what the enzymes are for. Make the money out of something that can be eaten, burned, or hammered into something useful.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jul 2012 @ 12:18 PM

  207. Last try::

    I have a friend who keeps cattle and grows willow for biomass.

    If total farm emissions were charged at a reasonable carbon price, he would find it more profitable to cut the emissions from his farm by stopping his cattle farming and grow more willow.

    Avoiding the respiration of the cattle would be part of his financial gain and our environmental gain.

    But the cattle are beautiful!

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 11 Jul 2012 @ 12:42 PM

  208. > avoiding the respiration of the cattle

    Say you turn cattle into leather and willows into baskets,
    or say you turn cattle into steaks and willows into firewood.

    What’s the difference?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jul 2012 @ 12:53 PM

  209. Re- Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jul 2012 @ 12:18 PM:

    You forgot to mention the invention of the ATV. I agree that we humans can always seem to find a way to trash our environment, but there are people who still know how to live off the land without messing it up. Ones I have known were in Appalachia and the coastal range of northern California, and some of my good friends have met these types of folks in South America and New Zealand. In the past the farmers who developed and maintained a piece of ground learned sustainable farming from their parents and community. The problem is that these skills are becoming a lost art in many parts of the world and maybe someone should be thinking about passing the skills back to some of the poorest people.

    Regarding subsistence methane production, here is an anecdote relayed to me by a close friend who is an alternative energy engineer. He was paid by some NGO to help a remote South American tribe with a simple photovoltaic solar installation. He witnessed a subsistence farm on which a pit with a tarred tarp top was loaded with human and animal manure and other agricultural waste. The anaerobic environment produced enough methane to run a cook stove. Rocks on the tarp would be lifted by gas formation and provide the little pressure required by the stove. How high are the rocks honey, I want to cook dinner?


    Comment by Steve Fish — 11 Jul 2012 @ 3:16 PM

  210. If anyone would like some relief from the gloom and doom of AGW-driven weather of mass destruction, you might (or might not) want to read this discussion of a recent conference on “potentially disastrous impacts” of solar flares, by Steve Tracton at the Washington Post’s weather blog:

    Are we ready yet for potentially disastrous impacts of space weather?

    What if the sun unleashed a violent wave of plasma towards Earth triggering a disruptive geomagnetic storm of historic proportions? Would we be prepared? The answer is an unequivocal, if not surprising, no!

    That’s the screaming message I came away with from attending the most recent Space Weather Enterprise Forum in Washington on June 5 in regard to an extreme “end of life as we know it” geomagnetic storm …

    As acknowledged by authoritative forum speakers, there is no actionable plan in place to prevent the shutdown of much of the nationwide electric power grid. And while studies and emergency response exercises (e.g. Secure Grid ‘11) have examined/rehearsed possible response strategies, there is no operational plan to recover nationally from the immediate and longer term impacts of a significant solar storm on the electric power supply and most other technology-based systems we take for granted.

    … the ramifications of being without electrical power for months or longer, and affecting much of the U.S. (and perhaps much of the globe) … would likely include widespread and long-term disruptions on transportation and commerce, agriculture and food stocks, medical facilities, satellite-based communication and navigation systems, national security, etc.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 11 Jul 2012 @ 4:36 PM

  211. From a non-scientist’s point of view the beef discussion seems to be lacking in historical perspective. Before the dominance of man and the proliferation of rangelands for cattle there were vast grasslands populated by hoofed mammals like deer, elk, bison, etc., and vast forests populated by other animals. They all grazed and ate and emitted methane just as cattle do nowadays. In fact they may have had a greater cumulative mass, and greater cumulative emissions, than do today’s cattle herds.
    The point is that the methane from animal out-gassing is pretty much an historical constant. The climate disrupter we need to focus on is CO2 from fossil fuels. In the future it can be sequestered or it can be released. It is a by-product of man’s presence on this globe and within man’s control.
    This is only from a climate point of view, of course. In terms of biodiversity, ethics, health, etc. there are plenty of reasons why we might refrain from beef consumption.

    Comment by s.b. ripman — 11 Jul 2012 @ 4:55 PM

  212. [edit – enough. The respiration issue is just silly. Please move on]

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 11 Jul 2012 @ 4:59 PM

  213. Approximate the cow by a sphere.
    (I just had to say that.)

    10 kilo feed is grown, sequestering X kilo carbon from the air. 10 kilo enters sphere , 9 kilo excreted (of which some is exhaled,) mass of sphere increases by 1 kilo. Almost all carbon in excreta and in beef ends up as atmospheric CO2 within 1e2 to 1e3 days. X kilo carbon returned to air.

    Now the sphere vanish, leave 10 kilo feed to rot on the ground. Almost all carbon ends up as atmospheric CO2 in 1e2 to 1e3 days. X kilo carbon returned to air.

    No difference.

    Now, in addition to making the sphere vanish, don’t grow the 10 kilo feed. Now there could be a big difference…depending on exactly how you don’t grow it.


    Comment by sidd — 11 Jul 2012 @ 5:50 PM

  214. Re 211 s.b. ripman – That sounds logical enough, but CH4 did rise dramatically in the last couple centuries or so. Granted some of that is from other things. But I do recally reading in the comments above somewhere that cows are emitting more CH4 due to the diet many humans have been giving them (is this wrong?). And there’s rice paddies (although there’s wetlands, too)…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 11 Jul 2012 @ 7:59 PM

  215. OK here is a good response

    to the usual Right wing statement dismissing overwhelming recent spring and summer warming records in the tens of thousands as simply “normal”. The pundit does himself great harm all at the same time fantastic favor amongst his politically minded followers. A journalist has the right to dismiss anything , any science, but on what grounds may one reject a science other by no other means than practicing science? In the case Mr Will is a climate scientist by proxy, substituting scientific conclusions and claiming the evidence presented doesn’t show otherwise. Is more like an actor assuring his theater audience that we actually live on Venus, and there is nothing out of the ordinary about it. Since when do pundits become scientists? Would be more appropriate for contrarians to try to discredit the science by facts and reasoning, a rather tedious thing? But its the only way they almost never do, and when they do, their facts and conclusions are usually terribly wrong. Mr Will then really cant dismiss a science, but report it, and if there is something wrong about it from a credible peer reviewed source, report it too. But since he cant do the tedious work, or simply cant find the evidence, he usurps himself to be another professional, by using microphones, TV signals, digitized inter networks, all creations of the science he denies. How ironic. There is a basic rule which may deny a scientific conclusion, is achieved by very hard work, hardly just talking. This pundit is truly simply gesturing and his science credentials on the subject is incompetent.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 11 Jul 2012 @ 11:27 PM

  216. Gavin

    Can I presume the editor @212 was you?

    I agree the respiration issue seems a bit silly but there is an important point of which this argument was a specific case.

    ‘Carbon neutral’ is not good enough when there are alternatives that can have negative carbon footprints.

    World wide carbon neutral may be good but now it is not good enough.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 12 Jul 2012 @ 12:02 AM

  217. I think there is little doubt that, as a citizen of a developed nation, one of the best ways to reduce one’s carbon footprint is to consume less meat. Pound for pound, on average, protein derived from vegetable sources as compared to protein derived from animals has a much smaller carbon footprint, once all energy costs are taken into account. When “competitive price” is factored in (the destruction of “cheap” forest carbon sinks for the land to produce the vegetative matter to produce the meat, petroleum-based fertilizers, petroleum-based antibiotics, water, refrigeration, sanitation, etc., etc.), the carbon footprint of most 21st century meat, as compared to vegetable protein, is large, indeed.

    Add to that the ethical issues that arise when the standards of care for animals are dictated solely according to the economic value that a capitalist system has assigned to them, I would say that vegetarianism is a logically sound moral option for those who would like to support a kinder, cooler planet.

    Even though individual actions alone cannot hope to bring carbon emissions under control, there are certain ethical actions one can take that can at least remove a little of the profits from the fossil fuel industry so that they might be invested in a more hopeful future. I see vegetarianism as an empowering personal choice.

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 12 Jul 2012 @ 4:31 AM

  218. Geoff Beacon @207

    It is difficult to see how adding to my comment @199 or those @208, @212, @213 would assist in presenting our message, except that I would perhaps go further than @212. Insisting that livestock respiration is a major GHG source is completely bonkers, a branding which will be quickly applied to those who persist in advocating such a ridiculous idea. Do you want to go there?

    Geoff Beacon @205

    Ha ha! I suggest less ambiguity and you kick off your response with “a clue.”

    Methane as a transient GHG strains the GWP formalism to its limit. There is a big message on this from the atmosphere if you care to look. Cows have not stopped burping, rubbish tips venting, paddy fields bubbling & oil wells leaking, yet atmospheric CH4 levels have hardily risen over the decade. Hey! Does this mean the GWP(methane) = 0 tCO2e? Or is it that all our other pollution has started to work properly?

    Perhaps then there is a better way of presenting the 4% of AGW from livestock CH4, 1% from its CH4 products & 3% from N2O, a way which will not result in you arguing the toss on the value of methane’s GWP.
    Perhaps the following back-of-fag-packet calculation would be helpful.
    Consider the 60kg methane added to the atmosphere through consuming 100kg of beef. That’s a 4oz steak for breakfast dinner & tea for a full year. If this were repeated annually (folk do tend to eat food every year of their lives I’m told), that continuing annual emission of 60kg CH4 pa equates to a one-off emission of 84 tCO2 (23 tC). That is 10 years-worth of a UK ‘carbon footprint,’ half that for a US footprint. (A realistic consumption figure for your average carnivore can be substituted pro rata.)
    This figure could be quickly reduced by eating pork instead of beef, reducing the meat content of your meals, by practices that reduce the farm emissions or by proclaiming “Meat Is Murder” and picketing the meat aisle in your local supermarket. And by suggesting one or more of these policies, does that qualify me as a “super-cooler”?

    Comment by MARodger — 12 Jul 2012 @ 4:51 AM

  219. MA Roger @218

    I’m not that interested in bovine respiration (except as @216). I’m much more interested on anyone’s views on Ramanathan

    And what do you think of Striking increase of methane in the Arctic ? I do look at Yurganov’s methane maps from time to time and they both worry and confuse me. Can anybody help?

    I agree with your

    This figure could be quickly reduced by eating pork instead of beef, reducing the meat content of your meals, by practices that reduce the farm emissions or by proclaiming “Meat Is Murder” and picketing the meat aisle in your local supermarket. And by suggesting one or more of these policies, does that qualify me as a “super-cooler”?

    If I could think of a less ridiculous name than “supercooler”, I’d have some badges designed. I think you might qualify for one.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 12 Jul 2012 @ 7:56 AM

  220. Re 216 Geoff Beacon –

    People are not saying that sequestering carbon wouldn’t be of value. The point is that no net emission is no net emission. It doesn’t make sense to count every potential sequestering process that is not being used as an actual emission source, because you would then be adding more CO2 to the atmosphere in your ledgers than is actually being added.

    Another way to put it – in isolation, yes, respiration is an emission. But then we must count plant growth as sequestration. And if you remove the animal, you then have to count whatever takes it’s place – the plant itself or the bacteria or other animals that come along. Of course some organic carbon can accumulate in soil (or be removed) and biomass can increase or decrease, but that can be counted as a net sequestration (or emission) without needing to look at how respiration or other oxidation contributed.

    I’m done with that.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 12 Jul 2012 @ 12:49 PM

  221. >striking increase
    AMEG is drawing their own scary pictures now. That difference is five percent, fairly high in the atmosphere, as has been pointed out before. Lots of red, though. Bright, scary red. We’re still waiting on ground truth from the area.

    This discusses the results from those satellites:

    David replied when you mentioned the same kind of image earlier, inline at — 4 Jan 2012 @ 2:18 PM

    GOSAT may be more useful; they’re now correlating the satellite and ground truth to calibrate the results, e.g.
    Note seasonal change has to be correlated through a year or so.

    AKA the Arctic Methane Emergency Group

    > Ramanathan
    Click the “cited by” link — this is the result:

    to find discussion; here, for example:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Jul 2012 @ 12:59 PM

  222. Geoff Beacon @219

    I would describe Yurganov’s methane maps that you link to @219 as colourful rather than “striking.” What are they showing?. Do look at the scale. The peak values are going from a ‘rosie red’ or about 1800 ppb in 2008 to a ‘milk chocolate’ or about 1900 ppb in 2011. So that’s something like a 20 ppb increase in 3 years.

    How does that compare with the methane measurements at MLO?
    Atmospheric Methane 1983 to date. (Two clicks to ‘download your attachment.’) My graph is not as colourful as Yuganov’s maps but guess what? They show a rise over the last few years very similar to Yuganov’s rise. 2007 – 1787ppb. 2012 – 1819 ppb.

    Comment by MARodger — 12 Jul 2012 @ 12:59 PM

  223. Nice paper on MWP1A etc in today’s Nature, Gregoire et al. Saddles between ice domes collapse quickly enuf to raise sea level by a meter every twenty years for several centuries. The paper has got me nervously inspecting relief maps of Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets.


    Comment by sidd — 12 Jul 2012 @ 1:55 PM

  224. What’s more plausible to work?

    — “You have to give up your gashog and drive something more efficient.”

    — “You have to give your gashog -and- you can’t have any hamburgers.”

    — “You have to change your lightbulbs to something more efficient.”

    — “You have to change your lightbulbs –and– you can’t have steak.”

    What’s more likely to make the average person throw up their hands and allow the entire problem to slide around their minds?

    Of the two choice components, what’s the more effective at reducing C02 emissions?

    What’s the cost/benefit of including meat consumption in the first, largest and most significant steps to C02 emissions reduction?

    We can dream of perfecting human nature according to our particular notions but let’s be honest: most people can only swallow a certain amount before they gag.

    “Perfection is the enemy of the good.” An exhausted cliche but with Mohs 10 truth in it.

    Comment by dbostrom — 12 Jul 2012 @ 2:28 PM

  225. dbostrom wrote: “What’s more plausible to work?”

    In my experience, most “progressive” Americans who are aware of the importance of reducing their GHG footprint would much rather spend $40,000 to buy a Prius than reduce their grocery bill and dramatically improve their health and longevity by switching to a vegan diet.

    dbostrom wrote: “What’s the cost/benefit of including meat consumption in the first, largest and most significant steps to C02 emissions reduction?”

    I’m not sure I understand the question, but switching from the “standard” American diet that’s overloaded with meat and dairy to a vegan diet is, as a matter of fact, the most cost effective, and by far the easiest, thing that any American can do to reduce his or her GHG footprint. And of course, going vegan also has huge “collateral” health benefits for the individual.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 12 Jul 2012 @ 3:07 PM

  226. OK, I have an odd one for the climate modelers/biologists.

    I just came across mention that the coal beds exist because when they were laid down, the fungi hadn’t yet evolved the enzymes that can break down lignin. Or maybe hadn’t evolved to being what we know as fungi at all.

    Now this is serious; lignin is the stuff that doesn’t dissolve or break down when wood fiber is used in many ways, it’s the very effective stuff that plants evolved to deter things that eat them. Indigestible, except recently by fungi.

    So does it make any interesting difference in how natural carbon cycling works? Does the ability of fungi to degrade lignin keep more carbon in the biosphere than stayed in the biosphere when the coal beds were being formed?

    Or does stuff all end up in subduction anyhow?

    This may be a fairly new idea.

    Hm, also suggests that fungi are able to eat coal nowadays, as coal was formed out of stuff before fungi came along. And there are papers about that too.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Jul 2012 @ 3:16 PM

  227. Hank Roberts @220

    We’re still waiting on ground truth from the area.

    Yes. But tell us what danger are we in? This has consequences. We’re placing our bets now. To discuss it as a policy lever “What should the price of carbon be?” $10 per tonne CO2e or $1000 per tonne? We need a best guess now.

    This discusses the results from those satellites

    I’m not going behind their paywall tonight and “Received 31 December 2009” puts me off a bit. Could you give us YOUR conclusions on this for us all to share?

    You point out that David replied to me in January:

    Response:I’m with you on models in general, they often underpredict observations (ice sheet models, for example), often because they miss feedback, and they surely should be trumped by data where it’s available. But there’s so much more methane coming from the tropics that even if the high latitudes did start really pumping, they wouldn’t have much impact until they start to rival the tropics, which is a ways off.

    Thanks I’d forgotten. But since then we have Arctic methane leaks threaten climate. Now that’s in the non-peer reviewed, New Scientist, which I often take with a pinch of salt. But they report

    “We know the Arctic is warming very fast indeed,” Nisbet says. And as the warming climate leads to more breaks in the sea ice, more ice-surrounded patches of open water will be able to release their methane, further accelerating global warming.
    The question now is: how significant will this new effect on warming be? “It might be small,” Nisbet says, “or it could be another serious problem.”

    I know Euan and trust him. That makes a difference. I think trust makes a difference to scientists that meet and get to know each other at conferences &etc. Outsiders do not have that privilege.

    Thanks for the “cited by”. That aspect of Google Scholar looks very useful. There is a lot of good looking peer-reviewed stuff there. The Economics of Climate Change and Subjective Well-being by FitzRoy et. al. particularly interests me – perhaps for the wrong reason. They say

    There has been remarkable progress on the scientific foundations of well-being and happiness…

    “[T]he scientific foundations of well-being and happiness” is going back 200 years to Jeremy Bentham. Going back is not the problem. The problem is that Lionel Robbins wrote “The Nature and Significance of Economic Science” in 1932 which managed to purge economics of “happiness” for 70 years. The trouble was that Robbins didn’t understand the nature of science but nearly all economists followed his line. They were in a conceptual straight jacket.

    To a rather lesser extent I think this is true of climate scientists. But this needs a book not a comment on a blog.

    (I think we ought to give this a rest for a bit – after your reply, if any. Apologies to MA Rogers)

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 12 Jul 2012 @ 3:21 PM

  228. …most “progressive” Americans who are aware of the importance of reducing their GHG footprint would much rather spend $40,000 to buy a Prius…switching from the “standard” American diet that’s overloaded with meat and dairy to a vegan diet is, as a matter of fact, the most cost effective, and by far the easiest, thing that any American can do to reduce his or her GHG footprint

    Easy doesn’t equate to likely.

    Teaching people to skip a few trips per week is fairly easy. Training them to take a few trips less in a more efficient car is more difficult. Using public transit? A giant leap, effectively out-of-bounds when they’re deeply acculturated to jump in and turn a key. All these things are strictly speaking “easy” but they live spaced apart on a continuum of probability.

    Teaching people to revolutionize the extremely personal matter of a diet they’ve followed since their first memory? Arguably far more toward the “impossible” end of the standard distribution of persuasive power. Any hint of coercion whether real or accidental will take the matter quite off the table.

    “Cost/benefit” referred to spending limited powers of persuasion on one alternative versus another. Explore all paths but choose wisely when investing the midget iota of influence we have on what other people are likely to do.

    That’s all I have to suggest.

    Comment by dbostrom — 12 Jul 2012 @ 4:12 PM

  229. > switching from the “standard” American diet
    What if it’s a big hoax and we create a better planet for nothing?

    Not nothing: Happy Healthy Long Life
    “… a medical librarian’s adventures in evidence-based living …”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Jul 2012 @ 5:22 PM

  230. > give us YOUR conclusions

    I conclude investing in the natural gas industry is the mistake that systems theory says people make: finding a leverage point and pushing the wrong way.

    A ‘methane emergency’ seems unlikely at present, reading the science we have. Such an ’emergency’ — along with other major bad consequences — would become more likely if we take a path along which more fossil fuel is burned.

    Fossil fuel use increases when new fields, wells, and pipes get built.
    Once they’re built there’s an economic argument for using them.

    It’s not the right path. Don’t go there. That’s my conclusion.

    There are worse problems more imminent, and the answer is – burn less fossil fuel as quickly as possible. Change agriculture.

    The other answer is: seven billion or so people will die in the coming century, of old age. How we do that — greedy or graceful — determines what’s left.

    The details — require learning the science. There are few blogs that try to teach the science and how scientists think.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Jul 2012 @ 8:13 PM

  231. re public transit:

    FWIW, we are going in the wrong direction on that. Fares are astronomical, accommodations lousy, and service inefficient. A systematic common sense approach would be to make it a whole lot more desirable.

    Just sayin’ Had occasion to use it recently, and it was not pleasant. Some of the main routes servicing wealthy communities are decent, but on the whole it’s been going downhill. (Boston)

    And why in tunket if we must have tar sands oil can’t the stuff be transported by rail? Much safer, and funding needed infrastructure. Not modern enough? … oh wait, using fossil fuels hasn’t changed much.

    ferludsake, hebrew in recaptcha?!

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 12 Jul 2012 @ 8:41 PM

  232. Susan Anderson @231 — Using a pipeline is much more efficient than rail transport.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 12 Jul 2012 @ 10:40 PM

  233. dbostrom @ 228 said: “Teaching people to revolutionize the extremely personal matter of a diet they’ve followed since their first memory? Arguably far more toward the “impossible” end of the standard distribution of persuasive power.”

    And yet, and yet…

    Millions of people suddenly and forcefully turned their back on thousands of years of tradition of viewing bread as the ‘staff of life’ for the very silly reason that an unscientific fad diet told them to do so.

    So…it turns out that “Teaching people to revolutionize the extremely personal matter of a diet they’ve followed since their first memory” far from being nearly impossible, is extremely easy, if you find the right emotional (vanity?) levers and get the right pr people behind you.

    (reCaptcha “i type ry continued”)

    Comment by wili — 13 Jul 2012 @ 12:19 AM

  234. David@232 – at the rate and considering the damage that tar sands pipelines have already caused by leaking, calling bitumin pipelines “efficient” is a bit of a stretch. Add in the complete carbon footprint of tar sands oil, and the worries about efficiency become irrelevant:

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 13 Jul 2012 @ 4:01 AM

  235. For what it’s worth – I went from a meat eater to a vegetarian with no problems whatsoever. My food bill is cheaper, and I feel great. The only reason I didn’t go vegan is that I am just not yet ready to give up HONEY! I reduced my carbon footprint substantially. It’s a personal choice – if it doesn’t work for you, don’t do it.

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 13 Jul 2012 @ 4:05 AM

  236. Regarding forest fires and what to do about the current situation in the western US there is a discussion at the New York Times:

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 13 Jul 2012 @ 8:26 AM

  237. Re- Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Jul 2012 @ 5:22 PM, currently at 229:

    Your contrast of a climate science cartoon with a blog that presents only opinion, quotes from advocacy books, single case studies, and unsupported conjecture is very amusing. Sort of like comparing RC to Who Knows What’s Up With That. It is time to get off this non-climate topic and stick to actual scientific findings. Thanks for that.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 13 Jul 2012 @ 10:24 AM

  238. An unusual tipping point – I wonder how much of modern infrastructure is at risk for nonlinear responses to climate change?

    “A giant sinkhole that closed a stretch of U.S. 24 north of Leadville on Monday has been determined to be a century-old railroad tunnel that collapsed decades ago and was exposed when the soil thawed.

    A variety of engineers, maintenance supervisors and geological experts examined the sinkhole and now estimate its depth to be about 100 feet, according to a Colorado Department of Transportation news release. Much of the soil deep in the collapsed tunnel was still frozen until recently; when it thawed, the hole was exposed.

    Read more: U.S. 24 sinkhole near Leadville determined to be old railroad tunnel – The Denver Post

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 13 Jul 2012 @ 10:52 AM

  239. Hank Roberts @230


    Clear and rational.


    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 13 Jul 2012 @ 11:16 AM

  240. There is no road in Leadville
    the mighty sinkhole has thawed out!

    (Sorry ‘-)

    Can anyone find anything on the state of stratospheric ozone over the Arctic this year? After last year’s surprise hole, I would think there would be a lot of coverage and investigation, but I can find nothing either searching the news or the scholarship. Has Harper’s attack on science destroyed our ability to track this vital data?

    (reCaptcha: “feelings o serve di” Does anyone else get the sense that aliens are cryptically trying to communicate with us through these things?? ;-P )

    Comment by wili — 13 Jul 2012 @ 12:56 PM

  241. The fruit loops at WUWT are downplaying the US heat wave as “normal” , as expected, perhaps taking their cues from George Will. NOAA being such a nice professional agency doesn’t have to say a word:

    Their maps do the talking, its not a center of the Universe USA heat wave, its more like world wide all at once, very unusual for the NH.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 13 Jul 2012 @ 1:01 PM

  242. re my 197
    Unfortunately, I don’t know of anything vegan that’s good and like cheese.
    Cornbread! (it depends on context (hint: tomato sauce) and the type of cornbread) (it might not be vegan; I’m just noting the lack of cheese)

    Possibly-AGW related landslide (and seismograph ‘blip’):

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 13 Jul 2012 @ 2:00 PM

  243. David Benson,

    Are you informed as to the techniques used to get tar sands into a transportable form? The toxicity of the materials? Energy used? I would tend to take your word for it, but would like to know. My idea is that if the rails were constructed, we would have useful infrastructure, and in fact the planned northern route (near Portland, Maine) is an old rail corridor. In the meanwhile, we wouldn’t get those ghastly spills. Of course, since the latter are carefully and extensively underreported, it would be difficult to get the public eye on this appalling problem.

    Here are maps, and there’s other material on the site:

    Appallingly, since my last search to find this, there is an industry-created “fact check” that tops google search. They are celebrating their third week, complete with praise from their fan club.

    I’ve never heard the idea of using rails for tar sands from anyone else so readily admit it has not been properly vetted, but bemoan the general unavailability of adequate – let alone pleasant – public transit. For the last century we have been assiduously replacing shared transport routes with roads.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 13 Jul 2012 @ 2:41 PM

  244. Wayne Davidson, thanks for your much earlier answer about smoke and the horizons up north. I have visited your site from time to time, and find your information very interesting.

    Meanwhile, just coincidentally it does appear the Siberian fires are having a nasty global effect in northern regions, especially high ozone counts, I hear.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 13 Jul 2012 @ 2:44 PM

  245. 5 mile long Alaskan landslide:

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 13 Jul 2012 @ 2:48 PM

  246. Colbert on the NC law—sink-or-swim

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 13 Jul 2012 @ 2:58 PM

  247. “… it does appear the Siberian fires are having a nasty global effect in northern regions …”
    Like smoke haze over southern British Columbia, and maybe soot?. Interesting to watch the NASA fire maps.

    Comment by flxible — 13 Jul 2012 @ 3:13 PM

  248. Meteorologist Cliff Mass has some nice photos and discussion of Asian smoke, here. Some of the space images are stunning, plus he’s got output from a LIDAR satellite that’s quite interesting.

    Comment by dbostrom — 13 Jul 2012 @ 4:24 PM

  249. Steve McIntyre having a tantrum? FOI jackals unleashed on David Karoly.

    [Response: I have no clue nor information about Karoly’s interactions with McIntyre, but on the charge that McIntyre promulgates misinformation, examples abound: On the Yamal affair, McIntyre clearly insinuated that Briffa had cherry picked the trees that went into that reconstruction and had done so deliberately in order to get a desired result. Though he denied this interpretation of his words, his readers and colleagues (including Ross McKitrick in an oped for the Financial Post) repeated this misinformation as truth. On impact of the correction to the HadSST record, McIntyre clearly stated that the global trends would be ‘reduced by half‘ and this was never corrected (until the actual work was done) at which point he denied ever making any such statement at all. Recently, he insinuated that Briffa published results in 2008 that were incomplete because the completed work was inconvenient. This is (and was) untrue. In many other cases he has been apparently unconcerned that people have misinterpreted his statements and has done nothing to correct their promulgation of misinformation (a sin of omission if you like). James Delingpole, 1934 etc. – gavin]

    Comment by dbostrom — 13 Jul 2012 @ 5:46 PM

  250. #245 Thanks Susan, Big Met officials are probably about to announce the return of El-Nino, I find yet no counter horizon observations making such an announcement premature, they are steady 10-15 degrees above the sunset horizon. Cirrus clouds are equally important, they appear to be more numerous along with the streaks. For surface ozone read :

    ozone sonde plots time series…

    Comment by wayne davidson — 13 Jul 2012 @ 5:49 PM

  251. Craig Nazor @234 & Susan Anderson @243 — The planners use the data they have togeether with the regulations the operation is supposed to honor in order to obtain an economical solution. I suppose the three of us agree that pipeline operators are under-regulated by the Department of Transportation [not the sharpest bunch in the federal government IMO]. As always, write letters (e-mails) to your congressional delgates as well as the other things which help to cause regulations to be enforced and strengthened by new laws.

    As it stands, the cost in energy to pump (semi-)liquids and gases through pipelines is much less than the cost for transport by rail. For both modes one supposes there is some form of insurance available and possibly even required by law. I don’t know whether or not pipe leaks are more or less common than train accidents and I don’t know whether one or the other has larger (negative) impacts, suitably averaged over some space and time.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Jul 2012 @ 6:03 PM

  252. UK sinking under heavy rain, budget cuts to flood protection plans intended to deal with predicted increases in precipitation.

    Flood defences unbuilt due to cuts

    Caroline Spelman’s deep cuts to flood defences begin to look foolish

    Tories claim they’re down w/climate science but ignoring planners is perhaps a hint on their sincerity. But perhaps Tories are closet Keynesians? Damage is rapidly approaching total “savings” of flood protection cuts; shoveling muck out of living rooms and repairing damage will be a form of stimulus.

    Interesting how quickly a little “adaptation” will elicit open acknowledgement of the folly of pretending energy isn’t conserved.

    Comment by dbostrom — 13 Jul 2012 @ 7:18 PM

  253. A quick thing about CH4 and CO2 GWP: (as described in the context of externality taxes) you wouldn’t necessarily want to base the tax only on GWP anyway. If it were up to me I’d add an ocean acidification tax. CH4 emitted ‘in place of CO2’ (which would then oxidize to CO2 eventually) would have no such tax, whereas CH4 emission that adds CO2 to the atmosphere would have the acidification tax; interestingly it might have a discount due to it’s acidifying effect being delayed (ie if we used 100 year ‘Ocean Acidification Potential’ (which would have to be time-averaged effect rather than time-integrated because CO2 is the acid, it doesn’t cause acid to continually accumulate (unless anthropogenic geoengineering by SO2 emission is a feedback), a CH4 emission would only have ~ 90 % of the effect as CO2 (PS I’m going on a molar basis rather than a weight basis). – Not that such a 100-year ‘OAP’ would make any sense (?)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 13 Jul 2012 @ 8:41 PM

  254. a CH4 emission would only have ~ 90 % of the effect as CO2” – um, wait a minute… (as given mole of inorganic C spreads through the ocean, the pH effect would get less concentrated and dissolution of carbonate minerals would reduce the acification … etc.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 13 Jul 2012 @ 8:53 PM

  255. 243 Susan a said, ” My idea is that if the rails were constructed, we would have useful infrastructure,”

    I don’t know how correct this guy is, but he’s (they’re?) proposing building a railroad from Alaska’s north slope to Ft McMoney (Ft McMurray). It would carry natural gas from Alaska to Canada and bitumen back. Mixing the bitumen with product from the north slope would turn it into synthetic crude, which would then be shipped through the Alaskan pipeline. He says that (from memory so check the link for “real” numbers)

    1. cost per barrel for bitumen transportation would drop by more than half, with the natural gas travelling “free” via the cars going back to Canada.

    2. The natural gas would be essentially free, as it is currently just pumped back into the ground.

    3. With an extension, the railroad could also provide a quick route to Asia, especially if a Chunnel were built to Russia.

    4. The railroad would provide a way to extract Alaska’s natural resources, increase tourism, and provide goods to Alaskans.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 13 Jul 2012 @ 9:42 PM

  256. To whomever was asking about grain-fed beef and methane: Feeding cattle corn seriously decreases the amount of methane they belch, as corn is digestible without rumination. Forcing a ruminant to not ruminate gives them constant acid indigestion (or maybe it’s specifically corn). Cows can froth up so bad they need to have hoses jammed down their throats to get them going again. Is this cruel food?

    “Grain-finished beef produced 38 percent less methane, the researchers found, though other studies have reported as much as 70 percent less.”

    Here’s some folks who want to solve the gas problem:

    “The company, called BG (Bovine Gas), attaches the “proprietary gas capture technology” onto the rear end of cattle. A tube funnels the gas into a small tank, similar in appearance to the propane tanks used for gas grills. The BG tank is on wheels, allowing the cattle to graze freely, albeit more slowly than usual. To increase gas production, BG mixes Indian food into the standard corn feed for the livestock. The company claims 45% higher gas production thanks to the addition of spicy lamb vindaloo, garlic naan, and saag…The company plans to introduce home units in 2012, allowing homeowners to capture gas from house pets.”

    It seems tenuous to me because cows burp more than they fart. And adding spicy on top of acid indigestion can’t be humane.

    “About 98 per cent of the methane from a cow is emitted through its mouth. (source: Kebreab, Journal of Animal Science. ”

    So we need cow space-helmets!

    242 Patrick, humans are built to like what they’ve been eating recently. It takes about 3 months to teach yourself to like a new food that you initially seriously dislike. I’ve found that starting with super-small serving sizes (maybe 1/8 of a bite) works best for me. Veggies are often easier to handle raw. If they’re better for you cooked, perhaps start cooking them after you’re used to them raw. Avoid the “yuck” reflex! Analyse your diet and pick out some things you’d like to cut back on or slowly eliminate, and some to gradually introduce. Just a couple things at a time. Start with the easiest, least-yucky stuff. You’ve got years to complete the task. No need to give up cheese, but gradually teach yourself to eat less of it. If you currently put two ounces on/in something, cut it back to 1.75, then in a month go to 1.5, and so on as long as you’re still enjoying your food. You’ll be amazed at how far you can go. Try to switch over to grass-fed dairy at some point. More methane, but carbon neutral and good for you instead of unhealthy.

    Or, design a diet and leap in knowing that over the next 90 days you’ll adjust.

    Going whole-hog vegan is grand, but a good omnivore diet (vegetable-based with no grain-fed meat or dairy) is probably healthier, has less risk of nutrient deficiencies, and is nearly as or even more planet-friendly too. (For example, vegans don’t get many calories from the sea or range land, which increases pressure elsewhere.) As little as one ounce of non-industrial full-fat animal products a day can really help balance out your nutrients.

    Good luck!

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 14 Jul 2012 @ 12:44 AM

  257. Re legal intimidation of scientists: It isn’t just climate scientists – here’s an example in the medical field

    Comment by MalcolmT — 14 Jul 2012 @ 12:54 AM

  258. It might be useful to remember that rice and beans, which is the commonest diet worldwide, is also one of the healthiest, providing balanced (“complete”) protein.

    That said, the purists who insist on vegan are doing the world a disservice by treating regular vegetarians and those who moderate their meat intake as sinners. People who struggle with or have little desire to change should be encouraged rather than attacked. Even meat eaters vary widely, from those who have huge portions of red meat and/or lots of junk food to those who are quite moderate and often have white meat and fish.

    On the whole, vegan is more work and requires more knowledge, as the nutrients in dairy are eliminated. And not having honey is just silly.

    Instead of thinking about what you can’t have, try what is included.

    It’s kind of like the silly arguments over energy solutions, where camps in favor of various alternatives are busy shooting at each other rather than at the greedsters in charge of the donnybrook.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 14 Jul 2012 @ 9:08 AM

  259. David Benson,

    Next time I come across a good source for tar sands I’ll post it; I think the link I provided has good information. It is my understanding that tar sands have the consistency of asphalt clinkers and the process of making it pipe-ready is not pretty. The solvents also threaten the pipelines, and building high-tech pipelines going thousands of miles without proper investigation is criminal in my book.

    I should say I am against tar sands: they seem to pose so many risks and do so much harm at all stages of their production and use as to be one of the modern horrors of feeding our fossil-fuel addiction instead of promoting an all hands on deck approach to clean energy and local transmission systems.

    But it is clear that tar sands are a square peg being forced into the round hole of existing pipeline technology, and that it is not working. Absent proper investigation and avoidance, since we are stuck with transport, putting in trains would have so many ancillary benefits it seems worth a look. If there were a disaster (and the recent heat seems to be degrading all our roads and other infrastructure) at least the product would not be artificially liquefied and therefore more easily removed.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 14 Jul 2012 @ 9:47 AM

  260. The science behind why some people are constrained to picky eating and how picky eaters can learn to like new foods:
    Suffering Succotash, by Stephanie Lucianovic
    reviewed June 29, 2012 at Scientific

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Jul 2012 @ 10:17 AM

  261. Susan Anderson wrote: “the purists who insist on vegan are doing the world a disservice by treating regular vegetarians and those who moderate their meat intake as sinners”

    I beg the moderators’ indulgence for a longish unforced variation on this matter of vegan diets.

    Susan, I’m not sure who you are referring to as “purists”. But perhaps I am one.

    I have eaten a vegan diet for 24 years, and a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet for 14 years before that. This was first, foremost, and always a personal choice to eat in such a way as to realize my values. And it was an evolutionary process. While I originally became a vegetarian literally overnight following an ethical epiphany about needlessly killing sentient beings, I later “backslid” and occasionally ate some meat for a couple of years (for no good reason), before deciding to go vegan.

    I don’t believe in such a thing as “sin”, and my personal dietary advice to everyone is to do what I have always done: eat whatever you like, whatever you think best, in accord with your values.

    However, I do recognize that different diets have different consequences for one’s health, and for one’s ecological impact (including one’s carbon footprint), and for one’s impact on the well-being of non-human animals. So, I will happily “insist” — based on facts — that a vegan diet has very positive consequences in all three of those domains.

    And I will also “insist” — based on facts — that many of the notions that people mention as obstacles to, or drawbacks of, a vegan diet are myths. For example, it is not at all difficult to get all the nutrients needed for optimal health from a vegan diet (including the most often mentioned ones: protein, calcium and B12). It is not expensive. It is not difficult to figure out, or to maintain. It requires no special nutritional expertise. And all of the staple foods that comprise a healthy, balanced vegan diet are readily available to most Americans — and in most cases are much more readily available, and less expensive, than “sustainably raised” meat.

    And last but not least, a vegan diet can be as delicious, rich and satisfying as you want it to be, and an opportunity to explore a much wider variety of wonderful foods than are found in the “typical” American diet.

    Susan Anderson wrote: “vegan is more work and requires more knowledge, as the nutrients in dairy are eliminated”

    Eliminating dairy is a feature, not a bug. There are no nutrients in dairy products that are not readily available in plant foods (green leafy vegetables like kale have plenty of calcium that is better assimilated than calcium in dairy), and dairy does contain substances that are very problematical for human health.

    Indeed, strictly in terms of health, if someone was considering giving up either meat or dairy, but not both, then I would say give up the dairy products first. Pretty much everyone I know who has given up dairy products has experienced significant, and sometimes dramatic, improvements in their health — including in some cases the complete elimination of long-term, intractable health problems.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Jul 2012 @ 12:39 PM

  262. Re- Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Jul 2012 @ 12:39 PM:

    The RC site has provided many good examples of bad science and the ways in which good science can be misinterpreted and cherry picked. Good studies that compare vegetarians and vegans to omnivores with a comparable background and lifestyle, find little difference in health outcomes. Mind your mom, everybody should just eat more veggies. We should not be selling vegetarianism as a cure for global warming, instead we should be promoting sustainable agricultural practices if we want to make a substantial change. Start with not buying refrigerated stuff from a different continent. Tell the store manager what you think. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 14 Jul 2012 @ 4:50 PM

  263. Re 256 Jim Larsen – what you say about the CH4 – feed link sounds plausable. Wish I knew more.

    Also agree with the seafood/rangeland issue for veganism (what about crop residues?). I agree that it is possible to learn to like a different diet and reduce cheese intake in particular (I’ve already done this).

    (It also helps to use more intensely-flavored cheese; however, sometimes the flavor isn’t just more intense but different, and in some contexts either I prefer the mild flavor or just stay away from sharp/aged. Not a fan of blue cheese – tastes like (won’t say), IMO.

    Anyway, there’s a bakery that produces a cornbread that isn’t a desert-type cornbread; based on the texture it seems to not be from a batter but rather from a dough. When combined (toasted or not) with tomato sauce or a tomato-meat sauce (a typical pizza-pasta type or a sloppy-joe type), the layer where the bread has gotten soft and gooey develops a somewhat cheesy-like flavor and texture. Actually, regular bread does this a little too sometimes, but I think maybe not as much (the first time I tried this cornbread I thought it was a cheesebread, but it’s not, so far as I know).

    In the context of rice, finely-sliced/minced red onion seems to be able to play the role of cheese to some extent. You can also just put some olive oil on pasta.

    Almonds are a good Ca source; also protein. I recommend raw almonds – (caution: anecdotal account) they are (usually, or if you get the good kind) easier to chew and they actually have flavor – if you’re lucky you occasionaly get one that tastes like almond extract (why can’t all almonds have almond flavoring?); however, almond butter seems to be better when made from roasted almonds – it’s not so much that the taste isn’t right with raw almonds as they can’t seem to make a creamy raw almond butter that is actually creamy. But sometimes I’m afraid that if I eat roasted almonds, I’ll develop an allergy (or is that just peanuts?)

    Re 261 SecularAnimist – I’ll remember to try kale.)

    I have been enjoying grass-fed milk for several years now (skim – funny point about getting used to foods: I took to skim right away; I now dislike anything fattier (unless it’s chocolate milk, or maybe egg nog) – last time I had 1 % milk in my cereal, I mixed it with water!; it’s funny though, because I still put butter on cinammon toast – of course, without removing fat from milk, we wouldn’t have butter or perhaps the room for it in our diets). I was a bit of a picky eater as a kid, but now I do enjoy trying new things sometimes (granted, that’s not the same as giving things up – and in some cases I don’t stop missing/yearning for a great food item after 90 days, not even years (although those wouldn’t necessarily be the foods that I would have everyday, so it doesn’t really counter your point); sometimes I get into a rut and I really would like to have something different. I liked eating brown rice the first time I had it, although I’ve mostly given it up since for reasons I won’t share. But although garbonzo beans taste like plastic to me, I have occasionaly enjoyed hummus. And nut butters with no hydrogenated oils are great!)

    Veggies: I hope I didn’t give the impression that I don’t eat them – I have salads, and I really enjoy (all these are cooked) sweet peas, sweet corn, carrots, and I like green beans a little too; there’s also sweet potatos… but this comment is far too long already.

    I’m not sure exactly what you mean about yucky; for me, some are ‘yucky’ raw (Spinach and other such leafy greens; hint: earthy flavor = tastes like rubber), especially if eaten in isolation (dressing helps, although in some cases, combining with bread or wrapping around a carrot may be more effective), while some are yucky if overcooked (brocolli – but I don’t like brocolli raw either; PS what substance is responsible for the ‘heat’ in raw brocolli and raw pea pods?); like with fruits – some are better cold (apples and juicy fruits) and some are better at room temp (bananas). It also makes a difference if their freshly picked, frozen (great for blueberries; strawberries taste good but texture … depends on how you use them – fresh picked are the best), or canned (bad for peas, IMO). Freshly picked: don’t judge by just one plant (watch variety) one year (growing conditions: frost damage, etc.) (my first fresh-picked blueberries were not only not exactly sweet, they were skunky! Not sure if it was caused by frost or variety, but I’ve had much better ones since; I didn’t control for variety and growing conditions seperately so I can’t tell what caused the skunky flavor.)

    (Michelle Obama recently on either The Daily Show or The Colbert Report mentioned how people may (have) learn(ed) to dislike vegetables because of overcooking, etc. And there’s also an access issue – some people don’t have a good grocery store within sufficient distance. And money – I think frozen peas are more expensive than canned peas.)

    A problem with having a lot of these foods, though, along with whole grains, is that they have fiber. There’s such a thing as too much (yes, there’s “Beano”, but … why if you don’t need to?). But I need to eat something. So I have some white bread and pasta too – and dairy and eggs, fish and meat.

    But for a combination of reasons (personal preference, values, …) I don’t go all-out on meat, and while perhaps I could learn to like that, I don’t see why I should.

    If corn and wheat are so costly (in a total sense) and cattle need so much of them (if that’s what they’re given), grass-fed makes sense, yet they still need so much of that; this still takes up land and apparently produces CH4 – more than would otherwise if the land was left to nature? (I suspect that’s true because I tend to think the scientists who attributed anthropogenic CH4 emissions to livestock know what they’re doing), but at least I can reduce my overall land use by reducing meat; I don’t need to give up my direct consumption of grains to reduce the land grains are planted on. The right combination of livestock, vegetation, and regional climate may be quite ecologically friendly, but there’s still only so much land, etc.

    (And there’s only so much sea – Tilapia vs Salmon – if farm-raising Salmon is worse because it merely takes salmon food out of the sea and concentrates the byproducts of that food chain (creates pollution), why can’t they instead farm the salmon food – or actually, the food of the salmon food, to raise the salmon food, to raise the salmon… and recycle the waste… but anyway…)

    – I pledge to keep any farther food comments to a few lines or less.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 14 Jul 2012 @ 6:20 PM

  264. Re my 253 – Actually, if a C emission is as CH4 in place of CO2 at the same time, then there is a temporary reduction in CO2 and thus negative ‘OAP’.

    I was watching the “Volcanoes” episode of “How the Universe Works” – I think it was interesting that they used the greenhouse effect to explain how Triton’s geysers are powered (the nitrogen ice is transparent to solar radiation but blocks (some of?) the longwave radiation, so solar heating can thaw the nitrogen at some depth. (remember – optical properties can change with phase changes (I don’t know about N2 in particular), but also, at these temperatures, OLR is largely not in the same part of the spectrum as Earth’s OLR).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 14 Jul 2012 @ 6:32 PM

  265. A problem with having a lot of these foods… never mind that paragraph; I’m rethinking it.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 14 Jul 2012 @ 6:42 PM

  266. 261 SecularA said, “Indeed, strictly in terms of health, if someone was considering giving up either meat or dairy, but not both, then I would say give up the dairy products first.”

    For sure. I agree with lots in your post, including the dismal availability of non-industrial animal products except fish, and I admire your non-judgemental stance.

    However, I disagree with the “easy to do veganism right” bit. (Heck, you probably think it’s “easy to do calculus right”!) New vegans often get deficiencies, or deficiencies show up later as the vegan falls into the habit of cooking just a few favorite dishes. And then there’s the smaller stuff. Here’s a list of oils. Note that fish oils contain EFAs which are missing in the plant oils. There’s stuff where your options are fish, organ meat, or do without. The body has patches and workarounds, but adding a daily ounce of wild fatty low-on-the-food-chain fish will almost certainly improve any vegan diet while also providing a buffer for errors.

    Also, the sterotypical grass-fed cow is protected and provided for in a cushy happy-cow life. Happy cows make better meat and grass-fed is less consistently good so grass-fed farmers can get obsessive about cow-happiness. But all good things must end, and the cow experiences fear on the way to the slaughterhouse and then is turned off via massive head trauma, without much pain, if any. Sounds like a pretty good deal for cows when compared to predators and drought and winter and whatnot in the natural world. The alternative is to drive cattle functionally extinct, with specimens kept alive for the novelty. Somehow, I think cows might vote for remaining on the menu.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 14 Jul 2012 @ 6:44 PM

  267. Re me 263, 256 Jim Larsen, 260 Hank Roberts
    … example of manipulating food texture: Sometimes sweet potatoes are undesirably fibrous to me (in terms of eating experience); so I just thinly slice them against the grain to destroy the long fiber texture.
    (As an example to getting around dislikes when learning to like new foods)

    (4 lines)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 14 Jul 2012 @ 7:13 PM

  268. Jim Larsen: Heck, you probably think it’s “easy to do calculus right”!)

    It can be, until you get to the “hyperbalance equations” ( ) Yikes! (But I’m guessing theoretical particle physicists and string theorists still have it harder?).
    (see my 187 ‘above’)

    The alternative is to drive cattle functionally extinct, with specimens kept alive for the novelty. Somehow, I think cows might vote for remaining on the menu.

    Extinction of a species and death of an individual are different things, but both different from nonexistence of a potential individual. The cows that never existed can’t care. For humans, who have both a vivid awareness of their own mortality (a vivid awareness of awareness, even), multi-generational social bonds, and a general awareness of past and future extending toward infinity, it’s very understandable that they (they? apparently I’m not thinking of myself as one right now. Hmmm…) would not want to go extinct; in fact they don’t want they’re way of life to go extinct (but I hope they’ll accept changes that help things stay the same (the more they change, the more they can stay the same!)).

    Well a cow probably feels some connection to her young so a lack of new cattle might be noticed by cows, but a slow-enough drawdown in population could be achieved without them caring much about it, I’d think (?). Actually we humans can willingly doing that (look at Italy) – then again, cows don’t watch TV all that much.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 14 Jul 2012 @ 7:32 PM

  269. Susan Anderson @259 — I recommend complaining to the State Department regarding the hazards you perceive.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 14 Jul 2012 @ 8:21 PM

  270. “David Beever of Keenan said dairy producers in the EU27 were currently achieving a FCE of 1.16kg milk produced for every kg of feed, but boosting it to 1.5kg would see an additional 43 million tonnes of milk being produced in Europe from the same number of cows. Including the US, production would rise by 60m tonnes, 25 per cent of the FAO target for 2030.

    Besides increasing production from the same number of cows, feeding a mixed ration based on precise inputs would also reduce feed costs and methane production, said Prof Beever.

    He believed tackling environmental issues had to be done, before ‘the environmentalists shut us down’.”

    typical Feed Conversion Efficiency for livestock –, (FCE is ratio of kg feed dry weight to kg product with included moisture, so is deceptive if you are considering calories – but most useful for economic calculations, since farmers buy dry feed(or invest in hectares of pasture that produces X dry forage/ha) and sell by wet weight)
    tilapia 1.6-1.8 [1] 0.55-0.62 GMO for ectopically expressed growth hormone[2]
    chicken (meat) 3-4.5
    chicken (eggs) 3-5
    goats 2.5-4.1 [3] 4.8-17.6 [4]
    pork 5.1-6.3
    sheep ~13 [3] on pasture + Erythrina poeppigiana forage (leguminous tree) + supplement block containing 10% urea, 10% rice polishings, 40% molasses, 15% quick lime, 10% rice husks, 5% mineral salt and 10% crude palm oil 3.5:1.4:1 ratio pasture:forage:supplement
    cattle 20-25 grass fed; 15-18 grass + legume

    “Animals are, moreover, poor converters of energy into foods for human consumption; if cereal grain is fed to livestock it requires on average 7 kcal input for every kcal generated – ranging from 16 for beef production to 3 kcal for broiler chickens.” But 16 kcal worth of grass, bagasse, beet pulp, sugar cane rinds, cotton seed hulls, and poultry manure – not exactly palatable, and probably not utilizable for humans – can be made into 1 kcal of nutritious, tasty, and profitable beef. My beef isn’t with beef, but with the people in industrialized nations who consume 35kg/capita/yr of grain/soybean fed beef flown in from Kobe.

    Ruminants fed very low quality forage have worse FCE than those fed higher calorie/protein rations, which achieve marketable weight faster; economics means it is more profitable to confine large numbers of cattle (or pigs or chickens) in a small (comparatively cheap) space, truck in expensive corn and soybeans (instead of hay – the same trucking cost/load gets amortized over less feed and less time with corn/soy). The close confinement requires the use of antibiotics, which also increases growth rate; the effluent waste from these operations is usually equivalent to a small city, but treatment is much less regulated than municipalities. The science says that if affluent societies ate less meat, particularly grain fed meat that uses grains that humans could eat. substituted goat for beef in many cases, and were generally wiser in the food choices we made, fewer people in the world would be undernourished or starving. The “invisible hand of the market” e.g. profit, says otherwise.

    [1]. the comparative feed efficiency advantage of tilapia may partly explain the explosive growth in it’s production.
    [2]. (based on the 290% increase in FCE claimed here by Martinez et al; how can the FCE be less than one? – it’s the additional moisture content of the tilapia versus the feed)

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 14 Jul 2012 @ 8:41 PM

  271. Re 270 Brian Dodge – very useful info and links – thanks!; it shouldn’t be too hard to find Calories for the food items, and for dry weight my understanding is 4 kcal/g carbohydrates and protein, 9 kcal/g fat.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 14 Jul 2012 @ 9:14 PM

  272. I see a lot of black-and-white, all-or-nothing type of thinking here. As if encouraging people to eat less meat and dairy is suddenly going to drive cattle extinct…lol. Ridiculous on the face of it.

    But even more ridiculous is the presupposition that cattle, a human-created species (perhaps only dogs are more domesticated among mammals), is enormously more precious than the many species they have already driven to extinction and will continue to do so, even if there were any remote chance that more than a tiny fraction of the world population would ever become even ‘kinda’ vegetarian.

    Again, as Pollan says, most people should mostly eat plants. As others have pointed out, this is most of the diet of most people on earth and ever has been. Meat (and dairy), if eaten at all, are best as flavoring agents (a bit of ham in split pea soup) and medicine (as they were used in many otherwise largely vegetarian monasteries).

    The large amounts of grain and beans dedicated to feeding or ‘finishing’ most industrial cattle, poultry (and even farmed fish) make these livestock unsustainable food sources (especially at anything close to the American rate of consumption) for most of humanity. The more this industrial-meat-and-dairy-centered diet spreads to the rest of the world, the less likely we are all to survive, long term (or even feed anything close to all of us in the relatively short term–check out drought maps in the US and India lately!!).

    My Goddess! If we can’t agree on something like this here, where most are quite fully aware of the enormous threats facing us, what glimmering hope is there of convincing anyone else to moderately alter their lifestyles to give future generations whatever vanishing chance at a livable planet they might have??

    (All of this, of course, leaves aside the enormous amounts of water and other resources needed to sustain industrial (and most other) livestock.

    Comment by wili — 14 Jul 2012 @ 9:15 PM

  273. Secular Animist – just a little background before I desist. Your points are well presented and worthy of consideration, but when simple practical vegetarian modifications take a back seat to vegan insistence in a largely meat-focused culture, we will get nowhere. I was a vegetarian for 10 years, and during that time the only people who died from diet were purist macrobiotics and vegans who failed to provide essential balance for themselves. My comment was a heartfelt reaction to another vegan who become quite hostile when I suggested that compromise was possible. While the 60s era produced a lot of dedicated purists, the time since has forced us all to make accommodations with the world in which we find ourselves. These battles are personal, and getting people to realize that it is not healthy to eat meaty fatty salty addictive junk foods and focus excessively on red meat would be a good start. Hating dairy will not make it go away, and in my particular case I’m not close to finding alternatives. Perhaps you are in fact my previous interlocutor, in which case my apologies for going the same route twice; if you were raised in India, it is not surprising that you find our obsession with toxic food puzzling!

    I’m afraid diet, like nuclear energy, is one of those areas where passions get off the rails.

    David Benson, I have done so, with the effect that you might imagine. Meanwhile, it appears you have dismissed my point about tar sands, and from what you wrote I cannot believe you’ve honestly researched it. I normally trust you better than I trust myself, but this time not so much.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 14 Jul 2012 @ 10:05 PM

  274. Weird homeostasis? Mt McKinley, other mountains becoming more unstable, discouraging climbers from undertaking multi-thousand mile “approaches” via jet:

    Sharper seasonal variations of ice and snow and temperature are being repeated all across the world from the Himalayas to the Andes, which scientists say are driven by a higher level of energy in the atmosphere from global warming. As a result, climbers have to think twice about what they might expect one year to the next, or even one day to the next, in places they might have climbed for decades.

    For Climbers, Risks Now Shift With Every Step

    Comment by dbostrom — 15 Jul 2012 @ 1:52 AM

  275. wili wrote: “cattle, a human-created species (perhaps only dogs are more domesticated among mammals)”

    Of course the most domesticated of all mammals is homo sapiens.

    Jim Larsen wrote: “New vegans often get deficiencies”

    I appreciate the moderators allowing my longish post on vegan diets, and recognizing that this is a climate science site and not a nutrition site, I will resist the temptation to further test their tolerance for off-topic posts with a point-by-point rebuttal to some of the responses.

    But I would challenge Jim Larsen to point to some actual evidence that “new vegans often get deficiencies”. Where are the studies that show that to be true? I have not found any such studies.

    And in terms of “anecdotal evidence”, by virtue of being involved in the “animal rights” movement, I have known many, many vegans — both “new” vegans and long-term vegans — and I have certainly not found that to be the case in my experience.

    There seems to be an assumption that someone eating the typical American diet, heavy in meat and dairy, is automatically getting a well-balanced diet and all the nutrients needed for optimal health, without having to put much thought into it — and by switching to a vegan diet, they automatically risk deficiencies and other nutritional health problems which are challenging and difficult to avoid.

    In my experience, if anything, the opposite is true. The typical American diet is fraught with nutritional problems, many of which are simply eliminated by adopting a vegan diet. Moreover, for many “new vegans”, the decision to change their diet may be the first time in their lives that they have given much thought to nutrition, and the first time they have really asked the question “what should I eat?” As a result, most of the vegans I know are much better educated about nutrition than the average person.

    Jim Larsen wrote: “Note that fish oils contain EFAs which are missing in the plant oils.”

    I suggest you study this issue more closely. All the essential fatty acids needed for human nutrition can be obtained from plant sources. It’s interesting to note that the list you linked to does not include hemp seed oil, which is one of the best plant sources of EFAs.

    As a matter of psychology, it has always seemed strange to me that merely discussing the benefits of a vegan diet triggers a response from many people that I am trying to “coerce” or “force” them to do something.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 15 Jul 2012 @ 9:54 AM

  276. Jim Larsen wrote: “Note that fish oils contain EFAs which are missing in the plant oils.”

    A short follow-up on this point. You might want to read this article from the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association:

    Essential Fatty Acids in Vegetarian Nutrition
    By Brenda Davis, RD

    FWIW, after eating a vegan diet for 20-plus years, I have what my primary care physician described as “the best blood lipid profile she has ever seen”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 15 Jul 2012 @ 10:23 AM

  277. Great discussion on diet; hats off to thoughtful, considerate ruminations (sorry!). And after all, it -is- related to climate, particularly when it comes to stuffing animals with corn made in part of nitrogen fixed thanks to a messy hydrocarbon inferno.

    How about steady pressure in the right direction? Lean against an unmoored ship and it’ll imperceptibly begin moving, eventually can be pushed around despite seeming impossibility. Eat a little less meat, whatever works for you now and then remember to continue pushing in that direction?

    Comment by dbostrom — 15 Jul 2012 @ 12:32 PM

  278. Earlier, iirc, there was some discussion here on forest feedback. CP just had something on this that some may find interesting:

    “Forest Feedback: Rising CO2 In Atmosphere Also Speeds Carbon Loss From Forest Soils, Research Finds”

    Here’s the direct link to the abstract of the study discussed:

    “Roots and fungi accelerate carbon and nitrogen cycling in forests exposed to elevated CO2”

    Comment by wili — 15 Jul 2012 @ 1:42 PM

  279. What this dietary discussion is missing wrt climate is the fact that the modern western diet has become totally dependent on out-of-season and/or ‘exotic’ foods imported vast distances. We’re accustomed to finding our favorite things in the stores every day of the year, when what’s really needed is a seasonal variation that’s locally based.

    Comment by flxible — 15 Jul 2012 @ 2:23 PM

  280. Re the domestication of amimals: There’s a thoughtful book on that subject: The Covenant of the Wild: Why Animals Chose Domestication by Stephen Budiansky. He points out that domestication is great reproductive success (from the evolutionary point of view) and is a net advantage for a species. No question that cats have it better than cows, but the life of your average dairy cow is likely better and not much shorter than that of a wild cow. I dunno how this affects the philosophy of vegetarianism and I don’t wanna end up in the bore-hole, so I’ll leave it to readers.

    Comment by Dan Lufkin — 15 Jul 2012 @ 3:29 PM

  281. Re- Comment by flxible — 15 Jul 2012 @ 2:23 PM:

    Fresh, local, in season foods are great! I always look forward to the first peas and green beans and especially the first ripe off the vine tomato. Right now local corn is available and the apricots are about done, but local peaches are coming on and we will have just a few wild pacific salmon meals with our very short season. Putting these together in a meal is a major treat. Crucifers, digging potatoes and carrots, and grinding horseradish are coming up soon. I like it!

    The point is, designed to be shipped, unripe, no flavor big ag food may be convenient, but it is very fossil carbon expensive and really not very tasty. When arguing about minimizing fossil carbon in agriculture, the healthy quality and flavor argument for local growers is pretty good. We have to find a way to do this on a larger scale while eliminating or paying for the “externalities.”


    Comment by Steve Fish — 15 Jul 2012 @ 4:23 PM

  282. Susan Anderson @273 — All I pointed out was that the planners are limited to the more economic methods within the current regulatory framework. If transporting the tar sands semi-liquid via pipeline were made illegal than only rail transport would be possible [and potentially so expensive that tar sands operations would cease].

    Comment by David B. Benson — 15 Jul 2012 @ 4:59 PM

  283. Re 275 SecularAnimist “Of course the most domesticated of all mammals is homo sapiens.” – yes, and we were domesticated by grains! (see Richard Manning, “Against the Grain”). Re you’re 276, interesting info about fatty acids – though I’ve only skimmed it a bit; not sure about the correlation between omega number and saturation; you can’t cook with flax seed oil – can you cook with the whole seeds (does the oil turn to trans-fat that way?)

    PS I wanted to also say that the earlier discussion about Canada reminded me of the pilot episode of “Due South” – nothing to do with AGW but I think there was an environmental issue.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 15 Jul 2012 @ 6:07 PM

  284. Re Steve and flxible, local food. We’re lead thereby to yet another problem with our habits; we’ve leveraged combustion to live in places where obtaining fresh local foodstuffs along the lines of vegetables and fruit during large portions of the year is impossible just now. Amazing things are done with greenhouses etc. but even so it’s a dubious proposition to feed the population of (for example) New York City with local food during winter.

    My particular smallest-possible governmental unit (family) is conscientious of the local versus teleported food issue. Where we live we’re fairly fortunate in terms of the spectrum and overlap of agriculture but all the same in the depths of winter our choices become limited and we’re boxed in between pragmatism and perfectionism.

    We’re in a bit of a pickle once we we begin peeling back layers of this onion.

    Comment by dbostrom — 15 Jul 2012 @ 6:08 PM

  285. #280

    Comment by wili — 15 Jul 2012 @ 9:03 PM

  286. locavorism helps (and provides some security against the chaos of a global pandemic such as depicted in “Earth 2100”), but so would putting clean energy into transportation (and everything else).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 15 Jul 2012 @ 9:30 PM

  287. From AGU EOS 4 October 2011 (yes, I’m behind on my reading)

    Loss of coral reefs and increasing ocean pH leads eventually to cooling

    “Focusing on the Middle Late Jurassic Transition (MLJT), a million-year-long bout of cool temperatures that took place roughly 160 million years ago, Donnadieu et al. found that changes in the growth rate and spatial extent of carbonate platforms may explain the temporary climate shift…. the drop in carbonate platform growth would have increased the oceanic concentration of carbonate ions, shifting the equilibrium for carbonate chemistry and increasing the ocean’s ability to act as a sink for carbon dioxide. The changes in carbonate platform activity decreased atmospheric carbon from 700 to between 200 and 350 parts per million by volume, with a corresponding 9.3°–4.5°C drop in atmospheric temperature. (Paleoceanography, doi:10.1029/2010PA002100, 2011) —CS

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Jul 2012 @ 9:41 PM

  288. Well, now that we’ve had the discussion about reducing meat consumption to mitigate global warming, it appears that global warming may wind up reducing meat consumption …

    Heat Leaves Ranchers a Stark Option: Sell
    By Jack Healy
    The New York Times
    July 15, 2012

    As a relentless drought bakes prairie soil to dust and dries up streams across the country, ranchers struggling to feed their cattle are unloading them by the thousands, a wrenching decision likely to ripple from the Plains to supermarket shelves over the next year.

    Ranchers say they are reducing their herds and selling their cattle months ahead of schedule to avoid the mounting losses of a drought that now stretches across a record-breaking 1,016 American counties.

    […] the sales of cows and calves that might have otherwise produced more cows and more calves may play a role in reducing beef production, potentially driving prices higher, experts say. But right now, ranchers selling early are getting less money per head because of tremors in the markets for corn and other cattle feed.

    In its latest forecasts, the Agriculture Department expects overall American beef production to fall by about one billion pounds, to 25.1 billion pounds in 2012 from 26.2 billion a year earlier, and forecasts yet another fall in 2013.

    […] Experts and ranchers say the hammering heat and near-total absence of rainfall play havoc on nearly every corner of their business. Parched corn glutted with nitrogen from the soil becomes toxic to cows. Slimes of algae bloom on irrigation ponds. Wells run dry, and ranchers spend their days hauling water to accommodate a cow’s 35-gallon daily thirst. Fewer cows get pregnant, and mothers’ milk can run dry.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Jul 2012 @ 12:06 PM

  289. Re- Comment by dbostrom — 15 Jul 2012 @ 6:08 PM:

    I agree with your pickled onion metaphor. I think that food is just too inexpensive because prices don’t reflect actual external costs (e.g. environmental). Currently, more local and sustainably produced foods are more expensive, although of much higher quality in my experience. If food prices reflected all costs the problem would sort itself out, at least in part.

    I think that what one considers to be local when living in a large city must necessarily be a much greater distance than in less populated areas, but most foods should be available from within the US, or nearby sub regions of the US. I don’t know how much this is true of other parts of the world. Increasing fossil fuel transportation and production costs would make opportunities for new sustainable and regional farming startups.

    I just enjoy the yearly rotation of the weather and food seasons and pretty much ignore stuff that is shipped in out of season. I am not fanatical about this and am willing to spend more to buy whatever I need for special occasions, but in California the deprivation is not great. When we lived much more to the north and east we got into ethnic cooking during the winter food doldrums.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 16 Jul 2012 @ 12:24 PM

  290. The Union Of Concerned Scientists has a new (June 2012) report on the ecological impacts of meat production, with a focus on beef and deforestation:

    Grade A Choice?
    Solutions for Deforestation-Free Meat
    PDF Download

    “… the report found that beef production uses about 60 percent of the world’s agricultural land but produces less than 5 percent of the protein and less than 2 percent of the calories that feed the global population.”

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Jul 2012 @ 1:26 PM

  291. I found this through a trusted secondary source.

    State of the Climate 2011 supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

    The thing that caught my eye is that there is discussion of “attribution science” as one writer put it. From BAMS July 2012, “In the past it was often stated that it simply was not possible to make an attribution statement about an individual weather or climate event. However, scientific thinking on this issue has moved on and now it is widely accepted that attribution statements about individual weather or climate events are possible, provided proper account is taken of the probabilistic nature of attribution.”

    As always, the devil is in the details. “For example, whereas Dole et al. (2011) reported that the 2010 Russian heatwave was largely natural in origin, Rahmstorf and Coumou (2011) concluded it was largely anthropogenic. In fact, the different conclusions largely reflect the different questions being asked, the focus on the magnitude of the heatwave by Dole et al. (2011) and on its probability by Rahmstorf and Coumou (2011).”

    There is a lot more than just that available at the link, and I’ve only just begun reading the attribution PDF. But, looks like some interesting reading ahead. Attribution science likely has some cross-over potential, into areas such as medicine perhaps, where there are many factors involved and probabilities must be teased out to find the real drivers of the current condition.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 16 Jul 2012 @ 2:28 PM

  292. “Going whole-hog vegan is grand, but a good omnivore diet … is nearly as or even more planet-friendly too.(For example, vegans don’t get many calories from the sea or range land, which increases pressure elsewhere.)”

    Call me crazy but, given the state of the world’s fisheries, I’d say not getting many calories from the sea is a feature of veganism rather than a bug. It’s not as though there’s any shortage of people eager to eat the seafood I don’t want. Rather too eager, hence the aforementioned parlous state of the fisheries despite the fact that everyone knows we’re overfishing.

    That said, there’s plenty of room for non-vegans to make their diets more sustainable without becoming vegans. Veganism may or may not be perfect from a nutritional standpoint but I see no need to make it the enemy of other dietary changes that would benefit the environment compared to dietary business as usual.

    Comment by Jon — 16 Jul 2012 @ 3:00 PM

  293. SecularAnimist: Well, now that we’ve had the discussion about reducing meat consumption to mitigate global warming, it appears that global warming may wind up reducing meat consumption …

    More homeostasis? Industrialized Gaia?

    Comment by dbostrom — 16 Jul 2012 @ 3:13 PM

  294. Re- Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Jul 2012 @ 1:26 PM:

    The Union of Concerned Scientists piece is very good. It outlines all of the really bad offenses to the commons that result from beef production. The lead in 60% agriculture land verses 5% protein statistic is a bit misleading. Cows have evolved to graze and process cellulose from rain irrigated grassland. If they are restricted to this type of land, that is also not suitable for growing grain, they are the most efficient vehicle for producing good food and they should be used to graze grain fields after the grain has been collected (automatic fertilizing machines). Clearing forest land for any agricultural purpose and raising crops, especially corn in the US, specifically for feeding cattle is just plain stupid because of how destructive and polluting it is.

    On a different note regarding corn, which depletes soil quality and requires intensive fossil carbon to produce, is everywhere. It can be found in almost all prepared foods in the market and is force fed to chickens and pigs as well as cows. I have been heating my home for most of my life with wood that I grew and gathered myself. Sometime ago pellet stoves became popular because the pellets could be contained in a tank and fed to the stove automatically by a thermostat. This is a stupid idea, but how about this one- The pellet stove companies figured out that US government subsidized corn is so inexpensive that they now sell these heaters specifically designed to burn corn. Hard dried corn kernels are perfect for this because of how they flow. Burning food! Here is a Google search for “corn stoves.” – hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US%3Aofficial&sclient=psy-ab&q=corn+stoves&oq=corn+stoves&gs_l=serp.3…58772.60229.1.60850.…0.0…1c.d4j15HQ0Z74&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=a59320c9f40a39ec&biw=928&bih=490


    Comment by Steve Fish — 16 Jul 2012 @ 4:50 PM

  295. I really messed up the link to corn burning stoves in my post #294. Just Google “corn stove.” Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 16 Jul 2012 @ 6:43 PM

  296. 275 SecularA engaged with, “But I would challenge Jim Larsen to point to some actual evidence that “new vegans often get deficiencies”. Where are the studies that show that to be true? I have not found any such studies.”


    “It is well known that strict vegetarians (vegans) are at high risk for vitamin B12 deficiency, and multiple case reports describe the clinical and biochemical symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency in this group. Most of these cases are infants who were born to, and breastfed by, vegan mothers [8]. There are a few studies of larger groups of vegans. For example, of 110 adults and 42 children from a macrobiotic community in the United States, 51% of adults had low plasma cobalamin and 30% of adults and 55% of the children had elevated urinary methylmalonic acid (MMA) [9]. In healthy vegan adults in California (n = 25, age 20 to 60 years), 40% had evidence of vitamin B12 depletion”

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 16 Jul 2012 @ 8:48 PM

  297. 294 Steve F said, “. Hard dried corn kernels are perfect for this because of how they flow. Burning food!”

    Sorta, though that corn is inedible. And maybe this is a better solution than ethanol? Send corn to New England and shut down/convert all those oil furnaces?

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 16 Jul 2012 @ 9:11 PM

  298. More on effects of forest fires:

    “Gas from pollutants, forest fires at potentially toxic levels”

    Comment by wili — 16 Jul 2012 @ 9:18 PM

  299. “Cows have evolved to graze and process cellulose from rain irrigated grassland” But the rain doesn’t always fall (see SA’s article above@ #288), and the cattle themselves need enormous amounts of water every day–35 gallons a day according to the article above.

    But of course in the real world, nearly all cattle get a huge portion of their bulk from grains and beans that could be much more efficiently eaten directly by the world’s many very hungry people.

    Comment by wili — 16 Jul 2012 @ 9:30 PM

  300. wili – While I agree with you generally when it comes to industrial agriculture, here “in the real world” the dairy farmers grow corn that’s specifically been bred to produce a good bulk of plant material that gets silaged, they don’t really care if the ears ripen – and if they do, they’re not very palatable as human food, although I eat it at times. The fields might be better used for truck crops, but there’s a lot of that around here as well. Which is to say, globally, industrial farming techniques aren’t universal, and farm animals aren’t “evil” per se.

    Comment by flxible — 16 Jul 2012 @ 10:28 PM

  301. Thanks for your input on your local experience. I have not seen anyone use the term “evil” when referring to farm animals, lol. Better to go the other way and make them so sacred that killing or mistreating them becomes taboo. And of course “nearly all” does not mean “universal” in any dictionary I know of, so we don’t really have any disagreement.

    Comment by wili — 16 Jul 2012 @ 11:26 PM

  302. Roughly 1.3 billion cattle on planet at ~35 gallons per day.

    Roughly 7 billion people on planet at ~900 gallons per day.

    Somehow the “too many/much/big” arrow always ends up pointing opposite to our heading.

    Comment by dbostrom — 17 Jul 2012 @ 12:09 AM

  303. The UK is planning to make scientific research free to the public by paying journals for published articles. All revenue neutral, as it’s to be paid for by cutting scientific research.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 17 Jul 2012 @ 12:15 AM

  304. Re- Comment by Jim Larsen — 16 Jul 2012 @ 9:11 PM, ~#297:

    You say: “Sorta, though that corn is inedible. And maybe this is a better solution than ethanol? Send corn to New England and shut down/convert all those oil furnaces?”

    The corn is edible, in some form, and I don’t think that exchanging the use of one fossil source of carbon for another, just for heating, is a very good idea. In the Northeast it seems to me that it would make much more sense, in the long run, to insulate houses heavily and convert to geothermal heat pumps for heating, and completely get rid of polluting surplus corn.

    Ethanol from corn has always been a bad idea but there are other fermentables that are reasonable for this purpose.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 17 Jul 2012 @ 10:11 AM

  305. Sorry, I didn’t finish my thought about cattle versus people versus water.

    I’m not sure if watering cattle is included in the human fresh water budget but in any case if we remove the cattle water budget from the total Homo bolidus water impact we make little difference in water consumption, proportionately speaking. If reducing water waste is the issue it might be better to start with flushless urinals, astroturf golf links, etc.

    Comment by dbostrom — 17 Jul 2012 @ 11:49 AM

  306. Paraphrasing optimistic engineers from an earlier era, “the solution to pollution is more pollution!”

    US geoengineers to spray sun-reflecting chemicals from balloon

    On a more serious note, is it time to expand the scope of the IRB process for human subjects?

    Comment by dbostrom — 17 Jul 2012 @ 12:16 PM

  307. 302 Re dbostrom @ 302,305 – yes, the 900 gal/day per capita global average includes all water use, including agriculture, which (presumably) includes livestock but also (presumably) irrigation for feed production (but would it include rainfall on those lands – presumably not; I haven’t read it fully through yet).

    – “Figuring out a country’s water footprint means adding all the water used plus the water inherent in products imported, then minus the water in exports.” (from link in comment above)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 17 Jul 2012 @ 1:49 PM

  308. Re: Jim Larsen’s comment currently #296

    Jim, I think we can agree that an extended discussion of vegan nutrition would be off-topic. So I will try to keep this response as short and succinct as possible.

    I am not so sure that the paper you linked to proves your original assertion that “new vegans often get deficiencies” (emphasis added). (Note that your original comment #266 did not specifically mention vitamin B-12, but instead followed that assertion with a discussion of essential fatty acids. I am responding here to your new comment specifically about B-12.)

    The paper notes that “most” of the cases of “clinical and biochemical symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency” are “infants who were born to, and breastfed by, vegan mothers” and that there are only “a few studies” of larger groups of adult vegans. Of those mentioned in the paper, several studies looked specifically at groups following a macrobiotic diet, which is a confounding factor since such diets have constraints different from those of vegan diets generally — omitting some foods that would otherwise be commonly consumed by vegans, and often including large amounts of sea vegetables which may contain B-12 analogues that can interfere with B-12 metabolism. Also, the report notes that “individuals starting with normal stores [of B-12 in the body] and then changing to a vegan diet” would take several years to develop “signs of deficiency”.

    Let me refer you to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) position paper on on vegetarian and vegan diets, which says this about B-12:

    “For vegans, vitamin B-12 must be obtained from regular use of vitamin
    B-12-fortified foods, such as fortified soy and rice beverages, some breakfast cereals and meat analogs, or Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula nutritional yeast; otherwise a daily vitamin B-12 supplement is needed.”

    Yes, vitamin B-12 is absolutely essential, and B-12 deficiency is a serious health problem. Yes, B-12 is not reliably found in plant foods, and yes, anyone choosing a vegan diet needs to have a reliable source of B-12. But as the AND position paper points out, non-animal sources are readily available to most people, in the form of B-12 fortified cereals, soymilk and nutritional yeast, as well as in the form of supplements. In other words, it is very easy to obtain, which was my original point.

    And B-12 is really the only nutrient which requires even that extra “work” to obtain in a vegan diet. And if for some reason a person insists on obtaining B-12 only from animal sources, the necessary amount of animal-source food would be quite small (look up the B-12 content of clams).

    Should vegans be “careful” about what they eat and educate themselves about proper nutrition? Sure. EVERYONE should be “careful” about what they eat and educate themselves about proper nutrition (especially nursing mothers). In my view, people eating the “standard” American diet have more to worry about in that respect than do vegans.

    If anyone is interested in pursuing this topic, I suggest two examples of what I consider to be responsible and accurate information on B-12 from vegan advocacy groups:

    The Vegan Society: “What Every Vegan Should Know About Vitamin B12”

    Vegan Outreach / “Vitamin B12: Are You Getting It?”

    Both sites have information on other important nutrients, including the essential fatty acids that Jim mentioned in his earlier comment.

    Thanking the moderators for their indulgence, this will be my last post on the (off) topic.

    [Response:Animist, I think it’s an interesting topic, as I think a lot of the things you bring up are interesting, and as a long time vegetarian there’s a lot I could say as well. These kinds of topics can range very widely, and as much as possible I think we should try to focus on the direct climatic relevance of them. Granted that what people perceive regarding their own nutrition and health are important drivers of how they behave, which collectively affects society’s impact on GHGs, land use etc.–Jim]

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 17 Jul 2012 @ 4:04 PM

  309. This just came out yesterday, just following a bigger one 2 years ago.

    Ice island twice as big as Manhattan breaks off Greenland glacier

    Comment by Bin Zhao — 17 Jul 2012 @ 4:10 PM

  310. That article, , converted to table

    Water use:
    . m3/yr . . . .. . . L/d . . . .. gal/d . . . .

    Total per capita:

    . . 1243 . . . .. . 3403.15 .. . . 901.83 . global average

    . . 2500 . . . .. . 6844.63 .. . 1813.83 . U.S.

    . . . 700 . . . .. . 1916.5 . .. . . 507.87 . China

    . . 2330 . . . .. . 6379.19 .. . 1690.49 . Italy NOTE “Experts say illegal wells are a big problem in Italy, as are scant water resources and high leakage rates in the Italian water supply system.

    . . . 980 . . . .. . 2683.09 .. . . 711.02 . India NOTE “India has faced dire water shortages, but on the bright side the country has adopted more rainwater harvesting than in other regions. By harnessing rainwater, villages like Rajsamadhiya have become self-sufficient in their water supplies. India’s higher incidence of vegetarianism (approximately 30% of the population) does play a role in keeping individual footprints lower –“…

    Countries using more or less than stated, respectively (per capita):

    . . . 109.58 .. . . 300 . . . .. . . . 79.5 . . Mozambique, Rwanda, Haiti, Ethiopia, Uganda

    Household or personal usage (?) (per capita ?)

    . . . 210.02 .. . . 575 . . . .. . . 152.38 . U.S. household use (per person or per household? – based on other comparisons made in the article, I believe it is per person)

    . . . 138.8 . .. . . 380 . . . .. . . 100.7 . . Italy daily living (presumably household per capita)

    . . . . 31.41 .. . . . 86 . . . .. . . . 22.79 . “many parts of China” (was compared directly with above two values, assume same meaning)

    Per item (converted from values in article; amount per year unless otherwise stated):

    . . . 160 . . . .. . . 438.06 .. . . 116.08 . 10 kg beef

    . . . . 24 . . . .. . . . 65.71 .. . . . 17.41 . 10 hamburgers

    . . . . 62.4 . .. . . 170.84 .. . . . 45.27 . 52 x “standard” Pizza Margarita

    . . . . 19 . . . .. . . . 52.02 .. . . . 13.79 . 10 kg pasta (I assume this doesn’t include cooking dry pasta)

    . . . . . 0.07 .. . . . . 0.19 .. . . . . 0.05 . 10 bottles of bottled water, minus the water

    . . . 949.65 .. . 2600 . . . .. . . 689 . . . . vegetarian diet

    . . 1826.25 .. . 5000 . . . .. . 1325 . . . . “U.S.-style meat based diet” NOTE – no mention of impact of grain/soy vs. grass fed or the impact of different irrigation techniques

    . . . . . 2 . . . .. . . . . 5.48 .. . . . . 1.45 . 200 sheets of paper

    . . . . . 1.6 . .. . . . . 4.38 .. . . . . 1.16 . leather shoes, (assumed 1 pair) once per every 5 years

    PS since a reduction in agricultural land use would leave the poorest land first, perhaps irrigation usage would decrease faster than in proportion to various food items (?).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 17 Jul 2012 @ 5:28 PM

  311. A line somehow got deleted above:

    Countries using more or less than stated, respectively (per capita):

    . . . 109.58 .. . . 300 . . . .. . . . 79.5 . . Mozambique, Rwanda, Haiti, Ethiopia, Uganda

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 17 Jul 2012 @ 5:41 PM

  312. I think I know why:

    Countries using more or less than stated, respectively (per capita):

    . . . 109.58 .. . . 300 . . . .. . . . 79.5 . . (these countries use more) U.S., Australia, Italy, Japan, Mexico

    . . . . . 5.48 .. . . . 15 . . . .. . . . . 3.98 . (these countries use less) Mozambique, Rwanda, Haiti, Ethiopia, Uganda

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 17 Jul 2012 @ 5:41 PM

  313. …(conversions based on 365.25 d/yr)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 17 Jul 2012 @ 6:56 PM

  314. Greenland, she melts.

    and re the july 12 gregoire paper in nature, i see a saddle at about 67 N on GRIS
    and i note that the gregoire paper says saddle collapses when surface melt reaches the low point (~2000m) of the saddle (topological effect, more area becomes available for melt as the gradients in both principal directions becomes horizontal.)Jason Box at meltfactor foresees melt extent all over GRIS. The amazing ASCAT animation in the comments might indicate this has already happened this month.

    Wonder what GRACE will show for the year.


    Comment by sidd — 17 Jul 2012 @ 8:05 PM

  315. “But, but, what if I change to eating lots-of-leafy-greens, no-added-oil, no meat, no cheese, no dairy, stay on the Esselstyn/firehouse diet, and all that happens is I lose 40 excess pounds and my favorite arteries begin to work better than they have in years? Eh? Eh??”

    Sometimes, ya just gotta try what works for your own reasons, not to save the world. If that’s a side effect, hey, stuff happens like that sometimes.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Jul 2012 @ 8:36 PM

  316. Time to update your “Other Opinions” sidebar. Many of the links are out of date.

    [Response: Indeed… Suggestions welcome. – gavin]

    Comment by The Wonderer — 17 Jul 2012 @ 8:53 PM

  317. sidd: Wonder what GRACE will show for the year.

    Something, with a little luck. 2014 and 2015 depend on more luck.

    Drag is one problem but the batteries are getting hoary and are already affecting operations.

    The mission could be over before a replacement is up:

    [2011]…continuation of the GRACE mission has to be viewed as high risk—the weakened power system may fail, or result in significantly degradation of data quality within the next two years.

    With loads of luck and no lawmakers in DC pretending to be morons in order to raise campaign cash and/or avoid being brave, the gap-filler mission might arrive on station before there’s a discontinuity in data.

    Any problems w/the next launch and there will be a gap; whatever the batteries do, drag (and natural variability of drag due to solar storms) will spell the end of the GRACE mission perilously close to the arrival of a replacement.

    Our constant skinflint attitude to instrumentation costing a drop in the budgetary ocean is kind of like not changing the batteries in your fever thermometer in order to save a few dollars, risking that your kid may end up in ER with a runaway fever due to sepsis. Big savings, ya know? Very wise, not.

    Comment by dbostrom — 17 Jul 2012 @ 10:53 PM

  318. Nice paper by Mueller and Seneviratne

    correlation of dry with subsequent hot
    i have been waiting for this forabit


    Comment by sidd — 17 Jul 2012 @ 11:34 PM

  319. I just started reading the book “Waking the Giant; how a changing climate triggers earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes” by Bill McGuire, 2012

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 17 Jul 2012 @ 11:47 PM

  320. “And if for some reason a person insists on obtaining B-12 only from animal sources, the necessary amount of animal-source food would be quite small”

    ” people eating the “standard” American diet have more to worry about in that respect than do vegans.”

    Yes, lots more. Thanks for the discussion.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 18 Jul 2012 @ 12:49 AM

  321. sidd @314
    A couple of links to save folk running round @Neven’s site.

    A link to the actual comment with the animated Greenland radar pictures.
    Credits to SteveMDFP for spotting the event & creating the animation with a bit of post-editing by Ethan O’Connor

    The ASCAT images come from this directory (also linked @ Neven) msfa-NHe-a-… files for days 186-195 (July 4 – 13). The most recent images 196 & 7 seem to show some stabilisation of the situation.

    The impact on albedo is evident in the double-dips on Jason Box’s Meltfactor graphs for 2000m & 2500m that are now showing up to about 13 July.

    Comment by MARodger — 18 Jul 2012 @ 7:26 AM

  322. dbostrom,
    While a gap in the replacement for GRACE would be a loss, the consequences would not be as dire as you make it to be. Just like your batteries in the thermometer analogy, there are alternatives that not only can monitor a child’s temperature, but also the Greenland glaciers. They just do so with less precision. Hopefully, we can a replacement up and flying soon.

    Comment by Dan H. — 18 Jul 2012 @ 7:44 AM

  323. Re: Grace

    Sure Dan, all we need is a large fleet of aircraft flying 24/7 and we can always keep our eye on sea level, so that will keep us well informed.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 18 Jul 2012 @ 8:43 AM

  324. McIntyre climbdown forthcoming? Signs and portents. Death of book review greatly exaggerated…

    Comment by dbostrom — 18 Jul 2012 @ 10:59 AM

  325. Thomas,
    Overkill. Current measurements are satisfactory. There is no need to present such extravagant solutions to a minor problem.

    Comment by Dan H. — 18 Jul 2012 @ 12:31 PM

  326. //”Time to update your “Other Opinions” sidebar. Many of the links are out of date.

    [Response: Indeed… Suggestions welcome. – gavin]”//

    Not to self-advertise :-)

    And Isaac Held’s a must…

    Comment by Chris Colose — 18 Jul 2012 @ 2:07 PM

  327. Indeed… Suggestions welcome. – gavin

    Science of Doom

    Comment by dbostrom — 18 Jul 2012 @ 2:33 PM

  328. Re: GRACE lifetime

    We have very good time data from GPS constellations. Can we get good enuf location information as well and combine to deduce gravity well shape ? Or is friction in GPS orbits enuf to smooth out all the interesting stuff ?


    Comment by sidd — 18 Jul 2012 @ 5:39 PM

  329. Denskepticons will no doubt be outraged by this obvious whitewash:

    Norfolk Constabulary has made the decision to formally close its investigation into the hacking of online data from the Climate Research Centre (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich.

    The decision follows a comprehensive investigation by the force’s Major Investigation Team, supported by a number of national specia-list services, and is informed by a statutory deadline on criminal proceedings.

    While no criminal proceedings will be instigated, the investigation has concluded that the data breach was the result of a ‘sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack on the CRU’s data files, carried out remotely via the internet’.

    Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendant Julian Gregory, said: “Despite detailed and comprehensive enquiries, supported by experts in this field, the complex nature of this investigation means that we do not have a realistic prospect of identifying the offender or offenders and launching criminal proceedings within the time constraints imposed by law.

    “The international dimension of investigating the World Wide Web especially has proved extremely challenging.

    “However, as a result of our enquiries, we can say that the data breach was the result of a sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack on the CRU’s data files, carried out remotely via the internet. The offenders used methods common in unlawful internet activity to obstruct enquiries.

    “There is no evidence to suggest that anyone working at or associated with the University of East Anglia was involved in the crime.”

    ‘Ere now, what’s all this, then?

    Comment by dbostrom — 18 Jul 2012 @ 6:32 PM

  330. AGW Observer

    Climate Charts & Graphs

    Comment by JCH — 18 Jul 2012 @ 7:09 PM

  331. Somebody: While a gap in the replacement for GRACE would be a loss, the consequences would not be as dire as you make it to be.

    The entire Earth observation constellation is falling apart. Some say it’s because of JWST, others say ISS. I say it’s because we spend too much on hair gel, extra chrome for our vehicles, various other vacuous frippery that might vanish tomorrow and not make a whit of difference in our lives or those coming later, those who might have appreciated a better sense of priorities on our part.

    The instrumentation we’re coasting on is dying a little too fast to be replaced by the money left over after we buy our aerosol cheese and plug-in air fresheners, leaving us dependent on the random variety of good luck. We could build our own luck but we choose not to do that.

    Comment by dbostrom — 18 Jul 2012 @ 7:55 PM

  332. Tamino hits spatial visualizations of continental US temperature anomalies out of the park.

    Comment by dbostrom — 18 Jul 2012 @ 9:07 PM

  333. Sorry about that, I should have taken notes: Nature Blog and Michael Tobias has now moved to Planet 3.0 for starters.

    Comment by The Wonderer — 18 Jul 2012 @ 9:57 PM

  334. Neven’s Arctic Sea Ice blog?

    Comment by ozajh — 18 Jul 2012 @ 11:01 PM

  335. Could anyone point me to the calculations required to show the total energy increase in the system that can be attributed to the increase in CO2 over the last, say, 50 years?

    No need to account for anything special like variation in output of the sun, or changes in cloud cover albedo, etc. Just want a number that roughly equates to that energy delta associated with the Arrhenius effect.

    Comment by Six Legged Heaven — 19 Jul 2012 @ 1:58 AM

  336. The Norfolk Constabulary is closing the email theft case at CRU owing to the time limitation included in the criminal statute.

    I mention this becasue sometimes poster Andy Revkin has steadfastly refused to admit that there was a crime based on the idea that the Constbulary had not said there was a crime. Now they definitely have said so.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 19 Jul 2012 @ 7:08 AM

  337. Six Legged Heaven“…total energy increase in the system…”

    For observations, I would suggest looking at the ocean heat content (, where >93% of the thermal mass resides. The 0-2000m records indicate a gain of 25-30×10^22 Joules since 1960 there.

    Comment by KR — 19 Jul 2012 @ 10:47 AM

  338. I suggest Lucia’s The Blackboard. Hey, it’s called “Other Opinions”, right?

    Comment by toto — 19 Jul 2012 @ 11:01 AM

  339. Book: “Waking the Giant; how a changing climate triggers earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes” by Bill McGuire, 2012

    Bill McGuire is a geologist. Bill McGuire says minor changes in tides, sea level, ice melt, etc. can determine the moment of eruption. The crust is thin and flexible. Glaciers create waves in the crust when the glaciers melt. The waves result in things like the New Madrid earthquakes. Climate feeds back to geology.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 19 Jul 2012 @ 11:40 AM

  340. Here are some really cool pictures from MODIS as the Petermann Glacier calved an enormous iceberg in Greenland. This is the iceberg the news media is calling “twice the size of Manhattan.”

    Three images, the orbital period of Aqua (the satellite carrying MODIS) is about 90 minutes. The first two images are 90 minutes apart, while the third is one day later. I highly recommend downloading a big TIFF and enjoying the view.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 19 Jul 2012 @ 12:08 PM

  341. @Six Legged Heaven

    Here is Arrhenius’s paper from 1896:

    On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air Upon the Temperature of the Ground

    However, you may find this more useful, approachable and complete:

    The Carbon Dioxide Greenhouse Effect

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 19 Jul 2012 @ 2:22 PM

  342. Oh no, I failed with that link to the Arrhenius’s paper. Sorry, here is a working link.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 19 Jul 2012 @ 2:28 PM

  343. @Unsettled Scientist thanks… i’m really looking for a way to calculate the actual numbers, conceptually i have some grasp of what’s happening.

    Comment by Six Legged Heaven — 20 Jul 2012 @ 3:42 AM

  344. I’ve found the US Navy’s efforts to move to sustainables a fascinating example of forward thinking and “can do”, especially with the highly successful deployment of solar in US Marine forward operational bases in Afghanistan. But regardless of the potential lives saved through less need for convoys (90%?), it looks like the battle’s hotting up back home. I can’t help but feel that this could spill more openly into the wider political and public arena, and the burning question that will be asked will be why are these politicians are so adamant that the Navy must use fossil fuels? The immediate short term costs argument really doesn’t hold water given how new tech always costs more to begin with, but the advantages will reap more benefits, including healthcare.

    US Navy defends ‘great green fleet’ from Republican attacks

    Comment by J Bowers — 20 Jul 2012 @ 6:32 AM

  345. six legged heaven – try this:
    Revisiting the Earth’s sea-level and energy budgets from 1961 to 2008

    Comment by JCH — 20 Jul 2012 @ 8:33 AM

  346. @Six Legged Heaven

    It sounds like you didn’t bother reading the Arrhenius paper. The title of section IV is “Calculation of the Variation of Temperature that would ensue in consequence of a given Variation of the Carbonic Acid in the Air.” Table VII is specifically the actual numbers Arrhenius calculated. If you want the math for the effect Arrhenius calculated, that’s it, it’s all in that paper. If you only have some grasp of planetary modeling however you should read the sections before that, or perhaps the stuff below will be better.

    But maybe you are looking for a very simple idealized model to show the influence of a GHG such as CO2. Then perhaps what you are looking for is Chris Colose’s recent post.

    Building a Planet Part 2: Greenhouse Effects

    It might be easier to help you if we know specifically what problem you are trying to solve.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 20 Jul 2012 @ 3:53 PM

  347. 346 Unsettled scientist on calculating the change in energy.

    I don’t agree that it’s so easy. Arrhenius came up with something like a 6C warming for a doubling of CO2. Plass calculated something like a 3.6C change from a doubling of CO2 (1956 Am. J Phys paper(V 24 # 5 page 303) without including water vapor. The modern number for the change in temperature from a doubling of CO2 without any feedbacks is roughly 1.3 C (a number I have not calculated but written down from correspondence with an actual climate scientist). I’ve been told on this site by people whose opinions I respect (probably Gavin and/or Raypierre ) that there is no easy way to calculate a warming of 3C-ish per doubling. I’ve never tried hard enough to convince myself that I believe them, partly because I sort of believe them. I do believe that if you can’t get a 3C per doubling w/ feedback without radiative transfer models that you can’t hope to calculate the change in energy to date that is due to CO2 without complex models. I’ve wondered if I ought not to be able to putz around and do something iterative to first get the 1.3C no feedback temperature, then include H2O vapor and get a correction to atmospheric temp, then correct the H2O feedback and get a new atmospheric temp, etc. but I’ve never tried. Days are too short.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 20 Jul 2012 @ 9:26 PM

  348. > six leg … total energy increase in the system

    Which “system” are you asking about, and what “total energy increase” do you mean?

    Without defining those you won’t get a satisfactory answer.

    Warming of the upper few meters of the Earth, for example– counting that? Then you want to look at borehole temperatures, well documented. Those are slow changes, so limiting your request to 50 years loses a lot of information that’s available.

    Do you use “total energy” as equivalent to warming?

    I wonder if you’re quoting someone you read elsewhere using that phrasing. If so, it’s possible you have been set up to ask a question phrased to come up with a very tiny number.

    You could claim that the “total energy increase” in the last “50 years” solely from CO2 is an extremely small number. Especially if you count from absolute zero, for example, or as you rule out the change from the preindustrial baseline to 1962, and much else. You’ve asked an oddly narrow question.

    Try here, this may help you ask a question that will give you an interesting answer:
    Frequently Asked Question 2.1
    How do Human Activities Contribute to Climate Change and How do They Compare with Natural Influences?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Jul 2012 @ 10:01 PM

  349. Forgive me if this is already answered in a FAQ somewhere, but could someone provide a crude zero-order description of the effective duration of added CO2 in the atmosphere?

    I say “effective” because I understand that individual molecules may have a much shorter duration in the atmosphere than the overall rise in concentration they engender, and I’m concerned with the latter, not the former.

    And I say “duration” because I also understand that “half-life” might not be the best description of how long the effect lasts, although it might be the best simple description.

    I’ve seen everything from half-lifes of about 300 to 30,000 years, or half-lifes of 300 years for 80% and 20% lasting essentially forever, etc.

    Is there a simple description? For example, if we rose to 500ppm, then stopped adding CO2, how long would it take to get back to 400 ppm, 300 ppm, etc.?

    Thanks in advance.

    [Response: Discussion here. It isn’t a simple story though and you can’t characterise the response using a simple exponential. – gavin]

    Comment by JMcDonald — 21 Jul 2012 @ 12:44 AM

  350. Are GISS papers no longer available?

    [Response: Should be: – some journals are more fussy about this though so it isn’t 100%. Email the author if you want a copy of anything that isn’t online. – gavin]

    Comment by dz.alexander — 21 Jul 2012 @ 1:44 AM

  351. John E. Pearson“Arrhenius came up with something like a 6C warming for a doubling of CO2”

    Where was this? Looking at the 1896 paper, “On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground” (, he states on page 275 that:

    And to get a new increase of this order of magnitude (3°-4), it will be necessary to alter the quantity of carbonic acid till it reaches a value nearly midway between 2 and 2.5.

    That seems very much in line with current estimates of ~3°C/doubling.

    Comment by KR — 21 Jul 2012 @ 11:40 AM

  352. John E Pearson,

    Yes, I agree, it’s not a simple formula you plug things into with our modern understanding, we’re way past that. But Six-Legged specifically asked for the Arrhenius one, which is why I brought up that paper. Certainly I would not rely upon centuries old science for a modern value, but for someone looking to do the math by hand, that’s what Arrhenius did. If one is trying to calculate it themselves, it will have to be a very simple idealized model. If we want the best science has to offer, it’s going to involve highly complicated models run on computers. I almost included this in my previous replies. If you’re looking for a formula that has one variable (delta CO2 ppm) and spits out degrees celsius delta, you’re not understanding the science.

    Honestly, I’m really enjoying this AIP link. It does cover this stuff. It gives the story of the study of CO2 as a GHG, with links describing the early simple models, radiation maths, and even more modern GCMs. The story really is enlightening. Arrhenius doing absurdly large calculations with significant uncertainties, basically to take his mind of his wife leaving him and taking the kid. He wasn’t trying to understand global warming or even necessarily predict it, people were trying to solve the problem of the ice ages. It was through studying that phenomenon that the prediction of man-made global warming came about, not some conspiracy. It’s like how one of the most fundamental concepts in physics, Entropy, came out of trying to make steam engines work better.

    But yeah, I wasn’t trying to say our modern understanding was easy, just pointing Six Legged to what I think he is trying to get. Simple questions like that involve a lot of assumptions, so it’s hard to know exactly what to give people.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 21 Jul 2012 @ 2:06 PM

  353. KR,

    That 3-4 was a regional/continental value? Arrhenius got something much higher for arctic regions, like 8-9. I think the 5-6 was the average for the globe. I’d have to go reread to confirm this.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 21 Jul 2012 @ 2:44 PM

  354. Re 347 John E. Pearson I’ve wondered if I ought not to be able to putz around and do something iterative to first get the 1.3C no feedback temperature, then include H2O vapor and get a correction to atmospheric temp, then correct the H2O feedback and get a new atmospheric temp, etc. but I’ve never tried.

    This doesn’t capture the nonlinear effect of variable effective heat capacity (over longer times, greater amounts of heat capacity come into play), nor any slow feedback effects, but assuming or approximating as a linear response (PS I may not be using standard notation here; sorry):

    B is the Planck response at TOA per unit change in global average surface temperature T (increase in OLR at TOA (assuming instant stratospheric adjustment?), and assuming constant tropospheric lapse rate, with no compositional or optical-property feedbacks or any other feedbacks)

    F is the decrease in OLR per unit T due to those other (non-Planck) feedbacks (including (important or not) any change in horizontal temperature variation at any level, etc.)

    where B and F are in such units as W/m2 per K

    C is the heat capacity of the climate system per unit area

    RF is the imposed radiative forcing (relative to the baseline where equilibrium ∆T = 0)

    H is enthalpy (~~heat) per unit area


    dH/dt = C*dT/dt = RF + (F-B)*∆T


    dH = C*dT = RF*dt + (F-B)*∆T*dt

    ∆T = ∆Teq (the equilibrium ∆T) when dT/dt = 0, thus

    RF + (F-B)*∆Teq = 0

    ∆Teq = RF/(B-F)

    (whereas with iteration, you start with ∆T1 = RF/B, then add ∆T(n+1) = (F*∆Tn)/B repeatedly)

    ECS (equilibrium climate sensitivity) = ∆Teq/RF = 1/(B-F)

    if RF is constant, a solution is (noting dT = d(∆T))

    H/C = ∆T = ∆Teq * (1 – exp[-t/τ])

    exp[-t/τ] = 1-∆T/∆Teq
    d(∆T)/dt = ∆Teq * (1/τ) * exp[-t/τ]
    d(∆T)/dt = ∆Teq * (1/τ) * (1-∆T/∆Teq)

    subs: C*dT/dt = RF + (F-B)*∆T

    = RF + (F-B)*∆T = ∆Teq * (C/τ) * (1-∆T/∆Teq)

    subs: RF/(B-F) = ∆Teq

    RF + (F-B)*∆T = RF/(B-F) * (C/τ) * (1 – ∆T*(B-F)/RF)

    div by RF:

    (1 – (B-F)*∆T/RF) = 1/(B-F) * (C/τ) * (1 – ∆T*(B-F)/RF)

    1 = 1/(B-F) * (C/τ)

    τ = C/(B-F) = C*ECS


    H/C = ∆T
    = ∆Teq * (1 – exp[-t/(C*ECS)])
    = RF*ECS * (1 – exp[-t/(C*ECS)])


    The way to estimate RF by hand – get a global average OLR graph (that’s the part you can’t do easily by hand), identify the CO2 valley, find a spectrum of log(cross section) CO2 (can’t do that easily by hand either), find the interval over which the optical cross section halves outward from ~15 microns (on each side if they differ; if the slope varies look around where optical path length for the atmosphere is a moderate value ~1, give or take). Multiply the depth of the CO2 valley by the interval; that’s TOA RF before stratospheric adjustment (subtract the widenning and increase in height of the little hill in the center of that value to get a more accurate result – this probably requires some more info about the temperature profile in the stratosphere). Then do the same as if the CO2 valley OLR = 0 – that’s approximately tropopause RF before stratospheric adjustment. Subtract TOA value from tropopause value – that’s the stratospheric cooling (some additional. Assume some fraction of that is realized as a reduction in downward radiation at the tropopause, and subtract that from tropopause RF – that’s your tropopause RF (and TOA RF) after stratospheric adjustment. (Perhpas you could try to estimate B by shifting the rest of an OLR graph (outside where it reaches the tropopause-level Planck function) up by 1 K and looking at the change in area).

    Or use this (PS some error due to assumption of perfect blackbody surface (based on last time I used it) – this shouldn’t be a large error for tropopause and TOA RF because it is masked by H2O, clouds, CO2, etc, already; more significant if you start with no GHGs. Advantage – you can do different latitudes and conditions seperately and then find a global average from that. PS I haven’t tried it but you might be able to estimate B from this website too. The GH(LW) portion of F as well if you make some assumptions – but you can look at F values from climate models (and observations) for hints.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 21 Jul 2012 @ 6:28 PM

  355. KR #351:

    And to get a new increase of this order of magnitude (3°-4), it will be necessary to alter the quantity of carbonic acid till it reaches a value nearly midway between 2 and 2.5.

    That seems very much in line with current estimates of ~3°C/doubling.

    Eh, no… it says new increase (and 3°.4, not 3°-4). He talks about multiplying by 1.5 a second time, giving 2×3.4 degrees for 2.25x the amount of CO2.

    Have a look at Table VII on page 266, under the header “Carbonic acid = 2.0”. It really is between 5 and 6 degrees per doubling.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 21 Jul 2012 @ 10:42 PM

  356. JMcDonald – Lifetime of CO2?

    I would suggest Archer 2009 ( for a good look at it.

    Comment by KR — 22 Jul 2012 @ 12:03 AM

  357. Possible Sea Level Rise of 1-3 meters (or more) within the next 50 years

    Comment by Chris Machens — 22 Jul 2012 @ 1:26 AM

  358. @357
    The linked story sports a graphic of “Scenario of potential sea level rise within 100-200 years” showing Europe under 100m of water. So me droning on with my usual ‘there simply isn’t enough energy about to raise sea level over a couple of metres per century unless you fill the oceans with icebergs’ likely won’t go down to well here.

    Comment by MARodger — 22 Jul 2012 @ 8:55 AM

  359. Chris, can you look again at your article on Joe Romm’s page that you’ve linked to?

    The text within the featured image says “Europe 100 meter sea level rise approx. 100-200 years.”

    Your article refers “… 1-3 meters of sea level rise within the next 50 years.”

    100 meters in one or two centuries? What’s that from?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Jul 2012 @ 9:59 AM

  360. I think someone made a mistake when adding text to that image that accompanies Chris’s article at Joe Romm’s place. I did an image search and the picture appears several other places (French and Italian sites) — but never with that English text overlaying it.

    One of those captions the same image with “If Antarctic were to melt completely, it should give us 61 meters of sea level rise worldwide….” which makes more sense.

    I’m sure neither Chris nor Joe is predicting that. It’s got to be a typo on the image, it’s inconsistent with Chris’s text.

    This search will work for a few hours:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Jul 2012 @ 10:06 AM

  361. Chris, I tried repeatedly to comment under your article at Climateprogress but got session timeouts, invalid tokens, etc. each time I tried.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Jul 2012 @ 10:15 AM

  362. MARodger, the image is a bit sensational i guess. But there are studies done on several meters ( around 20) SLR within a few years or decades. Following this, 1-2 centuries may yield 100 meters. The main point to take home with this image is that we require new maps for country shorelines, in the coming decades. With BAU we are on a path to an ice free state.

    Comment by Chris Machens — 22 Jul 2012 @ 10:41 AM

  363. MARodger – if I understand the basis of Hansen’s prediction of up to 5 meters by ~2100, it’s simply that it has happened in the past. Are you saying it could not have happened in the past, or that there was more energy available then to melt it, or that just a lot of land-based ice must have been quickly dumped into the oceans to have achieved that rate?

    Comment by JCH — 22 Jul 2012 @ 10:43 AM

  364. MA,

    Without a serious influx of icebergs, there simply is not enough energy to raise sea levels that much. Even with the recent loss of ice from Greenland, SLR has slowed in the last few years. Estimates much beyond the current 2-2.5 mm/yr seem unachievable, or sensational (as Chris pointed out).

    [Response: More unsourced wishful thinking masquerading as informed commentary? You know the deal – provide justifications for scientific statements or don’t bother. Where for instance do you get a current ‘2-2.5 mm/yr’? You know as well as I do that all of the satellite data sets show more than 3mm/yr. – gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 22 Jul 2012 @ 11:29 AM

  365. Martin Vermeer – Thanks for the reference – I clearly misread that section. However, looking at the latitude dependencies in the paper, it appears to be a global value of ~5.2C to 5.3C/doubling, given equatorial at 4.9-5C/doubling, polar amplification at ~6C/doubling.

    I have to say, though I _still_ find that Arrhenius piece an excellent work in physics extrapolation.

    Comment by KR — 22 Jul 2012 @ 12:15 PM

  366. > I’m sure neither Chris nor Joe is predicting that.

    Well, Chris thinks it’s possible, so I’m at least half wrong.

    I’m still sure Joe Romm wouldn’t agree with Chris on that.

    Chris, did you run that by the sea level researchers whose work you are discussing there, and has been discussed here?

    Let’s see if I’m wrong again.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Jul 2012 @ 12:56 PM

  367. … You can also have land-based fresh water surging into the ocean at times; not sure how voluminous that would be exactly.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 22 Jul 2012 @ 1:29 PM

  368. JCH @363
    What I’m saying is that when I calculate the net rate of energy entering the climate system (about 0.6 W/sq m yields 9.5 zJ pa) it would only be enough to melt 28,500 cu km of ice and raise sea levels 80mm pa. Now, assuming I haven’t put a decimal point upside down (as I do occasionally), the question this raises is how do the ice & energy get together to allow the melt to happen? I’m suggesting only a portion of the energy (say 25%) can do this (ie 20mm SLR pa or 2m per century) without iceberg-strewn oceans.

    The implications of my suggestion here are still very green. Past discussion about it have become quite heated at times and not very constructive. However it is safe to say that my suggestion does sit very uncomfortably with Fig 7 of Hansen & Sato 2010 which appears to suggest SLR of 500mm pa by the end of the century.
    Increased energy that is used up melting ice rather than warming the climate will increase the residual climate forcing levels as CO2 levels rise and thus allow the 80mm figure to increase (a maximum of +4mm pa if all warming stopped).
    One consideration I have yet to explore (but raised by your questioning @363) is that the average SLR from the last ice age I measure to be 13mm pa yet the rate of warming was far slower.

    Comment by MARodger — 22 Jul 2012 @ 1:59 PM

  369. Hansen & Sato 2010 link

    Comment by MARodger — 22 Jul 2012 @ 2:01 PM

  370. Chris, the closest I can come to support your rate of change isn’t close: Meltwater pulse 1A from Antarctica as a trigger of the Bølling-Allerød warm interval — AJ Weaver et al. (2003) Science Magazine.
    “Cited by 263” says Scholar.

    “Abstract. Meltwater pulse 1A (mwp-1A) was a prominent feature of the last deglaciation, which led to a sea level rise of [around] 20 meters in less than 500 years….”

    You can’t extend that to 300 meters in any time span, let alone 100-200 years, there isn’t enough ice above sea level.

    Seriously, your text makes sense as cautionary discussion.

    That one illustration — which it looks like someone borrowed from a different site and added misleading numbers to — bugs me.
    The most recent (today’s) skeptical science article on the same subject refers to

    “… rapid sea level rises of 9 m in 500 years during the Meltwater pulse 1a event 14,600 years ago and 2.5 m in the second event, 8,200 years ago.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Jul 2012 @ 2:11 PM

  371. Hank Roberts, the Captcha is working. (Tested it and others could reply) Please try again.

    Comment by Chris Machens — 22 Jul 2012 @ 2:21 PM

  372. Hank Roberts, CPN is not Joe Romm’s place, as you should know because you comment on Romm’s place too.

    Comment by Chris Machens — 22 Jul 2012 @ 2:24 PM

  373. I will try to clarify, why i believe a SLR of 100 meters can be possible within the given time. Please post your input under that article… will comment back once i updated it.

    Comment by Chris Machens — 22 Jul 2012 @ 2:26 PM

  374. PS for Chris — the above is nitpicking (the highest form of primate social bonding, and so meant).

    The article is good reading and has and cites credible numbers from sources. If you agree the illustration with the added claim on it wasn’t supported by the science sources you relied on there’s no reason to be reluctant to clarify the piece.

    Science is an endless process of corrections — not the defense of anything forever in its original form.

    Showing people we do that (even us kibitzers and commenters) is part of the lesson about how science works.

    Best writing I know on the process, by Peter Watts: Because As We All Know, The Green Party Runs the World.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Jul 2012 @ 2:29 PM

  375. I updated the article

    About the Image: Scenario of potential sea level rise within 100-200 years. This is based on the current rate humans put Co2 into the atmosphere, which is 10,000 times faster than the natural processes.
    For that matter and potential singular positive feedbacks the rate of Sea Level Rise (SLR) can be assumed to rise with a similar rate. And for that matter there is no equivalent in the earth recorded history. The main SLR rise is likely not to come from melted water, rather then thermal expansion, which is attributed to be 70-75% of current observed SLR.

    If you feel that this theory is not justified i welcome your feedback over at my blog.

    Comment by Chris Machens — 22 Jul 2012 @ 3:00 PM

  376. Is there a way to post an image directly into a comment (ie copy and paste from one’s own file, rather than first posting it elsewhere on the internet and then using that to get it into the comment)?

    PS AGW: this is the point in the movie where that girl says “It’s he-ere”.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 22 Jul 2012 @ 3:12 PM

  377. Re – past rapid sea level rise references, “Deglacial rapid sea level rises caused by ice-sheet saddle collapses” Lauren et al 2012 (abstract) gives the MWP-1A as “a sea level rise of 14–18 metres over 350 years” from a P Deschamps et al reference. Lauren et al suggest a mechanism for half this rise, their paper discussed at Skeptical Science.

    Comment by MARodger — 22 Jul 2012 @ 3:39 PM

  378. > … not Joe Romm’s

    Fooled me! won’t happen again.

    I saw the “climateprogress” name, and the article’s link with Joe Romm’s name, and mistook your blog for Climate Progress.
    That’s what I get reading climate blogs while traveling and rushed.

    Memo to self: the website for “Climate Progress” is named

    My mistake.

    I can’t follow all the blogs out there, I try to stick to the science sites and always, always read the cited sources.

    I believe you’ll find thermal expansion is already figured into the published science, and you’re counting it twice, to come up with your estimate for depth. I can’t imagine how you’re getting your estimate for timespan.

    I doubt you’ve discovered the scientists have missed something obvious. See what the actual scientists say; I noticed Martin Vermeer already responded to you. You can’t do much better; listen to him.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Jul 2012 @ 3:55 PM

  379. Mr. M. A. Rodger writes on the 22nd of July, 2012, at 1:59 PM:

    “… how do the ice & energy get together to allow the melt to happen?”

    1) From the Gregoire paper, as surface melt reaches the low point of a saddle, the amount of area available for melting jumps, surface mass balance goes negative, and the saddle melts and lowers deeper into the ablation zone, melts faster and over longer fractions of a year, rinse and repeat; voila: MWP1A
    2) Add creep and basal sliding, ice only moves downhill, deeper into ablation zone.
    3)ELA (equilibrium line altitude) is rising all the time, with it the ablation area, shrinking the accumulation zone. Swiss camp at 1150 m is no longer in accumulation zone, i see that ELA is up above 1700m already.
    4)Your calculation for absorbed solar energy is for net albedo change. Consider that there is plenty of available energy to melt ice in the air in the ablation zone, and worse yet, rainfall delivers energy from warming ocean to the ice.
    5)I think from the ASCAT images, that melt has reached not only the saddle at 67N (as we knew already,) but is now (July 2012) at the summit.


    Comment by sidd — 22 Jul 2012 @ 3:58 PM

  380. Re image 100 meter SLR. The point about this image is not the timeframe, but that we will get there on current emission path.

    Comment by Chris Machens — 22 Jul 2012 @ 9:09 PM

  381. Chris, what’s your source for this? Who made the picture? Who added the time span to the picture? Why do you trust your source to the point you’ve blogged the claim without a cite? There’s no basis in the science for that claim that I can find.

    Seriously, it looks like a mistake. Martin gave you a source to do the numbers in his comments, on your blog.

    I”m done.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Jul 2012 @ 2:39 AM

  382. sidd @378
    Yes but no but…
    Moving Greenland’s ice surface down towards sea level will get more of it melted, but at what cost to the local energy budget, the global energy budget even? The energy has got to come from somewhere.
    Let’s be ridiculous & tow Greenland to the equator. That will get the melt going but where you tow it too has be cooler as a result. That cooling will suck energy from surrounding regions. This is the same process when saddles are lowered.
    Let’s be more ridiculous & cut up Greenland & scatter it (ice and all) round the tropics. Now that will up the melt rate but also cool the entire tropics, the entire globe.
    As a simple matter of energy budgets, if this tropical Greenland (or a dropping saddle) is raising sea level by more than 80mm pa, it will be sucking more heat from the rest of the world than the world is being heated up by global warming. That means that even with global warming’s forcing, the whole globe will actually be cooling!
    And remember Greenland is big. At 80 mm per year, Greenland has 100 years of ice to melt, be it starting at 3,000m in the Arctic Circle or at sea level in the tropics. Antarctica is ten times bigger still.

    Comment by MARodger — 23 Jul 2012 @ 3:09 AM

  383. KR 365:

    I have to say, though I _still_ find that Arrhenius piece an excellent work in physics extrapolation.

    KR count me in as a fan of old Svante! The way he used the Langley measurements was brilliant, using the greater path length through the atmosphere as the Moon stands low in the sky as a surrogate for greater GHG concentrations.

    Why Arrhenius got so high a sensitivity value? Besides his way-too-simple vertical atmospheric structure, I have the following suspicion. He only considered two gases: carbon dioxide (“K”) and water vapour (“W”). In reality of course, there are many more greenhouse gases: methane, ozone, nitrous oxides; and then there are aerosols. None of these belong to the CO2 feedback system, and should thus not be included in any computation of CO2 doubling sensitivity. But all of them are present in the sky over Arizona, masquerading in A’s computation as “K”, i.e., carbon dioxide.

    But in summary, A already found the following fundamentals:

    1) the logarithmic nature of GHG forcing with concentration

    2) the water vapour feedback effect, strongly positive — from the skies of Arizona through the cycle of the seasons, not from physics, although he undoubtedly knew Clausius-Clapeyron (there is a similar equation in chemistry bearing his name, ask Eli ;-) )

    3) the polar / high-latitude amplification.

    …and look Ma, no computers! Pretty damn cool.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 23 Jul 2012 @ 3:34 AM

  384. Chris @374 & @380
    Sorry to add to the objections I’ve already made about the graphic. Then, I think it is actually the same objection but from a different direction of approach (or perhaps that’s ‘directions’.) as the problems I have stem from the timings indicated by the graphic.

    Two things. First, why 10,000 times faster? If the last ice age ended over a period of 10,000 years via a 6 Wm^-2 forcing, our 3 Wm^-2 forcing over 100 years is only 50 times faster. (Note this does leave some questions even at 50 times.)
    Second, I would suggest that if my protest over energy poverty for rapid SLR from melting land ice has merit, rapid SLR from thermal expansion is not the answer as it is energy-wise far more intense. A simple calc (ignoring the pressures of the deep oceans) gives expansion requiring 60 times the energy for the same SLR. This perhaps overstates the discrepancy by a few tens of percent. Indeed, measured OHC is rising by something like 7.5 zJ pa but only achieving SLR of 1.5 mm. If that energy were applied to melting (from 0 deg C), it would have managed 65mm SLR pa.

    Comment by MARodger — 23 Jul 2012 @ 3:35 AM

  385. Sorry gavin,
    Usually people do not require references for that which is well known, but I will comply.

    [Response: People require references from you because of your history of a) making things up, and b) misinterpreting data… PDSI anyone? – gavin]

    [Response: See how easy was that? (Better figure here, updated paper Church&White2011) Now the reason why you think that the 2009 data is ‘true’, and the 2011 update (which shows 2.8 ± 0.8 mm year−1 over the satellite period) and the satellite data itself (which are more current) are ignorable is perhaps worth discussing… – gavin]

    If one were to choose a period of precisely 20 years, then a SLR of ~3mm/yr can be deduced. Over the past 30 years, SLR is ~2.5 mm/yr, while even the satellite data shows a decline to ~2 mm/yr over the past decade. Clearly not a sign of rapid acceleration.

    [Response:Really? You don’t even need to read German to know that is crap. But now your point is over the definition of ‘rapid’. Movement of sorts I suppose. – gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 23 Jul 2012 @ 7:30 AM

  386. Gavin,
    Wow! Talk about misinterpretations! I did not misinterpret PDSI, nor have I ever accused you of not knowing how to read. Perhaps, if you were a little more forthcoming and honest, people would have more respect for your opinions. Sadly, I do not feel this will change. So ist das Leben!

    [Response: Oh, how soon we forget: – gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 23 Jul 2012 @ 10:07 AM

  387. @MARodger
    It seems you are not taking into account the counter-intuitive effect of a drop in surface temperatures: that would increase the amount of energy available for melting ice by increasing the global radiative disequilibrium. I suppose this effect would be moderated by the atmospheric H2O feedback (as well as by other feedbacks) but it’s not negligible.
    A change in oceanic circulation or in the location of large ice masses could therefore raise the sea level, even without a CO2/solar/whatever forcing. Or it could trigger a glacial episode if the magnitude of the feedbacks temporarily overwhelmed the drop in energy radiated by the surface… this ain’t trivial (see Heinrich events)!

    Comment by Anonymous Coward — 23 Jul 2012 @ 10:10 AM

  388. Mr. M.A. Rodger writes on the 23rd of July, 2012 at 3:09 AM:

    “…raising sea level by more than 80mm pa, it will be sucking more heat from the rest of the world than the world is being heated up by global warming”

    So stipulated.

    Then what might be the largest plausible rate for SLR today? MWP1A had 50mm/yr for 500 yr, is that possible today ?


    Comment by sidd — 23 Jul 2012 @ 11:03 AM

  389. MARodger “..why 10,000 times faster?”

    Because the rate humans put Co2 into the atmosphere today is of that order, when you compare it to the natural process from volcanoes.

    Comment by Chris Machens — 23 Jul 2012 @ 12:26 PM

  390. If land-based ice suddenly goes nonlinear and ends up as floating ice a decades ahead of time, it seems like you guys are saying SLR has to wait for melting. In the case of icebergs, isn’t SLR instantaneous?

    Comment by JCH — 23 Jul 2012 @ 12:48 PM

  391. Just popping in. Saw this earlier.

    Giant Beijing Rainstorm Triggers Citizens’ Anger

    Then I saw the RC article on the Miocene. Thanks.

    Comment by Ron R. — 23 Jul 2012 @ 1:06 PM

  392. JCH,
    You are correct. Any land-based ice which becomes seaborne will contribute to SLR immediately.

    Comment by Dan H. — 23 Jul 2012 @ 1:29 PM

  393. Mr. JCH says on the 23rd of July, 2012 at 12:48 PM:

    “In the case of icebergs, isn’t SLR instantaneous?”

    GRIS would find it difficult to calve icebergs thru constricted outflow channels, easier to melt in place, export meltwater. WAIS, on the other hand…


    Comment by sidd — 23 Jul 2012 @ 2:25 PM

  394. Re Chris Machens –

    1000s of years to rise 100 ppm deglaciation (5000 from memory, is this right? – IPCC has a nice graph (Ch 6 in AR 4, WGI, I think))

    ~100 years or less (depends on when you measure the slope) to rise 100 ppm anthropogenic

    from memory, 0.2 Gt C/yr geologic emissions – tends to result in no change because there’s silicate weathering going on (but when you get a Snowball Earth, different story. 0.2 Gt C/yr would add ~ 0.094 ppm CO2 to the atmosphere if it is trapped there (a bit over 1000 years to get 100 ppm). Typically, redistribution among all surface reservoirs occurs relatively fast relative to geologic emission and sequestration by silicate weathering + organic C burial. Proportions of course can vary with the total, but if proportions were held constant (except for vegetation and soil, and marine biomass/organic), it would take about 60 (*) times longer (~ 64,000 years (*)) to get to 100 ppm – (* – actually a bit longer than that, as this is based on a situation in disequilibrium – see below). Deglaciation C changes were significantly faster.


    100 ppmv CO2 ~= 213 Gt C ~= 781 Gt CO2, but forget sig.fig.s becauses I only used first two digits of molar masses (29 g/mol average atmosphere, 12 g/mol C, 44 g/mol CO2); based on atmosphere of 5.148 E18 kg (see , under “Density and mass”)

    from , diagram shows 750 Gt in atmosphere and 44953 Gt in atmosphere, ocean (inorganic), continental and marine biomass, and dissolved organic carbon. The deep ocean in particular isn’t in equilibrium with the atmosphere due to recent emissions (and this is old data already – 750 Gt atmospheric C was the good old days).

    See also link provided by KR @ 356 above.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 23 Jul 2012 @ 3:55 PM

  395. Re 388 JCH – well, it would be as fast as Tsunamis can travel around the world (not that you would necessarily get Tsunamis, that’s just an indication of the speed over which sea level can equilibrate). There isn’t a hard and fast rule that says you can’t have global average surfacde temperature rise halt or even reverse during the overall process – I think what some people might be arguing is that outside short-term fluctuations, it doesn’t seem likely (that the heat accumulation would be so concentrated on the land-based ice or that the land-based ice would flow and calve into the sea so rapidly) – it’s interesting to consider, though, that if this happened (or if meltwater lakes flowed out and, via being fresh water, spread out over the surface of the ocean, on top of warmer water – although inevitable mixing would occur), heat accumulation would increase more or not decrease as rapidly as radiative disequilibrium would not decay as fast/persist longer/grow.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 23 Jul 2012 @ 4:04 PM

  396. me, two comments ago: “(except for vegetation and soil, and marine biomass/organic),” – I forgot to do that in calculating the number, but it wouldn’t make a huge difference.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 23 Jul 2012 @ 4:08 PM

  397. (or if meltwater lakes flowed out “… – of course, that implies heating already occured.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 23 Jul 2012 @ 4:10 PM

  398. CO2 increase something like 5x as fast as during the PETM, according to secondary sources I found, which cite that to

    Trends, Rhythms, and Aberrations in Global
    Climate 65 Ma to Present
    James Zachos, et al., Science 292, 686 (2001);
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1059412

    (search will find that full text if you look through the first few pages of results; it’s been cited upwards of 2,000 times)

    10,000 is a big, round number.
    5 x the PETM rate of change is, to me, terrifying.

    What matters isn’t how much is added, what matters is how much stays in the atmosphere and oceans after natural cycling.

    We’re doing something like 2x the natural cycling rate now, if my poor memory is correct. Traveling, busy, someone else may get a better number.

    Educate people with these numbers, help them mean something.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Jul 2012 @ 4:15 PM

  399. Chris Machens @387
    The impact of volcanoes on climate as a source of CO2 is surely balanced by its extraction from the climate system by rock weathering. Which means its impact on sea level is thus zero.

    And my memory is that volcanoes emit an average of about 70 MtC pa while anthropogenic emissions are currently 10,000 MtC pa. If this were a meaningful ratio, which I do not see, it would be 140 times, not 10,000 times.

    Comment by MARodger — 23 Jul 2012 @ 4:47 PM

  400. Re Patrick 027

    In this video James Hansen explains the rate and how volcanoes only put 1/10000 of a part per million Co2 into the air. Which means 1 000 000 years for the natural process to reach 100 ppm.

    Comment by Chris Machens — 23 Jul 2012 @ 4:54 PM

  401. sidd @387
    A plausible rate for SLR?
    AR4 continued the IPCC underestimation of SLR which I suppose allows the floodgates to be opened for spectacular SLR predictions. Pfeffer et al 2008 (abstract) Kinematic Constraints on Glacier Contributions to 21st-Century Sea-Level Rise helpfully suggests an upper limit of 2 m by 2100.
    Stefan Rahmstorf discusses SLR having been part of a study looking at SLR under other IPCC scenario estimates based on temperature/SLR correlation. He breaks a forecast 1.2 m SLR by 2100 under IPCC A1B scenario (3.5 °C warming, the IPCC forecast was 0.35m) into – expansion 0.23 m (as IPCC), glaciers 0.40 m (two-thirds of the total such ice), polar land ice c. 0.50 m.
    This may present “plausible” but then there’s the WAIS that, as you say @392, sits patiently “on the other hand.”

    Comment by MARodger — 23 Jul 2012 @ 5:40 PM

  402. Chris, you have to add _and_ subtract to end up with the total. You understand that right now, human fossil fuel produces about twice as much CO2 as is accumulating in the atmosphere, right?

    Biological cycling has been handling about half the excess CO2 we produce, for the moment. Biological cycling can change its rate very quickly — within limits we haven’t yet understood.

    The amount we produce from fossil fuel is not the same amount that accumulates in the atmosphere and oceans — and the fraction doesn’t stay the same over time.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Jul 2012 @ 5:40 PM

  403. Now to return to my previous stipulation: that 80mm/yr SLR is the maximum possible

    if i recall correctly 0.5 to 1 W/m^2 radiative imbalance is about 1e22J/yr over the earth surface, whereas 1mm SLR/yr ~400GTon ice melt/yr ~ 1e18J/yr

    so a percent of a percent of the total radiative imbalance goes to melt ice, most goes into the oceans. How much could this fraction plausibly increase ?


    Comment by sidd — 23 Jul 2012 @ 6:02 PM

  404. Re Chris Machens – if I have time I might check that video out, but … estimates vary but they’ve all been on the order of 0.2 Gt C / yr. Note this isn’t just what comes out during volcanic eruptions, and it may include oxidation of buried organic C (that is, excluding when humans are doing the same thing).

    The point, though, was that geologic emission (and the typically almost-balancing sequestration) don’t have much to do with deglaciations of the orbitally-forced sort – those CO2 changes are due to imbalances in fluxes among the surface/oceanic reservoirs in response to climate change, with a generally amplifying response given the way things have been set up recently.

    Of course, changes in CO2 over the longer term can be driven by changes in geologic emission as well as geologically-forced changes in sequestration (putting mountains up where tropical rains will fall, having wet flat areas with poor drainage to form coal, … or putting all your continents at the equator so that changes at higher latitudes don’t have as much effect… ) as well as climatologically/evolutionarily-induced changes in sequestration.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 23 Jul 2012 @ 6:38 PM

  405. Volcanoes emit between 150-260 (130-440 on the outside) million tons of CO2 per year
    Gerlach, 2011

    0.2 is well within the ballpark on the mean of the est.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 24 Jul 2012 @ 5:46 AM

  406. sidd @403
    Sorry. I perhaps went off in an unexpected direction @401
    The radiative imbalance number we agree but I’m not at all happy with your 400 Gtm.melt=1e18 J. I usually work with 300 Gt.melt=1e20 J, which is a rather different number. One familiar place to easily back my assertion is the PIOMAS page, bottom paragraph.
    If today there is some 700 Gt.melt divided equally between Greenland, Antarctica plus another 700 Gt.melt from Arctic sea ice loss (I’ve no idea about Antarctic sea ice loss), today’s percentage of global warming expended melting polar ice would be approaching 4%, with half contributing to SLR.

    If I may, let me chew a while on that 4%….
    The 4% will surely increase as (i) global warming starts getting to grips with ice, resulting in (ii) the ocean warming being robbed of energy through a reduction in the rate of surface warming (although that is quite a slow process). For big (i)-type processes, this would result in surface warming halting and even cooling. (I don’t see this as counter-intuitive as suggested @387, although perhaps I’m approaching the phenomenon from the other way round. I will have to check out ‘Heinrich events’. Thank you for the lead Anonymous Coward.)
    My ‘25% going into melt (yielding 20mm SLR pa)’ was only a guess & is now looking too large. The figure from Rahmstorf of 500mm SLR from polar land ice by 2100 (linked @401) would mainly apply to the end of the century so the 20mm is perhaps high but isn’t a silly number.
    For the 25%, I was working on a fixed radiative imbalance (I took it as 0.6 W/m-2) but this will increase with our increasing rate of emissions. The imbalance will also increase with the (i) & (ii) above.
    So the 20mm pa by 2100 may be on the high side when applied to SLR from melt & the 25% of energy imbalance is seemingly worse, approaching silly. To get a more realistic figure without guessing yet again would require the numbers used for net radiative imbalance by the likes of AR4. Or Vermeer & Rahmstorf 2009. do mention the future reduced % of SLR from thermal expansion suggesting the % of SLR from melt will (very) roughly triple by 2100 but presumably this triples the land ice melt (so 2% triples to 6%) for a 1.2 m rise. (If you double that 6% to 12% you pretty much double the SLR, as melt is (I calculate, but it does need checking) ~50 times more energy-efficient at SLR than is thermal expansion.) And this is in the context of a 1.2 W/m-2 radiative imbalance by the end of the century.
    ….and swallow.

    Comment by MARodger — 24 Jul 2012 @ 6:43 AM

  407. AN Australian Antarctic scientist has made a climate studies breakthrough by examining how the earth warmed up after the last Ice Age.

    Dr Pedro says the study of natural warming only underlines the speed at which human-created climate change has occurred.
    He says 8000 years’ worth of natural CO2 increases have been created in the 200 years since the industrial revolution.
    “Just as the steady increase in CO2 helped to melt the ice caps and warm the earth out of the ice age, the rapid increase now in CO2 is also driving up temperatures, only at a much faster rate,” he said.
    “What we’re doing now is over a hundred times faster.”

    Read more:

    Comment by Chris Machens — 24 Jul 2012 @ 7:17 AM

  408. Mr. MARodger says on the 24th of July 2012, at 6:43 AM:

    ” 300 Gt.melt=1e20 J ”

    You are of course, correct, I was wrong.

    So, approx 1% of the integrated radiative imbalance/yr is enough to melt the equivalent of 1mm/yr SLR from land ice. I agree with you that increasing this fraction to 25% seems implausible. Could it go as high as 10% into melting land ice ? I tend to think not, but lets see where we get using that as an upper bound.

    This argument seems to indicate that MWP1A level event is implausible from radiative imbalance alone melting land ice and supports the contention that AIS must have had a role. Today, we see few barriers to remaining WAIS exporting itself into the ocean, or the ocean undermining WAIS on its way to the Byrd Basin behind PIG and Thwaites.

    So how fast can WAIS collapse ? (leaving aside those bits of EAIS which also have deeeeeep holes under them. For now.) ANDRILL sees timescales on the order of 1e3 yr in previous collapses. 7 m in 1e3 yr from WAIS ~ 7mm/yr + 10 mm/yr (very high estimate for GRIS) is 17mm/yr, slow compared to MWP1A, but fast enuf to drown a great deal.

    Now to EAIS. I dont see any way that EAIS contribution can exceed WAIS. Add another 7mm/yr for EAIS ? Now we get to 25 mm/yr SLR, a meter every 40 yr, closer to MWP1A rates.

    Lastly: Again relying on aging memory, I seem to recall that Bindschadler posited that the 1e3yr time to collapse WAIS should be taken as an upper estimate. In which case, MWP1A seems even more possible.


    Comment by sidd — 24 Jul 2012 @ 12:05 PM

  409. Re MARodger @406
    Rahmstorf probably attributes ice sheet disintegration into his projection? Also it would help if we can attribute the melt amount to their respective sources, when discussing melt rate/SLR.

    Re Rate of Climate Change
    James Hansen lecture on “The last 65 million Years” was referring apparently to the equilibrium state of that time. Where Dr Pedro’s study is focusing on a climate change episode.

    That we are 2 magnitudes above pre-historic climate changes is exactly what we can observe and why past projections have been underestimated. With positive feedback’s attributing more as we progress, we can assume that we get another uptake of magnitude for the rate of change (emission/temperature).

    Comment by Chris Machens — 24 Jul 2012 @ 12:20 PM

  410. A Science Daily article about the study mentioned by Chris Machens above is here:

    The Climate Of The Past abstract with a link to the full study in PDF format is here:

    “Here, we focus on the last deglaciation, 19 000 to 11 000 yr before present … we show that the increase in CO2 likely lagged the increase in regional Antarctic temperature by less than 400 yr and that even a short lead of CO2 over temperature cannot be excluded. This result, consistent for both CO2 records, implies a faster coupling between temperature and CO2 than previous estimates, which had permitted up to millennial-scale lags.”

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 24 Jul 2012 @ 12:44 PM

  411. Gavin,

    I want to thank you for the way you’ve dealt with Dan H. recently. When you gave the UC sea level link, I tried to bookmark it only to realize I had previously done so. This made me realize that instead of just leaving it in my bookmarks I should take an hour or so and go through the material on their site. I definitely have a better understanding now of GMSL, how satellites measure the sea level, the need for a glacial isostatic adjustment and how that makes GMSL smaller than it would be simply from melt water and thermal expansion, how RSL is more meaningful for local planning due to some of these effects (like how NOLA is sinking faster than the sea is rising).

    I just wanted to point out that your efforts aren’t just about correcting the wildly incorrect. Inquisitive people are paying attention to what you write and using it as a guide for learning. I generally seek out main posts, and contributor replies here, they have a higher guarantee of value to me as I try to learn about the natural world.

    Once again, Thank You.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 24 Jul 2012 @ 1:19 PM

  412. The overall lower atmosphere of the Arctic is warming:

    Its not a surprise, the warming is gradual and is related to sea ice thinning which means sudden rapid sea ice extent melting.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 24 Jul 2012 @ 2:10 PM

  413. More politics:

    It begins: “… Was climate science the real reason the strategic dynamos on the UVA board wanted president Teresa Sullivan gone? The fund manager behind the coup is “very, very angry” that I would even ask… In a three-part series (1, 2, 3) of muckraking blog posts, journalist Moe Tkacik investigates the possibility …”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Jul 2012 @ 5:02 PM

  414. Have any of the models shown the ability to melt so much of Greenland’s surface by 2012ish?

    On the maximum sea level rise through ice melt, some of the most vulnerable ice is in shelves and sea ice. That quantity would have to be subtracted, right?

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 24 Jul 2012 @ 10:28 PM

  415. Mr. Jim Larsen writes on the 24th of July, 2012 at 10:28 PM:
    “… some of the most vulnerable ice is in shelves and sea ice. That quantity would have to be subtracted, right?”

    Yes, altho I imagine that summer Arctic sea ice will be a distant memory in a decade, and there are a bunch of other things bring the estimate down. But I am primarily interested in upper bounds on SLR/yr assuming all the heat comes from radiative imbalance, how fast can we get it into land ice. Of course, the ocean is much cleverer than me and might move some of its stored heat into the land ice from underneath or thru rain …


    Comment by sidd — 25 Jul 2012 @ 12:16 AM

  416. @141 I am not a physicist but I think the correct way to look at this is not to subtract meltwater from floating ice as to not add it in in the first place.

    Thermal expansion would still apply to the melted water just like the rest of the ocean, of course.

    Comment by jgnfld — 25 Jul 2012 @ 5:28 AM

  417. […Where for instance do you get a current ‘2-2.5 mm/yr’? You know as well as I do that all of the satellite data sets show more than 3mm/yr. – gavin]

    I wouldn’t be quite so dismissive of Dan on this point. If you look at different trend periods to present in the satellite data there is a steady drop for later start dates, suggesting that 1993 occurred at a local minimum, inflating any trends drawn from it. It seems likely that the “true” underlying current rate is between 2.5-3mm/yr. (ok, he may have lowballed a bit, but what do you expect?)

    Comment by Paul S — 25 Jul 2012 @ 11:39 AM

  418. 415 Sidd,

    So in your scenario, Ross et al are already gone. Ocean currents won’t be what they are, and WAIS is highly susceptible to erosion. Glaciers will be un-buttressed. Greenland won’t be white as its surface will melt every spring.

    Instead of global budget, what about calculating GIS, WAIS, and EAIS’ summer insolation, then “just” add in for glacial transport, wind, and ocean currents? In an ice-free ocean, all ice which hits the ocean melts quickly enough. I’m sure there’s plenty of energy in such an ocean to handle any influx of bergs. So the vision of an ice-filled ocean isn’t too far off. The ocean will fill to the extent needed to melt all incoming ice.

    The other problem, erosion of the grounding line, doesn’t immediately change sea level much, but it weakens the ice above. WAIS will get riddled. Any collapses would result in tsunami-style SLR.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 25 Jul 2012 @ 1:40 PM

  419. Sidd,

    Imagine Greenland in a slightly(?) warmer world. In summer it will be an isolated pocket of 0C while temperatures all around are much higher. Lots of rain, which, along with the melt water will carve huge river systems into the ice and/or moulins throughout…

    Here’s another path to an estimate. If we assume that surface area is the dominant variable for melting and that small ice caps and glaciers are currently in the condition where we get maximum melt, then the graph halfway down shows the smalls contribute ~63% from an area of ~3%. Account for inefficiencies of scale and you’ve got something, or not.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 25 Jul 2012 @ 2:57 PM

  420. Oops, it’s scheduled to get worse for the small ice caps and glaciers, so that’s another big variable to add.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 25 Jul 2012 @ 3:10 PM

  421. RE:WAIS and ocean intrusion into previously unknown rift

    Comment by sidd — 25 Jul 2012 @ 3:18 PM

  422. It seems likely that the “true” underlying current rate is between 2.5-3mm/yr.

    Oh sure, and if you look here in 2010 sea level is obviously falling, but in 2011 it’s really cranking again, well above 3 mm/year. Cherry season is over, it was an early season this year. A better question to ask is what happened in 2010?

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 25 Jul 2012 @ 5:51 PM

  423. Loss of Arctic sea ice ‘70% man-made’

    Study finds only 30% of radical loss of summer sea ice is due to natural variability in Atlantic – and it will probably get worse
    Looking across all his simulations, Day found that the 30% figure was an upper limit – the AMO could have contributed as little as 5% to the overall loss of Arctic ice in recent decades.

    Comment by J Bowers — 26 Jul 2012 @ 3:28 AM

  424. “…what happened in 2010?”

    My understanding was that the water moved inland:

    Comment by Hasis — 26 Jul 2012 @ 7:17 AM

  425. Questions, in particular for Ray PH if he has the time.

    We have a discussion going on elsewhere about what causes stratospheric cooling. My own understanding is that there are two factors: (1) diminished IR in the CO2 wavelengths coming from the upper troposphere below (the “enhanced greenhouse effect”) and (2) increased emission from the stratosphere in the CO2 wavelengths due to increased CO2 in the stratosphere itself.

    My questions are: (a) Is this an accurate statement and (b) which of these factors, if either, contributes more to stratospheric cooling, reduced energy-in from below or increased energy-out from within?

    Comment by Sphaerica (Bob) — 26 Jul 2012 @ 7:31 AM

  426. Follow-up Note: This is of course ignoring changes in ozone, which is another topic. The question purely relates to how increases in CO2 in the atmosphere cool the stratosphere.

    Comment by Sphaerica (Bob) — 26 Jul 2012 @ 7:33 AM

  427. Goddard has [edit. thanks for alerting us, but we’re not interested in publicizing this sort of nonsense at the site]

    Comment by jgnfld — 26 Jul 2012 @ 8:05 AM

  428. Thomas,
    You seem to be trading one type of cherries for another. Using a one-year trend to make your point seems rather short-sighted. While the satellite data shows an overall 3.1 mm/yr rise since 1993, the rate of increase during the first half of the data is 50% higher than the second half. Further (as pointed out by Paul and myself), the rate for the years prior to the satellite data show much lower SLR. Over the past 30 years, global mean sea level as increased at an average of ~2mm/yr has shown in this graph provided earlier by Gavin.

    While some may conclude that this is in disagreement with the recent satellite data, it is not. The overall data shows decadal averages of ~1mm/yr for the first decade, close to 4mm/yr during the middle decade (the start of the satellite record), and about 2mm/yr for the past decade (including the most recent data).

    Over the past half century, SLR has average about 2 mm/yr.

    Comment by Dan H. — 26 Jul 2012 @ 8:23 AM

  429. “Goddard has…”

    Oh, the hours of innocent amusement in filling that particular elipsis!

    And. I swear, Captcha says “hescoff further!”

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 26 Jul 2012 @ 9:55 AM

  430. Can we send the bill to Inhofe and Will?

    Comment by Ron R. — 26 Jul 2012 @ 10:00 AM

  431. Can someone help me with this engineer’s opinion?

    Water vapor records are available from every weather observation station – but are never used as the climate ‘scientists‘ like to incorrectly use temperature as a metric for heat energy which the gullible and scientifically ignorant media get excited about.

    The CO2 global warming hypothesis is based on the claim that CO2 ‘traps heat in the atmosphere’. Yet atmospheric temperature is NOT a measure of heat content. Such people not only use temperature, they average the temperature showing their complete lack of understanding of physics.

    The enthalpy ( heat capacity ) of the atmosphere varies considerably with humidity. A misty Louisiana Bayou at 100% humidity after an afternoon storm with the temperature at 78F will hold twice as much heat energy as the air in the Arizona desert at close to zero humidity but at 100 F . This is important as it takes far less heat energy to raise the temperature at the poles where the air is very dry than it does in the tropics where the air is very humid. Averaging these atmospheric temperatures is generating a meaningless number. It is quite probable that a day starting at a low temperature with mist or radiation fog which then ‘burns off’ to a ‘warm’ afternoon actually has no significant change in atmospheric heat content as the enthalpy in the morning is extremely high with liquid water droplets and in the ‘warm’ afternoon is low with drier air.

    A correct metric for Atmospheric Energy Content would be an integral ( adding up ) of the atmospheric heat content in kilojoules ( Kj ) per kilogram ( Kg ) over the 24 hour period. This can be worked out using the existing station records using existing ‘wet bulb’ / dew point temperatures to obtain the humidity and thus the enthalpy of the air; then using the temperature to calculate the Kj/Kg. Even better just use ocean heat content as the top few meters of ocean hold as much heat as the entire atmosphere. But the climate ‘scientists‘ know these metrics do not support the cause so they keep every body arguing about minutiae of time of day of temperature measurements, adjustments of temperature measurements etc. to prevent the gullible from realizing that atmospheric temperature is not the right metric and that average global atmospheric temperature is meaningless.

    Comment by Mike — 26 Jul 2012 @ 11:30 AM

  432. Irony is still dead.

    “… the rise in mean sea level has thus been estimated as 3.18 mm/year …” from the page cited above at

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Jul 2012 @ 11:41 AM

  433. Over the past half century, SLR has average about 2 mm/yr.

    And now it is nearly 3.2 mm/yr. In 2011 it was 5 mm/yr. In 2010 it was decreasing, apparently, which is disturbing. In the recent past it has been as much as 30 mm/yr. Theory and historical records clearly indicate that this recent acceleration of sea level rise isn’t going to stop and that what we are witnessing now is a reorganization of ocean currents and heat reservoirs. Very serious stuff to even the moderately informed. There is approximately 70 meters of sea level rise in the pipe, and plenty enough identified carbon reserves and entrained methane to melt it all.

    You can flail around all you want, Dan, it’s both amusing and entertaining, but my recommendation to you is stick with what you know best – Christianity.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 26 Jul 2012 @ 12:21 PM

  434. Sphaerica (Bob),

    Here are some links that I think will help you out:

    “Why does the stratosphere cool?

    “There are several reasons why the stratosphere is cooling. The two best understood are 1) depletion of stratospheric ozone, 2) increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide.

    “Cooling due to the greenhouse effect

    “The second effect is more complicated. Greenhouse gases (CO2, O3, CFC) absorb infra-red radiation from the surface of the Earth and trap the heat in the troposphere. If this absorption is really strong, the greenhouse gas blocks most of the outgoing infra-red radiation close to the Earth’s surface. This means that only a small amount of outgoing infra-red radiation reaches carbon dioxide in the upper troposphere and the lower stratosphere. On the other hand, carbon dioxide emits heat radiation, which is lost from the stratosphere into space. In the stratosphere, this emission of heat becomes larger than the energy received from below by absorption and, as a result, there is a net energy loss from the stratosphere and a resulting cooling. Other greenhouse gases, such as ozone and chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s), have a weaker impact because their concentrations in the troposphere are smaller. They do not entirely block the whole radiation in their wavelength regime so some reaches the stratosphere where it can be absorbed and, as a consequence, heat this region of the atmosphere.”

    A couple other links that might be useful:

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 26 Jul 2012 @ 12:23 PM

  435. Mike wrote: “Can someone help me with this engineer’s opinion? Water vapor records are available from every weather observation station – but are never used as the climate ‘scientists‘ like to incorrectly use temperature as a metric for heat energy which the gullible and scientifically ignorant media get excited about.”

    So it is your “opinion” that climate scientists deliberately deceive the public by deliberately choosing “incorrect metrics”, and it is apparently also your “opinion” — as I infer from your use of scare quotes around the word “scientist” — that climate scientists are not really scientists.

    Well, based on the fact that you welcomed yourself to these comment pages by slandering and insulting climate scientists, you definitely need help, that’s for sure. But you will probably need to consult a mental health professional to get the kind of help you need.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 26 Jul 2012 @ 12:33 PM

  436. Mike, you just ranted about people not understanding physics while also saying enthalpy is heat capacity? Heat capacity is the amount of energy required to change the temperature of a gas. Enthalpy is the total energy content of a system.

    Hank, irony lives!

    Mike, also note that the conversations of the news media are driven by polemics, ideologies, etc. and do not relate the conversations scientists wish to have and are having amongst themselves. When it comes to physics, engineers are usually pretty bad at the language. For example, in thermal physics we would only consider conduction and radiation to be energy transfer mechanisms, while engineers consider convection also to be one. A physicist will make the distinction that convection does not transfer energy, it only transports it within in the system. Transfer vs transport. So we need to be careful about applying engineering language to physics. When engineers say “you don’t understand the physics” they really mean “you don’t understand the engineering” but it takes a physicist not an engineer to point this out.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 26 Jul 2012 @ 12:51 PM

  437. Dan H. I would never use real-science as a reliable source of information, luckily your link is broken. Just do a little searching and see that Steve Goddard is like some sort of anti-science/troll/satirist. And apparently that site was either hacked or faux hacked earlier this year. Whatever is going on with that site, it’s not trustworthy.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 26 Jul 2012 @ 1:13 PM

  438. Unsettled,
    That plot comes from the Church & White 2011 data, whereby they state that the trend since 1961 is 1.9mm/yr. See the link provided by Gavin above. The most recent decade is similar to the past half century. Yes, SLR accelerated during the 1990s (up until ~2002). However, many people have failed to notice that the SLR has decelerated recently, instead, preferring to include the timeframe of highest SLR in their calculations in order to show a continued acceleration. Others have noticed this cherry picking and pointed it out above.

    Comment by Dan H. — 26 Jul 2012 @ 1:57 PM

  439. 443 Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    “There is approximately 70 meters of sea level rise in the pipe . . .”

    Over what time frame?

    The sea has been rising for 20,000 years, and has risen over 120 meters over that time.

    Obviously the sea rose much faster from 20,000 years to about 8,000 years ago than it is presently rising – but there has been many meters of melting in the pipeline for 20,000 years.

    After all, we are in an interglacial – isn’t this to be expected?

    Comment by RickA — 26 Jul 2012 @ 2:00 PM

  440. I just saw this headline in my Google reader:

    Students discover methane seep ecosystem
    from ScienceDaily: Latest Science News
    During a recent oceanographic expedition off San Diego, graduate student researchers discovered convincing evidence of a deep-sea site where methane is likely seeping out of the seafloor, the first such finding off San Diego County.

    My question is how much methane is seeping naturally into the atmosphere – and how much of the warming over the last 150 years can be attributed to natural methane seeps?

    Has anybody looked at this?

    Comment by RickA — 26 Jul 2012 @ 2:12 PM

  441. #431–Mike, you might also note that:

    1) specific humidity has been increasing:

    2) ocean heat content has been increasing:

    These facts would seem to be rather at odds with the perspective you describe.

    And about ‘average’ temperature–would you regard the statement (linked below) that 2.59 persons live in the ‘average’ US household as ‘meaningless?’

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 26 Jul 2012 @ 2:16 PM

  442. RickA, #439–“Has anybody looked at [natural methane seepage?]

    Yes, of course. To give you a small start on the research, here is a Google search of “global-methane-budget”–40,000-odd hits, and I see research on the first page going back to 1991.

    Have fun!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 26 Jul 2012 @ 2:21 PM

  443. Unsettled Scientist,

    Thanks, but I had already read two of those links, and the third added nothing. I understand the mechanisms perfectly. My question is purely one of relative influence; which factor is dominant (if either), the effect of less IR reaching the troposphere from below or the effect of increased IR “leaking out” from within the stratosphere.

    I can find no reference that quantifies the two effects (and perhaps there is none, because the result comes from a complex model run that does not bother to separate them).

    Comment by Sphaerica (Bob) — 26 Jul 2012 @ 2:26 PM

  444. Rick A. — natural methane seeps, like natural volcanos, are part of the background that has held fairly steady over the time span humans have been affecting the planet. These things have been studied a lot, there’s much of interest to read, e.g.
    but the natural background, before we started warming up the ocean, hasn’t been highly variable on human time scales.

    Whatever ecosystem the students discovered may be the the first in San Diego County, good for them. It’s not a new source of methane. It’s of biological interest.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Jul 2012 @ 3:02 PM

  445. oh, specific answer for Rick A., yes, people have estimated how much methane contribues to warming, e.g.
    then take into account how much is natural vs. the estimates of human fossil fuel contribution of methane (natural gas burned, leaked, flared) and dams (which capture vegetation in deep cold water where it can rot producing methane, lacking sufficient oxygen), etc.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Jul 2012 @ 3:06 PM

  446. Over what time frame?

    Over the timeframe that it takes to melt that ice. If even a fraction of the carbon reserves are emitted into the atmosphere, total melting is inevitable.

    Nothing short of a Solar L1 occultation disk or restriction to reasonable levels or a drawdown of the carbon dioxide will prevent total melting of our ice reserves from occurring. It’s guaranteed. There is no way to deny this.

    I can’t give you exact values in ppm right now, but it will soon be known. I’ll just say that 600 to 1000 ppm will be really bad.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 26 Jul 2012 @ 3:27 PM

  447. Dan H. You completely ignored what I wrote and just repeated yourself. My two points were: 1) There is no plot, your link is broken. 2) You’re link is to a horrible site. I wasn’t talking about SLR. I’m letting other people deal with the issue of SLR, I’m dealing with the issue of your choice of sites. But we can let that die now, no need to clutter up with a continued discussion of that bad site.

    Public Safety Announcement, I would avoid clicking around the real-science website, if you try to click the search tab, it pops up a window to some random apparently identity theft website. It really a bad place to go clicking. That happens if you click in blank space too, nasty site.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 26 Jul 2012 @ 4:14 PM

  448. sidd @408
    It does appear sensible to me to consider the potential collapse of ice sheets like WAIS individually & I’d tend to the view that such events are to be expected in the longer term rather than the shorter term. (A view so far based on zip.)
    But this unsupported view raises another point that I feel is being taken less seriously than it should (& here I am in accord with the Jim Hansen message). To me, analysis is almost obsessed with calculating the SLR by 2100 and so ignores the almost inevitably big SLR in the following centuries that will result from the more ‘conventional’ melt processes. If ice sheet disintegration is a threat on a multi-century timescale, over the same timescale the metre+/century (or metre++) SLR from melt is just as siginficant but almost inevitable.
    Studies (like AR4) project SLR to 2100 and then go no further. Or if they do, they generate little discussion. (For instance, how often is AR4 figure 10.34c discussed?)
    While I might get all sarky about Jim Hansen’s 5m rise by 2100, I am in accord with his broader meaasge that a +5m rise is inevitable simply from the temperature rises we cannot avoid causing. I only disagree with the speed he predicts for such SLR to happen.

    Comment by MARodger — 26 Jul 2012 @ 4:15 PM

  449. Mike @431
    It’s always fun to see somebody with such a grasp of physics as yourself showing an interest in climatology. You will of course be aware that SST is a water temperature measurement somewhat resembling your preferred method of measuring an Ocean Surface Heat Content. Due to the relative size of ocean area, this sort of data represents 70% of any global average temperature.

    Of course this does leave land temperature data still measured in a manner you expressly object to.

    I would suggest that if you wish to combine surface temperature with surface specific humidity, it is probably best not to look at relative humidity readings from the upper atmosphere (like in the pretty graph you linked to) which are both not relevant to your purpose or, for the higher altitude readings, not considered to be that reliable. Perhaps HadCRUH is the sort of dataset you should be looking at, providing surface specific humidity. And would you look at that? Surface specific humidity globally is on the rise. And by the looks of it, the increase is most pronounced over land masses.
    So I assume that means you have now the convincing evidence you sought that demonstrates global warming is happening after all.

    Comment by MARodger — 26 Jul 2012 @ 4:28 PM

  450. #446

    If all ice sheets melted, I think that is only 80 total meters in additional sea level rise. So your 70 meters is assuming almost all ice melting.

    I don’t see that happening over time frame of hundreds or even thousands of years – but only over millions of years).

    In addition, Greenland is bowl shaped, is it not, so a bunch of ice would stay in the bowl or turn into a lake.

    Second, East Antarctica just won’t melt – raise the temperature 11C and it is still below freezing their year-round.

    So I guess I am just questioning your 70 meter figure and over a time frame of?? Millions of years??

    Comment by RickA — 26 Jul 2012 @ 4:49 PM

  451. Sphaerica (Bob), actually I think the third link which you blow off has your answer: “For carbon dioxide the main 15-um band is saturated over quite short distances. Hence the upwelling radiation reaching the lower stratosphere originates from the cold upper troposphere. When the CO2 concentration is increased, the increase in absorbed radiation is quite small and the effect of the increased emission dominates, leading to a cooling at all heights in the stratosphere.”

    There is another similar quote from a different paper there: “In the stratosphere, however, temperature increases with altitude and as a result the cooling to space is larger than the absorption from layers below. This is the fundamental reason for the CO2 induced cooling.”

    If you want to dig into and get a deeper understanding, I would recommend reading the papers from which those quotes were taken (PDFs linked below), where you can read their words and probably dig into the math a bit.

    Trace-Gas Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming, Ramanathan, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (1998)

    Stratospheric Temperature Trends: Observations and Model Simulations, Ramaswamy et al, Review of Geophysics (2001)

    Hope this helps.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 26 Jul 2012 @ 5:14 PM

  452. Obviously the sea rose much faster from 20,000 years to about 8,000 years ago than it is presently rising – but there has been many meters of melting in the pipeline for 20,000 years.

    After all, we are in an interglacial – isn’t this to be expected?

    A few papers have looked at this question. There were a couple of studies which used archaeological evidence to establish early Roman-period sea level relative to today. Lambeck 2004 looked at Roman fish tanks, which were placed at sea level so their present relative position can be used to deduce the level at the time of building (around 0AD). Sivan 2004 dealt with differential heights at which wells were built in Israel during the first millennium AD. From that they could infer changes to the height of the water table and therefore sea level. Both papers suggested a level roughly the same as it is now.

    Another paper (on which two RC contributors and one regular commenter coauthored), Kemp et al. 2011, studied salt-marsh sediment data to track sea level changes back to two thousand years ago. Their results suggested a level at 0AD ~20cm below that in the late-nineteenth Century. This paper also handily graphs other historic sea level studies, including the two mentioned above.

    So, the evidence suggests sea level two thousand years ago was no more than +/-30cm different from the late nineteenth Century. This indicates a negligable, and perhaps even negative, trend across the period and therefore that pipeline melting from the deglaciation period is effectively non-existent at this point.

    This picture is consistent with the long-term data and ice sheet models, which suggest a cessation of significant sea level rise 3-4 thousand years ago.

    Comment by Paul S — 26 Jul 2012 @ 5:38 PM

  453. Some day I’ll get good at doing these links… failed on the second PDF link there, so here it is raw:

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 26 Jul 2012 @ 5:39 PM

  454. If all ice sheets melted, I think that is only 80 total meters in additional sea level rise. So your 70 meters is assuming almost all ice melting.

    I don’t see that happening over time frame of hundreds or even thousands of years – but only over millions of years).

    I guess you missed the transition to the Holocene. That took place in a few thousand years primarily via slow orbital forcing with relatively minor carbon dioxide feedbacks, and quite a bit more than 70 meters of sea level rise occurred during that period.. a very serious observational fail RickA.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 26 Jul 2012 @ 6:16 PM

  455. Second, East Antarctica just won’t melt – raise the temperature 11C and it is still below freezing their year-round.

    Sorry, I missed this. The oceans control the air temperature down there. The oceans are composed of fluids with a tremendous heat capacity. Once the ocean turn over, it’s game over for East Antarctica. This is happening far faster than you are even willing to consider. I am not kidding you.

    This is an extremely dangerous problem that is now fixed for the next several thousand years, even if we stop burning carbon right now. The more carbon we burn from now on, it becomes even more dangerous much faster.

    I am frankly astonished on how deeply even the scientific community is about this very serious problem that is unfolding even as we speak. But then again, people know they only have a few decades left anyways. This is something that should have been taken care of several decades ago already but condensed matter physics just wasn’t up to the task then. It is now.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 26 Jul 2012 @ 6:31 PM

  456. RickA sez:”In addition, Greenland is bowl shaped, is it not, so a bunch of ice would stay in the bowl or turn into a lake.”

    There is a couple of holes in your idea:

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 26 Jul 2012 @ 8:51 PM

  457. #450–RickA–“Second, East Antarctica just won’t melt – raise the temperature 11C and it is still below freezing their year-round.”

    Except that that’s wrong. It’s wrong because there is dynamic ice loss–accelerated flow into the warming ocean. It’s wrong because if the Arctic goes ice-free, not to mention the WAIS, then how likely is a limit of 11C locally around East Antarctica?

    And BTW, Greenland may be roughly bowl-shaped, but the bowl is pierced–it drains to the sea.

    I’m wondering just how naive you really are? No offense, but surely such things are not excessively subtle to imagine.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 26 Jul 2012 @ 11:56 PM

  458. Thank you all for the information.

    I knew Greenland was bowl shaped, but did not know it would all drain to the sea.

    I looked at the topo map you linked to, and it seems that some of Greenland is below sea level.

    However, I could not estimate how much.

    Would not the bowl, hold back some and maybe a bunch of ice, preventing it from flowing into the sea?

    Won’t a bunch of melt form lakes on the surface of the ice and stay?

    I guess, in my naivety, that is seems that it is not as straigtforward as start melting and all of Greenland ice goes into the ocean.

    At least not for a very long time.

    As for East Antarctica – of course if the temperature gets warmer than 11C, that could make a difference.

    However, I have read papers which indicate that even in the middle of the last interglacial, that it was only 6C warmer (on average) at the poles – so is an 11C increase (on average) really remotely possible? Even over thousands of years? Maybe on the edge of the WAIS I could see that, but in the middle of the EAIS?

    Anyway – thanks for the comments and information.

    Comment by RickA — 27 Jul 2012 @ 10:41 AM

  459. And by the time all the ice has melted into a “giant” ( lake in Greenland’s bowl shaped interior sea levels would rise somewhere close to 7 meters….and that’s just Greenland’s ice. Hey, maybe Antarctica is bowl shaped too??? OK, not so much, so there’s another 61 meters if it all melted…

    Comment by Tokodave — 27 Jul 2012 @ 10:48 AM

  460. Getting a little more clinical about what we’ve no doubt already noted:
    New study shows correlation between so-called “skeptics” and tendency towards “conspiracist ideation”

    “The researchers offered no simple solution on how to counter the trend of climate change denial. ‘Conspiracist ideation is, by definition,’ they write, ‘difficult to correct because any evidence contrary to the conspiracy is itself considered evidence of its existence.'”

    Comment by Radge Havers — 27 Jul 2012 @ 11:23 AM

  461. Re inappropriate comments:

    Thomas Lee Elifritz, #433, mentions another commenter’s religion (known, purported, or whatever) in what is clearly intended as a sneering manner.

    This is over the line (and I speak as someone who does not profess the religion mentioned).

    The moderators should expunge the reference. I dislike reading blogs when I see this stuff.

    Comment by Ric Merritt — 27 Jul 2012 @ 11:25 AM

  462. Denialism of the science being present here is a religion, Ric. What DanH is engaged in here is far more insidious and dangerous in my humble opinion, considering the stakes, and I consider religion to be an extremely dangerous thing already. But I apologize – as you are right, bringing up IP addresses here is inappropriate. If DanH is offended, he can always sue me for libel.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 27 Jul 2012 @ 2:34 PM

  463. very pretty paper by all the usual suspects on GPS measurements of seasonal bedrock rebound under GRIS

    Comment by sidd — 27 Jul 2012 @ 5:43 PM

  464. Re RickA @ 458 and earlier – I’m no expert on ice flow dynamics but here’s a few thoughts:

    Would not the bowl, hold back some and maybe a bunch of ice, preventing it from flowing into the sea?

    Yes it would hold back some temporarily. However, if the depth of the remaining ice were not much greater than the depth of the basin (below sea level), the buoyancy could allow water to force it’s way under the ice. Of course, at that point the ice is floating so it would only add to sea level by it’s lack of salt (thus it’s melt will still take up a tiny bit more volume). It is the volume of ice above sea level by a height of ([density of liquid/density of ice – 1] * depth of basin from sea level) that is the concern w/ respect to sea level rise – Except for isostatic rebound, which will raise the basin with removal of extra weight – the plastic portion of this is long-term but there is an elastic component which acts fast.

    If the ice shrinks to the point that it is within the basin in contact with the ocean, then you get a long boundary where calving can occur.

    Won’t a bunch of melt form lakes on the surface of the ice and stay? – depends. Liquid water can sometimes find drainage pathways through the ice if not on top of it. And you need concavities on the ice surface; for a given ice topography, there’s a limit to the volume those could hold. The liquid water will absorb solar radiation (more than would the ice).

    I guess, in my naivety, that is seems that it is not as straigtforward as start melting and all of Greenland ice goes into the ocean. I’m not sure that’s what people meant to say. However there is some warming still ‘in the pipeline’ (there is a remaining radiative disequilibrium) and people globally have not even started to reduce CO2 emissions, etc. Also, it may need to get colder to restart an ice sheet than to merely preserve it (ice surface elevation helps keep it cold). Also, even if snowfall increases (as I’m guessing it will over EAIS), the warmer temperatures at the boundaries or higher level of the boundary between growth and ablation will thin the edges – with melt and possibly calving – and steeper slopes (and basal lubrication with meltwater, I’d guess) overall will tend to increase the flow rate from accumulation to ablation regions. It’s not like the Greenland ice sheet is now set to fall completely apart within a decade after one time with nearly all the surface near or above freezing, but it’s going to keep shrinking.

    At least not for a very long time.

    However, I have read papers which indicate that even in the middle of the last interglacial, that it was only 6C warmer (on average) at the poles – so is an 11C increase (on average) really remotely possible? Even over thousands of years? Maybe on the edge of the WAIS I could see that, but in the middle of the EAIS?

    The last interglacial was only a fraction of that warmer than it has been recently in this interglacial; if the global average temp went up by 6 C than why couldn’t EAIS warm up a lot more? How much coal is there left? Too much. Setting aside slower-acting (non-Charney) positive feedbacks.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 27 Jul 2012 @ 6:44 PM

  465. 431 Mike

    (PS Re 436 Unsettled Scientist – aside from physicists, I’d expect better of an engineer anyway)

    On the appropriateness of global average surface (or surface air) temperature as a metric for climate

    Climate is not even approximately a one-dimensional thing of course (except perhaps on a very simple planet, made out of silver or recieving the same stellar radiant intensity from all directions … no atmosphere, not rotating? … etc.). An equilibrium climate state is perhaps well-described by a strange attractor in some n-space, with extremely large n, or approximately so with smaller n and a probabilistic strange attractor with trajectories bluring into each other. Given climatic states may encompass the seasons and diurnal cycles, etc, there will be both forced and unforced (internal) variability – the strangeness of this attractor tending to reflect the later (although some internal variability is almost periodic (QBO)), except if over such long time periods that the chaos of multibody orbits and obliquities comes into play. Using not just the (forced cycles of) the (time-weighted) centroid of the attractor but even the (forced cycles of) standard deviation, still misses a lot (although for some purposes that lot may not be necessary).

    However, there are boundary conditions (externally-applied forcings) which determine the shape, size, and location of this attractor and all its intricacies.

    (PS over short time scales, or for purposes of understanding how things work, atmospheric CO2 can be treated as such a forcing, as can thick ice sheets. Over longer time periods, it is the climate-independent (part of) sources and sinks of CO2 that are the forcings, which determine atmospheric CO2 in combination with climate-depended effects (feedbacks). The distinction between forcing and feedback may shift with the timescale, as perhaps may be the number of dimensions used to describe climate.)

    If we leave some of these BCs fixed (coriolis effect, the mass and composition of the (approximately/mostly) inert and optically-irrelevant portion of the atmosphere, the mass of the Earth, the shapes of ocean basins, the topography of continents, the thermal conductivity and expansion of substances, etc, the mechanical stirring of the tides) and specifically adjust those forcings that are energy inputs and sinks:

    Solar/stellar (shortwave – or SW) heating – or more correctly, incident solar/stellar radiation, as albedo is partly climate dependent, to an extent depending on time-scale;

    the longwave properties of the atmosphere (Greenhouse effect) (in terms of atmopsheric composition and spectra of substances, etc.) and surface, and the LW darkness of space.)

    the geothermal, tidal-dissipation, anthropogenic direct heating, energy of meteors – all of those are, on the (for most of geologic history of the Earth (not Jupiter) – very small in comparison with the former and often can be ignored – as can (for the Earth, I’d guess most planets?, setting aside forcing/feedback distinctions) the absorption and emission of non-thermal radiation and the ‘evaporative cooling’ of H-escape to space, etc.

    – then we can expect that changes in climate will involve changes in heat fluxes; moreover, since most – nearly all – of the energy flux in and out of the climate system is radiative and the outgoing is almost entirely thermal radiation emitted as a function of temperature, we can expect that the temperature response will be of some importance in determining how the equilibrium climate changes in response to a forced change in energy flux. (Even non-radiative and radiative transports and transfers (thanks, Unsettled Scientist) of energy within the climate system depend on temperature – substances have their adiabatic lapse rates which affects convection, conduction requires a temperature gradient, etc.)

    In particular, we can leave obliquity and eccentricity and the alignments of those alone, we can leave the seasonal and latitudinal distribution of incident solar radiation at TOA (top of atmosphere) alone and deal with global average radiative forcing. (The climate response to orbital forcings depends on regional/seasonal effects, but those effects can have a global average feedback, which acts like a global average radiative forcing.)

    In the global average, at equilibrium, vertical fluxes must be balanced. Imbalances caused by a change in forcing will result in convergence or divergence of energy fluxes, which may go into latent heating, but can also change the temperature; the amount of heat required for a given temperature change depends on heat capacity, BUT LW fluxes will generally be part of how balance is restored and these require temperature changes – the equilibrium climate requires an equilibrium temperature and thus can be described by it.

    Yes, radiation depends on temperature in a nonlinear way, so the arithmetic mean isn’t exactly what the response depends on. However, for example, on Earth the difference between the global annual average temperature and the fourth root of the global annual average of T^4 is quite small (I think it might be ~ 1 K, roughly – google Trenberth Kiehl Fasullo for more (I hope I spelled those right, it’s been awhile)). And aside from that, if the variation in surface temperature horizontally and over the course of a year or a few ENSO fluctuations changes, or for that matter the vertical variation (temperature profile), or the alignment with spatially-variable optically-important matter (clouds, H2O vapor … also surface types) changes, this change will tend to have some particular shape and size (the climate change) and it changes the relationship between global average surface temperature and global average OLR (outgoing longwave radiation) – or global average LW fluxes at any level (like at the tropopause) – which means it acts like a feedback (example: lapse rate feedback, due to the effect of temperature on moist adiabatic lapse rates), just like water vapor, clouds, and sea ice.

    (The changes in spatial and temporal temperature variations may be different for different forcings (with different vertical and horizontal and temporal forcing structure), and the effects of this on circulation and feedbacks well as directly on radiation will give different forcings different ‘efficacies’ (climate sensitivities relative to some standard forcing agent’s effect) – however, the effects of spatial and temperorally varying feedbacks may dominate some of the temperature variation changes if the forcings are not too different.)

    So when the climate changes due to a forced change in (global average) energy inflow or outflow, global average surface temperature will tend to change; other dimensions will also change, and those are very important (precipitation distribution in space and time, in particular) – but they change along with the global average surface temperature, not independently of it (remember that internal variability is included in the description of climate).

    If there are multiple climate equilibria for a given set of BCs, then

    – if on the timescale considered the strange attractors of the equilibria interconnect then they are all part of a larger climate state; see above.

    If the climate stays on one until sufficiently perturbed, however, then each equilibrium state may be regarded as seperate – and it’s possible each may have global average surface temperature as a useful metric.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 27 Jul 2012 @ 8:10 PM

  466. RickA – I am no scientist. However, my fascination and curiosity about climate change leads me to believe that you are unaware of certain facts.

    Ice weighs a lot. The massive amount of ice now on Greenland pushes the land elevation down. When that ice melts, the land will rise. This is called isostatic rebound, as mentioned in an earlier comment. Little, if any, of Greenland will be left below sea level once the weight of the ice is gone.

    On top of the fact that it gets relatively little solar radiation and it is a landmass, the Antarctic is unusually cold right now because it is somewhat thermally insulated from the rest of the earth’s surface (it is far colder than the Arctic). This is at least partially due to the thermohaline ocean current that now completely encircles Antarctica. Since the Antarctic is right now colder than it would be if surface air and water mixed optimally, it will eventually heat up more rapidly than the rest of the planet, particularly if there is any change in the thermohaline current. This is a pretty complicated topic, and there are others on this list that could fill in the details far better than I.

    The Antarctic has been completely ice-free in the not-to-distant past. What would keep this from happening again, if CO2 keeps rising unabated?

    ReCaptcha: “many upities.” I’ll say!

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 27 Jul 2012 @ 8:21 PM

  467. I wonder if Mike the engineer realizes that the argument that “more heat is going into creating water vapor than the scientists (“scientists”) realize” means that the dynamic sensitivity is lower but the equilibrium sensitivity is higher, since more water vapor results in a greater amplification. This might also mean that the lower rate of rise seen since ~98 would be accompanied by more intense thunderstorms and other “rainfall events” – and larger, more frequent, damaging floods plus other storm events, e.g. tornadoes.
    It might be educational to find out what insurance companies have seen.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 27 Jul 2012 @ 8:23 PM

  468. re my last comment – should’ve bolded this phrase too:
    the equilibrium climate requires an equilibrium temperature and thus can be described by it.


    Re Sphaerica (Bob)

    You might find this useful

    It doesn’t seperate the OLR between stratospheric and other components, but at least you can look at the downward LW flux at the tropopause. There isn’t a single globally-representive setting, though, that I know of.

    For a global average OLR spectrum, there is a CO2 valley, and it widens with a doubling of CO2, reducing OLR by an area proportional to valley depth and widenning. A seperate increase in OLR is related to the spike at the center of the valley associated with the peak in CO2 effective emmitting level reaching upward toward or into the warmer part of the stratosphere (associated with UV absorption by ozone, of course). Since H2O optical thickness is nearly zero above the tropopause within the immediate vicinity of the CO2 band, at the tropopause, the effective CO2 valley in *net flux* goes almost or all the way to zero at the bottom (because it’s saturated or close to saturated there), while the flux absent CO2 is equal to the OLR value at TOA – so the depth of the valley in net flux is greater than at TOA and for the same widenning, there is that much more forcing. Even without the ozone layer’s heating effect, unless the temperature got near enough to 0 below the skin layer and CO2 were sufficiently unsaturated at the tropopause, there should still be some stratospheric cooling (at least before the surface+troposphere warms, and setting aside SW feedbacks).

    Although not to the point you wanted, and maybe you already know this, but’s it’s interesting to consider four cases:

    grey gas in LW, no direct solar heating above the tropopause (set tropopause at surface for pure radiative equilibrium with no direct solar heating of atmosphere): temperature increases with height up to TOA, approaching skin temperature Tskin = TOLR * (1/2)^(1/4)); TOLR is blackbody temperature corresponding to the equilibrium OLR flux per unit area.
    In the optically-thin limit, except for the troposphere the whole atmosphere is at Tskin.

    Increasing LW opacity at first reduces the heat source for the skin layer, causing transient cooling, but at equilibrium the warming merely decreases to zero going up to TOA.

    grey gas, direct solar heating above tropopause
    – PS without any LW emissivity in the atmosphere, temperature must increase upward from the surface (assuming no mechanical stirring); initially adding a grey gas causes an OLR increase, but the tropopause (surface in this case) forcing is positive; the stratosphere cools

    (PS in general: initial cooling = instantaneous tropopause forcing – instantaneous TOA forcing; some fraction of that cooling is realized as an OLR reduction and some is realized as a change in tropopause level forcing (although with a sufficiently optically thick stratosphere, the lower stratosphere could warm and the tropopause level forcing could actually increase with stratospheric adjustment – cooling could be confined to an upper portion, depending).

    In the skin layer, the greater the optical thickness relative to solar heating, the more the equilibrium temperature is pulled down toward the skin temperature absent solar heating. But the skin layer must get thinner with increasing opacity.

    3. non-grey gas, no direct solar heating above tropopause

    Increasing opacity where it is already largest displaces equilibrium OLR away from the band that determines the skin temperature, thus cooling it; what happens below the skin layer – well that depends, I guess. There could be some rebound after climate reaches equilibrium but some cooling would remain.

    The CO2 valley in OLR widens so there are additions of opacity where it is not so large (at least above where water vapor may be abundant and in clear skies or above low clouds, at least); but it still leaves parts nearly transparent in the stratosphere, so equilibrium OLR will be displaced and reduced in the CO2 band of the stratosphere (what about the water vapor bands in the stratosphere – well, H2O increasing in the troposphere so…) – unless positive SW feedbacks increase total OLR so much this overwhelms that effect.

    Skin temperature Tskin only equals TOLR * (1/2)^(1/4) if determined at one part of the spectrum or some specifically-weighted set of bands; if determined at other parts, it could range from close to TOLR (shorter wavelengths) to near TOLR/2 (longer wavelengths). So you could get cooling or warming by shifting bands or adding bands in different places.

    Graphing the lapse rate over optical thickness in terms of the Planck function – it can be concave at some wavelengths and convex at other wavelengths; concavity on the scale of moderate optical thickness will lead to warming and convex curvature will lead to cooling, etc;

    combine 2 and 3.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 27 Jul 2012 @ 8:53 PM

  469. Brian at 467…the link didn’t work…try this one:

    Comment by Tokodave — 27 Jul 2012 @ 9:14 PM

  470. Did anyone else see this article? (apologies if it has already been discussed and I missed it):

    “UV Dosage Levels in Summer: Increased Risk of Ozone Loss from Convectively Injected Water Vapor”

    Looks like a major new dynamic that I, at least, hadn’t heard about before.

    Comment by wili — 27 Jul 2012 @ 9:29 PM

  471. Mr. Craig Nazor wrote on the 27th July, 2012 at 8:21 PM:
    “..the thermohaline ocean current that now completely encircles Antarctica.”

    Antarctic Circumpolar Current is wind driven ?


    Comment by sidd — 27 Jul 2012 @ 11:25 PM

  472. I had posted a comment several months ago about stratospheric cooling that was better organized and probably clearer; I can’t find it, but in that comment I refered to this

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 27 Jul 2012 @ 11:47 PM


    A little more up to date discussion of ozone depletion variation.

    Comment by dallas — 28 Jul 2012 @ 8:35 AM

  474. For those who may not yet have read Michael Mann’s book on the “hockey stick,” you can get the (fairly extensive) gist here:

    On another topic–wili, thanks for an interesting link. It seems that CO2 and ozone depletion continue to intertwine in fascinating and sometimes unexpected ways…

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 28 Jul 2012 @ 8:48 AM

  475. “Antarctic Circumpolar Current is wind driven ?” Yup.

    Sinking cold air over the Pole slides down to the edge of the continent, and Coriolis effects cause an Antarctic Circumpolar Vortex. This west to east wind couples to the ocean surface creating ripples, which increase the friction and coupling between the ocean surface and the wind, which increases the wave height, and bingo! the Roaring Forties. Because the Antarctic Peninsula concentrates this surface flow where it enters the South Atlantic, enhanced Eckmann transport contributes to the AMOC; IMHO, this forcing will maintain the AMOC in some form even if when there is catastrophic failure of the Greenland Ice Sheet – it won’t shut down, but it will weaken and move somewhere less favorable for clement weather in the UK & norther Europe.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 28 Jul 2012 @ 9:21 AM

  476. Off-topic–but I’m hoping for a little help with a literature search. I’m looking for anything that sheds light on the *effects* of an ice-free Arctic. Certainly we can reasonably predict some things, like further increases in Arctic coastal erosion, or polar bear population crashes, without straining too hard.

    But what does the literature say about things like, say, general atmospheric circulation changes, or marine ecological changes? Any leads for me out there?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 28 Jul 2012 @ 10:23 AM

  477. 27th Patrick. Your Stoat reference seems to say that the stratosphere doesn’t actually cool, it just doesn’t warm as much as the troposphere does from the CO2 greenhouse effect. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 28 Jul 2012 @ 10:24 AM

  478. Steve Fish:

    Your Stoat reference seems to say that the stratosphere doesn’t actually cool,

    Directly from the last sentence of Stoat’s explanation:

    hence it cools. Please turn off your timer.

    Comment by dhogaza — 28 Jul 2012 @ 1:31 PM

  479. Re 477 Steve Fish – I don’t think it says that, or it’s not supposed to (not about the CO2 effect, anyway).

    This would be true for a grey gas (optical thickness is constant over the LW part of the spectrum) in the absence of direct solar heating (in which case, the lapse rate is positive in the stratosphere, just smaller above the tropopause than below it) – adding more grey gas, OLR is temporarily reduced – the upward LW flux from the solar-heated troposphere-surface (as a unit) is reduced and at least some portion of the upper atmosphere including the skin layer cools in response. However, as heat accumulates and warming occurs below, equilibrium is restored when OLR returns to its prior value (assuming that was in equilibrium before) (setting aside any SW feedbacks that would change equilibrium OLR); the skin temperature must warm in response and return to what it was. The temperature at TOA returns to what it was, and the temperature profile is vertically compressed against TOA – it warms everywhere below TOA but less near TOA.

    With direct solar heating sufficiently close (optically) to TOA, adding more grey gas opacity increases the ability of that volume of air to emit radiation, so it cools – if within the skin layer, this continues with asymptotic approach to the skin temperature (what it would be absent solar heating).

    However, adding more grey gas opacity changes where this can happen – as the solar-heated layer becomes more deeply embedded in the optical thickness of the atmosphere, more photons emitted from there fail to reach space directly; the photon mean free path length gets shorter, requiring a larger temperature gradient to sustain the same net flux, etc – it warms.

    (Also, as a solar-heated layer gains optical thickness, emission within that layer keeps going up but the portion that escapes that layer can only approach a blackbody value for that layer’s temperature(s) (and then the temperature of the top or bottom part, etc.))

    Adding opacity (PS of the emission-absorption at LTE kind – scattering is too complicated to discuss right now (not enough time)) within just one band, … (equilibrium OLR is displaced to other parts of the spectrum, allowing skin temperature to be reduced at equilibrium…



    Comment by Patrick 027 — 28 Jul 2012 @ 1:51 PM

  480. Re last part of that comment – I was going to respond to Sidd; didn’t get to it yet.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 28 Jul 2012 @ 1:52 PM

  481. (PS grey gas no solar heating above tropopause: if the stratosphere were optically thick then at first only the upper part would cool with the reduced OLR; down below, each layer recieves less radiation from below but more from above. If the heat capacity of the troposphere+surface were relatively small then perhaps cooling couldn’t propagated down into the stratosphere much before the surface+troposphere warmed, etc.)

    … Adding opacity to one band reduces OLR in that band; the skin layer cools, cooling may reach down farther, etc. Warming of the surface and troposphere increases OLR, including in bands where opacity was not added; thus OLR ends up higher than before at some parts of the spectrum – if solar heating doesn’t increase, OLR must be reduced where opacity was added, so at least some of the upper atmospheric cooling must remain – Especially if this band is at longer wavelengths, where emission is less sensitive to temperature.

    Widenning a band: well, consider adding another band and then having reach the same opacity as the first – then, the OLR will be even greater outside these two bands, but the temperature below will be warmer than it was at the same opacity in a narrower band, so the skin layer and stratosphere in general should get warmer with band widenning (at least in the case of a rectangularly-shaped absorption spectrum).

    Given a strongly-absorbing band, Adding bands with weaker opacity can tend to make parts of the stratosphere warmer, especially if this opacity is concentrated in the stratosphere (absorbing greater fluxes from lower down at the surface and in the lower troposphere, as the LW ozone band does) – especially if the band is added at shorter wavelengths, where emission falls a lot for a small temperature decline. Heating at other LW bands is like solar heating to the extent that it can provide more potential cooling response to an increase in opacity in a more opaque band under some conditions.

    With a grey gas, in radiative equilibrium, the net LW cooling over the whole LW portion of the spectrum balances SW heating, but over the spectrum LW cooling may vary and can switch signs…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 28 Jul 2012 @ 3:46 PM

  482. With a grey gas or wavelength-dependent opacity , in radiative equilibrium, the net LW cooling over the whole LW portion of the spectrum balances SW heating, but over the spectrum LW cooling may vary and can switch signs…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 28 Jul 2012 @ 3:48 PM

  483. Re 471 sidd

    Currents can be wind-influenced and thermohaline – wind directs warm currents into places where they cool and get saltier from evaporation, etc.

    My understanding is that parts of the Southern Hemisphere, in particular in a ring around Antarctica and maybe neighboring places, will have some delay in warming because of wind-driven upwelling of water which hasn’t been at the surface in a while.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 28 Jul 2012 @ 3:51 PM

  484. Re # 431

    Averaging these atmospheric temperatures is generating a meaningless number.

    [My italics]. I think you meant useless . That depends what you want to do with the answer. Remember that this refers to the output of a calculation. At this stage, you will have finished with the basic physics. If on the other hand, you intend to use the average as the input in some sort of model, that would be quite a different matter; then you would have to be more careful. Only then would you have to substitute the answer into one of the basic equations and the errors could build up.

    For example a proper estimate of the total IR emitted by the surface would involve weighting the temperature with the local emissivity (assuming that the T^4 is first linearised) before taking the average. If this step was omitted and you performed a back of the envelope calculation the result might be good enough for an introduction in Wikipedia, but it might not be the best that you could do with your data.

    Suppose instead you just want to compare a simulation on a computer with the real world. There is no reason whatsoever why you should not compare the average surface temperatures. If they turned out to be consistent then you have some reason to trust the simulation. You could just as well compare the mean of any function of the temperature. It would be a question of numerical analysis not physics. I don’t see why an engineer should not appreciate that.

    Correct me if I am wrong.

    the climate ‘scientists‘ like to incorrectly use temperature as a metric for heat energy

    I think that proposition is rendered tautological by the use of quotes. Perhaps you are underestimating RC?

    Comment by deconvoluter — 28 Jul 2012 @ 6:21 PM

  485. Re my 468 re my 465 re 431

    the equilibrium climate requires an equilibrium temperature and thus can be described by it.

    not described in full or even much – a better word would be identified, like a label – someone says warming from 288 to 291 K and people familiar enough with the subject know what that means for precipitation, sea level, etc….

    the equilibrium climate requires an equilibrium temperature and thus can be identified by it; temperature change is a key measure of climate change

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 28 Jul 2012 @ 7:27 PM

  486. (In a hurry, typing fast, sorry for broken grammar whatever)

    Re 483 re 471 – positive feedback – greater temp contrast between unwarmed upwelling water and warmed water affects circulation drives winds that cause upwelling

    Re my 472 regarding stratospheric cooling – FOUNT IT!

    Correction/clari fication: (end of 2.)
    if o ptical thickness in increased in an atmospheric window (assuming surface emissivity is high enough in that window, to generalize this more), this tends to warm the skin layer by intercepting OLR that is originating in warmer places.

    – except skin layer is affected most by strongest bands – skin layer is thin enough to be skin layer in strongest bands, then much weaker bands barely matter to the skin layer at least directly

    but weaker bands allow heating of thicker layers such as when stronger bands are nearly saturated (net LW flux tends to zero in sufficiently strong bands; photon mean free path can traverse larger temperature variations in weaker bands)- may indirectly affect skin layer temp, although the signal may have trouble propagating upward through the strong band to do so, could leak out through weaker band…?

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 28 Jul 2012 @ 8:28 PM

  487. PS

    emission and absorption per unit volume (in x,y,z or x,y,p) increase in proportion with emission cross section density; emission with Planck function, absorption with a m b i e n t intensity – important for thinner layers. If thin layers are stacked with some solar/other heated and some not, increasing optical thickness tends to even out equilibrium temp by increasing emission out of thin warm layers, etc. – up to point when layers are themselves moderately optically thick… (pertains to skin layer in particular)

    net LW flux ~ d(Planck function)/d(optical thickness) – averaging over thinner temperature variations which don’t emit much; peaks when photon mean free path (or mean emission-absorption displacement if scattering occurs) is some fraction of wavelength of temp variation…

    LW heating ~ d^2(Planck function)/d(optical thickness)^2, averaging over thinner variations – a temp max or min not required; changes in slope can be sufficient …

    try linearly superimposing different sin/cos functions (qualitatively makes sense, but nonlinearities here)

    … but curvature in Planck function necessary for zero net flux at relatively sharp boundaries in optical cross section density – see my “September 28, 2011, 9:30 pm” comment here

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 28 Jul 2012 @ 8:31 PM

  488. … but curvature in Planck function necessary for zero net flux (di/con)vergence at relatively sharp boundaries in optical cross section density – see my “September 28, 2011, 9:30 pm” comment here

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 28 Jul 2012 @ 8:32 PM

  489. Richard Muller in the New York Times

    CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 28 Jul 2012 @ 8:40 PM

  490. Re my 488 and prior:

    that’s specifically when the optical thickness per unit temperature change has a relatively sharp change. The complexity arises because the flux up or down comes from intensities (weighted by cosine of zenith angle) at different directions contribute. Relative to optical depth, the surface is a good conductor and space is also basically (effectively as a heat sink for OLR) isothermal. And … see link above.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 28 Jul 2012 @ 11:58 PM

  491. Re John E. Pearson – the Richard Muller oped – (for some reason I feel skeptical about the research – not the conclusion, just the quality of the research. Has it passed peer review yet?) After ‘turning’ the page, I see he may still have some catching up to do. But it’s progress.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Jul 2012 @ 12:10 AM

  492. John (#490),

    A lot of bogus claims in that article. Perhaps it is to be expected from a guy who is paid to be wrong for as long as possible.

    [Response:Way, way over the top.–Jim]

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 29 Jul 2012 @ 8:01 AM


    Many youngsters nowadays — most of you born after 1950 or so — never heard this stuff growing up, where you grew up. Listen.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Jul 2012 @ 9:50 AM

  494. #493–For one, it’s certainly not true that cooling elsewhere in the world more than compensated for the US heatwave–global lower trop from UAH was a toasty-enough .37C, while NCDC had June as the 4th-warmest ever, with this map:

    I’m guessing that Dr. Muller’s comment in this regard was not exactly data-driven.

    But I have to whole-heartedly endorse his conclusion:

    “I hope that the Berkeley Earth analysis will help settle the scientific debate regarding global warming and its human causes. Then comes the difficult part: agreeing across the political and diplomatic spectrum about what can and should be done.”

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 29 Jul 2012 @ 11:34 AM

  495. CO2 & carbon cycle news from the sane world:

    Lead author, Dr Jean-Baptiste Sallée from British Antarctic Survey says, “The Southern Ocean is a large window by which the atmosphere connects to the interior of the ocean below. Until now we didn’t know exactly the physical processes of how carbon ends up being stored deep in the ocean. It’s the combination of winds, currents and eddies that create these carbon-capturing pathways drawing waters down into the deep ocean from the ocean surface.

    Meanwhile I’m surprised that “unforced variations” has barely noticed the BEST development which is rather important in the other part of the world.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 29 Jul 2012 @ 12:54 PM

  496. > Science is that narrow realm of knowledge that, in principle,
    > is universally accepted. — Muller

    That does rather narrow the field, doesn’t it?

    I’d guess congratulations to Robert Rohde would be deserved.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Jul 2012 @ 1:13 PM

  497. Prof. Pelto has posted a graph from Dr. Fettweiss at the Arctic Sea Ice blog.

    The second panel is awesome (in an older sense of the word,) this may be a teraton year for GRIS mass waste


    Comment by sidd — 29 Jul 2012 @ 3:37 PM

  498. Hail the new king of climate science! Hilarious piece by Roger Sr:

    Comment by SteveF — 29 Jul 2012 @ 3:51 PM

  499. Re my 487

    net LW flux ~ d(Planck function)/d(optical thickness)

    net LW heating in K/time = d(net flux)/d(heat capacity)
    = d(net flux)/d(optical thickness) * d(optical thickness)/d(heat capacity)
    ~ d^2(Planck function)/d(optical thickness)^2 * optical cross section/(mass*cp)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Jul 2012 @ 4:37 PM

  500. The BEST group has, after a media splash, released their latest findings, at and the draft paper at Note their temperature averaging process paper is although I look forward to the full publication because the PDF’s equations are messed up. (Don’t they use LaTeX?) It seems it’s an adaptation of kriging, which is just BLU Estimation. (See Christensen, PLANE ANSWERS TO COMPLEX QUESTIONS,1987, or Glover, Jenkins, Doney, MODELING METHODS FOR MARINE SCIENCE, 2011, or Schabenberger and Gotway, STATISTICAL METHODS FOR SPATIAL DATA ANALYSIS, 2005, or Banerjee, Carlin, Gelfand, HIERARCHICAL MODELING AND ANALYSIS FOR SPATIAL DATA, 2004.) Apparently hasn’t (?, don’t know) been applied to temperature data, but, surely, it’s used in oceanographic work, e.g., SSTs (Glover, Jenkins, Doney). After I get equations, I’m interested in how they ascertained uncertainty in their estimates. This BLUE assumes Gaussian errors, but that’s not really necessary these days, as confidence intervals can be obtained through dependent data bootstraps.

    Comment by Jan Galkowski — 29 Jul 2012 @ 5:08 PM

  501. > That does rather narrow the field, doesn’t it?

    Here it is:

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 29 Jul 2012 @ 7:16 PM

  502. I hope you are preparing a posting on the Muller et al papers…er…Website postings. And whatever WUWT is referring to, to distract attention.

    Comment by AIC — 29 Jul 2012 @ 7:31 PM

  503. (Tried to post this review here directly, but was rejected by filter as “spam”. Consequently, am only providing link to same. –jtg)

    Comment by Jan Galkowski — 29 Jul 2012 @ 7:52 PM

  504. BEST results:

    422 Discussion

    423 We have obtained an estimate of the Earth land surface temperature from 1753 unto the

    424 present. The limited land coverage prior to 1850 results in larger uncertainties in the

    > begin page 22

    425 behavior of the record; despite these, we see behavior that is significant. Most dramatic

    426 are the large swings in the earliest period. These dips can be explained as the effect of

    427 large volcanic eruptions that took place during that period. The rapid changes in the

    428 Earth’s temperature at that time are remarkably swift, and at times even greater than the

    429 changes taking place in the last 50 years. Our records also show an average temperature

    430 during the early 1800s that is on the lower end of what had previously been estimated

    431 from proxy measurements, although there are large discrepancies between the values

    432 obtained by using different proxy sets.

    434 The behavior changes in the early 1900s, and follows closely the results that had been
    435 previously reported by the three other major groups that analyze historic thermometer
    436 records, but with a smaller uncertainty than has been previously achieved. Since the
    437 1950s, we observe a rise in the average land surface temperature of 0.87 ± 0.05 º C (95%
    438 confidence). This value is in the middle of the comparable values reported by other
    439 groups, but with an estimated uncertainty approximately twice as tight as prior reports.

    441 We observe that the record of diurnal temperature range, Tmax – Tmin, follows an
    442 unexpected path, with a slow drop from the period 1900 to the late 1980s, followed by a
    443 rise up to the most recent period (2011). This change in direction is unexpected and not
    444 anticipated by existing climate models.
    446 Many of the changes in land-surface temperature follow a simple linear combination of
    447 volcanic forcing (based on estimates of stratospheric sulfate injection) and an
    448 anthropogenic term represented here by the logarithm of the CO2 concentration. The best

    > begin page 23

    449 fit an volcanic forcing term is -1.5 ± 0.5 º449 C per 100 Tg of atmospheric sulfate. The
    450 anthropogenic forcing parameter is 3.1 ± 0.3 ºC for CO2 doubling (compared to pre
    451 industrial levels), broadly consistent with the IPCC estimate of ~3 ºC for the equilibrium
    452 warming at doubled CO2. When we included solar forcing we found that the solar
    453 variability record assumed by the IPCC did not contribute significantly to the fit of
    454 historic temperature. This could imply that any effect associated with solar variability is
    455 too small to be detected by our simple approach. It might also imply that the shape of
    456 solar forcing assumed by the IPCC during the last 250 years is too inaccurate for an
    457 effective comparison. However, if the shape of the solar forcing history is accurate, then
    458 the impact of solar variability on climate would have to be on the low side of present
    459 estimates, no more than 0.08 ºC since 1750.

    461 After accounting for volcanic and anthropogenic effects, the residual variability in land
    462 surface temperature is observed to closely mirror and for slower changes slightly lead
    463 variations in the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation Index. This is consistent with both the
    464 land and North Atlantic responding the same unknown process. That process may be
    465 partially anthropogenic and include effects whose time evolution is not proportional CO2.
    466 It might also include natural processes. If all of the residual evolution during the last 150
    467 years is assumed to be natural, then it places an upper 95% confidence bound on the scale
    468 of decadal natural variability at ±0.17 ºC. Though non-trivial, this number is small
    469 compared to the anthropogenic changes that appear to have occurred during the last
    470 century.
    > begin page 24

    472 Acknowledgements

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 29 Jul 2012 @ 7:59 PM

  505. Prof. Muller seems to be an autodidact. Watching him educate himself is a distraction. There are far more important questions, for example, is Eemian sea level rise avoidable today, regardless of our best efforts. Or if projected tundra carbon release makes a mockery of a 2C carbon budget.


    Comment by sidd — 29 Jul 2012 @ 10:07 PM

  506. Rick A, you ought to keep up with developments and look at Greenland’s topography. Even with the land rise if all the weight goes, roughly speaking the bathtub has four big outlets.

    RealClimate is a great place to bring facts, but you need to be careful advancing unsupported and in this case inadequately researched information here; RC does not accept substitution of wishful thinking for facts. Greenland’s topography is not obscure.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 29 Jul 2012 @ 10:18 PM

  507. re BEST, for a hint of what’s coming from the confusionists, who would be pathetic if they didn’t wield so much influence with powerful but not knowledgeable actors, here (h/t Tenney Naumer). I do encourage you all to not contribute clicks to and waste energy on WUWT et al. They already steal enough oxygen.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 29 Jul 2012 @ 10:28 PM

  508. sidd @ 505,

    Whether Professor Muller is an autodidact or not, and regardless of whether his conclusions advance the SCIENTIFIC debate, his latest contribution is far from being only a distraction.

    The BEST study was commissioned (and paid for) BY DENIALISTS, who confidently expected it to support their side of the argument. Some of the denialist blogs were openly predicting the results before they were published.

    Even the previous results from the study were greeted with dismay. The denialati will go berserk trying to spin away this latest effort. I would personally expect to see Professor Muller’s probity called into question.

    Comment by ozajh — 29 Jul 2012 @ 11:02 PM

  509. #507 Susan Anderson

    Good advice Susan. The confusionists are even trying to muddy the waters by appealing to the “WMO-approved Siting Classification System”. What credibility does that have, if any?

    Comment by simon abingdon — 29 Jul 2012 @ 11:44 PM

  510. Sorry Jim (#492),

    It just seems pretty clear to me that Koch money goes where it will do their industry the most good. They picked Muller to fund along with Heartland. If my inference is over the top, I’m sorry.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 30 Jul 2012 @ 12:03 AM

  511. The Insitute of World Politics published on their website that David Archibald, solar cycle self declared expert and carbon tax champion, testified before the Australian Senate on the carbon tax. This is untrue and both the Institute of World politics and David Archobald have been gievn the opportunity to explain or retract. They haven’t. Check it out at

    I have emailed the Institute of World Politics asking for an explanation. No reply. Someone else emailed them at least a week ago. No reply. Others have emailed asking the Institute for World Politics to explain why they would claim that David Archibald testified anywhere. No replies.

    Maybe the Institute for World Politics offers a masters degree in misinformation.

    Comment by TO — 30 Jul 2012 @ 3:13 AM

  512. Another Other Opinions recommendation:


    Comment by JCH — 30 Jul 2012 @ 7:11 AM

  513. Hail the new king of climate science! Hilarious piece by Roger Sr

    Remember, it was RPSr who gave (virtual) birth to Watts and the surface station project in the first place. No surprise that his response is … ummm … uncritical.

    Comment by dhogaza — 30 Jul 2012 @ 8:03 AM

  514. 505 sidd and 491 Patrick:

    Dunno if Muller did any new science or not. He claims to have shrunk some of the error bounds which is believable to me.

    Scientifically I don’t think this is important. Politically it might be.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 30 Jul 2012 @ 8:08 AM

  515. Follow-up on my post from 29 July 2012 5:08 PM … I have improved this Comment and added some additional links. It is available offline at:

    Comment by Jan Galkowski — 30 Jul 2012 @ 10:05 AM

  516. IMHO Muller/BEST is the most important climate issue for now.
    Evidently Muller has a certain style and method which sometimes works, and luckily this is one of those times. Or close enough.

    > …is Eemian sea level rise avoidable today, regardless of our best efforts.
    No. Sorry. Even with best efforts it takes too long to turn this ship around.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 30 Jul 2012 @ 10:35 AM

  517. Alex Cockburn has just died. He was not a very original contrarian but attempted to shift left wing opinion against taking action on CO2 by recycling e.g. Martin Hertzberg and Gerlich & Tscheuschner


    Comment by deconvoluter — 30 Jul 2012 @ 10:48 AM

  518. FYI, Joe Romm’s take on the new BEST report is here:

    Bombshell: Koch-Funded Study Finds ‘Global Warming Is Real’, ‘On The High End’ And ‘Essentially All’ Due To Carbon Pollution
    By Joe Romm
    July 28, 2012

    There are about 190 comments so far.

    A PDF of the report is here:

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 30 Jul 2012 @ 11:39 AM

  519. Another take on the new BEST report.

    Comment by Dan H. — 30 Jul 2012 @ 1:44 PM

  520. Patrick at 354 (july 21) wrote: “(whereas with iteration, you start with ∆T1 = RF/B, then add ∆T(n+1) = (F*∆Tn)/B repeatedly)”

    I appreciate the effort. You assumed a particular iterative scheme and explained how it would differ from your calculation. It is substantially different from the iterative scheme I had in mind.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 30 Jul 2012 @ 2:33 PM

  521. Simon: The WMO has a rather recently approved recommendation of climatological station classification. It was built on a “prototype” designed and used for years by the French meteorological service and subsequently processed by the WMO formal bodies, such as the “Commission of Basic Systems” (CBS) and the “Commission on Instruments and Methods of Observation” (CIMO). CBS deals with observation network design, CIMO with technical details, both providing quite extensive handbooks and statistics for their respective areas. As usual, these are only recommendations, national Governments are free to design their own.

    A lot of WMO texts are found by Google search, i.e. “WMO observation station siting guidelines”.

    To generate a temperature history, the global climate science has to rely upon measurements made for other purposes, be they general weather forecasting, aviation support or old style climate statistics.

    The “old style climate” observations had various purposes. The stations were set up to serve local needs, very often the needs of farmers deciding which crop to plant (and when) in a given valley, county or village. Consequently there was no need for extreme accuracy or even reliability, such as are expected for the global application, global climate change analysis. The original application also set limits to investment in instruments (some $500) as well as on cost of training of observers (part time, volunteers) and system maintenance.

    The WMO recommendations for siting and instrumentation for climatological stations are quite old and well established (somebody else would know how old) and have been very influential in most countries. National variations exist nevetherless.

    A possibly significant variance is found in organizations. In most countries the climatological observations were organized by the national meteorological service. Its staff selected the sites, provided the instrumentation and trainig of the observers, organized technical maintenance, collected the data (mostly on pencilled sheets), processed and distributed the results as a central service.

    An exception to this was/is the USA, where this service has been provided by the separate States. Most States employ a state climatologist, either as a full time or a part time official. This gives rise to some problems in network design. Local interests may vary and i.e. station siting standards are adapted to fit the perceived data end-user needs (as has been amply demonstrated).

    Having seen many climate stations over a long time, I believe their measurement accuracy has improved substantially. Quality of maintenance is better now as the global warming has developed as an issue. earlier, dirt, mold or flaking paint were seen on many stations. Better or cleaner thermometer screens produce lower readings and help to underestimate (marginally) the warming.

    A climatologist and a meteorolgist has to forecast temperature by popular demand. However, temperature measurement does not go into his/her forecasting model, so from that viewpoint it is just a “nice to know” parameter. 2 – 4 degC margins are usually discussed.

    Comment by Pekka Kostamo — 30 Jul 2012 @ 3:14 PM

  522. Ahem, please read:

    Including his update; [Update July 30: JGR told me “This paper was rejected and the editor recommended that the author resubmit it as a new paper.”]

    Comment by snafu — 30 Jul 2012 @ 9:51 PM

  523. “This paper was rejected and the editor recommended that the author resubmit it as a new paper.”

    Actually, it wasn’t “this paper”, it was an earlier one (UHI paper).

    Please *try* to pay attention, ok?

    Comment by dhogaza — 30 Jul 2012 @ 11:54 PM

  524. It’s official. Homo sapiens sapiens is a mad species.

    Europe looks to open up Greenland for natural resources extraction

    Melting of icy surface opens up possibility of extracting rare earth metals and gemstones, but many fear it could destroy the Arctic
    Oil and gas have been the focus of exploitation so far – but the EU sees just as much potential in a massive opening up of mining operations across the world’s biggest island, according to Antonio Tajani, the European commission’s vice-president and one of the most powerful politicians in the union. He called the move “raw material diplomacy”.

    Comment by J Bowers — 31 Jul 2012 @ 5:15 AM

  525. >>“This paper was rejected and the editor recommended
    >> that the author resubmit it as a new paper.”
    >Actually, it wasn’t “this paper”, it was an earlier one (UHI paper).

    Dan H. misleads anyone who will try to follow him. Eschew.

    > Greenland … raw material
    Ah, yes, vast tracts of unclaimed land on which to pioneer a new civilization.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 31 Jul 2012 @ 9:31 AM

  526. Wups, “snafu” not “Dan H.” misstating what that cite says there.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 31 Jul 2012 @ 9:35 AM

  527. Hah, a Pavlovian response there Hank? Don’t worry. Dan H’s link wasn’t exactly intelligent. On that site the blogger says that you can’t ask a physicist what X-ray crystallography has to say about DNA. I suppose that blogger still has the common impression that Watson and Crick came up the double helix on their own and is completely unaware of Rosalind Franklin’s contribution (her stolen photo) and that she fixed Watson and Crick’s tinker toy model when they had the backbone on the inside. I certainly wouldn’t trust that blogger for a good take on the BEST results.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 31 Jul 2012 @ 11:12 AM

  528. RE # 522 & 523, why would a science journal like JGR have an economist review papers? McKitrick is known denialist focused on trying to throw doubt on the works of actual climate scientists…but instead turning up wrong in those efforts (see Mann, HOCKEY STICK, pp. 82, 122-24, 130, 136-141, 190), even though his faulty attemps cause a tremendous amount of fallacious fodder that the denialist community runs wild with, obstructing needed mitigation efforts (that may even amount to harms (if not crimes) against humanity).

    Makes me wonder about that journal and its editors. Couldn’t they find someone else (whose main mission in life is not debunking & throwing doubt on climate science) to do the peer-reviewing?

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 31 Jul 2012 @ 12:45 PM

  529. Where in the concerned climate blogosphere would be the place to submit “here’s an action you can take” suggestions?

    The one I’m thinking of: the NY Times, site of very good climate coverage lately, is today offering half-off (1st 18 weeks) subscriptions, so if your community is like mine, you might get one for your local coffeehouse.

    Comment by Anna Haynes — 31 Jul 2012 @ 1:20 PM

  530. Just in case anyone has been trying to access the Mann “Hockey Stick” review from the link upthread, there’s an ongoing glitch with that page. I’ll update when it’s fixed. Sorry for any inconvenience.

    (Why does that sound familiar?)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 31 Jul 2012 @ 1:39 PM

  531. Indeed. McKitrick is whinging about Wickham et al. “Influence of Urban Heating on the Global Temperature Land Average Using Rural Sites Identified from MODIS Classifications”(, which was apparently submitted twice, once in 2011 and again in 2012, with RM a reviewer both times. Muller’s op-ed and press is mainly about Rhode et al. (2012) “A New Estimate of the Average Earth Surface Land Temperature Spanning 1753 to 2011” ( Neither paper has been formally published.

    Was RM a reviewer of Rhode et al (2012)? If not could it be that the ‘auditors’ are engaging in a bit of diversionary sleight of hand here?

    Comment by Steven Sullivan — 31 Jul 2012 @ 3:01 PM

  532. Ye reap what ye sow: Drought strains U.S. oil production. Not just oil, either.

    Comment by J Bowers — 31 Jul 2012 @ 4:46 PM

  533. > Rhode

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 31 Jul 2012 @ 7:21 PM

  534. When It Rains, It Pours: New Study Finds Extreme Snowstorms And Deluges Are Becoming More Frequent And More Severe

    Comment by Chris Machens — 1 Aug 2012 @ 2:45 AM

  535. Re: #534

    Tried following your links. What new study?

    Comment by Jack Maloney — 1 Aug 2012 @ 9:33 AM

  536. local fm radio: KQED Forum: Wed, Aug 1, 2012 — 9:00 AM
    UC Berkeley physics professor Richard Muller

    He’s made the jump from “I’m not convinced” to “we can do nothing, it’s up to the Chinese and Indian government” while holding firmly to his accusation that the climate modelers are making stuff up to try to scare people into political action.

    He sounds to me, listening, on the radio, a lot more like a passionate political advocate than he reads in print.

    He’s pushing Robert Rohde out in front as responsible for the statistics, giving him all the credit for the analysis.

    Hmmm …

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Aug 2012 @ 11:21 AM

  537. Muller and another guest are now discussing the “blogosphere” coverage. “Roger Pielke Jr., who likes to think of himself as the conscience of …” did I hear this right? Oh well, enough.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Aug 2012 @ 11:23 AM

  538. oh, lordy , you really ought to listen to that KQED interview.

    The day’s host is Spencer Michaels, not Michael Krasny. Seems to me this host is their ‘ibertarianish guy who tends to lean not too subtly; he’s now asked questions that led Muller into an extended attack on Al Gore past and Al Gore present-day.

    This reminds me of the 1960s, seeing the people who most opposed changes in civil rights and the war who were able to turn on a dime and claim leadership in the new direction of society as it happened, dismissing those who had more foresight as wacky extremists.

    Muller is now lauding “our _clean_ fracking technology” as though it actually existed, as if he knew something about that.

    “As I point out in my new book, you can make money ….”

    This is sad stuff to hear. The spin is strong.

    “We could have the entire world living at the European standard … by the end of the century” — by three percent conservation and changing from coal to clean natural gas, says Muller.

    Yeah. right. Anything but the IPCC.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Aug 2012 @ 11:51 AM

  539. My mistake, Forum program featuring Muller — Host: Scott Shafer
    Link, to repeat, is:

    If nothing else jump to the very end.

    A caller asks why we should take Muller as a leader when he’s so late to this and other scientists have known about it for so long.

    Muller’s answer is that nobody before him could know the problems were real, because “surface stations issues” made it impossible to decide whether there was a problem until he looked into it.

    Or something like that. Astonishing!

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Aug 2012 @ 12:12 PM

  540. McIntyre backing slowly away from Watts’ paper — the one he’s a co-author on?

    “Interestingly, McIntyre is listed as a co-author of the Watts paper but begins a blog post expressing “puzzlement at Anthony’s [Watts’press release] announcement”and qualifies his involvement as “very last minute and limited”. And he admits to not having “parsed” parts of the Watts study.”

    Comment by Steven Sullivan — 1 Aug 2012 @ 1:40 PM

  541. “We could have the entire world living at the European standard … by the end of the century . . . ” Interesting he didn’t say ‘the American standard’.
    The world, including the U.S., living at the standard of Greece, Italy, Spain, Ireland, etc, will come much sooner than the end on the century, and conservation won’t play a part in it. ;)

    Comment by flxible — 1 Aug 2012 @ 2:00 PM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Aug 2012 @ 8:16 PM

  543. To me what is very worrying is that the rate of change of the world temp trend line over the last 10-15 years is actually higher than the natural climatic variability, thus a whole series of consecutive temp records have been posted. How many more years of consecutive record highs will be needed before someone states unequivically that a major tipping point has been breached? Could someone state the bloody obvious!

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 1 Aug 2012 @ 8:44 PM

  544. > the entire world living at the European standard … by the end of the century

    Give Muller credit for saying something that should challenge US politicians to wake up, if they were inclined to listen. Planning for a slow intentional change to that standard of living over the next 80 or 90 years would be doable with no loss of comfort, just a huge decrease in waste, inefficiency, and pork barrelling.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Aug 2012 @ 9:38 PM

  545. 542 Hank links to a note that says solar is big.

    OK, but meaningless. Yep, there’s a lot of sunlight out there. Nope, it can’t be harvested at market rates. Pretty much ends the discussion in Republican-land, and Republican-land sets the tone of the discussion.

    And besides, every single solar panel bought today is a HORRIBLE investment. MUCH better would be to wait 1 year and get a better panel for less money, and only pay 10 cents or so a kilowatt for the year’s worth of electricity in the meantime. The TRUTH is that solar power should be avoided at all costs, while solar power research should be wildly funded for the next 5 to 10 years. AFTER that, we could reasonably start adding solar in more than insignificant amounts to our power production systems.

    (Note that some folks pretend that if the taxpayer pays for 70% of the bill, somehow the bill is “really” 30%. That’s insane. the bill is 100%.)

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 1 Aug 2012 @ 9:39 PM

  546. 541 flxible said ““We could have the entire world living at the European standard … by the end of the century . . . ” Interesting he didn’t say ‘the American standard’.
    The world, including the U.S., living at the standard of Greece, Italy, Spain, Ireland, etc, will come much sooner than the end on the century, and conservation won’t play a part in it. ;)”

    Uh, the US is at a lower standard of living than the European level, so using the BEST current level is appropriate. (The US has more money but less freedom, less healthcare, less quality of life, and less most everything else)

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 1 Aug 2012 @ 9:51 PM

  547. Hank Roberts @542 — I read the NREL report. Based on just that the grids would require prohibitively expensive storage. That is the problem with using generation sources which only run intermittently.

    I’ll not take this further here as this is a climatology site, not a energy site. For more in a setting with many knowledgable commenters, try the new Brave New World Discussion Form:

    Comment by David B. Benson — 1 Aug 2012 @ 10:09 PM

  548. > better would be to wait 1 year and get a better panel for less money
    Agreed, personally. Solar hot water makes sense now, once I rebuild the roof to support the weight.

    Also, better not to invest the money in coal or gas infrastructure, but hang on to it to be able to buy better solar (and better battery/storage) technology.

    I pointed the NREL because it’s an argument for less spending on coal and gas infrastructure — which only leads to burning more coal and gas — and it makes an argument both for conservation and economy now and care where (and when) we spend.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Aug 2012 @ 8:04 AM

  549. Hank Roberts @ 542
    Solar Power isn’t a viable baseload power source at any efficiency. The problem with it is woeful energy density.

    It goes like this
    At best you can expect 1000 Watts per square meter irradiation.
    This is multiplied by the efficiency of the panel, best are around 0.2. In the tropics at midday that’s 200W per square meter, now when you are delivering baseload you need to deliver energy 24×7. If effect the daily output of a panel is on average 5 hours of 24, so the average output over the day of a solar panel is now down to 5/24 x 200 or 41.6 watts per square meter.
    Now we must consider that the power system must still be able to supply power when it is cloudy, panels generate about 20% output when shaded like this so our RELIABLE output over 24 hours is down to 0.2 x 41.6 or 8.32 Watts per square meter.

    After this we must account for conversion losses of 5% and transmission loss of 15% or .95x 0.85 x 8.32 = 6.71 W/m2

    To construct a Gigawatt of reliable baseload 24×7 power from solar panels therefore requires 1e9/6.71 149031296 square meters (149 square km) carpeted in panels (no Gaps) assuming we had the energy storage to even do it.

    Do you see how impractical this is?

    Comment by Bobl — 2 Aug 2012 @ 9:01 AM

  550. Bobi, tell NREL; I”m not advocating their numbers, I pointed to it as of interest after hearing Muller’s declaration that we must use more “clean fracking” gas.
    Look at the rate of change of efficiency for collectors; that’s why I’m not buying them for my house this year, they keep getting more efficient faster and cheaper.

    Where does the trend take us, and where should we invest to reduce CO2, not for short term profit but for longterm climate stability? We need to actually reduce CO2 remember; not just use less, but stop the increase and reverse it.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Aug 2012 @ 10:27 AM

  551. There are some really ill-informed comments about solar energy technology posted above. I know the moderators don’t care for long, drawn-out, argumentative exchanges about alternative energy technologies, so I will resist the temptation to launch into one.

    I will simply suggest that people take a look at what is actually happening with the solar energy industry, and actually read some of the studies like the one from NREL, instead of relying on ill-informed assumptions, back-of-the-envelope calculations, and the predictable opinions posted on pro-nuclear advocacy blogs.

    As for Jim Larsen’s view that buying solar panels today is a “HORRIBLE investment” and recommendation to wait until the technology improves and prices drop, I will just say that I have worked in the IT field since the earliest days of personal computers and saw many people make that mistake with PCs (indeed, I remember when I kept buying 80486 systems because the first crop of Pentium computers were “too expensive” — WRONG).

    The fact is, the technology is ALWAYS going to be “better” and prices are ALWAYS going to be lower “a year from now”, so with that logic, it will NEVER be the right time to buy — and meanwhile, month after month and year after year, all that abundant free energy falling on your root is going to waste.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 2 Aug 2012 @ 11:03 AM

  552. PS — to make clear what’s not clear from the comments above, the NREL report is not all about solar:


    “The report … compares estimates across six renewable energy technologies and unifies assumptions and methods. It shows the achievable energy generation of a particular technology given resource availability – solar, wind, geothermal availability, etc. — system performance, topographic limitations, and environmental and land-use constraints.

    “… get a sense of scale regarding the potential for renewables, and which technologies are worth examining” …. “Energy modelers also will find the study valuable.”

    “We’ll be frequently updating the information as we get more data.”

    NREL website:

    Personally, I’m not buying consumer electric generating stuff, favoring conservation over spending.

    Disclosure: I’ve invested what I can spare for years not into solar panels (we did do a white roof), but rather into longterm speculation on improving the world’s efficiency: woody agriculture research — because Phil Rutter convinced me long ago that the future _is_ nuts.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Aug 2012 @ 11:07 AM

  553. Bobl, According to, about 65 sq km is necessary for gigawatt (just under half your estimate). I’m not sure if that affects your claim (the authors of the report think solar is appropriate for baseline generation in much of the western US), but I thought I’d throw it out there.


    Comment by MikeS — 2 Aug 2012 @ 12:50 PM

  554. Recommended reading: a new report from the International Energy Agency on the medium-term prospects for renewable energy:

    Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2012 — Market Trends and Projections to 2017

    “This new annual IEA publication, Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2012, provides a key benchmark, assessing the current state of play of renewable energy, identifying the main drivers and barriers to deployment and projecting renewable energy electricity capacity and generation through 2017. Starting with an in-depth analysis of key country-level markets, which represent 80% of renewable electricity generation today, the report examines the prospects for renewable energy finance and provides a global outlook for each renewable electricity technology. The report analyses enablers and barriers to renewable energy deployment in detail, examining larger electricity market issues that have implications for renewable development, including country-level demand projections, anticipated changes in conventional generating capacity and power system integration.”

    The report’s summary is available from the link above as a PDF.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 2 Aug 2012 @ 1:33 PM

  555. Secular said, “technology is ALWAYS going to be “better” and prices are ALWAYS going to be lower “a year from now”, so with that logic, it will NEVER be the right time to buy”

    No. As I noted, the savings caused by waiting has to be compared to the value of the use of the product over the wait. Taking the extreme example, if the payback for solar drops to a year, waiting a year becomes insane. (currently the unsubsidized payback for solar is never.)

    Also, the benefit caused by early adopters must be considered. I bought the first Prius. (and the second one) I count my purchases as a bit of charity and so don’t sweat that the first Prius wasn’t the greatest value (though the second one is the best automotive value on the planet. 50MPG in a big comfy vehicle that requires very little maintenance. What’s not to love?)

    I use solar for little things. Hot water is a given. Nothing like free, environmentally neutral hot baths or showers! If you’re considering solar, go with hot water before PV. Also, DC fans are far more efficient, and the system controls are just switches, so my attached greenhouse uses solar. Let’s me “help the cause” but do it in a sensible, efficient fashion and WITHOUT sucking at the trough of government handouts.

    As my first post suggested, I’ll go big on solar in 5 to 10 years, when it makes environmental sense to do so. Now, solar purchasers are probably more environmentally destructive than “regular” electrical users. (Completely unsubstantiated guesstimate)

    The most important part of my post seems to have been missed. We should invest in solar tech BIG TIME! Solar production, not so much. I’m sure that with 10 years of intense effort, we could develop a solar production system that will power the world cheaply. To produce much solar before that is, well, foolish.

    And, going DC is probably the biggest not-talked-about climate issue. 90% less consumption for fans, for example. Most everything we use is DC, or could be far more efficient if made DC. Your refridgerator could have a variable speed compressor which adjusts for maximum efficiency. 50%+ savings. We need a DC backbone and DC to the home. Do that first, while developing solar.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 2 Aug 2012 @ 2:52 PM

  556. On PV solar energy:

    Across the country, payback on grid tied PV systems ranges between 1.5 years and never. There are many regions where the sun, the utility rate, and the utility rate structure allows a 7 year payback and an investment value of 10%/yr over the lifetime of a system. Is this horrible? As utility rates go up in the future the payback time on your investment will shorten and your earnings will increase.

    Suggesting that there is a government incentive of 70% for buying solar is disingenuous. If you don’t like solar incentives then you should also be concerned about public support for fossil fuels.

    The amount of area needed for solar panels is a non-argument when the energy is free and there are many sites that are not environmentally sensitive (think parking lots and roofs) and this kind of distributed generation is just what we need.

    The base load argument is a nonstarter. Many power plants run at 100% in the day, when solar works, but only 20% at night. Adding solar now would allow spin down of polluting power plants during the day. All or none black and white thinking is not going to solve our CO2 problem.

    Comment by Steve Fish — 2 Aug 2012 @ 3:21 PM

  557. Ask Dr. Bryan Killett About Climate Change and GRACE
    2012-Aug-2 14:04

    Quoting the intro below; click the link and follow links therein for the real item:

    “Bryan Killett is a physicist working on the Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE) for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. GRACE is a joint mission of NASA and the German Aerospace Center which collects satellite data to learn about Earth’s changing gravity field, specifically the high frequency changes associated with ocean tides. As the high tide comes in, more water is present, so gravity in that location is temporarily strengthened. These changes are detected with GRACE and used to improve ocean tide models. Dr. Killett provides the open source (GPLv3) code used to process GRACE data on his home page. Bryan has agreed to take a break from measuring gravity fields and answer your questions about GRACE and the climate changes it has revealed. Feel free to ask as many as you like but please confine your questions to one per post.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Aug 2012 @ 3:44 PM

  558. MikeS @553 — You state “(the authors of the report think solar is appropriate for baseline generation in much of the western US)”. I don’t recall a single word about baseload in the NREL report.

    Baseload is 24/7. Even CSP cannot provide that reliably due to the potential for extended cloudy conditions. (Except at great additonal cost of course.)

    I’m just correcting an erronous impression here. Real Climate is not the best site to discuss energy options (as the other numerous errors regarding reliability, cost and cost projections demonstrate).

    Comment by David B. Benson — 2 Aug 2012 @ 4:52 PM

  559. Better graphic display of worse news:

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

  560. “The universe doesn’t care what you believe. The wonderful thing about science is it doesn’t ask for your faith, it just asks for your eyes.” -xkcd

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Aug 2012 @ 6:18 PM

  561. Dust from Asia Fills North America’s Atmosphere
    I could have told them. The high haze has become noticably worse here in eastern Washington state during this coentury so far.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 2 Aug 2012 @ 7:35 PM

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