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  1. I watched. It seemed a cultural enterprise at once oversubscrbed, under criticized, and oblivious to the moral hazards of casually presuming the legitimacy of social engineering in the service of scientism.

    Comment by Russell — 8 Jul 2013 @ 3:47 PM

  2. Thank you 10x-over for this post. When I saw that the whole conference had been live-streamed and I had missed it, I looked around to see if a virtual conference had been posted online (as per the 2012 Fall Meeting). So this is great. Deeply appreciated.

    Comment by patrick — 8 Jul 2013 @ 5:02 PM

  3. @1 You mean you were watching the back of your eyeballs. Quick put the disguise back on, you’ve blown your cover.

    Comment by patrick — 8 Jul 2013 @ 5:09 PM

  4. @1 Take the site link off your name and then one might discuss “oblivious,” “moral hazards,” “presuming,” “social engineering,” and “scientism.” One might even discuss “casual” and “legitimacy.”

    But one must see the material posted here first. One doesn’t want to get too distracted, because distraction alone is a chief tactic of your jamming.

    I was about to say of late–

    If the site you are tricking clicks for is in fact attempting satire, it would have to be funny at least some of the time.

    So don’t make me start tricking clicks for Alfred E. Neuman. He’s funnier than your stuff and a lot more informative.

    And if people get exposed to professional satire it might blow your cover.

    –But now I don’t have to.

    Comment by patrick — 8 Jul 2013 @ 6:19 PM

  5. 3, 4
    The conference’s demographic framing problem has just spoken for itself .

    Comment by Russell — 8 Jul 2013 @ 8:40 PM

  6. Re #s 1-4: Actually, Singer only says he submitted that editorial, not that they had actually published it. Bet they don’t!

    And Mr. Seitz’s satires are well-known is certain circles. Perhaps they are being undersubscribed and over-criticized?

    Back on track – thanks for posting this series of informative videos.

    Comment by bill — 8 Jul 2013 @ 10:41 PM

  7. “Behind every equation there’s a picture–it’s almost like art…” –Jacob Barnett, 14-year-old autodidact physicist and reputed genius.

    The audio is at 11.26 here (Outlook, Raising a Child Genius):

    “…I want to become a physics researcher… I’ve always found the science fascinating, I’ve always found the pictures fascinating, and I just want to create new science with my life. …people are scared of math…so I want to maybe do something to fix that.”

    Comment by patrick — 9 Jul 2013 @ 1:14 AM

  8. The very current Australian ABC science video posted @46 on this month’s open thread is topical in any case, but especially here.

    In his comment MikeH cites the participation of these scientists:

    Dr Erich Fischer, Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH,Dr Karl Braganza, Australian Bureau of Meteorology,Dr Lisa Alexander, Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW,Dr Susan Wijffels, Marine and Atmospheric Research, CSIRO, and Professor Jennifer Francis, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University.

    I think the video is state-of-the art communication–except for for the tweaked audio on lightning and thunder. The producers may think it suggests the sort of meaning that inheres in the steroids analogy presented by Bob Henson (above on this thread)–which is brilliant and deserves more comment. But cranking the sky show makes it seem like a theme park.

    The steroids metaphor used by Henson is readily understandable and is applied precisely and expertly to explain notions of probability.

    Australian ABC might want to get together with Henson on a project.

    What’s in it for ABC is that instead of trying to evoke steroid responses, they would learn something better: for instance: the use of steroid metabolism as a key metaphor to understand attribution and probabalistic outcomes in climate science.

    Life without steroids is the new sobriety. If ABC’s audio level on the sky show is a sober choice, fine. Just take it down a notch. Because if I’m not on steroids myself, it’s hard to appreciate.

    It’s a great video otherwise in many ways–including an animation of the shifting of the curve of probabilities for extreme weather.

    The sequence of animations Henson and team have put together works fine. If anyone would like to upgrade, let that sequence be the story-board. Just add budget.

    It’s the concept that counts.

    “We’ve learned…that fear is not necessarily the best motivator, or even necessarily the best way for people to remember information.” –Bob Henson

    Comment by patrick — 9 Jul 2013 @ 6:24 AM

  9. @5 You missed #2.

    Comment by patrick — 9 Jul 2013 @ 6:36 AM

  10. Saw only Gavin’s so far; would love to see the typescript including what you skipped over, along with the slides, as a (gack, can’t believe I’m saying this) powerpoint file. (probably true for all of them, as I prefer having a copy of the text and images to reread after watching the videos.

    Why: I remember better that way a few days later — and this is true for most people beyond, um, a certain age: what’s seen or heard once briefly isn’t retained well enough to be recorded in longterm memory as effectively, but something on paper that can be looked at steadily for several minutes will be remembered.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jul 2013 @ 11:26 AM

  11. #10. I know what you mean. Sigh.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 Jul 2013 @ 12:21 PM

  12. Russell #1 — silly is still silly if wrapped in social-science jargon. Hmm, and what about the legitimacy of social engineering in the service of selling stuff — like, eyeballs and politicians?

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 9 Jul 2013 @ 3:42 PM

  13. This is my 2 1/2 minute communication message about climate change:

    Comment by Richard Whiteford — 9 Jul 2013 @ 4:07 PM

  14. Russell wrote: “It seemed a cultural enterprise at once oversubscrbed, under criticized, and oblivious to the moral hazards of casually presuming the legitimacy of social engineering in the service of scientism.”


    Did a random word generator write that? Or did you plagiarize it from Professor Irwin Corey?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 9 Jul 2013 @ 5:20 PM


    Be nice to Russell. His opinions were entirely mainstream when he formed them, and not all that much has changed in the intervening years. There are still plenty of nitwits who’d claim “Science” is the reason for doing what they want. Same idea, just different Books involved for different groups.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jul 2013 @ 5:42 PM

  16. Thanks for the update! I didn’t know about the conference beforehand but am glad the videos are available… speaking of available videos, I run an independent series of short videos called Don’t Just Sit There – Do Something! it’s climate change with humor, aimed at the general public. So if, for instance, you want to watch climate science, Gangnam Style, check us out here:

    We are, of course, always looking for the most effective ways to talk about this stuff with people. Especially found Laurel Whitney’s presentation interesting. Thanks for all you do to get real information out there.

    Comment by Joylette Portlock — 9 Jul 2013 @ 6:05 PM

  17. I would like to hear Russell’s ‘elevator talk’ on climate change — if trapped briefly in the elevator with our political leaders, one at a time, so they pay attention — what choices, facts, options, decisions would you like to convince our political establishment(s) to trust you about, take your word for it, do as you suggest, in 3 minutes?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jul 2013 @ 6:12 PM

  18. also, Scientism is what again?
    It’d be well worth some (other) blog taking on that discussion and attracting the readers here to it, for climate specifically I think; s/he who has the blog to blog, let ‘m blog.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jul 2013 @ 6:17 PM

  19. Richard Whiteford #13 Thanks for the link to your video. If God comes and tells me he’s so angry he wants to incinerate the place, I’m going to say, “But you can’t: there’s one honest man.”

    Comment by patrick — 9 Jul 2013 @ 11:39 PM

  20. #16 Joyette Portlock. Don’t tell me, you must be “the independents.” Episode 14 is great.

    Comment by patrick — 10 Jul 2013 @ 12:17 AM

  21. On reading about this meeting I became both excited and disappointed. Excited because it seems scientists and public communicators spent some time in the same room and hopefully found out about each other. Then I saw the delegate list and got deeply disappointed. Because (1) I saw very few on-the-ground organizations represented like CCAFS, START, CDKN, etc who are not only communicating climate science already but facilitating it’s implementation in many governance sectors. These groups have been doing this for going on decades now, their experiential knowledge is invaluable but this meeting failed to capitalize here. Secondly, I could not see an African in the participants list (it’s that small country just south of Europe) and only one person from the Southern hemisphere (Australia). Perhaps the focus of the conference was by design narrow, climate science communication in the developed world (whatever developed means), in which case it did not need a global perspective, which would be quite concerning. Lastly, I asked a few people I work with if they had heard about the meeting, none had….great communication, right? Full disclosure: I’m an African climatologist working in an African research group involved in both climate science research and (with groups like those listed above) stakeholder engagement at international, national and sub-national scales. So I’m sure the meeting was very successful in what it hope to achieve, however, I think it aimed way too low. Thanks for reading.

    Comment by Chris — 10 Jul 2013 @ 5:51 AM

  22. As Gavin points out, it was ” very notable that it wasn’t just scientists attending – there were also entertainers, psychologists, film-makers… ” and I found many of their presentations, and some by modelers as well, both tendentious and politically laden.

    Though one man’s chataqua is another’s revival meeting, the proceedings did afford insight into the very different meanings of ‘vulgarisation scientifique’ in France and Quebec, and in contrast to the efforts of some to evangelize the audience, the more scientifically focused presentations were downright edifying- Glieck MacCracken, and Mann’s for example.

    As to Hanks request for an elevator talk, i consider Readers Digest Condensed Science to be more of a bug than a feature, and I’d rather take the stairs than see some here react to the mere fact that the lapse rate recapitulates the warmng of the 20th century every time an elevator descends 30 floors.

    How long before Mayor Bloomberg posts notices warning of this existential threat, and Bob Ward offers to assemble a focus group to redesign them ?

    Comment by Russell — 10 Jul 2013 @ 7:29 PM

  23. Hank said:×231.jpg

    @153 on the open thread.

    Comment by patrick — 11 Jul 2013 @ 3:28 AM

  24. Chris @21 Just a note–on behalf of nobody but myself: bring the excitement anytime. I read the blog, plus more. “Significance is not relevance.” Seems to be an idea whose time has come.

    Comment by patrick — 11 Jul 2013 @ 3:55 AM

  25. Joylette @16 Speaking for myself you’ve got a lock on the Climy for Best Concept in a Satire.

    Plus, for Most Notable Style, and Best Eleven-Word Lyric: “Teach pseudoscience to our kids, in the hopes they’ll be dumber.”

    And I bet you’re a probable nominee for Most Common Sense in 5 Minutes–for your production #05.

    For starters.

    I wonder if being independent has something to do with being so perfectly upbeat. That’s big.

    Comment by patrick — 11 Jul 2013 @ 4:47 AM

  26. Sorry if that was a bad link, Patrick; this seems to work:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jul 2013 @ 10:46 AM

  27. Russell, what have you got against oversimplification?

    (wry grin).

    Thank you. Good summary, I appreciate your distinction between the edifying presentations and the rest, and hope the presenters listen to you carefully. I’d be inclined not to be as critical of them. And I think that’d be my error.

    “Opposition is true friendship” (Blake, Proverbs of Hell)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jul 2013 @ 11:20 AM

  28. @26 Sorry to hear it, Hank. You disprove your own case, you are judged by your own judgement, or something.

    Comment by patrick — 11 Jul 2013 @ 12:55 PM

  29. An orignal and interesting way to communicate about our Climate..

    A Song of Our Warming Planet
    from Ensia
    When faced with the challenge of sharing the latest climate change discoveries, scientists often rely on data graphics and technical illustrations. University of Minnesota undergrad Daniel Crawford came up with a completely different approach.

    Comment by Harmen — 12 Jul 2013 @ 4:00 AM

  30. 29: I can hardly wait for his double bass rendering of the Younger Dryas.

    Comment by Russell — 12 Jul 2013 @ 5:35 AM

  31. Stunning performance. Brilliant composition. Brilliant image. Thrilling experience. Perfect concept. Apt and indelible sight note:

    “This additional warming [1.8 C] would produce a series of notes beyond the range of human hearing.”

    From comments at Vimeo 2 days ago: Thanks for the comments! We’d love to hear this with more instruments. The sheet music is available here if interested:

    Now we’re getting somewhere.

    Your “tool box” mention resonates with Wittgenstein and your project resonates with Leonardo’s–when he brought the dead letter of Vitruvius to life.

    “Crawford used an approach called data sonification to convert global temperature records into a series of musical notes.” (see ensia link)

    Comment by patrick — 12 Jul 2013 @ 10:46 AM

  32. > You disprove your own case

    Thank you, I try.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Jul 2013 @ 12:31 PM

  33. Thank you Harmen for the comment. Thank you Daniel Crawford for your direct
    and disarming ingenuity.

    Comment by patrick — 12 Jul 2013 @ 12:38 PM

  34. Hank Roberts wrote: “Scientism is what again?”

    Different people use the word “scientism” to mean different things.

    Alan Watts once said “Buddhism is a method, not a doctrine”.

    I would suggest that science is a method, and that mistaking science for a doctrine is scientism.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 12 Jul 2013 @ 1:30 PM

  35. #30–”I can hardly wait for his double bass rendering of the Younger Dryas.”

    Since he’s a ‘cellist, I’m very much afraid you’ve a while to wait.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 12 Jul 2013 @ 3:09 PM

  36. Kevin McKinney wrote: “Since he’s a ‘cellist, I’m very much afraid you’ve a while to wait.”

    Well, Jack Bruce started out as a classically trained cellist. So perhaps one day we’ll get to hear the Younger Dryas rendered on a Gibson EB-3 through a couple of Marshall stacks.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 12 Jul 2013 @ 4:00 PM

  37. 35;
    Hence the change of instrument suggested – the Younger Dryas decline is octaves deep and looks less like a glissando than a cliff.

    Comment by Russell — 12 Jul 2013 @ 7:00 PM

  38. Why didn’t the organizer’s invite the foremost climate communicators of the day, the Hollywood producers of this unsurpassed exercise in vulgarisation scientifique?

    Comment by Russell — 13 Jul 2013 @ 12:10 AM

  39. #37–A rationale worth reading, to be sure.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 Jul 2013 @ 6:04 AM

  40. #38–I am *not* clicking on another link to “Sharknado!”

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 Jul 2013 @ 9:50 AM

  41. > change of instrument

    The last screen of text in the video says the projected 1.8C increase will require notes above the range of human hearing.

    So to add past and future temperatures will require something like a slow-slip earthquake for the low range, and a strangling bat for the hot time to come.

    Good thing we’re such an inventive species. I’m sure technology will advance.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Jul 2013 @ 10:07 AM

  42. Hats off to Richard Whiteford, Joylette Portlock and Chris from South Africa, useful site:

    I’m not sure proving scientifically that people are more influenced by media moguls and lowest common denominator marketing and entertainment values than carefully assembled facts is getting us anywhere. I always enjoy Russell’s snark, and make allowances for the irony and uberliterary atmospherics. Taking it literally is just silly; his facts are largely bang on.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 13 Jul 2013 @ 10:36 AM

  43. This one gets me:

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 13 Jul 2013 @ 11:49 AM

  44. So – is there a wiki where people can put up notes from the talks, anyplace? Should all conferences set such a thing up? Could some entity please make a practice of funding conferences that agree to set one up?
    (Given that presumably it would enhance a conference’s impact, why would this not already be standard practice?)

    (Maybe this is addressed above, & in skimming I missed it. I searched for notes, transcript, report & writeup to no avail.)

    Comment by Student — 13 Jul 2013 @ 1:33 PM

  45. Since Denialists only have ~20hz-20khz hearing, obviously the total silence they hear for temps much different than today’s means the past and future are unknown and more research is needed…

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 13 Jul 2013 @ 1:54 PM

  46. @37 Well, DUH!

    Comment by patrick — 13 Jul 2013 @ 6:19 PM

  47. @42 >Taking it literally is just silly; his facts are largely bang on.

    Make up your mind. You can’t have it both ways.

    Comment by patrick — 13 Jul 2013 @ 6:28 PM

  48. @44 Thank you very much. Just use the third text link in the second paragraph of the post by Gavin at the top of this thread.

    There are now at least 375 AGU videos available, if I am not mistaken.


    Comment by patrick — 13 Jul 2013 @ 6:42 PM

  49. > notes from the talks, anyplace?
    Well, there’s YouTube comments under each one.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Jul 2013 @ 7:15 PM

  50. Good pointer, Susan, thank you.

    “We’re not making anything up. We’re getting different people to tell them the reality.” — Richard Alley,

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Jul 2013 @ 7:24 PM

  51. Hank #49, YouTube has a character limit.
    -5663 characters remaining
    Hank #1-50, if you are a real person, do you emerge in daylight, and if so, where, specifically, can you be found?

    Comment by Student — 13 Jul 2013 @ 9:56 PM

  52. @29 Harmen: Thank you very much for the link to “A Song of Our Warming Planet” from Ensia, by Daniel and team:

    The subject for me is communication, and in Bob Henson’s presentation the subject is images, specifically: metaphors.

    The dynamic image by Daniel and Team is brilliant because it is readily understandable but conceptually original, because the graphic sequence and the audio image map each other dynamically, and because of the the direct aesthetic and hormonal appeal of the tonality.

    The personal nature of the expression matters, and how it suits the talents of the performer and the team. The performance is deeply felt and deeply communicated.

    The audio is not just any recording. The room is great. (It’s a box I’d like to be in.) The team is great.

    The acoustic interpretation moves me–but it doesn’t mean that in another case I would mind it other-wise. Electric and electronic is alright, though maybe less expressive. It’s the concept that counts.

    Like its own tonality, the whole image is satisfying, complex, and accurate. Everything about it enhances the validity of the data.

    Comment by patrick — 13 Jul 2013 @ 10:34 PM

  53. Patrick, you quibble, as did I. I find Russell to be largely sound, but note your complaint is also reasonable. I’m just more tolerant, and enjoy his over the topness enough to cut slack if he transgresses the PC police. I’m nobody important; you seem a little insistent. I also like to think I can believe six impossible things before breakfast but that’s probably not true.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 13 Jul 2013 @ 10:55 PM

  54. Student: Try clicking on his name. It always helps to check what you can find.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 14 Jul 2013 @ 5:27 AM

  55. Daniel Crawford team and peers: here’s a fine piece of inspiration. I know you have the ears:

    Hope you get good response to the invitation you made under your “A Song for a Warming Planet” posted on Vimeo (linked by Harmen #29 on this thread, and by me #52): “Thanks for the comments! We’d love to hear this with more instruments.The sheet music is available here if interested:”

    Thanks for posting the audio file and the code to embed it too, at ensia.

    Maybe it’s the birth of a genre. If you get ideas on deeper time, great. Maybe you know this video:

    Just saw this NOAA video for the first time lately. Yes it’s for CO2 rather than global mean temperature. But guess what? It seemed starkly silent to me as it began to play. That’s how it should be. But silence seemed unusual–only because I had experienced your piece in the meantime. My mind’s ear did its autonomous best to begin to recall your piece, as the the data track of the instrumental record began to play.

    There’s a precipitous fall going into the backward expansion–down into the baseline. This is like a cladistics perspective (backwards from the tip).Some precipitous falls are more relevant than others now. You might find musical-time ways to cover the CO2 data for the whole period, from the beginning or otherwise. You might do temp and CO2 simultaneously for the recent past.

    Not to bend the twig too much but only for my interest in watching it grow–check the works of Robert A. Rohde, if you haven’t, from micro things like isotope and pollen counts, to macro things like geo-time history of CO2 in the Phanerozoic Eon. I’m sure you’ve got the point:

    Whatever musical solutions you find are sure to be relevant and meaningful–in whatever piece or period of climate science you choose. Thanks for the performance. Take it higher. Thanks for the composition. Take it higher or, uhm, lower as the case may be.

    Send your video to the guy who’s bowing flat-out on the floor to Meryl Streep (at the top). You won’t know if he wants to collaborate until you ask him. Ditto, R.A. Rohde. You may want to update “A Song” in successive periods, inviting a series of guest cellists to participate, so go big at the top.

    Comment by patrick — 14 Jul 2013 @ 5:33 AM

  56. > Student says: … if you are a real person ….
    I’m at least as real as you are — cite me

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Jul 2013 @ 10:50 AM

  57. which bar?

    Comment by Student — 14 Jul 2013 @ 2:22 PM

  58. > Student: Try clicking on his name.
    Attach your contact info to your name.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Jul 2013 @ 4:51 PM

  59. 54, et al
    oh god. completely clueless. elevator not running to the top today. sorry.

    Comment by Student — 15 Jul 2013 @ 12:57 AM

  60. HJ (John) Schellnhuber uses body temperature as a metaphor for global mean temperature, to focus on the importance of small changes in the mean:

    ALI MOORE: So what does a…four degree hotter world look like?

    HANS JOACHIM SCHELLNHUBER: I mean, people often say, well, I have fluctuations of temperatures between say Queensland and Melbourne and whatever, much higher levels – why should we care about it?

    You have to compare it to body temperature. Our body temperature is about 37 degrees. If you increase it by two degrees, 39, you have fever. If you have add four degrees, it is 41 – you are dead, more or less.

    And you have to think about the body temperature of our planet, which has been brought about through many, many processes over many, many millions of years.

    Aussie ABC transcript (plus):


    “In terms of apt metaphors…there are surprisingly few I think that capture the essence of the climate system.” –Bob Henson (Chapman Conference, 2nd video posted)

    The metaphor that Bob Henson and team came up with is biological and systemic, but adds the element of a forcing process that is anthropogenic and well known: doping. This metaphor focuses on the forcing process.

    “So what I like about this analogy is–again, it’s probabalistic.

    “An especially strong point is it talks about a component of the system that’s natural: we have steroid chemicals in our bodies.

    “We’re injecting ourselves with them–that makes us behave in a way that’s not normal or not natural.

    “So likewise if you inject the climate system with CO2, which is a natural ingredient, you make it behave strangely.” –Bob Henson

    The control-knob metaphor is virtually present too. The more one knows about hormones, the more apt the analogy to the power of miniscule amounts becomes, because the substance in question connects to every aspect of the control function.

    “We scientists use metaphor too–we just don’t want you to think that we do.” –Nobel laureate Roald Hoffman

    Comment by patrick — 15 Jul 2013 @ 11:39 AM

  61. “The Climate Cycle _is_ the Hydrologic Cycle.” Peter Gleick, thanks for a great talk.

    You were no doubt rushing for good reason but please-please use a different example for “Data Errors or Misuse.” The population signboard for Snowmass Village is actually very funny. It says we punch above our weight. The implication is our pop. is only 1822, but give us one equally weighted point for every foot of elevation and and one for every year C.E. we haven’t been here (we’re newish) and we weigh in at 12,157 total (points). Better to use example of error or misuse that is a joke but doesn’t know it.

    Humor among mountaineers is a little like the humor among climate scientists. Risk, you know. Some mountaineer humor may have run off down to Snowmass. The 1822 number is from 2000.

    Comment by patrick — 15 Jul 2013 @ 11:49 PM

  62. I watched Gavin’s presentation with interest, and agreed with most of it. Gavin remarked that presentations usually (always?) involve advocacy, and you should be aware of what is being advocated. I think that it is important that we advocate honesty and science is the most honest area of intellectual endeavor I know. Honesty involves more than not telling lies. It means being clear about how you approach a subject – in science this means defined terms, use of logic and appropriate mathematics, use of well-established scientific laws, etc. Anything which purports to be science but fails to meet these criteria is pseudo-science.
    As an example, a friend recently gave me a document which purported to give scientific proof that CO2 was not causing global warming (“Ten things you should know about global warming and CO2”,Don J. Easterbrook, Dept. of Geology, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA). On one page the document states that “Atmospheric CO2 has increased only 0.008% since human emissions began to rise sharply after 1945. There is so little CO2 in the atmosphere and it has such a small effect that a rise of 0.008% cannot possibly cause the 10 degrees F of warming predicted by computer models”. But in the period 1945 to 2010 the CO2 level changed from 310 ppm to 387 ppm, a 25% rise by the usual computation. Easterbrook apparently subtracted the % atmospheric CO2 in 1945 from that in 2010, not the usual procedure. Also, the computer models predict about a 1 deg. F. rise in temperature, not 10 deg. F. Easterbrook’s use of the phrase “so little” is meaningless. The rest of the document is no better. It is possible that Easterbrook is totally confused, but in this case confusion disguised as certainty is dishonesty.
    I disagree with Gavin on one point (possibly I misunderstood him). Gavin seemed to say that we should avoid graphs and prefer pictures of, for example, disappearing glaciers. I think it is a bit too easy for the pseudo-skeptics to write off individual examples as non-typical. My preference would be (apologies to W.S. Gilbert) to use pictures as corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise boring but accurate scientific narrative. For example, start with a graph superimposing the rise in CO2 with the temperature rise for 1900 -2000. Point out that the trend gives a ~.7 deg C rise with fluctuations of order .1 deg. due to natural events (El Nino, Pinatubo…). Show a picture of Pinatubo with an arrow to the temperature drop it caused. Mention that with business as usual we can expect an additional 1.4 deg C. sometime around 2060. Then remark that among the effects of this temperature rise is a reduction in the length of glaciers. Give several pictures of retreating glaciers from different parts of the globe. Finish with a quick reference to (say) Oerlemans’ paper in Science (29 April 2005, p.675) which reported the retreat of 142 glaciers out of 144 studied.
    If I understood Gavin correctly, his remark is a sad commentary on the state of scientific literacy in the USA, and also of the Educational System.

    [Response: Thanks. My larger point was that there is a higher cognitive load involved in showing graphs. Obviously I do show graphs all the time, but to have general audiences take in the points I want to make from any particular example takes a long time. If you can communicate that same point more viscerally, it will be more effective. I see a lot of people rushing through complex graphs making a couple of small points at a time and not realising that 90% of their audience just doesn't have much practice at reading them and so much of the power of their narrative is lost. I would be great if people were better at reading graphs (or reading Chinese, or French or vector algebra) but that isn't the case, and presenters need to be aware of that. - gavin]

    [Response: I guess I'll weigh in on this because I see both your point and Gavin's, and both have merit IMO. I can tell you that even as a scientist, say at a conference for example, I'm not all that excited about another graph being thrown up on the screen. Why? Because I hardly even have time to digest what the axes represent, what the data points and lines are trying to tell me, etc., let alone exactly how those results were generated, methodologically. Pictures do not have those same weaknesses, but, since a picture is typically a view of some single scene/event, you have to really think about whether what you're presenting really reflects some larger truth or not.--Jim]

    Comment by Dave Griffiths — 16 Jul 2013 @ 11:56 AM

  63. Dave Griffiths:

    As an example, a friend recently gave me a document which purported to give scientific proof that CO2 was not causing global warming (“Ten things you should know about global warming and CO2”,Don J. Easterbrook, Dept. of Geology, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA). On one page the document states that “Atmospheric CO2 has increased only 0.008% since human emissions began to rise sharply after 1945. There is so little CO2 in the atmosphere and it has such a small effect that a rise of 0.008% cannot possibly cause the 10 degrees F of warming predicted by computer models”.

    Holy crap, that’s one of the dumbest things a trained scientist could say! Is Don Easterbrook one of those people who congenitally cannot be embarrassed? Oh, wait — never mind, I just looked him up on desmogblog.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 16 Jul 2013 @ 1:47 PM

  64. #63–For a little ‘innocent merriment’ (h/t Gilbert and Sullivan), check out the PDF to which the desmogblog piece links. Can’t link it here, as the spam filter objects to it, even in an HTML tag.

    But you’ve got to love a forecast of global cooling from 2007 +/- 5 years, especially when it bangs on about the “IPPC Global Warming Forecaast.” (We know what “IPCC” stands for, but “IPPC?”)

    And “~dbunny,” really?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 16 Jul 2013 @ 3:27 PM

  65. Mr. Griffiths refers to denialist screed from Prof. Easterbrook sent to him by a friend. I have encountered these myself. My response varies, depending on the person involved. In a physics department, I would probably mutter sumpn about rot-vib bands and direct toward the literature. (Fortunately the physicists i know are can do the math.) In a pub, I might grin and ask about the woodlot on my interlocutor’s back forty and the insect invasion therein, or how the tractor crossing was doing after the third hundred year flood in the last five.

    Horses for courses.

    In both cases I would mention a solar project or a tree planting effort, and entice them to participate with offers of beer.


    Comment by sidd — 16 Jul 2013 @ 9:04 PM

  66. > Horses for courses.

    Good advice from sidd there.

    On my little hobby restoration project, I talk with the hunters during deer season — they’re 98 percent old guys like me, quite pleasant, been hunting the mountain longer than I’ve owned my little bit of it, mostly they’ve met me before. Each time we talk about how the mountain’s recovering from its huge forest fire in the 1980s (what started me on restoration). And they’ve started taking seed collected locally along with them, and kicking a little into any eroding patch of exposed soil — and they remember and look the next year to see if it’s growing.

    And they’ve seen how a little hand work clearing brush and removing fire ladders on my little piece has made it burn gracefully and recover, through several lightning fires — while the unmanaged property all around has had too much brush accumulate between fires, so each fire kills more trees, and it continues to degrade into more open brushy hillside.

    So I’m making soil — and deer habitat. They like that. So do I.

    And I’ve shown them how to kick the accumulated leaf litter pile off the uphill side of any tree that they think worth saving — because I’ve been able to show them how the extra heat from that pile, when a fire burns through, scorches the cambium if it’s left there, during these years when there’s too much underbrush, and how the trees protected that little extra bit during the intermittent lightning fires don’t get the big “cat’s mouth” scars exposing them to later worse damage.

    I don’t hunt myself — I tell them I’m grateful they’re keeping the damn deer in check, as we don’t have nearly enough mountain lions these days.

    They think I’m crazy, maybe, but crazy in a good way.

    That’s the idea.

    And in another 200 years, we might get a foot of topsoil back on the mountain.

    Plant just one tree. Protect just one tree. Do your part.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Jul 2013 @ 12:47 PM

  67. #66–I like it, a lot.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 17 Jul 2013 @ 4:39 PM

  68. Mr. Roberts writes:

    “Plant just one tree. Protect just one tree. Do your part.”

    Ya man! as my reggae friends say. One tree, planted with thought and care for the future. At a time.

    I am glad to say I am, personally, at three zeroes and counting up more than down as I see most grow, but some do expire. And I have helped in planting perhaps four zeroes. I will add that I have switched to planting trees and shrubs that will resist drought since that seems to be harsher on them than the floods, which are also becoming frequent. I confess I sometimes like to go back, if I am in the vicinity and admire them, after all, All is Vanity, as Ecclesiastes said, but he also said there is a time to fight.

    Choose the tree carefully. Consider the plant zones moving north and the succession invasions expected of plants and diseases and insects and animals. Do the best you can. Help is near, especially at the university extension programs in the USA, and more and more on the internet.

    A billion people (say the top income earners in the world) thoughtfully planting one tree each a year will mitigate peak fossil carbon in the atmosphere by large amount, and delay the peak.


    Comment by sidd — 17 Jul 2013 @ 8:39 PM

  69. Great comments, Hank and sidd. The nonprofit with which I volunteer, Tuleyome, has purchased biologically significant land in Solano, Yolo, and Lake counties here in Northern California. We have hunters who watch over some of the land (including the largest sugar pine I’ve ever seen), and we have some ranchers who lease one parcel to raise organic grass-fed beef. Although our political views are quite at odds, their true concern for protecting the land and seeing the physical changes over the years gives us common ground. They are more than willing to work with us to restore these lands where needed. A hopeful sign in an otherwise depressing subject.

    Comment by Jim Eaton — 18 Jul 2013 @ 3:29 AM

  70. >

    How this organization escaped my notice for ten years, I have no idea.

    I’d wondered what happened with the Goat Mtn. site after John Olmstead died. We shared training local workers between our sites, and shared a lot of ideas about our fire restoration projects. Thank you. I’ll get in touch.

    Hm. One is never quite as alone as one imagines, in doing this work.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Jul 2013 @ 8:38 AM

  71. “One is never quite as alone as one imagines, in doing this work.”

    There are a lot of us quietly healing the scars “civilization” has wrought.

    even CAPTCHA sees “condition artizens” :)

    Comment by flxible — 18 Jul 2013 @ 11:10 AM

  72. Y’all are still looking through the videos, right? Lots there. I’m appreciating Alley’s history thanks to a recommendation from Gareth over at Hot Topic.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Jul 2013 @ 1:24 PM

  73. Many thanks to Gavin and Jim for their responses. It occurs to me that nowadays there is far more communication via the web than via conferences. Consequently the quality of available websites is a key factor. Ideally they would give coherent and well supported information. Taking the example of my friend and Easterbrook’s pseudo-skeptical document, I would be very happy if I could direct my friend to sites that would clarify the issues for him. Up to now I haven’t found one that meets the needs, though some come close.
    Based on my experience the required web-site should cover the following items (specific values may need some correction):
    a. Since 1750 (beginning of the industrial revolution) the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased from 280 ppm to 398 ppm, and the level is now increasing by ~ 2 ppm/year. For the previous 400, 000 years it varied between 180 ppm and 280 ppm, so since 1750 we have seen a bigger change than occurred in the previous 400, 000 years (appropriate graph). The average global temperature has varied by 6 to 10 deg. C between ice-ages and interglacial periods.
    b. The increase in CO2 is strongly correlated to human activity (mainly the use of fossil fuels). For every 100 molecules of CO2 entering the atmosphere, about 41 remain for very long periods (graph showing CO2 increase and 41% of cumulative emissions of CO2 given as ppm). { Note: I think this is simpler and more obvious than discussing the implication of carbon isotope ratios}
    The CO2 dissolved in the oceans is increasing rapidly (graphic).
    c. CO2 is a green-house gas (graphic), and tends to increase the global average temperature. The effect of doubling CO2 levels has roughly the same effect as increasing the energy from the sun by 1%.
    d. Average global temperature has increased by approximately .7 deg C. This correlates well with the CO2 increase (graph of with temperature increase and CO2 increase superimposed). However, other effects such as El Nino’s and volcanic reuptions cause fluctuations of about +-.1 deg C (picture of Pinatubo with arrow to temperature drop on graph).
    e. A rise in average temperature has long term and obvious visible results, such as the melting of glaciers (picture) and reduction in arctic summer sea ice (picture of Boerge Ousland and crew circling the North Pole in his trimaran, September 2010), NSIDC graphs.
    e. Other greenhouse gases such as methane also have important effects, but they usually go away quickly while CO2 stays around. Also some other short lived pollutants die out quickly. Computer models can handle these effects quite well e.g. “Climate simulations for 1880–2003 with GISS modelE”, Hansen et Al, 2007, figure 6)
    f. If we “extrapolate” the above data (.7 deg C. temperature increase for 30% CO2 increase), or if we use computer models, we expect doubling the CO2 level to increase the global temperature by about 2 deg. C. (graphic)
    g. Rising global temperatures will cause many problems including rising sea levels (graphs and graphics). Increasing dissolved CO2 in the oceans is likely to cause problems for sea life.
    Links should be provided to sites providing more information on each topic. Also required is a FAQ section to deal with confusion, both legitimate and pseudo-skeptic.
    I checked the sites referenced on the “Read This First” tab, but none of them quite fits the bill. The best site I found was the (apparently new) NASA site Their text-graphs-graphics mix is excellent but a few things are still required, specifically (b: correlation of emissions and CO2 rise, d : correlation of temperature rise with CO2 rise, e: accuracy of models). It would be good to add this site to your list (I’d put it at the top).
    How could we apply this to, for example, the egregious Humlum et. Al. (2012) paper. Ideally the response should be as simple as possible and clearly linked to well known facts. Advanced math such as lagged correlation should be a last resort! My suggested response would be :
    - Given that the increase in atmospheric CO2 correlates so strongly with human originated emissions, we are very certain that the increase is due to human emissions (item b)
    - Given that CO2 dissolved in the ocean is increasing the ocean cannot be a net source (item b)
    - Applying Humlum’s logic to the ice-age cycles we get an approximate ocean emission effect of ~ 15 ppm/deg.C. (item a), an order of magnitude too small to explain the increase since 1750 (items a and b)
    Humlum seems to have forgotten the basics of science, particularly Newton’s rules for reasoning, particularly the 4th:
    “In experimental philosophy we are to look upon propositions collected by general induction from phaenomena as accurately or very nearly true, notwithstanding contrary hypotheses that may be imagined, till such time as other phaenomena occur, by which they may either be made more accurate, or liable to exceptions.
    This rule we must follow, that the argument of induction may not be evaded by hypotheses.”
    The Sceptical Science site is pretty good at dealing with questions from the confused and nonsense from the pseudo-sceptics, but it would be even more useful if questions could be indexed according to the items above e.g. Is the rise in CO2 is due to human activity – see b.
    I agree that planting trees is a good idea, just be careful you have adequate diversity and appropriate size. When I first arrived in the USA (1964) the Chicago suburb streets were lined with elms – now all gone. When I retired to Ann Arbor, a city of trees if ever there was one, many streets were lined with green ash. My front yard had a beautiful example. Now they are all gone, the only reminder being the trunks used to support the roof of one of our local libraries. So I replaced my ash with a sweet-gum which is not common in these parts. The previous owners of my house had planted a dawn red-wood close to the house. Boy does it grow fast. The city foresters have actually put some dawn red-woods in street-planters downtown. Not a good idea for the long run, but dawn red-woods certainly soak up the CO2 and give a very pleasant shade.

    Comment by Dave Griffiths — 18 Jul 2013 @ 1:32 PM

  74. For Dave Griffiths, coincidentally, many of your questions are answered in the Alley video I linked in the post immediately before you asked — the one on what we know now.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Jul 2013 @ 2:10 PM

  75. but I’d add, for Dave Griffiths — notice how you list what you know, but not how you know it.

    You wish someone would provide the documentation to support it.

    You’re asking someone to do a whole lot of work that’s not maintainable.

    Citation for almost any of this information is a moving target.

    John N-G wrote, I think, an excellent response to this sort of request:
    Scientific Meta-Literacy

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Jul 2013 @ 3:29 PM

  76. #73

    “So I replaced my ash with a sweet-gum which is not common in these parts.”

    Are you crazy? The sweet-gum balls are over my yard in the South and I would love to take them all down. Wikipedia describes the fruit as “a woody multiple capsule 2–4 centimetres (0.79–1.6 in) in diameter (popularly called a “gumball”), containing numerous seeds and covered in numerous prickly, woody armatures, possibly to attach to fur of animals.” They make walking in the yard barefoot impossible and they shoot out like projectiles from the lawn mower.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of trees.

    Have you grow black gum? Similar but much prettier and without the spiny “fruit”.

    Comment by James Cross — 18 Jul 2013 @ 3:40 PM

  77. 76 James C:

    I suggest you plant the trees you want in 10 years. (Personally I like oaks) Then in 10 years take down the sweet gums.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 18 Jul 2013 @ 10:19 PM

  78. Come to think of it — Alley’s “What we know now” video, if transcribed, would give the cites for most of the questions Dave G. asks above. Of course next year “what we know now” will be somewhat different with different cites. But there’s how the info does get pulled together.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Jul 2013 @ 10:38 PM

  79. Last year, I posted a blog entry on the state of the planet on a website of which I am a trustee (Plants For A Future – an online database of 7000+ edible and useful plants which grow in temperate climates):

    It is now the most-viewed blog entry on the site, although the counter doesn’t register all views of the blog. Overall site traffic is around 450,000 pageviews per month (how does that compare to Realclimate?).

    I chose to use a sequence of easily-understood images, with minimal explanatory text. I did include graphs but share other commenters’ caution about overloading people with complex information they won’t have time to absorb. I will revisit this again, and plan to include some other images – you may have seen the maps of global flight paths thanks to Michael Markieta (, and also earlier work showing all the world’s shipping lanes.

    Another example of scientific data in a format that people will readily appreciate is the following Met Office map of soil moisture deficits in the UK for March and December 2012:
    (scroll down – March 2012 shows widepread dryness with drought conditions in East Anglia, December 2012 shows the entire country without exception completely soaked!). The extremes of rainfall last year, followed by extremes of cold this spring and now heat this summer are doing great things for the vegetation – I have travelled across England and the trees and fields are blooming away. Hey, didn’t somebody say we could expect more weather extremes?

    Comment by Ed Sears — 19 Jul 2013 @ 2:59 AM

  80. > Plant just one tree. Protect just one tree. Do your part.

    Or, metaphorically, help one person grasp one key understanding.

    ‘A sower went out to sow his seed’

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 19 Jul 2013 @ 3:01 AM

  81. > doing great things for the vegetation

    That’s something Alley illustrates in the talk — the mild increase in plant growth through the first few decades of warming, to around 2050, during which we expect to see (for values of “we” younger than “me”) both benefits and damage from warming. He points out that around 2050, the yields for corn and soybeans drop and continue to drop drastically.

    I wonder what happens to trees that make nuts and seeds? Anything insect-pollinated will have trouble with timing coordination with its ecosystem, I know. Wind-pollinated, hm, dunno.

    I still have a lot of video to catch up on. Is that mentioned anywhere?

    Also, is there anything on plankton in the videos? Bill Calvin’s idea for an emergency carbon sink continues to strike me as really quite hopeful, in our current situation.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Jul 2013 @ 8:55 AM

  82. “Anything insect-pollinated will have trouble with timing coordination with its ecosystem.”

    Hank, that’s been noticeably ongoing for some years already, the Orchard Mason bees spring hatch is no longer well co-ordinated with the bloom periods, fruit set declines, bees do poorly at foraging to create next years bees …. the bees are “blamed”.

    Comment by flxible — 19 Jul 2013 @ 10:27 AM

  83. flxible, I’m aware of that, and I know there will be some adjustments over a few generations — the pollinators will have some genetic variations conserved at a low level because they were favorable sometime in the past. Those that start maturing earlier, for example, will reproduce better when the target flowering plants mature earlier; in hot conditions, those flying earlier and later but not during the hottest part of the day, will reproduce better.

    If orchardists are smart they’ll adjust -their- mowing and spraying to favor the few Orchard Mason bees that do hatch early, that do match the blooming time change. The genes for variations like this don’t wait on some cosmic ray mutation — they’ll be available, conserved at some low level from those ancestors that survived some past excursion. They’ll manage, at least for a while. If we get smart soon enough we won’t push those ecologies into crashing.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Jul 2013 @ 1:36 PM

  84. Hank, I disagree with most of your points.

    I think that the website problem is one of organization not work. The data is there but the connections are not being made. This leads to a lot of wasted time and effort. Good organization leads to clarity and reduces work. Watch the end of Spencer Weart’s presentation, his wiring chart is a wonderful illustration of the need for organization.

    Consider the time and effort that Rasmus put into debunking Humlum et Al. This paper should have been dismissed simply by reference to a few uncontroversial facts, in particular : Given that the increase in atmospheric CO2 correlates so strongly with human originated emissions, we are very certain that the increase is due to human emissions; dissolved CO2 in the ocean is increasing and therefore cannot be producing an increase in the atmosphere!

    With reference to CO2 increase – CDIAC has a nice web site. They show the Keeling curve and monthly CO2 emissions. Surely it would not take much effort to add an overlay of cumulative emissions with CO2 increase from 1750. They have all the data, and they’ve processed it. All the hard work has been done! The NASA site I referenced ( could simply copy it. Similarly, the NASA site shows the temperature increase and the CO2 increase – all they have to do is overlay them.

    As far as documentation is concerned, the CDIAC site has downloadable data, graphics etc. and the site provides all the needed documentation. This is typical; almost all of what’s needed is on web sites and is documented. All that’s needed is a little extra (as above) and some organization.

    Also note that there is a lot of overlap between reliable sites, but at the same time a few key items are missing. I have not been able to find an overlay of emitted CO2 and CO2 rise anywhere (except for my personal computation). You won’t find it in Spencer Weart’s book, for example. You won’t find it in Broecker and Kunzig’s “Fixing Climate” even though you will find a graph of falling oxygen levels (at first sight a scary graphic, but at a rate of about 10 ppm/year you won’t suffocate soon).

    John N-G raises a number of interesting points, I’ll touch on two. I agree with him that scientific education in the USA is terrible. The general emphasis is on memorizing facts and ignoring principles. So I agree that improving web sites will not solve this problem. Science education needs a drastic fix.

    John N-G wonders how the public can be educated to distinguish between reliable and unreliable sources. I think the issue is a little more complicated. When it comes to raw data, such as the Keeling curve, there is relatively little dispute, so a source such as CDIAC is usually treated as reliable. Humlum, for example, does not dispute the standard data. And his analysis isn’t totally wrong, in fact (as Rasmus notes) Keeling and Revelle found the same sort of effect much earlier. Humlum just doesn’t take the next step of realizing that CO2 emission due to ocean warming is an order of magnitude too small to explain the current increase. Nor does he recognize that the increasing CO2 level is highly correlated to emitted CO2. This type of problem can, I think, be fixed by something like the Skeptical Science “Most Used Climate Myths” section. But this section would work better if it had an index. I suppose Humlum would come under Carbon Cycle.

    In his presentation Michael Mann points out that the “iconic” hockey stick curve is not a very important part of the climate change discussion. Mike thinks the curve is attacked mainly is because it is iconic. But I think another reason is that the analysis of tree ring data is quite complicated relative to, for example, a comparison of the rise of atmospheric CO2 to emitted CO2. Consequently it is an area where Humlum’s data analysis games are relatively effective. Of course, as additional research supports the original conclusions the opposition slowly dies.

    At my age I don’t go barefoot in the garden, and I’ll soon be hiring someone else to mow. So the sweetgum is no problem!

    Comment by Dave Griffiths — 19 Jul 2013 @ 2:11 PM

  85. like this?
    found with:“co2+emitted”+”co2+increase”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Jul 2013 @ 3:26 PM

  86. (note the origin of that picture, New Scientist attributes it: IPCC 2007)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Jul 2013 @ 3:27 PM

  87. Hank (at 85,86), the New Scientist Graphic falls short of what I want. What I want is a graphic which in itself proves that the increasing level of CO2 is due to human activity.

    This graphic would be quite simple. Overlay plots of (a) CO2 levels from 1850 and (b) 40.4% of the cumulative emitted CO2 from 1850 plus the 1850 level. The quantities (a) and (b) are almost identical (Rsq=.99). This, I think, provides simple and conclusive evidence that the increase in CO2 is due to human emissions. Units should be ppm.

    The reason that I want this graph is that, from what I have seen, the most important pseudo-skeptic strategy is to avoid the obvious facts. If you look at some of the pseudo-skeptic responses generated by your search, you will see that they suggest that natural sinks for CO2 are increasing, and so we won’t have a long term problem. My suggested graphic clearly shows the error of that line of thought.

    It’s typical that the pseudo-skeptics avoid showing the graphs that destroy their case. For example, Singer and Avery’s “Unstoppable Global Warming” does not include the Keeling curve (or even a reference to Keeling). They have Name Index which is six pages long (two columns), but no reference to Keeling. The obvious idea is to make you think they have covered all the science,but a quick check shows they have missed the most important stuff. They even give graphs without units! The book claims that Singer is a “Distinguished Research Professor” at George Mason University!

    The movie “Thank You for Smoking” gives an amusing and accurate analysis of the pseudo-skeptics methods.

    Professor Huth tells us, in this Sunday’s NYT review, that when 23 Harvard faculty, alumni and graduating seniors were asked why it is warmer in the summer, 21 said that it is warmer because the earth is closer to the sun! It could make you wonder if there is any point in improving communication.

    Comment by Dave Griffiths — 21 Jul 2013 @ 8:21 PM

  88. #84–”At my age I don’t go barefoot in the garden, and I’ll soon be hiring someone else to mow. So the sweetgum is no problem!”

    No offence, Dave, but I suspect you’ll also be paying someone to root out sweetgum seedlings. I hope I’m wrong–maybe they won’t reproduce as well in your climate or something–but if not, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 21 Jul 2013 @ 10:10 PM

  89. Mr. Dave Griffiths wants

    ” … a graphic which in itself proves that the increasing level of CO2 is due to human activity.”

    I suggest a carbon isotope graf. The signature of fossil fuel burn is clear and compelling.


    Comment by sidd — 22 Jul 2013 @ 12:22 AM

  90. Dave Griffiths: Thanks for Newton’s 4th rule of reasoning (at 73). Easterbrook’s stuff in the video on DeSmogBlog (linked by Mal Adapted at 64) is all what-if and zero hypothesis.

    The best CO2 time series graphic so far is this NOAA (3:36 min) data animation:

    “Time history of atmospheric carbon dioxide from 800,000 years before present until January, 2012. Recommend full screen/HD to read titles.” (with link to the NOAA CarbonTracker page)

    You can see Dr. James Butler of NOAA talking about it here:

    You may be interested in this history, including on how Keeling used isotope ratios:

    Comment by patrick — 22 Jul 2013 @ 12:43 AM

  91. Dave Griffiths,
    I don’t think that this gets much attention for the simple reason that it is utterly absurd to contend that the CO2 is not anthropogenic. Nonetheless, it is an argument we hear even from some very smart people (among them Freeman Dyson and Roy Spencer).

    IMHO, the most convincing evidence (sorry, you want proof, ask a mathematician or a theologian) arises from the changes in isotopic composition of carbon in the atmosphere. Due the the Seuss effect, carbon from living–or once-living–things is depleted in C-13 versus C-12. Of course, the hardcore denialist will try to come up with an argument that the biosphere is decaying and emitting C-13, and then in the same breath they’ll say CO2 is greening the planet.

    If these people could be persuaded by evidence, there wouldn’t be an argument.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Jul 2013 @ 9:17 AM

  92. Dave, you’re asking for wiggles.
    Look at the analysis needed for anything like what you want.
    Charts aren’t convincing to a statistician.
    Science bloggers won’t put up pictures like and claim they’re evidence.

    People excel at finding patterns, even when they don’t exist.

    ReCaptcha says at this point:

    “stsworke all”

    Yep, stats work all — charts alone don’t.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Jul 2013 @ 10:17 AM

  93. Ray Ladbury wrote: “If these people could be persuaded by evidence, there wouldn’t be an argument.”

    And yet, scientists keep right on arguing with the deniers, as though the deniers were other scientists arguing in good faith about what the evidence shows — rather than the deliberately dishonest propagandists they are.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 22 Jul 2013 @ 2:36 PM

  94. 88 Kevin M,

    And one must consider resale value. A yard full of nuisance trees can cost thousands. Plant something that will last hundreds of years – a living tree is the perfect carbon sequesterer. When the oaks (or whatever you like) get big enough, cut down the nuisance trees and smile about your contribution to the solution.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 22 Jul 2013 @ 8:08 PM

  95. Ray Ladbury:

    If these people could be persuaded by evidence, there wouldn’t be an argument.

    Jonathan Swift:

    It is impossible to reason someone out of something that he did not reason himself into in the first place.

    Great minds think alike 8^D!

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 23 Jul 2013 @ 10:38 AM

  96. #94–OT, I know, but: “…cut down the nuisance trees…” doesn’t do it for sweet gums! They just send up an army of sucker shoots from the root.

    I’ve wondered if boring a vertical hole in the stump and pouring salt in there would be effective? At present, I’m still just cutting down seedlings every few months.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 23 Jul 2013 @ 1:52 PM

  97. #96

    You might try growing mushrooms on the stumps.

    Sweet gums logs in my yard have sprouted without inoculation Oyster mushrooms.

    Comment by James Cross — 24 Jul 2013 @ 6:02 AM

  98. Kevin, kill stump roots by drilling 1/2 dozen holes, pack with epsom salt or copper sulphate, top holes with wax

    Comment by flxible — 24 Jul 2013 @ 11:41 AM

  99. Tried just black plastic bagging the stump for a season? Might well suffice.

    Else, the local greengrocer (a very wise man) tells me the non-organic small farmers, being very economical, sometimes use Roundup but diluted to a tenth -or less- the strength recommended on the label, and that more effectively than the recommended application — because the stuff has time to propagate to the end of the root system before it finally kills the target plant. They also apply that homeopathic dilution only to the leaves of the individual target plant, doing that with a brush or sponge, not a spray. So they don’t select for resistance among surrounding plants. Even the devil may be useful, tightly controlled.

    For stump sprouts, train up one sprout for a while on a post, cutting back all the others; then treat that single one’s leaves.

    Don’t buy it. Get an ounce from a neighbor; that will last a long time. Dilute with distilled water.

    Don’t use the ‘fast kill’ stuff, it’s mixed with something meant to make the plants look like they’re dying quickly to satisfy the impatient urban gardener, so it doesn’t reach the root systems.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Jul 2013 @ 11:46 AM

  100. A bit late, but Jeff Masters’ presentation was enjoyable. He seems to have that rare kind of mind that can tolerate a rich soup that is almost chaotic – a great way to promote progress. His history was fascinating (did you know he got out alive from a hurricane hunter flight with one engine dead?). He seems to be a great encourager of creative use of the means available.

    (I’m seeing something similar, I think, at Neven’s – tolerance and knowledge conjoined.)

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 24 Jul 2013 @ 6:05 PM

  101. Kevin McKinney @96 — In the countryside around here, used to remove stumps by drilling vertical holes and packing those with saltpeter. Wait until the fall rains have put the stuff basically everywhere and then burn during winter when everything is cold and snowy. Big bonfire and then all gone.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 24 Jul 2013 @ 6:50 PM

  102. 93 Secular Animist: And yet, scientists keep right on arguing with the deniers, as though the deniers were other scientists arguing in good faith about what the evidence shows — rather than the deliberately dishonest propagandists they are.

    Also 95, Mal Adapted

    An important purpose of the debate is to win over the people who are not yet committed to one thing or another.

    Comment by Matthew R Marler — 24 Jul 2013 @ 7:47 PM

  103. Stumps: I’ve made peat out of stumps–and big ones– with guess what, a sharp narrow shovel. Drilling holes and using drying agents may help. The time of the “big bonfire” is over, sorry. After stump dries out, culture it with sticks,leaves, roots, rocks, and mown grass, or equivalent. You could seed it with spores. What you actually want is fungi. If you see mushrooms, you’ve done something right. Eventually you can stand on it and push it down and it makes a fungal puff. It has turned to peat. It’s the mycellium round up. Live with it.

    Comment by patrick — 24 Jul 2013 @ 9:40 PM

  104. #97-99, 101–

    Thanks, guys! Suddenly seeing those sweetgum stumps as experimental subjects. Much more fun perspective!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 24 Jul 2013 @ 10:58 PM

  105. “The point that I try to communicate is that this isn’t controversial science–this is nearly two-century-old physics and chemistry, irrefutable measurements of how we’re changing the composition of the atmosphere–and the fact that, as we expect, the globe is indeed warming up. …

    “It wouldn’t matter if there were no hockey stick…we would still know that humans are warming the planet, changing the climate, and that it represents a threat if we don’t do something about it.” –Michael Mann

    “And I think that’s an important take-home…that this is a predictive science in the sense that…if we actually…knew what humans were going to do, the climate scientists can now turn that into a future with pretty high confidence. …

    “If you put a huge amount of hot water in the middle of the Pacific, the atmosphere can’t heat it up very easily. If you put a huge amount of cold water in the middle of the Pacific, the atmosphere can heat it up very easily. And so whether the heat is going mostly into the atmosphere or mostly in the ocean for the short term is fairly strongly influenced by El Nino and La Nina. …

    “Ultimately the ocean and the atmosphere have to be coupled…and it’s simply a question of how much of the warming has already been realized in the atmosphere and how much is still to come.” –Richard Alley

    Comment by patrick — 27 Jul 2013 @ 3:57 PM

  106. 99.

    The tried, true and traditional New Hampshire method, allowing same season agricutural access, is to auger a hole and insert a stick or two of dynamite.

    Comment by Russell — 28 Jul 2013 @ 10:41 AM

  107. @106 Is that over my head or on your shoe?

    Comment by patrick — 28 Jul 2013 @ 12:54 PM

  108. The debate over communication strategies frequently seems to miss a key issue: who is the audience. I think audience can be divided into three parts: the converted, the confused and the pseudo-skeptics. The confused are the key audience, and it is up to the converted to use the clearest and simplest arguments possible to dispel the doubt and confusion generated by the pseudo-skeptics.

    One strategy is to take one point at a time – don’t try to prove 3 or 4 things at once!

    As an example, here is my idea of the clearest way to show that human CO2 emissions are the reason for the increase in atmospheric CO2. I have found a pretty good graphic at It goes from 1960 to 2010, and would be better if it went from 1850 to 2010 and used ppm units instead of petagrams. However, it shows quite clearly that for every 100 ppm emitted we have an increase of approximately 40 ppm in atmospheric CO2. Hank might prefer tabular data with statistical analysis, so here is an excerpt of tabular data 1850 to the present. The comparison is measured atmospheric CO2 level (NASA data used for modeling) versus the NASA level in 1850 plus 42% of cumulative CO2 emissions (data from CDIAC){sorry for wretched format} :
    ______Atmospheric____________1850 CO2
    Year __ CO2(NASA) ___________+ 42% Cum. Emissions
    1850 __ 285.2 _________________285.2
    1875 __ 288.6_________________288.5
    1900 __ 295.7_________________293.5
    1925 __ 305.3_________________301.7
    1950 __ 311.3_________________312.2
    1975 __ 331.4 _________________333.8
    2000 __ 369.6 _________________369.9
    2009 __ 387 __________________385.6
    So 42% of emissions give the 100 ppm rise from 1850 to 2009.

    If you want statistics then you can get the R-squared for the yearly data from 1850 to 2009: it is 0.994; so given that we have an obvious mechanism for the rise in CO2, then the usual interpretation would be that 99.4% of the atmospheric CO2 rise is due to human emissions.

    To my mind this argument is simple, straightforward and conclusive. Needless to say, the pseudo-skeptics keep very clear of this kind of evidence. The C12/C13 argument is a little more complicated, and the pseudo-skeptics have a good time confusing it, see for example Of course, arguing with Spencer would be an exercise in futility. But if you are talking to the confused then I’d go with my argument.

    A little goodie for Gavin. According to the NYT – July 23rd, the Mendenhall glacier has started gushing water in a worrisome fashion- “Starting in July 2011, and each year since, sudden torrents of water shooting out from beneath the glacier have become a new facet of Juneau’s brief, shimmering high summer season. In that first, and so far biggest, measured flood burst, an estimated 10 billion gallons gushed out in three days, threatening homes and property along the Mendenhall River that winds through part of the city. There have been at least two smaller bursts this year.” Maybe a video could spice up communication!

    Comment by Dave Griffiths — 28 Jul 2013 @ 9:04 PM

  109. > 99.4% of the atmospheric CO2 rise

    But we know more than 100 percent of the atmospheric CO2 increase has been due to fossil fuel use. Why ignore what’s known to give a wrong low number?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Jul 2013 @ 12:31 AM


    “The 8-Minute Epoch.” Put it in the syllabus.

    What’s good about this video is that it provides a unified insight into the record and the fundamentals.

    “We can…answer these kinds of questions. I think it is very useful to look at long time periods when climate was very different.” –James Hansen

    This excerpt is a sample case of how various reputable websites may differ in response to basic questions about communication like those put by Gavin Schmidt at the beginning of his talk.

    The website in this case compiles video, among other things.

    Comment by patrick — 30 Jul 2013 @ 12:34 AM

  111. 107
    Sorry to see you stumped

    Comment by Russell — 30 Jul 2013 @ 9:04 AM


    If anyone cares, National Geographic bases their story on the uncorrected statement originally published in Hansen’s book, missing the correction that he published as a followup:

    (I can’t get the Nat Geo new blog registration to work; seems it uses cookies and other tracking tricks that my browser is set not to recognize).

    Here’s one story on the correction that NatGeo missed:
    “Hansen made the retraction in a paper released Tuesday night. He’s released several similar papers for general public consumption, although they tend to be a bit heavy into the science – even though he tries not to be. The rest of this latest paper, titled “Making Things Clearer: Exaggeration, Jumping the Gun, and The Venus Syndrome” is exceptionally frank and lays out the key uncertainties and unknowns about climate change.

    “Besides clarifying the point about boiled oceans, Hansen explains the significance of runaway feedbacks….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Jul 2013 @ 11:24 AM

  113. #111–What, back to stumps again?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 30 Jul 2013 @ 11:24 AM

  114. @111 You are doing what dogs do to bushes and trees and things, but you have the impression of thought. So it’s on your shoe. If you have something to contribute, contribute. I think you’re just marking territory.

    Comment by patrick — 30 Jul 2013 @ 12:29 PM

  115. If you want statistics then you can get the R-squared for the yearly data from 1850 to 2009: it is 0.994; so given that we have an obvious mechanism for the rise in CO2, then the usual interpretation would be that 99.4% of the atmospheric CO2 rise is due to human emissions.

    Eh no, that’s not what Pearson’s correlation tells you. It tells you how cleanly linear a function of cumulative emissions atmospheric concentrations are, i.e., (assuming the relationship is a causal one, and linear) it’s a metric for the strength of causation.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 30 Jul 2013 @ 2:19 PM

  116. Hank 112-

    There’s a new article by Colin Goldblatt in Nat. Geoscience that argues Earth could be thrown into a runaway at modern day solar luminosity, but it calls for a pretty low albedo to work out right, and clouds probably make it harder to runaway, since only clouds up near the the top of the atmosphere have a sufficient greenhouse effect in the optically thick, steam atmosphere limit.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 30 Jul 2013 @ 3:39 PM

  117. Based on Hank’s comment (109 ) I see that my communication skills are deficient. So I’ll try a different approach to comunicating a simple point.

    For the period 1850 to 2009 we have the following data:
    Atmospheric CO2 level in 1850:____________________________ 285.2 ppm
    CO2 emitted into the atmosphere (1850-2009):________________236 ppm
    Increase in atmospheric CO2 (1850-2009):___________________ 102 ppm
    Increase in atmospheric CO2 as % of emitted:________________43.2%

    So between 1850 and 2009 humans emitted more than twice the atmospheric increase in CO2. Also the increase of CO2 in the ocean was approximately equal to 50% of the emitted CO2. There are no other sources of CO2 which are anywhere near large enough to account for the increases of CO2 in the atmosphere or ocean. This evidence amounts to an overwhelming proof that the increase in atmospheric and oceanic CO2 is due to human emissions.

    If we plot a graph of the increase in atmospheric CO2 versus the cumulative emitted CO2 we find an extremely strong correlation. The statisticians use a quantity called R-squared to quantify the correlation. The maximum value is 1. In this case R-squared = .994. This means that increase in atmospheric CO2 due to emitted CO2 has been very nearly constant for the time period 1850-2009.

    Comment by Dave Griffiths — 30 Jul 2013 @ 8:41 PM

  118. Re- Comment by Dave Griffiths — 30 Jul 2013 @ 8:41 PM

    You greatly overestimate the ability (willingness) of the denialists to recognize reasoned argument.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 30 Jul 2013 @ 9:00 PM

  119. Re- Comment by Russell — 30 Jul 2013 @ 9:04 AM, and previous

    Russell, I am also stumped. Where I am it is hot out, but here on this forum, at least in part, it is dour out. For those with more than three neurons (not held together by a spirochete), finding the humor in this mess is imperative. Thanks to you.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 30 Jul 2013 @ 9:04 PM

  120. > CO2 emitted into the atmosphere (1850-2009):________________236 ppm

    Um, no. Circular reasoning there, at best.

    CO2 _emitted_ isn’t measured in parts per million.
    Coal and petroleum are measured in tons and barrels — millions of tons and barrels per year. CO2 from burning fossil fuel is measured in tons, millions of tons per year.

    The CO2 from burning that carbon, which was long buried, is identifiable.

    Spencer Weart has a good book on this, written at grade school level.

    See if you can rewrite what Weart has explained in simpler words:

    “… scientists could now track the movements of carbon with a new tool: the radioactive isotope carbon-14. This radioactive isotope was produced abundantly in the fallout from nuclear weapon tests during the 1950s. Sensitive instruments could detect even a tiny amount ….
    “The carbon in ancient coal and oil is so old that it entirely lacks the radioactive isotope. Therefore emissions from burning fossil fuels would add only plain carbon to the atmosphere. In 1955, the chemist Hans Suess reported an analysis of wood from trees grown over the past century, finding that the newer the wood, the higher its ratio of plain carbon to carbon-14. He had detected an increase of fossil carbon in the atmosphere.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Jul 2013 @ 9:50 PM

  121. # 112 Thank you, starting with the July 29 link to National Geographic Daily News: “Will Earth’s Ocean Boil Away?”

    The simple desire to be helpful makes James Hansen straightforward I think. “Storms of My Grandchildren” is a good image because it puts time and weather side by side. Whatever serves to situate current time in larger timescales is helpful I think, if it’s done right.

    “The 8-Minute Epoch” video (Hansen, as excerpted) is paleoclimatology, but not only. The sense it brings to climate science is like the light that developmental-evolutionary understanding brings to biology, I think.

    Hansen’s new job is to make sense of climatology on multiple levels for multiple audiences in as few words as possible in a valid way. For most people this way is narrative.

    Robert Kunzig is a good writer, but he needs to hold himself to a higher standard. He’s missing the boat this time. Maybe “The 8-Minute Epoch”(#110) is what he needs.

    Whatever the reason, what Kunzig writes seems oblivious to Hansen’s perspective on “56 million years ago.” Maybe it’s the editing. It seems that to Kunzig or National Geographic “56 million years ago” is a disconnected factoid they utilize because they rate it sticky.

    With it they imply disagreement between Hansen and Raymond Pierrehumbert,as if it were some kind of wedge issue. Then they switch to Colin Goldblatt.

    Goldblatt touches on basics that Pierrehumbert might well explain and ends on a note reminiscent of Hansen: “As a species we are technologically adolescent at the moment. If we get through adolescence, if we get through the next couple of hundred years alive, as a mature species that is not screwing up the planet that we live on…”

    Kunzig/National Geographic have used Hansen and his book for a lead. They don’t clarify much. They confuse somewhat, and they distract a lot.

    That’s a hard trick when–taken on his own terms–each climate scientist represents the science perfectly well.

    “So humans are now in charge of future climate change. …And now future climate is going to be determined by humans not by natural changes.” (James Hansen, min 7:30 of “The 8-Minute Epoch”)

    Kunzig/National Geographic obscure the point I think.

    Kunzig should find out what time it is and tell it. That would mean listening more, not less, to James Hansen on climate science and James Hansen on communication.

    Comment by patrick — 31 Jul 2013 @ 7:11 AM

  122. The inertia of the climate system is not our friend. Because climate responds slowly, we have felt so far only about half of the effect of gases already in the air. This limited response makes it easier for people to believe that we are exaggerating the climate threat.

    Climate system inertia means that it will take several centuries for the eventual extreme global warming mentioned above to occur, if we are so foolish as to burn all of the fossil fuel resources. Unfortunately, despite the ocean’s thermal inertia, the transient climate phase this century, if we continue business-as-usual fossil fuel burning, is likely to cause an extended phase of extreme climate chaos. …

    The science of climate change, especially because of the unprecedented human-made climate forcing, includes many complex aspects. This complexity conspires with the nature of reporting and the scientific method itself, with its inherent emphasis of caveats and continual reassessment of conclusions, to make communications with the public difficult, even when the overall picture is reasonably clear.

    My principal objective in “retiring,” i.e., in leaving government service, is to create more time that will allow me to try to contribute more effectively to this communications effort. …

    …I believe all the individual actions occurring at many places are very important and the sum of them may help turn the tide to clean energies. But I must keep up with and contribute to climate science or I cannot be effective, so I hope to be doing more science rather than less–and science requires more than 40 hours a week–so it is not practical for me to respond to all the requests that I am receiving. I also want to support two or three people working with me, so I need to spend time in fund raising–and I am finding that it is not easy to get foundation support.

    –James Hansen, Summary Discussion, “Making Things Clearer…” linked by Hank Roberts #112.

    Comment by patrick — 31 Jul 2013 @ 7:45 AM

  123. #120–

    > CO2 emitted into the atmosphere (1850-2009):________________236 ppm

    Um, no. Circular reasoning there, at best.

    I didn’t read it that way–my presumption is that the ’236 ppm’ is essentially shorthand for “x gT CO2, which, unsinked, would raise the atmospheric concentration 236 ppm.” Should be a relatively straightforward calculation, I’d think, OTTMH. (And having a solid personal talent to screw up even straightforward calculations…)

    Of course, Dave can speak for himself here! Just my 2c.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 31 Jul 2013 @ 10:25 AM

  124. Kevin is correct, I used the conversion factor of 2.15 GT carbon is equivalent to 1 ppm CO2, ppm being relative to the atmosphere. I applied this to CDIAC’s published data on emitted carbon/CO2.

    Like Kevin I worry that my arithmetic may not be too great, so I googled “gtc carbon vs. ppm co2” and quickly found an answer on the CDIAC site CDIAC’s response to the 6th frequently asked question is 2.14 GT carbon is equivalent to 1 ppm CO2. The 0.5% difference with my factor is probably because I took carbon to have atomic weight 12, while CDIAC included the effect of C13 on the average atomic weight. I’ll fix that problem later.

    I used ppm rather than GT carbon because it makes comparison with other data, such as the Keeling curve, much easier. The CDIAC site illustrates the communication gap generated by multiple units (millions of metric tons, GTC, petagrams, ppmv (ppm)……………..).

    Once upon a time, in the UK, there were school exams, called the GCE, which included forcing students to make ridiculous unit conversions. As an example (and this is the truth, I’m not joking):”A man bought a young pig weighing 7 lb. for £5. While he kept it the pig ate 3¾ cwt. of food which cost 36s. 0d. per cwt. When it weighed 10 st. 10 lb it was sold at 32s 0d. per 20 lb. Calculate (i) the total spent by the man on the pig, (ii)………” In those days 1s=12d, 20s=£1, 1cwt=8st, 1st=14lb. This has left me with the ardent belief that units should be kept as simple and uniform as possible.

    Comment by Dave Griffiths — 31 Jul 2013 @ 8:01 PM

  125. She gets it:

    “We’re actually lucky to have survived this far.”

    –Cynthia Hopkins

    Comment by patrick — 1 Aug 2013 @ 5:47 AM

  126. [i]RealClimate[/i] has a set of videos from the 2013 AGU Chapman Conference on Communicating Climate Science available at Richard Alley heads up the talks with “State of the Climate”.

    Comment by Jan Galkowski — 3 Aug 2013 @ 3:00 PM

  127. Jan Galkowski is eager to advertise his curriculum vitae by providing an informational link to the very thread he is posting in. This is not somebody I would hire.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 3 Aug 2013 @ 7:37 PM

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