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  1. Jim Larson,

    This is just to let you know that I did answer your post in another thread but it was ruled off topic.

    I did not save a copy but my answer was so elegant and persuasive that you would have dropped everything and started immediately to work on getting carbon tariffs going. So, let’s hope you do so in any case ;-)

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 1 Oct 2012 @ 7:56 AM

  2. Ok, Younger Dryas. Some good stuff on the 8.2 ka event as well. Not sure about the impact, but if it did happen my working hypothesis is still Nipigon, although it could have been any small impact, their technique seems robust enough. But the real problem is Greenland melting in the NADW formation zone and the associated arctic sea ice albedo feedback effect plus with 400 ppm CO2 I think we’re looking at permanent drought in the south and southwest creeping into the plains and increased seasonality and daily desert like extremes with increased soil moisture problems. We’re going to have to make and distribute fresh water if we want to maintain productivity.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 1 Oct 2012 @ 10:24 AM

  3. Would somebody please explain to me Pielke’s unqualified support for, and fawning over, Anthony Watts?

    Pielke, Sr, is pretty much the only person I pay any attention to “for balance” concerning AGW. I think I’m pretty good at picking out those people whom I can safely ignore and I’ve not given up on him yet, but I don’t understand the Watt’s thing.

    Comment by RobG — 1 Oct 2012 @ 11:07 AM

  4. @RobG – Watts recently posted an article welcoming Pielke Sr to ‘twitland’. Birds of a feather and all that.

    (Dunno if that’s just Australian slang or more universal.)

    Comment by Sou — 1 Oct 2012 @ 11:36 AM

  5. I would like to link a paper by Umberto Triacca, Alessandro Attanasio and me about the “role” of the Sun in the recent global warming:

    Comment by Antonello Pasini — 1 Oct 2012 @ 11:50 AM

  6. To continue this Nissan Leaf mpg kerfuffle from Sept open thread, after a nudge or two, Nissan UK have provided me with an untitled spreadsheet they describe as the Leaf’s “full technical specifications” which contains the line –

    Electricity consumption 3) Wh/km 173
    with 3) In accordance with UN/ECE Regulation 101
    which means the figure is as per the EU test. Thus a conversion factor (tentatively calculated as 1.32 within Sept open thread) will be required to convert it to the US EPA test.
    0.173 kWh/km = 3.61 MPkWh (EU test) = 4.79 MPkWh (EPA test) @33.7kWh/gallon(US) = 161MPG(US)e. This figure is evidently far higher than the 99mpg(US)e that the EPA rate the Leaf at and can only be because the EPA rating is for kWh of primary power as input into the power station, although the 99mpg(US)e would require a generation-transmission efficiency of 61% which appears too high. This grid efficiency would be more realistic for a primary power mpg(US)e in 70s which was what was been calculated more than once in the Sept open thread.

    Using the figure to calculate an equivilant in terms of carbon emissions mpg(US)ce, @2.36kgC/USgal & 0.155kgC/kWh(plug)US, the Leaf would achieve 73 mpg(US)ce. The big unknown (apart from the conversion from EU test to EPA test) is the carbon intensity of the grid. This will vary with your location and time of day, of year, of decade and marginal values could well be a lot different to average values. Assuming significant proportions night-time charging & large reductions in grid carbon intensity in coming years, the 73 mpg(US)ce is probably way too low.

    Comment by MARodger — 1 Oct 2012 @ 12:26 PM

  7. “Twitland” is a principle province of the loose confederation called YouTwitFace.

    Comment by dbostrom — 1 Oct 2012 @ 12:55 PM

  8. Did any of the IPCC global climate models predict the record high Antarctic sea ice that we have seen this year? How is this evidence consistent with the projections of the climate models?

    Comment by tpinlb — 1 Oct 2012 @ 1:28 PM

  9. tpinlb, climate models don’t “predict” year-specific phenomena arising from stochastic variation that adds “noise” to progression of climate states under the influence of persistent forcings.

    However climate models from even 20-30 years ago [Schneider and Thompson (1981); Bryan et al (1988); Manabe et al (1992)] predicted that the response of the Antarctic to enhanced greenhouse-induced warming would be much delayed relative to the warming expected to occur in the Arctic.

    So the real world evidence with respect to polar response is consistent with expectations from models except that the Arctic sea ice is attenuating faster than expected.

    Comment by chris — 1 Oct 2012 @ 2:44 PM

  10. “Would somebody please explain to me Pielke’s unqualified support for, and fawning over, Anthony Watts?”

    Watts is Pielke Sr’s protege … I’m not sure of the sequence of events, but Watts’s Surface Stations project grew out of RPSr’s questioning of the quality of the surface temperature records and it’s been like father and 2nd son ever since, apparently. Someone here may know more specific information …

    Comment by dhogaza — 1 Oct 2012 @ 2:57 PM

  11. I have a question about inline responses. On the side bar you can see the 5 most recent inline responses. Naturally I come to RC because I find the what the contributors have to say insightful. I especially like reading how the contribs respond to various questions & claims. But when I travel, it is possible for the queue of responses to exceed that list of 5 between my viewings of RC. So, is there way to see a list of inline responses longer than the most recent 5?


    [Response: Hmm… not really. I would suggest subscribing to the RSS feed for comments perhaps. If there is a demand, we could expand the number of inline responses returned. – gavin]

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 1 Oct 2012 @ 4:03 PM

  12. Survey research of possible interest, just pre-published by Weather, Climate, and Society:

    “Did the Arctic ice recover? Demographics of true and false climate facts”

    Comment by L. Hamilton — 1 Oct 2012 @ 4:14 PM

  13. Not climate science per se, but of interest.

    A leading columnist at Canada’s influential Globe and Mail newspaper is currently embroiled in allegations of multiple instances of plagiarism. Over the past decade Margaret Wente has made over sixty references to climate change, global warming, carbon capture/reduction/taxation, etc., all dismissive or derogatory.

    Some representative samples from Wente:

    Comment by CanadianReader — 1 Oct 2012 @ 4:15 PM

  14. for tpinlb:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Oct 2012 @ 4:21 PM

  15. #8–For context on this ‘record’, read this:

    For the results/significance in terms of albedo change, you might try this:

    Of course, the IPCC models didn’t predict the Arctic sea ice loss, either. It’s much, much worse than *anyone* predicted before 2007. For what it’s worth, though, at least one modeling study did indeed show growth in Antarctic sea ice. I’m sure someone around here will have the link/title.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 1 Oct 2012 @ 5:02 PM

  16. Here’s a really horrible piece that was linked from yahoo news’s front page.

    The laughable geoengineering proposal’s bad enough, but skip down to the “problems” with the solution, including:

    “problem: A solution in search of a problem”


    “Global cooling on the horizon?”

    Grrrrr …

    Comment by dhogaza — 1 Oct 2012 @ 5:52 PM

  17. I’ve been working on a “hobby” software project that I’ve decided to call “WattsBuster(tm)”.

    It can be downloaded from: (with temperature data — bigger download) or from (no temperature data — smaller download).

    Once it is set up and running (a bit of a project in itself — details below), users/students/etc. will be able to “roll their own” global-average temperature estimates by clicking on GHCN station locations on a map. As each new station is clicked, the global-average temperature display will be updated with the new station’s data.

    Results are computed from both raw and “homogenized” data and plotted right along with the official NASA/GISS GHCNV3 results for direct comparison.

    The gridding/averaging procedure that I implemented is a seriously “dumbed down” version of the NOAA/CRU gridding/averaging scheme. It’s a very straightforward averaging procedure that does not involve any kind of data “adjustments” or interpolation steps. There’s nothing there that a “skeptic” could point to as an example of “data manipulation”.

    With this package, students can impress their friends (and annoy their AGW skeptic parents) by shooting down Anthony Watts’ favorite claims about the global temperature record with just a series of mouse-clicks.

    The package is a combination of my own code and code shamelessly stolen*** from other sources, all cobbled together with “virtual duct tape” to provide the working package.

    (*** stolen in full compliance with software license agreements)

    This should be considered a “work in progress” proof-of-concept prototype (there are some “half-baked” features in the code that haven’t been activated yet, along with some disabled chunks of code inside #if(0)/#endif blocks) — keep that in mind if you start digging through the code.

    This is definitely *not* “App Store” ready — not by a long-shot.

    Experiment with the package a bit, and if you are successful in getting it up and running, you will see how amazingly easy it is to replicate the NASA/GISS global-warming trends with both raw and adjusted data.

    Here are a couple of screenshots of the package at work:

    WattsBuster(tm) user-interface (front-end) screenshot:

    WattsBuster(tm) temperature display (back-end) screenshot (50 “long record” rural stations, randomly selected):

    In the upper panel of the “back end” plot, the official NASA/GISS “meteorological stations” index is plotted in blue. The “50 random rural stations” raw data results are plotted in red. The “50 random rural stations” adjusted data results are plotted in green.

    The lower panel shows how many of the selected stations actually reported data for any given year (variations in station record-lengths, data “gaps”, etc. mean that the number of stations reporting data for any given year will vary.) So as you are “rolling your own” global temperature results, keep an eye on that lower panel. In virtually every case where your results look “lousy”, it will be because only a handful of your stations have reported data during the “lousy” periods.

    The software will run on Linux, Windows (with Cygwin/X installed), and OS-X machines. (Details available in the included README files.)

    Additional note: I added a call to fpurge()(BSD)/__fpurge()(Linux) to GnuPlotter.cpp. I haven’t tested that with Cygwin, so you may have to comment out the __fpurge() call and the #include stdio_ext.h line in GnuPlotter.cpp/.hpp to get it to build under Cygwin.

    Getting it set up to run is a bit of a chore. It is very helpful to be comfortable in a Unix command-line environment. You will need to compile the “back end” global-temperature-calculation program from source. You will also need to install some other software packages (all are free and reasonably easy to install).

    For the QGIS software (which I appropriated for this project), you will need to modify one of the plugins by manually replacing one of the plugin files with a “hacked” version that is supplied in the WATTSBUSTER(tm) package.

    Detailed (hopefully not too opaque) instructions are included in a couple of README files.

    Once again, this is something for folks comfortable with “old school” Unix command-line environments. Otherwise, it could turn into an exercise in frustration.

    However, I’m sure that there are quite a few computer-savvy high-school students out there who would be able to take this ball and run with it.

    Again, the full WATTSBUSTER(tm) package is at — The full package includes all GHCN raw and adjusted data. It’s a fairly big download. The “light” package (no temperature data, smaller download):

    Comment by caerbannog — 1 Oct 2012 @ 6:10 PM

  18. One of the internet’s foremost head exploders is taking Forbes to task for allowing readers to question the scientific authority of the usual flacks from The Heartland institute.

    Comment by Russell — 1 Oct 2012 @ 6:24 PM

  19. I have a friend from the UK, about age 30, who holds a degree in meteorology though doesn’t work in that field. He understands the science behind climate change very well, but is a total denier and has subscribed to every nutty theory touted by the WTFUWT crowd (urban heat islands, sun spots, volcanoes, cosmic rays, radiation from Fukushima, etc).

    I know him well enough to understand his real motive – he’s a car nut, drives a big gas-guzzling jeep, drives hundreds of unnecessary miles every week just for recreation. He isn’t emotionally mature enough to simply say the truth: “OK, climate change is real, but I’m just addicted to my car. Sorry.” I would respect him more if he did that. Even I admit that my lifestyle isn’t terribly green, but I won’t deny the laws of physics because of it.

    And so my friend goes on whining about “Climategate,” the great conspiracy between Al Gore, George Soros, Michael Mann and the New World Order, etc. He has been insisting that the world has been cooling since 2007, his “proof” being that 2007 was the year the Arctic sea ice reached its minimum and has been since “recovering.”

    That is until the summer of 2012. After seeing the graphs, he just went silent. Not a peep out of him all though August and September. Then just yesterday he started telling me that actually a more tropical world would be a good thing. Nice warm weather, lots of new farmland opening up in Greenland and Siberia.

    Comment by Candide — 1 Oct 2012 @ 9:52 PM

  20. Followup — found a stupid little goof in the README-WATTSBUSTER.txt file — correction for step 6 is bolded below:

    6) In the WATTSBUSTER(tm) directory, build the anomaly.exe executable.

    Just type “make clean; make”.

    Comment by caerbannog — 1 Oct 2012 @ 10:07 PM

  21. Thanks Gavin. I’m not so much interested in an RSS feed for comments, I’ve got your main posts in my reader already and that’s my primary interest. I was hoping there was just an easier way to catch up on contributor replies than scrolling through the pages looking for the light blue text. With the new work I’m doing, I don’t really get on the internet like I used to, but catching up on the replies is almost as valuable as the main posts.

    I looked at the source my browser gets, hoping I could hack a URL for it, but alas it’s all just ul & li elements.

    [Response: the element that picks out the ‘class=”response” ‘ element in the paragraph style. You could try searching for that in the the source…. – gavin]

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 1 Oct 2012 @ 11:16 PM

  22. Irreversible Warming Will Cause Sea Levels to Rise for Thousands of Years to Come, New Research Shows
    (In case you had any doubts.)

    Comment by David B. Benson — 2 Oct 2012 @ 12:32 AM

  23. Plants’ Carbon-Sinking Capacity Is Much Lower Than Thought
    (which is the opposite of many a denier’s writings.)

    Comment by David B. Benson — 2 Oct 2012 @ 12:38 AM

  24. Ray Pierrehumbert’s book asks me to download python. Which version and where is a safe website to get it from? The URL I found warned of differences between python 2.7 and 3.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 2 Oct 2012 @ 12:52 AM

  25. Should climate scientists seize the uncertainty?

    Here’s an article and following comment which suggests that Rachel Carson set a good model for doing just that in Silent Spring, 50 years old this week.

    Comment by aphillips — 2 Oct 2012 @ 8:26 AM

  26. Edward Greisch – Main difference in terms of annoyance when using old code in new Python is ‘print’ changing from a statement to a function. In practice this means the difference between having to write ‘print “Hello World”‘ in v2 and ‘print(“Hello World”)’ in v3. The former will produce an error in v3 and vice versa.

    The other factor is libraries – some haven’t been updated for use in v3.

    Given the time of book release I think 2.7 would be your best bet, and you can download from However, there’s no problem downloading and installing both into different folders to try them.

    Comment by Paul S — 2 Oct 2012 @ 8:39 AM

  27. Candide, Might I suggest that your friend spend some time in a tropical rainforest or similar environs. Moreover, if the thinks the whole globe is going to simply become “tropical,” I would suggest that he does not in fact understand the science behind climate change. He sounds like a wonderful example of stupidity sent to college.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 2 Oct 2012 @ 8:43 AM

  28. I was led to Coursera by an NPR story Sunday. Coursera allows you to audit an number of university course offerings from a number of notable universties for free. Among upcoming offerings will be:

    Climate Literacy; Navigating Climate Conservations.
    Instructors: Sarah Burch and Tome-Pierre Frappe-Seneclauze.
    Course offered through the Univ. of British Columbia
    Course begins May 2013

    Climate Change
    Instructors: John Barnett, John Freebairn, David Jamieson, Maurizio Toscano, Rachel Webster.
    Offered through the Univ. of Melbourne
    Dates to be announced, a nine week course.

    Also Global Sustainable Energy: Past, Present and Future.
    Instructor: Wendell Porter
    (My notes lack the Univ. on this one) Dates to be Announced.

    Go to Coursera site for more details.

    Comment by Will MacKinnon — 2 Oct 2012 @ 9:59 AM

  29. Candide #19,

    “I know him well enough to understand his real motive – he’s a car nut, drives a big gas-guzzling jeep, drives hundreds of unnecessary miles every week just for recreation. He isn’t emotionally mature enough to simply say the truth: “OK, climate change is real, but I’m just addicted to my car. Sorry.” I would respect him more if he did that. Even I admit that my lifestyle isn’t terribly green, but I won’t deny the laws of physics because of it.”

    What you have pointed out is the central problem with respect to ameliorating climate change. This is the reluctance of the average energy consumer to alter their lifestyle to impact climate change.

    I have discussed climate change with numerous people. Almost all accept there is climate change occurring. A modest number attribute it mainly to natural variability, but most attribute it to anthropogenic causes. However, I see zero difference between the two groups in terms of the actions they are taking to help alleviate the climate change problem. It does not appear to me to be an issue of disinformation, as most posters on this blog like to suggest. Rather, it is far more insidious and pervasive; it is an addiction to an energy intensive lifestyle driven by copious amounts of fossil fuel combustion. How one breaks that addiction is beyond me, but until that issue is addressed head-on, all the other solutions proposed are just illusory.

    Comment by Superman1 — 2 Oct 2012 @ 11:20 AM

  30. Here’s a depressing study about the great barrier reef, which reports that half the reef has died in the past 27 years, and that over half the cause is climatic conditions (cyclones and temperature), with the rest being due largely from agricultural effluent (which causes food chain imbalances).

    Comment by numerobis — 2 Oct 2012 @ 1:24 PM

  31. Related to the website: can you put the submit button *after* the captcha? On a mobile, I type my comment, hit send, it’s refused because the captcha fails since I didn’t even attempt it: it’s off-screen, below the preview. Then the comment is gone until your manual intervention.

    Also, a second chance at the captcha would be nice.

    Comment by numerobis — 2 Oct 2012 @ 1:29 PM

  32. John O’Sullivan proves that CO2 cools because it is used in some coolant systems! AGW is doomed!!

    You cannot make this crap up:
    “Surely if carbon dioxide works as a coolant in industry don’t the same principles apply on our open atmosphere?”

    He sullies the good name of Newton by calling his organization “Principia Scientific”.

    Comment by Robert Murphy — 2 Oct 2012 @ 1:50 PM

  33. I would join with Unsettled Scientist in asking for expansion of responses. Life’s too short to read every comment and inline responses are often where insightful responses occur within discussion.

    [Response: I’ve extended it to the last 10 responses… perhaps that will help. – gavin]

    Comment by Phil Scadden — 2 Oct 2012 @ 3:45 PM

  34. There is a bet (100 pounds) proposed at neven’s blog that Arctic Sea Ice extent will be above 1 million m^2 at June 30, 2015. Crandles says it will be above, Aaron Lewis says it won’t. Most folks over there do seem to think that sea ice loss will proceed quite rapidly over the next very few years.

    What are people’s projections here, particularly for next year and the year after?

    Comment by wili — 2 Oct 2012 @ 5:31 PM

  35. Wili: As ice volume decreases, the fraction of volume which is new ice increases, and hence the year to year variability in new ice becomes a larger fraction of the total ice volume variability, so I don’t think the smoothed downward slope will stay as smooth, i.e. you should expect bigger surprises to the upside on a given winter if it is cold and has heavy snow fall.

    Comment by CL — 2 Oct 2012 @ 6:57 PM

  36. “John O’Sullivan proves that CO2 cools because it is used in some coolant systems! AGW is doomed!!….He sullies the good name of Newton by calling his organization “Principia Scientific”.”

    Actually, he sullies the good name of the senior and unrelated John O’Sullivan O.B.E, the bona fide Conservative who gave good media counsel to Baroness Thatcher back in the day when Monckton was a 10 Downing Street dogsbody.

    O’Sullivan the less

    Comment by Russell — 2 Oct 2012 @ 6:58 PM

  37. thanks, unsettled scientist and phil scadden, for suggesting the number of recent inline responses shown be expanded, and thanks, gavin, for doing the expanding.

    much appreciated.

    Comment by paulina — 2 Oct 2012 @ 7:37 PM

  38. PIOMAS has been updated. Looks like the minimum was 3263 km3.

    I know all the physics says that it shouldn’t be, but it sure seems to be following that exponential curve pretty well right now:

    (double click on “here”)

    (But the oracular reCaptcha warns: newsedM deceitful!)

    Comment by wili — 2 Oct 2012 @ 7:48 PM

  39. And here’s L. Hamilton’s bar graph of Arctic sea ice volume with the new data point:

    Comment by wili — 2 Oct 2012 @ 8:10 PM

  40. @29 Confirming your observation about lack of correlation between belief in AGW and energy conservation, the only other person at work who conserves, is a LimBot!
    @34 That sounds like a setup. It should have been kilometers squared not meters squared, which is a million times less. Also June 30 is very early in the melt season. Getting down to a million KM squared even in September by 2015 would be considered to be a stretch.

    Comment by Thomas — 2 Oct 2012 @ 9:00 PM

  41. Let me join the chorus — I mostly read the comments to look for the responses from Gavin et al., and the expanded version will probably be a big help. Thanks!

    Comment by JBL — 2 Oct 2012 @ 9:42 PM

  42. Does anyone have any links or suggestion to the latest solid research being done on Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW) events?

    Comment by R. Gates — 2 Oct 2012 @ 10:02 PM

  43. wili (#34),

    Are you sure you don’t mean Sept 30 2015? The extent stood at 9,144,688 sq km on June 30 this year.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 2 Oct 2012 @ 10:13 PM

  44. Continued from last Unforced variations (derived from EIA )

    2010 electric power sector g CO2/kWh net generation, delivered (including T&D), primary:

    Coal —-: 1000.2 , 1080.1 , 327.66 (4 sig figs)
    petroleum: 951.0 , 1027 , 295.4 (2 sig figs)
    nat. gas : 442.6 , 478.0 , 184.5 (3 sig figs)
    total fossil fuels:
    816.83 , 882.08 , 285.67 (4 sig figs)

    (4 sig figs also for total electric power sector here @ 591
    values were
    571.69 , 617.36 , 195.55

    from 572 in the same thread, for 2006-2010, the g CO2/kWh for net generation were:

    average (using unrevised net generation kWh for 2010): 3.03 % larger
    minimum (of that time period) in 2009: 0.87 % smaller
    maximum (of that time period) in 2007: 5.947 % larger

    than the 2010 value. (last significant figure is tenths of a % (except for the minimum – hundredths of %) if given 4 significant figures for g CO2/kWh.)

    see 580
    for conversion efficiencies for 2010.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 2 Oct 2012 @ 10:40 PM

  45. Converting from some values in the EIA appendices (2003 and 2010 motor gasoline, and conventional, oxygenated, and reformulated gasoline)and from,
    I’m getting ~ 35.94 to 36.65 kWh/gal from the EIA, except for natural gasoline (32.24 kWh/gal), and 36.0 kWh/gal (wikipedia), and 34.89 kWh/gal Gasohol E10.

    (The wiki values imply densities of 0.72 to 0.74 kg/L for gasoline, 0.762 for Gasohol E10 (10 % ethanol by volume); for 0.73 kg/L and a composition of 84.117 to 85 wt% C (the former calculated for octane, the later given by an encyclopedia (Britannica Macropedia entry “Chemical Elements” p.945, sorry don’t know the year, I’m looking at a photocopy) for petroleum, g CO2/gal from combustion should be 8517 to 8606. Thus, 400 g CO2/mi at 22 mpg seems quite plausable – it would imply 8800 g CO2/gal, which would require a somewhat higher gasoline density.)

    Combining EIA, wikipedia, and Encyclopedia Britannica values (where necessary), I get g CO2/kWh primary energy estimates of:

    176.1 for natural gas consumed by electric power sector in 2010 (assuming composition wt % is same as CH4, which would just be an approximation/guess),

    232.4 for conventional gasoline (if wt % C is same as octane)
    ~ 242 for crude oil

    379 for anthracite (32.5 MJ/kg, wiki)
    ~ 463 for bituminous coal (24 MJ/kg, wiki)
    687 for lignite (14.0 MJ/kg, wiki)

    PS from the EIA Table A5,
    most categories of coal in the 1950s-part of the 1960s: ~ 29 MJ/kg (25 million Btu/short ton = 29.075 MJ/kg = 8.0764 kWh/kg)
    (most of those decline in energy density after that – use the online graphing option)
    coal with highest energy density: Industrial sector coke plants consumption for several years: 31.896 MJ/kg = 8.8601 kWh/kg
    2010 electric power sector consumption coal: 22.822 MJ/kg = 6.3393 kWh/kg; if this had a bituminous composition, emissions would be 486.9 g CO2 / kWh primary energy.

    The value for natural gas is close enough to what was obtained from EIA figures (sections 8 and 11); petroleum and coal seem off. Maybe the wikipedia energy densities assumed a larger fraction of inorganic ash? Also, I think petroleum in the electric power sector includes stuff like petroleum coke… Etc. There’s also the matter of the difference in enthalpy (and Gibbs free energy, for that matter) of reaction depending on whether H2O produced is liquid or vapor.

    Anyway, on to mpgs…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 2 Oct 2012 @ 10:50 PM

  46. #43–Nope, Willi is right–the effective date was June 30, 2015. Don’t ask me why; I suggested August 31 as an alternate.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 2 Oct 2012 @ 11:21 PM

  47. 26 Paul S: Thanks. Downloading.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 2 Oct 2012 @ 11:44 PM

  48. You should ask your Tardlie friend what kind of soil he expects to find in the north given that virtually all of it was scraped off and deposited north of the 49th during the last glacial period.

    Ask him to think real hard.

    “Nice warm weather, lots of new farmland opening up in Greenland and Sberia.” – 19

    Comment by Vendicar Decaruan — 3 Oct 2012 @ 12:36 AM

  49. Permafrost feedbacks and sinks:

    Comment by Mike Roddy — 3 Oct 2012 @ 1:00 AM

  50. I offer some amusement, starting with falsification, flat-earth maps, and dog astrology journal, continuing with Stoat, who could not resist British history that might be obscure to others.

    Comment by John Mashey — 3 Oct 2012 @ 1:01 AM

  51. > [Response: I’ve extended it to the last 10 responses… perhaps that will help. – gavin]

    Thanks! I too look at the annotated comments as a heuristic for interesting.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 3 Oct 2012 @ 1:48 AM

  52. New post on permafrost at ClimateSight (that woman is a marvel). I include an extract as it mentions a much debated corner of emissions and consequences:

    This paper went in my mental “oh shit” folder, because it made me realize that we are starting to lose control over the climate system. No matter what path we follow – even if we manage slightly negative emissions, i.e. artificially removing CO2 from the atmosphere – this model suggests we’ve got an extra 0.25°C in the pipeline due to permafrost. It doesn’t sound like much, but add that to the 0.8°C we’ve already seen, and take technological inertia into account (it’s simply not feasible to stop all emissions overnight), and we’re coming perilously close to the big nonlinearity (i.e. tipping point) that many argue is between 1.5 and 2°C. Take political inertia into account (most governments are nowhere near even creating a plan to reduce emissions), and we’ve long passed it.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 3 Oct 2012 @ 6:03 AM

  53. Any comments on this?

    Later this week, the Royal Society is hosting a Workshop on Handling Uncertainty in Weather and Climate Prediction, With Application to Health, Agronomy, Hydrology, Energy and Economics.

    10.10 Climate models: fit for what purpose?

    Professor Judy Curry, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, USA

    Climate models are being used to support emissions reduction policies and as the basis for projection of future regional climate variation for use in model-based decision support systems. Largely motivated by these applications, priorities for climate model development are focused on increasing resolution and adding complexity in the context of fully interactive earth system models.
    Arguments are presented that there is misguided confidence and “comfort” with the current climate models and projected developments that are not consonant with understanding and best practices from other fields. The fitness for purpose of climate models is examined in the context of different decision making applications for which climate models are being used. The decision analytic framework of reducing scientific uncertainty in support of optimal decision making strategies regarding CO2 mitigation has arguably resulted in unwarranted high confidence in future projections and relative neglect of natural climate variability and the possibility of black swans and dragon kings.

    The climate change problem is characterized by high levels of uncertainty, and modeling and subjective judgments substitute extensively for estimates based upon experience with actual events and outcomes. Hence a decision analytic framework of ‘decision making under deep uncertainty’ is a much better match to the climate problem, where understanding uncertainty and areas of ignorance is critical information for the decision making process. Potential applications of climate models under different decision analytic frameworks are described, motivating consideration of alternative paths for climate model development.

    [Response: A combination of the obvious combined with unsourced over-generalisations and containing no constructive suggestions. What is she actually proposing that is different from what is already happening? Specifics would be more interesting to assess. (For reference, some of my opinions on what climate modelling should be doing to be more useful are here (reg. reqd) or here). – gavin]

    Comment by Iana — 3 Oct 2012 @ 6:09 AM

  54. #50–Ah, yes, McI–I remember him. Sounds so plausible, if you read fast and don’t know the context.

    Gave him up, as I never found that he actually advanced my understanding–of anything.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 3 Oct 2012 @ 7:11 AM

  55. Judy Curry (shorter): Uncertainty. Ooga-booga. Ooga-booga.

    I always marvel that those counseling complacency somehow think uncertainty favors their position. Uncertainty cuts both ways, and the blade on the worst-case side is a whole lot sharper than on the best-case side.

    Uncertainty is nobody’s friend.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 Oct 2012 @ 8:10 AM

  56. Gavin:

    “What is she actually proposing that is different from what is already happening?”

    Well, she says that climate science suffers from “…relative neglect of natural climate variability…”

    So obviously you climate modeling people need to quit neglecting natural climate variability because obviously, if you were to do so, you’d find that climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 is only about 1C. Then we could comfortably decide to kick the can down the road for at least another couple of generations.


    I think her point is bleedin’ obvious. :)

    And, remember … uncertainty only cuts one way! Anything that’s uncertain drops the CO2 sensitivity range further below the current model estimates! Always lower, never higher …

    Hopefully there will be some credible scientists at the workshop. What was the organizer thinking?

    Comment by dhogaza — 3 Oct 2012 @ 8:19 AM

  57. Yesterday’s sea ice extent was 4166563 sq km

    It has been recovering from its mid-September minimum. Back then I estimated what kind of recovery rate would be needed if the minimum were broad.

    Things are a little different than that so here is an updated calculation: If the recovery were to immediately steepen to arrive at the average extent for the previous 10 years on Oct 28 when track converge, it would be at a rate 1.17 times slower than the fastest 7 day recovery rate in the previous ten years. If the recovery that happens next week is that same as in the last seven days, followed by 19 days of rapid recovery to converge, the steep recovery rate would have to be 1.09 times faster than the fastest prior 7 day rate. So, we are either flirting with a need for a record fast recovery rate, or convergence with prior tracks may be delayed into November. We might expect the first case since there is more open ocean in which recovery can occur in which case the energy release rate from the latent heat is interesting. The second case is also interesting since it might herald a bunch of Edmund Fitzgerald-type November wrecks as people try to take advantage of a pattern of increasingly delayed ice recovery for shipping. Surely, the skies of November will remain gloomy on that lake….

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 3 Oct 2012 @ 9:02 AM

  58. Susan @ 52 and others who might be interested…SkS has a discussion on permafrost carbon feedback as well:

    Comment by tokodave — 3 Oct 2012 @ 9:34 AM

  59. Re #43 Chris,
    I think we will see storms driven by the temperature differential between the ice and the open water that will cause substantial ice loss. In addition, we are seeing latent heat imported from the south that adds to ice loss. Bottom line, I expect the Arctic to be substantially ice free in 2013.

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 3 Oct 2012 @ 9:40 AM

  60. Joining in thanks for
    the responses from Gavin et al., and the expanded version

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Oct 2012 @ 10:52 AM

  61. The description of Curry’s talk “Climate Models: Fit For What Purpose? pasted @53 is as clear as mud. So is a note-like account that Curry blogged yesterday here.
    To get a better undserstanding, a Curry post of March of her DOE BERAC talk appears to cover the ground & includes such juicy quotes as “ It is not at all clear that GCMs will be able to generate counterintuitive, unexpected surprises. The current GCM’s have become ‘too stiff’,” this in the context of dragon-king-ridden black swans potentially fluttering themselves overhead.

    [Response: This is unfalsifiable. Whatever the models produce one can always claim that they should be capable of producing something more. When it comes to actual tests of the models against the real world, the only example I can think of is the rapidity of the re-starting of NADW after a collapse has yet to be reproduced in a standard coupled GCM. This isn’t however a statement about all kinds of GCM behaviour. – gavin]

    Comment by MARodger — 3 Oct 2012 @ 11:37 AM

  62. Thanks Gavin. Yeah, I didn’t see a way to hack a URL together in the code, but expanding the list helps and seems to have made a few of us happy at least. The extra posts in the sidebar definitely help, appreciate it.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 3 Oct 2012 @ 11:43 AM

  63. Susan Anderson #52,

    ” It doesn’t sound like much, but add that to the 0.8°C we’ve already seen, and take technological inertia into account (it’s simply not feasible to stop all emissions overnight), and we’re coming perilously close to the big nonlinearity (i.e. tipping point) that many argue is between 1.5 and 2°C”

    I have argued on other threads […. edit – yes. no need to repeat yourself in every thread]

    Comment by Superman1 — 3 Oct 2012 @ 12:13 PM

  64. Were I a cynic, I’d say that Professor Curry treats every real world problem she sees as similar to an academic departmental fracas, i.e. apply a thick coating of portentous words and delay, delay, delay.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 3 Oct 2012 @ 12:29 PM

  65. On “Uncertainty is not your friend” I’ve always like this one:
    (Stephan Lewandowsky)

    “Uncertainty means things could be worse than anticipated”

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 3 Oct 2012 @ 12:44 PM

  66. Chris D,

    Our discussion on culpability is core to the response to climate change. “We need to reduce GHGs” inherently results in a discussion of who reduces GHGs and why. Your initial stance is that current emissions are a hard-line base-line. If you own the largest stretch limo, then you are a saint if you buy a slightly smaller stretch limo or one with expensive tech that reduces its emissions a tad, while if you are a guy on a bicycle, buying a scooter makes you satanic. I found that stance immoral and illogical.

    And yes, China is a nation of folks migrating towards mere poverty. Yep, there’s some Rich Dudes with 100,000 serfs supplying them the funds to own similar stretch limos as are owned by the owners of the west, but the average Chinese dude either lives on a postage-stamp farm and rides a bicycle, or sleeps in a windowless(?) dorm while recuperating from the effort of supplying us with iphones et al. China’s carbon emissions mostly belong to us. China’s industries emit CO2, but the beneficiaries of those industries – well, are they you and I who watch the big TV, or the exhausted serf who survives on rice in a dorm?

    The issue is HUGE. We have the TVs, yet the average dude of any country by definition (if you believe in the words of the Founding Fathers) is just the average dude, and so can claim no more than the average dude of another country.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 3 Oct 2012 @ 1:05 PM

  67. Patrick,

    I appreciate your efforts to quantify, but I think the target is more nebulous and fleeting than that which deserves your attention. MPGe is opinion, not fact. We’ll spew funds towards biofuels and electrons, but nobody knows which will be the better investment.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 3 Oct 2012 @ 1:30 PM

  68. Apropos China, [edit – how is this even vaguely related to climate science? This is not a general purpose forum for discussing anything you want.]

    Comment by Chris Korda — 3 Oct 2012 @ 1:31 PM

  69. With all this subtle dissing of bicycles, I wonder even more how we can turn bike riding into a normal, much less high status activity. (I’m a bicycle mechinic and that is the norm in my circle of friends.)

    Comment by don gisselbeck — 3 Oct 2012 @ 1:54 PM

  70. Jim (#65),

    “China’s carbon emissions mostly belong to us.” If that is you position, it would seem carbon tariffs are the only approach we have to cutting our emissions given that we have the entire Pacific Northwest for emissions free manufacturing whence our supply of manufactured goods might shift. We don’t have sovereignty over China so I make no claim to their emissions myself anymore. I used to think as you, but then realized each country must implement its own emissions policy.

    I support carbon tariffs to pay for adaption. I think we need cooperation for mitigation not unilateral reprisals. You position, claiming responsibility for the actions of others, means you must dictate mitigation or forego it I think.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 3 Oct 2012 @ 2:06 PM

  71. My edited post regarded Peter Calthorpe’s recent “Foreign Policy” article on the astonishingly rapid past and projected growth of automobile infrastructure in China, and the article’s bizarre omission of any climate change context, despite Calthorpe being the author of “Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change.” I would like to see some discussion of the projections referenced in this article, because they seem to preclude all but the most drastic climate change scenarios. The post is relevant to a number of ongoing topics on this thread, including 1) passenger vehicles, 2) psychological resistance to paradigm shift, and 3) gross underestimation of the rate and impacts of climate change.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 3 Oct 2012 @ 2:11 PM

  72. CL at #45 wrote: “As ice volume decreases, the fraction of volume which is new ice increases, and hence the year to year variability in new ice becomes a larger fraction of the total ice volume variability, so I don’t think the smoothed downward slope will stay as smooth, i.e. you should expect bigger surprises to the upside on a given winter if it is cold and has heavy snow fall.”

    Well put. But of course this is only one element of a complex dynamic. I certainly think there will be some kind of a ‘tail’–if nothing else, continuing (and probably accelerating) calving from GIS will continue to dump large chunks of ice into the Arctic, though these may get transported rather quickly through the Fram strait.

    But wider expanses of open waters in the summer mean vast areas where winds can whip up large waves and (as we have seen this year) where huge cyclonic storms can be generated. These will likely act to mix the previously strongly stratified waters of the Arctic, so that the warmer saltier layer below will get stirred into the fresher surface layer, the salt and warmth hindering ice formation. And of course there are other dynamics to account for–too many to go into here.

    It is devilishly difficult to figure out how exactly these dynamics will develop and which will predominate and which will feed off which. That is, on the one hand, why people try to develop models, and on the other hand, why models often fail (and why I can’t cast much blame on those who have failed to adequately model such a complex system).

    Just one more point here–you rightly mention the dominance of new ice as a portion of the total ice. But that new, thin, salty ice will also melt all that much more easily, so I would think that, when it comes to measuring minimums, we could continue to see precipitous drops for the next few years, even as extent and area continue to recover fairly well for the maximums for a while. (And I still can’t see how a newly open and increasingly warm summer Arctic Ocean won’t produce more water vapor, vapor whose GHG properties will further accelerate Arctic warming–or is that completely offset by increased cloud formation??)

    Anyway, thanks for your response to what seems to be the pressing issue to be discussed here.

    Comment by wili — 3 Oct 2012 @ 2:47 PM

  73. Curry quote:

    “ It is not at all clear that GCMs will be able to generate counterintuitive, unexpected surprises. The current GCM’s have become ‘too stiff’,”

    That’s just bizarre. I suppose we shouldn’t trust the complex models built by, say, Boeing to guide 787 development because they’re incapable of generating counterintuitive, unexpected surprises like, oh, cutting back thrust suddenly causing the aircraft to launch itself into near earth orbit. Or whatever.

    Personally, I think it’s great that physical models are bounded by physics …

    Comment by dhogaza — 3 Oct 2012 @ 3:05 PM

  74. Judith makes this statement:

    The current focus on the precautionary principle and optimal decision making is driving climate model development & applications in directions for which they are not fit.

    Gavin, you can certainly answer true or false as to the accuracy of this claim regarding GISS Model E, at least.

    What role does the focus on the precautionary principle have in the driving of GISS Model E development? And “optimal decision making”?

    [Response: That’s a softball question if there ever was one. ;-) Easy, I can safely say that the precautionary principle has not played any role in GISS ModelE development. None. Nada. Zilch. However, I don’t know what is wrong with making decisions optimally. The work we’ve done on that – for instance as seen in the Shindell et al, 2012 paper has used developments in the model that we’re done for pure science interest. – gavin]

    Comment by dhogaza — 3 Oct 2012 @ 3:09 PM

  75. What up with raw data?

    There is an interesting letter (in oz) going around regarding open data and data access etc.

    Here it is:

    I’m just wondering where do you draw the line? I think for most science experiments the requirement to supply ‘all the raw data’ is quite frankly, ridiculous. The raw data process in itself should be done again, as it is not immune to experimental error. All that should be required is the methodology, so it can be reproduced.

    However, I’m kinda torn here because in many cases (especially with climate science) the ability to ‘reproduce’ something is not constrained by the basic scientific skill required to repeat the method, but rather by the finance or resources required (launching a satellite?)to get the raw record of data in the first place.

    I can understand some maybe a bit precious about their hard work and data collection, especially since ‘raw data’ is hard to define, but I think if it is tax payers dollars at work, and the cost to collect the raw data is over a million dollars, then it should be made available, especially in the specific case of ‘data sets’ (such as proxies) where the primary focus of the methodology is ‘data collection and processing’.

    What is RC position (if you have one)?

    [Response: We have discussed what we look for in replicability previously. With respect to this letter, I’m not really sure what specifically they are asking for – sounds nice though. – gavin]

    Comment by Isotopious — 3 Oct 2012 @ 4:42 PM

  76. Gavin:

    That’s a softball question if there ever was one. ;-)

    I know, asking it was just a tactic to draw attention to the … oddness … of her claim. :)

    Someone should keep a database of Classic Curryisms …

    Comment by dhogaza — 3 Oct 2012 @ 4:56 PM

  77. Re carbon tariffs #70 on Chinese goods I don’t think this is too harsh on a developing country. A carbon tariff shares the pain because the customer in the West pays more and China sells less. When China adopts a comparable CO2 penalty scheme then the tariff can be dropped. Their protests over the EU airline tax suggests they aren’t yet serious about CO2 cuts. We’re talking about a third of world emissions, much of it on behalf of the West.

    Comment by Johnno — 3 Oct 2012 @ 5:08 PM

  78. Judith makes this statement:

    The current focus on the precautionary principle and optimal decision making is driving climate model development & applications in directions for which they are not fit.

    Ms Curry is a master at puffy statements that lack specificity, and she almost never talks science. What is the direction and the applications that don’t fit? Fit What?

    Comment by bibasir — 3 Oct 2012 @ 5:47 PM

  79. Re: model uncertainty

    Is it still the case that the current crop of models have difficulty heating the poles in paleo hindcasts as much as paleo temperature proxies suggest actually happened in previous thermal excursions ?


    Comment by sidd — 3 Oct 2012 @ 5:57 PM

  80. Ms Curry is a master at puffy statements that lack specificity, and she almost never talks science.

    She’s also a master at making suggestions as to what other people should do (the focus of her talk appears to be recommendations for future development of GCMs to make them “more useful”), even though she quite clearly doesn’t understand what those other people are actually doing today …

    Comment by dhogaza — 3 Oct 2012 @ 6:56 PM

  81. Methane Emissions Can Be Traced Back to Roman Times
    which I found rather amazing.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 3 Oct 2012 @ 8:36 PM

  82. Dr Curry says nothing and gets all the attention. If she would have brought up an ice model animation to study she would have been awesome. Some models with Global temperature were right since the 80’s, so they are clever, brilliant and needed. Too bad I cant say the same about sea ice models, simply because I can’t watch them animate. We do have some graphs, they fail the ultimate test of the future. Its not fun to contemplate failure every time these graphs are brought up. It hurts the reputation of all computer models when one flunks so bad. Instead of saying “oh Judith lectured this again” , what about displaying a sea ice model animation? Lots of guys would make insightful comments and it would place the focus on repairing this sight for sore eyes. By the way, fake skeptics have used this failure very usefully for their purposes.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 3 Oct 2012 @ 9:19 PM

  83. Johnno (#77),

    I don’t want to undermine what President Obama has achieved in getting China to agree to cuts. For the present, carbon tariffs to cover adaptation costs such as higher crop insurance premiums would be pretty mild since the big adaptation costs are not upon us yet (and attribution is really only solid for summer heatwaves so far). But, it would be good to get the pump primed now since, absent mitigation, those costs will mount.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 3 Oct 2012 @ 9:53 PM

  84. Johnno @ 77,

    What are China’s PER CAPITA CO2 emissions vis-a-vis various Western countries? I suspect a lot less, even given their rapid (and dirty) industrial development over the last few decades.

    Comment by ozajh — 3 Oct 2012 @ 10:35 PM

  85. There is an article in the L. A. Times,0,2962982.story about a paper in October 4, 2012 Nature by Sapart et al, “Natural and anthropogenic variations in methane sources during the past two millennia” doi:10.1038/nature11461 (sorry, have not read the paper). Denier commenters are all over this article.

    Some commentary would be appreciated.
    1. Starting with basic combustion chemistry. Am I correct in thinking that the “pyrogenic” methane is caused by incomplete combustion?

    [Response: yes. Methane is emitted by biomass burning – though it’s conceivable that increased irrigation also played a role. – gavin]

    2. How significant is this paper?

    [Response: not hugely. It might improve the earlier forcings a little, but it’s really a small impact on climate – probably not detectable, and certainly will not lead to any significant change in climate modelling. – gavin]

    Comment by AIC — 4 Oct 2012 @ 1:41 AM

  86. To Gavin.

    In the example you used: “Both of these papers were based on analyses of publicly available data”.

    I think the point of the “letter” is that there is a proportion of raw data which has been collected by scientists who are funded by the public… and this data is not publicly available (i.e. they are keeping it to themselves, it’s a competitive world out there!).

    Shouldn’t all publicly funded data eventually (2 years after the results are published?) be made public?

    After all it is your conclusion:

    “..the vast majority of papers that turn out to be wrong, or non-robust are because of incorrect basic assumptions, overestimates of the power of a test, some wishful thinking, or a failure to take account of other important processes..”.

    Wouldn’t that mean that the publication of raw data is actually more important than the papers (and data sets) they are based on?

    You could still have a two year embargo on the raw data, with the option of time extension, because you never know, the authors could make an embarrassing mistake. Then after some time, everyone gets it.

    What are your thoughts on this?, I think there needs to be a monetary line, say one million dollars, any raw data that has chewed up over one million dollars must be made public. I don’t think cost should be an issue (although it could make it more expensive).

    [Response: The problem is that the letter doesn’t discuss anything specific where the different issues could be examined. I work for NASA and all our satellite data is public domain and there is no problem either with the people who produced it publishing papers or other people using it anyway they want. This is similar for climate model output for IPCC etc. But I have no idea whether this is the kind of thing the letter writers want from ARC, or whether they want something much further along the lines of open notebooks as the science is being done, or just more complete SI or something else. All of the devils are in the details – and it varies enormously among fields. – gavin]

    Comment by Isotopious — 4 Oct 2012 @ 2:23 AM

  87. Re: dhogaza @ 76

    See Someone started it, but looks like they gave up (one can only guess why… :)

    Comment by joe — 4 Oct 2012 @ 3:01 AM

  88. Apologies if these have already been discussed and I missed it:

    “In Wake of Sea Ice Loss, Focus on New Models, Melt Ponds”

    Comment by wili — 4 Oct 2012 @ 4:49 AM

  89. Could an infrared laser be used to actually observe IR photon behaviour in different GHGs and atmospheric mixes, using femto-photography? Not that I’m sure it would be of any use. Awesome TED Talk, though.
    Ramesh Raskar: Imaging at a trillion frames per second

    Comment by J Bowers — 4 Oct 2012 @ 7:00 AM

  90. Concerning Curry & GCMs.

    Intrigued by the thought of the paradox of predictable black swans and the emergence of previously invisible dragon kings, and how these may come to garnish a Royal Society presentation, I thought to look a little further at the work of Professor Curry.

    Curry begins her 2010 thesis What can we learn from climate models? by saying “Short answer: I’m not sure.” This is perhaps a strange answer given she explains that her concern for the subject stretches back decades and she styles herself “a serious (climate model) monster detective.

    Curry’s 2010 thesis begins with a sweeping account of difficulties GCMs have to overcome regarding the ‘pandemonium’ that is global weather, but then conflates this serious issue with the purpose of a GCM,‘ inadequacy’ and with model structure.

    In conclusion, the thesis advocates that GCMs be used and developed uncompromisingly for “Hypothesis testing, numerical experiments, to understand how the climate system works, including its sensitivity to altered forcing,” such a policy to continue until climate model building becomes better understood. And a final poke at GCMs is suggestive that philisophically science is kidding itself on the usefulness of GCMs.

    So Curry’s 2010 thesis is strong stuff but lacking substance, is little more than a rant. The discussion of “truthiness” in her 2012 DOE BERAC talk flows from this stance, having been apparently & bizarrely coupled with rising blogoshere discomforts (at ClimateEtc. & ClimateAudit). Her shift from ‘GCM work should be focused’ of 2010 to the 2012 ‘IPCC GCM work dominates climatology. This (& some other juicy stuff) is bad.’ – this shift is now a lot more understandable.

    What is absent from this writing is evidence of that “serious (climate model) monster detective” who could possibly be still embroiled in the death of the skydragon (hat tip – joe@86).

    Comment by MARodger — 4 Oct 2012 @ 7:21 AM

  91. To ozajh @84, according to this, China’s per capita CO2 emissions have reached EU levels:

    So they have caught up with some ‘Western’ levels, though they still aren’t up to US per capita levels.

    Comment by wili — 4 Oct 2012 @ 8:27 AM

  92. For those of a data availability persuasion we have just released a beta of a new global land surface databank consisting of over 39,000 station records at monthly resolution. More details are available at and at and links therefrom. Constructive criticism and suggestions are welcome via the Initiative blog.

    Comment by Peter Thorne — 4 Oct 2012 @ 10:28 AM

  93. hat tip to Metafilter for this:

    … This year’s topic was “our global oceans,” and featured David Gallo David Gallo (Director of special projects, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), Christopher Sabine (Nobel peace prize in 2007, shared with other members of IPCC), Barbara Block, William Fitzgerald, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Kathleen Dean Moore, Carl Safina, and Maya Tolstoy. The 48th Nobel Conference talks are all on youtube.
    On Metafilter the header is: Science-for-the-masses

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Oct 2012 @ 1:09 PM

  94. I wish that I were struggling to stay focused on climate science today rather than commenting on the vigorous discussion in last night’s US presidential debate about the ongoing, huge and escalating economic impacts of climate change …

    Of course, there’s no need to struggle, since there was not one word on the subject spoken by Lehrer, Obama or Romney.

    Not. One. Single. Word.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 4 Oct 2012 @ 1:30 PM

  95. re: 81 85 anthropogenic methane
    1) See Special issue of The Holocene on Early Anthropogenic Hypothesis. Read abstracts of Fuller, et al, Kaplan, et al, Nevle, et al, and Ruddiman, et al.

    2) See also Multidecadal variability of atmospheric methane, 1000–1800 C.E. by Mitchell, et al
    ‘We present a new high-precision, high-resolution record of atmospheric methane from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide ice core covering 1000–1800 C.E., a time period known as the late preindustrial Holocene (LPIH). The results are consistent with previous measurements from the Law Dome ice core, the only other high-resolution record of methane for this time period, and confirm most of the observed variability. Multidecadal variability in methane concentrations throughout the LPIH is weakly correlated or uncorrelated with reconstructions of temperature and precipitation from a variety of geographic regions. Correlations with temperature are dominated by changes in Northern Hemisphere high latitude temperatures between 1400 and 1600 C.E. during the onset of the Little Ice Age. Times of war and plague when large population losses could have reduced anthropogenic emissions are coincident with short periods of decreasing global methane concentrations.’

    3) Put the new Sapart et al paper in Nature together with the above.

    4) I’d claim this combination increasingly supports Bill Ruddiman’s (related) hypotheses:

    a) Early anthropogenic effects from land-use and animal husbandry, starting thousands of years ago: long term, relatively smooth additions of anthropogenic CH2/CH4. Land-use assumptions matter and the evidence seems to be accumulating that earlier agriculture used more land/capita, and if so, the numbers work OK.

    b) CO2(CH4) sharp jiggles in last millennium especially, caused by plagues (and maybe wars with CH4), after population was large enough for such to have effects.
    The sharp drop of CH4 shown in Mitchell et al and Sapart et al (fig.3) into 1600AD (before Maunder Minimum), and fairly well aligned with CO2 drop comprise the most obvious example. I think Nevle, et al make a good case that this was mostly an effect of a 50M person die-off in the Americas and consequent reforestration.

    5) I think all this matters because it helps calibrate natural variability versus anthropogenic, i.e., it bears on the general attribution problem. The 1600AD event seems fast enough to induce short-term feedbacks without much influence from longer ones. As a flow rather than a stock, CH4 offers some higher-frequency info.

    All this has a heavily-multidisciplinary aspect, wit studies of different kinds of charcoal, rice-paddy archaeology, climate reconstructions, etc. Relevant references are scattered all over the place.

    Comment by John Mashey — 4 Oct 2012 @ 2:41 PM

  96. I’d appreciate the RC’s resident sea level rise consultant(s) thoughts on ‘Millennial total sea-level commitments projected with the Earth system model of intermediate complexity ‘


    The coverage I’ve seen to date seems to miss that the long term projections are based on ‘stabilising’ the atmosphere post-2100, and as I read it, stabilisation means more-or-less ceasing emissions by then.

    Comment by Phil Clarke — 4 Oct 2012 @ 2:58 PM

  97. 17

    Caerbannog , Eli will be in touch about exporting this software package to Byte columnist and ur-blogger Jerry Pournelle of Chaos Manor, , in hope of enlarging some actual skepticism about Watt’s claims among his readers

    Comment by Russell — 4 Oct 2012 @ 3:40 PM

  98. Re: 70 & 77 The last thing I heard was that China had proposed carbon tariff trials commencing in 2014. Albeit I’ve heard nothing since Australia’s tariff debate went quiet (due to the lack of falling skys when it was introduced?)

    Comment by Darv — 4 Oct 2012 @ 7:21 PM

  99. John, this is fascinating seeing the very widely scattered work make sense seen together. Do you know if there are any other ice caps potentially usable for longterm cores? Are e.g. Lonnie Thompson’s saved up cores capturing the methane signal ( I know the core samples were hauled out of remote sites in various ways, from taking out separate vials of meltwater on donkeys, I think, to flying out permanently frozen cylinders in portable freezers)

    Wondering if there are potential targets that need to be cored with newer techniques to capture any info before it goes away.

    (Reminds me of what they say about N. California — that the ecologists and taxonomists mostly have worked just ahead of the bulldozers for decades now, so they did the coastline, then the Sierra, but skipped the middle of California where there’s now urgency about seeing what’s there before it’s gone)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Oct 2012 @ 7:39 PM

  100. > > [Response: I’ve extended it to the last 10 responses…

    “Please sir, may I have a little [More]?”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Oct 2012 @ 7:41 PM

  101. cont. from my 44,45 above
    under “Electric Vehicles (EVs)”:
    Miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent converts kilowatt-hours of electricity into gallons of gasoline (based on 33.7 kilowatt-hours per gallon)
    The sample sticker shows 99 mpge (103 city, 95 hwy), equates this to 34 kWh/100 mi (approx. 1 gal gasoline primary energy / 100 mi)
    Annual fuel cost given is $600, which is based on 15,000 miles (see their part 6).
    150*34 = 3400 + 1700 = 5100, 5100 kWh @ ~ 10 cents/kWh = ~ $510. So from this, it seems like the 34 kWh of delivered electricity is being equated to approx. the same *primary* energy in a gallon of gasoline (and that electricity price is ~ 12 cents/kWh).
    Their part 5 – first paragraph – in context, implies as much.

    From part 7:
    22 mpg = 1/22 gal/mi = 395-412 CO2 g/mi
    I think this was tailpipe value – actually it says so in the first paragraph of 7. Also, I had read somewhere in this set of websites or their relatives (don’t remember where now), that 22 mpg was average, and the “greenhouse gas calculator” implies the average car’s tailpipe emission is 400 g CO2/mi (see below/later).

    See also part 8:

    The Fuel Economy and Environment Label provides a Greenhouse Gas Rating, from 1 (worst) to 10 (best), based on your vehicle’s tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions only, and this rating does not reflect any GHG emissions associated with fuel production.

    You can estimate the total GHG emissions that would be associated with driving an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, including GHG emissions from the production of electricity used to power the vehicle, with our greenhouse gas calculator.

    … which I will get to later.

    If you want to compare total tailpipe plus fuel production GHG emissions for an electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle to those for a gasoline vehicle, you should multiply your gasoline vehicle tailpipe GHG emissions value on the Fuel Economy and Environment Label by 1.25 to reflect the fuel production GHG emissions for gasoline.

    The emissions calculater:
    *Total emissions rate includes tailpipe emissions and the emissions associated with the production and distribution of fuel. Emissions associated with electric operation are estimated using recent electricity generation data regardless of the model year of the vehicle selected.

    Using the emissions calculator: you have to enter a zip code but the results given include both the regional electricity emissions as well as the US average, and the US average car. Thus, using three zip codes (53706 , 97212 , 10177), I got four emissions values for each EV or PHEV car.

    For Several EV and PHEV cars and the average US car; the first column is the percentage of use as an EV and the second is tailpipe emissions; the third column is total emissions (US average).

    Total emissions includes upstream emissions for gasoline, so I based the tailpipe emission for the US average on the total emission and the 1.25 ratio given here.

    Aside from combustion of fuels within power plants, I don’t think other upstream emissions are included for electricity, although those should be small (I think). I don’t think emissions associated with plant and car construction/manufacturing etc. are included.

    It seems like the total emissions were rounded to the nearest 10, and the last three columns are adjusted values; they are attempts to find something *possibly* more accurate, based on the following:

    Subtract 1.25 * tailpipe emissions to find electricity emissions (call these a, b, c, and d, where d is for the US average).
    Sum the results over all cars for each location, and for the US average.
    Determine the ratio of emissions to the US average for each location, using the sums – call these A, B, and C, respectively.

    The rounding would introduce errors of a – A*d, b – B*d, etc, for each car.

    The adjusted values for d (call them x) were found by setting the sum of those errors to zero; thus, for each car, x = (a+b+c+d)/(A+B+C+1) (with 3 significant figures available). This is the first column of adjusted values.

    The second column was found by determining A, B, and C from only the purely EV cars.

    The third column was found the same way, plus the additional step of then adjusting x just enough to eliminate any rounding errors greater than or equal to 5 in magnitude (as that would imply that the emissions had not been rounded to the nearest 10 (setting aside the ‘equal to 5’ case). There was one car, the Toyota Prius PHEV, for which one such error could not be eliminated without leaving another, so that x value was set for those errors to be about equal, then the two ratios (A and B) were adjusted to bring both just under 5 in magnitude, and then everything was repeated. Two cars ended up having x values different from (a+b+c+d)/(A+B+C+1): the Nissan Leaf and the Toyota Prius.

    (3 sig figs each, A, B, C values for the three columns, respectively:
    A = 1.3194 , B = 0.65066 , C = 0.55084 (all cars)
    A = 1.3161 , B = 0.65161 , C = 0.55484 (EVs only)
    A = 1.3228 , B = 0.64730 , C = 0.55084 (all cars, all errors less than +/-5)

    At this point I should mention that I realize this still leaves some wiggle room for average emissions and the ratios among regions – I could try to find the bounds of self-consistent sets of values but … it doesn’t seem worth the trouble at this point. I will just use the given values and the third adjusted values for further calculations.


    Car ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| % EV ‘ ‘ ‘| tailpipe ‘| total ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | adj.1 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | adj.2 EV only ‘| adj.3 all abs(error) below 5
    Mitsubishi i-MiEV ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘|_ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ ‘ 0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 200 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 198.8 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 198.7 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 198.8
    Toyota Prius PHEV ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ 28.8 ‘| ‘ 133 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 210 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 210.3 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 210.3 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 210.7
    Ford Focus BEV FWD ‘ ‘|_ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ ‘ 0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 210 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 213.0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 212.9 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 213.0
    Nissan Leaf ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘|_ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ ‘ 0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 230 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 227.2 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 227.1 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 226.9
    Tesla Model S ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘|_ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ ‘ 0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 250 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 249.9 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 249.8 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 249.9
    Chevy Volt PHEV ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 64 ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ 87 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 260 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 260.7 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 260.6 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 260.7
    CODA Automotive CODA|_ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ ‘ 0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 300 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 303.9 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 303.8 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 303.9
    ADTCEW ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ |_ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ ‘ 0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 360 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 357.9 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 357.7 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 357.9
    Fisker Karma PHEV ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ 62 ‘ ‘ | ‘ 169 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 470 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 468.3 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 468.2 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 468.3
    US average ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ ‘ 0 ‘ ‘ | ‘ 400 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 500 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ ‘

    ADTCEW = Azure Dynamics Transit Connect Electric Wagon

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 4 Oct 2012 @ 7:45 PM

  102. Car ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| % EV ‘ ‘ ‘| tailpipe ‘| total ‘ ‘| Sum ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| Sum EV ‘| Sum error below 5
    Mitsubishi i-MiEV ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘|_ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ ‘ 0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 200 ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 198.8 ‘| ‘ 198.7 ‘| ‘ 198.8
    Toyota Prius PHEV ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ 28.8 ‘| ‘ 133 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 210 ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 210.3 ‘| ‘ 210.3 ‘| ‘ 210.7
    Ford Focus BEV FWD ‘ ‘|_ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ ‘ 0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 210 ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 213.0 ‘| ‘ 212.9 ‘| ‘ 213.0
    Nissan Leaf ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘|_ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ ‘ 0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 230 ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 227.2 ‘| ‘ 227.1 ‘| ‘ 226.9
    Tesla Model S ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘|_ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ ‘ 0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 250 ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 249.9 ‘| ‘ 249.8 ‘| ‘ 249.9
    Chevy Volt PHEV ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 64 ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ 87 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 260 ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 260.7 ‘| ‘ 260.6 ‘| ‘ 260.7
    CODA Automotive CODA|_ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ ‘ 0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 300 ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 303.9 ‘| ‘ 303.8 ‘| ‘ 303.9
    ADTCEW ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ |_ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ ‘ 0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 360 ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 357.9 ‘| ‘ 357.7 ‘| ‘ 357.9
    Fisker Karma PHEV ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ 62 ‘ ‘ | ‘ 169 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 470 ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 468.3 ‘| ‘ 468.2 ‘| ‘ 468.3
    US average ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ ‘ 0 ‘ ‘ | ‘ 400 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 500 ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ ‘

    clearer version of table.
    PS 0 % EV is an assumption/approximation for US average

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 4 Oct 2012 @ 8:07 PM

  103. … I remember using model year 2012.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 4 Oct 2012 @ 8:08 PM

  104. Using the given (rounded) emissions, here’s mpg based on CO2 emissions. The second column of values compares the electricity generation + tailpipe emissions to the tailpipe emissions of the US average car (the first column is based on total emissions including the 1.25 factor for gasoline).

    Car ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| mpg total CO2 ‘ ‘ ‘| mpg tailpipe CO2 ‘|
    Mitsubishi i-MiEV ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 55.0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 44.0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘|
    Toyota Prius PHEV ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ 52.4 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 49.8 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘|
    Ford Focus BEV FWD ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 52.4 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 41.9 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘|
    Nissan Leaf ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 47.8 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 38.3 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘|
    Tesla Model S ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 44.0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 35.2 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘|
    Chevy Volt PHEV ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 42.3 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 36.9 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘|
    CODA Automotive CODA| ‘ ‘ 36.7 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 29.3 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘|
    ADTCEW ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ 30.6 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 24.4 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘|
    Fisker Karma PHEV ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ 23.4 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 20.6 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘|
    US average ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 22.0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ 22.0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘|

    energy comparisons tomorrow… and that’s it.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 4 Oct 2012 @ 11:51 PM

  105. I may yet want to double check my spreadsheet formulas, but assuming I didn’t make any mistakes, here’s g CO2/mi for EV operation
    based on (total – 1.25 * tailpipe)/(fraction of operation that is EV)

    and from that and the emissions intensities for the 2010 electric power sector (to first find kWh/mi) and from 33.7 kWh/gal, mpg was found for delivered ‘gallon’, net generated ‘gallon’, and primary ‘gallon’.

    last column is mpg for purely non-P HEV operation
    = 22 mpg * 400 g/mi /(tailpipe emission / fraction of operation non-PHEV)

    Car ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| g CO2/mi EV ‘ ‘ ‘| mpg del ‘| mpg netgen ‘ ‘| mpg primary ‘| mpg non-EV
    Mitsubishi i-MiEV ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 200.0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 104.0 ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 96.3 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 33.0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ |NA
    Toyota Prius PHEV ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ 151.9 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 137.0 ‘ ‘| ‘ 126.8 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 43.4 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 47.1
    Ford Focus BEV FWD ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 210.0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ 99.1 ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 91.7 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 31.4 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ |NA
    Nissan Leaf ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 230.0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ 90.5 ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 83.8 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 28.7 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ |NA
    Tesla Model S ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 250.0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ 83.2 ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 77.1 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 26.4 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ |NA
    Chevy Volt PHEV ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 236.3 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ 88.0 ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 81.5 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 27.9 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 36.4
    CODA Automotive CODA| ‘ ‘ 300.0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ 69.4 ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 64.2 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 22.0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ |NA
    ADTCEW ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ 360.0 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ 57.8 ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 53.5 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 18.3 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ |NA
    Fisker Karma PHEV ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ 417.3 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ ‘ 49.9 ‘ ‘| ‘ ‘ 46.2 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 15.8 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ | ‘ 19.8

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 5 Oct 2012 @ 12:04 AM

  106. … oh, emissions in those tables were all in g CO2/mi.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 5 Oct 2012 @ 12:07 AM

  107. 70 Chris D,

    Yes, I don’t think a country’s emissions are in the least bit important. I was simply responding to your blaming “China” for riding scooters instead of bicycles and for producing goods the West actually uses. Hey, as long as something bad is happening and we are the primary beneficiaries, blame the essentially unpaid and powerless slaves for our good fortune!

    Any rules you put into place for individual countries’ emissions will be corrupted. Emissions will flow to the least costly location. You say “China has hit its carbon limit”, and you enforce it however you choose. China will export more bauxite and import more aluminum, resulting in little or no reduction in world CO2 emissions.

    India has made their stance clear. They promise to never emit more CO2 per capita than the USA. I challenge you, Chris D, to find any moral, logical, or other fault with India’s stance.

    It’s a person’s or humanity’s emissions that matter. National boundaries are irrelevant. My belief is that a carbon tax, collected by the UN, should be assessed at the well or the mine. This way the tax will propagate to and be paid by the ultimate consumer. The proceeds should be used by the UN for global good, with the excess refunded per-capita to the entire world. Carbon emissions are simply not a national issue, as it is clear that any single nation will benefit by not reducing emissions at all, assuming it can find a way to provide its own fossil fuels. Coal and frackable gas are plentiful, and clathrates will ever so sweeten the pot. Even Japan is sniffing at ways towards energy independence through fossil fuels.

    If you haven’t noticed, I just advocated a bit of a One World Government. Some stuff, like climate change and military issues, are Global Problems, not some nation’s concern. (GASP! Must be Star Trek’s fault.)

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 5 Oct 2012 @ 12:37 AM

  108. John Mashey@95,

    Put them together like this:

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 5 Oct 2012 @ 1:45 AM

  109. Johnno at 77:

    Chinese actions should be seen in context with the party in power. Some years ago, I saw a conscise summary of their operating principles, which struck me as quite credible.

    1. Party must remain in power.
    2. Party decisions must benefit the Chinese people
    3. Party decisions must be based on results of science
    4. Party members must be well educated model citizens

    “Benefits” and “results of science” are not in conflict. Their current 5-year plan is full of action to develop knowledge and products that are based on the view that there will be a huge global market demand for new energy technology, rail transport, ice breaking ships, nuclear power, etc.

    Carbon efficiency is their key term. It produces an unavoidable transformation that will generate major winners and the Chinese are not about to lose the opportunity.

    Comment by Pekka Kostamo — 5 Oct 2012 @ 2:59 AM

  110. ozajh #84 you’re saying that a country with 1.35 bn people is entitled to the same per capita emissions as the West. I suggest only 300-400m Chinese will stay middle class. Ditto India.
    Darv #97 the Australian carbon tax is riddled with freebies like 94.5% exemption for steel and aluminum mills. The govt already gave brown coal generators a billion dollar downpayment to quit but no large operators intend to do so. They keep the $1bn.

    Comment by Johnno — 5 Oct 2012 @ 3:57 AM

  111. The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (the AMO) is one of the best known unforced variations. Here I compare 3 reconstructions:

    Comment by vukcevic — 5 Oct 2012 @ 4:03 AM

  112. SecularAnimist #94,

    “Of course, there’s no need to struggle, since there was not one word on the subject spoken by Lehrer, Obama or Romney.

    Not. One. Single. Word.”

    Right. Speakers tend to address topics their audience wants to hear. Most of the electorate could care less about climate change. Do you think they have any interest in Obama or Romney telling them to take the harsh steps required to even begin to address the problem: e.g., trade in your large gas-guzzling SUV for a Citroen Deux Cheval, replace your 6,000 ft^2 McMansion with a 1000 ft^2 condo, pare back your six annual Asian vacation flights to zero, etc. If either of these politicians provided the recommendations needed to address the looming climate catastrophe, they would be looking for new work tomorrow.

    Comment by Superman1 — 5 Oct 2012 @ 5:09 AM

  113. Interesting report on electric vehicles here
    Did not expect the environmental impact of prouction to be so bad
    “The global warming potential from electric vehicle production is about twice that of conventional vehicles.”
    In addition, producing batteries and electric motors requires a lot of toxic minerals such as nickel, copper and aluminium.
    Hence, the acidification impact is much greater than that of conventional car production.”

    That said over a life time of the car it is still between 10% to 30% more efficent than petrol cars. Although the report does say
    “A more significant reduction in global warming could potentially be achieved by increasing fuel efficiency or shifting from petrol to diesel,”

    Comment by One Step Beyond — 5 Oct 2012 @ 5:14 AM

  114. Secular,
    There was one comment: The $90 billion the Fed spent on “green energy.” Although it was not entirely accurate, as it included funds for energy efficiencies and grid modernizzation, unrelated to anything “green.”

    Comment by Dan H. — 5 Oct 2012 @ 5:54 AM

  115. #113–“Although it was not entirely accurate, as it included funds for energy efficiencies and grid modernizzation, unrelated to anything “green.””

    Strange, I would see energy efficiency and grid modernization as being quite “green.” Still, the larger point stands, as the $90 bn included a $3 bn for ‘clean coal.’

    And it’s a shame that the President essentially said nothing whatever to defend these expenditures, as, according to a WaPo blog post, there’s quite a lot to say in that regard.

    A (dare I say) ‘money quote’ on results:

    The stimulus appears to have boosted U.S. wind and solar generation. Here’s Mike Grunwald with a top-line summary: “Before President Obama took office, the U.S. had 25 gigawatts of wind power, and the government’s ‘base case’ energy forecast expected 40 GW by 2030. Well, it’s not quite 2030 yet, but we’ve already got 50 GW of wind. We’ve also got about 5 GW of solar, which isn’t much but is over six times as much as we had before Obama.”

    On the cost side, Romney has apparently now clarified that his ‘half of the businesses are out of business’ crack really applied only to a $16 bn subset of the total–and the WaPo adds that within that subset, the ‘half’ actually is 3 out of 33 businesses. (One of the three is our old friend Beacon Power, which was bought in bankruptcy by private investors, continues to operate, and has repaid 70% of its Federal loan as part of the bankruptcy agreement.) The WaPo makes it a 2.6% default rate.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 5 Oct 2012 @ 7:11 AM

  116. 94 SecularA said, ” the ongoing, huge and escalating economic impacts of climate change …”

    Threats are seen as immediate or future, and even more important intentional or happenstance. Thus, 3,000 deaths will bring a tremendous response because it was intentional and immediate, even after the problem was solved by reinforcing cockpit doors and keeping them locked. On the other hand, climate change is an unintended side effect which lies mostly in the future, and whose effects can be shrugged off as natural.

    And, of course, if something threatens one’s children, such as a sluggish economy, then nuttin else matters.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 5 Oct 2012 @ 7:17 AM

  117. 109 Johnno said, “ozajh #84 you’re saying that a country with 1.35 bn people is entitled to the same per capita emissions as the West. ”

    SecularA has proposed, and backed up with reasonable documentation, that the West could go near zero carbon in a decade. Given that the West is wealthy enough to actually do it, then there is no reason the West couldn’t drop its emissions to the level of the third world within 20 years. You’d have to lay down some serious logic to convince me that such an action is not what Jesus would do.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 5 Oct 2012 @ 7:27 AM

  118. “The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (the AMO) is one of the best known unforced variations.”

    Love the phrase. In his novel “Norwood” Charles Portis described a character as “the world’s smallest perfect fat man.”

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 5 Oct 2012 @ 7:51 AM

  119. Kevin,
    I would contend that most people (myself included) use the term “green” to refer to renewable energy sources, i.e. non-petroleum related products. The energy efficiency portion was targeted for overall reduced energy consumption (insulation, roofing, and other energy losses). There is no emphasis in moving away from current energy production. I would equate this calling a Smart car, “green energy,” because of its high mpg rating. I disagree with this placement, as it still uses 100% gasoline.

    Also include in the $90 billion, was $3 billion for clean coal. Is this considered “green” energy.

    Comment by Dan H. — 5 Oct 2012 @ 8:07 AM

  120. Jim,
    Agreed. First and foremost on everyone’s agenda is the feeding, clothing, and sheltering of ones own family. After that, there is a laundry list of wants and needs; education, transportation, on down to various luxuries. Once the major necessities are satisfied, people will then look to support other humanitarian issues. Granted, there will always be those who put these issues first (i.e. Mother Teresa), but they are a small minority. Remedy the major concerns first, then there will be larger support to tackle other issues.

    Comment by Dan H. — 5 Oct 2012 @ 8:15 AM

  121. Jim (#107),

    You are proposing a carbon tax for mitigation. Maybe that would work. I don’t think there is time for that and what we need is further progress on the Kyoto model since it is already working.

    But you really don’t seem to understand that I am not talking about mitigation at all. I am talking about adaptation and polluter pays. As I have demonstrated, it is the most recent emissions which have pushed us into the dangerous climate change regime. As I have pointed out, it is countries which set emissions policy, so they are the responsible parties. Some countries have policies that are cutting emissions. The largest polluter though has a policy of increasing emissions. That makes that country the culpable party for the current round of crop losses caused by climate change. And, there is an existing mechanism through GATT for us to unilaterally exact reparations for the damage that has been done to us by that polluter. We should be made whole and collect those reparations.

    Look, if there is a death by hit-and-run should it really make a difference if the victim is rich or poor? If the perpetrator is rich or poor? We are talking about damages and penalties, not social status. All of that comes into discussions about mitigation, but it really has no place when it comes to adaptation. Polluter pays. That’s basic.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 5 Oct 2012 @ 9:35 AM

  122. Don’t know if it’s been commented upon here, but the AMSU global mean temperature just jumped above the spaghetti of the last 10 years. October 4, 2012 was warmer than any other October 4 going back to 2002.

    Comment by Dan — 5 Oct 2012 @ 10:22 AM

  123. > First and foremost on everyone’s agenda

    That’s true of tribal societies and those where first cousins routinely marry. As I recall it came as rather a surprise to the US military advisors who tried to treat the Afghan army like the US army, because people’s first loyalty was to their direct relations, then to their extended families, and there was no tradition of sacrificing for the country.

    The US, and some other democracies, had for a while a tradition where even the rich families would put their children into the military — and into harm’s way — to protect the society. My dad, explaining why he had dropped his PhD program the day after Pearl Harbor to enlist, called it a ‘social contract’ that was at the time widely understood by those who’d pulled the country through the Depression years.

    Not true any longer, as Dan points out.
    Now, it’s family first and foremost.

    Oligarchy — and ecological collapse — is the end point of that approach.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Oct 2012 @ 10:43 AM

  124. Dan H. is quite correct, for most of the world — protecting the planet, or even the nation, will not be understood as important in tribal cultures.

    Robin Fox at Rutgers is widely quoted on this.

    The pithiest pertinent quote is J.B.S. Haldane’s answer when asked if he’d give up his life for a brother: “No, but I would to save two brothers or eight cousins.”

    That ratio changes with cousin marriage.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Oct 2012 @ 10:59 AM

  125. Apologies if this has been linked already.

    “Time to think in 3D about Arctic Sea Ice”

    “Thirty years ago, “old ice” (layers in the pack some 5-10 years old) made up some 50% of the floating pack at the end of the summer melt. Today, there is almost none of this remaining, with the ice at the end of summer consisting of the thin remnants of the winter freeze.”

    The old, thick Ice Cap is gone.

    We are now on a starkly different planet from the one we had just a few years ago, and from the one the earth had for millennia, at least.

    I would love to come to a site like this to hear about well informed best guesses or studies as to likely consequences of this aspect of our radically altered planet, but mostly this site seems to be following the general absence of discussion of these most important issues.

    Is it just all too depressing to contemplate?

    Comment by wili — 5 Oct 2012 @ 11:23 AM

  126. First and foremost on everyone’s agenda is the feeding, clothing, and sheltering of ones own family.

    I posit you don’t speak for me, Dan. If you would start speaking for yourself and stop proclaiming what everyone thinks or should do then I might take your ramblings here a little more seriously.

    Now, what I think. Geoengineering. Since a basic North American continental experiment was already successfully executed on the few post 911 clear sky days, I posit that simple solar L1 irradiance modification experiments could be designed to test the hypothesis without any serious side effects (certainly without moving an asteroid) to successfully obtain the desired data to enable more permanent temporary solutions, and in order to give us more time to develop the necessary carbon dioxide removal and sequestration schemes – aka carbon containing products).

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 5 Oct 2012 @ 11:42 AM

  127. Superman1 wrote: “Most of the electorate could care less about climate change”

    That’s a blatant falsehood, as public opinion polls have repeatedly shown that strong majorities of voters consider climate change to be “a very important” or “the most important” issue facing the country.

    With all due respect, sir, you make a lot of these broad claims that have no support in fact.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 Oct 2012 @ 12:08 PM

  128. Jim Larsen wrote: “Threats are seen as immediate or future”

    Skyrocketing food prices — a direct result of anthropogenic global warming — are happening right now. They are already having a very real impact on the finances of consumers in the USA and other developed countries, and in the developing world, where they manifest as food shortages, they are already a major factor contributing to social unrest and even violent revolution.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 Oct 2012 @ 12:12 PM

  129. WUWT touted this paper, saying the Antarctic ice sheets are growing (not the sea ice). They give this link:
    but it’s only the abstract, and the NASA help desk tells me all they have is the abstract. Has anyone here read the paper?

    Comment by Martin Smith — 5 Oct 2012 @ 2:54 PM

  130. Secular,
    Here is a recent gallup poll concerning global warming.

    Comment by Dan H. — 5 Oct 2012 @ 4:02 PM

  131. 20120013495_2012013235.pdf is hidden in a vault at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Comment by dbostrom — 5 Oct 2012 @ 4:27 PM

  132. I read a study stating that for every unit of fossil fuel-derived energy, the CO2 liberated eventually traps 100,000 units of the sun’s energy in our climate system. Could that be accurate?

    Comment by Jack Roesler — 5 Oct 2012 @ 4:45 PM

  133. Martin Smith – As far as I can tell, this is not a paper…yet: presumably Zwally et al. are in the process of publishing the results mentioned. The linked document is an abstract for a workshop talk, as stated in the pdf header.

    The workshop has a webpage and Zwally’s talk is available there as a video, along with several others.

    Comment by Paul S — 5 Oct 2012 @ 4:51 PM

  134. Hank Roberts wrote: “protecting the planet, or even the nation, will not be understood as important in tribal cultures”

    While I myself am not without a certain degree of altruism, that extends even to other species, I certainly see global warming as a direct threat to my personal well-being, and find that highly motivating.

    It’s not “the planet” or “nations” or even “tribal cultures” that will starve when agriculture fails. It’s individual human beings that will starve. You. Me.

    When people begin to get that through their heads — when their empty stomachs start grumbling about it — it will be reflected in their views of this “environmental” issue.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 Oct 2012 @ 5:04 PM

  135. Secular Animist at #133 said, “It’s not “the planet” or “nations” or even “tribal cultures” that will starve when agriculture fails. It’s individual human beings that will starve. You. Me.

    When people begin to get that through their heads — when their empty stomachs start grumbling about it — it will be reflected in their views of this “environmental” issue.”

    And by then, of course, it will almost surely be too late, especially since the people with the power to do the most to stop global warming will be the last to feel the hunger pangs.

    Comment by wili — 5 Oct 2012 @ 5:27 PM

  136. Has this been posted here yet?

    Figure three shows that, with CO2 from the top 3.5 meters of permafrost figured in and climate sensitivity of 3 degrees, a complete cessation of additional CO2 emissions by humans in 2013 leaves us with a stable level of atmospheric CO2 at about today’s levels…for centuries, at least.

    As the second-to-last paragraph of the SkSci article points out, this study leaves out:

    –carbon below 3.5 meters, which there is plenty of, and which will eventually be released eventually

    –methane from permafrost…

    –methane hydrates…

    (One might add other certain or likely feedbacks, or the likelihood that the sensitivity is higher than 3 degrees C, but let’s set those issues aside for now.)

    So if we add all these in, presumably that would mean that stopping all human emissions of CO2 next year would result in increases in atmospheric CO2 levels for centuries (at least) to come.

    Am I missing something? Please say I am.

    Comment by wili — 5 Oct 2012 @ 7:23 PM

  137. Re 132 Jack Roesler –
    from my 44 above, I found 285.7 g CO2 / kWh of primary energy, for the fossil fuel input into the U.S. electric power sector. This value will vary with fuel type, but just going with it:

    Atmospheric mass and composition:
    approx. 510 trillion m^2 (surface area) * 0.1013 MPa (surface pressure) / 9.81 m/s^2 = 5.266 E18 kg = 5.266 million Gt
    Hartmann, “Global Physical Climatology”, p.8 gives 5.136 million Gt (the difference could be due to actual average surface pressure being lower than average sea level pressure; counteracting that, gravity decreases with height (not much over most of the mass of the atmosphere) and I think global average g may be less than 9.81 (maybe 9.80?),

    but anyway, using 5.136 Gt,

    an average molar mass of 28.964 g (Hartmann, p.8, dry air – but moist air should be (slightly) lower, whereas the total atmospheric molar mass from Hartmann is 28.97 g, so I’m using 28.964 (maybe 28.97 includes dust? or the effect of clouds? (H2O, but liquid; the equivalent ideal gas would have to higher molar mass, or otherwise, lower temperature – see ‘virtual temperature’),

    whereas CO2 is 44.010 g/mol; C is 12.011 g/mol

    So at 280 ppmv (approx. preindustrial), CO2 mass was ~ 2185 Gt (596.4 Gt C).

    Doubling that would then require another 2185 Gt CO2 (etc. C), except more than that becasue of oceanic uptake, etc. (so far). Just using this value and setting uptake aside for now, 2185 Gt CO2 would then have a forcing of about 3.7 W/m2 (from memory, see IPCC), which globally is ~ 1887 TW (keeping extra digits beyond significant figures for farther calculations).

    1887 TW/2185 Gt CO2 ~= 0.8636 W/kg CO2 (3.164 W/kg C)

    Varies with baseline (will decrease to half if we double again. Had industrialized civilization somehow arisen in the early Paleozoic, they would have had more margin of error for getting climate policy right (unless?). Although maybe not so much energy resources… (what about ocean acidification?).


    365.25 days/year = 8766 hours/year, thus 1 W = 8.766 kWh/yr. At 285.67 g CO2/kWh, combustion of 1 W fossil fuel supply (of a particular mix) emits 2.5042 kg CO2 (0.68343 kg C) per year. 1 TW would thus emit 2.5042 Gt CO2 (0.68343 Gt C) per year. This seems to be on track as, from memory, once upon a time emissions were ~ 7 Gt C per year and energy consumption was something like 10 TW or maybe 12 ? (although that would include some nuclear, hydro, etc, and the fossil fuel mix would be different over time and space).

    But for the U.S. primary energy fossil fuel input into the electric power sector in 2010, it seems to be about 0.39933 W/(kg CO2/yr) (1.4632 W/(kg C/yr)).

    The radiative forcing would then seem to be 2.163 times the primary energy (and then less if you have oceanic uptake, etc.), except that the ratio has a unit, per year. The radiative forcing is 2.163/yr times the primary energy. If we emitted at a constant rate for 100 years and the atmospheric CO2 increase were linear, with no uptake, then the ratio would be 2.163/yr * 100 yr / 2 = 108.1. Then if we stopped emitting, the ratio would continue to increase simply by having the atmospheric perturbation not decay back to zero infinitely fast.

    There is, in response to the perturbation, net uptake of CO2 out of the atmosphere (so far, at least), but consider that the anthropogenic CO2 forcing was recently about “+1.66 ± 0.17 W m–2“, or approx. 847 ± 87 TW (based on 510 trillion m^2) – that’s from ,
    while at a similar time (assuming IPCC figure is valid for 2005), from , world primary energy consumption was 471.1 , 481.3 , and 492.6 quadrillion Btu in 2005, 2006, and 2007 (it wasn’t immediately clear to me that these weren’t projections but they remained when I clicked on the ‘History and Last’ button), which is 15.76 , 16.10 , and 16.48 TW , and some of that is nuclear, hydroelectric, etc.

    (PS from memory, geothermal heat flux at the surface is around 40 TW. Tidal dissipation heating is ~ 4 TW.)

    Another comparison that could be made would be the total energy of fossil fuel combustion relative to the total heat uptake of the climate system necessary to achieve equilibrium with the forcing (setting aside duration)…

    about uptake, from the same ipcc link:

    Emissions of CO2 from fossil fuel use and from the effects of land use change on plant and soil carbon are the primary sources of increased atmospheric CO2. Since 1750, it is estimated that about 2/3rds of anthropogenic CO2 emissions have come from fossil fuel burning and about 1/3rd from land use change. About 45% of this CO2 has remained in the atmosphere, while about 30% has been taken up by the oceans and the remainder has been taken up by the terrestrial biosphere. About half of a CO2 pulse to the atmosphere is removed over a time scale of 30 years; a further 30% is removed within a few centuries; and the remaining 20% will typically stay in the atmosphere for many thousands of years. {7.3}

    (This behavior is, I think, associated with a relatively rapid cycling and equilibration between the atmophere and upper ocean, a slower equilibration with vegetation, and a slower equilibration with the deep ocean (and there’s equilibration with exposed carbonates); equilibration with each successive C reservoir still leaves some of the atmospheric perturbation because the C is just being redistributed over a larger total reservoir (PS not necessarily maintaining the same equilibrium ratios, though I don’t know about that much offhand). The atmospheric molecular residence time is actually under a decade but some of those C atoms return with similar speed. Utimately the perturbation fades with the generally very slow ongoing supply of ions from silicate rock weathering that react with CO2 to form carbonate minerals, which tends to approach balance with geologic emissions minus organic C burial. See also a prior RC post (not sure where it is offhand) or David Archer’s book.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 5 Oct 2012 @ 7:47 PM

  138. >individual human beings … will starve

    Remember these scientists? They saved a lot, for a few decades.
    I wonder whether the seed collection they starved to protect during WWII was in fact bulldozed last year by developers as expected; anybody know?

    It’s not how you starve or what you starve to protect; it’s whether people have any clue why you’d bother giving your life over to protect anything at all besides your own self.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Oct 2012 @ 7:58 PM

  139. PS, it appears the seed bank plots have been protected thus far:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Oct 2012 @ 8:09 PM

  140. 1 Z? = 10^21 ? (metric prefixes: )
    (assuming 360 trillion m^2 ocean, 150 trillion m^2 land (approx.))

    Energy of climate change – some of these are specifically (or roughly) for 3 K warming, others may or may not be the right amount for that amount of change.

    Energy, and power over 1000 years:

    3 K warming of ocean:
    17100 ZJ , 542 TW

    (in the short term, it is mainly the upper ocean that is warming)

    5 m rise in sea level from melting ice (latent heat):
    601 ZJ , 19.1 TW

    3 K warming of 15 m depth of rock on land, assuming density of 2600 kg/m^3 and specific heat of 733 J/(kg*K) (p.85; note (also from p.85) – for typical soil thermal diffusivity, penetration depth for an annual cycle is ~ 1.5 m; penetration depth is proportional to the square root of time. But diffusivity will change when bedrock is reached, etc.):
    12.9 ZJ , 0.408 TW

    3 K warming up 70 % of atmosphere (~85 % is troposphere, stratosphere cools – not sure how much offhand):
    10.8 ZJ , 0.343 TW

    Latent heat of vaporization: 20 % increase in atmospheric water vapor (starting with atmospheric H2O vapor equivalent to 0.025 m of liquid water over global area) (p.12, p.350 (20 % increase in equilibrium vapor presure per 3 K) – ignoring changes in lapse rate and tropopause height (in pressure), etc.):
    6.38 ZJ , 0.202 TW

    Hartmann, p.350 (vapor pressure change with temperature), pp.373-374 (specific heats of air (1004 J/(kg*K)), water (liquid: 4218 J/(kg*K) at 0 deg C), and latent heats of vaporization and melting of water (at 0 deg C: 2.5 MJ/kg and 0.334 MJ/kg)), p.85, p.8 (atmospheric mass), and p. 12 (oceanic and atmospheric water amounts in depth of liquid water over global area: 2650 m and 0.025 m).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 5 Oct 2012 @ 8:51 PM

  141. SA @134. Actually an honest assessment will come to the conclusion, that its the poorer folk in the poorer nations that will starve (or more likely become malnourished) not us well to do folks. The rest of us will suffer either because seeing TV coverage of starving people upsets us, or because the resulting geopolitical instability will make problems for us.

    Comment by Thomas — 5 Oct 2012 @ 9:00 PM

  142. Let me add to my comments at 136 that I am not associated with AMEG and I do not approve of–in fact I am quite appalled by–their geo-engineering schemes.

    I think the poster got it right who said they had watched a few too many episodes of “Thunderbird” as children (though I admit I had to look it up on google to realize it was that horrific TV show with frightening marionettes constantly going off on high-tech–for the times–quests to save the world. It always seemed creepy and nightmarish to me. Sorry for the off topic rant.)

    Comment by wili — 5 Oct 2012 @ 9:18 PM

  143. Regarding the alleged majority of voters who care about climate change: even if that’s so and Obama is reelected, judging by Obama’s performance so far it seems wildly unrealistic to expect him to do a fossil fuel about-face any time soon. But more importantly, I submit that the elusive presidential climate policy is mere distraction, because America is already a sideshow. To wit:

    “China’s economic growth is projected to continue and to drive increasing energy consumption for several decades (Figure 1). By 2035, China is likely to see a large increase in demand for primary energy, perhaps up by nearly 70% from the present levels (IEA, 2011a). This demand is likely to be met by increasing use of fossil fuels along with other sources, such as nuclear and renewable.” [my emphasis]

    IEA 2012 – Facing China’s Coal Future: Prospects and Challenges for Carbon Capture and Storage, p. 7 PDF here

    See also Figure 1 from the same page.

    “The IEO2011 Reference case projects about 1 trillion metric tons of additional cumulative energy-related carbon dioxide emissions between 2009 and 2035 … In the period from 2021 to 2035, cumulative emissions are 22 percent higher than those in the period from 2006 to 2020 … Non-OECD Asia is the dominant source of cumulative emissions growth in the 30 years preceding 2035.” [my emphasis]

    US EIA International Energy Outlook 2011, p. 143 PDF here

    See also Figures 115 & 116 from the same page.

    There’s further corroboration in UNEP’s GEO5, and in BP’s June 2012 “Statistical Review of World Energy”.

    Hence my claim to the relevance of Peter Calthorpe’s Weapons of Mass Urban Destruction article (@68 & 71). Did anyone read it? His main source seems to be the 2009 McKinsey report “Preparing for China’s urban billion” but I can supply plenty more. “China’s urban population is projected to grow by 350 million people by 2020, effectively adding today’s entire U.S. population to its cities in less than a decade … the country’s vehicle fleet could grow from more than 200 million today to as many as 600 million by 2030.”

    Since Americans own the largest share of historical emissions, we’re in no position to tell the Chinese what to do, as they keep pointedly reminding us. I agree with Prof. Kevin Anderson (Tyndall Climate Center): the future looks impossible. We haven’t even finished melting the Arctic and I’m already suffering from CCSD (Climate Change Stress Disorder). Help!

    Comment by Chris Korda — 5 Oct 2012 @ 9:23 PM

  144. Wili, current climate and weather events are so big they go unnoticed, and again the stories are like comets hitting Jupiter, they affect very few people, or if they affect millions it must be a normal situation. The sea ice puddle matter was a good catch. But looking at NOAA North Pole Cam , puddles came more from rain while it was so cloudy. Whether in this case they accelerated the melt is a bit uncertain, because there would be cracks in the ice by the difference in thickness, which would be from some stress battering of the daily tides. On site measurements may have been with thinner ice than near the pole. Ice mostly bare at maxima is always thicker than ice with snow on top. Once it rains or when there is sun the puddles form over the thinnest ice, so it is certainly a helpful find .

    Comment by wayne davidson — 5 Oct 2012 @ 10:18 PM

  145. re my 140 – the power is actually for ~ 999.3 years as I forgot about leap years in that calculation (because I just used the same spreadsheet cell that I used for 2005 – 2007 conversion quad Btu to TW ).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 5 Oct 2012 @ 10:36 PM

  146. can you please tell me where i can find climate change related discussion? i mean in which section i can find it?

    Comment by fuzzyggon — 5 Oct 2012 @ 11:38 PM

  147. 121 Chris D,

    I didn’t mention adaptation or mitigation. This discussion was framed by you – “who’s culpable?” and “Polluter pays.”. I don’t want to expand it, especially since things are about to die of talking past each other. If your next post isn’t substantially different from the past, I’ll bow out. (Might do so anyway):

    “The largest polluter ”

    PER CAPITA is the REQUIRED phrase to insert here. Since you didn’t, we can’t talk effectively. Either provide some logic for omitting “per capita”, or adopt its use. You want a Climate Villain? According to this list it’s Qatar with MORE THAN DOUBLE the USA’s emissions.

    ” Polluter pays. That’s basic.”

    Yep, and that I polluted yesterday doesn’t give me a pass on today’s pollution. The grams I spew today times the damage per gram is my appropriate penalty, and Grams * Damage is your appropriate penalty as well.

    Suppose that last year, before this hypothetical tax/fee/cost were installed, I spewed ten times more than you (all for free). If you spewed twice as much this year as last while I hold the line, I should pay FIVE TIMES what you pay. If there are 10 of you and 2 of me, then “we” should pay the exact same penalty as “you all” do. If we use a rationing base – as in every human has the right to spew some amount for free, then the numbers get far worse for the West.

    Basic math. (But those getting a free ride often abhor fairness)

    So, two things which must be cleared up before I’ll respond further. I’d appreciate a post which talks to these two points, and only these two points, with other thoughts in another post:

    1. The USA is dead last in vehicle efficiency, and has increased it’s efficiency at 1/4th to 1/5th the rate of ~all other countries over the last decade. Does this make the USA culpable?

    2. Explain your thoughts on the irrelevance of population – that geographic divisions define culpability. If China split in four legally but not in any other fashion, how would your system penalize, or not, China1-4? It appears that under your system, current ratios for carbon emissions will be locked in, but penalties will be assessed based on population – so China gets hit HARD for increasing emissions from a low level while having a large population, and the West gets free elevated emissions locked in for the rest of the fossil age, and Qatar gets a gravy train by starting high and having a tiny population. An American will legally and forever be able to spew ~four times as much carbon as an Asian, and a Qatarian ~2.5 times more than an American. If an American spews as much as a Qatarian spews for free, the American should pay a huge penalty. If the Qatarian spews more, he should get a minor fee, and a Chinaman who spews as much as a Qararian? Well, execute him…

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 6 Oct 2012 @ 12:12 AM

  148. 61 Ray L said, ” Jim Larsen: “Peer-reviewed = minor player.”

    This is simply not true. Science is STILL the best guide to truth ”

    I think you’re speaking of value, while I’m talking power. Just how much effect have all those peer-reviewed slam-dunks had? In the Literature, it is beyond a Skunking, but in the real world, as SecularA said, the debates didn’t even mention the ice cap on no-life-support. I’ve talked to my young not-involved friends. None heard anything about it. My super-smart highly-successful very-engaged Republican family members… well, maybe a whiff, but not much.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 6 Oct 2012 @ 12:49 AM

  149. Johnno @ 110,

    Are YOU saying that 1.35 bn Chinese should be PERMANENTLY held at a lower standard of living than those fortunate enough to be born in the West?

    Comment by ozajh — 6 Oct 2012 @ 1:45 AM

  150. Dan H – What are we supposed to do with that Gallup poll? If the doctor tells you that your chances of dying of cancer without an operation is 97%, do you consult a Gallup poll before you schedule the operation? Not wanting the operation, and being willfully ignorant about cancer, one might quibble with the percentage. Does this mean we have to wait until all the quibblers can clearly see that the situation will get desperate before we take action? In the case of global warming, that will be too late. So what useful would this Gallup poll tell me, other than that an awful lot of Americans are scientifically challenged? Being a teacher, I already knew that. I would bet that if strong action isn’t taken soon to address the scientific consensus, human political structures will begin to destabilize.

    The oracle reCAPTCHA says: SAINTS. tarests

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 6 Oct 2012 @ 2:39 AM

  151. Dan H – read the first post on the link. I just said goodbye to a carfull of good friends from Austin last night on the UT campus, headed towards east Texas.

    Don’t make the same mistake that Nixon et al did and underestimate the idealism of the next generation. As always, they are going to have to live with the results of our ignorance.

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 6 Oct 2012 @ 2:51 AM

  152. Jack Roesler @132.
    You ask “Could that be accurate?” The short answer is Yes!!

    I have calculated on more than one occasion that the energy captured as a GHG by the ~45% CO2 emissions from the average FF that remain in the atmosphere takes 12 months to equal the energy released by the burning of that FF. This is the average for the world mix of FFs. Coal is quicker – 9 months (If I remember correctly). Natural gas is slower – 15 months.

    So how long will that CO2 remain in the atmosphere? According to Archer et al 2009, about half of that ~45% will be sucked out of the atmosphere in a matter of centuries and so cannot contribute much to any 100,000 figure. So we can pleasantly ignore it for once. (In any other circumstance, ignoring centuries of GHG warming like this would be a symptom of that dreadful desease Wattsupia.)

    The remaining ~20% emissions will persist of for many thousands of years. Archer et al 2009 speculate about the last remaining 10% surviving 100,000 or 400,000 years, the latter of which would yield your heat-trapped-as-a-GHG/heat-released-by-burning ratio of 100,000. (Note Archer et al’s ~45 thousand year mean CO2 lifetime for 100% of the CO2 does neatly yield ~100 thousand year mean CO2 lifetime for the ~45% that is used in this here comment for the FFenergy=1 year GHGenergy.)

    Comment by MARodger — 6 Oct 2012 @ 4:33 AM

  153. Thomas,
    Given what happened to the corn crop here in the US, I am not sure I would be so sanguine. After all, there is a significant problem with hunger here in the US already. The problem with global warming is that it is in fact global.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Oct 2012 @ 7:46 AM

  154. #132, Jack Roesler: “I read a study stating that for every unit of fossil fuel-derived energy, the CO2 liberated eventually traps 100,000 units of the sun’s energy in our climate system. Could that be accurate?”

    Well, for me to answer this is probably an instance of a fool rushing in… however, though the proposition seems badly stated to me*, I’m guessing that the main point–that the GHE effect is much, much greater over time than is the direct energy released–is correct.

    A related discussion comes up every now and then when someone tries to say that observed global warming must be due to all the waste heat released, not the GHE (which they usually argue not to exist.) But the math (according to many more qualified folk than I) doesn’t support that; though waste heat can be detectable in some UHI measurements, the effect is too small to have a real impact on any but local scales.

    *In that “traps 100,000 units” makes the “trapping” sound a simple and permanent process, which is misleading in some ways as I understand it. On one hand, the specific energy interacting with GHGs in the atmosphere does escape, all but a tiny fraction. (The TOA energy imbalance is a fraction of a Watt per square meter, in contrast with TOA insolation, which is <1300 W/m2.)

    On the other hand, if we imagine a case where the planet actually equilibrates at some warmer temperature, then there would be an energy difference proportional to the difference in global temperature–and that difference would be quasi-permanent, in line with the notion that energy was 'trapped' in the system. Perhaps that was the sense intended?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 6 Oct 2012 @ 8:24 AM

  155. I have a few very general questions, at the executive summary level.

    From what I can gather, climate models now do a rather good job of predicting (or retrodicting) global climate patterns and a plausible job for regional patterns, with the glaring exception of Arctic sea ice.

    Q1: Is this a fair description?
    Q2: Is there a simple explanation (or set of candidate explanations) for why the models have underestimated the loss of Arctic sea ice we observe?
    Q3: Can we expect the models to be adjusted any time soon to more accurately account for Arctic sea ice?

    If I made any incorrect assumptions, feel free to correct them. I’m really just trying to get a high level grasp of the overall robustness of the models.

    Comment by James McDonald — 6 Oct 2012 @ 8:30 AM

  156. DanH, I suppose everyone is entitled to categorize as they will; however, since energy efficiencies directly result in less FF burned, most people consider them to very ‘green’ indeed. (Though see the considerations around “Jevon’s paradox.”)

    As to the $3 bn for ‘clean coal,’ I already pointed that out in my comment; did you not read that part? And no, I don’t consider that ‘green’, but rather politically- and economically-motivated ‘greenwashing.’

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 6 Oct 2012 @ 8:38 AM

  157. #152–Nice answer, MAR–thank you.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 6 Oct 2012 @ 8:42 AM

  158. Jim (#147),

    As I’ve tried to make clear to you, it is countries that set policy, not per capitas. Counties make choices to increase or decrease emissions. Thus, it is countries that must be held responsible.

    Again, all of your social considerations go right out the window when we are talking about culpability for taking us over the threshold of dangerous climate change. Everyone knew there was a threshold out there. Most started cutting emissions. Some did not. So, we know who is to blame that we have crossed it.

    I’ve said this several times. Why do you ask me to repeat it again?

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 6 Oct 2012 @ 8:46 AM

  159. 128 SecularA said, “Skyrocketing food prices — a direct result of anthropogenic global warming”

    Prove it. Not to a scientist, not to me, but to somebody who pre-disbelieves you.

    It’s all deniable, and seriously, “skyrocketing”? I haven’t noticed any change in food prices, which means said change is “minor increases in”, not “skyrocketing”. Yep, some poor 3rd worlder might consider it skyrocketing, but, you know, am I even going to notice his death by starvation? Since he has no “vote” anyway, voters aren’t significantly affected by…

    I disagree with your fear of personal harm through climate change. I’m guessing you’re old enough that without Life Extension Tech you’ll be dead before you’ve got to sacrifice anything more than an uneasy feeling about “tropicals” dying. Insurance goes up… higher water bill… landscaping changes… whatever. As if this year’s supposedly-caused-by-agw drought made the slightest difference. It’s a few bucks, not anything life-changing for most voters. (with votes not per capita but per dollar)

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 6 Oct 2012 @ 8:46 AM

  160. Regarding the relative impact of AGW on individuals, I think it will be quite fractal in its distribution. At the largest scale poor countries will fare worse than rich ones, but within even the richest and poorest societies the poor will fare worse than the well-off, while some will actually benefit. In some societies the poorest will simply be written-off, and perhaps even hurried on their way before they can cause trouble.

    Comment by Cugel — 6 Oct 2012 @ 8:49 AM

  161. SecularAnimist #127,

    “That’s a blatant falsehood, as public opinion polls have repeatedly shown that strong majorities of voters consider climate change to be “a very important” or “the most important” issue facing the country.

    With all due respect, sir, you make a lot of these broad claims that have no support in fact.”

    Two points. You, and especially The Three MisQuoteers (Fish, Ladbury, and Larsen) have made pointed remarks on my posts. When I have attempted detailed in-depth responses, they have not been posted. My responses don’t contain invective, expletives, or hyperbole, but they tend not to follow the Party Line of this blog. What you’re getting is the image of my comments that the site monitors want you to get, not my context.

    On to your comment about polling. I have no doubt that if people are asked whether climate change is an important issue, they will respond in the affirmative. It costs nothing to make that statement. But, if they were asked about specific actions they would take; e.g., would you eliminate all airline flights except for the most dire emergencies, would you use a bicycle for all trips under fifteen miles, the answer would be far different. Despite your stated philosophy of what is required to ameliorate climate change, far more sacrifice will be required if we have any hope of avoiding the catastrophe. I don’t believe the electorate is willing to do much more than responding affirmatively to a poll.

    I know plenty of people who say they are concerned about the potential impacts of climate change, yet I know of no one who has altered their energy use in any meaningful way. The closest is perhaps trading in a full-size car for a Prius, but I suspect the price of gas had as much to do with that as concern about the climate. So, believe the polls all you want; they bear little relation to potential actions.

    Comment by Superman1 — 6 Oct 2012 @ 9:30 AM

  162. Thomas Lee Elifritz #126,

    “I posit that simple solar L1 irradiance modification experiments could be designed to test the hypothesis without any serious side effects”

    You need to provide more detail on what you mean. If you’re suggesting something like placing solar shields in orbit at the Langrangian L1 point on the Earth-Sun line one million miles from Earth, that was examined in some detail in one study by Roger Angel in 2006. For meaningful solar insolation blockage, almost 2% of the earth’s cross-sectional area would have to be shielded. He proposed launching trillions of two foot diameter thin disks by electromagnetic rail gun to keep the costs down. There would be twenty of these guns firing 800,000 disks every few minutes for ten years continuously. He estimated a cost of five trillion dollars. I suspect the real cost would be five or ten times that much, given the development complexity of real world systems. What part of this would you characterize as ‘simple’? I’m familiar with these launchers; simple or reliable are not words I’d use.

    Comment by Superman1 — 6 Oct 2012 @ 9:42 AM

  163. Craig Nazor wrote: “Dan H – What are we supposed to do with that Gallup poll?”

    Craig, in fairness to Dan H, he was responding to my assertion about public opinion polls on the perceived “importance” of global warming, which was in turn my response to Superman1’s unsupported assertion that the US electorate “couldn’t care less”.

    Dan H was not, I believe, saying that public opinion has any bearing on the scientific facts. Public opinion does, however, have considerable bearing on whether and when government, corporations and other institutions will begin to take appropriate action.

    See the CSM article linked below for a recent overview of public opinion polls on climate change:

    In a nonpartisan national poll released by George Mason and Yale in March, 72 percent of Americans surveyed said global warming should be a very high (12 percent), high (28 percent), or medium (32 percent) priority for the president and Congress. Among registered voters, 84 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of independents, and 52 percent of Republicans said global warming should be a priority.

    More on the subject from Yale:

    Majorities of Americans say that global warming and clean energy should be among the nation’s priorities, want more action by elected officials, corporations, and citizens themselves, and support a variety of climate change and energy policies, including holding fossil fuel companies responsible for all the “hidden costs” of their products. A majority also say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports a “revenue neutral” tax shift from income taxes to fossil fuels, and that global warming will be one of the issues that determines their vote for President this fall.

    And this is in spite of the fact that the US and UK mass media have emphasized and publicized the claims of organized climate change denialists to a degree not found in the media of other countries, which of course has the (intended) effect of depressing public concern:

    This letter contrasts the way climate scepticism in its different forms is manifested in the print media in the USA and five other countries (Brazil, China, France, India and the UK), in order to gain insight into how far the US experience of scepticism is replicated in other countries. It finds that news coverage of scepticism is mostly limited to the USA and the UK; that there is a strong correspondence between the political leaning of a newspaper and its willingness to quote or use uncontested sceptical voices in opinion pieces; and that the type of sceptics who question whether global temperatures are warming are almost exclusively found in the US and UK newspapers. Sceptics who challenge the need for robust action to combat climate change also have a much stronger presence in the media of the same two countries.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Oct 2012 @ 10:36 AM

  164. Jim Larsen wrote: “I’m guessing you’re old enough that without Life Extension Tech you’ll be dead before you’ve got to sacrifice anything more than an uneasy feeling …”

    I am approaching 60 and in good health, so I have a fair shot at attaining the average US male life expectancy of 75 years or so.

    If I do so, I fully expect that food shortages will be a real problem for me personally, in my lifetime.

    If you know of some reason to be confident that what you dismiss as “this year’s supposedly-caused-by-agw drought” will not continue for another three or five or ten years, that it will not in fact turn out to be permanent, I’d like to hear it.

    As for “supposedly caused”, it is exactly the sort of drought that climate scientists have predicted for a generation would result from AGW, it is clearly linked to AGW-driven changes in weather patterns, it continues to worsen and spread as I write, and it is much like similar mega-droughts already affecting major agricultural regions all over the world.

    If you want to entertain any “skepticism” about its connection to AGW, well, welcome to denial.

    As for “uneasy feelings” about people in the developing world who are already experiencing food shortages and/or skyrocketing food costs that in their case lead to the same result — hunger — I suggest you read up on the role of food costs and shortages in contributing to the so-called “Arab spring” and other social and political upheaval, including the overthrow of multiple governments, and consider that we in the USA will not be unaffected by such developments.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Oct 2012 @ 10:51 AM

  165. 158 Chris D said, “Most started cutting emissions. Some did not. So, we know who is to blame that we have crossed it.”

    I’m signing off. We’re talking at, not talking to. My questions were simple and direct, and you’ve evaded them every time. So, I’ll close by answering your statement:

    1. The USA, by your definition, is the SOLE country refusing to reduce vehicle emissions significantly over the last decade, and so is the SOLE culpable party. Your REFUSAL to even respond to that is proof that you are motivated by “who” is involved rather than “what” the country is doing.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 6 Oct 2012 @ 11:33 AM

  166. #155 James, I have only seen one model animation from Hadley, the 2007 melt was off by 38 years. Apparently there are several models:

    All of them flunked. These model animations are very hard to see, if they do animate, we can almost instantly see if they are “life like”, but we don’t see them and its a pity.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 6 Oct 2012 @ 11:56 AM

  167. John Brunner wrote in The Sheep Look Up:

    “We can just about restore the balance of the ecology, the biosphere, and so on — in other words we can live within our means instead of on an unrepayable overdraft, as we’ve been doing for the past half century — if we exterminate the two hundred million most extravagant and wasteful of our species.”

    That was 1972.
    Forty years ago.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Oct 2012 @ 12:08 PM

  168. Craig,
    The claim was made earlier that voters in the U.S. felt that climate change was either very important or the most important issues facing our country. The poll seems to indicate otherwise. Politicians regularly check these polls (whether or not they have cancer), to check the pulse of the electorate. The poor showing is reflected in the lack of attention paid to emvironmental issues this year. Had the numbers been different, and these issues places near the top, I serious doubt that Romeny would’ve made the comments about the supporting the pipeline and liking coal in the debate. Obama has been shying away from the issue also, in order to avoid disenfranchising voters.

    Comment by Dan H. — 6 Oct 2012 @ 12:12 PM

  169. The claim was made earlier that voters in the U.S. felt that climate change was either very important or the most important issues facing our country.

    I guess you missed the ‘global’ in global warming.

    Dan, the veracity or magnitude of the global warming problem, or any problem for that matter, is not determined by ‘polls’. It’s determined by evidence. You and the rest of humanity can think what you want and it’s not going to make a bit of difference to the demonstrable effects already set in motion. These effects are irreversible to those not willing to accept them or make the changes or conduct the experiments necessary to change those effects. Humanity has already taken the plunge, and they’ve had plenty of warning on this outcome going all the way back to the 60’s.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 6 Oct 2012 @ 1:12 PM

  170. I’m with fuzzyggon @ #146–We seem to need a separate thread at real climate to have a general discussion about the real climate.

    Did anyone check out the nature article about permafrost feedback? Or the posts at Skeptical Science and ClimateSight that discuss it? Does anyone have anything to say about it?

    It looks to me as if it is saying (once you connect the dots that other feedbacks will kick in/are kicking in) that we are already in a runaway global warming situation. I would be much more than happy to be proven wrong.

    Comment by wili — 6 Oct 2012 @ 1:42 PM

  171. Jim (#165),

    The US has raised CAFE standards. Perhaps you missed that development.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 6 Oct 2012 @ 1:51 PM

  172. Ah, now RealClimate has a post on the permafrost feedback article as well.

    Perhaps it is time for RealClimate to have a separate post on this very important article as well?

    Or we can just go back to talking politics and bashing each other with brick bats.

    (But reCaptcha tells me: “never, uliaboo” –I’ve been called worse ‘-)

    Comment by wili — 6 Oct 2012 @ 2:53 PM

  173. SA @ 163, just as an aside.

    “A great deal of focus has been devoted to the analysis and development of various communications techniques to better convey and understanding of climate change to individual members of the public. However, this analysis shows that these efforts have a minor influence, and are dwarfed by the effect of the divide on environmental issues in the political elite.”

    at CJR

    Although you have to wonder to what extent media softening its overall watchdog role is a factor.

    The debates and the reaction were a lesson in communication or lack thereof by the “political elite”: simian threat displays and submissive postures make the peanut gallery hoot as a rhetorical device honed by anti-science nutters gets wider play. See Cenk Uygur discovering the Gish Gallop who then ponders fact checking at CNN (

    One take away, there’s a fine line between being moderate and level-headed on the one hand and making yourself an entertaining target for bullies on the other. Cross it and you may find yourself struggling.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 6 Oct 2012 @ 2:55 PM

  174. The permafrost feedback article has also attracted a post at tamino’s blog:

    And has garnered some discussion on the open thread at Deltoid:

    So nearly everyone else is talking about this bombshell. Can’t we do so here, too?

    Comment by wili — 6 Oct 2012 @ 3:29 PM

  175. Superman1 wrote: “My responses don’t contain invective, expletives, or hyperbole, but they tend not to follow the Party Line of this blog.”

    No, I have not found your posts to contain harsh or abusive language. But with all due respect, your posts do typically contain a lot of unsupported, sweeping generalities, and your responses to substantive rebuttals are mostly just repetitions of the same sort of thing.

    In this case, your unsupported generalization that “the electorate could not care less” about climate change was rebutted with actual opinion polls showing that significant majorities of “the electorate” do, in fact, care a good deal, and consider the issue a priority for the President and the Congress, and support policies to regulate GHG emissions and to hold fossil fuel corporations responsible for the full costs of their products.

    In response, you “move the goal posts” to argue that it’s not really the views of the electorate that matter — it’s not the policies that people will vote for (which is what “the electorate” implies) that matter — but rather their alleged unwillingness to make major changes in their way of life that shows they “couldn’t care less”.

    But again, you offer no substantive evidence to support that general claim.

    In fact, the Prius is the third best-selling car in the world and the new Prius Plug-In sold 1,000 vehicles a month in its first six months. The Chevy Volt is outselling 50 percent of the cars on the market today, and is already selling significantly more vehicles than the Prius did in its first year on the market. And of course the Volt is only one of the growing number of electric vehicles on the market today.

    Meanwhile, residential solar PV installations are growing robustly, with second quarter 2012 installations totaling 98 Megawatts, which is up 42 percent over second quarter 2011.

    These statistics are all direct reflections of public interest — and willingness to invest our own hard-earned money — in low-carbon or zero-carbon energy solutions, when and where such solutions are available.

    Moreover, I would suggest that those of us in “the electorate” who are well-informed about this issue are well aware that changes in public policy — including putting a price on carbon pollution, directly regulating GHG emissions, and providing effective support for the development and deployment of efficiency and renewable energy technologies on a scale at least comparable to the subsidies that fossil fuels have received for a century — are far more effective than the options that any individual can currently choose, and are in fact crucial to making more such options available to all of us.

    Your posts suggest an insistence on wallowing in defeatism. I would suggest to you that like denial — not the dishonest denial of the fake “skeptics”, but the psychological denial of a problem to painful or frightening to face — defeatism offers false comfort, the false comfort of throwing up your hands, declaring “everything is lost, nothing can be done, nothing will be done, nobody cares, nobody will act, time to give up” and retreating into bitter, morose passivity.

    Don’t go there. Ask yourself “what can be done?” and “what can I do?” and “what can I encourage others to do?” and “what can I, along with thousands of others, browbeat our public and private institutions to do?” Embrace the answers you find, and fight for them. Fight like hell.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Oct 2012 @ 3:42 PM

  176. A word about the arguments over “culpability”.

    The word is “capability”.

    What matters is not who is “culpable”. What matters is who is “capable” of bringing about effective change.

    China and the USA can point fingers of blame at each other — this is what the fossil fuel interests love to see.

    Or, China and the USA can focus on bringing their respective strengths and capabilities to bear on the problem in the most synergistically effective way possible — this is what will get us somewhere.

    The Chinese are not worried that dealing with global warming will lock them out of economic growth in the 21st century — the Chinese know that dealing with global warming is THE key to economic growth in the 21st century. China is on track to become the world’s leading supplier of wind and solar technologies, and to become an economic superpower in the process.

    Fools point fingers. Smart people put their fingers to work building solutions.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Oct 2012 @ 3:49 PM

  177. wili wrote (currently #170): “Did anyone check out the nature article about permafrost feedback? … It looks to me as if it is saying …”

    It looks to me as if it is saying what we already know:

    In addition to ending anthropogenic GHG emissions as soon as possible — which is to say, on an emergency basis, as close to immediately as possible — we also need to draw down the already dangerous excess of anthropogenic GHGs to preindustrial levels as soon as possible.

    This can be done through a worldwide transition to organic agriculture and a worldwide program of reforestation, which will sequester carbon in soils and biomass, and also restore the health of ecosystems and the biosphere generally.

    As with phasing out fossil fuels, we know how to do these things. We know they have other far-reaching benefits. We know they are the basis for sustainable, equitable prosperity.

    The only real obstacle is the entrenched wealth and political power of those whose continued wealth and power depend on maintaining the status quo.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Oct 2012 @ 4:02 PM

  178. Now climate central has taken up the permafrost feedback article, too.

    Can we call it “viral” now? Will this be the last climate related site to engage in a serious discussion of this important article?

    Comment by wili — 6 Oct 2012 @ 4:09 PM

  179. Dan H – I understand your point, although I do not think that a poll can accurately reflect true voter feeling about as complicated an issue as climate change. If a building is on fire, but the residents do not believe that the building is on fire, the best response is not to just sit and wait until the residents finally decide that the building is on fire. So MY response to your poll is: so what? Even if that poll wins your argument (and I don’t think it does), so what?

    Unfortunately, you do not seem to understand my point.

    At one time, the majority of the American electorate felt that black people should be treated differently than white people, or that women should not have the right to vote.

    The case with climate change is worse. Science is telling us that if we don’t do something now to stop climate change, people’s lives will be severely affected, as in extreme discomfort, disease, and possibly death. Some people are OK with denying this possibility, despite the evidence; others are not. The trouble is, if we wait too long to act, the science also tells us that we lose the ability to do anything about it. This is going to p!ss some people off, to put it mildly. This conflict could very likely destabilize our society, at least to the same degree that we saw such destabilization over the Vietnam War. I would argue that we are seeing the beginning of that right now, and I produced my evidence.

    So far, no one has actually commented on that evidence, which I find interesting.

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 6 Oct 2012 @ 4:19 PM

  180. Re: Car sales statistics in #175.

    The WSJ has statistics for car sales in September 2012 and 2012 year-to-date at

    The Chevrolet Volt is not in the top 20. The Prius is 13th. Number 1 is the Ford F-Series pickup, number 2 is the Chevrolet Silverado pickup.

    It may well be true that the Chevy Volt is outselling half the car models in the market—I bet a lot more Volts are sold than most Porsche models. shows 15 different Porsche models. I suspect many people find the prices of the 911 GT2 RS ($245,000+) a tad steep.

    There are lots of car models out there—so outselling half of them does not seem particularly significant.

    The reference you cited states that 13,497 Volts had been sold through August 2012. According to the WSJ, about 5 million cars, 5 million light-duty trucks, and 3 million SUVs have been sold so far this year. 15,000 out of 13 million is not huge market acceptance.

    Comment by observer — 6 Oct 2012 @ 5:11 PM

  181. wili wrote: “We seem to need a separate thread at real climate to have a general discussion about the real climate.”

    I think we seem to need a separate thread for people who like to respond to every new development in climate science by posting “we are doomed” and “it is hopeless” and “why are you wasting your time talking about solutions because we are doomed and it is hopeless”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Oct 2012 @ 5:22 PM

  182. 161 Superman1: All kinds of little efficiency improvements made by individuals and appliance makers can be lumped into such words as: cosmetic or displacement activity or greenwashing. Displacement activity is a dissipation of nervous energy which accomplishes nothing. Whether Jevons’ Paradox works or not, the source of the CO2 is the source of the fossil fuel. ONLY by attacking the source of the fossil fuel can we stop the CO2 production. We should drop all of those “personal” energy “savings”from the law and do a fee and 100% dividend on all fossil fuels at the source, per James Hansen. The alternative is to ban coal outright, then ban natural gas, then severely restrict oil.

    There is no Party Line of this blog because scientists actually THINK, which means “do math.” The electorate has been heavily propagandized by the fossil fuel industry. We can engineer the required changes to have little effect on the lifestyle of most people. That is what engineering is for.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 6 Oct 2012 @ 5:25 PM

  183. observer, believe it or not, there was a time when the number of personal computers sold per year was zero. There was a time when the number of cell phones sold per year was zero.

    They went on to transform “data processing” and “telecommunications” beyond recognition and to radically alter the entire fabric of our society. Many people now view land line phones as obsolete and archaic. And how many people do you know who have dumb terminals and log in to time-sharing mainframes nowadays?

    Like PCs and cell phones, electric cars and photovoltaics in particular (because they are all about technology, not “resources”, and because they are consumer technologies that can be adopted by individuals) have the potential to cause disruptive radical change in a short time. Indeed, one of the main concerns of people studying how the US electric grid can most effectively integrate renewables is that end-users will deploy too much PV, too fast.

    Given that NO mass produced electric cars were even available to consumers just a couple of years ago, and given that the charging infrastructure that will make them as easy to “fuel” and operate as gasoline fueled cars is barely in its infancy, their rate of adoption is astonishing — and again, it is faster than was the case for hybrid cars which became absolutely mainstream within 10 years.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Oct 2012 @ 5:35 PM

  184. James McDonald @155 — Nobody understands ice melt very well. There have been attempts to predict the melt on the Great Lakes and St. Lawerence River. There might be a summary paper regarding how successful these attempts have been.

    Another aspect that the climate models don’t seem to be predicting well enough is extreme precipitation event frequency in various regions.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 6 Oct 2012 @ 5:57 PM

  185. Secular Animist #175,

    “Your posts suggest an insistence on wallowing in defeatism. I would suggest to you that like denial — not the dishonest denial of the fake “skeptics”, but the psychological denial of a problem to painful or frightening to face — defeatism offers false comfort, the false comfort of throwing up your hands, declaring “everything is lost, nothing can be done, nothing will be done, nobody cares, nobody will act, time to give up” and retreating into bitter, morose passivity.

    Don’t go there. Ask yourself “what can be done?” and “what can I do?” and “what can I encourage others to do?” and “what can I, along with thousands of others, browbeat our public and private institutions to do?” Embrace the answers you find, and fight for them. Fight like hell.”

    Your first sentence is only partially correct. The posts of mine you have seen wallow in realism (which you interpret as defeatism), but the articles I submitted that were not posted offered ‘solutions’. I place quotes around solution because they are solutions in theory. I refuse to delude myself they have much probability of being implemented in a timely manner, if at all.

    Here’s my perception of the problem. We are committed to somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5 C to 2.5 C of temperature increase above pre-industrial even if we terminate fossil fuel combustion tomorrow. This is without most positive feedbacks taken into account. The positive feedbacks have kicked in already, and some are starting to accelerate. I don’t believe that we can stabilize in the 1.5-2.5 range without further corrective action. But, the primary step has to be to stop adding fuel to the fire. We need to stop burning fossil fuels ASAP.

    One low tech corrective step would be reforestation and afforestation. I addressed this issue in one of my non-published posts. It is neither cheap or very near term, and it runs diametrically opposite to the increasing trend of global deforestation. You may interpret that as ‘wallowing in defeatism’; how can I credibly put a positive spin on that? I’m not Mitt Romney! But, hypothetically, suppose we could terminate fossil fuel combustion and reforest. That may not be adequate, given the feedbacks already occurring. Like any system already in the ignition phase, some quenching of the self-sustaining mechanisms may be required. It may be necessary to add the ‘artificial trees’ that Lackner has proposed, and/or add some interim aerosols to the atmosphere. In other words, we may want to swing the pendulum past the desired target point to insure the self-sustaining mechanisms are quenched. Other theoretical possibilities include a solar shield at the Lagrangian L1 point. The Angel proposal for such a shield is unrealistic in terms of cost, complexity, and schedule. Other options may be theoretically possible.
    But, it seems to me that to honestly address what I believe is the problem, solutions of the above magnitude are required. How can I look myself in the mirror and state that they have any degree of feasibility, in an era when two Presidential candidates don’t even discuss the problem in their debates or speeches, other than give meaningless platitudes? If you remember in 2008, before the meltdown occurred, we had a near-riot in the country from the truck drivers and farmers who were complaining about $4.00 gasoline. Do you think they will support the types of price increases and severe rationing required to account for fossil fuel pollution clean-up?

    Your statement that ” The Chevy Volt is outselling 50 percent of the cars on the market today,” needs to be taken with a grain of salt. In year to date, the Volt has sold slightly over 16,000 vehicles, while the total USA cars and light trucks have amounted to ~11,000,000. while commendable, that’s not on the radar. And, I have yet to be convinced an electric vehicle that draws its energy from a fossil fuel source operating through a heat cycle converter is sufficiently more fossil fuel efficient than a gas-driven vehicle to make a significant difference on the scale of what is required. I realize it sounds good to talk about electric car sales, and it may feel like a contribution to solving the problem is being made, but we’re past the feel-good stage. Show me a credible Roadmap with steps of sufficient magnitude to solve the problem that confronts us in a timely manner. You have outlined some positive steps in your post; place them in the context of what is required.

    Comment by Superman1 — 6 Oct 2012 @ 6:34 PM

  186. Secular Animist #177,

    “As with phasing out fossil fuels, we know how to do these things. We know they have other far-reaching benefits. We know they are the basis for sustainable, equitable prosperity.

    The only real obstacle is the entrenched wealth and political power of those whose continued wealth and power depend on maintaining the status quo.”

    We “know” how to solve most of our major problems; ‘knowing’ is a necessary but not sufficient condition. We ‘know’ how to end most lung cancer; however, twenty percent of adults are not able to stop smoking. We ‘know’ how to end the increasing trend of brain cancers; however, most people are not willing to give up their heavy use of cell phones. We ‘know’ how to end liver cirrhosis; a substantial number of people are addicted to heavy drinking. In fact, we know how to end most cases of cancer, as the medical literature shows; the great majority of population does not want to adopt the rigorous lifestyle required to do so. Knowing is the first step, but being motivated to surrender one’s addiction is the true roadblock to progress.

    But, the obstacle you identify to phasing out fossil fuels is not the most important obstacle, even though it does present a formidable problem. As in the above examples, the real obstacle is the energy consumer, who in the USA has become addicted to a lifestyle based on high energy utilization intensity for which fossil fuel is required, and who in India and China is striving to achieve such a lifestyle. Until the real obstacle has been addressed, little progress will be made toward solving the real problem. I haven’t figured out how to overcome the real obstacle, and frankly, from your posts, neither have you.

    Comment by Superman1 — 6 Oct 2012 @ 7:01 PM

  187. Wili #178,

    “Will this be the last climate related site to engage in a serious discussion of this important article?”

    What is there to discuss? It is another in an increasing stream of technical studies that postulates an additional positive feedback mechanism. It is part and parcel of a general operational principle.

    During this Summer’s Arctic ice melt, I examined a simple model. I started with a large body of water fully covered by a thick ice sheet. I then observed what happened as the ice sheet thinned and water began to appear at the periphery. As the water region expanded substantially, a substantial number of positive feedback mechanisms kicked in, changing the melt dynamics significantly. The metaphor of a shark drawing blood, and the rest of the pack closing in for the kill came to mind. It seemed to me the ice will not go slowly into the night, but its end will be swift. That’s the template or microcasm I see from what’s happening in the planet writ large. Myriad self-reinforcing mechanisms are starting to kick in, and I suspect their effects will mirror those of the Arctic.

    That’s why I believe that not only the input must be stopped immediately, but strong additional counter-measures are required to neutralize these positive feedbacks.

    Comment by Superman1 — 6 Oct 2012 @ 7:20 PM

  188. Edward Greisch #182,

    “There is no Party Line of this blog because scientists actually THINK, which means “do math.” The electorate has been heavily propagandized by the fossil fuel industry. We can engineer the required changes to have little effect on the lifestyle of most people. That is what engineering is for.”

    Au contraire. Most posters do not want to face the fact that we are at the climate equivalent of Stage 4 cancer. At best, the Kevin Anderson (former Tyndall Centre Director) approach seems to be the limit of comfort: aim for 2 C, start cutting fossil fuel emissions heavily by 2020. Even Anderson admits that 2 C is getting into the ‘dangerous’ region, and his estimates do not include the major feedback mechanisms. So, we see solutions proposed like heavy reforestation, at a time when the world is trending heavily in the opposite direction. We see solutions proposed requiring substantial reductions in fossil fuel emissions which, even though they may be insufficient, are in the opposite direction of the global ~5% increase we are seeing now.

    Your statement that we can engineer our way out of this problem and have minimal impact on lifestyles defies reality. That’s like telling the Stage 4 cancer patient that we will pull out all the stops on experimental chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, but they won’t notice a thing. That’s the Party Line I see. There will be sacrifices necessary to transition from this profligate lifestyle to a self-sustaining lifestyle, and the sooner everyone understands and accepts this, the sooner we can start to solve the real problem.

    Comment by Superman1 — 6 Oct 2012 @ 7:35 PM

  189. SA, good suggestions. Note that I have not said any of the things you seem to attribute to me.

    Comment by wili — 6 Oct 2012 @ 7:40 PM

  190. Superman, a number of articles have shown that in mid and upper latitudes, establishing forests can actually add to warming because of change of albedo. In some of these cases, restoring native prairie grasses would be more effective. But the time is rapidly running out for any of these approaches, as planting zones seem to be shifting northward at an increasing rate.

    Comment by wili — 6 Oct 2012 @ 7:45 PM

  191. SA (#176),

    For mitigation, that is just right, but attribution is another kettle of fish. It points the finger automatically. And, we are seeing some pretty sound attribution now for heatwaves. Once you know that our drought is a shriveling attack on US soil, something has to be done. It isn’t an act of God any more, or even an Elizabethan convulsion, it is deliberate harm.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 6 Oct 2012 @ 7:58 PM

  192. James E. Hansen & Makiko Sato
    Paleoclimate Implications for Human-Made Climate Change
    can be linked via
    and the 2011 Jan 18 preprint is well worth your time to read.
    (Somehow I missed it before now.)

    Comment by David B. Benson — 6 Oct 2012 @ 9:02 PM

  193. They know who that accused criminal is who gave Cuccinelli all that money for some unknown reason. He is really named John Cody, and he is wanted by the FBI for questioning in an espionage investigation. This is from the Ohio Attorney General’s site.

    Comment by Snapple — 6 Oct 2012 @ 9:54 PM

  194. SecularA, I agree totally. My response to the tossing of blame was bad – tossing it back to show the initial toss was inappropriate – and I regret that.

    Basically, just price carbon at a known rising rate and be done with it. No games, no gimmicks, no trades, no offsets with something that would have been done anyway, and where on the planet it happens can’t matter, or people will game the system by moving emissions to the “proper” country.

    And you’re also right that it isn’t hopeless. I think that technology and ice melt and drought have a good chance of converging by the next presidential election. We’re close to your dream of a quick ramp up. Maybe not as fast or complete, but in the same ballpark.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 7 Oct 2012 @ 12:04 AM

  195. has some decent charts

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Oct 2012 @ 12:12 AM

  196. David B. Benson @ 184: That seems to be the case, but I find it puzzling.

    If you look at a graph such as the following, there is a very clear pattern. It seems weird that something should display such steady and regular behavior, yet not have a straightforward explanation.

    Comment by James McDonald — 7 Oct 2012 @ 12:42 AM

  197. Superman1 @185.
    I do wonder if the “wallowing in defeatism” / “wallowing in realism” mismatch is worth addressing as a way of coming to a better common understanding. Certainly you and I are not on the same page in terms of your assertions of inescapable temperature increases of 1.5-2.5ºC + slow feedbacks.

    Here is my take on the ‘inescapable’ commitment. If all emissions stopped as of 2010, the damage that would result from anthopogenic forcings would be simplistically less than 2.8ºC -that is with a positive forcing of 3.3Wm^-2, zero negative forcing & sensitivity 3.2ºC on a doubling of 3.7Wm^-2 – forcings as per Skeie et al 2011. Added to this would be the prospect (very likely at that level of warming) of additional feedbakcks.
    This assessment I term “simplistic” as it is not at all realistic (as is an instantateous ending to our use of fossil fuels, today in 2010).

    As equilibrium is reached, so too will CO2 levels drop. Over the next few centuries, our CO2 rise will halve in size reducing CO2 forcing by 0.9W^m-2, most of this occuring over the next century. And let us be a little less handless and think also of reducing our methane and nitrous oxide emissions, say cutting another 0.33Wm^-2.
    Consideration could also be given to the other ‘long lived’ GHGs but not here so consider their present levels part of the commitment.
    The negative forcings which have been masking the full impact of human influence will also disappear in this hypothetical situation but isn’t it then just a little silly to ignore the tropospheric ozone and its 0.43W^m-2 contribution to positive forcings? Perhaps that too should be disappeared!

    We have thus clipped 1.66Wm^-2 from the maximum forcing from our hypothetical inescapable commitment. The resulting hypothetical ‘maximum’ temperature rise of 1.4ºC is not small, and it is still into the zone where serious feedbacks could bite. But it is below this range of 1.5-2.5ºC+very-likely-feedbacks and in such a diminished state it will greatly colour opinion of the mitigation policies being discussed in this thread.

    Comment by MARodger — 7 Oct 2012 @ 5:29 AM

  198. Craig,
    This is not the first time that people have mobilized against the pipeline. It also does not show that there is a mass movement against global warming (people could be against the drilling in ALberta or the heavier petroleum pushed through). Some people have quite strong reactions to certain issues, and will protest vocally in favor of gay rights or against abortion, or any number of social, political, or other issues. Determining a large scale feeling based on a small protest id far-fetched. That does not mean that it could not erupt into one. But currently, it does not exist.

    As with all volatile issues, there are two sides, and the debate showed where each candidade stood. As I mentioned earlier, if there was such a large scale outcry against the pipeline, such that it was likely to lead to less votes than more, then I suspect that Romney would not have thrown his support behind it on national television. It would be a foolish move. The same is true of the science to which you descirbe. You seem to think that all science are of a similar mind here. I suggest you read elsewhere. Afterall, the best way to truly understand an issue, is to listen to your opponent’s viewpoints.

    Comment by Dan H. — 7 Oct 2012 @ 8:10 AM

  199. Superman1- Thanks for emphasizing the size and difficulty of the problem of effectively addressing climate change in the real world. I am a scientifically literate lay-lurker, and while I refuse to give in to pessimism, I cringe at the assertion that we can fix climate change whithout breaking a sweat. There is a small, shrinking, window of opportunity to avoid catastrophic disruption of natural ecosystems and human society. Unfortunately the course of civilization carries substantial inertia, and it is not pointing toward that window. The closer we get to that window before we come to our collective senses and make the course change, the more wrenching it will be. And of course there is no guarantee we will do it at all. Those who say “put a fee on carbon, and that will do it” seem a little naive. World-wide, and in the near future, unless you can show me mature technology that so far is only science fiction, we have to stop burning fuel. That means living completely on the power budget we get from renewables for everything- taking all the coal and gas plants off the grid, running all of transportation, heating, manufacturing etc with whatever solar, wind, hydro and nuclear we can cobble together. Worldwide. Think maybe that would disrupt a few people’s lives, change a few standerds of living in the U.S.? I’ve read estimates where the fraction of GDP to implement the wedges is seemingly not that high, seems doable if we just decide to. Unfortunately someone is already using that money, and they’re not giving it up without a fight. This is a struggle that can be won, the window is there, but it will require sustained effort by individuals combined with nearly flawless decision making by all organizations at every level of society.

    Comment by Rich Creager — 7 Oct 2012 @ 8:42 AM

  200. MARodger @ 6 Re: Nissan Leaf

    “Assuming significant proportions night-time charging & large reductions in grid carbon intensity in coming years, the 73 mpg(US)ce is probably way too low.”

    The point is obviously moot! Anyone who still clings to the notion that maintaining the ‘Business as Usual’ automobile centric paradigm in which it is necessary for a single occupant to be esconced in a 3000 lb steel shell to travel from point A to point B doesn’t yet understand the full implications of physical limits on a finite planet containing 7 billion plus Homo idioticus.

    It might be time to start a complete rethinking of what the term ‘Auto Mobile’ means.

    First, electrified rail for mass transport and then something like this… might be a more sane approach:

    Not that I’m holding my breath or anything.

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 7 Oct 2012 @ 9:24 AM

  201. James, your chart shows that the warmer it gets, the less ice there is. What David’s talking about as hard to predict in 184 is the timing — the slopes of the wiggles in the line — not the volume (the area inside the line on the chart.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Oct 2012 @ 9:31 AM

  202. Superman1 wrote: “There will be sacrifices necessary to transition from this profligate lifestyle to a self-sustaining lifestyle, and the sooner everyone understands and accepts this, the sooner we can start to solve the real problem.”

    Yeah, a lot of people might have to “sacrifice” lifestyles that are contributing to costly epidemics of obesity and degenerative disease, polluting densely populated urban areas with toxic particulates and poisonous gases, driving up their food and energy costs and making them economically subservient to huge centralized energy and agribusiness cartels, robbing them of quality time for the truly good things in life, and otherwise utterly failing to deliver on the false promises of consumerism.

    ALL of the things we urgently need to do to address AGW — ALL of them, without exception — will make our lives better in many profound ways.

    I have a suggestion, Superman1. Live up to your handle. Be a “superman”.

    “Understand and accept” the changes that YOU need to make, make them, and then use your time online to set an example and educate people about how they can do the same. Use your time and energy to network with the many, many others who are doing just that — instead of this defeatist whining.

    In honor of the immortal Joe Hill, whose birthday is today:

    “Don’t mourn — ORGANIZE.”

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 7 Oct 2012 @ 10:36 AM

  203. A post this morning at Climate Progress (, Comment #5, provides an excellent metaphor for a potential rapid decline due to climate change, especially the following excerpt:

    “When complex systems fail, they fail suddenly and catastrophically. When a human’s kidneys fail, the damage isn’t limited to that single crucial subsystem but extends to the entire body. Other subsystems that depend on a detoxified blood supply also fail, and those failures further cascade to other subsystems.

    The ice cap is one of Earth’s vital organs. Its removal is likely to cause cascading effects that even good work like the MacDougall paper in this post can’t anticipate. We simply haven’t seen anything like it in detail at the planetary scale.”

    It is an excellent complement to the metaphor I posted in #187 of the sharks closing in for the kill once they sense blood. It may very well be we are seeing a fractal process playing out. The Arctic is a complex system, and when we examine the physics of how rapidly myriad positive feedback mechanisms came into play once the mass, momentum, and energy insulating properties of the ice were breached when open water reached a critical point, we see the conditions for the above-quoted “suddenly and catastrophically” failure. At the next higher level in the hierarchy, the Arctic becomes one sub-system in an even more complex planetary system. It seems to me in the last year/few years we are seeing more papers shed light on ‘new’ positive feedback mechanisms coming into play on the planetary scale, whether it is the MacDougall paper mentioned in the article, or the recent paper on warmer and higher vapor pressure vegetation and trees losing water to a warmer atmosphere, or many others. Why should we not expect similar cascading behavior to the Arctic on the planetary scale, as the excerpt suggests?

    [Response: This kind of evidence-free hand-waving gives environmentalism a bad name. – gavin]

    Comment by Superman1 — 7 Oct 2012 @ 10:52 AM

  204. Voyager 1 exits solar system
    the GCRs are thought to contribute to natural variability.

    Comment by vukcevic — 7 Oct 2012 @ 11:30 AM

  205. Rich Creager #198,

    “There is a small, shrinking, window of opportunity to avoid catastrophic disruption of natural ecosystems and human society. Unfortunately the course of civilization carries substantial inertia, and it is not pointing toward that window. The closer we get to that window before we come to our collective senses and make the course change, the more wrenching it will be. And of course there is no guarantee we will do it at all.”

    You have crystallized the real-world problem of dealing with climate change, and I appreciate your post. Kevin Anderson has attempted to quantify what is required to avoid closing your ‘window’. He parameterizes peak global CO2 emissions date, and, assuming a ceiling temperature of 2 C over pre-industrial, identifies different CO2 emissions trajectories required to keep temperature at/below the 2 C ceiling. He admits that the CO2 ceiling is based on older science and on what was possible for a political agreement, and implies that today 1 C would probably be a more realistic target for minimizing climate catastrophe.

    Additionally, his computations do not include major feedbacks. His results offer little hope that even the 2 C limit can be achieved, and if one factors in the feedbacks, higher temperatures will be the order of the day.

    My reading and experience lead to a somewhat different conclusion. For many types of systems, it is critical to identify transitions to self-sustaining operational modes at the most nascent stages, and then apply strong attenuating measures to eliminate or limit the self-sustaining operation to controllable levels. We are now at roughly 0.8 C temperature increase above pre-industrial. We are seeing myriad self-sustaining mechanisms come into play. We need to metaphorically ram the control rods back into the reactor as soon and as hard as possible.

    There is no reason to believe that such dramatic modifications will come without personal cost or personal hardships. Your comments provide some examples of personal sacrifices that will be required. I frankly am very disappointed with comments on this site that imply we can transition seamlessly from the fossil fuel profligate lifestyle we (at least in the advanced nations) enjoy today to the required fossil-sparse lifestyle. If the people who post here, whom I assume are the vanguard of those most interested in protecting our climate, don’t believe such sacrifice is necessary, who will?

    [Response: I have no idea if the commenters fall into your description of them. But I will point out that none of the posts on this site address this issue because it isn’t the theme of the blog. If you want discussions about the economics, or the scenarios or the politics, please go to places where that is in fact the point of that venue. This is a blog run by scientists mostly to discuss the science. Wanting this forum to be something that it isn’t is frustrating for you and boring for everyone else. Sorry to be harsh, but the last few comment threads have been increasingly divorced from what this blog is about. Sure, this is probably our fault for not posting enough (I apologise that sometimes real life intervenes with blogging), but having endless comment threads that the blog hosts are not interested in, is simply not sustainable. – gavin]

    Comment by Superman1 — 7 Oct 2012 @ 11:53 AM

  206. Fred, welcome to RC. I always enjoy your stuff at TOD, where I am/was dohboi. Good point about moving away from auto-centric mode. Our existence is under threat. Time to take this stuff seriously.

    I like the comparison of an attack on the country. If an enemy attacked the US by trying to destroy its agriculture, presumably we would go into full battle mode and do whatever needed to be done to protect the breadbasket. But when the enemy is domestic doing them the same thing, we coddle them, allow them to engage in propaganda campaigns, and even give them billions in subsidies.

    MARoger wrote: “As equilibrium is reached, so too will CO2 levels drop.”

    I assume that is still under your self-described “simplistic” scenario, since, as the Nature article on permafrost feedback shows, even including just this one sliver of carbon feedback makes any reduction of atmospheric CO2 levels impossible even with total cessation of emissions essentially immediately.

    And you seem to be stuck in a time warp–“today in 2010.” Too much Rocky Picture Horror Show?

    Comment by wili — 7 Oct 2012 @ 12:06 PM

  207. MARodger #197,

    “We have thus clipped 1.66Wm^-2 from the maximum forcing from our hypothetical inescapable commitment. The resulting hypothetical ‘maximum’ temperature rise of 1.4ºC is not small, and it is still into the zone where serious feedbacks could bite. But it is below this range of 1.5-2.5ºC+very-likely-feedbacks and in such a diminished state it will greatly colour opinion of the mitigation policies being discussed in this thread.”

    I am somewhat unclear on your temporal temperature trajectory. Time is mentioned thrice in your comments: 2010, next few centuries, next century. If we stopped CO2 emissions in 2010, as you assume, what would be the temperature rise twenty years from now and forty years from now? Ballpark estimate would be adequate.

    Comment by Superman1 — 7 Oct 2012 @ 12:37 PM

  208. 196 James McDonald: I notice that the graph of sea ice volume becomes increasingly dented on one side, like a tire going flat while sitting on a log.
    Does it become more circular as you go back even further in time? I think it must become a circle when glaciers reach Davenport, Iowa.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 7 Oct 2012 @ 12:48 PM

  209. Superman1:

    We ‘know’ how to end the increasing trend of brain cancers; however, most people are not willing to give up their heavy use of cell phones.

    Was that you, or was that the image of your comments that the site monitors want us to get? If the former, then as Hank Roberts would say, “this is overpluralization,” because you may be the only who ‘knows’ that. According to the National Cancer Institute, there’s no evidence of increasing trend in brain and other nervous system cancers, nor is there a significant association between cell phone use and any kind of cancer.

    If there is a “party line” on this blog, it’s that statements of fact should be backed up with evidence. What a brave rebel you are.

    [Response: Agreed. Can we just have a lot less hand-waving and lumping together of all of the problems of the world and stick to something resembling scientific issues? The current conversations are tedious and their like can be found all over the place. This is a unique venue – we have little interest in hosting repetitive identikit discussions of the sort playing out recently. – gavin]

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 7 Oct 2012 @ 1:03 PM

  210. Hank @ 200 — Anyone looking at that graph in 2000 could have made a reasonable guess as to what it would look like now, simply by extrapolating forward at the same rate of decrease.

    My question is why none of the models did anything like that. How could they miss something so obvious?

    Comment by James McDonald — 7 Oct 2012 @ 1:29 PM

  211. I have a question that someone here may be willing to answer:
    Assume a situation in which there is complete energy balance at TOA – no net thermal imbalance and no net forcing imposed on the planet. Given the fact that we now measure i) a >35 year warming in the atmosphere, ii) an unabated ~35 year increase in 0-2000 meter ocean heat content and iii) an shorter-term but accelerating melting of land ice (Greenland, Antarctica, glaciers), is there any possible mechanism that could explain such simultaneous warming in terms of natural variability in the absence of a net forcing?
    I always assumed natural variability was due to semi-cyclical intra-system transfers of energy from, for example, ocean to atmosphere or atmosphere to land ice. If so, how can these three important heat sinks (ocean, atmosphere, ice) all be gaining thermal energy?

    Comment by Owen Moe — 7 Oct 2012 @ 1:32 PM

  212. Re – nice graph.

    I wonder how perception would be affected by making the radial distance proportional to the square root of volume (or whatever other quantity is being graphed on such a plot) so that the area on the graph is proportional to volume?

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 7 Oct 2012 @ 1:38 PM

  213. It is worth noting that US crop insurance payouts are expected to be about $25 billion this year. That is only 6% of the annual value of Chinese imports into the US. A 0.6% punitive tariff imposed for one decade seems a very reasonable response to this loss.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 7 Oct 2012 @ 2:21 PM

  214. wili/dohboi @ 201,

    Tks for the welcome! I have been reading RC for about as long as I’ve been posting at TOD.
    Though I very rarely comment here. In any case I agree that it is time to take a lot of issues seriously and climate change and energy usage are very much intertwined IMHO.

    We need a completely new paradigm as of yesterday!



    Comment by Fred Magyar — 7 Oct 2012 @ 3:19 PM

  215. 198 Rich C said, ” Those who say “put a fee on carbon, and that will do it” seem a little naive.”

    You left out “known” and “rising”. Carbon emissions aren’t a year-by-year thing so much as decade(s)-by-decade(s). Current cars are very durable. Toyota says that 80% of their cars sold over the last 20 years are still on the road. That doesn’t mean 80% of 20 year old cars, but there’s plenty of old Toyotas on the road, and current cars are even more durable. Build a car today, and those emissions are surely locked in for 15 years. New power plants lock in emissions for what? 50 years?

    Using gasoline as an example, it’s currently $4 a gallon, and obviously that’s too cheap to move the market much. If we target $20 a gallon in 20 years, that’s 80 cents a gallon per year. So everyone knows gas will cost $4.80 in 2013, $5.60 in 2014… (minus market forces, as this system will drive down the base price of gas) Stickers on cars should give $/mile for this year, 5 years out and 10 years out.

    So, please explain the problems with this approach?

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 7 Oct 2012 @ 3:27 PM

  216. 201 wili, I think your analogy fails because the human mind is wired to recognize the difference between intentional and unintentional. Stepping on a girl’s toes during a dance elicits an entirely different, not just response, but level of pain than if you chased her down and stomped her foot with the same force.

    Similarly, Exxon et al are not trying to hurt you, me, or anybody else. They’re just not careful dancers, and use Fox News and the Wall Street Journal to convince themselves that women’s feet are impervious to pain.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 7 Oct 2012 @ 3:57 PM

  217. Chris D, thanks for the note about US CAFE aspirations. It’s a much better topic than culpability, which is only applicable to physical actions in the past.

    I was flabbergasted when I first heard the news, and if it comes true, I’ll be proud of us. At the same time I don’t see why we shouldn’t shoot for 50mpg by 2015 and 75mpg by 2020. CAFE’s law specifically says the standard should be set at the highest level achievable (unsure of wording). I think it should be set high enough that major not-solely-luxury manufacturers actually fail to achieve it some of the time.

    198 Rich C, yes, there are always more things to do. My favorite addition to a known rising worldwide carbon tax is adding fuel costs to mo-rtgage and lo-an applications, which suddenly get easier if you buy an energy efficient house or car.

    The rising tax also works through res-ale value. Lea-ses for low mpg vehicles will get more expensive. It also means that someone who drives very little will have a grand selection of cheap vehicles to choose from. We have to do something with the already-built, so driving them to the low-milers club is optimal.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 7 Oct 2012 @ 4:34 PM

  218. [edit – see the response to this comment. No further discussions, thanks.]

    Comment by Chris Korda — 7 Oct 2012 @ 4:52 PM

  219. re my my 137,140,145 (Re 132 Jack Roesler) – Clarifications/additions:

    re my 137: “This seems to be on track as, from memory, once upon a time emissions were ~ 7 Gt C per year and energy consumption was something like 10 TW or maybe 12 ? (although that would include some nuclear, hydro, etc, and the fossil fuel mix would be different over time and space). ~ 1887 TW is approx. the forcing from doubling CO2 (adding approx. 2185 Gt CO2 (596.4 Gt C) to preindustrial atmosphere)
    (in brief: forcing is approx. logarithmically proportional to amount over a range of amounts due to the shape of the most important longwave absorption band – at smaller amounts (where the center of the band is sufficiently far from saturated for tropopause-level forcing) the proportionality is approx. linear, at very very large amounts the proportionality changes due to other parts of the absorption spectrum becoming important (as on Venus)); this forcing is present as long as CO2 remains at that level (~ 560 ppm if the baseline is ~ 280 ppm); it is a change in forcing relative to the prior forcing – the climate system generally always has some external forcing, for which there generally is some equilibrium climate(s).

    A change in radiative forcing RF results in a change in equilibrium ; it takes time to reach this equilibrium due to heat capacity C; it (the e-folding time of exponential decay of radiative disequilibrium) is equal to heat capacity [J/(K*m^2)] * climate sensitivity [K*m^2/W], so that the energy accumulated [J/m^2] to reach equilibrium is equal to the change in radiative forcing [W/m^2] * e-folding time [J/W].

    ( C*ECS = t , RF*ECS = ∆T , ∆T*C = ∆H

    ∆H/t = (∆T*C)/(C*ECS) = ∆T/ECS = RF

    see 354 here )

    Of course, the effective heat capacity increases over time so the exponential decay of the disequilibrium slows down, prolonging the accumulation of energy. Also, there are climate feedbacks that don’t act as quickly as clouds, H2O vapor, seasonal snow and sea ice.

    Comparing the forcing to anthropogenic power consumption is useful for considering effects on equilibrium climate at any one time. For example, the global average effect of any change in albedo from using solar power would be rather small in comparison to mitigation of climate change if that solar power is used (to displace fossil fuels) for a sufficient time period (example: if a 10 % efficient PV panel with zero albedo (reflectivity for solar (SW) radiation) covered ground with an albedo of 25 – 30 %, the ratio of total increased heating to electricity generation would be similar to that of many fuel-combusting or fission-powered power plants (setting aside inverter and grid efficiency, etc., but still it would be similar). From my comment 137 above, assuming the CO2 forcing was for 2005, the ratio of CO2 radiative forcing to global primary energy consumption (including nuclear + renewable) at that time was 53.7 ± 5.5 ; if the forcing was for 2007, that drops to 51.4 ± 5.3. (As this is the result of cummulative emissions (including effects of CO2 uptake by the ocean, etc.), and the emission rate has been increasing, such a ratio might be considered a low-ball estimate of what might be considered a ‘standard’ forcing/combustion ratio.) Because the climate has already warmed some amount, the rate of additional heat accumulation in the climate system will be less (some of the forcing is already balanced by the climate change).

    Energy ratio: for example (because I’m not sure offhand what the best amount to use is), taking just 5 % of the ocean and the latent heat of increased H2O vapor and the heat needed to warm the air as calculated before, heating this up 3 K would take 872 ZJ (still mostly going to the ocean). (This is a heat capacity of 291 ZJ/K (570 MJ/(K*m^2)); with an equilibrium climate sensitivity of 3 K / 3.7 W/m^2 , the time scale is 14.6 years). Without uptake by other C reservoirs, doubling atmospheric CO2 via combustion of fossil fuels (in the proportions considered earlier) would directly produce 27.5 ZJ (873 TW*yr, or 8.73 TW for 100 years) of (primary) energy (based on the ratio found earlier – it can vary). So the ratio of energies in this case is 31.7. It will be lower from CO2 uptake from the atmosphere, but then again it will be larger as more of the ocean warms, and of course can vary with varying contributions of coal, oil, and gas. Using the total of my comment 140, 17700 ZJ, the ratio of energies is 644, but again, that’s without CO2 uptake.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 7 Oct 2012 @ 6:04 PM

  220. The first part of that was supposed to be:

    re my my 137,140,145 (Re 132 Jack Roesler) – Clarifications/additions:

    re my 137: “This seems to be on track as, from memory, once upon a time emissions were ~ 7 Gt C per year and energy consumption was something like 10 TW or maybe 12 ? (although that would include some nuclear, hydro, etc, and the fossil fuel mix would be different over time and space).” Add to that paranthetical statement: on the othe hand, some net anthropogenic CO2 emissions are from other sources (deforestation, cement production).

    re my 145 – the error did not affect the numbers I posted due to rounding (same first 3 digits for either 365 or 365.25 days/year; the later is actually only closer to correct; not *every* 4th year is a leap year. I am generally basing calculations on 365.25 days/year unless for specific years.

    3.7 W/m2 => ~ 1887 TW is approx. the forcing from doubling CO2 (adding approx. 2185 Gt CO2 (596.4 Gt C) to preindustrial atmosphere)
    (in brief: forcing is approx. logarithmically proportional to amount over a range of amounts due to the shape of the most important longwave absorption band – at smaller amounts (where the center of the band is sufficiently far from saturated for tropopause-level forcing) the proportionality is approx. linear, at very very large amounts the proportionality changes due to other parts of the absorption spectrum becoming important (as on Venus)); this forcing is present as long as CO2 remains at that level (~ 560 ppm if the baseline is ~ 280 ppm); it is a change in forcing relative to the prior forcing – the climate system generally always has some external forcing, for which there generally is some equilibrium climate(s).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 7 Oct 2012 @ 6:08 PM

  221. Because the climate has already warmed some amount, the rate of additional heat accumulation in the climate system will be less (some of the forcing is already balanced by the climate change).

    (The total anthropogenic forcing includes other GHGs and aerosols; the net effect happens to be (with significant error bars) similar to that from CO2 alone.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 7 Oct 2012 @ 6:10 PM

  222. Notice: Please keep discussions related to the science of climate change. Not the politics of climate change, the economics of energy generation, how cell phones do or do not give you brain cancer, the end of the world as we know it, or how strongly you feel about saving the world. There are multiple venues that will value your contributions to those discussion – this is just not one of them. Sorry. – gavin

    Comment by gavin — 7 Oct 2012 @ 6:14 PM

  223. As this is the result of cummulative emissions (including effects of CO2 uptake by the ocean, etc.), and the emission rate has been increasing, such a ratio might be considered a low-ball estimate of what might be considered a ‘standard’ forcing/combustion ratio. … but also, in the process of doubling CO2, the first CO2 added does nearly twice as much to climate as the last CO2 … on the other hand, if the rate of oceanic+other uptake changes…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 7 Oct 2012 @ 6:22 PM

  224. Gavin: Thanks for the feedback, and sorry to hear I’m boring the hosts. Just to clarify: The emissions projections of the International Energy Agency are to be considered unrelated to the science of climate change?

    [Response: The science of emissions projections are fine. – gavin]

    Comment by Chris Korda — 7 Oct 2012 @ 6:39 PM

  225. The science of emissions projections are fine.

    Gavin: Sorry to be dense, but it sounds like you’re saying it’s OK to discuss how the IEA comes up with its projections, but not the projections themselves or their implications for future climate. Surely that’s not what you meant?

    [Response: For any projection for the future of climate, you obviously need a projection of emissions (greenhouse gases, ozone and aerosol precursors, etc.), land use change and so on. Since no one actually has a crystal ball, these are produced based on reasonable storylines of how population, technology, economics etc. might evolve, mostly through the application of Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs). None of the resulting scenarios are ‘truth’, but the hope is that they span most of the possibilities. If you want to discuss the details of the scenario construction, you need to find people who are more involved in IAMs than anyone here is. If you want to discuss the differences the different scenarios make for climate, then stick around. If you want to posit that all of the scenarios are bunk and/or the world is going end on Tuesday, then take it somewhere else. – gavin]

    Comment by Chris Korda — 7 Oct 2012 @ 6:54 PM

  226. Gavin:

    the end of the world as we know it, or how strongly you feel about saving the world.

    Sorry, I can’t resist: It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 7 Oct 2012 @ 7:08 PM

  227. “If you want to discuss the differences the different scenarios make for climate, then stick around.”

    Gavin: Excellent, thank you for clarifying that. I would like to discuss the effect of two scenarios: The International Energy Agency’s 2011 “New Policies Scenario” (IEA 2011a), as updated in IEA’s 2012 “Facing China’s Coal Future”, which is available HERE, and the US Energy Information Agency’s “International Energy Outlook 2011 Reference Case” (IEO2011), available HERE. In particular I would like to better understand the impact on future climate of the following three graphs:

    Primary energy demand until 2035, from “Facing China’s Coal Future”, figure 1, page 7, Increases in carbon emissions by fuel type for regions with highest absolute emissions growth, 2008-2035 from IEO2011, figures 115, page 143, and “Cumulative carbon dioxide emissions by region”, figure 116, also on page 143, same link as above.

    Both scenarios contain extensive references, and appear to correlate with each other and with other current sources I have examined including UNEP’s GEO5 and BP’s June 2012 “Statistical Review of World Energy”. Assuming events unfold in accordance with these scenarios, what will the impact be on total global cumulative CO2 emissions, and what is the resulting temperature increase likely to be? Specifically, the IEO2011 projects about 1 trillion metric tons of additional cumulative energy-related carbon dioxide emissions between 2009 and 2035 (page 143). How does this compare to the new IPCC scenarios? What are the consequences?

    Comment by Chris Korda — 7 Oct 2012 @ 8:50 PM

  228. > why none of the models did anything like that

    Look at the various ‘betting on sea ice’ discussions on other climate blogs.

    Did you read this thread? Look at the picture at least:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Oct 2012 @ 8:56 PM

  229. Chris Korda @227 — The consequences range from very bad to horrible. Some assessment group places the consequences of just the current warming at around US$1000 billion per year or 1.6% of GWP.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 7 Oct 2012 @ 10:34 PM

  230. Well, I do have a question: anybody know of specific research projects suggested by/or targeted to the “Great Sea Ice Crash of 2012?” I’m surveying the fallout, and if there is anything fairly directly related in some way, I’d be fascinated to hear about it.

    Also, what are people’s perceptions of the ‘buzz factor’ associated with the numerous news stories? Anybody see evidence of wider impact, like ‘water cooler conversations,’ for example?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 7 Oct 2012 @ 10:35 PM

  231. The sea ice data center of apl at the Univeristy of Washington has made available a daily dataset of Arctic sea ice volume. I would be very interested in seeing the annual averages (not the widely publicized annual minimums).

    (I’m not set up to do this myself just now. Thanks.)

    Comment by David B. Benson — 7 Oct 2012 @ 10:38 PM

  232. Jim (#217),

    Yes, there is a lot you can learn from wikipedia if you are behind on the news. You may not be aware that the US regulates greenhouse gas emissions.

    What you might call a safe harbor when it comes to the liability consequences of convincing attribution that is coming into focus as, for example, in the recent PNAS paper.

    You could argue that the attribution must come from models and they are not ready yet, but models can always catch up.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 7 Oct 2012 @ 11:37 PM

  233. Forgot this one Hank and thanks:

    Amazing, took 1 second to see that 2040-2049 projection looks like 2012!

    Comment by wayne davidson — 8 Oct 2012 @ 12:27 AM

  234. #233 turns out that the 2007 2040-2049 sea ice projection is robust weather and climate wise, just temporally wrong.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 8 Oct 2012 @ 8:29 AM

  235. “My question is why none of the models did anything like that. How could they miss something so obvious?”

    Yes. This seems to be THE question. To melt that amount of ice requires a lot of heat. The source for that heat should be amenable to inspection. What is the source for the heat that the models aren’t capturing?

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 8 Oct 2012 @ 8:30 AM

  236. #229–I’d love a source on that assessment if you can find it, DBB.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 8 Oct 2012 @ 8:45 AM

  237. Gavin,

    “Please keep discussions related to the science of climate change. Not the politics of climate change, the economics of energy generation, how cell phones do or do not give you brain cancer, the end of the world as we know it”

    All well and good. But, if you are going to post an attack on one of these verboten topics, such as Mal Adaptive’s attack on my cell phone statement, it is incumbent on you to post a response. You have not done that, and it reflects negatively on the partiality of this site.

    [Response: This site is partial to staying on topic and there are no apologies for that. Take it elsewhere. – gavin]

    Comment by Superman1 — 8 Oct 2012 @ 9:57 AM

  238. Kevin @236 – DARA report David refers to reported widely.

    Comment by flxible — 8 Oct 2012 @ 10:07 AM

  239. Regarding keeping the discussion here focused on climate science, a few thoughts.

    The recent Nature Geoscience paper that several commenters have mentioned seems important. I note that it has already been covered by a number of climate change blogs, including SkepticalScience, Joe Romm’s ClimateProgress (which republished the SkepticalScience article), ClimateCentral, ClimateSight, and Tamino’s OpenMind blog. Probably others. Several commenters here have requested that the RC hosts weigh in on it.

    It seems to me that several of those sites post more frequently and promptly on such developments than does RC, often with at least some substantive scientific commentary (e.g. putting new studies in the context of previous work, etc).

    Recognizing that at least some of those sites have, or are run by, full-time bloggers, I still wonder, what is RC’s unique value-added here? I have to say that I find SkepticalScience and ClimateProgress (for example) to be better sites for frequent, up-to-the-minute reporting on new developments in climate science than is RC, where such studies are sometimes not even noted, let alone have their implications discussed in depth by the hosts.

    Would it be possible for RC to adopt a practice of routinely posting at least short reports on such developments, when time does not permit the hosts to write full-length analyses? Then the discussion threads on those reports could be more focused not just on “the science” but on those specific scientific issues.

    My other thought is this. One reason that the “unforced variations” threads trend to discussions of solutions to the AGW problem (and/or of the perceived political, economic and social obstacles to such solutions) may be that for many of us, and I include myself, climate science has already told us what we need to know.

    That was my earlier comment here about the permafrost study: it’s just another study telling us what we already know, namely that we are in deep trouble, that the closer we look at AGW and the better we understand it, the more we see that it is worse than we expected and getting worse faster than expected. What is there to “discuss”, really, about the permafrost study? It’s just more bad news, in a steady stream of bad news, which we have every reason to expect will continue to grow into a torrent of ever worsening bad news.

    By all means, climate scientists, PLEASE continue your heroic and invaluable work in studying and understanding the problem. Please “keep your cool” and keep doing science. Please, as time permits, keep us updated here on what’s happening with the science, and continue your generous answering of questions about the science, especially for those visitors who are just “catching on” to the severity and urgency of the problem (and may arrive here dazed & confused by the deniers).

    But recognize that for many of us, we already “get it”. That’s why we are obsessively focused on finding, and implementing solutions (whatever each of us perceives those to be), and on dealing with the political and social obstacles to those solutions.


    [Response: RC is not something that was designed to be is strategically positioned for some maximum perceived impact. It was, and continues to be, somewhere where scientists can talk about the science and hope to ‘give context that is often missing’ elsewhere. It is a volunteer effort and has no staff or dedicated full-timers. We don’t just reprint press-releases or repost non-original content, and our expertise predisposes us to talk about scientific (WG1-type) issues over policy solutions. This has always been true, and will likely always remain so. If you want policy discussions go to places where policy is the focus. It is true that posting frequency has fallen off as demands on our time have increased, and we are certainly discussing ways to move forward in ways that make sense. It’s great that SkS, or ClimateCentral or CapitalWeather are doing more rapid reaction stuff, and when they do it well, we don’t see the need to repeat things here. People I think sometimes forget it takes time to craft a substantive commentary on something new. And the world has enough non-substantive commentary already. – gavin]

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 8 Oct 2012 @ 10:20 AM

  240. Jeffrey, did you read the 2007 thread linked above?
    The paper on model runs with extremely rapid loss of sea ice?
    Don’t confuse model runs with “a prediction” – the models are run many times to get an idea of the many possible outcomes.

    Look at the discussion and you’ll see that rapid loss happens on some runs, without any need to find some mysterious unknown heat source or current or wind — not always, not the same year each time, but it was known from that work as a possibility.

    Note the last IPCC report said they didn’t know enough to discuss the subject; a lot of papers since then have added much to what the next IPCC report can use.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Oct 2012 @ 10:46 AM

  241. Some readers here may be interested in an example of climate science (nomral progress as via IPCC 1990, 1992, 1995, 2001, 2007) versus anti-science (in 2005, exhume a long-obsolete, well-caveated graph from IPCC(1990) and promote it as absolute truth, albeit without the caveats.)

    As I recall, this topic has been touched upon here at RC now and then, but some more info has been unearthed.

    See More use and abuse of IPCC 1990 fig 7.1(c).

    Comment by John Mashey — 8 Oct 2012 @ 11:12 AM

  242. Gavin, please feel free to delete any posts I make that you judge to be off topic.

    I trust that asking questions about the implications of a Nature article on permafrost melt is legit?

    Still waiting for nibbles on that.

    Meanwhile, Climate Central has an update from the Arctic expedition by Christian Berndt of the GEOMAR/Helmholz Center for Ocean Research:

    “It’s been called the Methane Bomb — a stash of gas buried under the Arctic seafloor whose heat-trapping power is much greater, molecule for molecule, than the carbon dioxide people usually worry about. As climate change forces the Arctic to warm, experts warn that methane could escape, speeding global warming. They can’t predict when the great escape might begin, however, or how fast it might proceed. They can’t even rule out the possibility that it might have already started. So they’ve been cruising Arctic waters to get a better handle on where things stand…

    [Berndt] and his colleagues have known since 2008 that methane is leaking from the ocean bottom near Spitzbergen, an island in Norway’s Svalbard Archipelago. But thanks to a research cruise this past summer, they’ve got reason to believe that global warming could be part of the reason, if not the sole culprit. “We have no proof,” he said in a recent interview. “But we have several lines of evidence that fit well [with this possibility].”

    Berndt thinks that two things may be going on at once: a slow leak of methane that’s been going on for hundreds of years, and also the beginning of the hydrate breakup that scientists have been worried about…”

    Comment by wili — 8 Oct 2012 @ 11:26 AM

  243. [Response: Agreed. Can we just have a lot less hand-waving and lumping together of all of the problems of the world and stick to something resembling scientific issues? The current conversations are tedious and their like can be found all over the place. This is a unique venue – we have little interest in hosting repetitive identikit discussions of the sort playing out recently. – gavin]

    OK, I’ll try my luck.
    It is not often that the NASA is enthusiastic about something readily rejected by the regular professional climate scientists.
    Jean Dickey of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena
    :…… Other possibilities are that some other (the Earth’s) core process could be having a more indirect effect on climate, or that an external (e.g. solar) process affects the core and climate simultaneously.
    more here:

    Comment by vukcevic — 8 Oct 2012 @ 11:38 AM

  244. Maintaining a blog about anything (including climate science) is a lot of work. Doing so with the level of expertise and relevance found here at RealClimate is a valuable service to the readers. It’s also a sacrifice on the part of the bloggers; even with a team to shoulder the load, it’s a load.

    It’s fine to make requests about topics you want discussed (by both bloggers and commenters), in fact I get such requests often and sometimes fulfill them. Suggestions are one thing but demands or insistence are quite another — it is not our place to tell the RC staff what they can and can’t, or should and shouldn’t, discuss in their posts or permit in their comment threads.

    We are guests in someone else’s house. Show some respect.

    Comment by tamino — 8 Oct 2012 @ 12:10 PM

  245. vukcevic @ 243, there appears to be a major difference between the NASA graph (why would any professional climate scientist reject it; it confirms a stout anthropogenic warming in the 20th Century) and yours.

    Additionally, as I have argued on Climate Etc., left to natural variation, the temperature at the end of the 20th Century would be somewhat close to the temperature at the beginning of the 20th Century, and it appears NASA agrees with me.

    Comment by JCH — 8 Oct 2012 @ 12:34 PM

  246. re: 240

    I don’t know if I’d say that the model’s outliers resemble what’s happening. The lack of growth after a period of decline seems to be the biggest divergence, even more than the actual extent of the decline. Since the graph isn’t fine grained enough to track runs year-to-year, it will be interesting to see if we do experience a resurgence in sea ice growth over the next couple of years or if melt just goes straight to the expected minimum of around 1m km2.

    One of the model runs showed a regrowth of ice up to 7m km2 before extent just fell off a cliff down to the 1m km2 basement. If ice follows that pattern, I’ll completely believe in the Gaia Hypothesis: resurgence like that would guarantee that we’ll never mitigate co2. Ever. It would mean that Gaia is p****d at us terminally and doesn’t want us around.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 8 Oct 2012 @ 12:59 PM

  247. SecularAnimist, I have a different perspective on this. To my mind RealClimate maintains an air of professionalism and quality in standing back from the blog battles that accompany every potentially controversial paper that splurges out of the scientific literature. There are plenty of websites that engage in instantaneous responses and that seems fine to me. Anyone sufficiently interested to track down the essential relevances out of the relentless stream of mock battles can come to a pretty good idea of the underlying realities of the subjects being gnawed over. There’s usually enought information out there, and it’s not obvious that a further pitching-in by RealClimate would add very much!

    Part of the value of RealClimate is that it reflects the realities of working at the coalface of a subject. It also reflects (IMHO) something important about contemporary dissemination of science, namely that once the vast amount of blogospheric bitching about a topic is done with, the issues are often fundamentally straightforward. I’m reminded, for example of the blog fervour over the xMRV virus/prostate cancer link, which has been pretty much knocked on the head by people actually doing some very careful experiments, resolving the issues, and publishing them. The saying that “when all is said and done, a whole lot more is said than is done”, applies with spades in the age of the blog!

    So I’m happy that RealClimate posts sparsely and with a certain authority. In that vein I also think DeepClimate’s blog is fundamentally solid since he (she?) assures there’s something very worthwhile to say/show before saying it. I’ll also give a thumbs up to Tamino’s OpenMind which is a relatively sparse in its postings, but chooses its subjects well and generally nails them…

    Comment by chris — 8 Oct 2012 @ 1:13 PM

  248. This is more WGII stuff than WGI, but it would be interesting to see maps of preindustrial vs. current vs future regions where conditions would be good … not just for the staple crops but also things like producing maple syrup (that’s been on my mind recently). Anyone seen anything?

    re 244 tamino – or anyone else – if I wanted to start my own blog (did RC itself have a post on starting your own blog a few years ago?), where would the easiest place to do it be for putting in equations, or drawings, or spreadsheet tables (but especially equations)? (and would commenting be as easy as it is here, because I’ve been to one place where I couldn’t figure out how to submit a comment, and another where there’s a whole legal thing to read (probably basic standard stuff but it was enough to make me just decide to not bother)?

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 8 Oct 2012 @ 1:29 PM

  249. #238–Thanks, flexible. So THAT’S the important thing I missed while out in the woods!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 8 Oct 2012 @ 1:29 PM

  250. I want to join tamino in appreciating what a great service people are providing here. And I apologize if I came off as disrespectful to any of the people that do the hard and important work of maintaining the site. My frustrations is mostly directed at fellow posters who seem to be willing to talk about anything else–politics, ev’s, economics, troll feeding…–than what to me is one of the most important and interesting articles to come out on carbon feedbacks: the Nature article on permafrost linked above.

    Since, as far as I can tell, none of my posts have been deleted, I have to assume that the moderators do not at this point find them to be off topic, here. (But maybe they just haven’t gotten around to it yet?)

    Having said that, and risking once again being seen as ungrateful or disrespectful (neither of which I intend to be):

    Gavin, in response to Chris Korda at#225 above wrote:

    “If you want to posit that all of the scenarios are bunk and/or the world is going end on Tuesday, then take it somewhere else.”

    As far as I have seen, no one on this site has actually posited that “the world is going to end on Tuesday,” so I assume this was some kind of hyperbole. A hypothetical and slightly whimsical question–if there was actual scientific evidence that the world was going to end on Tuesday, would it still be off topic.

    More to the point, is there a point where the consequences of what the science tells us gets too scary to discuss even here, no matter how well backed up with references that science may be? If not, then what are we to make of this ‘next Tuesday’ remark?

    Again, a big thanks to those here (and elsewhere) who do the hard work of maintaining wonderful sites where the science of climate–the biggest issue of our time, imvho–can be frankly discussed.

    Comment by wili — 8 Oct 2012 @ 2:15 PM

  251. David B. Benson @229:

    Thank you for your reply.

    I would still like to determine which of the new IPCC scenarios most closely resembles the EIA’s IEO2011 projection of “1 trillion metric tons of additional cumulative energy-related carbon dioxide emissions between 2009 and 2035”. The new IPCC are named RCPs (Representative Concentration Pathways). Pre-release graphs of them can be viewed HERE. The graph I’m interested is titled “Emissions”, on page 11.

    The y-axis of the RCP emissions graph is in Gt of carbon per year. So I divide the EIA’s “1 trillion metric tons of additional … CO2” by the length of their projection (26 years) and get 38.5 Gt of CO2 per year. Then I divide by 3.67 (the CO2 to C conversion factor) and get 10.5 Gt of carbon per year. But that’s not much help because RCPs show varying emissions over time.

    So I try the opposite approach. I make an annotated version of the same RCP emissions graph, and use it to estimate the total additional C added from 2009 to 2035 along the various RCPs. For RCP8.5, it looks pretty close to a linear change: an increase of about 2.25 Gt of C per decade, or 0.225 Gt per year. To compute cumulative emissions given a linear change, I want the sum of an arithmetic progression.
    Sn = n / 2 * (a1 + an), where an = a1 + (n – 1) * d.
    Here a1 = 0.225, n = 26 years, and d = 0.225, so:
    an = 0.225 + (26 – 1) * 0.225 = 5.85
    Sn = 26 / 2 * (0.225 + 5.85) = 78.975 Gt C
    78.975 * 3.67 = 290 Gt CO2

    So if we follow RCP8.5, the IPCC AR5 worst case, we add 290 Gt CO2 from 2009 to 2035, but the US EIA projects adding 1000 Gt for the same period, or 3.4 times as much.

    “Well I would say, sir, that there was something dreadfully wrong somewhere.” -Mandrake in Dr. Strangelove

    Comment by Chris Korda — 8 Oct 2012 @ 4:19 PM

  252. flxible @238 — Thanks.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 8 Oct 2012 @ 4:20 PM

  253. David (#231),

    This is what I get:

    Year___ Average ice volume [1000 km^3]
    1979.00 25.3910
    1980.00 24.6484
    1981.00 22.2369
    1982.00 21.6755
    1983.00 23.3537
    1984.00 22.8945
    1985.00 23.0524
    1986.00 23.8509
    1987.00 24.1516
    1988.00 23.4871
    1989.00 23.1267
    1990.00 22.4235
    1991.00 22.5963
    1992.00 22.9292
    1993.00 21.9633
    1994.00 22.2996
    1995.00 20.3013
    1996.00 21.0725
    1997.00 21.5944
    1998.00 21.0125
    1999.00 20.3940
    2000.00 19.6337
    2001.00 20.0871
    2002.00 19.6029
    2003.00 18.9710
    2004.00 18.4592
    2005.00 17.8805
    2006.00 17.2195
    2007.00 15.4800
    2008.00 16.5765
    2009.00 16.1197
    2010.00 14.0270
    2011.00 13.1795

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 8 Oct 2012 @ 4:38 PM

  254. re my 248, first paragraph – never mind, found it (well, not a map, but good enough).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 8 Oct 2012 @ 5:14 PM

  255. Chris (#251),

    I’m not following your summation all that well, but on your annotated plot, RCP8.5 has a value of about 11.5 Gt/yr C halfway through your range of interest. Multiplying that by 26 years and your conversion factor gives about 1097 Gt CO2. Seems like you’ve found the track you are interested in.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 8 Oct 2012 @ 5:43 PM

  256. 250 wili,

    I think that the reasons why the world will end Tuesday at 4:37PM is spot on topical to this blog, but suggested activities between now and then are not, except in a supporting role. The wiggle room provided by “except” is being further restricted (or eliminated), as everyone knows that an inch = a light year.

    One of my less off-topic posts commented on how well the emissions curves proposed by RC as needed to probably keep us at least marginally safe matches the emissions curves for all currently producing fossil fuel sources, thus meaning drilling any more wells would require the closing of the same production quantity of already been drilled wells. Since no existing well will ever be closed before becoming uneconomical to pump, new wells are unwise. That’s probably within the “except” limits, but it led to vast quantities of over-the-top stuff, so just saying no to any and all proposed actions might be the way to go for RC.

    One possible solution would be an unmoderated “Solutions” thread (or moderated by non-scientist volunteers). No time spent by the hosts, and folks can interact with their RC friends about that related topic. I see Climate Science as a two step process. First, scientists tell us the shape of the emissions curves which will provide various levels of harm, and then non-scientists decide which curve to follow and how.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 8 Oct 2012 @ 5:53 PM

  257. Ole Humlum just being his normal self and state that NCDC and GISS no longer can be perceived as trustworthy since he has noticed that at two stations they adjust the temperature in a way that make them fit the “models” better. page 5 in Swedish…

    Comment by Magnus W — 8 Oct 2012 @ 5:53 PM

  258. Chris Dudley @253 — Thank you. I’m on it right away.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 8 Oct 2012 @ 6:24 PM

  259. Chris Dudley @255:

    With all due respect I don’t agree. My math shows that for the period 2009 to 2035, RCP 8.5 would entail additional cumulative emissions of approximately 29 Gt of C, or 290 Gt of CO2. This is significantly less than the EIA’s projection of 1,000 Gt of CO2 for the same period. I don’t think it’s correct to simply multiply by 26 as you did. To compute cumulative emissions over a period given a linear change, i.e. a constant yearly increment, it’s necessary to use the sum of an arithmetic progression. My analysis of the chart suggests that 0.225 Gt C @ year is a decent approximation of RCP 8.5’s yearly increment for the time period in question. You can view the arithmetic progression expressed as a table HERE.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 8 Oct 2012 @ 6:32 PM

  260. “The Chinese are not worried that dealing with global warming will lock them out of economic growth in the 21st century — the Chinese know that dealing with global warming is THE key to economic growth in the 21st century.” SecularAnimist — 6 Oct 2012 @ 3:49 PM

    “Here is what Carter predicted at the dedication ceremony: “In the year 2000 this solar water heater behind me, which is being dedicated today, will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy…. A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken[almost nailed it] or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.”

    “Huang Ming, chairman of Himin Solar Energy Group Co., the largest manufacturer of such solar hot water heaters in the world, accepted the donation for permanent display there on August 5. After all, companies like his in China now produce some 80 percent of the solar water heaters used in the world today.”

    There’s a video of the Carter White House solar panel in Mr Ming’s Solar Science and Technology Museum in China. One reason he has the museum is to inspire his workers – and you can see them laugh at our politician’s stupidity ~45 seconds into the video.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 8 Oct 2012 @ 6:48 PM

  261. Here’s a simpler illustration of my point. Note the pink right triangle. The hypotenuse follows RCP 8.5, or close enough. We emitted 9 Gt C in 2009, and we’re projected to be emitting 15 Gt C per year by 2035. We want to know the total cumulative emissions, in other words how much additional CO2 we emitted during the period, above and beyond whatever we’d already emitted by 2009. So we want the area under the curve, but the curve is conveniently a line in this case, greatly simplifying the math. All we need is the area of a right triangle, or 1/2 lw.

    A = (15 – 9) * 26 / 2 = 78 Gt C, and 78 * 3.67 = 286 Gt CO2

    This is 3 Gt less than we got with the previous method (sum of an arithmetic progression), probably due to a fence post error for the final year. Nonetheless, it appears that for the period 2009 to 2035, US EIA’s projected cumulative emissions are approximately 3.5 times greater than RCP 8.5, which is AR5’s worst case. If correct, this conclusion would seem to be newsworthy no?

    Comment by Chris Korda — 8 Oct 2012 @ 8:06 PM

  262. The comment about a Chinese dedication to solar power and leadership is bogus. 99% of China’s solar power production (half the world’s total) is exported. Dumping investigations are ongoing in both the European Union and the USA. The bleeding edge is Europe (Germany is the big dawg), the USA and Japan tie for second, and the China is 4th. Sell the sob about the lack of leadership someplace else – everyone went back to oil because the price dropped through the floor around 1990.

    Comment by owl905 — 8 Oct 2012 @ 9:05 PM

  263. #260–It’s rather remarkable how often it has been claimed now that all Western economies are irrelevant because China is going to cook our climatic goose no matter what we do. (You’d think that that idea would act to encourage those making this argument to demand that we negotiate an agreement with China, but that’s not generally the case…well, it’s usually a concern troll’s argument, I suppose.)

    But there is another side to the Chinese energy policy in particular–the side that has seen them become world leaders in green tech exports in just a few short years, and has had them adding renewables faster than they can integrate them into the grid. Seems strange from the perspective of that ‘other side’ to assume that the US will always somehow still lead in green tech, without any American vision or effort whatever. In fact, the US doesn’t now–not in dollar terms anyway. And how long can US green tech innovation be sustained in this political environment?

    During the Obama administration, US wind capacity has doubled, solar has increased by a factor of 6, the relevant loan guarantee program has a current default rate of 2.6%–and the public square thinks it was a $90 billion boondoggle with “half the companies out of business.”

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 8 Oct 2012 @ 9:26 PM

  264. Thank you Gavin for your reply to my comment #239 and to other commenters who also followed up.

    I certainly did not intend any disrespect to the hosts. I am profoundly grateful for the challenging scientific work that Gavin and the other hosts have done and continue to do, as well as for the work that goes into maintaining this site — not only their substantive articles but their thoughtful (and tolerant) moderation of an open forum for often unruly discussion.

    As I wrote above, it is precisely that scientific work that informs and energizes the urgent desire for solutions that appears again and again in the more-or-less off-topic posts here — and that also inspires in some cases a retreat into despair, as the news from the front lines of climate science continues to rapidly worsen.

    I shall endeavor to keep my advocacy for solutions — and commentaries on the obstacles to their implementation — for more appropriate venues, and will continue to value this site for the context and insight into climate science that it excellently provides.


    Comment by SecularAnimist — 8 Oct 2012 @ 9:44 PM

  265. As of now, here by the High Arctic Barrow Strait (74 degrees North), It was -5 for more than week and there hasn’t been any grey ice until temperatures reached -11.5 C, the grey ice was minuscule as the -11 C lasted a few hours and it warmed to -6 C afterwards.

    Here is my question to Gavin like Sea ice modellers; Given that Cecilia Bitz 2007 projection was uncannily right, (by the way congrats to Cecilia and colleagues)

    with sea ice morphology nearly identical to September 2012 at Minima. Could the temporal projection mistake of 30 years be explained by sea ice models creating more extent or volume since they perhaps erroneously start creating sea ice when surface air temperatures reach -2 C instead of -11 C?

    Having a look at the models SURFACE temperatures as well as SST’s as they create ice would help answer this question.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 8 Oct 2012 @ 9:54 PM

  266. Chris (#259)

    I think perhaps you don’t understand the units on the chart. These are annual emissions, not cumulative emissions. If they were cumulative, they would not fall off.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 8 Oct 2012 @ 10:20 PM

  267. “….and then non-scientists decide which curve to follow and how.”

    Dismal scientists might be offended by that characterization….

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 8 Oct 2012 @ 10:29 PM

  268. Chris Dudley @259: I understand that the units are annual emissions. I’m using the annual emission figures (which in RCP8.5 are increasing almost linearly with time) to compute the cumulative emissions for a specific period, because that’s the format of EIA’s projection: “1 trillion metric tons of additional cumulative energy-related carbon dioxide emissions between 2009 and 2035”. Cumulative emissions are the area under the curve, or the hypotenuse in this serendipitously easy case.

    While we’re at it, here’s another annotated chart which uses a similar approximation to show how long it would take RCP 8.5 to reach cumulative emissions of 1,000 Gt of CO2. The fit isn’t quite as good in this case, but it’s good enough to illustrate my point: RCP 8.5 would reach cumulative emissions of 1,000 Gt CO2 in 2053, 18 years later than EIA’s projection.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 8 Oct 2012 @ 11:45 PM

  269. Inserting myself into the discussion mostly from Chris Korda (143, 227, 251, 259), with occasional responses by Chris Dudley (255, 266):

    To Chris Korda:

    Let’s go back to the pre-release IPCC RCP graphs you mentioned in #251. You clearly noted that the y-axis is in GtC, not GtCO₂.

    Looking at the chart I pick off approximately “9” for 2009 and “15” for 2035. Now, we cannot check the figure for 2035 by looking at history, but we can pick off the 2009 figure from the following:

    CDIAC: world 1751 to 2009 carbon emissions table

    There, you will find the figure 8738 (millions of metric tons) for the year 2009. This is pretty close to what my eye picked off from the pre-release chart you talked about.

    Just as a note, CDIAC keeps destroying old records from their site, so while you can find the above link and the following one:

    CDIAC: world 1751 to 2008 carbon emissions table

    You can no longer find this one:

    CDIAC: world 1751 to 2006 carbon emissions table

    But I happen to have the numbers for 2005 from all three. In 2006, they said 2005 was 7971; in 2008, they say it was 8086; in 2009, they say it was 8106. You can see they are rising a little as they adjust the figures for reasons I can’t pretend to understand or know about. So “9” seems like a good figure for 2009, to me. You will just have to accept (or check for yourself) my estimate of “15” for 2035 for purposes here.

    The rate of change does indeed appear close enough to linear for that period, so estimating a slope is useful. I calculate ⁽¹⁵⁻⁹⁾⁄₍₂₀₃₅₋₂₀₀₉₎=⁶⁄₂₆ ≈ 0.23. This is close to your own estimates. So far, we are on common ground I think.

    The area under the curve is the total in GtC. You don’t need to use sums of discrete values (which approximate close enough, but really it is better to just use calculus.) The equation is just V₀⋅t + (k⁄2)⋅t², where V₀=9 GtC/yr, k=0.23 GtC/yr², and t=26 years. I get about 312 GtC, plugging in the numbers. Multiply this by 3.667 to get GtCO₂ and I get about 1143 GtCO₂. This appears to me to comport with the “IEO2011 Reference case projects about 1 trillion metric tons of additional cumulative energy-related carbon dioxide emissions between 2009 and 2035” that you cited in #143, which clearly states CO₂ in the sentence. So I think there isn’t a big disconnect here. It’s not good news. But the numbers align. (The thing that drew me immediately to wonder was your own computed factor of disparity, which was 3.4 — close enough to 3.667 that I spent a moment longer thinking about it.)

    I don’t like the fact that the pre-release paper about ICPP RCPs happens to show RCP8.5 as the worst case emission scenario in that chart and that this scenario also happens to be the apparent reality in the International Energy Outlook from 2011. If the IPCC RCPs don’t include anything worse and if we are, in reality, on track for this worst case, then the other RCPs are wishful proposals more than anything else. That’s very bad. But that seems to be reality, too. I think I will use RCP8.5 as the ONLY scenario I use for thinking purposes until AFTER I see serious political action AND YEARS AFTER I see significant implementation already taking place. Until then, RCP8.5 is reality.

    Comment by Jon Kirwan — 9 Oct 2012 @ 3:56 AM

  270. Chris (#261),

    I see it now. You are integrating the triangle, the area above 9 Gt C/yr. I am integrating the area under the curve, down to zero. I think you are perhaps interpreting “additional emissions” or some such phrasing as an increase over 2009 annual emissions. I think additional emissions means more emissions as opposed to no emissions in this case. A more formal integration of the area under the curve can be found in #269 that is in fairly close agreement with my by-eye estimate.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 9 Oct 2012 @ 6:24 AM

  271. “Four-fifths of the total energy-related CO2 emissions permitted to 2035 in the 450 [ppm CO2] Scenario are already locked-in by existing capital stock, including power stations, buildings and factories. Without further action by 2017, the energy-related infrastructure then in place would generate all the CO2 emissions allowed in the 450 Scenario up to 2035. Delaying action is a false economy: for every $1 of investment in cleaner technology that is avoided in the power sector before 2020, an additional $4.30 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions.”

    2011 IEA World Energy Outlook,20318,en.html

    Comment by Tom Adams — 9 Oct 2012 @ 8:02 AM

  272. The IEA 450 Senario is to meet the 2 degrees C global warming limit.

    Comment by Tom Adams — 9 Oct 2012 @ 8:05 AM

  273. Chris (255, 266, 270), Jon (269): Thank you for your comments, I understand my mistake now. As you say I wasn’t taking the “area under the curve” all the way down to zero. In my triangular area illustration, if I add the area of the triangle (78 Gt C) to the rectangular area beneath it (9 * 26 = 234 Gt C), I get 312 Gt C, the same result Jon gives in #269. I retract my statement about there being a discrepancy, and apologize for wasting time with this stupid math error.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 9 Oct 2012 @ 8:16 AM

  274. We’re getting a bit of China bashing going on here. I’ve pointed out that the climate science indicates that blame for the dessicating assault on US soil that we have experienced must be laid at China’s feet and a (not very large) tariff should be imposed to exact reparations for damages. It is a threshold thing and it might just as well have been us or India who deserved the blame had the threshold come earlier or later.

    But we have a long and useful reparations history with China. The Boxer Indemnity was used to build Tsinghua University. Under the unequal treaties, we also made the opium trade illegal to help with China’s addiction problem. If the tariff I’m suggesting helps to get some thinking going about fossil fuel addiction, then it may be useful in that manner as well and not just in making our farmers whole.

    China deserves very close attention and carefully calibrated diplomatic handling. Bashing is not called for.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 9 Oct 2012 @ 8:34 AM

  275. If anyone is still interested in the Younger Dryas – Anders Carlson and Peter Clark have posted a pdf copy of their latest review article on his UW Madison Geosciences page. I’m sure you can find it on your own.

    It is both comprehensive and state of the art. There remain some unanswered questions in the Thunder Bay and Lake Nipigon area though. If anyone wants to discuss it, I would be happy to respond to any and all ideas on this, but I’m tending to the belief that the impact proxies, if they are genuine, are sourced from the Gulf of St. Lawrence area and not Nipigon as I have proposed.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 9 Oct 2012 @ 9:52 AM

  276. Kevin McKinney wrote: “During the Obama administration, US wind capacity has doubled, solar has increased by a factor of 6, the relevant loan guarantee program has a current default rate of 2.6%–and the public square thinks it was a $90 billion boondoggle with ‘half the companies out of business’.”

    Well, here I am going off-topic again in exactly the way I said I wouldn’t … but there is no mystery as to why “the public square” thinks that: for exactly the same reason that “the public square” thinks there is serious scientific debate about whether global warming is even happening.

    It’s because there is a massive propaganda campaign to discredit, disparage, denigrate, undermine and destroy the wind and solar energy industries, which is every bit as vicious as the similar campaign against climate science, and funded by the same entities.

    The “half the companies out of business” bit is, in fact, a direct quote from Mitt Romney in last week’s TV debate:

    “And these [clean energy] businesses, many of them have gone out of business, I think about half of them, of the ones have been invested in, have gone out of business.”

    There was no rebuttal from either the moderator or from President Obama.

    The New York Times mustered the courage to call this blatant lie “an exaggeration”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 9 Oct 2012 @ 10:31 AM

  277. #262–There’s a kernel of truth to the contention that China has not deployed anything like the amounts of solar exported–though do we demand this in other export categories, or of other countries?–but Chinese wind power has grown tremendously. Moreover, see this update on Chinese solar:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 Oct 2012 @ 10:37 AM

  278. Perhaps I should have added to my previous comment that US solar capacity right now is in the ballpark of 5.7 GW, and German capacity is about 7.5 GW. So the Chinese plan, if realized, would see US deployment exceeded and German deployment approached by the end of this year.
    We’ll see if that happens–though deployment of wind in China and solar in India have both gone faster than expected in the past, so it might well come to pass. Either way, I don’t think that the plan merits a sneer toward “Chinese commitment to renewables.”

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 Oct 2012 @ 10:46 AM

  279. Ach! Gehirnfrieren!

    German solar produced 22 GW of actual output back in May:

    So, Germany can still sneer at the Chinese plan if they like.

    Captcha says: “Rejoissez”–really!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 Oct 2012 @ 10:52 AM

  280. > I’ve pointed out

    But attribution requires more than this.

    You’re attempting to assert politics based on your opinion, claiming “science” — without citation, without awareness of natural variation, and in a forum that hopes for more than handwaving.
    or if you prefer pictures

    “… Years as dry as 1936 or 1939 during the Dust Bowl drought frequently occurred year after year, and often with no break, (e.g. between 1140 and 1165) during medieval times….”

    Lay that at the feet of King Arthur and demand reparations.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Oct 2012 @ 11:05 AM

  281. uh, oh, I’m getting snarky. Time I took a break from this.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Oct 2012 @ 11:55 AM

  282. Hard to know how the amount of carbon being released by erosion and warming of permafrost to the atmosphere factors in, except to note that estimates seem to be being upwardly revised:

    Comment by Warren Hoskins — 9 Oct 2012 @ 12:10 PM

  283. Revise upward estimates of released carbon from Arctic and Siberian permafrost:

    Comment by Warren Hoskins — 9 Oct 2012 @ 12:18 PM

  284. Re 273 – at the risk of more OT (but this will be my only comment here about it): the solution you propose is fine; the reasoning is not – China’s emissions are on top of our’s and others’ and China itself is not free of global warming’s reach.

    Jim Larsen suggests the most elegant of solutions* – a global emissions tax. I like that. I have at various places discussed various things to put in place absent such policy attempting to accomplish something similar in a quasi-fair way, for example here: ,
    (a little background on my reasoning/opinions/speculations, though it’s probably not necessary: )(not to imply my ideas are all that original (although I’ve never heard anyone else discuss the backtax idea so much, but I easily could have missed it).

    A tariff would give us the ability to tax domestically without shifting production overseas; effects on (relatively green) exports may be similiarly ameliorated. A ‘polluter pays’ tax (the costs of which should, via normal market mechanisms, tend to be distributed among the benificiaries of the polluting activity, including internationally, other things being equal) doesn’t just provide revenue to deal with damages (or avoid them) but also produces a price signal which reshapes behaviors (once decided, even before going into effect) in suppliers, consumers, and investors – the supply and demand curves shift making alternatives more abundant, etc.

    *- not to suggest that this solution will do it all, but it makes the other things easier to do/more likely to be done.

    That’s all.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 9 Oct 2012 @ 12:59 PM

  285. It should be obvious, but to be clear, I meant in the comments @ ; I am obviously not the blogger. (You can’t link to individual comments over there, that’s why I just gave the link to the blog post.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 9 Oct 2012 @ 1:06 PM

  286. Secular,
    We already covered part of the $90 billion spending earlier, and yes Romney was way off on his statement about half the companies. Apart from that, I think your statement is way off. Romeny’s statement was an attempt to paint Obama as a big spender of pie-in-the-sky projects. It is not part of some massive propaganda campaign (although you could say that any presidential campaign is largely propaganda). This is completely seperate from the scientific debate, wheth or not you admit it occurrance.

    Comment by Dan H. — 9 Oct 2012 @ 3:25 PM

  287. Hank (#279),

    Perhaps you’d like to read this link:

    “The deadly European heat wave of 2003, the fiery Russian heat wave of 2010 and catastrophic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year can each be attributed to climate change. And once the data are gathered in a few weeks’ time, it’s likely that the same will be true for the extremely hot summer the United States is suffering through right now.”–and-worse-than-we-thought/2012/08/03/6ae604c2-dd90-11e1-8e43-4a3c4375504a_story.html

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 9 Oct 2012 @ 4:08 PM

  288. From Rep. Broun’s recent remarks , it is clear that under no circumstances shouldclimate scientists wear antler hats to Georgia Tech Christmas parties.

    Comment by Russell — 9 Oct 2012 @ 4:41 PM

  289. [Moderators: You may have already seen an early version of this post, but hopefully not; I posted an earlier version yesterday and waited more than 12 hours before giving up and assuming browser/captcha issues.]

    Chris Dudley, Jon Kirwan: Thank you very much for your helpful corrections. I see my mistake now: as you say, I wasn’t taking the area under the curve all the way down to zero. If I add the area of my triangle (6 * 26 / 2 = 78) to area of the rectangle beneath it (9 * 26 = 234) I get 312 Gt C, the same figure Chris gives. I retract my statement about there being a discrepancy, and apologize for wasting time with stupid math errors.

    FWIW here’s a corrected version of my annotated AR5 emissions chart. It’s still potentially useful, because it vividly demonstrates the concordance between RCP8.5 and IEO2011 without resorting to math any harder than geometry. That’s good for people who are weak on calculus, like me.

    Now that we’ve established that RCP8.5 fits IEO2011, we should be able to answer the two questions I posed back at #227.

    1) What will the impact (of the additional 1,000 Gt CO2) be on total global cumulative CO2 emissions? Specifically anthropogenic emissions, since the industrial revolution. In other words, assuming RCP8.5, what will total industrial/fossil-fuel CO2 emissions have reached by 2035? In order to answer this, I need an estimate of cumulative anthropogenic CO2 emissions from 1750 to 2009 or thereabouts. I thought this would be an easy number to locate but I haven’t found it yet. I found plenty of time series data, but that means another area under the curve calculation, with no shortcut this time. Does anyone have an estimate?

    2) What is the resulting temperature likely to be? For this one, the IEO2011/RCP8.5 fit seems to be directly relevant. Here’s another one of my annotated AR5 graphs, this one shows the RCP8.5 forcing in 2035. Unless I’m much mistaken, if we follow the IEO2011/RCP8.5 scenario, our forcing will be 3.7 W/m2 by 2035. But now I’m stuck. How do I get from forcing to temperature?

    Comment by Chris Korda — 9 Oct 2012 @ 5:00 PM

  290. Chris Dudley,
    You have failed to grasp the logic of a carbon tariff (be it on China or any other country). If we bear the expense of embracing a carbon-free energy infrastructure and another country does not, we will be at t a competitive disadvantage for doing the right thing. There will be an incentive for countries to move offshore to export goods back to us. The carbon tariff removes that incentive. It is not a punishment, but a leveling of the playing field.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Oct 2012 @ 5:26 PM

  291. Perhaps a link above “The Bore Hole” called “The Best of Unforced Variations” (or some such) that adds the best question or most insightful explanation from each month to the roll? That would be to encourage better commenting and add a carrot to compliment the stick.

    Other than that, as part of the problem I’ll shut up and even resist commenting on what Dan H. is up to now. Note that this is very hard for a recidivist wisenheimer like myself.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 9 Oct 2012 @ 5:57 PM

  292. Ray Ladbury wrote: “If we bear the expense of embracing a carbon-free energy infrastructure and another country does not, we will be at a competitive disadvantage for doing the right thing.”

    If we make the investment in a carbon-free energy infrastructure and another country does not, we will enjoy an enormous competitive advantage over that country for doing the right thing.

    Countries that invest in renewable energy now will enjoy the benefits of an endless supply of increasingly less expensive energy, as the cost of wind and solar technology declines and its efficiency increases.

    Those that fail to do so will suffer economically as they remain mired in an era of ever more costly, increasingly scarce fossil fuels.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 9 Oct 2012 @ 6:05 PM

  293. For Chris Dudley: yes, I’ve done some reading.
    Attribution — the science:

    Particularly the 2011 and 2012 topics.

    Yes, we know burning fossil fuel adds to warming and probably to more extreme conditions.

    Consider the range of natural variability — for drought and for extreme rainfall events.

    The answer to “somebody’s gotta pay for this!” is — yes.
    We do.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Oct 2012 @ 6:20 PM

  294. SA,
    I agree that the countries that embrace renewables–if, indeed any do–will have an advantage…eventually. However, building infrastructure is expensive–and building infrastructure over existing and decaying infrastructure even more so.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Oct 2012 @ 7:06 PM

  295. On september 23 a lot of people in Belgium sang for the climate.
    2 links to see : the original clip : and the collection of videos :

    Comment by HerwigR — 9 Oct 2012 @ 7:48 PM

  296. Ray (#290),

    I’ve never made a claim that the collecting of reparations for damage done by recent emissions has anything to do with mitigation. It is a natural consequence of more certain attribution, an advance of climate science. I think mitigation levers were ruled off topic a little ways back. I would repeat though that I think that extension of the Kyoto mechanism gives the most purchase for accomplishing mitigation.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 9 Oct 2012 @ 8:00 PM

  297. “I think mitigation levers were ruled off topic a little ways back.”
    As was political economics, and for that matter, political attribution.

    Comment by flxible — 9 Oct 2012 @ 9:13 PM

  298. Sorry if it’s bad form but I’m going to take a shot at answering one my own questions @289. I might make a total hash of it, but in my experience there’s no better way to learn.

    additional forcing resulting from the period 1750 to 2005: 1.66 W/m2 (“Climate Change, Lines of Evidence” video, chapter 5, at 2:50)
    CO2 doubling = 3.7 W/m2 forcing (Wikipedia: Climate sensitivity)
    climate sensitivity = 0.8ºC, hence CO2 doubling = ~3ºC increase (ibid.)
    temperature increase resulting from the period 1750 to 2005: 1.66 W/m2 * 0.8 = 1.33ºC
    forcing increase if we follow RCP8.5 from 2009 to 2035: 1.5 W/m2 (see my annotated AR5 forcing chart)
    temperature increase if we follow RCP8.5 from 2009 to 2035: 1.5 W/m2 * 0.8 = 1.2ºC
    1.33ºC + 1.2ºC = 2.53ºC by 2035 if we add 1,000 Gt of CO2 between 2009 and 2035

    Hopefully this is an overestimate! I’m skipping from 2005 to 2009, but that’s pretty minor. My temperature increase for 2009 to 2034 could be an overestimate, because the forcing actually varies continuously over time. It’s the area under the curve again, right? If so, it should be easy to fix since the curve is actually a line in this case.

    OK, so how did I do?

    Comment by Chris Korda — 9 Oct 2012 @ 11:03 PM

  299. Re Chris Dudley – if you did want to make a case for that (Kyoto) you might perhaps elaborate here and perhaps I might respond there (if the host doesn’t get to it first?).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 9 Oct 2012 @ 11:29 PM

  300. Yesterday the Arctic sea ice extent was 4,662,344 sq km. The recovery over the last seven days has not been super speedy. So, in order to recover to the average sea ice extent from the prior ten years on Oct 28 when recovery tracks have converged, the needed recovery rate from now until then has to be 3% higher than the fastest 7 day recovery rate in the prior period. We can expect either a bat-out-of-hell recovery rate over the next 19 days or a delay past Oct 28 for convergence.

    While it is fun to write “bat-out-of-hell,” there is some spread for the sea ice extent on Oct 28 in the last ten years. If we count convergence as reaching the lowest value rather than the average, the required recovery rate is a factor of 1.18 lower than the fastest 7 day recovery rate in the prior ten years. And, 2007 and 2011 did kind of squeak into convergence that way and did not start to twine into middle of the pack until November.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 10 Oct 2012 @ 6:48 AM

  301. Patrick (#299),

    Had a look at your link. It starts out by criticizing Rio, not a Kyoto mechanism forum, and declaring it failed without examination. Yet, what most wanted from that conference, an end to fossil fuel subsidies, is now being called for by influential candidates from both big political parties in the US. That counts as some success I’d say.

    I doubt your link is a useful place to discuss mitigation methods. It seems to prefer ignorance to knowledge on first impression.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 10 Oct 2012 @ 7:33 AM

  302. Chris (#298),

    You can read the forcing in 2035 right off the chart next to the one you annotated at your original link.

    Saves some effort.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 10 Oct 2012 @ 7:55 AM

  303. At midnight it was -15 C outside in light winds in a small High Arctic Barrow Strait bay ( 74 43 North) and larger patches of grey ice were forming amongst open water with a star light night with ice crystals columns, it looks like my -11 C surface temperature refreeze setting may need to be revised to a cooler number. I seriously wonder if sea ice models incorporate this phenomenal observation. I highly doubt that they do, it seems rather a complex calculation. For those who need confirmation or repetition of this, need simply to look at Cryosphere Today slow rate of sea ice recovery and the air surface temperatures over the wide open water. There appears to be no ice (could be some grey ice) over a vast area but NOAA makes the temperature about -15 C or colder. Which is a staggering concept of reality, but ssts are about -1 C. in the western quadrant of the North Pole (90 West to 90 East). So now any one can realize that open water during the long night is possible in a not so distant future.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 10 Oct 2012 @ 11:05 AM

  304. Chris D,

    This is off-topic so I’ll keep it short.

    You mentioned a punitive fee against China which attributes 100% of all global carbon emissions and the resulting damage to China alone. Great! Now, China might do the math differently, by taking total historical emissions per capita, resulting in attribution to the USA, Europe, and Japan of 90%(?), and so install a counter-punitive-fee far higher than the one you proposed.

    Your statement about current emissions compared to historical emissions is silly. We knew 30 years ago (or more) the threat of GHGs, so emissions over the last 30+ years MUST be considered the same as current emissions.

    So, tell me where your suggestion leads, other than a trade war between folks who don’t share the same definitions? There is little chance that China won’t counter any fee with one of their own of equal or higher magnitude.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 10 Oct 2012 @ 12:24 PM

  305. 294 Ray L said, “I agree that the countries that embrace renewables–if, indeed any do–will have an advantage…eventually.”

    The truth is that the countries that embrace the INSTALLATION of renewables will have a tremendous disadvantage. Those that build their renewable industries and fund them through other governments’ tax policies might have an advantage. The best example of this is China, which is constructing a huge renewable production system based on exporting and slurping up other countries’ rebates. Given that so far even this is wildly unprofitable, there’s no reason to assume that waiting until the systems mature is a bad decision.

    If in 10 years solar PV drops to way cheap, then installing solar PV today is a bad decision. Germany WILL do it. Governments WILL support research. That day 10 years from now WILL happen regardless of whether we buy a single watt today. Smart money will avoid renewables (unless the vast majority of the cost is socialized) for the next 4 to 8 years. Countries which don’t install renewables, but increase research and to a small extent production will have the best results.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 10 Oct 2012 @ 12:37 PM

  306. Chris Dudley @302: “You can read the forcing in 2035 right off the chart next to the one you annotated at your original link”

    But exactly that’s what I did. In my post at @298, see the fifth line of the second paragraph:

    forcing increase if we follow RCP8.5 from 2009 to 2035: 1.5 W/m2 (see my annotated AR5 forcing chart)

    Sorry but I’m not sure what your point is here. I’m not trying to calculate the forcing, that’s an input to my calculation. The question I’m trying to answer @298 is: If we follow the IEO2011 scenario, i.e. if we add 1,000 Gt of CO2 between 2009 and 2035, what is the resulting global average temperature likely to be in 2035? None of the AR5 scenarios I have access to show temperature, only forcing or emissions.

    Or are you suggesting I can just convert the forcing for a given year directly to global average temperature change? For example if I multiply the 2009 forcing (2.2 W/m2) by the climate sensitivity (0.8), I get 1.76 ºC, which considerably exceeds the estimated total global warming so far (~1ºC), so that can’t be what you mean. Presumably the reason this doesn’t work is because the forcing isn’t changing instantaneously, it’s gradating over time.

    Side point: Suppose the forcing did change instantaneously. So in 2009, out of nowhere, our forcing snaps from zero to 2.2 W/m2 and stays there. Climate sensitivity tells me that eventually the temperature will increase by 1.76 ºC, but it doesn’t tell me the trajectory of the change. That’s much more complicated due to climate inertia. Right?

    “Climate Change, Lines of Evidence” gives the forcing resulting from the period 1750 to 2005 as 1.66 W/m2 (ch. 5, at 2:50). I take this to mean that if we had stabilized our forcing in 2005, eventually the global average temperature would stabilize at a level 1.3ºC higher than it was in 1750. But again it doesn’t tell me the trajectory. To accurately estimate the temperature increase by 2005, I have to account for a) the gradual nature of the forcing increase, and possibly also b) climate inertia. Does this sound correct?

    Comment by Chris Korda — 10 Oct 2012 @ 12:48 PM

  307. Re-insurer Munich Re is claiming that North America is a particular target of climate change related extreme weather disasters.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 10 Oct 2012 @ 1:13 PM

  308. Nicely put, wayne.

    The area anomaly is getting to be quite… stunning:

    Comment by wili — 10 Oct 2012 @ 1:47 PM

  309. Oh, and we just blew past 120 consecutive days of the area being below (or, briefly, equal to) previous daily record lows.

    (reCaptcha is talking to me again, with bad spelling, of course: “ask miteley”–so I guess I mite have to come up with a mity question?)

    Comment by wili — 10 Oct 2012 @ 1:52 PM

  310. An example of bad press release drafting about a “divergence” issue:


    “… The researchers found that the uncorrected temperature data correlated strongly with data on movements of Earth’s core and Earth’s length of day until about 1930. They then began to diverge substantially: that is, global surface air temperatures continued to increase, but without corresponding changes in Earth’s length of day or movements of Earth’s core. This divergence corresponds with a well-documented, robust global warming trend that has been widely attributed to increased levels of human-produced greenhouse gases.

    “But an examination of the corrected temperature record yielded a different result: the corrected temperature record remained strongly correlated with both Earth’s length of day and movements of Earth’s core throughout the entire temperature data series.”

    My quick rewriting of that second paragraph:

    After subtracting the warming trend attributed to greenhouse gases since the 1930s from the longterm temperature record, the small temperature variations correlated with Earth’s length of day and movements of Earth’s core remain detectable throughout the entire time span.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Oct 2012 @ 2:29 PM

  311. The recent shift in early summer Arctic atmospheric circulation
    Overland, J. E., J. A. Francis, E. Hanna, and M. Wang
    Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L19804, doi:10.1029/2012GL053268
    Publication Date: 10 October 2012

    Key Points
    There is an apparent sustained shift in early summer Arctic winds since 2007
    Such Arctic changes are linked to increased North American atmospheric blocking
    Highlights potential connectivity of Arctic climate and mid-latitude weather

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Oct 2012 @ 2:55 PM

  312. The last sentence in the abstract reads:

    “The North American location of increased 700 hPa positive anomalies suggests that a regional atmospheric blocking mechanism is responsible for the presence of the AD pattern, consistent with observations of unprecedented high pressure anomalies over Greenland since 2007.”

    Can the ‘unprecedented high pressure anomalies over Greenland since 2007’ be reasonably attributed to the fact the the GIS is now the only consistently cold large mass in the Arctic–that the ‘cold pole’ has shifted and greatly focused around Greenland? And does that imply that the Arctic Dipole will now be a permanent feature during the summer?

    Comment by wili — 10 Oct 2012 @ 3:37 PM

  313. The utter wrong-headedness of Jim Larsen’s comment (currently #305) is just the sort of thing that inspires me to lengthy, well-documented and thoroughly off-topic posts on the realities of the renewable energy industries today.

    I have promised the moderators, other commenters, and myself to resist such temptations here. And I will.

    To Jim, I will simply and respectfully say, go to CleanTechnica, ClimateProgress and other sites where well-informed discussion of these issues is appropriate. Try your stuff out there. Have fun watching it get smacked down for the nonsense it is.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 10 Oct 2012 @ 3:44 PM

  314. Chris (#306),

    You are right, I misread what you were doing. One approach you might take is to note that the change in forcing still seems to look like a power-law. Self-similarity might then tell you to divide the calculated temperature based on the fast feedback sensitivity by about 2 as one would now.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 10 Oct 2012 @ 4:42 PM

  315. #307–Thanks for that link, Chris. I note the quote:

    “Thirty years is not an appropriate length of time for a climate analysis, much less finding causal factors like climate change,” says Roger Pielke, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado.

    Is that statement as stunningly fatuous as I think it is?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 10 Oct 2012 @ 5:37 PM

  316. #313–SA, I commend you on your restraint–not a comment on the specifics of the issues, or on Jim’s comment for that matter–but as a (recent) sometime OT yapper, and one who sometimes finds ‘restraint of reply’ quite challenging, I can relate.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 10 Oct 2012 @ 5:47 PM

  317. It seems the way ice decomposes is rather complex:

    Glaciers Cracking in the Presence of Carbon Dioxide

    Comment by David B. Benson — 10 Oct 2012 @ 7:48 PM

  318. SecularA, I’ve noticed that those I respect have welcomed my ideas here and elsewhere; often repeating or referencing them, including the commenter who is probably the most respected on this blog. That makes me feel good about contributing to “the world”. That you haven’t noticed it surprises me, though given your beyond extreme views, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

    Here’s one company, the BIGGEST solar factory in the nation, that’s taking my advice to heart:

    Remember, fiberglass insulation alone saves far more CO2 than all renewables combined, and at a fraction of the cost.

    You like sexy. I like effective. Thus, we come to different conclusions. Pick a venue of your choice, and I’ll engage there, and we’ll see who gets their opinions knocked down. Deal?

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 10 Oct 2012 @ 10:16 PM

  319. Jim (#304),

    This is just to remind you that my previous answer was so eloquent and persuasive that you should have dropped everything and started immediately to work on getting carbon tariffs going.

    As you wrote earlier, you have not been arguing sincerely. Perhaps it would help your understanding, if you are so facile, to do an honest job of recapping my argument concerning recent and past emissions and how they bear on thresholds.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 10 Oct 2012 @ 10:19 PM

  320. Wili, Yes, fascinating in as much as this NSIDC Lebedev 1938 formla i:

    Thickness (cm) = 1.33 * FDD (°C)^0.58

    FDD =-1.8 – (average daily temperature)

    Not so, there is a small partial grey ice cover.

    There should be about 5 cm ice cover from the last 24 hours activity favourable for ice formation.
    This with average temperature of -10 C.

    ” Formulas such as this are empirical, meaning they are calculated only with observed data, so they really are simplifications of the ice growth processes. The formulas assume that the ice growth occurs in calm water and is reasonably consistent, and they do not take into account sea ice motion, snow cover, and other surface conditions. ”

    wonder if the models give the same result?

    This is better for mean temperature:

    it shows current ice growing at the edge of the ice pack with surface temperatures between -10 to -15 C. -11 C looks not so bad.

    Comment by wayne Davidon — 10 Oct 2012 @ 10:29 PM

  321. Chris (#306),

    On your side note, figs. 7 through 10 in this paper give some climate response functions (percentage full temperature response to an instantaneous doubling of CO2 which is then held steady as a function of time)

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 10 Oct 2012 @ 10:33 PM

  322. Kevin (#315),

    Don’t indulge that pielkadillo.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 10 Oct 2012 @ 10:38 PM

  323. I think a found a much easier way to answer both of my questions @289. Here goes:

    1 ppm CO2 = 2.12 Gt C (CDIAC)
    2.12 Gt C = 7.76 Gt CO2 (C to CO2 ratio of 3.67, ThinkProgress)
    thus 1 ppm CO2 = 7.76 Gt CO2
    “1 trillion metric tons of additional cumulative energy-related carbon dioxide emissions between 2009 and 2035” (IEO2011, p. 143) = 129 ppm of additional CO2 (divide 1,000 Gt CO2 by 7.76)

    preindustrial CO2 = 280 ppm (How sensitive is our climate?)

    2009 CO2 = 387 ppm (Annual Data Atmospheric CO2)

    387 ppm (in 2009) + 129 ppm (IEO2011 scenario) = 516 ppm (by 2035)

    doubling pre-industrial CO2 (to 560 ppm) would increase average global by 3ºC (How sensitive is our climate?)

    516 ppm is 92% of 560 ppm, and 92% of 3ºC is 2.76ºC, therefore following the IEO2011 scenario until 2035 would increase average global temperature by 2.76ºC.

    [Response: not really. You need to take into account the fraction of the emissions taken up by land and ocean very quickly (about 50%) and the thermal inertia of the oceans which slows the response in temperature. – gavin]

    Comment by Chris Korda — 11 Oct 2012 @ 2:50 AM

  324. What do you think about this new method of geongineering?

    Is it a good Plan B?

    Comment by Paolo C. — 11 Oct 2012 @ 4:11 AM

  325. David (at #317), thank for that link. So was that weakening of CO2-infected ice figured in to the SLR models. I’m guessing not. So probably we are in for sea level rise of more than a meter by the end of the century, more in the Hansen range, or worse?

    I also commend SA at #313 for his restraint as one who sometimes lacks it. I hope he will also find the inner strength to restrain from telling people not to discuss climate science blog, even when the climate science is rather grim. Of course, no matter how grim, the answer should always be to reduce our carbon footprints as fast as possible. But if that is a reason not to discuss the latest science and its implications, we might as well just fold the site up or turn it over to purely policy discussions.

    So, enjoined by a recent reCatcha to “ask mitely,” I will try at least one more time to ask if dashed line on graph #3 in the recent Nature Geoscience article (by MacDougall, Avis and Weaver) on permafrost melt–taken together with the known fact that there are other carbon (and other) positive feedbacks–mean that, even if we stop all anthropogenic CO2 emissions next year, atmospheric CO2 levels will continue to rise indefinitely?

    I’m hoping that one of the learned posters or mods will be able to point out some basic flaw in my reasoning or in the article. I will take silence to be the unwished-for affirmative.

    Here’s the link to the abstract and graphs:

    Comment by wili — 11 Oct 2012 @ 7:31 AM

  326. #324 Solar L1 Occultation

    Using an asteroid as source material for an occulting cloud of dust at Solar L1 is of course quite ridiculous, but the concept is sound except that it does nothing to reduce ocean acidification. The concept is referred to as a variable transmissivity occulting disk at Solar L1, and clearly experiments to model and measure the effect could easily be performed. A more permanent solution would be an array of two dimensional thin film panels of variable tranmissivity, which when the concept is fully modeled and understood could also be used to drive storm fronts to produce precipitation for drought plauged regions on the Earth, and modify solar irradiance in real time over variable areas of the Earth.

    Science fiction? No. But you’re going to need reusable launch vehicles with airline like efficiency and eventually lunar and asteroidal materials to pull it off, plus some badly needed breakthroughs in material science and condensed matter physics. And it would just be a life saver until we can produce the carbon drawdown technology to reduce carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere. At that point we should be able to move most people off planet anyways, which would be the only way to prevent planetary catastrophe and the major extinction event that is sure to come.

    I hope that clears it up for you a bit. I suggest starting simple experiments with rocket exhaust, which will dissipate quickly.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 11 Oct 2012 @ 8:54 AM

  327. Re: Jim Larsen #318:

    Regarding that Forbes article, I am well aware of the difficulties that developers of innovative thin-film photovoltaics are facing due to the rapidly plummeting costs and rapidly improving efficiency of conventional silicon PV panels.

    The Forbes article notes that costs of conventional silicon PV fell 50 percent in the first half of 2012 alone — obviously that presents a challenge to manufacturers trying to develop cost-competitive technologies.

    Why you think that supports your views is beyond me. I’ve said this before, but based on your “argument” there is NEVER a good time to invest in ANY technology that is rapidly improving, and if we had followed such advice with regard to personal computers, we’d all still be banging away on IBM Selectric typewriters waiting for PCs to get better.

    If you really think that PV today is such a terrible investment, I suggest you present your arguments to Walmart (65,000 KW installed PV capacity on their private facilities), Costco (38,900 KW installed), Kohl’s (36,474 KW), Ikea (21,495 KW), Macy’s (16,163 KW), McGraw Hill (14,113 KW), Johnson & Johnson (11,619 KW), Staples (10,776 KW) and the 34 other major corporations who have already installed a combined total of more than 320 Megawatts of PV capacity at more than 750 locations across the USA.

    Sorry to give in to temptation again.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 11 Oct 2012 @ 10:01 AM

  328. > CO2 … ice … cracking….
    Here ya go:
    Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics Volume 45 Number 44
    Zhao Qin and Markus J Buehler 2012 J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 45 445302
    Carbon dioxide enhances fragility of ice crystals

    Wili’s link goes to a rewritten press release, not an abstract.

    The original press release is:

    IOP has blogged it:
    Oct 11, 2012 Carbon dioxide is ‘corroding’ ice

    I wonder if the described mechanism — CO2 making a hydrogen bond at a surface, then flipping along a fracture plane penetrating deeper into a crystalline material — also works on calcite and aragonite?

    Global Change Biology
    Technical Advance
    Description and quantification of pteropod shell dissolution: a sensitive bioindicator of ocean acidification
    26 MAR 2012
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2012.02668.x

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Oct 2012 @ 10:06 AM

  329. Do consider the source of the excitement — MIT’s press release writers. That press office puts out reports of MIT faculty’s very exciting and potentially world-changing discoveries routinely. Nothing they do is below average there. So — it might be wise to wait and see what’s in the actual article.

    The article is available free, supposedly. The DOI link isn’t working as I type this but it should fairly soon:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Oct 2012 @ 10:13 AM

  330. oh, and when you do click for the PDF, it’ll tell you:

    Access options
    Carbon dioxide enhances fragility of ice crystals

    2012 J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 45 445302

    “The full text of this article is currently available for free, as it was published in the last 30 days. As a service to our authors and to the international physics community, all papers published in our journals are made freely available online for 30 days from the date of online publication.

    You will need to login to IOPscience to access the full text of this article, or create an account if you don’t yet have one.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Oct 2012 @ 10:15 AM

  331. Jim,
    I have been reading your posts about China and green energy, and was wondering if you would care to comment on this article? Thanks.

    Comment by Dan H. — 11 Oct 2012 @ 10:21 AM

  332. wili wrote: “I hope he will also find the inner strength to restrain from telling people not to discuss climate science blog, even when the climate science is rather grim”

    I don’t think I have told people not to discuss climate science — that was certainly not my intent, and would certainly be a silly thing to suggest here, since that is the whole purpose of this site.

    What I have said, or meant to say, is that as far as I can tell, what we have every reason to expect from climate science going forward is study upon study upon study telling us that the AGW problem is worse than scientists thought, and is getting worse more rapidly than they ever imagined possible.

    That is certainly my layman’s take on this year’s Arctic sea ice melt, and the permafrost study that you have been encouraging people to discuss — and really, on pretty much every new development in climate science that I’ve read about here or elsewhere over the last few years.

    As I have tried to say, I feel that our debt to climate scientists — including the hosts of this site in particular — for bringing this problem to the world’s attention is literally infinite.

    And it is likewise crucial that they “keep a cool head” as they continue to carefully, methodically and dispassionately study the climate system and the effects of AGW with ever-greater understanding, in ever more refined detail, because that’s the only way that we — ordinary citizens as well as policy-makers in both the public and private sectors — are going to become aware of the rapidly increasing seriousness and urgency of the problem.

    Having said that, writing as a person who — thanks to the work of climate scientists — already “gets it”, and already understands the urgent need for action, it does seem to me that developments like the permafrost study are telling us what we already know:

    We need to act. On a large scale. Fast. Now.

    I do appreciate that discussion of how to act is not what this venue is for, and I’ll try (and sometimes fail) to take my advocacy for action to more appropriate venues.

    What I don’t see much value in, is “discussion of the science” by laymen like many of the commenters here (including me), that simply leads people to retreat into despair and hopelessness and a sense that “it’s too late” to do anything.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 11 Oct 2012 @ 10:22 AM

  333. > one company … that’s taking my advice

    You work for GE, or you’re advising them?
    You’re an economist?

    Hard to tell. The stuff above sounds like PR for a business.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Oct 2012 @ 10:30 AM

  334. Ok, this is promising:

    (Screening many different chemicals/mixes for improved heat storage with molten salt)

    I trust they’re also considering what happens when the heat exchanger pipe cracks inside the molten salt (think hot liquid glass, basically) and the stuff goes up in a big steam explosion and rains out downwind — if they have a fairly innocuous material that can be hosed off a neighborhood, this would be nice to have around any place there’s waste high temperature heat being thrown away that could be captured.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Oct 2012 @ 10:36 AM

  335. Hank (#334)

    Waste high temperature heat?

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 11 Oct 2012 @ 11:27 AM

  336. #334

    Hank, I can only suggest that you might want to familiarize yourself with the concept of Mottness and electronic and lattice frustration. Besides back yard solar concentrators and water heaters, I am of the opinion that widespread small scale use of solar energy and electricity storage will require microscopic solutions and not macroscopic solutions. Thanks.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 11 Oct 2012 @ 11:28 AM

  337. Gavin @323: Thank you for your response. I just want to be sure I understand. So if atmospheric CO2 is 387 in 2009, and we add another 129 ppm over the next 25 years, the concentration doesn’t actually get up to 516 ppm because we’re adding it slowly enough for much of our addition to be reabsorbed. Is half a workable approximation? Is it fair to say that CO2 would get up to 452 ppm? Or do I also need to account for the reabsorption rate declining over time as carbon sinks saturate?

    Another way to pose the question: Suppose atmospheric CO2 doubles between 1750 and 2100 (hopefully not!): how much CO2 would we have to emit to achieve that result?

    I should explain what I’m trying to do. I have the data for the AR5 RCP scenarios. My original goal was to make a chart with temperature in the y-axis, like the ones for AR4. That turned out to be harder than I realized. A reasonable first step might be a series of charts that show the trajectory of cumulative atmospheric CO2 concentration for each scenario. That seems more doable, but still non-trivial.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 11 Oct 2012 @ 11:47 AM

  338. Dan H wrote: “I have been reading your posts about China and green energy, and was wondering if you would care to comment on this article?”

    The website you linked to — “The Resilient Earth” — is a purveyor of global warming denialist propaganda, and as is often the case with such sites, is also a purveyor of anti-renewable energy propaganda.

    The article you specifically linked to is a perfect example of that — it is full of blatant falsehoods about the wind power industry, and dishonest political attacks on the Obama administration’s support for renewable energy.

    Of course, I expect that you are already well aware of that.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 11 Oct 2012 @ 11:55 AM

  339. Re Jim Larsen urging us all to wait on PV (with others disagreeing):

    Jim, your argument depends right down to the ground on a whole world-view’s worth of assumptions about “free” markets etc. The assumptions are sometimes useful, but certainly fail in the real world. Just how they fail is the interesting part.

    Jim, and all, please, please read physicist Tom Murphy’s blog Do The Math from cover to cover (or whatever delimits blogs these days). Tom is on topic (which we aren’t quite here), unimpeachable in his background, but doesn’t stretch speculation further than plausible, courteous to all but holding the line on nonsense, and writes well.

    Repeat your reading until enlightenment increases to a useful level. Pay special attention to the trap/bind of needing energy to invest in renewable infrastructure. There’s no magic, and no single obvious path to riches and/or happiness, but Tom illuminates many necessary areas to ponder.

    Comment by Ric Merritt — 11 Oct 2012 @ 11:56 AM

  340. Thomas Lee Elifritz @326: “At that point we should be able to move most people off planet anyways, which would be the only way to prevent planetary catastrophe and the major extinction event that is sure to come.”

    How many people, and where are they going? Do you have any evidence for this assertion?

    Comment by Chris Korda — 11 Oct 2012 @ 12:08 PM

  341. @332, 327, 318, etc.: Sorry but could you guys please try harder to resist your temptations? The rules were spelled out clearly @ 222 and we all need to abide by them no?

    Comment by Chris Korda — 11 Oct 2012 @ 12:30 PM

  342. for Chris Dudley:
    finds among others on the first page of results

    Waste Heat to Power Systems – US Environmental Protection Agency

    May 30, 2012 – … economically feasible power generation from waste heat has been limited primarily to medium- to high-temperature waste heat …

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Oct 2012 @ 12:40 PM

  343. SA at 332–Thanks you for your thoughtful post.

    But when you write:

    “What I don’t see much value in, is “discussion of the science” by laymen like many of the commenters here (including me), that simply leads people to retreat into despair and hopelessness and a sense that “it’s too late” to do anything.”

    You do realize that you are asking posters to self-censor their posts on science so that people whom they don’t know won’t react in ways that no one can, in fact, predict. Denialists want to ignore or deny science that they think might lead to reactions they don’t like. You seem to be proposing a similar approach, even if it be for rather laudable ends.

    My understanding is that this is exactly the place for ‘laymen’ to interact with scientists in order to get as clear an understanding as possible of what the latest, best science telling us about the state of the climate at this point, no matter how grim it gets. If I am wrong about the intent of the the blog, I will desist from further posts and questions and go in search of blogs that _are_ devoted to communicating the latest climate science to other scientists and layfolk.

    Anyway, I would rather not spend any more time talking about whether we should be talking about the latest climate science and its consequences, and start spending time actually discussing the science and its consequences.


    By the way, I intended to give the link to the abstract for the permafrost feedback abstract at the end of the last post, and instead posted a link to the article that discussed the CO2 in ice issue that I was also discussing there–oops.

    Anyway here (I hope) is the link to the permafrost feedback abstract, about which I hope we can still have an informative and civil conversation here:

    Thanks ahead of time for any discussion of this piece and of its consequences.

    Comment by wili — 11 Oct 2012 @ 12:44 PM

  344. > Paolo C.
    > geoengineering … dust

    First, it does nothing to reduce ocean pH change; reducing one symptom (warming) of the CO2 excess while letting the faster-developing and more damaging symptom (ocean acidification) isn’t going to be progress; it’d also result in cutting the yield of solar energy systems on the planet, making them less competitive. All in all it favors continusing fossil fuel use and the damage from that.

    Second, it assumes things not yet doable.

    There’s an old cookbook with a recipe for rabbit stew that begins “First, shoot your rabbit.”

    The recipe for capturing dust requires first capturing a rather large asteroid.

    I’d guess that by the time we have done that, we’ll have other technology that may help actually solve the problem rather than just reducing one symptom while letting the other worsen.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Oct 2012 @ 12:48 PM

  345. ClimateProgress has a good article today on the AGW-driven increase in extreme weather:

    We appear to have a perfect storm: Detailed observations of more extreme weather in North America in recent years are now coming at the same time as new scientific analyses that can explain why manmade climate change is boosting extreme weather in our continent.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 11 Oct 2012 @ 12:55 PM

  346. #338

    At the risk of being repetitive, you too should try and familiarize yourself with Mottness and electronic and lattice frustration because Tom Murphy, while his goals and approach to the problems may be admirable, he doesn’t actually do ANY math on that blog. None at all, rendering his results useless. On the other hand the arxiv repository of condensed matter physics is rife with people who ‘do the math’ as well as ‘doing the experiments’ to verify the math, and if you follow it faithfully you might ‘see the light’.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 11 Oct 2012 @ 1:26 PM

  347. it’d also result in cutting the yield of solar energy systems on the planet, making them less competitive

    Mechanical solar L1 occultation scenarios involve extremely small, regional, transient, temporary and reversible attenuation of solar irradiance, which would be insignificant for solar energy systems that would be modeled and tested to high order before implemented. This is a radical solution to an extreme problem which would propel human progress into realms only previously dreamed of. It’s a direction, not a goal. The goal is to get people to think about these things, so that we have the time, the science and the technology to develop atmospheric drawdown and sequestration systems and indeed, the technology to eliminate fossil fuel combustion in the open atmosphere entirely. This technique is not a brute force method except for small scale experiments necessery for the models.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 11 Oct 2012 @ 2:03 PM

  348. > Mottness and electronic and lattice frustration

    Wonderful in theory.
    No hardware available.
    Not even guidelines for home builders.

    If you want to build it now, Tom Murphy’s approach — using off the shelf commercially avaliable parts — is the way to go.

    If you want to install what might be the best theoretically possible, wait for the “Mottness and electronic and lattice frustration” documentation to improve a bit.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Oct 2012 @ 2:18 PM

  349. 327 SecularA,

    Um, you suggested and I accepted your invitation to take the discussion elsewhere, yet you responded here with more than “Let’s go to site X”. Why?

    If a product currently costs $10 and will cost $5 next year, but will produce $20 in value over the next year, then waiting a year is unwise. If you can’t take that logic and apply it to various industries, then, well, that means you ain’t even interested in a discussion.

    331 Dan H,

    I’m waiting for SecularA to pick a venue. Once he does, I’ll be happy to comment.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 11 Oct 2012 @ 2:24 PM

  350. Wonderful in theory.

    And in experiment as well, from my reading and participation in them.

    I prefer Elon Musk’s approach – vertical integration and in house design and manufacture. That seems to be working out well enough for him. If you want to build it yourself you can do that already with just some concrete and polystyrene foam, and a couple of computer fans, some LEDs, a lead acid battery and a small silicon solar panel. The problem is that very few people are willing to do those kinds of things and the people who are certainly aren’t getting their information from Tom Murphy’s blog.

    We live in an industrial scale world now, Hank, we need industrial scale solutions. Local solutions are already available to everybody who cares.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 11 Oct 2012 @ 2:35 PM

  351. Chris D, yep, I’ve got a carbon tariff scheme:

    Whatever the USA charges, the proper counter-tariff is double the amount (as opposed to rate). Trade wars are ever so easy when your opponent relies on you to be his banker.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 11 Oct 2012 @ 2:37 PM

  352. Hank Roberts wrote: “If you want to build it now, Tom Murphy’s approach — using off the shelf commercially avaliable parts — is the way to go.”

    I looked at Tom Murphy’s “Do The Math” blog, and his home-built, DIY solar setup is really impressive — as is his detailed monitoring and analysis of his results. However, most home-owners who could benefit from solar energy don’t have the skills to build such a system from parts.

    Fortunately, today you can call up Home Depot — or any number of independent solar installation companies — who will design and install a turnkey grid-tied PV system for you, with or without batteries.

    And there are a growing number of companies like Sungevity, Solar City and SunRun who will install the whole thing with a leasing or power purchase agreement contract, where you pay little or no upfront cost, and instead pay a fixed monthly payment. When you add that payment to your reduced utility bill, you come out ahead.

    Putting in residential rooftop solar today is just about as simple and mainstream as installing a heat pump or gas furnace. Just call a few contractors, price-shop for the best deal, and get it done.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 11 Oct 2012 @ 2:52 PM

  353. TLE wrote: “the time, the science and the technology to develop atmospheric drawdown and sequestration systems and indeed, the technology to eliminate fossil fuel combustion in the open atmosphere entirely.”

    We already have all of that.

    The technology for “atmospheric drawdown and sequestration” is called organic agriculture and reforestation, which can draw down the already dangerous anthropogenic excess of CO2 and sequester it in soil and biomass. See the research by the Rodale Institute and others on this. This approach also has other huge benefits — it helps to restore the overall health of ecosystems in other ways, and organic agriculture has been shown to be more productive than “conventional” agriculture under the conditions of drought which AGW is already making more common.

    The “technology to eliminate fossil fuel combustion” includes solar and wind energy, geothermal energy, a variety of hydropower energy sources, combustion of biomass to generate electricity (an entirely different matter than liquid biofuels for transport) and more — ALL of which is already at hand, and already being deployed at both large and small scales all over the world.

    Sure, let’s keep developing new technology — there are certainly some exciting and potentially revolutionary solar technologies and battery technologies in the works, for example.

    But by far the more urgent thing to do is to start rapidly deploying the powerful, mature zero-emission technologies that we already have, as rapidly as possible.

    Look, I know I am succumbing to that OT temptation again, and I’ve said this before, but the most frustrating thing is when people opine about these things when they haven’t really looked at — and seemingly cannot be bothered to look at — what is actually going on with renewable energy in the real world today. We HAVE solutions at hand, NOW, that are ready to go — and compared to what we COULD be doing, we are just letting them sit around.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 11 Oct 2012 @ 3:05 PM

  354. The technology for “atmospheric drawdown and sequestration” is called organic agriculture and reforestation, which can draw down the already dangerous anthropogenic excess of CO2 and sequester it in soil and biomass.

    But if you ‘do the math’ you will understand that won’t work fast enough for the anticipated nine billion inhabitants in an industrialized society on a planet that is rapidly desertifying. And you still need energy for water.

    I agree that is part of the solution, having implemented those techniques.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 11 Oct 2012 @ 3:58 PM

  355. SA, do you have figures for how much CO2 changes in land use could sequester over a given time and acreage? Or point me to a source with such figures. I support these approaches, but I’d like to be able to support them in my discussions on other sites and face to face by having the numbers on hand. Thanks ahead of time.

    Comment by wili — 11 Oct 2012 @ 5:22 PM

  356. This would seem to be the source for Trenberth’s IPCC AR5 comments.

    Has his view been faithfully represented in this piece?


    Comment by john byatt — 11 Oct 2012 @ 5:54 PM

  357. 349: “If a product currently costs $10 and will cost $5 next year, but will produce $20 in value over the next year, then waiting a year is unwise. If you can’t take that logic and apply it to various industries, then, well, that means you ain’t even interested in a discussion.”

    Logic aside, I doubt the writer of this post can produce numbers incorporating a scenario applied to renewables that incorporates both outright consumer costs and environmental “externalities,” but welcome an attempt.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 11 Oct 2012 @ 7:10 PM

  358. Jim (#351),

    Your plan may face some difficulties at the WTO. The US can impose a tariff for environmental reasons, but the reverse would not seem to be justified.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 11 Oct 2012 @ 10:20 PM

  359. Jim Larsen wrote: “Um, you suggested and I accepted your invitation to take the discussion elsewhere … I’m waiting for SecularA to pick a venue.”

    Frankly, that’s childish. I’m not interested in mano-a-mano blog combat.

    You make many statements about the renewable energy industries that very clearly tell me that you haven’t bothered to educate yourself about what’s really happening with wind and solar today, and that you prefer to “argue” based on ill-informed assumptions, guesswork and generalities.

    If I have “invited” you to do anything, it’s to inform yourself before spouting off. If you are not interested in doing that, it’s your loss. I couldn’t really care less.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 11 Oct 2012 @ 10:39 PM

  360. 357 Walter P wondered about conversion scenarios and costs.

    I’ll be posting attempts to do exactly what you suggest on my new blog at Blogger – So Left It’s to the Right.

    As I have stated before, I advocate a strong increase in carbon-reduction spending while at the same time directing that spending where it will do the most “carbon good” – R&D, the grid, efficiency for cars, houses, and industry, paperwork reduction, smart appliances, etc. This will result in the smallest total cumulative carbon emissions for a given cost by 2050 or so. (I set the spending for my plan to be whatever you would have spent on yours, so anyone saying I want to “wait” or “go slow” is misrepresenting my ideas.)

    Scientists here and elsewhere have repeatedly said that emissions over any particular year or 5 are irrelevant. It’s cumulative emissions that matter. Thus, focusing on anything sooner than 2050 or so is blatant disregard for what the scientists are telling us.

    A carbon-reduction system has many related and unrelated components. The last component of a system to be built should often be the component that is dropping in price the fastest, while R&D expenditures should often focus on that very same component. Had we used last year’s money for a 500%(?) increase in R&D and to install ground source heat pumps, year 2050 carbon-wise and financial-wise we’d be way ahead.

    Carts and horses….

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 11 Oct 2012 @ 10:51 PM

  361. > > Mottness and electronic and lattice frustration

    > If you want to build it yourself you can do that already

    I really have no idea what you’re talking about by now, sorry.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Oct 2012 @ 12:01 AM

  362. Dan H @198 – I would suggest that it is you who have not “listened to your opponent’s viewpoints.” Your links show that you are still stuck in the denialisphere. You haven’t even been reading the newspapers.

    On Oct. 24, 2009, announced an “International Day of Climate Action.” This included over 5,200 different synchronized demonstrations in 181 countries. CNN called it “the most widespread day of political action in our planet’s history.”

    In early September, 2011, 1,252 people were arrested (including Dr. James Hansen) in front of the Whitehouse, demanding that the Tar Sands pipeline be stopped from crossing the border from Canada.

    On November 7, 2011, well over 10,000 people surrounded the Whitehouse to demand the rejection of a permit for the same pipeline. The application was finally rejected after it had been judged by many to be a fait accompli.

    Most Canadians ARE against Tar Sands strip mining in Alberta (it is NOT “drilling” – that shows your ignorance of the issue). In fact, recent fierce political opposition from almost every affected party has made the “northern route” for a high-pressure bitumen pipeline across British Columbia all but impossible.

    And in east Texas, we have not begun to fight, as they say. Today, a NY Times reporter and photographer were ejected from the protest site (that is only going to guarantee more scrutiny), and the pipeline is still blocked. Protesters are flooding in from around the country, and TransCanada is losing more and more money.

    The reason I believe that Romney now denies global warming (after he acknowledged it) is because that’s what he feels he has to do to activate the Republican base. Obama is avoiding the issue out of caution, but that may change at the next debate.

    None of that even begins to address the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, which is having rapidly growing success stopping the construction of new coal-fired power plants (we have stopped one, the White Stallion power plant, in Texas already, and we are working on actually shutting down an older one).

    So I would suggest that your statements reflect your own opinion more than any kind of outward reality. In truth, there is a growing worldwide movement to reduce the human release of CO2 into the atmosphere, because a growing number of us are not going stand idly by and let deniers such as yourself destroy the world.

    Sorry, not much science here, but there is a lot of factual information. And I did owe Dan H response.

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 12 Oct 2012 @ 12:37 AM

  363. Thomas,
    Your last post stated that this planet is rapidly desertifying. I cannot find anything to support this statement, even on the green sites.

    Dp you have any supporting documentation?

    Comment by Dan H. — 12 Oct 2012 @ 6:33 AM

  364. Dan, we went through this before with you several months ago. You are like a broken record here.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 12 Oct 2012 @ 8:14 AM

  365. Hank (#342),

    It was a physics joke. Waste heat is usually considered to be degraded in the sense that the temperature difference with the environment is too low to make investing in using it worthwhile.

    Consider doing CHP with a nuclear power plant. You’d have to send wet steam miles and miles and miles to find a customer. The investment in insulated steam pipes would be prohibitive. Better to just dump the waste heat into the environment as quickly as possible to improve Delta T (which was not great to begin with) for the primary use of power generation.

    CHP can work well on a small scale which is why the Rocky Mountain Institute pushes decentralized power generation so strongly. But, in that case, the fuel is the energy storage mechanism so no need for molten salt.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 12 Oct 2012 @ 8:47 AM

  366. Thomas,
    Yes, and back then we determined that there was no clear long-term trend. Granted, there was some short-term evidence to support either position, but neither was conclusive. Do you have anything new to add, that would support your statement?

    Comment by Dan H. — 12 Oct 2012 @ 9:14 AM

  367. Gavin- Just caught up on the comment thread. It’s good to know that, despite the demands of work, blog writing, hand-waver auditing etc, at least you are getting enough REM sleep!

    Comment by Rich Creager — 12 Oct 2012 @ 9:29 AM

  368. “back then we determined that there was no clear long-term trend.”
    Dan is using the royal ‘we’ again. Maybe he could cite some “short term evidence” to support his determination – other than quibbling over the definition of ‘rapidly’.

    Comment by flxible — 12 Oct 2012 @ 9:46 AM

  369. No Dan, ‘WE’ did not determine what you claim. ‘YOU’ did. You only speak for yourself, how many times do I have to remind you of that. You come on this forum and continue to make unsubstantiated claims for everybody but yourself and then you expect ‘ME’ to do your research for you, because the only thing you are capable of finding are blog articles that support your worldview.

    All right, here is an article that supports your worldview.

    Regional desertification: A global synthesis, Ulf Helldéna and Christian Tottrup, Global and Planetary Change,Volume 64, Issues 3–4, December 2008, Pages 169–176

    Are you happy now? Can you see the problem with the title of that paper?

    Here is a comprehensive review paper by a world renowned expert using state of the art climate modeling compared to currently available historical climate proxies that definitively does not support your claim.

    Your claim was that you could not find any information on the subject, which is definitively false. If you want to participate here with quality I can suggest two things. 1) Start thinking and speaking for yourself and not your handlers. and 2) Start reading the literature. It’s easy to find.

    Start here. Thanks in advance.

    And please stop wasting ‘my’ time.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 12 Oct 2012 @ 9:56 AM

  370. I see we are back into troll-feeding, tail-chasing mode.

    Again, if anyone actually wants to discuss an actual scientific paper that seems to have important consequences, I noticed “John Doe” at tamino’s site has a link to the full permafrost feedback article (it’s about the 18th comment down):

    The take away for me is the sentence that spans pages 720-721:

    “In experiments where DEP 8.5 is followed up to a given date when emissions are instantaneously reduced to zero, all simulations with climate sensitivities above 3.0 ◦ C produce a self-sustaining PCF [permafrost carbon feedback] even if emissions are reduced to zero in 2013 (Fig. 3 and Supplementary Fig. S5).”

    I’m hoping someone can find a flaw in their methodology. Could they be double counting here? Isn’t this kind of carbon feedback already included in the calculations that yield climate sensitivities of 3.0 degrees C and up? Is anyone at least willing to look at the article and discuss a tiny bit of science on a science blog?

    Comment by wili — 12 Oct 2012 @ 10:31 AM

  371. 359 SecularA said, “Frankly, that’s childish…haven’t bothered to educate… “argue” based on ill-informed assumptions, guesswork and generalities….inform yourself before spouting off.”

    Of your many “talents”, projection is your best. Please get off our side. You only help the opposition with your (see above).

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 12 Oct 2012 @ 12:13 PM

  372. Just to clarify, my recommendation of Tom Murphy’s blog was not mainly about details of PV, fascinating as that topic can be. The real subject of the blog, in my mind, is human use of energy this century and beyond.

    And, TLE, your metaphorical-table-pounding insistence that the blog contains no math at all is false (duh). If you would like to calm down and discuss which math is wrong or missing, do it over there where it can get a good discussion in context. I am quite sure that Tom can keep up with your level of discourse.

    Comment by Ric Merritt — 12 Oct 2012 @ 12:29 PM

  373. #370 “In experiments where DEP 8.5 is followed up to a given date when emissions are instantaneously reduced to zero, all simulations with climate sensitivities above 3.0 ◦ C produce a self-sustaining PCF [permafrost carbon feedback] even if emissions are reduced to zero in 2013 (Fig. 3 and Supplementary Fig. S5).”

    If Primafrost Carbon would produce a self-sustaining PCF at current temperatures (2013 scenario), then it would have likely also produced a self-sustaining feedback 1000 or 2000 years ago, which has not happened. Isn’t this a near proof that either this understanding of the PCF is wrong or the climate sensitivity cannot be above 3.0 °C?

    If they would re-run their model with let’s say data from Year 1000 A.D. on, this could be proven, or not?

    Comment by Bernd Herd — 12 Oct 2012 @ 12:46 PM

  374. > Better to just dump the waste heat [from fission plants] into the environment

    Nope, lack of foresight there is worldwide but we do know better. It’ll be far better to store heat locally as an additional way to generate electricity; when* the grid goes down, it’ll be invaluable to have alternative power sources that can provide maintenance power during the cooldown months.

    These technologies may be “competitors” in the market, but when the market and grid go down, they support each other, if build together.
    * <a href="; not if

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Oct 2012 @ 1:00 PM

  375. > Jim Larsen …
    > one company … that’s taking my advice

    You work for GE, or you’re advising them?
    You’re an economist?

    Hard to tell. The stuff above sounds like PR for a business.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Oct 2012 @ 1:02 PM

  376. Ric, in the several dozen blog posts I examined on ‘Do The Math’ I found reams and reams of text with no math whatsoever. I’m not going to search for math on some misnamed blog when I can just do the math myself. And I’m certainly not going to read the text when I have the Arxiv at my disposal.

    human use of energy this century and beyond.

    If you would even ‘read the math’ you would understand my skepticism about that statement. If human civilization survives even the next few decades at the the current rate of scientific and mathematical advancement and progress, the concept of energy conversion in the next century will bear little resemblance to the ‘discussion’ on Tom Murphy’s blog. Even semiconductor donor acceptor technology is only sixty to seventy years old and has radically changed the way electric motors function in the modern world in just the last two decades. Yes, Maxwell’s equations and Onsagar relationships still apply, but our ability to manipulate the composition, position and geometry of individual atoms in a lattice and simulate and measure their effects is about to take a step into the realms of science fiction. You just aren’t keeping up with these developments in my opinion. This is a race for survival now, and you are racing backwards, quickly. We need disruptive technology, we already have at our disposal historical technology which we aren’t utilizing to maximum theoretical efficiency. Even at maximum theoretical efficiency it won’t be enough to avert the momentum we have already impressed upon the atmospheric and oceanic system.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 12 Oct 2012 @ 1:02 PM

  377. Re 373 Bernd Herd – “then it would have likely also produced a self-sustaining feedback 1000 or 2000 years ago” … As I read that, I anticipated seeing ~ 6000 to 8000 years ago (or maybe my dates are off; I haven’t memorized the Holocene) and was surprised to see something so recent proposed. On the other hand, while ‘MWP’ was strongly regional (so far as I’ve absorbed), so is permafrost. However, global warming such as is occuring now also has some regionality such as Arctic amplification… Did you have a particular paleotemperature map in mind?

    (oh, and might we already have exceeded the prior Holocene temperature range?)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 12 Oct 2012 @ 1:48 PM

  378. Thanks for your response, B. Herd (@#373).

    Unfortunately for your theory, global temperatures have not been higher in 1000 or 2000 years, as far as I can tell–recall Mann’s ‘hockey stick’ and all that.

    So are you claiming that you know of some proxy data that indicates that local temperatures specifically over major permafrost areas were higher some time in the past than they are today? If so, please do share them. I am not aware of any such. 1841,

    Thanks again for responding. I look forward to further support for your idea.


    Comment by wili — 12 Oct 2012 @ 2:04 PM

  379. 362 Craig N said, “stopping the construction of new coal-fired power plants”

    and 370 wili quoted, “even if emissions are reduced to zero in 2013”

    wili, I’ve often pondered about the ice age cycles, how a bit-o-carbon equivalent in orbital changes can cause a 100ppm increase in atmospheric carbon. After we stop emitting we’ll get to watch the race between equilibrium and feedbacks such as permafrost emissions. Even if we “win”, have we already “poked the beast” more than that which initiated an interglacial? Your link suggests we’ll lose the race, which, of course, just starts a new game.

    Also, what’s the proper definition of “zero”? Is it “emissions stop today”, or is it “stop building fossil infrastructure today”? I vote for the latter and wish scientists would include it in their scenarios.

    Preventing the building of new fossil is our current issue. (WTG Craig!) There’s many ways to accomplish that. Focusing our efforts on the least-cost-effective way is sexy and satisfying but unwise.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 12 Oct 2012 @ 2:52 PM

  380. #377, #378: I didn’t want to suggest that any earlier time in the holocene was warmer. The suggestion 1000 A.D. was just symbolic for any time before antrophogenic influence became important, so 1800 would also do.

    No, my question is different: In linear mathematics, the value of the temperature would not be important to decide if we have a stable of an unstable system. Just the strengths of amplification factors would decide if it is stable or unstable.

    But the System is oviously non-linear, thus a change in the global temperature can be modelled as a change of the operating point, where both the old and the new operating point can be approximated by two linear systems which are either stable or unstable.

    Until 2013 we have only 0.8°C global warming, so the system should behave at least similar to the holocene until 1800. So if the amplification factors have changed only a very little bit and we find a self-sustaining PCF for 3° climate sensitivity and above, then likely we’d find a self-sustaining PCF for let’s say 3.5° climate sensitivity for 0.8°C less before 1800.

    I think that the analysis of the coupling probably gives a new information: Let’s assume that the modelling of the Permafrost Carbon Feedback is correct.

    If an analysis for before 1800 would show that such a self-sustained PCF according to the model also occurs when the climate sensitivity is 3 °C or 3.5 °C, this could define an upper limit for the climate sensitivity, for we know that in the past there was no such self-sustained PCF. Or the assumptions that the models are correct would be false.

    In the other case, when the model shows for before 1800 temperatures, that even at high CO2 sensitivities no self-sustained PCF occures, then just heating the earth by 0.8°C alone was sufficient to change the amplification factors so much, that a self-sustained PCF is possible, depending on the CO2 sensitivity. But that is no new information in comparison to what the permafrost feedback article already said.

    So analyzing with a coupled model gives an additional information that was not available with an uncoupled model. It is like modelling the amplifier in a coupled loudspeaker-microphone system. Either the feedback is high enough for an acoustic feedback or it isn’t.

    You see, I’m an electronic engeneer, not a climate scientist. Modelling with the linearizations around operating points is a usual approach in electronics design.

    Comment by Bernd Herd — 12 Oct 2012 @ 3:16 PM

  381. Thomas,
    In all fairness, you were asked for supporting documentation for your claims, and you provided models of future predictions. This hardly qualifies as evidence of past events.

    Comment by Charles — 12 Oct 2012 @ 4:15 PM

  382. For B. Herd:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Oct 2012 @ 4:45 PM

  383. Thanks again for a very lengthy and thoughtful reply, B. Herd. I’m not sure I follow all of it, but you seem to be saying either there was going to be a permafrost feedback or there wasn’t. And if PDF was going to happen, it would have happened already at a much lower forcing.

    My understanding is that there is a threshold above which the forcing kicks in–this point is sometimes called the tipping point, if I understand it correctly.

    Surely something like this must exist in acoustic feedback as well. Below a certain level, good sound systems don’t go into feedback mode. Only if the amount of sound going into the microphone from the speaker system exceeds so threshold to you get the feedback effect. What am I missing?

    Comment by wili — 12 Oct 2012 @ 8:20 PM

  384. Hank (#374),

    Not sure how local storage and 0.7 GW of waste heat production get connected nor how to generate electricity economically from warm water. Thermodynamics does not seem to favor that kind of scheme.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 12 Oct 2012 @ 8:58 PM

  385. Back in focus of the really big on going event, record Arctic sea ice area lows:

    Which had some publicity, but really I think studying it openly is far more constructive,
    especially since the edge of the Arctic Basin pack ice coincides with the -10 to -15 C surface temperature outline. This is really interesting, isn’t it?

    Comment by wayne davidson — 12 Oct 2012 @ 9:29 PM

  386. >How to generate electricity economically from warm water

    Ah, you’re waffling over the term “economically” ?

    You can Google that; it’s being done now, you know.

    No, it can’t compete with cheap coal power just yet at ordinary market ratews — but there’s one specific situation where funding development of working systems to test these methods in real full size systems capable of producing power in actual use is going to be economical at any price — if there when next needed.

    1) Be prepared to provide power when the grid goes away for several months
    2) Be associated with, and have your salt melted by, heat from the fission plant
    3) Switch output to power the cooling pumps while the grid has gone away
    4) Be one of a variety of alternative power systems available during the crisis
    5) Profit!

    There’s a business case demonstration available for the value of having multiple redundant alternative power generators — all where they’ll be needed, all working even at a loss in normal circumstances, available for the day of the next Carrington Event. Japan was a minor local short term grid loss event compared to what another Carrington will do.

    At that point, despite loss of grid, transportation, refineries, and staff, electricity needs to be supplied where needed — cooling pumps — for months.

    Part of the cost of doing fission is having guaranteed backup power sufficient for all the working plants, for several months, when the grid goes away. The plants need to be surrounded by the best possible. Molten salt is to try out.

    Combine solar, thermal, and whatever local alternatives suggest: tide, wind, pumped hydro, ranks of bicycles in the parking lot — any source of electricity will be economical when* the grid goes away for months.
    * not ‘if’

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Oct 2012 @ 10:26 PM

  387. 383 wili said, “My understanding is that there is a threshold above which the forcing kicks in–this point is sometimes called the tipping point,”

    Me too, and my understanding is that the tipping point is whatever the melting point of soggy peat is. Since that tipping point is buried underground at widely differing depths (even in the same location), it’s not so much an on-off switch, but a delayed slowly opening valve.

    Also, the world average temperature is probably not a reasonable metric. We’re only concerned about polar temperatures in this case. Since CO2 is far higher now, polar amplification should be higher, and permafrost should be subject to thawing at a lower average world temperature. The work on north-of-Greenland ice coverage hints that we’re not quite as warm as it was in the Arctic, but we’re on a trajectory to leave that in the dust. 400ppm is insanely high. I’m sure the paper you referenced takes all this and more into account. Are their conclusions correct? As if you or I have any clue beyond faith.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 13 Oct 2012 @ 12:14 AM

  388. wili (#370),

    I took a look at the paper and I notice that for diagnosed emission pathway (DEP) 2.6 which includes moderate capture of carbon dioxide, the additional concentration from permafrost at the end of the twenty-third century (44 ppm) is about the same as at the end of the twenty-first century (39 ppm) so it looks as though it is quite possible to keep up with this effect. DEP 2.6 trajectory looks like a build-it-once-and-let-it-run technological approach to carbon dioxide capture which means that the capacity to build it once or twice or thrice more would be available if needed.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 13 Oct 2012 @ 8:39 AM

  389. Oh, and why use locally sited renewables when the grid goes away for several months instead of coal supplied by coal trains traveling across the continent, or fossil fuel supplied by pipelines and trucks from refineries across the continent? Two reasons. Backing away from carbon; and transport and refining go down with the grid when the grid goes down. Not if.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Oct 2012 @ 10:40 AM

  390. Thanks for the link, wayne. Somewhere we have to have a list of the various elements that have been proposed to explain the difference between modeled sea ice loss and actual loss.

    I find the “Tale of the Tape” sea ice anomaly chart to be the Cryosphere Today chart that speaks most strongly just how anomalous the current sea ice situation is:

    Comment by wili — 13 Oct 2012 @ 10:47 AM

  391. Hank (#386),

    I don’t think the salts are being considered for months of storage either, just daily storage at the same site as the generation unit so less generating capacity is requires and baseload or dispatchable power can be provided. And, you need high temperature to melt the salt. So, this does not sound feasible to me.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 13 Oct 2012 @ 11:00 AM

  392. Hank Roberts (#386) wrote: “Be prepared to provide power when the grid goes away for several months”

    Thanks for this comment. I have become extremely concerned about the possibility of another Carrington Event in the near future. We’ve had a couple of close calls just recently.

    I would add that there are other very real threats to the aging and increasingly fragile electric grid, that while not necessarily as catastrophic as a Carrington Event, would certainly be disruptive and costly — and these include, of course, the impacts of AGW-driven extreme weather events, which we have every reason to expect will become more frequent, and worse.

    For example, the electric grid around Washington DC — which is to say, the electric grid in some of the richest counties in America, surrounding the capital of the wealthiest and most powerful nation on Earth! — has been repeatedly knocked out for hundreds of thousands of households, businesses and other institutions for days at a time by violent storms and blizzards in just the last few years. It’s getting to the point where you basically have to expect that utility power will go down for several days at a time, a couple of times a year.

    Obviously the power grid needs a lot of work — not only to “harden” it against violent weather and solar flares, but to make it “smarter”, more efficient, and better able to effectively integrate power generation from diverse, distributed, and variable sources at all scales.

    Meanwhile, I think that the unfortunately increasing unreliability of the grid is one factor that will drive adoption of distributed, on-site generation and storage. I know that around the DC area, backup generators are becoming increasingly popular — but of course, those require fuel, and it becomes problematical to keep more than a couple of days’ fuel supply on site. That is not a problem with a photovoltaic system with battery backup, which is one reason such systems are becoming more attractive to residential consumers.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 Oct 2012 @ 11:28 AM

  393. Borrowing a page from Daisy World, it strikes me that release of permafrost carbon might be slowed by boosting summertime Arctic surface albedo. Seeding Northern Yarrow across the soil that is newly exposed by snow melt might help. The midsummer bloom time and white color of this flower might reduce polar amplification to some extent.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 13 Oct 2012 @ 11:49 AM

  394. Hank Roberts, Chris Dudley, SA et al @386 and below: Sorry to be a pain but according to Gavin @222 “the economics of energy generation” is permanently off-topic at RealClimate. I gather that our hosts are fed up with reading and/or moderating OT discussions, and since everyone here values RC so much, the least we can do is help it survive by moderating ourselves.

    Of course it’s not only you, all parties need to resist their temptations and either ignore OT topics if they’re broached, or politely reply that it’s OT. It would also help if the rules were posted somewhere obvious, so we don’t have to go through this all over again every time a newbie inadvertently posts something OT. I’m not claiming to be blameless, but I am relatively new to RC and AFAIK the situation wasn’t spelled out so clearly when I first joined. But now that it is, we need to roll with it. For reference here’s a summary of recent moderator statements on the subject:

    “Please keep discussions related to the science of climate change. Not the politics of climate change, the economics of energy generation, how cell phones do or do not give you brain cancer, the end of the world as we know it, or how strongly you feel about saving the world.” -Gavin, Oct 2012 @222, see also @205

    “Actually, neither insults nor ad homs are particularly welcome here. None of us really has time to moderate this kind of stuff, and frankly we resent the time it takes to police the various slanging matches. Please stick to the substance and try out the art of the insult somewhere else.” -Gavin, Sep 2012 @410

    “Defensible statements and discussion of the physical, chemical, biological, statistical etc. issues only from here on out please.” Jim, Aug 2012 @373

    Comment by Chris Korda — 13 Oct 2012 @ 12:09 PM

  395. Hank (#389),

    I think solar PV provides very important reliability in just such a situation. Keeping people’s medication refrigerated, for example, can be handled well that way even with low penetration into the generation market.

    But, molten salts have nothing to do with that. Concentrated solar power (CSP) tends to work well in the desert and that is the only way in which high temperatures are involved in solar power. Clouds that most of us get because we live someplace habitable ruin CSP. PV continues to work however even with clouds. You’ve just got a hold of the wrong tool for the problem you want to address.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 13 Oct 2012 @ 1:00 PM

  396. #383, #387 Jim Larsen Said: “My understanding is that there is a threshold above which the forcing kicks in–this point is sometimes called the tipping point,”

    In the microphone-amplifier-speaker correspondence the tipping point is the point when you turn the volume a little big up and then the positive feedbacks are stronger than the negative feedbacks and you get that horrible noise.

    The raising temperature is what slowly turns the volume knob for the Permafrost Carbon Feedback (PCF). At some point a “tipping point” can be reached which would cause a self-sustained PCF.

    However a second “volume knob” is the CO2 climate sensitivity, which is not yet known exactly. I hope that one could define an upper limit for the climate sensitivity by finding out at which climate sensitivity a self-sustained PCF would have occured with pre-1800 temperatures.

    #387 Jim Larsen “Since that tipping point is buried underground at widely differing depths (even in the same location), it’s not so much an on-off switch, but a delayed slowly opening valve.”

    Right, there likely have always been parts of the Permafrost that were in danger of thawing. If the system would have been unstable, that would have meant that 1 kg of thawing permafrost would have caused enough additional heating to cause more than 1kg of permafrost to thaw in addition.

    The raising temperature likely changes the strength of that feedback. And the climate sensitivity also is relevant.

    Comment by Bernd Herd — 13 Oct 2012 @ 1:21 PM

  397. > … other … threats to the … electric grid
    Yup. I read the news today, oh boy …

    Well it’s barely climate —
    — our climate starts at the Sun, and we rely on its stability
    — ignoring significant risks to save money short term

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Oct 2012 @ 1:39 PM

  398. Chris (#394),

    It is really a discussion of Carnot’s theorem.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 13 Oct 2012 @ 1:51 PM

  399. [edit – OT]

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 13 Oct 2012 @ 2:36 PM

  400. How warming and steric sea level rise relate to cumulative carbon emissions

    Williams, R. G., P. Goodwin, A. Ridgwell, and P. L. Woodworth
    Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L19715, doi:10.1029/2012GL052771
    Key Points
    Warming linearly increases with total carbon emissions after emissions cease
    Warming and emissions are related by a climate sensitivity and a carbon inventory
    Steric sea level rise and emissions are related by an ocean climate sensitivity

    “… atmosphere-ocean equilibrium, reached many centuries after emissions cease…. approached perhaps 500 years or more after emissions cease.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Oct 2012 @ 3:17 PM

  401. #390, ya, that is telling Wili, Now I look for some shoreline ice forming along the coasts. From that moment the open water will shrink a little faster. Mean time that is not happening, Arctic Ocean simply warms the air immediately above -as ice cools the air above (even with no or the low sun- and forces the refreeze only about where there is sea ice. This guaranties a very slow refreeze.

    Comment by Wayne Davidson — 13 Oct 2012 @ 3:19 PM

  402. Anybody knowledgeable care to comment on Lucia´s last version of how this and that trend is now “falsified”?

    Is this something one should pay attention to?

    Comment by Lorius´ car — 13 Oct 2012 @ 3:41 PM

  403. Chris at #388–Yes, it would be better to get to DEP 2.6 (or much lower), but we haven’t been following that path so far, and there is scant indication that we will start to any time soon. In any case, again, figure 3 shows that if we stop all emissions now (and yes, Jim, that means completely stop emitting any more CO2, not just stabilize the rate we are emitting at now, unless I’m missing something), with a climate sensitivity of 3 degrees C we will see atmospheric CO2 levels remain at current high levels for centuries.

    And that is with including this one aspect of carbon feedback–we know that others are starting or are ‘waiting in the wings’ and they should change the trajectory of that dashed line from flat to an ever rising one (well, not forever, but presumably until all the carbon from accessible sources runs out or a negative forcing overcomes these positive feedbacks.)

    I like your adaptations of the daisy world idea at 393. But does yarrow also do a good job of sequestering CO2 with a deep root system as well? Probably you want a mix of flowers and grasses. What you don’t want is bigger shrubs and trees that will lessen the albedo, making for a darker, less reflective surface that warms the immediate vicinity and feeds into the normal snow-loss albedo shift. But that is exactly what is already happening.

    at #387 Jim Larsen said, “The work on north-of-Greenland ice coverage hints that we’re not quite as warm as it was in the Arctic”

    I’m not quite sure what you meant by this. Could you elucidate?

    Comment by wili — 13 Oct 2012 @ 4:15 PM

  404. Re 394 Chris Korda
    the economics of energy generation,” – perhaps (mis?)interpreted by some to allow the science of energy generation.

    On that note:

    heads up: my (P/PH/H)EV discussion ending at 104-105(+106) left some points and loose ends that I would have liked to have tied up/clarify, but anyone interested could probably figure it out anyway. If/when I have my own blog or see some other place it would fit I’ll put it there.

    (and very very briefly, Re Chris Dudley 395 – see ‘solar ponds’. According to S2E1 of “How the Universe Works”, Triton’s geysers run on this ‘technology’ – it uses the greenhouse effect. (Then there’s luminescent concentration but no way to discuss that without being ~completely OT now.)

    Of course if anyone brought up the non-CO2eq effects of various energy capturing technologies (for reasons other than just saying something good or bad about the technology?), that would be (or at least at times it has been) on topic (or I’ve infered it to have been so…(?):
    (the albedo effect of solar power [see my 137,140,145, 219-221, and 223, and also 152,154 (MARodger, Kevin McKinney)] or the mixing/other effects of wind turbines (for example, – my 15, 57-58, and also others’ 7, 10, 42, 43, 44, 46, 54, 61 (some of those better than others) – but especially ***72***(author response) and *73* ); at times in the past the issue of climate change’s effects on energy resources has also been brought up,
    (although that could degrade into a n_ vs. etc.).

    ReCAPTCHA has anticipated what I was going to post later? luni-solar …

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 13 Oct 2012 @ 5:02 PM

  405. Sorry to be such a pest, but I just found a great, short video of Steven Chu explaining the permafrost carbon feedback tipping point a while back:

    My basic question is: Am I right in interpreting graph 3 of the Nature Geoscience article to mean that we have now crossed the tipping point described so clearly by Chu?

    If I am right, why I do I seem to be the only one getting excited and concerned about it here? If I’m not right, please someone explain clearly why I’m not–what I’m missing, or what the authors of the article are missing?

    Comment by wili — 13 Oct 2012 @ 5:03 PM

  406. ‘solar ponds’ … actually (to a great extent?*) the Earth’s atmosphere ‘runs’ on that technology.

    *because if there were no greenhouse effect there’d still be latitudinal heating gradients. But without radiational cooling in the atmosphere, I’d guess overturning in general would be at least somewhat inhibited.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 13 Oct 2012 @ 5:10 PM

  407. Bernd Herd says: “….In the microphone-amplifier-speaker correspondence …”

    Engineers and musicians define “feedback” for their work.

    Climatology papers define “feedback” differently.

    Same word, different definition.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Oct 2012 @ 5:23 PM

  408. I’ve been chipping away at the two questions I posed back at @289: if we were to realize the EIA’s IEO2011 scenario (equivalent to following RCP8.5 out to 2035), what would atmospheric CO2 be in 2035, and what average global temperature would likely result? Gavin pointed out that I need “to take into account the fraction of the emissions taken up by land and ocean very quickly (about 50%)”, so I made a new spreadsheet that does so. I started with the RCP8.5 Fossil and Industrial Emissions data in GtC/Yr. I multiplied each sample by 0.61 (about 50%, more on this below), divided by 2.12 (the conversion from Gt/C to ppm CO2), and plotted the running sum of the samples. Here’s the result.

    While I was working this out, I discovered that the AR5 RCP scenario data download includes not only emissions and forcing data but also concentrations data. Duh! But that’s OK because the main point of the exercise was to learn a bit more about climate science. So I made another chart that plots my estimate of CO2 concentrations against the RCP8.5 concentrations data. I tried a few different values for Gavin’s “about 50%” and got the best fit at 61%. According to my estimate CO2 concentration would be 472 ppm by 2035, but RCP8.5 puts it a bit lower at 467 ppm.

    That still leaves the question, how much would average global temperature increase as a result? So here’s my crass first approximation. According to WP, “The climate sensitivity specifically due to CO2 is often expressed as the temperature change in °C associated with a doubling of the concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere”, and the consensus estimate of that sensitivity is ~3ºC. In other words doubling the pre-industrial 280 ppm should cause an increase of ~3ºC. 467 ppm is only 67% of a doubling, so we want to prorate the 3ºC, presumably using a log function, hence:

    2 ^ 0.67 = 1.59
    1.59 / 2 * 3ºC = 2.4ºC

    So I estimate that if we followed IEO2011/RCP8.5 out to 2035, and then stabilized our forcing, we would eventually arrive at an average global temperature increase of 2.4ºC. Am I even close? I haven’t forgotten Gavin’s advice “that I have to account for the thermal inertia of the oceans”, I’m just not ready to deal with that yet. In case anyone wants my spreadsheet it’s here.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 13 Oct 2012 @ 6:43 PM

  409. 403 wili, I was referring to the study which concluded that the Arctic Ocean used to have less ice than today. It used driftwood on Greenland’s northern shore as primary data.

    “During the Holocene Climatic Optimum of 8,000 to 5,000 years ago, the Arctic sea ice was less than 50% (so less than 2.6 mln sq km) of the lowest extent on satellite record, the 2007 melting record, … during the HCO or HTM (Holocene Thermal Maximum) it was warmer than today – in the Arctic on average about 1.6 degrees Celsius.”

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 13 Oct 2012 @ 8:54 PM

  410. I was curious as to reactions to something I just stumbled across, which is skeptics using a “study” that cites a revision of standards for ground station siting by Michel Leroy of METEO France. How this really changes things when it comes to the validity of temperature records is never made clear and in addition the folks at WUWT who are trying to push this meme seem to me to be trying to confuse the issue by making references to Leroy 1999 and Leroy 2010 as though these were peer reviewed papers, which I can’t find any evidence of.

    Comment by Jim Satterfield — 13 Oct 2012 @ 9:00 PM

  411. What do people think of this?–chart-prove-it.html

    All of the silly journalism spin in the article aside, it would be nice if the RC folks could do a short post on this to put this in better context. My understanding from some of the climate model simulations was that 10 year “pauses” were fairly normal, but 15+ year pauses were quite rare in climate model simulations of GHG forcing…

    Just curious. It’d be nice to know the broader context, as you can bet this will come up in many a Q&A on climate change talks and I would love to have a solid answer for it.

    [Response: The funny thing is that the trend in HadCRUT4 from Jan 1997 to Aug 2012 is positive (0.047+/-0.038 deg C/decade – 95% CI, no adjustment for auto-correlation). See The Escalator for more. – gavin]

    [Further Response: From the Met Office. – gavin]

    Comment by BA — 14 Oct 2012 @ 11:15 AM

  412. Rather old, just came across this at the MET Office website:

    “… The dataset, from an unnamed UK submarine mission, is set to provide a snapshot of conditions under the ice and is said to be one of the few clues available for the last two decades on the changes taking place in the Arctic.

    To process the information, the DSTL will work with the Natural Environment Research Council and the UK Hydrographic Office, which is based in Taunton, to prepare the data for researchers.

    The information gathered will be handed over to academics at National Oceanography Centre, where researcher John Allen said it would provide clues on the impact of climate change in the Arctic….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Oct 2012 @ 12:27 PM

  413. re 407 Hank Roberts – true, but I don’t think that was an issue in this case (we could all read his comment and understand how it applies to climate sensitivity; I do not think he was suggesting net positive feedback – except for Planck response (negative) – couldn’t exist without runaway, which is the usual problem we have with these differing definitions).

    [second third try at posting; never got “could not open socket” before]

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 14 Oct 2012 @ 12:53 PM

  414. Re- Comment by Patrick 027 — 14 Oct 2012 @ 12:53 PM:

    You said- “[second third try at posting; never got “could not open socket” before]”

    So, you are saying that this was not a wrenching or shocking experience? Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 14 Oct 2012 @ 1:21 PM

  415. Re 405 wili – you may have mentioned this already but it’s discussed here – from fig 2 (which was a little hard to read without buying/etc.) it looks like permafrost C has already been set to release but not completely. It isn’t a single-switch, total release situation.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 14 Oct 2012 @ 1:44 PM

  416. #407 “Engineers and musicians define “feedback” for their work. Climatology papers define “feedback” differently. Same word, different definition.”

    The term feedback comes from the mathematical description of systems called system theory and in any case except probably musicians means pretty much the same:

    I’ve studied control theory and you get to learn a lot about system theory there.

    The term “acoustic feedback” means something else, for that reason I took care to write “feedback” in the sense of system theory or “acoustic feedback” where I meant what musicians might name a “feedback”, because they are not much interested in feedbacks as long as the system stays stable.

    Comment by Bernd Herd — 14 Oct 2012 @ 2:32 PM

  417. #411 here is what the Met office thinks of it

    Comment by john byatt — 14 Oct 2012 @ 3:38 PM

  418. wili (#405),

    Maybe you should read the target paper. An equilibrium sensitivity of 6 C per doubling is suggested there and this feedback would be only part of that slow response. Fortunately, while RC wants to keep off the topic that explores “approaches to climate change mitigation.” The IPCC is taking that on as a part of climate science. So, DEP 2.6 looks a lot like Hansen at al.’s recommendation for a concentration target and approach to it. And, the new paper makes clear that the feasibility of that does not seem to be drastically changed by their findings. So, perhaps the new paper needs the words “Don’t Panic” written in large friendly letters on the cover.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 14 Oct 2012 @ 4:05 PM

  419. Re 416 Bernd Herd – in climate science, for global climate change, specifically a global (average surface) temperature change in response to a global (typically average net tropopause-level after stratospheric adjustment) radiative forcing (or other heat source – although on Earth those tend not to be so big), where the radiative forcing may be in units of W/m^2, so that equilibrium climate sensitivity is in K*m^2/W (it is often expressed as K/doubling CO2 as doubling CO2 has a certain amount of radiative forcing for given conditions). The feedback can be expressed as W/(K*m^2), a radiative feedback per unit temperature change, and in this form they add linearly. This includes the Planck response, which is just the increase in OLR (outgoing longwave radiation) in response to temperature according to the Planck function and the given optical properties. The Planck response is a negative feedback; including it, the total feedback is -(1/equilibrium climate sensitivity) and must be negative in order for equilibrium climate sensitivity to be finite. However, the Planck response is so fundamental that the feedback often refers to the other feedbacks, in which case the net feedback can be positive and the climate sensitivity, though it will be larger, is still finite (climate is stable). Also, the ratio of climate sensitivity to that with only a planck response may be considered.

    The impression I’ve gotten is that some people, not knowing that ‘net positive feedback’ may exclude the Planck response, think that this must imply the climate is unstable – the funny thing is, this will be used to argue for a lower climate sensitivity, but one could see that something is wrong here because the higher climate sensitivity caused by the positive feedback is still finite.

    In electrical engineering there’s Bode…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 14 Oct 2012 @ 4:50 PM

  420. also helpful:


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Oct 2012 @ 5:03 PM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Oct 2012 @ 5:08 PM

  422. To Patrick @ #415–Yes, I started with that useful Skeptical Science article (and yes, I did post a link to it above.) You write: “it looks like permafrost C has already been set to release but not completely. It isn’t a single-switch, total release situation.” I’d be curious to know what exactly in the article leads you to this conclusion. I do realize that they are not talking about all the CO2 coming out of the permafrost at once. I am concerned that we may already be committed to the eventual release of all the permafrost carbon.

    Chris, I did read the original article, as might have been clear from the fact that I quoted from the middle of it. We seem to be getting different messages from it. Thanks for the link to the Hansen article, too.

    Does anyone else reading the article–looking at the flat dashed line in figure three and putting that together with the fact that we know there will be other carbon feedbacks–come to my conclusion that this means we are now in a kind of runaway (not the Venusian kind, though)? If so, how long have we already been in it, and how steep is the slant of inevitable atmospheric CO2? If not, why not (as clearly and specifically as possible, if you would)?

    Thanks for the responses and for the interesting conversation about different meanings of ‘feedback.’

    (Oh oh, reCaptcha comments: ‘groans’)

    Comment by wili — 14 Oct 2012 @ 5:56 PM

  423. I think my last post @408 didn’t have the math quite right, sorry! To calculate the change in average global surface temperature that would result from a given atmospheric CO2 concentration, assuming a given climate sensitivity, the function should be:

    temp = log(concentration / 280) / log(2) * sensitivity

    This assumes we’re interested in temperature change relative to the pre-industrial CO2 concentration of 280 ppm though that’s arbitrary of course. So for example if sensitivity is 3ºC the results are as follows:

    280 ppm = 0ºC
    560 ppm = 3ºC
    1120 ppm = 6ºC

    and 467 ppm = 2.21ºC, a bit less than my previous estimate of 2.4. Here’s a little PHP calculator script: calculate average global temperature change from atmospheric CO2 concentration

    Assuming the above makes sense, my next question is, what about the timing? My simplified model just says that if atmospheric CO2 reaches 467 ppm in 2035, and magically stabilizes there, temperature would eventually reach 2.21ºC. It doesn’t take into account the thermal inertia of the ocean and probably lots of other interesting details.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 14 Oct 2012 @ 6:20 PM

  424. How often people struggle with the fact that words have quite different meanings in different contexts.

    To me, “feedback” will always intuitively mean Jorma Kaukonen’s guitar at the beginning of “The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Oct 2012 @ 7:11 PM

  425. @ Chris Dudley — 10 Oct 2012 @ 1:13 PM re Munich Re

    “Atmospheric scientist Clifford Mass of the University of Washington also has a problem with Munich Re’s findings, saying that once the data are adjusted for population there is no recent upward trend…”
    current US population 314.58e6 Munich Re reports recent losses 36e9; 1980 losses 9e9. Therefore 1980 population must have been 78.64e6, not the 203.18e6 that everybody thinks. Who woulda thunk the evil cabal of climate scientists could manipulate census data as well as the temperature record?

    Pielke has a more defensible argument – “”Thirty years is not an appropriate length of time for a climate analysis, much less finding causal factors like climate change,” – and he’s bright enough to cherry pick data sets with a lot of noise and statistically infrequent occurrences that do require more than 30 years (look! here’s a squirrel!) to be statistically significant, and conflate that with all climate data sets. How many years are required to show statistical significance in the decline of Arctic sea ice summer minima, or accelerating glacial mass loss?

    @ Lorius´ car — 13 Oct 2012 @ 3:41 PM re Lucia’s public mathturbation of model vs weather

    Lucia says
    “If we apply test whether the observation the trend associated with Global Mean Temperature computed starting in Jan 2000, we reject the ‘null’ hypothesis that the observation falls within the spread of “weather” characteristic of a particular model in (2,5,4) cases based on comparisons to (GISS, HadCRUT3 and NOAA) respectively.”

    Will Roger Pielke show up to dismiss Lucia’s work, and by implication all climate “skeptics” because they are trying to make something out of meaningless short term noise, or does he think that Munich Re’s 30 years isn’t enough, but Lucia’s 12 years is just fine? Remember the kerfuffle over Phil Jones’ “no significant warming since 1995”?

    What would Lucia see if she ran her analyses of models versus every possible 12 year span of observations, instead of just the last 12?

    @ BA — 14 Oct 2012 @ 11:15 AM regarding trends (Speaking of which, Is it just my imagination, is it just my imagination, or is there a new trend from the denialoshpere to muddy the waters by misuse & misrepresentation of trends?)

    Endpoints do not equal trends –
    for deeper background see and

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 14 Oct 2012 @ 8:23 PM

  426. Chris (#423),

    You can look at the climate response functions I mentioned back here:

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 14 Oct 2012 @ 8:25 PM

  427. wili (#422),

    I was writing too fast. By “target paper” I meant the Hansen et al. (2008) paper “Target atmospheric CO2: Where should humanity aim?” that I linked. I know you’ve read MacDougall et al. (2012). My point was that the new work has been anticipated in its basic points in the emissions trajectory proposed in the 2008 paper.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 14 Oct 2012 @ 8:46 PM

  428. Brian (#425),

    I’m still looking for the Munich Re report. If you have a link please post it. In your loss numbers, have you adjusted for inflation?

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 14 Oct 2012 @ 10:37 PM

  429. I’ve been looking at the WG I reference document for AR5 and have found this nice concise list of topics that I think should be considered on topic of RC unforced variations discussion. This does entail including scenarios as on topic, something Gavin wanted off topic. They are drawn in because they are tied to representative concentration pathways (RCPs), the basis for this chapter. RCP 2.6 is of particular interest because it includes reversibility through mitigation efforts, somewhat of a departure from AR 4.

    Chapter 12: Long-term Climate Change: Projections, Commitments and Irreversibility
    Executive Summary
    • Scenario description
    • Projections for the 21st
    • Projections beyond the 21st
    • Regional climate change, variability and extremes
    • Forcing, response and climate sensitivity
    • Climate change commitment and inertia
    • Potential for abrupt change and irreversibility in the climate system
    • Quantification of the range of climate change projections

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 15 Oct 2012 @ 7:28 AM

  430. Re #419 Patrick 027: Climate Science is just an application of system theory. For that reason they separate between forcings and feedbacks. Forcings do not depend from the actual temperature, feedbacks do. For that reason, CO2 from fossile fuels is not a feedback, but a forcing.

    In the microphone-amplifier-speaker analogy, this means the “forcing” is comparable to the guitar sound that you wanted to amplify.

    The Permafrost Carbon Feedback PCF is a feedback, and not a forcing, because it depends on the temperature already reached. And until now I can’t see any difference between a “self-sustained” PCF and an unstable system for a short-time analysis. In a long-time analysis the unlinearity of the system will be too important to allow a linear approximation. I wouldn’t know how to apply a Bode Diagram here.

    In sytem theory the planck response is just a negative feedback and for short time analysis can be approximated as nearly linear with some factor. If the sum of all positive and negative feedbacks becomes > 1, then the system is unstable. I know that this is only an approximation, for the system is non-linear. However I can’t see what aspect would contradict the idea that one could probably define a maximum CO2 climate sensitivity by appplying the PCF model to past temperatures, except maybe if the climate sensitivity itself would be non-linear?

    Comment by Bernd Herd — 15 Oct 2012 @ 7:30 AM

  431. #422 wili: “Does anyone else reading the article–looking at the flat dashed line in figure three and putting that together with the fact that we know there will be other carbon feedbacks–come to my conclusion that this means we are now in a kind of runaway (not the Venusian kind, though)? If so, how long have we already been in it, and how steep is the slant of inevitable atmospheric CO2? If not, why not (as clearly and specifically as possible, if you would)?”

    The authors of the article show, that the answer to this question depends on the CO2 climate sensitivity. 3°C and more means that we already triggered that runaway effect, less than 3°C means it has not happened yet.

    The best estimation from the 2007 IPCC report is 3°C, so we’ve got a 50% chance of not beeing doomed to this additional CO2 release to the atmosphere.

    I mostly wonder, if the effect was obviously not triggered a long time ago, and it has been triggered now with 0.8°C warmer earth at 3.0°C climate sensitivity, if we continue to emit CO2, won’t 2.0°C climate sensitivity become sufficient if we continue CO2 emissions for some decades? And the 2007 IPCC report says a climate sensitivity below 2.0°C is very unlikely.

    See also “uncertainty is not your friend”:

    And obviously stopping CO2 emmissions immediatly is also very unlikely.

    “If so, how long have we already been in it”? I guess since about 1900, for our actions, even our mere existance, is part of it. We cannot return into the state of mankind we had before 1900 without most of us dying for starvation.

    James Hansen changed his mind in about 2004 and now states that the atmosphere must not remain beyond 350ppm CO2 for a long time and calculated that there are still chances of reaching that goal: “An initial CO2 target of 350 ppm, to be reassessed as the effect on ice sheet mass balance is observed, is suggested.”

    As part of his scenario he suggests to take away a part of the CO2 by intensive reforestation.

    So according to the Permafrost Carbon Feedback article our actions are still part of the runaway scenario, we could still change our actions. But this might change in the future. The time remaining for actions might be short, even if the full consequences might take centuries to develop. But if there are additional feedbacks coming in, the time might not even be several centuries, see . I can only hope that they are wrong.

    Note: I’m not a Climate Scientist.

    Comment by Bernd Herd — 15 Oct 2012 @ 8:08 AM

  432. Bernd (#430),

    Runaway is possible but it occurs at 10-25 W/m^2 higher or lower forcing than today. The supplementary materiel in this paper particularly surrounding fig. S3. provides a brief discussion. It should be noted that raypierre objects to the high end argument presented there and elsewhere.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 15 Oct 2012 @ 8:36 AM

  433. Here it comes:

    World grain reserves are so dangerously low that severe weather in the United States or other food-exporting countries could trigger a major hunger crisis next year, the United Nations has warned.

    Failing harvests in the US, Ukraine and other countries this year have eroded reserves to their lowest level since 1974. The US, which has experienced record heatwaves and droughts in 2012, now holds in reserve a historically low 6.5% of the maize that it expects to consume in the next year, says the UN.

    “We’ve not been producing as much as we are consuming. That is why stocks are being run down. Supplies are now very tight across the world and reserves are at a very low level, leaving no room for unexpected events next year,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).


    The figures come as one of the world’s leading environmentalists issued a warning that the global food supply system could collapse at any point, leaving hundreds of millions more people hungry, sparking widespread riots and bringing down governments. In a shocking new assessment of the prospects of meeting food needs, Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy research centre in Washington, says that the climate is no longer reliable and the demands for food are growing so fast that a breakdown is inevitable, unless urgent action is taken.

    I’m not sure that “unexpected events” is the right term anymore, given that we have every reason to expect widespread, severe, prolonged drought next year, and every year for the foreseeable future.

    Predictions that AGW could cause agriculture to collapse world-wide by mid-century, once considered “alarmist”, may — like many other “alarmist” predictions — prove to have been optimistic.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 15 Oct 2012 @ 10:32 AM

  434. Last word from me for now on this… I have attempted to recommend Tom Murphy’s blog Do The Math (possibly OT, but with the excuse that I am trying to point out one good venue for energy discussions), with a few responses here, mainly unreasonable, defamatory to Tom, and at a far lower level of thoughtfulness than Murphy’s blog itself. For the rest of you with possibly more open minds, give it a try, starting from the beginning. The posts make sense in order, and you can skim the ones of lesser interest to you. You will notice a certain open-endedness, which arises from the topic itself, in which much is unsettled.

    Hint: if you really really want something, that doesn’t necessarily make a sentence starting with “I need [something]” more plausible. Applies very well to energy technologies.

    Comment by Ric Merritt — 15 Oct 2012 @ 11:47 AM

  435. Bernd, search ‘ameg’ here and at

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Oct 2012 @ 11:51 AM

  436. Ric, kibitzers show up here (as everywhere online) making seemingly authoritative pronouncements without credentials or publicly known name or reputation. The regular readers here learn to check whether someone has anything behind their opinion.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Oct 2012 @ 11:54 AM

  437. Ric Merritt wrote: “I have attempted to recommend Tom Murphy’s blog Do The Math …”

    I did peruse Tom Murphy’s blog. My comment about it here mentioned only his impressively detailed analysis of his own, equally impressive do-it-yourself home PV system — but by no means was that the only thing about it that I found valuable. As you (I think) mentioned earlier, his general discussions about energy consumption are, I think, very intelligent and important. I’ll be going back to read more, and I’m happy to second your recommendation.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 15 Oct 2012 @ 12:10 PM

  438. #434 Tom Murphy’s blog

    Ric, the alternative energy system on his blog that some people are swooning over was worked out over thirty years ago by sailboaters and island dwellers. It’s great, but it won’t get you off the grid if you are still running compressors in a conventional home (or if you are already off it before you started building the system as most people are) and you’d have to scale it up immensely to satisfy the energy hunger of suburbia. I can only speak for myself but I’ve moved on, several decades ago actually. This is the third time you’ve recommended his blog here and the third time I’ve had to remind you that there is very little math there (I think I saw one post there using thermodynamic quantities) and he more or less uses it to push an obsolete worldview on people who don’t have the mathematical skills to challenge his beliefs. Our human problem has become so severe through extreme neglect and the unwillingness to engage in confrontational behavior that it’s more or less now going to take two dimensional an carbon based quantum simulators using a Manhattan style project and Apollo style national effort in reusable launch vehicles to even come close to solving it in the timeframes that will make any difference. Unfortunately in this country there are rabid Christian fundamentalists sitting on YOUR congressional and senate science and technology committees.

    I know that offends you. That is my intent. I’m just getting the job done.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 15 Oct 2012 @ 12:24 PM

  439. Re- Comment by Ric Merritt — 15 Oct 2012 @ 11:47 AM:

    On your recommendation I read quite a bit of Murphy’s blog. I enjoyed it. I passed it on.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 15 Oct 2012 @ 12:31 PM

  440. ps for Ric — earlier some newly-arrived guy claimed he found no math on the “Do The Math” blog.

    Serious readers here learn to be skeptical of broad-brush dismissals of scientists’ work by self-proclaimed experts.

    E.g. see or

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Oct 2012 @ 12:39 PM

  441. Any reactions to this yet (which a denier friend sent me today)?–chart-prove-it.html#ixzz29N4dARKF

    Comment by Donald Negri — 15 Oct 2012 @ 1:21 PM

  442. Thomas Lee Elifritz wrote: “you’d have to scale it up immensely to satisfy the energy hunger of suburbia”

    You know, the idea that the problem we need to solve with regard to phasing out fossil fuels is to find other ways to “satisfy the energy hunger of suburbia” has got to go. I think that’s one of the points that Tom Murphy makes on his blog.

    A very tiny percentage of human beings have “enjoyed” that profligately wasteful, inefficient and downright stupid level of energy consumption for a tiny fraction of human history.

    If saving the world means that they need to get their fat bottoms out of their SUVs and walk a bit, and perhaps read some books in modest but cozy homes instead of gazing at the giant plasma TV screens in each and every room of their McMansions, well, it’s not the end of the world.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 15 Oct 2012 @ 1:23 PM

  443. broad-brush dismissals of scientists’ work

    I’m not dismissing Tom Murphy’s ‘work’, Hank, I’m dismissing his ‘blog’ as being relevant to the scale of the problem. For education, it’s just fine, but for actual solutions, I can recommend the peer reviewed literature. Educating the lay public about some simple arithmetical details of the radiation imbalance is not going to solve the problem created by the radiation imbalance, since the scale of the problem now exceeds even the most modest approaches to its solution. It will now require ‘big science’, bigger than anything heretofore accomplished including the bomb and the Apollo program.

    In particular, since recommendations are being made, I can recommend this as indicative of the types of condensed matter physics breakthroughs necessary to solve a problem that I in particular have now known to exist for several decades now.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 15 Oct 2012 @ 1:26 PM

  444. Hank, with regard to your fist link to Murphy’s blog — “Recipe For Climate Change” — unfortunately, I have to say that his introduction shows that he really doesn’t get it when it comes to global warming:

    “I view climate change as a genuine challenge to the stability of our coexistence with the planet. But it is not my primary concern. A far more dangerous threat to the human endeavor is, in my mind, our reliance on finite resources and the difficulty our economic systems will have coping with a decline in the availability of cheap energy.”

    Um, no.

    A “decline in the availability of cheap energy” — i.e. peak oil, and more generally peak fossil fuels, could — if we handle it very stupidly — cause some very serious economic and social disruptions to human society.

    But it won’t melt the polar ice caps, and kill the forests, and turn the world’s most productive croplands to deserts, and acidify the oceans, and cause the mass extinction of most life on Earth. Unmitigated global warming could easily do all of those things.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 15 Oct 2012 @ 1:33 PM

  445. Chris Dudley @426: Re 2011 Hansen et al, there’s enough material there for three papers! And it ends disappointingly with a whimper. But never mind, my take-away is that they’re asserting a three-phase approximation of climate response as follows:
    40% after 5 years (the “fast” response)
    75% after 100 years (the “slow” response: as opposed to 60% currently used by most models)
    and 100% after a millennium (the “recalcitrant” remainder)
    Would you agree with this summary? I’m working on a numerical model that emulates it. Input will be a CO2 concentrations time series, e.g. from an RCP scenario, and output will be a temperature change time series. Presumably the output will look very different from this: Temperature increase from RCP8.5 CO2 concentrations (instantaneous climate response), which is just a straightforward application of the “naive” calculation I introduced at @423, with sensitivity = 3.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 15 Oct 2012 @ 3:11 PM

  446. Re 434 Ric Merritt – I like it (Tom Murphy’s blog). (When reading through the comments I saw this mentioned alongside ~’Mott electronic lattice frustration’ so initially I expected some quantum physics, but that was just a mix-up. I agree there’s math there.)

    Re 422 wili – I was looking at figure 2 (as best I could in the little version you get from behind paywall) – it looks like, for the DEP 4.5 emissions ((DEP refers to forcing (from anthropogenic emissions, I think) W/m^2 in 2100) a bit more than doubling CO2 by 2100, setting aside other GHGs), if sensitivity is 3 K/doubling, the permafrost reservoir declines but starts to level off significantly before reaching 0 (I believe that’s 0 % of the permafrost reservoir?). For the higher sensitivity of 4.5 K/doubling, the decline slows before reaching 0 but still looks like it’s approaching 0 – this is similar to the DEP 8.5 at 2 K/doubling sensitivity; the higher sensitivies at DEP 8.5 lead to more of a quasi/pseudo-‘hard landing’ for permafrost C (rapid approach to 0 and only ‘slowing down at the last minute’). Also, from, under “Counter-intuitive results“,

    the amount of permafrost carbon released on the most pessimistic pathways is larger (39, 58, 67 and 101 ppm CO2 respectively for the four DEP’s), and occurs sooner.

    Also counter intuitively, the uncertainty of the permafrost feedback is reduced in the higher emission scenarios. In these scenarios, there is less uncertainty that we will unleash all of the permafrost, and quickly.

    So it should become more likely that some permafrost C remains indefinitely, as well as more for any given short time period, if there is less forcing.

    And, even after dropping aerosol cooling, we still have to add CO2 (or other GHGs) to the atmosphere to complete a DEP 4.5 scenario (setting aside perturbation time (of CH4, for example), it occurs to me that it is best to have it all as CO2 as this would reduce the radiative impact of the permafrost CO2. On the other hand, anthro-CH4 would partly reduce the impact of feedback CH4 (how much, I have no idea) … oh well).

    On the other hand, that’s assuming all permafrost C is emitted as CO2. So our room to avoid permafrost runaway will be smaller, but I couldn’t say by how much.

    (An author response at skeptical science:
    I don’t know if the author is still responding; I haven’t followed the thread)

    Re 430-431 Bernd Herd – I’m comfortable with the guitar-microphone-amplifier analogy.

    There is a concept called ‘Charney sensitivity’, which generally includes feedbacks that act fast (faster than the climate can equilibrate to any forcing) (and perhaps it might be said, are more obvious and easy to understand, generally abiotic?)… I think it includes H2O vapor, clouds, seasonal snow and sea ice (I’ve been over this before but I always find myself questioning whether it does include those last two or not; I’d expect it does). I don’t think it includes vegetation albedo or aerosol feedback; it definitely does not include biogeochemical feedbacks that could add CO2 or CH4 to the atmosphere; it also exludes ice sheet albedo feedback, which is generally slower than the climate response time. There is something called ‘Earth system sensitivity’ –
    … to be cont.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 15 Oct 2012 @ 4:40 PM

  447. Odd how so many here go on about energy and CO2 when in fact our problem, as Tom ‘Do the Math’ really points out, is the unsustainable nature of human impact on the planets resources …. ultimately meaning the sheer numbers of consumers and would-be consumers as much as their level of consumption. I think he’s right to be concerned with the impact of our over-consumption of all resources, including, but not at all limited to, fossil fuels. Our economic and social systems are already showing the strain of the “techno-fix” attitude expressed by some here regarding planetary limits.
    The arctic will not be planted with Yarrow to improve its albedo in anyones lifetime, especially not the arctic ocean. Drylands and deserts will not be planted to trees to draw down carbon when ever decreasing water supplies are needed to grow our food. The “smart grid” won’t smarten up as long as there’s cheap coal to burn. Coal and petroleum won’t get too expensive to use as long as the money derived from them elects your governments.

    SA@433 points to the warning of food production problems [link], with the shortage of stockpiles said to be the lowest since 1974 – when there was “only” 4 billion of us on the planet. Yes, “breakdown is inevitable, unless urgent action is taken”, but the only urgent action likely to change things is a drastic reduction in population, which the planet may well be about to implement for us.

    Comment by flxible — 15 Oct 2012 @ 4:48 PM

  448. Correction?
    – re my re wili 422 – from the skeptical science post: “Note that a self-sustaining feedback is not the same thing as a runaway greenhouse effect.
    – so it may be that the threshold forcing for releasing all permafrost C is not a threshold for permafrost C runaway but simply the point at which the source of the feedback has been exhausted. Thus our room to avoid ‘runaway’ that I stated earlier would then be the room we have to keep some nonzero C amount in the permafrost. Running out of permafrost C would then be like running out of surface water to feed the water vapor feedback, of the ocean were sufficiently shallow (to stay out of H2O-runaway territory).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 15 Oct 2012 @ 4:58 PM

  449. Chris (#445),

    That sounds like one of the things they tried. I noticed when I implemented their Green’s function approach to a sudden end to emissions, that the temperature began to fall as soon as emissions dropped while the forcing should still have been causing the temperature to increase. I also tried to implement their function as a lag that finishes quick for small changes in forcing but drags for larger changes, but the functional form made that delay a long time to get any temperature rise at all with a BAU type emissions profile. I think we can say that the response function represents the response to a step function doubling in concentration but working backwards from that to a response to a different forcing profile (other than high frequency volcanic forcing it has also been tuned to) may not be so easy.

    But it may also be the best tool available so far to do approximations without full model runs.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 15 Oct 2012 @ 6:31 PM

  450. fixible (#477),

    The article is a little ambiguous, but when they give units is is in days of consumption. Might it not be that population growth and improved nutrition has been factored into the statement about 1974?

    And, wasn’t 1974 just after the Soviet crop failure? Not too surprising if carryover stocks were low then as now.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 15 Oct 2012 @ 7:57 PM

  451. Re 443 Thomas Lee Elifritz – that’s also interesting. Both this stuff and Tom Murphy’s blog are interesting (lumens/W theoretical limits, how efficient is heating up water in a Microwave, in a water heater, etc.)

    I have some quantum mechanical questions – 1. what exactly is it that determines the probability of an energy transition such as an electron emitting or absorbing a photon (besides densities and occupancies of states and incident photons, etc.) – and how does refractive index affect this (it has to because the Planck function is proportional to n^2 – has to be in order to satisfy 2nd law of thermo…) – and does it make sense to use an k,E diagram when electrons are not actually propagating as plane waves – I mean, what is the wavevector when the waveform is not a plane wave; is k a function of space in atomic orbitals? How do plasmons work? What would the thermodynamics of a hot-carrier solar cell be? I’d like to find a blog that explains this kind of thing.


    But about what we need (breakthroughs) – we don’t may not need breakthroughs (or maybe we do depending on how you define ‘breakthrough’?); or maybe in a sense we do, but they could be of either the political/social or technological sort; the more the better, but just political/social could work okay (although that would work partly by boosting R&D to continue technological progress, but I’m not sure if that’s necessarily breakthroughs (it wouldn’t surprise me if someone got a zinc phosphide, CZTS, or pyrite solar cell to work economically at some point in the future, or used light-trapping to make c-Si cheaper and more efficient, or… – it would surprise me if it happenned tomorrow, but…). It’s OT so I won’t elaborate now but here’s links
    (granted, that’s 450 ppm stabilization and I don’t remember if I read through it all or not)
    418 – 419 and


    Well, breakthroughs in storage would be nice; however the necessity of … (don’t want to get into a debate about it now, just consider above and below):
    464 (note that there are some issues with that – not representative of seasonality of US electric usage, maybe also wind? – see 494-495, note some places have unusual wind seasonality
    – I found it helpful to copy and paste images into “Paintbrush” files and then view them as a slideshow to animate the annual cycle. Interesting stuff happens to solar in SW late summer – localized)…
    … you can get seasonality of energy usage here: – you can get more years of monthly data from the cvm’s – I C&Ped each file to a worksheet in Excel, made other sheets to evaluate some things for each row and then combined them into a table using vlookup, etc.;
    also check out graphs here
    “Effects of aggregating electric load in the United States”
    also check out:
    “Projections of Levelized Cost Benifit of Grid-Scale Energy Storage Options” (somebody pointed this out in the Aug 2012 unforced thread but I can’t find the source comment)
    … 474

    some background
    461 (hint: what about adding generators to the Welland Canal ?)
    – but see also (in case it matters) – 281: – and also, I assume the ‘net generation’ capacity is in AC output but note that sometimes PV may be given in DC; there’s a derate factor – see Tom Murphy’s blog (ironic); Secular Animist provided a link to SEIA… – and there’s
    … note all sector net generation from EIA doens’t include residential PV … see the appendices (Table F3, and check fine print).

    And then there’s (I have very little knowledge about this) (not to be confused with that weird Th auroral battery conspiracy theory stuff)

    And dunite dust, biochar, etc.

    (Wow! I had no idea the list would look that long. Oops)


    PS re Ric Merrit – I couldn’t figure out how to post a comment at Do the Math – maybe the problem was I was looking at older posts that were closed, but … any suggestions? (I was thinking about whether the shape of the water container would make a difference in microwave efficiency))

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 15 Oct 2012 @ 8:34 PM

  452. re my 446, 448, continued…

    So is the self-sustained feedback just a delayed feedback? Like if water vapor took decades instead of days to equilibrate with the climate – then as it increased, it would affect the climate, causing it to increase more, but with a determined destination that varies continuously with the forcing (and other feedbacks – note, if feedback is given as a ratio between sensitivity with it and sensitivity without it, then feedbacks don’t add linearly.)

    Or maybe it can be runaway, but it wasn’t called that because people associate runaway with H2O feedback and boiling the oceans?

    Runaway isn’t infinite. Going both into and out of a snowball state (theoretically?) involves runaway ice albedo feedback – it stops (starts) when the ‘iceline’ is at the equator; it starts (stops) when the ‘ice line’ reaches some latitude when the sensitivity goes to infinity (or when all the ice has been eliminated). There is a range where the equilibrium climate sensitivity is negative; the equilbrium is unstable. For H2O vapor feedback, there is a point where increasing temperature produces such an increase in H2O vapor that the OLR stays constant (as modelled thus far – clouds do what?) – obviously this must end when there is no more source of H2O vapor.

    to be cont…

    (but quickly: On the point of paleoclimatic evidence: if there is a threshold below (or above) which a feedback is not activitated, then climate variations staying below (or above) that threshold would not bear on the sensitivity with that feedback.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 15 Oct 2012 @ 8:59 PM

  453. Chris Dudley – there is nothing ambiguous about the units involved in UN estimates of food reserves, as stated in the article, the amount relates to expected consumption/demand in the coming [storage] year. Humanity has increasingly been consuming more than we produce, stockpiles are steadily dwindling. In a year when planted corn acreage increased hugely, production dropped. Given the state of the climate all here [well, except for 1 or 2] are concerned with, what is the likelihood those reserves will grow rather than dwindle, considering the fact that the global population continues to increase and we’re using our food to produce energy? As SA points out above, the “alarmist” prediction of agricultural collapse mid-century is probably optimistic.

    Comment by flxible — 15 Oct 2012 @ 9:01 PM

  454. Patrick at 452: Thanks for posing the questions here that I was about to pose after your earlier post.

    I would love to hear a differentiation between runaway gw and self-sustained feedback (from you or anyone else on hand).

    I don’t get the impression that the former is used only of the Venus Syndrome thing. That’s not how Chu was using it, as far as I could tell.

    Comment by wili — 15 Oct 2012 @ 10:40 PM

  455. Now this from NOAA:

    “Arctic summer wind shift could affect sea ice loss and U.S./European weather”

    “Changes in summer Arctic wind patterns contribute not only to an unprecedented loss of Arctic sea ice, but could also bring about shifts in North American and European weather, according to a new NOAA-led study published today in Geophysical Research Letters.

    A research team led by James Overland, Ph.D., of NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, Wash., examined the wind patterns in the subarctic in the early summer between 2007 and 2012 as compared to the average for 1981 to 2010. They discovered that the previously normal west-to-east flowing upper-level winds have been replaced by a more north-south undulating, or wave-like pattern. This new wind pattern transports warmer air into the Arctic and pushes Arctic air farther south, and may influence the likelihood of persistent weather conditions in the mid-latitudes.

    “Our research reveals a change in the summer Arctic wind pattern over the past six years. This shift demonstrates a physical connection between reduced Arctic sea ice in the summer, loss of Greenland ice, and potentially, weather in North American and Europe,” said Overland, a NOAA research oceanographer. ”

    At neven’s blog, M. Owens is claiming that this influx of warm air into the Arctic is the main thing that explains the high rate of melt since 2007. Does that seem reasonable?

    Comment by wili — 15 Oct 2012 @ 11:08 PM

  456. (but quickly: On the point of paleoclimatic evidence: if there is a threshold below (or above) which a feedback is not activitated, then climate variations staying below (or above) that threshold would not bear on the sensitivity with that feedback. … And if we could break a feedback into components, with some activated before others, then activation of some of that feedback won’t *simply and directly* bear on what the rest will do.

    So slow feedbacks will continue to feedback on themselves but possibly with less and less effect as equilibrium is approached.

    On the other hand, there are really many many tipping points and ranges of unstable climate, in a manner of speaking. There may be a cap for convection, but latent heating in a growing cumulus cloud (forced locally by … whatever) may eventually allow it to mushroom. Or it might not. There is a moment when a crack forms and then positive feedbacks grow it into a rupture – the ice calves (or the rock breaks); the bubble of CH4 rises and breaks the water’s surface. Etc. That’s weather, forming the texture of climate, and the particulars don’t matter so much on that scale, but hypothetically one could consider little tiny runaways which average out to a continuous slope in equilibrium climate in response to change in forcing when the resolution is not more than some fraction of a K, and then for practical purposes we see a finite sensitivity.

    So feedbacks can be slow or fast, lead to runaway (via total effect) or not; they can also lead to hysteresis or be immediately reversable.

    Hysteresis occurs on a small scale: magnetism; also, if a system’s pressure is changed or heat added or removed and some processes can’t keep up with thermodynamic equilibrium (disequilibrium states: untempered cocoa butter; also, cementite (Fe C mixture cooling, graphite formation themodynamically prefered but kinetically inhibited, so Fe3C forms instead), martensite (Fe3C formation inhibited, get supersaturated solution) – but for weather, see ‘Kohler curve’; also, supercooled cloud droplets – and similarly, phase changes can be/are delayed in subducting lithosphere (Karato, “The Dynamic Structure of the Deep Earth”; and of course, diamonds). When moist air rises and cools, latent heat is released. If condensed H2O is removed (precipitation), the air can’t follow the same p,T path (moist adiabat) in the opposite direction adiabatically.

    For climate, there’s hysteresis just from heat capacity. If we set that aside, hysteresis would occur with slow feedbacks. Setting both aside and just considering equilibrium climate, there can still be hysteresis. Consider that once the permafrost C is depleted, we couldn’t just take ‘our’ CO2 out of the system and have the other C go back where it came from – I would guess it would go in some different places, and different things would happen if we repeat the emissions. Going in and out of a snowball is a dramatic hysteresis; I think ice sheets may also exhibit hysteresis (threshold for glaciation not equal to threshold for deglaciation) though maybe I don’t understand that correctly. Ecological succession and biological evolution would also provide hysteresis (for example, I read of an idea that under some conditions, bogs will tend to take over forests; these bogs will have a higher albedo than forest when snow falls, thus potentially bringing an ice age…). Runaway H2O vapor feedback is generally reversable (setting aside CO2 feedbacks (although given sufficient time, I think that would be reversable), evolution…), but losing the H to space would lead to hysteresis.

    (Related point: it only just happens that the Earth is set up to have a positive CO2 feedback for orbitally-forced climate change; this could easily be different. It isn’t as systematic as H2O feedback. PS orbital forcing is rather small in the global annual average; it’s been my understanding that regional changes that cause growth or decay of ice sheets are what actually lead to significant global average warming/cooling; in that sense, the ice could be considered the forcing (with the additional ice that comes from global average changes being a feedback).)

    Other point: for large climate changes, forcing for the same change isn’t the same in forward and reverse. Consider adding x amount of CO2 to the atmosphere. Now there’s more H2O vapor and the lapse rate and tropopause height are different, etc. Taking it away won’t have the same forcing because of that. However, the feedbacks will be different and, absent hysteresis, they difference will cancel the difference in forcing (my impression has been that this effect is small (enough not to bother with) for one or two doublings of CO2; however, I think it makes a sizable difference if one removes all CO2 and then adds it back).

    Also, for various purposes, some agents that are feedbacks may be treated as forcings. For example, in determining the total greenhouse effect, the effect of H2O can be calculated as a radiative forcing. And some shorter-term forcings can respond to climate over the longer term.

    Final point: I think in , Earth system sensitivity was described with atmospheric CO2 as a forcing. But CO2 can be a feedback. Treating it as such and including it in total sensitivity, one would have to consider the forcing as specifically the anthropogenic emission (or other source that can be regarded as non-climate-induced with respect to some timescale – technically anthropogenic emissions are a feedback since humans have been shaped by climate, but see last paragraph) – in which case we already have seen a large negative feedback in oceanic+other CO2 uptake. It gets tricky now because the equilibrium climate sensitivity requires a timescale to be defined – barring large hysteresis, it isn’t so large going out many millions of years (weathering feedback); there will be a time scale of maximum sensitivity.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 15 Oct 2012 @ 11:58 PM

  457. flxible (#453),

    It is just that the unit “days of consumption” already accounts for a larger population and that while back in 1970 37% of the population in the developing world were undernourished while now it is about 17% so our per capita consumption has risen. I was fasting for world hunger back in 1974 not because there was not enough food but because there was enough and people still starved. I was happy the grape boycott was over though.

    Grain stocks have been fairly steady since about 2002 and this seems to reflect increased meat consumption and diversion of food to fuel affecting the prior higher plateau. We ought to entertain the idea that the grain diverted to fuel production represents an emergency stock should there be an emergency.

    Still, I agree with Lester Brown that we should have larger stocks. At this point it is a matter of policy, not capacity.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 16 Oct 2012 @ 6:41 AM

  458. Patrick 027 # 451: I have commented occasionally there, I guess on newer posts, so maybe the older ones are closed?

    Comment by Ric Merritt — 16 Oct 2012 @ 11:30 AM

  459. I’d be interested in reading something by your group about tornadoes, what has happened as a result of climate change, and what the trends look like for the future, what the current thinking is on them, uncertainties et cetera. My geography text says they’ve about doubled in frequency since 1990 and that the frequency of the higher intensity storms has also increased significantly. But NOAA’s website appears to say there hasn’t been a discernible trend. (Or did I totally miss something over at the NOAA site?) Thanks…

    Comment by no_name_thanks — 16 Oct 2012 @ 12:36 PM

  460. flxible wrote: “Odd how so many here go on about energy and CO2 when in fact our problem, as Tom ‘Do the Math’ really points out, is the unsustainable nature of human impact on the planets resources …”

    Well, first of all, “energy and CO2” is closely related to the actual focus of this site — climate science, specifically the science of climate change resulting from global warming resulting from anthropogenic emissions of CO2, resulting in large part from our combustion of fossil fuels to provide energy. So it’s not at all “odd” that “energy and CO2” would be a focal point of discussions here.

    Secondly, while there are indeed lots of other unsustainable human impacts on ecosystems and the Earth’s biosphere generally, the rapidly escalating effects of anthropogenic global warming threaten to overwhelm all of those other problems in the very near future, with devastating impacts not only for human civilization and the human species, but for all life on Earth, for a long, long time. If we don’t solve the global warming problem — in a hurry — then we are not going to solve any of the other problems.

    Lastly, if you want to talk about the foundations of the problem, I suggest you look closely at your own use of the word “resources” — because the root of “our problem” is the view that the world consists of two things: human beings, and “resources” for human use.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Oct 2012 @ 1:27 PM

  461. For “no_name_thanks”

    I copied your question above and pasted it into Google
    like this:

    From the first page of hits, I found an explanation of why there’s no simple answer to your question. You can read it here:

    “… Until a technology is developed that can reliably detect all tornadoes, there is no hope of determining how tornadoes might be changing …. According to Doswell (2007): ‘I see no near-term solution to the problem of detecting detailed spatial and temporal trends in the occurrence of tornadoes by using the observed data in its current form or in any form likely to evolve in the near future.’…”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Oct 2012 @ 2:35 PM

  462. I’ve tried to answer #459, but no matter what I do it’s flagged as spam. I can’t find anything in my comment which might trigger this. I think your spam filter has gone overboard.

    What’s the point of having the extraordinarily difficult recaptcha hurdle, when my comment ends up spam-trapped anyway?

    Comment by tamino — 16 Oct 2012 @ 3:06 PM

  463. If we don’t solve the global warming problem — in a hurry — then we are not going to solve any of the other problems.
    Until we “solve” the overpopulation problem there will be no solutions to any other problem, especially global warming, and including unsustainable overuse of every resource of the planet. Nine billion humans striving to the living standards of the “developed world” will not be generating less CO2 than 7 billion are now. I am well aware of the world view of entitlement, which is the primary reason that little to nothing can be achieved with current population levels. And with a lifetime in sustainable agriculture, I am more aware than most here what climate change portends for our future.

    RECAPTCHA says one-half aredsgo, I think probably 3/4

    Comment by flxible — 16 Oct 2012 @ 4:01 PM

  464. For Tamino, a workaround I’ve used:

    reposting a spamtrapped reply one paragraph at a time — sometimes one sentence at a time.

    (Often I find fewer words suffice, under this bloody-editorial-axe scrutiny by the spambot filter.)

    It ain’t elegant.

    Keeps the human-to-bot ratio here good, though, I expect.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Oct 2012 @ 4:54 PM

  465. Regarding tornadoes, the Des Moines Register reports (emphasis added):

    Iowa is on pace to see the quietest tornado season in nearly 50 years, thanks to the drought.

    State climatologist Harry Hillaker said this summer’s extreme dry conditions have helped keep tornadoes at bay. Iowa has recorded just 16 twisters this year.

    Hillaker said that total is the lowest since 1963. Iowa has seen an average of 47 tornadoes annually over the last 33 years. There were 49 reported during another drought year in 1988.

    Generally, the tornadoes that have hit Iowa this year were fairly weak.

    The extreme drought throughout the Plains and the rest of the country sapped the moisture required to trigger a tornado, said Roger Vachalek, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Johnston.

    “If you have no moisture, you’re not going to get thunderstorms,” Vachalek said. “And if you don’t have thunderstorms, you’re not going to have tornadoes.”

    No tornado has touched down in Iowa since May 24.

    So, perhaps a midwest ravaged by AGW-driven, prolonged, extreme drought will at least be comforted by having fewer tornadoes.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Oct 2012 @ 5:26 PM

  466. flxible wrote: “Until we ‘solve’ the overpopulation problem there will be no solutions to any other problem, especially global warming, and including unsustainable overuse of every resource of the planet.”

    Please explain how to “solve the overpopulation problem” within five years.

    Because that’s about how much time we have to stop the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and begin steep reductions that will bring emissions to near zero within another ten years at most, if we are to have any hope of avoiding the most catastrophic consequences of global warming.

    Keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of greenhouse gases have been, and continue to be, emitted by the massive fossil fuel consumption of a tiny percentage of the Earth’s human population, most of them in countries with low rates of population growth — and that the overwhelming majority of human beings on the Earth, particularly those in countries with relatively high rates of population growth, generate only a small amount of greenhouse gases.

    Yes, population growth is a problem — it is a long term problem. If you want to solve it humanely — by reducing birth rates — it will take decades to do so. Meanwhile, the Earth’s current population can easily be supported — and comfortably so — with a fraction of humanity’s current “resource” consumption, and with zero fossil fuel use.

    Global warming is, in fact, a technological problem. And the only way we can possibly solve it in the short time remaining to do so is with a technological solution. That solution is to rapidly phase out fossil fuels and replace them with non-carbon sources of energy, use that energy with maximum efficiency, and use organic agriculture and reforestation to to draw down the already dangerous anthropogenic excess of atmospheric CO2.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Oct 2012 @ 6:04 PM

  467. SA – As much as I admire your views and contributions here, I’m sure you understand solutions to any of the myriad problems facing the planet will not be solved in 5 years, particularly with ‘zero fossil fuel use’, which would mean no more plastic food packaging, minimal, if any of the vital chemical compounds common to our “modern” lifestyle, and few of the medicines currently insuring our extended lifetimes and continuing population growth. Then there’s overcoming the inertia of the worlds financial systems. I’m sorry to say I believe your optimism toward our single species is misplaced. Technology has become the primary human curse on the planet, not the solution to anything. I’m starting to suspect AGW is the planets solution to the human cancer pillaging it.—-up-to-a-point-174406261.html

    “The critical issue really is how to mobilise the necessary financial, technical and human resources”

    Comment by flxible — 16 Oct 2012 @ 7:53 PM

  468. re my 456 “but losing the H to space would lead to hysteresis.
    – actually up to a point some H2O loss could be replenished by the mantle (there’s H2O there – it helps it flow! (Karato) (by being dissolved in rock, affects ability to deform) – see also: Kasting and Holm, “What determines the volume of the oceans?”
    (tons of interesting stuff here: )


    Consider that once the permafrost C is depleted, we couldn’t just take ‘our’ CO2 out of the system and have the other C go back where it came from – I would guess it would go in some different places, and different things would happen if we repeat the emissions. – well maybe a lot of it would stay in the atmosphere for a while and it’s the cooling path that couldn’t be retraced…

    (aside: for those thermodynamic disequilbrium states, hysteresis would be avoided if they remain – I mean, if you don’t then go to equilibrium at the same T,p and then try to reverse the process)


    re my 451 re 443 Thomas Lee Elifritz cont.

    I do like to make things more complete:


    my 459,
    my 534
    (see in particular the EIA storage link and the following paragraph with some off-the-wall suggestions (see comment 535 too).)
    (note there is some energy demand management that is is/has been already used to reduce the need for peak power supply; I don’t know offhand how much there is and what it would look like if this were simply reshifted to reduce the need for backup power supply, which would be like peaking and load-following plants now. EIA may have some info.. – see table 8.13 here

    breakthroughs: Don’t forget cost of BOS (inverter, structural support, tracking if that’s used), installation.
    increases in conversion efficiencies would help some of that, but I wonder how much of that may come down to business practices (learning curves and economies of scale? – and maybe regulations to have (where it would make sense) new buildings built with building-integrated systems…)).

    see also
    (background: , ; costs- see somewhat down the page here ; breakdowns of component costs are probably somewhere in the other links I gaver earlier )

    solar nonbreakthrough, just amazing progress:

    (there was a Scientific American blog entry on installation a while back.)

    Wind breakthrough ?:
    (and also try searching for a ‘whale tail’ design (caution: my website security advisor stayed grey when I went here; preferably it should be green: )

    But Tom Murphy’s blog has caused me to hope for efficiency breakthroughs (thermoelectric heat pumps/AC – how might those perform? On the flip side, TPV to convert residential furnaces to winter CHP plants… etc. Windows that only let in visible light summer, all solar (except UV) winter, etc…, except for whatever the luminescent concetrators take…)

    Okay, done.


    re 458 Ric Merritt – thanks.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 16 Oct 2012 @ 8:25 PM

  469. re my last comment: clarification: Aug 2012 535 responds to 534 ‘energy storage’ via demand side management via desalinating/cleaning water and storing it in an aquifer when energy is available; also apply to sequestration efforts, fuel production, others…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 16 Oct 2012 @ 8:30 PM

  470. flxible (#467),

    Just another numbers correction. SA said 15 years to near zero emissions, not 5. Hansen et al. (2008) actually said coal phase out by 2030, which does not take us quite to near zero emissions but it does need to start soon which is what SA was getting at with the 5 year figure; getting started. Near zero emissions come around 2100 for Hansen et al. with some moves towards drawn down from the atmosphere using forestry and some more active methods to compensate for that extended emission period.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 16 Oct 2012 @ 10:16 PM

  471. Finally, another climate to model:

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 16 Oct 2012 @ 11:06 PM

  472. Chris Dudley – Read for comprehension please, not confirmation.
    SA said “Please explain how to “solve the overpopulation problem” within five years. Because that’s about how much time we have to stop the increase in greenhouse gas emissions ……. Meanwhile, the Earth’s current population can easily be supported — and comfortably so — with a fraction of humanity’s current “resource” consumption, and with zero fossil fuel use.

    Neither Hansen nor you can predict when coal use is likely to end, nor state what will “come around 2100” – as much as I respect Dr Hansen, I’d be as inclined to listen to Nostradamus for predictions of our situation 90 years hence. As SA hopes, zero emissions could happen within 15 years – it could happen next week – it’s unlikely to happen until existing known reserves are exhausted.

    Comment by flxible — 16 Oct 2012 @ 11:58 PM

  473. Azimuth continues to be educational — a little math and good illustrations, a good bit of history.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Oct 2012 @ 1:10 AM

  474. 466 SecularA said, “five years. Because that’s about how much time we have to stop the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and begin steep reductions that will bring emissions to near zero within another ten years at most, if we are to have any hope of avoiding the most catastrophic consequences of global warming.”

    Amazing certainty. Fortunately, I couldn’t find anything which gives your claim the slightest credence. Look at the IPCC 4 graphs. Note B1. It gives rising emissions for the next ~40 years, gets back to current emissions in ~2080, and declines from there. Far, far, far higher emissions than you suggest are the absolute maximum to prevent humanity’s extinction (that is the most catastrophic, right?), yet they only get ~2C warming by 2100, which the scientific consensus says is fairly safe. Quibbles: Overshoot VS a bit lower emissions VS very minor geoengineering.

    In any case, gliding down over 50 years prevents sending all our fossil power plants and stoves and furnaces and cars and trucks and trains and ships and airplanes and fertilizer and everything else to the trash compactor (that would hurt BAD) and appears to be a very conservative path according to the science.

    “Today’s global emissions rate for carbon dioxide is 30 billion tons per year. For the world to emit in 2061 no more than 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide is as difficult a task as I could endorse today”

    “We know that our continued emissions of CO2 is increasing our levels of environmental risk, but it’s really hard to quantify exactly how much risk we’re facing.”

    So, could you explain your comment further? Perhaps I’m misinterpreting or missing something. Thanks.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 17 Oct 2012 @ 1:30 AM

  475. flxible wrote: “… ‘zero fossil fuel use’, which would mean no more plastic food packaging, minimal, if any of the vital chemical compounds common to our ‘modern’ lifestyle, and few of the medicines currently insuring our extended lifetimes and continuing population growth …”

    First, you are conflating the use of relatively small amounts of petrochemicals in materials such as plastic, with the combustion of massive amounts of fossil fuels in the open atmosphere which results in the emission of gigatons of carbon — which is what I am referring to with “zero fossil fuel use”.

    Second, we already know how to replace petrochemicals in many of those applications — e.g. plastic — with biodegradable materials derived from plants. In fact, you can buy stuff made from plant-derived, biodegradable plastics on store shelves today.

    Third, we can do without a lot of those things a lot more easily than we can do without productive agricultural land, forests, and oceans that support life — all of which are at imminent risk of destruction from CO2 emissions.

    Fourth, as for “medicines currently insuring our extended lifetimes”, most of the increase in human life expectancy in modern times has resulted from improvements in sanitation and nutrition, not “medicines” (and indeed, the misuse of “medicines”, particularly antibiotics, threatens to undermine some of those gains). Moreover, many medicines are in fact derived from compounds found in plants, not from petrochemicals.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 17 Oct 2012 @ 7:36 AM

  476. flxible wrote: “… I’m sure you understand solutions to any of the myriad problems facing the planet will not be solved in 5 years …”

    I said nothing about solving “myriad problems facing the planet” in five years. I said we need to stop the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and begin steep reductions within five years.

    Consider the following, from the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2011 (PDF) published last November:

    We cannot afford to delay further action to tackle climate change if the long-term target of limiting the global average temperature increase to 2°C, as analysed in the 450 Scenario, is to be achieved at reasonable cost. In the New Policies Scenario, the world is on a trajectory that results in a level of emissions consistent with a long-term average temperature increase of more than 3.5°C. Without these new policies, we are on an even more dangerous track, for a temperature increase of 6°C or more.

    Four-fifths of the total energy-related CO2 emissions permissible by 2035 in the 450 Scenario are already “locked-in” by our existing capital stock (power plants, buildings, factories, etc.). If stringent new action is not forthcoming by 2017, the energy-related infrastructure then in place will generate all the CO2 emissions allowed in the 450 Scenario up to 2035, leaving no room for additional power plants, factories and other nfrastructure unless they are zero-carbon, which would be extremely costly. Delaying action is a false economy: for every $1 of investment avoided in the power sector before 2020 an additional $4.3 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions.

    Keep in mind that the IEA’s “450 Scenario” is intended to limit warming to 2°C — even though we can plainly see that the warming that has already occurred is sufficient to cause far worse effects than scientists imagined possible only a few years ago, and we have every reason to believe that 2°C will be truly catastrophic.

    Which is why — I’m trying to stay “at least vaguely focused on climate science” now — what we most urgently need from climate scientists now is an emphasis on the IMPACTS of the GHG increases that have already occurred, and the emissions that are now already locked in given that we cannot possibly literally end all GHG emissions “today”.

    Because unfortunately, most policy makers, and those in the general public who are informed about the problem, are still behaving as though we have decades in which to gradually reduce emissions if we want to limit warming to 2°C, and that doing so is sufficient to prevent severe impacts. They need to understand that the situation is much worse, and much more urgent than that.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 17 Oct 2012 @ 8:02 AM

  477. What a difference a week makes. Yesterday marked the end of 100 days of consecutive daily records for daily lowest Arctic sea ice extent. Sea ice extent has tracked below 2007 for 100 days, but yesterday it came back above the 2007 daily record. And, the recovery rate over the last week has been at 87% of the fastest 7 day recovery rate in the prior 10 years. Off to the races.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 17 Oct 2012 @ 8:33 AM

  478. flxible (#472),

    You have misunderstood. I was just correcting your misquoting of SA. S/He’s done so his/herself in #475.

    I think also that you don’t understand the Hansen et al. targets paper. Those are not predictions, they are targets, as is made clear even in the title.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 17 Oct 2012 @ 8:45 AM

  479. In #477 that should have been 69 consecutive days of daily records. Added an extra month in there by mistake.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 17 Oct 2012 @ 9:07 AM

  480. #474 Jim Larsen: “Look at the IPCC 4 graphs. Note B1.”

    Note that these IPCC graphs take 0°C reference as the 1980-2000 average, while the hopfully secure 2 °C aim is referenced against “the natural, preanthropogenic climate”, making a difference of about 0.7°C,

    So B1 is already 0.7°C over the limit in 2100 and would likely get even higher afterwards.

    Comment by Bernd Herd — 17 Oct 2012 @ 9:46 AM

  481. SA – As a master composter involved in food waste composting for a long time I’m aware of the “biodegradable” polymers and the problems involved, including using yet more of the worlds food supply to replace petro products. As for the amount of petroleum for non-fuel production, I believe 15-20% is not “relatively minor” with respect to the industry bottom line, resulting in things like OxoBiodegradeable plastics.

    “Moreover, many medicines are in fact derived from compounds found in plants, not from petrochemicals.”

    The original derivation may be from plant compounds, but industry immediately translates the chemistry to a synthetic form that provides a profitable pat-ent. See ASA for example, originally derived from willow and/or meadosweet, which products may still be found in ‘natural food’ stores, but not in ASA, sold by the ton to patients everywhere.

    I’m very much “on your side” wrt climate, probably quite matching or exceeding your lifestyle in regards to contributing to solutions. My point remains, overpopulation is the primary root of virtually every problem we face, and here at RC, like most everywhere it remains unaddressed.

    As for Chris Dudley’s “targets”, and yours, and Hansens, I firmly believe they are hand waving with the current population, even with the slowly declining rate of increase in the developed world – time is not on our side.

    Comment by flxible — 17 Oct 2012 @ 12:12 PM

  482. For Jim Larsen, from Eco-Equity (linked in the right sidebar on RC pages):

    “… If you haven’t read the whole of McKibben’s Terrifying New Math, read it now. Here’s the link again. When you’re ready to loop back and think more about the carbon bubble in particular, see From “peak oil” to “unburnable carbon”, which I wrote last year when Carbon Tracker’s Carbon Bubble report was released. And by the way, it too is mercifully short….”

    Yes, there’s a good bit of arithmetic on the pages the Eco-Equity — but it’s readable and has a lot more thought behind it than the opinions common in blog comments. It’s a critical look at McKibben’s widely recommended piece.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Oct 2012 @ 12:14 PM

  483. New Revkin stresses the need for research (though slightly buried). Might be worth a look:

    Sad that our history shows Carter had it right and gets almost no credit for it.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 17 Oct 2012 @ 12:36 PM

  484. Terrific Antarctic movement animation (please don’t extrapolate, caveats at site). I got interested because of recent new Thwaites tongue break.
    “Antarctic Ice Floes: A Complete Picture”

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 17 Oct 2012 @ 1:24 PM

  485. flxible wrote: “… overpopulation is the primary root of virtually every problem we face …”

    Again, I am not talking about “virtually every problem”. I am talking about greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels.

    Most of the greenhouse gas problem results from a tiny percentage of the Earth’s population burning massive amounts of fossil fuels. If the four or five percent of the Earth’s population who live in the rich countries of North America, Europe and Japan ended all their fossil fuel consumption tomorrow, it would have more of an impact on AGW than if the poorest 50 percent did so.

    And again, our rapidly dwindling window of opportunity to address the greenhouse gas problem is now measured in YEARS, not DECADES. There is no way to humanely reduce population growth, leading to an actual decrease in population, leading to an actual decrease in anthropogenic GHG emissions, in that time frame.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 17 Oct 2012 @ 1:36 PM

  486. Revkin’s pointer to “PESWiki” tells me they need a fact checker working on his column. If you want attractive fantasies, you’ll find them at the PESWiki site. Look at ‘litroenergy’ coverage there over the past some years, apparently people can get money from investors who don’t understand physics with nothing more than a superficially convincing line of talk.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Oct 2012 @ 1:55 PM

  487. Interesting news:

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 17 Oct 2012 @ 2:17 PM

  488. 480 Bernd, thanks for the clarification. Personally, I gag when I see B1. IMO it’s insanely high. I keep pondering about the tiny push of orbital cycles and the resulting ice ages as compared to the wicked hard shove our emissions are giving the planet. Wili brought up permafrost. There’s lots and lots of variables, and we know they sum up to making a mountain out of a molehill. What do you get when you start with a mountain?

    482 Hank, thanks for the link. Good stuff. The third number, reserves, is obviously fantasy, not in that they aren’t there, but in that they can’t be developed sanely. Thus, looking for more reserves is a waste of money, and most of the value represented by current reserves is fake money. We can write it off now or later, but it will be written off. Also, it leaves out the truly important number, which is already-been-built-or-drilled carbon-based assets. REAL money. Unless we brake hard, not on emissions, but on the creation of carbon-based assets, then we’ll end up in a situation where SecularA’s solution, trash-compacting much of our civilization, will become necessary. Even if we do brake hard, which would result in a 50 year glide to near zero, we might need some minor geoengineering (might? look at arctic sea ice!), and even then way bad things such as too much ocean acidification might happen.

    No new wells.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 17 Oct 2012 @ 3:56 PM

  489. Susan Anderson wrote: “Sad that our history shows Carter had it right and gets almost no credit for it.”


    In 1952, the Paley Commission, appointed by President Truman, reported that “Efforts made to date to harness solar energy economically are infinitesimal. It’s time for aggressive research in the whole field of solar energy — an effort in which the U.S. could make an immense contribution to the welfare of the whole world.”

    The Paley Commission estimated that solar energy could ultimately provide more energy than nuclear power, and that the US could have 13 million solar-heated homes and offices by 1975 (a year before Carter was elected).

    Note that this report was written two years before Bell Labs demonstrated the first silicon photovoltaic cells, so the Paley Commission was only referring to the potential of solar water and space heating.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 17 Oct 2012 @ 4:26 PM

  490. Tamino at his blog “Open Mind” directed me to this thread to ask a question here that I have been asking on “Open Mind”.

    Tamino did a calculation on how much more energy the Earth would receive because of the dwindling snow and ice in the Arctic during the summer melt season. The Arctic albedo goes down drastically when the ice melts. His calcualation spread over the Earth was that the energy gained was 0.45 watts/meter.

    If the Earth receives this much more energy during the summer, my question was what does the lack of insulating effect that snow and ice provide in the winter do to that balance? Will less ice and snow in the Arctic during winter increase, decrease or be about the same radiation loss as years with thick multiyear ice?

    Comment by Norman — 17 Oct 2012 @ 8:37 PM

  491. Some really interesting recent weather events in the High Arctic have shown me the reality of a warmer polar region, snow flakes do not melt in an ocean -1.5 C cold, and ice does not form when its -6 C outside. Snowfall covers the ocean looking like ice, but a closer look is even more fascinating.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 17 Oct 2012 @ 9:23 PM

  492. Joe Romm posted this year’s update (I hadn’t realised he did this every year) on climate impacts. It is horrific. Is he cherry picking or does his (long) summary of the science reflect what researchers are finding? The November edition of Scientific American also contained a similar type of story, though not as dire as Romm’s summary (at least not yet). Which story more accurately reflects scientific concern about what we’re doing to our only habitat?

    Comment by Tony Weddle — 18 Oct 2012 @ 2:19 AM

  493. Norman (#490),

    This simplified picture might help: Suppose we had no seasons or even day and night but the sunlight came in evenly over the Earth. We’ll have two knobs. We can change the concentration of greenhouse gases and we can change the amount of sunlight that is reflected to space (not absorbed at the surface). If we turn the first knob, increase the concentration of greenhouse gases, the temperature at the top of the atmosphere has to say the same because the energy being radiated to space in the infrared has not changed. It hasn’t changed because the energy absorbed at the surface has not changed. But, the altitude at which that radiation is emitted has to increase because there is more greenhouse gas opacity up there. The surface gets warmer because the thermal lapse rate, a structural element of the atmosphere*, is suspended from a higher altitude and thus intercepts the surface at a higher temperature.

    If we turn the second knob, reduce the amount of sunlight reflected to space, then there is more energy to get rid of and the temperature at the top of the atmosphere has to increase to get rid of it. In that case, the thermal lapse rate starts at a higher temperature at the top of the atmosphere but at the same altitude it always started from. When it intercepts the surface, it is also at a higher temperature, but because it started that way not because it had farther to go.

    In this simple picture, the properties of the surface are only important in the optical not the infrared. The emissivity of the surface in the infrared is unimportant because it behaves as though it were in a blackbody cavity in equilibrium with the lowest layers of the atmosphere. In practice almost everything has high emissivity in the infrared, ice, soil, water, and heat transfer between the surface and the atmosphere happen more through air circulation than radiatively.

    There is the background for your question.

    With that background, we can give a simple answer. The thermal properties of the surface are unimportant, everything depends on how much sunlight is reflected.

    Now things are not that simple. We know that there is a direct infrared radiative connection between the surface and space, particularly in dry cloudless conditions. And desert nights can get so cold because the thermal conductivity of sand is low and so the surface can cool quickly without releasing a whole summer of stored heat in one night. In the Arctic, while the infrared emissivity of soil, ice and water are about the same, there could be substantial differences in how summer stored heat comes out in the winter depending on how these surface elements change. But, I think that is likely to affect weather patterns much more than the radiative balance at the top of the atmosphere. And that may be the most interesting aspect of your question.

    *The thermal lapse rate holds up half the sky. Multiplied by the decreasing density with altitude (the other half), there is always just enough pressure for the lower layers of the atmosphere to hold up the upper layers and so on up leading to lower and lower pressure with altitude as there is less and less mass above each layer (hydrostatic equilibrium).

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 18 Oct 2012 @ 7:35 AM

  494. Thanks Secular Animist. You are right. The disappearance of brain matter about climate change is tracking with the increase in consequences. I was going from the energy research graphic Andy Revkin brings out from time to time in the cited article, which clearly demonstrates the “fail” on research funding over time:
    “America’s Bipartisan Slumber Party on Energy Research”
    I’m having a little trouble finding the original; this is mentioned:

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 18 Oct 2012 @ 8:54 AM

  495. 494 Susan A, unfortunately the graph isn’t useful to me, as I missed “color-to-label” day in school. Blue is ? Yellow is ?

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 18 Oct 2012 @ 12:32 PM

  496. Susan Anderson wrote: “The disappearance of brain matter about climate change is tracking with the increase in consequences.”

    With regard to “roads not taken”, it is … well, interesting … to contemplate this document from the presidential library of Richard Nixon (PDF), a memo from Nixon advisor Daniel P. Moynihan to John Ehrlichman, written in September 1969:

    As with so many of the more interesting environmental questions, we really don’t have a very satisfactory measurement of the carbon dioxide problem. On the other hand, this very clearly is a problem, and, perhaps most particularly, is one that can seize the imagination of persons normally indifferent to projects of apocalyptic change.

    The process is a simple one. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has the effect of a pane of glass in a greenhouse. The CO2 content is normally in a stable cycle, but recently man has begun to introduce instability through the burning of fossil fuels. At the turn of the century several persons raised the question whether this would change the temperature of the atmosphere. Over the years the hypothesis has been refined, and more evidence has come along to support it. It is now pretty clearly agreed that the CO2 content will rise 25% by 2000. This could increase the average temperature near the earth’s surface by 7 degrees Fahrenheit. This in turn could raise the level of the sea by 10 feet. Good bye New York. Goodbye Washington, for that matter. We have no data on Seattle.

    It is entirely possible that there will be countervailing effects. For example, an increase of dust in the atmosphere would tend to lower temperatures, and might offset the CO2 effect. Similarly, it is possible to conceive fairly mammoth man-made efforts to countervail the CO2. (E.g., stop burning fossil fuels.)

    In any event, I would think this is a subject that the Administration ought to get involved with. It is a natural for NATO. Perhaps the first order of business is to begin a worldwide monitoring system. At present, I believe only the United States is doing any serious monitoring, and we have only one or two stations.

    Hugh Heffner knows a great deal about this, as does also the estimable Bob White, head of the U.S. Weather Bureau. (Teddy White’s brother.)

    The Environmental Pollution Panel of the President’s Science Advisory Committee reported at length on the subject in 1965. I attach their conclusions.

    It is remarkable to compare this brief summary of the scientific understanding of global warming — and of its projected impacts — with James Hansen’s famous Congressional testimony, some 20 years later.

    Note the reference to the possible “countervailing effects” of particulates — and the recognition that global warming could become a national security issue (“a natural for NATO”), and of the need to “stop burning fossil fuels”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 18 Oct 2012 @ 12:40 PM

  497. #480 Jim Larsen: “Personally, I gag when I see B1. IMO it’s insanely high.”

    As far as I understand, the world is rather more on the A1 path than on the B1 path. However the IPCC SRES scenarios (B1, A1…) are intentionally ignoring the possibility of mitigation. I think at some time sooner or later people will start actions to reduce emissions, so B1, A1 etc. will not come “true”. They are only valid up to the point where people actually decide to do something. Afterwards the actions are more important than the scenarios.

    #434 Ric Merritt on Tom Murphys blog: Interesting stuff. I’ve got a 9,8 kW peak PV on my roof connected to the grid and there is one interesting difference to Tom Murphy results: I’m in Germany, further in the north than Tom Murphy. His approach could not work here at all. While I get around 40kWh/day in summer, I get less than 10kWh/day in winter. So while the PV produces 10000 kWh/Year, most of it is transfered to the grid but I still have to buy 2500 kWh/Year from the grid. The days in winter are just too short here, there wouldn’t be much electricity here in winter to fill the batteries. I even had times with 0,0kWh/Day when we had snow on the PV cells. So Tom Murpyhs results with his simple PV system are so promising because he is farther in the south, having more sun time in winter and about twice the average energy per kW Peak that we do here. You can easily put the power for one night into batteries, but not for a week.

    Nevertheless I find PV is great. It’s just that for now you still have to have nearly the same power in conventional power plants available that you had before adding PV, to step in for the times where PV power is insufficient. So you’ll replace 40 GW of coal with probably 30 GW of PV, 30 GW of wind and yet still need 30 GW of coal or gas, that is most of the time off-line.

    Some References:

    Germany has a transparency system where we can see how much renewable energy is currently available on the grid. Might be interesting to you as well:

    #67, “We’ll spew funds towards biofuels and electrons, but nobody knows which will be the better investment”

    Concerning battery-powered cars: I don’t think it makes sense to build battery-powered cars as long as our clean electricity is not even sufficient to run our already electrified trains from clean electricity sources. Trains here mostly run with electricity created by burning coal. This has the effect that a Prius+ with 7 persons in it emits about 1/4 of CO2 per person than an electric train.

    Comment by Bernd Herd — 18 Oct 2012 @ 3:20 PM

  498. Re. 487 Craig Nazor

    It gets more interesting: Canadian government ‘knew of plans to dump iron into the Pacific’

    Comment by J Bowers — 18 Oct 2012 @ 5:04 PM

  499. Gavin @323:

    You need to take into account … the thermal inertia of the oceans which slows the response in temperature.

    The IPCC AR5 Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) scenarios include forcing, concentrations, and emissions data, but unlike the equivalent AR4 scenarios, temperature data is omitted. This shortcoming motivated an attempt to derive RCP temperatures from RCP CO2 concentrations, using a simplified thermal inertia model called a Climate Response Function (CRF), described in the 2011 NASA/GISS paper Earth’s energy imbalance and implications by Hansen et al. Given an instantaneous forcing, a CRF models the distribution of the resulting temperature change over time. Specifically, the CRF predicts what percentage of a given instantaneous forcing will be manifested as temperature change in each of the subsequent 2,000 years. Hansen et al. present three CRFs: Slow, Intermediate, and Fast. Slow approximates the consensus of current climate models, intermediate is what they consider more likely, and fast is their upper bound. Mathematically, a CRF is a four-segment polyline in log space. The three variants are encapsulated in the following table, which gives the percentage for the final year of each line segment, for each CRF.

    CRFn ___Final Year___
    Name 001 010 100 2000
    ==== === === === ====
    Slow 15% 45% 60% 100%
    Med. 15% 55% 75% 100%
    Fast 15% 65% 90% 100%

    The first step is interpolating the CRFs, in order to obtain a percentage for each year of the model’s time span. Here are the results, plotted on a linear scale, and more usefully, on a log scale. The latter plot appears to match Hansen et al.’s Figure 5.

    The second step is to apply the interpolated CRFs to RCP CO2 concentrations, yielding RCP temperature data. For each combination of RCP and CRF, an array of yearly temperature buckets is created and initialized to zero. Each year’s concentration delta is sliced into 2,000 shares of decreasing size, as dictated by the CRF, and these shares are added to the appropriate buckets, which form a 2,000-year moving window. The results are presented as two groups of temperature series. The first group has one plot per RCP, and shows how that RCP is affected by each CRF: RCP3-PD, RCP4.5, RCP4.5-SCP, RCP6, RCP6-SCP, and RCP8.5. The second group has one plot per CRF, and shows that CRF’s effect on each of the RCPs: Slow, Intermediate, Fast, and Instantaneous (included for completeness only). All of these plots are also available as a single PDF file.

    It should now be possibly to more realistically answer the question originally posed @203. Assuming the IEO2011 Reference case of “1 trillion metric tons of additional cumulative energy-related carbon dioxide emissions between 2009 and 2035”, and given that this case equates to following RCP8.5 until 2035 as previously demonstrated @408, what increase in average global surface temperature relative to pre-industrial would result by 2035? Depending on CRF choice, the answers are 1.3ºC (slow), 1.54ºC (intermediate), or 1.77ºC (fast). For details, please refer to the comments in the platform-independent C code, which can be viewed here. A zip file containing the VC++ project and all input and output data is here. Thanks to Chris Dudley for recommending the Hansen paper.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 18 Oct 2012 @ 8:28 PM

  500. Correction: “previously demonstrated” in the last paragraph should have referred to @289. Also “possibly” should be “possible”, sorry!

    Comment by Chris Korda — 18 Oct 2012 @ 9:32 PM

  501. Some like it hot?
    How warm is your bath water?

    Comment by David B. Benson — 18 Oct 2012 @ 9:36 PM

  502. Here’s a better R&D graphic with proper labeling. I was looking for it earlier and finally found it, using the sloppy DotEarth one was I thought better than nothing, but given RC, should have known it wouldn’t be. I think yellow was energy and blue everything else. Very sloppy, but this one isn’t:
    “Trends in Nondefense R&D by Function
    outlays for the conduct of R&D, billions of constant FY 2012 dollars”

    This one gives you renewables broken out as well.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 18 Oct 2012 @ 11:06 PM

  503. Chris (#499),

    I suspect the estimates you give based on RCP8.5 are not bad but take a look at what happens with RCP3-PD. The lagged temperature begins to decline while the instantaneous temperature is still above it. It looks at though the lagged temperature knows the future track of the forcing rather than responding to the actual forcing at the time. Aristotelian Final Causes are not usually well received in science so I think there is some problem with applying the climate response functions to this situation in such a straightforward manner. It would be good to compare a climate response function produced from a step up in concentration (as in Hansen et al. 2011) with one produced by a step down in concentration to see how well they match (after an appropriate axis flip).

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 18 Oct 2012 @ 11:09 PM

  504. 497 Bernd, thanks for the response, and I’m honored that you even went back to old posts, but since then the whole topic has been banned, more or less. I’ll say I agree with everything you said except the ratio of 30 + 30 + 30 = 40 since power transmission across regions will vastly improve, but especially that we (the USA especially) ain’t gonna do diddly much, that is until it makes immediate economic sense to do so or the horse has already left the barn. (In my area, which is one of the most wind-rich regions in the USA, the goal is to generate 10% of electrical power via renewables…eventually.) My guess is we’ll hit SecularA’s scenario in a few decades – which is that we’ll be given the choice to use the shiny new airplanes and power plants we just built and reap devastation or trash them and lose our investment. And there’s no guarantee that SecularA is wrong about us having hit that point already. He has no scientific support, but remember, “It’s worse than we thought”.

    498 J Bowers, I have to shake my head. Removing carbon is not geoengineering unless one defines emitting carbon as geoengineering. Should we outlaw planting trees? I’m ever so glad this guy did it, and I can’t think of any significant lasting harm that could result from such a tiny experiment. (your link’s calling it “huge” just made my eyes roll. Lies are lies, or perhaps errors.) If it turns out to be a bad technique, we’ll have learned much with little cost and negligible harm. Besides, we need to start doing geoengineering experiments now. Otherwise, say bye bye to Arctic sea ice and who knows what else.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 18 Oct 2012 @ 11:25 PM

  505. J Bowers @498 – Yes, that is interesting, indeed.

    The plot thickens. It reads like a bad scifi novel. Unfortunately, it’s not.

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 19 Oct 2012 @ 12:18 AM


    Plot the number of whales against climate change — yet another interesting correlation.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Oct 2012 @ 12:27 AM

  507. Susan, thanks for the extra effort. If “we” had made such an effort since the 70s, we’d be in a much better position now.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 19 Oct 2012 @ 12:59 AM

  508. Chris Dudley @503: “the lagged temperature begins to decline while the instantaneous temperature is still above it” because the climate response function adds hysteresis, like an inductor. Given a forcing that peaks and declines, a CRF will peak later and lower compared to the instantaneous function. If you download the data, and open RCPTemperatures.txt in Excel or the equivalent, you will see that the RCP3D/instantaneous column peaks in 2052 at 2.014, whereas the RCP3D/fast column peaks in 2066 at 1.768.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 19 Oct 2012 @ 1:05 AM

  509. #504 Jim Larsen “except the ratio of 30 + 30 + 30 = 40 since power transmission across regions will vastly improve”.

    Well, that’s an estimation. If I remember it right, Germany produced 25% of the electricity in the first half of this year with renewable energy and I have the impression this causes all kinds of unwanted side effects.

    I read an analysis of the well reputed Fraunhofer institute and they said that worst case for wind is: It will never be less than 11% (if I remember right) of the installed power when averaged all over germany. And PV obviously is 0% at night, but we only use about 50% power at night. So since there are few new hydroelectric plants, only the few new bioenergy plants and the 11% from wind really add to the clean electricity during worst case times.

    This causes all kinds of side effects: The administration wants power companies to build more gas-powered plants and more pumped hydro storage for we’ll need them when we add more wind and PV. But since most of the time there is so much renewable energy on the grid, the prices for electricity have fallen, especially during the day time. Day time electricity is usually no longer more expansive than night time electricity. This means that gas powered plants can no longer compete and some are about to get shut down, we even need less pumped hydro plants and some are about to get shut down. The german administration considers to just forbid shutting down old power plants without explicit permission and pay the companies a compensation, which would raise electricity prices. They have fear that we could get into trouble in winter times. Last year the French with their many Nuclear Power Plants had trouble because many of French citizens use electricity for heating and the winter was harder than usual, so Germany sold electricity to France, and at the same time Russia reduced gas delivery to Germany and there was some kind of trouble within germany with the delivery of gas from storage to some gas based power plants so at least one near Karlsruhe had to be shut down, so in the end Germany bought electricity from Austria to deliver it to France… Electricity prices in France were very high at that time, I guess some dealers made a fortune.

    There is also an have-your-cake-and-eat-it effect: The administration seems to target to organize the additional costs for renewable energy (EEG) so the industry will have to pay as little as possible and essentially the private households are charged. They want to avoid effects on the export markets. This means a problem to poor households which furnishes sceptics a fit occasion to portray renewable energy as social injustice.

    We need rising energy prices, for most people still don’t give a damn on energy costs. But when prices rise, the sceptics tend to get the poor households on their side. This could be avoided by different politics: The German EEG solution has the weak side that the CO2 avoided using expansive PV and wind plants makes european CO2 emission certificates cheap, currently 7.76€ / t CO2. See:

    Thus reducing the price of CO2 emissions from coal based power plants and in the end coal-produced electricity gets (or at least looks) cheaper. I think it is likely that this approach will fail for political reasons the sooner or later. If we should have luck here in Germany, and the EEG does not fail, it would mean that in 20 years we’d have a grid mostly powered by renewable energy, paid by the private households alone, that will produce cheap electricity for the industry at a time when oil, gas and coal will be much more expansive than today.

    If we’d have a global price for CO2, we wouldn’t have to protect industry from raising costs of renewable energy and the income produced by selling CO2 certificates could be used to support poor households. However most poor households are not in rich countries, so it is obvious why climate negotiations like Kyoto and Kopenhagen are a farce. If CO2 emission certificates would be based on the number of citizens, then China would be allowed about 5 times the emissions of the U.S. which would cause a huge net transfer of money to the developing countries, which makes this approach unacceptable to the rich countries for unfair reasons. In addition it would reward countries with a high increase in population, which would not be fair. I think population growth in some developing countries is about as severe a problem as the mass-emission of CO2 in industrial countries.

    I have the impression that the rich countries need to agree to those money transfers in some way or another to avoid a climate catastrophe, but I have no idea how to make poorer households in rich countries agree to those transfers.

    Comment by Bernd Herd — 19 Oct 2012 @ 6:40 AM

  510. Interesting reference on the value of peer review:

    [Response: to be more specific, the value of peer review at for profit open access journals that only get revenue from authors paying to play. There are good things happening with open access, but the multitude of journal start up seeking to take advantage of some academics who perceive the need to publish anything is not one of them. There is a list of dodgy publishers somewhere – I’ll link here when I find it. – gavin]

    Comment by observer — 19 Oct 2012 @ 6:55 AM

  511. Several different lists that I’ve seen are relevant.

    This list for example, written by editors who are not in command of writing (or reading, probably) standard English

    “… the list of journals which says they are indexed in Thomson Reuters ISI and have Impact Factor. If you overcome this kind of journals just drop us an email about the journal and we will update the list here. Our email id is

    Few journals put the logo of thomson reuters and put a text like indexing, going to be indexed etc. So be careful while publishing the journal in these journals. Few journals says they have journal impact factor. This Journal Impact Factor is provided by GISI and not Thomson Reuters.”

    They review journals, apparently — here’s part of one such:

    Review by International Journal of Research in Computer Science, December 18, 2011

    The International Journal of Research in Computer Science (IJORCS), a research journal of international repute, is a notable and distinguish platform to publish quality research papers.

    IJORCS is a repository of materials besides providing a platform for the reinforcement of science, fast operative publication, results of scientific researches and representation of the scientific conception of the society. IJORCS is a purely Computer Science research journal and is acknowledged by various universities and international professional bodies.

    The cutting edge innovative features dwell with the advance approach makes it futuristic creative publishers helping scientists to expand in their respective research areas profoundly. IJORCS is a one place for all innovative, far-sighted and social advancement articles in the field of computer science.”


    This article (in standard English) is quite good:

    “… Thomson Reuters, publishers of the annual Journal Citation Report (JCR), routinely puts journals in “time-out” when their self-citation rates are excessively high, such that they greatly shift the journal’s positional rank among other related titles.
    There is another citation gaming tactic that is much more pernicious and difficult to detect. It is the citation cartel.

    In a 1999 essay published in Science titled, “Scientific Communication — A Vanity Fair?” George Franck warned us on the possibility of citation cartels — groups of editors and journals working together for mutual benefit. To date, this behavior has not been widely documented; however, when you first view it, it is astonishing….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Oct 2012 @ 8:13 AM

  512. That first item referenced GISI.
    Here’s GISI in their own mangled words:

    “The Global Institute for Scientific Information (GISI) was founded by renowned scientist in 1990. A group of 40 scientist from various countries in different disciplines are started GISI with specific objective of providing quality information to the researcher. GISI offering academic database services to researcher. Its mainly: citation indexing, analysis, and maintains citation databases covering thousands ….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Oct 2012 @ 8:20 AM

  513. Re: #512 (Hank Roberts)

    All your journal are belong to us.

    Comment by tamino — 19 Oct 2012 @ 8:38 AM

  514. Chris (#508),

    But that is unphysical. If the forcing is such that the current temperature is too low compared to the instantaneous temperature you calculated, then the temperature should be rising, not falling. The peak in the lagged temperature should come when it meets the equilibrium temperature (instantaneous temperature) not before. After that the lagged temperature should be drawn down because the forcing has become negative relative to the state of the climate.

    I suppose one explanation might be that since we are looking at an average temperature, different components are behaving in different ways. One component (say air temperature over land) was pretty much at the instantaneous temperature all the time, while another component (say sea surface temperature) lagged much more in its response. Then, in the average, sea surface temperature would still be rising for a while after the peak in the average while the land surface temperature is falling to create the peak below the forcing. Details of the model run that generated the climate response function might shed light on that kind of thing.

    If this description has some merit, it means that our control of some components of the average temperature may be rather immediate and some aspects of dangerous climate change could be mitigated quickly without a lot of hand wringing about Commitments and Irreversibility.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 19 Oct 2012 @ 8:50 AM

  515. A bit more, just because this stuff is fascinating to watch as a great number of for-profit and third- and fourth-world publishers vie to become attractive to scientists looking for places to publish:

    Emerging Alternatives to the Impact Factor

    And this is good– some amazing examples of bogus journals:

    Recent Posts:
    New Journal Publishes Seven Issues of Bogus Articles to Appear Successful
    Copying Elsevier
    A Journal Called Waste
    OA Publisher Offers Author Fee Waivers in Exchange for Citing Its Journals

    “… a thousand paper flowers bloom, but smell wrong …”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Oct 2012 @ 8:56 AM

  516. #509 Bernd Herd, You seem a little pessimstic about the effect of a price on carbon on public perception. In Australia, there was a lot of hoo-haa about putting a $23/tonne price on carbon. However, after the scheme commenced there was hardly a word of complaint from the public. The effect was only a 10% increase (2c per kWh) in electricity prices which was more than compensated for by cash payouts and reductions in taxes for low to middle income families. Even with these payouts, there is still billions of dollars to invest in clean energy, tree planting and environmental restoration. This shows how even a moderate price on carbon can provide a huge boost for renewable energy.

    The lack of action from the US is a perfect excuse for countries like China, Russia and Canada to do nothing. Even so China is now the world leader in clean energy development and is testing the effect of a small carbon price. The fact that climate change hasn’t even made it on to the election agenda is not just tragic for the world, it is pathetic.

    If you want to do something, why not sign a petition here at the Whitehouse website:

    It is only when the voters move that our leaders follow!

    Comment by Barrie May — 19 Oct 2012 @ 9:22 AM

  517. “… One of the problems that new journals face is that no one wants to submit an article to a journal that doesn’t have any articles yet. If the journal turns out to be a dud, then you are left looking silly as one of the few authors to submit to a failed journal.

    IJERSRT has invented a creative, yet unethical, way of solving this no-articles problem….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Oct 2012 @ 10:07 AM

  518. Chris Dudley @514: “The peak in the lagged temperature should come when it meets the equilibrium temperature (instantaneous temperature) not before.”

    The climate response does not reach equilibrium at the peak, because it doesn’t get a chance to: at the peak, the CO2 concentrations reverse direction and begin declining. The climate response function models inertia, and therefore reaches equilibrium some time after the forcing stops changing.

    To demonstrate this point, I added a square wave burst to the RCP3-PD CO2 concentrations (the input data), by multiplying concentrations for the years 2051 through 2055 by ten. I then reran the model, and here’s the result. Compared to instantaneous response, the Climate Response Functions peak later and lower, as I said previously @508. It takes two millennia for them to finish responding to the burst.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 19 Oct 2012 @ 11:00 AM

  519. Gavin: looking for,%20Open-Access%20Publishers%202012.pdf or similar?

    Comment by JBL — 19 Oct 2012 @ 11:23 AM

  520. A couple of lists from that source:

    Beall’s List:
    Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers…. This list is kept up-to-date to the best extent possible but may not reflect sudden, unreported, or unknown enhancements ….”

    “Some questionable journals publish independently of any publisher. The list below includes such journals. Similar to the questionable publishers, I recommend against doing any business with these journals and to be wary of any articles included in them.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Oct 2012 @ 11:49 AM

  521. 509 Bernd,

    I admire your English. Ich habe ein bisschen Deutsch. Not anywhere near your proficiency in English, but a tip: the word is “expensive”, not “expansive”. Expansive means “broad” or “comprehensive”.

    You’re right that a system such as we will evolve to will result in plenty of opportunities to game the system (in one viewpoint) or make legitimate profits (in another viewpoint). Regardless of your definitions, it means rich folks will suck money from the poor.

    We’re in the infantile just-starting-to-figure-out-how-to-walk stage. It’s gonna be inefficient by definition, especially since actions have two masters. In Germany and Scandinavia benefits to society are stressed, but in the USA only profit to the owners of money matters. We have to shrug the inefficiency off (but still try to minimize it, which is something few on this site care a whit about), as the goal is walking efficiently, not being efficient as one learns to walk. The vision is to have a grid that can transmit French nuclear power to Poland or Egyptian solar to Sweden as needed. Excess wind in Denmark can go elsewhere, or aluminum smelters can run 24/7. Germany gets snowed in and power is expensive? Shut down the smelters, let many folks stay home, and drop demand. Complex, integrated, and nothing like what we have today. “averaged over all of Germany” is far too provincial a view when it comes to a post-fossil grid.

    Your fear about developing countries’ population rise is unfounded. The population problem is solved. We’ll hit 9-10 billion people and glide downwards. That should be used as an axiom. I’ll be proven wrong as soon as life-extension tech comes online….

    Your last two paragraphs started with the proper solution, a global price on carbon, but veered off into a rationing by country argument. It matters not whether the poor household is in the USA or Yemen. The price of carbon is the price of carbon. I could see a system where adults get a set ration of free carbon. Children, of course, are choices and so should be paid for by their parents and so should get no carbon allowance, thus helping with your population fears.

    On cars, my view is we only have so many batteries. By spreading them amongst all our cars (non-plug-in hybrids), we’ll save the most carbon. Shoving them all in a couple cars (EVs) is stupid beyond belief.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 19 Oct 2012 @ 12:09 PM

  522. A couple of articles over at ClimateCentral relating to the ongoing North American drought that may be of interest … especially to anyone who, you know, like, eats food:

    Winter Wheat Crop Now Feeling Impact of U.S. Drought

    During the past week, drought conditions have improved slightly across the U.S., but the majority of the lower 48 states continue to suffer from what is proving to be a widespread and pernicious drought event, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor statistics, released on Thursday. The drought put a major dent in the U.S. corn and soybean crop, and now it is delaying the emergence of winter wheat, which is grown in some of the hardest-hit drought states, such as Nebraska.

    Demise of El Niño Throws a Wrench in Winter Outlook

    The upcoming winter is likely to be a mild and dry one for the West and the Upper Midwest, while parts of the Southeast may see cooler and wetter than average conditions, according to the official U.S. winter outlook issued Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In making its seasonal prediction, forecasters cautioned that there are large portions of the country for which there are no clear indications whether it will be a warmer, colder, wetter, or drier than average winter, largely due to a fickle El Niño event that may have petered out too early to have much of an impact on North American winter weather.

    Given that the majority of the Lower 48 states are still mired in a major drought, with the latest drought monitor showing a continuous swath of drought stretching from California to Illinois, the forecast offers little hope for significant relief anytime soon. In fact, Mike Halpert, the deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Md., said the drought is likely to expand from the Upper Midwest to the Pacific Northwest, and may also intensify all along the West Coast.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 19 Oct 2012 @ 1:26 PM

  523. I invite and welcome everybody to the nClimate State forum to elaborate in-depth on climate change

    Comment by prokaryotes — 19 Oct 2012 @ 2:12 PM

  524. Chris (#518),

    That is a nice kit you are developing there.

    In the example you ran, it is a little like heating a pot of water on a gas stove then turning off the gas. When the gas is turned off the pot should start to cool immediately and that is what you got.

    But, for RCP3-PD it is more like heating a pot of water on a an electric burner. You shut it off and the burner starts to cool, but as long as it is hotter than the water, the water should still warm. And that does not happen in your calculation. The water starts to cool while the burner is still hot.

    That is why I am trying to think about distinct elements that might explain what is happening there. Normally a Green’s function should do some smart things without violating causality. Maybe that is happening and I am just missing the smartness.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 19 Oct 2012 @ 3:07 PM

  525. Jim Larsen wrote: “On cars, my view is we only have so many batteries. By spreading them amongst all our cars (non-plug-in hybrids), we’ll save the most carbon. Shoving them all in a couple cars (EVs) is stupid beyond belief.”

    Um, no.

    Actually, the problem right now is an oversupply of batteries, and not enough EVs to “shove them” into.

    Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predicts that an oversupply of lithium-ion batteries by 2013 will cause battery prices to plummet. Overall they expect supply to outstrip demand by almost 100% as early as 2013. Electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturers can currently produce 2.4GWh of battery power annually but this will skyrocket over 1000% to 35 GWh in only two years. Demand from EV makers however will be only about 18 GWh by 2013.

    Currently EV batteries cost about $800/kWh, but this could fall to as low as just $350/kWh by 2020. Since the batteries make up almost half the cost of the car, EV prices are also expected to drop significantly.

    The “hyper-oversupplied market for electric car batteries”, as it is described in the business press, is of course one reason why battery manufacturer A123 Systems recently declared bankruptcy.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 19 Oct 2012 @ 3:34 PM

  526. Year 1 (5- and 6-year-old) students were learning about living things. Most students were found to think about living things with either stable, nonscientific or stable, scientific framework theories. … The predominant pattern of learning … was the assimilation of facts and information into the students’ preferred framework theory. …. Children with nonscientific theories of living things were identified as being least able to benefit from socially constructed, scientific knowledge; hence, recommendations are made for teaching that focuses on conceptual change strategies rather than knowledge enrichment. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 41: 449–480, 2004

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Oct 2012 @ 3:43 PM

  527. The global ocean surface changes in extent too which also brings a multitude of aspects to consider, such as flooded soils…

    The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fourth Assessment reported a likely upper SLR bound in the year 2100 near 0.6 m (meter). More recent studies considering semi-empirical modeling approaches and kinematic constraints on glacial melting suggest a reasonable 2100 SLR upper bound of approximately 2 m.

    These recent studies have broken important new ground, but they largely neglect uncertainties surrounding thermal expansion (thermosteric SLR) and/or observational constraints on ocean heat uptake. Here we quantify the effects of key parametric uncertainties and observational constraints on thermosteric SLR projections using an Earth system model with a dynamic three-dimensional ocean, which provides a mechanistic representation of deep ocean processes and heat uptake. Considering these effects nearly doubles the contribution of thermosteric SLR compared to previous estimates and increases the reasonable upper bound of 2100 SLR projections by 0.25 m.

    For conditions close to the Port of Los Angeles, the 0.25 m increase in the reasonable upper bound can result in a flooding-risk increase by roughly three orders of magnitude. Results provide evidence that relatively minor underestimation of the upper bound of projected SLR can lead to major downward biases of future flooding risks.

    Flooded soils are dynamic ecosystems that play an important role in biogeochemical cycling and in the production of greenhouse gases. Methane (CH4+) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are produced as byproducts of anaerobic metabolism in the low-redox zones characteristic of flooded soils, where oxygen is lacking.
    Flux rates of CO2 and, surprisingly, CH4 increased significantly following salt-water intrusion, and remained elevated relative to freshwater cores for 6 and 5 months, respectively.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 19 Oct 2012 @ 4:03 PM

  528. #512 Barrie May: “In Australia, there was a lot of hoo-haa about putting a $23/tonne price on carbon. However, after the scheme commenced there was hardly a word of complaint from the public. The effect was only a 10% increase (2c per kWh) in electricity prices which was more than compensated for by cash payouts and reductions in taxes for low to middle income families. ”

    I was not aware of this success in Australian climate politics. But this is very interesting.

    Norsk Hydro considers closing their site Kurri Kurri in Australia with a capacity of 180.000 tons per year in aluminium production and transfer of this volume to a production site in Germany because electricity prices in Germany are currently lower.

    The price for electricity that the big industry pays is much lower than the price for normal private households, I think it is about 6c per kWh, so 2c per kWh is a lot for them. Industry consumes more electricity in Germany than all the private households, about 2 or 3 times as much.

    I think it would be very valuable if we could all agree to a CO2 emission price, and 23$ seems a good price for a start. Does Australia also include emissions from flights, cars and heatings, or just power plants?

    Comment by Bernd Herd — 19 Oct 2012 @ 5:49 PM

  529. re my 456 – Kohler curve – there is a thermodynamic disequilibrium in the sense that some percentage of supersaturation can be required to make a haze partical transition to a cloud droplet. However, this is w/ respect to a flat surface of pure water, or approximately, any large continuous volume of nearly pure water. Dissolved solutes reduce the vapor pressure. Smaller droplets tend to ‘squeeze’ out a higher vapor pressure due to surface tension. Haze particles exist in a range of sizes where the two effects are in stable equilibrium – as more water condenses onto what was a soluble dry aerosol (maybe hygroscopic), the effect of the surface tension on equilibrium vapor pressure (for that context) is reduced, but for some conditions the effect of the dilution of the solute is greater, so that equilibrium vapor pressure rises – or as temperature is changing (during ascent, for example), it gets larger relative to the declining equilbrium vapor pressure for a flat surface of pure water (a standard eq.vap.p). It may/will(?) peak above that standard (supersaturation) – after the peak, it declines, which means that now as the droplets grow, the necessary relative humidity to maintain them declines (which allows them to take more water from the vapor phase). The peak distinguishes a haze particle from a cloud droplet. Various aerosols have differing effects and so as some haze particles become cloud droplets, some will remain haze particles and shrink as RH declines (due to condensation on the cloud droplets). I’m not sure offhand of the importance of this, but more rapid cooling from more rapid ascent would reduce the distances over which molecules can diffuse during the time periods involved, which would tend to isolate the effects of the particles from each other, so that more haze particles could go on to become cloud droplets, resulting in smaller and more numerous cloud droplets. Anyway, that’s what Kohler curves are about. There’s hysteresis because if a volume of cloud is brought back down and warmed (moist and then dry adiabatically), evaporation starts shrinking the droplets – but it won’t put so much back into the air to produce RH > 100 %.

    A hydrophilic surface would also be preferable for condensation (reduced surface tension effect for a given mass of liquid water in a droplet), though I’ve never heard of that being important in the atmosphere.

    (PS diffusion of matter and energy (latent heat) during such phase changes requires compositional and temperature gradients – entropy must then be produced, so there is a departure from actually being adiabatic – a smaller departure if pressure is being changed less rapidly (so that diffusions occur across smaller gradients). I don’t think that’s generally of much importance in the atmosphere in so far as affecting the resulting temperature, though).

    Ice crystal nucleation is a whole other thing… (some aerosols are more effective ice nuclei than others. ‘homogeneous nucleation’ (spontaneous formation of ice crystal from pure liquid state) happens at a certain rate per unit volume that increases (at first, I think) as temperature declines and the liquid state becomes more and more unstable; droplets being very small, homogeneous nucleation is relatively ineffective until approaching -40 deg C (which happens to be -40 deg F). The vapor pressure in equilibrium with supercooled droplets (liquid H2O) is higher than that in equilibrium with solid H2O at the same temperature, so liquid droplets will evaporate to feed deposition on an effective ice nucleus. Fewer ice nuclei produce larger ice crystals. From memory, I think this is called the Bergeron process. Liquid droplets bouncing off snow crystals may freeze (until latent heat raises the temperature to the freezing point). Drop(let?)s freezing from the outside in can break apart (ice expands) multiplying the ice particles. See Wallace and Hobbs (textbook).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 19 Oct 2012 @ 9:13 PM

  530. re 454 wili – I missed your comment earlier (I don’t think it appeared in order) – I agree that Chu was definitely not discussing a Venus syndrome.

    (PS regarding Venus – as I have understood it, a runaway water vapor feedback would have occured when solar heating increasing to become greater than a limiting OLR value (Simpson-Kombayashi-Ingersoll limit – see – although I should add that at more ‘moderate’ temperatures (warmer than today), stratospheric H2O increases to a point where H escape to space becomes a significant H2O sink – if that stage worked fast enough relative to solar brightening, a runaway H2O case could be prevented, and it would be a dry(er) heat. At some temperature(s), carbonate rocks themselves will decompose – the negative chemical weathering feedback has limits ( , fig. 1))

    I am thinking that the permafrost feedback article we were discussing was refering to a non-runaway feedback, but rather a delayed feedback, which is otherwise just like the fast feedbacks except that it’s slow response would make clear that it does feedback on itself according to the climate sensitivity from all other feedbacks (it drives itself, via climate change, to go farther, but it approaches a limit asymptotically). Maybe inclusion of CH4 and a sufficient climate sensitivity from the other feedbacks would make it runaway for some part (maybe not all) of the process. The discussion on Skeptical Science did point out that the paper also only considered C down to some depth in the permafrost. My guess (which makes sense to me but I must add I don’t know much about soils) is that making more C available, but only at greater depth, would make a bigger difference to the amount of C that could be released with unlimited forcing (delaying the exhaustion of the C reservoir) than it would to the sensivity of that release.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 19 Oct 2012 @ 11:52 PM

  531. Re 509 Bernd Herd – I agree that it’s tricky. see my 451, 468-469, and see my 284-285. And Jim Larsen @ 521 – to that I would just add, it shouldn’t tend to be inhumane to tax regardless of wealth because if CO2 emission were proportional to wealth generation, then the poor will be taxed less; otherwise, the price signal is encouraging wealth generation with less CO2 emission (which shapes investment so that it becomes easier to do so with less). Of course there are quirks of human behavior and societal processes – the choice (or lack thereof) to reproduce and the role of poverty in that, for example. And countries would get away with past emissions with no consequences (specific to them, as opposed to global warming and OA), unless that issue is addressed. However, the idea that other, now developing countries must be given the right to emit as much or even some fraction – this is problematic (not that anyone was making this suggesting). While having disadvantages, they also have the advantage of not having so much of a legacy problem – they get to do more things right (well, better – nothing’s perfect) the first time. It may be better to some extent for a rich nation to help a poor nation develop clean energy infrastructure than to replace it’s own (see Jim Larsen and Secular Animist above – commited emissions from infrastructure, etc.) – although ultimately that must happen too. Also, things are the way they are – setting aside the politics (for recieving nations) and psychological costs (for those moving), it would make sense to some extent for people to move toward places set up for efficient wealth generation rather than to spread the wealth among the people whereever they are, so it wouldn’t make sense to try to wipe the slate clean of the advantages gained from history let along geography, although the later does bring up the issue of climate change refugees, and some wealth generating capacity is spread out (land), and of course some clean energy resources are rather abundant in the developing world or parts thereof, and energy needs differ geographically even for the same lifestyle – see above … this whole paragraph should reference itself…. But this is actually supposed to be OT here now so see links, etc.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 20 Oct 2012 @ 12:16 AM

  532. It may be better to some extent for a rich nation to help a poor nation develop clean energy infrastructure than to replace it’s own “… includes building designs, urban planning, appliances, etc. And re 481 flxible – I agree that population must be addressed; RC doesn’t have to be the one to address it (see inline comments above somewhere – not that you were really going against that). Distributing birth control and encouraging education and … see Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation (Melinda Gates was on the Colbert report some time ago and I think this issue came up. The issue of populations is fortunately complex.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 20 Oct 2012 @ 12:22 AM

  533. re 454 wili – of course, introducing additional feedbacks like vegetation albedo (boreal forests replacing tundra) and methane hydrate/clathrate, etc, could concievably make it runaway – again, limited by C reservoir and land area/latitude ranges (and some places would probably see a surface albedo increase).

    (Limited runaway – graphing equilibrium temperature over externally-imposed forcing, it would be a smaller rather than larger discontuinity/step).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 20 Oct 2012 @ 12:27 AM

  534. However, the idea that other, now developing countries must be given the right to emit as much – per capita or per $ , even without trade, etc…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 20 Oct 2012 @ 12:31 AM

  535. On the subject of methane/permafrost feedbacks-

    The doomsday and runaway scenarios presented outside the scientific literature on this topic are completely indefensible. It’s hard to figure out just what Steven Chu meant by the term “runaway,” but that video came off as more of a scary sound byte than anything scientifically substantive.

    Permafrost modeling studies typically indicate a potential release of in the neighborhood ~200 PgC as carbon dioxide equivalent by 2100, though poorly constrained, but comparable to other biogeochemical and climate-ecosystem related feedbacks, such as the additional CO2 released by the warming of terrestrial soils. This is enough to matter, but it’s no more scary than the uncertainty in cloud feedbacks for example, and whether they could put us on the high end of typical climate sensitivity estimates.

    As David Archer argued in previous articles here, it’s better to think of methane as a fine-tuning knob, particularly as it relates to the long-term tail of warming commitments (after it is converted to CO2 in the atmosphere) rather than as some big “tipping point” this century.

    Finally, I cannot envision, even on theoretical grounds, a situation in which methane could lead to a “runaway greenhouse” in the way planetary scientists use the term. Even CO2 which is a better greenhouse gas than methane (when comparing them side-by-side in equal concentrations) does not trigger a runaway greenhouse, even in studies where it becomes the substantial part of the atmosphere.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 20 Oct 2012 @ 1:13 AM

  536. 525 SecularA said, ” Electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturers can currently produce 2.4GWh of battery power annually but this will skyrocket over 1000% to 35 GWh in only two years.”

    Thanks for the info. 80 million cars at 2kWh per car is 160 GWh. I’d say our battery production capability will still be woefully small. It’s obvious that rationing is in order.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 20 Oct 2012 @ 2:28 AM

  537. 525 SecularA said, “of course one reason why battery manufacturer A123 Systems recently declared bankruptcy.”

    I think you’re being generous. The recall was a big bump, but those are to be expected. It is the height of insanity to spend all that national wealth building these marvellous factories and then not run them 24/7. We’re tossing wind on the scrap heap too.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 20 Oct 2012 @ 2:48 AM

  538. 531 Patrick said, ” It may be better to some extent for a rich nation to help a poor nation develop clean energy infrastructure than to replace it’s own”

    Great post. I’ve pondered whether we should be concentrating in the third world. Often gridless. Usually grid-poor. We built our infrastructure long ago. If the world “needs” one coal plant’s worth of energy, doesn’t it make sense to provide it with our old plants rather than China’s new ones? Aluminum and fertilizer can transfer energy between continents.

    On reproduction, I was talking from an axiomatic view. So often policies designed to promote a certain behaviour become discrimination against those who choose to do otherwise, which really becomes yucky when kids, as always, pay for their parents’ bad luck or unwise decisions.

    Wili is concerned we’re too late already. Secular believes we have 15 years to duck and cover. Myself, temperature is a choice we choose with brimstone, and the oceans die first. In any case, this is the time to remember WW2, the last “real” war we fought. Idling a bomber or fighter factory??

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 20 Oct 2012 @ 3:14 AM

  539. Fun in “german” with the controversial Roger Pielke Jr.

    Die verharmlosende Berichterstattung zum Klimawandel bei SPIEGEL

    SPIEGEL / Axel Bojanowski claim that the Science world is upset about a recent Munich Re study, when it comes to extreme weather and growing cost from climate change. In above post i try to make clear that Pielke Jr. is not even a climate scientist and controversial in his studies. Yet, the SPIEGEL alleges in the latest piece that he represents the climate science and that the insurer has just financial motivation to raise rates.

    Some of Dr. Pielke’s comments and work have proven to be controversial. Critics note that his work has been frequently cited by “global warming skeptics,”[3] Dr. Pielke and his allies have praised his independence and called his critics “climate McCarthyists.”[4] (For more information on who the “skeptics” are and which corporations fund skeptics, SourceWatch has created a global warming skeptic clearinghouse.)
    Dr. Pielke’s work on climate change effects has been criticized by Dr. Stephen Schneider, who said that with Pielke “one consistent pattern emerges-he is a self-aggrandizer who sets up straw men, knocks them down, and takes credit for being the honest broker to explain the mess-and in fact usually adds little new social science to his analysis.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 20 Oct 2012 @ 7:29 AM

  540. #531 Patrick 027 “it shouldn’t tend to be inhumane to tax regardless of wealth because if CO2 emission were proportional to wealth generation, then the poor will be taxed less; otherwise”

    Maybe a misunderstanding: The German EEG (Renawable Energy Law) doesn’t work by taxing CO2 emissions or selling CO2 emission certificates. Instead investors are guaranteed to get a certain amount of money per kWh sold to the grid for 20 Years. The price depends on the technology, PV gives most. For new PV should be about 20c / kWh for 20 years. The payment is then charged to all electricity customers except big industrial customers. This charge to all customers was around 3.5c/kWh until last week and raised now to about 5.5c/kWh, mostly because they exclude more industrial companies from the payment now.

    The interesting difference to a CO2 tax is that the payment is from all private customers and small companies to the ones rich enough to invest in PV or wind. So the EEG tries to get the job done charging the private customers only. While this has produced impressive results, I still think CO2 taxing would be better because it would allow different methods of CO2 avoidance to compete. The technology-dependent EEG is necessary to help some technologies to get cheap due to mass-production, but we should also charge cars, planes, industrial production etc.

    The social meaning of a CO2 tax would mostly depend on the way it is returned back to the society. If distributed equally among citizens it would mean a big net transfer of money from the rich to the poor. If distributed as a income tax reduction it would mainly be returned to the ones paying high income taxes, thus to the riches.

    But when I read James Hansens suggestion I mostly wondered about the inter-country effects. And I wonder why nobody here is discussing this, for it seems so obvious to me. Did I miss something?

    Assuming all humans have the same right to live, one could agree that all countries have the right to sell CO2 emission certificates according to the number of citizens and to distribute the produced income equally among their citizens. If the initial price per ton of CO2 would be for example 23$ per t CO2, and I know the average German consumes 11t CO2 per year, this would mean a typical familiy with 2 children would have to pay about 1000$ per year. If the total allowence per person living would be calculated in a way to stay beyond 2°C warming, then most of the CO2 emission certificates (70%?) would be sold by poor nations, where more people live. That would mean a huge money transfer to developing countries. This sounds reasonable to avoid climate change, but I can not imagine rich nations to agree to it.

    I have difficulties to understand how a world having a separated European CO2 emission market and a separated Australian CO2 emission market and a separated US emission market could make the developing countries refrain from using all fossil fuels available to them.

    I read the book “The Global Deal” from Nicholas Stern (2009), and while it seems reasonable that we could do this, it seems unlikely that most of us are willing to. And he didn’t even suggest to meet 2°C, just 3°C for he argumented there is no realistic chance of meeting 2°C seen from his economists point of view. His idea of a “Global Deal” is mainly that the developed nations need to do (pay?) a lot to help the developing countries meet climate change requirements. For example his suggestions included that all developed countries should reduce their CO2 output by 90% until 2050 to allow developing countries some more development with increasing emissions. Just to hold the 3° aim, not 2°.

    Comment by Bernd Herd — 20 Oct 2012 @ 8:20 AM

  541. Jim, Patrick,,
    With regards to reproduction, just look at was has happened in the wealthier nations, U.S., Japan, Europe, etc. As they became wealthier, population growth shrank, even to the point were some European nations have a negative population growth. History shows that the best way to reduce population growth is to grow wealth first. Of course that creates the aforementioned problem of how to do so without increasing energy production.

    Comment by Dan H. — 20 Oct 2012 @ 9:13 AM

  542. Dan H wrote: “Of course that creates the aforementioned problem of how to do so without increasing energy production.”

    Once again, you are pretending that “energy production” is the same thing as “burning fossil fuels”.

    Distributed solar photovoltaics can provide plentiful electricity throughout the developing world, and in fact there is already a revolution in rural electrification with distributed PV underway in Africa, India, Central America and elsewhere.

    (Which, by the way, I think is one of the best things happening in this whole sphere — communities from Mongolia to Kenya that have never had any access to electricity are now getting it, with wonderful results.)

    There is no need for these societies to repeat the disaster of the western world’s 19th century fossil-fueled industrial revolution, nor is there any possibility of them doing so, given that they can afford neither the cost of the fossil fuels nor the cost of building electric grids to distribute power from large, centralized power plants.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 20 Oct 2012 @ 10:22 AM

  543. European winter climate and its possible relationship with the Arctic sea ice reduction in the recent past and future as simulated by the models of the Climate Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) is investigated, with focus on the cold winters. While Europe will warm overall in the future, we find that episodes of cold months will continue to occur and there remains substantial probability for the occurrence of cold winters in Europe linked with sea ice reduction in the Barents and Kara Sea sector. A pattern of cold-European warm-Arctic anomaly is typical for the cold events in the future, which is associated with the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation. These patterns, however, differ from the corresponding patterns in the historical period, and underline the connection between European cold winter events and Arctic sea ice reduction.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 20 Oct 2012 @ 10:48 AM

  544. > As they became wealthier, population growth shrank

    As people come to see over years of experience that food, water, health care, family planning, and education are reliably staying available, population growth shrinks. Don’t assume that because the rich get richer, the poor get richer. It doesn’t work that way. Europe, you may recall, had some wars and revolutions before the poor got bread reliably.

    > wealth … without increasing energy production

    Look in the right sidebar. That’s off topic here. Or google.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Oct 2012 @ 11:15 AM

  545. 542 SecularA said, “There is no need for these societies to repeat the disaster of the western world’s 19th century fossil-fueled industrial revolution, nor is there any possibility of them doing so,”

    Absolutely. You mentioned the wonderful effects of PV in Africa. But one must realize the truth: A lightbulb or two per house. Cellphone chargers. The village pump. That’s grand, but laughably small in scale. Bernd’s point is ever so valid. To give every African village enough clean energy to do one quarter of the things we do, but ever so efficiently… well, that ain’t pennies.

    What we have is a Jesus Moment. Spending money on ourselves will result in our downfall as a species.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 20 Oct 2012 @ 12:02 PM

  546. Chris @ 535 said “it’s hard to figure out just what Steven Chu meant by the term “runaway,””

    With great respect, I would suggest that on the contrary, I and most others find it completely clear what Chu means by ‘runaway’ in the video.

    You seem to be the only one who doesn’t understand his very clear explanation of what he means by it–(a) large enough positive feedback(s) that it (or they) exceeds the total amount of CO2 equivalent of all human ghg emissions.

    That is a clear, consistent and sensible definition. We can call it “Chuvian” runaway if you wish, to distinguish it from the “Venusian” feedback you reference.

    Are you suggesting that Chu is somehow a fringe scientist or doesn’t know what he’s talking about here?

    And again, here is the SkS piece on the Nature Geoscience article that sparked the discussion. The relevant graph is on the left one on figure 3, the dashed line being the relevant and most probable one.

    I do appreciate all input from all sides on this important study and its implications. I would love to be convinced that this graph, when added to what we know about other carbon feedbacks, does not mean that we are now in a “Chuvian” runaway. I have not seen an argument to convince me yet.

    Comment by wili — 20 Oct 2012 @ 12:23 PM

  547. Continuing..

    All we can do by reducing our consumption of fossil fuels is drive down the price. Close a coal plant? Make global warming worse because the coal gets exported, which adds plenty of carbon during the trip. The maximum cost is $25 a barrel for tar sands. So, until we drive the cost of fossil fuels down from $100/barrel to $40/barrel, we’re just driving demand to the third world, and demanding the third world not take our path, that of slurping cheap carbon, well, that’s unfair.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 20 Oct 2012 @ 12:25 PM

  548. Good pointer from prokaryotes to the recent AGU links.

    Remember — post the DOI number — any time it’s available.

    Lots more there of interest this week

    Mitigation of 21st century Antarctic sea ice loss by stratospheric ozone recovery

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Oct 2012 @ 12:33 PM

  549. whoah, I didn’t know that the rift system under Antarctica is like the one in east Africa, a spreading zone. That’d be a hint that warm water could indeed get in under the icecap once the edges melt off, unblocking the deep channels and allowing water to circulate in and out from the southern ocean — wouldn’t it?

    Rate of change could be — interestingly faster.

    “Neogene extension and basin deepening in the West Antarctic rift inferred from comparisons with the East African rift and other analogs
    WE LeMasurier – Geology, 2008
    Abstract The West Antarctic rift system differs from other volcanically active rift systems in two unusual respects:(1) the rift floor lies 1000–2000 m lower in elevation than others, and (2) four interior ice-filled troughs extend between 1500 m and 2555 m below sea level. …. (yes, it’s paywalled)


    “The Amundsen Sea embayment is a probable site for the initiation of a future collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. This paper contributes to a better understanding of the transport pathways of subglacial sediments into this embayment at present and during the last glacial period. It discusses the clay mineral composition of sediment samples taken from the seafloor surface and marine cores in order to decipher spatial and temporal changes in the sediment provenance. …. … indicates that glacial sediment sources were different from modern ones, which could reflect changes in the catchment areas of the glaciers and ice streams.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Oct 2012 @ 12:44 PM

  550. Patrick @ # 533 wrote: “of course, introducing additional feedbacks like vegetation albedo (boreal forests replacing tundra) and methane hydrate/clathrate, etc, could concievably make it [limited] runaway”

    Nicely put. Except I have trouble conceiving how these additional feedbacks could do anything else than create a limited, ‘Chuvian’ runaway.

    Comment by wili — 20 Oct 2012 @ 1:07 PM

  551. “What we have is a Jesus Moment. Spending money on ourselves will result in our downfall as a species.”

    But, as Chris D pointed out, at least we’ll be able to blame the poor.

    Captcha says, “peace, ssifith”

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 20 Oct 2012 @ 2:59 PM

  552. 533 Patrick said, ” introducing additional feedbacks like vegetation albedo (boreal forests replacing tundra)”

    Mankind is very adept at creating grasslands, which are great albedo-wise and sequester carbon like mad. My area, Nebraska, is known for building sod houses. The dirt here is as deep as the aquifer.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 20 Oct 2012 @ 3:36 PM

  553. #521 Jim Larsen: “The population problem is solved. We’ll hit 9-10 billion people and glide downwards. That should be used as an axiom.”

    Al Gore also argumented this opinion in “An inconvenient truth”. However to me it rather looks like an optimistic hope.

    I think demographic growth is about as uncertain as climate sensitivity.

    Comment by Bernd Herd — 20 Oct 2012 @ 4:11 PM

  554. #550–(Wili)–Well, if boreal forest were to replace tundra, that would slurp up quite a chunk of carbon, wouldn’t it? So that would be a negative feedback.

    But probably a rather slow one.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 20 Oct 2012 @ 4:15 PM

  555. #519 Barrie May: “If you want to do something, why not sign a petition here at the Whitehouse website:

    I’m a German, so influencing an U.S. petition doesn’t seem right.

    I’m doing a lot of things. For a long time I was happy to just reduce my own private CO2 footprint, but somehow this has changed. I’m currently seeking ideas how to do something on a political level, I just don’t know yet.

    Comment by Bernd Herd — 20 Oct 2012 @ 4:41 PM

  556. Just wanted to put this up:

    It’s an animated GIF file that shows global-average temperature results computed from randomly chosen rural stations, starting with one station and then incrementing one station at a time up to 40 stations. Just click on the link and watch the animation in your browser. In the upper plot, raw data results are shown in red, homogenized data results in green, and the official NASA/GISS “meteorological stations” results (for reference purposes) in dark blue.

    The lower plot shows how many of the selected stations reported data for any given year (one month is counted as 1/12 year). The #selected stations is shown in the upper-right corner of that plot (goes from 1 to 40).

    Stations were pre-screened only for adequate data record length (i.e. stations with data going back to 1885 or earlier or with data from 2010 or later) to ensure decent global coverage from 1885 to the present.

    I chose stations at random from a global map display like this:

    I captured the graphical output frame by frame and generated the animated GIF file with a simple bash/imagemagick script.

    It’s a nice visual demonstration of the robustness of the temperature record — note how quickly the homogenized *and* raw data warming-trends converge to the official NASA/GISS warming-trend.

    And skeptics, before you ask — this was the result of my first attempt to do this. I didn’t “cherry pick” the best of a bunch of trials. Just did it once and uploaded the file.

    Comment by caerbannog — 20 Oct 2012 @ 5:06 PM

  557. Amundsen Sea map
    Pine Island glacier is shrinking?

    Comment by David B. Benson — 20 Oct 2012 @ 5:12 PM

  558. 521 Jim Larsen: “It matters not whether the poor household is in the USA or Yemen. The price of carbon is the price of carbon.”

    As far as I can see this is the concept also advocated by James Hansen. And it seems to be the best that I understood.

    However: As soon as carbon gets a price and the money is returned to the public, this will raise the price of many goods and at the same time the ability of most people to pay that price, that sounds to me like inflation.

    If a good is produced in one country, let’s say China, then the CO2 price is to be paid to the Chinese Government and they will return it to the Chinese people. However if the good is sold to let’s say Germany, then the German customer will have to pay, together with the price for the good, the carbon emission price that is later returned to the Chinese citizens. I think this will likely cause an important value transfer.

    However I don’t understand the consequences of this for the currency exchange rates. The price for CO2 in USA is not the same as the price for CO2 in Yemen, for the former is in Dollar and the latter is in Rial. I cannot understand how exchange rates will be influenced when trading goods created under a CO2 emission tax.

    It also depends on when CO2 taxes are charged. James Hasen suggested to charge as early as possible, so usually when oil is extracted from the ground and first sold. That would mean it is charged for example to a Russian company that produces the natural gas. What will the Russian government do with that money?

    The EU started a CO2 emissions trade for flights this year. 10 % of emissions for flights have to be bought for every plane starting or landing in the EU. China prohibits it’s airlines to follow these EU laws.

    The USA also consider refusal of these payments.

    So obviously it is not as simple as agreeing to a price for CO2, for there are very imporant questions of who pays and who will get the money.

    Comment by Bernd Herd — 20 Oct 2012 @ 5:15 PM

  559. I just posted my first post on Blogger. My blog is called “So Left It’s To The Right”. Feel free to skewer me :-)

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 20 Oct 2012 @ 5:21 PM

  560. wili,

    I can’t understand why that is a sensible definition of a runaway feedback effect, or why that ends up “putting things completely out of our control” (as if once the methane starts going up, let’s just give up and burn all the coal because it won’t matter anyway).

    In any case, the lay reader is left with the impression that such a scenario would be absolutely catastrophic, and that once Arctic methane sources exceed human CO2 sources (using this rather arbitrary criteria) what we do won’t matter anymore. He also gives the distinct impression that the majority of the scientific community thinks this is a plausible scenario, and without any reference to the relevant uncertainties and timescales. There’s really no justification for this type of video.

    Finally, it’s quite common in science to criticize other people’s science without implying that they are cranks or have no credibility. I realize that blogs typically argue on the far fringes of the debate, and constructive criticism is often lost, but I don’t know of Steven Chu’s work, and have made no implication about him as a scientist. I’ve also criticized Jim Hansen’s version of the “runaway greenhouse” that he has outlined in his book. This is not incompatible with acknowledging him as one of the best climate scientists of our time.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 20 Oct 2012 @ 5:25 PM

  561. Jim (#551),

    Wow. Both rude and inaccurate.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 20 Oct 2012 @ 6:49 PM

  562. re Jim Larsen – 538 (re me), 547 (Jevon’s?), 545 (scale re Secular Animist), Secular Animist 542 (re Dan H. 541),
    – I should probably clarify that specifically what I meant was that it should tend to be more efficient to choose building a unit of clean energy infrastructure in a developing country than replace a unit of dirty energy infrastructure with said unit of clean energy infrastructure while building another new dirty energy infrastructure unit; of course those aren’t the only two choices. I am aware that such policies as CDM for emissions offsets can run into trouble; it has also been said not to let perfect be the enemy of good (also keep in mind when dealing with trade, Jevon’s, tariffs/subsidies, etc.). Maybe the rich nation seeking an offset could offer to pay the difference between clean and dirty so that it isn’t simply building new infrastructure with no (simple direct) impact on emissions trajectories, although that seems stingy somehow. But as has been pointed out we shouldn’t get too far into this here. This may be a more proper venue , although …? (Rabett Run is also fairly wide-ranging in subject matter).
    – interesting point (regarding near subsistence-level clean energy): solar ovens. saw a presentation once about that. some culture(s?) don’t like it, due to it’s taking away the act of firewood gathering, in so doing takes away women’s socializing time.

    re Dan H. 541 – that’s what I meant by human population dynamics being “fortunately complex” – that it helps to control our population growth by being nice to each other (in specific ways), as opposed to how we would control deer or lady bugs (or aphids) or gypsy moths, etc. (would that change if deer reached a stage part-way between subsistence and affluence? Well…). But I don’t think this requires achieving the same level of wealth, if the methods are chosen well; and also, pursuit of population stabilization may achieve greater wealth as a byproduct and/or knock-on effect, which is a good reason for pursuing it. Maybe you can find out some details googling this topic along with Gates Foundation.

    re Bernd Herd 540 – thanks for the explanation of the EEG. Although I think su bs idi es, l o a n gu ar ant e es (I’m not taking chances on the spam filter), and building codes, etc, shouldn’t be avoided, an across-the-board global-constant emissions tax should tend to be an efficient, fair solution and perhaps make all the rest run more smoothly (as well as provide funds where necessary). For fossil fuels I’m partial to taxing at the well/mine, (although with some tax deduction for products that contain fossil C, proportional to the likelihood and extent that they won’t be oxidized in the foreseeable future). It may be harder to assess the tax for other sources (but see above on perfect being the enemy of the good).

    For elaboration see my 531, the comments mentioned within that and links therein – in particular, my comments at the Stoat link above and
    (I had previously posted an earlier link to those comments but that link no longer works).
    But a quick summary of some of my thoughts: I think a case can be made for some combination of equal per-capita payback and tax reduction, but the rationale for this must be that this somehow compensates for the costs of global warming or adaptation to that; as much of this occurs in the future (with different people), this is private sector economic investment to boost the economy now so that it may make itself more robust in the future (?). I don’t think it should all go back to the private sector so directly. Internationally, nations or groups of nations with varying policies could enact tariffs and subsidies (proportional to embodied emissions and international policy differences) for trade. I would like to think that as much as such unilateral actions may be hard for the nations taking them, they may also pull other nations along – an incentive for other nations to join in to some extent, perhaps allowing a global tax rate of sorts to grow from the bottome up. And… no I really shouldn’t try to fit anything else here.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 20 Oct 2012 @ 7:25 PM

  563. re 546 wili – regarding your last paragraph, I get the sense that skeptical science was saying (links in my 446 for anyone wondering) that the permafrost feedback, as modelled by the paper (MacDougall et al), was not a ‘Chuvian’ runaway. Another way of putting it: Just like H2O (outside runaway), the C gain by the atmosphere from C loss from permafrost ‘penultimately’ reaches an equilibrium value that varies as a continuous function of the imposed forcing, rather than having a discontinuous jump. But it reacts more slowly than H2O – acting more slowly than much of the rest of the climate system.

    re 535 Chris Colose – thanks; I should clarify that in 533, I meant something along the lines of ‘hypothetically’ when I wrote ‘concievably’, as in, if the other feedbacks individually were positive and large enough.

    CH4 – yes, the rate at which, as a feedback, a C reservoir is depleted with some fraction going into the atmosphere would be relatively more impotant if more of it is as CH4; if Chuvian runaway (thanks, wili) can be achieved, to the point of exhausting some (designated portion of a) surface C reservoir, with a CH4 flux, then there would be a cooling period afterword (setting aside other slow feedbacks), and if the CH4 feedback were slowed down, then the feedback wouldn’t be as strong, and perhaps the C reservoir wouldn’t be exhausted unless the external forcing were larger (this being a hypothetical discussion; no assertion that it will happen).

    I don’t believe the conversation was getting into the territory where CH4 saturation (to the point that it becomes weaker than CO2 on a per molecule basis) becomes an issue.

    I think it makes sense to note that any discontinuous step in equilibrium climate as a function of forcing represents some runaway, even if it is small – it doesn’t always have to refer to a snowball or steamball situation, although at some point it becomes trivial, masked by noise, the butterfly effect, error bars, etc. That you can’t have half a H2O or CO2 molecule in the atmosphere would technically imply that any H2O or CO2 feedback consists of trillions of trillions of … little tiny runaways (with low sensitivity in between), but it’s not necessary or generally helpful to think of it like that, merely interesting.

    I agree with wili that Chu seemed to be refering to such a Chuvian runaway and not the big ones of snowballs and steamballs (or at least it makes sense to infer that).

    re 508 Chris Korda – wow, an inductor is a good analogy for the effect of heat capacity (where applied voltage is the forcing and current is the temperature; : v = L*di/dt … um, we still need a resistor … but I may have been mistaken when I told Bobl back in August that a circuit wasn’t a good analogy. Oops.

    radiative forcing = RF ‘=’ V0
    feedback (including planck response) ‘=’ voltage across resistor = i*R ‘=’ F*T (negative for stable climate)
    radiative disequilibrium ‘=’ v0 + i*R = voltage across inductor = L*di/dt ‘=’ heating rate = C*dT/dt

    Now maybe the capacitor could act like the chemical weathering feedback…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 20 Oct 2012 @ 7:26 PM

  564. Jim Larsen wrote: “The population problem is solved. We’ll hit 9-10 billion people and glide downwards. That should be used as an axiom.”

    The Earth’s human population will not reach nine billion. The “problem” will be “solved” long before that, by famine, water scarcity, disease and war.

    This will have little effect on the carbon dioxide problem, however, since the vast majority of the human beings who will die contribute little or nothing to humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 20 Oct 2012 @ 7:27 PM

  565. re my “an incentive for other nations to join in to some extent” – by way of trade, but also, by the stipulation that nations only recieve international climate (and acidification) adapatation funds if and proportional to their tax rates.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 20 Oct 2012 @ 7:32 PM

  566. David, that link to the Pine Island Glacier story (Geology, November 2012, v. 40, no. 11) is paywalled, I think. If you see something related from the authors elsewhere, pointer appreciated

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Oct 2012 @ 7:37 PM

  567. Pine Island rift growing:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Oct 2012 @ 7:46 PM

  568. re 558 Bernd Herd – a domestic CO2 tax would apply as a tariff to fossil fuel imports (from nations without such a carbon price, or from nations with a carbon price that is applied at the point of combustion rather than the well. Etc. Such nations might choose to tax their fossil fuel exports so that they can get that revenue for themselves – fine).

    I think the inflation would be a consequence of that fact that (except for some things), in so far as the efficient market hypothesis applies, we would be operating optimally now except for global warming and ocean acidification; applying the tax pulls us away from that optimum, the economy will then not be as efficient (ignoring externalities); but we should want to do this because the economy is now more efficient when including the externalities.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 20 Oct 2012 @ 7:52 PM

  569. 558 Bernd said, “That would mean it is charged for example to a Russian company that produces the natural gas. What will the Russian government do with that money?”

    Uh, why would the Russian government get the money at all? Global problems, such as CO2, require either a global government, or a virtual global government as can be provided by treaties. You provided a grand example – giving countries carbon allowances based on population. (I’d probably twist it by setting current population in stone, as adjusted by immigration and emigration. If you drop your population, you get the benefit. Raise it, and pay your own way.) The major players in world economics can easily force all others to sign whatever they choose by using the threat of economic isolation. Even Iran, rich beyond belief with oil, is straining under sanctions. “But why would the major players insist on saving the world, when that would be less profitable for the major players (though wildly more profitable for humanity)?” Yep, that’s the question you brought up, and it’s the $64,000 question.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 20 Oct 2012 @ 8:56 PM

  570. The apparent great Arctic sea ice refreeze as some “fake skeptics” put it, is bunk. It is rather better to let them indulge in their own fantasies.

    What is really happening is almost science fiction, was it not observed otherwise, but new Arctic weather features surprise with consistent warmer temperatures. First, Arctic snow showers in really calm winds cover wide expanses of the sea surface, help tame the colder than 0 C sea water, the flakes almost float but gather in clusters extending large areas. Unlike the suspended snow found a little under sea surface, grey ice ideally spreads quickly on top if the temperatures are right. this happens with Sea surface temperature of -1.8 C and surface air temperatures of about -11 C , this -11 C has just been reconfirmed once again. At Warmer than -11 sea ice did not form. A quick refreeze wouldn’t require air temperatures so cold, the onset of winter cold enough to make sea ice has also been delayed. This is recognized by a feature found in temperature upper air profiles, where as the maxima in temperature shifts from the ground
    to several hundred meters above. Boundary layers came with the formation of sea ice. For North of Barrow Strait 95 W this date was October 18 for 2012, it was: september 26 for 2011, september 23 for 2010, September 18 – 2009, September 14 – 2008 and October 5 for 2007. Signs for a strong winter would have meant that profiles with upper inversions show strong by early september. The arrival of upper inversions coincided with the expanding great Arctic sea ice boundary, this should be the same everywhere else. When snow stays over land so would intense upper air inversions much warmer than the surface. For all practical purposes this years refreeze has been latest in the last 6 warmer than normal years. Some evidence presented

    Comment by wayne davidson — 20 Oct 2012 @ 10:29 PM

  571. Chris Dudley @524: I was going to make a stove analogy myself but you beat me to it. To model your electric burner case, I did another test run with hacked data, this time adding a trianglar burst instead of a square burst. Here’s a plot of the input CO2 concentrations, and here’s a plot of the output temperatures. Note that at the peak of the forcing, the instantaneous response also peaks, but the Climate Response Functions continue to rise. I shut off the electric burner, and the burner starts to cool, but the water continues to warm, just as you say should be the case.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 20 Oct 2012 @ 11:52 PM

  572. 553 Bernd, the study says, “and b is the proportion of the global E available to a group. We divided the global population into the developed and the developing world because of the large imbalance in energy use between them” … “thus, b is 0.85 in the developed world and 0.15 in the developing world.”

    Truly an abysmal assumption that ruins the paper. Our energy use will certainly decline, leaving a larger and larger share of the energy pie to the developing world.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 21 Oct 2012 @ 12:18 AM

  573. Jim Larsen: “Global problems, such as CO2, require either a global government, or a virtual global government as can be provided by treaties.”

    If that is the case, then we are screwed. It will never happen. All politics is local. Better look for another solution.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 Oct 2012 @ 9:13 AM

  574. 564 SecularA said, “The “problem” will be “solved” long before that, by famine, water scarcity, disease and war.”

    I take it you’re not feeling optimistic today.

    573 Ray L said, “If that is the case, then we are screwed.”

    Maybe, and you’re right about mankind’s provincial nature. But global temperatures should spike soon as natural variability inevitably returns to median or even hot. This likely event will undermine essentially all skeptic arguments by showing the last decade wasn’t a peak but a pause. Arctic sea ice could very well continue to decay, which will supply big planetary scale. And drought in the US might return each year for a while, making things personal.

    If all of these happen to happen for the next ~4 years, then people might see an existential threat. Therein lies hope.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 21 Oct 2012 @ 10:22 AM

  575. “… why would the major players insist on saving the world ….?”

    Because you can’t save a fraction of a world.
    Ask any dinosaur.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Oct 2012 @ 11:15 AM

  576. is a good exercise on charting trends and correlation, starting with some of the commonly seen images and then going into what’s needed to understand what’s happening.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Oct 2012 @ 11:21 AM

  577. Chris (#561),

    There’s a nice example. And there is some lag there. So, should the water start to cool while the burner is still warmer than the water? If we take the yellow line (instantaneous) as the burner, all the other lines start cooling before they intercept the yellow line and that is what is bothering me. They should not start to cool before the intercepts. I have still not found the details for the model run that produced fig. 7 in Hansen et al. (2011) but I have looked at some 100 year responses to 2x, 4x, and 8x carbon at the GISS web site and I am thinking that I am on the right track in clearing up this itch: The climate response function gives us a way to calculate the average temperature given a forcing without doing a whole model run for that. But it does not give us separate information about sea surface temperature and land surface air temperature. But, if we were to put a styrofoam cup of water into our pot of water, turn the electric burner on and then turn it off, we might get an average temperature for the water in the cup and the water it floats in that behaves as your calculation does. The water outside the cup would not start to cool until the burner got to the temperature of that water, but the average temperature would never get to that high a temperature.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 21 Oct 2012 @ 11:48 AM

  578. Off to the races indeed. Yesterday the Arctic sea ice extent reached 6433281 sq km and achieved the highest seven day recovery rate of the last eleven years. It is a little like that old Vonnegut story Ice-nine.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 21 Oct 2012 @ 11:58 AM

  579. Jim Larsen wrote: “Global problems, such as CO2, require either a global government, or a virtual global government as can be provided by treaties.”

    At present, the most aggressive and effective governmental actions to reduce GHG emissions are being taken at the level of national (Germany), state (California) and even municipal governments. So it’s not at all clear that solving the GHG emission problem “requires” a “global government”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Oct 2012 @ 12:04 PM

  580. Chris Dudley #578

    Can we say something about the sea ice thickness in comparison with the 11 year figure too?

    Comment by prokaryotes — 21 Oct 2012 @ 12:14 PM

  581. Amy Wagner “Abrupt Climate Change” ICEE 2011

    Comment by prokaryotes — 21 Oct 2012 @ 12:29 PM

  582. re my 529 “The vapor pressure in equilibrium with supercooled droplets (liquid H2O) is higher than that in equilibrium with solid H2O at the same temperature” – pure water, flat surfaces; can be true for impure water with other surfaces as it would be in real clouds but there may be some adjustments (Wallace and Hobbs, “Atmospheric Science – An Introductory Survey” – pp 72-73 specifies flat surface for the ice as well)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 21 Oct 2012 @ 1:01 PM

  583. Chris Dudley @561: Here’s a graph that combines the two graphs I posted @571. The additional pink triangle is the input data. Since it’s in ppm CO2 not degrees, the y-scale is inappropriate, but the x-scale is correct. The pink triangle represents the forcing, and should therefore be the burner in your analogy no? Even the instantaneous response is non-linear in y, due to the log relationship of temperature to forcing.

    @524 you said:

    You shut it off and the burner starts to cool, but as long as it is hotter than the water, the water should still warm. And that does not happen in your calculation. The water starts to cool while the burner is still hot.

    I think the triangle burst graph above says otherwise. The pink curve (the forcing AKA the burner) peaks in 2066, but the red curve continues rising due to hysteresis, and doesn’t peak until 2068.

    I don’t claim to have exactly reproduced Hansen’s fig. 7, which would be tough to do since he doesn’t give source code. Nor am I explicitly using Green’s function. I’m using derivatives, the effect of which may be equivalent to using Green’s function. Perhaps it would help if I explained my method in more detail?

    Comment by Chris Korda — 21 Oct 2012 @ 1:31 PM

  584. Hank: “Ask any dinosaur.”

    I do believe that is the point. We are headed the same way, while, ironically, restoring the conditions under which they thrived.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 Oct 2012 @ 1:54 PM

  585. Re 583 Chris Korda – having looked at the graph, setting aside the effect of varying response times of different parts of the system as suggested by Chris Dudley (if I’m remembering correctly), one would expect all heat-capacity-delayed responses to always be approaching the instantaneous (zero heat capacity) response, which is why their slopes should change sign when they intersect the instantaneous curves. (The difference between zero and non-zero heat capacity responses is proportional to a radiative imbalance, which is proportional to the rate of change in enthalpy and thus temperature, barring a change in where the heat is going, etc.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 21 Oct 2012 @ 2:02 PM

  586. Chris (#583),

    It is the forcing that is logarithmic in concentration. T comes right from the forcing and sensitivity: 3/4 degree C per (Watt per square meter). That is why I’m taking your yellow line as the forcing.

    So, again, if the yellow line is what we’d get with no delay, then it should be the target temperature for any lagged response. If the lagged temperature is moving away from the target rather than towards it then there needs to be an explanation as to why.

    I’m guessing you are implementing eqn. 3 of Hansen et al. to calculate the lag?

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 21 Oct 2012 @ 2:35 PM

  587. prokaryotes (#581),

    The average thickness is usually still falling at this time of year (presumably because thin ice is being added) but it has not yet been calculated for this year.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 21 Oct 2012 @ 3:11 PM

  588. #579 SecularAnimist: “At present, the most aggressive and effective governmental actions to reduce GHG emissions are being taken at the level of national (Germany), state (California) and even municipal governments. So it’s not at all clear that solving the GHG emission problem “requires” a “global government”.

    I don’t think that local actions will be sufficient. They are some start, but in the end they cannot be sufficient. The more oil and gas we save on our own initiative, the less the world-wide oil and gas prices are going to rise and the oil and gas saved now is going to be consumed a few months later by somebody else.

    To save the amount of CO2 that a friend wastes for his summer holidays, I’d have to leave my house could for a whole winter. It just cannot work.

    Remember that huge known reserves in coal, gas and oil will have to stay unused forever, not just for a few more months.

    We absolutely need globally organized actions. And I currently think they will likely be game changers, for I have no idea how to reach the goal without changing the game. Should we pay for the Yasuni-Initiative?í-ITT_Initiative

    Comment by Bernd Herd — 21 Oct 2012 @ 4:42 PM

  589. 579 SecularA said, “At present, the most aggressive and effective governmental actions to reduce GHG emissions are being taken at the level of national (Germany), state (California) and even municipal governments. So it’s not at all clear that solving the GHG emission problem “requires” a “global government”.”

    You’re touching on actuarial concepts. Would you agree that “success” could be defined as an 85%+ rate of compliance? I don’t see how you’re going to get that in a voluntary system where any success will drastically increase the financial reward of non-compliance. Cheap natural gas? Lots of folks will up the thermostat a bit this winter. Drop oil to $30 a barrel and watch those SUVs sell…

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 21 Oct 2012 @ 5:14 PM

  590. Chris (#583),

    “I don’t claim to have exactly reproduced Hansen’s fig. 7, which would be tough to do since he doesn’t give source code.”

    We should be careful here since that is a denier types statement. You can get the source code for the model. You’d have to run it though, and you would not get exactly the same curve. I was poking around for the detailed output of the run fig. 7. was based on (3000 year simulation) and have not found it yet.

    Source code is here:

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 21 Oct 2012 @ 5:16 PM

  591. 588 Bernd said, “Should we pay for the Yasuni-Initiative?”

    Yasuni sounds nutso. I believe one of the links said that we’ve already got 5 times the reserves needed to exceed rational emissions and we’re still looking for more. So we’d have to spend 80% of gawdaful sums before getting a single barrel’s worth of remediation, Carbonwise, why do we care where the next well gets drilled?

    Perhaps… Tell the current producers they’ll get a global monopoly at, say $50 a barrel. We require consuming nations charge a $50 a barrel tax. Make both rise in step over time. Add complexity without gamemanship, The US, Europe, China, and Japan have plenty of economic and military power to make such a decision stick.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 21 Oct 2012 @ 5:41 PM

  592. > huge known reserves in coal, gas and oil
    > will have to stay unused forever,

    Oh, they’ll be used — bet they count as carbon sequestration credits.

    The fossil fuel companies control (with leases or direct ownership) far more carbon than all the farmers, loggers, or plankton-fertilizers ever will.

    They’ll get the largest part of the money the world will have to pay to sequester carbon.

    Think of it as pre-sequestered.

    I am waiting for the whaling industry to insist they should get carbon sequestration money for not killing whales, next.

    Just working on my cynicism here, I’m not cynical enough yet.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Oct 2012 @ 5:41 PM

  593. Chris Dudley: I think confusion may be arising over use of the word “lag”, by which I understand you to mean time delay. My model exhibits smoothing, which includes but is not limited to time delay. Hence my model can temporarily move in the opposite direction of the instantaneous response, depending on how quickly the input changes direction, but given sufficient time and input stability it will eventually move in the same direction as the input. I’m not claiming this is or isn’t a realistic numerical model of climate response, I’m just trying to accurately describe how the model works.

    I’m not sure what you mean about figure 3. I’m using the Climate Response Functions given in figure 5, which I implemented as polylines in log space, similar to envelopes in acoustics. Assuming the CRFs are already interpolated, my method can be broken into two steps. The first step uses derivatives to model inertia, resulting in smoothing (and time delay) of the input signal, as follows:

    For each yearly CO2 concentration delta, slice that delta into 2,000 portions of unequal (decreasing) size, one portion for each of the next 2,000 years, according to the percentages specified by whichever CRF we’re using. For the “intermediate” CRF the percentages are yr1=15%, yr2=24%, yr3=29%, yr4=33%, etc. So the CRF percentage deltas are 15%, 9%, 5%, 4%, etc. Suppose the first CO2 delta is +10ppm, for the year 1750 (not realistic!) The concentration delta slices (distributed over the next 2,000 years) are therefore 1.5, 0.9, 0.5, 0.4, etc., so we add 1.5 to 1750’s concentration “bucket”, 0.9 to 1751’s bucket, 0.5 to 1752’s bucket, etc. After the first pass the buckets contain:

    year 1750 1751 1752 1753 ...
    dCon 1.50 0.90 0.50 0.40 ...

    Now suppose 1751’s CO2 delta is double 1750’s or +20ppm. This time the concentration delta slices are 3, 1.8, 1, 0.8, etc., so we add 3 to 1751’s bucket, 1.8 to 1752’s bucket, 1 to 1753’s bucket, etc. After the second pass the buckets contain:

    year 1750 1751 1752 1753 ...
    dCon 1.50 3.90 2.30 1.40 ...

    Note that for each pass, the 2,000 year window moves forward a year, so on the second pass we’re adding to the buckets for 1751..3751 instead of 1750..3750. This process is repeated for all the input CO2 concentration deltas. Once this first step is completed, our buckets contain the smoothed CO2 concentration deltas for the entire model run.

    The second (much simpler) step is: for each bucket, compute the smoothed absolute CO2 concentration for each year (by doing a running sum of the buckets), and feed each yearly smoothed absolute concentration to the instantaneous equation: log(ppmCO2) / log(2) * 3, yielding temperature increase relative to baseline for that year. That’s my numerical model of thermal inertia FWIW.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 21 Oct 2012 @ 6:11 PM

  594. Kevin M at #554–The first effect of trees in the tundra will be to increase local warming because of change of albedo. Longer term, it would have to be a very tall, thick forest to contain the quantities of carbon now in the permafrost. In some places, the permafrost is nearly a mile thick. I hate to go to wikipedia, but they seem to be well sourced here:

    “The most recent work investigating the permafrost carbon pool size estimates that 1400–1700 Gt of carbon is stored in permafrost soils worldwide.[1] This large carbon pool represents more carbon than currently exists in all living things and twice as much carbon as exists in the atmosphere.”

    Reference #1: Tarnocai, C.; Canadell, J.G.; Schuur, E.A.G.; Kuhry, P.; Mazhitova, G.; Zimov, S. (June 2009). “Soil organic carbon pools in the northern circumpolar permafrost region” (PDF). Global Biogeochemical Cycles 23 (2): GB2023. Bibcode 2009GBioC..23.2023T. doi:10.1029/2008GB003327.

    Chris C. at #560: Thanks for another thoughtful reply. Please note that neither I nor Chu (nor anyone else that I’ve seen, besides you) has said anything like “let’s just give up and burn all the coal.”

    I’m just trying to figure out where we are along in terms of tipping points and feedbacks. I happen to agree with Secular Animist and others that we need to cut CO2 and other ghg emissions to as close to zero as quickly as possible at thsi point no matter what further bad news from science comes along wrt said tipping points and feedbacks. But I still think it is important to understand what the latest science is telling us, including consequences implied but not explicitly spelled out. I kind of assumed that this is exactly what a blog like this is intended to do, but I would be happy to be corrected.

    You seem to think of the point when feedbacks exceed human forcing is just an arbitrary point. Chu and many others don’t. Perhaps we should leave it there as a difference of evaluation of relevance of this point. I actually think it could be the wake up call we have been hoping for–that as people really understand the consequences, it will be a global “Oh sh!t” moment (tamino’s term, following kate’s statement at ClimateSight) that will shock people into scaling way back on emissions at once and working harder to create systems that allow human (and non-) well being without resort to burning fossil (better called “death”) fuels.

    For the record, I have given up flying (and all ff-powered long-distance travel), most driving and meat eating…and have worked on every level (family, work, municipal, state, national, international–though the last I mostly leave to my bro who, as head of a major international NGO, is better positioned to influence international entities) to push them to move rapidly to low or no emissions and low or no emissions waste, and at great risk to relationships and to my professional career. This all to just to say that I am certainly not looking for an excuse to just “just give up and burn all the coal.”

    Thanks again to all for engaging in discussion of this important study and its implications. I’ve been particularly impressed by and thankful for your excellent writing and analysis here and elsewhere, Chris C.

    Comment by wili — 21 Oct 2012 @ 6:16 PM

  595. Why and how can psychology be applied to the issue of climate change? Recorded at the Psychology of Climate seminar, 28 September 2012.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 21 Oct 2012 @ 6:16 PM

  596. Jim Larsen: “Global problems, such as CO2, require either a global government, or a virtual global government as can be provided by treaties.”

    As Ray Ladbury said, no chance of that yet. The nation-state political model is still well-entrenched, despite the fact that corporations and the megarich have already moved on from it. In fact it serves their interests not to have a new political and diplomatic model, and the UN only passes for one.

    It may be that AGW will shake things up but not before it becomes all too evident and immediate.

    Comment by Cugel — 21 Oct 2012 @ 6:46 PM

  597. wili @594: “shock people into scaling way back on emissions” For a shock, look no further than the latest tar sands aerial photos from Ashley Cooper. Not for the faint of heart. The sulfur mountains are bizarre, like something from an alien civilization.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 21 Oct 2012 @ 6:48 PM

  598. Offsetting Global Warming: Targeting Solar Geoengineering to Minimize Risk and Inequality
    Want to try to cool the arctic?

    Comment by David B. Benson — 21 Oct 2012 @ 6:54 PM

  599. Chris (#593),

    I should have spelled that out. I meant equation 3. in Hansen et al. not figure 3. If you look at that you’ll see that the CRF is applied to the derivative of the forcing, not the derivative of the concentration. You need to take the log sooner I think.

    Just to be sure, you are using the CRFs from fig. 9. not fig. 5?

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 21 Oct 2012 @ 6:58 PM

  600. Chris Dudley: The percentages I gave @593 for the “intermediate” CRF are actually the ones for “slow”, sorry! Table here.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 21 Oct 2012 @ 7:02 PM

  601. #594–Well-pointed, Wili. And there’s also some empirical data here:

    So you seem quite correct!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 21 Oct 2012 @ 7:26 PM

  602. A video with Prof Jonathan Overpeck – Abrupt Climate Change “India special”

    Comment by prokaryotes — 21 Oct 2012 @ 7:37 PM

  603. Chris @599: “You need to take the log sooner I think.” I understand you now. It’s an easy enough change to make so I’ll try it and we’ll see what happens. But otherwise does the iterative summing method I described seem reasonable?

    Comment by Chris Korda — 21 Oct 2012 @ 7:42 PM

  604. Thanks for the link, wayne. It’s a complex process, but the near-term net effect of more tall bushes and trees in the tundra does seem to be more local warming.

    On permafrost feedback in general, here is another fairly recent article:

    (Thanks to prokaryotes for pointing it out on his new and excellent blog:

    One thing the full article makes clear is just how much carbon is available to the atmosphere from that one source:

    “Cumulative CO2 emissions under RCP8.5 are 26PgC (12-52PgC) by 2100. By 2300, the majority of the permafrost carbon stock could be already released to the atmosphere, with cumulative CO2 emissions being 529 PgC (362-705PgC)”

    Comment by wili — 22 Oct 2012 @ 5:21 AM

  605. Per Espen Stoknes possible new climate policies

    Full lecture on climate change and psychology

    Comment by prokaryotes — 22 Oct 2012 @ 8:48 AM

  606. Chris (#603),

    I’m not quite sure why you have taken the derivative of the CRF. Maybe pseudo code would help.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 22 Oct 2012 @ 11:05 AM

  607. Chris Dudley: I made the “log sooner” change you proposed, and here are some results. I’m holding off on all the permutations until confidence is higher, I just enclose the ones that were most symptomatic. Here’s RCP3-PD, now and before. Here’s RCP8.5, now and before. And lastly here’s the triangle burst diagnostic, now and before. For RCP3-PD I don’t see much difference, but for RCP8.5 it’s obvious. I would describe it as a larger “spread” between the response functions. If nothing else this change makes the algorithm much simpler: it’s now reduced to a single step instead of two.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 22 Oct 2012 @ 11:56 AM

  608. I get kind of tired of symbolic actions, but what the heck. Facebook users–especially American ones–may want to do this:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 22 Oct 2012 @ 1:21 PM

  609. Slightly off-topic, but still relevant. Italian seismologists are going to jail for not being able to predict an earthquake ( This news is full of irony. Earthquakes are not predictable while climate change is. So maybe all climatologists will be going to jail 20 years from now for not being able to predict the future? Sounds bizarre, but you never know.

    Comment by Bojan — 22 Oct 2012 @ 3:48 PM

  610. Chris Dudley @606: “I’m not quite sure why you have taken the derivative of the CRF.”
    Hmm, I thought that was the whole idea: to model inertia by distributing each year’s instantaneous temperature change over the next 2000 years, in unequal slices the sizes of which are determined by Climate Response Function percentages. But I could be grossly misunderstanding this! I’m usally OK once I have derivatives to work with, but math analysis gives me terrible headaches. Anyway here’s the pseudo code.

    for (int iSamp = 0; iSamp < RCP_YEARS; iSamp++) { // for each yearly CO2 concentration sample in ppm
      // compute instantaneous change in average global surface temperature, relative to baseline
      InstantTemp = log(Concentration[iSamp] / Concentration[0]) / log(2) * ClimateSensitivity;
      // distribute instantaneous temperature change over next 2000 years according to climate response function
      PrevRespPct = 0;
      for (int iYear = 0; iYear < 2000; iYear++) { // for each response function year
        RespPct = gRespPct[iYear].Pct[RespFuncIdx]; // get this year's percentage from the response function
        TempSlice = InstantTemp * (RespPct - PrevRespPct) / 100; // compute this year's slice of temperature
        OutputTemperature[iSamp + iYear] += TempSlice; // add slice to appropriate temperature bucket
        PrevRespPct = RespPct;

    Comment by Chris Korda — 22 Oct 2012 @ 4:57 PM

  611. re: 609
    I wish I could say I am being sarcastic when I say this but I suspect anti-science Ken Cuchinelli, the Virginia Attorney General, may be taking notes about the Italian seismologists case.

    Comment by Dan — 22 Oct 2012 @ 5:17 PM

  612. Did anyone has more info into the following ongoing research?

    A key uncertainty is the fraction of carbon that might be decomposed under anaerobic conditions – resulting potentially in methane emissions to the atmosphere. Given the high warming potential of methane, the overall magnitude of the permafrost-carbon feedback will depend strongly on this fraction.


    Thermokarst Lakes as a Source of Atmospheric CH4 During the Last Deglaciation

    Comment by prokaryotes — 22 Oct 2012 @ 6:46 PM

  613. Schneider-Meinshausen (per Scholar) is cited by 5; of those, one is cited by 15, and others have several cites apiece, so the paper “has grandchildren” — you’ve looked those up? I didn’t check the other one.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Oct 2012 @ 6:54 PM

  614. Climate Disruption: Are We Beyond the Worst Case Scenario?

    Michael Jennings

    Article first published online: 3 SEP 2012

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1758-5899.2012.00193.x

    © 2012 London School of Economics and Political Science and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Oct 2012 @ 7:07 PM

  615. Re 610 Chris Korda –

    A – I think they call it a ‘swamp ocean’, or maybe a slab ocean – heat capacity may be modelled (I won’t write it in computer code exactly; T is temperature, ECS is equlibrium climate sensitivity here expressed as K per doubling of CO2, y = year number):

    Noting an analytical solution for constant forcing:
    Teq – T = (Teq-T0)*exp(-t/time_constant)
    dT/dt = (Teq-T0)*exp(-t/time_constant) / time_constant
    @ t = 0, dT/dt = (Teq-T)/time_constant
    which can be converted to an iteratable form:

    T(y) = T(y-1) + 1 year * [Teq(y-1) – T(y-1)]/time_constant

    or if time_constant is a dimensionless number that happens to be equal to the number of years of the time constant:

    T(y) = T(y-1) + [Teq(y-1) – T(y-1)]/time_constant

    or a bit more accurately, I think:

    T(y) = T(y-1) + [Teq(y-1) + Teq(y) – T(y-1) – T(y)]/(2*time_constant)

    which can be rewritten as

    T(y)*[1 + 1/(2*time_constant)] = T(y-1) + [Teq(y-1) + Teq(y) – T(y-1)]/(2*time_constant)

    or (if I did the algebra correctly)

    T(y) = ( T(y-1)*2*time_constant + [Teq(y-1) + Teq(y) – T(y-1)] ) / [2*time_constant + 1]


    Teq(y) = ECS * log( CO2concentration(y) )/log(2)

    Alternative – (where n is the number of time steps – time_step could be less than a year; time_step must be in same units as time_constant):

    T(n) = T(n-1) + [Teq(n-1) – T(n-1)]*time_step/time_constant

    Now add a deep ocean (a very simple one)

    T(n-1) + [Teq(n-1) – T(n-1)] * time_step / time_constant
    [ average (j = n-5000 to n-1 or whatever works) of ( T(j) * exp[-(n-j) * time_step / mix_time] ) – T(n-1) ] * time_step / mix_time

    … I’m not sure if that last part entirely makes physical sense – it makes some qualitative sense but I’d have to do some more work to see if it ought to be changed – does it violate energy conservation? … I haven’t actually tried doing this.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 22 Oct 2012 @ 7:37 PM

  616. re wili (re Chris Colose) @ 594 “You seem to think of the point when feedbacks exceed human forcing is just an arbitrary point. Chu and many others don’t.” – I missed that point earlier. What I meant (what I thought you meant) by Chuvian runaway was a runaway of an extent more limited (covering a smaller range of temperatures that can’t be at equilibrium) than the big ice-albedo and H2O-vapor greenhouse runaway feedbacks of snowball and ‘steamball’ conditions. (non-Planck) Feedbacks in W/m^2 exceeding forcing is I think already expected just from the fast feedbacks.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 22 Oct 2012 @ 7:45 PM

  617. correction for second-to-last comment:

    Teq(y) = ECS * log[ CO2concentration(y) / CO2concentration(baseline) ]/log(2)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 22 Oct 2012 @ 7:47 PM

  618. Re Chris Korda – (last part of my third-to-last comment) – it will be much easier if the deep ocean temperature (or multiple such thermal reservoirs)is explicitly computed iteratively. More on that later…

    Re wili – “Feedbacks in W/m^2 exceeding forcing is I think already expected just from the fast feedbacks.” – at least when equilibrium is approached; not sure offhand about right now.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 22 Oct 2012 @ 8:56 PM

  619. Patrick: Thank you! It seems like we’re on the same page. Your simplified equation @617 looks very similar to the pseudocode I gave @610 no? I’m just applying Hansen’s response functions to this equation. Or maybe I’m missing your point, if so please forgive my obtuseness!

    Comment by Chris Korda — 22 Oct 2012 @ 10:07 PM

  620. Antarctic land ice loss rate refined:
    Slow, but steady.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 22 Oct 2012 @ 10:28 PM

  621. Chris (#610),

    Well, it looks as though it reproduces the Heaviside response. And, is also seems like a term in an integration by parts expansion of equation 3. But, why not follow equation 3 instead?

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 22 Oct 2012 @ 11:26 PM

  622. The guys on “The Climate Show” seem pretty concerned about the permafrost feedback study (covered at about the 11 minute mark):

    Comment by wili — 23 Oct 2012 @ 5:27 AM

  623. Bojan #609

    “So maybe all climatologists will be going to jail 20 years from now for not being able to predict the future? Sounds bizarre, but you never know.”

    Maybe if they fail to warn people and politicians with sufficient clarity.

    On the other hand, those people who have been trying (with some success) to minimize the perceived risk from climate change might find themselves with a case to answer

    Comment by Paul Butler — 23 Oct 2012 @ 6:01 AM

  624. Was I disappointed?

    Oh, yeah. Elections are about important issues–well, some of them, anyway:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 23 Oct 2012 @ 9:49 AM

  625. re 619 Chris Korda – yes, that part is exactly the same.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 23 Oct 2012 @ 11:53 AM

  626. The Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics discussion page for “Earth’s Energy Imbalance and Implications” makes for surprisingly interesting reading. Hansen et al. took a few punches but I guess that’s par for the course. Apparently Hansen originally had photos of his grandkids in the paper, but both anonymous referees upbraided him for that, understandably. The first referee also accused the paper of “excess verbosity”, ouch. More interestingly, in response to the second referee’s objection that older SRES scenarios were used instead of the new RCP scenarios, Hansen replied: “Our paper compares observations (thus the past) and models, thus only deals with the past. It is of interest to see how the real world changes compare with the past projections. In a future paper when we replot Figure 16 in conjunction with our simulations for the future we can use the new RCP scenarios, but for this paper the old SRES scenarios are more relevant.” So it seems my wish for RCP temperature projections might someday be granted.

    But the most entertaining critic is one Nabil Swedan, who lobs such gems as “The subject paper is based on other flawed papers that were challenged. Authors of the subject paper have not addressed the comments of challengers yet,” and “The subject paper is based on the greenhouse gas effect science that is unrecognized by Russians, Chinese, Indians, and much of the west.” Holy smokes! And the crescendo: “… the subject paper … does not follow the scientific methodology of proof, it disagrees with observations, it is based on flawed referenced papers, and it utilizes a flawed science that is unrecognized by most of the world.” What happened here? Do the Koch brothers have a mole in the European Geosciences Union?

    Comment by Chris Korda — 23 Oct 2012 @ 12:41 PM

  627. Chris Dudley @621: Despite considerable effort I still haven’t figured out how to apply the interpolated Climate Response Functions directly to equation 3. If you feel sufficiently inspired to offer up some pseudocode of your own I would gladly give it a shot. But what’s your response to the results I gave at @607 using your “log sooner” fix? With respect to the “electric burner” analogy we were discussing, are the new results better or worse? Heaviside is a type of Green’s function so that’s encouraging. Between you and Patrick I get the impression that I’ve implemented something functionally equivalent to equation 3, by differentiating the Climate Response Functions. It might be the hard way but that’s OK with me if it gives acceptable results.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 23 Oct 2012 @ 1:10 PM

  628. Kevin,
    It appears that climate change was the third rail in this year’s election. Both candidates could not get far enough away from it. When was the last time you heard two candidates vying for the title of “Oil King.”

    Comment by Dan H. — 23 Oct 2012 @ 1:14 PM

  629. re Chris Korda – including a deep ocean

    non-conveyor belt version

    C is the more immediately accessible heat capacity of the near-surface climate system, including (largely made from) some upper portion of the ocean

    Cdeep is the heat capacity of the deep ocean

    Cexchange is a measure of the rate of exchange between the upper and deeper ocean

    Thus, in isolation


    C_step = time_step*Cexchange

    T(n) = T(n-1)*(1 – C_step/C) + C_step/C * Tdeep(n-1)

    = T(n-1) + [Tdeep(n-1) – T(n-1)] *C_step / C

    The second term of that can simply be added to the formula for T(n) that includes climate forcing+feedback effects, so that

    [Teq(n-1) – T(n-1)]*time_step/time_constant
    [Tdeep(n-1) – T(n-1)] *C_step / C

    and the temperature of the deep ocean

    Tdeep(n) = Tdeep(n-1)*(1 – C_step/Cdeep) + C_step/Cdeep * T(n-1)


    Tdeep(n) = Tdeep(n-1) + [T(n-1) – Tdeep(n-1)]* C_step/Cdeep

    Conveyor model:

    generalize to a surface thermal reservoir C(0) and multiple other reservoirs C(j), j = 1 through ?, C_step(j,k,n) = time_step*C(j,k,n) is the reservoir size that is transfered from reservoir j to reservoir k in the time step going from n-1 to n. C(j,k,n) may be larger than C(k,j,n), hence one can have a conveyor-like aspect

    (although having each transfer being dumped and mixed into the reservoir still provides a mixing like aspect. A true conveyor would have reservoirs being produced from surface water and then being stored and then brought back to the surface at some time… etc..)

    However, in order for all C(j) to stay constant over n (otherwise use C(j,n), for each j, the sum of all C(j,k,n) over k must equal the sum of all C(k,j,n) over k. Otherwise, maybe this would work:

    C(j,n) = C(j,n-1) + sum over k of [C(k,j,n) – C(j,k,n)]

    Then … (in isolation of the climate forcing+feedback):

    T(j,n) = T(j,n-1)*(1 – sum over k of C_step(k,j,n)/C(j)) + sum over k of T(k,n-1)*C_step(k,j,n)/C(j)

    A little algebra and adding the climate forcing+feedback term:
    sum over k:
    [T(k,n-1) – T(j,n-1)]* C_step(k,j,n)/C(j)
    if j=0:
    [Teq(n-1) – T(0,n-1)]*time_step/time_constant
    else, 0.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 23 Oct 2012 @ 1:49 PM

  630. Could be an interesting week next week …

    Will soon-to-be Hurricane Sandy hit the northeastern USA as a super-storm of historic proportions, like Katrina and Irene rolled in to one — perhaps inundating New York City with the massive storm surge that Irene almost delivered last year …

    While at the same time, hyperactive sunspot region AR1598 unleashes a gigantic coronal mass ejection directly at the Earth, triggering a Harrington-class geomagnetic storm that shuts down the entire North American electric grid for days or weeks .. or months …

    … just days before a presidential election?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 23 Oct 2012 @ 5:42 PM

  631. Please check my maths to see if I am at least roughly in the right ball park. Hansen has claimed (in his TED talk and elsewhere) that our emissions of ghgs are adding energy to the atmosphere equivalent to 400,000 Hiroshima bombs every day.

    If we multiply that over ten years, and figure that the top billion or so of world population is responsible for the lion’s share (say 80%) of the emissions, could we then conclude that, on average, every member of that top billion (presumably including all on this forum) had contributed the energy equivalent of one Hiroshima bomb (or more) toward atmospheric global warming over the last decade?

    Thanks ahead of time for corrections, tweaks, reactions, thoughts…

    (reCaptcha has gone French, sort of: licyeen sevire)

    Comment by wili — 23 Oct 2012 @ 5:54 PM

  632. note: time_constant = C*ECS or (with the last version above) C(0) * ECS, the 0 refering to j. But for this, it is best to give ECS in terms of K per W/m^2 rather than per doubling of CO2. (C would be in terms of J/(K*m^2), a heat capacity per unit area (global average). See

    Let the forcing per doubling of CO2 be ECSdoubling ~= (from memory) 3.7 W/m^2 * ECS, then:

    Teq(y) = ECSdoubling * log[ CO2concentration(y) / CO2concentration(baseline) ]/log(2)

    sum over k (forgot this earlier: k=0 to ?, except for k=j):
    [T(k,n-1) – T(j,n-1)]* C_step(k,j,n)/C(j)
    if j=0:
    [Teq(n-1) – T(0,n-1)]*time_step/[C(j)*ECS]
    else, 0.

    making 1/[C(0)*ECS] analogous to ‘C(space,j,n)’/C(0);
    let k=-1 denote ‘space’, so C(-1,0,n) is the ‘heat capacity’ that is transfered from ‘space’ to the surface per unit time, where ‘space’ is at Teq. Maybe I should replace ‘space’ with ‘TOA’ … well, it’s an interesting mathematical analogy. Anyway, with that,

    C(-1,0,n) = 1/ECS (units work out; ECS is in K/(W/m^2) and C is in J/(K*m^2*s), a heat capacity per unit area per unit time)

    And then just make the second term in the T(j,n) equation a sum over k from -1 to ….

    C(0) would vary if latent heat uptake varies over T or t (thus n), but we can let C(0) be constant and just have some additional C(k) with variable C(k,j,n) values to take care of that (but wouldn’t the temperature of those reservoirs always be equal to T(0,n) anyway?); the actual time constant of the response will be slower than the stated value due to the other reservoirs.

    PS T is a temperature anomaly; hence in such a simplified model at equilibrium all T(j) are equal even though the actual temperatures vary. Of course this isn’t necessarily the case, but it’s a simple model.

    re 626 Chris Korda

    Apparently Hansen originally had photos of his grandkids in the paper, but both anonymous referees upbraided him for that, understandably. The first referee also accused the paper of “excess verbosity”,

    Just imagine the new one they would of torn G&T!

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 23 Oct 2012 @ 6:19 PM

  633. … wow, point 3 of Nabil Swedan

    3) The authors claim that the earth is warming, which is not. Surface is warming but the upper atmosphere is cooling equally to surface warming, and there is no energy imbalance.

    not quite the whopper of the last point, but has he ever heard about the heat capacity of the ocean, or for that matter, the height of the tropopause (does he think it’s at 500 mb globally?). (I have encountered this misunderstanding elsewhere, including – or at least it could be understood that way – in Bryson and Murray’s “Climates of Hunger”)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 23 Oct 2012 @ 6:31 PM

  634. In the hope that science precedes the bulldozers yet again:

    “We had coffee with a self-effacing chap who’d discovered a number of hydrothermal vents in the North Atlantic (he fears the imminent deep-sea mining of polymetallic sulfides in international waters — says we’re “right on the edge” of that tech taking off).”
    A Land Where Even the Vomit Is Courteous

    Anything the scientists would like to learn from that real estate before it’s leveled and scraped? Last call, last call.

    Hm … Last Call

    There’s a ring to it.
    Anyone seen an open source journal of gone or going ecosystems?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Oct 2012 @ 8:33 PM

  635. re 627 Chris Korda – clarifications: I haven’t actually looked at the Hasen paper you were refering to. I’ve only been offering equations that are essentially a numerical integration of the differential equation that describes how a radiative disequilibrium will tend to decay with time. It’s a very, very simplified physics-based model.

    Setting aside the effects of the deep ocean, etc, – ie just using a single unified reservoir’s heat capacity – and using only fast feedbacks (I didn’t introduce any slow feedbacks anywhere in this particular series of comments), the expectation based on physics is that each delayed response T curve (each of which must correspond to a different value of heat capacity, for the same ECS) must have a maximum or minimum when it intersects the instantaneous response curve (my Teq value) – maximum if it was below Teq before, minimum if it was above – because it is always going toward Teq. T is declining if greater than Teq, increasing if less than Teq. The slope of T is independent locally of the slope of Teq but is proportional to Teq-T.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 23 Oct 2012 @ 8:36 PM

  636. #633–Oh, I don’t know, Patrick–I think that point is at least in training for the Golden Horseshoe. Certainly it is wildly wrong.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 23 Oct 2012 @ 10:03 PM

  637. Dan H:

    It appears that climate change was the third rail in this year’s election. Both candidates could not get far enough away from it. When was the last time you heard two candidates vying for the title of “Oil King.”

    Yes, Dan H, your side is winning, just as those in favor of burning witches in Salem “won”. Winning in the political arena will not stop physics, however. Enjoy it while you can, though. Personally I think we’ve passed the point of no return in the last two decades, and whatever hope there was for responding intelligently and with minimum impact has passed by. We’re in it to the end, at this point, for better or worse. And you’re emblematic of those responsible.

    Comment by dhogaza — 23 Oct 2012 @ 10:41 PM

  638. Biologists Record Increasing Amounts of Plastic Litter in the Arctic Deep Sea
    Need a plastic which decomposes in seawater.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 23 Oct 2012 @ 11:06 PM

  639. Oxygen’s Ups and Downs in Early Atmosphere and Ocean
    Paleoclimate more complex than earlier thought.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 23 Oct 2012 @ 11:18 PM

  640. Frontline: Climate of Doubt #public #opinion #denial

    Comment by prokaryotes — 24 Oct 2012 @ 1:00 AM

  641. I wrote (#630): “… a Harrington-class geomagnetic storm …”

    Oops, sorry, that should be Carrington.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 24 Oct 2012 @ 6:23 AM

  642. Chris (#627),

    The way I implemented eqn. 3 was to take each year’s contribution to the instantaneous temperature (dF/dt) multiply that by the CRF (normalized to 1 rather than 100) and then add the CRF to all the remaining years as an array. Then go on to the next year’s contribution to the instantaneous temperature and do the same.

    What I meant by Heaviside response is a step up in forcing, which I thought could figure in my head. For a step up, you should get the CRF back which I think you do. For the way I did it, dF/dt for the step function would be a Dirac delta function, so I would get the CRF back in one step with all future iterations adding nothing.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 24 Oct 2012 @ 8:28 AM

  643. I have often imposed on the moderators’ patience by noting the rapid growth of solar and wind energy for electricity generation, which for me gives rise to optimism that we can eliminate GHG emissions from that sector much more quickly than many people believe.

    For example, over the last five years, wind power has accounted for 35 percent of all new generating capacity added in the USA — second to natural gas, and more than coal and nuclear combined. Solar power is a much smaller part of new generation capacity, but is growing even more rapidly than wind, with new installations in the second quarter of 2012 increased 125 percent from the second quarter of 2011.

    Now, some readers will think this is far-fetched, but I think that in the not-too-distant future the day will come when 100 percent of new electricity generation capacity added to the USA’s electric grid is wind and solar.

    I don’t think it’s far-fetched — because actually, that day has already come.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 24 Oct 2012 @ 10:19 AM

  644. 640 Prokaryotes , So nice to see Gavin on Frontline, his very a propos presentation was very short, like the attention he gets in the real world, while spot on precision gets overwhelmed by hysteria and fear which was fuelled by ignorance spewed by contrarians , Frontline showed that science doesn’t have a chance in the world of politics when an economic meltdown takes over the minds of many more inclined to believe in charlatans simply because they offer the peace of mind to be found in doing nothing. I guess in the end, extreme weather and climate will do all the talking while correct science the only worth while explaining.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 24 Oct 2012 @ 11:27 AM

  645. Abrupt shutdown of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation due to global warming seems unlikely

    This probably comes down to less cooling for the northern hemisphere as would occur otherwise in the instant of abrupt shutdown.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 24 Oct 2012 @ 12:10 PM

  646. 643 SecularA said, ” when 100 percent of new electricity generation capacity added to the USA’s electric grid is wind and solar.”

    Now weave that into your 15 year plan. Do the scales mesh? If so, great. If not, then you’re describing failure.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 24 Oct 2012 @ 2:45 PM

  647. SA wrote @ # 643: “the day will come when 100 percent of new electricity generation capacity added to the USA’s electric grid is wind and solar”

    Of course, that day could come much sooner if we drastically reduced our rate of electric use, and became more flexible in when we used some of it.

    But back to science–and communicating it: Hansen (in his TED talk and elsewhere) has said that the energy we add to the atmosphere through GHG’s every day is the equivalent of 400,000 Hiroshima bombs.

    First, does that claim hold up?

    2nd, is the energy that has been added to the oceans (equivalent to two Hiroshima bombs every two seconds for the last fifty years, according to a post at SkS) included in that calculation, or is that a separate total?

    Finally, given that about 80% of the ghg’s are added as a direct or indirect result of the activities of the top billion or so consumers (am I at least in the ball park here?), wouldn’t that mean that each of those billion have added at least one-Hiroshima-bomb worth of energy to the atmosphere over the last decade? (More, perhaps, if the oceans are included?)

    Thanks ahead of time for any corrections, comments, reactions…

    Comment by wili — 24 Oct 2012 @ 2:59 PM

  648. Some analysis discussion…

    Climate Change and Atlantic Circulation

    Are these somewhat-reassuring results trustworthy? Or is the Atlantic circulation in today’s climate models intrinsically too stable? Our model intercomparison also addressed that question, using a neat little scalar metric known as Fov: the net amount of freshwater travelling from the AMOC to the South Atlantic.

    The current thinking in physical oceanography is that the AMOC is more or less binary – it’s either “on” or “off”. When AMOC strength is below a certain level (let’s call it A), its only stable state is “off”, and the strength will converge to zero as the currents shut down. When AMOC strength is above some other level (let’s call it B), its only stable state is “on”, and if you were to artificially shut it off, it would bounce right back up to its original level. However, when AMOC strength is between A and B, both conditions can be stable, so whether it’s on or off depends on where it started. This phenomenon is known as hysteresis, and is found in many systems in nature.

    Most observational estimates (largely ocean reanalyses) have Fov as slightly negative. If models’ AMOCs really were too stable, their Fov‘s should be positive. In our intercomparison, we found both positives and negatives – the models were kind of all over the place with respect to Fov. So maybe some models are overly stable, but certainly not all of them, or even the majority.

    Re Wili, regarding equivalent to Hiroshima bomb impact, imho i think this is to abstract for quantifying, mainly because of different pathways? But a good metaphor to explain the large impact from carbon footprints.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 24 Oct 2012 @ 3:50 PM

  649. A propos of the consequences of fluctuating ocean currents, I was astonished to see that a recent Warner film atchive release dvd, Living on velvet features the dinner party discourse of a 1934 climate bore bent on blaming the dust bowl on the meandering of the Gulf Stream.

    Comment by Russell — 24 Oct 2012 @ 5:34 PM

  650. Chris Dudley (#642):

    The way I implemented eqn. 3 was to take each year’s contribution to the instantaneous temperature (dF/dt) multiply that by the CRF (normalized to 1 rather than 100) and then add the CRF to all the remaining years as an array. Then go on to the next year’s contribution to the instantaneous temperature and do the same.

    Your statement appears to fit the pseudo-code I gave in #610 very well. It seems we’re describing the same algorithm, albeit in different ways, so I’m going to assume we’re done and post the complete updated results below. Thank you Chris and Patrick for helping me with this project, which turned out to be a lot more than I bargained for! As I said in #626, Hansen et al. plan to apply their method to temperature projections in a future paper, so we’ll be able to compare to their results at some point.

    This first group has one plot per RCP scenario, and shows how that RCP is affected by each of Hansen at al.’s Climate Response Functions: RCP3-PD, RCP4.5, RCP4.5-SCP, RCP6, RCP6-SCP, and RCP8.5. The second group has one plot per CRF, and shows that CRF’s effect on each of the RCPs: Slow, Intermediate, Fast, and Instantaneous. All of these plots are also available as a single PDF file. The C code can be viewed here, and a zip file containing the VC++ project and all input and output data is here.

    Finally, to revisit the question originally posed @203: Assuming the IEO2011 Reference case of “1 trillion metric tons of additional cumulative energy-related carbon dioxide emissions between 2009 and 2035”, and given that this case equates to following RCP8.5 until 2035 as previously demonstrated @408, what increase in average global surface temperature relative to pre-industrial would result by 2035? Depending on CRF choice, the (updated) answers are 1.2ºC (slow), 1.5ºC (intermediate), or 1.7ºC (fast).

    Comment by Chris Korda — 24 Oct 2012 @ 6:18 PM

  651. Re 637: Just so, dhogaza. In the end, the likes of Dan H. will 1) blame scientists for having not been clear enough and 2) enthusiastically embrace geoengineering. Good luck to us all.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 24 Oct 2012 @ 6:30 PM

  652. Could any of the RC folks, David if possible, comment on the latest methane hydrate business? TIA.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 24 Oct 2012 @ 6:33 PM

  653. This link has an ‘Environment’ tab that, at its top line, projects global warming of 14 degrees C (whatever that may mean to them). I boggled. There’s a clickable explanation. It didn’t.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Oct 2012 @ 7:00 PM

  654. Scientists Denounce Dubious Climate Study by Insurer

    By Axel Bojanowski

    Whether it’s hurricanes, thunderstorms or tornadoes, extreme weather is big business for insurers. Now German re-insurer Munich Re claims to have found proof that man-made climate change is causing more weather catastrophes in North America. Scientists are outraged.

    Apparently the Scientist here is Roger “Straw men” Pielke Jr., someone with a doctorate in political science,

    Comment by prokaryotes — 24 Oct 2012 @ 8:02 PM

  655. Compare thee two graphics, which are both from pro-AGW sites: this and this
    How come one claims that 93% CO2 ends up in oceans, the other one says its only 24%. I see one talks about CO2 and the other about GHG, but it shouldnt change that much really, should it?

    [Response: you’ve got confused. The first graph is, as you state, about the sources and sinks of human caused CO2, but the second one is about the excess energy that has accumulated over the last 50 years as a result (mainly) of the rise in greenhouse gases. It is a measure of the consequence of planetary energy imbalance, not the fate of CO2 molecules. – gavin]

    Comment by ferdinand — 25 Oct 2012 @ 5:49 AM

  656. Here’s the Nature letter on methane hydrate destabilization off the east coast of North America that Steve Bloom referred to above (#652):

    Recent changes to the Gulf Stream causing widespread gas hydrate destabilization

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 25 Oct 2012 @ 10:53 AM

  657. Carbon Quilt’s video of NYC’s CO2 emissions made the Guardian: New York’s carbon emissions visualised – as giant spheres. It assumes a CO2 density of 1.87 kg/m3 at 59ºF, standard pressure. That’s a big pile of spheres. More visualizations here.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 25 Oct 2012 @ 12:16 PM

  658. Anyone see this? —

    The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks

    Dan Kahan et al.
    Nature Climate Change, October 2012, Pages 732–735

    Abstract: Seeming public apathy over climate change is often attributed to a deficit in comprehension. The public knows too little science, it is claimed, to understand the evidence or avoid being misled. Widespread limits on technical reasoning aggravate the problem by forcing citizens to use unreliable cognitive heuristics to assess risk. We conducted a study to test this account and found no support for it. Members of the public with the highest degrees of science literacy and technical reasoning capacity were not the most concerned about climate change. Rather, they were the ones among whom cultural polarization was greatest. This result suggests that public divisions over climate change stem not from the public’s incomprehension of science but from a distinctive conflict of interest: between the personal interest individuals have in forming beliefs in line with those held by others with whom they share close ties and the collective one they all share in making use of the best available science to promote common welfare.

    Found here:

    Comment by Walt G — 25 Oct 2012 @ 1:59 PM

  659. On the general failure of the “creative disruption” notion that if you have enough money, the rules won’t matter — a caution that guy who dumped all that iron sulfate into the Pacific didn’t get.

    I hope rich people with notions about geoengineering take this to heart.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Oct 2012 @ 2:04 PM

  660. Walt, I think many of us have seen it, and in particular the abuse of that paper by the usual suspects.

    Comment by Marco — 25 Oct 2012 @ 3:58 PM

  661. Anybody know what’s up with SkepticalScience? I keep getting “Connection Refused”.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 25 Oct 2012 @ 4:36 PM

  662. Walt G,
    Kahan’s study is old news. What he considers “scientifically literate” doesn’t even come up to the level of passing a high school science class. While it is true that the majority of the lay population are even more ignorant than that, his “scientifically literate” subgroup is anything but.

    It is merely a reminder that you can send stupidity to college.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 25 Oct 2012 @ 4:42 PM

  663. Hey Gavin, how do you feel about hosting scary science fiction/ghost stories?

    Especially short term “could it happen next week?!” fiction?

    I’m imagining a late season hurricane’s 16-foot storm surge combined with a full moon high tide/low tide cycle destabilizing the methane clathrates offshore of New Jersey, lightning setting the gas afire, and a storm moving inland pouring boiling water and boullabaise on the refineries ….

    I suppose there isn’t that much methane. But hey, it’s Hallowe’en ….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Oct 2012 @ 5:09 PM

  664. Steve Bloom @652 — Until the warming surpasses the Eemian Interglacial maximum [also MIS 11(?) 13(?0) maximum] I see no cause for concern.

    I know you really wanted David Archer to answer this and he has a RealClimate post about it back aways.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 25 Oct 2012 @ 9:23 PM

  665. Re 664 David B. Benson –

    Not to suggest I know that much about how much CH4 is down there or anywhere, but I wouldn’t automatically assume that you’d have to surpass the last high temperature to get significant releases. Clue: define ‘last’. Some C reservoirs are slowly restocked, right? (There’s methanogenesis in the sediments, right?).

    Re wili – I’ve basically said some of this before but this may be helpful:

    I was thinking about why Chu would say something like we lose control when feedbacks get so large (caution: it’s now been several days and his exact word choice has faded from my mind; I’m now going by the discusssion that followed). If it were a true runaway – albeit a Chuvian one (as I initially understood that term) – then in one sense we do lose control of the situation, but in another sense we have much larger control – at one specific point – that there is some step in the cummulative emissions (over a given time, if/when/however that may matter) which has a rather larger effect than those steps before or after. We have great control when our trajectory reaches that point and we choose to adjust it ever so slightly. Our loss of control would come from uncertainty in knowing where that point is, and a percieved loss of control would come from surpassing that point, and now having to deal with the fact that we have some distance in the reverse direction to get back to a point where we could have such great control again.

    Another perception of loss of control perhaps comes from delayed feedbacks – even if not runaway. If the equilibrium temperature including delayed/slow-acting/slow-evolving/slow-changing feedbacks (delayed relative to the time scale given by the heat capacity of the upper ocean, etc.) varies as a continuous function of externalally controlled emissions, then there is no runaway, but it may feel like a loss of control when the climate continues to change (in the same direction) when emissions have stopped or have otherwise slowed down to keep forcing (excluding feedback net emissions aside from the negative net emission feedback we have become accustomed to) constant – specifically that it continues to change more and for longer than what would be expected from surface and deep ocean heat capacity.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 25 Oct 2012 @ 11:17 PM

  666. but it may feel like a loss of control when the climate continues to change

    Well indeed it is, in a temporal way – we can’t steer the climate on a dime, and slow feedbacks would tend to increase our turning radius (perhaps all the more important to take your foot off the accelerator?).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 25 Oct 2012 @ 11:52 PM

  667. 659 Hank R said, “I hope rich people with notions about geoengineering take this to heart.”

    There isn’t much wiggle room for private geoengineering (GE). It’s like 9/11. Boxcutters can guide a plane or two into a big target only once. Iron-man may or may not get swatted, but a repeat performance is unlikely. We’re going to lock the cockpit door.

    2012’s sea ice min indicates that there’s a reasonable chance that we’ll have to choose between deploying GE or going ice free by 2020, perhaps changing the US drought into a permanent national emergency. We may have “no choice” but to implement GE within five or ten years. That’s cutting things close. We’ve got to start testing now, especially since an experiment could take years to design, choose, run, and interpret.

    I predict that many AGW warriors will follow the path of denialists by preventing progress as long as possible.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 25 Oct 2012 @ 11:52 PM

  668. Re #664: Which I of course read carefully, David. This is new data. Re your lack of concern, I’ll have to disagree. Speed kills.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 26 Oct 2012 @ 1:36 AM

  669. Secular, all power to your suggestion. I still think the mass populace in North America is science starved, not use to hear correct science, can’t make up a difference between a charlatan contrarian like Singer as opposed to the real thing. I would suggest a rapid response about Hurricane Sandy, as opposed to waiting for the peer reviewed papers, which will come anyways. The hurricane path so late in October is of great interest, and there is a huge demand for correct analysis, so the populace will listen to anyone with an opinion, and I am certain the TV weather presenters will not cover anything remotely as interesting as the real reasons why this Hurricane is making an appearance during the US elections. Weather is everyones subject. But adequate prognosis, and thorough break down is just as rare as the path to the NE coast so late in the hurricane season. There is a time when scientists have a willing to listen audience, don’t blow this opportunity guys.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 26 Oct 2012 @ 7:28 AM

  670. > deploying GE or going ice free by 2020

    Deploying GE is like sprinkling fairy dust — in theory, it works great and wondrous changes making what we wish for happen.

    If we knew how to control climate — besides turning the big control knob, of course — we’d have done it.

    “Anything but the IPCC” is the theme.

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

  671. re Hank Roberts – I thought Fe fertilization was an attempt to grasp the big control knob.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 26 Oct 2012 @ 1:42 PM

  672. Chris (#650),

    It took a little while for me to answer. Had to see a man about a saxophone. I took your code and implemented it and got identical results with the equation 3. implementation that I did. They are not the same. my integrand is dF/dt*R while yours is F*dR/dt with hopefully something backwards to make the sign work out. I’m pretty sure they are related through integration by parts.

    I also used my implementation to break up a quick land response from a slow ocean response to see if the change in sign of the derived temperature derivative coming at a place where it is not intersecting the instantaneous temperature might be explained by the derived temperature being an average. That does not explain the issue.

    So, as Patrick in #635 points out, there is a problem.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 26 Oct 2012 @ 2:32 PM

  673. 670 Hank R said, “Deploying GE is like sprinkling fairy dust — in theory, it works great and wondrous changes making what we wish for happen.”

    You and I have completely different views on GE. In theory it sucks, kind of like chemotherapy. Poison, plain and simple. It’s unwise to put yourself in a position where injecting poison is necessary. It’s stupid to refuse to test the effects/dosage/techniques for using the poison you’ll inevitably require.

    Fairy dust is the person who says, “If we hadn’t done what we did (or maybe if we do what we won’t), then we might have avoided the need for GE. Although there is little possibility that GE won’t be required, learning about GE is immoral. It is much better to sit back and watch the biosphere die.”

    Yeah, those against GE are like somebody visiting a cancer patient and telling them to not do radiation because it would have been better to just not have started smoking years ago.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 26 Oct 2012 @ 6:55 PM

  674. Chris Dudley: So if I understand you correctly, there’s a problem with equation 3, i.e. with Hansen’s model, and we’ve both replicated it more or less independently. An unexpected situation to say the least. What should we do about it? Should we send him an email?

    Comment by Chris Korda — 26 Oct 2012 @ 7:23 PM

  675. Patrick 027 @665 & Steve Bloom @668 — Yes, rate matters. In particular methane accumulation rate matters. There is a relatively modest (many gigatonnes) accumulation since the Eemian interglacial at the immediately relevant depths.

    To put into perspective, consider the accumulation further south during the glacial spanning from the Eemian interglacial to the Holocene interglacial. With colder water temperatures, methyl clathrates formed on sea floors in (then) relatively shallow waters off the east coasts of both North and South America. Check to see just how much surface area was available. Off course there was even more in the shallow seaways roughly between Japan and China but I know little about that part of the world.

    However, there is an absolutely spectacular (and large) methyl clathrate blowout off the coast of North Carolina and there are still some, on occasion, around the Bermudas. By analogy similar blowouts ought to be readily findable along the South American continental shelf, but I haven’t looked for geology papers about that region.

    So the methane released during the LGM to Holocene transition was fairly large, but somehow doesn’t seem to have much of a published literature.

    What is of concern is what happens when the waters warm at even greater depths, waters not warmed enough to release during prior interglacials, where there are (presumably) vast quantities of methyl clathrates.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 26 Oct 2012 @ 9:17 PM

  676. We Broke the Climate Silence!

    Comment by prokaryotes — 26 Oct 2012 @ 9:50 PM

  677. Chris (#674),

    I’m still thinking about that. I’d like to find a function that only depends on the current difference between the instantaneous temperature and the actual temperature that can reproduce the CRF, at least the intermediate one that seems to separate into two behaviors. It is nice to have a fix before raising the problem.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 26 Oct 2012 @ 10:53 PM

  678. > GE

    There isn’t any that will reduce CO2 better than using less.
    That’s why I’m “agin’ it” — it doesn’t exist.

    We know what the problem is: rate of change.
    Change too fast.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Oct 2012 @ 11:00 PM

  679. Re Chris Korda and 672 Chris Dudley

    Actually, I thought about it and having oceanic circulation does allow this behavior (that the surface temperature can decline when forcing is declining even while it is still less than the equilibrium temperature) – it makes sense because the deep ocean may still be pulling the surface temperature toward a much lower temperature. I followed my own suggestions, put those equations into a spreadsheet – using 9 subsurface thermal reservoirs – and I found that behavior.

    Of course, slow feedbacks could have the opposite effect, I’d expect.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 26 Oct 2012 @ 11:51 PM

  680. Dan H @628 – your statement isn’t true:

    The way I see it, Dan H’s “side” hasn’t even come close to “winning.” As a matter of fact, they are destined to lose. I’m certainly not waiting around until someone else fixes the problem.

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 27 Oct 2012 @ 2:34 AM

  681. This is probably a very basic question but can someone please help me understand what the confidence range in these graphs mean?

    Is there a range because of possible measurement errors?

    Comment by Peter — 27 Oct 2012 @ 3:15 AM

  682. #676–Thanks, Pro. Added that as an update to my article (rant) on the topic:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 27 Oct 2012 @ 6:33 AM

  683. Indeed Hank. The rate of change is not only unprecedented, it is unprecedented in the earth history. Never before entered Co2 in a shorter time frame the atmosphere. And at the same time we altered the entire chemistry of the atmospheric composition profoundly, with Ozone depleting agents or Aerosols, which act both ways when reflecting infrared light.

    So when in the past extinction events, Co2 concentration and following large methane excursion took place it took a considerable time and it is highly likely that we experience this time a much fast feedback from the climate system.

    How fast can the ocean swell? How fast will temperature track Co2? How fast will methane make a real contribution to the global carbon budget?

    And ultimately, how fast are we and all the other species able to adapt to the new extremes.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 27 Oct 2012 @ 7:34 AM

  684. Jim Larsen wrote: “Yeah, those against GE are like somebody visiting a cancer patient and telling them to not do radiation because it would have been better to just not have started smoking years ago.”

    Geoengineering is a fraud. Using your medical analogy, it is a quack remedy being peddled by quack doctors. GE is not radiation or chemo — it’s Laetrile. There is no evidence whatsoever that any of the geoengineering schemes being discussed will work to slow warming, let alone slow ocean acidification, most of them would likely have serious negative side-effects, and moreover there is very little realistic possibility that any of them could even be implemented.

    It’s interesting that you keep pushing geoengineering while at the same time disparaging, rejecting, ignoring and otherwise expressing extreme negativity towards the multiple, readily implementable plans that have been put forward by multiple independent organizations and academic researchers, as well as government agencies, for rapidly phasing out CO2 emissions from fossil fuels using benign technologies that we have at hand now.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 27 Oct 2012 @ 8:43 AM

  685. Geoengineering is a fraud

    Can you explain the geoengineering ‘fraud’ in units of watts per square meter please, because ppm/yr is not working out for me. Thanks in advance.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 27 Oct 2012 @ 8:56 AM

  686. SecualrAnimist, how should we categorize Biochar then? This type of carbon sequestration is a form of engineering earth atmosphere.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 27 Oct 2012 @ 10:17 AM

  687. TLE, ocean pH.
    Not watts per square inch.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Oct 2012 @ 10:56 AM

  688. 678 hank said, “GE There isn’t any that will reduce CO2 better than using less.
    That’s why I’m “agin’ it” — it doesn’t exist.”

    I can’t imagine a GE technique that would reduce CO2, probably because I don’t include CO2 reduction schemes as GE, but as “spewing CO2 at a net lower rate”

    684 SecularA said, “There is no evidence whatsoever ”

    Obviously you’ve never read anything about volcanos’ effect on global temperature. If you had, you’d know that there is absolute “proof” that GE will work. We can set global temperature like the thermostat in our house.

    Yep, the chemotherapy analogy isn’t robust in that chemotherapy is used to cure while GE is used to mask symptoms long enough to allow for other methods to cure. GE will technically make AGW and ocean acidification worse. It will also allow for evil and/or ignorant folks to claim AGW is “solved”.

    That last bit is the only negative I can find for studying GE. Given the absolute rock-solid stance of “everybody” on this site that scientific research is by definition good, I’m amazed at how “everybody” is not saying, but blindly screaming (ie, it’s emotional in such an extreme that the mind becomes impervious to logic) that studying GE is evil, evil, EVILLLLLLL…..

    SecularA, I’ve been a huge advocate for the quick elimination of carbon pollution. That I think it is logical to set a 50 year path to zero while you choose 15 years is not a good reason for you to disparage me. Stop it.

    Frankly, your comments have no scientific basis at all. Actually, they’re completely illogical. 15 years at 2ppm is 30ppm. Divide by 2 for a linear reduction, and we’re talking 15ppm under your plan. Show how 15ppm makes “the” difference. How can you say we haven’t already gone past the point of “way badness”? How can you say 50ppm (my plan) – 15ppm (your plan) = 35ppm makes “the” difference? Where on God’s Green Earth did you get the idea that 15ppm is a magical number?

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 27 Oct 2012 @ 11:02 AM

  689. Jim, citations needed.
    So far your examples are typical of the leverage points tha Donella Meadows talked about, where a

    > “small shift in one thing can produce big changes
    > in everything”…. we need to know about these shifts,
    > where they are and how to use them…. most people
    > know where these points are instinctively, but tend
    > to adjust them in the wrong direction.

    Worst current example I know of is the “Methane Emergency” PR for this:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Oct 2012 @ 11:24 AM

  690. Jim Larsen wrote: “Obviously you’ve never read anything about volcanos’ effect on global temperature. If you had, you’d know that there is absolute ‘proof’ that GE will work. We can set global temperature like the thermostat in our house.”

    Nonsense. There is absolutely no evidence that any human-engineered GE scheme that has been proposed or considered can duplicate “volcanos’ effect on global temperature” in any sort of remotely controlled way, let alone “set global temperature like a thermostat”.

    I have no interest in a personal argument and I am not “disparaging” you personally.

    What I am saying is that it makes no sense at all to hand-wave at the effects of uncontrolled volcanic eruptions as “absolute proof” that geoengineering schemes “can work”, while promoting a gradual 50-year phaseout of GHG emissions (which is too slow to have any hope of preventing catastrophic outcomes) as “logical” (whatever that means) and ignoring the multiple studies that show we can easily phase out emissions in a fraction of that time with the proven technologies that are already at hand.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 27 Oct 2012 @ 11:30 AM

  691. prokaryotes wrote: “SecualrAnimist, how should we categorize Biochar then? This type of carbon sequestration is a form of engineering earth atmosphere.”

    I do believe that research has shown that sequestration of CO2 in soils and biomass through organic agriculture (including the use of biochar) and reforestation (which must of course begin with ending deforestation) can draw down the already dangerous anthropogenic excess of CO2 and I think it is urgent that we start doing that — it’s as urgent as ending CO2 emissions as rapidly as possible.

    I don’t categorize organic agriculture and reforestation as “geoengineering”. And from what I have read, that’s consistent with the way the term “geoengineering” is generally used, including the way the term is used by advocates of GE.

    Calling organic agriculture “geoengineering” seems to me rather like referring to composting as “biotechnology”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 27 Oct 2012 @ 11:39 AM

  692. “Given the absolute rock-solid stance of “everybody” on this site that scientific research is by definition good” – Jim Larsen

    Can you show that anyone at all has said any such thing here? I certainly don’t believe anything of the kind. Scientific research may be unethical (Tuskegee syphilis experiment mean anything to you?), or it may be a waste of resources better used elsewhere, or it may, as you note yourself, allow ignorant or evil people to make unfounded claims.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 27 Oct 2012 @ 12:24 PM

  693. > We can set global temperature like the thermostat in our house.

    Indication that you’re doing it wrong:

    Changing the thermostat in your house
    both changes your temperature and
    starts to dissolve your skeleton.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Oct 2012 @ 12:46 PM

  694. Re Jim Larsen, Secular Animist, Hank Roberts – (see prokaryotes @ 686) – The geoengineering idea last brought up (besides @ 686) was Fe fertilization. I don’t know how well it could work, but the idea is to increase the organic C sequestration, isn’t it? So it’s (hypothetically?) a little bit like biochar in that way. Although with Biochar, it’s hard not to know that you’re sequestering C because it’s in a visible lump when you do it (assuming there isn’t some negative soil C feedback to the biochar). These together are, aside for the organic state of the C, like the ideas of 1. injecting CO2 into (certain silicate) rocks to produce carbonate minerals 2. crushing rocks to artificially accelerate the silicate weathering process 3. doing the last one but spreading the dust over the ocean 4. either 2 or 3 but using carbonate minerals. You get more out of silicates (CO2 uptake and OA mitigation, I think (?)- the later directly by putting dust in the ocean (or erosion and river/wind transport there) or indirectly by taking up CO2 on land) but at least the carbonate dissolution could take the place of carbonate dissolution in the ocean (and be more rapid?) and should allow some greater CO2 uptake by the ocean. All of these, as well as CO2 sequestration as is (just taking CO2 and burying it in old oil reservoirs, aquifers, etc.), would be attempts to grasp the ‘big control knob’ (see Hank Roberts’ 670), and in such a way as to have the same or nearly the same (depending on seawater chemistry and how carbonate dissolution works in buffering pH relative to sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere) effect as reducing anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

    Among those choices as well as the rest including reducing fossil fuel combustion, deforestation, etc., one would want to find the cheapest/easiest, but also the most effective (the firmest grasp on that knob) and the safest/least negative side-effects- such as those you’d get from non-spatially/temporally-discrimating solar shades/cooling aerosols (precipitation changes, and ?, and ozone depletion with some aerosol methods). (Aerosols are also a springy knob – you’ve got to keep holding it until you don’t need it turned up anymore; the risk with that sort of grip on that sort of knob is that if you have it turned up high and then lose your grip on it you’ve got big problems quickly). Some of these are more desirable than others but we may want to do more than one.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 27 Oct 2012 @ 1:30 PM

  695. > Fe fertilization …. to increase the organic C sequestration

    An example Donella Meadows would have appreciated.

    Now, what’s the best way to get more iron in the sea surface, without depleting the _next_ limiting feedstock for plankton growth, whatever that may be?

    Weeelllllll …

    We could build a fleet of robotic submersibles that would dive deep down into the dark and capture organic material that contains iron that would otherwise settle to the bottom, and bring it up and digest it and release the iron into the brightly sunlit water where plankton require it. That would get the iron and whatever other materials the plankton needs. Make them capable of building new ones as they wear out.

    Or we could quit pushing that lever the wrong way:

    “…. Once there were more than 200,000 blue whales in the Antarctic Ocean alone, whereas today there are perhaps 8,000 in the whole world. Whatever they once provided has largely been lost, and restoring their populations might bring it back.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Oct 2012 @ 2:36 PM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Oct 2012 @ 2:40 PM

  697. SecularAnimist, i understand to make a distinction between the wide range of unproven geoengineering techniques and Biochar. But as what you suggest we should categorize it then? Farming the atmosphere?? Or Sustainable Geoengineering?

    Comment by prokaryotes — 27 Oct 2012 @ 4:18 PM

  698. PS, watch who profits from proposed management approaches.

    The Japanese whaling industry argued in 1994 that Blue whales weren’t recovering due to an excess of Minke whales, saying they needed to kill more of the Minkes to protect the Blues.

    “The Antarctic blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus intermedia) was hunted to near extinction between 1904 and 1972, declining from an estimated initial abundance of more than 250,000 to fewer than 400.”

    Damn those Minke whales!
    If it weren’t for them ….
    Oh, wait.

    But seriously — figure the amount of iron, and nitrogen, and — quite literally — all the other trace elements released into the photosynthetic zone by whales, since the whales have to surface to breathe. Figure what was lost.

    If we hadn’t gone after the whales for oil before figuring out petroleum — and if we managed to invent machinery without whale oil — we might have a lot bigger CO2 sink working. I wonder how much bigger?

    Next on the agenda, of course — plankton/krill harvesting, directly competing with the whales.

    Wonder how that will work out?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Oct 2012 @ 7:42 PM

  699. 690 SecularA said, “let alone “set global temperature like a thermostat”.”

    HVAC thermostats available to the average guy control temp in full degrees. GE can do at least an order of magnitude better.

    Yep, GE has dangers, all of which increase by rejecting GE. Take arctic sea ice. We KNOW that BAU will lead to its demise. We KNOW that said demise will have immense consequences to weather patterns. We have little confidence that even the impossible path of no emissions immediately will guarantee saving the ice. Trying to save sea ice with GE? Dunno what will happen, but betting that saving the ice is more dangerous than letting it die… well, that’s a fool’s bet. Deciding to not even study the issue, well, that’s criminally reckless.

    693 Hank R said, “Indication that you’re doing it wrong: Changing the thermostat in your house both changes your temperature and starts to dissolve your skeleton.”

    Indication that you’re doing it stupid: Your skeleton starts dissolving and you refuse to change the thermostat even though the doctor says your skeleton is heat-sensitive.

    692 Nick G, yep, hyperbole is always wrong, and there are exceptions, which is why I used quotes. Some experiments are ethically wrong, such as Tuskegee, but Tuskegee is only about an experiment, not the question of whether to study syphilis. If you can come up with a significant number of people here who think studying STDs is wrong, then your point will be valid.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 27 Oct 2012 @ 7:47 PM

  700. Jim Larsen,
    The problem with “geoengineering” is basically that we are using the aspects of climate that we understand least to try and control it. There are significant uncertainties in the effects of aerosols, as well as in biospheric uptake (especially wrt plankton, algae…). Injecting sulfate aerosols would have to be done continually, as they rain out fairly rapidly. We’re also swapping visible for IR, rather than reducing the IR we retain. Fe fertilization on a large scale could result in depletion of other resources in the ocean and alter the ecosystem.

    In contrast, we have a pretty damned good idea how CO2 works. It would seem to me that we might want to try that first.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 27 Oct 2012 @ 7:50 PM

  701. EGU 2012: The latest dirt on reducing carbon emissions
    Scientists gather to discuss permafrost ecosystem recovery and the use of charcoal for counteracting carbon loss from soil.

    Permafrost and a neutral emissions cycle
    Above latitude 50˚ north, permafrost soil—that is, soil that remains below the freezing point of water—holds about twice as much carbon as does the atmosphere. As temperatures increase, permafrost degrades and could release at least 10% of its trapped carbon into the atmosphere, according to Ko van Huissteden of Amsterdam’s Vrije University.
    Re-vegetation can actually recover greenhouse gas sinks, as new populations of CO2-hungry plants get busy photosynthesizing. But van Huissteden referred to recolonization of plants in thawed areas and the ensuing recovery of the ecosystem as a “neglected factor in carbon release by permafrost degradation.”
    The number of ponds from melted permafrost has tripled in 30 years, and they have submerged and killed vegetation, said van Huissteden. But at the same time, sedges, a family of flowering plants that resemble grass or rushes, are recolonizing the ponds. The plants emit methane (CH4) but take up CO2, which has resulted in carbon-neutral emissions. Another possible recolonist is peat moss. If it becomes widely established, it could lead to an exponential decrease in greenhouse gas emission rates.
    The East Siberian Arctic Shelf provides another example of permafrost effects. Supposedly impermeable subsea permafrost traps coal bed methane. But recent data suggest that the permafrost is thawing: No frozen sediments were found in a 53-meter-long drill core from 2011. In a talk at EGU, Natalia Shakhova of the University of Alaska Fairbanks said that the destabilized subsea permafrost is currently leaking a “substantial amount” of methane, which is becoming involved in the modern carbon cycle. That aqueous CH4 may avoid biological oxidation in the relatively shallow water and escape to the atmosphere.
    Permafrost degradation is a transient greenhouse gas source whose evolution over time is important. Climate models should include its degradation and ecosystem recovery to predict carbon feedback with more certainty.
    Biochar and a negative emissions cycle
    Non-permafrost soil also contains carbon that can escape into the atmosphere, especially when treated with fertilizers. Jorge Paz-Ferreiro from the Polytechnic University of Madrid looks to applying charred organic matter, or biochar, to the soil as a way of storing carbon and reducing the need for fertilizers.

    Biochar is made by pyrolysis. Biomass (often agricultural waste) is heated to high temperatures and the oxygen supply closed off so that the biomass’s carbon content cannot combust and is instead safely stored as charcoal. Added to soil, biochar can remain for centuries with potentially positive benefits for plant life, including increased growth and disease resistance, thus reducing the need for standard greenhouse gas–intensive fertilizers.
    Microorganisms break down a soil’s organic material, which releases mainly CO2 but also some methane. Biochar’s low ratio of both oxygen and hydrogen to carbon gives it a graphite-like structure, which is decomposed by microorganisms much more slowly than other organic matter: It’s like moving from a quick carbon cycle to a slower carbon cycle.

    “Biochar itself carries no nutrients,” explains Paz-Ferreiro. Rather, it would be used to complement traditional fertilizers and could reduce the fertilizer requirements of a crop as it “retains some of the nutrients in the fertilizer.” Although biochar generally increases crop yields.

    Storing atmospheric CO2 in deep geological formations may be the high-profile way of cleaning up greenhouse gas emissions. But understanding and optimizing the role of soils in the carbon cycle provides important mitigation possibilities as well.

    I think we also should assess if we can dumb Biochar on thaw’ed permafrost and thermokast to minimize greenhouse gases.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 27 Oct 2012 @ 7:51 PM

  702. prokaryotes – Biochar is best categorized simply as an adjunct to sustainable organic agriculture, like proper composting, it improves all aspects of soil productivity: tilth, fertility and vital nutrient sequestration. Biochar benefits the carbon cycle, but that’s not the primary reason for its use. Geoengineering is a deliberate intervention in the climate system for the sake of creating changes we don’t yet fully understand the effects of.

    Comment by flxible — 27 Oct 2012 @ 8:57 PM

  703. Climatologist should prepare handy information sheets for the mass media in light of another 500 year event.

    Where should i go to get the latest science in connection to this unprecedented storm on the east coast?

    Comment by prokaryotes — 27 Oct 2012 @ 9:00 PM

  704. One more, then I’ll shut up for a while, I hope.
    This one’s a dissertation, don’t know if it went on to further review

    Effects of harvest and climate change on polar marine ecosystems: case studies from the Antarctic Peninsula and Hudson Bay
    C Hoover – 2012 –
    … Future simulations of the Antarctic Peninsula identify large reductions in ecosystem biomass of all species due changes in environmental conditions and an overall reduction in krill, with minimal ecosystem impacts from harvest. …


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Oct 2012 @ 9:52 PM

  705. … weather comment, with related climate question followup tomorrow…

    Sandy is really interesting. I was hoping that the track would go farther inland to the Great Lakes though – I wanted to see a subtropical lake-effect blizzard…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 27 Oct 2012 @ 11:59 PM

  706. I’ve worked out a theory for the High Pressure block diverting Hurricane Sandy, and there is some good evidence that the Arctic Ocean open water is in good part responsible for it. Read more:

    Comment by wayne davidson — 28 Oct 2012 @ 1:42 AM

  707. Over the years I’ve lurked here I remember more than one occasion where the skeptics misrepresented published studies. This is a little different. Here in Bloomington, Indiana congressman Todd Young claimed during an exchange with the Monroe County Religious leaders that Indiana University’s Dr. Simon C. Brassell, IU Professor of Geological Sciences believes there is no AGW which supports Young’s claim that there’s no AGW. Dr. Brasswell’s name appeared on a list of contrarian researchers by Senator James Inhofe. In a Letter to the Editor in this morning Herald Times Dr. Brasswell is quoted, “The presence of my name on the list, both then and now, is perhaps symptomatic of the falsehoods perpetuated by those who deny human-induced climate change. However, until receiving your message I was unaware that anyone, including local politicians, would cite my name in support of a position of skepticism.”

    What I’d love to see put together is a list of the misrepresentations made by the deniers. Does anyone know if there’s such a list? It seems like it would be helpful.

    Comment by Stranger — 28 Oct 2012 @ 6:48 AM

  708. Jim Larsen wrote: “HVAC thermostats available to the average guy control temp in full degrees. GE can do at least an order of magnitude better.”

    With all due respect, repetition of baseless, unsupported, vague assertions very quickly becomes boring.

    What specific geoengineering scheme(s) are you referring to?

    Where is the experimental evidence that demonstrates what those specific schemes “can” do?

    Specious analogies between the Earth’s climate system & biosphere, and simple on/off electromechanical devices, do not constitute such evidence.

    Jim Larsen wrote: “Your skeleton starts dissolving and you refuse to change the thermostat even though the doctor says your skeleton is heat-sensitive.”

    I’m pretty sure that Hank was referring to ocean acidification, not temperature.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 28 Oct 2012 @ 9:05 AM

  709. > dissolving

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Oct 2012 @ 9:52 AM

  710. 700 Ray L said, “In contrast, we have a pretty damned good idea how CO2 works. It would seem to me that we might want to try that first.”

    Agreed. Similarly, we should probably use our car’s brakes instead of relying on the seat belt. Thus, we should not install seat belts in cars?

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 28 Oct 2012 @ 10:41 AM

  711. 708 SecularA said, “With all due respect, repetition of baseless, unsupported, vague assertions very quickly becomes boring.”

    Agreed, which is why I’ve repeatedly asked you to substantiate your 15ppm claim. Fortunately, I always substantiate my comments, and if I miss something, I always respond, such as when Hank asked me to cite up-thread. I asked him ‘cite what?’. He never clarified, so I assume it was minor. Now I’m asking you to cite.

    “I’m pretty sure that Hank was referring to ocean acidification, not temperature.”

    I’m pretty sure the analogy was open to interpretation. I visualized arctic sea ice, as that is affected by “the thermostat”, while ocean acidification is not. I was clear that my comments are about non-carbon GE schemes, such as sulphur injection. Ocean-acidification mitigation schemes seem far-fetched to me, so I wasn’t considering them. Maybe we’ll “have” to go there too.

    So, to help move this in a productive fashion:

    1. Substantiate your 15ppm claim.

    2. Estimate the odds that we’ll meet your goal (15 years to 0) (15ppm)

    3. Given your answers above, what are the odds that without GE we’ll bake?

    4. Now conclude by telling us why studying GE is bad. (And remember “studying” does not equal “deploying”)

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

  712. Geese and ganders, so I’ll answer too, without cites but willing to engage in a discussion which substantiates:

    1. The horse has probably already left the barn. 15ppm is tiny compared to the 110ppm we’ve already spewed.

    2. 0%

    3. 100%

    4. Because it is a distraction to the core goal, and will change the answers to 2 and 3 to 0% and 100%. Oops, that’s no change!

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 28 Oct 2012 @ 11:32 AM

  713. Jim Larsen wrote: “which is why I’ve repeatedly asked you to substantiate your 15ppm claim”

    I don’t have the slightest idea what you are talking about. I have never made any “15ppm claim”. I don’t think I have ever posted any comment that mentioned 15 ppm or any other ppm in all the time that I’ve been posting comments on this blog. You must be confusing me with someone else.

    Jim Larsen wrote: “Now conclude by telling us why studying GE is bad.”

    Again, I have never said that “studying GE is bad”. What I have said is that your assertion that some unspecified geoengineering scheme or schemes “CAN” — and that was your word, “CAN”, not “conceivably might” or “possibly could”, but “CAN” — control the Earth’s temperature as accurately and reliably as a simple elecromechanical on/off thermostat controls a furnace, has no evidence whatsoever to back it up.

    If there’s anything more boring than repetitive baseless assertions, it is comments that claim I’ve said things that I have never said.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to prepare for the imminent arrival of an AGW-driven Frankenstorm.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 28 Oct 2012 @ 5:39 PM

  714. … “AGW-driven Frankenstorm” …

    Well, aside from what the extra H2O vapor (locally via a warmer ocean in this case?) in the atmosphere would add, it’s not obvious to me that this is the case, although I can imagine circulatory changes could contribute.

    But I had been wondering for a while:

    Why can’t the average tropical cyclone tap into the energy of a (baroclinic, hence associated with wind shear) jet stream, rather than being weakenned by it? Did Sandy manage this feat due to it’s spatial extent – did it more closely match an unstable wavelength for baroclinic development? Or is the issue that (from “PV-thinking” (that’s a phrase I actually read somewhere) baroclinic instability requires a reversal of PV gradient somewhere over the vertical direction, and typically this is between the atmosphere in general and the surface (potential) temperature gradient – whereas the subtropical jet is associated with a temperature gradient aloft (that itself would require a stability gradient that would tend to provide the necessary PV gradient but this may be overwhelmed by beta-effect, etc.)…

    On the other hand, latent heating can and does contribute to the average extratropical cyclone, right? Could this at some point lead to embedded ‘tropical cyclone’ development within the core of such a system even outside the tropics and perhaps even removed from the ocean if a sufficient stream of moisture is flowing in the atmosphere?

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 28 Oct 2012 @ 6:35 PM

  715. SecularA said, “I don’t have the slightest idea what you are talking about. I have never made any “15ppm claim”.”

    Oh, so you DIDN’T say we have 5 years to start and 10 additional years to complete a drawdown to essentially zero emissions? Golly, that’s rich. Or, are you just spouting nonsense and avoiding the math which inevitably results?

    “control the Earth’s temperature as accurately and reliably as a simple elecromechanical on/off thermostat controls a furnace,”

    Obviously you’ve never investigated the tremendous inaccuracy of HVAC controls – they are designed to swing through a fairly large range. Otherwise, your furnace would go on and off constantly. Or are you saying that GE can’t control the Earth’s temperature to perhaps 3F?

    And you didn’t bother answering the questions. Obviously, you’re much more comfortable spouting nonsensical claims and not even having the sense to understand that 15 years to 0 = ~15ppm, even when you’re spoon-fed the information.

    Though we’re getting somewhere. Now you agree with me that studying GE is a good thing? So you have no problems with anything I’ve posted? (I’ve still got huge misgivings about your 15 year/ppm claim)

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 28 Oct 2012 @ 6:44 PM

  716. SecularA,

    My guess is you’re backwards. You studied and decided that 10 years is the absolute minimum timeframe we could get off fossil fuels if you were World Dictator and enforced your desires via gunpoint. You then added 5 years for “getting with your Godly program”.

    NOTHING to do with science at all. 15 ppm in a logarithmic system already at 392ppm is rounding error, consequence-wise.

    That you refuse to substantiate any of your wild nonsensical claims pretty much proves my point.

    Answer the 4 questions.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 28 Oct 2012 @ 6:51 PM

  717. CP is also discussing the Arctic connection:

    Comment by wili — 28 Oct 2012 @ 8:27 PM

  718. Jim, you are asking the wrong man about seatbelts. I have long joked that rather than airbags, they should install a 6-inch spike on the steering column to make people think twice about tailgating or driving too fast. It is my contention that driving would likely improve vastly in short order.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 28 Oct 2012 @ 8:33 PM

  719. Hank was referring to ocean acidification.
    Surprising you think that’s open to interpretation, if you’d googled it you’d know why it’s a major problem.

    I’d like you to cite your assertions.
    Likely others would also.

    (Unless you’re a published author; if so you can rely on people looking up your journal papers to check what you say; the names in the sidebar are like that)

    It’s a way to build credibility.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Oct 2012 @ 10:06 PM

  720. Found this item about Mike Mann. No doubt it’s not news to other readers here, but nonetheless:

    Penn State climate scientist files defamation suit
    By Renee Schoof | McClatchy Newspapers
    Penn State University scientist Michael Mann, whose work showed that Earth’s temperatures have risen along with increased fossil fuel use, announced Tuesday he had filed a lawsuit against the conservative National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute for defamation, complaining that they falsely accused him of academic fraud and compared him to convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky.

    Organizations that deny climate change is a serious problem have condemned Mann for years.

    Mann was one of the scientists whose emails were hacked from a climate research center at Britain’s University of East Anglia in 2009. Climate skeptics quoted portions of the emails in an attempt to discredit the scientists in what the critics dubbed “Climategate.” But government and university investigations found no misconduct.

    The lawsuit, filed Monday in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, argued that the two conservative outlets and two writers named in the suit, Rand Simberg and Mark Steyn, “maliciously accused (Mann) of academic fraud, the most fundamental defamation that can be levied against a scientist and a professor.”

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 28 Oct 2012 @ 10:20 PM

  721. 718 Ray L said, ” they should install a 6-inch spike on the steering column”

    LOLOL. Yes, you are truly grand. I think I asked precisely the right dude. :-)

    719 Hank R,

    Analogies are useful precisely because they are imprecise. Thus, they open the mind. Writers often are surprised at how study groups interpret their words. I made no contentions about ocean acidification other than that GE ain’t gonna help unless some far out plan actually works (such as digging up Australia and dumping it in the ocean). My personal belief is that ocean acidification is the concrete wall we’re accellerating towards. Are you saying that stance is wrong or needs cites?

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 29 Oct 2012 @ 12:19 AM

  722. OK Hank:

    Log 392 = 2.59
    Log 407 = 2.61

    The difference is negligible. (Now, I think the calculator used base 10 and perhaps e is proper, but the result should be robust. TIA for corrections)

    Anything else need citing? Since I’m slow, I’d like a list. I promise to fulfill your every citation desire.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 29 Oct 2012 @ 12:33 AM

  723. Hank,
    In my opinion, the asking for a cite should be accompanied by a cite showing your position. 99 times out of 100 I accept other folks’ cites. basically, you’re refusing to say what it is you disagree with, and refusing to provide any anything about the alleged subject, and demanding I guess what it is you are talking about, and answer it in whole cloth. Right?

    Myself, I think that blogs are about gathering various talents and coming up with ideas and answers. No single individual is key. You disagree with something I say? Don’t be shy. Give the Truth as you see it. I’ll either accept it or dig for something deeper. Our goal is to come up with something new together.

    This reminds me of the old complaint about deniers. They demand that every comment be made from first principles. Obviously, that means no comments are allowed. Are you like deniers?

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 29 Oct 2012 @ 1:03 AM

  724. #720

    See, it’s cases like this, when big media steamrollers all over the reputation of a scientist, that the UK libel system is designed for. The US system leans so heavily in the direction of free speech that Mann will have an up-hill battle. I wish him all the best, and will be watching closely.

    Comment by Didactylos — 29 Oct 2012 @ 8:43 AM

  725. Jim Larsen wrote: “Answer the 4 questions.”

    Your “4 questions” are nonsense. Your comments to me are nonsense — not to mention deliberately offensive and belligerent, in other words “flame bait”, in other words, the work of a troll.

    I have not made any “15ppm claim”. That’s something that YOU came up with using guesswork and ill-informed assumptions and back-of-the-envelope scribbling and “axioms” that you pull out of thin air, and now you want to pretend it was “my claim” and demand that I back it up. It’s just silly.

    If you look at my original comments regarding stopping the increase in GHG emissions within five years, to be followed by steep reductions to near zero emissions within ten years, you will see that I have in fact cited, and quoted, sources — beginning with the IEA’s recent report.

    Of course you won’t do that because you NEVER read any link that I post here.

    Just as you prefer to post “axioms” about the economics of deploying photovoltaics today while ignoring actual economic facts that have led numerous major corporations to invest heavily in large-scale PV deployments, you prefer to ignore what I actually write here, and instead just make stuff up, pretend that I said it, and make bullying demands that I substantiate YOUR nonsense with citations.

    It’s a silly game, and it was tiresome 20 years ago when people first started playing it on USENET.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 29 Oct 2012 @ 9:21 AM

  726. For Jim Larsen, this should be helpful, it’s information you can be providing (with understanding) to assert your position.

    Point is when you make a broad-brush assertion, showing you’ve done some reading and can help readers understand your thinking can add to your credibility. Don’t assume this is the only or best support for your GE statements (that would be ‘reverse citation’ — a deplorable practice of making a claim then posting anything that can be googled and calling it a cite).

    Point is — show some evidence you know the literature and your claims are more credible as people will look at your sources and weigh them.

    We have a few commenters here whose ‘cites’ are perfect negative indicators, they’re consistently misrepresenting the science; most of the regular readers have made the effort to look at the science before making claims.

    This paper below is an outlier, not a consensus opinion, as I read it, but from a good lab with a strong reputation for good work; you should make up your own mind, referring to what’s available.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Oct 2012 @ 9:25 AM

  727. PS for Jim, “cite” means “citation” — I assume you’re being funny, giving people answers that are just arithmetic. You’re assuming everyone reading can follow you. It makes you appear like you’re showing how smart you are.

    But most won’t or can’t follow such terse replies. This need not be a debate nor a win/lose writing game.

    I’m asking you to try a bit harder to help your readers == including those who come along later — understand the science by being able to look up sources, rather than by trusting you.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Oct 2012 @ 9:47 AM

  728. Jim Larsen: Could you possibly manage to dial back the belligerence? It makes for tiresome reading, and our hosts have on multiple occasions expressed the view that it’s unwelcome here. Just make your case calmly and let your readers decide if it’s persuasive.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 29 Oct 2012 @ 1:03 PM

  729. An interesting perspective on personal bias. Especially in light of what psychologist call the social dissonance.
    Critical Thinking – Must Watch #climate #debate #psychology #social #dissonace

    Comment by prokaryotes — 29 Oct 2012 @ 1:31 PM

  730. [edit – no attacks on other commenters (and no ripostes in kind either)]

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 29 Oct 2012 @ 2:00 PM

  731. PS — as is often the case, Thingsbreak blogged on that Caldeira Lab paper.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Oct 2012 @ 2:45 PM

  732. re my 615,629,632,635, and 679:

    The C(j) in m, and C(j-1,j) and C(j,0) in m/yr:

    j, C(j), C(j-1,j), C(j,0):

    1, 50, 20 , 8
    2, 50, 12 , 6
    3, 100, 6 , 3.35
    4, 300, 2.65, 1
    5, 400, 1.65, .33
    6, 400, 1.32, .33
    7, 400, .99, .33
    8, 400, .66, .33
    9, 500, .33, .33

    The first column is an index number; the second is heat capacity of each reservoir in m H2O equivalent. The third column is the heat capacity (m H2O) per year transported to that reservoir from the reservoir above, and the fourth is that transported from that reservoir to the surface reservoir (j=0). Notice that C(j,0) = C(j-1,j) – C(j,j+1).

    Note that the flow from C(3) to C(4) is 1/1000 of the whole ocean per year. If these layers were stacked vertically, this would correspond to 1/1000 of the ocean per year flowind downward across a depth in the ocean of roughly 360 m. I’m not sure how realistic that is.

    I used a time_step of half a year.

    For constant forcing of 1.233 W/m2 and all T(j) = 0 at 0 years:

    T(0) (surface temperature anomaly) nearly follows the exponential decay toward equilibrium based on C(0) only (based on time_constant = ECS * C(0)) for the first year, then lags behind. The T(0) response intersects exponential decay based on C(0)+C(1) between 4 and 5 years, exponential decay based on C(0) through C(2) just after 10 years, and c(0) through C(3) around 27 years (graphically estimated time values). When graphed over the logarithm of time (where the exponential decay to equilibrium looks like an S curve), T(0)’s approach to equilibrium may be approximated by two linear segments (after year 0.5 or 1), the first going to about 76 % of equilibrium response around year 70, and the second getting to near 99 % sometime around 4000 years (graphically estimated). The response lags behind the exponential decay for when all the heat capacities are immediately accessible to the surface after somewhere between 600 and 700 years. This makes sense given that the more rapid initial response for finite flow through the depth of the ocean reduces the radiative disequilibrium (the heat source) faster, so that it then takes longer to heat up the rest of the system (the weighted-average T of the system nearly follows the exponential decay for that amount of heat capacity for ~ 2 years and then lags behind).

    I tried a convex-curved triangular forcing pulse (peak in 50 years, back to 0 in 100 years) and the surface temperature peaked after forcing peaked but before intersecting Teq. Some deep ocean reservoirs peaked after that point. Notably and, what one should expect, the heat capacity-weighted average T peaked within about 1 time step of when Teq intersected surface T; and the argument I gave earlier about peaking at the intersection should tend to apply (at least with some simplifying assumptions) to that average T (although that average T is not intersecting Teq).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Oct 2012 @ 5:11 PM

  733. The last comment was supposed to begin with:

    The surface heat capacity C(j=0) was set to the equivalent of a global layer of water 50 m deep (which would be a layer ~70 m thick over the oceans) plus 70 % of the atmosphere, the latent heat of vaporization corresponding to a 20 % increase in water vapor per 3 K warming (linearized for current conditions), and a little land surface; expressed as W*yr per m^2*K (a convenient unit), I got about 7.093.

    A global 50 m layer of water has about 6.683 W*yr per m^2*K

    I set the rest of the heat capacities and heat capacity exchange rates (per year) as exact values in terms of global m water.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Oct 2012 @ 5:13 PM

  734. … not intended to suggest that the heat capacity exchange/transfer/transport rates used are a realistic representation of actual ocean circulation, although from what little I know, it could be a step in that general direction from using one upper and one deep ocean reservoir.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Oct 2012 @ 5:20 PM

  735. About Sandy –

    Wind speed is a useful measure of storm strength (cat 1-5, (E)F scale…), and pressure drop also (~ wind speed * distance scale ~ speed*sqrt(area) if not too elongated) – although (I think) potential energy ~ area*(change in p^2) and kinetic energy ~ area*speed^2 (assumes same vertical extent, density…)

    How about storm mass? The mass of air that had to be removed from the area of the storm to result in that (surface) pressure? Would that be an interesting metric?

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Oct 2012 @ 6:09 PM

  736. … ~ 1000 km ^2 * pi * ~ 50 mb * 1/3 (assumes conical shape) …

    Sandy’s mass roughly 5*10^14 kg (very rough estimate. radius may be off; didn’t see where the 1000 mb isobar was).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Oct 2012 @ 8:23 PM

  737. 727 Hank said, ” I assume you’re being funny, giving people answers that are just arithmetic.”

    and 728 Chris K said, “Could you possibly manage to dial back the belligerence?”

    No problem. It was frustration, not funniness. I want to comply with requests for cites, but since I have no clue what part of which comment folks have a problem with, I can’t. I made a wild guess, and apparently got it wrong. I thought my four questions were clear, pertinent, and spot on in every way. Again, I got frustrated by the stonewalling. Chris, you’re way right that I shouldn’t let such things bother me, and I apologise for detracting from the RC experience.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 29 Oct 2012 @ 9:07 PM

  738. Patrick (#732),

    Such ocean models have been coupled with climate models already. We’ve just been trying to take those results and apply them to forcing profiles that have not been run in the models. The lag time scales are already calculated for a response to an instantaneous 4 W/m^2 step up in forcing. The question is how to use that given that the Green’s function approach has some unphysical side effects. I’ve developed some analytic functions in both the actual temperature and target temperature that are showing some promise. But they need more work.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 29 Oct 2012 @ 10:00 PM

  739. #737–I appreciate that, Jim L. You have interesting and provocative ideas; but FWIW, I think I’d second Chris K’s suggestion for making them shine forth a bit more clearly.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 29 Oct 2012 @ 10:07 PM

  740. I’ve read Mike quoted in one article about Hurricane Sandy:

    “We can’t blame the existence of a single hurricane on global warming, just like a die weighted to roll sixes can’t be blamed for any single roll of a six,” said Michael Mann, a physicist and the director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. Sixes, after all, will sometimes happen anyway, even when the dice aren’t loaded, Mann explained.

    “But we can see that climate change is playing a role in setting the context for these storms,” Mann continued, “in particular the record levels of North Atlantic ocean warmth that is available to feed these storms with energy and moisture.”

    Superb statements but there is more to this event than just a Hurricane, the general atmospheric circulation was set to divert it towards New Jersey, instead towards the usual cooler NE Atlantic. It is more complex than simply warmer sea water, but easier to understand if explained in greater details. RC should consider an essay. The noble reluctance to release expert knowledge quickly in favor of a peer reviewed paper removes the focus gained at this time when almost every climate scientist is observing this event with great attention. In addition, the greater discussion gained by the huge talent of commenters here would be invaluable to all.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 29 Oct 2012 @ 10:22 PM

  741. I agree with SecularA that it’s probably too late to prevent a massive crash without GE*. With GE, well, I have no idea what anybody here thinks, other than that it won’t save us from OA (except maybe wild and huge schemes) and that GE is just plain wrong on an emotional level.

    I see GE as a short term band-aid to be used to prevent the demise of arctic sea ice and permafrost while the oceans et al absorb some of our excess CO2.

    My guess is that folks see the horrific vision of permanent GE allowing continued carbon pollution and just shut down their logic circuits. Or perhaps folks think that if we let the GEnie out of the bottle, we’ll go straight to the horrific vision, so it is better to just stab ourselves in the chest with Ray’s 6″ spike.

    *He said a 15 year drawdown is possible, and that would only give us “any hope”.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 29 Oct 2012 @ 10:33 PM

  742. re 738 Chris Dudley – certainly it has been done already with far greater sophistication including variable circulation, etc.; I just wanted to see what kind of behavior I’d get, and we’ve now got an explanation for why surface temperature could start declining even when Teq (instantaneous response) is still higher.

    If one assumes the circulation patterns don’t change in such a way as to affect this (and some other things) – I’m not sure what form the response function was in; I’ll have to go back and look at the comments above – but if it was given as a function over time f(t) as a fraction of the equilibrium response f(t) = T(t)/Teq for a constant forcing switched on at t=0, then (given various simplifying assumptions) one could use linear superposition –

    Where radiative forcing = RF(t), each step in RF (here written as a differential), d(RF) for each step in t, dt, @ time t = tn, would contribute a climate response dT(t-tn) = f(t-tn)*ECS*d(RF)(n) … I could have tried to write that more clearly but does this make sense?

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Oct 2012 @ 11:00 PM

  743. Patrick @741:

    I’m not sure what form the response function was in;

    Hansen’s climate response function as originally formulated is a pain to use because it’s defined in log space, but once it’s been interpolated it’s just an array of 2000 descending percentages which model how a given annual forcing would be distributed over the next two millennia. Here’s the interpolated data in case you want to add it to your spreadsheet. But what I’m not clear on is, are you proposing to replace Hansen’s climate response function, or change how it’s applied to projected forcing data?

    dT(t-tn) = f(t-tn)*ECS*d(RF)(n)

    ECS is Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity in K/(W/m^2) right? In other words it’s a constant for our purposes. But where is the function f defined in all this? Is it in one of your previous posts?

    There’s another possible problem that I was going to mention earlier. If you look closely at the plots linked to #650, you’ll notice that of the three climate response functions Hansen described (slow, intermediate, fast), only “slow” gives a reasonable value for 2012, i.e. ~0.8ºC above pre-industrial. Intermediate gives ~1ºC and fast gives ~1.15ºC, both too high no? But the whole point of Hansen’s paper is that while “slow” allegedly approximates current climate models, “intermediate” is more likely. In figure 7 of the paper, he shows a blizzard of graphs, in which he uses an additional variable (aerosol forcing) to “tune” each of his three climate response functions to the historical data. Or perhaps I’m misunderstanding this part? But if not, it’s unclear what predictive value the “untuned” climate response function would have, if any.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 30 Oct 2012 @ 1:26 AM

  744. Patrick (#471),

    The climate response function derived from a coupled model run responding to a doubling of carbon dioxide is monotonic so I don’t think we are looking for circulation explanation. I think it is a problem with just the sort of linear treatment that you are proposing which accounts for the change in the forcing, but not the response of the system except as portrayed in the step function response.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 30 Oct 2012 @ 7:45 AM

  745. “If you can come up with a significant number of people here who think studying STDs is wrong, then your point will be valid.” – Jim Larsen

    It’s valid anyway, since nobody has said anything like the belief you attributed to “”everybody””, and since the concern that researching geoengineering will provide another excuse not to cut emissions is valid, and you have given no reason to think otherwise.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 30 Oct 2012 @ 7:50 AM

  746. since the concern that researching geoengineering will provide another excuse not to cut emissions is valid, and you have given no reason to think otherwise.

    I don’t know about him, but I do. You (as in we) are already committed to geoengineering since emissions will not be cut enough to undo the damage that is already done and in the pipeline. I have already pointed out that the most reasonable approach to this situation is solar lagrange point L1 occultation, since that solves a myriad of other severe cultural problems in science and technology while giving us the time to work out drawdown stuff.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 30 Oct 2012 @ 11:32 AM

  747. 744 Nick G said, “It’s valid anyway, since nobody has said anything like the belief you attributed to “”everybody””, and since the concern that researching geoengineering will provide another excuse not to cut emissions is valid, and you have given no reason to think otherwise.”

    I believe you just did. Excuses are emotional. :-) There are plenty of folks who fought against the HIV fight for a similar reason – it would only encourage gays to “sin”.

    Pretty much anything that can be will be used by some as an excuse to not cut emissions. Perhaps studying GE will make “the” difference, but I doubt it, especially since studying GE is essentially in the future and IMO “emitting too much CO2” is already done, especially when locked in future emissions are counted. Nobody’s going to shut down their brand new power plant for many decades.

    OTOH, studying GE will scare the bejesus out of many folks, giving them incredible incentive to cut emissions. Which will be the larger factor?

    Are you saying that that we won’t lose the sea ice without GE (in a reasonably probable scenario)? Are you saying losing the ice and thawing the permafrost is no big deal, or at least less of a deal than giving some folks an excuse? Are you avoiding the inevitable linkage?

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 30 Oct 2012 @ 12:10 PM

  748. Re- Comment by Jim Larsen — 29 Oct 2012 @ 9:07 PM:

    You say “I want to comply with requests for cites, but since I have no clue what part of which comment folks have a problem with, I can’t.”

    Because you also say- “I always substantiate my comments.” Why don’t you start with your assertion that climate can be adjusted just like a household thermostat with geoengineering. This has been questioned repeatedly without you providing any support whatsoever. Just claiming that others don’t understand the effect of sulfate dimming from volcanoes is not support. I have not heard of any control knobs on volcanoes.

    Please provide links to scholarly works examining whether it is possible and practical to geoengineer global dimming. This should include cost estimates and the problems due to dumping more pollution into the commons. Op-eds and opinion pieces, and the eructations of the like of Bjorn Lomborg or Levitt and Dubner are not scholarly.

    Having made such a sweeping statement you must have already read these kinds of sources and can produce them readily. If you haven’t checked this area out already then shame on you. I found 192 scientific articles in about 10 seconds. Have at it. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 30 Oct 2012 @ 12:23 PM

  749. Chris (#743),

    Actually, the log scale makes the plots easier to use, not harder. Imagine trying the figure out the response in the first couple of years from a linear plot.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 30 Oct 2012 @ 12:58 PM

  750. Re 743 Chris Korda – I didn’t look through your code entirely before.

    I was primarily concerned with the issue of T peaking before intersecting Teq (instantaneous), and I no longer ‘have a problem’ with that.

    Is that array (Hansen’s response function) of percentages meant to indicate the percentage of the equilibrium response since a step-wise change in forcing? If so than that’s what I meant by f(t).

    For radiative forcing RF(t) = { RFn for t ≥ tn , 0 for tn > t }
    Teq = ECS*RF
    Teq(t) = { ECS*RFn = Teqn for t ≥ tn , 0 for tn > t }

    Let f(t-tn) = { T/Teqn for t ≥ tn , 0 for tn > t }

    Then T = f(t-tn)*ECS*RF(t) for a single step in forcing at t=tn.

    Any RF(t) is the integral of d(RF)/dt, and T(t) could be given by the integral over tn of f(t-tn)*ECS*d(RF(tn))/dt * dt, where I mean d(RF(tn))/dt to be the rate of change in RF at t=tn.

    Or numerically sum over an approximating series of finite RF steps.

    Is that what you did?

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 30 Oct 2012 @ 1:12 PM

  751. The experts will think of something.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Oct 2012 @ 2:11 PM

  752. YouTube’s copyright enforcement in light of scientific content

    Comment by prokaryotes — 30 Oct 2012 @ 2:16 PM

  753. Hope all our northeast-based RC’ers are doing okay.

    Comment by Peter Backes — 30 Oct 2012 @ 2:54 PM

  754. 747 Steve F said, “Why don’t you start with your assertion that climate can be adjusted just like a household thermostat with geoengineering.”

    I believe I already did by discrediting household thermostats. Translated, my statement reduces to “Household thermostats are designed to vary temperatures through large swings, and are either analog or have a limit of full degrees in their interface, while global temperatures are measured in tenths and hundredths of a degree.”

    My references are your thermostat (go look at it), and the GISTEMP record.

    Do you disagree with my statement, or think that it requires further substantiation? (If you want to claim that thermostat-like control is bleeding useless when it comes to global temperatures, then I’d definitely agree.)

    I’ll go ahead and re-research your stuff as your questions are valid, but your assumption that I keep links is absurd. I do no such thing. Do you? If so, why not post your links and save us all some bother?

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 30 Oct 2012 @ 3:21 PM

  755. I can see there are several groups of people here who completely misunderstand the level of geoengineering required to give humanity enough time to fix this problem. Solar L1 occultation can indeed ‘turn climate on a dime’. You could send the world back to a ‘dark age’ where that pesky carbon dioxide could be simply be frozen out of the atmosphere if desired. Nobody is proposing that. What credible observers simply propose is the slight modulation of solar irradiance at the source, solar L1, using opaque thin films, preferably thin films that absorb and convert solar photons into storable energy of some sort, or simply sold off or beamed away. It can even be made self steering. This is an exercise in what can be done, on a small scale, which can prepare civilization for a world with resource limits and a finite solar collecting area needed for plant growth.

    Any other proposals are indeed nutty, but this is something that is unavoidable at this point. Either we modulate solar irradiance and remove excess carbon from the atmosphere, or we deal with a fallen house of cards and the huge mess that will entail.

    You deal with it. I’m just the messenger. No aerosols allowed or needed.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 30 Oct 2012 @ 3:55 PM

  756. “if it were so, it would be …..” ?

    We can all agree with that.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Oct 2012 @ 4:45 PM

  757. Thomas Lee Elifritz @755:
    Why should we take your word for all this when your comment doesn’t cite a single source? This is pure hand-waving, which RC supposedly frowns on. Your technological optimism is an opinion, not a given, and thus requires support like any other assertion.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 30 Oct 2012 @ 5:59 PM

  758. Re 740, 706 wayne davidson, my 714, and Secular Animist 713 … and re 717 wili (didn’t read link yet; ‘franken’storm makes sense to me for 2 reasons: it was the result, in part, of putting a hurricane together with extratropical storm-forming conditions – however, both parts would have been alive on their own, no need to give it the spark of life as it just happens on it’s own. But it’s also nearly Halloween. But I like ‘Superstorm’ Sandy, which TWC started using after (if not before?) it was officially no longer Hurricane Sandy (Post-tropical cyclone was also used, but that doesn’t convey the ‘super’. But superstorms are, fortunately, not faster than a speeding bullet (leave that to asteroids and comets).)

    Aside from whether/how/in what way Sandy is connected to AGW, I think it’s useful in:

    Illustrating once again that water rise of a few feet can be devastating
    Adaptations include evacuations and shutting things down
    but also
    Model forecasts can be correct. There was a point when some models had Sandy going out to sea while most were going into the coast; forecasters went with the tendencies. They couldn’t tell us exactly when and where, but that wasn’t of such great importance (except maybe in the storm surge distribution) – And people listenned to the forecasters, they made preparations, and those will/have surely pay(id) off.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 30 Oct 2012 @ 6:08 PM

  759. ‘few feet’ – maybe I should have said ‘several feet’ (and that adds to tides and waves of course).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 30 Oct 2012 @ 6:11 PM

  760. Patrick @743

    Is that array (Hansen’s response function) of percentages meant to indicate the percentage of the equilibrium response since a step-wise change in forcing?

    Yes, exactly. So then f is the Climate Response Function interpolated into an array of deltas yes?

    Or numerically sum over an approximating series of finite RF steps. Is that what you did?

    Yes, hence all the previous discussion of temperature “buckets”. Each year’s theoretical (instantaneous) temperature delta is divided into 2000 unequal slices, which are added to the temperature buckets corresponding to the next two millennia; a moving window. Sorry I know I’m not using the proper names for things, but I’m understanding you well enough so far.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 30 Oct 2012 @ 6:14 PM

  761. Re- Comment by Jim Larsen — 30 Oct 2012 @ 3:21 PM:

    Jimmy: As usual, you provide no support for your claims while dancing and waving your hands.

    In post #684 you said- “Obviously you’ve never read anything about volcanos’ effect on global temperature. If you had, you’d know that there is absolute “proof” that GE will work. We can set global temperature like the thermostat in our house.”

    Volcanoes don’t have handy controls. You are talking about the “absolute” feasibility of geoengineering not thermostats. You said it you reference it.

    Speaking of thermostats, you want me to look at my own? I have a couple of Johnson Controls thermostats that have a programmable trigger point and swing within 0.1 degree, but this has no importance to geoengineering. Even sloppy household like control would be useful if geoengineering were a viable option, but it isn’t. You said it you justify it.

    Jimmy, you said- Household thermostats have a “limit of full degrees in their interface, while global temperatures are measured in tenths and hundredths of a degree.”

    What does this statement have to do with anything? Comparing global climate change to temperature swing in a house temperature control is like comparing climate temperature change to day and night or winter summer temperature swings. It is the desired effect that counts. You said it you provide evidence.

    Jimmy, you said- “your assumption that I keep links is absurd.”

    I always save my links because it takes only a second and takes up miniscule space on my drives. Information I have read is useless if I can’t find it again. But, you want me to post my links to geoengineering that I just found with a simple search? Jimmy, you are so lazy. I am not going to help you because this would just be feeding trolling behavior. You said it you document it.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 30 Oct 2012 @ 6:18 PM

  762. Why should we take your word for all this when your comment doesn’t cite a single source?

    Because it is original. Cite this blog post if you like. The physics of solar L1 occultation is fairly straightforward, Once you ramp up coverage you certainly would want to utilize highly developed algorithms tightly coupled to intrinsic models calibrated against observational experience.

    That is well within the scope of a technological society with a large fleet of reusable heavy lift launch vehicles. What? You don’t have RLVs yet? The process of fixing carbonate is proving to be more challenging for me IMHO, but I don’t see anything insurmountable there either for drawdown.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 30 Oct 2012 @ 6:33 PM

  763. what the nbc article was presumably refereing to:

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 30 Oct 2012 @ 6:37 PM

  764. Thomas Lee Elifritz @762

    Cite this blog post if you like.

    Thanks but if you don’t mind I’ll hold off on citing your research until after it’s been published.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 30 Oct 2012 @ 8:28 PM

  765. Re 764 Chris Korda, 762 Thomas Lee Elifritz –

    L1 – I can easily believe it to be original to any one person, but shortly after I mentioned it* recently here (was it last month?) in an offhanded sort of way, someone else posted a … sciencedaily? … link to an article about it. *it: … specifically (as it had been mentioned before) I suggested that maybe it would be easier to get an asteroid there rather than shoot stuff up with a rail gun launch system (I think that’s what was being discussed by others). Explosives could be used to kick up dust … but wait, why have the dust needlessly disperse? Send Wall-E up there with a shovel, and you can just keep reusing the same dust as it falls back down (slowly)… A potential problem, though, is forward scattering – in particular, if the dust cloud is large enough to extend significantly beyond the disk of the sun as seen from Earth, it might ‘focus’ light on the Earth more than block it (of course it doesn’t focus light, it would just seem like it from Earth). I was thinking instead perhaps more easily controlled polar-orbit satellites might be used, which would rotate with some fixed ratio to their orbital period, casting greater shadows at higher latitudes … or some other arrangment… for a targetted offset polar amplification of AGW especially and in particular perhaps avoiding the reduction in precipitation that can be caused by SW-radiation-based ‘GE’ (although aerosols that actually absorb some SW in the troposphere while shielding the surface would have the worst effect in that way, I’d think)… strategic distribution of solar shading has been suggested with precipitation effects in mind, such as here… sorry, I don’t have the link (I’m sure I saved it, just as Steve Fish would suggest – but where?). Maybe tomorrow…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 30 Oct 2012 @ 10:54 PM

  766. Aha!

    “Offsetting Global Warming: Targeting Solar Geoengineering to Minimize Risk and Inequality
    ScienceDaily (Oct. 21, 2012)”

    “Asteroid Dust Could Fight Climate Change on Earth”

    also found (haven’t yet read)
    “Geoengineering Could Disrupt Rainfall Patterns
    ScienceDaily (June 6, 2012)”

    “Sunshade Geoengineering More Likely to Improve Global Food Security, Research Suggests
    ScienceDaily (Jan. 25, 2012)”

    “Geoengineering for Global Warming: Increasing Aerosols in Atmosphere Would Make Sky Whiter
    ScienceDaily (May 31, 2012)”

    I don’t have time right now to track down the comments at RC that I refered to above; they were in unforced variations sometime in the last few months.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 30 Oct 2012 @ 11:15 PM

    Space-based solar shield to offset greenhouse effect
    British Interplanetary Society,
    Journal (ISSN 0007-084X), vol. 42, Dec. 1989, p. 567-569.
    `Sunshade World”: A fully coupled GCM evaluation of the climatic impacts of geoengineering

    and much else. Remember L1 was going to be Triana’s position; as I recall, Gavin pointed out here years ago that in addition to Triana on the bright side, an L2 equivalent (at least) was needed to get dark side measurements, to be able to determine the planet’s energy balance and what changes were occurring.

    Adding a parasol at L1 would require the L2 instrument, even more so.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 31 Oct 2012 @ 12:42 AM

  768. Steve Fish,

    The reason I used the thermostat analogy was to avoid the need to cite, as I was busy. Otherwise I’d have said something about hundredths of a degree and regional effects (I’m mostly concerned about temps in the arctic) and provided documentation. Height of injection, timing, location, lots of stuff involved, and obviously, since our subject is “studying”, fully formed answers are impossible.

    My last post said I would re-research and post responses to your quite valid questions and concerns, and you come back and complain that I’ve not completed the task yet, and you call me lazy because I believe that science advances so relying on old cites is foolish. Doing more work more accurately is “lazy”? Perhaps you meant “inefficient”?

    You said, “Even sloppy household like control would be useful if geoengineering were a viable option, but it isn’t.” I totally disagree with your claim. Back it up. To ensure I satisfy you, I’ll use your substantiation of your claim as my blueprint for how to substantiate mine.



    You’re focused on subtraction, when little subtraction is required. My house, and from what I’ve read many folks here’s houses use a fraction of the energy of a small condo. Why should we downsize?

    My car gets double the average MPG, and it’s a horrid gas-hog in my mind. 50mpg is awful! We went through the 100mpg discussion. Refer to it and accept or not as you see fit, but please don’t try to re-open it. 100mpg is a 75% reduction from the current fleet.

    Pretty much across the board in energy-intensive consumer goods, it’s easy to drop carbon emissions in half or three quarters – IF you put policies in place that count energy costs the same as capital costs. My example is probably 80%, but that’s just a guess. A bit for electricity (I posted my monthly electric bill during the heat wave earlier as reference), a bit for gasoline (~50 gallons a year), a bit for clothes and food.

    80% won’t happen everywhere, but 50% is “easy”, and will increase comfort and utility, especially in housing. Since 32% of electricity in the USA is generated with non-carbon sources, a 50% reduction in demand would lead to a 74% drop in carbon emissions. Raising MPG from 25 to 50 is a 50% drop in emissions. Since over half our emissions are absorbed, that means atmospheric carbon will begin to drop. (and OA will continue to worsen)

    it gets complicated as other countries exist, as do commercial ventures, but tell us why we need to seriously change our lifestyle. I think we just need to get more efficient about it.

    On ground source heat pumps:

    “allows the system to reach fairly high efficiencies (300% to 600%) on the coldest winter nights, compared to 175% to 250% for air-source heat pumps on cool days.” … “Even though the installation price of a geothermal system can be several times that of an air-source system of the same heating and cooling capacity, the additional costs are returned to you in energy savings in 5 to 10 years.”

    (Note the deliberately unfair comparison – coldest to cool.) So, huge carbon savings, and since interest rates are below 10%, most any builder would install a GSHP and/or super-insulation and/or passive/active solar and/or whole house ventilation instead of a conventional HVAC system if the buyer had to consider monthly energy costs the same as monthly payments when facing the bank.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 31 Oct 2012 @ 1:11 AM

  769. Re Aerosols

    Aerosol-driven warming

    Carbon aerosols are made up of two components: the more commonly known black carbon, and organic matter. Whereas black carbon is a strong absorber of solar radiation, organic matter both scatters and absorbs radiation. The absorptive component of organic matter is brown carbon, and is currently ignored in…

    Comment by prokaryotes — 31 Oct 2012 @ 1:39 AM

  770. Both Cuomo and Bloomberg have mentioned global warming in reference to Sandy and future storms.

    What would the good scientists and well informed layfolk here suggest to the people making policy for NYC and other coastal areas?

    Should they build sea walls? If so, how high?

    Are storms like Sandy going to become more and more likely to happen? More and more intense?

    Does the combination of slr and more intense (and frequent?) storms mean it will be more and more difficult to maintain infrastructure along the coast?

    Should they start planning the permanent abandonment of much of the Eastern seaboard?

    That may seem extreme, but aren’t we now facing the very extremes we have been warning may come?

    Comment by wili — 31 Oct 2012 @ 2:21 AM

  771. 766 Patrick, thanks for the grand links. I’d like to use one to address Steve Fish’s cost question. Brad Arnold posted at 43 on the Climate Change Methadone post:

    “But: “The economics of geoengineering are—there is no better word for it—incredible. According to Teller et al. (2003: 5), engineered particles would be even cheaper (mainly because of the reduced volume of material that would need to be put into the stratosphere); they estimate that the sunlight scattering needed to offset the warming effect of rising greenhouse gas concentrations by the year 2100 would cost just $1 billion per year.” –”The Incredible Economics of Geoengineering,” Scott Barrett, 6 December 2007

    The scheme of dimming the sun with engineered particles injected into the upper atmosphere is a short run strategy of buying time to impliment the long run scheme of changing the carbon budget of the Earth.” (endquote)

    I assume Teller et al used a high GHG concentration for 2100, when compared to what I would consider prudent, so costs should be lower. But even if they’re an order of magnitude higher, it’s still cheap.


    In the food security article, “The team found that, in the model, sunshade geoengineering leads to increased crop yields in most regions, both compared with current conditions and with the future projection of doubled carbon dioxide on its own.” They also mentioned wars and disputes. Agreeing to methods and amounts would be very problematic. Heck, lots of folks are relishing the demise of the sea ice…

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 31 Oct 2012 @ 2:43 AM

  772. Steve Fish, look at the graphs in the Climate Change Methadone post. GE results in rock-solid temperatures with what appears to be quite normal natural variation. The graphs assume ludicrously high GHG emissions, with concentrations actually increasing through 2100, while a sane plan would peak by 2030-2040, but that doesn’t detract from the message. This should put to bed the “thermostat” issue. Do you agree, or do we need to dig deeper?

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 31 Oct 2012 @ 3:02 AM

  773. Some thoughtful material on hurricane Sandy here:

    Is an article planned? I’d like to see some science on how significant an event this really is.

    Meanwhile tea party supporters who believe in divine intervention in matters like rape may be wondering what the significance of the hurricane is for those who don’t believe governments should be big enough to act on major disasters.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 31 Oct 2012 @ 3:26 AM

  774. George Lakoff’s excellent article at AlterNet on systemic causation. Very clear.

    Global Warming Systemically Caused Hurricane Sandy

    Comment by J Bowers — 31 Oct 2012 @ 3:33 AM

  775. Re ‘GE’ – I don’t have time to get into particulars about solar shades in various plans; just want to add to the asteroid dust idea:

    Earlier I pointed out that it could/should be better to specifically block solar IR, or in particular those wavelengths absorbed by H2O vapor, other gases and clouds, in the troposphere, rather than block all solar wavelengths indiscriminately (because selective shading could reduce the effect on convection and precipitation – caveats about cloud and H2O distribution… etc.).

    Okay for thin engineered sheets? – but – how would you engineer particles to put in orbit around an asteroid at L1? A scattering peak at intermediate wavelengths would require some precision… maybe genetically-engineered virus particles…? Oh, but a simpler idea: what if asteroid dust single scatter albedo decreases from visible to solar IR? Okay, then block a larger amount of radiation within the disk of the sun and use forward-scattered visible radiation, within or outside the disk of the sun, to make up some of the difference.

    But I’m not suggesting this is answer. I’m partial to dunite dust and biochar/soil management on Earth.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 31 Oct 2012 @ 12:41 PM

  776. “Ocean temperature variability for the past 60 years on the Norwegian-Svalbard margin influences gas hydrate stability on human time scales”

    Does this change anyone’s views on the relative level of near-term potential threat from seabed methane hydrates?

    Comment by wili — 31 Oct 2012 @ 2:56 PM

  777. Somehow, my larger detailed post on this topic disappeared. Here is the summary.

    Roger Angel, Professor of Astronomy, University of Arizona. Proposed solar shield blocks 2% of the sunlight, reflecting it off into space: 16 trillion small disks; 0.6 m dia; 5 micrometers thick; one gram; at the Sun-Earth L1 Lagrangian point, 1.5 million kilometers above Earth; total weight ~ 20 million tons; total area of 4.7 million square kilometers; launched by large railguns or coilguns firing a capsule containing a million shades into space every 5 minutes for 10 years using 20 separate launch sites; estimated total cost is 5 trillion dollars; assumes launch costs of ~$50/kg, down from the launch cost Angel estimated in 2006 of $20,000/kg; 50 year lifetime.

    I personally would not refer to such a project as ” This is an exercise in what can be done, on a small scale”, as #755 does. I have some experience with electromagnetic launchers, and the reliability and proposed project cost would need to be increased substantially for credible operation. I suspect the cost would be closer to twenty trillion or so dollars for a project of this magnitude.

    Comment by Superman1 — 31 Oct 2012 @ 4:59 PM

  778. I suspect the cost would be closer to twenty trillion or so dollars for a project of this magnitude.

    Well certainly you don’t need lunar rail guns and you wouldn’t want to do it that way anyways. It has to be active and dynamic to work. As far as costs are concerned you don’t seem to be getting the point. You have no choice now.

    This is all you got. The commitment to a solar L1 occultation solution was made a few decades ago. Think of it from a Liz Mitner and Robert Oppenheimer perspective.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 31 Oct 2012 @ 6:02 PM

  779. more numbers on solar in space

    Japan Plans $21 Billion Solar Space Post to Power 294,000 Homes

    Comment by prokaryotes — 31 Oct 2012 @ 6:09 PM

  780. Thomas Elifritz #778,

    “Well certainly you don’t need lunar rail guns and you wouldn’t want to do it that way anyways. It has to be active and dynamic to work. As far as costs are concerned you don’t seem to be getting the point. You have no choice now.

    This is all you got. The commitment to a solar L1 occultation solution was made a few decades ago. Think of it from a Liz Mitner and Robert Oppenheimer perspective.”

    The reason for the railgun was to reduce the cost by a factor of 400. Since his costs turned out to be five trillion with the railgun, multiply by 400 to get the costs with conventional launcher. Now we’re starting to talk real money.

    Oh, I get the point alright. We’re basically at the stage where a Hail Mary pass is required. But, world cooperation would be required for such an effort, and we can’t get one iota of cooperation going in our own Congress.

    Comment by Superman1 — 31 Oct 2012 @ 7:35 PM

  781. Re- Comment by Jim Larsen — 31 Oct 2012 @ 3:02 AM:

    You say- This should put to bed the “thermostat” issue.

    There was never a thermostat issue; there was an issue about whether geoengineering is useful. You started this with an unreferenced comment 4 days ago and you were questioned about it repeatedly by several commenters, but you didn’t provide any answers until you looked at some of Patrick 027’s links (note that there is a Patrick w/o numbers that posts, so it is helpful to use the correct name). The model in the RC link does not have any information about practicality.

    Here is how this should have gone. When questioned you should have provided supporting references and provided links. It should be obvious to you now that searching this site for information is always a good idea because of the content and the links to supporting information that are provided. Check out the links in the “methadone“ piece.

    If you have been paying attention to Hank Roberts posts you should know that Google Scholar is an important source of information if you don’t have access to a university library. . Put this link in a handy place.

    Suppose you want to know how global dimming would affect agriculture, enter something like- “geoengineering dimming agriculture” (without the quotes) in scholar and search to get- . Notice that the first link to “Assessing the benefits…” by Singarayer is about geoengineering crops to increase their albedo. Now there is an odd concept.

    Next is “Crop yields in a geoengineered climate” by Pongratz that is about what you want. Notice that to the right there is[PDF] that is a free access download. If not .edu it probably isn’t free. Click the “Crop Yields…” link to see the abstract in Nature Climate Change with no free access.

    Click back to the search list and notice at the bottom of the Crop yields… link is “All 4 versions.” Sometimes one version is free access. If not try copying the complete title of the article and pasting it into a regular Google search. Sometimes this finds a free full text copy. Usually this would be a prepublication version on the author’s website, or on some interest groups website. If you try this with “Crop yields…” you will find Julia Pongratz’s website and can see what else she has published that might be useful.

    Next you might want to look at “Related articles,” left of “All 4 versions” that gets you a search of similar papers. This is a quick way to get a narrowed search, but you can also click the little down pointing triangle at the right side of the search term field for Google Scholar to narrow a search with several factors.

    Finally, in trying to dig up scientific information the Cited References list at the end of an article will consist of earlier work that might be of interest. To search forward, note “Cited by 6” just left of “Related articles” under the “Crop yields…” link on the search page. This finds more recent articles that have this paper listed in their “Cited References” section.

    I started doing this process in a university library 40 years ago using the sneaker net and a box of 5X7 notecards. With Scholar you can find research papers much more quickly, but getting past the paywall barrier is problematic. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 31 Oct 2012 @ 9:22 PM

  782. Steve Fish,

    Thanks for the comments. You seemed quite focused on the thermostat issue right up until it was proven true not just in the literal sense (which I defended), but also in every sense, and now you say it wasn’t an issue? I absolutely agree that it was never an issue. Thanks for coming around to my position.

    On other things, I repeatedly asked for clues as to what to substantiate. Truly a reasonable request, and surely one who refuses to identify what one wants substantiated is being an impossible roadblock for compliance. Taking me to school for not answering questions never asked is kinda, well, strange. Do you disagree?

    You were the first to step up and give actual questions. I thank you for that, and my immediate response was that I’d work up the answers and post them. Truly a reasonable stance. Do you disagree?

    OTOH, you claim that:

    “Even sloppy household like control would be useful if geoengineering were a viable option, but it isn’t.”

    Quite a sweeping statement, yet you haven’t provided substantiation even when asked. Why? Are you saying that since you spoke second, the rules are different?

    If you do substantiate (or retract), please take into account that we aren’t talking about a scenario with rising concentrations through 2100+, so much of what you find won’t be so relevant. Here’s something that is. Patrick’s first link said:

    ” We found that tailored solar geoengineering might limit Arctic sea ice loss with several times less total solar shading than would be needed in a uniform case.”

    and concluded:

    “While more work needs to be done, we have a strong model that indicates that solar geoengineering might be used in a far more nuanced manner than the uniform one-size-fits-all implementation that is often assumed. One might say that one need not think of it as a single global thermostat. This gives us hope that if we ever do need to implement engineered solutions to combat global warming, that we would do so with a bit more confidence and a great ability to test it and control it.”

    thus suggesting that the path I’m proposing to investigate may be precisely the GE path to maybe take.

    I’ll repeat, adding emphasis: “a GREAT ability to TEST it and CONTROL it.” Awfully strong language for a scientist, eh?

    So, please show how Ken Caldeira is wrong and you’re right that GE is already known to be “not viable”. (Or show how his words mean something other than what I think they mean.)


    PS, one of the reasons I like to use other folks’ cites is that it prevents cherry-picking, and when “my” arguments are based on “your” cites, “you’ve” got much less wiggle room. (random “you”)

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 1 Nov 2012 @ 1:55 AM

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