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  1. Folks,
    I had a question regarding this. Got redirected from Neven’s blog.
    http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2013/02/dramatic-increase-in-methane-in-the-arctic-in-january-2013.html

    Can anyone confirm this and whether this is serious ? I am a regular visitor here but a noob.

    Thanks

    [Response: It's interesting, but the near one-to-one correspondence between methane and the ice outline and coasts sends a bit of warning message related to the satellite retrieval. I think these images come from spectral analysis of the reflected Near-IR, and that means the strength of the signal will be different over ice and water and land. Additionally, if this was related to warm water and methane hydrates, you wouldn't see it in January, you'd see it in August. It is plausible that this is an impact of gas/oil extraction and transport (which increases in winter), but this would need some checking. - gavin]

    Comment by Vineet — 4 Feb 2013 @ 1:11 PM

  2. In a response to Gavin at DotEarth, Andy Revkin says “In policy circles, including popular calculations of emissions trajectories necessary to avoid a high chance of exceeding 2 degrees C. of warming, the hot tail has not been trimmed (unless I’m missing something?).”

    Is it true that the “fat tail” exists on all projections to stop 2C warming?

    [Response: No. Meinshausen et al (2009) and Allen et al (2009) are two key papers here, and they used a 'likely' range of 2-4.5 C, and 5-95% range of 2 to 4.8 C respectively. Since the % of scenarios that go above 2 deg warming are linear in CS, equal reductions in the tails (ie making 2-4.5 a more and more strict criterion) doesn't impact the likelihood of exceeding the limit. - gavin]

    Comment by grypo — 4 Feb 2013 @ 2:33 PM

  3. Any comments on the sensitivity discussions from James Annan’s and William Connolley’s blogs?

    http://julesandjames.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/a-sensitive-matter.html

    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2013/02/02/here-comes-a-border-collie/

    [Response: The 'state of the science' on climate sensitivity was discussed here recently - and there are a few things to add related to specific claims being bandied about (soon). But as for the notion that there is some huge movement away from an imagined consensus on the 'high tail' let alone a movement to a negligible value, I don't see any evidence for that. - gavin]

    Comment by Toby — 4 Feb 2013 @ 3:11 PM

  4. Eric Steig 2007 Real Climate critique of Mark Lynas Six Degrees of Global Warming

    “If a reading of the published scientific literature paints such a frightening picture of the future asSix Degrees suggests – even while it honestly represents that literature – then are we being too provocative in the way we write our scientific papers? Or are we being too cautious in the way we talk about the implications of the results?”

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378012001215

    suggests the later

    Comment by john byatt — 4 Feb 2013 @ 3:11 PM

  5. re #1 – yes maybe some comment on methane and its potential relatively fast feedbakc effect on the arctic sea ice if any would be welcome

    Comment by pete best — 4 Feb 2013 @ 3:24 PM

  6. I’d like to second #3 Toby. What is the story about this?

    Comment by Russell — 4 Feb 2013 @ 5:12 PM

  7. > Arctic News … methane
    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2012/03/17/arctic-methane-emergency-group/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Feb 2013 @ 6:02 PM

  8. This may be of interest:

    “Spectral biases in tree-ring climate proxies”

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate1816.html

    Comment by SteveF — 4 Feb 2013 @ 6:04 PM

  9. From Annan:”The list of pollees in the Zickfeld paper are largely the self-same people responsible for the largely bogus analyses that I’ve criticised over recent years, and which even if they were valid then, are certainly outdated now. Interestingly, one of them stated quite openly in a meeting I attended a few years ago that he deliberately lied in these sort of elicitation exercises (i.e. exaggerating the probability of high sensitivity) in order to help motivate political action. ”

    Exaggerating to promote political action, says a lot about climate “science”..

    [Response: No - it says nothing about the science. It says something about the person who allegedly did this. Neither this nor Lindzen doing the opposite in an earlier paper by these authors (Morgan and Keith, 1995) is sensible or ethical, but actually both attempts are pretty pointless. - gavin]

    Comment by Carl — 4 Feb 2013 @ 6:09 PM

  10. But Gavin, when we know guys like this are choosing cloud feedback parameters for GCMs or is choosing proxies to use for temperature reconstructions etc, we know the science is in trouble.

    [Response: You know absolutely nothing about it. It is easy to game questionnaires, but it is almost impossible to game a GCM that needs to be tested against real world observations, and I know of no way to do it. - gavin]

    Comment by Carl — 4 Feb 2013 @ 6:35 PM

  11. Gavin, surely 90%-95% or so of GCM runs are shooting above target here? There are some feedback parameter in them that are not first principle and are put in by hand. Only in recent times we have seen what the hand(s) has done:

    Exaggerated positive feedbacks to produce results that will cause alarm.

    [Response: Your imagination is running away from you. As has been discussed in many places (most recently Mauritzen et al (2012)), model tuning is done against climatology (spatial and seasonal patterns of clouds, humidity, temperature, OLR etc.) not for trends or sensitivity. Short term trends are highly influenced by effectively stochastic nature of ENSO variability and imputing a significance of that to the long term trends is a mistake. If you were correct, why does the GISS CMIP5 model have a sensitivity ~2.5 deg C? (Short answer in case it isn't clear - you are not correct). - gavin]

    Comment by Carl — 4 Feb 2013 @ 6:58 PM

  12. #10–”…guys like this…”

    One guy allegedly ‘like that.’ And we don’t know what work he(?) does, or did.

    Generalize much?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 4 Feb 2013 @ 7:00 PM

  13. This new paper by Daniel Schrag et al. could have large implications for long-term carbon cycle work and deep-time paleoclimate. It would be interesting to have an RC post on this (David?); this is a topic that I know little about (and I suspect many others would be interested in too).

    Comment by Chris Colose — 4 Feb 2013 @ 7:28 PM

  14. “For the atmosphere, cloud processes, including convection and its interaction with boundary layer and larger scale circulation, remain major sources of uncertainty. This is evident for the vertical distribution of water vapour and the distribution of clouds, particularly over subtropical and arctic regions. These in turn cause errors or uncertainties in radiation which propagate into the coupled atmosphere-ocean system.”

    “There is very high confidence that the primary factor contributing to the spread in equilibrium climate sensitivity continues to be the cloud feedback. This applies to both the modern climate and
    the last glacial maximum.”

    Stuff from leaked AR5 chapter 9.

    [Response: Why do you need to read draft reports for this? This has been true and well acknowledged for ages. See here for instance. - gavin]

    So cloud feedback seems to be not in conformance with reality.

    [Response: Now you are making stuff up. Just because something is uncertain, doesn't mean that everything is wrong. - gavin]

    Now, since there are large uncertainties in how to model clouds (lack of good observations) it is of course tempting to use parametrisations that will produce desired outcomes. Parametrisations that would result in negative feedbacks (would still be consistent with the poor observations we have) is of course to be avoided.

    [Response: More imagination. - gavin]

    Of course, as time go on, co2 goes up and real world warming is lacking,the negative feedback will eventually be put into these models. Only way they can be saved.

    [Response: Feel free to propose any particular feedback you feel is missing and that we have some physical evidence for. Modellers are actually very keen to add in new processes (as long as there is some justification for them) and that explains the bulk of the physics differences between CMIP3 and CMIP5. - gavin]

    Comment by Carl — 4 Feb 2013 @ 8:07 PM

  15. The Guardian recently reported that:

    “Carbon dioxide emissions [in the U.S.] fell by 13% in the past five years, because of new energy-saving technologies and a doubling in the take-up of renewable energy”.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/feb/01/us-carbon-emissions-lowest-levels

    I’m having a hard time figuring out how optimistic to be from this news. Without a national policy, it seems that this reduction is largely by chance. How optimistic do you feel from this news? How far can we trust the free market to solve our problems?

    Thanks!
    Brett

    Comment by Brett Davidson — 4 Feb 2013 @ 8:24 PM

  16. Does methane escape from fracking wells have its own isotopic fingerprint that can be separated from that of decaying matter, melting tundra and/or clathrate methane? And does the (estimated) amount of escaping methane cause the balance to shift out of favor of natural gas as a transition energy source, or is it still better than coal in terms of warming potential?

    Comment by Bianca — 4 Feb 2013 @ 8:54 PM

  17. Having watched the widespread flooding around me in Queensland (and Australia more generally) over the last 2 years, I have become curious as to whether the increase in the hydrological cycle due to increased temperatures has really been adequately factored into estimates of the likely cost of climate change. It’s one thing to talk of flood proofing one town or city, for example, but the damage to infrastructure in Queensland seems to have covered an enormous geographical area over the last couple of years, and the cost of dealing with that in future would (I presume) involve a fair bit of guesswork.

    I see that a recent Australian paper also appears to have confirmed an increase in intensity of rainfall over the long term:

    “there is a statistically significant association with globally averaged near-surface temperature, with the median intensity of extreme precipitation changing in proportion with changes in global mean temperature at a rate of between 5.9% and 7.7% per degree, depending on the method of analysis.”

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00502.1

    While such percentages don’t sound all that large, it seems that it may be having a big practical effect already.

    Any comment on the issue is welcome.

    Comment by steve from brisbane — 4 Feb 2013 @ 9:09 PM

  18. “Without a national policy, it seems that this reduction is largely by chance.”

    I don’t think that fair; the increase in renewables coincides with a 4-year push to encourage same. Here’s the renewable sector’s take on it, immediately after the election:

    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2012/11/renewable-energies-weigh-in-on-obama-victory

    Natgas replacing coal, on the other hand…

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 4 Feb 2013 @ 11:17 PM

  19. Carl:

    Now, since there are large uncertainties in how to model clouds (lack of good observations) it is of course tempting to use parametrisations that will produce desired outcomes. Parametrisations that would result in negative feedbacks (would still be consistent with the poor observations we have) is of course to be avoided.

    [Response: More imagination. - gavin]

    Not really, Gavin. Though he doesn’t mean to, he’s speaking for all those who insist that uncertainties in cloud feedbacks totally counter the water vapor positive feedback, and perhaps CO2 forcing at all.

    He essentially is arguing that uncertainty means that there’s no warming when CO2 increases, i.e.:

    “Of course, as time go on, co2 goes up and real world warming is lacking,the negative feedback will eventually be put into these models.”

    I’m sure you’ve understood this … it would be nice if Carl would just openly state “I don’t think that CO2 affects climate at all” and be done with it.

    Comment by dhogaza — 4 Feb 2013 @ 11:19 PM

  20. for Bianca: https://www.google.com/search?q=methane+isotope+source

    “… there are more distinct methane source types than isotopic tracers …”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Feb 2013 @ 12:12 AM

  21. Since we had so many points regarding the long tail for climate sensitivity – what is the status of that regarding ice-related feedbacks – is it correct to say that arctic melting was (vastly) underestimated by the vast majority of the models, and that measurable feedbacks related to that would be seen much, much faster and are poorly taken into account in current models?

    Comment by nuclear_is_good — 5 Feb 2013 @ 3:02 AM

  22. dhogaza, no I think CO2 affects the climate pretty much as modeled, but I’m quite sure that negative cloud feedback are missing in GCMs, thus they tend to shoot over target.

    There could also be some strange solar influence that some people argue about but, I’m not convinced (yet).

    Comment by Carl — 5 Feb 2013 @ 4:18 AM

  23. Grypo & Gavin at #2 (and Revkin)

    I can really recommend this new paper in GEC by Guivarch and Hallegatte: “2C or not 2C”

    They make a good job elucidating uncertainties and assumptions in mitigation alternatives using a very simple model.

    Interestingly, they find that if climate sensitivity is greater than 3.5C then the 2C target is impossible under a wide range of assumptions on peak emissions, annual decrease after peak and limited negative emissions.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378012001197

    Comment by Perwis — 5 Feb 2013 @ 4:40 AM

  24. “@Revkin somewhat overstates impacts of changes in CS. It is not too small to be negligible, nor so large to be a nightmare”

    …Does this mean that if Carbon Sensitivity was actually largely lower than previously thought, it would be “a nightmare”?

    [Response: no, 'it' refers to the CS itself. Sorry that a tweet did not come with footnotes for people. - gavin]

    Comment by Salamano — 5 Feb 2013 @ 5:05 AM

  25. I recently updated the Arctic sea ice volume animated graph with the latest PIOMAS data, with appropriate music – Arctic Requiem.

    PIOMAS Arctic Sea Ice Volume 1979-2012

    Neven featured it on his excellent Arctic Sea Ice Blog last week, as did Peter Sinclair on ClimateCrocks

    I note from the data that this year begins with 1,058km³ less ice (one trillion tonnes!) than the same time last year.
    This missing amount is about a third of the amount of sea ice remaining at 2012′s record minimum!
    This is headline stuff.

    If this year follows last year’s pattern, then we are heading for a new record this year.

    Maybe Arctic methane is already escaping and contributing to the acceleration of ice melt. The Arctic Tundra methane and clathrate bombs suddenly seem less remote.

    Comment by Andy Lee Robinson — 5 Feb 2013 @ 6:36 AM

  26. #1 Gavin and Vineet, was actually waiting for this event to show, highly likely something to do with the advent of stronger winter lower tropospheric inversions. Winter is finally spreading everywhere (very late), this means that there is a more stable lower troposphere, actually reducing surface air mixing higher up, by summer like, adiabatic processes. Using methane as a tracer gas makes is ideal to understand meteorological dynamics. For instance, the high pressure hanging about -90E>180E>90W longitude over the Arctic ocean, has been weird, with strong lower isotherms , not inversion rich as anticyclones should be, this very stable high pressure was/is heavily influenced by open water from thousands of leads. The methane results confirm that. While the open water over Barents is finally loosing energy, signalling the onset of stable air even over there, although not to last since the sun is back. If I am right the higher methane levels will vanish as soon as summer like lower tropospheric profiles take hold (April onwards). Greenland not showing strong methane levels is another tracer about where its surface air is going, towards the Canadian Archipelago because of steady low pressures over Baffin bay. I do think the data given (to date) reflects events in the lower troposphere.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 5 Feb 2013 @ 7:01 AM

  27. Re Steves comment about rainfall intensity in Australia,
    Increasing rainfall intensity is a problem in regards soil erosion

    A simple empirical aproach to estimating 15 minute rainfall rate based on pluviograph data is described in paper at this link.

    http://www.publish.csiro.au/?paper=RJ10037

    Comment by John Carter — 5 Feb 2013 @ 7:19 AM

  28. Wayne, thanks for the insight about atmospheric dynamics in the Arctic. The other reason that much of the increase in methane concentrations will likely go away in the spring months is that the sunshine allows for the reaction of methane with OH, iirc.

    As gavin points out, though, it would be interesting to see what kinds of mining and transport are going on there right now. I’m also wondering about methanogenic bacteria that may be taking advantage of these ice-free regions.

    Comment by wili — 5 Feb 2013 @ 8:00 AM

  29. What Carl seems to want to ignore is that there are multiple constraints on overall climate sensitivity. If confidence limits on sensitivity tighten, it is most likely to rein in the positive tail a wee bit below 4.5 degrees per doubling and perhaps raise the lower limit above 2 degrees per doubling. It’s very unlikely to move the midrange very much.

    Carl says he’s sure climate models are ignoring negative cloud feedbacks, but being sure in the absence of evidence is not a good thing.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Feb 2013 @ 8:41 AM

  30. Nickel Nanoparticles Catalyze Carbon Dioxide Fixation by Mineralization.

    Here.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 5 Feb 2013 @ 8:59 AM

  31. I just looked up the activation energy of Methane Clathrate and it is like 323 kJ/mole or 3.35 eV
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fuel.2009.06.019

    That means that reaction rates are highly temperature sensitive, and it helps explain why the stuff needs to stay buried in very cold water, encased in a good heat sink.
    With that high an activation energy, even a 1C change in the a m b i e n t temperature will increase the reaction rate kinetics by 50%. A change of 20C will increase the rate by a factor of 10,000. If there are volcanic vents near the ocean floor, that would vaporize the local clathrate deposits quickly.

    Wolfram Alpha activation energy rate calculator

    By comparison solubility of CO2 in water has an activation energy of only 0.2 to 0.3 eV.

    Comment by WebHubTelescope — 5 Feb 2013 @ 9:15 AM

  32. Brett (#15),

    The 13% reduction does not mean we met our Kyoto target in 2012, the end of the compliance period, so a day late and a dollar short. But you are mistaken about not having a national policy. We have standards to improve fuel efficiency in transportation, regulation on new sources of greenhouse gas emissions, efforts to promote better energy efficiency in appliances and buildings and efforts to build a domestic renewable energy industry such as punitive tariffs on dumping of solar panels and tax incentives for investment in renewable energy along with federally backed loans.

    There is also reason to expect regulation on existing sources of greenhouse gas emissions within the next few years. We do rely on market forces to respond to such policies or even just the rumor of policies.

    While much is made of a glut of natural gas owing to fracking, a shift from coal would have been happening in any case owing to the Supreme Court order to the EPA to obey the Clean Air Act. Fracking has displaced planned liquified natural gas import terminals and deep gas exploration in the Gulf, but natural gas would have displaced coal without fracking owing to low investment in improved coal burning technology compared to improved gas generation efficiency along with decreased quality in the remaining coal resource. Coal can’t get cheaper while natural gas can which steers investment. But investment that might have made coal cheaper such as carbon fuel cells or application of combined cycle generation to coal was already reduced even by the beginning of the law suit that resulted in the Supreme Court order. Only scoundrels and conservatives remained in coal; innovators, sensing which way the wind blew, moved on.

    We’ve had a national air pollution policy since 1963 and a renewable energy policy since the oil embargo. We are lacking a coherent international position that would allow us access to emissions markets, but that is not the same a not having national policies.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 5 Feb 2013 @ 9:33 AM

  33. 50 doomiest graphs of 2012

    The important observation to take away from these graphs is the appearance of an entirely new class of extreme weather event that occurs beyond 3 sigma. These mega-events essentially did not occur before the 21st century – they are the fingerprints of abrupt climate change.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 5 Feb 2013 @ 10:17 AM

  34. SteveF,
    Not too surprising. Past records have always seemed to suppress the extremes. Growth is a combination of many factors, and an extreme in a factor may be tempered by others, such that the growth is not as great as envisioned.

    Comment by Dan H. — 5 Feb 2013 @ 11:15 AM

  35. Carl:

    dhogaza, no I think CO2 affects the climate pretty much as modeled, but I’m quite sure that negative cloud feedback are missing in GCMs, thus they tend to shoot over target.

    “quite sure” as in “Carl has read the relevant parts of GISS Model E”, or at least its documentation which includes references to the relevant papers?

    Or “quite sure” as in “Carl hasn’t examined the models but they must be overshooting because my gut tells me so”?

    I’m “quite sure” it’s the latter …

    Comment by dhogaza — 5 Feb 2013 @ 12:11 PM

  36. Dan, it would be great if you could actually say something of an even minimally substantive nature when you occasionally post here, or failing that, give a link to a substantive discussion. Thanks in advance.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 5 Feb 2013 @ 12:12 PM

  37. If sunspot cycles affect global climate than the prediction would be of a fundamental importance, if not and the effect is only + – 0.1C , then it’s importance is limited to the space science and astrophysics.
    Since most of interested readers know about differential rotation of the solar outer layers, which is often linked to the generation of the solar cycles, both sunspot and magnetic (Hale), but there are fewer who know that the Earth (this time liquid outer core) displays differential rotation too.

    “Non-steady differential rotation is one of the main characteristics of the-buoyancy-driven flow within the Earth’s liquid core that generates the main geomagnetic field by magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) dynamo action.” http://trs-new.jpl.nasa.gov/dspace/bitstream/2014/13763/1/00-0133.pdf

    The above mentioned ‘geomagnetic field’- GMF is easily measured and since about 1880 there are relatively good records. From so measured GMF, scientists both at NASA and elsewhere have calculated changes going on in the Earth’s core rotation.
    I had look at their data and found that about 1/6th or ~17% of these long term changes of ~105 years long period, is made of oscillations with a period equal and synchronised to the solar magnetic cycle.

    Does this matter to the global climate?
    Circumstantial evidence shows not only that it matters but could be of the essential importance:
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/EarthNV.htm

    Comment by vukcevic — 5 Feb 2013 @ 1:37 PM

  38. It gets complicated wili, true enough, under the inversion peak all kinds of photosensitive reactions will occur, namely the said OH- will affect surface ozone http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20013772, this is another way to detect the presence of methane (full circle!). But I expect more methane to gradually increase along with winter stratification of the lower atmosphere only to disappear thanks to photochemistry and convection.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 5 Feb 2013 @ 2:04 PM

  39. Adding to #32, the lower US emissions of CO2 is not really due to luck.
    1) Fracking and EPA regulations make coal more expensive than natural gas.
    2) Higher gasoline prices lead to reduced gasoline usage and higher average MPG.

    On the other hand..
    Re: 1, More natural gas means less CO2 emissions, but not necessarily less GHG emissions. There’s debate over how much methane is leaking out during fracking or natgas transport, and methane is a much stronger GHG than CO2.
    Re: 2, The higher gas prices are largely a result of recent industrialization in Brazil, India, and China. That industrialization comes with higher coal and gasoline use in those countries.

    As a sidenote, fuel efficiency mandates are generally a pretty bad way of reducing gasoline use. Much better is higher gas prices, for reasons explained here: http://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.com/2013/02/dont-start-by-assuming-stupidity.html

    Comment by Windchaser — 5 Feb 2013 @ 2:05 PM

  40. A huge ice flow recently broke off Antarctica, visible on MODIS:

    http://lance-modis.eosdis.nasa.gov/imagery/subsets/?subset=Antarctica_r05c06.2013036.terra

    Any size estimates? Is this unusual at all?

    Comment by Mark Shapiro — 5 Feb 2013 @ 5:25 PM

  41. Mark Shapiro @40 — Modis states 1 km. I assume that is 1 km per cm. Once you know you can determine the size of the iceberg.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 5 Feb 2013 @ 5:52 PM

  42. Kevin (#18) and Chris (#32),

    Thanks for your responses. I was incorrect in saying we have no national policy. Thanks for those examples, I did not realize we were doing all of those.

    It appears that U.S. policies currently focus on specific enhancements we can make (e.g. car mpg standards) but do not have an overall emissions ceiling that you would get from a cap-and-trade or similar system. So I’m having trouble determining if the current U.S. path is sufficient enough for the 2C target (some say 85% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050). The media can be confusing with a wide range of optimism and pessimism.

    How sure can we be that we’re on the right path? Or perhaps there’s no good way of knowing? Perhaps the IPCC projections are our best guess?

    Thanks,
    Brett

    Comment by Brett Davidson — 5 Feb 2013 @ 6:49 PM

  43. Water Leaking Into Stratosphere Could Harm Ozone
    http://www.livescience.com/26890-cirrus-clouds-water-stratosphere.html
    but how much is yet to be determined.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 5 Feb 2013 @ 10:55 PM

  44. Brett (#42),

    We’re a day late and a dollar short at this point but there is movement on off-shore wind on the East Coast, big solar in the desert, and the US emphasis on thin film solar has seen First Solar get manufacturing costs below $0.70 per watt so that a new solar farm on the East Coast can sell at about $0.13 per kwh.

    Electric car sales seem to be picking up with Ford now entering the market. With a reasonable fraction of new cars being mostly electric in 7 years or so, we can anticipate a good source of stationary electric storage in 17 years or so as the battery packs cycle out of transportation owing to a degradation in capacity of 20% or so. That amount of storage coming on line allows pretty much 100% renewable power by 2040 or so. Aviation, trucking, and tractors may still use some fossil fuels in 2050, but the likelihood is that there will be such a glut of solar power that we’ll synthesis liquid fuels from water and charcoal rather than take them out of the ground.

    We are capable of reaching very substantial cuts in emissions by 2050. But, 2 C is not up to us, it is up to China and India. Our lack of a coherent international policy may harm us when trying to get concessions from them.

    Walking softly and carrying a big stick has been a useful US approach to foreign policy at times. I’d urge rather gentle punitive tariffs on Chinese imports to cover crop insurance and flood insurance losses from dangerous climate change that is caused by growing emissions. Those small penalties (compared with the volume of trade)would be walking softly. The big stick would be the potential for much larger tariffs should damage grow.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 5 Feb 2013 @ 11:44 PM

  45. “Carbon dioxide emissions [in the U.S.] fell by 13% in the past five years, because of new energy-saving technologies and a doubling in the take-up of renewable energy”.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/feb/01/us-carbon-emissions-lowest-levels

    I’m having a hard time figuring out how optimistic to be from this news. Without a national policy, it seems that this reduction is largely by chance. How optimistic do you feel from this news? How far can we trust the free market to solve our problems?

    Thanks!
    Brett

    I think the Guardian article is hogwash. Yes, I can believe that U.S. emissions have fallen in the past five years because of 1) recession, and 2) moving what remains of U.S. manufacturing to China (where emissions have been rising steadily).

    The USA has done almost nothing with renewable energy. Well, except for many electric power companies now putting photos of windmills on the envelopes when they mail a bill to you.

    The free market will always go with the cheapest short-term solution available. That means burning more coal while conducting public relations exercises like the above-mentioned windmill photos and slogans like “clean coal.”

    Comment by Paraquat — 6 Feb 2013 @ 12:16 AM

  46. > water leaking into the stratosphere

    Took a while to figure that out:
    here’s Paul Crutzen on the questions raised by supersonic transport aircraft:
    http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/4311946?uid=3739560&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21101766815817
    Ambio Vol. 1, No. 2, Apr., 1972

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Feb 2013 @ 1:18 AM

  47. @Wayne
    You may be right, but how do we confirm this phenomenon ?

    Comment by Vineet — 6 Feb 2013 @ 4:01 AM

  48. Re: #’s 2, 3, 11 & 14

    Emerging from a deep attempt at marrying ENSO variations to the great puzzle of the spurt, stutter, spurt 20th Cen. heating pattern nearly a decade and a half ago, Drs. Mann and Park paused for some intriguing speculation: Anticipating another shift, they suggest a scenario whereby the “atmosphere and oceans reequilibrate after the post-1975 interval of secular atmospheric warming, global temperatures might level off for a few decades, similar to the 1940 – 1975 interval. Any such respite would likely be followed , however, by another interval of rapid warming. One can imagine that such a pause in the warming trend would complicate the incontrovertable detection of anthropogenic climate forcing, and, moreover any international governmental efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

    http://www.meteo.psu.edu/holocene/public_html/Mann/articles/articles/multiwave99.pdf

    Comment by Dave Peters — 6 Feb 2013 @ 8:17 AM

  49. Thank you Dave,
    Excellent analysis of ENSO oscillatory patterns.

    Comment by Dan H. — 6 Feb 2013 @ 9:04 AM

  50. The Interstellar Boundary Explorer ( IBEX ) team reports in The Astrophysivsl Journal that the outer heliosphere may trap energetic ions from the interstellar medium.

    I doubt the ten order of magnitude difference in particle flux will prevent the usual suspects in the climate crankosphere from soon turning this into an alternative non-anthropogenic theory of climate change

    Comment by Russell — 6 Feb 2013 @ 9:57 AM

  51. Paraquat wrote: “The USA has done almost nothing with renewable energy. Well, except for many electric power companies now putting photos of windmills on the envelopes when they mail a bill to you.”

    “Windmills” are antique machines once used to grind grain.

    Those “photos on the envelopes” are of wind turbines, which are modern, high-tech machines used to generate electricity.

    As for “almost nothing”, according to the American Wind Energy Association:

    The US wind energy industry had its strongest year ever in 2012 … installing a record 13,124 megawatts (MW) of electric generating capacity, leveraging $25 billion in private investment, and achieving over 60,000 MW of cumulative wind capacity … enough clean, affordable, American wind power to power the equivalent of almost 15 million homes, or the number in Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, and Ohio combined … wind energy for the first time became the number one source of new US electric generating capacity … 2012 was a strong year for all renewables, as together they accounted for over 55 percent of all new U.S. generating capacity.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Feb 2013 @ 10:19 AM

  52. While a decade ago, wind energy was “almost nothing,” electricity generated from wind has accounted for ~3% of the total (2011), and has been rising at greater than 30% annually.

    http://www.eia.gov/electricity/annual/html/epa_01_02.html

    Comment by Dan H. — 6 Feb 2013 @ 11:11 AM

  53. > Dan H. says …

    Please show your work. Don’t ask us to trust you.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Feb 2013 @ 11:41 AM

  54. Sorry Hank, I assumed you and everyone else here could add. In 2011, wind generated 120,177 thousand Megawatthours compared to 4,100,656 for all energy sources, a net contribution of 2.9%. The next part is a little trickier, and using slightly higher math: In 2001, wind only generated 6,737, which results in a cumulative annual increase of 34%, decreasing to 30% averaged over the past three years.

    Comment by Dan H. — 6 Feb 2013 @ 12:34 PM

  55. Dan H.: Wind power still took ZERO fossil fueled power plants off line.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 6 Feb 2013 @ 1:59 PM

  56. Following from #52 (Dan H), net generation of electricity fell 2007-2011 about 1.5%, dropping about 56,000 thousand Mwh. Yet real GDP in 2011 was close to 1% higher than 2007. This suggests some progress with energy efficiency. Coal fell about 13%, losing 283,000 thousand Mwh of generation. Wind energy generation more than tripled, increasing about 85,000. Natural gas increased about 127,000. Essentially, coal has fallen hard, and natural gas, wind, and energy efficiency have taken up the slack.

    Looking at the latest 10-month total for 2012, the trend appears to continue in impressive fashion. Net generation is off another 46,000 from last year’s pace (about a 1% drop), while U.S. GDP has increased in 2012 by about 2%. Coal is off a further 226,000, the biggest drop yet, while natural gas and wind are up 214,000 and 17,000 respectively. Natural gas had a much better year than wind in 2012 compared to the more balanced increases of 2007-2011, but both are on the incline as coal and overall generation falls. Solar is actually doing quite well from a growth perspective, more than doubling in 2012, but its contribution is still only 2,000 higher.

    http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec7_5.pdf

    While energy efficiency and wind power success are welcome signs, how much the climate is benefiting from U.S. changes depends on how much better/worse natural gas is vs coal. I’d like to see a summary on the state of science on that issue.

    Obviously, how quickly China curbs its coal addiction is critical.

    From the perspective of the President’s energy goals, which includes more energy efficiency, more renewable energy more natural gas replacing coal, and less oil consumption (also down in recent years), he certainly appears to be meeting them.

    Comment by MarkB — 6 Feb 2013 @ 2:10 PM

  57. As for the wind power comparisons with other energy sources we should always remember two things. First, do not be overwhelmed by the CAPACITY – look at actual production. According to the report on renewable energy (http://www.energies-renouvelables.org/observ-er/html/inventaire/pdf/14e-inventaire-Chap02.pdf) worldwide production was 459.9TWh in 2011. The global windpower installed capacity was 238GW. Short math 459.9TWh/365/24 gives the average power of about 52GW, i.e. about 22% of the capacity. The use of capacity measures are rather misleading when one discusses the role of wind compared to nuclear, coal, oil or gas or even hydro power. Second, this power output figure is an average – so there were times when too much reliance on wind power would leave whole regions without enough power. Apples to apples…

    Comment by PAber — 6 Feb 2013 @ 2:55 PM

  58. Slate has just published an article by Raymond T. Pierrehumbert on oil abundance:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/02/u_s_shale_oil_are_we_headed_to_a_new_era_of_oil_abundance.html

    I hope it’s not too far out of bounds to mention it here.

    Comment by Charlie H — 6 Feb 2013 @ 4:28 PM

  59. Ed,
    While plants may not have been taken offline, they were less utilized. Electricity from coal production fell 9%, and from petroleum 75% (possibly idled?). Only generation from natural gas increased – by 55%. Not only was there a reduction in CO2 production, but also a decrease in soot and other byproducts.

    PAber,
    Exactly. That is why I posted production numbers, and not capacity. I am not sure of the exact figure, but electricity generation from wind runs at between 20 and 25% of capacity.

    Comment by Dan H. — 6 Feb 2013 @ 4:37 PM

  60. Edward Greisch wrote: “Wind power still took ZERO fossil fueled power plants off line”

    According to the US Energy Information Administration:

    Plant owners and operators report to EIA that they expect to retire almost 27 gigawatts (GW) of capacity from 175 coal-fired generators between 2012 and 2016. In 2011, there were 1,387 coal-fired generators in the United States, totaling almost 318 GW. The 27 GW of retiring capacity amounts to 8.5% of total 2011 coal-fired capacity.

    The coal-fired capacity expected to be retired over the next five years is more than four times greater than retirements performed during the preceding five-year period (6.5 GW). Moreover, based on EIA data, the approximate 9 GW of coal-fired capacity retirements expected to occur in 2012 will likely be the largest one-year amount in the nation’s history. The record is, however, expected to be short-lived as almost 10 GW of coal-fired capacity are expected to retire in 2015.

    That’s rather more than “ZERO” fossil fueled power plants going off line, Edward.

    And given the rapidly plummeting cost of wind power, and its continuing rapid growth (to become “the number one source of new US electric generating capacity” in 2012, as noted above), it seems unreasonable to assert that wind power is not at least a contributing cause of the unprecedented, and growing, number of coal-fired power plants being retired.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Feb 2013 @ 4:51 PM

  61. Comment by SecularAnimist:

    That’s rather more than “ZERO” fossil fueled power plants going off line, Edward. And given the rapidly plummeting cost of wind power, and its continuing rapid growth (to become “the number one source of new US electric generating capacity” in 2012, as noted above), it seems unreasonable to assert that wind power is not at least a contributing cause of the unprecedented, and growing, number of coal-fired power plants being retired.

    I think that Edward has it right. Wind’s contribution to the power mix has been either nothing or next to nothing. As he pointed out, wind enthusiasts love to quote the “installed capacity” rather than what was actually generated. But even when you look at what was actually generated (in the above-mentioned examples, about 22% of installed capacity) the coal power plants don’t go offline just because the wind is blowing for a few hours. It takes at least a few hours to shut down any fossil fuel power plant, and equally at least a few hours for startup. But wind speeds can change considerably in just a few hours. going from calm to very windy back to calm in that time.

    The only type of power plant that works well with wind are hydro power plants, because starting and stopping can be accomplished in minutes. Denmark arguably has the only really useful wind power program, because the Danes can tap the excess hydro capacity of Norway (they share the grid). Unfortunately, the amount of excess hydro capacity available in the world (to serve as a backup for wind) is very limited.

    Yes, there has been a decrease in coal burning in the USA because of the available of (at the moment) very cheap natural gas due to the rapidly increasing fracking operations. The gas is so cheap that it’s being dumped on the market at below-cost prices. As long as it stays that cheap, the electric power companies will be glad to use it. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it will stay that cheap, but more worrying is the environmental cost of fracking. Aside from the now well-known problem of water pollution, a greater problem is the increase in methane leaking from the ground in areas that have been fracked. Since methane is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2, natural gas obtained from fracking might well cause MORE global warming than burning coal. I admit that statement is not certain – I don’t think that anybody has been able to quantify how much methane has been leaking due to fracking, but if it’s over 3% of what’s being produced than yes, it will be worse than burning coal.

    Yes, wind power will score a rapid increase in use until all the low-hanging fruit of good windy sites (or where hydro power backup) are taken. There are only a few sites that are reliably windy most of the time (Alaska’s Aleutian Islands comes to mind). I wish I could be more optimistic about wind, but my conclusion is that it’s less likely than solar to make any significant contribution to the energy mix (and solar has some serious limitations which I’ll discuss in another post at some future time – but I do like solar).

    I confess that I used the term “windmill” rather than “wind tower” on purpose, rather cynically, because I think that the current generation of wind farms are going to be about as useful against AGW as those old Dutch windmills used to grind grain. So I apologize if that offended anyone. However, I wish everyone would be willing to look unbiasedly at the hard truths about wind, solar, geothermal, and all the other “alternatives” – they are not panaceas (I wish they were) and periodically we all need a reality check. Unfortunately, many people get too emotional about their favorite technology. And doubly unfortunately, AGW (which I don’t doubt is real) won’t be wished away by such enthusiasm.

    Peace,
    Paraquat

    Comment by Paraquat — 6 Feb 2013 @ 6:15 PM

  62. It’s very important to take into account the growth rate of wind power, not just the current capacity.

    Stuart Staniford covers this here with some simplification — but the main point is still on target:
    http://earlywarn.blogspot.com/2012/08/climate-change-action-is-not-hopeless.html

    “Over the last ten years of data (all from BP by the way), the average growth rate in primary energy consumption is 2.7%. Meanwhile, the wind energy grew at 25% and the solar energy grew at 44%. And this makes all the difference! Those are incredibly high growth rates and mean that the awe-inspiring power of exponential growth is on our side.”

    Comment by Douglas — 6 Feb 2013 @ 6:37 PM

  63. And to the point about not enough windy sites available:
    http://earlywarn.blogspot.com/2012/08/total-available-renewable-resource.html

    Comment by Douglas — 6 Feb 2013 @ 6:40 PM

  64. Paraquat, with all due respect, your comment offers many opinions, but few facts.

    You wrote “Denmark arguably has the only really useful wind power program”. Yet, you don’t actually bother to “argue” for that statement at all, you just make it.

    Perhaps you’d like to explain why wind power in Spain, for example, is not “really useful” — even though wind power produced more electricity than any other source in Spain for the last three months, including 6 terawatt-hours in January, an amount achieved only once before, by combined-cycle gas generators in 2010.

    You wrote “wind power will score a rapid increase in use until all the low-hanging fruit of good windy sites … are taken”.

    Well, that would be great, given that the commercially harvestable wind energy resources of just four midwestern states could generate more electricity than the entire country uses — and that’s just a fraction of the USA’s on-shore wind energy resources, not to mention the vast off-shore wind energy resources, which we’ve hardly begun to develop.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Feb 2013 @ 7:11 PM

  65. And one more thing:

    Paraquat wrote: “But wind speeds can change considerably in just a few hours. going from calm to very windy back to calm in that time.”

    I really wish that people who make statements like this would take a little time to read up on the actual management of large utility-scale wind turbine farms.

    Do you think that the people who design, build and operate these multi-million dollar installations are unaware of the variations in wind speeds? Do you think that it never occurred to them to study and analyze the wind patterns at their sites and take into account the mostly predictable, and sometimes unpredictable, variations in harvestable wind energy at those sites? Do you think that they have not developed the technology and management practices to deal with it? Have you looked into those questions at all?

    Or is that comment really on the level of a climate change “skeptic” who lectures climate scientists about “solar variation” as though it’s something they never heard of and were too stupid to think about?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Feb 2013 @ 7:19 PM

  66. Paraquat @61.
    You say “I wish everyone would be willing to look unbiasedly at the hard truths about wind, solar, geothermal, and all the other “alternatives.
    Are you sure you have done this yourself?
    All I read is you telling us that wind is variable (like every other electricity generator is to some extent or other) and that you have problems (either yourself or with others) when negotiating ‘load factors’.

    For myself, I have been for some time now hotly engaged with denialist NIMBYs over a wind power scheme local to me which will cut UK CO2 emissions by 2.5 million tons. (You may be relieved this is after adjusting for load factor.)
    Do you think I am wasting my time with my pro-wind farm campaigning?

    Comment by MARodger — 6 Feb 2013 @ 7:34 PM

  67. 1) Does anyone have an opinion or comment re this article recently posted at phys.org?
    “Global Warming Less Extreme than Feared?”

    http://phys.org/news/2013-01-global-extreme.html

    I am not a scientist nor am I deeply knowledgable about climate research so I had trouble evaluating the article.

    2) Also, this may be a stupid question but is the increased rainfall we have seen on the USA East Coast over the past decade –from hurricanes – a feedback loop that lessens the effect of global warming – or is it merely a transfer of heat? It seems to me that moving several million? tons of water 900 miles would consume energy but my head hurts when I try to remember thermodynamics classes from several decades ago.

    Comment by Don Williams — 6 Feb 2013 @ 9:41 PM

  68. Congratulations are due Matt Ridley on being voted a seat in the upper House of Parliament to replace the late Earl Ferrers on the Conservative side.

    His patronage of Earth Art as Vicount Ridley may have done more to promote his candidacy than his post-Economist career as a climate skeptic, thogh some few Tory grandees doubtless voted for him on the Anybody But Monckton ticket.

    It should be fun to watch him argue with Rees!

    Comment by Russell — 6 Feb 2013 @ 10:24 PM

  69. Don Williams @67 — 1) Cum grano salis. 2) Just heat transfer; Terra only cools by radiating infared into space.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 6 Feb 2013 @ 11:38 PM

  70. USA wind buildout in 2012 was impressive, however that was a response to the then impending demise of the production tax credit. We did get a one year extension as part of the fiscal cliff deal, and for 2013, a windfarm only need begin construction, rather than have to be operational to qualify so there is some hope of restarting the project pipeline which was virtually emptied out by the expiration in 2012. So some new wind will be built. But don’t expect to see anything close to the 2012 buildout for years.

    Comment by Thomas — 7 Feb 2013 @ 12:08 AM

  71. Don Williams (#67)

    I’d advise being careful about drawing much from that article (and, in general, the disproportionate blog reaction).

    Giving a credible answer to the question of climate sensitivity has been a several-decade long effort and has involved quite a lot of work at the interface of paleoclimate/geology, modeling, and the continued “marriage” of modeling with observational (e.g., radiation budget, 20th century instrumental record, volcanoes, etc) and paleo-environmental evidence. Furthermore, there is hierarchy in complexity of the methods used to diagnose the problem, ranging from simple forcing-temperature change estimates (some of Hansen’s work using the Last Glacial Maximum), or by probing parametric and structural uncertainty with the use of statistical methods to “weight” intermediate-complexity models by various metrics in their simulation of climatology or past climates.

    All of these methods have problems, but in many cases, the assumptions going into them are largely independent; thus, the agreement amongst various methods increases confidence that we understand the sensitivity of Earth’s surface temperature to radiative forcing.

    One of the most robust consequences of these results is the ability to confidently rule out climate sensitivities that are extremely low (less than ~1.5 C for a doubling of CO2), and none of the more recent arguments seriously challenge this. There has been disagreement on to what extent we can rule out very high values (say, greater than 5 C), which actually emerge as low-probability but plausible scenarios in a number of studies, although often result from unphysical assumptions used before “climate information” even comes into the picture. Thus, the central value of 3 C or so remains a great place to start.

    Unfortunately, we have absolutely no perfect past “proxy climate” for a future doubling of CO2, and information degrades as you move back in time to “warmer climates” like the Pliocene that actually have more similar boundary conditions to the future, but which actually have much different climates. The only way to unambiguously rule out high climate sensitivities as we move to a world that might triple or quadruple CO2 (to Cretaceous-like levels) is to make some assumptions regarding simplicity of the forced response, much of which comes from our intuition gathered from the Holocene and the ability to explain the broad transition from the Last Glacial Maximum to the present-day climate. But the full extent to which the climate is capable of hysteresis or branching into different states on a bifurcation diagram is not known, and actually (at least some) GCMs are capable of bifurcating into new sensitivity-regimes at various stages upon successive doublings of CO2.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 7 Feb 2013 @ 12:46 AM

  72. Do you perchance know the usual date for the first sighting of the year for the Great Purple Hairstreak butterfly at latitude of about 30º N?

    Here’s a photo of one of the GPH on a warm February 3rd afternoon in Austin, Texas. The honeysuckle vine is alive with nectaring snouts, gray hairstreaks, pipevine swllowtails, sulfurs and bees,
    http://earthlightimagery.com/storage/_LXZ2903_4W.jpg

    Thanks for your help.
    Tim Jones
    Austin, Texas

    Comment by Tim Jones — 7 Feb 2013 @ 1:02 AM

  73. Is any one else having trouble accessing http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/ ? I’ve only gotten 403 Forbidden errors for a month or so.

    Comment by Speedy — 7 Feb 2013 @ 4:41 AM

  74. Don Williams @67.
    Concerning your first point.
    The text you link to is press release that first appeared in October 2012 written in Norwegian. Leck’s opeing comments are wrong. It is not “truly sensational.” It is truly bizarre and the press release has been addressed at length elsewhere – eg:- at SkepticalScience and CarbonBrief.

    What is perhaps strange is that this press release reports yet unpublished research from researchers who only six months before had been published on this very subject when they reported results that were outwardly not dissimilar (1.1°C to 4.3°C with 95% confidence in March 2012, 1.2°C to 2.9°C. with 90% confidence in October) but which in March did not account for negative anthopogenic forcings that must significantly increase the resulting sensitivity value. The October press release makes no mention of the March 2012 paper or of negative forcings but states they accounted for “all the factors contributing to human-induced climate forcings since 1750.” This suggests they did account for them.
    As I said, it is truly bizarre.

    Comment by MARodger — 7 Feb 2013 @ 5:32 AM

  75. Don @67,

    I’m not a climate scientist either but whenever I see a juxtaposition and a near perfect match between what policy makers say is their goal, namely keeping global temperature rise under 2C, followed by a statement that researchers have arrived at an estimate that temperature will probably only reach 1.9C, my skepto meter starts flashing all kinds of red lights and buzzes loudly. Having said that, I’ll wait to see what the real climate scientists have to say.
    Cheers!

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 7 Feb 2013 @ 6:41 AM

  76. It is not too hard to find support for SA’s statement in #64. The onshore wind generation potential in the US is nine times larger than our current consumption of electricity from all sources. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_the_United_States#Wind_generation_potential

    Just picking the low hanging fruit would produce a glut.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 7 Feb 2013 @ 7:06 AM

  77. Don,

    The East Coast hurricanes are the result of global circulation patterns, namely ENSO and the AMO. This pattern has occurred in the past, resulting in storm strikes in the 1950s, and 1890s. The question about heat transfer is harder to answer, as the amount of energy contained in such a storm moving to such high latitudes could have a significant global cooling effect. I admit that I am with you with regards to the actual thermo calculations.

    Comment by Dan H. — 7 Feb 2013 @ 8:21 AM

  78. More on the potential for renewable energy to “shut down” fossil-fueled electricity generation, from Australia:

    A new analysis from research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance has concluded that electricity from unsubsidised renewable energy is already cheaper than electricity from new-build coal and gas-fired power stations in Australia … new wind farms could supply electricity at a cost of $80/MWh – compared with $143/MWh for new build coal, and $116/MWh for new build gas-fired generation.

    These figures include the cost of carbon emissions, but BNEF said even without a carbon price, wind energy remained 14 per cent cheaper than new coal and 18 per cent cheaper than new gas …

    BNEF’s analysts also conclude that by 2020, large-scale solar PV will also be cheaper than coal and gas, when carbon prices are factored in.

    In fact, it could be sooner than that, as we reported yesterday, companies such as Ratch Australia, which owns coal, gas and wind projects, said the cost of new build solar PV was already around $120-$150/MWh and falling. So much so that it is considering replacing its aging coal-fired Collinsville power station with solar PV. The solar thermal industry predicts their technologies to fall to $120/MWh by 2020 at the latest.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 7 Feb 2013 @ 9:25 AM

  79. New(?) topic: Of the effects of a changing climate, have there been comparisons made between impacts to humans regarding timeline and severity? For example, there are rising sea levels, ocean acidification, agricultural impacts (food security), and direct livability of areas getting exceptionally hot. Under various scenarios of progressive CO2 loading, there are plenty of individual estimates of most of these (barring agriculture that I know of), but I have not found much in the way of comparing one to the other. For instance, we might be able to predict that a given CO2 progression leads to a range of expectations for sea level rise, and the same progression would lead to a shift in climate zones compatible with industrial agriculture, and likewise, we can expect changes in the ocean food web resulting from ocean acidification. IDK, but it may be that under such a comparison, a scenario that leads to 2 meters of sea level rise also pushes 50% of land currently under crop production outside of the climate conditions necessary for high yields. If that is the case, then the loss of land through inundation would become little more than salt in the wound, from a global perspective.

    I’m thinking such a comparison might help focus how to make the argument that an ounce of mitigation would be worth a pound of adaptation.

    Personally, I think there is going to be a huge collision between a rising population, and a degradation of agricultural yields, and I think that will impact human civilization far more than, say, species loss, regardless of how tragic that loss is.

    Comment by Chris G — 7 Feb 2013 @ 10:21 AM

  80. don’t forget

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Feb 2013 @ 10:30 AM

  81. Adding to Chris’ comment (#71),

    It appears that sensitivity is sensitive to the climate state as well. In fig. 30 of Storms of my Grandchildren, sensitivity is stronger both close to the snowball earth climate regime and the several doublings of carbon dioxide climate regime. We sit is a region of fairly low sensitivity in our current state.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 7 Feb 2013 @ 10:39 AM

  82. To Don@67: The press article states: “When researchers instead calculate a probability interval of what will occur, including observations and data up to 2010, they determine with 90% probability that global warming from a doubling of CO2 concentration would lie between 1.2°C and 2.9°C.”

    Although the press article makes hay out of “just 1.9°C” warming with a doubling of CO2, the range of probability goes up to 2.9°C whereas a rise of only 2.0°C is considered by the IPCC to have probable catastrophic consequences for mankind and most other species. You must also keep in mind that these results are based on their particular model which has yet to be evaluated through repeated independent analysis and tested through observations of their model’s predictions. Nearly any scientist can make a model, run it through thousands of iterations for statistical analysis and still get it wrong. Note that their result is just a probability (90%) in which there is also a probability (10%) that they are wrong and the warming will exceed their estimate. The few who establish a track record of getting it right, like the folks at Scripps Institute of Oceanography and others, are the ones to pay attention to the most. As in all science, yes, the Norwegian folks could be correct, only time will tell and you have to look at the whole picture rather than just what the reporter slants in his/her story.

    To give you a real world example of good models being wrong, as I understand it, the melting of the arctic sea ice currently falls below the 95% confidence intervals of the combined models to date.

    Comment by BrianFos — 7 Feb 2013 @ 12:32 PM

  83. On “the potential for renewable energy to “shut down” fossil-fueled electricity generation,” it’s my observation that those denying it usually rely on the assumption that ‘each watt of renewable energy must be backed with one watt of reliable base load energy.’

    However, it’s only an assumption–and one that flies in the face of multiple cases in which a growing proportion of the grid belongs to renewables–most particularly those in which more renewable capacity is being added than other types.

    Which we’ve been seeing.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 7 Feb 2013 @ 1:03 PM

  84. I am searching a reference on the thermal inertia of the Earth. If possible, I would like to have “pure version” not the convolution with the CO2 growth curve.

    I guess I could use the heat transfer rate to the ocean as a proxy and the mass of the ocean itself as a heat capacity, but I would like to know if something more formal exist in the scientific literature.

    Comment by Yvan Dutil — 7 Feb 2013 @ 1:43 PM

  85. Gavin, I guess we are many eagerly waiting for the post on “On Sensitivity Part III” even more now that the septic blogosphere and some journalists have gone crazy with wishful thinking based on a unpublished paper, a blog post by a climate scientist and some over-interpreted recent papers.

    Until then I recommend people to head over to SkS to read Dana Nuccitelli on these issues: http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-sensitivity-tail.html

    Comment by perwis — 7 Feb 2013 @ 2:05 PM

  86. Chris G @ 79:

    You ask a critical question about timeline and severity of impacts. The next part of the question is: How do humans respond to these costs?

    What are the failure modes of our economies, polities, and societies?

    (With thanks to engineers everywhere and others who think long and hard about failure modes.)

    Comment by Mark Shapiro — 7 Feb 2013 @ 2:05 PM

  87. I read somewhere that the leaked IPCC report stated that the cooling effects of sulphate aerosols has been overstated by 40%. What is bthe background to this?

    Comment by DP — 7 Feb 2013 @ 2:13 PM

  88. Don’t usually go to WUWT- just gets me outraged and/or sad. BUt went over today to read comments about UAH’s (Roy Spencer) report that January 2012 was ’2nd warmest in 35 years (after 2010)’ . We shall ignore the fact that this likely makes it the 2nd warmest January in hundreds of years! As I suspected, many of the commenters were actually attacking the methodology of the study- because it found so much warming! The comic relief arrived when a commenter cautioned his fellow WUWTers: ‘Now, now…let’s not make over-the-top unsubstantiated claims like the Alarmist Warmists”. My goodness, they do not realize that when the current surface temp warming plateau runs its course and the temps ramp up in earnest that the WUWTers will break out in full blown civil war as some in their ranks (the less irrational among them) begin to defect. It will not be pretty.

    Comment by David Goldstein — 7 Feb 2013 @ 3:08 PM

  89. Congratulaions are due Matt Ridley, late of The Economist on his election to Britain’s upper house. One hopes his tenure will translate into his proving more reasonable than Lord Lawson , let alone Monckton.

    Comment by Russell — 7 Feb 2013 @ 4:18 PM

  90. You should compare the load factor of wind with conventional plant: the UK energy statistics show that the load factor of all conventional(including nuclear!!!) plant in 2011 was 42.6.

    Humm and you can’t blame the wind not blowing for that can you?

    See Figure 5.10 here https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/65818/5955-dukes-2012-chapter-5-electricity.pdf

    Comment by Turboblocke — 7 Feb 2013 @ 4:22 PM

  91. #81 Chris.

    Are you only speaking of relative to CS for snowball earth?

    http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=124393

    Comment by john byatt — 7 Feb 2013 @ 4:46 PM

  92. I see that my “low-hanging fruit” comment is being widely misinterpreted, but perhaps it’s my fault, since I didn’t explain it thoroughly. Basically, the low-hanging fruit are places where either 1)The wind blows reliably most of the time, or 2)There is sufficient backup in the form of locally-generated hydro-power.

    What many wind advocates fail to grasp when they say things like “the state of Texas has enough wind to supply electricity to the entire USA” is that you can’t take the average wind speed of the entire state and pretend that it’s blowing 24/7 for the entire year. There are times when the entire state is windless, while at other times it’s blowing fiercely.

    With wind power, every watt you generate has to be backed up somehow, unless you’re willing to live with brownouts and blackouts. When wind power is a tiny percentage of the total power on the grid, that backup is easily supplied by the excess capacity of the (mostly) fossil fuel plants that are online. But then you aren’t really saving anything (in terms of CO2 emissions) if you can’t take the fossil fuel plants offline. You CAN save something if you’re backing up with hydro-power – THAT is your low-hanging fruit.

    I see that SecularAnimist has some info on solar in Australia. Actually, I’m more positive about solar than I am for wind. In some parts of the world, the sun shines very reliably. That includes the part of the world where I live. I have solar panels installed, they work but there are issues. I can get reliable power on most days for about six hours. Outside of that time frame, I have to fall back on batteries or grid power. The batteries are a weak spot – they can keep the lights on at night, but in no way could power my wife’s electric oven, for example. And the batteries have a limited life expectancy – every few years you’ve got to get new ones and send the old ones to a recycling plant (which most likely uses fossil fuel power to melt them down to extract the lead). I couldn’t say what the EROEI is, but this is not a cheap source of power. Solar hot water, on the other hand, is very cost-effective. The really big advantage that solar has over wind is that I can have my own little generating plant on the roof – I have no room to put up a wind tower, and if I did I suspect it would be noisy (it’s nice that solar is silent). Having my own personal system gives me some peace of mind in case the grid goes down. One thing I do worry about is theft – I’ve taken every precaution to make those panels practically welded to the roof, but there is no such thing as theft-proof.

    Comment by Paraquat — 7 Feb 2013 @ 6:30 PM

  93. On wind energy, I just came across this.
    “Geophysical limits to global wind power”
    “…It is likely that wind power growth will be limited by economic or environmental factors, not global geophysical limits.”
    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n2/full/nclimate1683.html

    Comment by Chris G — 7 Feb 2013 @ 7:00 PM

  94. paraquat, there was a study a few months back (I don’t have a ref), looking at a virtually wholly renewable grid for Germany. They did assume some hydro to balance it out and in rare instances a small amount of fossil backup (some newer gas turbine can ramp on quickly enough). They optimized the mix of wind and PV, and overbuilt by maybe 50%. They found over 99% of the time they could meet demand, i.e. if you use some combustion to cover the rare gaps, it won’t take much fuel.

    I’ve heard of one guy trying to use some PV panels he bought for $65/watt to electrically supplement his hot water heater -bypassing the need for an inverter and inspections etc. Its startling to me that panel prices are getting cheep enough to consider using them for solar thermal via resistance heating.

    Comment by Thomas — 7 Feb 2013 @ 10:06 PM

  95. > panel prices are getting cheep enough to consider
    > using them for solar thermal via resistance heating.

    I heard from an energy consultant in my neighborhood that businesses that have long used thermal hot water and needed to replace or repair are now finding it’s cheaper to replace those with solar PV running directly to electrical resistance heating. No pipes, no valves, no leaks, no antifreeze. Impressive change.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Feb 2013 @ 11:38 PM

  96. David Goldstein @88

    The Jan 2013 UAH global temp was equal 7th for all months over the satellite record, with 3 months in 1998 and 3 in 2010 being hotter (including Jan 2010). It is by far the hottest month on the UAH record outside an El Nino. This has put Dr Spencer PhD into a bit of a spin, having to explain why grudginglyfor now I’m accepting the results as real.
    The Jan 2013 RSS figure is also showing a dramatic rise but not to such an outstanding level as UAH (RSS Jan 2013 is 26th hottest). The GISS & NCDC figures in a few days are going to be interesting to see.

    Comment by MARodger — 8 Feb 2013 @ 5:04 AM

  97. Thomas@ 94, and Hank@ 95, we recently had a discussion about this over at TOD and the economics seem to have turned in favor of PV vs direct passive thermal. Personally, I still remain skeptical because I’m pretty sure that I can put together an inexpensive passive solar thermal hot water system just about anywhere in the world with some simple hand tools and parts found at the local recycling center. It may not be pretty when I’m done and it sure wouldn’t be up to code in the US but it would make hot water. Only in the industrialized western countries do you find passive solar systems costing thousands of dollars…

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 8 Feb 2013 @ 6:37 AM

  98. Speedy@73

    I have just tried your link and it works fine for me. I think your problem will be solved if you clear your cache.

    From your link I opened this: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/Fig.A2.pdf which is a chart of the temperature anomaly since 1880. It shows that since 1994 global temperatures have dropped by about 0.05 K, but what is more interesting is that since 1997 they have risen by 0.1K and since 1999 they have risen by 0.15K. So the argument that global warming has stopped is really just based on cherry picking the dates.

    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 8 Feb 2013 @ 7:12 AM

  99. re: Pierrehumbert’s OpEd in Slate.

    I don’t think it could be off-topic here because he is a contributor to RC, and proper accounting of fossil fuels is critical to estimating future CO2 levels.

    Comment by WebHubTelescope — 8 Feb 2013 @ 8:20 AM

  100. John (#91),

    Yes. You can also look at this paper: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/ha01110v.html

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 8 Feb 2013 @ 8:49 AM

  101. WHT (#99),

    He mistakenly mentions nuclear power so it must be OT.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 8 Feb 2013 @ 8:51 AM

  102. Alastair,
    I think you meant 2004 in your previous post. I do not think most observers would say that global warming has stopped. The most frequent terminology I have heard is a “pause”. Although some people like to “cherry-pick” certain dates, E\even this most recent decade does not affect the long term rate of 0.6C/century since 1880.

    Comment by Dan H. — 8 Feb 2013 @ 9:05 AM

  103. MA,
    You forgot to add the spin that “this would suggest that the global average sea surface temperature anomaly might have actually cooled in January.” What surprised me most was the high NH anomaly, considering the recent cold in Asia and Canada. I expected the SH anomaly to be the highest for Jan.

    Comment by Dan H. — 8 Feb 2013 @ 9:10 AM

  104. Thanks for the pointer to the Slate piece by Ray Pierrehumbert

    Temporarily cheap and abundant gas buys us some respite—which we should be using to put decarbonized energy systems in place. It will only do us good if we use this transitional period wisely.

    Yep. Are flaws he points out in the published cornucopian work written up in any of the science journals? Seems like retraction would be appropriate if they make claims of academic correctness. If they’re just PR spin, just call’em as bogus.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Feb 2013 @ 10:24 AM

  105. > Sorry that a tweet did not come with footnotes for people. – gavin]

    Now there’s a programming opportunity awaiting some clever coder:
    Write code for “Twitter Scholar” — with footnotes.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Feb 2013 @ 10:27 AM

  106. Dan H.”…the long term rate of 0.6C/century since 1880.”

    Except there are clear breakpoints at several years on that interval–most notably ~1945 and ~1975. But, hey Dan, why let the facts stand in the way of a good narrative.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Feb 2013 @ 12:03 PM

  107. Ray, there’s nobody home at that address.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Feb 2013 @ 12:42 PM

  108. #42 The notion that the US is meeting GHG goals is fishy. I my opinion, the real news is that we have been ramping up fracking for decades and the EPA has yet to measure (much less regulate) the GHG emmission.

    “ZAKARIA: The single biggest reason for the decline of CO2 emissions in the United States or the decline in the grade of increase has been the substitution of natural gas instead of coal. Because of fracking, natural gas has become cheap enough that we’re replacing coal. In fact, we are now doing better than the European Union in terms of meeting Kyoto-like targets. I’ve heard you on the subject, and it feels to me like you’re still very, you’re on the fence on the issue of fracking. And shouldn’t you be more fully in favor of it with regulations and with protections because it is almost everywhere replacing coal and that is a big net plus in terms of CO2 emissions?

    GORE: Well, we have to be careful in measuring the global warming impact of the strategies that we choose. If you look at the latest satellite pictures of North America, there’s a new ball of light as large as Chicago in rural North Dakota. What is that from? It’s from the flaring of gas in the fracking operations. The amount of leakage of methane, along with the flaring, which presumably can be stopped, but it’s not being stopped. The leak — each molecule of methane is 70 times as powerful as a molecule of CO2 over the short term. 10, 20 years or so and then it degrades to CO2 and water. But methane leakage may is – may now be occurring in sufficient quantities to outweigh the global warming advantages of switching from gas to coal. So, I think that the fracking story needs to be written carefully.”

    http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1302/03/fzgps.01.html

    Comment by Tom Adams — 8 Feb 2013 @ 12:56 PM

  109. Ray,
    So true. That is why I do not cherry pick particular intervals of higher, nor lower temperature changes. The interval from 1945 – 1975 was a period of global cooling (-0.2C/century), but it is not representative of the last 130+ years. While the most recent decade shows simillar results, it too, is not neccessarily representative of the whole.

    Comment by Dan H. — 8 Feb 2013 @ 1:18 PM

  110. Dan H. @102 or @109.
    Given Dr Spencer PhD does not measure SST and January’s SST will only be available a couple of weeks after he wrote “I have not checked to see“, and given ocean TLT that he would have been able to access have likely not “actually cooled in January” as he suggested they might but instead (according to RSS data) actually risen; given all this, I read Spencer’s comments less as spin and more as the words of somebody increasingly troubled and unable to say anything sensible. You yourself might not be in the best position to judge, but take it from me, when people are driven to spout nonsense it is often a symptom of denialism.

    Comment by MARodger — 8 Feb 2013 @ 2:14 PM

  111. Dan H,

    What value do you think there is in your “0.6C/century” mantra? Do you think it has any relevance for the next century? Do you think it illuminates underlying physical processes in any way?

    Comment by MartinJB — 8 Feb 2013 @ 2:56 PM

  112. Dan H., And yet 2005 and 2010 are tied as the hottest years on record, despite neither being a very impressive El Nino, and all but one of the 10 hottest years on record.

    eppure riscalda

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Feb 2013 @ 2:56 PM

  113. Martin,
    Yes. Once all the oscillatory movement has been removed (solar, ENSO, etc.), the remaining trend has been very consistent for a century and a quarter. Without a significant change in climate forcings, I see no reason why this coming century will deviate in any way.
    Ray,
    Individual years are irrelevant in the long run. Read again what I wrote about cherry picking.

    Comment by Dan H. — 8 Feb 2013 @ 3:16 PM

  114. Whether it’s your future income, or your grandkids’ future world — if you don’t know how to figure it out, you’re apt to take other people’s spin for facts:
    “we keep giving forum to paragons of mathematical illiteracy …. something is wrong when an opinionated individual who has demonstrated total ignorance of a subject matter gets called on over and over again as an expert on that subject”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Feb 2013 @ 4:07 PM

  115. David G. (# 88) asserts that “when the current surface temp warming plateau runs its course” and “temps begin to ramp up in earnest,” the minimalists will be set to warring, while MAR (# 96) responds by noting one of several indications that the bumps on our plateau nevertheless make evident a very high energy state. I think of the greater than a full degree F. leap in record heat for the continental US last year, and the round fraction of post-’07 remaining Arctic sea ice which melted. Dan (# 102) does not believe most observers believe warming has stopped, but maybe “paused,” but is taken to task by Ray (# 102) for avoiding mention of the “break points,” 1945 and 1975. Not to mention another inflection near the turn of the century.

    It is this circumstance which prompted me to mention, up thread (@ # 48) what I thought was a remarkable speculation contained at the conclusion of a very detailed (and difficult) paper by Dr. Mann and Dr. Park, where they looked at the unusual patterns exhibited by the ENSO events which occurred AT THE INFLECTION POINTS. It is not the very challenging read that I commend to this discussion, but rather the import of the concluding speculation: What if, David’s “ramp up” begins in 2025? And further, can we say anything, it being 2013, about those key prior “breaks”?

    I am loath to put any words in the author’s mouth, but given that that paper was written in 1999, the sense of the concluding discussion was that a 1945-analogue inflection was not so much a matter of if, but when. They implicitly anticipated what we now witness. That is, that the putative mechanism they were exploring, whereby the ocean could stealthily absorb perturbation energy via a deepening of warmed surface waters for as much as a couple/three decades, and then shift to a “reequilibration mode”, again on a multi-decadal time scheme, whereby the stored energy would be released to the surface, the air, and to our instruments and consciousness.

    If in fact that thirteen year old speculation is still valid, my initial thinking is that I’d sell out any long positions in Miami Beach high rises.

    Comment by Dave Peters — 8 Feb 2013 @ 4:24 PM

  116. Does nobody read the literature on Nat Gas? Three different studies indicate NG saves virtually nothing vs. coal. Two from the U.S., one from Australia, all recent, and that doesn’t include the contamination issue.

    http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/April11/GasDrillingDirtier.html

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/01/02/1388021/bridge-to-nowhere-noaa-confirms-high-methane-leakage-rate-up-to-9-from-gas-fields-gutting-climate-benefit/

    http://coalseamgasnews.org/news/world/australia/study-shows-air-emissions-near-fracking-sites-may-impact-health/

    Comment by Killian — 8 Feb 2013 @ 4:32 PM

  117. “On a recent thread …, “Dan H.” stated that what mattered was the long-term trend, which was a steady increase at a rate between about 0.006 and 0.0075 deg.C/yr, and that the Berkeley data reinforced this idea. He later said that it was a steady increase plus a cyclic variation with period about 60 years. Let’s examine those ideas closely, shall we?”

    “The most important difference between reality and the Dan H. model version 2 is the rapid upward trend over the last 30 years. Could it be … global warming? ….”

    You can look this stuff up.
    You can look these guys up.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Feb 2013 @ 4:41 PM

  118. The missing link

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Feb 2013 @ 4:44 PM

  119. I think that raypierre should be a little more careful about oil shale and its potential to do damage. He brings up the ratio energy returned on energy invested which might be around 4 for oil shale that needs to be cooked like the Green River shale. But it is a tricky ratio to work with. Thin film solar is getting to a ratio of 100 units back for every unit of energy put in to produce it. A system that used solar power to cook the shale then would have a return of 400 units for every unit put in to build it. That is like the days of gushers and John Wayne movies in terms of energy return. First Solar is producing panels at a cost of $0.67 per Watt and has further to go on efficiency which should get them down further. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Solar

    Cheap abundant renewable energy might just enhance the rate at which we can scrape the bottom of a very deep fossil carbon barrel.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 8 Feb 2013 @ 7:23 PM

  120. So, Dan H, can you show us where you’ve accounted for these “oscillatory movements” and found a consistent linear trend left over? I think a couple of the links that Hank “the great searcher” Roberts has brought to light (for those who weren’t there in the first place) rather put your claims in doubt. I, for one, find them tiresome and naive. Perhaps it’s time you put some serious scholarship behind them.

    Comment by MartinJB — 8 Feb 2013 @ 8:05 PM

  121. That’s “Hank ‘weak emulation of a Librarian’ Roberts” please. Your local library can help you far better.

    Look it up!

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Feb 2013 @ 12:40 AM

  122. Look it Up!

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Feb 2013 @ 12:57 AM

  123. Dave Peters @115.

    I fail to see what allowed you (and it makes no difference how loathed you were to put any words in the author’s mouth (sic)) to take a section of narrative from Park & Mann 1999, a section shot through with words like ‘hypothetical,’ like ‘speculative’, and then to state that the “sense … was not so much a matter of if, but when.” Perhaps you could explain?

    I could speculate myself. Perhaps you see the 13 year-old Park & Mann 1999 as in some way prescient given all the blabber we hear today about a “pause” in the warming, a “pause” often said to be demonstrated with surface temperatures over the last X years showing no statistically significant rise. If this is so, do be warned (and there are many who ignore this warning); the words “statistically significant” are both of them there for a reason. Their presence makes the demonstration of “pause” less than convincing.

    Comment by MARodger — 9 Feb 2013 @ 5:39 AM

  124. Chris Dudley@119,

    “Cheap abundant renewable energy might just enhance the rate at which we can scrape the bottom of a very deep fossil carbon barrel.”

    Oh, I wouldn’t worry about it…

    Fox News Claims Solar Won’t Work in America Because It’s Not Sunny Like Germany
    http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/02/07/fox_news_expert_on_solar_energy_germany_gets_a_lot_more_sun_than_we_do_video.html

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 9 Feb 2013 @ 6:54 AM

  125. Chris Dudley @119: followibg your argument, you can build solar panels at 100 EROI or gas at 4 EROI. If you then use that energy, you can make solar panels at 10000 EROI or gas at 400. If you use that, you can make solar panels … etc. Gas never catches up on energy terms.

    But normally ROI is determined at a fixed granularity, or else comparison is impossible.

    Comment by numerobis — 9 Feb 2013 @ 10:15 AM

  126. To use solar energy to process oil shale is mind boggling in scope. If you apply your intuition, consider what it will take to collect solar energy in the form of electricity and then use that electricity to (1) dig out that shale and process it or (2) in situ process the shale via heat and refine something approaching a liquid from the kerogen. And then to deliver it to its destination.

    The fear that Chris Dudley implicitly raises is that is is also possible that we will figure out how to bootstrap the entire oil shale process, whereby we use the energy from the oil shale to “extract itself”. That obviously is the case with crude oil, as all the energy going to extract the oil comes from oil-powered machinery and transportation.

    I think that occurred also in the early days of coal extraction, but at some point the returns start to diminish. Remember that coal is barely refined before it is used.

    That is the most frightening prospect in all this, that well more than half of the hydrocarbon energy becomes a kind of waste heat. This is energy that isn’t necessarily wasted because it is used for processing (see the concepts of EROEI and emergy), but that is essentially wasted as overhead and not directly contributing to propelling the world’s economy.

    Suddenly 80+ million barrels a day turns into 200 million equivalent barrels because 120 million barrels is used to process the 80. And that is just to keep in place with the needs of a growing global economy.

    That leads into Pierrehumbert’s reference to the Red Queen scenario in his Slate article. The Red Queen is about running faster just to keep in place. But oil shale makes it worse, as it turns the Red Queen into a voracious cannibal, while eating any seed corn and feedstock we have left.

    Pierrehumbert states at the end of his article “Temporarily cheap and abundant gas buys us some respite—which we should be using to put decarbonized energy systems in place.”

    Comment by WebHubTelescope — 9 Feb 2013 @ 10:58 AM

  127. Martin,
    There have been many publications regarding the clyclical nature of the recent temperature rise. Whether you agree with the interpretations is a matter of self-reflection, but to deny their existence appears to be prejudicial. Here are a few, many of which have been presented here before:

    http://arxiv.org/pdf/1105.3885.pdf

    http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1206/1206.5845.pdf

    http://iprc.soest.hawaii.edu/news/press_releases/2011/1100_years_ElNino.pdf

    http://www.cdejager.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/2010-Variable-solar-dynamo3.pdf

    https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/kravtsov/www/downloads/GlobalWarming_v4.pdf
    https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/kswanson/www/publications/2008GL037022_all.pdf

    Using the GISS data since 1880, the linear trend is 0.595 C/century (CRU is slightly higher – 0.615). Maximum deviations to the positive side from the linear trend occurred around 1944 and 2005, and to the negative side occurred around 1917 and 1976. Current temperatures are only mariginally about the linear trend line. Global temperatures are converger towards the long-term trend line, rather than diverging from it.

    [Response: The widespread assumption that the ability to calculate an ordinary least squares regression is equivalent to understanding a complex system never ceases to amaze. - gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 9 Feb 2013 @ 11:24 AM

  128. Shorter ‘Dan H.’: Throwing gasoline on the stove won’t cook the eggs faster.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Feb 2013 @ 12:07 PM

  129. Gavin @126 Response.
    Surely you underestimate the analytical powers of Dan H.. He assures us that the surface temperature record has been a linear trend since 1880 and this bold assertion cannot be unsupported, can it? After all, as Dan H. himself tells us @113, this linearity is evident “(o)nce all the oscillatory movement has been removed (solar, ENSO, etc.)
    The literature is encouraging in that it shows to some extent that the impact of removing “solar” and “ENSO” does reduce wobbles and bendy bits over some of the 1880-2012 record. So I am sure in the fullness of time some clever person, maybe even Dan H. himself, will demonstrate how to remove the impact of “etc.” Indeed, they may even pause long enough to explain what this phenomenon “etc” actually is.

    Comment by MARodger — 9 Feb 2013 @ 12:43 PM

  130. YOu can see the light from buring off US fracking gases from space:

    http://grist.org/list/you-can-see-north-dakotas-oil-fracking-fields-from-space/?utm_campaign=socialflow&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=tweet

    There is no regulation of this pratice. So how can we know that fracking is causing less forcing than coal?

    Comment by Tom Adams — 9 Feb 2013 @ 1:23 PM

  131. 32 Chris D, perhaps he’d have been better to say a “national energy policy that actually addresses climate change”?

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 9 Feb 2013 @ 7:39 PM

  132. 39 Windchaser,

    yep, the REAL answer is rationing. You get cheap gas/electricity for the bare minimum required for sustaining life in the modern world, and PAY THROUGH THE NOSE for each additional gram of CO2. Worked in WW2. Would work now.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 9 Feb 2013 @ 7:47 PM

  133. 44 Chris D said, ” I’d urge rather gentle punitive tariffs on Chinese imports ”

    While I’d urge rather gentle punitive tariffs on US exports by all other nations for EXACTLY the same reason.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 9 Feb 2013 @ 7:53 PM

  134. 51 SecularA totally destroys reality by saying, “The US wind energy industry had its strongest year ever in 2012 … installing a record 13,124 megawatts (MW) of electric generating capacity”

    When in FACT the quote translates to:

    ” In 2012 the US wind energy industry had yet another abysmal year, with a MERE 13 gigawatts of capacity out of 1000 gigawatts. (and those 13 are inflated by the fact that wind capacity and wind production are about half an order of magnitude off.) And since wind energy only lasts 20 years or so, the current production is such a yawner and so insignificant as to be only mentionable by those who try to cover up the truth – that the US has no reasonable energy policy and is doing absolutely nothing to prevent climate catastrophe.”

    Dude, you need to learn about orders of magnitude….

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 9 Feb 2013 @ 8:07 PM

  135. 60 SecularA said, “That’s rather more than “ZERO” fossil fueled power plants going off line, Edward.”

    But you gave ZIP, ZERO, NADA evidence that ANY of the closings had ANYTHING to do with wind. Yep, we’ve got a lot of ancient coal plants that MUST be retired. NOPE, that has NOTHING to do with renewables. When something wears out, it wears out. Please give a SINGLE example (I’m sure there is one somewhere) of a SINGLE coal plant that was retired EARLY due to wind production.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 9 Feb 2013 @ 8:21 PM

  136. 28 wili says: I’m also wondering about methanogenic bacteria that may be taking advantage of these ice-free regions.

    Seems I read something out of U of Alaska on methanogenesis and CO2/CH4 emissions. Basically, it’s both a positive feedback in releasing both, but a bit of a hysteresis effect in terms of converting CH4 to CO2, thus perhaps delaying impact of thaw. I remember thinking I doubt it works as strongly in the wild as it did in the lab. Found this on the subject: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17359267

    Also, some assumptions about methane getting to the atmosphere via clathrates seem optimistic given all the bubbles in the Arctic these days.

    29 Ray Ladbury says: but being sure in the absence of evidence is not a good thing.

    Certainly true about negative feedbacks when the evidence is primarily at the high end of expectations and models. While more people are alarmed about CH4 these days given the last seven years of melt, most scientists don’t seem overly concerned over time frames less than at least some decades. However, at least those of us alarmed about it have those high end real world results to bolster our concern something devastating this way comes on relatively short time scales. Simple logic does help in analysis and problem-solving. With decade on decade warming being obvious in the record, being “sure” CO2-forced warming has stopped or is non-existent doesn’t give one’s analysis much credence.

    39 Windchaser says: 2, The higher gas prices are largely a result of recent industrialization in Brazil, India, and China.

    Except that new yearly average highs have been set virtually every year from 2004 on, while production has been flat during that time, and even greater production the last year has failed to significantly reduce prices. Interestingly, until 2005 the oil industry had always been able to meet demand to manipulate prices. It has shown zero ability to do that in the last seven years. But, hey, it’s got nothing to do with supply or EROEI.

    Pierre gets it right, IMO: Charlie H says: Slate has just published an article by Raymond T. Pierrehumbert on oil abundance:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/02/u_s_shale_oil_are_we_headed_to_a_new_era_of_oil_abundance.html

    41 David B. Benson says: Mark Shapiro @40 — Modis states 1 km. I assume that is 1 km per cm.

    Actually, that is pixel size. This one is 250M pixel size, which makes it a pretty big floe. Of course, it could be they are using “pixel” in a way unfamiliar to me, but I doubt it.

    http://lance-modis.eosdis.nasa.gov/imagery/subsets/?subset=Antarctica_r05c06.2013036.terra.250m

    42 Brett Davidson says: Kevin (#18) and Chris (#32)… How sure can we be that we’re on the right path? Or perhaps there’s no good way of knowing?

    I’d argue since we are speaking of natural systems, which we have dramatically damaged by imposing human “solutions”, that we look to natural principles to fix… natural stuff. The application of specific design principles derived from observation of natural systems consistently seems to avoid the many pitfalls we create with a tech/complexity response.

    I.e., yes, there seem to be simple solutions all but a tiny fraction of people are currently aware of and interested in. A simple demonstration of maximizing natural potential: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reCemnJmkzI

    This set of principles is not commonly accepted at this time, but are increasingly supported by research. For example, Bill Mollison wrote his Designers Manual back in the early ’80s, and soil biology and the importance of it is taught in permaculture courses as a matter of fact, not speculation, yet here is a recent Australian show on the “new” understanding of the complexity of soil biology! Knowable always precedes provable. Given rate of change in climate and ecosystem degradation, people need to get comfortable with this or climatic changes will rapidly exceed our ability to respond – assuming they haven’t already.

    119 Chris Dudley says: Thin film solar is getting to a ratio of 100 units back for every unit of energy put in to produce it.

    I’d have to see the accounting on that. Sounds extremely high for a product that hasn’t been in the environment long enough to know how long it will last or how effective it will be long term.

    A system that used solar power to cook the shale then would have a return of 400 units for every unit put in to build it.

    Nope. You are only replacing the electricity-driven aspects of production. All the other portions would remain in the FF realm. Thing about oil, it is incredibly fungible; solar and/or electricity, not so much. As someone pointed out above, you’d basically need an entirely new infrastructure to replace oil in the process. And, again, the effects of fracking, water consumption, etc., are not addressed by using solar – not to mention the effects of using all that oil in the first place. Jevons’ Paradox, indeed.

    Comment by Killian — 9 Feb 2013 @ 10:23 PM

  137. But Dan H, the fact that you can site various publications positing cyclicalities ranging from 60 years to 80 years does not mean that a naive linear trend has any worth in this context.

    Please synthesize it for us. Which of the various cyclical signals do you find most credible (or is this just spaghetti on the wall?), and what is its physical interpretation? More importantly, how, after we subtract out this hypothetical periodic factor, do we get a predictive 0.6C/century trend given KNOWN changes to climate forcings such as greenhouse gasses and aerosols over the past 100+ years?

    It seems to me that the only way one can buy in to your linear trend having any worth is to ignore known physics.

    Comment by MartinJB — 10 Feb 2013 @ 12:54 AM

  138. I have a goal to help people “relate” to climate change through a one page comic panel.

    Thought ya’ll that read this blog might like my Kickstarter project around an Environmentally sensitive comic strip.
    Jim Duster, Austin, TX
    Project url:

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1675345456/earth-and-the-moon-comic-a-day-for-a-year?ref=email

    Comment by Jim Duster — 10 Feb 2013 @ 1:19 AM

  139. I thought I’d share with you some recent developments in my neck of the woods as I reflect on the current record blizzard in the US.
    Since I last wrote Australia had posted it’s hottest year on record coming out from a seeminly never ending record drought especially in SE Queensland where I am situated. Then we had record flooding to large parts of the state last month courtesy of a ‘small cyclone’ cat.1, which crossed the coast and ran out of legs and just hung around for days dumping metres of rain and +100kms/hr winds on us simultaneouly with record temps and wildfires further south in Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. Bundaberg a large town a few hundred kms north from us broke it’s last flood peak by over a metre and submerged around 4000 homes!. Now everyone knows that Australia is a country of extremes but this is taking our extremes to uncharted territories!.
    It seems to me that weather patterns are slowing down so if it’s dry is stays dry a lot longer, conversely if it’s a rain event it will remain in one place as the jet stream winds have either moved elsewhere or are slowing down generally. The extreme cold and blizzard in NE USA is probably due again to a very slow system driven by increased water vapour from a heating altantic ocean. Seems everywhere you look in the world records are tumbling like dominos. Welcome to Climate Change guys!

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 10 Feb 2013 @ 3:43 AM

  140. I am about to buy the book by Andrew Guzman “Overheated..The human cost of cliamte change”. I read a review of the book and I believe the salient issues he raises are critically important to our survival. Namely he wonders how the world is going to come together on a volantary basis and create hard guidlines or even hard new laws governing national/global limits of GHG. Taking Australia as one example the incumbent gov has introduces a very unpopular carbon tax on our biggest 400 carbon emitting companies, despite the opposition stating the world will cease to exist upon the implementation of this tax nothing of the sort has happened and inflation has not jumped correspondingly. However the populace hates this tax and will no doubt evict the gov in this September’s fed election. The leader of our fed oppostion does not even acknowledge climate change as real and will reverse this new tax. This is how democracy works and this is why we need a new global system to meet the challenges of CC head on and make dramatic sweeping changes straight away, as I have already mentioned before, the changes should be at 65:35 (CC adaptation: CC mitigation). It’s no good investing the majority of the global funds in mitigation and then to watch city after city going under the waves for lack of funds for adaptation strategies due to the immense inertia and time lag of the climatic system.
    Back to Guzman..he also paints a very bleak picture as early as 2050 if we do not act now. In a nutshell the longer we procrastinate and delay and seek 100% proof and approval for every recommendation the deeper our grave will be. At this very moment it’s going to require a herculean effort to launch ourselves out of the abysse, grappling desperatly at the crumbling edge with our finger nails.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 10 Feb 2013 @ 4:46 AM

  141. #135 Jim Larsen: “Please give a SINGLE example (I’m sure there is one somewhere) of a SINGLE coal plant that was retired EARLY due to wind production.”

    Probably got something for you here:

    EON in germany planned to replace old coal plants going out ouf order for age in January 2013 by a new coal plant called “Staudinger 6″, but gave up this plan due to:
    “the current economical situation caused by the move to renewable energy does not give the company sufficient security in the investment”.

    http://www.fr-online.de/hanau/staudinger-ausbaustopp-gluecksgefuehle-und-aengste,1472866,20879144.html

    Another source says:
    http://www.br.de/franken/inhalt/aktuelles-aus-franken/kein-ausbau-kraftwerk-staudinger-100.html

    “Due to the solar boom the plant would not pay off”.

    http://www.kraftwerk-staudinger.com/pages/ekw_de/index.htm

    It is not neccessary that they “retired EARLY”, sufficient not to build new ones.

    There have also been protests, small ones, but since the failures with the nuclear plants I think german investors might take them seriously.

    http://www.stopp-staudinger.de/Stopp-Staudinger/News/News.html

    In 1972-1991 a fast breeder reactor was built in germany, but was cancelled due to strong protests before it ever went critcal.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SNR-300

    Comment by Bernd Herd — 10 Feb 2013 @ 5:26 AM

  142. #136 Killian,

    > You are only replacing the electricity-driven aspects of production
    If only using solar panels, then I’d agree.

    A solar concentrator could generate an awesome amount of energy in any form to anywhere it’s needed using molten salts and I imagine could completely supplant FFs. Primary heat energy can drive the refining process, and derived generated electricity could run everything else, smaller furnaces, motors, fleet charging, light etc, day and night.

    A combination of solar panels and CSP with an electric fleet of mining machinery could “green” the tarsands destruction still further.

    The thought of renewables being “abused” in this way for “FF-less” production of yet more FF is an unsettling irony.

    Comment by Andy Lee Robinson — 10 Feb 2013 @ 12:28 PM

  143. Some recommended reading for those interested in renewable energy:

    Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Factbook
    From Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the Business Council on Sustainable Energy

    10 Huge Lessons We’ve Learned From Solar Power Success In Germany
    By Zachary Shahan
    CleanTechnica.com
    02/09/2013

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 10 Feb 2013 @ 2:01 PM

  144. Martin,
    The 60-year cycle appears most credible, as its signal can be seen in the temperature record over the past 133 years. Various publications attribute this to solar influences, while others to atmospheric/oceanic interactions. In realty, it is probably all inter-related. The 0.6C/century trend is not predictive. Rather, it is simply the net result of the observed data. A linear trend is expected from known physics; i.e. that an exponential increase in atmospheric CO2 will yield a linear increase in temperature. I am curious as to what other physics you are referring to in your previous statement.

    Comment by Dan H. — 10 Feb 2013 @ 5:02 PM

  145. #143–Thanks, SA!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 10 Feb 2013 @ 5:08 PM

  146. MartinJB @137.
    I am of the opinion that you ask too much of Dan H. The upward trend of 0.6ºC/century that Hank R. @117 noted Dan H. has previously asserted is seen in the BEST temperature record doesn’t bear out his 60 year oscillation as was pointed out to him at the time with this graphic. Examining the graphic, if you chop off the pre-1880 data and squint real hard, it still doesn’t. The “signal can be seen in the temperature record over the past 133 years” only if you actually close your eyes. It is then that the “60-year cycle appears most credible.

    Comment by MARodger — 10 Feb 2013 @ 6:50 PM

  147. “… Monckton claims that an “exponential increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration would result in a linear increase in global temperature”. But of course that depends on what the exponent is …. “

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Feb 2013 @ 7:27 PM

  148. WHT (#126),

    I was not really getting at that. raypierre and Charlie Hall were speaking to that. I was saying something quite different.

    A purist (and correct) trajectory switching to renewable energy would have us converting atmospheric carbon dioxide into liquid fuels using either a biocarbon feedstock (H2CAR concept) or directly like the Navy. http://www.nrl.navy.mil/media/news-releases/2012/fueling-the-fleet-navy-looks-to-the-seas

    But, while the EROEI for oil shale looks bad, about 4, a combined solar extraction system that uses renewables to cook out that oil has more yield in liquid fuels (for the amount of generation devoted) than the purist approach. That gives the Red Queen a skateboard.

    The energy payback time for a First Solar set up in Southern Europe is a about 0.8 years with about 0.55 years for the modules themselves and the rest for the balance of the system (BoS). So, we are already seeing guaranteed EROEI above 30 in thin film solar. The actual number will be higher since the modules will outlast their guarantees and the BoS gets reused as the modules are eventually replaced. Over time, this can only get more favorable. So, we certainly can ignore the Red Queen race based on EROEI and the race on the climate seems more like smashing into a tree than running on a treadmill.

    We have the energy wherewithal to burn all the fossil carbon there is even when there is only a small energy advantage to doing that, such as for oil shale.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 10 Feb 2013 @ 9:15 PM

  149. Is anyone currently doing any research into possible changes in the composition (as distinct from quantity) of precipitation in the lands surrounding the Arctic Ocean? It occurs to me that there might be a huge difference between the effects of rain and the equivalent amount of snow on Permafrost.

    Comment by ozajh — 10 Feb 2013 @ 11:21 PM

  150. 142 Andy Lee Well, we weren’t talking about solar concentrators. I do generally agree they may be better than PV, but I’ve not seen an analysis on this in a long time. Doesn’t matter in the end: neither is actually sustainable as currently practiced. Nothing discussed here is that I’ve read. It all fails the very first requirement: to be endless. Then the second: deal with exponential increases. At least a few people do mention reduced consumption.

    There are solutions that do all three, but you’ll have to live and govern differently. It’s hardly shocking that only a tiny fraction of solutions are realistic about the amount of change needed when the lifestyle needed is regarded as “backwards” and “subsistence” by…. almost everyone.

    Tech ain’t gonna save ya, folks. Please read Tainter and Diamond. Then do some simple multiplication. Sad thing is, this isn’t even slightly hard to understand, yet…

    148 Chris Dudley,

    How deep does that analysis go? From ore to installation and demolition and replacement? And do we have any thin film that’s been out in the real world for, oh, thirty or a hundred years? And just how many people over how many centuries could use this before some critical resource involved runs out?

    If you’re not asking these questions of *everything*, you are not even approaching a discussion about sustainability. Hope this is obvious.

    Comment by Killian — 11 Feb 2013 @ 1:31 AM

  151. Jim (#133),

    You may not we aware that the thread started by noting that the US has made dramatic cuts in emissions. The US thus has safe harbor regarding the onset of dangerous climate change. It is taking action to avoid the damage from dangerous climate change.

    It sounds as though you want to encourage the US to increase emissions.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 11 Feb 2013 @ 7:35 AM

  152. Killian wrote: “… solar concentrators. I do generally agree they may be better than PV, but I’ve not seen an analysis on this in a long time. Doesn’t matter in the end: neither is actually sustainable as currently practiced …”

    With all due respect, you keep repeating this claim that neither photovoltaics nor concentrating solar thermal power plants are “sustainable as currently practiced” but you have yet to offer any substantive support for that assertion.

    Indeed, your comments indicate little knowledge of what “current practice” actually is in those technologies. For example, here you express the opinion that you “generally agree” that solar concentrators “may be better” (better how?) than photovoltaics — and then acknowledge that you have “not seen an analysis on this in a long time”.

    Perhaps the information that underlies your opinions needs updating. And I’d suggest also that your use of the term “sustainable” needs clarification.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 11 Feb 2013 @ 9:52 AM

  153. > ozajh
    asks if there might be a
    > … difference between the effects of rain and the
    > equivalent amount of snow on Permafrost.

    Yes.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=permafrost+rain+snow
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=permafrost+rain+snow

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Feb 2013 @ 1:00 PM

  154. Hank (#153),

    Thanks. Looks like Putkonen and Roe’s research (the first reference Google scholar presented) confirms my idle thinking, and their paper makes reference at the end to amplification effects.

    That doesn’t actually make me feel better, since I can’t help wondering whether we’re going to see a massive increase in annual rainfall over the Northern Hemisphere’s Permafrost region due to the loss of the Sea Ice.

    Comment by ozajh — 11 Feb 2013 @ 9:38 PM

  155. 152 SA,

    Let’s take the simplest first. I used to spend a lot of time reading (daily, for years) what I consider to easily be the best energy site on the internet. There, many discussions about PV and CS were had, but it has literally been years since I read them so did not want to state categorically that one or the other had inherent advantages, though my memory is of believing CS is overall better. A couple quick bits that indicate why this might be: Mirrors are much easier to make and are more sustainable than PV. SC is overall a simpler technology. Etc. The biggest downside to CS is it is harder to do in a massively distributed system where I am of the opinion a massively distributed energy system is preferable to one made up of large companies, or what have you, running the energy grid. The big bugaboo is the sustainability/toxicity issues with current PV.

    Here’s a current article on toxicity and PV: http://business.financialpost.com/2013/02/11/solar-panel-makers-grapple-with-hazardous-waste-problem/?__lsa=ab2e-67bc

    Please note: if any part of the process of making PV is toxic, and that toxic material cannot be *ultimately* brought back into the system in a way that is not toxic, or put into a use where the toxicity is somehow sequestered, it violates principles of sustainability and ultimately should be abandoned.

    Indeed, your comments indicate little knowledge of what “current practice” actually is in those technologies.

    I know at least some solar has toxicity issues. But, all I actually have to know is whether the principles of sustainable systems are being violated. Sometimes that requires specific knowledge, but it quite often does not. So long as the general info out there is reliable, it’s really not much of an issue. Example: Why is nuclear power unsustainable? Two simple facts: uses too much water/artificially warms water causing imbalances in system where the water is released and, even more simply, the waste cannot be disposed of safely nor be used for some other purpose which will safely sequester its dangers.

    Unsustainable.

    I’m not a nuclear engineer nor a scientist, nor do I need to be to speak accurately and with awareness on that particular issue. Same holds true for solar. What do I need to know? Some PV panels involve an issue with toxic materials, and it is unlikely that full cradle-grave accounting for either can be considered sustainable. If such an accounting exists, I have never seen it. Do you know of one? If not, then the best we can do is guestimate from what we do know. And, to claim it *is* sustainable without such a study would be the same as the errors we have made with so many technologies that have helped destroy our ecosphere. In fact, the only rational thing to do is to assume it is not until it is proven that it is.

    Is the making of even the cells themselves sustainable? Highly doubtful. Please notice I do not say they are not, but given how the materials are generated… uh, very unlikely.

    Good enough for you? If not, go search theoildrum.com for discussions of PV and CS.

    If you wanted a more useful conversation you might simply offer clarifications where you thought needed and ask me to restate if necessary. Please do note there are plenty of you to get into the specifics of technology. Really, need I do that? But there are virtually none here stressing sustainability in any way that reflects what the concept actually means.

    I think that is where your concern should lie, and I suggest that your questioning of me implies your definition of sustainability is likely quite different from mine, and, thus, from my perspective, insufficient. If it were sufficient, you would raise different issues… and start with the nature of sustainable systems rather than the accuracy of my info – which, again, you seem to believe you can correct. Feel free to do so.

    Given I’ve stated what I think the base criteria is for a definition of sustainability is, what’s the problem? I’m far from being inconsistent.

    Comment by Killian — 11 Feb 2013 @ 10:26 PM

  156. MARoger @ 123

    Thanks so much for responding to my mentioning Mann & Park (1999).

    You are SO correct. I struggled to comprehend the methods used in that paper some weeks back, and mentioned it partly due to the rather uncanny anticipation of a “lull” in the upward march of global temperatures. The fuzz in my language reflected more my own lagging mental digestion of the circumstance, that they wrote before there was any hint of such a lull, other than drawing the analogue to the middle decades of the last century. If my wording implies they predicted a lull, I should state they made no such prediction.

    So, in a six paragraph concluding “discussion,” the whole of which was devoted to precisely that analogy, Mann & Park identify (flag) “the coincidence of significant ENSO variations with the irregularities (i.e, “breaks” at 1920, 1940 and 1975) in the upward trend of average temperatures,” as deserving of attention. They then propose a “hypothetical scenario to frame further investigation.” Where I remarked that they “implicitly anticipated” another inflection into a lull phase, it is rather that their hypothesized, speculative, “flywheel” mechanism EXPLICITLY entails both multi-decadal phases of surface stasis, followed by secular warming. Both, importantly, are possibly propelled by accumulating forcing.

    I have been away from climate literature for better than a decade. For all I know, the science may well have conquered the mystery of the mid-decades “hiatus” of the past century. A minor reason for raising the M/P speculation, was that a knowing comment might speed me to said solution.

    The major reason is the contemplation of the political dimension to “flywheeled” warming. The gerrymandering behind the current Congress won’t come up for review on the calendar until 2020, and palm trees will likely be growing in Alaska before Wyoming will no longer be able to cancel California in the US Senate. For thirty six years I have thought this problem unapproached by any other, yet the marginal penalty (cost) for combusting, in the world’s premier practitioner of atmospheric carbonation, is still zero. (Another, on your speculation, to follow.)

    Comment by Dave Peters — 12 Feb 2013 @ 12:27 AM

  157. 155 Killian: SecularAnimist is part of a group that always says the same things about renewables and alternatives. Renewables still have the same problem: Intermittency. For concentrated solar heat, they claim they can store heat in molten salt. See:
    http://www.nrel.gov/csp/troughnet/pdfs/2007/martin_andasol_pictures_storage.pdf
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/12/06/tcase7/

    The problem is, they will never finish the computation. The molten salt is 60% sodium nitrate [NaNO3] and 40% potassium nitrate [KNO3]. 28,500 tons of this mixture are required for 7 hours for a plant that makes 49.9 MWe peak (20 MWe average). They never bother to figure out how much molten salt is required to provide electricity to the whole world for a week, and whether there is that much “salt” available.

    Nor will they figure out how much it would cost to connect the whole world to a superconducting grid. I suspect that either they cannot or they know that renewables are ruled out by such calculations. I challenge them to take some city [not mine] off the grid via renewables to prove it. They never do. See: http://tpdx.org/ and http://www.thedirt.org/tpdx

    Portland, Oregon is trying to do the experiment. Their board of directors quit, one by one. No wonder. Once you understand it, you don’t want to be in that group.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 12 Feb 2013 @ 2:06 AM

  158. Lawrence (#’s 139 & 140)

    Our recent New England snow, while nearly setting the record, did not linger, or so it was stated by one meteorologist, who called it “fast moving.”

    Several weeks back, perhaps to the solstice, Australia made the news here, owing to the need of your weather service, to inaugurate the use of an altogether new color for depicting temperatures attained in your most heated regions. Any details to that?

    As to the extremes in some territories being taken to a wholly new territory, the spring before last,our Northern Rockies snow melt overflowed the Missouri River, and caused authorities to open relief dams on the lower Mississippi (to protect New Orleans from flooding), which had not been necessary for several decades. The following summer (’12), they were blasting obstacles on that river bottom, so that barges could navigate historically low water levels. They may still be at it.

    I had always thought, that OUR jet stream might be far more readily incited to getting it’s britches in a twist, than yours, owing to the fact that we are so much more provocatively altering our Pole. Apparently, not.

    You may be amused to learn that whilst we have grown a major new metropolis on NASA infrared night images (our Williston Basin oil boom wells are flaring a lot of associated natural gas), Australia has outdone us by growing a whole handful of new fake cities–your wildfires.

    Lastly, you ought take some considerable pride in having a government capable of registering the interests of the unborn, when pitted against the living and the established holders of capital, even if temporarily, should your tax fall as you predict. Twenty years ago, we elected an astute student who had learned at the immediate feet of the Olympian figure who perhaps more than any other soul, lifted the curtain upon the modern era of climate science (oceanographer Roger Revelle), to our Vice Presidency. Mr. Gore’s efforts to impose a tax went nearly nowhere, and we appear to be further from that crucial accomplishment now, or to some facsimile, than we were then.

    Comment by Dave Peters — 12 Feb 2013 @ 4:12 AM

  159. Killian,
    There are two problems with your sourcing. First, while The Oildrum is an excellent source, any single source is going to introduce bias. Second, you are talking about a field that is extremely fluid and changing rapidly in ways that are complex and not given to a simple trend analysis. The issues wrt toxicity in PV manufacture are no worse than any other semiconductor fab. The issues are heightened by scale, but they can be ameliorated.

    Nukes, likewise. The waste issue could largely be resolved, along with concerns about the finitude of fissionable material, were it not for fears of proliferation. Also, new reactor designs have much lower water demand. Of course, that still doesn’t get us to sustainability.

    “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”–Mark Twain

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Feb 2013 @ 5:25 AM

  160. Killian (#155),

    I read the article and it sounds as though the US industry is handling waste correctly. I calculated once that the energy needed to transport coal to a power plant is 200 times that needed to transport materials involved in deploying rooftop silicon PV for the same power produced, and the US is pretty involved in thin film solar which uses even less materials than silicon. The addition to the carbon footprint thus seems exaggerated.

    On the difference between concentrated solar(CS) and photovoltaics (PV), for generation, CS has had some advantages over PV in desert locations with little cloud cover. Clouds interrupt CS completely. PV is better on the East Coast, for example. In the past, CS has been the best choice for hot water in any location owing to much higher efficiency in that application overwhelming cloudiness problems even with the extra water tanks that entailed. Now, however, with the falling price of PV, there are reports of PV being used for dedicated water heating as well (leaving out the inverter). The falling price of PV has also been enticing some large new desert installations as well where CS had a cost advantage previously. http://www.renewablegreenenergypower.com/solar-energy-facts-concentrated-solar-power-csp-vs-photovoltaic-pv-panels/

    An advantage of CS is that short term storage of the collected heat can be quite efficient and generation delayed by hours to days. This requires extra facilities just as PV would need batteries or pumped hydro for storage, but the cost has been lower. A switch to more electric transportation should provide a supply of used batteries that are no longer transportation grade but can provide vast low cost stationary power storage. Thus, the CS advantage on storage may diminish over the next 15 to 20 years.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 12 Feb 2013 @ 7:43 AM

  161. Killian (#150),

    First Solar has had it’s guarantee claims substantiated by testing at NREL. They also have recycling as part of their business model. Like silicon based PV, their supply chain does not face resource limitations.

    You may have a slight defect in your thinking about renewables. You are asking about centuries and some critical resource running out. But, once we make the switch, we don’t keep on consuming new resources. We recycle. Based on demographics, and the much higher efficiency of energy use with renewables compared to fossil fuels the question is are resources sufficient to maintain the current world primary energy consumption which would result in a per capita doubling of energy services. No need to look at resources centuries out, just look at the feasibility of a thirty year transition period. The system in place then is the resource. And, it gets cheaper and cheaper going forward since the energy used for refining materials is not needed when recycling.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 12 Feb 2013 @ 9:11 AM

  162. And, back in Keystone country:

    http://news.yahoo.com/huge-climate-change-rally-targets-keystone-xl-pipeline-200500820.html

    I wish I were free to make the trip, fossil-fueled though it would (still) necessarily be.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 12 Feb 2013 @ 9:36 AM

  163. Edward Greisch wrote: “Nor will they figure out how much it would cost to connect the whole world to a superconducting grid.”

    That’s because there’s no necessity to do any such thing.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 12 Feb 2013 @ 9:59 AM

  164. Killian wrote: “all I actually have to know is whether the principles of sustainable systems are being violated. Sometimes that requires specific knowledge, but it quite often does not”

    It is beyond me how you can “know” whether a specific technology “violates the principles of sustainable systems” without “specific knowledge” of that technology.

    It makes a difference whether specific material feedstocks are abundant or rare (silicon is the second-most abundant element in the Earth’s crust), and whether or not they can be recycled (see here and here).

    Moreover, there is always the risk with “principles” of making the perfect the enemy of the good.

    We are facing a short-term, urgent, fast-moving threat to our civilization, and indeed to the entire Earth’s biosphere, and we need a VERY quick fix — which means using the technology (because it is a technical problem) that we (fortunately) have at hand, NOW. Within years, not decades.

    If, at some level, that technology encounters “sustainability” limits over the course of centuries, we can deal with that then.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 12 Feb 2013 @ 10:14 AM

  165. On the permafrost issue, some new and disturbing finds by Cory, Kling et al

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/02/05/1214104110

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130211162116.htm

    Comment by Cleber — 12 Feb 2013 @ 11:18 AM

  166. Comment by Edward Greisch @155

    “They never bother to figure out how much molten salt is required to provide electricity to the whole world for a week, and whether there is that much “salt” available.”

    Now there’s a salty strawman if ever there was one…

    “Nor will they figure out how much it would cost to connect the whole world to a superconducting grid.”

    And that one is a super cool strawman!

    “Renewables still have the same problem: Intermittency.”

    Perhaps that could actually be considered a feature and not a bug. Where is it written that evrything has to be on, 24/7, everywhere? Why not provide back up only for certain critical systems. Different expectations, different paradigm. Turn off all those neon signs and go enjoy some moonlit walks on the beach. In case you are interested, I have some extremely low wattage, sea turtle safe, orange hued LED flashlights, that I could lend you… My home buit solar generator can keep charging them for at least another 30 years or so.

    To be clear, I have never heard of any serious proponents for renewables say that it is possible to substitute for 100% of the energy needs of our current civilization but to me that’s a fault of our civilization, not the fault of any of our available technologies for harvesting and using renewable energy.

    Cheers!

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 12 Feb 2013 @ 11:43 AM

  167. 163 SecularAnimist: If you can’t store a whole week’s worth of energy, you need room temperature superconductors. Either or. You can do neither. Therefore, renewables are out. Renewables are too intermittent, even in the desert to power industrial civilization 24/7/365. Again SecularAnimist strikes out but won’t admit it. Again:

    BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED
    Reference: bravenewclimate.com/2011/10/29/gws-sg-es/
    
Geographical wind smoothing, supergrids and energy storage
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/11/13/energy-storage-dt/#more-5281
    ssis.arts.unsw.edu.au/tsw/RE.html
RENEWABLE ENERGY – CANNOT SUSTAIN AN ENERGY-INTENSIVE SOCIETY. 
    bravenewclimate.com/2011/07/03/lacklustre-colorado-solar/
Be sure to read the linked papers. In the Arizona desert, solar has dropouts in mid day for no apparent reason.
    Wind: There are rare places where wind works locally, but to power, for example, all of Europe, all of Europe and all of Asia has to be linked into one very expensive grid. You need the nameplate power times 4 spread over 12 time zones to get reliable power. The line losses are huge unless you have a superconducting grid, and superconductors now available require liquid nitrogen cooling.
    bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/27/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-response-to-lang/
    
Nuclear is the only non-CO2 making electricity source that actually works in all weather everywhere.
    BATTERIES ARE NOT INCLUDED in renewable systems.
    
See: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner –
    
”GVEA s Fairbanks battery bank keeps lights on”
    http://newsminer.com/view/full_story/12739242/article-GVEA-s-Fairbanks-battery-bank-keeps-lights-on?
    Fairbanks, AK spent $35 million in 2003 for a battery backup that can keep the power on in Fairbanks for 7 or 15 minutes, depending on how bad the blackout is. That is enough time to start up their diesel backup. Diesel fuel is fossil fuel.
    To go with renewables only, you need a whole week’s worth of battery power for the whole world. How much does that cost? Hint: You run out of the things you need to make batteries very quickly. BraveNewClimate addressed that question for 2 kinds of batteries.
    Energy Storage Discussion Thread
bravenewclimate.com/2011/11/13/energy-storage-dt/

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 12 Feb 2013 @ 1:50 PM

  168. People who so strongly favor renewable energy inevitably call for fossil fuel “backup” power because renewables give you power about 20% of the time each. Renewables are just a cover-up for continuing to burn fossil fuel. The “renewables” campaign could be financed by the Koch brothers, just like the Tea Party is.
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/02/11/1573061/study-confirms-tea-party-was-created-by-big-tobacco-and-pollutocrat-kochs/

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 12 Feb 2013 @ 3:02 PM

  169. aside:
    > Fred Magyar … turtle safe LEDs
    I use those; I’d appreciate a pointer if you build’em or have a source.
    Disposable email, good for a week or two:
    fputskhd7q@snkmail.com

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Feb 2013 @ 4:58 PM

  170. Edward (#157),

    You are not thinking very clearly. Molten salt need only be the heat transfer fluid. Your heat reservoir could be mostly solid if you want a big one.

    And, the current grid is mostly non-superconducting. It will become more superconducting if it saves money. That has little to do with the form of generation.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 12 Feb 2013 @ 5:03 PM

  171. Isn’t it possible to use wind and solar power to pump water back uphill to reservoirs where it can be stored and used when necessary? When the wind stops and it’s night, there will still be water to use. Renewables are intermittent, but can’t you take out the slack in the system by storing the energy in the potential of water behind a dam?

    Comment by BC Nurse Prof — 12 Feb 2013 @ 5:07 PM

  172. Could we refrain from comments regarding energy, automobiles and trains here? Stick to climatology, please. There are ample other sites for those other, associated topics. One is
    http://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/index.cgi
    which has commenters from various countries around the world; looks somewhat more cosmopolitan than the corresponding commentary here.

    [The reCAPTCHA oracle agrees, suggesting formsDon suitable.]

    Comment by David B. Benson — 12 Feb 2013 @ 5:21 PM

  173. “RENEWABLE ENERGY – CANNOT SUSTAIN AN ENERGY-INTENSIVE SOCIETY”

    So which variable do we fiddle first?

    The problem with y’all arguing about sustainability, is you constantly ignore the critical variables: the size of the population and humanities focus on continuing exponential growth. Nukes or any other substitute power are not a panacea – there is no “quick fix”, particularly in SA’s time frame, if there were China would be all over it – certainly nukes won’t happen in years, currently not even in decades.

    How is the US doing on recycling? And how’s Detroit getting on with the ‘permaculture’ Killian? Growing banana trees in the parks?

    Comment by flxible — 12 Feb 2013 @ 5:58 PM

  174. OK, I wanna be the first to post a reference to
    Science Magazine’s publication of “… a convincing refutation of Darwin’s hypothesis”

    Watch for it to grow legs and start reproducing …

    (No, not his _big_ hypothesis, a much smaller hypothesis)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Feb 2013 @ 6:14 PM

  175. 159 Ray Ladbury said: Killian,There are two problems with your sourcing. First, while The Oildrum is an excellent source, any single source is going to introduce bias.

    Describing The Oil Drum as a single source is nonsensical.

    The issues wrt toxicity in PV manufacture are no worse than any other semiconductor fab.

    Irrelevant point. Sustainable is sustainable. noting another industry is also unsustainable gets us nowhere.

    Nukes… that still doesn’t get us to sustainability.

    Then why are you discussing them further? Until they are, they are irrelevant.

    160 Chris Dudley said, I read the article and it sounds as though the US industry is handling waste correctly.

    Does that mean sustainably? No? Then irrelevant.

    The addition to the carbon footprint thus seems exaggerated.

    The footprint needs to go in reverse, so…

    A switch to more electric transportation should provide a supply of used batteries

    Sadly, know of no sustainable battery, either. Well, probably untrue. Land batteries might be.

    Chris Dudley said, First Solar has had it’s guarantee claims substantiated by testing at NREL.

    What guarantee claims, and what have they to do with determining sustainability?

    They also have recycling as part of their business model. Like silicon based PV, their supply chain does not face resource limitations.

    1. Not buying it. 2. Got links? Quite a claim, and definitely worth checking. BUT, it’s not just resource chain. Every aspect of production, delivery, maintenance and replacement has to be sustainable. They figured out how to make sustainable factories and transport, e.g.?

    You may have a slight defect in your thinking about renewables. You are asking about centuries and some critical resource running out. But, once we make the switch, we don’t keep on consuming new resources. We recycle…

    No need to look at resources centuries out, just look at the feasibility of a thirty year transition period. The system in place then is the resource.

    Yeah… no. Even extremely recyclable resources such as steel will wear out with time. They are not endlessly recyclable. If you know of a list of resources that are endlessly recyclable, please provide a source. But, some truly renewable resources, such as water, still face rate of use limits. In all discussions of sustainability and resource limits it is vital to consider the above with reference to Liebig’s Law of the Minimum. It only takes the loss of one critical element to bring a system crashing down. That is, every element in a system/machine/whatever has to be sustainable. There is no such thing as kind of sustainable: It’s a threshold.

    164 SA (unfortunately) saidKillian wrote: “all I actually have to know is whether the principles of sustainable systems are being violated. Sometimes that requires specific knowledge, but it quite often does not”

    It is beyond me how you can “know” whether a specific technology “violates the principles of sustainable systems” without “specific knowledge” of that technology.

    Except I covered that with several quite clear examples and what I believe to have been a clear explanation of the logic. Borrowing from Liebig’s Minimum, one need not be an expert about a given system so long as one knows that a given element in that system is unsustainable. That is, quite literally, all you need to know. Until that element is made sustainably, that system is unsustainable.

    It makes a difference whether specific material feedstocks are abundant…

    Actually, all that matters is whether they are sustainable. Humankind has existed for a minimum of 100,000 years in our present form, and likely closer to 200,000. You want to talk about sustainability, you have to think in those time frames. Assuming we wisely use resources in the future, continued R&D seems a good use of some, relatively limited, non-renewable resources to create/discover ways to make more of what we have sustainable and perhaps go harvest additional materials extra-terrestrially, but these actions should not be what we rely on. Get to sustainability first, then you have a much better sense of what you have left to pursue tech with.

    Moreover, there is always the risk with “principles” of making the perfect the enemy of the good.

    Does not apply. > > > We are facing a short-term, urgent, fast-moving threat to our civilization, and indeed to the entire Earth’s biosphere, and we need a VERY quick fix — which means using the technology (because it is a technical problem) that we (fortunately) have at hand, NOW. Within years, not decades.

    And, so, I’ve spoken about leveraging before. Permaculturists would term this entire discussion one of “Appropriate Technology.” Unfortunately, some here are reacting as I’ve said “you can never use technology A, B and C,” despite the fact I have commented repeatedly on leveraging and appropriate technology. So, there is no enemy of the good in this discussion. Unsustainable = problem; sustainable = solution.

    The true danger lies in believing good enough is good enough. It’s not. An unsustainable future likely equals collapse, if not extinction. Why risk it when sustainability is so simple? This is all the more true if the time frames are as short as you say they are, no? The only choice is rapid de-carbonization into sustainability. (And even that may not save us if certain natural systems are already past tipping points.) There is not time, imo, to play at preserving unsustainable systems. There is only time to get to sustainability. Then you can go back and play with continued R&D.

    If, at some level, that technology encounters “sustainability” limits over the course of centuries, we can deal with that then.

    I know of no technology that has no resource limits somewhere in it’s chain. Feel free to link to a list of them if you know of any. Heck, even with solar, is every piece of every panel, every ore operation, every transport system, every installation process and materials sustainable? I don’t even need to look it up: No.

    Fred Magyar said, To be clear, I have never heard of any serious proponents for renewables say that it is possible to substitute for 100% of the energy needs of our current civilization

    Bingo. This is the single greatest flaw in all discussions of renewables. And the flaws are obvious. As currently made, I know of no sustainable “renewable.” There are lo-tech versions, typically DIY that may be, but I’ve not looked into the sustainability, e.g., of auto generators, which can be used to make a very serviceable 1kW wind generator.

    The idea we can support current consumption with current renewables is laughable. I do not mean to be rude, it is truly absurd. A quick survey of simple issues demonstrates this. For example, if the US were to maintain it’s current energy consumption and, indeed, the entire planet went renewable as is, what happens eventually? All those other nations want to live like we do. There is no aspect of living on this planet that is renewable with 9 billion people living like Americans. It’s been estimated it would take on the order of 5 planets to allow that. This simple thought experiment alone tells you American life styles must change drastically, moving back toward the global average.

    Is this not obvious?

    The only thing that makes current civilization tenable is a massive reduction in consumption. This is about more than whether a given tech is sustainable. Nothing is sustainable given never-ending growth. When these conversations start turning to discussions of true sustainable design we will be getting somewhere.

    Comment by Killian — 12 Feb 2013 @ 6:18 PM

  176. Edward Greisch wrote: “People who so strongly favor renewable energy inevitably call for fossil fuel ‘backup’ power because renewables give you power about 20% of the time each.”

    I realize this comment will probably be moderated out for mentioning the “N word”, [edit - yup]

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 12 Feb 2013 @ 7:39 PM

  177. Fred Magyar wrote: “I have never heard of any serious proponents for renewables say that it is possible to substitute for 100% of the energy needs of our current civilization”

    Keep in mind that according to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, more than half of the USA’s estimated 97.3 Quads of energy “use” in 2011 was wasted. Less than 42 Quads was actually used as “energy services” — over 55 Quads were “rejected energy”. Wasted.

    It has been estimated that just the waste heat energy that is vented from industrial smokestacks could, if captured for use in co-generation power plants, produce as much electricity as all the nuclear power plants in America.

    And there are, in fact, multiple “serious” plans that have been set forth for producing 100 percent of our energy needs from renewables.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 12 Feb 2013 @ 7:49 PM

  178. Hank Roberts @169,

    I sent you an email it contains some links so check your spam folder

    Fred

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 12 Feb 2013 @ 8:25 PM

  179. Second Mr.Benson’s request to stick to the science. Here is some science for West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) aficionados.

    http://www.waisworkshop.org/pastmeetings/agenda_2012.html

    I note several juicy bits. Dutrieux et al. speak of 100m/yr melt under Pine Island Glacier(PIG). New basal topo data on Byrd Glacier. St. Laurent et al. estimate 1GW/mile (of coastline) heat input from ocean. Schroeder et al. describe subglacial water under Thwaites. Siegfried et al. write of tidal pumping of warm ocean water into and melt water out of subglacial cavities with tidal flexure of ice shelf and sheet.Walker (Ryan) et al. put math to the model for tidal flexure. Walker (C .C.) et al. suggest that Amery might do something dramatic soon (I thought this was the WAIS, not the EAIS …)

    Love to see the presentations, I have written some of the authors, but leads would be welcome.

    sidd

    Comment by sidd — 12 Feb 2013 @ 8:35 PM

  180. @SecularAnimist,

    “And there are, in fact, multiple “serious” plans that have been set forth for producing 100 percent of our energy needs from renewables.”

    Indeed there have! I’m one of those who happens to think we not only can but will produce 100% of our ‘NEEDS’ from renewable sources. However that is not necessarily the same as saying our current ‘WANTS’ are sustainable.

    As the late great George Carlin might have said, “Difference” >;-)

    Cheers!

    Fred

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 12 Feb 2013 @ 8:42 PM

  181. Re- Comment by Killian — 12 Feb 2013 @ 6:18 PM

    Although your posts are way too long and tend toward simplistic black and white tracts, I find much of what you say to be reasonable, but I immediately become suspicious when someone says something really dumb. Take for example- “Even extremely recyclable resources such as steel will wear out with time.” Steel primarily consists of iron and carbon, and both are elements and cannot wear out. If this is your standard for violation of sustainable systems, then I can’t trust anything else you say about much more complicated topics.

    Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 12 Feb 2013 @ 8:43 PM

  182. Killian (#175),

    I thought I might have detected a Rifken Entropy Freak. That stuff is entertaining in a Gene Wolfe novel, but it is full of misconceptions when swallowed as you have done.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 12 Feb 2013 @ 9:04 PM

  183. SA, “If” is not a sustainable concept. What you are talking about is what Joseph Tainter calls diminishing returns on complexity, which he sees as the primary driver of failed societies. The expectation that you can add complexity to solve problems created by complexity does not hold historically. Again, a simple thought experiment: Additional tech and complexity means additional resources which equals greater degradation of the ecosystem which equals… collapse.

    Really, folks, this stuff is not hard to understand. The key problem as I see it (and notice nobody has bothered to counter my conception of sustainable, which is the first order question) is the old adage that it is very difficult to get a person to understand something when their paycheck depends on them not understanding it. You can replace paycheck with any number of other things, such as lifestyle.

    Very few people posting here, and there are some obviously very intelligent people here, have accepted that sustainability and its definition are non-negotiable. The vast majority reach for the easiest way out, and that is invariably tech/efficiency-driven. In fact, most examples of “sustainable” theses or thoses are pretty much examples of efficiency, not sustainability.

    The ecosystem services of this planet being allowed to recover, and even enhanced by using nature’s own system of design to enhance productivity, very much depends on not further degrading it; more than that, rebuilding it. Since continued growth does, as so ably and simply pointed by Dr. Bartlett, continue to degrade it, further growth is out.

    Do any of you who have watched his presentation have any doubt we are *less* than a minute from 12:00? (The fact we are in overshoot proves this, or we’d have one full doubling of population left to us. 14 billion, anyone?)

    It should be self-evident that increased efficiency cannot and will never overcome growth. We would not have gone from using less than a planet’s worth of resources a couple hundred years ago to using 1.5 planets if efficiency could overcome growth. This is self-evident.

    Climate stability depends on very quickly getting the carbon budget into the negative and below 300 ppm. With perhaps 9 billion people (though given the fact we are now eating/wasting more grain than we grow, and weather-related impacts on food production becoming the norm, may indicate we will not get anywhere near 9 billion.)

    Here’s the thing: We can build buildings that use less than ten percent of the energy now used. Why not do that instead of asking R&D to create magic?

    We can grow food in such a way that *builds soil*, thus maintaining or even increasing productivity as well as building resilience to things such as droughts and floods. Why not do that instead of letting “seed” companies destroy the ecology with GMO’s?

    We can regrow forests *and* make them more resilient, thus reducing atmospheric GHG’s, improving and even directing the water cycle while rebuilding flora and fauna numbers, potentially rebuilding and increasing (over time) biodiversity, and providing sustainable building/fuel materials. Why not do that instead of continuing to destroy the land and waters to get to ever-increasing numbers of resources?

    Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple. – B. Mollison

    Every decision we make at this point in history is ultimately an environmental one. Every decision is ultimately a climatic decision. This is important for us to understand and assimilate into our daily way of thinking and acting.

    Comment by Killian — 12 Feb 2013 @ 9:30 PM

  184. Killian — you’re preaching to the choir.
    But the devil is in the pews down below, as they say.

    You wrote “We can build buildings that use less
    than ten percent of the energy now used”
    but you don’t know they’ll last forever, or be cheap to maintain or recycle, yet.

    Those are costs too.

    It’s been 30-plus years since the first round of highly energy-efficient buildings were built Do you remember any of those? Some are still standing.
    We Need To Do It Different This Time

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Feb 2013 @ 10:29 PM

  185. I like discussions of energy and what not as much as the next guy (I’d mostly side with Killian on this one), but I would like to get back to the article that cleber linked to at #165 on permafrost’s sensitivity to sunlight.

    “Surface exposure to sunlight stimulates CO2 release from permafrost soil carbon in the Arctic”

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/02/05/1214104110

    ABSTRACT:

    “Recent climate change has increased arctic soil temperatures and thawed large areas of permafrost, allowing for microbial respiration of previously frozen C. Furthermore, soil destabilization from melting ice has caused an increase in thermokarst failures that expose buried C and release dissolved organic C (DOC) to surface waters. Once exposed, the fate of this C is unknown but will depend on its reactivity to sunlight and microbial attack, and the light available at the surface.

    In this study we manipulated water released from areas of thermokarst activity to show that newly exposed DOC is >40% more susceptible to microbial conversion to CO2 when exposed to UV light than when kept dark. When integrated over the water column of receiving rivers, this susceptibility translates to the light-stimulated bacterial activity being on average from 11% to 40% of the total areal activity in turbid versus DOC-colored rivers, respectively.

    The range of DOC lability to microbes seems to depend on prior light exposure, implying that sunlight may act as an amplification factor in the conversion of frozen C stores to C gases in the atmosphere.”

    I would love to hear what people think the implications of these findings are. The article is also being discussed at other sites, such as ClimateProgress:

    “Melting ‘Permafrost’ Releases Climate-Warming CO2 Even Faster Than We Thought”

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/02/12/1575941/melting-permafrost-releases-climate-warming-co2-even-faster-than-we-thought/

    “Kling and his colleagues studied places in Arctic Alaska where permafrost is melting and is causing the overlying land surface to collapse, forming erosional holes and landslides and exposing long-buried soils to sunlight.

    They found that sunlight increases bacterial conversion of exposed soil carbon into carbon dioxide gas by at least 40 percent compared to carbon that remains in the dark. The team, led by Rose Cory of the University of North Carolina, reported its findings in an article to be published online Feb. 11 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    “Until now, we didn’t really know how reactive this ancient permafrost carbon would be — whether it would be converted into heat-trapping gases quickly or not,” said Kling, a professor in the U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. EEB graduate student Jason Dobkowski is a co-author of the paper.

    “What we can say now is that regardless of how fast the thawing of the Arctic permafrost occurs, the conversion of this soil carbon to carbon dioxide and its release into the atmosphere will be faster than we previously thought,” Kling said.

    “That means permafrost carbon is potentially a huge factor that will help determine how fast the Earth warms.””

    (ReCaptcha oracle: dsndopi livres)

    Comment by wili — 12 Feb 2013 @ 10:57 PM

  186. See also

    “The longer the building is around the more energy it consumes. Durable buildings need to be ultra energy efficient in order to be sustainable. Durability and energy efficiency are the cornerstones of sustainability.

    “One of the lessons of durability learned through failure is that as energy efficiency is increased durability is typically compromised. How can this be?

    “Arrhenius established the relationship of temperature on material durability over a century ago. The temperature relationship is very insightful: every 10 degree Kelvin rise in temperature decreases the service life of a material by half. It is important to note that the relationship is exponential….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Feb 2013 @ 1:33 AM

  187. 181 Steve Fish says: Comment by Killian: your posts… tend toward simplistic black and white tracts

    Simplistic: You are confusing simple and simplistic. See “Too long.”

    I immediately become suspicious when someone says something really dumb. Take for example- “Even extremely recyclable resources such as steel will wear out with time.” Steel primarily consists of iron and carbon, and both are elements and cannot wear out.

    Do “impurities” and “volume losses” work for you?

    If this is your standard for violation of sustainable systems, then I can’t trust anything else you say about much more complicated topics.

    Logical fallacy.

    You could have said, “Except for volume losses and impurities, steel is pretty much endlessly recyclable,” to which I could have replied, “Yes, I know; that’s why I used steel as the example. Still, given a meaningfully finite amount of carbon and iron, we’d still have a problem. We still *do* have a problem because of full life cycle accounting: Even if something is fully recyclable, you still need the means to do so. Lots of reasons why that might not end up being the case.”

    182 Chris Dudley says: Killian (#175), I thought I might have detected a Rifken Entropy Freak.

    You thought wrong. (What is a Rifken Entropy Freak?) I design abundant systems, not designed-to-die systems. I’ve always thought the issue of entropy to be a largely irrelevant, mostly intellectual discussion except for Big Bang time scales. Ah, but the mirror argues against that!

    Comment by Killian — 13 Feb 2013 @ 1:50 AM

  188. Rebuttal: What I say and share here is not science or climate-related or whatever… When you think that, go look at the following link. Everything I say here is based in natural sciences and in creating sustainability via mitigation and adaptation to climate changes.

    The mindset, constructs and perspective through which you assess climate science, particularly with regard to mitigation and adaptation is vitally important.

    Here is some of the “science” of sustainability and climate management: http://permaculturenews.org/2012/06/28/hope-for-a-new-era-before-after-examples-of-permaculture-earth-restoration-solving-our-problems-from-the-ground-up/#beforeafter

    Comment by Killian — 13 Feb 2013 @ 3:33 AM

  189. A new web-page at NSIDC appeared last week, “Greenland Ice Sheet Today”, which will provide up-to-date maps & charts of Daily Ice Melt and Cumulative Melt Days for the year as well as scientific analysis & commentary. If future years prove as dramatic on Greenland as 2012 did, the web-page will be receiving a lot of visitors.

    Comment by MARodger — 13 Feb 2013 @ 7:49 AM

  190. Killian (#187),

    Your volume loss argument is what makes you a Rifkin Entropy Freak. It is specious. Our dumps are more concentrated in iron than the ores we get it from. That lost volume you worry about is merely a convenient storehouse.

    Also, you completely ignore substitution. We’re about to open a new big copper mine. But it is doubtful it will be much exploited. Large quantities of copper may be made redundant over the next few decades. http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/the-smarter-grid/superconductors-enter-commercial-utility-service

    Similarly, lonsdaleite may turn out to be a convenient replacement for steel in many structural applications. Surely you don’t claim we are about to run out of carbon?

    Even if tellurium weren’t the most common element with an atomic number greater than 40, you’d have to claim that we are going to run out of sand before saying there is any constraint on exploiting solar power because there are multiple approaches to PV and indeed CSP can use a whole range of materials as well. First Solar just happens to provide a convenient window on the current situation because it works closely with NREL and its books are pretty open. NanoSolar makes stronger claims and Chinese silicon based producers do as well, but independent testing is not always available. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/02/11/1569051/yes-we-can-get-there/

    So, there is a defect in your thinking about renewables. In fact, the risk is on the other side, as I pointed out earlier. Renewables may open up new pathways to exploit depletables and let us completely wreck the climate.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 13 Feb 2013 @ 8:06 AM

  191. Killian, we are talking about nukes and natural gas and other energy options because we need to survive on a planet with 10 billion people on it until we get to sustainability. Perhaps you would care to explain how your sustainable systems allow us to care for an aging population with a decreasing workforce over the next 150 years or so as population reduces to sustainable levels.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Feb 2013 @ 9:23 AM

  192. Chris Dudley@ 190,

    “Our dumps are more concentrated in iron than the ores we get it from. That lost volume you worry about is merely a convenient storehouse.”

    How ironic! (pun not intended) >;-)

    “Using rust and water to store solar energy as hydrogen November 11, 2012 How can solar energy be stored so that it can be available any time, day or night, when the sun shining or not? EPFL scientists are developing a technology that can transform light energy into a clean fuel that has a neutral carbon footprint: hydrogen. The basic ingredients of the recipe are water and metal oxides, such as iron oxide, better known as rust.”

    Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-11-rust-solar-energy-hydrogen.html#jCp

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 13 Feb 2013 @ 11:12 AM

  193. Killian wrote: “What you are talking about is what Joseph Tainter calls diminishing returns on complexity, which he sees as the primary driver of failed societies.”

    What I am talking about is replacing coal-fired power plants with solar panels and wind turbines in order to reduce global GHG emissions by at least 50 percent within 10 years, as a first step towards eliminating all GHG emissions within 20 years.

    What you are talking about is buzzwords and generalities.

    Killian wrote: “We can build buildings that use less than ten percent of the energy now used … We can grow food in such a way that *builds soil* … We can regrow forests *and* make them more resilient”

    Yes, we can, should and must do all of those things.

    Why you seem to believe that we can only do those things “instead of” generating electricity from renewable energy, is beyond me.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 Feb 2013 @ 11:21 AM

  194. Someone up there asked how to find out about the First Solar guarantee and NREL tests

    Someone also said “so long as one knows that a given element in that system is unsustainable. That is, quite literally, all you need to know.”
    That absolutism leads to this sort of confused thinking

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Feb 2013 @ 11:59 AM

  195. JCH, is this where you get that notion about cooling?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Feb 2013 @ 12:22 PM

  196. slipsies, the JCH comment was meant for Stoat.
    Threw it through the wrong window. Sorry.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Feb 2013 @ 12:35 PM

  197. Fred (#192),

    Yes, there are a number of interesting photo-catalytic reactions being studied. http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/01/researchers-d-1.html

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 13 Feb 2013 @ 12:47 PM

  198. “we need to survive on a planet with 10 billion people”

    But none of those people “need” to have cars, fly in planes, eat (much) meat or dairy, consume at US rates…

    Reducing total energy use radically, as nations do when they are faced with existential threats (England reduced domestic petrol use by 95% during WWII), will make the day that we can rely solely on renewables come much sooner.

    The first thing we have to give up on (or redefine drastically) is economic growth. Like everything else, the economy cannot grow forever. It is far past time to get over the insane idea that the economy can grow forever.

    Give up that illusion, embrace humane de-growth, especially in energy and resource use, and many seemingly intractable problems become more manageable.

    Wind capacity is doubling globally about every three years. If we can _shrink_ global energy use at a similar or faster rate, and with some help from other renewables, we could reach fully renewable energy production in a decade or so. Various crucial functions, though, will have to shift from gasoline to electric or other fuel sources.

    (Of course, all of this should have and could have been transitioned decades ago.)

    And of course, back to the first point–accelerating women’s rights, educations and access to safe birth control can do a lot to getting us faster to the day that birth rates dip below death rates.

    That was fun, but is there anyone left on this thread who want to discuss climate science? What are the implications of permafrost being more sensitive to sunlight than was previously thought? Is it no big deal? Major shift in how we think things are going to unfold? Just one more little indication that things are getting worse faster than most of the models have been predicting?

    Comment by wili — 13 Feb 2013 @ 12:52 PM

  199. Wili,
    I am not so sure that humans do not need planes–after all, they will have missiles, and without familiarity with far off lands, it will be that much easier to obliterate them. Transport of goods is also essential–some areas will not be able to produce enough food to feed their populations.

    And a point about decreasing population–that in itself is a huge challenge. At any time we have had decreasing populations the result has been bad–e.g. the rise of feudalism in the middle ages, the collapse of civilizations in Africa due to colonialism and slavery.

    This is not going to be an easy nut to crack.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Feb 2013 @ 1:19 PM

  200. 190 Chris Dudley says: Killian (#187),

    Your volume loss argument is… specious. Our dumps are more concentrated in iron than the ores we get it from. blah, blah, blah…

    Your stream of assumptions is tiresome.

    So, there is a defect in your thinking about renewables.

    Incorrect. Re-read. The defect is yours, and is obvious.

    Still waiting for proof, or even evidence, thin film is renewable.

    And, for the record, I currently sell and lease solar pv, so you acting as if I am a great enemy of solar is a bit much. Or should I pretend solar has no issues, is completely sustainable, so we’re all saved, hallelujah?

    Criminy…

    Comment by Killian — 13 Feb 2013 @ 4:42 PM

  201. “Transport of goods is also essential–some areas will not be able to produce enough food to feed their populations.”

    Ships. Trains.

    “any time we have had decreasing populations the result has been bad”

    “Germany’s population is characterized by zero or declining growth, with an aging population and smaller cohort of youths.”

    Yet their economy is not doing disastrously, (especially compared to some of their European neighbors).

    “This is not going to be an easy nut to crack.”

    On this, we can certainly agree.

    But “not easy” is different than “fundamentally impossible in principle” which seems to be the argument you are presenting (but do correct me if I’m wrong on that).

    For the record–though it is clear to me that there are a number of rather straight forward strategies that, if nearly universally adopted, could drastically reduce populations, misery and destruction of the earth = of the future–I see essentially zero chance that such ideas would ever be adopted; so if you wish to categorize me a “doomer” that wouldn’t be far off (perhaps even a gloomier doomer, since I see how so much of the destruction we are wreaking on ourselves and on the world is so utterly unnecessary, banal and stupid).

    Any thoughts on permafrost developments?

    Comment by wili — 13 Feb 2013 @ 5:30 PM

  202. Ray Ladbury wrote: “Transport of goods is also essential – some areas will not be able to produce enough food to feed their populations.”

    There is a big difference between transporting food to respond to food shortage emergencies (disasters, crop failures, etc) and routinely transporting broccoli grown in expensively irrigated California deserts 3000 miles in refrigerated diesel trucks to consumers in New York and Pennsylvania (which actually have better climates for growing broccoli than does California).

    Attaining bioregional self-reliance is, I think, an important part of the solution.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 Feb 2013 @ 6:01 PM

  203. 191 Ray Ladbury says: Killian, we are talking about nukes and natural gas and other energy options because we need to survive on a planet with 10 billion people on it until we get to sustainability.

    Perhaps you would care to explain how your sustainable systems allow us to care for an aging population

    Ray, why ask me to write a book here on RC? Why do you think we will make it to 10 billion? The grain shortfall this year is a strong indication that won’t happen. Why do you expect a global societal transition will occur smoothly? People are already dying from climate change effects.

    The shortest answer here is:

    1. Stop thinking in terms of classical, necoclassical and Keynesian economics and check out Steady-State Economics, Herman Daly, Steve Keen, Gift Economies, Jubilee and current aboriginal sustainable societies (lots to learn there.)

    Also:

    2. Understand and accept Limits to Growth, Catton, Diamond and Tainter. Tainter’s diminishing returns on complexity is vitally important.

    3. Understand the risk assessment requires taking rapid climate change seriously and taking action three decades ago.

    4. Understand 300ppm, not 350, is the goal and understand the energetic implications of that and the follow-on implications wrt simplification.

    5. Stop holding on to the society you see around you and accept that a sustainable society will exist on a fraction of the energy, particularly in the short term while getting to 300 ppm. After that, consumption can rise back to 300 ppm equilibrium.

    6. Understand we produced less grain than we ate this year and that extreme weather, as I predicted back in 2011, is going to make this a regular occurrence in years to come unless and until we move to regenerative farming/gardening.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reCemnJmkzI

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76XaVu29Fng

    http://rodaleinstitute.org/our-work/farming-systems-trial/farming-systems-trial-30-year-report/

    7. Understand decision-making will reverse: neighborhoods/small communities will be the top of a reversed pyramid, cities/areas next, bio-regions next, inter-bio-regional next, global last. Localizing is a cornerstone of sustainability. Wise management of resources requires they not be concentrated in the hands of a few or corporations.

    8. Understand there are natural and sustainable solutions to everything, but that sometimes the solution is to shoot the hostage. I.e., if it hurts to do that, don’t do it. I.e., the problem is the solution. Eg., if coal plants are destroying the ecosystem, stop using coal. If that means living like Laura Ingalls Wilder, then do it. Or global jubilee, end to fractional banking, and gift economies, do it.

    It matters not at all what anyone wants to happen. A good designer does not impose design on the space, but lets the space tell them what to do. As you can see from SA and Chris Dudley, even people who can see there are serious issues afoot will still get hung up on what they want to be true rather than letting need-based reality dictate what *is* true and *must* be done.

    Chris wants us all to believe that solar either is or will be sustainable. The first is false. At best, one company – according to Chris – makes sustainable solar. I don’t believe it till I’ve seen the analysis, do you?

    But even if true, does it pass the sustainability sniff test: Will it power the current civilization at 9 billion? If not, at what scale, over what time frame is it sustainable? Do you have time to ramp up before passing tipping points? How does it affect every other aspect of civilization, i.e, what is the opportunity cost? What can’t we build or maintain because resources ar going into thin film solar?

    And on and on.

    The second *might* be true someday, but when? 10 years, 20? 50? Apply the sniff test from above.

    When a house is burning down and there are people trapped inside is not the appropriate time to wait around for new firefighting technology because it will be more efficient. The house will be gone and the people dead, but there will eventually be something more efficient! I promise!

    Yeah, well, we have all the knowledge we need right now to transition to a sustainable society. It is all embarrassingly simple, though it will never be easy.

    I’ve already listed on these forums everything needed to make the transition.

    Comment by Killian — 13 Feb 2013 @ 6:41 PM

  204. Re- Comment by Killian — 13 Feb 2013 @ 4:42 PM

    You said- “Still waiting for proof, or even evidence, thin film is renewable.”

    An odd statement in light of your not providing any “proof, or even evidence,” for most of your claims regarding what is not renewable. We have a very big problem, but all or none, black and white thinking is just naïve.

    Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 13 Feb 2013 @ 7:04 PM

  205. Plankton Pumping Iron May Impact Climate
    http://www.livescience.com/27116-plankton-effect-climate-change-nsf-ria.html
    looks similar to glacial/interglacial cycling. And yes, it was dusty during glacials.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Feb 2013 @ 7:08 PM

  206. A War Without End, With Earth’s Carbon Cycle Held in the Balance
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130213132323.htm
    There are a lot of SAR11 bacteria in the oceans.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Feb 2013 @ 7:21 PM

  207. 193 SecularAnimist says:

    Killian wrote: “What you are talking about is what Joseph Tainter calls diminishing returns on complexity, which he sees as the primary driver of failed societies.”

    What I am talking about is replacing coal-fired power plants with solar panels and wind turbines in order to reduce global GHG emissions by at least 50 percent within 10 years, as a first step towards eliminating all GHG emissions within 20 years.

    Same thing. It’s hacking at leaves and leaving the branches, trunk and roots alone. You can build all the wind and solar energy generators you want, and they will be better than coal, oil and NG, but if you are not making the concomitant socia-political changes, you are ultimately coming back to Tainter’s warning.

    If, per chance, you do the only thing that ultimately avoids collapse – reduce consumption to about 10% of total global today – then you don’t need to build but about ten to twenty percent of your eventual goal. A knock-on effect is that you greatly reduce emissions during the same time frame.

    This begs the question, why focus on consumption (building new infrastructure) rather than eliminating the need for 90% of what you plan to build?

    Or, if you see the transition to sustainability fraught with peril and see a need to buy time while keeping people calm, why not go even less invasive? Plant forests. Each tree has a dry weight that is 45% carbon. The rest of the forest flora would be some fraction of that, and the way I and other permaculturists would design it, might come close to equaling that.

    And why not make farmers farm sustainably, organically and get equal or better yields while building soil? That’s 40% of emissions yearly.

    And why not encourage every family to have a garden, if they have a space for it? It’s estimated the amount of laws space is equal to 3x the area currently used for corn in the US. Lots of carbon sequestered, a huge boost in quality of food and in localization local and self-reliance.

    Or, we can use fossil fuels to build a bunch of stuff we really do not need because it supports stuff that is unsustainable…

    What you are talking about is buzzwords and generalities.

    No. Design is what it is. Reforestation is a buzzword? Regenerative farming is a buzzword? Properly defining sustainability is a buzzword? That you have no knowledge in sustainable design is your problem, not mine.

    Why you seem to believe that we can only do those things “instead of” generating electricity from renewable energy, is beyond me.

    Nowhere have I ever said we should not use solar. I have, even in the last couple days, said the exact opposite. What I did say was that IF a way cannot be found to make it sustainable it will (will is a future tense, no?) be abandoned as currently practiced. I’m all for taking the many millions of old car generators and making 1kw wind generators with them.

    194 Hank Roberts says: Someone up there asked how to find out about the First Solar guarantee and NREL tests

    That .pdf does not address sustainability.

    Someone also said “so long as one knows that a given element in that system is unsustainable. That is, quite literally, all you need to know.”
    That absolutism

    That’s not absolutism, it’s logic. If you have a solid object, say, wrapped in opaque plastic and you need to move it through a doorway, what do you need to know? What it is? What it is made of? Who made it? Why it was made? How much it cost? No. You only need to know how large it is on each side to know whether it will go through that door. To repeat, sustainability is a threshold where a process can repeated essentially without end. If it can be done for ten years, 50 or 200 is irrelevant. Can it go on for, at minimum, millennia, and really for as long as humans are around? That is sustainable.

    Apparently this bothers some of you. Why a fact should bother you, I don’t know other than it either scares you, or you don’t understand it and consider the fact to be merely an opinion you may dismiss. It is time for you to put on your big boy pants and deal with this: solar panels are, as of now, today, this moment, an unsustainable technology.

    Pick an issue! The silicon? Has to be made into the form used, right? Guarantee you that process is unsustainable. We know that at least some cells are because of toxicity. This isn’t opinion! Pull those pants up! Some cells are made with processes that leave toxic materials. Those toxic materials fail at least one principle of sustainability: Every output must be an input to at least two other elements, and not poison the ecosphere. Every cell made with resultant toxicity is unsustainable by definition. Deal. With. It.

    What about the ore extraction? There is not a sustainable mining operation anywhere on this planet, except maybe some aboriginal operations. Or slave labor, perhaps. So, you need some sand? Gotta build machines to do that. (Unsustainable.) Need machines to clean it up, or whatever processing is needed? (Unsustainable.) Need to transport it? (Unsustainable.) Etc., etc.

    Are you getting the idea here? Perhaps we need a different thing clarified: Net zero carbon Does. Not. Equal. Sustainable. It merely equals highly efficient with regard to carbon. And net zero carbon doesn’t equal zero net energy. You could be net zero on carbon but still be negative on energy. Let’s assume there are net zero carbon cells out there in this fantasy world where toxic wastes are not counted (per the article I posted.) Let’s assume they produce more net energy lifetime, even including dismantling and disposal at end of life. They still may not be sustainable.

    Sustainability is not an energy measurement or a carbon measurement, it is a replaceability measurement within which both net energy and net carbon must also fit. Can we imagine this? Sure! These panels are made with metal frames and loaded onto metal racks. Are these made with sustainable ores shipped sustainably to sustainably built factories and moved via sustainable transport to sustainably built warehouses, then shipped via sustainable transport to homes and put on homes by sustainably fed, clothed and housed workers driving sustainable vehicles and put up on roofs sealed with sustainable materials and wired into sustainably built inverters with sustainably made and transported wiring with sustainable conduits….

    Get it? You call this naive, but this is our reality. What is naive is to think we can assume a finite Earth will support infinite growth, or infinite consumption of any given finite resource.

    Yes, the realization of this, and the implications for future lifestyles, is a very uncomfortable moment. Too bad. It is what it is. If you bothered reading through this and have understood the full import of this (95% of everything around you is made of, built with or transported by fossil fuels), you are at the beginning of understanding why technology cannot and will not solve this problem. Simplification is the only choice. The shape and form of that is determined by local conditions and needs to be designed and created locally.

    Naive? Hardly. The rate of climate change leaves no room for naivete.

    199 Ray Ladbury says: And a point about decreasing population–that in itself is a huge challenge. At any time we have had decreasing populations the result has been bad–e.g. the rise of feudalism in the middle ages, the collapse of civilizations in Africa due to colonialism and slavery.

    This is not going to be an easy nut to crack.

    This is why understanding what Diamond says about *choosing* to simplify is so important. Easy nut to crack, but really hard to get people to want to crack it. As this thread shows.

    204 Steve Fish says: Killian — 13 Feb 2013 @ 4:42 PM

    You said- “Still waiting for proof, or even evidence, thin film is renewable.”

    An odd statement in light of your not providing any “proof, or even evidence,” for most of your claims regarding what is not renewable. We have a very big problem, but all or none, black and white thinking is just naïve.

    What is black-and-white? Nothing I have said is black and white. You do not understand what you are choosing to patronize.

    Where is the lack of proof or evidence? Did I or did I not post info on problems with PV production? As for defining sustainability, that is easy: If it cannot go on indefinitely, it’s not sustainable. Cars? Nope. Current food system? Nope. (Killing soils and requires 10 calories of energy for each calorie consumed.) Computers? Definitely not. And what of energy storage? Batteries? Extremely bad for the environment and unsustainable. Double oops.

    None of this is black-and-white in the simplistic sense you mean it, but it is all simple and needs no scientific inquiry to prove. Things that might someday be sustainable are not interesting to a designer. They are fairy dust. They are interesting only from an R&D perspective until they become reality. Getting angry with me because you believe in fairy dust will not get you very far.

    Turn this around: what *is* sustainable? And I don’t mean one family with a well-designed garden. What exists today that is sustainable at a civilization level? Got a list?

    No, you don’t, because there is nothing. The best you can do is a few things that might be sustainable if we change virtually everything around them.

    Got that list?

    No?

    There is absolutely nothing that is proven to be sustainable about modern society. Nothing. The transport system is unsustainable. That alone makes everything else unsustainable. The food system is unsustainable, which, again, makes everything else unsustainable. It doesn’t matter if a part of a system is sustainable, only that the entire system is sustainable.

    This I guarantee you: there is absolutely nothing at the societal scale that is currently sustainable. There is no manufacturing process that is sustainable. Heck, there isn’t even a single community that is. The best ecovillages in the US are not sustainable, but merely more efficient and more self-reliant than the rest of us.

    The only sustainable systems on the planet are aboriginal.

    Your problem is you are fearful of addressing true sustainability and reject the simplicity of it.

    The saddest thing about these conversations it that we are actually in agreement, really, but you guys don’t see it because you don’t take it far enough.

    Comment by Killian — 13 Feb 2013 @ 9:23 PM

  208. Killian (#203),

    Actually, I was saying that you don’t understand renewables and how they work, their implications. Basically, you think all resources are depletable. That is incorrect. There are resources that completely change their nature once they are used such as coal, oil, uranium or natural gas which really are depletable. There are others like copper or iron which are easily refreshable. Slag carries away impurities when they are recycled. There are some which might take some serious effort to recover if we ever needed to like potassium and phosphorous though it is doubtful we’d need to anytime soon. And there is the flow of solar energy throughout the world, through the production of oxygen and starches in photosynthesis, wind and waves, evaporation and precipitation.

    Once we’ve built a system on the latter we are done. You complain about something from solar manufacture going to the dump. But that is not a problem. Once we’ve built enough solar, things don’t go to the dump anymore. We’ve got all we need. So, no need for an infinite dump which is your basic sustainability hangup. Renewables are not like depletables. They don’t have unworkable infinities or zeros. But, you seem to think they do.

    If you like design, I suggest you listen to William McDonough. He’ll tell you that sustainability is boring. Fecundity and fruition are much more natural. If there happens to be an afterbirth when we gestate our renewable based system, it is OK. We’ll figure out something to do with it later. Perhaps it will fold into the next cradle. http://www.amazon.com/The-Monticello-Dialogues-McDonough-Conversation/dp/0781307325

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 13 Feb 2013 @ 9:27 PM

  209. 165 Cleber says: On the permafrost issue, some new and disturbing finds by Cory, Kling et al

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/02/05/1214104110

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130211162116.htm

    We knew the effects were accelerated vs. expected outcomes, so that there was another feedback to discover isn’t surprising.

    What is interesting is the specific finding that UV light plays a specific role. I assume this makes up for some difficulty in rectifying energy balances with outcomes. That is, the heat balance and/or expected heat effect from atmospheric CO2e vs. the observed effects probably make more sense with this finding.

    [Response: The implications of this study are far less important than the press release implies, and it's impact on anything energy-related will be close to zero. - gavin]

    Comment by Killian — 13 Feb 2013 @ 10:08 PM

  210. Killian, Do some reading about the early to middle Middle Ages. It took the combination of disease, continual war and famine (partly as a result of war preventing agriculture and partly due to climate) to reduce population. So even reducing human population is a challenge–it will NOT happen naturally.

    The thing is that when population fell, so did productivity. This created incentives for nobility (landowners) to bind workers to the land, resulting in serfdom, which then persisted into the 18th (and in Russia, the 19th) century. A falling population places very strange stresses on the population. Look at what is happening in China as a result of the one-child policy–and their population is still rising!

    “Complex problems have simple, easy to understand, wrong answers.”–H. L. Mencken

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Feb 2013 @ 6:08 AM

  211. 158 Dave Peters. Thanks for that David. What characterised this year was the prolonged scorching hot spell for our towns in Central to NW Queensland. They have been having week in week out temps in the mid to high 40C even nudging 50C on a number of occasions. I have never seen anything like that, maybe 4-5 days at most but for week after week??

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 14 Feb 2013 @ 6:11 AM

  212. I’ve been trolling the web for info regarding post summer arctic ice loss and there is a huge amount of speculation but it is clear to me that nobody really knows what is going to happen and how quickly to the earth’s climate particularly in the northern hemisphere. I’ve distilled the most touted effects as increased water vapour from the actic seas leading to more frequent and severe storms for the N.H. Also the deleterious effects to the kansas wheat bowl as the winter warms up due to warmer air currents stemming from the arctic. Faster rate of global warming as the ocean traps more of the sun’s energy and reflects less and less back into space. Accelerating rate of CH4 release from the CH4 hydrate beds under the arctic and surrounding tundra regions. Question:…how soon and to what degree and rate will global temps rise as a result of the arctic being ice free for longer and longer periods of summer extening into the arctic autumn and spring in the coming decades?.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 14 Feb 2013 @ 6:29 AM

  213. Killian wrote: “That you have no knowledge in sustainable design is your problem, not mine.”

    With all due respect, you have no knowledge of what I have knowledge of, Killian. I was reading most of the sources on sustainability that you name-drop 40 years ago.

    Killian wrote: “why focus on consumption (building new infrastructure) rather than eliminating the need for 90% of what you plan to build? … Plant forests … make farmers farm sustainably … encourage every family to have a garden … Or, we can use fossil fuels to build a bunch of stuff we really do not need because it supports stuff that is unsustainable.”

    Um, what straw man are you arguing with, Killian?

    I have been criticizing, and largely eschewing, the “consumer culture” for decades. I grew up picking vegetables in my parents’ and grandparents’ huge “victory gardens”, I’m an organic gardener myself, and I’ve been advocating sustainable organic agriculture since reading my grandma’s old copies of Rodale’s Organic Gardening magazine. Likewise I agree with other initiatives you have mentioned, including in particular reforestation and dramatic reductions in the energy used by buildings (many of which could and should become net energy producers).

    So I don’t know where you get this idea that I want to “focus on consumption” and on “building a bunch of stuff we really do not need because it supports stuff that is unsustainable.”

    I am saying one simple thing, which has two aspects:

    1. Electricity is the lifeblood of modern technological civilization. If we want to keep a modern technological civilization going, we need to keep the lights on. And the computers on. And the Internet on. And the weather satellites on. I want to see that happen, and I assume you do as well since you are online.

    So, we need plentiful, ubiquitous, reliable, non-polluting, inexhaustible sources of energy that we can transform into electricity. Sunlight, the kinetic energy of wind and water, and the thermal energy of the Earth, are those sources — and we already have mature, powerful technologies to harvest them, technologies which are getting more efficient, more powerful and less expensive every day.

    2. IF we are going to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of anthropogenic global warming, we need to achieve very large and very rapid reductions in GHG emissions. We need some QUICK FIXES.

    According to the latest EPA report, electricity generation is the largest single source of GHG emissions in the US (followed by the transport sector):

    Power plants remain the largest stationary source of GHG emissions, with 2,221 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (mmtCO2e), roughly one-third of total U.S. emissions. 2011 emissions from this source were approximately 4.6 percent below 2010 emissions, reflecting an ongoing increase in power generation from natural gas and renewable sources.

    My view is that we can, IF we choose to do so, completely eliminate all GHG emissions from electricity generation — that’s one-third of total US GHG emissions — in 10 years, by rapidly deploying the solar and wind power technologies that we have in hand now, while phasing out fossil fueled generation (starting with the worst-polluting coal plants).

    This can, of course, be made a lot easier by eliminating energy waste and dramatically increasing efficiency, and deploying the various storage technologies that are available or under development now, and upgrading the grid to make it more robust, “smarter”, and better able to integrate diverse, distributed electricity producers at all scales.

    So, we have the potential to eliminate a huge chunk of GHG pollution very quickly, while also securing the supply of electricity that modern human civilization requires. I think that’s worth doing.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Feb 2013 @ 8:27 AM

  214. People wonder why the general public is uneducated when it comes to science. Check out CNN news anchor Deb Feyerick:

    http://www.upi.com/blog/2013/02/12/CNN-anchor-asks-if-global-warming-caused-asteroid-fly-by-VIDEO/6711360683868/

    Comment by Dan H. — 14 Feb 2013 @ 8:43 AM

  215. Killian wrote: “Did I or did I not post info on problems with PV production?”

    No, as a matter of fact, you did not.

    What you have posted is repeated, unsupported general assertions that neither photovoltaics nor various other technologies CAN, in PRINCIPLE, EVER be “sustainable”.

    And, far from posting any “info” about PV or any other technology, you have boldly declared that specific information about them — about their manufacturing and deployment processes, or their lifecycle material/energy budgets, or the availability and recyclability of their materials, or their capacity to drastically and rapidly reduce GHG pollution — is irrelevant.

    Why? Because you JUST KNOW that they CANNOT be “sustainable”, IN PRINCIPLE. So none of that “info” matters.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Feb 2013 @ 8:43 AM

  216. “Do some reading about the early to middle Middle Ages. It took the combination of disease, continual war and famine (partly as a result of war preventing agriculture and partly due to climate) to reduce population. So even reducing human population is a challenge–it will NOT happen naturally.

    The thing is that when population fell, so did productivity. This created incentives for nobility (landowners) to bind workers to the land, resulting in serfdom, which then persisted into the 18th (and in Russia, the 19th) century. A falling population places very strange stresses on the population. Look at what is happening in China as a result of the one-child policy–and their population is still rising!”

    Actually, after the Black Death, the power of serfs increased–since they were in short supply, demand for them was higher, and they could in turn demand better treatment and better conditions. This emboldened them to engage in political activities that they generally not attempted before.

    But this is getting pretty wildly off topic. I don’t think anyone is saying transition to a shrinking population will be easy or painless; but growing the population to over 10 billion will certainly involve even more pain, suffering and destruction, especially if they all try to live like the average American.

    “Complex problems have simple, easy to understand, wrong answers.”–H. L. Mencken

    Touche. Except that seemingly ‘simple, easy to understand’ answers–such as empowering women–(but that are actually quite complex to implement) have been shown over and over to dramatically decrease birth rates, i.e. have been shown to be ‘right.’ And drastically reducing petrol consumption, again may seem to be a simple answer to the needs of war torn England in WWII, but it seems to have done the job.

    Comment by wili — 14 Feb 2013 @ 9:16 AM

  217. Wili,
    True. Population reduction will most likely occur under one of your previous conditions. However, zero population growth, has occurred in many developed countries. Many European countries are currently experiencing zero or negative growth.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_European_countries_by_population_growth_rate

    Historically, birth rates decline as areas develop. This has started to occur in many developing countries. The population will continue to grow as the standard of living increases, reducing the death rate. As the population ages, the birth rate and death rate begin to converge. Population growth rates peaked in the late 20th century. The UN projects growths rates to slow in every region of the globe, apporaching zero population growth by the end of the century.

    http://esa.un.org/wpp/Analytical-Figures/htm/fig_7.htm

    Unless we exceed the carrying capacity of this planet, population will not decline naturally.

    Comment by Dan H. — 14 Feb 2013 @ 10:20 AM

  218. Killian (#207),

    Pick an issue! The silicon? Has to be made into the form used, right? Guarantee you that process is unsustainable. We know that at least some cells are because of toxicity. This isn’t opinion! Pull those pants up [sic]! Some cells are made with processes that leave toxic materials. Those toxic materials fail at least one principle of sustainability: Every output must be an input to at least two other elements, and not poison the ecosphere. Every cell made with resultant toxicity is unsustainable by definition. Deal. With. It.

    I’m afraid to say you really are flaunting your ignorance. And since it is willful ignorance, it really does not have a purpose in a discussion where people respect and seek knowledge.

    And, sadly, your ignorance of design principles, your claimed specialty is showing too.

    Here is a correct definition of sustainability: “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” http://www.mcdonough.com/principles.pdf

    So, what does purifying silicon now do? It enhances the ability of future generations to meet there own needs since they won’t have to do it again. Their energy payback time for recycling a panel will be weeks. All they’ll need to do is re-anneal cosmic ray damage and tend to the contacts.

    And, as for thin film, as practiced in the US, it does not put toxins into the ecosphere as the article you cite points out.

    How about if we agree to this: A definition of sustainability which prohibits evolution as yours does must be incorrect. You go back and study, stop espousing willful ignorance and learn something.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 14 Feb 2013 @ 10:50 AM

  219. > Nothing I have said is black and white.

    “What? Nothing??”

    (apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Feb 2013 @ 11:15 AM

  220. Killian, you have your own blog for your stuff.

    In context there, you come across a passionate guy who’s reached some conclusions

    There’s a place for that approach. Other climate and energy bloggers have made big names for themselves proclaiming the obvious answers with strong rhetoric. And of course there are nitwits proclaiming stupid notions, with similar rhetoric. They’re asking people to trust their conclusions, basically.

    This isn’t the best place to put lengthy statements of belief without showing you know the context, without the background, without support in the literature, and — without knowing your audience or the forum.

    You might want to reassess your approach — it’s not sustainable, here.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Feb 2013 @ 11:31 AM

  221. Re- Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Feb 2013 @ 8:27 AM

    You said to Killian- “If we want to keep a modern technological civilization going, we need to keep the lights on. And the computers on. And the Internet on. And the weather satellites on. I want to see that happen, and I assume you do as well since you are online.”

    I believe that you are mistaken. Killian said- “The only sustainable systems on the planet are aboriginal” and has made it very clear that if it isn’t completely sustainable it has to go. I think that he is doing Superman1 trolling by posing impossible black and white goals, providing no way to implement them, not documenting anything, and accusing others of being blind to his shining truths.

    Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 14 Feb 2013 @ 11:46 AM

  222. I have some large areas of agreement with what Killian says, but –

    what Hank said, #220.

    Fewer posts and words, please. You have shot past diminishing returns and into negative returns.

    Comment by Ric Merritt — 14 Feb 2013 @ 12:35 PM

  223. Wili, you think empowering women is simple? Really. Do tell, because most of the women I know still put up with a helluvalot of crap. ;-)

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Feb 2013 @ 4:57 PM

  224. Steve Fish: “I believe that you are mistaken. Killian said- ‘The only sustainable systems on the planet are aboriginal’ and has made it very clear that if it isn’t completely sustainable it has to go.”

    Well, then I’m sure any further comments from Killian will be posted to this thread via drums, or perhaps smoke signals.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Feb 2013 @ 5:29 PM

  225. The UK’s National Environment Research Council says:

    Arctic sea ice volume has declined by 36 per cent in the autumn and 9 per cent in the winter between 2003 and 2012, a UK-led team of scientists has discovered.

    Researchers used new data from the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 satellite spanning 2010 to 2012, and data from NASA’s ICESat satellite from 2003 to 2008 to estimate the volume of sea ice in the Arctic …

    The findings confirm the continuing decline in Arctic sea-ice volume simulated by the Pan-Arctic Ice-Ocean Modelling & Assimilation System (PIOMAS), which estimates the volume of Arctic sea ice and had been checked using earlier submarine, mooring, and satellite observations until 2008.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Feb 2013 @ 6:41 PM

  226. 209 [Response: The implications of this study are far less important than the press release implies, and it's impact on anything energy-related will be close to zero. - gavin]

    I agree. I think this does nothing more than fill in a little bit of causation.

    213 and 215 SecularAnimist says: Killian wrote: “That you have no knowledge in sustainable design is your problem, not mine.”

    With all due respect… I was reading most of the sources on sustainability that you name-drop 40 years ago.

    Key word, most. Your responses, and the pettiness of them, indicate not all. And, reading does not guarantee understanding nor assimilation.

    Um, what straw man are you arguing with, Killian?

    Straw man? No. Compare and contrast, highlighting the sustainability principle of natural before technical, as well as simplicity over complexity.

    I don’t know where you get this idea that I want to “focus on consumption” and on “building a bunch of stuff we really do not need because it supports stuff that is unsustainable.”

    I didn’t say you did, as a general point, but your post certainly did. And, this isn’t a contest, SA. Chill out.

    Re #1. Simpler is better. Natural before mechanical, mechanical before technical. This is how one does viable sustainable design. This limits resource use and is moves towards sustainability faster. So, again, if we can get to negative CO2 per annum without building any additional power plants, why not do it? If we reduce consumption without building any new power sources, we avoid new FF use and begin closing down plants that use them currently. By planning with these steps calculated in first, you greatly reduce the number of various types of “renewables” you need to build out.

    Re: #2. See #1.

    218 Chris Dudley says: Killian (#207),

    I’m afraid to say you really are flaunting your ignorance. And since it is willful ignorance, it really does not have a purpose in a discussion where people respect and seek knowledge.

    You certainly are a rude little bugger.

    And, sadly, your ignorance of design principles, your claimed specialty is showing too.

    I suspect I am the only one of the two of us to study them. Where and with whom did you study? Or what source(s)? Most of what is labeled “sustainable” or “sustainability” is neither.

    Here is a correct definition of sustainability: “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” http://www.mcdonough.com/principles.pdf

    That is, as the grammar you used indicates, one definition. Do please note there are more. That one is so broad it doesn’t define sustainability. Allow me to demonstrate. Under that definition, what is happening right now, today, could be called sustainable. After all, what do we need? To stay alive. What do we need to do that? Maintain body temperature, drink fluids, eat. That’s it. If we transitioned to a lifestyle of near-aboriginal consumption, we could easily all exist on this planet with our needs met, but few would consider it a satisfying experience compared to how they live today. We could carry on like we are for some time and still be able to transition to a pre-industrial level and still meet the needs of future generations – barring moving past key tipping points.

    Heck, that definition doesn’t even define how large future generations should be. Future generations numbering 7 billion? 9? Half a billion?

    I disagree with that definition, iow. The one I use is far more accurate as it applies to any given tool, machine, method, process, in isolation and allows one to determine sustainability at every scale.

    All they’ll need to do is re-anneal cosmic ray damage and tend to the contacts.

    Is that done sustainably NOW, because that is what we are talking about. Is it a sustainable process NOW? No? When will it be? Don’t know? Well, shucks, then let’s bet our entire future on it, shall we?

    The point is obvious: design now for what you have now. Changes to design can be made later as new knowledge is acquired.

    And, you repeat the same error: whole system. Even if you can make silicon sustainably (not happening at present, is it?), you have to make the entire process sustainable, which I have already shown is not the case.

    Please do not respond further until you can explain to us all how to make solar panels **today** fully sustainable, from ore to endless replacement through the millennia. Otherwise, give it up and accept the fact you are talking about a bridge technology, not a final solution.

    And, as for thin film, as practiced in the US, it does not put toxins into the ecosphere as the article you cite points out.

    And? Didn’t say it did.

    How about if we agree to this: A definition of sustainability which prohibits evolution as yours does must be incorrect.

    Huh? This makes no sense. You and Amory Lovins would have some great conversations as you are both overly enamored of technology as a solution, so please do not further claim to have a better understanding of sustainability than I.

    You go back and study, stop espousing willful ignorance and learn something.

    Take your own advice, and, stop insulting people whose knowledge and arguments you do not understand.

    220 Hank Roberts says: Killian, you have your own blog for your stuff.

    This isn’t the best place to put lengthy statements of belief

    I have made no lengthy statements, nor short statements, of belief. Belief has nothing to do with knowledge and problem-solving.

    without showing you know the context

    How have I not done that?

    without the background

    What background do I lack?

    without support in the literature

    The existing literature, surviving an ELE being a rather new endeavor, is either non-existent, scattered or flawed. There is no existing literature in the sense you mean it. The logical error here is what the denialists engage in: We don’t know enough, so don’t speak. I have cited lots of sources. That you and others choose not to read/watch/listen to them, or dismiss what you find there, does not reflect on me, Hank.

    This is a process that will not be proven before engaged. We are already heavily engaged.

    without knowing your audience or the forum.

    When did I first come here, six years ago?

    You might want to reassess your approach

    I’d be more likely to take you seriously if you spoke thus to those making assumptions, using flawed logic and tossing insults.

    it’s not sustainable, here.
    Perhaps not, all the sadder for this forum, if so. But the content of RC has shifted over time, so there is hope. Advocating a head-in-the-sand response to a challenging perspective is not… awe inspiring, Hank. But, that’s OK, I was dismissed back in 2007, too.

    This is an emergency. All hands on deck. If you want to play favorites, you are asking to fail. What is eventually the mainstream always starts as the fringe, no? Are not my comments here going back to 2007 (ccpo) evidence of this? Is it not an argument in my favor that I was saying rapid changes were upon us back then, and well, here we are? Consider listening to a voice whether you like it or not.

    221 Steve Fish says: Re- Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Feb 2013 @ 8:27 AM

    You said to Killian- “If we want to keep a modern technological civilization going, we need to keep the lights on. And the computers on. And the Internet on. And the weather satellites on. I want to see that happen, and I assume you do as well since you are online.”

    SA: What I want is irrelevant. Your are making an immediate design error by designing to your wishes. We design to needs, then meet wants only once needs are met. We are in the middle of an ELE. Wants are irrelevant.

    Killian said- if it isn’t completely sustainable it has to go.

    What I said is that it ultimately has to go. But this is self-evident and not a point a knowledgeable and rational mind would argue.

    I think that he is doing Superman1 trolling by posing impossible black and white goals…

    Trolling is roughly defined as incitement with little or no regard for conversation. If this is waht you actually think, I suggest you note the fingers pointing back at yourself as you point at me. There are only two of you insulting others here, and those two are you and SA.

    What I advocate I have already said: Rapid decarbonization with an emphasis on natural solutions (in line with principles of sustainable design); localization, which includes a reorganization of governance to sustainable methods of governance, part of which, at least, would be a reversal of current governance to put the emphasis on local decision-making (invisible systems); prioritization of maintaining health and global information systems as best use of non-renewable resources during the period of transition (appropriate technology); leveraging of extant non-renewable resources/systems/stuff to get to sustainability (appropriate technology); accepting a sacrificial level of consumption till below 300 ppm with a rebound back to steady-state economic activity appropriate to maintaining 300 ppm.

    This is hardly monochromatic. It is hardly wild or crazy. It is incredibly simple, but that is the way of sustainable design. It is rational, even if unlikely given the rather mad desire to hold on to what is clearly destructive of the planet.

    Still waiting for the evidence solar, even thin film solar, is sustainable as currently produced and deployed.

    And still waiting for acknowledgment I never said use of technology is evil, merely that so long as it is unsustainable, it serves only as a bridge technology and will, eventually, go the way of the Dodo Bird unless it is made sustainable.

    Comment by Killian — 14 Feb 2013 @ 8:22 PM

  227. 222 Ric Merritt says: Fewer posts and words, please.

    Dude, I don’t post here for weeks, even months at a time. It has only been since Sandy that the national conversation has really jumped on sustainability and climate. These are timely, if sometimes derailed, discussions. I think you can handle one Unforced Variations where I actually go into some detail on sustainable problem-solving.

    And, if you want less back-and-forth, perhaps your words would be better stated to folks like Dudley and SA. These issue are too important to allow misrepresentations to go unclarified.

    You have shot past diminishing returns and into negative returns.

    Hmmm… do you know how to do sustainable design yet? If not, I’ve not shot past negative anything.

    Comment by Killian — 14 Feb 2013 @ 8:34 PM

  228. “Please do not respond further until you can explain to us all . . .” > the wonderfully sustainable behaviors you personally have adopted to support your rants Killian – selling unsustainable solar panels? leasing whole systems? having children? eat foods grown outside Detroit? drive a car or truck? You are ranting, same as you did as 2cpo, and Real Climate is still a climatology site, regardless of your misperception of the comment threads, so please stop adding unsustainable volumes of sociology to the blog, take it to some political arena.

    CAPTCHA sez: cease Reitype

    Comment by flxible — 14 Feb 2013 @ 9:25 PM

  229. Killian (#226),

    At this point you are not arguing with me, you are arguing with the masters of sustainable design. That you are unaware of this indicates that you really don’t know what you are talking about.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 14 Feb 2013 @ 9:42 PM

  230. > I was dismissed
    I don’t recall what went on for you here in 2007.
    You’re showing up here; you haven’t been dismissed.
    Just readers, including me, suggesting you point to better written position papers because the very long text dumps in this topic are overwhelming.

    Personally, I think you’re not saying anything new, though I do believe it’s new to you and you don’t understand why everybody hasn’t done these things decades ago. Well, I don’t understand why people didn’t do all these things decades ago either. My dad was teaching this stuff to biology students before I was even born.

    However, I don’t understand why people do a lot of things.

    I”m here to learn climate science.
    For ideas about making choices consistent with what I learn, I go to other sites.

    Here’s an example: As we used to say when we were kids,
    Is your refrigerator running? Better go catch it!

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Feb 2013 @ 11:23 PM

  231. “Unless we exceed the carrying capacity of this planet, population will not decline naturally.”

    I dunno; seems to be declining pretty naturally over much of Europe now–or at least, preparing to do so:

    http://www.assembly.coe.int/ASP/Doc/XrefViewPDF.asp?FileID=12916&Language=EN

    China, too.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 15 Feb 2013 @ 12:22 AM

  232. Killian said, “Re #1. Simpler is better. Natural before mechanical, mechanical before technical. This is how one does viable sustainable design. This limits resource use”

    “Natural” doesn’t limit resource use. Instead, it’s so inefficient it limits consumption. For a given level of population and consumption, technical beats the pants off natural. We both like to read. A few PV cells and a tablet and I’m there, even at night, probably for the rest of my life, with never a need to consume any more resources. And when that tablet does die, a little totally sustainable power will recover the rare elements and all will be new again.

    You get to, well, how “natural” is “natural”? I’m assuming reading is OK? How about metal tools to cut down the trees you need to burn to see the books you’ll have to buy? The food to feed the people who hand-write the books? Is it like the Amish, where there is a specific technological era that’s “perfect”?

    Tell me of this Sustainability Element which can’t be recovered from sea water or dirt or landfill. That volcanoes and rifts never deposit…

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 15 Feb 2013 @ 12:23 AM

  233. I wonder if Killian gets the message this time??

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 15 Feb 2013 @ 6:12 AM

  234. Overshoot, reviewed in Public Health Rep. 2009 Jan-Feb; 124(1): 167–168:
    “… I not only consider it one of the most influential books I have ever read, but I believe it ranks as one of the most important books ever written, period. I wished I had read it 27 years ago ….”

    Anyone who hasn’t read it yet — seriously — spend some time reading the book.
    It’ll help you wonder, why the hell couldn’t we convince people this was happening, decades ago, as it’s long been obvious to anyone who read ecology.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Feb 2013 @ 12:10 PM

  235. “It’ll help you wonder, why the hell couldn’t we convince people this was happening, decades ago, as it’s long been obvious to anyone who read ecology.”

    Or it will remind those who paid attention to ecological sustainability decades ago that the majority are still not convinced, at least not enough to actually make the changes understanding it prompted some of us to make long ago. Particularly the understanding that some eventual “leveling off” of population overshoot will be the magical solution.

    ask CAPTCHA, what’s a “ryclimpl climate”?

    Comment by flxible — 15 Feb 2013 @ 1:06 PM

  236. 232 Jim Larsen says: Killian said, “Re #1. Simpler is better. Natural before mechanical, mechanical before technical. This is how one does viable sustainable design. This limits resource use”

    “Natural” doesn’t limit resource use.

    It limits non-renewable resource use, can limit rate of use of renewables by slowing speed of consumption, and limit both by eliminating behaviors that require either non-renewable resources or too rapid use of renewables.

    The Green Revolution ultimately was a massive mistake because it used non-natural solutions to increase food supply which allowed a massive boom in population while destroying soils all over the planet and many other unintended, negative, consequences such as eutrophication. At the time – and still – regenerative agricultural methods were not widely practiced, so food production would have been a limiting factor on population growth which would have led to a slower rate of consumption of all resources.

    Instead, it’s so inefficient it limits consumption.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing. Yes, sustainable systems are typically less efficient. This is a positive, not a negative, as resilience is more important to sustainability than efficiency is. E.g., using co-planting increases yield, health, resistance and quality of food, but it is obviously more labor intensive. This is a good result, though less efficient.

    For a given level of population and consumption, technical beats the pants off natural.

    Only if it is sustainable and doesn’t create fragility in place of resilience. You are confusing efficiency with sustainability.

    We both like to read. A few PV cells and a tablet and I’m there, even at night, probably for the rest of my life, with never a need to consume any more resources.

    Then you must be pretty old because that tablet isn’t lasting a lifetime. And not at night without batteries – currently unsustainable – or some other storage process. Pumped storage?

    And when that tablet does die, a little totally sustainable power will recover the rare elements and all will be new again.

    Is the recovery process sustainable? Are the non-rare elements sustainable or sustainably produced, delivered and reused?

    You get to, well, how “natural” is “natural”?

    You are building a straw man. Natural before mechanical, mechanical before hi-tech does not mean no mechanical nor no high-tech, so long as they are sustainable.

    How about metal tools to cut down the trees you need to burn to see the books you’ll have to buy?

    Are the tools sustainable? Are the trees or other material grown sustainably?

    The food to feed the people who hand-write the books?

    Easy to do sustainably, but is it in your test case?

    Is it like the Amish, where there is a specific technological era that’s “perfect”?

    Another straw man. You’ve seen me say repeatedly sustainability is ultimately local, depending on conditions there and the loops they can create with other communities, bio-regions, etc.

    Save your sarcasm > childish.

    Comment by Killian — 15 Feb 2013 @ 3:52 PM

  237. 230 Hank Roberts says: you haven’t been dismissed.

    Not by all, obviously, just some of the more vociferous, and rude, posters.

    Just readers, including me, suggesting you point to better written position papers because the very long text dumps in this topic are overwhelming.

    You well know the data that would satisfy scientific publications are extremely limited on sustainable systems, and are often wrong because they are based on faulty economics, such as endless substitution. See “Sustainable Growth”, Millennium Assessment Goals, LEED, etc.

    I”m here to learn climate science. For ideas about making choices consistent with what I learn, I go to other sites.

    Like it or not, as is increasingly the case, scientists and tech heads are going to be important in developing sustainable systems.

    Comment by Killian — 15 Feb 2013 @ 4:03 PM

  238. 229 Chris Dudley

    Chris,

    Prove solar is currently sustainable. That it is unsustainable is obvious and requires no scientific study, as proven logically already here. Not one piece of what makes up a solar array is currently sustainable. More efficient than some other sources of power? Yes. Sustainable? No.

    Defend your flawed definition of sustainability.

    [Edit - please raise the tone]

    Comment by Killian — 15 Feb 2013 @ 4:14 PM

  239. Is anyone here headed to DC for the anti-Keystone XL pipeline rally? If so maybe we can meet up, as I’m definitely going (from Boston tomorrow evening). I can also report back on the proceedings if anyone’s interested.

    The pre-game show is already underway: Hansen was arrested in front of the Whitehouse again yesterday (for the 4th time) along with 47 others including Bill McKibben, Adam Werbach, and Daryl Hannah. The Sierra club apparently made good on their promise to lift their 120-year ban on civil disobedience.

    Top NASA scientist arrested (again) in White House protest
    Activists arrested at White House protesting Keystone pipeline
    Keystone XL: NASA’s James Hansen risks arrest… again [good picture]

    Comment by Chris Korda — 15 Feb 2013 @ 6:38 PM

  240. Killian: There are appropriate venues for impassioned debate about energy policy, permaculture, sustainable living, etc. but this isn’t one of them. This is a climate science site, even on the open threads. Your rants are way off topic and disruptive here, as others have repeatedly stated. Please show some respect for the scientists who organize and moderate this site by taking it elsewhere.

    More generally it seems an appropriate moment to repost the rules, which have been spelled out reasonably clearly on a few occasions, though only in moments of dire necessity.

    “Please keep discussions related to the science of climate change. Not the politics of climate change, the economics of energy generation, how cell phones do or do not give you brain cancer, the end of the world as we know it, or how strongly you feel about saving the world.” -Gavin, Oct 2012 @222, see also @205

    “Actually, neither insults nor ad homs are particularly welcome here. None of us really has time to moderate this kind of stuff, and frankly we resent the time it takes to police the various slanging matches. Please stick to the substance and try out the art of the insult somewhere else.” -Gavin, Sep 2012 @410

    “Defensible statements and discussion of the physical, chemical, biological, statistical etc. issues only from here on out please.” Jim, Aug 2012 @373

    Comment by Chris Korda — 15 Feb 2013 @ 6:52 PM

  241. Killian wrote: “Prove solar is currently sustainable. That it is unsustainable is obvious and requires no scientific study, as proven logically already here.”

    The insistence that one can “prove” a factual assertion with “logic” and without recourse to actual facts, is anti-empirical, and thus anti-scientific, thinking.

    It’s the kind of thinking that led medieval theologians to engage in prolonged, involved, and impeccably “logical” debates about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin, and to disdain those who suggested that they should observe actual angels on an actual pinhead to find the answer.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 15 Feb 2013 @ 7:28 PM

  242. Laurence Coleman @~212:

    You’ve probably looked at Neven’s, but if not, that’s the place to go with real curiosity about Arctic developments:

    http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/

    Also recommend going right through the comments.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 15 Feb 2013 @ 10:17 PM

  243. 241 SecularAnimist says: The insistence that one can “prove” a factual assertion with “logic” and without recourse to actual facts, is anti-empirical, and thus anti-scientific, thinking.

    Your assertion is false. The facts are abundant. It is quite simple. No electronics industry anywhere on the planet has made a claim of sustainability. No manufacturer of electronics or mechanical systems anywhere on the planet has claimed sustainable production. No maker of wires, or metal frames, or solar cells, or inverters has made such a claim. No claim of sustainable transport exists. No claim of sustainable ore extraction exists. This is because they do not exist. The best you will find in any of these areas are claims of greater efficiency. Thus, sustainable manufacture of solar panels does not exist. This does not require science to prove or to understand. If the means of manufacture of a product are not sustainable, the product itself cannot, under any circumstances, be sustainable.

    This is logic fully supported by fact, not devoid of it. Your claim there are no facts is absurd. One can make logical conclusions based on facts. It is the core of science, not un-scientific thinking.

    Yes, the implications of living a truly sustainable lifestyle are frightening for most, so I excuse you here, but I am running out of patience with these false assertions and straw man arguments.

    Comment by Killian — 15 Feb 2013 @ 11:18 PM

  244. 240 Chris Korda

    With all due respect, sustainability is the only way you mitigate climate effectively. Discussing how to mitigate climate changes is not part of climate science? And how do you do that without sustainability?

    Comment by Killian — 15 Feb 2013 @ 11:25 PM

  245. 240 Chris Korda

    Andrew Glikson might disagree with you: Andrew Glikson: “No alternative to atmospheric CO2 draw-down” http://climatechangepsychology.blogspot.com/2013/02/andrew-glikson-no-alternative-to.html

    What is needed is a move of the conversation from he said/he said to discussions of how quickly various aspects of sustainability can move us to sub-300 ppm. Andrew particularly cites some of my favorites: reforestation and soil-building. Sadly, like most others, he doesn’t actually get to farming/gardening, which would be huge, and ignores reduced consumption altogether.

    A very flawed analysis in that it focuses only carbon rather than sustainability, failing to recognize that achieving sustainability is the only way to remain in a stable carbon flux, but at least he is speaking about it, and in terms of climate science.

    Comment by Killian — 15 Feb 2013 @ 11:45 PM

  246. Killian (#238),

    Argument by assertion isn’t. You have not provided a non-crackpot definition of of sustainability. So, you really have not said anything meaningful about solar.

    I have pointed out earlier that it is fecund in that is looks as though it could allow us to get at all the fossil carbon, not just the easy stuff. Fecund is a step above sustainable. It invites greater wisdom because greater creativity is involved. It is also more interesting than bean counting sustainability and more appropriate to the human spirit. By giving the power to either really wreck the climate or perhaps truly heal it, it puts us in a position of choice which is an opportunity to grow.

    You seem to want to eliminate all choices and live in a sty.

    How sad for you.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 15 Feb 2013 @ 11:50 PM

  247. 242 Susan Anderson, thanks Susan. I catch up with neven’s blog usually once a week and the dramatic new findings of acrtic ice volume loss prompted me to write the note above asking how soon will things go pear shape climate wise when there is substantially less ice cover for much of the year. This is obviously a major tipping point in the process of tipping over and does anyone out there have a clear handle on what we can expect?. I know what what James Lovelock would say..and he is probably going to be proven correct before too long.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 16 Feb 2013 @ 12:14 AM

  248. “Prove ____ is currently sustainable.”

    I think pretty much everything we as a species enjoy doing is potentially sustainable. Our current techniques for pretty much everything aren’t sustainable. That’s a problem, but your logic is backwards and rushed. Sustainability is ONLY required when excess resources are exhausted. Until then, it’s just planning for the future. Like the trillion ton(?) carbon limit. Assuming (pretending) it’s 100% accurate and tipping-point-like, we get to unsustainably spew a trillion tons of carbon without harm. IOW, we get to use resources unsustainably to build a sustainable world system. (oh, the odds of our blowing that one..)

    And yep, I’m pretty old. And yep, batteries and bulbs only last a decade or two (or half). So yep, if I were to buy a book-reader today, I might or might not have to replace a battery or a bulb or even a whole by-then-very-cheap unit before I die. But the era of churning out the latest and greatest disposable gadget is ending. We’re hitting physical limits, both ours, such as eye resolution and ability to handle g-forces in a car, and electronics, such as etching width, and space, such as how big a screen will fit on a wall.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 16 Feb 2013 @ 1:36 AM

  249. “Anonymous billionaires donated $120m to more than 100 anti-climate groups working to discredit climate change science” via Donors Trust. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/feb/14/funding-climate-change-denial-thinktanks-network

    Comment by MalcolmT — 16 Feb 2013 @ 2:22 AM

  250. Killian,
    How quickly we can move to sub-300 ppm CO2 is a pipe-dream at the moment. First, we need to ascertain how to maintain levels sub-400. All of this requires money, and needs to be done economically. Pretending (to quote one of esteemed commentators) that this can be done today, does not help the argument for future progress. Re-forestation is a nice concept, however, not to mention the beautification bonus.

    Comment by Dan H. — 16 Feb 2013 @ 8:52 AM

  251. Thanks, Malcolm. That’s helpful.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 16 Feb 2013 @ 9:52 AM

  252. It might be time to let Killian have the last word, since he seems to wish to dominate the conversation. It looks like an argumentative soliloquy with various punters who have gone from answering to encouraging him. IMHO this is feeding the troll.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 16 Feb 2013 @ 10:18 AM

  253. Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/feb/14/funding-climate-change-denial-thinktanks-network

    Comment by Vendicar Decaruan — 16 Feb 2013 @ 12:09 PM

  254. Killian @244: “Sustainability is the only way you mitigate climate effectively” is not a scientific statement. Neither evidence nor references are provided. It’s simply an opinion, and it looks like a weak attempt to justify continuing to post unsupported off-topic rants after you’ve been politely asked to desist. Every forum has limits, and RC is no exception. Please read the quotes @240 again.

    Steve @221: Agreed that this is more “Superman1 trolling” but unfortunately there isn’t much to be done except refrain from feeding. “When an individual consistently disrupts a group and refuses to moderate their behavior, the best/only option may be to ignore that individual, in the hopes that they will eventually tire of soliloquizing and seek a more receptive audience elsewhere.” (“quench” Dec @286)

    Comment by Chris Korda — 16 Feb 2013 @ 12:14 PM

  255. Lawrence (# 211 & 212)

    Food for your trolling, perhaps, can be found in the Dec. 31, 2012 entry of theidiottracker.blogspot.com which identifies a positive feedback in the differential opacity of first year arctic ice, compared with shrinking more permanent cover. A claim of measured 3X increase in transmission and 50% absorption, for new vs. older ice is referenced to a 12/31/12 GRL article, which I have not seen mentioned at RC.

    You mentioning “never having seen” Queensland heat spells of such length, calls to mind my experience last summer in Colorado Springs, when a quarter billion dollars worth of (350) mountainside homes burned. The temperature that afternoon peaked at the all time record of 101 F., but I remember the noon weather report stressing the aridity at 6,000 feet, thusly: “the relative humidity is in the low single digits–you might as well say there is no humidity!” In my entire life, I have never heard that comment.

    A week or so later, when that super-heavy air finally migrated to the East Coast, its collision with normal moisture resulted in a “derecho”, a powerful storm front ranging hundreds of miles. Also something virtually none of us had ever heard of in all our lives.

    Comment by Dave Peters — 16 Feb 2013 @ 12:51 PM

  256. 248 Jim Larsen “Prove ____ is currently sustainable.” I think pretty much everything we as a species enjoy doing is potentially sustainable.

    Agreed, from a certain perspective. We have football, the Romans had their amphitheaters. Same role, really. For me the shift to sustainability and localization equals a shift to local activation. Localization being a necessary way of life (not to imply there will be no travel, but that it will be far more limited than today unless or until long-distance travel is made sustainable), hopefully there will be a shift back to people playing football instead of watching it on TV, e.g. I see no reason for music to go away, though electronic music might be quite limited. We always had town commons, but likely the modern town common, the mall, will go the way of the Dodo.

    Americans, generally, have little real feel for how much more simply many other cultures/nations live than we do. Unsurprisingly, those nations also tend to report a greater level of happiness/contentedness than typical OECD nations/cultures. Far from Dudley’s “sty”, imo. Even within the OECD, Europeans generally report greater satisfaction than Americans, yet live on about half the fossil fuels.

    But, those in thrall of the tech-oriented world we have today find the idea of simplicity truly uncomfortable even as study after study confirms simpler, more connected communities are more content.

    Our current techniques for pretty much everything aren’t sustainable.

    Obviously agreed.

    That’s a problem, but your logic is backwards and rushed. Sustainability is ONLY required when excess resources are exhausted. Until then, it’s just planning for the future.

    This is obviously incorrect; we are already in overshoot and some exhausted resources will not be replenished. Far wiser to keep them available for unknown future needs and opportunities. If you have watched Albert Bartlett’s presentation, you will understand what I mean when I say we are less than a minute to 12:00, by definition. One minute to 12:00 is the point where you have half your resources left. We have less than half our resources left on a number of fronts. Large fish, non-polluted water, non-declining aquifers, healthy soils (most Big Ag farmland is productive only because of chemical inputs, the soil itself is largely dead), etc. When we combine this with Liebig’s Minimum we realize we need not be at the halfway point with all resources, merely critical resources.

    The time to move to sustainability is not when you have run out of resources, as you posit, but well before then. It takes a long time to shift societies peacefully and with relatively little disruption. For example, it generally takes 17 years for the auto fleet in the US to completely turnover. (This does not include people who choose to drive older vehicles or cannot afford something newer.) The Hirsch Report from 2005 found the following:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hirsch_report

    “Mitigation efforts will require substantial time.
    * Waiting until production peaks would leave the world with a liquid fuel deficit for 20 years.
    * Initiating a crash program 10 years before peaking leaves a liquid fuels shortfall of a decade.
    * Initiating a crash program 20 years before peaking could avoid a world liquid fuels shortfall.

    This report is about resources only, but the same applies to climate and economics. Transitions take time if you want them to be orderly. The longer you wait, with resources growing ever more scarce, the more difficult the transition will be.

    Climate is already well past the inflection point we are discussing. Two measures suffice, as canaries in the coal mine, to make this clear: phytoplankton down at least 40% and Arctic Sea Ice volume down more than 80%. (Both are counted from non-preindustrial points; counting from pre-industrial times, the losses would be greater than the reported 40% and 80%, respectively.)

    Like the trillion ton(?) carbon limit. Assuming (pretending) it’s 100% accurate and tipping-point-like, we get to unsustainably spew a trillion tons of carbon without harm. IOW, we get to use resources unsustainably to build a sustainable world system. (oh, the odds of our blowing that one..)

    I think we are in agreement here…? I disagree with any conception that there is any room to spare. Up thread I posted agreement with Gavin that the new paper on UV light effects on permafrost just filled in a bit that helped make the speed of change make more sense. That response was incomplete. What I should have made more clear: My repeated statements over the years to the effect that observed changes were far faster than expected changes, and that this would continue to be true, and that permafrost and clathrates were a short-term consideration, not just a long-term consideration, were validated by this new info. That is what I meant by saying the new paper wasn’t “new” risk from my perspective, but confirmation of risk.

    Gavin remains rather sanguine. It will be interesting to see if Archer does, also. This new info brings the science closer to my perspective. Hopefully it will help others do the same.

    So, no, we cannot burn all this additional carbon and expect a liveable outcome. Sustainability (regenerative design) is necessary now, and, from the perspective of the Hirsch Report-type thinking (though it was only about resources), we are at least two decades late in taking substantive action. Discussion of how the various responses will affect climate are vital.

    We get guidance from principles of sustainable design, and note that making natural choices before technical allow far more control in the sense that the speed of change is one which can be easily monitored and allows for corrections to errors; that natural solutions are far less likely to have unintended consequences because of the first point and because they can be undone far more easily, and because we understand the natural systems better in terms of their potential effects. Reforestation will change global patterns, but in relatively predictable ways, e.g. We have as pretty good understanding of the water cycle and forests, as well as wind patterns. And, we can cut them down pretty quickly.

    Just one example.

    Comment by Killian — 16 Feb 2013 @ 1:50 PM

  257. Of course solar energy isn’t “sustainable”. The Sun will burn out in a few billion years.

    Meanwhile, we have an URGENT need to stop the increase in GHG emissions and begin steep reductions within FIVE YEARS, leading to near-zero global GHG emissions within TWENTY YEARS (again, with most of the reduction occurring in the first decade), if we are to have any hope of avoiding the most catastrophic outcomes of anthropogenic global warming.

    Arguing about whether the technologies that we have in hand NOW, which are clearly capable of helping us achieve that result in the urgently short time-frame required, are “sustainable” over periods of centuries or millennia, is simply irrelevant.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Feb 2013 @ 2:07 PM

  258. Questions for Killian:

    Is there ANY technology for generating electricity that is “sustainable”?

    Are there ANY technologies that use electricity that are “sustainable”?

    If not, would electricity be prohibited in the “sustainable” world you envision?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Feb 2013 @ 2:10 PM

  259. 1)dont feed the “troll.” (“troll” is a term of art from Usenet.) If you think someone is trolling, shut up. Responses usually outnumber trollposts by factor of 2 or more.

    2)40% phytoplankton decline debunked at
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v472/n7342/full/nature09952.html

    sidd

    Comment by sidd — 16 Feb 2013 @ 5:32 PM

  260. SA (#258),

    The other SA (#252) is right. Don’t feed the anonymous troll who insinuates special knowledge while never explaining his credentials. It is typical of those who parrot propaganda from the OT nuclear industry.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 16 Feb 2013 @ 7:06 PM

  261. Re- Comment by Chris Korda — 16 Feb 2013 @ 12:14 PM

    I agree.

    Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 16 Feb 2013 @ 7:17 PM

  262. Killian O’Brien, I presume?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Feb 2013 @ 9:21 PM

  263. Re the statement “The only sustainable systems on the planet are aboriginal” … The aboriginal people who lived in my part of the world before European settlement did have a sustainable way of life, but it was based on depleting the local resources and moving on to another area, eventually returning when the ecosystem had recovered. It worked because of their small numbers and the vast areas available for relocation. Those conditions don’t apply anymore.

    Comment by Phil L — 16 Feb 2013 @ 11:06 PM

  264. The very first things the aborigines did when they reached and Australian mainland was burn the entire thing to the ground.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 17 Feb 2013 @ 10:24 AM

  265. OT

    Australians

    Complete list of where our politicians stand on climate change

    https://uknowispeaksense.wordpress.com/election-2013/

    please re-comment on blogs that you may visit

    Comment by john byatt — 17 Feb 2013 @ 3:36 PM

  266. Thomas Lee Elifritz said, The very first things the aborigines did when they reached and Australian mainland was burn the entire thing to the ground.

    Hyperbole. And that was, what? 40,000 years ago? I don’t suppose they 1. had a reason nor 2. learned anything along the way? And, has anyone claimed they lived sustainably in Australia? I really don’t know, but I suppose surviving for 40k years or more in a largely inhospitable place is a fair indicator they did.

    Phil L said, it was based on depleting the local resources and moving on to another area, eventually returning when the ecosystem had recovered. It worked because of their small numbers and the vast areas available for relocation. Those conditions don’t apply anymore.

    Yes, and farmers still rotate crops to maintain production. Some people burn. Some ecosystems need periodic burning, so the closer you get to designing an ecosystem like that, the more likely it is to be not only beneficial, but necessary. And, yes, population is important. I believe I have made that point myself.

    While there is only one useful definition of sustainable, there are many ways to do it. This is why I say sustainablity is ultimately local.

    What is sustainable in one location will not be in others, and vice-versa. We also know far more about our world due to science, sharing methods and techniques from around the world and trial and error. With international communication, there is the opportunity for anyone almost anywhere to gain access to the information they need to achieve sustainability. If we make this a global goal, all the more so.

    Remember, part of the science, the most important part at this point, is solutions:

    Permaculture at U Mass

    Taking permaculture into formal education, Australia

    Thirty year comparative study of regenerative design Regenerative farming uses 45% less energy (Note: this is for large farms. Switching to small holdings will improve this by eliminating the need for most tractors, combines, etc.) and conventional produces 40% more GHGs. (Note: More than this if small holdings w/o major FF investment in machines.)

    Reforestation and biochar can reduce atmospheric CO2 by 50 ppm – Hansen

    How to Solve the Climate Problem : James Hansen, “The plan for getting back to 350 ppm assumes major reforestation, but that is in addition to the fossil fuel limit, not instead of. Forest preservation and reforestation should be handled separately from fossil fuels in a sound approach to solve the climate problem… The public must be firm and unwavering in demanding “no offsets,”… ”

    So much for the theory that if it isn’t in a science paper, it’s pull pucky. Here’s an example of permaculture being four decades ahead of the science. Soil scientists catch up with permaculture, 40 years later.

    However a small but growing group of scientists are beginning to think smaller when it comes to conservation—much smaller. They have begun to study the microbes living in the soil, and their results are showing just how important microscopic life is in the macrobiotic world. A healthy, diverse population of soil microbes results in a healthy, diverse ecosystem. Changing an ecosystem also changes its microbes, scientists have found, and this may permanently scar the environment.

    “Soil is not sterile,” said Noah Fierer, a microbiologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “These microbes are crucial to maintaining soil fertility.

    And here I thought this was a given, having studied permaculture. We are not beginning to figure this out. We have known this for a very long time.
    I urge those of you who like to dismiss anything not studied with 14k papers, as climate change once was not, to not dismiss knowledge because it does not fit your definition of knowledge, evidence, fact or information – particularly if it is outside your experience.

    Do the math, folks: eliminating the need for energy is wiser, simpler and more achievable than trying to meet current energy wants with currently non-renewable resources and systems.

    Comment by Killian — 17 Feb 2013 @ 7:42 PM

  267. 256 Killian said, ” I see no reason for music to go away, though electronic music might be quite limited.”

    That hurt your cred. Typical speakers produce 85-90dB from one watt of power. Either you spout willy-nilly -OR- you’d begrudge us 5-10 watts to entertain an entire room. Given your aboriginal desires, I have no clue which…

    “The time to move to sustainability is not when you have run out of resources, as you posit, but well before then.”

    No I didn’t and I agree with you. I gave an edge example, and even labelled it “pretend”. Aiming to deplete the excess right at the moment you no longer need it is the best possible result in a game, but missing the cutoff in real life can mean misery, and it is bleeding expensive (or profitable) to cut things too close.

    257 SecularA said, “we have an URGENT need to stop the increase in GHG emissions and begin steep reductions within FIVE YEARS, leading to near-zero global GHG emissions within TWENTY YEARS (again, with most of the reduction occurring in the first decade), if we are to have any hope of avoiding the most catastrophic outcomes of anthropogenic global warming”

    I’m glad you’ve changed your mind and now come close to agreeing with me.

    And yes, it’s just a hope. I think we’re already committed to brimstoning our atmosphere to save the Arctic sea ice, and we surely won’t stop before we’re fully committed to massive geoengineering.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 18 Feb 2013 @ 9:53 AM

  268. There has been some criticism of solar power not having legs to stumble into the future. Typical propaganda put out on bravenewblogs and other OT sites. But, the economic inevitability of solar seems to indicate that it will gallop into the future, not just stumble.

    Estimates for the cost of silicon modules fabricated in China in 2015 come in at $0.42 per watt. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/02/17/1604661/chinese-companies-projected-to-make-solar-panels-for-42-cents-per-watt-in-2015/

    Used for twenty five years at a typical (non-desert) US site in a farm with balance of system (BOS) costs of $2 per watt, that gives a electricity cost of about $0.05/kwh. So, conversion to solar substantially lowers electricity costs at that point. But, much of the silicon module cost is energy cost. So, if energy costs go down, so do module costs, and (when we rely on aluminum) BOS costs as well. So, in addition to further improvements in fabrication methods, economies of scale and vertical integration, use of solar makes further use of solar cheaper.

    So, ill-conceived sustainability questions are not to the point. It looks much more as if Prometheus is setting himself up for another round with the vultures. Our question: Will Pandora use the key solar power gives us to open up the box of the Green River Shale? Will we have the style, maturity and grace to temper our use of Prometheus’ first gift when give the second. Have we grown or can we?

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 18 Feb 2013 @ 10:25 AM

  269. @241, 243, etc. on “proof”…

    I know of zero scientific proofs (math is not a science) that can be proven deductively. None. Nada. Zero.

    ALL science involves at important parts of the the chain _inductive_ logic which by definition cannot be proven true. Rather it can only be shown to be ever more likely true.

    Of course denier types use this all the time to show that scientists cannot _prove_ global warming. Wrongly in a scientific sense. Correctly in an ultimate logical sense.

    Comment by jgnfld — 18 Feb 2013 @ 12:32 PM

  270. At the anti- Keystone XL rally in DC on Sunday, I had just finished the lap around the White House, and as the river of people dissipated around me on 15th Street, I found myself walking behind James Hansen! He was strolling along incognito with his collar up and hat brim down low. I hailed him a few times but he didn’t turn around, perhaps wary of strangers given his arrest two days previously. In a flash of quick thinking I addressed him as Professor Hansen and that did the trick. We had a nice chat despite the pneumonia-inducing temperatures. I attempted to commend his bravery but he remained staunchly modest. Those of us who yearn for the promised sequel* to “Earth’s Energy Balance and Implications” should take heart: it will be published in four weeks. What astonishing luck to run into him in a crowd of 35,000. It really made my day!

    *applying Climate Response Functions to RCP scenarios rather than historical temperatures, see RC Oct 2012 OT @626

    Comment by Chris Korda — 18 Feb 2013 @ 2:44 PM

  271. While I understand the symbol of Keystone (though much California heavy oil might be a far, far better one in truth) I really think that going after any single carbon project is just plain not the way to go. Especially one in another country when there are equivalent-to-worse projects in your own. It reeks of paternalism. And worse, certain US national oil interests are perfectly happy to get their bitumen at a huge discount as is happening right now.

    Get carbon priced right through various market measures–for example Hansen’s revenue neutral carbon tax–and the market will take care of things much better than rallies about singular projects.

    “compassion ntryess” seems entirely appropriate, somehow.

    Comment by jgnfld — 18 Feb 2013 @ 3:04 PM

  272. > going after any single carbon project

    Oh, I don’t think there’s any risk of that.
    The point is to stop building the fossil fuel infrastructure.
    We need to replace it.
    Making more of it makes fossil fuels cheaper in the short term.

    The real cost of fossil fuel includes replacing the whole system.
    The sooner we start replacing the system, the less doing that will cost.

    You can’t stop just one.

    Nobody has suggested a plan/workflow in which building that pipeline or getting out all possible methane and burning it is on the right path.

    The point is, as Stoat points out, that leaving the stuff in the ground amounts to walking away from a whole lot of money. I’d add it also amounts to preventing a whole lot of grief.

    Money for us, grief for hypothetical grandchildren of people we don’t know.
    Your money or their life.
    As Jack Benny was wont to say, “I’m thinking ….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Feb 2013 @ 5:14 PM

  273. “Troll?”

    “Given your aboriginal desires”?

    you’d begrudge us 5-10 watts

    be·grudge
    1. resent something somebody has: to resent the fact that somebody has something
    2. not want to give: to be unwilling to give or pay something

    I resent that Jim will have electricity for music available. And/or, I just don’t want him to have it. Nor anybody else. Yup. That’s exactly what I said.

    Definitely time to stop feeding the trolls.

    Comment by Killian — 18 Feb 2013 @ 6:18 PM

  274. 269 jgnfld says: @241, 243, etc. on “proof”…

    I know of zero scientific proofs (math is not a science) that can be proven deductively. None. Nada. Zero.

    Uh… is sustainability a scientific proof?

    logical proof: An argument based on inductive or deductive reasoning. In classical rhetoric, logos.

    The logic is flawless: no claims of sustainable manufacture exist for any part of the chain for renewable energy. Ipso facto…

    Comment by Killian — 18 Feb 2013 @ 6:35 PM

  275. Chris Korda, congratulations and thanks for the info.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 18 Feb 2013 @ 10:54 PM

  276. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2F978-1-4614-3348-4_31/lookinside/000.png

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Feb 2013 @ 12:14 AM

  277. @274
    Inductive logic and therefore scientific inference is never “flawless”. By definition. That is the whole point of how and why we do science the way we do. You simply do not understand inductive logic or the scientific method if you assert that it is “flawless”.

    For proof (!) see http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logic-inductive/ starting with the first sentence: An inductive logic is a system of evidential support that extends deductive logic to less-than-certain inferences.”

    As for “logos” Aristotle, among other Greeks, in his presentation of rhetoric and logos quite clearly understands that most important public matters possess a degree of doubt and are not deductive but rather inductive.

    Comment by jgnfld — 19 Feb 2013 @ 7:19 AM

  278. For those with their ears to the ground on sustainability issues, William McDonough and Michael Braungart, authors of the landmark book “Cradle to Cradle” which essentially defines sustainable design, have a new book coming out. “The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability—Designing for Abundance” proposes that “[i]nstead of protecting the planet from human impact, why not redesign our activity to improve the planet? We can have a beneficial footprint. Abundance for all. The goal is within our reach.” http://www.amazon.com/The-Upcycle-Beyond-Sustainability–Designing-Abundance/dp/0865477485/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358087393&sr=8-1&keywords=the+upcycle

    I think that for those wedded to the idea of growth in a Perti dish, who harp on population all the time, this book may be too much for them. They’ll react like Johna cursing the fig tree, just mad because destruction won’t come. But, for those interested in climate issues, this work may offer some welcome approaches to problem solving.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 19 Feb 2013 @ 8:20 AM

  279. jgnfld (#277),

    Not sure you have to go that far. You are arguing with a sophist. As Socrates demonstrated, these are insincere ignorant folk trying to use intellectual dishonesty to score points. So, PV panels are durable and the sophist is aware of this. So the sophist asks for proof that they are being recycled. Since they have not lasted past their useful life, of course there is no proof, so the sophist thinks it has scored a clever point. But, it has gotten sloppy as sophists will because they are not interested in knowledge, only argument. The sophist asks for proof that any solar is sustainable. But, the sophist has caught itself in a trap of its own making because it is clear that back when people decided not to live in a sty anymore and started taking baths, the Romans did not use up all the sunlight heating their baths. And, we continue to warm our baths with sunlight today even in wintery places like Japan. And, we’re not going to use up all the sunlight either. And, getting out of the sty improved hygiene and health so solar power turns out to be more than sustainable, it turns out be life enhancing.

    Thus, even though the sophist is largely ignorant of logic, it can still be answered as it asked owing to its sloppiness in laying traps. And, since it is uninterested in knowledge, trying to teach it the finer points of thinking is like offering pearls to swine.

    But, with either approach the troll gets fed so maybe another tack like silence would be better. Oops….

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 19 Feb 2013 @ 10:35 AM

  280. “we have an URGENT need to stop the increase in GHG emissions and begin steep reductions within FIVE YEARS, leading to near-zero global GHG emissions within TWENTY YEARS (again, with most of the reduction occurring in the first decade), if we are to have any hope of avoiding the most catastrophic outcomes of anthropogenic global warming”

    Unfortunately, we are going the other way. 3.5 ppm increase over last year. At this rate, we will hit 400 ppm this May, 500 within the next 30 years (even without major carbon feedbacks kicking in, which they undoubtedly will).

    CD, it’s Jonah, and it is not clear what plant was intended by the kikayon plant, probably not a fig tree, though.

    In any case, I do agree that our goal should be repaying some of the debt we owe to the earth and to the future.

    But we have to first _stop_ living the wildly unsustainable lives nearly all of us individually and collectively live (and certainly as an industrial society). We are such a very long way from living in a minimally sustainable way, I am concerned that your link work will give some little things to do to feel good about themselves even as they continue to live enormously unsustainable lives.

    But I try to keep an open mind, so thanks for the link – I’ll look into it.

    Comment by wili — 19 Feb 2013 @ 10:49 AM

  281. Chris Dudley said “[i]nstead of protecting the planet from human impact, why not redesign our activity to improve the planet? We can have a beneficial footprint. Abundance for all. The goal is within our reach.”

    Yet, when I say the same, you’re rude. How does that make sense? Regenerative design is the process of using natural principles – those patterns and processes found in nature – to make nature more abundant than it is on its own while living within the resource constraints of the planet.

    I’ve not read the book, but it if is legit, they are 40 years late to the party. If it is based on the absurdity of endless substitution, it will have little to offer.

    I think that for those wedded to the idea of growth in a Perti dish, who harp on population all the time, this book may be too much for them. They’ll react like Johna cursing the fig tree, just mad because destruction won’t come. But, for those interested in climate issues, this work may offer some welcome approaches to problem solving.

    And I think you should learn to discuss without belittling others.

    Comment by Killian — 19 Feb 2013 @ 10:49 AM

  282. Hank Roberts said http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2F978-1-4614-3348-4_31/lookinside/000.png

    This is not useful without the text. Have it? There is at least one flaw in that it sets up economics, societal and environmental as co-equal. This fundamental flaw pervades discussions of “Smart Growth”-type discussions while everything is a subset of the environment. It will be important moving forward to clarify this in the decision-making process. Bolivia, e.g., has established environmental considerations in business decisions within their legal system.

    Do you happen to know if the writers base their discussions on typical (classical/neoclassical) economics? If so, their economic assumptions are almost certain to be flawed.

    Comment by Killian — 19 Feb 2013 @ 11:02 AM

  283. https://www.google.com/search?q=springerlink+sustainability+algae+biodiesel is worth a look, for quite a few examples of work in progress

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Feb 2013 @ 11:43 AM

  284. jgnfld wrote: “going after any single carbon project is just plain not the way to go”

    It’s a funny thing, but that’s what the fossil fuel corporations say about going after EVERY single carbon project.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 19 Feb 2013 @ 12:08 PM

  285. Killian wrote: “I think you should learn to discuss without belittling others.”

    With all due respect, you have been “belittling” every other commenter on this thread — and quite rudely so — since you got here.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 19 Feb 2013 @ 1:52 PM

  286. “…it is not clear what plant was intended by the kikayon plant…” True…

    OT Sidenote:

    This is a Biblical reference.

    Jonah was a most imperfect prophet (which was what got him allegedly swallowed by a whale)–most importantly in that he did not want the people of Ninevah to repent. When they did, and were duly forgiven, “it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.”

    (But to pick nits, it was not Jonah who cursed the fig/castor plant/whatever, although Jesus notably did so, much later.)

    Any who care can read the story here:

    http://www.esvbible.org/Jonah+3/
    http://www.esvbible.org/Jonah+4/

    /OT sidenote

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 19 Feb 2013 @ 2:01 PM

  287. a useful list of disruptive tactics to derail discussion
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2012/11/the-15-rules-of-web-disruption-2/

    see for example, #3,#4,#12 and #15

    notwithstanding the suggestions there, best response is always don’t feed the troll

    sidd

    Comment by sidd — 19 Feb 2013 @ 2:33 PM

  288. wili (#280),

    Knew there was an H in there someplace. Thanks.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 19 Feb 2013 @ 2:36 PM

  289. Killian (#281),

    If you feel you are a prophet, just come out and say it.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 19 Feb 2013 @ 3:10 PM

  290. @284

    Take out “single” would be my suggestion (as well as the editors of Nature, I might add. We need to go after EVERY carbon project, true. The mistake in going after Keystone is that even if successful and everyone is cheering a “success” that LeBrea keep keeps pumping away just fine at almost the exact same dirty level.

    In an odd twist of market fate, approving Keystone would _significantly_ raise the price of that source.

    I think I’ve had too much to drink as I just typed “oursPr another”

    Comment by jgnfld — 19 Feb 2013 @ 3:36 PM

  291. Kevin (#286),

    Thanks for the link. Nice presentation. Guess my point is that if we all make it through, even our dyslexics and our cattle, there will be people who will be grumpy for the lack of calamity. Those folks won’t welcome the new book by McDonough and Braungart.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 19 Feb 2013 @ 4:46 PM

  292. @284 jgnfld said, Take out “single” would be my suggestion (as well as the editors of Nature, I might add. We need to go after EVERY carbon project, true. The mistake in going after Keystone is that even if successful and everyone is cheering a “success” that LeBrea keep keeps pumping away just fine at almost the exact same dirty level.

    There’s always opportunity cost. And someone somewhere is going after most carbon emissions, so it’s not like this isn’t happening. The real error is not going after consumption. If global oil consumption dropped even ten percent, it would probably price the tar sands out of profitability.

    it’s hard to make money on new tar-sands projects unless the price of crude is above $60 to $80 per barrel. That explains why the boom in Alberta’s tar sands is a fairly recent phenomenon. Until prices rose, much of the oil wasn’t profitable to harvest.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/02/19/joe-noceras-wrong-a-carbon-tax-wouldnt-be-good-for-canadas-tar-sands/

    We use about 20% of global oil in the U.S., so could put quite a dent in that on our own.

    Comment by Killian — 19 Feb 2013 @ 5:22 PM

  293. Nothing will stop the tar sands being exploited short of forcing the petrosaurs to abandon the billions already invested there. If the XL pipeline doesn’t happen, other options are already being worked on, the bitumen will be shipped to eastern Canadian refiners and the eastern U.S., or to West Coast [or Alaskan] ports for shipment to Asia. There doesn’t need to be “new” tar sands projects opened in the near future, there’s currently more production happening than the climate can afford. As said, stopping XL will not represent any “success”.

    Comment by flxible — 19 Feb 2013 @ 7:31 PM

  294. Think of the tar sands as the early stage of a massive carbon sequestration program.

    Just got to corral the crazies who want to burn the stuff rather than see it buried in the ground.

    Make the money pump run the direction it needs to instead of the direction it wants to.

    Simple matter of legislation.

    Were it not for the Fermi Paradox I’d trust we’d be smart enough to do it.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Feb 2013 @ 8:43 PM

  295. Hank Roberts said, https://www.google.com/search?q=springerlink+sustainability+algae+biodiesel is worth a look, for quite a few examples of work in progress

    Thanks.

    Here are some links I looked up.

    Guatemalans feel squeeze of biofuel demand

    biofuels… not as green as thought – study

    Cleantech Cliff global venture capital

    The Biofuel Grind

    Comment by Killian — 19 Feb 2013 @ 9:20 PM

  296. Top Predators Have Sway Over Climate
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130219091014.htm
    Well, over CO2 release from freshwater environments anyway.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 19 Feb 2013 @ 9:24 PM

  297. Hey, there’s a question someone might know the answer to.
    What’s the volume/content of the tar sands compared to the volume/content of CO2 that needs to be sequestered to get temperature under control longterm?

    What fraction of our carbon debt would be added, by burning the tar sands?
    How much more would it add to current debt?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Feb 2013 @ 9:51 PM

  298. “Simple matter of legislation.”

    Hank, that would be a true Black Swan event. Especially in Canada, where ‘hewing wood and drawing water’ [to pump into the ground in order to force out the last drop of oil] is the very raison d’être. In fact the federal and provincial govt’s have been enabling the tar sands with every breath.

    Comment by flxible — 19 Feb 2013 @ 10:46 PM

  299. yup

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Feb 2013 @ 12:23 AM

  300. Hank Roberts said Hey, there’s a question someone might know the answer to.
    What’s the volume/content of the tar sands compared to the volume/content of CO2 that needs to be sequestered to get temperature under control longterm?

    25% of existing CO2 needs to go bye-bye. We’re at 394 or so and need to be at 300 or less. How many billions are there?

    What fraction of our carbon debt would be added, by burning the tar sands?

    Only a fraction of the Tar Sands are economically viable, seems I read just in the last day or so it was about 25% and the total Canadian is something like 1.3 trillion barrels equivalent. We’ve already burned around 1 trillion.

    But this question doesn’t exist in isolation. While the tar sands are exploited, being the among the most expensive to extract, the cheaper forms will be given preference. We are burning tar sands because 1. it brings money to Alberta, but mostly 2. because light sweet crude is well on its way down the slope of extraction. So, it’s all the other oil and gas and coal *and* the tar sands.

    How much more would it add to current debt?

    How much carbon, plus the CO2 involved in extraction, is there in around 300 billion barrels of oil?

    Comment by Killian — 20 Feb 2013 @ 12:35 AM

  301. flxible @298 Don’t give up! We have black swans all over the place here in Aus, and you share our political history :P

    Comment by MalcolmT — 20 Feb 2013 @ 12:49 AM

  302. Early last year I proposed an idea that there is a highly probable link between Polar Stratosheric Vortex and Tornado activity, suggesting that a weaker 2012 vortex will make the tornado season less huge as was in 2011. Since the vortex reconstituted itself strong in November 2011 I re-proposed the hypothesis calling for very early tornadoes leaving it uncertain if it will be an active 2013 year to the strength and extent of 2012-13 PSV, which subsequently disintegrated after Alabama USA christmas outbreak. Just like to suggest a deeper look at this to the community.

    http://eh2r.blogspot.ca/

    Comment by wayne davidson — 20 Feb 2013 @ 1:05 AM

  303. Killian, “Economically viable” is a moving target. A few years ago, with oil hovering between $10-20 a barrel, tar sands (and many other schemes) were seen to be ‘economically unviable’ for the foreseeable future by most.

    Just a few years later, we have oil continuing to hover around the $100/bbl level, and we have vast tracts decimated by this obscene method of strip mining.

    When oil hits $1000/bbl, even more bizarre and extreme means of extracting fossil fuels will no doubt become ‘economically viable.’

    Comment by wili — 20 Feb 2013 @ 9:25 AM

  304. #296–Hah! Suddenly I feel so validated!

    Last fall I wrote:

    But this raises another question: what does the sea ice decline itself mean? What consequences are likely to follow from an ice-free Arctic? If we are to mourn the loss of the sea ice, for whom and what does the mourning bell toll?

    Most obvious are the consequences for the Arctic environment. The sea ice is in itself a wildlife habitat. Its loss will be devastating for polar bears and seals, as well as less charismatic creatures depending on it. We cannot yet predict everything that a serious population crash of bears and seals will do, but consequences there will be.

    As an analogy, no-one expected that bringing wolves back to Yellowstone would restore the riverbank vegetation of the area—which means that, even today, we could not predict that the loss of the wolf populations would lead to serious degradations of the riverbanks and their vegetation. Yet it did. Wolves, like polar bears, are ‘top predators’ in their respective environments. So what will the loss of the bears do?

    http://doc-snow.hubpages.com/hub/Sea-Ice-Loss-2012-What-Do-The-Records-Mean

    I was on a bit of a thin limb with that; I’d read, somewhere, that the Arctic sea ice ecology was thought (by some, at least) not to be so driven by the presence (or absence) of top predators. But it was just presented as a thought, not a rigorous result–and it didn’t make sense to me. (Which is why I tactfully ignored it in the cited passage, and also why I left my thought as a question, not a claim.)

    But with the UBC study David cites, we have at least one result showing that in *some* aquatic environments at least, the loss to top predators can indeed make an impact that “extends all the way down to the biogeochemical level.”

    Still too early to actually say I was right, of course–but sadly, we seem to be running the requisite experiment… We’d better hope that this doesn’t turn out to be another strong climate feedback.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 20 Feb 2013 @ 10:02 AM

  305. Hank Roberts wrote: “Were it not for the Fermi Paradox I’d trust we’d be smart enough to do it.”

    Well, in that case, be of good cheer. Because the Fermi Paradox is silly.

    Anyway, the problem is not whether “we” are “smart enough to do it”. “We” have an abundance of solutions to the GHG emissions problem, which are at hand, and can easily be deployed at the multiple scales and with the rapidity needed to prevent catastrophe.

    The problem is that there is no unified “WE” that is facing the problem. Some of us want to solve it; but some of us want to exacerbate it for short term profits — albeit for almost unimaginably HUGE short term profits.

    The second group is not stupid; they simply DON’T CARE about the things that the rest of us care about. And unfortunately, they have vast wealth and power which they are using to obstruct and delay implementation of the solutions for as long as they can get away with it.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 20 Feb 2013 @ 10:47 AM

  306. Any one got more on this or a place were to read more about it?
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v491/n7426/full/nature11579.html
    The mystery of recent stratospheric temperature trends

    [Response: This is quite an interesting paper and we are looking quite closely at the details. There is clearly some important uncertainties in the observations, and multiple factors in (some) of the models. The basic picture is clear - the stratosphere has cooled due to the action of CO2 and ozone depletion - but the magnitude and structure of this cooling is more ambiguous than one would like. More soon perhaps... - gavin]

    Comment by Magnus W — 20 Feb 2013 @ 11:18 AM

  307. Wili, (@#303)–But the ‘moving target’ isn’t only the changing cost of the oil to be extracted; it is the changing cost of alternative sources of energy.

    And it looks increasingly as if the dropping cost of solar, in particular, is going to be making for pretty tough sledding for ‘economically viable fossil fuels.’ Of course, it’s a race with the ongoing damage we are inflicting, but still, I’m pretty sure $1000 a barrel is *not* going to be happening–not in 2013 dollar terms, anyway.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 20 Feb 2013 @ 11:26 AM

  308. I read somewhere ….

    In other news,
    PIOMAS is a model of the ice and ocean … worth a look.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Feb 2013 @ 11:27 AM

  309. By the way, I note that it’s the 20th of the month, and if either GISTEMP or NCDC has updated to give January analyses yet, then I’m looking in the wrong place for them.

    Anybody know what gives? Everybody busy preparing for possible consequences of this stupid ‘sequester’ business, maybe?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 20 Feb 2013 @ 11:37 AM

  310. Folks, the economics of tar sands exploitation are constantly changing, there is unlikely to ever be less “profit” in it as we go forward with the current growth mentality, in both population and economic terms. Canada has by far the lions share of global bitumen reserves. I believe the market price currently only needs to be above $50/bbl for the producers to make a “good” profit above production cost at existing facilities, and as of today the govt still provides “incentives” for new development investments in the resource.

    Additionally, the extra energy needed to exploit the sands can be [mostly is] supplied by the associated natural gas supplies, which because of the oversupply of nat gas with fracking production in the US, is ever cheaper – not even worth shipping right now for most Canadian producers.

    It’s the “average person”, like those you see in the mirror, who need to be convinced to cease and desist the demand. Until there is no longer ever increasing economic profit to be made, the carbon will continue to flow.

    Comment by flxible — 20 Feb 2013 @ 12:26 PM

  311. Kevin @309.
    I see no sign yet of NASA GISS’s Jan 2013 but NCDC have updated. The various subsets of their global temp record are accessible from this directory.

    Comment by MARodger — 20 Feb 2013 @ 12:31 PM

  312. > the Fermi Paradox is silly.

    That’s settled then.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Feb 2013 @ 1:00 PM

  313. Sigh: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/02/20/biofuel-craze-wiping-out-americas-grasslands-at-fastest-rate-since-the-dust-bowl/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Feb 2013 @ 1:37 PM

  314. 303 “Economically viable” is a moving target.

    Obviously, Wili.

    Comment by Killian — 20 Feb 2013 @ 1:59 PM

  315. Kevin (#307),

    Be a little careful. Low cost solar could be used as an energy input to keep tar sands sourced oil flowing. In fact, it would be economically stupid not to try that. And, it would cut down on extraction related emissions. The problem is, it opens up more and more desperate carbon pools going forward.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 20 Feb 2013 @ 2:11 PM

  316. 273 Killian said, ” Yup. That’s exactly what I said.”

    You make sweeping declarations and then dump on anyone who challenges or asks questions. SecularA asked what sort of electrical generation you approve of and what electrical usage is acceptable. You spew volumes, but can’t spare any words to answer his questions?

    Since you refused, I simply showed that whatever the answer is, it’s less than 10 watts worth of entertainment.

    How about giving a REAL answer to my question instead of a snide fake-admission which doesn’t even make sense since my speculation was binary and mutually exclusive. (Did you turn left or right? Yup, that’s exactly how I turned. ???)

    So is it:

    1. You’re ignorant of the fact that electronic music is laughably cheap, and yet posted anyway because ______. (Here a decent answer could be “I grew up in the era of inefficient tube amplifiers. Additionally, speakers had crappy frequency response so designers pushed gobs of energy through to enable bass reproduction. Combine the two, and it could take half a kilowatt to listen to some loud music. I didn’t realize technology had advanced so much. Thanks for the info, and I’ve changed my mind.”)

    2. 10 watts for entertainment??? THE HORROR!!!!!!

    3. ______________________.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 20 Feb 2013 @ 11:16 PM

  317. 57N is not prime real estate for solar much of the year (though with sun tracking, it can be fairly good in the summer).

    Comment by jgnfld — 20 Feb 2013 @ 11:32 PM

  318. Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination. – John Dewey

    Just a reminder that all science started out as a new idea, not yet studied and needing study. Regenerative design is like this. We know it works. We do it. Natural solutions work. We do that, too. The 30-year Rodale study I’ve linked previously is a nice example of how Mollison, Fukuoka, et al’s, observations and design choices were shown to be valid. I’d be happy to oblige if you can get the funding to advance the science of regenerative design. Our future may literally depend on it.

    This might be worth some attention: India Rice Farmers Revolution – Natural, Organic, w/ Massive Yields Natural farming – including zero unintended negative consequences, unlike GMO’s and indusrial ag – will, imo, be a necessary and vital part of mitigation and adaptation.

    This would make a good subject for a study, too. Willie Smits: How to restore a rainforest Reforestation, I predict, will be a necessary and significant part of mitigation and adaptation to climate changes. More than one scientist thinks so, too.

    Cheers

    Comment by Killian — 21 Feb 2013 @ 1:08 AM

  319. Thanks, MAR (and Chris, too, for the comments.)

    If the temperature calculations have been done, then one may hope that the usual analysis won’t be too, too, far behind.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 21 Feb 2013 @ 1:16 AM

  320. The ATM for Climate Denial: Secretive Donors Trust Funds Vast Network of Global Warming Skeptics

    http://www.democracynow.org/2013/2/19/the_atm_for_climate_denial_secretive

    Comment by Vendicar Decaruan — 21 Feb 2013 @ 3:20 AM

  321. 302: Wayne Davidson.. Interesting point. Did you project your hypothesis just for the contiguous USA or for other regions of the world as well? We in Australia are having an interesting time..we now have to include tornadoes as part of our weather patterns. I have been living in Australia for the majority of my adult life and have never heard of tornadoes anywhere in Australia expect for the very common willy willy’s or dust devils. But over the last 2-3 years they have become quite common, not to the destructive extent of the american twisters but we now have them that touch down and destroy a handful of buildings at a time. I have also never seen a waterspout until the last 2-3 years as well, now they occuring of the waters of the sunshine coast, gold coast, sydney and further south. They are a complete novelity to everybody!. So clearly something very unusual is happening, probably because the lows of the coast are getting deeper and are drawing up huge amnounts of water. We dont measure our daily rainfall in mm anymore, rather metres…well not quite… but getting there. We just received another drenching here on the sunshine coast a week ago, 300-400mm on top of the 1/2M from last month. So our hydrologic cycle is in overdrive. Cheers!

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 21 Feb 2013 @ 5:31 AM

  322. Killian quotes Dewey:
    Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination. – John Dewey

    Of course, the same could be said of most really stupid ideas.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 Feb 2013 @ 9:43 AM

  323. Killian: “Just a reminder that all science started out as a new idea”

    This smacks of the “they laughed at Einstein” defense. The prosecutor will usually respond with “they also laughed at Bozo the Clown”.

    Comment by Bob Loblaw — 21 Feb 2013 @ 11:10 AM

  324. “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
    – Aldo Leopold

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Feb 2013 @ 12:55 PM

  325. Breitbart.com shouldn’t be trusted to get even the basics right …. the GOP is perfectly happy to welcome into the tent an organization that is happy to fabricate “news” that supports conservative story lines….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Feb 2013 @ 3:46 PM

  326. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/21/unlocking-the-conspiracy-mindset/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Feb 2013 @ 4:23 PM

  327. Bob Loblaw, Ray Ladbury-ish said Killian: “Just a reminder that all science started out as a new idea”

    This smacks of the “they laughed at Einstein” defense. The prosecutor will usually respond with “they also laughed at Bozo the Clown”.

    So you’re saying we shouldn’t have and develop new ideas because of clowns? Nothing on Smits or the Indian rice farmers? Nothing on putting resources into scientifically quantifying on-the-ground solutions to climate change? No? “Gotcha!” more entertaining, more important?

    Comment by Killian — 21 Feb 2013 @ 4:49 PM

  328. My own favorite Leopold quote (from Round River):

    “One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 21 Feb 2013 @ 10:21 PM

  329. Hi Lawrence, how interesting! If you were able to verify Antarctica Polar Stratospheric Vortex from one year to the next you may find your answer. In Australia’s case, it would mean that past 2 or 3 years the PSV was significantly more intense than preceding years. That would be quite interesting if this was so. I am a big fan of the Arctic’s PSV but not intimate with Antarctica’s. If the Upper air is much colder twinned with a very hot moist surface (near Australia Coast) you certainly have greater potential. Not counting wind speeds way up and nearer to ground, in the Arctic I have seen PSV winds exceeding 200 knots, these winds do not exist in a vacuum and affect other regions to the South and more below, Lorenz butterfly in this case becomes a flying Godzilla on steroids.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 21 Feb 2013 @ 10:49 PM

  330. > So you’re saying …

    followed by anything other than a direct quote
    is rhetoric, to put it politely.

    Please don’t.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Feb 2013 @ 1:06 AM

  331. Busy times in the Arctic, I present the case for observing Cloud Condensation Nuclei streaks just above the horizon by digital capture of what appears to be a recent very low altitude Polar Stratospheric Cloud. The PSC appears very much to be at the Tropopause level. http://eh2r.blogspot.ca/

    Comment by wayne davidson — 22 Feb 2013 @ 1:36 AM

  332. Decade of research on why some are more susceptible to whack-a-doo theories. It explains pretty clearly why far right folks tend to dominate denial. Very interesting work. http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

    Comment by Killian — 22 Feb 2013 @ 2:53 AM

  333. Killian @ 327: “So you’re saying …”

    Hank has already pointed out how your statement is unjustified, but I will add my own response. I will use another quip, which you may feel is loaded with snark, but c’est la vie:

    It is common sense to realize that just because “all poodles are dogs” does not mean that “all dogs are poodles”. Likewise, we cannot say that because all science starts as new ideas, therefore all new ideas are science. You seem to think you have a new idea that nobody is paying attention to, and you seem to think that this is anti-science in some fashion.

    On the internet, this kind of “you’re just close-minded and biased against my great idea” is often phrased in a mindset of “they’re laughing at me, so I’ll point out that Einstein was laughed at” – as if the originator has come up with something as important as Einstein’s work. Unfortunately, just as “not all dogs are poodles”, not all ideas that are laughed at are Einstein-level genius. Some ideas are laughed at because the people presenting them are more like Bozo the Clown.

    You seem to think you have something important to say. I suspect that by now you have a better understanding of what I think of it.

    Comment by Bob Loblaw — 22 Feb 2013 @ 10:50 AM

  334. Bob Loblaw,
    OK, since we are discussing logic, I had to link to the Monty Python Logician’s sketch:

    http://www.montypython.net/scripts/logician.php

    The full thing can of course be found on Youtube.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Feb 2013 @ 2:27 PM

  335. as we’ve been saying

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Feb 2013 @ 2:33 PM

  336. we cannot say that because all science starts as new ideas, therefore all new ideas are science. You seem to think you have a new idea that nobody is paying attention to

    Yeah, neither of these follow from what I’ve posted.

    Comment by Killian — 22 Feb 2013 @ 4:59 PM

  337. My #319 & previous:

    NCDC has now posted the January analysis, for those who are interested. Pretty toasty last month–especially Down Under.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 22 Feb 2013 @ 6:52 PM

  338. > … we cannot say ….
    > … You seem to think …

    Yup. Those amount to “so you are saying” — rhetoric.
    I should’ve lambasted’em.
    I do mean to be an equal-opportunity lambaster

    Can’t we all just get along?

    There’s, you know, work to do.

    Seven billion of us have our work cut out for us, in the years or decades or century that we’ll be alive — leave a garden not a footprint.

    Ain’t easy. Ain’t even easy to _guess_ what’ll look right in hindsight.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Feb 2013 @ 9:02 PM

  339. Hey, does anyone know what this guy is talking about?

    https://theconversation.edu.au/time-to-stop-hiding-behind-warming-trends-12400

    I get the idea about nonlinear changes in climate but I wasn’t aware that Dr Rajendra Pachauri had made any statements to support the whole “it hasn’t warmed since 1998″ line. Then again, the reference the author uses is to a commentator from The Australian, which is a newspaper that’s only slightly less right-wing than Fox News. Does anyone have any clarification on this?

    Thanks!

    Comment by CL Pohlman — 23 Feb 2013 @ 4:01 AM

  340. #339 “a newspaper that’s only slightly less right-wing than Fox News”. And your point?
    Science will naturally and forever remain aloof where politics are concerned.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 23 Feb 2013 @ 12:28 PM

  341. for CL Pohlman: http://blogs.crikey.com.au/purepoison/2011/07/07/the-australian-lies-to-its-readers-about-climate-change/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Feb 2013 @ 3:21 PM

  342. further for CL Pohlman: http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/?s=australian's+war

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Feb 2013 @ 3:24 PM

  343. CL Pohlman @339.
    The Crazy Australian isn’t repeating ‘the whole “it hasn’t warmed since 1998″ line.’ They’re saying it’s a 17 year phenomenon which presumably takes it back to 1996. Then, they are repeating the UK Daily Rail thing by saying the Met Office are behind the finding. Of course it isn’t the Met Office. They branded the Rail’s comment as “misguided”. It is really just a bunch of puerile journos doing their best to make idiots of their employer’s readership. And they probably calculate it as 17 years because when the Daily Rail ran it as a 16 year event, that was back in 2012.
    Real cutting-edge mathematics. eh?

    Comment by MARodger — 23 Feb 2013 @ 5:43 PM

  344. Ah, The Australian newspaper, Front page

    “In a wide-ranging interview with Dr. Pachauri on topics that included this year’s record northern summer Arctic ice growth”…

    Now any northern summer Arctic ice growth would surely be worth of the front page?

    Comment by john byatt — 24 Feb 2013 @ 1:09 AM

  345. If you want my opinion, what we need are experts, not windbags
    “… I am always keen to criticise and thought I should sharpen up my technique of derision, sarcasm and occasional loftiness. This was a ghastly error as I discovered it was my actually my own opinions that needed criticising. It turns out that quite a few of them were founded on hearsay and conjecture….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Feb 2013 @ 12:09 PM

  346. and for those who didn’t make it to the end of that Opinion column I linked above by actually reading it: a shortcut link to the buried lede:

    I want to see more experts. I want more facts. I want to see more people who cannot just tell me what opinion they have, but can convincingly answer why they hold it too. It is not intellectual fascism to consider people who know things to be more knowledgeable than those who don’t. We all have the right to our opinion, but we don’t have the right to stop people laughing at it….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Feb 2013 @ 12:12 PM

  347. @343 I posted this over in Tamino’s blog, but it may belong here as well. I have not seen the global HadCRUT4 numbers out yet, but an analysis of the GISS data shows the deniers need to learn to rephrase their denials a bit!…

    Certainly in the GISTemp data this [i.e., no warming for 17 years] is not true. Raw linear regressions from R lm routine of the annual means (Jan-Dec) are significant at the following years:

    Time period | Observed trend | probability
    1994 -> present .15deg/decade .0003
    1995 -> present .13deg/decade .002
    1996 -> present .13deg/decade .005
    1997 -> present .10deg/decade .02
    1998 -> present .09deg/decade .06 (NS)
    1999 -> present .13deg/decade .02
    2000 -> present .10deg/decade .07 (NS)
    2001 -> present .05deg/decade (NS)
    2002 -> present .03deg/decade (NS)
    2003 -> present .04deg/decade (NS)
    2004 -> present .05deg/decade (NS)
    2005 -> present .01deg/decade (NS)
    2006 -> present .08deg/decade (NS)
    2007 -> present .12deg/decade (NS)
    2008 -> present .29deg/decade (NS)
    2009,2010,2011-> present also all trend >0 (one just barely).

    Autocorrelation not taken into account.

    Anyway, it appears that global warming continued until 16 years ago, then magically disappeared 15 years ago, then magically again reappeared 14 years ago before magically disappearing again.

    Comment by jgnfld — 24 Feb 2013 @ 1:34 PM

  348. #347–”You see! You see! It’s not CO2! It’s magic!”

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 24 Feb 2013 @ 4:49 PM

  349. New Source Found For Cold, Deep Antarctic Currents
    http://www.livescience.com/27390-antarctic-bottom-water-current-found.html
    Surprising location, at least for me.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 24 Feb 2013 @ 9:37 PM

  350. jgnfld @347.

    I’m not entirely sure your analysis has escaped from RichardLindzenLand because to do that you have to go forwards. You are still going backwards a la Lindzen.

    If you do your regressions not backwards from 2012 but forwards from, say 1980, you escape the “no statistical significance” trap and can still see if a “pause” has happened.

    As the red trace in this (temporarily-linked) graphic shows, the GISS temperatures were actually accelerating until mid-2007.
    Since then there has indeed been a ‘pause’ which is interesting because it coincides with the slowing in the 0-700m OHC rise.

    So the crayon-wielding employees of the world’s right-wing press barons are not entirely wrong when they say there has been a ‘pause’. It’s just that until they learn to count properly (and thus count for something rather than nothing) they are incapable of saying how long the ‘pause’ has been happening.

    Comment by MARodger — 25 Feb 2013 @ 7:54 AM

  351. > As the red trace in this (temporarily-linked) graphic shows
    Please label that “temporarily linked” drawing here since it has no label or cite.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Feb 2013 @ 12:58 PM

  352. @351.
    I’ve cleaned up the graph a tad.
    I hope it’s obvious the data is NASA GISS monthly global temperature anomalies. If you do a least squares regression with this data 1980 to Date1, you will get an “end point” at Date1 on a line of slope X. These end points are traced out in black & the slope in red.
    If adding more recent data causes the regression slope to increase, it will be due to the temperature rise accelerating during the period of that more recent data. Such acceleration is evident up to July 2007.

    Comment by MARodger — 25 Feb 2013 @ 6:23 PM

  353. Extreme Weather Linked to Giant Waves in Atmosphere
    http://www.livescience.com/27427-giant-air-waves-extreme-weather.html
    Yup.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 25 Feb 2013 @ 10:29 PM

  354. New Maps Depict Potential Worldwide Coral Bleaching by 2056
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130225122045.htm
    Yup.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 25 Feb 2013 @ 10:38 PM

  355. “Scientists have long known of the existence of “Antarctic bottom water,” a dense, deep layer of water near the ocean floor that has a significant impact on the movement of the world’s oceans. Three areas where this water is formed were known of, and the existence of a fourth suspected for decades, but the area was far too inaccessible, until now, thanks to the seals.”

    “seals foraged on the continental slope as far down as 1,800 meters (1.1 miles), punching through into a layer of this dense water cascading down the abyss”

    http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/bre91p030-us-australia-antarctic-seals/

    That’s 18 times as deep as the human record (101 meters), and the seals still have time to browse.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constant_Weight_Apnea_Without_Fins

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 26 Feb 2013 @ 4:42 AM

  356. Thank you everyone! I wasn’t sure whether this was a new denialist invention or not.

    Comment by CL Pohlman — 26 Feb 2013 @ 6:07 AM

  357. David (#353),

    Your link said the study was out yesterday, but I could not find it. This might be the eventual link. http://www.pnas.org/lookup/doi/10.1073/pnas.1222000110

    From here: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-02/pifc-we022513.php

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 26 Feb 2013 @ 7:50 AM

  358. #353–Thanks, DBB! As Stefan is a co-author, I hope we’ll get a post on this!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 26 Feb 2013 @ 8:33 AM

  359. Looks like January 2013 was the sixth warmest. http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata_v3/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 26 Feb 2013 @ 9:39 AM

  360. #359–as compared with 9th-warmest for NCDC; ‘pretty toasty,’ as I called it when the NCDC analysis came out, but not a record.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 26 Feb 2013 @ 10:58 AM

  361. A question about the jet stream. At Rutgers it was learned that as the plant warms and the differential between the equator and the poles decreases, the jet stream slows and thus we have higher amplitude waves and troughs that persist longer. We can see a little bit of this already in our weather patterns.

    My question is, what do the models predict for the far future regarding the jet stream? Does it remain recognizable or does it change into something different entirely, or perhaps cease to exist? What do we know about past warm climates and the nature or absence of the jet stream then?

    Comment by John Batteen — 26 Feb 2013 @ 4:03 PM

  362. Those wishing to remind Larry Bell that his Forbes column is not immune to fisking will find him trying to terminate IPCC funding at :

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrybell/2013/02/24/yes-we-should-defund-the-u-n-s-intergovernmental-panel-on-climate-change/

    Comment by Russell — 26 Feb 2013 @ 9:21 PM

  363. rephrasing part of John Batteen’s question — what if any proxies do we know of that could give an idea where the jet stream was and how it behaved, in the paleo record? I’d guess maybe specific pollen layers might show up or not show up “downwind” of particular kinds of forests, depending on the prevailing wind during the season, if the layers are that clear. Anything like that known to anyone?

    [Response: Very very difficult thing to assess. On the other hand, looking at record of lakes and pollen -- where it was wet, where it wasn't -- has constrained jet stream position pretty well on glacial-interglacial timescales. Getting at details on shorter timescales would be much harder.--eric
    ]

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Feb 2013 @ 12:18 AM

  364. John Batteen– Big question!!!

    One of the key fundamental question in atmospheric dynamics right now is to understand meridional shifts of the zonally-averaged circulation (and its variability), including descending edge of the Hadley cell or the subtropical or eddy-driven jet. There’s also the emerging topic of how Arctic sea ice feeds back onto the mid-latitude dynamics…unfortunately it seems that only one idea about how that works has ended up hijacking all the popular discussion of the issue, when some people have shown for example that certain types of blocking events (driven by wave-breaking) might become less frequent…Elizabeth Barnes and Dennis Hartmann have some work on this. That’s still a big research topic though, and I quite frequently attend seminars with people saying different things.

    One thing a lot of people forget is that the pole-to-equator temperature gradient really only decreases near the surface levels. That’s not true higher up. If you flew up to near the tropical tropopause in a jetpack and doubled CO2, you’d feel warming from increased latent heating (that was amplified relative to the surface). If you then stayed at that pressure level and started to take your jetpack and fly poleward, because the tropopause slopes downward, eventually you would get to a level that hasn’t warmed as much or even cooled if you get into the stratosphere. A lot of idealized experiments show sensitivity to that structure of heating (the shift is different in global warming experiments vs. El Nino events for example)

    Regarding the large-scale circulation, a general rule is that stuff shifts poleward in a warming climate, including the descending branch of the Hadley cell, so you might expect to get drier if you sit right on the poleward edge. There’s a lot of details though. Paleoclimatically speaking, I agree with Eric, though even for the last millennium we have some constraints from speleothem (oxygen isotope) and lake sediment records. You have to be careful about the dynamics though and how you talk about it– in South America for example, you have to distinguish between the South American Summer (Austral, DJF) Monsoon and ITCZ displacements, which are geographically and dynamically distinct, but nonetheless the location of the ITCZ is of considerable importance for monsoon intensity.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 27 Feb 2013 @ 1:30 AM

  365. Energy enthusiasts, you might want to engage in a discussion here:
    http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/ellachou/2013/02/04/keyenergyissues/
    I made a starting (actually third or so there) awaiting moderation. I mentioned this
    http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/ellachou/2013/02/04/keyenergyissues/ first, and then other things.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 27 Feb 2013 @ 11:17 AM

  366. I need more practice making simple comments. I meant that at the other place I mentioned this
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/01/10/207320/the-full-global-warming-solution-how-the-world-can-stabilize-at-350-to-450-ppm/

    first, and then went on.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 27 Feb 2013 @ 11:23 AM

  367. #364–

    There’s also the emerging topic of how Arctic sea ice feeds back onto the mid-latitude dynamics…unfortunately it seems that only one idea about how that works has ended up hijacking all the popular discussion of the issue, when some people have shown for example that certain types of blocking events (driven by wave-breaking) might become less frequent…Elizabeth Barnes and Dennis Hartmann have some work on this.

    Chris, can you say more about this? I did a quick search on Google Scholar, but didn’t really turn up much of substance. Got any bibliography you can point us to?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 27 Feb 2013 @ 12:30 PM

  368. Kevin,

    http://barnes.atmos.colostate.edu/FILES/MANUSCRIPTS/Barnes_Hartmann_2012_JGR.pdf

    Comment by grypo — 27 Feb 2013 @ 12:54 PM

  369. With regard to the possible connection between arctic sea ice and mid-latitude atmospheric blocking events, perhaps Stefan Rahmstorf could give us an update with a post on this recently accepted paper:
    Petoukhov, V., Rahmstorf, S., Petri, S., Schellnhuber, H. J. (2013): Quasi-resonant amplification of planetary waves and recent Northern Hemisphere weather extremes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    Comment by Pat Cassen — 27 Feb 2013 @ 1:20 PM

  370. Kevin- Also, here is a more recent discussion looking at the CMIP5 models

    Comment by Chris Colose — 27 Feb 2013 @ 2:40 PM

  371. #368, 370–Thank you, gentlefolk!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 27 Feb 2013 @ 7:57 PM

  372. Are climate change models becoming more accurate and less reliable?
    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/the-curious-wavefunction/2013/02/27/are-more-accurate-climate-change-models-worse/
    Useful reminders about models in general.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 27 Feb 2013 @ 10:19 PM

  373. David Benson (372)–

    Someone like Gavin will have a better opinion than me on that article, but this is a pet peeve of mine. Almost by definition, the true uncertainties cannot grow with time. As science progresses, what we know grows, and thus the uncertainty goes down. The only thing that can change is the perception of uncertainty. Once you hit a threshold of discovering new physics (or chemistry, biological interactions, etc) that are found to be important, then the perception of what was uncertain might grow since you now need to be thinking more carefully about a previous unknowns. But nature actually didn’t care 10 years ago what we perceived. The uncertainties were larger 10 years ago, period.

    The Nature headline “Estimates of climate-change impacts will get less, rather than more, certain” therefore actually doesn’t make any sense. There are certain properties of the system (e.g., weather predictability months in advance) which almost certainly be impossible (for well-understood reasons), and thus there are things that have thresholds of understanding. At that point, you (or NSF) need to decide whether the ratio of prospective understanding to research demand and expense (“RUDE” as I’ll call it) is sufficiently high enough. I don’t think RUDE is anywhere near high enough on a plethora of topics (at least I hope so, other wise I’d be venturing into a dead field) and advertising that to be the case does little but shy young students away from the field or make room for political talking points.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 28 Feb 2013 @ 1:26 AM

  374. David B. Benson @372.

    I am also not impressed with the Ashutosh Jogalekar article you link to. Jogalekar says little more than ‘as a molecular modeller that knows nothing about climatology, I agree with what Maslin & Austin said.’
    In providing this message, Jogalekar entirely (and dangerously) misses the main Maslin & Austin take-home message which was that we do know enough about AGW to know we need to act on it now and not tomorrow.
    Having missed the point, perhaps it would have been better if Jogalekar had stuck with his explorations communicating with extraterrestrials using isotopes or his investigations into the chemistry of hedgehogs, somewhere where his ‘I’m an expert modeller‘ commentary wouldn’t give such mixed and unhelpful messages.

    Comment by MARodger — 28 Feb 2013 @ 5:47 AM

  375. Chris (#373),

    Uncertainty can grow with time. A mundane example would be uncertainty estimates on global average temperature during a period of warming as we are experiencing now and during a period of relative stability in the past,say the last 100 years and the 100 years before that. The variance will be higher in the more recent period.

    That example is a physical change. We can also face reduced capability to measure. The sequester may hamper up-to-date weather forecasting owing to lack of staffing while a snafu trying to marry civilian and military satellite programs may lead to reduced remote sensing capability for climate rather soon. A degraded capability to make measurements increases uncertainty.

    Changing satellites to do the same job can also introduce uncertainties. Ideally, one wants a period when both are operating to get a cross calibration, but that does not always happen. One may need to include an estimate of systematic uncertainty that was not required before in differential measurements.

    The issue of error propagation when including more measurement based inputs in models can also lead to increased uncertainties in the output.

    Sometimes you have to take a few steps back to start making progress again.

    In terms of perception, it is a mark of wisdom to perceive that there is much more that you don’t know than you do know. So, even getting older increases uncertainty in that sense.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 28 Feb 2013 @ 7:17 AM

  376. Two quotes by Richard Hamming:

    “The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers.”

    “In science if you know what you are doing you should not be doing it.
    In engineering if you do not know what you are doing you should not be doing it.”

    Anyone who is designing the infrastructure of tomorrow based solely on the output of a model–any model–is a fool. Models provide insight. They are not reality. Engineering is the art of turning the insight derived from models into robust but economical designs. Reality ain’t simple. Deal with it.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 28 Feb 2013 @ 10:47 AM

  377. Chris Dudley and Chris Colose are grappling with different aspects of the uncertainty elephant.

    I’d guess finding the right words — used by those who study these things — would help. Can you clarify which kinds of uncertainty are talked about?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Feb 2013 @ 12:36 PM

  378. With regards to uncertainty, Chris and Chris are discussing different aspects. On general, an increase in observations or an improvement in the measurement system will lead to decreased uncertainty (unless some outside force has caused the measurements to vary on a mcuh greater basis). Also, adding another parameter to the equation will increase uncertainty. This can lead to greater accuracy as more inputs have been included in the final product, but a greater uncertainty range. To some that may sound strange, but that is how statistics work.

    Comment by Dan H. — 28 Feb 2013 @ 5:29 PM

  379. 373 Chris C said, ” the perception of what was uncertain might grow since you now need to be thinking more carefully about a previous unknowns. But nature actually didn’t care 10 years ago what we perceived. The uncertainties were larger 10 years ago, period.”

    Yep. I find it humorous to read scientists’ uncertainly “declarations”, as they are almost always blatantly wrong. Perhaps this is because scientists have the habit of not adding in the “unknowns not studied in this particular paper”. If you didn’t study it, then you’ve GOT to add it in with HUGE error bars, preferably at the end after you’ve already come to the “limited conclusion” derived by what WAS studied – that is, if you care a whit about what your paper is used for in the real world. In days past, this didn’t matter, but today there are huge real world ramifications of spouting incomplete conclusions as if they were complete, or with the incompleteness not defined with error bars.

    375 Chris D said, ” A degraded capability to make measurements increases uncertainty.”

    Nope. We could stop taking measurements completely and our uncertainty would either remain constant or go down as our analysis of the pre-existing data gets better. Now, if you’re saying we trash all our old data, THEN you could be right.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 28 Feb 2013 @ 5:53 PM

  380. Pleased with this discussion.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 28 Feb 2013 @ 7:03 PM

  381. Jim (#379),

    Nope. Today’s inability to give good tornado warnings compared to yesterday’s better ability represents an increase in uncertainty owing to poorer measurement. Don’t twist meanings like that.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 28 Feb 2013 @ 8:11 PM

  382. Hank (#377),

    Changing variance in data, changing (abstract) detector noise, introduction of new systematics, model input error propagation (the original topic)and the phenomenon of learning more to understand less, Bohr’s favorite posture since enlightenment may follow.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 28 Feb 2013 @ 8:24 PM

  383. “Todays inability to give good tornado warnings compared to yesterdays better ability represents an increase in uncertainty owing to poorer measurement.”

    “yesterdays better ability“??? “owing to poorer measurement”??? Need further elaboration on those please.

    Comment by flxible — 28 Feb 2013 @ 8:35 PM

  384. > tornado warnings … poorer measurement

    Same for large storms; the Europeans do it better than the USA nowadays:

    http://fox41blogs.typepad.com/wdrb_weather/2012/10/update-to-potential-superstorm-hitting-us-impacts-to-kentuckiana.html

    “… the NAO or North Atlantic Oscillation…. is in a highly negative phase right now and what that does is support blocking patterns in the north Atlantic. Hmmmm, we have a blocking pattern in the north Atlantic right now so this is starting to make sense. The Omega / REX block is exactly what we would expect with the negative phase of the NAO.

    Right now we have a powerful low pressure over southern Canada with a strong cold front and Hurricane Sandy in the Carribean…..”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Feb 2013 @ 8:53 PM

  385. Chris Dudley-

    We’re talking about different issues. The examples you bring up aren’t ones of science per se, but one of tools. Clearly tools can help improve knowledge of how the world works, but I don’t see how the lack of tools subtracts knowledge. It’s just not very conducive for progress.

    Without getting too philosophical about such things, I think it’s fair to say that we know much more about the climate than we did 10 or 20 years ago, and I have a hard time believing that technology will be anything but beneficial in keeping that trend going. This isn’t just true from a scientific community perspective, but with the exception of the WUWT’s and Curry’s of the internet, the nature of the questions that people are asking in the public-sphere has evolved tremendously as well.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 28 Feb 2013 @ 9:57 PM

  386. Historic Datasets Reveal Effects of Climate Change and Habitat Loss On Plant-Pollinator Networks
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130228155624.htm
    Solitary bees in serious decline.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 28 Feb 2013 @ 9:58 PM

  387. 381 Chris D said, “Today’s inability to give good tornado warnings compared to yesterday’s better ability represents an increase in uncertainty owing to poorer measurement. Don’t twist meanings like that.”

    I was true to the subject of climate change. Methinks you’re twisting the meaning by changing the subject to weather. I agree that weather forecasting requires current data. I don’t agree that that even slightly transfers to climate change.

    Hypothetical and unproven: in 1970 a top climate scientist could estimate how many tornados would occur in 2014 through 2023, and then make another estimate today using NO post 1970 data. My stance is that today’s 2014 through 2023 tornado estimates using 1970 data would have less uncertainty than the estimate made in 1970. Thus, even without any new data, climate uncertainty still declines.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 28 Feb 2013 @ 11:00 PM

  388. CC said:

    “… but with the exception of the WUWT’s and Curry’s of the internet, the nature of the questions that people are asking in the public-sphere has evolved tremendously as well.”

    I find it incredible that Google Scholar actually indexes the WUWT and Climate Etc blogs and their comment sections as citeable scholarly reference works. This really waters down the quality of searches.

    CO2 isn’t the only pollutant, as we also have to face the prospect of information pollution.

    Comment by WebHubTelescope — 28 Feb 2013 @ 11:15 PM

  389. Thank you David, for that bit of very bad news.

    “The first rule of an intelligent tinkerer is to keep all of the pieces.”
    – Aldo Leopold

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Feb 2013 @ 11:42 PM

  390. The study David cited above is:
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1232728

    More from the same issue:
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130228155622.htm

    ——
    … production of many fruit and seed crops that make diets interesting, such as tomatoes, coffee and watermelon, is limited because their flowers are not adequately pollinated,” says Harder. “We also show that adding more honey bees often does not fix this problem, but that increased service by wild insects would help.”
    —— DOI: 10.1126/science.1230200

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Feb 2013 @ 11:46 PM

  391. flxible (#383),

    Should have said next week’s inability. People who predict severe weather will be furloughed as a result of the sequester. That makes the detection system less effective. So, the signal-to-noise ratio goes down.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 1 Mar 2013 @ 12:32 AM

  392. http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/bre91n01c-us-usa-whitehouse-information/

    It’s fatally flawed, but it’s a start. Our PUBLIC knowledge paid for by OUR tax dollars will actually be able to be seen by US! The fatal flaw? Journals still get to charge out the wazoo for a year after publication.

    Even so, I still think that any scientist who does not post her work on a free site immediately upon publication is doing us all a GREAT disservice. Is there any legal reason why you guys don’t step up and do the right thing?

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 1 Mar 2013 @ 12:46 AM

  393. Chris (#385),

    I’m with Bohr that measurement is fundamental to science. Change the way we measure things and the science changes. It can change for the worse. How solid is a result if it is no longer reproducible? We’d end up with arguments from authority. Our tools are our science in such a deep way that we can’t really speak of scientific knowledge without them.

    I agree there has been progress in climate science over the last two decades. But some things, like how the non-narrow range of possible net aerosol climate effects seems to almost solidify, suggest that we are learning most that there is much more work to do.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 1 Mar 2013 @ 1:13 AM

  394. Hank @390 quotes inaccurate article. Tomatoes do not require insect pollination, they are self fertile, the slightest breeze does fine – and watermelon can as easily be pollinated by crawling insects like ants or by hand, like the whole Cucurbitaceae family – in fact seedless varieties need to be protected from flying insect pollination.

    Comment by flxible — 1 Mar 2013 @ 1:36 AM

  395. Hank, thanks for the Aldo Leopold quotes. Where are they from?

    One thing about carefully observing things: one thing leads to another.

    http://www.news.wisc.edu/releases/17740

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi/10.1371/journal.pone.0053788#s1

    Comment by Patrick — 1 Mar 2013 @ 3:05 AM

  396. This book review in the current EOS is worth a look; a book worth thinking on:
    (may be paywalled)
    Fields and Streams: Stream Restoration, Neoliberalism, and the Future of Environmental Science
    Martin Doyle
    Article first published online: 26 FEB 2013
    DOI: 10.1002/2013EO090013
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2013EO090013/pdf

    “… Lave argues that Rosgen’s success [an 'outsider' whose methods became the standard for stream restoration quite rapidly] is symptomatic of a new era when claims to expertise are validated outside the halls of universities or the pages of peer‐reviewed journals, outside of the typical model of how science is done. She argues that as market‐like approaches—“neoliberalism”—are used in environmental conservation, we should expect to see frequent Rosgen‐like situations, when the market decides who is the expert, not an associate editor or a department head…..
    “…
    “… this book is a mirror for making geomorphologists look at their own practices and claims to expertise. It is rare that a social scientist understands bankfull discharge, sediment transport, and why Luna Leopold—the godfather of modern fluvial geomorphology—is important. But in addition to her understanding of these concepts, by being an outsider, Lave has the capability and luxury to see the weaknesses in geomorphology as well. She can see the inconsistencies and dogmas that exist and how these are created and sustained by geomorphologists’ presumed practices that are used to establish credentials as an expert.

    “Lave may be emerging as the knuckleballer of geomorphology. She has great skill—her writing is clear and concise—and she throws a pitch of ideas that few natural scientists will have ever seen before yet need to see….”

    ——
    Aside — I recall a foreshadowing article here:
    THE SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL, JULY 2008
    Philip Mirowski
    The Rise of the Dedicated Natural Science Think Tank
    http://www.ssrc.org/workspace/images/crm/new_publication_3/%7Beee91c8f-ac35-de11-afac-001cc477ec70%7D.pdf

    “… the ambition to change the very nature of knowledge production about both the natural and social worlds. Analysts need to take neoliberal theorists like Hayek at their word when they state that the Market is the superior information processor par excellence. The theoretical impetus behind the rise of the natural science think tanks is the belief that science progresses when everyone can buy the type of science they like, dispensing with whatever the academic disciplines say is mainstream or discredited science ….”
    ———-

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Mar 2013 @ 6:17 AM

  397. #385 Chris Colose

    “I think it’s fair to say that we know much more about the climate than we did 10 or 20 years ago”.

    I’m sure that must be true.

    What’s more “I think it’s fair to say that we still need to know much more about the climate than we thought we did 10 or 20 years ago”.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 1 Mar 2013 @ 12:09 PM

  398. HR quoted this statement:

    “the Market is the superior information processor par excellence.”

    Yet, in today’s Guardian it was revealed that 13 of the top 17 blogs nominated for best science blog in the Bloggies were aligned with AGW skepticism:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2013/mar/01/climate-sceptics-capture-bloggies-science

    The market for information can still be Freeped. How knowledge gets filtered is the important consideration. At some point, there will be enough semantic information available that knowledge sources will be automatically filtered like spam.

    Comment by WebHubTelescope — 1 Mar 2013 @ 1:12 PM

  399. > Hank quoted “the Market ….”
    (with trepidation, mind you, not approval)

    I quoted the statement of the “theory”:

    “The theoretical impetus behind the rise of the natural science think tanks is the belief that science progresses when everyone can buy the type of science they like, dispensing with whatever the academic disciplines say is mainstream or discredited science ….”

    As a theory about science, that has failed every time: lead, asbestos, tobacco, antibiotic resistance, pesticide resistance
    As an excuse for $$PROFIT$$ it’s succeeded, by externalizing and diluting costs to where they’re very hard to allocate.

    But — Catch-22 — their theory says it’s right if it’s what they want.
    Call it the Aleister Crowley approach to politics.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Mar 2013 @ 1:55 PM

  400. “the Market is the superior information processor par excellence.”

    Which is why the market dumped trillions of dollars in the real estate derivative crash of 2008.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 1 Mar 2013 @ 2:33 PM

  401. Re: 396

    Yet, when I do, and have, made this same argument…

    Science doesn’t provide policy, and policy is virtually never made from certainty. Those that understand this are more likely to accept supportable, but non-mainstream problem-solving. As changes come faster than either science or technology can keep up with, this will become even more germane.

    Comment by Killian — 1 Mar 2013 @ 3:24 PM

  402. The problem with conventional market driven approaches is that they rely on the opposing forces of supply and demand to reach an equilibrium–a price. Unfortunately, while truth is always valuable, it is not always valued. And as long as you can sell your comforting lie to a bigger fool than you down the road, there can be a profitable market in lies.

    Eventually, though, the lies evaporate like the dew in the sun, and that is when the waiter presents the check. It is at times like that when glibertarians suddenly remember their Uncle Sam.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 1 Mar 2013 @ 5:21 PM

  403. “the Market is the superior information processor par excellence.”

    The market is the superior eliminator of information processing with regard to anything except profit and the “lowest common denominator”. For example, common sense says that clouds cool the planet, and the Market would reinforce that, as most consumers feel that’s common sense. However, science is often anti-common-sensical, and so the Market could never answer such a question (or any other scientific question) correctly.

    Then we have the problem of Profit VS Truth. We all know that we can’t extract all the fossil fuels which are already counted by the Market as future Profit, but here we are, with the Market creating its own version of reality, one which simply can’t come to pass.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 1 Mar 2013 @ 6:12 PM

  404. Yeah, obviously — the superior information was: those weren’t real dollars yet if ever, and were increasingly unlikely ever to ever exist.

    Snark was a boojum events in the marketplace followed at increasing frequency.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Mar 2013 @ 8:24 PM

  405. Oh, no, Hank. Those dollars existed as soon as the ebil gummint printed them up and paid off the folks who created the mess. I’m sure they were laughing all the way to the bank, but then it was a short walk.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 1 Mar 2013 @ 8:46 PM

  406. Now I’m wondering — wasn’t there something four years ago from the Administration about making those holding leases for possible energy extraction on public lands either give up their options, or exercise them? Is that why there’s this frantic wasteful effort to drill all the natural gas sources available in the greatest hurry?

    I still say we need to call the fossil fuel leases premature carbon sequestration, and pay them off with some of those printed dollars, and leave them in the ground until we find a way to get the hydrogen out in clean form, to burn that and leave the carbon behind. Kind of instant coal …..

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Mar 2013 @ 10:27 PM

  407. Saharan and Asian Dust, Biological Particles End Global Journey in California
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130301123308.htm
    Dust and micro-organisms good; man caused aerosols bad.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 1 Mar 2013 @ 11:20 PM

  408. I never get the time to pop over here these days, so apologies if this is being discussed elsewhere.

    There is some very interesting fracturing occurring in the Beaufort Sea (Arctic) at present. This can be seen in this graphic using ASCAT scatterometer images, also at Environment Canada.

    Cyclonic winds have dragged the whole pack clockwise which has lead to stress fractures throughout the Beaufort Sea. This is not uncommon however using QuikScat and ASCAT I’ve been unable to find a similar event between day 300 and day 100 over winters since 1999. It seems to me that as well as being bounded by the Alaskan coast and Banks Island, the arc fractures were being bounded by the remnant of multi year ice (the white central region in the ASCAT images). Now the fracturing has spread into the multi year ice pack. As far as we can see the original arc fracturing is very unusual at this time of year and could be indicative of the parlous state of the pack.

    Comparison of ASCAT, PIOMAS and the Drift Age Model can be seen here to get an idea of the current state of the ice.

    This is being discussed over at the Sea Ice Forum, an offshoot of the Sea Ice Blog. See here and here for more discussion and information.

    Comment by Chris Reynolds — 2 Mar 2013 @ 2:07 AM

  409. I read probably the same article about Equatorial -polar wave trapping in science daily and would also agree that there would be more factors at play. However I believe that they have indeed identified the main player. Their computer model tracks what is occurring and has ocurred with 90% stat correlation and ties in very well with the plethora of scientifically measured results and anectdotal evidence. Another anectdotal is this..we here on the SE corner of queensland Aust. have just officially had our wettest summer on record and that came directly after our worst and longest drought on record. Again greatly extended periods of climatic stagnation where huge weather systems just do not seem to budge for weeks on end. The central to central north of the state has had it’s longest period of extreme high temps in recorded history. So I for one would probably agree with the potsdamm study. If it quacks like a duck….

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 2 Mar 2013 @ 6:31 AM

  410. #403–”…it was a short walk limousine ride.” See:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/03/adventures-on-the-east-side/

    “One minor detail that might be interesting is that the organisers put on luxury SUVs for the participants to get to the restaurant – 5 blocks away. None of our side used them (preferring to walk), but all of the other side did.”

    –gavin

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 2 Mar 2013 @ 7:05 AM

  411. “… this consensus has seemed impenetrable to counterarguments, no matter how well grounded in evidence. And now, as then, leaders of the consensus continue to be regarded as credible even though they’ve been wrong about everything (why do people keep treating Alan Simpson as a wise man?), while critics of the consensus are regarded as foolish hippies even though all their predictions — about interest rates, about inflation, about the dire effects of austerity — have come true….”
    https://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/01/opinion/krugman-ben-bernanke-hippie.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Mar 2013 @ 11:53 AM

  412. —–
    Friday afternoon bombshell: N.Y. Times shuts its Green Blog. Mar 02
    When the New York Times shuttered its Environment Desk in January, the paper’s Managing Editor promised that environmental reporting would remain strong. In a surprise Friday afternoon announcement, the Times announced it was also shutting its popular Green Blog. Curtis Brainard of the Columbia Journalism review called the move an act of “cowardice.”
    —–
    that’s from http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/blog/friday-afternoon-bombshell-n.y.-times-shuts-its-green-blog

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Mar 2013 @ 1:06 PM

  413. Volcanic Aerosols, Not Pollutants, Tamped Down Recent Earth Warming
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130301123048.htm
    Nonetheless I can detect the junk from east Asia in the atmosphere above me.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 2 Mar 2013 @ 9:09 PM

  414. Dear real climate community,

    Currently I am writing a story that is set in the 25th century. Now I would love to paint a picture of this point in the future under a BUA emission scenario. So I am trying to get an accurate idea of what the planet would look like (preferably using conservative estimates, as that would be grim enough). From sources I found so far, it seems 5-6 meter sea level rise is highly likely and I am guessing that part of Greenland might be free of ice. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Comment by Vincent van der Goes — 2 Mar 2013 @ 10:13 PM

  415. Re: 412

    At least Revkin’s fence-sitting, pseudo-denialist false equivalence will no longer be on display. That sort of equivocating, which comes off to most as legitimate moderate voice, is in some ways more dangerous than outright denial because it is so much harder to sort out from real support for climate action and sustainability.

    He was tweeting an excellent example of false equivalence tonight that compares “left” extremes with extreme “right” views. Examples? GMOs, fracking, flouride, etc., as equal to denial of climate, evolution and general science. As if fracking, GMO’s and flouride don’t have legit concerns!

    I suggested he read The Authoritarians for a better take on left vs. right extreme ideation.

    Comment by Killian — 3 Mar 2013 @ 4:51 AM

  416. 414 Vincent van der Goes

    I suspect you’d be hitting “wet bulb” conditions regularly over much of the globe which might be reflected in a global shift to a split shift schedule, at least for outside laborers. Given possible resource constraints, maybe for everyone.

    Agriculture would have become semi-subterranean – think a greenhouse that is built with the floor 5+ feet below ground level to take advantage of the year-round temps at around 50F for much of the planet. (This is an idea I came up with, and shared with people, back in 2009 or ’10 and recently ran across an example of, so it’s already a reality.)

    Food production would have been hit hard by extreme weather and population might be significantly lower. Ocean acidification could be an important contributor to hunger.

    People might be paler on average due to less time in direct or midday sun.

    Resource constraints will either have led to a more a cooperative society or a highly dystopian one. Or perhaps a struggle between the two. If the third option, the dystopian would be winning at the time period you are writing about given speed of change and the number of resources that are non-renewable. A highly cooperative society would already have achieved, or be close to achieving, sustainability, so if the cooperatists are winning, the dyst0pians are a small, but dangerous, minority.

    Weather extremes would be the norm with long, hot summers and long, mild winters in temperate zones. Winter could be the prime growing season. “Night soil” might well again be a valuable commodity.

    Biodiversity would be limited, potentially severely so such that for most people the diet would have limited variance and even everyday animals today might only be seen in zoos or breeding programs for most.

    Snipe hunting becomes a real thing after a genetically modified rodent escapes a lab and proliferates all around the globe, like rats did on sailing ships, and is nicknamed a Snipe.

    Dang, maybe I should write my own book… “Snipe Humting.” Put me in the credits, but don’t use the Snipe Hunting title or idea without checking with me first in case I take my considerable lack of writing talent and apply myself to becoming a really poor novelist! I do have time on my hands at present…

    Comment by Killian — 3 Mar 2013 @ 10:01 AM

  417. Vincent,
    Any idea of what the planet would be like in four centuries would be pure speculation. Parts of Greenland are currently ice-free, but there would likely be more. Sea level rise would depend on the actual temperature rise. Conservateively, we are currently on pace for about one meter over that entire time frame, but that could change significantly. You may just want to alter the climate to fit your story. It has just as much chance as being accurate.

    Comment by Charles — 3 Mar 2013 @ 3:25 PM

  418. Vincent van der Goes @414 — Read about the Pliocene. I suspect your SLR estimate is much too low.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 3 Mar 2013 @ 6:45 PM

  419. Vincent,

    Firstly, I am assuming your acronym should actually be BAU (Business As Usual) instead of BUA.

    I am not a climate scientist, just a horrified layman, but I have read enough to know that under the BAU scenario most (if not all) of the Greenland Ice Sheet will have melted out long before your timeframe. There will of course be SOME remaining mountain glaciers, and probably still seasonal sea ice in the Greenland interior (some of the Ice Sheet is grounded below sea level).

    I am not competent to give you an estimate of sea-level rise.

    Comment by ozajh — 3 Mar 2013 @ 7:07 PM

  420. 414: Vincent..umm! I don’t think anyone knows accurately what will happen as nearly all of the conservative models incorporate varying degrees of greenhouse gas limiting. Under a BAU scenario assuming all the remaining oil reserves will have been pumped dry and coal under ration status. It would be impossible to have a BAU up to the 25th century as conditions will be inhospitable to life well before that so a natural limiting will have taken place. We really have no past referance for that scenario. As the temperature gets too hot even before 2200 the majority of those living in the third world will probably have perished so that will limit any further forest destruction.
    To cut it quite bluntly under a BAU scenario the world would be destroyed as we know it. The oceans would be choked with acid resistant algal blooms depriving any life that may be more acid tolerant of vital oxygen. Imagine what hell might look like and you would be close to the mark, this is what occurs with a runaway greenhouse effect. If I were you I would bring your time frame back around 350-400 years and your will get a more interesting picture as life as we know it will be trying desperatly to adapt to the rapidly changing world around them.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 4 Mar 2013 @ 3:23 AM

  421. Here’s a link that describes what we in Australia have endured over the last summer ending Feb28 and are still enduring, where I am situated on the sunshine coast we have just had our monthy ave rainfall in the first 2 days of march. Here’s the link:http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/2013/03/04/18/51/aussie-climate-on-steroids

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 4 Mar 2013 @ 6:26 AM

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