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  1. There is the BBC radio program from last night.

    A policeman report that there was an attempt to frame someone for the leak.

    Anyone have any details on that?

    [Response:The program is available here and this was the first I’d heard of this. – gavin]

    Comment by Nick — 1 Nov 2012 @ 5:15 AM

  2. Re #1.

    It was hard to trust the rumours in the press at the time. All that I can recall is that the alleged culprit, was of course, extremely upset. He was not a climatologist.

    Comment by deconvoluter — 1 Nov 2012 @ 7:00 AM

  3. Re: The BBC radio 4 program.

    It could have been worse, but should have been a lot better. It failed to turn the spotlight on the way the media allowed itself to be exploited by those looking for a gate type scandal. It avoided the technical discussion but not the sensational quotes which were interpreted as ‘evidence’.

    Comment by deconvoluter — 1 Nov 2012 @ 7:12 AM

  4. Re:BBC Radio 4 program “Climategate revisited”

    It could have been worse but should have been a lot better. There was no discussion of the role of the media and how their failure to understand, caused them to become amplifiers of misinformation. Some of the quoted fragments were repeated in a rush near the start, but never discussed because all technical discussion was omitted.

    Many people, including some scientists are blissfully unaware of the existence of a misinformation campaign and this revisit was a lost opportunity to inform them about it.

    Comment by deconvoluter — 1 Nov 2012 @ 7:30 AM

  5. See Tom Toles at the Washington Post today…

    Comment by tokodave — 1 Nov 2012 @ 7:57 AM

  6. Since we are supposed to discuss the hurricane, I’d like to point out that Kevin Trenberth may have made a Hoerling-type howler just recently.

    As discussed in this realclimate post it can be quite a mistake to split extremes into 1 degree of warming and several degrees of variability if the only path to that extreme is the effect of warming.

    If we consider Sandy as a late season storm that anomalously strengthened in mid-latitude waters rather than weakening or dissipating, an effect that seems to trap damage from most late season tropical storms down in the Gulf, then the destruction north of Cape Hatteras from Sandy might be entirely owing to global warming, not just 20% as the Trenberth quote suggests.

    If the sea surface temperature was at a near record, and the records are all recent for late October, then there is a pretty strong case that climate change flooded the subway, not random chance.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 1 Nov 2012 @ 8:33 AM

  7. I’d have had a few things to say had they interviewed me!!

    A programme oozing false equivalence that included Nigel Lawson whinging that ‘sceptics’ never get fair coverage – you couldn’t make it up!

    Comment by John Mason — 1 Nov 2012 @ 9:06 AM

  8. Chris – While I’d agree that without the SST anomaly Sandy would would not have maintained power,
    without the blocking high over Greenland and the meandering Jetstream bringing arctic air south over eastern states, Sandy would not have had more than a minute probability of making landfall. Thus both the system’s track to and power at New Jersey’s coast are directly attributable to global warming, with the usual qualification that “NO SINGLE WEATHER EVENT CAN BE ATTRIBUTED SOLELY TO GLOBAL WARMING.”

    The caveat of course is that the causal linkage between arctic sea ice loss and Jetstream disruption has a cogent explanation, but it has yet to be formally recognized by IPCC.

    Given that observed ASI loss is itself similarly unexplained within IPCC literature, it appears that a novel measure of explanations’ credibility is required, reflecting “a consensus of probability” rather than formal, and dangerously belated, IPCC adoption.



    [Response: There is no such consensus – of probability or of any other kind. There are useful things that can be said related to Atlantic temperatures, sea level, and water vapour, but the specific circulation link to arctic sea ice is tenuous at best, and completely speculative at worst. Your view of IPCC is also a little odd – it is simply an assessment of the science that has been done. IPCC cannot possibly arrive at a consensus on a topic if no such consensus exists in the literature – and it doesn’t. To blame the IPCC for this state of affairs, is to blame the mirror for one’s receding hairline. – gavin]

    Comment by Lewis — 1 Nov 2012 @ 10:28 AM

  9. Watts Up With That ? has exceeded its own high standard of climate denial dementia by denying that Sandy was a hurricane.

    Comment by Russell — 1 Nov 2012 @ 11:01 AM

  10. “but the specific circulation link to arctic sea ice is tenuous at best, and completely speculative at worst.”

    This is similar to Cliff Mass’ position…yet I haven’t seen the weaknesses of this theory explored in any depth. Is there a paper out there expanding on this, or maybe Real Climate could do a post on this subject?

    [Response: My conclusion is related to work we have done over the last 10 years on NAO/AO responses to different forcings. We looked at volcanoes, solar effects, CO2 etc. and while we found clear signals (increasing +ve phase in each case), the signals are small compared to the huge interannual variability, and are thus only detectable with many examples superposed, or over long time scales. There have been similar experiments with sea ice changes (by Clara Deser for instance), and while there is a negative NAO response, this too is a very small signal, and far too small to be detectable in the 5 years or so in which we have had these exceptionally low summer sea ice minimum, and on top of which have to compete with the CO2-driven trend towards slightly more positive NAO phase. Claims that even a seasonal signal has been detected, let alone a synoptic scale signal, would be grossly premature – indeed, I doubt that anything other than a huge effect would be detectable in such a small time period – and there is no indication of that at all. – gavin]

    Comment by Douglas — 1 Nov 2012 @ 1:05 PM

  11. Roger Pielke Jr. says in the Wall Street Journal today, don’t worry, be happy.

    Comment by Tom Dayton — 1 Nov 2012 @ 1:06 PM

  12. “but the specific circulation link to arctic sea ice is tenuous at best, and completely speculative at worst.”

    This is similar to Cliff Mass’ position on this theory, yet I haven’t seen the weaknesses of it explored in any depth. Is there a paper out there you can point me to, or perhaps Real Climate could do a post explaining the strenghths/weaknesses and knowns/unknowns of this theory?

    Comment by Douglas — 1 Nov 2012 @ 1:08 PM

  13. I posted this at the end of the October’s open thread so people didn’t have much time to respond. Seems like a significant addition to the long discussions we’ve had here at RC on sea bed methane:

    “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 — 1 Nov 2012 @ 5:47 PM

  14. See Tamino’s newest post for a dramatically different view from the business world!

    Comment by Tokodave — 1 Nov 2012 @ 5:55 PM

  15. I saw something about a month ago, which claimed there was a lot of organic carbon under the Antarctic icesheet. The implication was that it could become atmospheric CO2, should parts of the ice sheet melt. Does anyone know any details?

    Comment by Thomas — 1 Nov 2012 @ 8:20 PM

  16. Here is the paper which has received quite a play in the blogosphere:
    Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes
    Jennifer A. Francis
    Stephen J. Vavrus

    with the abstract at
    and full paper at

    I don’t know enough meteorology to more than just barely follow the argument. [I suspect the statistics is solid enough, but that by itself will not suffice.]

    So why don’t other experts [Gavin Schmidt (responses above), Kevin Trenberth, etc.] agree? I just need enough to see one or more holes in the reasoning.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 1 Nov 2012 @ 9:39 PM

  17. For Thomas: LMGSTFY

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Nov 2012 @ 10:07 PM

  18. Why Seas Are Rising Ahead of Predictions: Estimates of Rate of Future Sea-Level Rise May Be Too Low

    Faster and faster, I opine.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 1 Nov 2012 @ 10:22 PM

  19. > denying that Sandy was a hurricane.

    Technically once it lost its eye and heat pump and moved onto land, as I read it, it fit a different definition. I gather the insurance companies that have far higher deductibles for hurricane damage than for storm damage eat the difference.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Nov 2012 @ 10:26 PM

  20. It has been said that the jet stream will slow down in response to polar amplification (Arctic in particular, depends on season). The vertical wind shear should tend to decrease in the lower atmosphere, particularly at some latitudes and times of year. Thus if near-surface winds stayed constant, one would expect a reduction in westerly flow at some level above at least at some latitudes and times of year.

    However, the mid-upper tropospheric ‘hot spot’ of low latitudes (which has less seasonality? – does it?) should have the opposite effect at higher altitudes, – perhaps with more even distribution over latitude (I’m recalling a figure from Ch 9 of IPCC AR4 WGI (zonal averages)).

    I think I remember seeing at least one model producing an overall faster high altitude westerly wind (somewhere near tropopause level, at least).

    However, climatological zonal average wind can obscure important aspects of jet streams (such as the distinction between polar and subtropical).

    But maybe the steering level changes. Even if the wind stayed constant, if the steering level lowered, then systems would move more slowly eastward… I could imagine a lowering of the steering level in response to a decreased surface potential temperature gradient… though now I’m not sure if my reasoning is correct …

    Just some thoughts… (Maybe I should bring up the ‘dishpan’ experiments next time).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 1 Nov 2012 @ 10:59 PM

  21. New York’s mayor backs Obama on climate change in wake of Sandy:

    Comment by MalcolmT — 1 Nov 2012 @ 11:45 PM

  22. I have some further thoughts on the broader Hurricane Sandy and climate connection here, bringing up a few of the points Patrick raised above.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 2 Nov 2012 @ 12:04 AM

  23. Patrick 027 @19 — Did you read the paper I linked @15?

    Comment by David B. Benson — 2 Nov 2012 @ 12:22 AM

  24. 127 Superman1 asserted, “Whenever I present factual responses to questionable assertions, you and The Three MisQuoteers run for the hills!”

    Interesting. Whenever I actually read your, um, stuff, I respond with facts and you run for the hills, as you did a few days ago. I, and others, claimed that our emissions are very low, or even negative, while living far better than a typical USian. Even if your total guess that Steve Fish’s life results in a tad more CO2 than he sequesters (perhaps he didn’t subtract the natural seqestration that would have occurred if his land were vacant – Did you Steve?), his numbers surely are better than a typical small condo dweller. Let me know when you want to engage in a conversation by actually answering direct questions:

    Why should we downsize our living standard when it’s already near carbon neutral?

    Do you have a reason why the techniques we used can’t be duplicated by others?

    Why wouldn’t the simple technique of counting energy costs on loan applications drive the market to adopt the techniques we’ve already proven? Such a law would avoid the carbon tax fight. I think it would have huge bipartisan appeal – do you think more than a few recalcitrants would disapprove?

    Please cut and paste the above questions so as not to veer off too badly. Answer all four, or admit you’re a hill-runner. Ask me any questions you want, and I promise to similarly cut-and-paste.


    130 flxible, excellent point. Once built, a refrigerator, a car, a power plant, a fossil fuel well, or a house’s systems will either live their whole life in somebody’s hands or be turned into trash prematurely. Sell your SUV and buy an econocar? You did nothing for the planet. To do any good (or not), you’ve got to crush the SUV. I don’t know if you’ve saved any energy or money via your refrigerator procurement choices, but:

    ” the optimal lifetime for the energy objective ranges between 2 to 12 years, while that determined by cost objective is 18 years over the time horizon between 1985 and 2020.”

    If you’re interested in an efficient refrigerator that works far better and lasts longer than a regular one, look at Sunfrost. They don’t circulate air between freezer and refrigerator, so stuff stays fresh and frost doesn’t build up. (Frost is your veggies sending their water to the freezer.) A bit of frost eventually builds on the freezer’s ceiling, but it’s easy to handle. 0.5KWH/day as compared to 1KWH/day for the best regular refrigerators. The bad news? They’re a small company so you don’t get mass production efficiency. Prepare to spend over $2000.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 2 Nov 2012 @ 12:59 AM

  25. posed the issue of Climate Change and other top questions to Romney and Obama:

    Comment by Tom Adams — 2 Nov 2012 @ 7:16 AM

  26. Slightly OT, maybe (the effects of climate change on glacier dynamics were at least mentioned a bit more than just “in passing”), but worth a watch IMHO is Episode 1 (of the BBC/Discovery co-production called Operation Iceberg, an examination of iceberg calving from the Store Glacier in Greenland (can’t speak for Episode 2, yet, about the “death” of an iceberg). Lots of stunning photography and a reasonable amount of science.

    Episode 1 is still available for viewing on the BBC iplayer for 3 or 4 more days (UK viewers only probably; link above). And there are a few clips there that might be viewable to non-UK viewers.

    For a further flavour for non-UK viewers, the University of Aberystwyth’s website (some of whose scientists were involved in the science aspects) has a few short clips. And I note there are some YouTube clips around, too.

    Comment by P. Lewis — 2 Nov 2012 @ 7:22 AM

  27. RealClimate and/or others should do a blog refuting the misinformation on the NC-20 site, for instance the notion that CO2 is merely a dependent variable in the glacial cycles. It’s both a cause and effect, an essential part of the feedback loop that produced almost all the warming.

    “Sea Level Rise (SLR) has been a fact throughout the existence of the sea on earth. For at least the last million years, planetary movements have caused cycles in the earth’s orbit that cause periodic heating and cooling cycles. These cycles range from as short as a few decades to twenty and forty thousand-year cycles. They explain such things such as ice ages and glaciations, as well as warming phenomena that caused Greenland to be green. These are all natural phenomena and CO2 was a dependent variable, meaning that it was not the cause of any of these cycles but rather an effect. Additionally, SLR (or declines) has been over thousands of years, not a few decades.”

    Comment by Tom Adams — 2 Nov 2012 @ 7:52 AM

  28. From the essay that Tom Dayton linked at #11 and from the character assassination The Roger has attempted against Peter Hoppe:

    I’d say we have a tacit admission that there is now a climate change signal apparent in disaster loss data. In the essay, the Roger has shifted from his prior metric of loss normalized to population to a new metric of loss normalized to a fraction of the overall economy. One can immediately see that for sectors such as agriculture which have shrunk in importance in the economy this new metric minimizes the effect of climate on aggregated losses. For the Roger, if housing values fall owing to economic woes, that is just another means to obfuscate the climate signal is disaster losses from convective storms. Any obfuscation in a storm I guess.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 2 Nov 2012 @ 8:14 AM

  29. ” but the specific circulation link to arctic sea ice is tenuous at best, ”

    Totally disagree Gavin, but first I want to congratulate GCM programmers like yourself for outstanding models predicting this unusual hurricane event with astounding precision.

    In there lies the truth, why don’t you ask your models why Sandy has turned towards New Jersey instead of the NE Atlantic, perhaps if they talked like HAL in 2001 space Odyssey fame, they would have corrected you on this one.

    The disruption of the jet stream started from the unusual regions of Arctic Ocean open water stabilizing the Polar circulation flow from the Pole Southwards. Many people mistakenly used pressure graphs and didn’t see the Cyclones stuck in place over the open water. Some of them had SLP pressures as High as 1019 mb, yet very visible and amazingly stable. Compensating Southwards of the open water where a string of Anticyclones equally not so mobile, but covering more surface (longitude decreases with latitude) and inherently bigger than the Cyclones because they expand with clear cold air they create. In particular the huge region of open water on top of Greenland, Kara and Barents seas covered by an equally large Low pressure, subsequently compensated by a an equally important High Southwards. The rest , the trajectory change is history.

    I fault the chasm of not interpreting the GCM’s thoroughly and holistically because its so easy to let them display astounding forecast results. We become lazy and don’t bother looking at the finer details, the mechanics of it all from 20 North all the way to the Pole. The general circulation layout fully explained without using oscillation acronyms also is useful.

    Comment by Wayne Davidson — 2 Nov 2012 @ 8:15 AM

  30. Study say models underestimate SLR due to missing feedback loops:

    Comment by Tom Adams — 2 Nov 2012 @ 8:20 AM

  31. I like Chris’ essay linked at #22. It might make an interesting guest post here at RC with minimal editing.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 2 Nov 2012 @ 8:39 AM

  32. Politico article today by Erica Martinson creates false impressions about climate consensus. It relies heavily on Judith Curry as source.

    Comment by Lambda 3 — 2 Nov 2012 @ 9:42 AM

  33. And Tamino might want to look at Scafetta’s latest compilation of wiggles

    “… related to the spring tidal period of Jupiter and Saturn (range between 9.5 and 10.5 years, and median 9.93 years) and to the tidal sidereal period of Jupiter (about 11.86 years). The central cycle may be associated to a quasi-11-year solar dynamo cycle that appears to be approximately synchronized to the average of the two planetary frequencies. A simplified harmonic constituent model based on the above two planetary tidal frequencies and on the exact dates of Jupiter and Saturn planetary tidal phases, plus a theoretically deduced 10.87-year central cycle reveals complex quasi-periodic interference/beat patterns….”
    from which he concludes that “A new grand solar minimum (climate cooling?) is expected to occur in 2020–2045 A.D.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Nov 2012 @ 10:53 AM

  34. Oh, God, not another paper by Scafetta. What is with that dude? He just doesn’t learn!

    [Response: More to the point, why does the journal (and it is only one journal) keep pubishing the same thing over and again. We’ve got it – people can fit solar system cycles to any complex time series. – gavin]

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 2 Nov 2012 @ 11:28 AM

  35. > Scafetta
    This trick of searching through lots of charts, picking some with similar wiggles, overlapping, and sliding them back and forth, up and down, stretching and squeezing, trying to make them line up — it captures the eye and disengages the brain. Examples abound. If Scafetta has a scientifically defensible way to use that kind of eyeballing, or analysis of the numbers behind the seemingly similar wiggles — well, there are people who need help doing that kind of analysis.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Nov 2012 @ 11:48 AM

  36. Re- Comment by Jim Larsen — 2 Nov 2012 @ 12:59 AM

    You say- “Even if your total guess that Steve Fish’s life results in a tad more CO2 than he sequesters (perhaps he didn’t subtract the natural seqestration that would have occurred if his land were vacant – Did you Steve?)”

    The average US resident has a fossil carbon footprint of 48 tons of CO2/year while I am around approximately ¼ of that. I am still working on some uncertainties in the calculation and lowering the amount. I live off the sun, a little firewood (good insulation), a little propane (for cooking), and much less gasoline than the average. I live without any public utility electricity, land line phone, water, natural gas, sewer, cable or even broadcast TV, and no mail delivery or county road maintenance for our 2 miles of gravel road. The only utilities I get are cell service and satellite internet. My home is made of largely recycled material.

    I live in the great opulence of a remote region in the Northern California coastal range fir/redwood forest. This forest sequesters about 2 tons of CO2/acre/year but I would like to hear from Jim Bouldin regarding this figure.

    [Response:It would depend directly on the size structure of the tree population.–Jim]

    In any case I own enough forest to offset the fossil carbon load of many homes and am working on a land trust to protect it in perpetuity.

    Although we live modestly we have most of the usual appliances and comforts. I realize that many folks couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to live this way but everybody should be able to greatly reduce their fossil fuel use and save money in the bargain.

    If you watch sales and keep track of models you can get a standard refrigerator that approaches Sunfrost efficiency for less than half the cost. Put the money saved into house insulation or other low hanging fruit. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 2 Nov 2012 @ 12:17 PM

  37. Jim Larsen #24,

    “I, and others, claimed that our emissions are very low, or even negative, while living far better than a typical USian. Even if your total guess that Steve Fish’s life results in a tad more CO2 than he sequesters (perhaps he didn’t subtract the natural seqestration that would have occurred if his land were vacant – Did you Steve?), his numbers surely are better than a typical small condo dweller. Let me know when you want to engage in a conversation by actually answering direct questions….. Please cut and paste the above questions so as not to veer off too badly…… Ask me any questions you want, and I promise to similarly cut-and-paste.”

    [Edit: please knock it off with the attitude and the insults, we’re tired of it. Future posts containing such will be deleted–it’s a waste of our time to deal with it.]

    that’s not how good science/engineering is done. The first step in solving any problem is to identify the problem, and especially its causes, as accurately as possible. Once that is done, then identify the requirements for solving the problem in parallel with removing the causes. Then, one can postulate the approaches to solving the problem, and particularly the approaches specified within the context of the requirements. The cut-and-paste piecemeal proposals in which The Three MisQuoteers specialize have little meaning. If they were placed in context of what was necessary to head off serious climate change, their minimal impact would be obvious. Any proposal without an accompanying Roadmap, which details the steps going from where we are now to what is required, is pure arm-waving.

    Here’s where we stand. Under the best of circumstances, where we stop burning fossil fuels today, we can expect a total temperature increase (above pre-industrial) of somewhere between 1.5 C to 2.5 C in the next few decades. This projected increase does not include the effect of most positive feedback mechanisms. We can observe these positive feedback mechanisms now, and they are accelerating. It is my opinion, based on my familiarity with nonlinear dynamical systems and with the physics driving these mechanisms, that temperature increases of this magnitude will not stabilize at these levels as the feedbacks kick in. Many researchers, including Kevin Anderson among others, believe that ~2 C increase will lead to horrific conditions. Going beyond those levels due to inability to stabilize will lead to catastrophic conditions.

    And, this is under the best of conditions, which are obviously not achievable. Generically, what is required to head off the disaster is to phase out fossil fuel use ASAP, reforest/afforest ASAP, and perhaps take extraordinary measures to both remove carbon from the atmosphere and reduce solar influx to quench the self-sustaining feedback mechanisms before they get further out of control. To accomplish these goals will require far more stringent measures than The Three MisQuoteers have proposed. I suggest that you buy the DVD The Unknown War, about the battle in the Eastern front in WWII. Look at the sacrifices made by the citizens of Moscow, Stalingrad, and Leningrad to forestall the impending disaster. That’s the level of sacrifice we will need to ward off the impending climate change catastrophe, not the business as usual approach that you and Fish keep proposing.

    I understand your political agenda for targeting the energy companies and their denier handmaidens as villains, and for telling people that they can continue their lifestyle with minimal modifications as we transition into renewables, but it’s a dead-end approach in the long-run. It won’t work because the proposed approach does not match the scope of what is required.

    Comment by Superman1 — 2 Nov 2012 @ 12:24 PM

  38. > only one journal
    Profit? This journal is highly popular with those who like this sort of thing:
    W. Soon et al.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Nov 2012 @ 12:25 PM

  39. Re- Jim Bouldin inline in my 2 Nov 2012 @ 12:17 PM post:

    My 2 tons CO2/acre/year figure came from a second hand reference to a study of Northern California and possibly Oregon fir forest that is in a perpetual cut mode. I think such a figure from commercial forest, in the long view, is very deceptive. Mine is mixed fir and redwood and was logged in the 1960’s and so is largely, but not completely second growth with the opportunistic tanoaks beginning to be shaded out. We get about 40″ rain yearly. Steve

    [Response:Then it will be extremely high, because (1) there’s a redwood component, which has a second growth growth rate like no other, and (2) the trees should be in or approaching maximum absolute growth rate, which will be +/- sustained for some decades.–Jim]

    Comment by Steve Fish — 2 Nov 2012 @ 1:38 PM

  40. Today’s “Science Friday” is excellent; they’ll have audio files up after a while.
    Andy Revkin is one of the guests, and hearing him speaking was refreshing — not the dispassionate and evenhanded ‘voice’ I hear when I read his blog in print, but rather a heartfelt intensity on the subjects we need to address.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Nov 2012 @ 1:53 PM

  41. There is a big difference between AGW making this the particular hurricane that hit and AGW making hurricanes more likely and more damaging. Surely every hurricane that hits now is the particular hurricane that it is due to AGW but that is not saying anything negative about AGW.

    Comment by Floccina — 2 Nov 2012 @ 2:06 PM

  42. And keep listening to Science Friday for this quote:
    “The world doesn’t revolve around your science — it’s about money!”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Nov 2012 @ 2:10 PM

  43. An appropriate description of Scafetta’s work is climate astrology.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 2 Nov 2012 @ 3:27 PM

  44. On March 26, 2009 The White House and a whole bunch of environmental group leaders decided to stop talking about climate change and push the agenda by talking instead about national security, green jobs, clean energy economic growth, clean energy future, diversification of energy, health, future generations…

    Comment by Tom Adams — 2 Nov 2012 @ 3:43 PM

  45. “You would expect negative feedbacks to creep in at some point,” says Hay. “But in climate change, every feedback seems to go positive.” The reason is that Earth’s climate seems to have certain stable states. Between those states things are unstable and can change quickly. “Under human prodding, the system wants to go into a new climate state.”

    Comment by Tom Adams — 2 Nov 2012 @ 4:06 PM

  46. Steve Fish,

    Thanks for the detail. When I lived on Vancouver Island, where there are no termites, I thinned my forest and sold the logs to a log home builder, which is a grand sequestration strategy. I had the remains buried in berms, so they’d be underground but kept fairly dry. I got the dirt by digging ponds, thus capturing runoff. (VI drizzles all winter but the summers are quite dry, so water conservation is critical) I don’t know whether the berms were amazingly smart or unfortunately dumb – perhaps CH4 will leak out and cancel my sequestration.

    Superman1, limiting this to the USA,

    I studied WW2 in great detail in my youth. You mentioned that we should emulate Leningrad. You do understand that people lived off rats who fed on people, right? (Some folks skipped the middle-man) I share your fears and I agree that emulating Leningrad is one path, but you’d have to resurrect Hitler to achieve your plan. So, you’re arm-waving.

    I prefer the approach Steve Fish is taking. Live well and lightly. I gave a market-based FREE method to get us a large way to the initial goal of a 50-75% reduction in energy use. Add in that renewables exist (32% of electricity and increasing), and, of course, other “stuff”, and human emissions rapidly become a thing of the past. No muss, few arguments, and we all live better. Why do you think that dropping energy use by 50-75% is BAU/arm-waving?

    A “transition to renewables” is mostly unnecessary. We already have ~all the renewables we need for electricity production. All we have to do is increase efficiency in step with fossil power plant retirements. As Steve said, insulation is a very low-hanging fruit. We do need cellulosic ethanol or Lithium-air batteries for transportation (Trying to fuel tractor-trailers, ships, and airplanes with current batteries is futile)

    I added in the band-aid of GE to keep us from bleeding out from our past sins. (seems you agree on that)

    I don’t think FF entities are evil. I think they consider themselves saviours. Without their tireless efforts to increase production up to, but not over, a bit less than potential demand (to ensure high prices), in their mind, we’d end up like Leningrad. Your comments appear to show you agree with them.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 2 Nov 2012 @ 4:26 PM

  47. #45 Tom Adams

    Regarding the quoted comment: “You would expect negative feedbacks to creep in at some point,” says Hay. “But in climate change, every feedback seems to go positive.”

    This is very misleading, because it doesn’t give any sense of the relative strength of the different feedbacks. The fundamental issue is the ratio of the various radiative feedbacks (albedo+water vapor+clouds, etc) to the strength of the Planck radiative restoring response. Same kind of logic for carbon cycle responses.

    It is really critical to distinguish a “large response” or a “tipping point” by human or practical standards (such as the loss of Arctic sea ice) to a large response by the standard of the top-of-atmosphere radiation budget. There are all kind of interesting changes going on in the Arctic. You have lots of physical impacts related to permafrost, albedo, ice area covered, etc and those changes project onto ecology, politics, socio-economics, etc. When viewed at the global energetic levels though, it’s all pretty small potatoes.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 2 Nov 2012 @ 4:44 PM

  48. > insulation is a very low-hanging fruit.

    Going forward in new construction, yes. Same for putting on a cool white roof.

    In older buildings – changing where the cool surfaces are changes how moisture has to be managed. How that’s done depends.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Nov 2012 @ 6:01 PM

  49. Jim Larsen #46,

    [Edit; enough of this bickering and repetition. Discuss science or nothing.]

    Comment by Superman1 — 2 Nov 2012 @ 6:40 PM

  50. Chris Colose @ 22. Chris underplays his discussion. It’s a really nice summary of the complexities of trying to determine the various potential linkages between warmer seas, loss of sea ice, etc and superstorms. This highlights the great science to be done as we try and decipher our new climate.

    Comment by Tokodave — 2 Nov 2012 @ 7:10 PM

  51. #29, Again to reinforce my statement claiming the effect of Excessive Open water over the Arctic Ocean:….jpg

    Play the animation and watch a newly forming blocking High influencing the Next N-Easter. It will be created by 2 Lows, one over Baffin Bay, the other over the Greenland, Barents and Kara seas (which is the likely culprit). Watch the normal over Greenland High be stretched Southwards into a ridge, then a blocking High.

    I was and will be dealing more with this on my blog site

    I praise the accuracy of the models, but one must look at the mechanics they display.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 2 Nov 2012 @ 9:28 PM

  52. Steve, I’ve also asked Jim about calculating carbon numbers for wildland; also I’ve talked to these folks in Washington, who may be looking at Oregon and now California or know who is doing that:

    The details of their arithmetic are proprietary to their survey methods and last I knew focused on above-ground timber.

    I’ve been hoping they’ll come round to including assessment of underground live root mass, and the rest of the living biomass — basically considering forests for diversity rather than board feet.

    That would require looking at what’s been studied about how forests respond to disturbance, even when it’s something like horse-logging or highly selective intrusion.

    Lots _hasn’t_ been studied — somewhere in this audio file
    Bernie Krause talks about recording in a timber stand before it was carefully selectively logged and again afterward. He says that to the human eye, there was no important difference in the forest — they took out money trees with minimal disturbance — but that comparing the audio recordings before and after, and for a long while after, much that had lived there before the logging wasn’t heard afterward.

    That’s not something yet quantified by ecologists, as far as I know. It could be and should be.

    Heck, we should’ve gotten good audio recordings of the ocean before intensive whaling, shouldn’t we? I wonder if the world’s navies have an archive of old wire and tape recordings from the early military days that someone could get for that.

    Biodiversity _is_ carbon sequestration, in the best way — living carbon, keeping itself going.

    I recall that when a big tree falls in the forest — one with a large amount of heartwood, which is dead and just about sterile, all that mass very rapidly becomes living as fungus, and then insects, convert it. So a fallen tree changes from dead carbon to living carbon, if left in place.

    “The measure of a man’s wealth is what he can afford to leave alone.” — Thoreau.

    I’ve heard that same quote from folks who’ve been leaving their part of the world alone for decades. Good idea.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Nov 2012 @ 9:36 PM

  53. re 23 – David B. Benson – not yet. Thanks for the reminder!

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 2 Nov 2012 @ 11:17 PM

  54. @11, Let’s not dismiss Pielke, he’s a clever boy. It’s important to understand what he’s doing here. This WSJ opinion piece cloaked as a factual Hurricane Sandy in-the-light-of-history overview is just another vulgar hit piece on climate science and the scientists who work to expand our understanding of how the earth is adapting. Since it’s illustrative of the genre, the piece is worth deconstructing.

    Headline: Hurricanes and Human Choice. As he’ll point out, this is your fault.

    Paragraph 1: Acknowledge the obvious and follow up with a few non-controversial facts.

    Paragraph 2: Frame the opinion of your opponents with regard to this storm as the “new normal” and “unprecedented”. Then let your target audience know that through the magic of spreadsheet knowledge, you’ll prove that Sandy was only average in the world of awful outcomes. Bonus: Frame your opinion as reasonable and by comparison, your opponents as fanatics.

    Paragraph 3 & 4: Make your case regarding the hurricane. In the world of top 10 lists, Sandy was run-of-the-mill. In the world of killer weather, Sandy is a loser, (like those global warming fanatics).

    Paragraph 5: Save a juicy fact which may or may not matter to skewer “the media”. Bonus: The under-informed dislike “the media” and you’ve made the connection to those fanatics who see Hurricane Sandy as “unprecedented”.

    Paragraph 6, 7 & 8: Transition to a discussion of bad weather in general and point out how lucky we are today. Lay out some random tornado and drought stats and bring it home with a 1906 earthquake reference.

    Paragraph 9: Hey losers, did you see my headline, you live by water.

    Paragraph 10, 11 & 12: Humans “make their own luck” and experts should be congratulated. Bone chilling, your-on-your-own creepy. And of course, a warning with a wonkish reference.

    Paragraph 13: Finally, begin making your point…it’s a conspiracy. There is a “climate lobby” exploiting this weather event. Quote non-scientists making concerned points of view in the heat of a disaster.

    Paragraph 14: The red meat. Concede some ground to scientific consensus on climate change and make a hard right turn to introduce energy policy into the discussion as if this was relevant to the previous 13 paragraphs. Then hammer your only real point home, “…to connect energy policy and disasters makes little scientific or policy sense”. And pile on with a new centerpiece of climate denial,”…changes to energy policies wouldn’t have a discernible impact on future disasters for the better part of a century or more”.

    Paragraph 15: If you thought the set-up to this opinion piece was disturbing, here’s how to resolve our weather disaster issues: Look to the past for solutions.

    How far back, the Old Testament?

    Comment by Eric Rowland — 3 Nov 2012 @ 12:13 AM

  55. Hey, the free market provides hurricanes and people should be grateful. Did you ever hear of a hurricane in the USSR? Huh? Not a one. Pathetic failure of the managed economy.

    But the market provides. Once they got oligarchs, they started getting proper free market weather:

    Russia Today
    Tue, 17 Aug 2010
    “Strong winds and heavy rains are taking the place of the record heat which has been baking Central Russia since the middle of June. On Sunday, a hurricane hit north-western regions of the country….”

    You want creative destruction, you gotta do it right.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Nov 2012 @ 9:53 AM

  56. PS, when you hear about the shallow seabed north of Russia becoming a problem, or being explored — remember, there may be more there — known unknowns and unknown unknowns — besides sediment and methane clathrates:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Nov 2012 @ 11:41 AM

  57. It seems, thus far the scientific community is going to miss it’s opportunity to educated the public while it has their attention. While we all realize it will take several years to figure out the exact degree of attribution for Sandy. Even a conclusion that it was 100% attributed, won’t mean much 3 years from now. It will get buried on page 5 of popular news outlets. Meanwhile Whatsupwithcrap will have cherry picked info from and fed misinformation to tens of millions of voters and their representatives by that point.

    Rather than delivering a nuanced message with a dozen caveats, scientist should be saying what they are sure of now:
    Average years we don’t even get to an “S” storm–but they are becoming more common;
    Major late season storms don’t happen very often in the historical records, look at the retired list for example (e.g. Camille, Andrew, Gilbert etc), but they seem to be happening and are projected to come more often.

    Perhaps most of all: Climate warming doesn’t express itself as some gradual change that removes a inch of coastline year by year–it comes as 20 foot storm surges from unprecedented events that wreck communities and turn those built on sand into new inlets and harbors.

    Trenberth’s comments were particularly disappointing; he seemed to completely miss the point that 1 C warming is an average made up as colder and warmer places–such as the extra 5 degrees that fueled this monster storm. Attribution should be looking at the tails not the means.

    Comment by Ray Menard — 3 Nov 2012 @ 11:47 AM

  58. @11 – Roger – Nice plug. Ever thought of changing your name to ‘Pangloss’?

    Comment by Peter Backes — 3 Nov 2012 @ 11:52 AM

  59. Recommended reading:

    Why did Hurricane Sandy take such an unusual track into New Jersey?
    By Dr. Jeff Masters
    October 31, 2012

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 3 Nov 2012 @ 12:31 PM

  60. Re 55 Hank Roberts – “On Sunday, a hurricane hit north-western regions of the country” – meaning Russia? Northwestern Russia? Meaning somewhere near Scandinavia, but farther inland? A hurricane? Not an extratropical hurricane-strength storm but an actual hurricane? Not one of those polar lows that happens to be warm core (I can imagine something forming over the Baltic Sea), but an actual hurricane? Is that a trustworthy source?

    ReCAPTCHA says clickyH constantly. Okay. HHHHHH…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 3 Nov 2012 @ 1:04 PM

  61. Chris Dudley @28: “Roger has shifted from his prior metric of loss normalized to population to a new metric of loss normalized to a fraction of the overall economy”.

    And why not? As a metric it is not ideal but it is certainly better. What you really want for a metric of storm severity is, I guess, ‘Total damage’ divided by ‘Total storm-vulnerable stuff. If you are measuring the former in billions of dollars, then the overall economy is obviously a much better proxy for the latter than the total population.

    It’s not perfect, obviously: the stock of vulnerable stuff may not be proportional to the economy; the pattern of vulnerable stuff may have changed over the years; not all stuff is vulnerable to storm damage (e.g. intellectual property was probably largely unaffected).

    If you don’t like his analysis, feel free to propose a better metric.

    Comment by Gerry Quinn — 3 Nov 2012 @ 1:06 PM

  62. (I can imagine something forming over the Baltic Sea) … in winter. I see that was August. All the more puzzling.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 3 Nov 2012 @ 1:08 PM

  63. Hank,

    Yes, vapor barriers are critical, and their placement and perm ratings are the subject of ongoing debate. Doing things wrong leads to a rotting house.

    Wild VS managed forest? Personally, I think both are required. Continuing with my Vancouver Island experience, the difference between Cathedral Grove and my land was astounding. My land sequestered more carbon but Cathedral Grove had more rot, bugs, and bug-eaters. I disagree with you on the bio-sequestration issue. Primary producers absorb, but after that it’s carbon release all the way up the food chain. By taking primary producers and sequestering directly into log houses and berms, I avoided much of that release. Which produced more soil or groundwater? Dunno, but with my optimization of land contours and burying of slash, I’d bet mine did.

    Would I want provincial parks to follow my example? No way in ______. My little 5 acres was all about humanity’s use. Provincial parks are about, as you said, leaving it be. I think that’s a very good division, as wilderness does best in large chunks. I’d change the quote to:

    “The measure of a society’s wealth is what they can afford to leave alone.”

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 3 Nov 2012 @ 3:11 PM

  64. Patrick 027 — Just a poor translation.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 3 Nov 2012 @ 4:59 PM

  65. > What you really want for a metric of storm severity is

    Aw relax, it’ll dry out soon enough:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Nov 2012 @ 5:34 PM

  66. “… The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report on Friday analyzing how climate science was presented in two of News Corp’s biggest flagship properties, Fox News Channel and the Wall Street Journal, which sit atop the prime-time cable-television news viewership and national newspaper circulation lists, respectively.

    “Over a recent six-month period, Fox News misled prime-time viewers about climate science in 93 percent of the cases UCS examined — 37 of 40 instances. Meanwhile, in 39 of 48 instances in the Wall Street Journal opinion section, when climate science was addressed over a yearlong period, it was misrepresented or mocked, according to the report.

    “The only depictions of climate science in the Wall Street Journal’s opinion section that the group found legitimate were in letters from readers ….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Nov 2012 @ 5:50 PM

  67. American scientists have voted with their feet, with only 6% now calling themselves Republican. (It used to be about 50%)…. — David Brin

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Nov 2012 @ 6:02 PM

  68. Re- Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Nov 2012 @ 11:41 AM:

    I just knew those damn Rooskies were causing global warming. Very sneaky- Melting the icecap with fission. We should stockpile ice.

    Comment by Steve Fish — 3 Nov 2012 @ 6:21 PM

  69. Re 16 David B. Benson – finished reading Francis and Vavrus.

    parts of fig. 4 were a little hard to understand and it isn’t quite obvious that they are showing what they are intended to show, but maybe there’s good reason to process the data that way rather than in the ways I thought of. Anyway, focusing on the theoretical aspects (physics), they are saying:

    (see paragraph 5) summer sea ice loss leads to heating in fall and winter, this combines with larger poleward latent heat fluxes (Alexeev et al., 2005) to “contribute to AA” (arctic amplification).

    The 1000 to 500 mb thickness (proportional to temperature in that layer – the lower half of the atmosphere, approximately) increases with warming.

    from paragraph 5, describing thickness anomalies:

    During fall (Oct.–Dec.) statistically significant anomalies are
    apparent over much of the Arctic region, and during winter
    (Jan.–Mar.) a strong anomaly persists in the N. Atlantic and
    west of Greenland, along with positive areas at lower latitudes
    over Russia and the N. Pacific. Strong positive values during
    summer (Jun.–Sep.) occur mainly over high-latitude land
    areas, consistent with warmer, drier soils resulting from earlier
    snow melt [Brown et al., 2010]. Significant anomalies are
    absent in spring during recent years because heating that
    results from a reduced summer ice cover has dissipated and
    because high-latitude soils have not yet dried following snow

    Large (synoptic to planetary) horizontal scale flow away from the surface tends toward geostrophic balance (because the acceleration and especially the horizontal components of the other forces tend to be small relative to pressure gradient and coriolis forces in those conditions). Geostrophic winds align with isobars at a given geopotential height, thus with lines of constant geopotential on an isobaric surface (and also with the Montgomery Streamfunction on an isentropic surface, but that’s something for another day).

    Thus geostrophic vertical wind shear, in terms of the direction and rate at which geostrophic velocity changes with height, is proportional to thickness gradients (thus temperature gradients in the atmosphere) and directed along contours of thickness – hence a warm core cyclone decreases in strength with height; a vertically-limited cyclonic anomaly will be a region of (relative over quasi-horizontal distances) enhanced stratification (warm anomaly above, cool anomaly below), etc.

    The westerly flow generally increases with height through the troposphere in association with the general equatorward temperature gradient.

    From Francis and Vavrus again:

    arctic amplification (1000 to 500 mb) generally reduces the thickness gradient (1000 to 500 mb)

    This results in reduced westerly speed at 500 mb (**provided the surface pressure gradient does not increase too much in the equatorward direction – thus, that near-surface winds do not speed up too much in the (north-)westerly direction (north- because of friction))

    This also elongates waves (**if the east-west surface pressure variation is unchanged, then reducing the north-south pressure gradient will increase the north-south amplitude of waves in isobars (or geopotential contours on isobaric surfaces, or …etc.). One way to achieve a reduction in the 500 mb equatorward geopotential gradient is to keep that gradient the same at 1000 mb while decreasing the equatorward temperature gradient (see last paragraph). And one way to keep the east-west 500 mb geopotential variations (proprotional to pressure variations at the corresponding height) the same is to keep them the same at 1000 mb and keep the east-west temperature variation between 500 and 1000 mb the same as well.)

    A reduction in westerly speed will tend to slow the eastward motion of waves

    **(a displacement wave of a given shape and size will, provided some potential vorticity (PV) gradient, propagate at some speed through the fluid (phase propagation is westward when cyclonic PV increases poleward, which is typical; it increases with increasing wavelength; I think group velocity is in that case eastward relative to the wave phase lines, but can be westward relative to the fluid; it will also have a northward(southward) and/or upward(downward) component if phase planes tilt from NW to SE (NE-SW) and/or up-west to down-east (down-west to up-east) – group velocity is determined by the gradient of the frequency (following fluid motion) in wavevector space, but can be understood qualitatively by considering how strings of vortices of varying strength will act to create new vortices out of a PV gradient (draw a picture); fluid velocity must be added to find motion relative to a fixed surface (relative to the planet).)

    **(PV is proportional to (f + relative vorticity)/(fluid layer thickness or stratification (stability) given by the lapse rate in terms of potential density change over pressure); planetary vorticity = the coriolis parameter f, which varies over latitude (df/dy = beta, which is proprotional to cosine(latitude)); the poleward relative vorciticy gradient will peak in a westerly jet, especially a narrow jet; a gradient in stratification will also peak in such a jet if it is of limited vertical extent. A reduction of the thickness gradient below 500 mb combined with an increase above 500 mb would decrease the PV gradient via their implied effect on stratification; a slowing of the jet stream would also decrease the PV gradient via the effect on relative vorticity; the two are linked by geostrophic vertical shear. A poleward shift of the jet, if that were to occur, would reduce beta at the jet. All of these reductions would counteract the direct effect of fluid speed on Earth-relative wave propagation. However, one may give a first-approximation of some aspects of flow within the troposphere using a ‘shallow water’ model, where the 500 mb flow may be the only level … . Meanwhile, the jet maximum tends to be near the tropopause, which is typically above 500 mb although it has significant seasonal and weather-related variations (the tropopause generally slopes downward poleward, with downward steps occuring across jets, which can shift) (**don’t remember offhand how low it gets in winter) – the PV gradient is generally weak in the troposphere relative to the stratosphere; a freely-propagating wave-structure may not at any one level be freely propagating but some parts may force the propagation of other parts… Depending on how strongly the temperature gradient changes above 500 mb, the effective westerly speed of the whole troposphere may be reduced even if it increases at the tropopause – but how should this be weighted for waves propagation… And, wave propagation along a PV front (which can approximate a relatively narrow jet) has a different dispersion relationship than for a broad region of nearly-constant PV gradient, although it is qualitatively similar.)

    paragraph 8, citing Palmén and Newton, 1969: “and weaker flow is also associated with higher wave amplitudes” – it is implied this is independent of or additional to the effect of reduced thickness gradient on amplitude of waves in in isobars discussed above.

    paragraph 9: “ Higher amplitude waves also tend to progress more slowly.”

    This would not (at least given some simplifying approximations) be the case for PV waves of constant amplitude along phase lines within a region of constant PV gradient and flow, so far as I know. For waves weak enough to be described linearly, so far as I understand, if wavelength is unchanged, PV-anomaly-induced velocity is proportional to wave amplitude, and the rate of PV anomaly production is proportional to velocity, so a higher wave amplitude increases the rate of displacment just enough to keep wave propagation at the same speed.

    However, for waves on a sufficiently-narrow jet, approximated as a PV front, as wave amplitude (front displacement) grows, the marginal effect of each additional cyclonic or anticylonic anomaly is reduced via it’s greater distance from where the associated velocity fields must be acting on the PV front. I don’t know about PV fronts thoroughly but this is the most obvious way I can think of to explain slower wave propagation with increased amplitude.

    Also, for waves on a narrow jet rather than within a broad flow region, it can be helpful to distinguish between curvature (orbital) vorticity (cyclonic or anticyclonic in a trough or ridge, generally), shear vorticity (cyclonic or anticyclonic on the north or south edge of a westerly jet), and planetary vorticity (variations increase with wave amplitude). Curvature vorticity = angular frequency of circular motion = speed/turning radius = u/r = u*change in angle/distance, curvature vorticity is proportional to U*(Y/L)/L = U*Y/L^2 ; shear vorticity is proportional to U/width; planetary vorticity change along the jet is proportional to Y, where Y is amplitude as north-south distance. The sum of these vorticities must be constant or else balanced by horizontal divergence (required for geostrophic adjustment). Along a PV front, … I think divergence occurs going into a ridge, at least on the anticyclonic side, and … etc. … See Cushman-Roison

    Okay, that’s what I’ve got so far. Another important thing is troposphere-stratosphere interaction.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 4 Nov 2012 @ 12:24 AM

  70. “The sum of these vorticities must be constant or else balanced” … the key thing about that is that you can vary shear vorticity by having trajectories cross from one side of the jet to the other going through the waves. This will tend to require some of the flow to enter or exit the jet in places.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 4 Nov 2012 @ 12:28 AM

  71. I see more discussion of building standards set to handle risks with a 500 recurrence interval.

    The sea level rise studies that are best known look at the 100 year projections. It might be helpful if RC were to review what a 500 year standard might look like for coastal cities highlighting those publications which have given estimates for that far out. In some ways the problem gets easier the further out in time you go since there is a limit to the amount of ice that can melt.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 4 Nov 2012 @ 9:11 AM

  72. > gets easier the further out in time you go
    > since there is a limit to the amount of ice that can melt.
    Contrariwise, the longer the time span,
    the higher the odds of a tsunami.

    E.g. “one tsunami reported about every fifteen to twenty years in Canada”

    It’s not the average level that does the damage.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Nov 2012 @ 11:19 AM

  73. Can someone please recommend a good book that discusses the economic side of the climate change issue?

    Comment by no_name_please — 4 Nov 2012 @ 12:39 PM

  74. Hank (#72),

    Not all coastal regions need to plan for tsunamis so that would seem to be a separate category though changing bathymetry might lead to different models for how they focus.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 4 Nov 2012 @ 1:17 PM

  75. re my 2nd-to-last significant paragraph in 69:
    …”I don’t know about PV fronts thoroughly but this is the most obvious way I can think of to explain slower wave propagation with increased amplitude.

    Actually, it would, or at least would seem to, slow wave propagation *to the west* relative to the fluid flowing through a westerly (eastward) jet, which is the opposite of the effect being discussed. I think it would actually be due to the greater relative role of planetary vorticity variations as north-south displacment waves on a jet grow larger. This doesn’t affect a broad flow region because in that case, everything relevant tends to change in the same proportion with increasing amplitude, so far as I know.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 4 Nov 2012 @ 2:40 PM

  76. Re- Comment by Jim Larsen — 3 Nov 2012 @ 3:11 PM:

    You say- “My land sequestered more carbon but Cathedral Grove had more rot, bugs, and bug-eaters. I disagree with you on the bio-sequestration issue. Primary producers absorb, but after that it’s carbon release all the way up the food chain.”

    This statement is very far from what I thought was the case. I realize that it is vain for me to ask, but please provide some scientific justification for this and related statements.

    It is my understanding that a mature forest stores the most carbon in living wood. As soon as a forest is logged there is a short term (year or two) release of CO2 from about 1/3 of each tree in slash in the woods and from another sizable component of waste from manufacturing wood products. Boards, plywood, and other products have a life of between 5 and 100 years before they also break down and this is pretty short term relative to how long CO2 lasts in the atmosphere. There are a lot of studies that explore how to manage a commercial forest for maximum carbon storage, but if the goal is to use a forest as a permanent carbon sink it should be allowed to mature and remain untouched.

    [Response:As usual, lots of variation in those things, depending on species, climate, etc. Short rotation forestry can be made to work in sequestering C, depending on a number of factors, not the least of which is the time scale in question (because biomass does asymptote in any forest, hence net C flux approaches zero. That doesn’t happen in rotation forestry, and thus, time scale matters for total net flux). The more important arguments for leaving forests alone remain those related to hydrology, microclimate, and depending on forest type, biodiversity (among others).–Jim]


    Comment by Steve Fish — 4 Nov 2012 @ 3:37 PM

  77. Patrick 027 — Thank you.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 4 Nov 2012 @ 5:42 PM

  78. 76 Steve Fish said, ” I realize that it is vain for me to ask, but please provide some scientific justification for this and related statements. It is my understanding that a mature forest stores the most carbon in living wood. As soon as a forest is logged there is a short term (year or two) release of CO2 from about 1/3 of each tree in slash in the woods and from another sizable component of waste from manufacturing wood products.”

    I assume you’re talking about last month’s GE conversation. Did you read my final comment? In any case, the issue was that nobody prior to you asked me to cite diddly even though I begged whined and screamed, “Cite what?” You have no reason to expect that I won’t back up or adjust my statements. I think we’ll both learn from this conversation.

    First a quibble. Old growth trees are mostly dead wood, not live.

    “The outer 4 to 20 annual rings (referred to as sapwood) are usually alive and light-colored. Wood in the center of a large tree (referred to as heartwood) is composed of dark-colored, dead cells used for storage. ”

    [Response:If it’s part of a live tree, it’s considered alive, even if the heartwood is dead, for purposes of C accounting.]

    Cathedral Grove is aptly named. It is awesome. If you ever get to VI, visit it.

    I’ll base this comment on

    The paper repeatedly highlights that the science is variable and often unknown, so we’re stepping into a nebulous topic. Here’s a start:

    Trees follow an S-shaped growth curve. Old growth forests are more a carbon storage depot than a carbon sequestering system (though they’re both) By preventing old-growth, you increase productivity. My “sequestered more carbon [per year per acre]” was based on this fact.

    “Productivity for commercially usable wood generally follows an S-shaped curve, with the volume growing at an increasing rate for many years, to a point known to foresters as the culmination of mean annual increment (generally taking 20 to 100 years or more, depending on the fertility of the site and the tree species), and then growing at a decreasing rate for many more years. In theory, forests can eventually become “over-mature,” where the loss of commercial volume through tree mortality equals or exceeds the additional growth on the remaining trees. However, one study has shown that some old-growth (“over-mature”) forests continue to accumulate carbon in their soils.”

    Your comment about slash doesn’t apply to my case. I took care to try and preserve the slash. I don’t know how successful I was, and consider my efforts an experiment. My hope is that I sequestered the carbon for centuries, and hope the percentage that ends up dirt will be larger than in old-growth. By placing the slash underground, “stuff” can be taken up by the next generation of plants. The cite seems to agree with that last bit.

    [Response:Slash refers to branches and foliage. It decomposes fast, compared to the tree bole. It will only last a few decades at most, generally.]

    Sawmill losses aren’t relevant. They displace pulpwood, fossil fuels, and peat via paper, pellet stoves and gardening products. In any case, since I sent my logs to where they’d be used whole, the losses were minor.

    “Most (more than 95%) of the bark and sawdust are either used as pulp to make paper or burned to produce energy (thus substituting for timber used in papermaking or for fossil fuels); less than 5% of waste wood from sawmills ends up in landfills.”

    Whole logs covered by a roof only last 100 years?? Naw, that carbon is sequestered “forever”. The biggest risk is fire, and that risk applies to old-growth forests as well.

    [Response:Nope, it’s going to decay, at a roughly exponential rate with time.–Jim]

    My technique disturbed lots of soil. Digging ponds does that. I can’t tell you how much carbon I released doing that, but it surely is significant.

    Then there’s “leakage” (see cite). We use wood. It has to come from somewhere. Deciding to go old-growth is a decision to log elsewhere, not a decision to not log, though a system combining old growth and tree farms is also a reasonable solution.

    So, I released some carbon, buried some carbon, prevented runoff, increased the primary productivity of my land, reduced fossil fuel use (pellets), used fossil fuel, and provided material that prevented some clear-cutting (the most common forestry technique on VI is clear cutting while leaving seed-trees) and will sequester carbon “forever”. I also made money which went into further carbon savings (a big chunk of my 2004 Prius).

    Compared to your example, well, we both did quite well for the planet.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 4 Nov 2012 @ 7:36 PM

  79. Jim,

    You surely know more than I do, so I’d appreciate your opinion.

    Burying slash aboveground provided tremendous personal value. Ponds kept my well well-fed. The noise abatement and privacy made walking onto my property like walking onto an uninhabited planet. The deer loved it too. Clover and rye and a view of potential threats ensured they dropped their fertilizer right on top of my berms.

    BUT, was I climatically foolish in a methane sort of way?

    [Response:Not at all, methane only forms under anaerobic conditions (i.e. permanent inundation). But at the same time, burying logs is not going to give you the permanent C storage you’re thinking either. It may slow down decay, depending on the specifics of how you did it, but not greatly (with the possible exception of western redcedar). There are advantages in terms of soil structure and fertility however.–Jim]

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 4 Nov 2012 @ 8:42 PM

  80. Re- Jim Bouldin inline comment, 4 Nov 2012 @ 3:37 PM:

    Thanks again. One further clarification- My assertion was that in a mature forest with large trees, where CO2 absorption and release are pretty much balanced, the total amount of stored carbon is greater than in any managed timber production zone.

    [Response:Correct, assuming same forest type, climate, soils etc.]

    In other words, with even careful logging, stored carbon in live trees minus the immediate release of CO2 from waste and intermediate term release from forest products, on average, add up to a smaller carbon sink than the same forest left to mature.

    [Response:No, not necessarily, and that’s where the time factor that I mentioned before comes into play. The important point there is that biomass asymptotes, following a generally sigmoid curve. So the structural condition of the forest at time zero is important, as is the lifetime of the wood product produced before ending up in a landfill, both of which can be fairly big wild cards–Jim]

    This view may be biased by discussions with park rangers regarding redwood parks, like Hendy Woods and Prairie Creek, but the logic would seem to apply to any forest.

    [Response:Right, the biomass carrying capacity enters into the computations as well–extremely high for all the west coast conifer forests, especially redwood.]

    My cursory web search brought up studies, such as, Birdsey, 2006 and Winjum, 1998 that appear (with some digging) to support my assertion. I don’t plan to log my property, but this is certainly one of several factors for setting up my estate for my children and grandchildren. Obviously biodiversity is also a big personal factor. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 4 Nov 2012 @ 8:48 PM

  81. 80 Steve Fish said, “in a mature forest with large trees, where CO2 absorption and release are pretty much balanced, the total amount of stored carbon is greater than in any managed timber production zone. In other words, with even careful logging, stored carbon in live trees minus the immediate release of CO2 from waste and intermediate term release from forest products, on average, add up to a smaller carbon sink than the same forest left to mature.”

    Quite a bold assertion. If you’re correct, then forests have a hard limit in climate change mitigation. We can use them up to, but no further than old-growth carbon storage. Beyond that is impossible. I surely hope you’re wrong.

    In any case, provide some documentation for your amazing claim. So far, we’ve only seen evidence you’re wrong. My example of semi-permanent sequestration of huge amounts of carbon every few decades flies in the face of your assertion that “any managed” just won’t do.

    Cite, please.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 4 Nov 2012 @ 10:37 PM

  82. Steve,

    In your answer, be sure to include the CO2 emissions from metal studs and other construction materials required to replace wood. Unlike logs, they emit carbon but sequester none, and really, complete replacement is still impossible. Perhaps that’s the key component you’re missing. Utility removed = utility that MUST be replaced and accounted for carbon-wise.

    I’m learning here, and enjoying your honest discussion. Thanks.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 4 Nov 2012 @ 11:05 PM

  83. Steve Fish,

    Thanks for the links. The first says the USA’s forests absorb 10% of our emissions and with intensive effort could absorb 20-30%. Big number. Do you know any details?

    I love what you’re doing with your land, and have been pondering about oasis VS large tract for wilderness. Just a thought, but perhaps you could get both by posthumously selling with a no-logging stipulation and buying a piece next to a wilderness to donate.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 5 Nov 2012 @ 3:22 AM

  84. Going the other way from log homes are SIPs. OSB bonded to foam makes for great insulation, is airtight, has no vapor problems, and is extremely strong. OSB is often made from farmed trees. Tree farms are kinda spooky. Row after row after row….

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 5 Nov 2012 @ 3:50 AM

  85. I recently came across a paper on ecology and economics, produced for the UK government, attempting to put a monetary value on the benefits of setting up Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). These are basically areas where damaging activities (principally commercial fishing) are limited or stopped completely. The headline conclusion was that by protecting about 10% of UK territorial and offshore waters (out to 200 miles), the financial benefits could be up to £23,529,359,297 over 20 years, or £2,000,576,146 annually. I started to get interested when I noticed that about 75% of that benefit was categorised as Gas/climate regulation.

    The paper can be found here I think basically the same work has been published in a proper peer-reviewed journal, Ecological Economics:
    Hussain, S.S., Winrow-Giffen, A., Moran, D., Robinson, L.A.., Fofana, A., Paramor, O.A.L. and Frid, C.L. (2010) An ex ante ecological economic assessment of the benefits arising from marine protected area designation in the UK. Ecological Economics 69, 828–838.

    The Gas/Climate Regulation calculation basically estimates annual carbon sequestration in UK seas, assigns a value based on a UK Government ‘Shadow Carbon Price’ of £117/tonne C (£32.10/tonne CO2), estimates how this might be increased by MPAs. This leads to a maximum annual benefit of £1,503,211,932 from extra carbon sequestration by assigning 10% of UK seas to MPAs (Table 30, I love their precision).

    You can of course step straight back to carbon sequestration forecasts by dividing by the assumed carbon price. This leads to the the estimate that making 10% of UK waters MPAs could absorb an extra 47 million tonnes of CO2 per year. This equates to about 8% of UK annual emission. Leading to the conclusion that if we made all UK seas MPAs we would meet our 80% reductions in net CO2 emissions overnight.

    The numbers get even better if you just look at Scotland (not in the paper but a further study not yet published). Scotland could get all its Carbon sequestered in the ocean by just assigning MPAs to 30% of its seas.

    Now either they have discovered the secret way to reduce atmospheric CO2, and possibly that climate change could be due to overfishing ;), or there is a serious flaw in the argument. I suspect it is the latter. I just posted this to see if someone with enough knowledge of the ocean carbon cycle could tell me where that flaw is.

    I suspect the estimation that primary production can be used as a proxy for carbon sequestration (particularly in shelf seas) is wrong. Possibly also the estimate that setting up MPAs could double primary production.

    This possibly needs a response to be published by Ecological Economics, as the financial numbers appear to have gained some credibility – particularly among people in the UK campaigning for MPAs to be set up. I have been in touch with the lead author expressing my doubts but can’t get much beyond the ‘it is peer reviewed, cited and accepted by UK Government’ stage.

    I hope someone can help.

    Comment by Alan Fox — 5 Nov 2012 @ 5:27 AM


    The first three sites that come up from googling “logging co2 emissions” speak against logging as an effective way of sequestering CO2. I have seen many other articles and posts that say the same thing. I am sure, as Jim (the mod) said above, that the details get complicated as you look at particular kinds of forests, extraction methods, end use of wood products…

    But at this point it looks to me as if it is in Jim Larsen’s court to prove (or support with studies…) that his logging activity leads to net carbon sequestration. One also wonders how much CO2 was emitted from chain saw(s), truck(s) moving timber, meat eaten by the logger(s)…

    [Response:Something of an apples and oranges thing going on here. Jim’s general point that forests can serve as an ongoing C sink is correct as I’ve explained above. We need to be specific about the situations being discussed–plantation forestry’s going to have a whole different dynamic than do non-managed forests, which in turn differ one from another based on all kinds of things. Avoid the temptation to over-generalize or come to any one single conclusion on C sequestration and forest management–Jim]

    Thanks to all for an interesting discussion.

    Comment by wili — 5 Nov 2012 @ 6:13 AM

  87. > pondering about oasis VS large tract for wilderness….
    > … selling with a no-logging stipulation
    > and buying a piece next to a wilderness to donate.

    Or doing something completely different, like
    woody agriculture, e.g. to woody Ag.html
    which turned into

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Nov 2012 @ 10:46 AM

  88. Model your forest instead of speculating. The lions share of forest carbon storage is in the soil.

    [Response:Sometimes. Depends on the forest type, soils, disturbance regime, climate and time.–Jim]

    The operational-scale Carbon Budget Model of the Canadian Forest Sector (CBM-CFS3) is an aspatial, stand- and landscape-level modeling framework that simulates the dynamics of all forest carbon stocks required under the Kyoto Protocol (aboveground biomass, belowground biomass, litter, dead wood and soil organic carbon).

    Comment by flxible — 5 Nov 2012 @ 11:10 AM

  89. Jim, are carbon models that could be used by individuals making personal choices, or by the carbon-trading programs like California’s just started, getting serious peer review anywhere? (Feel free to answer on your own blog, if pertinent)

    [Response:Really don’t know Hank. The lack of a C market has hindered the whole thing. A lot of those type of things are biometrically based, using tree dimensions–and there are large uncertainties in those. I think we need a much better network of flux towers measuring atmostpheric C flux directly, and then tie those to the biometric data, for validation thereof.–Jim]

    I’m thinking of some acres of old temperate forest wildlife habitat I’ve left alone for decades, that has a few good neighbors around it who’d like to work up a larger scale longterm biodiversity plan.

    Nobody’s got money to do it, and as the current owners get older, the market will grind it all up, unless someone can take responsibility for it.

    For anyone who’s owned and then sold a biologically diverse parcel — look at it a decade or two later and see what shape it’s in. Got pictures?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Nov 2012 @ 12:33 PM

  90. #47 Chris Colose

    I think Hay is just talking about Artic/N. Canada/Greenland ice, >1 meter SLR this century, Greenland melting fast. But the open ended quote is a bit confusing.

    Anyways Hay presented at AGS yesterday I think, so maybe we will here more at Real Climate in the future.

    “You can lose most of the Greenland ice cap in a few hundred years, not thousands, just under natural conditions. There’s no telling how fast it can go with this spike of carbon dioxide we are adding to the atmosphere.”

    Natural record = a few hundred years, Human caused = not telling how fast

    Comment by Tom Adams — 5 Nov 2012 @ 3:34 PM

  91. 86 wili said, ” it looks to me as if it is in Jim Larsen’s court to prove (or support with studies…) that his logging activity leads to net carbon sequestration”

    Net carbon sequestration is easy. You’d have to do some serious violence to a young forest to miss that low bar. (Then again, humans are great at missing low bars – steep slope clear cutting to make disposable chopsticks or single-use plywood concrete forms?) Log homes and buried slash are pure sequestration. The only negative which counters that is soil disturbance. And do you count that against pond-digging or logging?

    No study is going to account for the issues in my personal experiment – and that’s some of the value, perhaps, of my work. Twenty years from now my berms can be inspected to see how they’re doing.

    When I first got to the east coast of VI, I was amazed at how little people worried about protecting wood products. Extra boards lay on the ground under the eves in back of garages. No rot. No bug damage. In winter it’s too cool, and it’s incredibly dry in summer. Wood lasts a long time, but leaving slash on the ground is beyond foolish. They often shut down logging operations because of the fire hazard. That personal experience gave rise to my technique of protecting the slash from both fire and water while improving the diversity of my land. The hope for centuries of sequestration is just a hope, probably vain, but it is based on reasonable analysis of personal experience.

    I’m certainly proud of my efforts, and am obviously potentially biased by that fact. I was very clear going in that this subject is nebulous and full of unknowns, so much so that proof is surely impossible, especially when a rare (unique?) technique is used. To me, this is a topic about learning and speculating, but hard conclusions aren’t in the cards. As Mod Jim said, it’s complicated and it depends. Heck, move to the west side of the island, which is a rain forest, and the results could be completely different. As I said, leaving it be and managing primarily for carbon and water conservation while providing humanity with critically needed products are both grand, and both are needed. Depending on how one cooks the books, one can surely “prove” one is superior to the other, and vice versa.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 5 Nov 2012 @ 6:16 PM

  92. 89 Hank,

    Just an opinion, but biological diversity is probably best enforced by no-logging clauses in sales contracts. Buyers generally don’t care about the value of timber (thousands of dollars per acre). They usually just love the woods. It’s only later, when The Bank demands payment, that they notice that their current monetary woes can be fixed with a logging spree.

    So, if you and your neighbors want to go old-growth, just stipulate it.

    Hmmm, why does this make me think of Bain Capital?

    And one if the reasons I pushed this topic was to learn about it. Quotes describe forests by their commercial lumber potential or their biodiversity. Such a spread in priorities surely leads to nonsensical conclusions. Even things like landfilling used lumber has orders of magnitude error bars. Some landfills are grand sequestration tools. Others are great methane seeps.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 5 Nov 2012 @ 7:03 PM

  93. Chris Dudley, Patrick: Regarding our previous topic of modeling RCP temperatures, there’s been an important development. In my travels I discovered that NOAA’s Geophysics Fluid Dynamics Laboratory has used their CM3 Coupled Physical Model to project temperatures for RCPs. They show a graph about halfway down the page that looks superficially similar to the graphs we were working on last month. They may be using an earlier version of AR5 data, because one of the pathways they show (RCP2.6) is unknown to me, but the other three (4.5, 6, 8.5) are familiar.

    It’s difficult to accurately compare to their results using their graph alone, because the time axis is so compressed, and also because their temperatures are relative to the year 2000 instead of pre-industrial. Nevertheless I attempted a rough comparison by superimposing my graphs onto theirs, and the results were unsettling to say the least. The best fit I got was to my “fast” response graph. In this first example the superimposition is such that both axes are correctly aligned in terms of scale, though the temperature axis is shifted by about a degree to account for CM3’s different origin of 0ºC in 2000. Notice that the fit is terrible, not even close! The CM3 graph shows temperatures accelerating much faster than any of my graphs do. My graphs for the other responses (intermediate and slow) are even worse because those climate responses accelerate even more slowly. All this made me curious, so I tried stretching the CM3 graph’s temperature axis, while leaving the time axis correctly aligned, and lo and behold, suddenly the fit is pretty good! Even the historical portion fits OK. This is totally unexpected, and makes me wonder if there could possibly be a problem with units somewhere.

    Of course it would better to have the actual data from which the CM3 graph was generated. I made an effort to obtain it but there are some obstacles. The CM3 data portal is a complicated javascript engine with many pages of parameters, and it’s not at all obvious how to set all the parameters correctly to obtain the exact same data they used to create their graph. In addition, the resulting download would be in the exotic NetCDF format. A NetCDF add-in is available for Excel 2007, but I haven’t tried it yet. I did email the CM3 contact asking for assistance (or better yet a CSV spreadsheet!), but I haven’t heard anything back yet.

    Anyway, if NOAA has it right (and let’s face it, they have way more practice!) my predicted 2035 temperatures for RCP8.5 (slow=1.2ºC, med=1.5ºC, fast=1.7ºC, relative to pre-industrial) are all too conservative. As you can see clearly enough in this <a annotated version of the CM3 graph, CM3’s 2035 projection for RCP8.5 is 1.7ºC relative to the year 2000, or ~1ºC worse than my “fast” response projection. Sobering news if true, but overall I must confess I’m sorely confused and would greatly appreciate any assistance!

    Comment by Chris Korda — 5 Nov 2012 @ 7:29 PM

  94. Jim Larsen – You likely were in a different area of the Island than I, but locally “used” lumber and domestic “slash” isn’t landfilled, it’s ground up as carbon and bulking for controlled biosolids composting, a much better way to generate humus than simply burying. The pictures here are from our plant, where virtually no wood waste goes in the landfill.

    Comment by flxible — 5 Nov 2012 @ 7:55 PM

  95. >no logging
    That’s why I mentioned Bernie Krause.
    We don’t even know what we’ve lost, until someone quantifies and routinizes his work for example.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Nov 2012 @ 9:31 PM

  96. Climate Modeler Identifies Trigger for Earth’s Last Big Freeze, i.e., Younger Dryas:
    This agrees with the field geology evidence that Proglacial Lake Agassiz drained down the Mackenzie River into the Arctic Ocean.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 5 Nov 2012 @ 9:45 PM

  97. Jim Larsen @ 91: “Net carbon sequestration is easy. You’d have to do some serious violence to a young forest to miss that low bar.

    You seem to be casting broad, sweeping generalizations again. In boreal forests, much of the carbon is in the soil. When old growth is removed, soils and surface detritus are exposed to more sunlight and higher temperatures, and much of the soil carbon will decompose rapidly – much more rapidly than any growth in the “young” forest (new tree growth). As the other Jim keeps pointing out, it depends on the particular ecosystem you’re talking about.

    Comment by Bob Loblaw — 5 Nov 2012 @ 9:50 PM

  98. Correction to #93: The last sentence should be, “CM3′s 2035 projection for RCP8.5 is 1.6ºC relative to the year 2000″ (not 1.7)

    Comment by Chris Korda — 5 Nov 2012 @ 9:59 PM

  99. Re- Comment by Jim Larsen — 5 Nov 2012 @ 6:16 PM:

    You say- “Net carbon sequestration is easy.”

    Yes, all you have to do is let the forest grow and leave it alone.

    You say- “Log homes and buried slash are pure sequestration.”

    No, see Jim Bouldin’s responses to you above. If you bury wood to sequester carbon it had better be in the desert (and be redwood or eastern black locust in addition to Bouldin’s red cedar). If it rains at all, and you didn’t provide a pretty tight and durable moisture barrier membrane around the wood, then the fungi are already in there and the wood will be decomposed very soon. You might as well just grind it up and compost it.

    Wood products in structures, even if kept dry, start decomposing almost immediately but slowly if kept dry. But their ultimate life is often not due as much to dry rot and termites, but because the structure is no longer wanted because of style, overall condition, or other building or land use reasons. The second link in my question for Jim Bouldin gives the average life of a wood structure as about 1%/year. Can you guarantee that the log home will be here in 50 years?

    [Response:I agree. The complete lack of ability to guarantee what happens to the wood products after they are purchased/used is a major limitation to the certainty that rotation forestry can serve as an ongoing C sink, and an argument for the case of leaving forests alone. It’s also questionable as to how much of a dent you could really put in the atmospheric C content, given the land base required.–Jim]

    Overall, the primary importance of forests as carbon sinks for reducing atmospheric CO2 has to do with the maximum carbon that they can practically store and this is potentially very large. Otherwise, it is worthwhile keeping in mind that trees don’t contain fossil carbon. If I allow a tree to grow, it has removed and sequestered CO2 from the atmosphere. If I chop it down and burn it for firewood, I would be releasing the same carbon that was sequestered previously= net zero. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 5 Nov 2012 @ 10:10 PM

  100. That is so weird that you mention the Younger Dryas because Carlson’s latest comprehensive review of the literature comes to a very different conclusion.

    Who is a fun loving guy to believe? 30 percent, as opposed to 15 percent, when water was more or less hemorrhaging off the continents everywhere?

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 5 Nov 2012 @ 10:42 PM

  101. And Bernie Krause has a twitter feed, and is doing book/speaking appearances right now. E.O. Wilson’s the cover blurb. Hm.


    The small signals take a lot of listening to emerge from the background.

    Hm. Bet there’s a climate change signal in there.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Nov 2012 @ 10:46 PM

  102. Interesting and ominous:

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 6 Nov 2012 @ 2:06 AM

  103. Here’s some very good ideas about a system to protect NYC from sea level rise. The plan calls for handling 30ft surges via recycled glass reefs, semi-submerged islands, and absorbent streets, amongst other things.

    flxible, you’re on VI? I was in Parksville. I don’t know how municipal waste was handled, other than being separated at the transfer station.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 6 Nov 2012 @ 4:33 AM

  104. If sea level is guaranteed to rise and we don’t know by how much nor how much higher the next super-storm will surge, isn’t it (past) time to start relocating away from the shore, particularly from the lower-lying regions?

    How many of our rapidly depleting resources should we allocate to what we know is going to be a lost cause in the coming years and decades? How much CO2 would be produced in the process of building all these reefs, islands, streets…

    Comment by wili — 6 Nov 2012 @ 8:25 AM

  105. Today with the election in the USA, i came up with this Idea for Climate Action:

    Assemble a letter, written by Climate Scientist, with the warning about unchecked climate change and sent it to the next President of the United States.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 6 Nov 2012 @ 9:13 AM

  106. Chris (#93),

    The models have a range of equilibrium sensitivities and this might explain part of the the difference and the scaling factor might be 1.26 if I am reading this table right:

    Looks like you’ve got a factor of 1.7 or so. Not a complete explanation. RCP 2.6 should be somewhat comparable to RCP 3-pd.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 6 Nov 2012 @ 9:55 AM

  107. Post-Sandy, I’ve been wondering about micro-attributional studies.

    Presumably, you could run weather forecast model ensembles of such a storm with varied boundary conditions (SSTs, say, for a random example. ;-) ) There’d be no assurance that any altered set of conditions would necessarily be ‘realistic’ in a specific way, I suppose, but you could at least run ‘reasonable’ parameters and see what fell out.

    Have such experimental designs been tried? Or would this be of insufficient general scientific interest?

    This one looks pretty similar in outline:

    It’s from this search:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 6 Nov 2012 @ 10:03 AM

  108. Chris Dudley @106: Thanks for that link, however I notice the table does not include GDFL-CM3, only GDFL-CM2.0 (ECS=2.9) and GDFL-CM2.1 (ECS=3.4). I tried re-fitting the CM3 graph to my “fast” climate response graph using a range of ECS values from 3.4 to 4.0, and I get a tolerable fit at ECS=4.0. But I’m still confused! If in fact CM3 uses an ECS of 4.0, what’s the justification? And if that’s so, it appears they’re increasing their ECS with each successive generation of their model. But why would they do that?

    Comment by Chris Korda — 6 Nov 2012 @ 2:58 PM

  109. Jim, some details:

    I’m abusing the word slash, and also forestry. “Woods” or even “glorified yard” more properly defines my example. Berms that block the view of a neighor’s house. Berms with preceeding ponds which catch runoff. Stuff that adds human appeal while making sense for the planet and biosphere.

    The logger cut down topped and undesireable trees, leaving a large amount of downed wood. On VI, downed wood is free. I got bookoos of firewood, left much uncut but ready, and the rest became slash.

    My CH4 concerns weren’t about rot, but insects. VI is a tenuous environment for termites, but provide a smorgasboard and things happen.

    On exponential decay of protected wood. The timeframes are surely huge. Quite a few hundreds-of-year-old houses are in grand shape. Modern preservatives are much better. So….?

    [Response:Treated and dry structural framing wood is not even remotely close to buried logs in terms of decomposition rate. I was referring to the latter. And a lot of it ends up in landfills well before its lifetime is up.–Jim]

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 6 Nov 2012 @ 4:37 PM

  110. Chris (#108),

    Yes CM2.1 was the parent of CM3 and was used in the last assessment.

    Now, I’m speculating completely but the RCPs are not just carbon dioxide. They’ve got other forcing in them as well. It could be that CM3 is especially sensitive to one of those?

    I’m not sure.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 6 Nov 2012 @ 6:49 PM

  111. Indian Monsoon Failure More Frequent With Global Warming, Research Suggests
    Food will be harder to come by, methinks.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 6 Nov 2012 @ 9:47 PM

  112. New report from accountants Price Waterhouse Cooper – .

    The summary: “Even doubling our current rate of decarbonisation, would still lead to emissions consistent with 6 degrees of warming by the end of the century. To give ourselves a more than 50% chance of avoiding 2 degrees will require a six-fold improvement in our rate of decarbonisation.”

    I don’t pretend to be an expert, but that sounds pretty bad to me. Any comments?

    Comment by Guy Rowland — 7 Nov 2012 @ 1:33 AM

  113. Guy Rowland wrote at #112: “that sounds pretty bad to me. Any comments?”

    It is bad. Beyond bad, really, if you’ve read what six degrees means in Lynas’s book of the same name.

    As I recall, that is now Hansen (NASA), Birol (IEA), Brown (WWI), and now Price Waterhouse Cooper that have all recently pointed out the likelihood of a six degree rise before the end of the century. Those are pretty major figures and main stream institutions.

    People around here don’t seem to want to talk about these catastrophic scenarios.

    Understandable, but rather disappointing for the major science-based climate forum in the world.

    Comment by wili — 7 Nov 2012 @ 7:22 AM

  114. I posted earlier that Romney would become the poster boy for sea level rise denial after his campaign remarks. I meant in decades, but it took only a few weeks:

    Comment by Tom Adams — 7 Nov 2012 @ 7:43 AM

  115. With all the talk of increased extreme weather events that accompanied Sandy, I got to thinking big picture, so to speak.
    I was taught in 7th grade earth science that we are living in the coldest and most variable climate of the Cenozoic era and beyond, that is, the climate of the Late Quaternary. Global environmental variations in temperature, glaciation, aridity, ecology, etc. have not been so consistently extreme for millions of years, since the last so-called “icehouse earth” phase hundreds of millions of years ago, and these extreme changes have been more or less constantly occurring throughout the Quaternary Period; the most recent example of this being, of course, the last glacial termination, which saw sea levels rise at rates as high as 16 meters in three centuries as the huge ice sheets melted in pulses, with accompanying massive rapid shifts in global and regional climates that amounted to roughly 8 degrees celsius global warming overall; changes, in other words, that utterly dwarf those of the past 200 years in terms of rate and overall quantity of change.

    A non-7th Grade earth science corroboration of this information is the well-known 2005 Liesiecki and Raymo study of d18O in ocean sediment cores going back to the beginning of the Pliocene

    Unless I am very much mistaken, their findings demonstrate what has been fairly well-known to biogeographers and paleontologists for decades, i.e., that past warmer climates of earth in the Cenozoic saw less aridity, wider global forest cover, and generally decreased variability in global climate. Glaciations were not nearly as drastic as those of the Late Quaternary, the earth was wetter and warmer, with increased maritime influence on climate worldwide, expanded tropical rainforests, deciduous forests growing at the poles etc. etc. this is well known from the fossil record.
    In short, the Pliocene earth, which was much warmer than the earth of 2012, was not some sort of hellish inhospitable Venus, devoid of life. In fact, the exact opposite seems to have been the case.

    So, to get to my point, my question is, as the earth warms this time around due to our CO2, why are we more likely to see more aridity, more extreme climate patterns, and more climate instability, when in past warmer earths, the opposite was the case? is it not more likely that as the earth warms it will return to a similar state as that of the Pliocene, with reduced long-term climate variability and increased atmospheric moisture leading to decreased global aridity?

    Do we have any proof from studies of the past that storms were more frequent and lethal during the early Pliocene than they are now?

    Considering that the alternative to AGW is almost certainly a relatively soon and definitely economically and ecologically undesirable deterioration of our interglacial climate in the form of a gradual return to glacial conditions over the coming few dozen millenia, shouldn’t we be considering the possibility that there may be some long-term benefits from our extra CO2 contribution, such as those mentioned above?

    Comment by Pikkles — 7 Nov 2012 @ 8:03 AM

  116. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but that sounds pretty bad to me. Any comments?

    It is bad. Add in another two billion people to the several billion all scrambling to obtain a minimum of modern fossil fuel powered conveniences and it’s really bad. Then consider a $20 trillion dollar national debt.
    If you aren’t looking directly at space and at fundamental electronic excitations you are looking in the completely wrong direction – humanity. A humanity that has an obvious predilection to the irrationality known as religion, authoritarianism and outright fascism and violence.

    Good luck with that. Humanity got you into this problem, only individuals will get you out of it. People who lead by example, not for the lust for power and money.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 7 Nov 2012 @ 9:29 AM

  117. @112 & 113.

    That PWC report presents some stark conclusions but are they really any different to the usual expression of required emission cuts – the need for emissions to have peaked by 2020?
    PWC do not actually say it is all too late. Note the PWC conclusions – as well as talking of a need to start considering plans for a global temperature rise of 4°C as the 2°C limit will not be achieved with current rates of decarbonisation, they do not say 2°C is a totally impossible target, only that such a target “…suggests a need for much more ambition and urgency on climate policy, at both the national and international level.

    Apart from being more complex, their analysis of required carbon intensity reductions both for the world economy and individual nations is perhaps an improvement on the usual straight carbon emissions & the report’s annual nature is very good (although as they note, they are still hooked on to ‘production’ emissions not ‘consumption’ emissions.)
    This year the PWC analysis yields a required continual annual reduction in global carbon intensity of 5.1%, up from 4.8% last year. This is not good news but perhaps their Figure 1 should give us some encouragement. The reductions achieved between 2004 & 2007 at least paralleled their suggested decarbonisation course. So when more folk come on board to address emission cuts, when denialists are at last treated as pariahs, then that graph can surely be steepened and brought back on course.

    Comment by MARodger — 7 Nov 2012 @ 10:14 AM

  118. Pikkles,
    You are correct about the climate during the Pliocene, and any temperature increase would likely mimic that era. The increased moisture is supported by most studies of rising temperature. The contentious claim is climate variability, especially if unequal polar warming leads to lower gloabl temperature gradients.

    Comment by Dan H. — 7 Nov 2012 @ 10:18 AM

  119. What’s interesting is PriceWaterhouseCoopers. PWC is not your run of the mill climate change alarmist.

    Pikkles, there are many fine scientists here, but neither I nor Dan H are among them. The latter’s intentions, however, have been demonstrated to be devious, so you might want to look past his remarks.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 7 Nov 2012 @ 11:43 AM

  120. Devious Dan,

    the above site gives a somewhat dated brief overview with references of the current understanding of Pliocene climate (as it was a decade ago, at least)

    note that according to the author, “The best that one can hope for in terms of summarizing Pliocene climates is to talk of them in a statistical sense; in terms of averages, mean variance, period of oscillation etc. as they appear in the record. These statistical characteristics themselves shift throughout the period of the last few million years going into the Quaternary Period, with a decline in mean temperature and a trend towards increased aridity, and broader oscillations in both temperature and aridity.”

    this relatively much more moderate (as compared to Quaternary) global milankovitch-induced climate oscillation in the Pliocene is also supported by the Liesiecki Raymo 2005 study linked above. The d18O graph on page 6 of that study is particularly demonstrative.

    As for the question of climate variability and extremes on the hundred-year scale within those larger oscillations, I have yet to find a study that addresses it. If you know of any I would greatly appreciate any help. For all I know that level of fine century-level detail from ~4 million years ago is beyond the capacities of current science.
    Also any studies concerning the strength and severity of storms during the Pliocene or Miocene would be helpful.
    Models and predictions for increasingly extreme and freakish weather are all well and good, but I think you would agree that a firm understanding of an analogous past warmer climate such as the Pliocene would clear up a lot of the vagueness of the current, often dire predictions.

    Non-devious Susan,
    I do not see that Dan H. has been devious in his response to my above post. Perhaps he is more wayward elsewhere…
    This quote from the Oak Ridge site linked above agrees with what he wrote and what I wrote in re warmer, wetter climates of the recent Cenozoic past:
    “Whether or not there was a close relationship between temperature and aridity during Pliocene, the general band of variability seen in the long cores suggests that even the most arid oscillations of the Pliocene were probably nowhere near as arid as the Last Glacial Maximum, and during the generally warmer parts of the Pliocene even the dry minima of individual oscillations may actually have been wetter than at present.”

    Comment by Pikkles — 7 Nov 2012 @ 12:49 PM

  121. > a much better network of flux towers measuring atmostpheric C flux directly,

    Well heck, people are putting webcams and Geiger counters on the Internet; how hard is it to build a CO2 sensor, calibrate it, and get it an IP address? Kickstarter?

    [Response:Not just any old CO2 sensor Hank, it has to be able to measure CO2 flux across the air-vegetation interface (using eddy covariance techniques). And since CO2 flux depends on micro-meteorology, you have to measure temp, wind, humidity as well. And in forests you also have to build a tower, potentially a very tall, multi-level one, to position the sensor in the right location relative to the canopy. And you have to wire it all up to data loggers. And it only takes one falling tree, or part thereof, to wreck the entire apparatus.–Jim]

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Nov 2012 @ 1:25 PM

  122. > any temperature increase would likely mimic that era.

    Bzzt. You’re neglecting the rate of change again.

    If we could get the rate of change down to that Pliocene rate we’d barely notice it in a human lifetime and adaptation would happen naturally.

    That’s the whole problem with anthropogenic fossil fuel use — rate of change.

    D’oh. Chased another dang red herring.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Nov 2012 @ 1:28 PM

  123. Chris Korda (#108):

    “I tried re-fitting the CM3 graph to my “fast” climate response graph using a range of ECS values from 3.4 to 4.0, and I get a tolerable fit at ECS=4.0. But I’m still confused! If in fact CM3 uses an ECS of 4.0, what’s the justification? And if that’s so, it appears they’re increasing their ECS with each successive generation of their model. But why would they do that?”

    See Winton et al. 2012:, where it appears the ECS for GFDL CM3 is actually 4.6K. The ECS is an emergent property and not explicitly specified, but here is the author’s speculation as to why it is so much higher than previous versions:

    “The cause of the increased ECS in CM3 is unknown, but is presumably related to differences in moist physics (including convection and aerosol-cloud interactions) between AM2 and AM3”.

    Comment by Troy_CA — 7 Nov 2012 @ 1:34 PM

  124. > Pliocene … a decade ago

    Scholar finds over 3000 hits for 2012:,5

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Nov 2012 @ 1:44 PM

  125. And even a mere repeat of that paleo rate of change wouldn’t be calm and uneventful:
    Abrupt landscape change post–6 Ma on the central Great Plains, USA
    How much faster is the rate of change at present?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Nov 2012 @ 1:54 PM

  126. Here is an excellent summary of forestry carbon myths:

    It is based on peer reviewed literature, and the data has not been seriously challenged. I used a couple of the slides for my article, linked above, called “The Real Score on Logging and CO2 Emissions”.

    If anyone would like to ask questions, I can be reached at

    The forester above didn’t consider the end use, and whether the carbon remains sequestered for long periods. I second Jim Bouldin’s comments here. The problem of escaping into the atmosphere is especially serious when compared with alternate materials. I calculated that the emissions burden of steel framing is a fraction of that of two by four generated emissions. It’s a complex subject, but the conclusions of my article have not been refuted.

    Thanks for this thread, Gavin and Jim. Please, RC, do a few dedicated posts on this subject.

    Comment by Mike Roddy — 7 Nov 2012 @ 3:25 PM

  127. Roberts
    the paper you link to above, “Abrupt landscape change post–6 Ma on the central Great Plains, USA” is primarily a geological, not climatological paper. The “sudden” changes discussed are sudden on geological timescales and would have been calm and uneventful on the timescale of a human life.
    Note the line from the abstract: “A significant episode of aggradation from 3.7 to 2.5 Ma is best explained by high rates of sediment supply relating to the warm, wet mid-Pliocene climate optimum.”

    Analogous erosive geological processes due to rainfall are going on worldwide in areas of humid climate as we speak, and have been going on throughout the history of earth.
    Rainfall increases erosion but has the benefit of supporting fully-developed vegetation and higher biodiversity, higher biomass ecosystems than arid and perenially frozen areas, as can plainly be seen on the map below:

    the area of the present great plains was likely less arid than present during the Pliocene.
    nonetheless, it appears, according the paper below, that the great plains had already become arid enough to be deforested by the beginning of the Pliocene, presumably as a result of global cooling and spreading aridification over the course of the miocene.

    as you can tell from reading the above 2011 paper’s abstract, aside from evidence of broad trends, we still have a very crude understanding of environmental conditions at the time.

    “Phytoliths were extracted from late Miocene–Pliocene paleosols in Nebraska and Kansas. Quantitative phytolith analysis of the 14 best-preserved assemblages indicates that habitats varied substantially in openness during the middle to late Miocene but became more uniformly open, corresponding to relatively open grassland or savanna, during the late Miocene and early Pliocene.”

    Not too much has changed in the past decade in that regard.

    Comment by Pikkles — 7 Nov 2012 @ 3:30 PM

  128. Thomas Lee Elifritz wrote: “Add in another two billion people to the several billion all scrambling to obtain a minimum of modern fossil fuel powered conveniences and it’s really bad.”

    There is no necessity for “modern conveniences” to be powered by fossil fuels. In fact I can think of few “modern conveniences” that are powered by fossil fuels. Most are powered by electricity, which can of course be easily generated from non-fossil fuel energy sources, which are abundant in the developing world.

    The only widely used “modern conveniences” powered directly by fossil fuels are vehicle engines, and those vehicles can also be powered by electricity.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 7 Nov 2012 @ 4:21 PM

  129. FYI:

    USGS researchers quantify potential greenhouse gas releases from melting Arctic permafrost
    Staggering amounts of nitrogen and carbon could lead to runaway warming in coming decades
    By Bob Berwyn
    November 4, 2012
    Summit County Citizens Voice


    Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey say they’ve quantified the amount of greenhouse gases that could be released into the atmosphere as Arctic permafrost starts to melt.

    “This study quantifies the impact on Earth’s two most important chemical cycles, carbon and nitrogen, from thawing of permafrost under future climate warming scenarios,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “While the permafrost of the polar latitudes may seem distant and disconnected from the daily activities of most of us, its potential to alter the planet’s habitability when destabilized is very real.”

    As much as 44 billion tons of nitrogen and 850 billion tons of carbon could be released into the environment as the region begins to thaw over the next century. This nitrogen and carbon are likely to impact ecosystems, the atmosphere, and water resources including rivers and lakes. For context, this is roughly the amount of carbon stored in the atmosphere today.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 7 Nov 2012 @ 4:24 PM

  130. here’s an interesting 2012 paper on modeling the warmest period of the Pliocene.

    note the following, which agrees fully with what I have written above and the sources i have cited.

    “On land, the global extent of arid deserts decreased, and forests replaced tundra in the Northern Hemisphere (e.g. Salzmann et al., 2008). On the basis of climate model outputs, the global annual mean temperature may have increased by more than 3 C (e.g. Haywood and Valdes, 2004)”

    yet again, this supports the long-held view in paleontology and paleobiogeography that warmer climates of the Cenozoic, Mesozoic, and previous supported globally widespread forests and little to no aridity.

    nonetheless, the above paper does not refer at any point to freak destructive weather. precipitation would increase in a warmer, wetter world. presumably this would correspond to more rainstorms worldwide, and accompanying decrease in aridity.
    whether these storms would be more destructive than those of the late quaternary is not quite clear.
    a non-model-based study exploring historical intensity and frequency storminess in the Pliocene would be interesting to see, but almost all of the recent studies of Pliocene climates seem to be model-based.

    If you ask me, the trade-off of global reduction of aridity for possible increased large storms is pretty even.
    It especially seems preferable to a return to glacial conditions which is likely to occur any millenium now, as we approach the end of the holocene interglacial, the brief moment of warmth in which our entire history of civilization is contained.
    I don’t see why there is not more discussion of the possible long-term benefits of global warming.
    I am not invested in or working for any petrochemical or coal companies or anything like that.
    I am merely wondering what is the best, most rational course for humanity and life on earth.
    To say that we and other life forms must condemn ourselves to the brutal glaciations of the late Quaternary simply because it is “natural”, i.e. the state we found the place in when we came to scientific consciousness, seems to border on hyper-conservative religiosity.
    the earth with modern mammals, angiosperms, grasses, etc. has been much warmer before than we will likely ever be able to make it.
    and it doesn’t seem like those warmer worlds were less habitable than that of today.
    what if it turns out that the benefits of a warmer world balance out or even outweigh the detriments?

    Comment by Pikkles — 7 Nov 2012 @ 4:28 PM

  131. Jim, how long do you need a CO2 tower operating to assess a site — a year or more?

    [Response:There’s no fixed value; as long as possible to capture the range of variability, sort of the standard answer to these type of things.–Jim]

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Nov 2012 @ 4:32 PM

  132. Pikkles,

    We are told that the rapid climate change we are undergoing is heating the land faster than the ocean. If the ocean is colder than land I expect more of the rainfall to go there, leaving dry areas on land. I am uncertain how important this is.

    In any case, change is not our friend. Even if the warming is not a catastrophe I doubt it will be pleasant. How much we should do to stop it does depend on the cost, which is why mitigation strategies matter. Of course, they are off topic here.

    Comment by Ambulator — 7 Nov 2012 @ 4:56 PM

  133. Hank Roberts
    Your linked Pliocene study in your rebutting post 125, “Abrupt landscape change post–6 Ma on the central Great Plains, USA” is a geological, not climatological study. The abrupt changes that are the focus of the paper have nothing to do with increased or decreased severe weather in the Pliocene, but rather with geological uplift, with a side mention of what seems to have been a normal aggradation episode caused by increased rainfall on the Great Plains during mid-Pliocene warmth.

    Comment by pikkles — 7 Nov 2012 @ 4:59 PM

  134. Ambulator

    I suppose that would answer one of my main questions about predictions of spreading aridity due to global warming.
    Presumably after a few centuries or so, ocean temperatures would catch up to the more rapidly heated land surfaces, bringing more moisture into the atmosphere and causing global conditions more similar to those of the Pliocene (or perhaps Miocene or even Eocene if the wildest predictions of warming come to pass), in which global aridity is reduced and forest area increases.

    Still what I find problematic on face value for the immediate future is the prediction that aridity will increase while at the same time storminess will also increase.
    How can we have them both at the same time? Presumably if ocean surface temperatures remain relatively cold while continental crusts warm up, then we will have increased aridity without a significant increase in storminess. On the other hand, if surface temps warm enough to increase storminess and increase moisture in the atmosphere, it seems we would have decreased global aridity, such as during the Neolithic Subpluvial when the Sahara was vegetated due to warmer equatorial waters and strengthened African Monsoon…
    You say “change is not our friend”, but keep in mind that human civilization was unable to come into existence without the rapid global warming at the last glacial termination. as the earth warmed, aridity and glaciation decreased drastically and forest cover increased drastically.
    with some growing pains, the same general pattern will probably emerge if the earth is warmed back to Pliocene levels.
    The pains involved in the change itself seem to be the major issue. it seems unreasonable to suggest that Pliocene conditions would be unusually hostile to life, if we ever arrive at that point. Most genera of life forms on earth today were already in existence during the Pliocene particularly tree species.

    Comment by pikkles — 7 Nov 2012 @ 5:29 PM

  135. MAR at 217 wrote “PWC do not actually say it is all too late”

    Did anyone claim that they did?

    Can we please try not to misquote each other on this forum?

    And of course the phrase “too late” means nothing by itself. Too late for what?

    I agree with Susan that PWC is an interesting group to start weighing in on future global temperatures.

    I wonder if they could sway some folks on Wall Street (and its Journal).

    Comment by wili — 7 Nov 2012 @ 5:34 PM

  136. > Pliocene
    Rate of change. Compare then to now.

    I gave one example from one search for only 2012 papers to point out there’s much more, and more recent, to consider, and suggest where rates of change make a big difference.

    Changes in erosion affect uplift rates, same as changes of glacial weight.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Nov 2012 @ 5:45 PM

  137. Pikkles @115 — First of all almost all the ice has to melt to return to a Pliocene climate state. I opine that will be rather stormy. Second, the increased precipitation will be especially noticeable in the tropics. We’ve already seen the beginning effects in Asia during the last (long) La Nina. I doubt that tropical cyclones will somehow fade away; consider the source of energy.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 7 Nov 2012 @ 6:13 PM

  138. Troy CA @123: Thank you very much for the link. I tried re-fitting with ECS = 4.6 and got what seem to be reasonable results. The fast response shows a pretty good fit for all RCPs except 2.6 (see note below). The intermediate response fits the historical data better, but shows some divergence on the projections: RCP6 fits nicely, but 8.6 and 4.5 undershoot CM3. Fast response has been consistently giving the best fit for projections, even though it’s less accurate for historical temperatures.

    For those who may have missed the earlier chapters, this exercise began when I learned that the IEO2011 Reference case projects “1 trillion metric tons of additional cumulative energy-related carbon dioxide emissions between 2009 and 2035”. This was demonstrated to be equivalent to following RCP8.5 until 2035. Regarding this, Jon Kirwan said (Oct. open thread, #269):

    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.

    I became increasingly curious about three questions: 1) Assuming we emit an additional teraton of CO2 by 2035, what average global surface temperature will likely result? 2) Why do the AR5 scenarios omit temperature data (unlike the AR4 scenarios), despite this being what most people presumably want to know? 3) Could there be inherent differences between IPCC and IEA that explain why IPCC scenarios other than the worst case are “wishful proposals”?

    In an effort to answer the first question, I attempted to model RCP temperatures, using Climate Response Functions proposed by Hansen et al. as explained here. More recently the discovery of NOAA/GDFL’s CM3 RCP temperature data provided an opportunity to compare my results to a fully-coupled model. Hansen et al. argue that “intermediate” is the most likely case and consider “fast” the upper bound, however CM3 appears to fit “fast” response, with a significantly higher ECS (4.6 instead of 3.0). If “RCP8.5 is reality” and CM3 is to be believed, we could face an increase in average global surface temperature of ~1.5ºC between now and 2035. This is an astonishing and profoundly disturbing result. And of course thanks to hysteresis the temperature doesn’t stop there, even optimistically assuming breakneck decarbonization after 2035.

    Re RCP2.6: I’m assuming it’s outdated and not equivalent to RCP3.5, and consequently I’m disregarding it for these comparisons. My indirect evidence: The official AR5 RCP data was finalized in 2009 and does not include or even mention RCP2.6. The IIASA RCP database describes RCP2.6 as having been finalized in 2007, and provides a download link for it, but the link is “broken” in the sense that it points to RCP3.5PD data, with no explanation.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 7 Nov 2012 @ 7:29 PM

  139. wili @135
    The title of the PWC report is of course “Too Late For Two Degrees?” and much of its language is quite dramatic, its opening line being “It’s time to plan for a warmer world.” I don’t see that I misquoted/misrepresented anything.

    Comment by MARodger — 7 Nov 2012 @ 7:30 PM

  140. Ah, thanks MAR. Sorry about that.

    Of course, lots of prominent people and organizations are now saying that it is, in fact “Too Late For Two Degrees”–not that this was ever some kind of safe threshold, anyway.

    Comment by wili — 7 Nov 2012 @ 8:10 PM

  141. All I know about this is what I can look up. Maybe someone who’s done work in the subject will commen. Seems to me that the Pliocene is interesting as a warmer climage, but the Pliocene changed at a geological pace. By definition, slower than change at a glacial pace, much slower than change from fossil fuel.

    What sort of erosion will start to happen at the rate we’re changing the climate?
    Again, rate of change is what matters.
    If we don’t know what’s the worst that could happen, we can at least look at the worst that has happened — using Leopold’s land ethic to evaluate it.
    Late Cenozoic increase in accumulation rates of terrestrial sediment: How might climate change have affected erosion rates?
    P Molnar – Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci., 2004 –
    (cited by about 135 later papers) for some more recent work

    But this did turn up an irony:
    I’d remembered but never looked up this quote from climate scientist Ray Pierrehumbert (pdf):

    So far, we’re not doing any better than cyanobacteria.

    Today I read about a suggested method of erosion control — air dropping photosynthetic bacteria. An interesting response to unnatural rate of change?

    Seeding of Large Areas with Biological Soil Crust Starter Culture Formulations: Using an Aircraft Disbursable Granulate to Increase Stability, Fertility and CO2 Sequestration on a Landscape Scale

    No wonder we’re not doing as well as the cyanobacteria.
    They’re using us to spread themselves.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Nov 2012 @ 8:45 PM

  142. To SA at # 129. Thanks for the link to that important, if deeply troubling, article.

    You do recall that when I posted similarly dire information, you responded with:

    “‘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.'”

    Does your posting of this despair-provoking article indicate a change in your philosophy on these matters?

    Comment by wili — 7 Nov 2012 @ 9:23 PM

  143. Wili, the post above ends:

    “For context, this is roughly the amount of carbon stored in the atmosphere today.”

    You know much of the fossil carbon burned has been cycled biogeochemically.

    The article refers to doubling what’s in the atmosphere today.
    That’s “2XCO2” — not cause for despair; rather a reason to fix the damn problem.

    Despair is the counsel of the trolls and the delayers, they’d love you to despair.

    Don’t mourn, organize.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Nov 2012 @ 11:08 PM

  144. Interesting discussion of forest management and carbon sequestration. In reply to Steve Fish with inline comment by Jim (# 99), and Mike Roddy (# 126), the IPCC Working Group III on Mitigation states, “Wood products derived from sustainably managed forests address the issue of saturation of forest carbon stocks. The annual harvest can be set equal to or below the annual forest increment, thus allowing forest carbon stocks to be maintained or to increase while providing an annual carbon flow to meet society’s needs of fibre, timber and energy. The duration of carbon storage in wood products ranges from days (biofuels) to centuries (e.g., houses and furniture). Large accumulations of wood products have occurred in landfills (Micales and Skog, 1997). When used to displace fossil fuels, woodfuels can provide sustained carbon benefits, and constitute a large mitigation option …Wood products can displace more fossil-fuel intensive construction materials such as concrete, steel, aluminium, and plastics, which can result in significant emission reductions (Petersen and Solberg, 2002). Research from Sweden and Finland suggests that constructing apartment buildings with wooden frames instead of concrete frames reduces lifecycle net carbon emissions by 110 to 470 kg CO2 per square metre of floor area (Gustavsson and Sathre, 2006). The mitigation benefit is greater if wood is first used to replace concrete building material and then after disposal, as biofuel.”

    Comment by Phil L — 8 Nov 2012 @ 12:19 AM

  145. would anybody like to comment on the logarithmic nature of CO2 climate forcing?
    i’ve read in IPCC materials and elsewhere that the opacity of the wavelengths of outgoing infrared that CO2 blocks is almost at its fullest.
    Since additional CO2 will only continue to block the same wavelengths, and since those wavelengths are already almost fully blocked, additional CO2 will not contribute significantly more forcing even if we quadruple current levels, or such is my understanding.
    in other words, since the forcing is logarithmic, the forcing increase from, for example, the jump in CO2 at the beginning of the last glacial termination, and the increase from the jump in CO2 at the start of the industrial revolution would have been much more significant per part per million than, for example, the increase from 1990 to 2010.

    if this is indeed true, then higher-than-present CO2 levels in past climates would have had a logarithmic limit, which would explain why high CO2 atmospheres of the Cenozoic and earlier did not turn the earth into an uninhabitable Venus.

    Please critique. I’m not trying to be denialistic about this. I have read it in IPCC reports. Just looking for clarification.

    [Response: You are confusing two separate things. Yes, some absorbing bands for CO2 are nearly saturated (but many aren’t). And yes, forcing from CO2 increases logarithmically in concentration. Thus going from 280 to 560ppm gives the same forcing roughly as 560ppm to 1120 ppm (indeed, this is why scientists always talk about the forcing from 2xCO2, not the forcing per ppm). But this does not mean that the impact from doubling CO2 is small, nor does it imply Venusian conditions can’t exist (since they obviously do – and CO2 is logarithmic on Venus as well). – gavin]

    Comment by pikkles — 8 Nov 2012 @ 5:49 AM

  146. pikkles,

    Here is an absorption graph of the atmospheric gases:

    You question is valid. At some point absorption will become saturated (reach its fullest) at certain wavelengths. Absorption will continue further at the tail ends until it is saturated (if possible). This is not based on CO2 alone, but on the combination of all components together – i.e. water vapor.

    At sea level, many of the IR bands are saturated (or nearly saturated). However, at higher levels in the atmosphere this is not so. Water vapor will not rise to these heights (it will freeze), so the major component becomes CO2. The expected temperature rise is expected to be largest in the upper troposphere, where increased CO2 can affect IR absorption more readily. Hope this helps.

    Comment by Dan H. — 8 Nov 2012 @ 7:31 AM

  147. #145–“Since additional CO2 will only continue to block the same wavelengths, and since those wavelengths are already almost fully blocked, additional CO2 will not contribute significantly more forcing even if we quadruple current levels, or such is my understanding.”

    Pikkles, that was a (much over-simplified) idea that held some sway for a time during the first decades of the twentieth century. But the atmosphere does not act like a uniform ‘slab’; heat is transferred by convection and phase change as well, and radiation and emission and absorption occur at all altitudes. Moreover, there is, as Gavin’s comment implies, marked frequency dependence in radiative transfers. All in all, the problem of calculating all of this is anything but simple; solving it to the point of being able to achieve reasonable agreement with observation took roughly a century (reckoning from Arrhenius (1896), though maybe we should start with Samuel Langley (1881), whose data Arrhenius used.)

    For more on the history of the science, and the conceptual basis, try this:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 8 Nov 2012 @ 8:01 AM

  148. And from Weart, a bit down from the point where the above link goes:

    What if water vapor did entirely block any radiation that could have been absorbed by adding CO2 in the lower layers of the atmosphere? It was still possible for CO2 to make a difference in the thin, cold upper layers. Lewis D. Kaplan ground through some extensive numerical computations. In 1952, he showed that in the upper atmosphere the saturation of CO2 lines should be weak. Thus adding more of the gas would certainly change the overall balance and temperature structure of the atmosphere.

    Neither Kaplan nor anyone else at that time was thinking clearly enough about the greenhouse effect to point out that it will operate regardless of the details of the absorption. The trick, again, was to follow how the radiation passed up layer by layer. Consider a layer of the atmosphere so high and thin that heat radiation from lower down would slip through. Add more gas, and the layer would absorb some of the rays. Therefore the place from which heat energy finally left the Earth would shift to a higher layer. That would be a colder layer, unable to radiate heat so efficiently. The imbalance would cause all the lower levels to get warmer, until the high levels became hot enough to radiate as much energy back out as the planet received. Adding carbon dioxide will make for a stronger greenhouse effect regardless of saturation in the lower atmosphere.

    (And actually, there is no saturation. The primitive infrared techniques of the laboratory measurements made at the turn of the century had given a misleading result. Studies from the 1940s on have shown that there is not nearly enough CO2 in the atmosphere to block most of the infrared radiation in the bands of the spectrum where the gas absorbs it. Nor does water vapor bring complete saturation, in desert regions where the air is extremely dry.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 8 Nov 2012 @ 8:06 AM

  149. Gavin and Dan- thanks for the clarifying information.

    This may be splitting a hair, but in the interest of accuracy, your assertion that “First of all almost all the ice has to melt to return to a Pliocene climate state.” seems problematic. here are a few studies off hand that indicate there was substantial glaciation in Antarctica during the Pliocene:

    The Greenland ice sheet is also thought to have first come into existence midway through the Pliocene.
    Of course, the ice sheets that did exist in the Pliocene would have been much smaller than those of the present day, and sea levels were correspondingly higher.
    But if, hypothetically, the earth returns to a stable Pliocene state due to our CO2, there may still be significant polar glaciation. If we return to Miocene levels of global warmth, not so much…

    As an interesting tangent, before the onset of glaciation in the Pliocene, Antarctica was once home to a unique polar forested ecosystem, the scattered botanical remnants of which have migrated north to make up the so-called “Antarctic flora” of Chile, New Zealand, Tasmania, and various South Pacific islands.

    Although it may sound somewhat macabre, the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet would eventually reveal fascinating traces, fossilized in the continental crust beneath, of ancient life barely known to paleontology, but which certainly must have existed during the Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene and other warmer past epochs.

    Comment by pikkles — 8 Nov 2012 @ 8:17 AM

  150. Chris (#138),

    I’d just comment that RCPs are meant as inputs for climate models so that temperature can be calculated as an output. We are taking a shortcut that might give us a clue about what the GISS model might produce. It is very interesting that the CM3 model has evolved so much that its sensitivity is 35% higher than CM2.1. The GISS E model was a simplification to allow more model runs with the given computer resources. I don’t know if it will evolve as much. Gavin should know something about that.

    Maybe RCP 2.6 was dropped because of negative emissions starting around 2070? That does not seem technologically unrealistic to me, but reticence is always hiding in the cupboards and under the carpet.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 8 Nov 2012 @ 8:28 AM

  151. Who is supposed to have said this? I didn’t.
    Search doesn’t find the text quoted.

    “First of all almost all the ice has to melt to return to a Pliocene climate state.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Nov 2012 @ 9:30 AM

  152. Pikkles,
    Antarctic glacial formation started prior to the Pliocene epoch. While the forests of Greenland disappeared during this glaciation period, Antarctica was a massive ice cap ~30 millions of years prior.

    During this time period, glaciers advanced and ebbed on ~40 kyr timeframes, as opposed to the current 100 kyr. The West Antartic ice sheet expanded and contracted accordingly.

    Comment by Dan H. — 8 Nov 2012 @ 10:23 AM

  153. “That’s “2XCO2″ — not cause for despair”

    Hank, please inform me I have ever declared that we must all despair. If you cannot, please refrain from imputing to me statements I have never made.

    What we certainly need to do is stop making the problem much worse. But even this seems to have been beyond our collective grasp so far. We can only hope (and work to make sure) that a new legislature and a new raised awareness thanks to Sandy and Alice, may lead finally to some real forward motion on a national level toward effective action, and then on a global level. Meanwhile, let’s keep working to inform ourselves and others of the science, and save our greatest vitriol for the real denialists. (And please everyone, can we stop constantly feeding obvious actual trolls–saturated wavelengths??…can’t they at least try to come up with something new?)

    (reCaptcha: vulgifi Soot-Free !)

    Comment by wili — 8 Nov 2012 @ 10:24 AM

  154. “(And please everyone, can we stop constantly feeding obvious actual trolls–saturated wavelengths??…can’t they at least try to come up with something new?)”

    IMO, sometimes it’s not so obvious when somebody is asking a real question (with real openness to consider answers) vs. trolling–especially ‘concern trolling.’ My default is to assume good faith initially: whatever the probabilities of one vs. the other may be, there is much more upside to giving the most educational answer you can, and much downside to dissing someone unjustly.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 8 Nov 2012 @ 10:46 AM

  155. Climate change? You better believe the climate is changing, and not just politically. Weather patterns, global temperatures, worldwide storm systems, unprecedented carbon dioxide levels — a whole new way this old world is going to have to look at our environment. But where will the survivors of the pending global disaster go to reestablish the human race? Read about it in my recently released climate thriller, Polar City Red.

    Comment by Jim Laughter — 8 Nov 2012 @ 10:55 AM

  156. Dan H.

    The two papers below tell a somewhat more complicated story of Antarctic glaciation. Fairly recent (i.e. Miocene) substantial amounts of Antarctic vegetation appear to have existed.

    “The temporal distribution of pollen and spores indicates that local vegetation was tundra with small trees growing in protected areas throughout the middle Miocene. This type of vegetation indicates that the climate was somewhat cooler than that found at the modern austral polar alpine tree limit (less than 10 C in the warmest month), which today is best represented in the southerly Chilean Andes.”

    Trees such as the southern beeches and podocarps that today grow in Chile and New Zealand and other temperate Southern Hemisphere areas are of the same genera and differ very little from their ancestors that grew on the continental crust of Eocene, Oligocene and Pliocene Antarctica.
    The situation is similar in the northern hemisphere. Macrofossils and fossil pollen of modern angiosperm tree genera, easily recognizable as maples, walnuts, chestnuts, hazels, elms, katsura, beech, sassafras, oak etc., i.e. trees that today grow only at temperate mid-latitudes, have been found on Ellesmere Island, Greenland and other places near and even well north of the Arctic Circle.

    Tree evolution is relatively slow, generally speaking, and present-day ranges are not due so much to recent evolutionary adaptations as to shifts in ranges in response to climatic changes, which have been massive and rapid at many points during the Quaternary.

    This should give us at least some basic hope for the future in terms of the ability of ecosystems to adapt to warmer global conditions, despite the oft-heard, vague declaration that life on earth is not evolved for a non-Quaternary world.
    That may well be true for polar bears and penguins, but in fact, most species on earth today are adapted to warmer conditions, with biodiversity centered in the warmest regions. This biodiversity may, amongst other factors, in part be due to the fact that warm regions have longer histories of existence on earth, and were wider spread in the past.

    It may not be in fashion to be optimistic about the future, but I personally think there are some very good reasons not to despair even if we fail to bring CO2 and temperature down.

    [Response: Oh yeah, and about that 20m rise in sea level? – gavin]

    Comment by pikkles — 8 Nov 2012 @ 11:29 AM

  157. gavin-
    i don’t mean to be a pollyanna about it. sea level rise is of course not something anyone’s optimistic about, especially members of the large percentage of humanity who live in permanent coastal dwellings. i would not argue that warming does not present unique challenges for 20th century human civilization.
    modern man and the natural world survived the last glacial termination and the 120 meter sea level rise that occurred during that process, but of course, we were living in small huts at the time.
    the shock to our political system may cause us to blow our wonderful selves to smithereens.

    but i am saying from an ecological standpoint, a quick 20 meter rise and the accompanying massive rapid shifts in climate has happened before very recently in evolutionary history.
    see below:

    a question: do the most dire predictions for the coming 3 centuries anticipate sea level rise equivalent to that of the above paper (i.e. 16 meters in 300 years)?
    surely the sort of melting episode described in the above paper has occurred dozens if not hundreds of times over the course of the Quaternary, probably on even larger scales.

    of course there are also issues of plant migration through drastically altered human landscapes such as the US midwest.
    But there again, plants have migrated through extremely disturbed and inhospitably post-glacial environments in the past. And our own agency will certainly be able to help with the transportation of seeds if necessary.
    Assuming we’re not all busy destroying each other…

    [Response:Using the term “very recently” to refer to something that happened 14.5k years ago, given the changes in human societies since then, is not a fair use of the term. And tree species migration is not the only, nor even principal, ecological problem that’s going to arise in response to this climatic change–far, far from it. Look at what’s happening to high elevation pine forests in the western USA right now, under relatively minor warming (compared to possible/predicted if insufficient actions are taken), and the feedback effect that’s having, and going to have, on the snowpack and corresponding spring temperatures and stream hydrology–just as one very off-the-cuff example. We have over 7 billion people on this planet, intermixed with and dependent on both natural and managed ecosystems. A bit more resolution as to the nature of the actual and potential problems just might be in order.–Jim]

    Comment by pikkles — 8 Nov 2012 @ 11:57 AM

  158. “21st” century civ. that is…

    Comment by pikkles — 8 Nov 2012 @ 11:59 AM

  159. New evidence for bipolar seesaw link between Greenland and Antarctica – and abrupt climate variability

    is another interesting one at bitsofscience; thanks Gavin for pointing to that site inline above for the sea level paper.

    Is bitsofscience a candidate for the sidebar?
    It could replace the late lamented Head in a Cloud that’s gone 404

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Nov 2012 @ 12:22 PM

  160. Hank

    Comment by Steve Fish — 8 Nov 2012 @ 1:23 PM

  161. Sorry if I misread your mood, Wili, I responded to your post abov with the phrases
    “deeply troubling” and “dire information” and “despair-provoking” in it.

    Someone earlier posted “I’m in despair. Is it justified?”
    and Gavin replied: No.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Nov 2012 @ 2:00 PM

  162. I think there is a philosophical conflict within common modern popular and public ethics of climate change.
    on the one hand, there is the non-anthropocentric ethical dogma that we are doing a bad thing simply by intervening with the “natural” course of climate and upsetting a perceived natural balance, or some sort of natural course of events that ought to occur.
    on the other hand, i don’t think anybody but the deepest deep ecologist or Voluntary Human Extinction Movement member would say that in the coming millenia as a species we ought to sit back and let the earth descend gradually (and at times perhaps not so gradually) into another glaciation, as climate has done for the entire Quaternary Period and beyond in the past.

    In other words, we are ethically opposed to “messing with nature”, but we would almost certainly not be opposed to “messing with nature” if the relative climate stability of the Holocene began to deteriorate into the next glacial cycle.
    One look at the Vostok (or any other 100ka scale Quaternary core) should suffice to show that we are living at the tip of a brief and extreme spike of warmth, which is not at all likely to remain stable for more than a few millenia in the future.

    [Response:Only a few millennia??. Well thank goodness, we ought to be able to wait that out.–Jim]

    The idea that the earth has changed only gradually in the past and that the changes we are causing now are unprecedented is at this point an archaic notion as this paper demonstrates. Post-industrial global warming is only unprecedented in terms of rate and total change within the past ~3-4,000 years, if that. It is also (if it continues on its present course) unprecedented in relation to maximum global temperatures of the Late Quaternary, but the warmer world to which we will presumably return has very recent analogues in Cenozoic. It is likely that a return to globally warmer conditions would have occurred anyway at the end of the current “icehouse” phase of earth. it is purely arbitrary from the perspective of a snapping turtle that we happen to be the cause of it now.

    I think those of us devoted to reversing climate change should be straightforward about the fact that the end goal for humanity with regard to climate is pure geoengineering, with the aim to keep the global climate as stable and static as possible for as long as possible, even given the likely opposite threat in future of “natural” global cooling. We should abandon the romantic and, at this point, given what we now know about recent Quaternary climate variability, irrational notion that just by warming the globe we are doing unjustifiable harm outside of the human realm of Holocene-based, 21st-century-based civilization, by moving the earth away from Quaternary cycles.

    [Response: Oh yes, preventing the next ice age should be at the top of our most pressing concern list. Not. But now that we’ve done that, what next? – gavin]

    [Response:Seriously, what are you talking about?–Jim]

    Comment by pikkles — 8 Nov 2012 @ 2:11 PM

  163. Jim
    You wrote, “Look at what’s happening to high elevation pine forests in the western USA right now”
    I assume you are referring mainly to the bark beetle infestations of lodgepole pine forests, or perhaps white pine blister rust in western white pines. I’m sure there are other pine forest issues in the west at the moment. I do not deny that such changes are taking place, and that such ecological changes will probably increase if the climate warms at a faster rate in future.

    [Response:No not just lodgepole pine, although that’s certainly the hardest hit. Also the decimation of many whitebark pine stands, and potentially other species from the mountain pine and other bark beetles.]

    However, I think it is short-sighted to think that this is unusual in terms of the ecological histories of tree species. i and many paleoecologists would argue that naturally occurring ecological upheaval and chaos has been and still is a lot more common and severe than it is commonly perceived to be. for some reason we tend to think of ecological change as static and gradual

    [Response:No, we don’t. We’re well aware that ecological dynamics can be dynamic and rapid. And unpredictable. Indeed, that’s a very big part of the concern here.]

    when even in the last millenium before the industrial revolution plants and animals were still rapidly migrating in all directions due to non-anthropogenic causes. in new england, for example, tree species are still arriving from their southern glacial refugia. American Chestnut, to name just one example, only arrived in Connecticut ~1500 years ago, although it is considered a “native” of the area.

    [Response:Not correct, but more importantly, not really relevant.–Jim]

    in north america at the last glacial termination, the rate of climate change was at times much faster than at present, and the ecological changes that it wrought on pine forests and other forests at the time would have dwarfed those of the present day. it would have (and almost certainly did) come in the form of “native” beetles, fungal disease, moths, etc., as rapid climate change drastically changed the optimum ranges of tree species outside of their ideal conditions. speeds of tree species migration were far beyond what we are seeing with the present mild warming.

    [Response:You’re not getting the point. How unique the current dynamic is, is NOT the central point. The issue is rather the degree of disruption liable to occur on a populous and developed and dependent planet. It doesn’t matter what happened thousands of years ago, except to inform us as a very rough guide. It hardly even matters what happened 100 years ago. It’s not the same world we live in. And the warming is not mild–it’s extremely rapid–Jim]

    here’s a good paper attesting to that fact.

    [Response:A significant piece of evidence addressing “Reid’s Paradox” and high migration rates came a few years ago wherein molecular evidence lent strong credence to the idea that multiple refugia likely existed fore of the advancing front of the core ranges of many tree species under climate change.–Jim]

    i agree that the rapid global changes 14,500 years ago were beyond the ken of modern civilized humanity. our whole civilized history is contained within the relatively (but by no means absolutely) stable climate of the past 10,000 years. for that purely anthropocentric reason we should take steps to curtail anthropogenic climate change, or at least attempt to keep the rate of change gradual.

    Comment by pikkles — 8 Nov 2012 @ 2:43 PM

  164. Chris Korda #138,

    I believe the RCP scenarios refer to the anthropogenic forcing change relative to pre-industrial times by year 2100. So, for example, RCP 8.5 means a forcing change of 8.5 W/m^2 in 2100 relative to pre-industrial times, or over 2 doublings of CO2 (requiring around 1380 ppm in 2100 if the only forcing were CO2).

    “I became increasingly curious about three questions: 1) Assuming we emit an additional teraton of CO2 by 2035, what average global surface temperature will likely result? 2) Why do the AR5 scenarios omit temperature data (unlike the AR4 scenarios), despite this being what most people presumably want to know?”

    I recommend you look at the CMIP5 scenario runs at Climate Explorer, which makes processing of globally averaged fields easy: Temperature is most certainly included in the output of these runs (tas). For the RCP 8.5 scenario, taking the mean of 1 run per model yields a trend of 0.32 K/decade over the 25 years from 2011 to 2035, or about 0.8K change over that period. However, keep in mind that this mean also shows an 0.26 K/decade trend over the last 25 years, despite GISS only showing a trend of around 0.16 K/decade.

    “If “RCP8.5 is reality” and CM3 is to be believed, we could face an increase in average global surface temperature of ~1.5ºC between now and 2035”.

    Hmmm, this is not quite right. GFDL CM3 is certainly on the high end, showing a trend of 0.45K/decade from 2011 to 2035, which corresponds to about 1.13 K increase. However, again keep in mind that this same model showed an 0.39 K/decade trend over the most recent 25 years , compared to the actual trend of 0.16 K/decade for GISS.

    Comment by Troy_CA — 8 Nov 2012 @ 2:52 PM

  165. 157 and Jim’s reply. And then of course, there’s the elephant in the room that Jim alludes to: we don’t live in the LGM, Miocene, the Pliocene, the PETM, or whenever else. We live here and now and this is the only climate we’ve got. The world’s societal and agricultural infrastructure has developed in response to the climate we have (or perhaps more appropriately, used to have…). It’s worth repeating the closing statement from the 2012 AMS Climate Change Statement: Prudence dictates extreme care in accounting for our relationship with the only planet known to be capable of sustaining human life.

    Comment by tokodave — 8 Nov 2012 @ 2:55 PM

  166. gavin,

    i suppose it’s reasonable to assume that if we become capable of the global organization and energy required to remove CO2 and cool the globe, we will be able to do the opposite if we are faced with the threat of glaciation (which, although natural, all-natural, would not be good for most forms of earthly life, including us)
    however, beyond asking heck of a lot in terms of global cooperation and the energy required to remove anthro CO2, that also assumes that we can emit enough CO2 in order to avoid the next glaciation.
    Are we sure beyond a doubt that that is the case?
    Even in the Pliocene, which as i understand is thought to have had higher atmos. CO2 levels than present, there were still glacial cycles, albeit much more moderate than those of the late Quaternary.

    Comment by pikkles — 8 Nov 2012 @ 3:03 PM

  167. Hank Roberts
    In post #149 I mistakenly attributing to you the quote “First of all almost all the ice has to melt to return to a Pliocene climate state.”
    That ought to have been directed at David B. Benson’s comment #137
    My apologies.

    Comment by pikkles — 8 Nov 2012 @ 3:54 PM

  168. tokodave,

    you also wrote, “The world’s societal and agricultural infrastructure has developed in response to the climate we have (or perhaps more appropriately, used to have…)”

    this is also true, but that fact does not mean that we will not be able to farm and have societies in a pliocene-like world.
    many of the world’s most fertile farming regions, the midwest of north america and northwestern europe for example, were taiga, tundra or under ice at the last glacial maximum. many of the regions that may become warm enough to farm in the future are at present taiga and tundra with permafrost.
    not to mention the facts that increased moisture in the atmosphere, increased rainfall, decreased global aridity, and increased warmth are all likely to boost global food production.

    [Response:Right, not to mention those “facts”.–Jim]

    decreased land area from rising sea levels will, on the other hand, decrease arable land area.

    change is unsettling by definition, but it is not necessarily bad, and certainly not necessarily apocalyptic, just because things become different.
    what worries me the most is not so much ecological destruction as the possibility of large-scale and possibly nuclear war as political boundaries are forced to change and people are forced to move.

    Comment by pikkles — 8 Nov 2012 @ 5:40 PM

  169. No prob, hank. Thanks to that bitsofscience link. I second your mostion to add that site to the sidebar.

    (reCaptcha “needAjoy now”–is it telling me to go out and have a beer?!)

    Comment by wili — 8 Nov 2012 @ 5:40 PM

  170. Pikkles, waxing nostalgic for the good ol’ days of the Pliocene, are we? I would note that you really need to distinguish between the early and late Pliocene. Dave is certainly right about the early Pliocene.

    Also, past climate change epochs did not see anything like the rapid change we are seeing now on a GLOBAL scale.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Nov 2012 @ 5:49 PM

  171. > enough CO2 in order to avoid the next glaciation.

    No worries:,5

    Besides, there are more powerful greenhouse gases:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Nov 2012 @ 5:49 PM

  172. Troy @164: Thank you very much, not only for the link, but also for alerting me to a serious error in my annotated CM3 temperature chart. The 2013 line was misplaced on the time axis by a whole decade, resulting in overstatement of the temperature increase by about half a degree. My eyes aren’t what they used to be I guess! Here’s the corrected chart, showing an increase of ~0.9ºC between now and 2035, which corresponds more closely to the “1.13 K increase” you mention.

    The historical data shown in the CM3 graph appears to differ significantly from the
    GISS Land-Ocean Temperature Index. I assume this is because the “historical” portion of the graph is showing not observations but CM3’s modeling of historical temperatures?

    Re RCP2.6: If I understand correctly our forcing increased sufficiently during the AR5 process to make RCP2.6 implausible, necessitating its replacement by RCP3.5. Is this a twisted example of modeling inertia?

    Comment by Chris Korda — 8 Nov 2012 @ 6:01 PM

  173. off topic, perhaps a new thread:

    Comment by dabard51 — 8 Nov 2012 @ 6:14 PM

  174. Jim,

    I have searched for the paper I read concerning the recent arrival of Castanea dentata in CT (1500 BP in my memory) which you said was false.
    I cannot find it.
    Here is a paper that says it arrived in the hudson valley from its southern refuge, 3600 BP according to this researcher

    that is significantly different from the paper i read on the subject, i may be remembering wrong, or the findings may simply be different, but it does not particularly take away from my point, which is that current species ranges even late in the Holocene are still in a significantly chaotic state of flux.

    [Response:Wasn’t talking about the range or migration of Castanea when I said you were wrong, but rather this last point. Anyway, it’s completely irrelevant as I’ve said. We’re all very well aware that ecosystems were massively disrupted and rearranged and reassembled numerous times in the distant past. It’s beside the point. We’re concerned about system stability NOW. Not going to keep repeating myself on this, have started bore-holing your comments.–Jim]

    Comment by pikkles — 8 Nov 2012 @ 6:45 PM

  175. Why Conservatives Turned Against Science.

    An interesting essay by Erik M. Conway and Naomi Oreskes in the Chronicle of Higher Education. As expected with Oreskes, climate science is featured and a few moles have popped up in the comments.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 8 Nov 2012 @ 6:48 PM

  176. pikkles: You don’t seem to be considering the fragility of civilization, or the incalculable human (and non-human) suffering that will result from seriously and rapidly disrupting it. Given the scale and complexity of modern systems even relatively minor disruptions can have hideous impacts, as Sandy demonstrated recently. Of course no one is certain what will happen many millennia from now, but that is totally irrelevant to discussions about forcing from CO2, as others here have attempted to point out to you. The impacts from continued burning of fossil fuel by comparison are well-understood, predictable, and disastrous on a decadal time scale. I suggest you read up on what some of those impacts are likely to be before blithely declaring that “what worries me the most is not so much ecological destruction”, because that “ecological destruction” would very likely eliminate you and your descendents.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 8 Nov 2012 @ 6:49 PM

  177. FYI:

    Warmer still: Extreme climate predictions appear most accurate, report says
    By Brian Vastag
    The Washington Post
    Thursday, November 8, 2012

    Climate scientists agree the Earth will be hotter by the end of the century, but their simulations don’t agree on how much. Now a study suggests the gloomier predictions may be closer to the mark.

    “Warming is likely to be on the high side of the projections,” said John Fasullo of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., a co-author of the report, which was based on satellite measurements of the atmosphere.

    That means the world could be in for a devastating increase of about eight degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, resulting in drastically higher seas, disappearing coastlines and more severe droughts, floods and other destructive weather.

    Such an increase would substantially overshoot what the world’s leaders have identified as the threshold for triggering catastrophic consequences.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 8 Nov 2012 @ 6:59 PM

  178. also Jim
    as for my use of the descriptor “very recently”, i think it was pretty clear i was talking about evolutionary history of organisms other than human beings.
    i was addressing the question of how ecologically destructive current warming may become for non-human life.
    of course we are “dependent on both natural and managed ecosystems.” but that does not imply that we are in control of plant and animal migration and ecological change in general.

    [Response:Exactly my point. We’re creating instabilities in things we depend on, directly and indirectly.–Jim]

    it is an important to ask the question of how the natural world will fare in a rapidly warming world precisely because we are dependent upon wild ecosystems in many ways, and they are mostly outside of our control.
    i have argued on this thread, if you read my posts, that there are reasons to believe that on the whole, ecological change due to rapid climate change is not at all unprecedented for modern species, and that, with perhaps a little help from us, even rapid warming akin to that of the last glacial termination will not create an apocalyptic global ecological scenario.

    [Response:Nobody’s talking about possible apocalypses except you, and most certainly not w.r.t. how fast trees do or do not migrate. Please move on.–Jim]

    similar episodes have happened many, many times before over the course of the Quaternary.

    Comment by pikkles — 8 Nov 2012 @ 7:07 PM

  179. pikkles @166
    Are you really arguing a sensible equivalence here?
    The next glaciation will not be a quick event. Even with an ice age ‘alarmist’ view, it would be hard to see more than a 4ºC drop in global temperatures in the next 20,000 years courtesy of a drop into the next ice age. That means the next millennium of ice age will result in a cooling of 0.2ºC, or the sort of magnitude equal to the rise we can anticipate from the next 10 years of global warming.
    Don’t however take this criticism personally. The link provided @173 shows a similar mush-brained analysis by a crazy Swedish geography professor plus colleagues whose analysis would logically have had every last molecule of CO2 sucked out the atmosphere in just half a millennium.

    Comment by MARodger — 8 Nov 2012 @ 7:18 PM

  180. Jim-
    I dunno what “bore-holing” means. sounds somewhat violent. do whatever you feel is right. feel free to delete all my posts if you feel it is right.
    i am not saying that we should not be worried about the earth as it is NOW.
    that is part of what i’m arguing about.
    I believe that in the situation right now it is a statistical pipe dream that we can realistically think about creating a downward trend in CO2 anywhere in the near future. we are so utterly dependent on fossil fuels, and people in the world who are undereducated and alreadt have far more pressing immediate daily concerns than climate change are not very sympathetic to ideas, however well-meant and sensible they are from our perspective, that require them not to have the things that we in the western world have.
    as such, i am trying to look at the possible good aspects of current warming, since it seems, barring some truly revolutionary innovation we are condemned to it.
    I do not believe that a thoroughly pessimistic view of anthropogenic warming climate is strictly necessary. I’m not sure it’s psychologically healthy or even rational for people to believe that the future is totally apocalyptic if it turns out we cannot manage to bring down CO2 levels.
    That is my personal belief, and I think there is a lot of science behind it. I am aware that it runs somewhat counter to activist sentiments common on this site, but i don’t believe that everyone should live in total abject fear if there is no reason for it.

    apologies, did not hit recapcha

    Comment by pikkles — 8 Nov 2012 @ 7:19 PM

  181. I do not believe that a thoroughly pessimistic view of anthropogenic warming climate is strictly necessary.

    No doubt the Koch brothers would agree. I think we should expect to hear plenty more of this BORE-ing argument now that strict denial is untenable. It’s already covered in various FAQs, see e.g. Coby Beck’s What’s Wrong With Warm Weather.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 8 Nov 2012 @ 8:28 PM

  182. Pikkles: “as such, i am trying to look at the possible good aspects of current warming, since it seems, barring some truly revolutionary innovation we are condemned to it.”

    Argument from consequences is a logical fallacy. It does not matter whether acknowledging the risks of climate change is good, bad, indifferent, psychologically healthy or liable to cause male pattern baldness. The consequences are what they are. We either accept them as they are or we delude ourselves. Choose one.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Nov 2012 @ 8:40 PM

  183. Jim
    I have asserted above that a warmer future world will likely be similar to that of the Pliocene with “increased moisture in the atmosphere, increased rainfall, decreased global aridity, and increased warmth”
    As you are probably aware, a potential return to Pliocene global conditions has been a popular recent subject of many studies modeling the probable future of a world warmed by our current and projected levels CO2.

    The Pliocene was a warmer and wetter world. That is well-established enough to call it fact.

    Hence, if the world comes to resemble that of the Pliocene over the next millenium, it will be less arid than present.

    It seems plausuible and likely that there may be episodes of increased aridity between now and a hypothetical stable Pliocene-like future climate.

    But the overall trend would be in the direction of a wetter, likely more widely forested world.

    This does not strike me as very unreasonable, though your sarcasm seemed to imply so, e.g. your comment above in my post 168: “Right, not to mention those ‘facts'”

    [Response:Yeah, well then you should’ve said what you meant the first time, but at any rate none of this is particularly relevant to anything of importance for near term planning, given how long, and long ago, the Pliocene was. It’s just not helpful. It’s like you’re having an argument amongst yourself–Jim]

    Comment by pikkles — 8 Nov 2012 @ 8:56 PM

  184. pikkles — The Borehole will be found listed on the sidebar. Some comments are assigned to it by moderators who have had enough. Read through some of the entries and you will understand.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 8 Nov 2012 @ 9:29 PM

  185. A thanks to Hank Roberts for keeping it going about Google Scholar. I’ve finally started to use it for my own further enlightenment.

    Comment by mrlee — 9 Nov 2012 @ 4:30 AM

  186. I notice that Roy Spencer has at last removed that silly polynomial-fitted trace from his graph of UAH LT temperature record. His continued use of the polynomial trace probably became a little less than amusing for him last month. (The trace used to be labelled as being for ‘entertainment only’ but this label has been long absent.) Last month he was getting a few comments calling for it to go (Not the first time that has happened.) which prompted Jim Pettit to present a graph that captured the true humour of Spencer’s polynomial graphing. (Spencer’s trace was the 4th order polynomial apparently.)

    Comment by MARodger — 9 Nov 2012 @ 7:03 AM

  187. deals with current North Atlantic High pressure blocs. It got some sketches!
    I think its the most interesting new pattern barely discussed.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 9 Nov 2012 @ 9:42 AM

  188. Chris (#172),

    This newspaper report gives some explanation for the range of model predictions. Apparently CM3 is favored owing to skill in hindcasting relative humidity.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 9 Nov 2012 @ 1:31 PM

  189. MARodger says

    I notice that Roy Spencer has at last removed that silly polynomial-fitted trace from his graph of UAH LT temperature record. …

    I noticed also that wood for trees has stopped doing the monthly update for the UAH series.

    2012 -0.089
    2012.08 -0.111
    2012.17 0.112
    2012.25 0.299
    2012.33 0.291
    2012.42 0.369
    2012.5 0.278
    2012.58 0.342
    #Data ends
    #Number of samples: 8″

    Comment by JCH — 9 Nov 2012 @ 2:35 PM

  190. Joe Romm discusses the NCAR study that I mentioned in comment #177 and Chris Dudley mentioned in comment #188:

    Science Stunner: Observations Support Predictions Of Extreme Warming And Worse Droughts This Century

    The NCAR press release is here:

    Future warming likely to be on high side of climate projections, analysis finds

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

  191. Chris @188, Thanks. The NCAR press release is here. It doesn’t name names though, so I guess CM3’s “skill in hindcasting relative humidity” must come from the Science article “A Less Cloudy Future: The Role of Subtropical Subsidence in Climate Sensitivity”?

    Comment by Chris Korda — 9 Nov 2012 @ 4:24 PM

  192. [edit – submitting comments on the same thread using multiple aliases is not allowed. Do not do it again]

    Comment by Tsukemono — 9 Nov 2012 @ 4:55 PM

  193. Chris (#191),

    I think I may have inferred too much. Looking at the supplementary material, they are only just getting started with the newer models. They do seem to like CM2.1 so they’ll probably like CM3 better.

    raypierre must be turning cartwheels to see this kind of progress on clouds. Hope he’ll write a review on this paper.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 9 Nov 2012 @ 11:30 PM

  194. Interesting article on climate change “tail” risk on Bloomberg..

    Hurricane Sandy’s Dangerous Tail
    By Evan Soltas Nov 5, 2012


    Comment by Harmen — 10 Nov 2012 @ 3:03 AM

  195. 183 pikkles said, “The Pliocene was a warmer and wetter world. That is well-established enough to call it fact. Hence, if the world comes to resemble that of the Pliocene over the next millenium, it will be less arid than present.”

    I don’t buy the leap. The sun’s brighter. The biosphere is different. And hungry hungry humans exist.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 10 Nov 2012 @ 8:23 PM

  196. It was mostly natural?

    This paper, unpublished, makes a very different claim than Kyle Swanson made in his article here.

    Any comments?

    [Response: it is an interesting exercise in curve fitting, but since it doesn’t have any input from forcing data, their projection into the future is just a linear extrapolation + ‘noise’. This is not credible. Effectively they are trying to claim that they can derive both climate sensitivity and future levels of CO2 from the linear fit to the past data (which is what the derive as the forced component). Their model for internal variability is new, but it is not magic. – gavin]

    Comment by JCH — 10 Nov 2012 @ 10:48 PM

  197. Jim L @155: You might need to keep an eye on the ‘reviews’ there. At least one AGW denialist has already dissed your book as a load of baloney, starting with the fact that global warming is nonsense.

    Comment by MalcolmT — 10 Nov 2012 @ 11:18 PM

  198. Pikkles,

    You’re mixing scales. To us, as humans, great grandchildren are the maximum time scale. Beyond that it becomes “posterity”, which we care about in a non-personal fashion.

    So, at age 60ish people have deciding-power and potential great grandchildren. The “personal” issue is thus limited to 80 years or so. There will be issues within the next 80 years, but they’ll be manageable for those with great wealth and power. So, there is absolutely no personal reason for anybody in unelected power to pay the slightest attention to climate change. Elected power is different, of course, so those who are unelectedly powerful have a great personal incentive to warp the electoral process.

    You’re also mixing situations. Using the analogy of a man, a man can get shot and survive. A man can get stabbed and survive. A man can get poisoned and survive. A man can go with insufficient water and food, and yet survive. Do all four, and that man will die.

    Of course, the analogy is for ecosystems and species. Sure, in the past a single dreadful thing happened and ecosystems and species evolved and survived. Then another. Same results. But…. 20 or 30 or 100 dreadful things happen all at once. Are you saying that if an ecosystem can survive a single calamity, it can survive 100 simultaneous calamities?

    Or, are you relying on the mismatch in scale? Yep, chaos and destruction for a MERE 10,000 or 100,000 years…

    And your ice age scenario is dumb as dirt. I’ve read that a SINGLE refrigeration factory would be plenty to prevent any slide into an ice age. Now, if you’re merely using the totally impossible scenario as a way to slide into geoengineering, then I suppose it’s useful in a minor but misleading way.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 11 Nov 2012 @ 5:05 PM

  199. Here’s a new one. A serial denier of AGW here in Toledo came up with the idea (he found it on the internet) that the increased spin of the Earth’s molten core is the primary cause of the current global warming. That guy just won’t give up.

    Comment by Jack Roesler — 12 Nov 2012 @ 10:57 AM

  200. > he found it on the Internet

    Of course. You can find _anything_ on the Internet.

    It’s like the joke about telephoning the FBI and asking if they have a file on you: the answer is “We do now.”

    You can find some research on the magnitude (very small) of such effects, looking with Scholar.

    If the Toledo guy went to the library and got help from a reference librarian, he’d find out how tiny any such effect is on climate change compared to what else is happening.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Nov 2012 @ 12:07 PM

  201. NASA Study Goes to Earth’s Core for Climate Insights

    Until 1930.

    Comment by JCH — 12 Nov 2012 @ 1:13 PM

  202. “Melting of Northern Greenland during the last interglaciation” from suggests we pay close attention to NEGIS


    Comment by sidd — 12 Nov 2012 @ 4:20 PM

  203. Hey All,
    Several days ago I stumbled across a program, ‘Channel4’ with Tom Clarke. In this particular episode Mr. Clarke mentions how the weather is warmer, and I quote,”When we arrived in northern Greenland in the first week of October it was still raining. Typically the first snow would arrive at the end of August.”
    His comment got me thinking about the affects of rain on ice. Unfortunately I have not been able to locate any useful information regarding rain’s erosive(?) affects on an ice sheet.
    Can anyone point me in the right direction?
    Thank you

    Comment by Michael Schnieders — 12 Nov 2012 @ 9:55 PM

  204. For Michael Schnieders: search for “rain on snow” in Scholar — that’s the phrase used in many papers.
    (may break, the blog software here doesn’t always handle a quoted string; if not just copy the whole line and paste it into a web browser).

    Look for papers by time span (left side of the Scholar page, for example click “2012”) and look for papers that say “cited by” a number — papers in which other researchers followed up or mentioned them.

    Lots of effects, lots of studies.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Nov 2012 @ 11:35 PM

  205. I missed this originally but it turns out that raypierre does not put a lot of stock in the new study by Trenberth and Fasullo. He ‘described the paper as “another useful data point on the spectrum of estimates of cloud sensitivity,” though not “an absolute game changer.”

    He pointed out, for example, that the correlation between water vapor and clouds was drawn from short-term seasonal fluctuations. Researchers cannot be certain that those same correlations would hold true in response to a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the future, Dr. Pierrehumbert added.

    “The whole problem is really the nature of the observations,” he said. “We don’t have long enough satellite records of cloud observations to really do this kind of study by directly looking at which models get the low clouds right, so we try to indirectly run around the inadequacies of the satellite record.”’

    So, no cartwheels.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 13 Nov 2012 @ 7:49 AM

  206. – cooling upper atmosphere causes satellites/debris to “draw collectively closer to Earth and increases the chances of pieces crashing into one another.” … okay, you’d think a reduction of drag would slow the rate of fall – well, I’m assuming what they mean is that by keeping more stuff up there for longer, they’re more likely to crash into each other and fall out relatively unpredictably verses the nice smooth glide you’d get with greater drag and no collisions? (This would make even more sense if satellites still higher up continue to fall in just as fast, leading to a sort of pile up. But what would cause that? I know there’s never a pure vacuum, and there’s radiation pressure, but…)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 13 Nov 2012 @ 2:36 PM

  207. Patrick, the guy you link to has it backwards, as the commenters there tell him. Notice he gives no source, and no date, for whatever he read to invent his misinterpretation.

    Want to guess where and when that was news?
    You can look it up. identifies a source for the cooling upper atmosphere info — from 2009.


    [Response: See also: “The sky is falling” from Nov 2006. – gavin]

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Nov 2012 @ 6:13 PM

  208. re my earlier comments on wave propagation

    I had refered to Cushman-Roisin and didn’t say what that was. I also gave an incomplete explanation of wave propagation. It may be impossible for me to give a complete explanation even if I knew it, but I think I can do better…

    more later, but in the meantime, briefly, for a narrow jet (like on a PV front), I think if the wavelength is large relative to the ‘Rossby radius of deformation’, then the wave can’t really just propagate across the wave’s own ridges and troughs (as it could if the PV gradient were spread out over a substantial width) – instead it has to propagate along the length of the jet, which is of course longer for higher-amplitude waves. this works both ways: if the effect of beta (df/dy = gradient in planetary vorticity) were strong enough to allow wave propagation westward, I think this would be slowed (although beta would make the flow structure a bit more complicated because there would be some broader regions of nonzero flow if the PV is truly constant on either side of the jet, and otherwise… ), while the flow of the jet itself takes longer to get over a full wavelength and so it takes longer for the wave to be advected eastward.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 13 Nov 2012 @ 7:27 PM

  209. Re Hank Roberts – thanks. was a link in the duckduckgo list. except for the leap to stuff falling to the surface, this seems to indicate that atmospheric contraction is a problem via space junk build up (I jumped to the last part since I already get the CO2 – cooling upper atmosphere part).

    contains. eeserre

    PS not that atmospheric jets are always on PV fronts (so far as I know). I’m using that as a sort of limiting case in contrast to a completely evenly-distributed PV gradient.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 13 Nov 2012 @ 7:36 PM

  210. while the flow of the jet itself takes longer to get over a full wavelength and so it takes longer for the wave to be advected eastward.” … um, hold on… not sure… well I’ll get back to that. Just note that, if f were constant, wave propagation would depend on variation in curvature along a PV front; a circular arc would tend to just sit there.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 13 Nov 2012 @ 7:39 PM

  211. I think that it is worthwhile for knowledgeable posters here to remember that those at the beginning of the climate science learning curve don’t know all of the acronyms that are used. For example, “PV” (which is also a common acronym for photovoltaic) has not been defined in this thread and is not in the Real Climate Acronym Index. It is only polite, and typical of almost any research paper, for all acronyms to be defined upon their first use. Here, for maximum teaching effect, the first use within a single post would be appropriate.

    For the “PV” example AcronymFinder has 85 meanings including “Polevault, Plasma Density, Per Vaginal, and Pizza Villege.” Is it so hard to just type it out? Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 13 Nov 2012 @ 8:38 PM

  212. Steve Fish-

    Patrick 027 is referring to Potential Vorticity, a common quantity discussed in the atmospheric dynamics, forecasting, and synoptic meteorology communities.

    Essentially, if flow is constrained to stay on isentropic surfaces (another way of saying that it is adiabatic) then parcels of air effectively exchange stratification for circulation, and vice versa. In other words, the product of the vertical gradient of potential temperature (a measure of atmospheric stability) and the vorticity (a measure of the “spin” of a fluid) is conserved. In an adiabatic and frictionless universe, a parcel of air will conserve its PV forever.

    Why this should be the case, and the exploitable characteristics of such a fact, may be mysterious at first glance. Entire books have been written on the consequences of it. Personally, it’s not very intuitive to me, though I have been told by many dynamicists that it is a more natural variable to use and would dominate how we look at weather maps if history could be re-written.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 13 Nov 2012 @ 9:51 PM

  213. > The cooling also could have implications for the buildup
    > of so-called “space junk” ….. Less drag means this junk
    > gets speedier and could pose more of a threat.

    (I take that to mean ‘a threat for a longer period of time’ — less drag means a longer time goes by before the drag slows a piece of junk, its orbit decays, it spirals inward, and it burns up.)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Nov 2012 @ 10:50 PM

  214. This might be (guessing from the long publications list for the mission)
    the paper; doi:10.1029/2009JA014713
    if so it may be in the data sources list already:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Nov 2012 @ 10:58 PM

  215. Re- Comment by Chris Colose — 13 Nov 2012 @ 9:51 PM

    Thanks Chris for the explanation but my complaint is not about the specific PV acronym, but about the use of undefined acronyms here by non-expert but knowledgeable commenters who should know better. Without definitions of acronyms many posts are gibberish to many folks here to learn.The new King et al. post, “Weighing change in Antarctica,” is a good example of how this should be done. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 14 Nov 2012 @ 11:46 AM

  216. To Hank Roberts – thank you for the “Rain on Snow”, very helpful I’m sure I will find what I’m looking for now.

    to Hank Roberts and Patrick 027 – In regards to the space debris; with a colder upper atmosphere, the air contracts(you already know that part (: ) which allows ‘junk’ to orbit at a lower altitude. Orbital mechanics demands that with a lower altitude the velocity will be greater. for example, alt.-350 miles, velocity 17,700 mph; 300 miles, velocity 19,000 mph.
    Also, orbits are almost always elliptical, usually with one side closer to the planet than the other(another variable). If the debris has the right shape and encounters the atmosphere at an appropriate angle it can ‘skip’ off, altering its orbit(another variable) allowing it to possibly interact with other debris, and maybe creating even more debris(another variable).

    I could go on, but it will involve more variables and increasing the complexity with every variable, some of them are even “random”.
    Sound familiar?
    Only difference: no one argues that it is Man made. ;)

    Comment by Michael Schnieders — 14 Nov 2012 @ 9:44 PM

  217. > ‘skip’ off, altering its orbit
    I knew that. I just didn’t remember I knew that (grin).
    Helpful, thanks.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Nov 2012 @ 12:00 AM

  218. So let’s say — leaving aside the other effects, if we just count sea level rise — will the money made from the fossil fuel economy be enough to buy the coastal land that is going to be submerged as a result? Will there be any money left over to call profit? Or is this one of those “lose money on every transaction but make it up by taking a slice of each as profit” kinds of deals?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Nov 2012 @ 12:51 AM

  219. Good question, Hank.

    Better question: Will the money made from the fossil fuel economy be enough to buy back the hundreds of species that are being driven to extinction by climate change and ff-driven habitat destruction?

    Perhaps we can wait till the species store has a sale (though at this point it might be a going-out-of-business sale).

    Comment by wili — 15 Nov 2012 @ 8:46 AM

  220. I see the current El Nino seems to be over almost before it has begun. We seem to be in a semi perminent La Nina. Will this nhave an effect on temeratures in the next few years?

    Comment by DP — 15 Nov 2012 @ 4:34 PM

  221. FILM: Arctic Methane: Why The Sea Ice Matters

    Featuring: James Hansen, Natalia Shakhova, Peter Wadhams & David Wasdell

    Comment by prokaryotes — 15 Nov 2012 @ 6:27 PM

  222. DP@220 – ENSO began moving out of LaNina sometime ago, and remaining below a certain threshold for some months, has been judged to be in a neutral phase – it is not now and has never been been “semi-permanent” anything, it is episodic.

    Comment by flxible — 15 Nov 2012 @ 6:45 PM

    has weekly updates — as of Monday it says going on neutral for a while longer most likely.

    Another bit there says:

    “A common finding among scientific studies is that these long-lived weather extremes are associated with recurrent atmospheric flow anomalies. Numerous studies have found that the poor forecast skill beyond a few days results principally from the inability of numerical weather prediction models to simulate the onset and evolution of blocking flows.”

    The European model that did best with Sandy:
    Others not so much.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Nov 2012 @ 8:13 PM

  224. Airborne Particles Smuggle Pollutants to Far Reaches of Globe

    Another bit of the puzzle partly understood.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 15 Nov 2012 @ 10:17 PM

  225. Ice geeks and those who love them: You may not have heard about the new film Chasing Ice. I’ve been waiting a long time for this one. It’s one of those films that only plays for a week at your local art cinema, if you’re fortunate enough to have one, else you’ll have wait for the DVD. I’m beside myself with anticipation! Time lapse photography, bottomless moulins, skeptic conversion, it’s got it all.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 16 Nov 2012 @ 6:07 PM

  226. Himalayan Glaciers Will Shrink by Almost 10 Percent, Even If Temperatures Hold Steady

    In Bhutan anyway.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 16 Nov 2012 @ 10:24 PM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Nov 2012 @ 9:54 PM

  228. Found this hooror in ClimateCentral today. Suggest people stand up and take notice. Eucalyptus are not nice trees, and my expert friends point out they are water hogs and prone to fire.

    Article says its a reprint from the Guardian, so reaction there might also be useful.

    [Response:There’s a whole litany of issues with the claims made therein, ranging from fanciful to ludicrous.–Jim]

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 17 Nov 2012 @ 10:42 PM

  229. Sorry, can’t resist. This is not exactly about climate science, but Dad and I share an idea that common sense makes cold fusion a non-starter. Well, here’s Ugo Bardi on pseudo science and claptrap, and if nothing else, it might be good for a giggle!

    Every time that I find myself discussing “cold fusion,” I need to explain why I think there exists a “good” science and a “bad” science; the latter sometimes defined also as “pseudo-science” or “pathological science.”. It is a point which is perfectly obvious to scientists, but very difficult to explain to non scientists. So, let me describe a discussion that I had with Steven Featherstone, American journalist and writer, who came to visit me as part of an investigation of the cold fusion phenomenon in Italy, that he recently published in the November issue of “Popular Science”. I’ll report our conversation in a novelized form that – I think – keeps the essence of what we said to each other in more than four hours of talking. These are not, obviously, the exact words said in this occasion, but Steve has been so kind to approve this version. So, here it is.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 17 Nov 2012 @ 10:57 PM

  230. One moment of stunning candor burned through the fog of Thursday’s Watts telethon- here’s the screen capture

    Comment by Russell — 18 Nov 2012 @ 12:13 AM

  231. Why does it cost 152 $ to read nature publications? (Subscribe to Nature Geoscience for full access: $152) Why is the science not freely available? This is another dent to the challenges we face. We need all the information we can get!

    [Response:Not an ideal situation for sure. Always email the corresponding author directly and ask for an electronic reprint of any article you cannot otherwise obtain–they will send it to you most of the time, IME–Jim]

    Comment by prokaryotes — 18 Nov 2012 @ 7:49 AM

  232. Lomborg is at it again:

    Can someone tell me why Slate would give this [ad hom deleted] guy a platform??

    [Response: What a terrible article – the problems would be obvious by simply looking at a map of New York Bight and trying to see exactly how sea walls are going to be able to protect the southern shore of Long Island (including JFK) or the Jersey shore. A barrier across the Verrazano Narrows is possible (maybe even likely over the next few decades), but the idea that provides permanent protection under ‘business as usual’ continued emissions or can be applied to all areas at risk from storm surges is a fantasy. In fact the whole article is selling a convenient fantasy that adaptation to a continually worsening baseline is trivial and universal – it is neither, and claims to the contrary are pathetic. – gavin]

    Comment by Peter Backes — 18 Nov 2012 @ 9:38 AM

  233. Listen and weep:

    Kevin Anderson on why so many climatologists won’t admit that we are on track for over 2 degrees C global warming rise, likely 6 degrees by the end of the century. (In the latter assessment he joins, Hansen, Birol of IEA, MunichRE, PWC, Joe Romm at ClimateProgress, and some others.)

    Comment by wili — 18 Nov 2012 @ 11:20 AM


    Wow. That’s a ‘dog hair’ forest for sure.

    That kind of plantation would burn awful fast, tho’ not quite as fast as, say, switchgrass — nothing like an ordinary forest.

    Interesting stuff, but not simple. Jim, I’d sure welcome more attention to all the issues raised by that approach. I wish you and my old friend who wrote that switchgrass cautionary page could collaborate.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Nov 2012 @ 1:24 PM

  235. inline [Response:There’s a whole litany of issues with the claims made therein, ranging from fanciful to ludicrous.–Jim]

    Would you be so kind as to point to some further information about this? I didn’t get fanciful/ludicrous from it, but rather scary as it’s possible to be. In your opinion, am I wrong? Eucalyptus trees in my brief experience didn’t seem like the right kind of tree to multiply. It appears the author was thinking more about fuel than emissions, which is also against it.

    If you feel able to answer or point to some sources, I’d be grateful.

    [Response:I think we probably just differ on what concerns us about it Susan. Will try to make some comments later.–Jim]

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 18 Nov 2012 @ 2:43 PM

  236. To make it explicit, a quote from that switchgrass cautionary blog post:

    “… Other cellulosic feedstocks will have similar fire problems, even hybrid willow. In order to be economic, these intrinsically flammable materials have to be grown in the highest density possible- increasing the fire hazard. Regardless of climate, a dry spell will occur ….

    … My plea is for hard, hard thinking, before we commit our hope and precious resources to blind fantasies. We don’t have time or resources to waste…..”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Nov 2012 @ 3:00 PM

  237. PBS NOVA is covering Sandy NOW, quite good stuff.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 18 Nov 2012 @ 7:06 PM

  238. Hank Roberts’ link to the Fuelish Fantasies article reminded me of another question about biofuel that Jim Bouldin might be able to comment on. When I garden I have to maintain the soil, so what happens when one removes all of the above ground growth of switchgrass, or eucalyptus trees, or whatever crop over and over. Wouldn’t this type of agriculture require a lot of fossil carbon for fertilizer just like corn?


    Comment by Steve Fish — 18 Nov 2012 @ 7:12 PM

  239. re 216 Michael Schnieders – Thank you.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 18 Nov 2012 @ 7:18 PM

  240. Blabbosphere alert: PBS NOVA on Sandy back to back with Ken Burns Dustbowl, showing now on the east coast.

    The former is, so far, excellent IMHO.

    too good, try not to do this but,
    Gutenberg apprope

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 18 Nov 2012 @ 7:24 PM

  241. re 238 Steve Fish – related: I’ve wondered about how well it could work to use lawn grass clippings for biofuel; couldn’t the processing of grass to make fuel also produce as a byproduct the necessary fertilizer to make up for not leaving grass clippings on the lawn, and would it stay put and work rather than run off, etc?

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 18 Nov 2012 @ 7:50 PM

  242. Re- Comment by Patrick 027 — 18 Nov 2012 @ 7:50 PM:

    I always thought that the products of the enormous suburban grass farms should be put to use. Actually, there are many municipalities that pick up yard waste (lawn clippings and fall leaves) free and they supply colored trash bags that are picked up on a specific day. They are producing compost from the waste for plantings around public buildings and in parks.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 18 Nov 2012 @ 8:48 PM

  243. > lawn clippings … biofuel

    Chemistry doesn’t work at room temperature, not even close.

    Look at the older articles in the sidebar there from four, six, eight, ten years ago — each promoting some new idea as a possible breakthrough — and look a few up in Scholar, then follow those by looking at “cited by” and see how they have worked out.

    That’s what most people don’t do when they hear about a ‘breakthrough’ from some university’s hard working PR department. Check their track record for assessing promising new work.

    Lawn grass hasn’t much ferment — you can’t make make alcohol (lacking the magic enzyme we don’t have that would break up lignin cheaply, and if that’s ever invented say byebye rainforest).

    Lawn grass doesn’t make much oil either, so no biodiesel.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Nov 2012 @ 12:04 AM

  244. Mr. Steve Fish writes on the 18th of November, 2012 at 7:12 PM:

    “When I garden I have to maintain the soil, so what happens when one removes all of the above ground growth of switchgrass, or eucalyptus trees, or whatever crop over and over. Wouldn’t this type of agriculture require a lot of fossil carbon for fertilizer just like corn…”

    Precisely. If you remove the produce of the earth every year, you will destroy the tilth, which cannot be replaced with fossil fertilizer. I am seeing this up close and personal, and trying to fix. You must return the much of the bounty of the land to the land. Or else the good earth will disappear and the land will do nought but grow stones.

    This is why all healthy farms have livestock. Not batteries of fowl, or miles of feedlot, but free range.

    Eat less meat, and more vegetables. Pay more for it, from careful farms. You will be healthier, and so will the land.


    Comment by sidd — 19 Nov 2012 @ 12:25 AM

  245. > livestock

    The “free range” notion doesn’t mean unconstrained — consider for example Salatin’s Virginia farm, which is famous for having demonstrable success by managing grazing intensively for short and carefully timed spans with long breaks:

    That doesn’t work with large herds grazing public lands, as has been amply demonstrated. This thesis (which I’ve just skimmed) is worthwhile reading for anyone who’s slightly familiar. He quotes Aldo Leopold:

    “just because the situation is hopeless does not mean we should not keep trying to do our best.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Nov 2012 @ 7:42 AM

  246. I always thought that the products of the enormous suburban grass farms should be put to use. Actually, there are many municipalities that pick up yard waste (lawn clippings and fall leaves) free . . .

    Those ‘grass farms’ should be put to use – growing vegetables. Anyone who insists on growing grass should be required to leave the clippings where they fall behind the manual push mower, or compost the clippings themselves. The govt does nothing for “free” even trucks with good purposes use fossil fuels, and require crews to operate – grass clippings are not a ‘product’, they are an ‘externality’ of the tons of fossil fuel derived fertilizers and pesticides sold to suburbia, not to mention all those snarling lawnmowers and weed whackers and leaf vacuums.

    Comment by flxible — 19 Nov 2012 @ 9:43 AM

  247. Re- Comment by sidd — 19 Nov 2012 @ 12:25 AM

    And, raise and grow as much of your own food as you can. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 19 Nov 2012 @ 10:15 AM

  248. Yes, all these schemes forget that we actually owe a debt to the land. We have already drawn down tilth across much of the most productive land in the world. We owe it to the future to actually build up that soil, not mine it more intensively for diminishing returns.

    Meanwhile–Did anyone listen to the talk by Kevin Anderson? Any reactions?

    Here’s a link to the power point that accompanies the talk:

    Here’s the link to the (ecoshock coverage of) the talk:

    Or, as Anderson suggests, is this topic truly tabu among climate scientists? No ‘real clothes’ at RealClimate?

    Comment by wili — 19 Nov 2012 @ 10:53 AM

  249. > should be required to leave the clippings where they fall
    > behind the manual push mower, or compost the clippings
    > themselves. The govt does nothing for “free” ….

    I just cain’t HEP mase’f sometimes …

    Got your proposal to fund the budget for establishing the Department of Lawn Clipping and Manual Push Mower Enforcement?
    I believe this will require establishment of local, state, and national offices, at least one per ZIP code.

    Of course staffing will be seasonal in any areas where snow continues to fall during the winter. Say North Dakota and Minnesota. All others will require year-round patrols on at least weekly intervals.

    Perhaps we can acquire the leases on the Post Office buildings, once that’s privatized.

    Or were you thinking that local militias can handle suppressing these nefarious lawn-makers without any cost to the government?

    I suppose the penalties will be severe. How’s prison space looking?

    But seriously.
    If you think the world needs to address the real problem,
    (and that’s why most of us participate here, isn’t it?)

    Consider that you’re writing for an audience now and in the future.

    Speak to the real problem.


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Nov 2012 @ 12:23 PM

  250. Wili

    Sigh! [edit – stay classy please] Climate scientists have been out in front on this issue since Kevin was a frigging wet-behind-the-ears graduate student.

    That there are differences among scientists in exactly how to deal with this issue is not surprising. However, if policy makers and industry had taken action when the evidence presented to them by the scientists exceeded any reasonable doubt, we wouldn’t be talking about an unfolding catastrophe. [edit]

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Nov 2012 @ 1:07 PM

  251. “Speak to the real problem.”

    Hank, if you think the millions of small motors around [unnecessary, recreational, emissions-unregulated] are not a very real part of the problem you aren’t getting out enough. EPA regulations forced change in the design of PFC’s [portable fuel containers]. Who funds the Department of PFC design enforcement? No reason they can’t make small motors much better and much less mindlessly polluting. And who funds and staffs the “free” Department of Grass Clipping Collection, Transport, Screening, Bio-degradation, and Dispersal? Who funds all the Home Owners Associations in the US, and enforces their restrictive regulations?

    The exercise from home composting and push mowing could go a long way to reducing millions of pounds of excess fat as well, a great health care cost reduction. Or maybe we could turn all those Hostess Twinkie factories into composting facilities and put the 18,000 previous bakery workers back to work cooking up humus instead of junque food. ;)

    Comment by flxible — 19 Nov 2012 @ 2:12 PM

  252. Here is a new World Bank study on the effects of 4C increase, which they mention has about a 20% probability under business-as-usual if governments keep to their current carbon intensity targets. They also mention that 2C is nigh-impossible to avoid, and that 0.8C (i.e. today) is already pretty bad.

    Comment by numerobis — 19 Nov 2012 @ 3:00 PM

  253. Wili #248,

    “Meanwhile–Did anyone listen to the talk by Kevin Anderson? Any reactions?”

    He has presented these ideas in speeches and papers the last few years. His focus is combining climate science with policy, and he is one of the more realistic scientists in this regard. He is still somewhat optimistic in his numbers, since they don’t include the myriad positive feedback mechanisms we see in play today.

    Can the climate catastrophe inherent in his remarks be avoided? There are two major requirements for any proposed solution: technical feasibility and political/sociological feasibility. Technical feasibility requires an understanding of the targets that have to be achieved, and we don’t have those because of the inadequacy of present models to incorporate feedbacks properly. We know that two important components of technical feasibility will be terminating use of fossil fuel ASAP, and reforesting/afforesting as much as possible. But, if climate change is in the analogous situation of a combustion system where it is on the road to becoming self-sustaining, then any technical solution will also require taking proactive steps to quench the self-sustaining mechanisms. This will require some form of geoengineering. Doing this on a global scale, given the inadequacy of our models, is throwing the ultimate Hail Mary pass.

    But, even if we could do the above, we need to overcome the political/sociological issue hurdle. Many of the climate change blog owners and blog posters I have seen have this belief that if only the ‘truth’ about climate change could be presented and accepted, that would result in a massive change in behavior. In my view, there is no basis for such a belief. Copious use of energy from cheap fossil fuels has most of the characteristics of an addiction, and we know from painful experience that stark provision of consequences to gambling, drinking, smoking, cocaine, heroin, et al addicts has little effect on behavior. The ‘deniers’ and their sponsors are convenient scapegoats and targets for the climate activists to rally the troops, but if the ‘deniers’ were eliminated tomorrow, the stark reality of the intransigence of the energy consuming public to change would be overwhelming.

    Anderson has it partially right. ‘Planned austerity’ would be one way to view what has to be done if there is even the glimmer of hope. Given the realities of what would be required, ‘planned worldwide-Depression’ would be a far more accurate description. And, what is our starting point for implementing these drastic reductions? A few percent per year growth in worldwide CO2 emissions with zero evidence of it slowing down. We just had a Presidential debate where both sides tried to emphasize what they were doing to enhance oil and gas production, to enhance growth of the economy well above two percent, to enhance job growth to well beyond 150,000 per month. Can anyone tell me with a straight face that any candidate in the next election would propose the ‘planned Depression’ that would be necessary to implement what Anderson requires?

    You ask why the reality of what Anderson describes is taboo among many climate scientists. In brief, ‘Yes we Can’ brings in more grants and more followers than ‘No we Can’t’.

    I see only the faintest glimmer of a technically feasible solution and zero possibility of a political/sociological solution. In my view, the most probable scenario for 2050 is Anderson’s worst case. Beyond that, who knows. Global chaos from the climate upheaval may force the alteration in fossil use that the present democratic process cannot do, but by then, we will probably be well past the point of no return with self-sustaining runaway.

    Comment by Superman1 — 19 Nov 2012 @ 4:10 PM

  254. Thanks for your thoughtful response, Ray. I accept your good points. But I am still left wondering what scientists and others here think of his assessment of the current situation/predicament. If the predictions of ‘virtually certain 2 degrees C’ and ‘likely 4 degrees by 2050-70’ and 6 degrees by the end of the century are way off, what are the flaws in the science of those positing these dire predictions?

    Does anyone really think we will avoid 2 degrees by the end of the century by any remotely realistic scenario?

    What exactly do you see as the range of ‘differences among scientists in exactly how to deal with this issue’ at this point.

    Examining the exact nature of our current understanding of likely prospects for the global climate, and exploring different ways of responding to those prospects seem at least as appropriate topics for this forum as are schemes for growing eucalyptus forests or for cooking lawn clippings into biofuels, imvho.

    Comment by wili — 19 Nov 2012 @ 5:33 PM

  255. Wili?

    You’re late to the party.

    “… ‘virtually certain 2 degrees C’ and ‘likely 4 degrees by 2050-70′ and 6 degrees by the end of the century

    You can check and see: put this search string in and search further in the results, it ought to pop out. “virtually certain” 2100

    Did they say “virtually certain” about that?

    The number range you gave I think is from the IPCC since, when, 2001?

    Aldo Leopold had advice for us.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Nov 2012 @ 6:28 PM

  256. Wili,
    It is my opinion that we won’t avoid 2 degrees–and probably not even 4 degrees–without some sort of technical fix that allows us to bring CO2 levels down to manageable ranges. Of course, to attain such a fix will take time, and time is something we will have to buy with conservation, mitigation…whatever we can use, maybe even geoengineering. I stress that this is an opinion by a physicist, but not a climate or policy expert. BTW, I would also stress that climate change is far from the only challenge we face, and even if we manage to traverse that knife-edge ridge, civilization could also collapse as we try to figure out how to make an economy work with a shrinking population and ever more limited resources.

    As to differences of opinion among scientists. Some scientists see a need for activism; some for education of laymen and policy makers; while still others think scientists can contribute best by doing science. My frustration with Anderson’s diatribe is that scientists have been doing all 3 for 35 years. I really take offense when people imply that scientists aren’t doing all they can to avert catastrophe. Certainly, I count the efforts of Gavin, Jim and the other RC contributors, along with Tamino, The Rabett and a plethora of others active in the blogosphere as far more effective than anything Anderson has ever done or ever will do.

    As Yogi Berra said, “Prediction is hard…especially about the future.” It is pointless to try to draw conclusions as to our prospects given our current limited perspective. All we can do is push and pull in the right direction. Mr. Anderson would do well to descend from his high horse, hitch it up to a convenient protruberance and start pulling.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Nov 2012 @ 6:28 PM

  257. For those who don’t have enough targets to indulge their preference for circular firing squads, please not this inline response by Gavin which acknowledges the seriousness of the problem.

    We have enough to do without shooting each other down. I am so tired of the attacks on Al Gore, Bill McKibben, and everyone else who is actually trying to do something. Being politic at times and trying to keep some hope may not be “perfect” but it’s a whole lot better than sniping from the sidelines.

    the idea that provides permanent protection under ‘business as usual’ continued emissions or can be applied to all areas at risk from storm surges is a fantasy. In fact the whole article is selling a convenient fantasy that adaptation to a continually worsening baseline is trivial and universal – it is neither, and claims to the contrary are pathetic. – gavin]

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 19 Nov 2012 @ 8:56 PM

  258. Keyword “forum”

    Seeing the success of the Unforced Variations threads evolving in past month here on RC, i wonder. Why not grow a bit and extend this “engaging with the public” with the addition of a real forum software? This would greatly improve overview of topics, help to find hot topics among many more functionality and general sophistication.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 19 Nov 2012 @ 9:41 PM

  259. 245 Hank said, “That doesn’t work with large herds grazing public lands, as has been amply demonstrated”

    Care to explain that? It sure sounds like buffalo on grass, which was the original ecosystem here on the great plains. Ken Burn’s new show about the dust bowl shows how much dirt was lost. Yet, the dirt is still incredibly deep here in Nebraska.

    249 Hank entertained us all

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 19 Nov 2012 @ 11:11 PM

  260. A write-up on Trenberth’s article in the Nov 9 issue of science would be wonderful. If you do that it would be worth mentioning Karen Shell’s perspective on it as well. By my reading she sort of implied that Trenberth has pushed the most probable equilibrium climate sensitivity up towards 4C. I’d like to know what other experts think.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 20 Nov 2012 @ 12:05 AM

  261. John E. Pearson @259 — There are two different climate sensitivities (CSs) to consider. There is the so-called Charney CS, or fast feedback CS, currently thought to be close to 3 K for 2XCO2. There is also the Earth System CS, maybe as low as 4.5 K and maybe higher.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 20 Nov 2012 @ 1:04 AM

  262. NOVA’s stint on Hurricane Sandy was almost perfect but disappointed a bit, because as a Northerner I am a bit puzzled by the lack of explanations about the “Greenland blocking High” , its not rocket science, the computers mapped them well in advance, still the mechanics of it is explained like the weather on Pluto , They covered this hurricane track like hawks, from its inception, may I remind everyone Hurricanes are more complicated than high pressure genesis, they also included the rossby wave frontal North’easter which merged with the hurricane very well. But said very little about this very important blocking High. I did a piece on it placing its formation directly linked with unusually late October vast open waters of the Arctic Ocean. I think it funny that anything from the North gets scant coverage, I attribute this to the lack of attention the North gets. Primarily because we aint that many people here. The same can be said about the Equatorial South unless it has a typhoon or hurricane. It would be outstanding if RC does a piece on the origins of this Greenland High. Its not asking for very much, no one but me tried to explain it, that is because of where I am , but please someone else meteorology 101 this?

    Comment by wayne davidson — 20 Nov 2012 @ 8:47 AM

  263. Wayne Davidson,

    As an amateur who is paying close attention and trying to learn and understand, with some math deficiencies, I have to thank you for mentioning the Greenland High. That seemed like a no-brainer to me. It was discussed at some length over time and in detail at Neven’s, and it seemed to bear a strong relationship to the Arctic events. This was the third contributor to the nexus that turned Sandy from an “ordinary” hurricane into a lethal instrument of much great power and reach.

    I will be watching for any not-too-high-level technical expertise on the subject.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 20 Nov 2012 @ 10:26 AM

  264. Thanks for your perspectives, Hank and Ray. My take on Anderson’s talk is not that he has some new data, just that the what we now know to be the probable scientific-based projections for temperature increases are too often being ignored by policy makers, and that has real world consequences for what policies are proposed.

    That makes it incumbent on all who understand the best current science to shout down proposals that use old, out-of-date, too optimistic projections. I certainly agree that for those who feel they have been shouting for decades already, it seems a bit irritating for someone now to come along and imply that they haven’t been doing so.

    So what do folks think is the best way to get across to policy people the truly dire nature of the best current science? Do they want to hear it? Do the consequences imply policies that they just can’t imagine themselves implementing?

    Will any policy maker on any level ever embrace a program that orchestrates a 5% annual reduction in GDP every year for the foreseeable future?

    Comment by wili — 20 Nov 2012 @ 2:35 PM

  265. At least Anderson hasn’t been calling on fellow climate scientists to get themselves arrested!:

    Comment by wili — 20 Nov 2012 @ 2:57 PM

  266. John Christy’s presentation to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. Five major points:
    1. Extreme events are poor proxies.
    2. The models overstate warming.
    3. Natural variability…we just don’t know…it might just be blacktop.
    4. The crackpots must be heard, and funded.
    5. CO2 is good for you.

    It was strangly comforting to find that these folks don’t have any new ideas.

    Comment by Eric Rowland — 20 Nov 2012 @ 3:59 PM

    (cyclone models: Norwegian (N-S elongation, warm front weaker and shorter than cold front, cold front catches up, occluded front forms, jet exit regions) vs. Shapiro-Keyser (E-W elongation, T-bone structure, ‘frontal fracture’, warm seclusion, warm front strong and long, jet entrance regions)

    Jets (w/ Rossby waves, blocking patterns, favored (anti)cyclogenesis locations)

    More on Rossby waves

    (more coming… (I’ve compiled a reading list to last until the next ice age… may have gotten a bit carried away, sorry)…)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 20 Nov 2012 @ 5:02 PM

  268. we need sci.climate.real, and (sigh)
    “rcientsB ALSO” is recaptcha’s challenge

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Nov 2012 @ 5:24 PM

  269. > large herds grazing public lands

    “public lands” — not pre-European wilderness.

    Cows, not bison.
    “public” means protected — no wolves, no bow and arrow hunters;
    public lands grazing is leased. Cows spread out when they can.

    The plants do better when the grazers herd up and graze one area intensively then move on for a long time. Bison on prairie worked that way. Perennials can come back from being grazed to the ground once a year. But they don’t if they’re nibbled all year round, losing every new shoot as soon as it sees sunlight.

    Open range protected cattle spread out eating only their favorite plants doesn’t work well; it favors the invasive annual grasses.

    The prairie restoration people and some farmers have found ways to use this to arrange grazing so it will restore range land.

    There’s lots written; search “Alan Savory” “intensive grazing” “Holistic resource management” “mob grazing”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Nov 2012 @ 6:12 PM

  270. Here:
    Angus Beef Bulletin March 2010;
    you’ll find the link in the above search results,
    and a copy in Google Docs

    “…. Under planned high-density grazing, Judy moves the animals twice a day and paddocks are grazed every 140-180 days, or two to three times per year…. he has more legumes in his pastures than before. New stands of big bluestem, Indian grass, switchgrass and gama grass have appeared from seed stored in the soil.

    …. high-density, quick-rotation grazing that started with Allan Savory in the 1980s. Clifton Marek of Ledbetter, Texas, has been using Savory grazing techniques since 1988 …. doesn’t own hay equipment, applies no fertilizer and doesn’t buy seed…. To make full use of his forage, Marek moves the cattle twice a day.”

    Works like bison on prairie, with added fences and accountants.

    (Probably would add up as carbon capture, certainly builds topsoil)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Nov 2012 @ 6:27 PM

  271. Klimawandel: Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Lars Gustafsson im Diskurs

    Tonight i attended a philosophical dialog with Hans Joachim Schellnhuber and Lars Gustafsson and decided to record it…

    Comment by prokaryotes — 20 Nov 2012 @ 6:41 PM

  272. willi,

    Anderson is not saying that scientists have not been warning abut climate change. He is saying that they are under playing the dangers and the effort it will take to prevent catastrophe. Ray’s response is typical. He does not accept that in the past ten years since RealClimate was started things have got considerably worse, yet the rhetoric here has not intensified to reflect that. For him, and most others on here Climate Change is something that will only affect our grand children. For Ray, Anderson’s claim that it is now obvious we must reduce CO2 output to zero is dismissed by calling him a Jimmy-come-lately, and Ad hominen argument!

    But Anderson is not alone. Jeremy Grantham also spoke out in Nature last week. You can read his message here.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 20 Nov 2012 @ 8:50 PM

  273. World coal consumption by region, 1980-2010 (animated, from US EIA)
    This is really getting on my nerves. It feels like watching a car wreck in slow motion.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 20 Nov 2012 @ 9:56 PM

  274. The car wreck in faster motion: by the second – climbing by over half a million per day, most dependent on coal power to supply their needs and wants.

    Comment by flxible — 20 Nov 2012 @ 10:57 PM

  275. > Jeremy Grantham also spoke out in Nature last week.

    Saying, in the voice of the economic system:

    “I just can’t stop myself from making money off this disaster, please, please, say something to save me from myself, get yourselves arrested, because I can’t arrest my own self ….”

    What’s wrong with this picture?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Nov 2012 @ 11:20 PM

  276. Re:intermittent hi density grazing

    What to do in winter ?


    Comment by sidd — 21 Nov 2012 @ 12:17 AM

  277. 269 Hank said, “Cows, not bison.”

    Well, sure. Insisting on doing it wrong usually gives inferior results.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 21 Nov 2012 @ 3:49 AM

  278. Alistair,

    Oh, yes, rhetoric will solve everything! Can we get frigging serious, here?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 Nov 2012 @ 5:34 AM

  279. 267 Thanks Patrick027, but a full blow by blow 8 days prior Hurricane impact, day by day lay out of the Arctic Vortex concentrated on the origins and disposition of the Greenland blocking anticyclone, along with full explanations as to anticyclone-genesis, will convince a whole lot more about the impacts from Arctic Ocean open water. I find it astounding that NOAA or some other group have not done so already. I believe PBS Nova can do an entire show on this. The link with AGW and Sandy’s impact is threefold, sea level (as said by PBS), very warm sst’s (mike wrote about that) and Rossby wave pattern distortion caused by unusual wide open Arctic Ocean water .

    Comment by wayne davidson — 21 Nov 2012 @ 11:51 AM

  280. But seriously:

    > things have got considerably worse,
    > yet the rhetoric here has not intensified

    You’re looking in the wrong place for rhetoric.

    The supply of facts isn’t all that plentiful.
    Mix rhetoric with facts and you’d pollute the struggle to find out facts, because the easiest person to fool is — you know that quote.

    You want more from the people willing to make the leap from the current best guess at what may be the facts, simplify, add rhetoric, and do politics.

    How do you find them?

    Look in the right sidebar on every RC page.

    I knew a doctor who’d tell patients:

    “If you keep going in the direction you’re headed, you’re going to get there.”

    What more can one say?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Nov 2012 @ 12:23 PM

  281. Nice new analysis of GRACE data over Greenland. I particularly like the use of localized eigenfunctions. Looking forward to a similar analysis for AIS.


    Comment by sidd — 21 Nov 2012 @ 12:24 PM

  282. Sidd, read the links.
    > what about winter?
    Polyface Farm.

    Seriously, if you’re interested, I can’t read it _for_ you.
    The information is there, and is very encouraging.

    > bison

    Letting the best be the enemy of the good isn’t, well, the best.
    Bringing pastureland back — as documented — is great progress.

    Given restored rangeland, bison can be brought back.

    Land restoration first. We know how to do it using grazing animals.

    Most of our problems in the US came from replacing native grazers and rangeland with European cattle and annual grasses.

    Undoing is harder than screwing up.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Nov 2012 @ 12:27 PM

  283. Alistair McDonald #272,

    I agree with all your statements. I would suspect that the warnings given decades ago were not as severe because the measures required were not as austere. As we get closer to the point of no return, and the science and observations improve, the proposed measures will become even more austere. And, remember, Anderson’s numbers do not include most of the major positive feedback mechanisms, incorporation of which could make the situation immeasurably more dire.

    I have been studying the evolution of major chronic diseases, and the role that the immune system plays in their evolution. Degradation of the immune system allows viruses and cell mutations to cause havoc in the body, and can also cause the immune system to reverse its role as protector of the body to attacker, known as autoimmune reactions. In the biosphere, two major components of its ‘immune’ system have been the polar ice cap and trees/vegetation. We have essentially destroyed the former through CO2 emissions. We have destroyed the latter 1) primarily through physical means and 2) now secondarily to spinoff effects on the atmosphere from the former. The positive feedbacks we are presently seeing to enhance climate change are the analog of an ‘autoimmune’ reaction on the biosphere. Once they become self-sustaining, we will have a biospheric ‘autoimmune’ disease run rampant. Geoengineering applied in parallel to continued fossil fuel usage is analogous to trying to remove the symptoms of an autoimmune disease while continuing to generate the toxic stimuli that caused the disease in the first place. Geoengineering applied in parallel to harsh fossil fuel restrictions may work, if sufficiently accurate modeling can be done to show that even more serious effects will not be produced.

    Comment by Superman1 — 21 Nov 2012 @ 12:47 PM

  284. Thanks for your perspective, Alistair. I do tend to agree with Hank on the Grantham thing, though. It is always a bit…distasteful…to suggest that someone else get themselves arrested, but particularly if they haven’t put themselves on the line.

    Comment by wili — 21 Nov 2012 @ 12:49 PM

  285. Superman 1 said: “Once they become self-sustaining…” They apparently already are.

    Alistair–thanks for your perspective. I would tend to agree with Hank on the Grantham thing, though.

    Comment by wili — 21 Nov 2012 @ 1:08 PM

  286. There is an interesting thread on Neven’s Arctic Sea Ice Blog entitled “Arctic methane: Why the sea ice matters”. Some of the postings delve into the need for relatively near-term geo-engineering to prevent potential large-scale release of methane as the Arctic warms. What I found particularly interesting were some of the creative ideas for global-scale geo-engineering that could have strong impact on the Arctic, in concert with knowledgeable comments as to pitfalls in these schemes. Each scheme was the climate equivalent of a ‘Hail Mary’ pass, and each rejoinder was the equivalent of a play that would lead to near-certain interception.

    What I find most interesting is that the 800 pound gorilla in the room, the ‘interception play’ of the main alternative to fossil fuel use that is proposed on all the climate blogs, is never addressed. We blithely assume that if we could only switch to a renewables-based mainly electric-grid based economy, all would be well. What is the downside?

    I have studied in detail the impacts of the electromagnetic fields that would be generated in a mainly electric-grid-based economy. There are many adverse impacts on health from these EMFs, but, like climate change, it takes years from initial use for the adverse impacts to occur. Long-term exposures at low-frequencies have been shown to adversely affect humans, and especially children, at fields on the order of four milligauss. Yet, a few years ago, an Australian testing firm showed fluxes in the back seat of a Japanese hybrid car to be almost thirty milligauss. I haven’t seen numbers for an all-electric vehicle, but I suspect they would be far worse than hybrids. Whether such fields could be overcome by judicious design is anyone’s guess.

    Magda Havas showed two decades ago that passengers on parts of the AMTRAK line were exposed to steady fields on the order of 200 milligauss, and passengers on subways were exposed to tens of milligauss, and hundreds for short periods of time.

    In short, switching from a partly electrified economy to a fully electrified economy may not be the panacea that people believe. Adverse effects from the different sources at different frequencies tend to be synergistic. So, the 50-85 milligauss fields one gets from airline flights added to tens of milligauss exposure on connecting Metros added to the ??? exposures from an all-electric vehicle, in concert with damaging higher frequency fields from cell phones and wireless networks, should be expected to have adverse impacts well beyond anything imagined today.

    But, like the climate change deniers, there is a well-financed EMF denier community. Getting these facts about EMF to the public is no less a challenge than getting the truth about potential climate change to the public. And, just as Michael Mann has been persecuted by Virginia state officials, and other honest climate change researchers have as well, so have many EMF researchers been equally persecuted for attempting to bring these facts to the fore. But, they are real, and anyone blindly promoting an all-electric future should be aware that there will be a (possibly horrific) price to pay.

    Comment by Superman1 — 21 Nov 2012 @ 3:49 PM

  287. Hi Superman,

    I think your analogy between the health of a patient and the health of the Planet is valid, especially where you describe the patient’s disease running rampant. The same can happen to the planet’s health e.g. at the end of the Younger Dryas when global temperatures jumped by several degrees within a few years. The climatologists don’t warn the public about that because they would have to admit that they cannot explain it. Besides they, like the sceptics, don’t believe that the climate can run rampant despite the fact that it did in the past.

    Note, that when the the Younger Dryas ended the sea ice that had extended as far south as Ireland retreated to the Arctic. Was that a consequence or a cause? We are now about to see another retreat of the sea ice from the entire Arctic.

    Until the scientists start telling people what the worst case could be, then we are not going to get a demand for action from the public, and the politicians are powerless to act. This applies not just in the USA, but in China, India and Canada too.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 21 Nov 2012 @ 5:47 PM

  288. Re: Polyface/Salatin

    I am familiar with them, he farms in more clement weather than I. I was wondering if you, Mr. Roberts, had some personal experience as to winter practice. I understand Salatin does what most small farms do, he lays in hay and silage, garnished with some cereal, as do my neighbours except that their land is not usually completely given to pasture/woodland as Salatin’s is. Rather, they grow quite a bit of corn/soy rotations as well, and use my seed press to press soy into meal and oil, and include both soy meal and canola meal in the feed blend. I must say I quite like his rotation of the bedding the cattle use through the pigs, but not many round here raise pigs except one or two CAFOs, which I heartily dislike.


    Comment by sidd — 21 Nov 2012 @ 5:47 PM

  289. Hank,

    If the doctor does not tell the smoker he is likely to die, who can blame him for not quitting. Until the scientists tell the public that we are on a suicidal course, then they will continue divings their SUVs.

    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 21 Nov 2012 @ 5:51 PM

  290. Superman1: What are you asserting? That earth behaves like a living organism, and that if we disturb its equilibrium enough its immune system will attack us? That’s James Lovelock chapter and verse. But you’re not referencing him! In fact you’re not referencing anything. That’s not how this forum works. Hand-waving got you in trouble here before, remember?

    The assumption that there’s an equilibrium to disturb has been challenged, e.g. by paleontologist Peter Ward, who has famously argued that life behaves less like a benevolent self-regulating super-organism and more like a drunk stumbling around in a darkened room. His “Medea Hypothesis” is worth reading, but for the abbreviated version try his TED talk.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 21 Nov 2012 @ 5:56 PM

  291. Alastair McDonald @286 — At the end of Younger Dryas temperatures in the far north rose rapidly. I doubt this was true in the tropics. I would want to see some reconstruction for a global temperature.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 21 Nov 2012 @ 6:33 PM

  292. Alastair: Which climatologists? Actually Jeff Masters and many others are increasingly hitting the horn as hard as they can. For once I’m in agreement with Ladbury: This whole “scientists aren’t/didn’t warn us” trope is totally misguided. The only people who ever warned us about climate change were scientists, and they often did so in the teeth of determined opposition from powerful corporate and government institutions. Kevin Anderson is not attacking all climate scientists, he’s attacking a specific area, specifically the interface between climate science and economics that directly influences climate policy-making. He says as much in his Nov. 6 talk Real Clothes for the Emperor, at 41:42:

    Let me be quite specific about that, I’m talking about the people doing the emissions modeling here, not many/most of the scientists who work on climate change, but that particular group, the group that I engage with, and I’m one of.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 21 Nov 2012 @ 7:36 PM

  293. Superman1 wrote: “I have studied in detail the impacts of the electromagnetic fields that would be generated in a mainly electric-grid-based economy. There are many adverse impacts on health from these EMFs …”

    Oh, really? Please provide references to the relevant scientific literature that documents the “many adverse impacts on health” from electromagnetic fields.

    Since we already live in an “electric-grid-based economy” and we are already surrounded by just as many electromagnetic fields as we would be if those fields were generated by photovoltaics or wind turbines instead of coal-fired power plants, that literature should be extensive and compelling.

    Superman1 wrote: “… like the climate change deniers, there is a well-financed EMF denier community …”

    Well, then presumably, just as 99 percent of the peer-reviewed climate science literature published over the last few decades recognizes and documents the reality of anthropogenic global warming, it would be the case that 99 percent of the peer-reviewed scientific literature on EMFs recognizes and documents the “many adverse impacts on health from these EMFs”.

    So it should not be difficult for you to provide numerous references to that literature.

    [Response: Actually no, not here. This is way off topic. Please take it elsewhere if you want to discuss this. – gavin]

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Nov 2012 @ 7:57 PM


    Comment by prokaryotes — 21 Nov 2012 @ 8:40 PM

  295. Alastair and Superman1,
    The idea that scientists are “holding back” is simply absurd. However, there is a limit to what the evidence allows us to say with sufficient confidence to be credible. What you are looking for is risk assessment of the credible risks established by the scientists. You will not find that in the scientific literature. It is a different discipline entirely. And at present you won’t find much of it at all, because policy makers have refused to fund such efforts adequately.

    The idea that if we just squealed more loudly that policy makers would listen is risible. They will merely tell their own chosen “experts” to pipe up, and all that will be accomplished is more hearing loss. Volume and shrillness are not the answer.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 Nov 2012 @ 8:55 PM

  296. Re- Gavin’s inline response in the Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Nov 2012 @ 7:57 PM

    I agree with you completely because Superman 1’s anti science claptrap has disrupted this forum in the past, but I think that it is unfair to correct SecularAnimist for responding without also sending the offending post directly to the BoreHole. Those of us who value science have a hard time refraining from responding to disinformation, even when it is off topic here. I was good this time but it was hard. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 21 Nov 2012 @ 9:03 PM

  297. Davidson and Patrick, thanks. The intersection between science and reality was well demonstrated as I planned and prepared for invalid care in the face of approaching storms (Sandy and to a lesser extent Athena) which promised days without power. The change from twigs to branches to trees flying around in the air (last is a mite hyperbolic, but not much) was something to behold. Thanks to meteorological expertise and the European model, there was time to get ready both physically and psychologically. There is getting to be way too much of this stuff.

    Andrew Freedman of ClimateCentral provides these two excellent items.

    On our satellite deficiency, what looks to be a desperate plea while our “debt crisis” starves the beast:

    On excessive warmth and wild conditions in Alaska, followed by an extraordinarily moving comment by Arthur Smith on local conditions (our Pacific Northwest friends are also in the sights of the climate monster as shown at CliffMass blog):

    And Michael Lemonick on trees:

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 21 Nov 2012 @ 11:36 PM

  298. Alastair, Superman–this may be helpful:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Nov 2012 @ 12:05 AM

  299. @295, One cannot read every piece of “claptrap” and respond to it. It is the responsibility of the claptrap reader to understand that his/her fellow claptrap readers are smart enough to understand that this post does not require a rebuttal. It is not up to the moderators to “BoreHole” everything that moves off topic.

    There is a good corollary in sports. The first foul is often missed by the officials but the retaliation is almost always called. Gavin was just being a good referee and SA got 15 yards for interference.

    Comment by Eric Rowland — 22 Nov 2012 @ 12:27 AM

  300. Oh, and Alastair, you either need to review the definition of ad hominem argument or you have a reading comprehension problem. My point was that the fact that climate scientists have been sounding the alarm for decades puts the lie to Anderson’s contention that climate scientists are holding back.

    Your analogy to a doctor’s admonitions to a smoker is actually apropos-2/3 of the time they would be lying, since only 1/3 of smokers die of smoking related illness. The main weapon of science is the truth. The last thing we want to do is blunt the edge of that incomparable weapon by mixing it with rhetoric. Leave rhetoric to politicians.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Nov 2012 @ 7:45 AM

  301. Susan we are dealing with 2 monsters, one is the lack of connectivity on account of attribution which is used as an excuse to do nothing, the other is the obvious realities ignored in the high North exactly where climate change is hitting hardest. The change has been at times stunning for more than a decade, extreme weather events spreading more commonly further South help redress the seriousness of anthropogenic climate change. The terms “we can’t attribute any single event to AGW” has being thoroughly exploited by contrarians to the point where even cautious scientists using these terms join their chorus by a strange resonance, the end result is the gains made by the incertitude propagandists. There has to be better terms used especially when extreme AGW driven weather hits heavily populated areas. The latest hurricane damage over heavy populations was diverted from where it could have done no such thing, 3 consecutive years had 3 100 year events during later period of the hurricane season, 2011 Irene’s near miss over the same heavily populated area was more of a 100 year event for more sparsely populated New England seriously damaged to the near North. In December 2010 a similar weaker but warm cyclone turned an unusual hard left away from the gulf stream Labrador coast to Hudson Bay, the same feature as Hurricane Sandy. Although more Caribou faced much warmer weather than people because of a Greenland blocking high the UK froze to the point of convincing contrarians of impending ice age. And yet I watched NOVA about Sandy with the ever so cautious words on attribution sounding increasingly and amazingly hollow.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 22 Nov 2012 @ 8:18 AM

  302. Re- Comment by Eric Rowland — 22 Nov 2012 @ 12:27 AM

    Hi Eric:

    I agree with you completely. The only problem is that this same off-topic claptrap has been offered up here repeatedly in the past by the same bad actor. Because he knows what the response will be from his past experience, he is trolling for an argument.

    I also agree that the best response to dumb and off topic posts is no response at all but, unfortunately, this only encourages trolls and they and their messy product tend to multiply. To put this into a climate context, gifted trolls try to create a greater than 1.0 X positive feedback to a discussion so that it expands to dominate a forum. So, the best response is to keep the feedback below 1 X and the lower the better. Often trolls write long essays, so let them do all the work and the best response should be very short and focused to keep feedback under control. This also reduces the burden on the forum hosts to police discussion.

    In retrospect, I think that the best response to the troll in this case is to have said- “Your EMF (ElectroMagnetic Fields) claptrap is off-topic here.” This allows an expression of opposing opinion without inviting an expanding discussion, and it takes very little effort! Eric, I have been trying to work through the problem of how thoughtful on-line science discussion can be disrupted by science denialists and trolls, so this post is as much an exercise in my working on the problem for myself as it is a response to you. Sorry. The trolling problem may also be considered to be off-topic, but I would disagree.

    Steve (who is between assembling turkey dressing and the end of brining)

    Comment by Steve Fish — 22 Nov 2012 @ 12:31 PM

  303. Ray Ladbury #299,

    [edit: this is all off topic. We’re here to discuss climate science. Stick to it.]

    Comment by Superman1 — 22 Nov 2012 @ 2:50 PM

  304. One solution I’m proposing is for all colleagues to stop shooting inwards. It seems appropriate to quote Al Gore from Grist, which gets two targets in one (but misses another favorite blamee, Bill McKibben, who is only doing his best in difficult circumstances). Discussions all over that claim rescuring the economy trumps all future danger would do well to heed this warning:

    Right now the activist community is taking on two big fights — one is against the Keystone pipeline, the other against coal export terminals in the Northwest. Where do you stand on those? Is it possible to keep some of the coal in the ground?

    A. I know the realpolitik and business perspective is to say, “It’s gonna come out no matter what,” but I don’t buy that. We have a planetary emergency. I know it drives some people nuts when I say that, but dammit, that’s what we face. We have to take that reality on board.

    I’m going to support [Washington] governor-elect Jay Inslee. He is my close friend and I think he is going to handle this extremely well. The folks around the Northwest ports have their own reasons for being concerned about what’s planned. I’m going to support those who are skeptical about this giant export strategy of coal.

    And let me answer the first part of that question — you’re probably not in as much suspense about that one. I am strongly opposed to that tar-sands pipeline. I think it’s crazy. Again, you have the realpolitik/business logic, but I just think it is morally wrong for us to open a brand new source of even dirtier carbon-based energy when we are desperately trying to bend down the curves.

    I understand why a lot of people think it’s unrealistic in the extreme for one of these things to be slowed down or stopped. But you know, if you take that position, then you are inherently saying, “Well, it’s not that unrealistic to destroy the future of human civilization.”

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 22 Nov 2012 @ 2:56 PM

  305. Alistair #288,

    “If the doctor does not tell the smoker he is likely to die, who can blame him for not quitting. Until the scientists tell the public that we are on a suicidal course, then they will continue divings their SUVs.”

    You are making the assumption that most posters on this blog make; namely, that dissemination of the hard reality of climate change will bring about the required change in behavior to avoid the climate change catastrophe. On what basis do you make such an assumption? Take your smoking example. Some of the harsh consequences of smoking were laid out in the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report. At that time, 42% of adults smoked. What was the impact of that report on smokers’ behavior? According to analyses I have read and heard, zero! What changed behavior were the economic penalties and mandates and anti-smoking advertisements. Forty-eight years after the report, smoking is down by half, to about 21%. And, I would add further, the only reason that these mandates and economic penalties were passed is that they were supported by a 60/40 intrinsic majority.

    The main point here is that to alter energy use behavior, more than dissemination of the ‘truth’ is required. There has to be some ‘carrot’ offered if change is to be effected by voluntary means. Since there is no 60/40 majority who is willing to take the type of bitter pill that e.g. Kevin Anderson proposes, I don’t see the types of mandates that were passed against smoking being able to get passed for avoiding serious climate change.

    Let’s take a specific example of what is required, and go beyond the arm-waving. Consider one of the ‘roughnecks’ who lives in Louisiana, and works on one of the drilling rigs in the Gulf Coast. His work is hard and dangerous, but he is reasonably well compensated, and is able to live a reasonable lifestyle. He, and his neighbors, can live the middle-class lifestyle whose underpinning is lavish expenditure of cheap fossil fuel-based energy.

    What would motivate him and his neighbors to support drastic reductions in fossil fuel production and utilization? Will he be able to get work; what kind? Will he get work of similar remuneration, to maintain his lifestyle? Will he and his neighbors be able to take trips to Europe and Asia for vacations at rates similar to those afforded by the use of fossil fuel?

    My guess is the answer to most, if not all, these questions is a resounding No. However, if you can show me otherwise, I am open to learn. A personal note: I don’t know anyone who lives off solar or wind or geothermal. All I know is from many anecdotes and experiences I have read on the Web. By and large, people wholly dependent on these sources tend to live a relatively low energy lifestyle from their description, and I don’t know whether their experience would be a transferrable ‘carrot’ to the public at large. Again, if you can show me otherwise, I would be most appreciative.

    Ray Ladbury #299,

    In response to Alastair, you stated: ” Your analogy to a doctor’s admonitions to a smoker is actually apropos-2/3 of the time they would be lying, since only 1/3 of smokers die of smoking related illness.”

    I have no idea what that means. I have studied perhaps a dozen chronic diseases in detail. In every one, smoking was a co-promoter. In some, such as lung cancer or cardiovascular, it was a major factor, in some, such as chronic kidney disease, it was a moderate factor, but it played a role nevertheless. How much did it contribute to death; who knows? Even a small co-promotional effect might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. I also have that concern about climate change. In highly nonlinear dynamical systems, even small inputs can have effects way out of proportion.

    Comment by Superman1 — 22 Nov 2012 @ 3:26 PM

  306. Ray,

    Neither I nor Anderson are arguing that climate scientists have not been warning about climate change. What we are saying is that they have not explained the real dangers of its effects. Of course I exclude Jim Hansen from this and would have excluded James Lovelock, but he now seems to have recanted. Perhaps rhetoric was the wrong word to use when I criticised RealClimate for not having increased its sense of urgency. Ten years ago at about the time RealClimate began, I was told by a senior scientist here in the UK that we had twenty years to take action to prevent disaster. If he was not being optimistic then now we have only ten. The dangers we now face have doubled but I see no evidence in the blogs produced here of any recognition of that fact. Anderson is making a similar point, except he is saying that we don’t have ten years – disaster is now inevitable! Your objection that he should have been speaking out earlier does not address the scientific fact he presented, and that is the criticism that I feel is an attack on his character and hence is an ad hominem argument.

    There is another way of looking at this. The climate scientists are working within the standard paradigm for climate change. They are opposed by a small group of scientists, let’s call them sceptics, with another paradigm where increases in atmospheric CO2 will not cause problems. But there is a third paradigm supported by yet another small but growing group of scientists, let’s call them alarmists, who believe that increases in atmospheric CO2 can cause catastrophic problems. The fossil fuel industries have encouraged the sceptics because the argument has been between the sceptics and the scientists, while the real debate should have been between the scientist and the alarmists, into just how severe the problems will be. My complaint is that scientists like yourself are unwilling to enter into this debate or even countenance that we may be facing disaster, and seem to think that by debating with the sceptics you are helping the cause when in fact you are hindering it.

    The public should be told what the real dangers are. The have a right to the truth.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 22 Nov 2012 @ 4:03 PM

  307. An excellent video has been produced on climate change, featuring David Roberts ( He incorporates the findings from some of the latest reports, like the IEA Report. My only concern is that he, like most others who describe future climate projections, gives lip service to the effects from positive feedback mechanisms.

    When one examines the physics and fluid mechanics of the recent massive Arctic ice melt, the role of positive feedbacks becomes very clear. The ideal environmental conditions for massive ice melt were not present as they were in 2007, yet the melting went much further. Once a reasonable amount of open water became present, a number of different feedback mechanisms were triggered and operated synergistically to take command of the melting process. The only thing that prevented a complete melt was the ‘quenching’ of the feedback mechanisms by the usual solar input decline.

    I believe this process is a template for what is starting to occur in the broader climate including, but well beyond, the Arctic, and will result in substantially enhanced acceleration of the climate change process. The climate modeling community needs to adapt to this strongly nonlinear reality. The climate modelers were years behind the aerospace community in incorporating the use of adaptive grids in their models, and they are years behind the combustion and related communities in incorporating the coupled effects of highly nonlinear dynamical systems.

    I am starting to agree more and more with Peter Wadhams and the AMEG group on the need for geo-engineering sooner rather than later, despite my misgivings about the uncertainty of what could happen given the limitations of today’s climate modeling capabilities. While Wadhams’ focus is primarily on the Arctic, the self-sustaining mechanisms that are starting to increase throughout the climate impacting system need to be quenched at the earliest stages. The switch to renewables and reforestation, while necessary for mitigating additional damage, will not be sufficient to ‘quench’ the self-sustaining mechanisms.

    Comment by Superman1 — 23 Nov 2012 @ 6:43 AM

  308. Mike Roddy at # 126 requested RC write a post on forests and the carbon cycle. I second that request, and suggest that a good starting point would be the literature review done recently by Canada’s FPInnovations of 66 published studies, mostly peer-reviewed journal articles, overwhelmingly showing that wood has a lower carbon footprint than either cement or steel. (4 MB PDF download)

    Comment by Phil L — 23 Nov 2012 @ 8:47 AM

  309. The Kevin Anderson talk, which has been the topic of some discussion here, is now available as a video with the relevant power point. Mostly he is talking about the best current understanding of climate science versus what numbers most policy makers are working with. For that, imho, it is well worth a watch.

    Here’s what Doug H recently noted at SkepticalScience upon listening to the whole thing:

    “I have just sat through all 59 minutes of it and can confirm it has cleared the fog from my understanding of where we are and where we are likely to be by 2050. It is a real wake-up call to those of us who already see AGW as a threat to our future. Although Dr. Anderson finishes on an optimistic note, I was not comforted. If all countries achieve the CO2 targets they are aiming at, we are headed for the diabolical future of at least 4oC warmer world, at which level it looks bad for organised human society.”

    Comment by wili — 23 Nov 2012 @ 11:45 AM

  310. To Phil L, 305:

    Thanks for agreeing that we need to talk about the forest carbon cycle, but the link you provided sends the reader to a cesspool of timber industry sponsored fake science. For example, they tout carbon storage, but when a forest is logged only about 15% of the carbon released ends up in wood products. Logging is a big contributor to CO2 emissions, as detailed by IPCC, and confirmed by legitimate forest carbon research. Here is the link to a summary of the legitimate science, as opposed to industry PR:

    Comment by Mike Roddy — 23 Nov 2012 @ 1:23 PM

  311. Re #307 about the video

    “Unfortunately, this EMI-music-content is not available in Germany because GEMA has not granted the respective music publishing rights.
    Sorry about that.”

    I note this especially since my guess is most German foreigners are not aware of this censoring.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 23 Nov 2012 @ 8:09 PM

  312. Mike Roddy # 310: I looked at the slide show at your link, and it seems to cite only one peer-reviewed journal article. The remaining citations are to non-peer-reviewed articles by The Wilderness Society etc., with lots of pictures of ramshackle wooden structures and ugly fresh cutblocks. No pictures of the Richmond Olympic Oval built from beetle killed pine for the Vancouver winter Olympics, or to healthy young stands that have passed the legally required regeneration surveys. Forestry seems to be equated with deforestation (conversion of forest to other uses). Somehow we’re to be expected to believe that when a stand is harvested 85% of the carbon is magically vaporized. The entire presentation is very lacking in science.

    Meanwhile what you refer to as a “cesspool of timber industry sponsored fake science” includes peer-reviewed articles in:
    – Canadian Journal of Forest Research
    – Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research
    – Journal of Forestry
    – Forest Ecology and Management
    – Silva Fennica
    – Ecological Modelling
    – Annals of Forest Science
    – Environmental Science and Polocy
    – Climatic Change
    and a host of other sources including government and university research institutes.
    I believe strongly that sustainable forestry can play an important part in mitigating climate change, and I believe that my position is supported by the science.
    For a science-based summary of forestry and the carbon cycle, I suggest viewing this 3 minute video by Dr. Werner Kurz (Research Scientist, Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada).

    Comment by Phil L — 23 Nov 2012 @ 11:48 PM

  313. Interesting research from University of Sheffield, showing 98% of solar installations attain what the manufacturers say on the tin, and probably because of our rubbish weather and its indirect sunshine.

    Comment by J Bowers — 24 Nov 2012 @ 5:47 AM

  314. Wili #309,

    I have listened to the audio of Kevin Anderson’s 6 November presentation, and followed the vugraphs in real-time as well. In my opinion, his presentation is the best of its genre by far. It pulls no punches, and comes closest to using a Roadmap for context of proposals. Here are the highlights.

    1. Continuation of present CO2 global emissions translates to 4 C near mid-century, and perhaps 6 C by end of century, with positive climate feedbacks not included in these calculations. 4 C global mean increase might translate into increases of e.g. 10 C-12 C for New York City!

    2. Drastic reductions in CO2 emissions over next decade-fifteen years required if any hope of peaking near 2 C.

    3. Supply modifications cannot meet these near-term targets; however, they are required for the long-term. Implementation times and implementation rates of new technologies not matched to time requirements, based on Roadmap of existing and under construction infrastructure.

    4. Demand modification is our only hope for these near-term targets. CO2 emission reductions of ~10% per annum, and probably larger for the advanced nations, required for a number of years until targets are met. He essentially proposes an ‘economic crash’ or ‘planned recession’. This comports with the published statements of Professor Tim Garrett, University of Utah, who proposed that only a deep and prolonged economic crash could really guarantee a safe climate. In short, in contrast to statements of many RC posters, substantial pain and sacrifice are required if we have any chance of avoiding the impending climate catastrophe.

    5. Anderson emphasizes the stark nature of our available choices: planned deep global recession vs living in a 4 C or greater world.

    Two final points. He emphasizes the Pareto’s Law nature of high fossil fuel use. A few percent of the population are responsible for much of the fossil fuel use, and if their demand can be curtailed substantially, that would go a long way toward solving the problem. The only problem with that argument is that this few percent controls the world’s wealth, controls the governments, controls the military, controls industry, and is probably the group most actively promoting continued use of fossil fuels and large energy use in general.

    His computations do not include the positive feedback mechanisms, which will almost certainly exacerbate the problem as temperatures continue to rise. I believe this presentation is of such importance that it deserves a future stand-alone thread on RC.

    Comment by Superman1 — 24 Nov 2012 @ 7:11 AM

  315. Superman1,

    1. Smoking-related illness:

    2. My main objection to Anderson’s talk is his insistence that climate scientists are colluding with governments to keep bad news from the public. This is not only unhelpful (as it adds fuel to the aspersions by the denialists of an international cabal), it if also flat ignorant. It totally ignores what science does and how.

    3. By “Pareto’s Law”, I presume you mean that consumption follows a Pareto Distribution. The Pareto distribution is merely one of many thick-tailed distributions. The thing is that a)you have to go well beyond the tails of the distribution to make meaningful cuts (e.g. >50%), and b)you have to understand WHY high consumers have high consumption. For instance, I don’t think you will see Barrack Obama taking the train in the next 4 years with Air Force 1 gathering dust in the Hangar. Likewise, scientists living in Antarctica tend to have a high carbon footprint, but I think you want to keep them there. Savings on paper tend to stay on paper.

    4. Another reason I object to Anderson’s approach is that for all his claims of being a revolutionary, he is really just calling for more of the same. We will not feed 10 billion people in 2050 without substantial energy consumption. And you cannot expect a substantial proportion of that number to voluntarily submit to watching their children starve. They will consume and burn whatever they find to meet their needs even if only for the short term.

    We have to maintain a functioning global civilization in order to find answers to this problem–as well as all the other problems that threaten that civilization. If people fully appreciate the magnitude of the threat we face, I think we can get them to sign up for austerity–but only if we promise them something better on the other side.

    The first order of business, though, is to make appreciation of the risks the mainstream. We must defeat the glibertarians. We must marginalize them. We must expose them for the pathetic clowns they are. 2012 should be the last Presidential Election where candidates compete in science denial with votes as a prize.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Nov 2012 @ 8:09 AM

  316. Alastair,
    The consequences of climate change have been here at RC for everyone who wants to look. Anderson’s talk tells us nothing we did not already know. The problem is that Anderson actually omits important information that makes it easier to understand why this problem is difficult–the timescale.

    Yes, we probably have less than a decade before catastrophe becomes inevitable. Yes, catastrophic events are unfolding and being exacerbated even now. The problem is that the real catastrophes will not unfold for 50-100 years. That is when the worst will start. Humans simply do not know how to deal with such slowly unfolding catastrophes–our intellects are attuned to dealing with immediate threats, e.g. tigers lurking in the bushes.

    In short, we suck at risk assessment. The good news is that we have developed techniques that compensate for our general suckiness at risk assessment. The bad news is that before these tools are deployed, policy makers have to accept that there is a credible threat–that is, they have to perceive the tiger in the bushes. All we do by scaring people is shut down their ablity to perceive the threat–they’ll keep looking for a tiger, and when none is found, we will be chicken littles.

    So part of the problem is that you are looking to science to do the job that engineers and risk management professionals should be doing. Let the scientists do science. Insist that the decision makers do their duty and deploy the risk managers, and hold the bastards accountable.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Nov 2012 @ 8:30 AM

  317. Ray Ladbury #315,

    “If people fully appreciate the magnitude of the threat we face, I think we can get them to sign up for austerity–but only if we promise them something better on the other side.”

    This gets down to the essential crux of Anderson’s thesis. Depending on one’s definition of ‘better’, he is not promising them something better on the other side of austerity. He is promising the avoidance of something worse! So, it’s not like telling your child ‘get your flu shot and you’ll get a lollipop afterwards’. It’s closer to ‘get your flu shot and you’ll avoid the flu’.
    Now, according to some RC posters, they already live the ‘austere’ life voluntarily, and for them having a larger number of people participate in their lifestyle might indeed constitute ‘something better on the other side’. For most people who have become addicted to the high energy lifestyle made possible by cheap fossil fuels, the ‘something better’ they get in exchange for austerity is the absence of something worse.

    Comment by Superman1 — 24 Nov 2012 @ 10:06 AM

  318. I have not listened to the commentary of the Anderson & Sharmina presentation, only having seen the presentation slides & had a quick scan of the transcript. (I would say that if this message does have merit, it should be presented properly, not like this with the speaker having to “whip through this a bit quicker sorry, I should have put a clock out so I can keep an eye on things.
    As it is, all we have that is properly presented is the abstract which urges us “to acknowledge that ‘at every level the greatest obstacle to transforming the world is that we lack the clarity and imagination to conceive that it could be different’, and that the early harnessing of human will and ingenuity may still offer opportunities to deliver relatively low-carbon and climate-resilient communities.” Whether this also is asking us to create “a planned economic recession” is not at all clear to me.

    All I see is a wake-up call to get stuck in to emission reductions. Is that so revolutionary? I also consider some of the presentation to be poorly thought through.

    Page 5 should add that almost half of the CO2 we have now in the atmosphere will, in the words of Archer et alpersist for tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of years into the future.“.

    As presented, Page 7 is surely alarmist. Emissions have shown no giant leap in recent years in % terms. The 2010-11 5.9% increase was a one off. Over the last half decade emissions are increasing 2.5% pa which is not an increase on previous years as Anderson states. Page 23 comments that emission reporting is wrong. A ‘comment’ is not suitable here. If such an assertion is something significant it requires backing with full argued evidence, not restricted to two bullet-points. If it isn’t significant, why say it?

    Page 28/29 & his Pareto analysis looks a bit too adventurous. 1% of humanity means some 70 million people. This is asserted as including UK citizens who earn over £30k. If this also includes dependents, with almost 30% of UK household incomes above £30k (See here, fig 2.1), this would give pro rata CO2 emissions from rich Brits as 12% the world total. This is strange as UK internal emissions from all Brits rich & poor was 1.5% world emissions. Or are rich Brits somehow poor rich.

    Page 33 I like. It should be noted that UK TV news reports petrol price increases but never a squeak on annual UK petrol use. It continually reports Tory MPs squealing about new wind farms but not a squeak on last month’s wind-powered electric output. When public perceptions shift, the % drops in UK CO2 emissions (8% last year a figure which makes Page 8 look questionable.) will be easier to sustain.

    Comment by MARodger — 24 Nov 2012 @ 10:08 AM

  319. Ray Ladbury #316,

    ” The consequences of climate change have been here at RC for everyone who wants to look. Anderson’s talk tells us nothing we did not already know.”

    Au contraire. One of Anderson’s key points is, because of the timeline for necessary preventive action, Supply-side solutions are vastly inadequate, and only Demand-side solutions can provide the relatively near-term CO2 reductions required to avoid the climate change bullet. Many RC posters focus exclusively on the Supply-side solutions (solar, wind, etc), and downplay the significance of the sacrifices required by the Demand-side solutions. Either 1) they are aware of Anderson’s thesis and don’t believe it (or choose to ignore it), or 2) they are not aware of Anderson’s thesis. We need the Supply-side solutions for long-term stabilization, but, according to Anderson, mainly the Demand-side solutions are required to avoid catastrophe.

    Comment by Superman1 — 24 Nov 2012 @ 10:17 AM

  320. Ray Ladbury #315,

    “My main objection to Anderson’s talk is his insistence that climate scientists are colluding with governments to keep bad news from the public. This is not only unhelpful (as it adds fuel to the aspersions by the denialists of an international cabal), it if also flat ignorant. It totally ignores what science does and how.”

    Anderson makes two accusations against climate scientists, as I interpret his statements: sins of Comission and sins of Omission. For the sins of Comission, he identifies specific reports that make CO2/temperature predictions, and shows how the authors 1) underestimated the CO2 emission growth rates given existing trends (and in some cases misrepresented past CO2 emission growth rates), 2) underestimated when the peak CO2 emission peak years would occur given existing trends, and 3) underestimated the rates of CO2 reduction required after the peak emission year necessary to keep temperatures within the 2 C ceiling. For the sins of Omission, he questions why the bulk of the climate science community didn’t speak up (as he seems to be doing the last few years) and point out the bias and distortions in these widely-circulated reports.

    Now, do these two ‘sins’ represent ‘colluding with governments’, as you state? Some may be, but I would interpret the bulk of these ‘sins’ as an expression of a grantee’s or contractor’s desire not to antagonize his sponsor. Whether this is an ethical or moral response can be debated, but it certainly is not uncommon in science and technology.

    What I find ironic is that Anderson falls prey to the sins of Comission himself. His one ‘glimmer of hope’ is proposing a CO2 emissions reduction trajectory after the peak year completely at odds with any type of emissions reductions experienced in the past.

    Comment by Superman1 — 24 Nov 2012 @ 11:07 AM

  321. Oops. Somehow at #304 the link to a video of the actual Anderson talk did not make it into the text. Since this continues to be a subject of conversation (which, in spite of some faults, I think it should be), I include it here now. I would appreciate people at least giving it a view before critiquing it.

    Comment by wili — 24 Nov 2012 @ 11:45 AM

  322. > RC posters

    S-man, you’re conflating contributors — named in the sidebar, or invited, who write the main posts about the science as it’s being done — with commenters, the kibitzers like you and me and wossname, posting followups.

    The contributors here are writing about the climate science.

    The sidebar will lead you to blogs by those writing about demand side constraints and how to reduce demand.

    Everyone is working on these problems.

    This ain’t the place for demand management.

    Try Eco-Equity’s page on development rights, among much else recommending Anderson for example.

    Follow the links.

    To do something about demand — start where that work’s currently being done.

    Read the books. Go to the meetings. Do the politics.


    Yelling at the scientists isn’t productive.

    The RC folks have given you a good list in the sidebar of places you can put the energy to change things.

    You can’t have everything done by everyone in every forum.

    Wondering how it’s possible to reduce consumption enough to give the planet a chance? A suggestion from 1972: The Sheep Look Up is worth reading.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Nov 2012 @ 11:45 AM

  323. On another front, Shakhova, Semiletov and others have an abstract from a GSA presentation on pathways for seabed methane escaping into the sea and atmosphere:

    Not much on estimates of total methane being currently released from these sources in the abstract. But it does point out just how manifold are the pathways by which methane bubbles can find their way from the sea bed to the water column. In particular, I hadn’t thought about ice scraping being a source of release. At least this source of disruption of the sea bed should be declining, I would think.

    Comment by wili — 24 Nov 2012 @ 11:50 AM

  324. @323 that of course should have been “from their presentation at the upcoming AGU conference…”

    Comment by wili — 24 Nov 2012 @ 12:36 PM

  325. Superman, please note that hank, bless his schoolmarmish heart, is not the sole (or really any kind of) arbiter on what can and what cannot be discussed on these threads. Climate is such a complex issue, integrated into so many other aspects of life that important discussions about it inevitably lap over into a wide range of other fields. (We recently had a lead post on political poling methods, for example.)

    I do second his excellent recommendations for sites and readings, though.

    Other handy search terms are “Plan C,” contraction, curtailment, de-growth, ecological justice…

    Comment by wili — 24 Nov 2012 @ 12:52 PM

  326. Superman1,
    It is the policy of this blog to avoid to the extent possible discussions of “solutions”. In my opinion, that is a wise policy, because it avoids the tendency of the glibertarians to argue from consequences.

    One can agree on the science and disagree as to the policy–or rather, the appropriate mix of policies. All Anderson does is make a case for a particular policy. Yawn!

    The flu shot analogy fails because a flu shot is a one-time inconvenience, whereas what is being demanded of people due to climate change is an open-ended commitment to austerity. That is where we are losing people. We have to promise them something on the other side.

    The North did not rally merely to preserve the Union until it was also promised fulfilment Manifest Destiny (sorry, natives) and an end to slavery (but not racism).

    World War I could not be a war to save Europe, but rather a war to end war (oops!).

    World War II had to be sold as essential to make the world safe for democracy.

    And the problem we face here is that the threat is not imminent as it was in those previous crises. The problem with Anderson is that he makes the solution sound easy–and it would be if it involved moving chessmen around on a board. Unfortunately, it involves people, and the rules to that game are a little more complicated.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Nov 2012 @ 12:56 PM

  327. MARodger #318,

    “Whether this also is asking us to create “a planned economic recession” is not at all clear to me.”

    The Eco-Equity reference supplied by Hank Roberts below (#322) contains the same material presented in Anderson’s speech and vugraphs, and is very readable. It contains two quotes from his previous papers as to what he believes is required:

    “As a contrast, we state:
    ‘…it is difficult to envisage anything other than a planned economic recession being compatible with stabilisation at or below +(650 ppm CO2e.’ [i.e. ~4/°C]
    (Anderson and Bows, 2008)

    In a more recent paper we conclude:
    ‘…the 2015-16 global peaking date (CCC, Stern & ADAM) implies…a period of prolonged austerity for Annex 1 nations and a rapid transition away from existing development patterns within non-Annex 1 nations.’
    (Anderson and Bows, 2011)”

    In response to your quote above, I think it is quite clear that he is stating that long-term planned recession/austerity is required. My only comment would be that one man’s Recession is another man’s Depression. Given the required CO2 emissions reductions required, and the implied strong reductions in GDP, I don’t see how Depression could be avoided for the advanced nations. Maybe someone could construct a low-carbon scenario where we’re all busy converting to renewables, but his base case is a hard-line Calvinist approach to austere living.

    Comment by Superman1 — 24 Nov 2012 @ 1:07 PM

  328. > not the sole (or really any kind of) arbiter

    Absolutely right.

    I’m a kibitzer here like most of y’all are.
    I’m not a scientist, nor a librarian. I appreciate their work.

    People actively directly involved in the hard work of making political and economic change are reachable.

    And reachable via links in the sidebar on every RC page, thanks to our hosts.

    It’s happening. Y’all come.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Nov 2012 @ 1:33 PM

  329. > maybe someone could

    This isn’t hypothetical, you’re not looking, just wishing

    Look for it:

    finds among much else:

    “Welcome to the Low Carbon Societies Network

    As part of the ENCI-LowCarb EU FP7 Project, we are facilitating information flows between European Civil Society Organizations’ (CSOs) and research institutes working on low carbon energy scenarios and technologies.
    Join our network and connect to your Low Carbon colleagues!
    There are more than 135 researchers and CSOs working are members and more than 40 European scenarios are available.”

    –> that’s an example
    –> that’s the top hit on that Google search
    –> you might find better answers if you look for more
    –> than the 3 seconds I spent on it
    –> Don’t just wish and declaim, look and think

    That site might be interesting enough — once people look into it — to merit nomination for the sidebar here, for example.

    I’m not finding the best answers for you. I’m saying — look for’em.

    When you go on and on about how nothing’s happening and nobody’s doing anything — you feed the discouragement and the denial.

    Look, the work is happening.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Nov 2012 @ 1:40 PM

  330. Ray:

    2012 should be the last Presidential Election where candidates compete in science denial with votes as a prize.

    As always, Doonesbury (from Monday through today, at least) is the Voice of the People.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 24 Nov 2012 @ 2:38 PM

  331. Video: “Climate Change DO THE MATH!”

    Comment by prokaryotes — 24 Nov 2012 @ 3:20 PM

  332. Superman1 @327,
    The paper you refer to via #322 (ie Climate change going beyond dangerous – Brutal numbers and tenuous hope – Kevin Anderson) is the same argument as the talk at the March conference. The quotes given are but quotes. They are not developed except to contrast them with statements from others who see a 2°C warming is easier to avoid. The quotes, one saying “…it is difficult to envisage…“, the other “…implies…” fall short of a call for a ‘planned economic recession’ to reduce CO2 emissions.

    And as this is the same work, the criticisms I made of it @318 remain.
    I did a little research concerning the UK emissions reductions. Since 1990, UK GHG emissions have reduced 2% pa, twice that asserted by Anderson. This figure can be reduced to 1% only by taking 2010 as the end year for a period of a decade or more. Further, to say these reductions are due to the UK ‘dash for gas’ (to which is normally added the shutting down of our heavy industries) is blaming a 1980s phenomenon on the 1990s. The UK’s energy policies did little over most of the 1990-2010 period. The UK public are yet to sign up to the urgency of the situation. So I would argue that 2% is hardily representative of what could/can be achieved. Anderson is of a different opinion.

    Yet the general thrust of Anderson’s paper, that a wake-up call is becoming more urgent “each day,” is one I would not disagree with.

    Comment by MARodger — 24 Nov 2012 @ 3:29 PM

  333. Ray Ladbury #326,

    “The problem with Anderson is that he makes the solution sound easy”

    My interpretation was completely opposite. Assuming his CO2 trajectory targets are correct, the combination of required massive reductions in short-term demand and exclusion of positive feedbacks from the computations will produce a null set of solutions. I cannot envisage any realistic way to get from here to there, and I have seen no realistic proposals that can do so. His ‘glimmer of hope’ at the end came across to me as an add-on, to satisfy the sponsors, politicians, and followers. These groups tend to like positive messages to remain engaged. If you can see a path, one that is viable in practice not just in theory, please enlighten me.

    Comment by Superman1 — 24 Nov 2012 @ 7:24 PM

  334. > I cannot envisage any realistic way
    > … seen no realistic proposals

    Did you already do the search and read all of those pages where people are working on this issue?

    If you state — on their blogs, not here — what, specifically, you have seen and understood, offering comments at the sites where you read them, you might contribute to improving those scenarios.

    It’s no surprise that you can’t imagine a realistic solution all on your lonesome by commenting on a climate science blog where you don’t see an answer, and never will.

    That’s why the ‘ibertarian approach fails on this kind of question — because organized cooperative effort across most of a whole population makes changes work on the scale needed.

    This isn’t the place to look for the answers.
    This is for source material to inform those working on answers.

    Serious work is required — and happening.

    The first task for us kibitzers is to reach the point where
    we are making no net overall contribution to the process.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Nov 2012 @ 8:40 PM

  335. Hank Roberts #334,

    “Did you already do the search and read all of those pages where people are working on this issue?”

    The Science Citation Index (SCI) is a massive repository for premier peer-reviewed journal articles and some select Conference Proceedings. If I enter a simple query term e.g. “climate change” OR “global warming”, I retrieve over 85,000 documents. If I were to construct a more complex query, I would probably retrieve 50-100% more articles. In that voluminous retrieval, I can find articles that range from poor quality to outstanding, and I can find articles that would justify Anthony Watts’ position as well as articles that would justify Kevin Anderson’s position. The point is, if all I do is pull selected articles from the SCI (i.e., cherry-pick), or from the much larger and average lower quality Web, and throw them into blog postings without any analysis or insights, there is little value added.

    Yes, there are many people working on ways to reduce the carbon economy. The link you sent previously about an organization of 135 people interested in low carbon technology is superficial, for purposes relevant to this blog. If you’re going to propose some technology or demand-reduction effort as serious, you need to place it in the context of a Roadmap of what is required. Specifically, it could be placed in the context of Anderson’s CO2 trajectories, and if it has any value, you would show how strongly it bends the CO2 trajectory in the direction desired.

    The value of the postings on this blog comes not from throwing isolated links on a posting, but rather providing some value-added narrative that, if it contains a link, uses it for similar purposes as a journal article, not as a stand-alone.

    Comment by Superman1 — 25 Nov 2012 @ 6:10 AM

    Wolfram Schlenker and David B Lobell 2010
    Environ. Res. Lett. 5 014010
    Robust negative impacts of climate change on African agriculture

    “… the scientific basis for estimating production risks and prioritizing investments has been quite limited. Here we show that by combining historical crop production and weather data into a panel analysis, a robust model of yield response to climate change emerges for several key African crops. By mid-century, the mean estimates of aggregate production changes in SSA under our preferred model specification are − 22, − 17, − 17, − 18, and − 8% for maize, sorghum, millet, groundnut, and cassava, respectively. In all cases except cassava, there is a 95% probability that damages exceed 7%, and a 5% probability that they exceed 27%. Moreover, countries with the highest average yields have the largest projected yield losses, suggesting that well-fertilized modern seed varieties are more susceptible to heat related losses….”

    I came across that paper reading
    which has much else worth reading

    also happened on this while searching for something else. One person’s solo website effort, more sociology than climatology, _very_ interesting.—part-1.html
    “… a critical analysis of
    why climate change has been imagined to be a phenomenon with a single global dangerous limit
    why that limit has been identified as two degrees of warming
    who decided there is such a thing as a two degree dangerous limit
    how the idea of a two degree dangerous limit is represented in the media
    what is the likely future of the two degree idea.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Nov 2012 @ 9:10 AM

  337. Want another? A lot of climate models may need some slight revision on projected CO2 and CH4 trends if this persists:

    “… a transformation in the energy prospects of the country—and probably the world. The sudden abundance of cheap natural gas has dramatically changed the way the United States produces and consumes energy, dwarfing the changes wrought by decades of subsidies and other incentives for the development of nonfossil fuels.
    …. the price of natural gas hovered around $2 to $2.50 per million BTUs, far below the $13 it reached in 2008 (before the rapid expansion of drilling in the Marcellus shale). At $2.50 per million BTUs, the price of natural gas is the equivalent of around $15 per barrel for oil.

    Put another way, modern natural-gas-fired power plants can now produce electricity at around four cents per kilowatt-­hour. That’s cheaper than energy from new coal plants, and far less than the price of even the most efficient wind or solar power when the cost of backup systems for those intermittent sources is taken into account (see chart on facing page).

    “Cheap natural gas has taken a big bite out of coal very quickly,” says David Victor, an energy expert at University of California, San Diego. “And there’s going to be a bloodbath in wind power as well.” For investors and technologists hoping to make renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, cost-competitive with fossil fuels, reaching so-called grid parity has suddenly gotten much tougher. Arguably, it’s impossible to reach with existing technologies….

    … economists say it is hard to overstate how significant the sudden availability of cheap natural gas is. “It is the largest change in our energy system since nuclear became part of the electricity grid 50 years ago. And I don’t think we fully understand the implications,” says Michael Greenstone, an economist at MIT and director of the Hamilton Project, an economic policy initiative at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C….. cautions that it’s “an open question” how it will affect climate. “There are two views,” he says. “It’s a ‘blue bridge’ to a green future, or it’s the death of nuclear and renewables. I don’t think we know the answer yet.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Nov 2012 @ 9:39 AM

  338. Hank Roberts #336,

    ” why climate change has been imagined to be a phenomenon with a single global dangerous limit

    why that limit has been identified as two degrees of warming

    who decided there is such a thing as a two degree dangerous limit

    how the idea of a two degree dangerous limit is represented in the media

    what is the likely future of the two degree idea”

    That is more useful. However, I could not find a link to Part 2, and I was not about to read his whole dissertation to get the essence. It appears to be more sociology than climate science, based on the Dissertation Table of Contents.

    Kevin Anderson does most of his computations based on the 2 C ceiling, even though he portrays this target as very dangerous, or similar terminology. There are three related issues here. What would climate be like at a stable 2 C temperature increase? Can a 2 C temperature increase be stabilized? Could there be an ulterior motive for selecting 2 C as the main target?

    At present, the temperature increase appears to be around 0.8 C. Now, there are time lags and latencies between 1) the appearance of CO2 and other carbon combustion-related products in the atmosphere and 2) temperature (and other variable) increases, and subsequent time lags/latencies/thermal time constants between temperature increase and the appearance of other mechanisms. The point behind this clumsy verbiage is that we have seen some effects resulting from the 0.8 C temperature increase, but there are probably more to come. In fact, 0.8 C alone may be sufficient to produce days of zero Arctic ice cap in Summer and accelerate methane release, among many other effects.

    What is the complete spectrum of effects from 0.8 C? In particular, where is the evidence that 0.8 C can be stabilized, especially with the ominous appearance of positive feedback mechanisms already, and the apparent acceleration of some of these feedback mechanisms?

    So, if we double or triple this temperature, what happens to the distribution function shifts that Hansen presented in showing that what were once extreme events are becoming more commonplace? What are the functional dependencies on temperature? And, what would lead us to believe that 2 C could be stabilized?

    Anderson’s glimmer of hope derives from selecting the 2 C as a target. His postulation of ‘planned recession’ as our only salvation parallels the recruiting messages of some religions and military organizations, where the siren songs of poverty, austerity, and sacrifice for the larger good provide a strong incentive for attracting many adherents. My reading of Anderson is that he offers no hope for achieving climate conditions resembling anything we have known in the last century. What he is really saying is that harsh sacrifice is required to hope to achieve a relatively horrific climate in order to avoid a major catastrophe.

    Comment by Superman1 — 25 Nov 2012 @ 10:26 AM

  339. Ray Ladbury #326,

    ” The flu shot analogy fails because a flu shot is a one-time inconvenience, whereas what is being demanded of people due to climate change is an open-ended commitment to austerity. That is where we are losing people. We have to promise them something on the other side.”

    You are, of course, correct. A better analogy would be someone with Stage 3/4 Chronic Kidney Disease who has not been able to control kidney deterioration. The Doctor gives him two stark choices: go on to dialysis, or expect to die in the near future. Dialysis is not great, but the alternative (for most people) is worse.

    So, the Doctor is not promising him ‘something on the other side’, only the avoidance of something worse. I certainly understand your point that it will be difficult to recruit adherents to reducing energy usage drastically without offering some ‘carrot’. One ‘carrot’ may possibly be that the severe energy use reduction would ‘only’ be required for the transition period away from fossil fuel use to alternative forms, and that some relaxation in energy use could be possible after the transition. I put in ‘qualifiers’, because I don’t know the ‘unintended consequences’, if any, of high energy use under alternative energy generation. We believe the world under alternative energy generation to be benign from our present perspective, but I would guess that a similar belief existed about the world under fossil fuel generation a century or two ago. But, in this game, ‘carrots’ are hard to find, and the one above is all that immediately comes to mind.

    Comment by Superman1 — 25 Nov 2012 @ 11:05 AM

  340. > Supe …
    > an organization of 135 people

    You didn’t read that carefully before dismissing their work, if you read it at all.
    Try it again. Look at the list, don’t just react to my little excerpt.
    Click the link on the page:

    I repeat: I’m not finding the best answers for you.
    I don’t do homework help, generally. I suggest you do it.
    I’m saying — look for the scenarios.

    I gave you one example of scenarios.
    You claim not to find any scenarios believable.
    I wonder if you are looking, or just here to express disbelief.

    When you go on and on about how
    nothing’s happening and nobody’s doing anything
    — you feed the discouragement and the denial.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Nov 2012 @ 1:44 PM

  341. Superman1 @339.
    You talk of “Anderson’s … postulation of ‘planned recession’ as our only salvation…” yet nowhere do I read Anderson doing this. Indeed, your own quoting of Anderson @327 fails to support the existence of such ‘postulation’ where you present a quote ultimately from Anderson and Bows, 2008.
    This full quote is as follows. “Unless economic growth can be reconciled with unprecedented rates of decarbonization (in excess of 6% per year), it is difficult to envisage anything other than a planned economic recession being compatible with stabilization at or below 650ppmv CO2e,“( 650ppm equating to “4°C“.) Anderson makes his message very clear within this 2008 paper. “However, this paper is not intended as a message of futility, but rather a bare and perhaps brutal assessment of where our ‘rose-tinted’ and well intentioned (though ultimately ineffective) approach to climate change has brought us” and more recently elsewhere. “We must make the impossible possible.
    So Anderson may not be able to think up a viable alternative to ‘planned recession’ but nowhere does he ‘postulate’ that our only salvation lies in ‘planned recession’.

    Within Anderson’s use of Pareto analysis, the equasion 80% cubed ~= 50% is something I also use. If a consumer adjusted his/her consumption to use his/her material ‘stuff’ 20% less intensively (although for some ‘stuff’ this will be more easy/difficult than for others). And if when he/she buys(renews) his/her ‘stuff’, the new one is >20% more efficient, and if the energy supply harnessed by his/her material ‘stuff’ is also made 20% less carbon intense, that consumer has just halved his/her carbon footprint.
    For Anderson’s 6%pa, this process would need repeating every 11 years. Repeating it more than once may sound a big ask, especially repeating the first link, except that harnessing energy sources with effectively zero carbon emissions (ie renewables) means you only require two iterations, yielding 41% energy use, 40% renewable energy & 1% emissions (compared to status quo). Now I cannot tell you if this applies to an Annex 1 consumer or a non-Annex 1 consumer, but I would suggest that such analysis does make Anderson’s vision of making ‘the impossible possible’ look a lot less illogical, even today in 2012.

    Comment by MARodger — 26 Nov 2012 @ 6:10 AM

  342. MARodger #341,

    I am interpreting Anderson’s message based on the energetics associated with our economy. For the most part, our modern economy consists of resource extraction by one group of people at one location, transport of these extracted resources to another location where they undergo processing by another group of people, transport of these processed goods to another location where they are marketed and sold by another group of people, and final transport to the end-user location. Each of these steps, including the transport steps, includes expenditures of energy, many times large expenditures, and right now predominantly fossil fuel-based energy. Each of these steps represents economic activity, and contributes to the GDP. Growth in GDP is viewed as desirable by economists and politicians, and planned reductions in GDP are the ‘third rails’ of politics.

    The message from Anderson is we are essentially at the gates of ‘dangerous’ climate conditions (2 C) now, and we need to do everything possible from transitioning into catastrophic climate conditions. At least for the short-intermediate term, we need to reduce the fossil fuel-based energy expenditures as drastically as possible. Given the above scenario of GDP relating strongly to energy expenditures, we essentially need to reduce GDP drastically. That’s what he alludes to as ‘planned recession’. You can parse his words in the best Clintonesque style, but that is what he is recommending.

    Now, if we had a sane society and a sane economy, we would eliminate all the relatively unnecessary extraction/processing/transportation steps and products in the above scenario, and transfer the workers to the construction of a self-sustaining society. One of the technical challenges would be to attempt this construction with the minimal expenditure of fossil fuels. Given the present economic rules under which we operate, I fail to see how any transition could be accomplished without a major long-term Depression. If you can show me a Roadmap by which this transition could be accomplished relatively painlessly, I would be most appreciative.

    Comment by Superman1 — 26 Nov 2012 @ 8:48 AM

  343. Your lecture on economics reads like a paraphrase of Catton’s Overshoot.

    > I fail to see …. If you can show me … relatively painlessly …

    Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.
    The more we take ourselves, the less we leave for the grandchildren.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Nov 2012 @ 9:28 AM

  344. Superman1,
    Here’s the problem with your decreased GDP scenario: GDP measures the value of all goods and services produced within the economy. If we decrease GDP without decreasing population, not only do we decrease standards of living, we decrease efficiency of the economy. We cannot decrease population overnight–at least I hope no one is contemplating this.

    In reality what is needed is much greater efficiency with the savings being directed toward decarbonization. Ultimately, the goal is sustainability–sustainable population, sustainable growth driven by technological advancement rather than increased extraction, and a sustainable environment. I think that is what we have to sell.

    The Civil War had to become a battle for establishment of free labor.

    WWI had to be sold as a war to end war.

    WWII to make the world safe for democracy.

    The climate wars are a war to develop sustainability as a gift to our progeny.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 26 Nov 2012 @ 9:58 AM

  345. Superman1@342.
    That is a strange characterisation of an economy you give. The ‘economy’ Anderson & I live it (the UK) has about half the emissions resulting from actual energy use within homes or from out car exhaust pipes. Another third result from Industry & Business and the final sixth from other transport (including public transport). There is the matter of (net) imported ‘stuff’ and international air & sea travel. However, internal to UK, if train operators, shop keepers and widget manufacturers consider themselves as “consumers,” the model I outlined @341 holds mainly in tact. I am not sure how your own model of an economy could be made to fit the UK’s emissions. Maybe it would for the economy you live in.

    If Anderson is actually saying “we essentially need to reduce GDP drastically” or words to that effect, I cannot see where. And I’m not sure if anybody here has “parse(d) his (Anderson’s) words in the best Clintonesque style” but I am still of the opinion that you misrepresent his words regarding this ‘planned recession’.
    As for providing a roadmap, I fear that adding further detail to my last paragraphs @341 would likely be transgressing the boundaries of what RealClimate is about: ie climate science. So is such added detail truly necessary?

    Comment by MARodger — 26 Nov 2012 @ 10:23 AM

  346. PS — a recent review of _Overshoot_ from a public health perspective is well worth a slow thoughtful read:
    Public Health Rep. 2009 Jan-Feb; 124(1): 167–168.
    PMCID: PMC2602943

    “… haunting questions remain once an ecological perspective of public health takes root. Are we who work in public health unwitting accomplices …. for those of us lucky enough to live in this short period of exuberance ….?”

    He introduces his review with this quote:

    “Having heard all of this you may choose to look the other way … But you can never say again you did not know.”
    — William Wilberforce British Parliamentarian, 1789

    For those just coming to realize what humanity has been about and where our civilization is headed, reading some of what was written in the 1960s and 1970s and 1980s help you be less surprised, and perhaps more effective.

    “Don’t mourn. Organize.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Nov 2012 @ 10:27 AM

  347. MARodger quoted Anderson and Bows, 2008: “Unless economic growth can be reconciled with unprecedented rates of decarbonization (in excess of 6% per year) …”

    That’s not a problem. That’s an enormous opportunity. Unprecedented rates of decarbonization can be — must be — the driver of strong, sustainable and equitable economic growth in the 21st century.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 26 Nov 2012 @ 10:52 AM

  348. MARodgers #345,

    ” So is such added detail truly necessary?”

    Unfortunately, yes. The Roadmap required for credibility has three main elements. At the top level, there is the Scenario or Vision that provides a clear picture of the end point. The next level specifies the metrics that will allow quantification of the Vision, and includes the data (quantified targets) that populate the metrics. The bottom aggregated level contains the details of the pathways that will take us from where we are to the top level Scenario. Absence of any one of these levels converts any proposed approach into arm-waving relative to solving the problem.

    Where are we now? I have seen myriad published studies that project climate futures based on ending fossil fuel combustion now; this is essentially the best possible (obviously non-achievable) case. The expected temperature increases over the next few decades range from about 1.5 C total (including today’s 0.8 C) to over 3 C total, depending on one’s assumptions for climate sensitivity and aerosol forcing, among others. None of these projections I examined incorporated positive feedbacks in the calculations. Thus, I view them as optimistic and conservative, especially those that project in the higher end of the temperature spectrum.

    My interpretation of these results is that under the best of conditions, we are essentially committed today to what Anderson terms the ‘dangerous’ region of temperature (near ~2 C), and every bit of CO2 emissions from now on moves us that much closer to what Anderson terms the ‘extremely dangerous’ region. In terms of policy for transitioning from today’s fossil-based economy to a sustainable economy, not only is achieving the end goal highly desirable and necessary, but the path we select to achieve that goal is critical to future climate. Any unnecessary fossil fuel expenditures made along that path translates into higher mitigation requirements and riskier geo-engineering three or four decades down the road. That’s why the Roadmap is absolutely critical to the credibility of any proposals for the interim transition period.

    To respond to your and Ladbury’s comments on GDP and austerity, I provide a simple example. Many of my neighbors take two or more trips a year to Asia/Europe/Middle East. All are fossil fuel intense getting there and coming back, and tend to be fossil fuel intense while they are traveling around these foreign countries. All are adding to the GDP, relatively substantially during that period. If we are serious about minimizing fossil fuel use during the interim transition period, such non-essential uses of fossil fuel would be banned. This economic activity would no longer contribute to the GDP, and it would be reduced. That’s planned austerity and recession in action. Again, if we change the economic rules of how we operate, those travel agents, airline pilots, attendants, who were put out of work would then be employed in some low-carbon approach supporting the transition to sustainable. From my present perspective, the early construction of power conversion/generating facilities and early re-location of infrastructure would still be fossil fuel intensive, so a very hard line would have to be taken on any non-essential fossil energy expenditures.

    Comment by Superman1 — 26 Nov 2012 @ 1:11 PM

  349. Superman1,
    What you are talking about is redirection of effort rather than shrinkage of GDP. That cannot be accomplished by fiat. It will be opposed strenuously by bidness types.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 26 Nov 2012 @ 3:14 PM

  350. > economic activity would no longer contribute to the GDP

    Define GDP to include currently externalized costs.
    Problem solved.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Nov 2012 @ 3:19 PM

  351. Ray Ladbury #349,

    “What you are talking about is redirection of effort rather than shrinkage of GDP.”

    I proposed shrinkage of GDP as the necessary first step, accompanying the required shrinkage of fossil fuel use. If we were playing by different economic rules, we could perhaps recover some of that lost GDP by re-direction of effort. It’s not clear to me that an economy that flourishes on waste because it’s profitable to some can readily convert to an equal amount of economic activity with all waste removed. But, under the present economic rules, this is purely wishful thinking. Those flight attendants, oil rig workers, et al, probably won’t be assembling PV panels down in Louisiana or wherever. I’m not even sure they’d be assembled in the USA, except under strict fiat.

    Comment by Superman1 — 26 Nov 2012 @ 3:43 PM

  352. “Gross domestic product (GDP) is the market value of all officially recognized final goods and services produced within a country in a given period of time.” (Yeah, it’s from Wikipedia, but it’s pretty much the standard definition.) So just legalize various forms of drugs, gambling, commercial sex… and all those ‘goods and services produced’ will be added to GDP. Meanwhile you could set up lots more bingo halls around the country and have all the unemployed play subsidized games ten hours a day, and GDP would go up even more. Even better, start recognizing all housework and childcare as “officially recognized goods and services” to be remunerated somehow and the GDP goes up yet further.

    Not that I am necessarily against any of those things in principle (depending on how it was done), but these point to the absurdity of the current mantra of growth (of GDP) for growth’s sake. There are any number of more-or-less artificial ways to produce some kind of increase in “GDP.”

    But then why should our goal really be increasing “the market value” of some arbitrary set of “officially recognized” goods and services?

    Many (most?) of the ‘goods and service’ measured by the GDP amount to how fast industrial society can rape and poison the planet, one way or the other. Rather than tweeking the edges, we have to turn it on its head:

    make GDP (or GEP–gross ecological product) measure only activities that move toward restoring the planet–reclaim ecosystems, restore soil tilth, botanically re-sequester carbon…

    Mining, burning ff, over-harvesting ocean fish and other earth-raping and -poisoning activities must be quickly and summarily taxed and (better) regulated out of existence. This may seem like a hopeless dream, but then of course a livable planet itself is looking more and more like a hopeless dream, at this point, rapidly slipping from our tenuous grasp.


    Back to (at least the pedagogy of) climate science; I would appreciate any reflections people might have on the following q’s:

    What is the most important thing that college students should know about GW at this point?

    What one factoid, video, article, film, or book would people recommend requiring?

    How much of the increasingly grim truth (or as close as we can get to it) do we owe to them?

    Comment by wili — 26 Nov 2012 @ 5:16 PM

  353. Superman1 @348,
    So a ‘no more fossil fuel use from today’ policy you consider is “essentially the best possible case” which you project as already causing a 1.5 to 3°C temperature rise above pre-industrial but excluding long-term feedbacks. (This I do remember from you last month which was within an interchange ended by my being off line for a few weeks.) Thus you belief in an absolutely critical roadmap to reduce any unnecessary emissions; a plan that is required to comprise of a Scenario, quantifiable metrics and detailed pathways.
    Well wave my arms! You propose we ban your neighbours from holidaying overseas? And is there a mechanism to prevent them from spending their holiday money elsewhere thus to shrink the total global GDP? Travel agents forced to work doing the likes of fixing solar panels? A very hard line on any non-essential fossil fuel expenditures? On what is this all based? The philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche perhaps?
    Sadly I shall be off line again for a week so will be forced to seek clarification of all this on my return.

    Comment by MARodger — 26 Nov 2012 @ 7:06 PM

  354. wili @352 — If just one, perhaps “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart:
    with this online edition being rather more extensive than the printed version.

    If a second, then Mark Lynas’s “Six Degrees”:

    If a third (wherein it becomes deadly bad), Peter Ward’s “Under a Green Sky”.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 26 Nov 2012 @ 7:56 PM

  355. What we do–and by “we” I mean RC contributors and more generally the populations of OECD countries–is no longer the primary determinant of whether earth’s future climate will be hospitable to human civilization. As I have tried to point out previously, the OECD countries and America in particular are already sideshows in emissions terms. Our worst damage is already done. Most of the future emission increase won’t come from us, except in the indirect sense that North America will sell Alberta tar sands oil to China, to fuel their vast fleet of automobiles and planes. Most of the increase will come China, India, and South Asia, and from the burning of coal, as these IEO2011 graphs clearly show.

    I see no credible evidence that Chinese leaders are considering anything like a planned recession; on the contrary, I find abundant evidence [1] for the opposite conclusion. That this is ultimately a disastrously irrational course of action certainly isn’t proof that it won’t occur. History is replete with failed societies, and as Jared Diamond and others have documented in grim and instructive detail, the most common cause of failure is stubbornness: unwillingness to abandon convenient fictions and adapt to new circumstances, despite overwhelming evidence of the urgent need to do so. What’s different today is that civilization is truly global in scope and impact, and thus we face not merely the potential failure of one society, but of all societies.

    I think the reason Kevin Anderson tends to get people upset, here and elsewhere, is that he genuinely considers the possibility of failure. Anderson’s charts show conclusively that for decades now, people and governments have been saying one thing while doing another, and he demonstrates all too graphically what the consequences of that have been, and will be in the future. Further growth in human numbers and resource consumption, whether termed “sustainable” or not, will necessitate incalculable suffering, and as Anderson points out, that suffering will be disproportionately inflicted on the “resource sacrifice” areas, i.e. the poorest countries who are least able to deal with climate impacts. Anderson draws attention to the monstrous social injustice underlying the rhetoric of economists and technological optimists, and this is another reason why he’s unpopular.

    [1] For evidence of dizzying growth planned in China, see the following:
    Weapons of Mass Urban Destruction, Peter Calthorpe, “Foreign Policy” Nov 2012
    Preparing for China’s urban billion, Jonathan Woetzel et al., McKinsey Global Institute, 2009
    Facing China’s Coal Future: Prospects and Challenges for Carbon Capture and Storage, IEA 2012

    Comment by Chris Korda — 26 Nov 2012 @ 8:17 PM

  356. More dizzying growth; I’ve included some arbitrary extracts:

    The Amazon has been viewed for ages as a vast quilt of rain forest interspersed by remote river outposts. But the surging population growth of cities in the jungle is turning that rural vision on its head and alarming scientists, as an array of new industrial projects transforms the Amazon into Brazil’s fastest-growing region.
    “More population leads to more deforestation,” said Philip M. Fearnside, a researcher at the National Institute for Amazon Research in Manaus, an Amazonian city that registered by far the fastest growth of Brazil’s 10 largest cities from 2000 to 2010. The number of residents grew 22 percent to 1.7 million, according to government statistics.
    Here in Parauapebas, also in Pará, an open-pit iron ore mine provides thousands of jobs. Plans for additional mines here, supported largely by forecasts of robust demand in China, have lured many to this corner of the Amazon in search of work. Just since the 2010 census, the city’s population has swelled to an estimated 220,000 from 154,000.

    “This entire area was thick, almost impenetrable, jungle,” said Oriovaldo Mateus, an engineer who arrived here in 1981 to work for Vale, the Brazilian mining giant. That was about the time that the authorities cut a road through the forest, making the settlement of Parauapebas feasible. By the early 1990s, he said, it had muddy roads, brothels and more than 25,000 people.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 26 Nov 2012 @ 9:39 PM

  357. MARodger #353,

    ” You propose we ban your neighbours from holidaying overseas? And is there a mechanism to prevent them from spending their holiday money elsewhere thus to shrink the total global GDP? Travel agents forced to work doing the likes of fixing solar panels? A very hard line on any non-essential fossil fuel expenditures? On what is this all based? The philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche perhaps?”

    As I stated very clearly, this is what appears to be required to dodge the larger climate change bullet. Any fossil fuel emissions from here on out will translate to more severe mitigation requirements three or four decades downstream and the need for riskier geoengineering.

    Now, do I think the proposals you extracted and presented in your paragraph above have any chance of being implemented? From today’s perspective, obviously not. We are essentially doing nothing to address the problem relative to what is required. But, could it be done if we changed our common global perspective on the problem?

    I was born before WWII, and grew up during the War. At that time, rationing had been instituted in the USA. Included in the rationing were items such as tires, cars, bicycles, gasoline, fuel oil & kerosene, solid fuels, stoves, rubber footwear, shoes, sugar, coffee, processed foods, meats, canned fish, cheese, canned milk, fats, and typewriters. I suspect rationing was far more severe in the European and Asian countries that formed the actual battleground of the War. The point is, people felt the threat was sufficiently serious that they were willing to make the sacrifices. In America, almost every family had immediate members or close relatives serving in the military, and we were not about to deny them all the resources they required so that we could live more comfortably.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see the same threat perceived for climate change among the bulk of the population and, as our politics seem to show, we don’t seem to have the same propensity to sacrifice for the common good that was evident seventy years ago. But, if we ever decide to get serious, forget about vacationing in Asia!

    Comment by Superman1 — 27 Nov 2012 @ 6:31 AM

  358. Chris Korda #355,

    ” I see no credible evidence that Chinese leaders are considering anything like a planned recession; on the contrary, I find abundant evidence [1] for the opposite conclusion……..
    “I think the reason Kevin Anderson tends to get people upset, here and elsewhere, is that he genuinely considers the possibility of failure.”

    Anderson’s presentation consists essentially of two parts. The larger front part shows the impending climate catastrophe that will probably result from continuing on the present course, and then presents the emission reduction requirements for hopefully staving off some of the catastrophe. The back part offers a glimmer of hope by showing possible fixes that would allow us to dodge the larger bullets, if we were serious about doing so. In this two part structure, he is consistent with the more official reports that he decries. In all these reports, there is always this glimmer of hope at the end of the report, in which catastrophe can be painlessly avoided, and all that is required is merely a 180 degree reversal of our present fossil fuel use direction.

    There is today no relation between the requirements in the first part of Anderson’s presentation and the actions we are taking with respect to fossil fuel use. As you point out in your China example, there is no evidence of serious fossil fuel reduction in the time period required to ameliorate large-scale climate degradation, and this holds true for not only China, but the major industrial and developing countries as well. The message I received from the recent Presidential debates was full speed ahead in expanding fossil fuel use. But, hope springs eternal, and maybe a climate Pearl Harbor event will occur that will shake the world out of its lethargy. Difficult to see it happening any other way.

    Comment by Superman1 — 27 Nov 2012 @ 6:56 AM

  359. In today’s edition of Climate Progress, there is an article entitled ” New Scientist Special Report: 7 Reasons Climate Change Is ‘Even Worse Than We Thought’”. In summary, these seven reasons are:

    1.The thick sea ice in the Arctic Ocean was not expected to melt until the end of the century. If current trends continue, summer ice could be gone in a decade or two.
    2.We knew global warming was going to make the weather more extreme. But it’s becoming even more extreme than anyone predicted.
    3.Global warming was expected to boost food production. Instead, food prices are soaring as the effects of extreme weather kick in.
    4.Greenland’s rapid loss of ice mean we’re in for a rise of at least 1 metre by 2100, and possibly much more.
    5.The planet currently absorbs half our CO2emissions. All the signs are it won’t for much longer.
    6.If we stopped emitting CO2 tomorrow, we might be able to avoid climate disaster. In fact we are still increasing emissions.
    7.If the worst climate predictions are realized, vast swathes of the globe could become too hot for humans to survive.

    In the Comments section, there is an excellent post by Lewis Cleverdon, following comments that the dangers are being over-hyped. Here are excerpts from his posting.

    “There are a number of critical factors that have yet to be put together into a synthesis to evaluate just what the current ‘Best Case’ of emissions control would actually achieve. These include the near doubling of the fraction of our emissions staying in the atmosphere as the natural carbon sinks decline, and the doubling of warming due to the loss of our cooling fossil sulphur emissions as fossil fuels are phased out. And then there are the six out of seven interactive mega-feedbacks that are already observed to be accelerating, several of which have the potential to dwarf anthropogenic GHG emissions.

    These matters are not hype; they are the result of extremely painstaking highly competitive scientific research over the last couple of centuries. Quite how “Even the casual observer knows” better than the consensus of the world’s great scientific academies is a matter you really should give some careful thought.

    As to the idea that “reality can’t possibly live up to all the hype” you might care to look at the scientists’ warnings to NYC authorities in the last few years, which have now been proved accurate by the deaths of 113 Americans and the loss of between fifty and a hundred billion dollars in damages across the region.

    Given the reality of the ~30yr timelag on past emissions’ warming effect (due to the oceans’ thermal inertia) as well as our inevitable future emissions even under a ‘best case’ of emissions control, to see Superstorm Sandy in context means seeing it as a relatively minor but telegenic impact this early in the curve of accelerating climate destabilization.

    Your appeal to ‘tone it down’ and to give good news instead is precisely the outlook that has wasted the last thirty-year opportunity to resolve AGW relatively easily. By ceding to political pressures for acceptable forecasts and ‘goals’, the scientific establishment has failed to inform society of its predicament, apparently assuming that it had the right to abdicate that duty to the politicians……………

    The point you are missing is that until the public is aware of the actual degree of threat there is little or no prospect of the commensurate responses – that are probably still capable of resolving it – being even formally considered at the requisite international fora, let alone negotiated, agreed, researched and implemented. That said, I’d be the first to agree that in identifying a threat there have to be credible solutions proposed in parallel if we are to avoid merely feeding the rising indulgence in apathy and defeatism.”

    Comment by Superman1 — 27 Nov 2012 @ 8:24 AM

  360. Superman1,
    I think that your idea of a “planned recession” is off the mark. In a recession, economic activity decreases and unemployment rises. Yes, fossil fuel consumption decreases, but not enough to avoid a continuance of the rise in atmospheric CO2. We are not going to shrink ourselves out of this problem–and the consequences for countless tens of millions of people are to dire to contemplate if we tried.

    A better analogue would be the mobilization of the economy on a war-time footing, but with the goal of modernizing and decarbonizing our antiquated energy and transportation infrastructures. It would be a war to build, rather than a war to destroy. Of course, standards of living for the wealthy would decline somewhat–they could not jet off to far off lands on a whim. However, we would have something very near full employment–as would China. So, while the wealthy will not live as well, the poor might actually live better as we make the transition.

    Now it is true, we don’t have a map to our destination of sustainability. However, we do have a very good idea of the directions we need to go in.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 27 Nov 2012 @ 10:02 AM

  361. Good post, Superman 1. We don’t know how the public would react if given the full facts, since it hasn’t happened.

    The reason key scientific developments concerning feedback loops and sink declines is being withheld is financial. Corporations and media want the public to perceive business as usual as long as possible. This attitude is condescending and disrespectful, similar to the old saying among British aristocrats to “not scare the horses”.

    The truth will out anyway. Sooner rather than later gives us a fighting chance; without it we will continue to muddle along with things like the Golden Age of Gas.

    Comment by Mike Roddy — 27 Nov 2012 @ 10:33 AM

  362. Wili #352:

    What one factoid, video, article, film, or book would people recommend requiring?

    Jared Diamond 1987: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 27 Nov 2012 @ 11:15 AM

  363. Re- Comment by Superman1 — 27 Nov 2012 @ 8:24 AM

    In the quotation you admire is the following- “That said, I’d be the first to agree that in identifying a threat there have to be credible solutions proposed in parallel if we are to avoid merely feeding the rising indulgence in apathy and defeatism.”

    I strongly suggest that you take this advice seriously. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 27 Nov 2012 @ 11:28 AM

  364. Remember — history is written by the survivors.
    Ask any kid when “ancient history” starts — it’s anything before they were able to read or watch television. It’s in the past.

    Can you imagine life in North America
    — without the frontier, without wilderness, without tallgrass prairie, without the buffalo, without the passenger pigeons, without the chestnut forests, without streams you can drink from, without the elm trees, without polio, without smallpox …

    …. oh, wait, wrong century.

    Shifting baselines — we imagine what we were born into as normal and don’t see what previous generations had, wasted and lost. Nobody but the ecologists, anyhow.

    That’s why the urban deer population has boomed — they don’t know any better, they’re in the world they were born to.

    And it’s one reason civilizations are transient.

    There’s a “Fermi Paradox” right on this planet, in that sense.
    There are no old successful technological cultures.

    Can we persist?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Nov 2012 @ 11:47 AM

  365. We are not going to shrink ourselves out of this problem

    Now that’s what I call technological optimism: growth as an unquestionable axiom. Religion is hard to argue with, though Albert Bartlett certainly tries.

    Of course, standards of living for the wealthy would decline somewhat

    Actually, thanks to the boom in unconventional fossil fuels, we appear to be entering a new golden age. Yacht sales are up. Time to re-read “The Great Gatsby?”

    superman1 @357: “I suspect rationing was far more severe in the European and Asian countries that formed the actual battleground of the War.” To this day my father refuses to take baths, to the point of having a shower installed at considerable expense in his originally bathtub-only house, because during the Blitz, he was obliged to bathe in a few inches of freezing water after his entire family had used it. Of course this is trivial compared to the privations and horrors many others experienced.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 27 Nov 2012 @ 1:01 PM

  366. Ray, I agree that mobilization for war is a model we could draw on. Unfortunately, most recent wars have simply called on most Americans to go shopping. But as S points out, there were major restrictions in consumption and rationing. In England, domestic consumption of petrol dropped by about 95%. These are the kinds of reductions that are now required.

    Full employment could easily be reached tomorrow to require most jobs have a 30 hour work week with full benefits, as was done in many places during the first great depression. And of course there are plenty of jobs that could be created that need to be done involving for example ecological restoration or insulation of buildings that government could facilitate directly or indirectly.

    On the other front, I would like to thank Benson and Mal Adapted for their suggestions. I had been thinking of Lynas and Ward, but I own but have not yet read Weart–better get to it, I guess. And I know Diamonds later works, but I’m unfamiliar with “The Worst Mistake…” so thanks for that. Any others?

    I just showed some students the Anderson and the Roberts videos. Reactions ranged from incredulity to calls for immediate collective action by the class on the issue. I tried to represent to the class some of the opinions expressed here, so thanks again for all perspectives.

    Are there any other educators on the board? How do they present the science and the politics of this mess?

    Comment by wili — 27 Nov 2012 @ 1:24 PM

  367. I ran across an interesting article at Veteran’s Today relating to AGW and past plans to intentionally “warm” the planet back in the days when some people thought that global temperatures were headed downwards. The paper is another example trying to diminish the importance of CO2 by saying “We did it some other way, that nobody really knows about.” We should see this in the denial-sphere soon.

    Comment by Walt — 27 Nov 2012 @ 2:23 PM

  368. Wili #365:

    And I know Diamonds later works, but I’m unfamiliar with “The Worst Mistake…”

    Because it may not be obvious to everyone, I’ll confess my suggestion was partly facetious. Diamond identifies the root cause of our current predicament, but doesn’t offer any solutions. With a global population of 9 billion and counting, it’s obviously too late for us all to return to foraging for a living.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 27 Nov 2012 @ 2:37 PM

  369. Steve Fish #363,

    “In the quotation you admire is the following- “That said, I’d be the first to agree that in identifying a threat there have to be credible solutions proposed in parallel if we are to avoid merely feeding the rising indulgence in apathy and defeatism.”

    I strongly suggest that you take this advice seriously.”

    Two points here. There is a larger context to Lewis’s comments. As you can see from the excerpts, he goes one step beyond me in assessing the seriousness of the impending problem, and my assessments tend to sit at the dire end of the spectrum on this thread. At that level of climate change, a complete shift to self-sustaining energy production and reforestation/afforestation may not be sufficient to address the damage already done.

    In other postings of his I have seen, he believes some form of geo-engineering will be required in addition to the above two steps. For example, in one (actually, more than one) of his postings, he supports the concept of ‘cloud-brightening’. Now, marine cloud-brightening (MCB) is defined in the source article as ” with MCB, scientists propose to spray microscopic droplets of sea water into clouds that typically cover a quarter or so of the ocean’s surface at any given time, perhaps using unmanned Flettner rotor ships guided by satellites. In theory, at least, the effect would be to make the clouds more reflective, so that more of the sunlight that hit them would bounce back into space without warming the Earth.” So, the full context of his statement is we’re in serious trouble now, we need some form of geo-engineering to supplement getting off of fossil fuels and reforestation, and here’s my recommendation.

    I don’t disagree with his assessment of the direness of the situation, I don’t disagree with the concept of getting away from fossil fuels to self-sustaining sources ASAP, and I don’t disagree with reforestation/afforestation. In fact, in post #342 and others, I essentially propose these two steps, with the proviso that they be done with minimal use of fossil fuels and we restrict all non-essential uses of fossil fuels in parallel. This can be viewed as all-out wartime-level effort! My proposal is similar to Ray Ladbury’s middle paragraph in #360, with somewhat different terminology used.

    I also agree these steps probably won’t be sufficient, and some form of geo-engineering will probably be required. I suspect the longer we wait to get off fossil fuels and reforest, the riskier the geo-engineering will be. Whether Lewis’s MCB approach is the best, I don’t know. It does appear to have the advantage of relatively early termination if ‘unforeseen consequences’ arise, and it uses a low-tech fluid. It requires further research as to energy requirements, especially if supplied by fossil fuel, and potential adverse climate effects.

    So, my proposals address part of the problem, but not the whole problem. Until I see a form of geo-engineering with which I am fully comfortable, I will not propose the third leg of the triad.

    Comment by Superman1 — 27 Nov 2012 @ 4:18 PM

  370. Hank,

    I was thinking of how bird populations have changed in post-Columbus North America and came across this testament to wind turbines’ scarecrow abilities:

    ‘The lesser prairie chicken, in rapid decline like the greater prairie chicken, instinctively resists nesting anywhere near trees or man-made structures – especially tall towers or buildings, where birds of prey can perch and spot them below, according to recent studies by Kansas State University biologists.

    “One of the biggest threats on the horizon is wind farms,” says Steve Sherrod, executive director of the George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center in Bartlesville, Okla. “These wind farms are billed as green, but they’re a huge threat to the prairie nesting species.” ‘

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 27 Nov 2012 @ 4:19 PM

  371. Ray #360,

    ” I think that your idea of a “planned recession” is off the mark.”

    It’s not my idea. I’m basically paraphrasing Kevin Anderson and Tim Garrett as to what they believe will happen as a result of cutting CO2 emissions at unprecedented levels. Given the present economic ground rules, certainly a recession will occur and more probably a deep depression. But, let’s not get mired in the terminology. What would we like to happen during this transition?

    First, we would like as rapid a transition to self-sustaining energy production as possible, with two provisos: minimal fossil fuel use to effect the transition, and elimination of any non-essential use of fossil fuels. The purpose of the provisos is to minimize the move from what is perceived as a very dangerous situation to an extremely dangerous situation, in Anderson’s words. For many people, especially those with plenty of money, restrictions on non-essential use of fossil fuels will have the same effect as a recession, irrespective of what name we choose to apply.

    Second, we would like to minimize unemployment during the transition. In fact, this was basically how we got out of the Great Depression. WWII required the use of all available hands. But, doing this would require different economic rules from what we have today.

    Third, we would like to prevent the collapse of the economy by essentially devaluing the worth of the oil, gas, and coal companies, as we would be doing by phasing out the use of fossil fuels. If these companies go under, the market collapses, and the Great Depression would look like the good old days. Now, I’m not an economist, and I don’t know all the measures that would be required to keep the economy from going under based on this problem. However, the Fed published a document this past year showing the distribution of net personal wealth in the USA. Doing the numbers, it turns out the vaunted top 1% (i.e., wealthiest three million people) have a net personal worth of slightly over thirty trillion dollars (I forget the exact number, something like $31T or $32T). This translates to something like $10M per capita average in this group. If we were to levy a Special Assessment of 50% on this personal wealth, it would give us something like $16T, part of which could be used to pay the companies something for keeping fossil fuels in the ground (not necessarily full market value).

    Now, what we do about countries wholly dependent on fossil fuel revenues, like Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Qatar, etc, is another story. They would suffer most of all. Maybe the advanced countries pay them some fraction of the fossil fuel worth to keep the fossil fuels in the ground. So, in theory, a transition could be made to a self-sustaining energy economy without the world collapsing, but it would not be painless. A lot of activities we take for granted now would have to be curtailed in the interim transition period, since any CO2 emissions added during that period would only add to the cumulative burden. The very wealthy would sacrifice the most, but they would still be in good shape financially ($5M per capita instead of $10M). The main sacrifice is their profligate ways with respect to fossil fuel use would end.

    Comment by Superman1 — 27 Nov 2012 @ 4:56 PM

  372. “… we estimated population trends for nearly all butterfly species (100 of 116 species present) …. Population trajectories indicate increases of many species near their northern range limits and declines in nearly all species (17 of 21) near their southern range limits. Certain life-history traits, especially overwintering stage, were strongly associated with declines. Our results suggest that a major, climate-induced shift of North American butterflies, characterized by northward expansions of warm-adapted and retreat of cold-adapted species, is underway.”

    Climate-driven changes in northeastern US butterfly communities
    Greg A. Breed, Sharon Stichter & Elizabeth E. Crone
    Nature Climate Change (2012)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Nov 2012 @ 5:00 PM

  373. wili wrote: “Ray, I agree that mobilization for war is a model we could draw on.”

    After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, FDR called the CEOs of the big Detroit automobile manufacturers into his office and said gentlemen, I need you to convert all your factories right away to build tanks and airplanes.

    The executives replied, well, Mr. President, we can’t really do that — we are just getting started on the 1942 model year, you know — maybe next year.

    FDR replied, gentlemen, you don’t understand. There isn’t going to be any 1942 model year. I am banning the manufacture of private automobiles effective immediately. You will build tanks and planes. That’s not a suggestion, and it’s not a request. It’s an order.

    That’s how you “mobilize for war”.

    So, why are we still building cars with gasoline-fueled internal combustion engines? Why are we still building coal-fired power plants?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 27 Nov 2012 @ 5:06 PM

  374. Mike Roddy #361,

    “Good post, Superman 1. We don’t know how the public would react if given the full facts, since it hasn’t happened.”

    You raise a good point about public reaction to the facts, and it comports with Wili’s question as to how best convey the reality of climate change to a college student. This is really a serious problem, and has received little attention on these blogs. The assumption here has been that if we could get around the roadblocks erected by the mainstream media, the deniers, and those who sponsor the media and deniers, we could then make strong inroads on this problem. I see at least two major problems with that assumption.

    First, the foundational problem from my perspective is the effective ‘addiction’ of the average energy consumer to the high energy intensity lifestyle enabled by the availability of copious cheap fossil fuel. I don’t believe presentation of facts would be adequate to change behavior when severe addiction is present. Second, suppose these roadblocks to dissemination were removed, and the harsh facts and their dire consequences were presented to the public. I’m talking about narratives like Kevin Anderson’s paper, Lewis Cleverdon’s posts, and others along the lines of #348 above. Suppose these ‘facts’ and their larger context were presented enough times that their significance began to ‘take hold’ with the audience. If you think about what these facts comport, at least as of today, they resemble in many ways a devastating medical prognosis after a physical examination. How do, and would, large numbers of people react under such conditions?

    I’ve seen three types of reactions after (unexpected) devastating medical prognoses. A small fraction will essentially give up, not be serious about treatment, and let nature take its course. Another small fraction will put every ounce of remaining energy in the effort to prolong life, and will try whatever radical alternatives offer promise. Most of the people eventually accept the reality, go through the recommended treatment, and bear the consequences.

    What would happen in the extreme case of, say, 200M adults in the USA understanding what the future offered on our present course, or even if we took some of the harsh actions I listed in previous posts? Would they go along with business as usual? Would they take revenge against those who blockaded the truth from appearing for many decades? Would we experience widespread chaos?

    How are the readers of this thread affected by their understanding of what the climate future has to offer, as seen from today’s perspective? How are they affected by the knowledge that their children will have to bear the brunt of this unfolding disaster, and their grandchildren even a larger burden, in all probability?

    Comment by Superman1 — 27 Nov 2012 @ 5:22 PM

  375. I have a talk on Tuesday showing scientists how to make a video out of a paper:

    Is Video Replacing Writing?
    The role of video in effectively communicating science

    Oral Session PA24A
    Tuesday Dec 4, 2012
    4:00-6:00 PM
    Room 302 Moscone South

    FYI for those going to AGU:

    Please join us at the following video events at the 2012 AGU Fall meeting:

    AGU Cinema: Short Films on Science
    Monday through Friday– Moscone West – Room 2012

    Drop by Moscone West, room 2012, any time during Fall Meeting to cool your heels and enjoy a short film or two (or more!). Films will focus on the Earth and space sciences and could feature your scientific colleagues as cast or crew. Films will run all day Monday–Thursday, plus Friday morning. Please check the Fall Meeting Website closer to Fall Meeting for the schedule of screenings.

    New technologies have revolutionized the use of video as a means of science communication. Films have become easier to create, distribute, and view. Having become omnipresent in our culture, video today supplements or even replaces writing in many applications. How are scientists and educators using video to communicate scientific results?

    An inaugural science film festival sponsored by AGU at the 2012 Fall Meeting will showcase short videos–30 minutes or less in length–developed to disseminate scientific results to various audiences, and to enhance learning in the classroom. AGU Cinema will feature professionally produced, big-budget films — with big goals and big audiences — alongside low-budget videos aimed at niche audiences and made by amateurs, including governmental agency scientists, educators, communications spec-ialists within scientific organizations and Fall Meeting oral and poster presenters.

    Filmmakers face the challenge of effectively communicating and captivating interest with their films, without compromising the scientific message. The festival aims to present a sample of films showing the current state of the science-film art in the Earth and space sciences.

    Video can do a lot for science and scientists: It can provide an expanded audience for scientific news and information, educate thousands at once about aspects of science, get the word out regarding scientific developments, help frame controversial science issues, show real scientists at work in the real world, promote interest in scientific publications, and report on science agency programs. It can also interest a young person in a future science career.

    Films to be screened in the AGU Cinema come from scientists at USGS; NASA; the US National Park Service; Service d’Aéronomie du CNRS (France),The Ocean Drilling Program; American Museum of Natural History, the universities of Amsterdam, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Bremen, Cambridge, Washington, and California (at Santa Cruz); the German Space Agency, Weather Underground, independent filmmakers and other sources.

    Films will cover topics including water, climate change, planetary science, education, and even science fiction.

    Come enjoy short films pertinent to Earth and space sciences and see how your fellow scientists are making videos to communicate science. The films–all in English or with English subtitles–will run 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Thursday, plus 8am to noon on Friday of Fall Meeting week, in Room 2012, Moscone West.

    To check out the schedule of screenings, please search for “Cinema” on the Fall Meeting events calendar:

    Is Video Replacing Writing?
    The role of video in effectively communicating science

    Oral Session PA24A
    Tuesday Dec 4, 2012
    4:00-6:00 PM
    Room 302 Moscone South

    Description: New digital technologies have revolutionized use of video as a means of communication. Admit it—video is better than writing in many cases. How can scientists and educators best use the appeal of video and new media to communicate scientific results? This session will showcase video developed to disseminate scientific results to different audiences, and video used in the classroom to enhance learning. Discussion will include how video is a tool for communication, education, and how it is important to integrate information over many platforms, including social media. We will examine the changing face of the media, implications of the changes, and what we expect the changes to be in the future.

    4:00 PM – 4:15 PM PA24A-01. Matthew Vonk, Video is the new writing: Are you literate? (Invited)

    4:15 PM – 4:30 PM PA24A-02. Philip Wade; Arlene Courtney , Writing Assignments in Disguise: Lessons Learned Using Video Projects in the Classroom.

    Class project video examples:

    4:30 PM – 4:45 PM PA24A-03. John P. Reisman, Turn research results and paper into video as an effective education and communication tool.

    4:45 PM – 5:00 PM PA24A-04. Ryan W. Vachon, The Lens Staring You in the Face

    Dr. Vachon will also direct the Filmmaker’s Workshop (see below)

    5:00 PM – 5:15 PM PA24A-05. Dan Brinkhuis; Leslie Peart, Scientific Story Telling & Social Media The role of social media in effectively communicating science

    5:15 PM – 5:30 PM PA24A-06. Lisa R. Strong; Randi Wold-Brennon; Sharon K. Cooper; Dan Brinkhuis; Dan Brinkhuis, Interactive Video, The Next Step
    5:30 PM – 5:45 PM PA24A-07. Joseph D. Smith; Jeffrey Beaudry; Annette L. Schloss; John Pickle, Using Video to Enhance a Citizen Science Program: Digital Earth Watch And The Picture Post Network

    5:45 PM – 6:00 PMPA24A-08. Marijke Unger; Kevin Moloney , Transmedia Storytelling in Science Communication: One Subject, Multiple Media, Multiple Stories

    There will be posters for this session as well in the poster Hall on Wednesday:

    1:40 PM – 6:00 PM; Hall A-C (Moscone South)

    1:40 PM – 1:40 PM PA33A-1985. John Cook; Dana A. Nuccitelli; Bärbel Winkler; Kevin Cowtan; Julian Brimelow, The Power of Online Community and Citizen Science

    1:40 PM – 1:40 PM PA33A-1986. Laura Allen; Vivian Trakinski; Ned Gardiner; Susan Foutz; Dan Pisut., Video and Visualization to Communicate Current Geoscience at Museums and Science Centers

    1:40 PM – 1:40 PM PA33A-1987. Douglas A. Harned; Michelle Moorman; Peter C. Van Metre; Barbara J. Mahler, Using Video to Communicate Scientific Findings – Paint it Black–Parking lot sealcoat as a source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon contamination.

    1:40 PM – 1:40 PM PA33A-1988. Nathaniel Kramer, The Secret List of Dos and Don’ts for Filmmaking

    We would like to invite you to attend the:

    Science Filmmaker’s Workshop
    Wednesday December 5, 2012
    9:45 AM to 11:45 AM
    Marriott (room Pacific J, 4th floor)
    Join us for a freewheeling discussion of science filmmaking. We will start with a free video workshop by Ryan Vachon for all new and potential filmmakers, followed by a discussion with other experienced amateur and professional science filmmakers in attendance.

    The Filmmaker’s Workshop

    Video has become a go-to method for research Broader Impacts or Outreach. Frequently PIs lean on their own imagination, that of their grad students or undergrads to make their vision of information dissemination happen. There is incredible value to fold individuals at ground zero of the science into science communication to the public. However, jumping into the project “cold-turkey” can be intimidating and often results in mediocre deliverables. Often times, learning the fundamentals of filmmaking can make an immense difference and give your project traction.

    During this two hour workshop, Ryan Vachon, scientist, videographer, and producer/director will take you through the fundamental steps and technology that typically make film production a meaningful endeavor. This tour de force of methods, theory and tools will illuminate essential components of a film production that could inform, inspire and empower individuals to take on the varying, and often overwhelming steps between back of a napkin ideas to finalized dissemination.

    Following the first hour and a quarter of film dissection, a panel of experienced film producers will be on-hand to field questions and instigate conversation about core elements of production that might, at first blush, seem like a black box of confusion. Let no question go unanswered. Come with a concept and receive feedback on new angles to make good things happen. –Ryan Vachon

    Films @ AGU Fall Meeting
    Fleeting atmospheric phenomena and giant calving glaciers are the stars of this year’s Films @ AGU. Photographer James Balog was a climate change skeptic – until he saw glaciers retreating first-hand. On Sunday, 2 December at 7:30 P.M. at Moscone South, room 300, watch as mountains of ice disappear in Chasing Ice. For the first time, one of the most enigmatic phenomena in Earth’s atmosphere — sprites — has been captured on high-speed video. Watch “Sprites: A Mysterious Burst of Light,” part of the NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corp.) series “The Cosmic Shore,” on Thursday, 6 December at 1:30 P.M. at the Marriott Marquis, rooms Golden Gate C1–C3. A panel of scientists involved in the films will follow each screening. Both are open to all.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 27 Nov 2012 @ 6:01 PM

  376. Secular Animist #373,

    ” FDR replied, gentlemen, you don’t understand. There isn’t going to be any 1942 model year. I am banning the manufacture of private automobiles effective immediately. You will build tanks and planes. That’s not a suggestion, and it’s not a request. It’s an order.

    That’s how you “mobilize for war”.

    So, why are we still building cars with gasoline-fueled internal combustion engines? Why are we still building coal-fired power plants?”

    1. In the 1940 election, the President received 85% of the electoral vote.
    2. The Democrats controlled over 2/3 of the Senate, and almost 60% more seats in the House than the Republicans.
    3. There were not too many Pearl Harbor ‘deniers’ at the time, and the ‘America Firsters’ ran for the hills.
    4. Barack Obama is no FDR!

    Comment by Superman1 — 27 Nov 2012 @ 6:34 PM

  377. “If we were to levy a Special Assessment of 50% on this personal wealth,”

    French revolution anyone? More than a few wars have been sparked by considerably less provocation than this. More importantly, the “companies” you plan to pay to “keep fossil fuels in the ground” consist primarily of the Chinese and Indian governments. Given the scale of economic expansion they’re planning I don’t think they’re going to be too interested in 16 trillion, even assuming it could be raised without resorting to the national razor.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 27 Nov 2012 @ 6:53 PM

  378. Thawing of Permafrost Expected to Cause Significant Additional Global Warming, Not Yet Accounted for in Climate Predictions
    does not appear to take into account what happened during the Eemian interglacial.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 27 Nov 2012 @ 8:13 PM

  379. > the scale of economic expansion they’re planning

    Oh, in deals where you’re being paid not to do something, the bigger the planned expansion, the bigger they payment not to do it.

    Developers do that routinely to game local zoning challenges.

    Globally, consider the Chinese approach to controlling CFCs, which they have been doing by vastly overproducing HCFCs (they get paid to destroy HCFCs, which were a small-volume waste gas when the contracts were written, then they found a way to produce a vast excess and there was no sanity clause in the contract so they get paid for all they produce-to-destroy.

    Perhaps this experience convinced them capitalism can work :-)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Nov 2012 @ 9:55 PM

  380. I think you folks thrashing out what could turn things around need to broaden your perspective. With the human population increasing by about 1/2 a million a day [in the “poorer” areas obviously if increasing wealth lowers reproduction], economies everywhere in shambles unable to support the existing population, the jet set spending their “50%” providing jobs for a select few regardless of carbon consumption, positive feedbacks in high gear, and entrepreneurial science eyeing expensive profit-making exotic mitigation schemes, there appears little chance for revolutionizing global human culture in any time frame likely to make a difference. . . . . . As someone said somewhere, if you keep going where you’re headed, you’ll get there.

    Comment by flxible — 27 Nov 2012 @ 9:58 PM

  381. flxible @ 380 wrote: “With the human population increasing by about 1/2 a million a day”

    Presumably you meant “1/5 of a million a day”?

    Not quite sure what “in poorer areas” is intended to imply. It is the wealthiest fifth of the world population that consumes the lion’s share of the resources and produces most of the ghgs. The good news on that is it is not the whole world you need to convince to reduce their consumption, just the top-most segment. The bad news is they are (we are) pretty much all greedy bastards–that’s how they got into the top level of consumers.

    I would be interested to know what strategies flxible and Korda may have to offer.

    I agree with Hank that it is generally a bad idea to pay someone not to do something. Should we start paying criminals not to do criminal acts? Where would that stop?

    Benson @ #378 said “does not appear to take into account what happened during the Eemian interglacial”

    Could you clarify for us hoi poloi what it is that they should have taken into account about the Eemian?

    Comment by wili — 28 Nov 2012 @ 6:34 AM

  382. Chris Korda #377,

    “French revolution anyone? More than a few wars have been sparked by considerably less provocation than this. More importantly, the “companies” you plan to pay to “keep fossil fuels in the ground” consist primarily of the Chinese and Indian governments. Given the scale of economic expansion they’re planning I don’t think they’re going to be too interested in 16 trillion, even assuming it could be raised without resorting to the national razor.”

    We need to be consistent in the ground rules we use. Kevin Anderson’s comments, Lewis Cleverdon’s comments, Ray Ladbury’s Manhatten Project-type proposal, my recent comments, all address what needs to be done, could be done, should be done. They apply on a global scale, because the problem is global. If we go by plans that China or India, or whoever, have on the books, the game is over. As far as I can see, almost all major and intermediate countries are heading pell-mell to increase growth as fast as they can, and to exploit fossil fuel resources as fast as they can to underpin this growth.

    The focus of the above comments has been mainly on the technical side of the equation. The other half of the coin is the political/sociological side of the equation: how do we get the global cooperation that would allow any of the above technical solutions to be eliminated. This would require essentially 180 degree reversal of present direction, and would be unprecedented in human history.

    In my view, all facets of out-of-the-box thinking would be required, all options should remain on the table. What do I mean by this statement. We are essentially facing two extreme choices: business as usual (BAU) and a global Manhattan Project-type collaboration. BAU could, by some estimates, result in the premature deaths of hundreds of millions to billions of people by century’s end, while the Manhatten Project option could reduce these premature fatalities by orders of magnitude, depending on the success of any geo-engineering that is required. While it would be preferable to retain existing rules of law and democratic institutions to accomplish the latter option, and preferable to execute this option peacefully, if other means are necessary to accomplish this option, they need to be considered. Remember the over-riding goal: prevent the premature deaths of perhaps billions of people within the next century or so. Some actions required to achieve this goal may have to be quite harsh.

    You made light of my Special Assessment proposal of 50% of the personal net wealth of the upper 1% in the USA to help finance the USA’s share of the transition. I initially proposed the concept shortly after seeing the Fed report. I proposed it as a means of eliminating the national debt (which happens to be about $16T). However, helping to finance the transition to sustainable energy sources seems more urgent, with the option that it could be divided between the two applications. But, this is an example of what I mean by ‘all options remain on the table’. The political/sociological challenge is so immense and daunting that extremely radical solutions will probably be required. Governments may have to change and types of governments may have to change; peacefully if possible and by force if necessary. The opponents of change will not go peacefully into the night, but if we are serious about survival of any semblance of the civilization we knew and still know, we will do whatever is necessary to implement the required changes.

    Comment by Superman1 — 28 Nov 2012 @ 6:50 AM

  383. superman@382:

    Governments may have to change and types of governments may have to change; peacefully if possible and by force if necessary.

    Sedition may not be OT but it’s still very much illegal. I continue to be astounded by the parade of callous “technical solutions,” bizarrely mixing hubris, naiveté, and militarism. I’m somehow reminded of the final scene in Dr. Strangelove. Where’s my copy of “World Targets in Megadeaths”? Pentti Linkola would certainly agree with you: “Any dictatorship would be better than modern democracy. There cannot be so incompetent [a] dictator, that he would show more stupidity than a majority of the people. Best dictatorship would be one where lots of heads would roll and government would prevent any economical growth.” Or more to the point: “A minority can never have any other effective means to influence the course of matters but through the use of violence.”


    I would be interested to know what strategies flxible and Korda may have to offer.

    The more militant among us could participate (or even volunteer to be arrested) in the ongoing protests against mountaintop removal and the Keystone pipeline. You’d be in good company with James Hansen and Daryl Hannah. Those protests have a long way to before they have anything like the impact of the civil rights movement, as John Sterman from Climate Interactive points out: “No graph of sea level rise is ever going to have the emotional impact that bombed-out churches and civil rights workers being attacked by dogs and beaten on the Edmund Pettus bridge had.” (53:19)

    Comment by Chris Korda — 28 Nov 2012 @ 9:41 AM

  384. wili – Our population clocks have a difference of opinion [currently about 200 million, must be a conspiracy!], I simply set the one I referenced to the previous days date, which may not give a 24 hour count, but 210 thousand is as unsustainable as 410 thousand when they’re mouths to feed and clothe and keep out of the weather on a finite planet.

    What is implied by “poorer areas” is the “under developed” world, but maybe it’s just the wealthy Chinese and Indians that use all that coal to fuel their strivings. Folks here are fond of pointing out that as wealth increases, folks “choose” to have fewer offspring. China made it a law, but apparently too late.

    There is only one “strategy” to combat un-sustainability, although few here seem to accept that our environment has a limit, or, alternatively, hand wave that the “population bomb” is sputtering out as “wealth” increases – meaning as planetary resources are consumed and financial [hence social] “worth” is increasingly concentrated.

    I think superman1 has a more realistic view of what would be required, except the goal to “. . . prevent the premature deaths of perhaps billions of people within the next century or so” is misplaced, the goal needs to be to prevent billions of births. The modern medical concept of “premature” death is a major contributor to the problem – no doubt big ph-arma’s profits are being padded by the prevention of the “premature” deaths of more than a few commenters here, including moi.

    Comment by flxible — 28 Nov 2012 @ 9:56 AM

  385. Sedition may not be OT but it’s still very much illegal.

    You absolutely and completely misunderstand and underestimate the magnitude of the problems and the solutions necessary to solve them in a timely manner.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 28 Nov 2012 @ 10:10 AM

  386. Mike Roddy: “The reason key scientific developments concerning feedback loops and sink declines is being withheld is financial.”

    That is utter horsecrap! Dude, do you really think you could stop a scientist from publishing this if they knew about it?

    Mike, the reality-based community is calling. We don’t tolerate conspiracy theories from the denialists. We should not tolerate them from the realist side either if we want to have any hope of holding on to that realist mantle.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 28 Nov 2012 @ 10:22 AM

  387. It may be a bit late to jump into this discussion…but here goes. I have to teach a week of climate change in an Freshman college introductary geology class next semester. One thing I’ve been looking for is a plot of the time variation in energy into the Earth system versus energy out. Does such a thing exist? I can’t seem to find it, but I may just be being clueless.

    Comment by bobb — 28 Nov 2012 @ 10:56 AM

  388. flxible wrote: “there appears little chance for revolutionizing global human culture in any time frame likely to make a difference”

    I agree. Fortunately there is no necessity to “revolutionize global human culture” to deal with global warming in the time frame likely to make a difference.

    The urgent necessity is to stop emitting greenhouse gases. That’s a technology problem. And the technologies needed to solve that problem already exist, and can be deployed very quickly. Indeed, those technologies already are being deployed very quickly, at all scales, all over the world.

    The growth of renewable energy technologies is astonishingly fast now — it’s still not fast enough, but there is no mystery about what’s needed to dramatically accelerate that process (shining examples of the success of “best practices” abound), and there are no real technological or economic obstacles.

    I humbly and respectfully suggest that getting on with that urgent task is a better occupation than wallowing in despair.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 28 Nov 2012 @ 11:02 AM

  389. Mike Roddy wrote (#361): “The reason key scientific developments concerning feedback loops and sink declines is being withheld is financial. Corporations and media want the public to perceive business as usual as long as possible.”

    Ray Ladbury replied (#386): “That is utter horsecrap! Dude, do you really think you could stop a scientist from publishing this if they knew about it?”

    Ray, what I understood Mike to be saying was NOT that scientists are refusing to publish findings about feedback loops and sink declines — but rather, that when such “key scientific developments” are published in the peer-reviewed literature, they are largely ignored (“withheld”) by the mass media for “financial” reasons, with the result that the general public doesn’t hear about them.

    I believe there is truth in that, and that a survey of media coverage of troubling scientific studies of AGW would support Mike’s view.

    But regardless, it’s not a “conspiracy theory” about scientists withholding their findings, it’s a claim about how (and why) the mass media covers (or doesn’t cover) the findings that scientists do publish.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 28 Nov 2012 @ 11:55 AM

  390. The urgent necessity is to stop emitting greenhouse gases. That’s a technology problem. And the technologies needed to solve that problem already exist, and can be deployed very quickly.

    If it were just a technology problem, then there would be no problem. Unfortunately those techno fixes are not being deployed quickly enough nor widely enough to have the required impact, and are very unlikely to be. That’s a socio-cultural-economic-political problem.

    While I fully agree there’s “a better occupation than wallowing in despair”, and I’ve been occupying myself otherwise for decades, focus on techno-fixes is the pre-occupation that got us to the current un-sustainable quagmire. A PV panel on every rooftop, a cellphone in every pocket, cell towers on every commercial building, an EV in every garage -times billions- and a world wide “smart” grid. Level off those mountain top coal pits and “plant” millions of high-tech pseudo-trees to suck up the carbon. Sure, increased consumption is the solution, no externalities involved.

    Comment by flxible — 28 Nov 2012 @ 12:07 PM

  391. for bobb (I’m just a kibitzer here, not a scientist):
    have you looked at these? Might lead to what you want:
    search: hansen+sato+earth+energy+imbalance+2012

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Nov 2012 @ 12:34 PM

  392. While it may be fun to fantasize what we would do with dictatorial power, the fact remains that we don’t and if we are sane would not want it anyway. Whatever we wind up doing about climate change will be accomplished through democratic means. This is as it should be. Democracy is the only form of government that can claim legitimacy in a pluralistic society.

    It is precisely because we wish to preserve democratic traditions that we need to act soon. Policy needs to be developed by an electorate that is informed rather than one that is fearful. Frightened people rarely make wise decisions. And those of us who appreciate the dangers we face due to a changing climate need to realize that this is but one of many risks we face as we lurch toward (what I hope is) sustainability.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 28 Nov 2012 @ 1:36 PM

  393. fixible #384,

    ” I think superman1 has a more realistic view of what would be required, except the goal to “. . . prevent the premature deaths of perhaps billions of people within the next century or so” is misplaced, the goal needs to be to prevent billions of births. The modern medical concept of “premature” death is a major contributor to the problem – no doubt big ph-arma’s profits are being padded by the prevention of the “premature” deaths of more than a few commenters here, including moi.”

    The goal to prevent billions of births does not preclude the goal of preventing the premature deaths of perhaps billions of people. It is not an either/or situation. I am not talking about developing a new chemotherapy to prevent premature deaths of people who follow a toxic lifestyle. I am talking about taking actions now to prevent the deaths of e.g. innocent and healthy Bangladesh farmers who work along a low coastal area, and whose lives would be snuffed out by stronger typhoons enabled by warmer and higher ocean waters.

    I have recommended previously that, in the interim transition to self-sustaining energy production, all non-essential uses of fossil fuel energy be restricted severely or banned. Some posters have decried the implied use of authority to effect such a ban, and hurled myriad invectives. However, decisions have consequences, and unfortunately, in our history, those who make strong decisions are not those who have had to bear the strong consequences (Iraq???). If, as in my previous example, someone takes a vacation trip from the USA to Asia, and does quite a bit of traveling while on vacation, there will be consequences to pay. As Kevin Anderson has showed, even with drastic reductions in CO2 emissions, we are headed toward what he calls a very dangerous situation. Every bit of CO2 emitted from here on out will push the world in the direction of what Anderson calls extremely dangerous.

    Harsh words, but what do they mean? My neighbor’s flight to Asia, and its massive fossil fuel expenditures, will translate downstream to some Bangladesh, or maybe New Jersey coastal, farmer dying before his time because a CO2-energized climate and warmer/higher seas drowned him in the prime of his life. It would be preferable to be able to use the democratic process, with its legal base, and the equivalent of Marquis of Queensbury rules to effect change. But, if all this ‘legal’ process is doing in actuality is allowing these non-essential fossil fuel intensive processes to occur, such as individual choice to take an Asian vacation, then it is effectively sanctioning murder of some poor innocents downstream. That violates my moral and ethical code, and I am surprised is does not also violate the moral and ethical codes of readers of a blog such as RC. If not here, where: WUWT; Fox News? If ‘legal’ and ‘non-violent’ means result in the deaths of innocents, then other types of means may be justified in eliminating these deaths. My neighbor does not have the ethical right to take non-essential actions that will eventually result in that innocent Bangladesh farmer’s life!

    Comment by Superman1 — 28 Nov 2012 @ 1:54 PM

  394. flxible wrote: “focus on techno-fixes is the pre-occupation that got us to the current un-sustainable quagmire. A PV panel on every rooftop …”

    I would agree that our “focus on techno-fixes” that put PV panels “on every rooftop” is what got us into the current “quagmire” except for one thing: that never happened.

    And I think you realize that I said nothing remotely resembling “increased consumption is the solution”, and neither did I suggest mountaintop-removal coal mining or carbon-absorbing fake trees or the proliferation of cell phones as solutions.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 28 Nov 2012 @ 2:28 PM

  395. Superman1 wrote: “I have recommended previously that, in the interim transition to self-sustaining energy production, all non-essential uses of fossil fuel energy be restricted severely or banned. Some posters have decried the implied use of authority to effect such a ban, and hurled myriad invectives.”

    Well, the response of other commenters here is of no consequence, since not one of us is in a position to restrict or ban anything.

    Presumably you have presented that recommendation to those who actually have the power to act on it. What was their response?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 28 Nov 2012 @ 3:26 PM

  396. Democracy did not permanently end in the US or UK just because they went on a war footing for a while. That is what is needed now.

    We have no more time at this point for gradualism of any sort. GW is now a far greater existential threat than the Germans or Japanese were.

    We need to get a universal image of fossil fuel use as the equivalent of dropping atomic bombs on ourselves and our children.

    After the effects of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were made clear, a deep and universal revulsion has helped prevent a repeat of the use of that destructive power, in spite of many temptations.

    We need a similar universal revulsion toward the the use of the destructive power of fossil fuels (and conventional meet eating…). Massive killer heat waves like the one in Europe in ’03 and other disasters like Sandy may move some in that direction, but we need artists and others to help us all not only understand intellectually but also get at a gut level the horrors we are unleashing on ourselves and our offspring.

    Comment by wili — 28 Nov 2012 @ 3:35 PM

  397. I agree with Ray Ladbury — 28 Nov 2012 @ 1:36 PM and I think that many of the comments above regarding what to do about our degenerating biosphere is just mental masturbation. The problem can’t be solved by adopting a war time effort and declaring a Manhattan project, or a planned recession/depression, or sedition, or taxing the rich, or geo-engineering, or whatever. This is because these are only methods that might be employed if the general population would recognize that there actually is a problem.

    I think that the U.S., my country, which is the most profligate user of fossil fuels and a leader in promoting a wasteful lifestyle, should be the leader in correcting the problem, but this is blocked by at least half of the electorate. Those who can’t see the problem are not addicted to their lifestyle; this is a major left turn from reality. All things being equal, everybody does what is inexpensive and convenient, and they are guided in their societal responsibilities by their friends and neighbors, civic leaders, and their favored politicians who espouse common cultural values. This cultural movement is fueled by moneyed interests and their pet politicians, think tanks, astroturf movements, and media outlets. Why should this group of citizens do anything uncomfortable if their trusted leaders say that global warming is just a hoax pushed by the dreaded environmentalist tree hugger pinko commie rats?

    I don’t know what to do beyond activism, suggested by some here, or writing letters, but I do know that the only person in this thread who is walking the talk is John P. Reisman (27 Nov 2012 @ 6:01 PM). You may not think his efforts are going to be productive, but if you have anything better I would really like to hear about it. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 28 Nov 2012 @ 3:42 PM

  398. Steve Fish #397,

    ” The problem can’t be solved by adopting a war time effort and declaring a Manhattan project, or a planned recession/depression, or sedition, or taxing the rich, or geo-engineering, or whatever.”

    I would phrase that statement differently. The problem can only be ‘solved’ through a Manhatten Project-type wartime effort, along with severe restrictions on fossil fuel use and possible expropriation of funds to finance the transition. From today’s perspective, there is zero chance that it will be solved, because only a miniscule fraction of the electorate and/or politicians would support the intensive and restrictive efforts required to make it happen. I would be surprised if five percent of the electorate would support the level of effort to make it happen, independent of what polls tell us about peoples’ concerns over climate change.

    One simple example. There was a recent rally in Washington on 18 November, following Bill McKibben’s Do the Math event, related to the Keystone pipeline. Three thousand people marched afterward. The organizers then issued the following statement:

    ” But we know yesterday’s action won’t be enough to win this fight. So we used this action to announce another one: next President’s Day, February 18, 2013, we’ll be back. This time, let’s make it 20,000. Will you join us next February and help give Big Oil something to really be concerned about?”

    20,000! And, that’s the rallying target. Now, I applaud them for any action they take; it is far better than doing nothing. But, if that’s what they’re hoping will impress ‘Big Oil’, they are whistling in the wind. In the Vietnam era, I attended many anti-war demonstrations in the nation’s capital, and some of these had many hundreds of thousands of people in attendance. What was their net effect on the war: almost zero? Post-war analyses showed that the 73-75 recession and the associated cutting off of funds for the war by Congress, along with the lack of progress on the ground, were what drove the end of the war. My reading of that situation is not that demonstrations per se won’t work, but a far greater fraction of the population needs to get engaged before such demonstrations will have some potential impact.

    ” I don’t know what to do beyond activism, suggested by some here, or writing letters,”

    Well, if you’ve ever done management of large, or even intermediate-scale projects, you would find the best way to solve problems and get the optimal results is to set the desired targets, and allow the performers and their advisers/consultants to come up with the innovative and creative approaches. Throwing out ideas on this site that lead nowhere is not the optimal path to success. What we really need at this stage of the fight to preserve the climate are some radically new ideas that include not only approaches to overcome the technical roadblocks, but especially approaches to overcome the organized sponsor/denier roadblocks and the politician/electorate opposition. Perhaps something like a DARPA-type award approach for outstanding ideas is called for, where multi-million dollar prizes are awarded to each of the top ten (or more) respondents who have the best ideas. The type of activism you are proposing is a dead-end street.

    Comment by Superman1 — 28 Nov 2012 @ 4:40 PM

  399. SecularAnimist, you stated there are “technological fixes” that can be rapidly deployed to solve the problem. If not distributed energy production, conversion of the existing ICE fleet to electric, something to remove atmospheric carbon, etc, etc, than what is this magic of which you speak that allows a [near complete] elimination of current civilizations carbon emissions without massive increases in material inputs?

    Comment by flxible — 28 Nov 2012 @ 5:12 PM

  400. wili @381 — No evidence of substantial methane releases during the Eemian interglacial, despite considerably warmer temperatures than now. A place to look for verification is CH4 in NGRIP, northern Greenland ice core. There are other ice cores in the north extending far enough in the past to consider the Eemian interglacial.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 28 Nov 2012 @ 6:47 PM

  401. goodness gracious! Get a grip, people.

    Don’t be like the people you complain about, the only ones on the block who know anything.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 28 Nov 2012 @ 6:58 PM

  402. Re 387 bobb – if you look up oceanic heat, since that is the bulk of the ‘available’ heat capacity of the climate system – it’s rise generally indicates a radiative disequilibrium (because most energy in and out is radiative) (Others: air, latent heat, land surface, melting ice – significant but the ocean still tends to dominate in heat capacity; geothermal and tidal heating, etc, – interesting to note, but very tiny compared to OLR (outgoind longwave radiation) and solar heating (the 341.3 W/m2 solar radiation (global average) should be multiplied by ~ 0.7 to find global average solar heating, because ~ 30 % is reflected to space).

    You can also infer or calculate forcings from graphs of solar brightness (TSI – for the solar flux per unit area facing the sun in space at Earth’s orbit, divide by 4 to get a global average and then multiply by (1-albedo) to get global average solar heating; the albedo has to be the Bond albedo: ) and of CO2, CH4, etc.

    global heat (cummulative):
    (RealClimate has some oceanic heat uptake posts, too)
    and surface temperature:
    sum of all forcings and surface temperature:
    forcings (recent)
    (note: convection can react to changes in the relationship between surface forcing and radiant heating/cooling of the troposphere; the troposphere and surface are generally convectively coupled and tend to warm up or cool down together (some caveats about lapse rate feedback and regional, diurnal, seasonal and short-term stuff) in response to tropopause-level forcing, which is equal to Top-of-atmsophere (TOA) forcing once stratospheric adjustment has occured (and that occurs in well under a year, as I understand it, because the stratosphere doesn’t have a large heat capacity, whereas the troposphere is convectively ‘tied to’ the ocean, etc.) – tropopause level forcing is often given with stratopsheric adjustment – this is different than instantaneous tropopause level forcing.)
    (PS the sun gradually brightens over geologic time)
    (PS orbital cycles affect climate mainly by redistributing (seasonally and latitudinally) the incident solar radiation; regional responses (such as ice sheet formation and growth, or decay) can then have a global average effect.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 28 Nov 2012 @ 7:07 PM

  403. re 384 flxible – “Folks here are fond of pointing out that as wealth increases, folks “choose” to have fewer offspring. China made it a law, but apparently too late.
    an interesting aside about different systems of government and their effects; US goverment reacted to the Dustbowl with some wise policies, right? (and the previously red-state folks were willing to go with it – didn’t see the recent documentary but I have some prior familiarity and saw Ken Burns on the Daily Show (or Colbert Report – sorry I forgot which one he was on)). Sometime after that…

    PS I’m going from memory from a class I took: Mao had a problem with intellectuals (sound familiar?) (an inferiority complex? ); he rejected Thomas Malthus’s ideas in particular, and he clearly had no idea how to run a farm (unfortunately, people faked evidence to make it look like policies were working in order to win favor, or something like that); he didn’t understand ecology much, and there’s the saying, ‘for every mouth there are two hands’ – a view also espoused (at least once since ~2000) by non-communist Jon Stossel, interestingly. At some point Mao realized there was a problem with this, but at first he thought more people would be better.

    And then there’s the Soviet record …

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 28 Nov 2012 @ 7:21 PM

  404. ‘for every mouth there are two hands’ – the exact wording might be slightly different but the point is that (on average) there are approximatlely 2 hands per mouth. As if a mouth only needs one and the other is free to create extra wealth…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 28 Nov 2012 @ 7:27 PM

  405. Re- Comment by Superman1 — 28 Nov 2012 @ 4:40 PM

    Four points:

    1. Vietnam antiwar activism started small.

    2. I didn’t offer up anything, I just mentioned the few suggestions that actually address the real problem. I should have included McKibben and Gore.

    3. Your estimates of how many would support a large effort to reduce emissions is just unsupported opinion.

    4. You continue to not offer anything that addresses the problem and to put down anybody else’s efforts that actually do.

    It might be that the only solution is many different smaller efforts that undermine the moneyed deniers. I don’t know. I do know that suggesting large projects that can solve the whole thing at once is just unhelpful talk without a very fat cat backer and a charismatic spokesman to move the electorate. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 28 Nov 2012 @ 8:42 PM

  406. Patrick 027, you are a dose of fresh air. Thanks.

    But without prejudice, RC is not a philosophy or political activist site. We outsiders should tread a bit more lightly.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 28 Nov 2012 @ 9:52 PM

  407. Sea Levels Rising Faster Than IPCC Projections
    Lead author of the study, Stefan Rahmstorf, said: “This study shows once again that the IPCC is far from alarmist, but in fact has under-estimated the problem of climate change. That applies not just for sea-level rise, but also to extreme events and the Arctic sea-ice loss.”

    Comment by David B. Benson — 28 Nov 2012 @ 10:05 PM

  408. If any of you are on the west coast, please heed a Sandy survivor and take heed of what is coming your way. Run, don’t walk, to shelter when (if it hasn’t already) this begins.

    h/t: Tenney Naumer suggested setting this to slow:

    btw, this is exactly what I mean when I say events are outstripping theory.

    omg, I try to resist captcha, but honestly:
    moreat meant

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 28 Nov 2012 @ 10:34 PM

  409. [edit – OT]

    Comment by Pekka Kostamo — 28 Nov 2012 @ 10:43 PM

  410. If any of you are on the west coast, please heed a Sandy survivor and take heed of what is coming your way

    Susan, the core of that storm is aimed directly at my location, I’ve been listening to it pelt my rooftop since late afternoon, along with some gusty winds – as is completely normal here in November. It’s been a bit on the dry side this year, the next 24-36 hours will freshen our glacier and give the ski hill enough snow to have a good opening on the weekend. :)

    and another CAPTCH: account owngive

    Comment by flxible — 28 Nov 2012 @ 11:41 PM

  411. Susan, you may be thinking of this kind of Pacific storm event
    (and they do occur elsewhere as well)

    That’s much beyond the forecast for this weekend locally

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2012 @ 12:38 AM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2012 @ 12:53 AM

  413. This morning’s edition of Climate Progress summarizes a study by Stefan Rahmstorf with the headline “Study: Sea Levels Rising 60% Faster Than Projected, Planet Keeps Warming As Expected”. One of the comments is by Aaron Lewis, and it raises a question that I will address after some excerpts from his excellent comment:

    “Dr. Rahmstorf tends to be a bit behind the trends. When I first asked him about the possibility of moulins on the GIS, he said, ”We don’t see them, go read the literature!” A few years later, he published the first eyewitness account of moulin formation on the GIS. He is a brilliant reporter of what has occurred, but he has consistently under estimated the rate of AGW and its impacts and effects.

    People wonder why I do not trust and cite the journals. I do not cite the published science because it is wrong. The published science in AGW underestimates the rate of AGW, and its impacts and effects.

    They do not bother to put ice dynamics in the models, so estimates of sea level rise in models must be low. They do not put carbon feedbacks into the models, so future rates of warming are low.”

    My perception of the journal literature is not quite as negative as his. There is good research published, interspersed with bad research and, in politically/commercially sensitive disciplines, with much manufactured research. One has to be very judicious in separating the wheat from the chaff.

    Now, my question related to Lewis’ comments. Why are these known phenomena not incorporated in the climate models, either as approximations or as parameters? Decades ago, I worked in a much higher speed regime of fluid dynamics/gas dynamics. At very high stagnation enthalpies, gases in the slow moving flow region (e.g., behind shocks) tend to exhibit ‘real-gas effects’, which includes dissociation, ionization, radiation, etc. Even though we were not completely sure of what the exact equations should be for these real-gas phenomena, we would not have dreamed of excluding them from the analyses. We wanted some indication of their level of seriousness.
    Also, at that time, we had been using adaptive grids for a while, which allowed much higher resolution in regions of high gradients (which were usually the regions of primary interest), and lower resolution in regions of low gradients. The oceanography and atmosphere communities were using fixed grids at the time in their models, and only started to incorporate adaptive grids much later. Is this inertia what we are seeing today in their reluctance to incorporate these known and critical climate effects in their models?

    [Response: Lewis’ comment is a ridiculous caricature. No-one who works on models imagines them to be complete descriptions of the real world – thus there are always factors or mechanisms that are missing. Assessments of those models need to take into account any evidence for or against those missing factors being important. This can be done using many methods and indeed has been for carbon cycle effects, ice dynamic effects etc. The reason however the large climate models don’t just make something up and ‘put theses effects in’ are because they need to base additional mechanisms on actual physics. Otherwise you are just playing games. GCM developers want to be able to credibly assess the possibilities of accelerated ice flow – but to do so requires two-way coupling with dynamic ice sheet models which even the ice sheet community hasn’t quite got together on. In the meantime, people have postulated all sorts of things, none of which rise to a level above a sensitivity test. Same with the carbon cycle, or methane – without a reasonable physical model, it will not get incorporated. It has absolutely nothing to do reluctance to see the results. Doing things properly takes time and effort. – gavin]

    Comment by Superman1 — 29 Nov 2012 @ 8:31 AM

  414. Susan,
    This years pineapple express is a typical meterological occurrance. While ARs this strong do not occur very often, there is nothing unusual about them, nor is it outstripping any theory. Previously studies have found a positive correlation with the PDO, and the “most vigorous pineapple-express seasons have been during neutral- or near-neitral ENSO years during the positive PDO phases.” For comparison, the Christmas, 1964 occurrance dumped 2-3 ft of rain in the Northern California / Oregon area.

    Comment by Dan H. — 29 Nov 2012 @ 9:07 AM

  415. re west coast weather, thanks guys for the update, you’re right, I overreacted/overreached (should let meteorology to the experts, just like other subjects requiring expertise). Also slightly OT, world weather includes UK/European floods and Moscow blizzard, along with a tornado in Italy.

    The atmospheric rivers item was interesting. Water vapor maps show easing rather than intensification this morning.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 29 Nov 2012 @ 9:37 AM

  416. Gavin’s in-line to Superman1 and the in-line to Tom Scharf over on the Quadratic post serve well to illustrate the difference between physics-driven models (e.g. GCMs) and statistical models. Tom complains about adjustment of parameters to achieve agreement in hindcasting, and Gavin corrects his misimpression. Indeed, in physics-driven models, there are few if any parameters to adjust, as the parameters have been determined with data independent of what one is simulating. The disadvantage of this type of model is illustrated by Aaron’s misdirected complaint–you can’t model it if you don’t have a good physical model for it. On the other hand, the advantage of such physics driven models is that they are not vulnerable to the sort of spurious agreement that statistical models can fall victim to, especially if they are overfit. This is why the ultimate proof of statistical models must be their predictive power rather than merely their goodness of fit, and why simple tends to be better for these models (exponentially so in the number of parameters according to information theory)

    No matter the model, we need to remember the words of Richard Hamming:

    “The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers.”

    (Note: I’ve been saying something similar for years, but just came across the Hamming quote.)

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 29 Nov 2012 @ 9:45 AM

  417. Gavin #413,

    I understand and appreciate what you are saying. And, if these models and their results were only being published in the literature to provide preliminary insights and stimulate further research, as, for example, models that estimate how the Earth was formed and evolved, I would have no problem. However, these models are being used as the basis for climate projections, international climate amelioration negotiations, and potential climate decision-making. Now, it may very well be that in some cases, the level of inaccuracy/uncertainty makes no practical difference. For example, if we continue business as usual, whether the models predict 4 C without feedbacks or 6 C with feedbacks by mid-century may be irrelevant, since the economic and political upheavals that will probably result from lower amounts of temperature increase will cause socio-political feedbacks that I would suspect would alter our use of fossil fuels substantially.

    However, consider the case of potential near-term drastic action to reduce fossil fuel use. Kevin Anderson’s papers/presentations have stimulated much interest recently, and he presents CO2 emissions targets as a function of time that have to be met in order to ward off highly catastrophic consequences. As he states, the models on which his estimates are made do not include the effects that Aaron Lewis describes, or the more expanded effects that Lewis Cleverdon describes in the excerpt I quoted yesterday. If these effects were included in Anderson’s underlying models, it could very well be the case that the only chance of avoiding major climate catastrophe would be institution of a global Manhatten Project-type effort to switch to sustainable energy production ASAP accompanied by the most stringent restrictions possible on fossil fuel use, if in fact such a chance even existed. That would have very different policy implications from what is being proposed by a number of individuals and organizations today.

    There must be some middle ground between not including these phenomena in the large-scale models, and including phenomena in the models with unwarranted levels of detail. The policy implications of the present approach are very disconcerting, to say the least.

    Comment by Superman1 — 29 Nov 2012 @ 10:13 AM

  418. > adaptive grids

    I recall reading about the possibility of having models where some parts of the grid covered large areas presumed similar and others much finer grained areas where more variation was expected. I don’t recall if that was hypothetical.

    Not sure if that’s what he’s talking about, or if the ‘adaptive grid’ refers to something else — maybe computing some factors to three decimal places while others change only as integers (waving arms wildly here …)

    I’d imagine the models he’s talking about were rather smaller than the GCMs and a run would complete faster — GCMs still take weeks or months to do a single run, and you need multiple runs, right?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2012 @ 10:58 AM

  419. [kind of hope mods will borehole or delete my most recent offering.]

    Re atmospheric rivers and what’s going on now, this seems to illustrate the current state – most activity seems to be running north and south of US west coast and that triple spiral is mostly gone:

    This is excellent and accessible:
    “The History of Climate Change Negotiations in 83 seconds ”

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 29 Nov 2012 @ 11:28 AM

  420. Aside — I do think it’d be worth discussing how what’s known has changed fast on this. A few years back someone who’d studied glacial ice wrote here that the thinking was that openings in glaciers did not persist through the winter because the ice was plastic enough to close up any empty space once the seasonal meltwater flow stopped.
    (Mauri Pelto? that’s my vague recollection).

    It’s hard to remember that a decade ago everyone was sure the ice caps were stable.

    Seems to me the rate of change in what we actually know is so high that there’s a clear and present need to put far more money into computing hardware — so the modelers can keep up with the increasing rate of change.
    Persistent englacial drainage features in the Greenland Ice Sheet
    G. A. Catania, T. A. Neumann
    ” Surface melting on the Greenland Ice Sheet is common up to ~1400 m elevation and, in extreme melt years, even higher. Water produced on the ice sheet surface collects in lakes and drains over the ice sheet surface via supraglacial streams and through the ice sheet via moulins. Water delivered to the base of the ice sheet can cause uplift and enhanced sliding locally. Here we use ice-penetrating radar data to observe the effects of significant basal melting coincident with moulins and calculate how much basal melt occurred. We find that more melting has occurred than can be explained by the release of potential energy from the drainage of surface meltwater during one melt season suggesting that these moulins are persistent for multiple years. We find only a few persistent moulins in our study area that drain the equivalent of multiple lakes per year and likely remain active over several years. Our observations indicate that once established, these persistent moulins might be capable of establishing well-connected meltwater drainage pathways.”

    What’s known does change.
    When it changes fast, what needs to change so the models can catch up? More computers, faster computers, more instances of existing ones running in parallel?

    The “what if” and “if only” possibilities, multiplied by each other, increase the combinations of what-ifs far too fast to model everything everyone can imagine, even if it seems really likely it’s out there, understood.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2012 @ 11:34 AM

  421. PS, just for the record, I was bothering Stoat about this stuff in 2007: has accumulated snips and clips I turned up published about faster erosion under that icecap.

    This is how it works, and it takes time.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2012 @ 11:41 AM

  422. Ray #414,

    “No matter the model, we need to remember the words of Richard Hamming:

    “The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers.””

    See my response to Gavin on this issue. It is all well and good to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s when developing physics-based models for insight and enlightenment. This is very applicable to multi-decadal debates on issues such as cosmology. However, generating models that will be used as a basis of decision-making on the most crucial issues we face, such as climate change amelioration policy, is akin to the old story of not looking too deeply in the manufacture of laws and sausage. In many areas of real-world technology development, not all the research issues have been resolved by the time the technology development is underway. Many times, assumptions about research results are required well before these results have been finalized, and while moving ahead based on these assumptions increases the intrinsic risk of the development, these assumptions allow timely project completion with reasonable chances of success.

    We don’t have the luxury of waiting for precise estimation of the physics drivers for the climate models; we need to start amelioration activities yesterday, and there is a major difference whether the need is the Manhatten Project pace you recommended, or the more leisurely pace recommended by others. We need to take some higher risk steps into the unknown to get a somewhat better estimate of these presently unincorporated climate effects, uncomfortable though that may be.

    Comment by Superman1 — 29 Nov 2012 @ 11:42 AM

  423. Hank #415,

    ” Not sure if that’s what he’s talking about, or if the ‘adaptive grid’ refers to something else — maybe computing some factors to three decimal places while others change only as integers (waving arms wildly here …)

    I’d imagine the models he’s talking about were rather smaller than the GCMs and a run would complete faster — GCMs still take weeks or months to do a single run, and you need multiple runs, right?”

    In doing computations on flowfields, stress fields, or other fields, grids of different types are used. Typically, one wants the grid structure to align well with the boundary geometry. Actual computations are made at the ‘grid points’, where the grid lines intersect. The value at any grid point represents the average of the small region surrounding that grid point. The resolution obtained in the numerical solution relates to the spacing between grid points. The larger the spacing, the larger the region to which the grid point average applies, and the worse the resolution.

    For a given computer memory, there tend to be practical limitations on the total numbers of grid points. Therefore, it behooves one to allocate grid points in such a manner that high resolution is obtained in regions of high gradients (which are usually the main regions of interest), and lower resolution is obtained in more quiescent regions. This is what adaptive grids do; they re-allocate grid points so that adequate resolution is achieved where adequate resolution is desired.

    Comment by Superman1 — 29 Nov 2012 @ 11:55 AM

  424. Hank – The current left coast weather event isn’t quite the ‘river’ phenomenon, although it’s exhibiting the ‘Pineapple Express’ temperature anomaly here on Vancouver Island, rising overnight and maintaining an unseasonal steady 9c as the storm moves in. It may bear some similarity to Sandy in that the eastward flow of the atmospheric ‘river’ is running into existing Arctic circulations. We expect to be quite wet here in late fall, and as well as the MJO, ENSO-neutral definitely is having an effect, all tied up with the position of the Polar Jet, which I believe is far enough south right now to hurl that mess of porridge right at lower B.C. and Washington. Isn’t climate just wonderfully complicated?

    Comment by flxible — 29 Nov 2012 @ 12:07 PM

  425. Re- Comment by Superman1 — 29 Nov 2012 @ 8:31 AM

    You say- “People wonder why I do not trust and cite the journals. I do not cite the published science because it is wrong.”

    Many moons ago when I was an active researcher I was occasionally amazed by colleagues with expertise in areas with varying relationships to my own, and by educated laypersons, who suggested simple hypotheses about where my area was wrong or that there was some very important relationship that we had missed. This kind of superficial inexpert comment was almost always off the wall and very wrong because my area, like many areas of science, involved very many detailed complications and mechanisms that required years of experience to form a complete understanding. It is this kind of dumb analysis that is raised to total bullshit by some internet climate commenters and the deniers.

    The most galling part of this criticism is the fact that all of the data that commenters twist to fit their own opinion has come from good research and there is an implicit assumption that a large group of experts who are immersed their data and the relevant literature are simply missing some simple obvious factor. Further, these pundits can always find some single comment or study that they think supports their ideas while ignoring the whole area of research. Your criticism of missing factors or techniques outside of your area of expertise is hubris. Try citing some published science.

    You also say, 29 Nov 2012 @ 11:42 AM- “we need to start amelioration activities yesterday, and there is a major difference whether the need is the Manhatten Project pace you recommended, or the more leisurely pace recommended by others.”

    There are very few here who recommend a leisurely pace for solving the warming problem and continually repeating this mantra without any realistic way to convince the general population that it is necessary is just annoying and useless. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 29 Nov 2012 @ 12:44 PM

  426. It’s been a crazy couple of days here at RC. Did we have a substitute moderator due to the holidays? A bloc of contributors seems to be coalescing, distinguished primarily by their eagerness to implement martial law, with the best intentions of course. I would remind the less militant among us that those are your and my liberties they’re so eager to dispense with. Ray is right on with his “Democracy is the only form of government that can claim legitimacy in a pluralistic society.” (#392) Thank you Ray!

    Yes humanity is facing severe challenges, but that’s not a justification for abandoning hard-won civil rights and surrendering abjectly to authoritarianism. As I’ve said before, the measure of success is survival of civilization and culture, not just survival of individual human beings.

    Superman1: It might help your case for military-industrial union to spell the name of your ideal correctly: it’s Manhattan, not Manhatten. I normally don’t comment on spelling but the error is repeated numerous times, and since I grew up there I take it somewhat personally.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 29 Nov 2012 @ 1:16 PM

  427. a tidbit from that Stoat collection about how surprising fast changes were:
    Paper of the Month
    30 Mar 2007

    Rapid erosion, drumlin formation, and changing hydrology beneath an Antarctic ice stream (corrected updated URL)

    “Drumlins are well known features of landscapes scoured by past ice sheets and can be seen in Scotland and Northern England where they were formed during the last ice age. This paper presents a spectacular example from beneath the Rutford Ice Stream in Antarctica, and highlights the value of long-term investigations. The rates of deposition and erosion are orders of magnitude greater than expected, and suggest complex coupling between water, till and ice flow. Quite apart from being the first sub-glacial observations of a well-known geomorphic feature, these findings present an even more complex picture of the sub-glacial instabilities which drive a significant, if unknown, fraction of ice-sheet variability.”


    Seems to me up til recently the climate models have run faster than the actual climate — which has been convenient for all concerned.

    It’s difficult when the models run slower than the events being modeled (you wouldn’t develop a model to control an aircraft while in flight _in_ the aircraft).

    Perhaps that’s the situation we’re approaching.

    That calls for a more aggressive approach to modeling, doesn’t it?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2012 @ 1:46 PM

  428. Er, come to think of it — any attempt at geoengineering ought to include a model successfully matching reality mostly that would run out scenarious sufficient to get a notion what happens next, with the whole routine running much faster than the events being modeled, eh?

    “Okay, we have a paper sketch of how the airplane should fly.”
    “So, fold up the paper as described and it will fly, right?”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2012 @ 2:49 PM

  429. Democracy is not more ‘legitimate’ than continued existence. For war, a much more minor threat than the 6-degrees-and-up estimates of where we are going in the next few decades, democracies have suspended all sorts of things.

    I would like to thank all involved for a vigorous and informative discussion. And I’d like to thank the moderators for not squelching the same.

    Comment by wili — 29 Nov 2012 @ 3:24 PM

  430. Steve Fish #425,

    ” You say- “People wonder why I do not trust and cite the journals. I do not cite the published science because it is wrong.””

    I suggest you re-read the post. The above quote is an excerpt from Aaron Lewis’ post on CP. My comment, immediately following his excerpt, was: ” My perception of the journal literature is not quite as negative as his. There is good research published, interspersed with bad research and, in politically/commercially sensitive disciplines, with much manufactured research. One has to be very judicious in separating the wheat from the chaff.” I stand by my comment; do you disagree with it.

    ” Your criticism of missing factors or techniques outside of your area of expertise is hubris.”

    What specific statements do you disagree with? The lagging use of adaptive grids? I happen to know that from first-hand experience. The lack of incorporation of ice dynamics in the models and carbon feedbacks? I didn’t know anyone questioned that. One principle I have followed over the years is not to take the words of any ‘expert’ without question. That’s my purpose here, to try and understand what was done and why it was done.

    “Try citing some published science.”
    I have published well over two hundred papers in the peer-reviewed journal literature. At an average of perhaps thirty citations per paper, that’s about a total of 7500 technical references. I am more than familiar with how published science is accessed and exploited, and I am also very aware of the limitations of published science. The published works of Fred Singer, Richard Lindzen, Judith Curry et al, should make you very wary of just repeating your mantra for citing published works. I have no problem of questioning any perceived consensus in climate science if my intuition tells me there is a problem.

    Comment by Superman1 — 29 Nov 2012 @ 3:38 PM

  431. Chris Korda #426,

    ” Yes humanity is facing severe challenges, but that’s not a justification for abandoning hard-won civil rights and surrendering abjectly to authoritarianism. As I’ve said before, the measure of success is survival of civilization and culture, not just survival of individual human beings.”

    We all seem to have different Codes of Honor. You want to retain your ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’ that would, say, allow you to travel wherever and whenever you want, even if it translates to some downstream loss of life of some unfortunate Bangladesh farmer, or perhaps some Manhattan subway worker. One poster yesterday was unhappy that I was concerned with reducing premature death.

    I stand by my position. We have no ethical and moral right to live in fossil fuel-based luxury if it means that someday people will pay with their lives for our excesses. Do you disagree with that concept?

    Comment by Superman1 — 29 Nov 2012 @ 3:51 PM

  432. “Opposition is true friendship.” — William Blake

    Seriously — can the modelers describe a hypothetical world in which a climate model can be called up (without advance warning) and used to run out a sufficient number of iterations of several scenarios overnight, so a vote could be taken on which choice to make?

    How far away from reality is that — 2x, 100x, 1000x the current resource/speed?

    Because, in effect, we’re asking the modelers how to fly the airplane we’re all in.

    I’m reminded:
    Page one, chapter one of A Runaway World? by British anthropologist Edmund Leach (Oxford, 1968) begins:

    Men have become like gods. Isn’t it about time that we understood our divinity? Science offers us total mastery over our environment and over our destiny, yet instead of rejoicing we feel deeply afraid. Why should this be? How might these fears be resolved?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2012 @ 5:20 PM

  433. > a large group of experts who are immersed their data and the
    > relevant literature are simply missing some simple obvious factor.

    Well, there’s funding, equipment, grad students — what else is missing?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2012 @ 6:29 PM

  434. Wili: “Democracy is not more ‘legitimate’ than continued existence.”

    Ben Franklin: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 29 Nov 2012 @ 7:52 PM

  435. Superman1,
    I see your problem. The model does not determine the policy. The model enlightens the expert who advises the policymaker who determines the policy taking into account the advice of the expert and the other exigencies that apply.

    Anyone who determines policy solely on the basis of model output doesn’t understand modeling or policy.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 29 Nov 2012 @ 7:56 PM

  436. More Solid Measure of Melting in Polar Ice Sheets: Planet’s Two Largest Ice Sheets Losing Ice Fast
    The new, combined estimate is that ice sheets have since 1992 contributed on average 0.59 mm (0.023 inches) to sea-level rise per year, with an uncertainty of 0.2 mm per year.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 29 Nov 2012 @ 8:39 PM

  437. Re- Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2012 @ 6:29 PM

    I don’t think anything is missing, read the whole post. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 29 Nov 2012 @ 10:20 PM

  438. Re- Comment by Superman1 — 29 Nov 2012 @ 3:38 PM

    I apologize for misreading your post, but your continuing comments just confirm my complaint.

    You say- “There is good research published, interspersed with bad research and, in politically/commercially sensitive disciplines, with much manufactured research. One has to be very judicious in separating the wheat from the chaff.”

    Disregarding the papers you mention by Singer and the very few other known denialists, what percentage of the consensus literature (e.g. reviewed by the IPCC working group I) do you think is “manufactured?” If you have concerns about this research, be specific about papers you disagree with and why. If you think that you have the expertise to analyze climate physics, why are you so shy about referring to the actual research? Why don’t you engage the Real Climate team directly by referring to their work?

    I think that you do not cite any research because you think that your successful career in your own specialty area gives you the expertise to criticize a different area. This is hubris. Your “intuition” is worthless if you don’t present a well-documented analysis, and you should know this if you are as self-represented. I suspect that you would not accept inexpert criticism of this type of your own work.

    You say- “What specific statements do you disagree with?”

    You have claimed repeatedly that climate scientists have not included several significant positive feedbacks in their analyses and have done so without any reference to any research literature. If you wish to support this claim, provide documented evidence that the feedbacks are both ignored and significant. Your inexpert opinion is worthless without documentation. Documented = citations of peer reviewed research, as you should know from your own work. If you can’t do this I think that the label of self-aggrandizing crank is appropriate. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 29 Nov 2012 @ 10:26 PM

  439. AGU “EOS” newspaper for 13 November has a recommendation of a statistical modeling method said to take far fewer runs to get an adequate answer: : Bhattacharya, A. (2012), New insights into faster computation of unc ertainties, Eos Trans. AGU, 93(46), 472, doi:10.1029/2012EO460006.

    AGU updating position statement on climate change: Call for comments

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2012 @ 11:03 PM

  440. “One poster yesterday was unhappy that I was concerned with reducing premature death.”

    Not quite superman, I pointed out the concept of a human death being “premature” is part of the problem of the unsustainable nature of the size of the human population. Who determines which deaths are “premature”? Who decides it was any individuals or any one countrys carbon emissions that tipped the scale to cause a poor farmer in a low lying land to drown? Who are you to be deciding what anyone elses “ethical and moral rights” are in any sphere?

    I had a nephew who fell dead running down his high school football field – peak of youth, doing well scholastically, quite capable in sports, credit to his parents. Was that death “premature”? Who is at “fault”? Coach? Doctors? Parents? Simple fact is every one of us dies. Who’ll be responsible for the “premature” deaths the next time New Orleans gets washed away? The SUV drivers? You?

    Comment by flxible — 30 Nov 2012 @ 12:59 AM

  441. Superman: In #382 you endorse the use of force against governments, presumably including your own, and in #431 you appear to justify this by asserting your moral superiority, while accusing your readers of living in “fossil fuel-based luxury”. Legality aside, a cursory examination of your credentials seems called for. Have you procreated? Do you eat flesh or purchase animal products? Do you drive a car? Have you flown recently? Given your concern for the “unfortunate Bangladesh farmer” I’m sure you’re aware that a significant portion of federal revenue goes towards maiming and murdering in other countries. Are you a tax resister?

    You attack the freedom “to travel wherever and whenever you want,” but no such freedom is enumerated in the United States constitution. Historically the federal government has limited freedom to travel in various ways, and doubtless will continue to do so. The constitution does however take a dim view of treason, and in particular on depriving any person of “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” (fifth amendment)

    Regarding your “well over two hundred papers in the peer-reviewed journal literature”, it seems reasonable under the circumstances to request some evidence in support of this claim.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 30 Nov 2012 @ 1:04 AM

  442. “AGU updating position statement on climate change: Call for comments”

    estamos jodidos, compadres.

    sorry but that’s the way i feel after reading Shepherd et al. in today’s Science
    GRIS and APIS are destabilized NOW. In ten years we will see 1/4 inch per year SLR from those alone.


    Comment by sidd — 30 Nov 2012 @ 1:04 AM

  443. Wili , all these years of debate come to naught but for an eye of a hurricane seeking Broadway.
    Lately, there has been great progress because climate change itself comes to the fore, and I dearly appreciate RC posts and education, is more educative than a debate. This is key, when big events happen its important to explain them very accurately, was it not for understanding what happens now, how can we predict the future?
    I guess RC is a bit slow on the uptake for attribution, but when it comes to 2 days rain in NW Europe, that is weather, more than a 100 days rain flooding everywhere with tempers stressed and depressed for lack of sun as with British Isles that is climate. Its there that we miss our fast footing, climate speaks more of change than we do, and we fall short on explaining why from lack of pressing debate or requesting information. Democracy is a matter of bringing reality to the fore however pleasant or inconvenient, we do not have enough of it, we deal with forensic issues, a year ago weather might as well be 1000 years ago. When we bring out the mechanics of climate change the people better informed become wiser. A well informed electorate solves problems.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 30 Nov 2012 @ 7:22 AM

  444. I frankly have been disappointed with most (not all) responses to my postings. They have been heavy on misinterpretation and name-calling, and light on new concepts and constructive criticism. Maybe I have not stated my position clearly enough; I will try to do so from a slightly different perspective.

    The basic terminology will be similar (but not identical) to that of Kevin Anderson. A 1 C temperature increase is the entre to Dangerous, and by 2 C, we have reached Very Dangerous. Beyond 2 C, we start to enter the territory of the Extremely Dangerous. As we go up the ladder, events that today (or more accurately yesterday) are considered ‘extreme’ increase in frequency and magnitude. Once-in-a-century storms occur more often with greater power. Once-in-a-decade heat waves occur more often with higher temperatures. Additionally, as we go up the temperature ladder, the likelihood of triggering known, or perhaps yet unknown, positive feedback events increases, threatening some degree of ‘runaway’ or self-sustaining temperature increase.

    There are at least three characteristics that can be used to describe the impact of ‘extreme’ events. There is a cost in life, an economic cost, and, for the near-future at least, an additional expenditure of fossil fuels needed to assist in rescue and reconstruction. Ironically, the latter can be viewed as a positive feedback mechanism exacerbating climate change. All these costs increase with increasing temperature.

    One way of understanding the importance of future targets is to examine a best-case condition. If the best-case is problematical, reality will be far worse. The ‘best-case’ we can envision now, in the absence of geo-engineering, is to discontinue fossil fuel use immediately. Based on different estimates I have seen of the temperature consequences of this case (given that the ‘climate warming commitment’ and ‘aerosol forcing’ have to play themselves out), and given that some recent papers have allowed that the ‘climate sensitivity’ may in fact be larger than the 3 C per CO2 doubling normally assumed, the temperature trajectory continues to rise for a few decades to a peak of about 2 C, then starts to decline. Kevin Anderson uses model-based numbers (which were not calculated incorporating positive feedback mechanisms), to arrive at scenarios where 2 C might be achievable with drastic CO2 emission reductions, especially by the advanced nations.

    The message that I infer from all these published and unpublished computations is we have essentially committed ourselves to 2 C from our past fossil fuel expenditures, and any further CO2 emissions will push us in the direction of Extremely Dangerous conditions. I want to emphasize this latter point. Any further CO2 emissions, whether based on use of fossil fuels for luxury expenditures, continuation of everyday living basic necessities, critical life-saving purposes, or transitions to a self-sustaining energy economy, will drive us in the direction of Extremely Dangerous.

    This is the fallout for not heeding the danger signals presented by Hansen and others three decades ago. At that time, we could have made the transition to a self-sustaining energy economy with the assistance of fossil fuel expenditures, and not placed ourselves in an extreme danger zone. Now, depending on the fossil energy expenditures required to effect a transition to self-sustainability (which would involve not only a conversion to sustainable energy sources and their associated infrastructures but would probably involve a relocation and restructuring of infrastructure to reduce unnecessary energy expenditures), we might end up in the position of ‘having to destroy the village to save it’ applied to the biosphere.

    What the optimal strategy will be for avoiding entry into the Extremely Dangerous zone is unknown at present but, depending on the actual numbers calculated, could involve eliminating all fossil energy expenditures for decades until the temperature curve peaks and starts to bend downward, and then judiciously re-introducing fossil energy for the purpose of completing the conversion to self-sustainability. As more energy infrastructure is converted to self-sustaining, it can itself be used for the transition process, and correspondingly less fossil fuel would be required. But, there could conceivably be a multi-decadal ‘lull’ period where the only energy use would be from the self-sustaining sources we have completed already. Obviously, the only energy expenditures would be for the most critical purposes.

    This is a rather grim scenario, but the alternative is a far more grim scenario. And, the longer we delay the institution of this scenario, the more grim it and the alternate become. To institute this scenario on a global scale, rather authoritarian measures would be required. I don’t see any way a global democratic process would lead to the institution of such a scenario in the short time frame required. It is far more than the effective ‘planned austerity’ recommended by Anderson and others. Unfortunately, the reality of the level of restrictive measures required I have outlined above has been missing from the global discourse because of the absence of specific Strategic Plans and Roadmaps. All the recommendations for avoiding climate change I have seen don’t really take into account the fossil energy cost of the conversion process. The atmosphere doesn’t care about energy mixes, or the use of fossil energy for life-critical purposes. All the atmosphere is telling us, in the only language it knows, is that it wants no more CO2 emissions from any source for any reason. We ignore this message at our own peril.

    Now, before everyone starts repeating your criticisms of the past and expanding them, please tell me the flaws in the above discussion. If we don’t have the targets and requirements correct, we can forget about the adequacy and credibility of potential solutions.

    Comment by Superman1 — 30 Nov 2012 @ 7:35 AM

  445. Supe, my guess is that you’re not liking many of the replies you get because of the anonymity problem — you claim many published papers and assert your superior knowledge, but nobody knows who you are.

    You can get around that by having someone who knows you speak up — many people do want some amount of anonymity when writing publicly.

    For some readers, a sincere and well informed anonymous writer’s opinions — without the cites to the published work — may sound just like a concern troll — from the outside, seeing nothing but the words typed on the computer.

    You’re not saying anything surprising, or novel, or deep.

    You’re telling us your opinions.

    Everyone has opinions.

    You’re telling us you’re highly qualified to make statements of fact, so you don’t need to cite your sources.

    Lots of people do that. Those with published work can do it credibly because we can look their work up.

    You’re anonymous, and you’re not saying anything special yet.

    Try figuring out a way to get more respect.

    Get someone already respected to vouch for you being real, perhaps?

    Otherwise — you’re not saying anything new yet, just worrying aloud.

    I’m just another reader here, not one of the Contributors (see the list in the sidebar). My opinion means nothing much; my single note contribution is urging people to cite sources and to help readers look up reliable facts in the public library.

    Anonymous opinions, no matter how heartfelt or how much I agree with them, don’t impress me much in public writing like this.

    ReCapcha says: “Puritan silvan” — yep, that’s me.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Nov 2012 @ 9:33 AM

  446. superman, the primary flaw is that your ‘above’ is not a discussion, it’s a bunch of postulations almost entirely lacking definition. Your basic premise appears to be that “we” must preserve civilization as we know it, and that the current [and projected] human population can [and should] be preserved. Democracy is not part of the solution simply because Nature always gets the deciding vote.

    Comment by flxible — 30 Nov 2012 @ 10:11 AM

  447. FWIW, I offer big thanks to Hank Roberts, and a reminder that RC’s masthead says:

    Climate Science by Climate Scientists

    It seems to me that many sites are now tolerating a much wider discussion in the hopes that useful material and understanding may emerge. IMHO, this reflects a feeling that as we pass “deadlines” for action, and evidence mounts that things are worse than we had hoped, we need some kind of hail mary pass, something, anything. Apparently Sandy and all the other catastrophic events (UK floods under the radar in US, for example, as are many other worldwide events, particularly in the southern hemisphere; west Pacific had huge typhoons one after another for months) were not enough to grab our attention.

    “our” is the big one. Who are “we”? This small community of knowledgeable people has little impact on the big world we walk through every day, despite doing their heroic best and losing sleep sometimes keeping up with the twists and turns of faux opinion. That world includes the audience of four or five couples at the last showing of the spectacular wonderful “Chasing Ice” by the climate hero James Balog in Cambridge last night, and the huge overflow in all the local expensive watering holes where everyone was minding their own comfort. They amursed themselves without reference to the avalanche of information that says “we” *all* need to be concerned. It includes the screaming audiences of the infotainment provided by the marketing nexus that dominates our communications and polity. It includes regular news being dominated by news about sales (black Friday et al.), cute stories, and some quick sound bytes of real news. It includes a “virtual” universe that most prefer to physical reality these days; children are particularly vulnerable as they need no longer face the cliff of actual learning while seeking the bubble popularity.

    Superman does seem a bit enamored of his voice; justified perhaps by his level of passion and concern he posts much more than anyone else. I agree that at this point he needs to provide credible evidence of his expertise to justify his attempt to dominate the conversation.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 30 Nov 2012 @ 10:50 AM

  448. “just worrying aloud”

    Hardly anyone is worrying nearly enough nor loudly enough.

    I think you do get the prize for best reCaptch, though, Hank. I’m picturing you now as some combination of:,r:18,s:0,i:132


    Do keep encouraging us to cite our sources–we all need reminding sometimes.

    (Sorry about the long urls.)

    Comment by wili — 30 Nov 2012 @ 10:55 AM

  449. Superman1 wrote: “I frankly have been disappointed with most (not all) responses to my postings.”

    I frankly don’t bother responding to your postings because they are rambling and incoherent and full of unsupported assertions and opinions presented as facts, and because your response to criticism is to simply repeat the same unsupported assertions and opinions. And then there are the irrelevant digressions into dubious claims about such things as the alleged health effects of electromagnetic fields.

    Moreover, I have little patience with someone who assiduously ignores, disparages and denigrates the solutions to the problem that are not only at hand, but are already being implemented, and who likewise disparages those like who are working so hard to build public support for change, who sneers at the lives of “fossil fuel-based luxury” of other commenters about whose lifestyles he knows nothing (while complaining about “name-calling”), while issuing calls for some sort of violent revolution from the comfort of his keyboard.

    The reality is that something as simple as renewing the wind energy production tax credit (currently due to expire at the end of 2012) would go a lot further towards solving the GHG emissions problem than overthrowing the government.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 30 Nov 2012 @ 11:17 AM

  450. wili, true for you and bwahahahahahaha

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 30 Nov 2012 @ 11:19 AM

  451. for Superman1
    Geosci. Model Dev., 5, 599-609, 2012

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Nov 2012 @ 12:57 PM

  452. Shorter Superman: Some of my thoughts make sense, so I’m not totally crazy, just higher and better than all of youse. My handle says it all. My exalted elevation releases me from most obligations to cite.

    +1 for Hank Roberts, #445

    Supe, at this point, less is more. You’re about at the point where I see your handle and skip the comment.

    Comment by Ric Merritt — 30 Nov 2012 @ 2:07 PM

  453. Susan,
    RC is not immune to this posting. Sevreal posters here have acknowledged that they are not cliamte scientists, and some are not even scientists. At least CD has attempted to distinguish the climate experts from the novices. Many other sites do not. Unfortunately, many sites are sensationalizing certain weather events in an attempt to garner much-needed support. This will only backfire in the long run. Only openly honest discussions will prevail.

    Comment by Dan H. — 30 Nov 2012 @ 2:26 PM

  454. Dan H. wrote: “Only openly honest discussions will prevail.”

    I assume the moderators’ taste for low-brow slapstick comedy is the reason that Dan H’s comments are not going to the bore hole.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 30 Nov 2012 @ 2:57 PM

  455. 454. Perhaps Superman can be persuaded to turn his baleful attentions to Dan H. Now *that’s* entertainment.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 30 Nov 2012 @ 3:45 PM

  456. @402 (and 391). Thanks for your great suggestions. Patrick (@402), is it reasonable to expect that there is somewhere a series of time varying spectograms showing the increase in absorption of IR light by the increase in greenhouse gasses in the Earth, say taken by satellites over the last 20 years. I’m thinking this might be a good “smoking gun” for the class. To show that energy that once was emitted is not absorbed and re-radiated. Then I can show where it is going (mostly into the oceans as you note). Also, something I’ve wondered is why the plot of Earth’s total heat content here is not monotonically increasing. Would this be due to volcanos or man-made aerosol emissions? Or is this simple uncertainty?

    Comment by bobb — 30 Nov 2012 @ 4:55 PM

  457. > I’ve wondered is why the plot of Earth’s total heat content here
    > is not monotonically increasing.

    since that’s one of the really stock denial talking points, I’m glad you’re reading this stuff at Skepticalscience.

    Tamino covers it, and may be quoted on it at SS.

    If you’re not up on the top 100 frequently rebunked claims to where you can just point to them at SS, you’re not prepared to go up against any kid who hears those talking points frequently.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Nov 2012 @ 6:50 PM

  458. Re 456 bobb –

    satellite measurements – great idea; since it is TOA (top-of-atmosphere) radiative disequilibrium that is responsible (see caveats in my prior comment), over time, for accumulation or depletion of the heat content of the climate system. Satellite measurements are tricky, though; satellites can have orbital changes over time, issues with calibration – I would expect in particular if there are no time (and space?) periods where one satellite’s record overlaps with another. Also, satellite data may infer different things, so watch out. At any given wavelength and any given atmospheric composition, you can see farther down into the atmosphere and/or more of the surface (thus less of the atmosphere) if you look straight down than at some other angle. While increasing CO2 reduces OLR specifically in a pair of spectral bands on either side of ~ 15 microns wavelength, the accumulation of heat resulting from that will tend to increase OLR – and so there will be a net increase in OLR outside where the climate forcing occured (depending on feedbacks; less OLR increase where H2O vapor acts on the spectrum, and also spatially where cloud positive LW feedback occurs); satellites measuring at some wavelengths may show an increase in OLR even when the total global OLR hasn’t returned to equillibrium. Also, if there are SW (solar heating such as via changes in albedo) forcings or feedbacks, the equilibrium OLR must also change.

    IR light – I advise using the terms shortwave (SW) and longwave (LW) radiation (OLR = outgoing longwave radiation), because (in the definitions used in the study of atmospheric radiation and climate) the greenhouse effect deals with LW, while solar heating is mostly SW – the cutoff is somewhere around 4 microns, so SW radiation includes some IR as well as visible and UV (and shorter wavelengths, though those don’t contribute much energy, but do have significant effects on a small fraction of the mass of the atmosphere at it’s ‘top’). Some (well, at least one) have claimed a reduced role for CO2 based on looking at it’s SW IR effects and confusing that with it’s greenhouse effect. (Look up the Planck function to understand why such a distinction can be drawn about 4 microns; if the Earth (surface and atmosphere) and Sun (photosphere) were at more similar temperatures than the distinction between SW and LW radiation wouldn’t be so convenient.)

    that energy that once was emitted is not absorbed and re-radiated.
    Actually, that is how the greenhouse effect works. … except that re-radiated may imply a photon of the same energy, which isn’t generally the case – see below.

    It would be possible to base a greenhouse effect on scattering, which may be thought of like the reflection of photons over some particular probabilistic distribution of directions. A greenhouse effect might even be made by having LW-phosphorescence – might have to be engineered, though? (maybe on a planet hot enough for _______ clouds…??? I have no idea).

    For Earthly conditions, though, the greenhouse effect is mostly due to the absorption and emission of photons – at approximately LTE (local thermodynamic equilibrium)- meaning that molecular collisions are sufficiently frequent to redistribute the energy among the available states and among all the molecules in a given small volume so that the distribution of energy is maintained at an equilibrium for a particular temperature – and that the same temperature approximately applies to the different kinds of molecules present (if not, one could still work with LTE given different temperatures for different substances that happen to occupy the same volume, but that’s not generally necessary for most of the atmosphere). Thus, at any given frequency (photon energy), and if necessary, direction and polarization (not necessary for randomly-oriented molecules or particles or spherically-symmetric particles) CO2 and other greenhouse gas molecules, and cloud particles, absorb radiation from a direction based on their optical properties and how much radiation is incident on them, while they emit into that direction according to the Planck function AND THE SAME OPTICAL PROPERTIES. This can be summarized as Kirchoff’s Law (of thermal radiation): : emissivity = absorptivity.

    Kirchoff’s Law (of thermal radiation) satisfies the second law of thermodynamics – because it implies that however radiation may be scattered, refracted (noting blackbody radiation intensity is actually a function of the index of refraction, but this is typically not brought up in climatology because air’s index of refraction is near that of a vaccuum), partly or totally reflected, (but setting aside partial emission or absorption, where a photon scatters with some change in energy, such as in Raman or Compton scattering – it gets more complicated when this happens) if there are some pathways between two seperately LTE volumes V1 and V2 of temperatures T1 and T2; if T2 is greater than T1 (V1 warmer than V1) the flux of radiant energy from emission in V2 to absorption in V1 will be greater than the flux from emission in V1 to absorption in V2; it is this way for any single frequency, direction, and polarization, and thus must be for the total radiant energy. If T1 = T2, the two fluxes are equal. The difference is the net flux, and it is the radiant heat that flows from higher to lower temperature as one would expect (PS the second law of thermodynamics generally deals with net processes that are the averages of things which go on in opposite directions at the same time on the microscopic level. Because radiation can in some conditions travel macroscopic distances between interactions, these opposing radiant fluxes happen to occur at a macroscopic level).

    (If there are photon scatterings that don’t preserve photon energy, I would expect there should still be a general tendency for radiant energy to flow from higher to lower temperature, and this includes the flow of energy into the population of photons; blackbody radiation describes the population of photons that would be in thermodynamic equilibrium with some other matter at a given temperature.

    Even if that matter only weakly interacts with photons, such equilibrium would be achieved given sufficient time in isolation; hence ‘cavity radiation’.)

    For LTE, any given molecule or unit of substance will emit some number of photons per unit time, on average, in some part of the spectrum. A perfect blackbody that would do the same has some size, and this size is the emission cross section of that unit of substance. For LTE, the emission cross section into a direction is equal to the absorption cross section facing that direction.

    For randomly oriented or spherically-symmetric particles or molecules, etc, they act (in a time-averaged or population-averaged sense) like spherical blackbodies which present the same cross sectional area in every direction. Random overlap leads to an exponential decay in unaffected photons over distance (in a crystal, overlap is not random, but (**I think**/**it’s my understanding based on inferences from other stuff I know**) the cross section of each unit may be smeared out over some larger area – it wouldn’t look like a single opaque circle but rather a partially transparent absorber; hence it absorbs some fraction of photons along any particular path as would randomly distributed cross sections); the cross section per unit volume is a cross section density, and is the amount of area per unit area facing some direction, per unit distance along that direction. Distance can be measured in terms of cross sectional area’s fractional areal coverage; this is called optical thickness or optical depth:
    An incident beam of photons decays exponentially over optical depth; however, if the temperature is nonzero (absolute scale), then emission will also occur in proportion to the portion of optical depth that comes from absorption (as opposed to scattering); emitted radiation will also be absorbed (or scattered), so, in the absence of scattering, it approaches a blackbody value asymptotically. In the presence of scattering, it would still tend toward that value because radiation can be scattered into a beam and this radiation has to be emitted somewhere. So if optical thickness over some isothermal distance is large enough, including over all directions that radiation is being scattered into and from, the radiant intensity inside approaches the blackbody value – and this is true for all directions, so the net flux through space approaches zero.

    But if optical thickness is not too large, then temperature gradients become visible. Think about what you can see when in a fog; vary the thickness of the fog. Now imagine the fog is not scattering light but rather glowing incandescently according to it’s temperature (as are any objects within it). That’s what the greenhouse effect looks like. When or where or at whatever frequencies the atmosphere is transparent, for LW radiation (approximately excluding the sun) the Earth’s surface sees mostly only the cold dark of space, and space sees only the Earth’s surface (although actually, the Earth’s surface has some small nonzero albedo for LW radiation, so some of what space sees is actually it’s own reflection). Adding scattering to the atmosphere would make space and the surface see more of their own reflections. Adding absorbing opacity (along with emitting opacity, as required for LTE), The surface and space see less of the other and more of the air in between. Because temperature declines through the troposphere (see prior comment about convection), except where the stratosphere’s opacity becomes sufficient, adding opacity either to the troposphere or in some evenly-distributed way (by mass), adding more absorbing opacity to the atmosphere (increasing optical depth) results in space seeing less of the surface, and then less of the warmer lower atmosphere, etc., so even when the surface has dissappeared from view, adding more opacity continues to have an effect. Likewise, the surface will see less of not only space but the cooler upper atmosphere as well. The OLR above clouds depends on cloud temperature and thus cloud height. Water vapor is concentrated in the lower atmosphere and thus doesn’t have as strong an effect on OLR as it does on radiation at the surface, relative to a (approximately) well-mixed gas like CO2…

    Well I’m out of time but you get the idea.

    Just one more point. Optical depth is proprotionate to amount of substance, other things being equal. It generally varies over wavelength. For CO2, there are a bunch of wiggles in the spectrum, but the general tendency is a roughly…

    (I think it’s roughly, not exactly, though I’m not sure offhand; anyway it depends on whether you’re viewing the spectrum in terms of wavelength or frequency; whichever you choose, it’s fine, just as long as the Planck function (the spectrum of blackbody radiation) is put in the same terms))

    … exponential decay away from a peak near 15 microns (for CO2’s most important absorption band for Earthly conditions; other part(s?) of the absorption spectrum play a significant role on Venus).

    Thus doubling CO2 effectively widens it’s absorption band by some amount over the spectrum. The central part of the band is now saturated – or nearly saturated ? – at the tropopause level (upward radiation nearly the same as downward emission from the stratosphere) – although farther changes in OLR are achievable (I think adding to stratospheric cooling, and indirectly to a downward adjustment to tropopause level forcing after stratospheric adjustment) – but there is room to decrease the net upward LW flux at the tropopause on the sides of the CO2 band.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 30 Nov 2012 @ 9:46 PM

  459. … oh, and some of the variation including wiggles is from forcing (volcanoes, anthropogenic stuff, etc.), but even without that there could be some wiggles – some if from internal variability (weather, ENSO – more later if I get to it) and maybe some from forced cycles (day, year) – though I’m not sure of the significance. Generally, an equilibrium climate encompasses shorter term variability as well as horizontal fluxes of energy, so there can and will be radiative disequilibrium at any one place and time.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 30 Nov 2012 @ 9:50 PM

  460. And buy a cheap (like $14) infrared thermometer and let the kids take it home one after another — meter things around the house, meter the nighttime sky, meter the daytime sky at the horizon, at the zenith, at true north (note whether it’s clear or cloudy, day and night) report back, add to a list, read up on why:

    Discuss how you can make ice in the desert in shallow trays on clear nights. They can look that up.

    (Note anything shiny won’t give a proper IR Thermometer reading, and explain why — and why the instructions are to put a piece of dull masking tape over it — which quickly attains the same surface temperature and meters correctly).

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Nov 2012 @ 9:56 PM

  461. see also
    which references:

    Kiehl, J. T., Kevin E. Trenberth, 1997: Earth’s Annual Global Mean Energy Budget. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 78, 197–208.
    (some of that doi won’t appear here because it has html coding brackets; here’s the doi without those brackets: 0197:EAGMEB 2.0.CO;2
    link: (the link from the wordpress site above doesn’t work anymore; use this one)
    full text available – click on the pdf
    See fig. 1 for the spectrum of OLR – it is a calculated OLR but should resemble the actual global average OLR. The smooth curve is the Planck function for Earth’s average surface temperature; take away the whole greenhouse effect (including H2O and clouds) and the OLR increases by the differences between the curves; then, the Earth would cool until OLR returned to the same value – except for changes in solar heating (in reality, if you took all clouds away, there would be a heating effect from reduced albedo. But it’s hard to do that except as a modelling excercise; you can more easily (in principle) take out CO2. Then cloud and H2O changes would be feedbacks, as would snow and ice. Etc.

    The surface Planck function is, I think (from memory or assumption) 288 K; you can graphically reproduce a Planck function over wavelength for any other temperature by horizontally compressing it by the ratio of temperatures and vertically stretching it by the fifth power of that, keeping (0,0) at the same point.

    The OLR was calculated for a 1-dimensional model, with some approximations. Some caveats/approximating errors are discussed here:

    Trenberth, Kevin E., John T. Fasullo, Jeffrey Kiehl, 2009: Earth’s Global Energy Budget. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 90, 311–323.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 1 Dec 2012 @ 12:34 AM

  462. Some actual measured spectra can be found here
    PS as an example of infering based on spectra, consider the Barrow Alaska curve on p. 5/9. ‘Backradiation’ gets larger going into the CO2 band, but there’s a dip in the radiation around the band’s peak (centered near 15 microns or ~ 667 cm-1, roughly (667 cm-1 is the inverse of 15 microns. I don’t have the exact peak of the band memorized so I’m giving nominal values)). I would infer that there was a temperature inversion near the surface; at smaller opacities, that layer would be optically thin enough that the general increase in temperature going down in the troposphere would dominate the trend, but at wavelengths where the atmosphere is sufficiently optically thick, the inversion, being nearest the ground, dominates the trend.

    See also
    for calculated spectra (with some approximation – from memory, I think there may be an issue regarding surface emissivity).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 1 Dec 2012 @ 12:51 AM

  463. (with some approximation – from memory, I think there may be an issue regarding surface emissivity)
    for example, there is a small net downward flux for midlatitude summer with rain and nimbostratus. This should not be, because the temperature still decreases with height from the surface up through the cloud base (that’s really the only altitude range that matters in this case, I think). I could calculate blackbody radiation for the surface temperature to be sure, but at this point I’m infering that some nonzero LW surface albedo is included in the calculation for the upward flux – however, what is lost from that albedo should be replaced by reflected backradiation – this will satisfy the second law of thermodynamics, etc. This isn’t done in this model. But I don’t think this makes much impact on the difference between 300 ppm and 600 ppm of CO2 at TOA or tropopause level – or even at the surface – etc.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 1 Dec 2012 @ 12:59 AM

  464. … for the record, measurement(s?) from satellite(s?) have shown a reduction in OLR (specifically in the part(s) of the spectrum that it should be found, I think), but I’m not sure if there’s a continuous time series or not.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 1 Dec 2012 @ 1:01 AM

  465. however, what is lost from that albedo should be replaced by reflected backradiation
    – in proportion to LW albedo, at least at any given direction and frequency, etc. The resulting upward flux (all direcions, any frequency or whole LW spectrum) from the surface including reflection will still be smaller than if the LW albedo were zero (assuming temperature decreasing with height through sufficient optical path), but it will be larger or at least equal to the downward flux (given the same assumption about temperature distribution).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 1 Dec 2012 @ 1:05 AM

  466. > atmospheric river
    Hey, I guessed that one wrong:
    “From weather satellites that measure atmospheric moisture, we can see the narrow plume of water vapor…an atmospheric river..that has been feeding the California rainfall.”
    Thursday, November 29, 2012, Cliff Maas weather blog:
    Heavy Rain and Massive Snow

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Dec 2012 @ 1:17 AM

  467. and more:
    Mysterious Atmospheric River Soaks California, Where Megaflood May Be Overdue

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Dec 2012 @ 1:19 AM

  468. and also in SciAm, being released early online from the January 2013 issue because it’s, er, timely: A recent review … seven different climate models from around the world has indicated that atmospheric rivers will likely continue to arrive in California throughout the 21st century. In the projections, air temperatures get warmer by about four degrees Fahrenheit on average because of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. Because a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, atmospheric rivers could carry more moisture.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Dec 2012 @ 1:28 AM

  469. Thanks, Hank – Interesting Wikipedia read about the 1861-2 flood referenced in the SciAm article, guess that weather event wasn’t as history-worthy as a Civil War.

    huh, CAPTCHA: Phowsf Bay

    Comment by flxible — 1 Dec 2012 @ 10:23 AM

  470. #460, tangentially–

    How it was done 200 years ago:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 1 Dec 2012 @ 10:43 AM

  471. By the way the ‘atmospheric rivers’ phenomenon may be another prediction borne out — can the modelers confirm what the SciAM article says?

    As a commenter put it: “the same meteorological event now observed, was predicted before in derivatives of the computer models that model global warming.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Dec 2012 @ 12:00 PM

  472. SciAm world report (cited ~468)

    I make that Celsius not Fahrenheit, less 0.4. Now I’m looking for the place where I seem to remember the world report said this is by 2060, not 2100, but not finding it, so perhaps I should (sic) calm down … or not (metaphor in second par below, your witness):

    Of all the findings in the 2012 edition of the World Energy Outlook, the one that merits the greatest international attention is the one that received the least. Even if governments take vigorous steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the report concluded, the continuing increase in fossil fuel consumption will result in “a long-term average global temperature increase of 3.6 degrees C”.
    In a report that leads with the “good news” of impending US oil supremacy, to calmly suggest that the world is headed for that 3.6 degree C mark is like placing a thermonuclear bomb in a gaudily-wrapped Christmas present.

    fwiw, my “reading” of the spectacular triple vortex in the water vapor rather fizzled but it has been interesting to revisit the atmnospheric rivers item in context. No doubt the AGU has been and will be rather soggy.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 1 Dec 2012 @ 12:24 PM

  473. Walter Pearce #455,

    ” Perhaps Superman can be persuaded to turn his baleful attentions to Dan H. Now *that’s* entertainment.”

    You have made my case, inadvertently; thank you. Dan H. should be the ‘poster boy’ of this site. He cites the published literature ad nauseam, as my critics seem to require. The fact that the documents he cites are selected to bolster his AGW denier viewpoint is another issue.

    Let me make my position crystal clear. I do not come to this blog for published references. If I want published references, I will access a database like the Science Citation Index (or Medline, if on a medical topic), enter a crafted query, and retrieve exactly what I want. I come to a blog like this for ideas on how to extricate ourselves from this climate change morass that we have created. I am interested in ideas and concepts, based on other people having spent time looking through references, attending meetings, and reading related articles. I want their distillation of their experiences and intuition in readable narrative form. The most useful postings I have seen are from people like Aaron Lewis and Lewis Cleverdon, where their focus is on the major problems we face, the requirements to solve these problems, and sometimes potential solutions. The least useful are posters who throw up one reference after another without summarizing the significance based on their intuition and experience.

    I could care less about background or credentials or lifestyle or degree of activism of who is posting; concepts and logic reign supreme, as far as I am concerned. If a concept does not pass the ‘smell test’, I won’t buy it, irrespective of the credentials of the poster, or the numbers of references presented. Also, if a concept might be useful, such as installation of solar or wind facilities, but its implementation and deployment requirements will end up not producing a bend in the right direction of the CO2 emissions and temperature curves in the appropriate time frame, I won’t buy it either. Secular Animist, take note.

    Frankly, I have seen nothing suggested on this site that comes anywhere near what is required to make a significant dent in the total climate change problem. One reason has been the decoupling of the proposals made from the overall end-point requirements that a credible Roadmap would include. In my last long post, I tried to lay out what I believe is necessary to address the problem we face. I realize better than anyone how futile it appears today to bridge the gap between 1) the all-out race that now exists to find and extract and consume as many fossil fuel resources as possible and 2) the need to effectively eliminate all use of fossil fuel ASAP to bend the CO2 emission curves and temperature curves in the desired direction. And, I realize that people with political and activist agendas don’t like these types of extreme recommendations even mentioned, since they have the potential to ‘turn off’ future recruits to the cause. But, as should be obvious from my postings, I am neither a politician nor a diplomat, and I have presented the truth of what is required from my perspective. Let the chips fall where they may!

    Comment by Superman1 — 1 Dec 2012 @ 12:30 PM

  474. Supe, while I agree with this statement,

    I realize better than anyone how futile it appears today to bridge the gap between 1) the all-out race that now exists to find and extract and consume as many fossil fuel resources as possible and 2) the need to effectively eliminate all use of fossil fuel ASAP to bend the CO2 emission curves and temperature curves in the desired direction.

    I also agree with others who ask that you support your self-proclaimed credentials at some checkable level and feel are free to dispute your “solution” when they don’t agree. As noted before, the masthead without my added typo says:

    Climate science from climate scientists

    and I’d say they are doing their best, as many of us aren’t, simply using our guest status to bloviate one way or another (myself especially). While the Gores, DeChristophers and Balogs of this world go a bit further, and the extremely well funded campaign to discredit them proceeds apace, not all of us have the gumption to go that far.

    As for Dan H, please ignore him. His status as agent provocateur may be amateur rather than paid, but it makes no difference. He wastes a lot of other people’s time here. When he realizes he was wrong, and in this discussion being that wrong is immoral, it will be too late.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 1 Dec 2012 @ 1:17 PM

  475. Superman 473: “I could care less about background or credentials”

    If that’s true, it didn’t make much sense to brag about your “well over two hundred papers in the peer-reviewed journal literature”. You’ve been asked repeatedly to support that claim, with no results. After you asserted your moral superiority (@431, “Codes of Honor”) I asked a few simple questions to verify your exalted status, but again, no reply. I don’t see what purpose your continued pontification could possibly serve, other than disrupting this forum.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 1 Dec 2012 @ 2:08 PM

  476. Superman1 wrote: “I have seen nothing suggested on this site that comes anywhere near what is required to make a significant dent in the total climate change problem.”

    That’s because you choose to ignore, or simply dismiss, other commenters’ well-documented posts “suggesting” how to do exactly that.

    Your futility-colored glasses are keeping you from “seeing” many things.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 1 Dec 2012 @ 2:09 PM

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